A ‘Hail Mary’ Pass: Vatican Welcomes Anglicans into Catholic church

Today’s news of the union of old-school Anglican and traditional Catholicism is not a triumph of faith.  It is the religious right, circling the wagons in a final showdown for God, faith, and the sacred coffers that keep it all going.  We are witnessing ‘the last round-up’ of the Christian ultra-conservatives, and it’s going to get interesting.


While their activists can be louder and angrier than most moderates, their numbers are dwindling.  In the world they wished to convert, we see straight common-law relationships on the rise and gays wanting to marry.  No one is repenting, and no one seems to understand the ‘evil’ they see rising in our midst.  Even abortion clinics— a long-time bastion of right-wing anger— seem impervious to their contempt.  R. v. Wade is safe and sound in Obama’s care.

Before the right-wing forsake this world to the demons of moderate thought, however, there is a Hail Mary pass that has to be tried.   Since Hellfire and Damnation has failed to woo our society from PS3 games, porn sites, and evolution, Pope Benedict is now looking to an old adversary,the Anglicans, to increase his numbers.

It makes sense. After all, the original rift between the two faiths was personal, not doctrinal.  Henry VIII simply wanted a divorce, which Pope Paul would not condone.  But there were no doctrinal arguments between Rome and Henry VIII.  In fact, though he was excommunicated and made the head of his own church, Henry kept England closer to Catholic teaching than most European monarchs during the age of reformation.   As such, they are the first, best place for Benedict to look for  allies.


The real question here is: Why now?  What would move both of these faiths to decide— at the same time— to suddenly set aside centuries of animosity to form an alliance against moderates?  Catholic Archbishop Di Noia explained this mystery to CNN by saying simply: “The Holy Spirit is at work here.”

If you are Christian, I suppose this might make sense.  However, while perusing the other stories on CNN, I came across a far better explanation for this sudden embrace within right-wing Christianity, and it has nothing to do with gay marriage or female ministers.  In fact, I don’t think the move to unite far-right Christianity has anything to do with the age-old fears of gay sex and a world dominated by lackadaisical evil.  There is something else scaring the Hell out of the fire-and-brimstone crowd now: Competition.


(CNN) — Nearly one in four people worldwide is Muslim — and they are not necessarily where you might think, according to an extensive new study that aims to map the global Muslim population… (link)


Islam is far more right-wing than any Christian counterpart.   With 1-in-4 religious people in the world falling under its sway, Rome is going to be hard-pressed to maintain moral relevance as Islam moves deeper into the West.  Should it take hold as predicted, Islam is going to make Vatican II look like  the Rainbow Coalition.

Right now it’s a matter of numbers.   Like Richard readying for war with  Saladin, Pope Benedict is trying to strengthen his troops and secure his territory before the battle begins.  And it is coming… this battle for right-wing supremacy.    At best, the moderates are going to be able to watch it with bemused smiles and detached indifference.  At worst, this war of ideology will spill into the streets, challenging every protection under the law in an attempt to strip  the world of the right not to be involved.

In the end that’s the real fear… no matter who wins this.  If there’s one thing that all conservative religions have in common it is a need to have every person’s altar, bedroom, and life remade in lock-step with what they believe to be good and right and true.

It’s going to get interesting…


34 Responses to “A ‘Hail Mary’ Pass: Vatican Welcomes Anglicans into Catholic church”

  1. Anita Says:

    And while His Holiness is rounding up the troops, Will Hopper will be rounding up the atheists for a final showdown with ultra-conservatives. Only thing is, they will be too detached and indifferent to read his blog or fight “for” anything. A picture of bemused, indifferent Holsteins chewing on grass, uttering the odd “Moo” comes to mind.

    By the way, you have a twin, Will, in the person of Lewis Black. Have you watched his comedy?

    • heathensguide Says:

      You seem to intently believe that anyone who is not conservative is lame and yielding… as if conservatives have a monopoly on rage and indignation and everyone else are just lazy, selfish bastards. As for the “moo” comment… now that is ballsy. I mean really… you’re part of a group that meets at least once a week to recite the exact same words over and over in unison, while swearing eternal allegiance to a pope you’ve never met. When a fight comes, I’d far rather be one of those radical “freethinkers” Catholics hate than a papal automaton.

      As for Lewis Black… yeah I love his stuff. He’s on Jon Stewart a lot.

  2. Anita Says:

    I’m trying to point out that you are looking for a conspiracy theory in the Pope’s actions when it doesn’t fit the situation at all.

    You make your living scoffing others for their beliefs in God. But what do you stand FOR? You will no doubt say freethinking or some such thing. But you are a slave to your ideology. I don’t see you as lazy, except to say that’s it’s pretty easy to tear down as opposed to build up. For instance, it’s easy to throw an arrow at that ritualistic Catholic Church. But harder to admit you say the same things over and over in unison with atheists such as Lewis Black.

    When a husband says, “I love you” every day to his wife, is he acting as an automaton in your opinion, or do people like to hear positive sentiments and words repeated? In every Our Father, I say I love you God over and over to the God who made me and who loves me and wants me to love Him back. Call me crazy then, but it’s no different from many other good actions we repeat.

    So far, I see you wanting people to have a right to not be involved. But you are a member of the human race, and it’s not good enough to want to remain indifferent or dispassionate, especially in the light of evil acts around you.

    • heathensguide Says:

      Wow… you see me as indifferent? I am incredibly active in opposing the role religion has in society.

      What am I for? I stand strong in favor of a human’s right to screw up… to live the life he or she wants to live (be it pious or hedonistic) providing it does not interfere with anyone else’s. I stand opposed to many, like the Catholics, who believe they have answered all the Great Questions of the universe well enough to tell others how they should live and how they should pray. I know the religious garbage from hundreds of different faiths, and it all boils down to “We know better than anyone else because we believe in the True God, and he has told us what people should do because it is written here in our holy book”.

      And yes, it fits the pope’s actions. I really believe the unity of Anglican and Roman Catholic was done deliberately because of the plummeting numbers in North America and the severe shortage of priests. It was either that or they folded in America in twenty years time. Already you have priest running three and four parishes where two generations ago there were twenty priests doing the same job.

      Oh… one more thing about your praying. I love that you recite the Lord’s Prayer. (the ‘Our Father’). It is a direct quote from the bible, and is how Jesus told his disciples how to pray. It’s from Matt., chapter 6. It is the perfect embodiment of the Catholic faith. Not the prayer itself. The scripture. You see, the Catholics took Matt. ch. 6 and made everyone memorize and recite verses 8 through 13. They conveniently omit verse 7 (also part of Jesus teaching them how to pray… basically the same sentence) which reads:

      6:7 In praying, don’t use repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking.

  3. Anita Says:

    P.S. Thank you for the compliment on the moo comment.

  4. Anita Says:

    The Church hasn’t folded since it began.

    I doubt that adding a few more conservative Anglicans–who already professed in their creed to belong to the Catholic faith, and whose main enticement to join up fully is the ability to maintain some of their liturgical practices–is going to make much difference against a burgeoning Muslim population and a morally weakening society. But if you want to attribute powers to these people that I don’t know about, I’m willing to go along with you.

    Will says, “What am I for? I stand strong in favor of a human’s right to screw up… to live the life he or she wants to live (be it pious or hedonistic) providing it does not interfere with anyone else’s.” (After that, you continue with what you stand against, which does not answer my question.)

    Tons of people already follow the creed of “do what you wish.” So what do you offer them? In other words, why should we listen to you when the message is already so pervasive?

    Is your goal to get rid of all religion? You will have a fine job of it when it comes to the Muslims.

    To screw up in any major way necessarily implies interfering with someone else. Your vision of freedom fits well into Freddie Mercury’s song, I Want to Break Free, but how realistic is it? What is freedom? Since I presume you feel free, has your freedom brought you happiness?

    • heathensguide Says:

      As you say, the Vatican has not folded, but it is well on its way to doing so. You can see this every Sunday when you go to church. Just count the heads, then ask someone over 60 how many people used to attend your church. It will need a few more decades of diligent work by people like me, but religious dogma will die out. Even the Muslim brand.

      And no, the Anglicans do not swear allegiance to the Catholic Church by saying the Nicene Creed. The creed professes a believe in “one catholic and apostolic faith”, but this does not refer to sects. The word “catholic” here means universal. The word “apostolic” as used here means founded on the teachings of the apostles. (You will note that the Anglican version of the creed does not capitalize these words as proper nouns.)

      Why listen to “my message”? My “message” is simply: Enjoy your life. Don’t let others crush your hopes, dreams, and pleasures with dogma and ghost stories. You would agree that every one should ignore the myths and lies of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, and a hundred other faiths except Catholicism. I agree heartily… I just add one more myth to the list: Catholicism.

      As for Muslims… the faith is on the crux of a revolution. This is why I seldom attack it up front. To do so empowers the faith’s elite who rule by fear and promises… much like the Catholic Church did before the Reformation. Islam is a religion waiting for its Martin Luther. My bet is that we will see him (or her) within the next decade or so. Some time after King Saud dies and passes the faith’s power on to his son. Could be any time now. The guy is not doing well.

      I did not say that freedom brought happiness. I agree with Tim Leary: absolute freedom means absolute responsibility.

      As for whether my freedom has brought me happiness… Of course it has, and you know this. I live a very rare life, and I prosper by it. Were you to measure worth by the “blessings bestowed by a God” then I would say I win hands down. Most religious people I know are downright miserable by comparison.

  5. Anita Says:

    The reason you don’t attack Islam is because there are grave risks to doing so. You could get hauled before a human rights commission as did Ezra Levant for reprinting Danish cartoons about Muslims. You could be the focus of death threats. You could set off anger in Muslims that leads to riots and worse.

    It’s so easy to pick on Christianity because you know that we are going to turn the other cheek, and be charitable to you in the end.

    The traditional Anglicans asked the Pope if they could be permitted to join. He didn’t seek them out. Their faith is very close to that of Catholics. So my point is, whatever they were doing before they will continue doing. No great increase in Catholic behaviours will follow, whether that be improving the morality of a weakening society, or birthing babies to combat the Muslim population increase. So your original blog doesn’t hold water. If however, the Pope were to get a contingent of avid atheists to convert to Catholicism, now that would be a watershed moment!

    You do indeed live a rare life. My question is whether your life’s work will bear good fruit. Your message is already being stated in one hundred different ways. So what are you adding?

    The Catholic faith has increased my enjoyment of life. I know of so many people who are cynical, unconfident, selfish, and hopeless. A relationship with God can help turn you outwards to the enjoyment of others. It gives you hope in times of despair. If you ask God for help, He will be there.

    • heathensguide Says:

      You really don’t read a lot of my stuff, do you? I said I don’t “attack” Islam for the reasons given. I did not say that I give them a pass. The Heathen’s Guide goes into far more detail about Islam than it does Catholicism. I do as many (or more) blogs about Islam than I do Catholics. What I avoid doing, though, is writing stuff that gives the Muslim elite fodder for the idiocy you referred to. As for the death threats (as I often say) they have nothing to do with Islamic tradition or literature. It’s all politics, or politicians using devout Muslims to further their goals. THAT is what needs to be addressed, and I do so often.

      Christians are, by and large, very charitable to other Christians. I seldom see the “charity” you refer to here. As soon as they realize they’re not going to convert you they usually hate and dismiss you… though they would never use the term “hate” of course.

      As for “no great change in Catholic behavior”… if that is so, all you are telling me is that the Vatican will lose. Something HAS to change, or Islam will own the conservative religious world in short order. It does not negate my blog, or the intent of the move by the Anglicans and Catholics.

      As for my life “bearing fruit”… I hope not. I mean, I really, really hope not. I have no desire for posterity to know my name. I have no need to watch chubby grandchildren bounce on my knee. These things are just selfishness masked as “family values”. I will die and fade away. Everything I’ve done will fade, and my books will disappear in time, consigned to rot away in some dump somewhere. This is the real human condition. To aspire to anything grander than this is just ego.

      So your contention is that, since what I say is stated by others, I should shut up? The fundamental issue here is that religions urge their flocks to change the lives of people that do not belong to their religion. Churches try to achieve this by banding together and soliciting the government to create new laws to reflect the ideals of their religion. And you know what? It happens all the time. If religious folk wanted to just go to church and do their thing, no one would have a problem with them (nobody argues with the Amish). But most religions don’t keep to themselves. They try to use the law of the land to remake the world into their vision of “good”. All too often, it works. If there weren’t people like me speaking up it would still be illegal to be gay, no one would be able to work on Sundays, and divorce would not exist. Admit it… you think all those things would be “good” for society. But they aren’t. They are good for you… for Catholics and religious people. Outside the realm of religious belief people want to live their lives the way they choose.

      You say a relationship with God can help. I agree. In fact, I would wager that a devotee of the monkey gods of Thailand finds great solace and comfort in their god when times are rough. The people of Laos who worship rats find a beautiful fulfillment in their daily lives by tending the temples and making sure the rats are fed and housed. Yes, a god gives comfort and solace in times of trouble. In the end, though, it doesn’t make a bit of difference if you get mangled in a car accident and wind up living the rest of your life in agony. The comfort, like the gods people worship, is thin and illusory. The longer one relies on it, the worse it will be for them when it falls apart and they are left to face cold, hard reality alone.

  6. Ikeshut Says:

    Sorry to break in to your interesting two-way conversation. I am particularly interested in one particular aspect of this inclusion of conservative Anglicans into Roman Catholicism – that of sex (specifically by priests). The Time article states that the Vatican has established new ‘Personal Ordinariates’, in which “Anglicans, including married priests, can practice Catholicism while maintaining much of their own identity and liturgy”. The catch is that they can’t become bishops. Apparently the Roman Catholic church have in the past allowed married clergy who have converted from the Eastern Orthodox church, and I understand in Africa there is a bit of ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink – say no more’ about non-celibate priests. Publicly, however, up until now the Roman Catholic church has held the line fairly strongly in regard to the celibacy of their clergy – but apparently the prospect of a significant number of Anglicans coming over to their side was enough to throw their principles out the window. I would imagine more than a few of the dwindling numbers of celibate Roman Catholic priests will feel pretty ripped off as the married ex-Anglicans start to lead nearby Catholic congregations. If the ex-Anglicans can be married and do the job, why can’t the existing Roman Catholic priests choose to be married or not? Is admitting you were wrong for all those centuries really that hard?

    • heathensguide Says:

      No need to apologize. Happy to have another voice here.

      Every time there is a new pope the issue of celibacy comes up. Bennie made it absolutely clear, though, that this was not a topic for his reign. It is a total no-go. Thing is, a pope only has so much power. If the cardinals really pushed it, he would be expected to give in. (Like the US senate pushing at the White House, basically). I think Bennie would rather fight the wolves than give in though. He’s old and doesn’t care. If he had his way (and he might) Vatican II would be undone and they’d all be back saying Latin Mass and singing only Gregorian chants. He’s already banned folk music I think.

      On the flip side, a pope that DID want to change it all would still have to get it past the College of Cardinals. There’s the weird, off-chance that a pope could pass the ruling on his own, but he’d have to evoke the Edict of Infallibility to do so. As this has only been done three times (and once was wrong) no pope is ever likely to try this again.

      In reality, it would take a new College of Cardinals and a hell of a lot more pressure from the laity and priests before Rome caved on this one. It may happen, but not likely in the next decade or two.

      On the topic of Rome admitting being wrong, JPII did a great job of this in his day. Apologized to Galileo, abused kids, the whole works. Benny is not the same kind of pope. He gave a speech a while back on priests abusing children and made a moderate apology from the Vatican, but then let it be known in no uncertain terms that that would be the end of the matter. This pope is not elected to apologize for Rome. His thing is the defense of the faith, and the re-empowerment of Rome.

      The next guy (likely a North African… probably black) will be the new trend setter. That’s where we’ll see a lot of major changes to things like celibacy in my opinion.

  7. Anita Says:

    QUOTE: I seldom see the “charity” you refer to here. As soon as they realize they’re not going to convert you they usually hate and dismiss you… though they would never use the term “hate” of course.

    I doubt they hate you, but I do think you’re right that they dismiss you. The thing is, there is a point in the Bible when Jesus advises his disciples to shake the dust from their feet if they can’t make an impact on their listener. I think He doesn’t want us to waste significant amounts of time on people that are Hell bent on going to Hell when we could be helping somebody else. Perhaps, He knows our time is limited.
    I’m sorry that you haven’t experienced more charity from Christians. But, it may be a rare commodity anyways, perhaps even rarer among atheists. To really answer this point, I’d need to know specific instances in which somebody let you down.
    You have to see things from our point of view. Intersecting with you and seeing the darkness in which you reside is painful and heart wrenching. When stanzebla wrote in and you two were discussing things, I felt I was in Hell along with you. Where are the exorcists when you need them? I thought.

    QUOTE: As for “no great change in Catholic behavior”… if that is so, all you are telling me is that the Vatican will lose.

    No. I’m telling you that they were already playing for the same team. You seem to think that the Church leaders can whip up all sorts of support with their members, members you believe are pledging allegiance in unison like papal automatons. In fact, the Church doesn’t operate like the Watch Tower or some type of dictatorship. The Church proposes. It doesn’t impose. And the members are free people. The Pope is the stated leader, but he has to serve the people. He is the servant of the servants.

    RE: Celibacy

    The best thing for Ikeshut would be to study Church teachings on celibacy with an open mind. That is to say, reading with the possibility that celibacy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and is possibly a good thing.

    When each of my siblings got married, their spouses became their first priority. Before that, if I needed something I could count on their aid. Not any more. Now, imagine you are sick and in need of a priest at 3:00 a.m. A married priest may or may not be able to leave his family to help you. A single priest will likely be more available. I’m single. I know I’m more available to other single people needing help than my married siblings. I have way more time and mental energy to write this response than anybody I know. Everybody who has a family is almost too busy to pray. If a priest is married and has kids, his free hours are severly curtailed. How can he get the reflection time he needs?

    I don’t see priests (or nuns) as performing a job per se. Theirs is a vocation. They ARE priests. They don’t just perform a series of jobs.

    Our society is so focused on sexual love that it really NEEDS the example of single priests and nuns.

    • heathensguide Says:

      That you see my world as Hell is revealing. I see it as a great place… once you accept the limitations of being human and drop the fantasies sold to you by religions and marketers. I have no problems with the way things are.

      The Pope is, by definition, a dictator. He is the head of a theocratic regime, governing a country known as Vatican City. [offset, of course, by the power struggles and power-jockeying within the walls of the Vatican]. It is the stated goal of Catholicism to extend his regime to the world… to make it “universal”.


      The Catholic version of celibacy comes from Augustine’s concepts of Love (which you deftly analogized). To Augustine, all forms of love vied for your attention, but could not exist in the same mind at the same time. Eros (sexual love), Philio (brotherly love), and Agape (divine love) were always in competition. Notably for Augustine, Eros and Agape. His answer: get rid of eros. Once free of sexual intimacy, your mind (according to Augustine) was free to serve God without hindrance.

      The problem with this (as the church has found out) is that you can not get rid of Eros. To pretend you can opens the door to twisted and ravenous expressions of sex. It is like trying to tell someone that they can not eat. They are both basic human needs, and you can’t just simply decide that you are never going to eat again. Hunger (sexual or otherwise) will manifest no matter what. The Church’s response to this problem was to institutionalize marriage as a control mechanism. (As Paul said, “Better to wed than burn in Hell.”)

      Simply put: I do not agree with Paul or Augustine. Reasons to follow…

      You claim a married person has less time for the world. True… very true. But it is also natural, and you can’t beat nature. People seem to want to create pious saints that are entirely given to self-sacrifice and serving “God’s Will.” It is a dangerous fallacy. Nuns and priests fall in love all the time, and are often tortured inwardly for their “sin” of yearning to be held and cared for. No one can be what you want from these people. It causes pain and misery, and destroys them inwardly. But the cost to these people’s sanity is a price the Church is willing to pay in order to maintain the myth that humans should be asexual and eternally giving to society.

      So no… a married priest wouldn’t be available 24/7 when needed. Nor should he be. There should be teams of trained volunteers in every congregation that can be called on. (I have no doubt that you yourself would volunteer for such). Leaving the onus for everyone’s trouble on one man is ridiculous, and using that as an excuse to deprive him of intimacy for the rest of his life is cruel and selfish.

      You say that the world needs the example of single priests and nuns. I disagree. I think what they need is to realize that the troubles of the world around us can not and should not be addressed by professional “good people”. Instead, a church should be a place to teach the congregation how to be the good, helpful, and giving person instead of just a passive witness to the good deeds of priests and nuns.

  8. Anita Says:

    No one denies that there are many content celibate bachelors. Until, any of them chooses the priesthood. That’s when they suddenly stand accused of being inwardly tortured with ravenous sexual appetites that risk become twisted.

    For the time being, the Church has decided to choose its priests from a large pool of content, celibate bachelors. They are not forcing bachelors to become priests. Candidates for the priesthood take many years to discern their vocation, which includes deciding if they will be able to maintain a vow of celibacy. If they aren’t up to it, they can choose to be deacons or they can get married and perform a job that is somewhat related such as perhaps counseling or teaching theology. So the Church is not depriving them of intimacy.

    Increasingly, lay people are taking up many of the duties formerly left to priests. However, some things are meant to be done by priests, such as administering the sacraments and celebrating the Eucharist.

    The trouble with people always pushing to change the Church is they never seem to get that they CAN go elsewhere. For instance, if you really feel priests should be able to marry, you can become a United Church minister. Why does the Church have to change for you? Once you get your way on one thing, you will just want another thing. And that is why we have all these other denominations that end up conflicting with one another. Compare that to the unity and fullness of truth that can be found in the Catholic tradition.

    • heathensguide Says:

      That you can refer to “the unity and fullness of truth that can be found in the Catholic tradition” and mean it is bizarre to me. I’ve been there, done that. Raised in it, lived with priests, was an altar boy, went to hospitals with the priest, etc. etc. I can tell you without reserve or hesitation that you, Anita, buy into the Vatican’s BS far, FAR more than the priests do. They believe in doing a good job and caring for people, don’t get me wrong. And if you said that bit about the “fullness and truth” to their face they would solemnly agree with you. But I know from first-hand experience that they go back home and roll their eyes at parishioners who buy into it. THEY don’t believe most of it. The transubstantiation? Never met a priest who believed it. Confession? They think it’s good for people, and they hope God is listening, but in the end it’s just part of the job. [A part they usually dread, btw. Sitting in a box half the day listening to lame stories about small sins is not fun. It’s all so special and holy when you’re just out of the seminary, but after a few years you’d really rather be at the dentists.]

      Now about the happy bachelors… Two points:

      One, bachelors have a choice. They are not condemned to Hell for all eternity if they decide at 36 to break a vow they made when they were 22 and full of holy verve.

      Two: ONLY single men can be priests. It is a condition of being “called”. That makes all teh difference. If it were an option, not a demand of the office, then you could argue that it is similar to lay bachelors. But the church forces celibacy on anyone who wishes to be a priest. If you “have a calling” and want to serve and say mass, you MUST be celibate. Why? Most of the apostles were married. Timothy in particular brought his wife with him everywhere. Certainly you would agree that a woman/wife can be an aid to her husband in his work and life. Why does this not apply if the husband is a priest? Why are spouses good for every vocation except a religious vocation? The Catholic explanation of total devotion to either God or a wife (as discussed earlier) does not hold when lacking a spouse makes you less able to serve your community.

      And about why people don’t just leave and go to other churches… People are brainwashed from birth that being Catholic is the ONLY way to happiness and purity. To leave the church (even for another church) is taught to be a passage straight to Hell. Believing this, their only option (when confronted with something about the Church that bothers them) is to change the Church, as the only other option is to go to Hell.

      As for the sacraments being administered by the laity, enjoy it while you can. It will not be happening in about 3 or four years time IMHO. One of Benny’s pet peeves is anyone but the priest handling or distributing the Host. He sees it as one of many ways the church is being weakened, and wants the power and control back in the hands of the priests. To do otherwise (he feels) is a public demonstration of the priests weakness. (You really need to read his pre-papal writing when he was in charge of the Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei.)

      [As an added note, I wanted to say that two years before he became pope I predicted that it would be him. I tried desperately to get someone to bet me on it, but no one would. JPII was the loving grandpa. After him, they wanted the stern father-figure who would whip the church back into shape. The next pope is going to be the “world’s pope”… a man chosen for his charm and intelligence. I am betting it will be Cardinal Francis Arinze, a black Nigerian Cardinal. He’s charming as hell, and having a black pope would make the church look very vogue and contemporary. I am willing to put money on it if you want to wager. Benny won’t last long…]

  9. Anita Says:

    God’s not calling married men or women to be priests. So, if you get that call, you can assume it was a telemarketer with one of those direct-dial computers and hang up. It’s not going to kill you or your faith. The people who most vociferously bemoan priestly celibacy, often don’t believe in the Church in the first place.

    Maybe the priests out in your neck of the woods weren’t as pious as they ought to have been. The priests I know for the most part do believe in transubstantiation and reconciliation.

    You would be surprised to learn that many cradle Catholics do go through a questioning of their faith for many years, often beginning around university age. These are educated individuals. After studying Church documents, and other religions, they come back to the Catholic Church. They are not brainwashed. They look for contradictions and decide that two opposing versions of the truth cannot be true.

    Your problem is you give moral equivalency to things that aren’t equal. Worshiping a rat does not equal worshiping a saviour, a man named Jesus who was partly human and partly divine, who performed extraordinary miracles while he lived, who was crucified and who rose again. Your theory that he was some type of Yogi who slowed his heart rate down while on the cross (remember he had a big gash in His side, too), and then somehow snuck down to escape and reappear doesn’t wash with me. I believe Joseph of Arimithea wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in the tomb.

    QUOTE: “In the end, though, it doesn’t make a bit of difference if you get mangled in a car accident and wind up living the rest of your life in agony. The comfort, like the gods people worship, is thin and illusory. The longer one relies on it, the worse it will be for them when it falls apart and they are left to face cold, hard reality alone.”

    It would be awful to wind up in some sort of agony from a car accident. But every circumstance leads to small consolations and blessings. You could end up in a Catholic hospital and be helped by a truly beautiful person who eases the harsh realities of life. Maybe somebody like the wife you described in your last post. I think you SHOULD rely on God because He doesn’t fall apart. Life wouldn’t seem so cold and hard if you had hope, even in this dire state. If I’m ever hooked up on life support, don’t pull the plug. I want to feel the warmth of the sun, and the love of God surround me. That’s worlds better than the way an atheist values life. If he’s mangled and unable to work or produce some measurable achievement or experience life on his terms, it’s game over for him.

    • heathensguide Says:

      “God’s not calling married men or women to be priests.” Wow… have you any idea how arrogant that sounds? To presume that because this is what you believe, your god absolutely must abide by it? That is an impressive level of self-aggrandizing. In fact, I have known many Catholics who were “called” but could not become priests. What you are saying, then, is that their calling was bogus? That many a good people who really want to serve as priests and feel it is what their god wants are deluded? So tell me about Gandhi and the Dali Llama… Are they deluded, or just plain evil for calling themselves priests when they are not Catholic?

      “The priests I know for the most part do believe in transubstantiation and reconciliation.” No, they tell you they do. It is their job. And it’s not “in my neck of the woods”. I have known many priests in many places. You will remember that my cousin is a Catholic bishop. (To be fair to him, I won’t give his name or his diocese in an open forum). I have had plenty of time to sit and talk for hours and days with many priests in informal, home atmospheres (instead of the formal work-related church atmosphere.) I am telling you point blank that they tell a different theology over an armchair then they do over a pulpit. Disbelieve me if you want, but it is definitely the case.

      “cradle Catholics do go through a questioning of their faith for many years”
      I AM a cradle-Catholic, and yes it is brainwashing. Any good psychiatrist can tell you that repetition, recitation, and ritual indoctrinations like Confirmation and Holy Communion are brainwashing techniques. Seems to have worked well on you.

      “Your problem is you give moral equivalency to things that aren’t equal.” Again, with the arrogance. Every religion (including the rats) has a moral compass. Every religions teaches to be good and kind and decent. It’s a basic part of the sales pitch of every religion. And yet you always assert that because Catholicism says it, Catholics are morally superior. FIGURE THIS OUT: there is nothing special or unique about the teachings of Catholicism. Every prohibition the Vatican has can be found in Mormonism or Judaism or even the Rat worshipers… And every one of them think they are special because of it. I have heard the exact same stuff you are saying about Catholicism from pretty much every faith out there. Because you say it (and believe it) does not make it any more true coming from your mouth than it did when I heard it from a Mormon Elder in Salt Lake.

      “Every circumstance leads to small consolations and blessings. “
      That is the big lie that sells religions. Sadly, it is not true. Most murders and thieves get away with their crimes. Decent people get stabbed, raped, murdered, and tortured. Religions try to sell you on the idea that there is some greater good to it… they these things are “tests” and that you will learn from it. It is crap, and dangerous crap at that. You build yourself up to believe that a god is looking after you, and you try to fit the reality into your fantasy. In the end, no matter what “lesson” or “insight” you might invent to justify horrible things happening, the horrible things STILL HAPPEN. Moreover, they happen equally to the faithful and secular alike. When you look out and see the world as it is, you find that the only difference between a religious person and a secular person is that the religious person creates a fantasy to explain the things that a secularist shrugs off as “life can be crappy sometimes.”

      “If I’m ever hooked up on life support, don’t pull the plug. “

      Spoken like someone who never expects to be in agonizing pain for the rest of their life. Here’s the reality:

      For most people, dying is days and months of being tended by underpaid nurses. You spend most of your time begging for someone to give you more painkillers so you can sleep for a few hours instead of writhing in agony. Once a week or so the doctor comes by, but there’s nothing he can do short of telling the nurse to have a look at your bedsores.

      If you’re a good Catholic you have a priest drop by… usually on a Sunday afternoon after services. He stays for ten minutes or so, maybe says a prayer or two with you. After that you’re alone again, still in agony. Your family tries, but the truth is they have only so much time and the months carry on… they have their own lives and families to deal with. Visits get scarcer, until they only come by at Christmas and (maybe) your birthday. Then it’s back to being alone. You want to pray and be holy, but the lack of sleep and persistent pain prevents you from focusing. You spend most of the last days of your life in a hellish trance… never quite awake and never truly able to sleep.

      At this point, the warm sun you mentioned is only a chaotic dream, mixed in with every other thought that drifts by. Then, at some point, your breathing chokes up and you start suffocating. But this is long-term hospice care… they don’t have monitors on you 24/7. You die alone, sucking every breath through agonized tears until you finally collapse. A few hours later the nurse comes by and finds you dead. She calls your family, who make plans for a funeral where they will all sit around and feel guilty for not having spent much time with you “near the end”.

      This is the reality. This is happening to thousands of people every day in every city. This is what death IS. If you want warm sunshine and meditative prayer, you will not get it in hospice. It is only the fantasies sold to you by religions that convince people that they can “pass away quietly from a long-term illness”. The reality is brutal, lonely, and worse than you have ever imagined. So no… I do not hold it against anyone who feels they want to die by their own hand while they’re still healthy enough to feel the sunshine and mentally prepare themselves for whatever is to come.

      • johnny-boy Says:

        – i took training in hospice care & one of the first things i asked about was ‘how much pain are the dying in/ can their pain be lessened?’ & i believe them when they say that the worst part of pain for the dying is medicated away. i live with chronic pain & i wouldn’t want to have it lying on my death-bed.
        — i have nothing to say about religion at this point. just wanted to add those two cents.

  10. Ikeshut Says:

    Anita, I appreciate your advice that I should “study Church teachings on celibacy with an open mind”, however, why do you imagine that somebody who doesn’t agree with you doesn’t read with an open mind? In any case, if I were to study Church teachings on celibacy I would find the justification as outlined by William. Your folksy ‘availability’ justification for celibacy is laughable; do you really expect people to believe that is the reason why the Roman Catholic church has enforced celibacy on their clergy for all these centuries? You say “our society is so focused on sexual love”, yet you speak on behalf of a church so obsessed by sexual love that they enforce celibacy on their clergy while they tacitly encourage their laity to breed like rabbits.

    How can you justify a system that has bought such disgrace to your church? The abuse and molestation of children and adults perpetrated by supposedly-celibate Catholic clergy has been proven to be carried on for decades (at the very least). It is the very fact that Western society has reached the stage where these things can be discussed that the abuse is becoming known. Humans are a biological entity (whether they are a Catholic priest or not). The sexual drive is a function of our hormones and our mind. I agree that humans don’t necessarily need access to sexual fulfilment to lead a rich and satisfying life. It very much depends on the individual and there are plenty who are celibate by choice. Catholic priests, however, have made a vow (often as young men) to conform to the doctrine of the church to which they belong. There is indisputable evidence that for some of these men the enforced denial of healthy sexual fulfilment has led, and will continue to lead, to some very dark places.

    In any case, Anita, you completely missed my point in my previous posting – that the existing Catholic clergy will feel pretty peeved when the married ex-Anglicans start overseeing parishes next door to them. (I’m from Australia, so I’m speaking from a Western perspective; I’m guessing you are also from a Western country). It’s OK to have your married clergy hidden away in eastern Europe, Russia and in Africa, but it will be harder to ignore when it’s happening in neighbouring parishes in Western countries.

  11. Anita Says:

    To Ikeshut,

    I didn’t completely miss your point. I’m suggesting that priests who have already accepted a celibate life are not likely to feel too peeved about their neighboring parishes being led by ex-Anglicans. I doubt most good priests are the jealous types. However, this remains to be seen, particularly in Australia, as you state.

    Many married men also abuse children, wives, other adults. If you’re messed up, you’re messed up. In fact, I think statistically, you are far more likely to be abused by a non-clergyman . I don’t think a requirement for celibacy for priests is forced upon men, as Will believes. As I stated, they are free to choose other paths if they are not up to it.

    But be careful what you wish for. Pope Benedict may wake up one day and say, “Willy my boy, I think you’re right. We should have all married priests. Each priest to have 10 children, with an expectation that one of those children chooses the priesthood like in the good old days. By my reckoning, we should be able to take over the world in three generations! And then you atheists will have your work cut out for you! HA!”

    And Will, you make a strong case for everybody adopting a dying person today and visiting him daily. I suppose if death is as bad as you state, I won’t mind a visit from a friendly, humble atheist. My last two croaks will sound like this, though, “Follow Jesus.”

    • heathensguide Says:

      In both things you responded to, you (I think deliberately) missed the point. It is not about whether the church should make priests celibate or married. It is about the CHOICE. You say that if someone wants to marry they can “follow another path”. That is not a choice for those who believe they want to be priests and be married. You are saying “play by our rules or don’t play at all.” FYI… in the bible NO PRIESTS WERE CELIBATE. In fact, the custom at the time of Jesus was the exact opposite: You HAD to be married to be a rabbi. (unless you were an Essene monk, but that’s a whole other topic).

      The celibacy should be a personal choice. More importantly, the decision has very little effect on how a priest can perform. Anglican (and many other sects) have married priests who are very effective in serving their congregation. Given that almost every other religion has priests that are married (or they don’t care if they are married or not), I think we have enough empirical proof to say that the job can (and is) being done by married people.

      In short, forcing priests to marry is as abusive as forcing them not to marry. Unless there is some personal reason for the church to be involved in the discussion, the Vatican should leave it to individuals to decide if they want to be married or not. [I, of course, recommend not.]

      And yes, there is a good case for visiting the sick. Most people don’t. In fact, I’d wager that you won’t either. Me? I just saw a good friend through his last days of Parkinson’s, when he couldn’t go to the washroom himself. He died a month or so ago. He was very popular, very nice guy. Still, when the chips were down almost no one came to see him. It is the way of it. Unless you have a spouse or some very bored, very lonely friends, people usually abandon you.

      As to whether I am right about what I am saying… do not take my word for it. Pick up a phone book and find a listing for hospice care. They are always looking for volunteers. Go and work in one of these places for one night. See how these people live (and how they die). We’ll see how confident you are in your stance when you’ve spend time listening to the crying, screaming, and sad moaning coming from all the rooms.

  12. Ikeshut Says:

    For goodness sake Anita – you say “statistically, you are far more likely to be abused by a non-clergyman”. If you take the US for example there is a population of 308 million, half of which (154 million) are male (the ones who will be likely to abuse). In the US at the present time there are 40,700 Roman Catholic priests (plus 4,800 brothers). Yes, when you compare 154 million to 45,500, I completely agree – “statistically, you are far more likely to be abused by a non-clergyman” – but it’s hardly a telling point. If you want to use statistics at least use them sensibly. Do a bit of research & find out the numbers of abusers per thousand in the Catholic clergy versus the general population.

    • heathensguide Says:

      Ikeshut: I would add that, when given two people who have a proclivity toward pedophilia, the one most likely to actually offend would be the one who is single and working daily with young boys.

  13. Ikeshut Says:

    This morning (11 November 2009) I heard a radio program called ‘The Pope and the Anglicans’ which provides an historical context for the recent acceptance of conservative Anglicans into the fold of the Roman Catholic church. It was presented by Rear Vision, a program on Radio National, which is part of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which is Australia’s national public broadcaster.
    The blurb for ‘The Pope and the Anglicans’ is as follows: “The surprise announcement last month that disgruntled Anglicans, including married priests, would be allowed to enter full communion with the Catholic Church appeared to stun both Catholics and Anglicans alike. Rear Vision looks at the history of the relationship between these two strands of the Christian faith and the background to the Pope’s offer.”
    For anybody who is interested the audio can be streamed or downloaded in MP3 format. The link is http://www.abc.net.au/rn/rearvision/stories/2009/2732153.htm

  14. Anita Says:

    QUOTE from Will:
    In fact, I’d wager that you won’t either. …We’ll see how confident you are in your stance when you’ve spend time listening to the crying, screaming, and sad moaning coming from all the rooms.

    I think this first comment is unfair. You don’t know how many sick or dying people I’ve been with. But I can assure you, if I were with 1000 moaning and dying people, my view would not change. As humans, we should not have the right to assisted suicide. It’s fine to refuse extraordinary treatments, I might do so myself. What is really needed is adequate pain management. And as Will has implied, many more visitors helping the sick and dying.

    QUOTE of Ikeshut: while they tacitly encourage their laity to breed like rabbits.
    This is so disrespectful of Catholics and anybody who chooses to have a larger than usual family. Who are you to decide what size a family should be? There is no need for you to make statements like this. You could say, the Church invites people to “be fruitful and multiply.” But your tone is meant to denigrate.

    Ikeshut: Yes, I’d need to do a whole whack of research to support my hypothesis. I don’t even know if that statistic is available, the one you suggest. People don’t tell on their fathers, brothers, and uncles, as they seem to on their parish priests. And these don’t make headlines like the sins of priests.

    As it turns out, this thread has morphed into one about celibacy. But I don’t want to go on and morph again into priestly pedophilia. Suffice it to say, you would need to do some more research yourself to fully support your statements. You say, “there is indisputable evidence that for some of these men the enforced denial of healthy sexual fulfilment has led, and will continue to lead, to some very dark places.” But for what percentage of priests is that the case? Do you think all priests who are involved with pedophilia do so because of enforced celibacy? What per cent exactly? I read an article about educators who commit sexual abuse. There was some suggestion that coaches and music teachers were greater offenders than other teachers because they got more of an opportunity to be alone with a child. This might suggest that opportunity to be alone with a child is one determining factor, perhaps a weightier one than enforced celibacy for all I know.

    I’ve made my points. I really feel Will’s original blog is mere speculation and simply false. Beyond that, I feel that atheists shouldn’t get too miffed when the Catholic Church decides to run things as it sees fit. It has a right to do so. QUOTE: You are saying “play by our rules or don’t play at all.” Yes yes yes. That’s what I’m saying. It’s not arrogant to want to run things as you see fit.

    • heathensguide Says:

      You said: “Yes yes yes. That’s what I’m saying. It’s not arrogant to want to run things as you see fit.”

      I gather you have missed my basic assumption. You see, I do not believe you are running things “as you see fit”. Personally, I see you (Anita) as one of the most injured victims of the Church’s centralized power and manipulation. All the way along, everything I have said has been in defense of a person’s right to choose and live as they wish.

      I have long believed that the faith that was thrust on you in childhood has deprived you of this, replacing genuine fun with imagined sanctity. It is an opinion, and not one I expect you would agree with. But it is my basic thesis when discussing the Catholic Church and their edicts. This is basically how I see the justification for the Catholic cannon that rules your life:

      This is basicaly how I se the justification for the Catholic cannon that rules your life.

    • johnny-boy Says:

      i think everybody has missed a main point: the church KNEW about the abuses that were going on & just shuffled the priests from parish to parish/ covered it up. the vatican became a dating service for pedophiles.

    • johnny-boy Says:

      she is right about the ‘denigrating’ thing will. there’s no need to bash the everyday joe-catholic. be synical if you want but try to have more respect. people aren’t like rabbits. people are like people.
      – the vatican was still a dating service for goofs, though.

  15. Ikeshut Says:

    Anita, you say the tone of my comment – that the Catholic church tacitly encourages “their laity to breed like rabbits” – was meant to denigrate. I would argue that the number of children a couple choose to have is nobody’s business but their own (as long as they can provide the proper emotional and financial support and their actions do not adversely affect others in society). I am happy to denigrate a church that encourages rampant breeding – as you say “be fruitful and multiply” – without considering the particular circumstances of their followers. The fact is (and you must know this), many Catholics simply ignore the nonsense emanating from the Vatican and in the privacy of their bedrooms use condoms or other proscribed methods of contraception to sensibly limit their families.
    A good starting point for any specific research into the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests in the US would be the 2004 research study ‘The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States’ which was instigated by the full body of US Catholic bishops and undertaken by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The link http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/PriestAbuseScandal.htm gives an overview of statistics from the study and has a further link to the full report. Don’t believe me, Anita, have a read for yourself – it will answer some of your questions.

  16. Bill Says:

    You are correct. This is not a honored relationship UNLESS Anglicans accept Nicene and transubstantiation. There is NO dispensation re the body and blood of Christ being the commion; not a “presence”.

    I have no idea why our Pope remotely thinks this is acceptable. And I am getting concerned.

  17. johnny-boy Says:

    the anglican church is pretty much in schizm. ministers of the anglican church run the full spectrum of beliefs, from fire-and-brimstone to unitarian (ie: the bible is just metaphore, jesus isn’t magic) the current pope realizes that the conservative anglican clergy are just as conservative as him, so heck, why not have them join.
    – i don’t think islam is going to take over the religious right because it doesn’t have the financial power. & once all that oil in the middle east is gone they’ll have even less. numbers won’t do it. you need money to re-invent the world along faith lines. which states have the most muslims? india, indonesia, pakistan, bangladesh (in that order) that’s more than half of muslims. all of these countries are dirt poor, except india (which is by-far predominantly non-muslim). which muslim countries have the money: saudia arabia, iraq, iran, the rest of the gulf states. where will their power come from when the oil is all gone?
    – western countries will westernize the muslims in them or quit taking muslims in as immigrants from north africa & elsewhere.
    – china has been the most populous country in the world for centuries but it’s only become really powerful in the last twenty years. it had nothing to do with religion & everything to do with economics. power is money & weapons.
    – the current pope is consolidating conservative christians. he knows the anglican churches of north america and australasia don’t want them anymore. it bolsters his numbers, for sure & it makes him feel like his agenda is moving forward. but this fear of competition from islam is something that you dreamt-up, will. christians & secularists aren’t going to somehow convert to islam. it’s heresy to both.

  18. johnny-boy Says:

    & one last thing. read the golden bough. there is a whole section on dying and ressurected gods.
    – there have been thousands and thousands of religions in history. most of them had tales of the supernatural in them. why should christianity be the RIGHT one?
    they’re all BS!
    — hebus died and came back to life much in the way that monkies flew out my arse or like the way my brain hatched out of my skull like a chick from an egg, grew arms & legs & sang mammy.

  19. johnny-boy Says:

    ^___^ ‘monkeys’ …

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