Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pope a Dope

Today, in his Christmas address, the pope asked for people to work together to solve our problems "in a spirit of authentic solidarity."

I thought about using this post to rant about someone who would call for authentic solidarity out of one side of his mouth while vilifying large swaths of humanity by talking about the evil dangers of homosexuality out of the other.

I thought about marveling at the shear audacity of someone who can add the accumulation of wealth to the deadly sins that will take you straight to hell, all the while sitting in the midst of thousands of years of accumulated riches.

I thought about a little diatribe on how many human beings have died of aids because they won't use a condom, as the pope thinks birth control is a sin. Or perhaps on how many women have died because of back alley abortions or because a doctor in Nicaragua suspected a miscarriage might have been an abortion and didn't want to risk prison.

I thought about recounting the history of Catholicism in the world. I thought about the crusades, the inquisition, forcible conversions, decimation of indigenous culture, appeasement of nazis, priests abusing children and concealment of their crimes...

But then I thought, who gives a damn what the pope thinks? The pope looks like what he is, a decrepit relic.

Catholicism is on the decline all over. In the United States, Catholic numbers have held somewhat steady due to an influx of immigrants from places like Mexico, but native-born Americans are dropping the religion. And with anti-immigrant hysteria and a declining economy keeping immigrants away, that number is bound to decline further.

Spain, once a bastion of Catholicism, is going the way of the rest of Europe and leaving the church behind. Latin America has been hemorrhaging Catholics. The number of nuns and monks in the world is on decline. The number of Catholic priests is on decline. And Catholic school enrollment is down. The drop-off in the United States has been precipitous, causing all sorts of ogeda in the conservative community. In fact, according to the Vatican themselves, Islam has now overtaken Catholicism as the worlds most practiced religion.

So who really cares what the pope thinks. Not even practicing Catholics pay much attention his dictates anymore.

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Timothy said...

Greetings! Saw your post in Google Blogsearch and came to read.

>"I thought about recounting the history of Catholicism in the world. I thought about the crusades, the inquisition, forcible conversions, decimation of indigenous culture,..."

You would only make the Bible and the Church's point: Jesus founded a church for sinners, filled it with sinners, and put sinners in charge. How else should sinners act?

>"Catholicism is on the decline all over"

Hardly. The Catholic Church is increasing at a rate of 17-18 million per year worldwide. Even though you cited sources, the declines are regional and not indicative of the larger church. The temporary loss of priests in some dioceses has resulted in more liberal American priests being replaced with more traditional African priests. Other dioceses have so many priests they have no place for them. A number of traditional convents are reporting overflowing with novices. Nuns in habits are like rock stars currently.

Catholics now outnumber Protestants in SCotland
Risee in Number of Global Catholic Clergy

Evangelism Explosion Among Catholics
Orthodox Church in America Increasing

At Christmas Eve mass last evening I saw first hand that the Church is going strong. There were two priests and three seminarians. The church was packed with adults and children, the next generation of Catholics. There's no shortage of priests or future Catholics in our area and our U.S. diocese is considered mission territory as out state is only 5% Catholic.

Merry Christmas and God bless...


Melanie said...

Given Timothy's comment above and the sources he cites that are in direct opposition to mine, I did a little further research on the growth of Catholicism.

Ontario consultants on religious tolerance have a good post up explaining rates of growth and differing opinions on the subject.

According to them, while Catholicism is growing by 1.3%, it is not growing near as fast as other Christian religions.

Also, according to many sources (including the Vatican source I cite in my article) Islam is growing faster than all the Christian religions.

In short, while there may be absolute growth in numbers of Catholics (at least for a while), they will shrink as a percentage of the population (particularly since so many Catholics ignore the church's dictates about birth control).

As to Timothy's other comment about sinners - All people are capable of terrible things and wonderful things. Some situations, organizations, and groups bring out the best in people. Some bring out the worst. Given it's history, the Catholic church has too often brought out the worst.

Melanie said...

Link to the info from Ontario Religious Tolerance

Henry Jennings said...

While I'm not a Catholic, I do respect the Church's consistency on issues such as life. A lot of mainstream Christians believe that any unnatural termination of a pregnancy is murder, yet will go balls to the wall to execute criminals -- the Catholic Church doesn't see it that way.

But you make a great point about the accumulation of riches.

I used to shudder when I went into a fancy cathedral -- the main one at Toledo, Spain, for example -- literally hundreds of millions of dollars in todays terms went into the building of that monument to the Church. I would become totally depressed by the thought of all those resources going into such a thing when people were starving, education only being for the nobility/clerics, crap for roads, etc. Then, a couple years back, I realized that all of that money WOULD have been used for wars if the Church hadn't used it for building these beautiful monuments.

Just a random couple of thoughts.


Melanie said...

Hi Henry. Thanks for commenting.

I agree with you about the church's consistency when it comes to the death penalty. I never understood those "right to life" people who were pro death penalty and pro war.

However, I think the church's stance on other issues, like birth control, have resulted in many deaths. And don't get me started on the deaths resulting from the church's proselytizing. (I'm most familiar with Latin America, but there are other examples.)

I also would rather see a gaudy cathedral than a war. Let's say you're right. It is the church's position that they have all that money to help the poor. So by their own value system it should not have been a war v. cathedral choice. Shouldn't they be required to live up to their stated value system and not put up with as the lesser of two evils?