April 07, 2005
Pope on a Rope
Stupidity is also a gift of God... ~ Pope John Paul II
I have to admit that even though some of the people I love are Catholics, I have no respect for the institution. I, like Bill Maher, find the choice to adhere to an out-of-date and hypocritical religion to be a form of mild mental illness.
How you can read and study the Bible and come up with the doctrine of the Catholic church bewilders and stuns me. How you can be in a mindset that is hundreds of years behind the evolution of mankind and still have a large chunk of the world population by the seat of their collective guilt -- well, that's just emotional blackmail, not spiritualism.
So when all the blather began about the legacy of Pope John Paul II, I started to cringe. And I just kept on cringing. Then, today, I went to catch up on Andrew Sullivan and I remembered why I started reading him in the first place. Andrew may frustrate the hell out of me from time to time, but he says a lot of things that mainstream pundits are afraid to say. His critical analysis of the real legacy of this pope needs to be shouted among the wailing.
This will not stop him from being canonized and it certainly does not make him 100% a monster, but it may be that a little perspective could be one more step in realizing that just because we want someone to be a hero, that doesn't make them one.
Key facts Andrew reminds us of:
"Under John Paul II (and his predecessors), the Roman Catholic church presided over the rape and molestation of thousands of children and teenagers. Under John Paul II, the church at first did all it could to protect its own and to impugn and threaten the victims of this abuse. Rome never acknowledged, let alone take responsibility for, the scale of the moral betrayal...Here was a man who lectured American married couples that they could not take the pill, who told committed gay couples that they were part of an "ideology of evil," but acquiesced and covered up the rape of minors."
"Since 1975, the number of priestly ordinations in the U.S. declined from 771 a year to 533 last year. (In 2000, the number hit a low of 442.) When you adjust for population growth, in 1975, 771 newly ordained priests faced a Catholic population of 49 million; today, 533 emerge for a total of 64 million Catholics. Essentially, per Catholic, we saw a 50 percent drop in vocations under this Pope...The number of parishes without priests went from 23 percent of all parishes in 1975 to 25 percent in 2000. In the U.S., weekly church attendance has slowly but inexorably declined to well below 50 percent of all Catholics. The decline in religious orders has been particularly steep: down by over 30 percent. And all this understates the crisis facing the American church, because almost half the current priesthood is over 60 - and their replacements are in shorter and shorter supply."
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