Fuck the Pope, I’m still a Catholic

with 86 comments


At a very precise moment in 1966, the Québécois just stopped going to Church.  Everyone understands that the Church had become moribund when the provincial government took over its education, health care and social service missions, but to this day it remains a sociological mystery as to why it happened so fast.  In a few months Québec went from the most actively religious place in North America to the least.

The recent decision of a Brazilian catholic bishop to excommunicate the mother of a 9 year old rape victim and of the doctors who got her an abortion while letting the rapist keep his membership card convinced many people in Québec that ignoring the Church just wasn’t enough.  People are getting paperwork done.  According to Le Devoir, about 50 people have asked the Québec City diocese for their certificate of excommunication last month.  There is usually about 20 such requests every year. The Montreal and Sherbrooke dioceses confirm they’re getting the same order of requests.

In the words of 26 signers of a formal apostasy request published in Le Devoir: “We want to liberate ourselves from the shame we feel when the catholic Church, often against our will, considers us members of this this institution.”

I don’t believe in God.  Let’s make that very clear.  But I do believe in the sacred, in sacraments, in rituals and in the importance of non-commercial institutions.

That is why I will be keeping my membership card.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as disgusted as anyone by the Church’s behaviour in this affair.  Actually, I’m disgusted by the Church’s position on most issues.  But I’m disgusted catholic.  And I’m keeping my right to speak out as a catholic.

When I was a kid, our NDG parish was run by Dominicans, also know as the Order of Preachers.  The Dominicans are a highly intellectual order who don’t usually do mundane priest duties like celebrate Sunday mass.  Every time we went to church they would openly and explicitly invite divorces and homosexuals to take communion, it direct violation of official doctrine.  At my father’s funeral they invited Jewish and Protestant members of our family to receive benediction with the catholics who came up for communion.

Most non-catholics think the catholic Church is monolithic, centralized and dogmatic, but you have to understand that in reality, the central command of the Church has no more actual power than the Académie Française or the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

They make rules and tell us what good and bad. We listen, disagree and ignore.

The catholic Church is actually one of the more synchretic religions in the world, with the possible exception of Hinduism.  Anyone who’s taken the time to try to untangle it’s diverse roots has found a dizzying mash-up of Judaïsm, Roman Mystery Cults, Celtic paganism and Zoroastrianism. It even made the Budhha a saint.  As the very word catholic implies, its aim is to be universal.  And universality means embracing contradiction.

The Church is, to use a fashionable image, a Team or Rivals.  On the right you’ve got the Opus Dei and the Congregation for the doctrine of the faith, on the left you’ve got the Order of Dominicans.  On one side you’ve got roman bishops sleeping in gold-laced satin sheets, on the other you’ve got the carthusian monks living in isolation and poverty.

The catholic Church condemns homosexuality but in just about every city you will find a catholic church that flies the diversity flag.  The catholic Church condemns abortion, but former Bloc Québécois MP and priest Raymond Gravel could stand up in the House of Commons to defend a woman’s right to choose.  When he was eventually asked to choose between politics and the priesthood, it was not because of opposition from his parishioners or even his bosses.  Until conservative (Conservative?) western catholics demanded his head, Monseigneur Turcotte was happy to look the other way.

There is a Québec way of being a catholic.  Québec as a country was founded by missionary catholic orders and it is men of cloth like Curé Labelle that opened the roads to the hinterland in the name of occupying God’s country.  But this was not a always a Church controlled by Rome.  In fact, the first four or five bishops that administered the Church after the British took over New-France were appointed not by the Pope, but by the protestant King of England!

Cut off from the rest of the Church and living in a society where there really wasn’t any other option except Catholicism, many Québécois developed an extremely loose attitude toward dogma.  When my grand-mother watched the mass on television on Sunday morning, she would mute the sermon because she didn’t think a 50 year old virgin should be telling her how to live her life.

That’s the Catholic Church I belong to.  My Grand-mother’s Church.  And if the Pope doesn’t like our Church, he’s free to leave.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

April 2, 2009 at 8:11 pm

86 Responses

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  1. Fuck the Pope? I bet if you did that, he’d want you to wear a condom!


    April 2, 2009 at 9:51 pm

  2. It’s like an ex I had who considered themselves Jewish due to family tradition but was actually more of an agnostic. Hey, I can’t tell anyone what to believe, spirituality is a very personal thing. But thanks for this insight into Quebec religion because I found it a little confusing how the most Catholic province could also have the highest abortion rate and swear words from the church.

    I read the story on the Brazilian child and it just made me sick. I’m a convert, and I wonder what the hell I joined. I haven’t been to mass much since last summer anyway. I do think there is good in the church, a lot of good, but stuff like this, oh, I can’t take it.

    Abortion is wrong. Yes, adult rape victims should think carefully, too, I really believe that. But a kid in primary school who is not fully developed and has suffered enough from abuse? HELLO! This is not rocket science. Yes, those babies were alive too and now they will have no chance at life, but they didn’t have much of one to begin with without the fully developed hormonal support, nutritional stores, and body structure an adult mother would have. They may not have made it anyway and would have killed their child mother anyway, a child mother who was traumatized and had no clue what was happening or why she was hurting so much.

    And abortion is supposed to be forgivable as long as you go to confession and repent. This is what we were told when we joined the church. Not that time, I guess.

    And the Pope doesn’t get it? Don’t they make priests retire at 72? Why not popes?

    GGGreat BallsofComment

    April 3, 2009 at 5:51 am

  3. Tous ceux qui ont demandé l’apostasie l’ont faits ignorant les propos rééls du Pape dans le cas du Sida et de l’excommunication pour meurtre dans le cas de l’équipe médicale de la fillette de 9 ans du Brésil.

    Dans l’échelle des valeurs catholique, le meurtre est plus grave que le viol ce qui est logique.

    Ils ne faut jamais se fier à tous ces journalistes malfaisants qui dès qu’ils s’agit de l’Église catholique s’organisent pour déformer la vérité pour vendre du papier ou augmenter leurs cotes d’écoutes.


    April 3, 2009 at 8:00 am

  4. AFG

    I think you grossly misunderstand the theory of Catholicism.

    But you have a sound grasp of the reality.

    I am a faithful Catholic. I believe in the faith of Benedict XVI.

    In Catholicism, if you say you reject God, you effectively kick yourself out of the Church. You’re still a nominal Catholic– just not one in communion with the Church.

    However, not a damn priest in all of the Quebec Church will enforce Catholic teaching. You can speak out as a Catholic and nobody is going to question your credibility or authority, because no one wants to give offense. The clergy in the Quebec Catholic Church do not have the culot to stand up for Church doctrine, that is, when they actually believe it.

    And if the Pope doesn’t like our Church, he’s free to leave.

    It doesn’t quite work that way. The Catholic Church and the Pope go hand in hand. It’s the brand. You can try to re-brand– not gonna work. There’s 2000 years of history behind it.


    April 3, 2009 at 9:48 am

  5. angryfrenchguy

    April 3, 2009 at 11:23 am

  6. Like many if not most people here (especially if they are in Quebec) I have several people in my entourage who are devout, practising Catholics.

    Most of them have always lived their lives pretty much in the manner described by AFG, regardless of what the Pope of the time might have said. This “cool Catholicism” is actually not a phenomenon unique to Quebec, but also typical of most “Latin” Catholic societies in the world like Italy, Spain, Latin America, etc.

    They don’t really pay much credence to what Pope Benedict XVI says about that poor little girl in Brazil. This deaf-ear-turning has both bad and good sides to it.

    On the bad side, the fact that I am sure that these people, in spite of the fact that they may be scandalized by the Pope at the moment, won’t ever slam the door en masse from the Church in reaction to such inanities from Rome, means there is never any real impetus for change inside that institution.

    On the good side, and perhaps much more so than the Pope himself, if I use the people I know as an example, their path on this Earth, though never without blemishes, nonetheless quite faithfully embodies Christian values and everything that is good about them. I guess this probably also goes for people like Raymond Gravel and this Lacaille fellow from Trois-Rivières.

    If Jesus Christ is looking down on the latter group from above, I am sure he is pretty pleased with what he sees. Perhaps this will help console him after what he’s seen from a handful of others in his name lately.


    April 3, 2009 at 11:52 am

  7. How do you know Jesus is pleased with this revolt?

    How do you know he isn’t actually siding with the Church he founded and assigned to teach in his name?


    April 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm

  8. We don’t know.

    Jesus Himself hasn’t said anything to us in almost 2000 years. We’ll all have to wait for insight from Him about this and other modern matters until He returns.


    April 3, 2009 at 2:22 pm

  9. 33But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

    34Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

    Luke 22 33-34

    Jesus made Peter the head of his Church, then warned us that Peter would totally mess it up not once or twice, but three times on the very first night of his stewardship.

    Interstingly, the Buddha also warned his followers that those who would later speak in his name would only be faillible humans.

    Great spiritual leaders always give their followers the right to question the intitutions they are part of.


    April 3, 2009 at 4:21 pm

  10. But Jesus still said to Peter after his resurrection “Feed my sheep”. His denial did not change his role. Jesus knew ahead of time of this denial. But he still said to Peter “You are the rock and on this rock I will build my church.”

    The papacy is a keystone in the Church. Even the Orthodox, who do not recognize papal supremacy, realize that Peter and the Roman See are central in the organization of the Church.


    April 3, 2009 at 4:29 pm

  11. Great spiritual leaders always give their followers the right to question the intitutions they are part of.

    Jesus never gave the right to anyone to question anything he said. In fact, he consistently claims that everything he says is true, based on their divine origin.


    April 3, 2009 at 4:30 pm

  12. On this subject and the subject of language: According to Matthew 26 73-75, some people came up to Peter, pointed his accent out to him, and suggested to him that he must have been with Jesus because of it. Peter’s response was to cuss them out.


    April 3, 2009 at 4:47 pm

  13. 5So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?”

    6He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
    ” ‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
    7They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are but rules taught by men.'[b] 8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Mark 7 5-7

    Abortion, homosexuality, women priests, celibate priests. Jesus never said anything about any of these thing. They are only traditions of men.


    April 3, 2009 at 5:01 pm

  14. Jesus of Nazareth is not the founder of the church. Paul of Tarsus is.

    “Jésus a annoncé le Royaume et c’est l’Eglise qui est venue”
    Alfred Loisy

    (Jesus announced the coming of the kingdom, but what came was the church)


    April 3, 2009 at 5:04 pm

  15. At the same moment the new religion in Quebec became sovereignty. Lots of similarities with the Church.
    Dogmatism, wherein those who don’t believe are condemned outright; a fervent belief that one’s cause is just and true; excommunication of former members who have lost the faith. I could go on and on.


    April 3, 2009 at 6:23 pm

  16. As a matter of fact, the Catholic Church did allow priests to get married in the first few centuries of its existence. And here’s a little-known fact: there are currently married Catholic priests, recognized by the Church. Married Episcopal priests who convert to Catholicism can remain both married and ordinated after their conversion.

    I’m not an expert on theology, but I believe the Catholic Church recognizes that its decision not to allow priests to get married is “of man” and not “of God”. This leaves open the possibility of them allowing it in the future.


    April 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm

  17. And let’s not forget who that guy is:

    Cardinal Ratzinger, well-known as the Vatican enforcer for Pope John Paul, ordered the 1984 “silencing” of liberation theologians, forbidding them to publish their work, and removing bishops who supported their views, as well as declaring Rome’s opposition to the social activism and organizations for self-help which priests in impoverished regions had long regarded as central to their Christian mission. […]

    “An analysis of “liberation theology,” wrote Cardinal Ratzinger in 1984, “reveals that it constitutes a fundamental threat to the faith of the Church.” […]

    The order to silence the liberation theologians which came shortly thereafter, not only deprived professors of their jobs, priests of their most salient message to the poor, and removed bishops from their dioceses to be replaced by men who agreed with Cardinal Ratizinger, it also had a more deadly effect. It sent a message to the repressive regimes in Latin America that these people did not have the protection or support of the Church. Lay missionaries, nuns, priests, teachers, even aid workers, were immediately seen as soft targets for the repressive regimes. One of the most brutal massacres which followed was the assault on the Central America University (UCA) in San Salvador. There, in the early hours of November 16, 1989, soldiers entered the Jesuit residence and assassinated the university president, Fr. Ignacio Ellcuria, and five other priests. Their cook Elba Ramos and her daughter Cecelia, who asked to stay the night for their own safety since soldiers had surrounded the campus, were also murdered.


    April 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm

  18. Amen to that.


    April 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm

  19. Oh yes, of course, a religion that’s practiced by 50% of the population in its best times. Whose leaders try to propagate their truth by gently asking, and who actually accept “No” for an answer. Everything in common with the Catholic Church, of course.

    We could equally say that Canadian multiculturalism is the new Church.


    April 3, 2009 at 6:42 pm

  20. Now PRAISE-THE-LORD to that!


    April 3, 2009 at 6:57 pm

  21. Abortion, homosexuality, women priests, celibate priests. Jesus never said anything about any of these thing. They are only traditions of men.

    As I said, you understand the reality of Catholicism, not the doctrine.

    Jesus never said anything about abortion because it was understood to be wrong. Jesus didn’t say anything about pedophilia, either. Does that mean he sanctions it?

    The Gospel recognizes the unborn as equal human beings. In Luke 1, an unborn John the Baptist witnesses to the divinity of the Unborn Jesus. The unborn John the Baptist, through his leap in the womb, signals to St. Elizabeth the presence of Jesus (which she could not have known about, as Mary had not informed her of the news) and awakens her heart to the Holy Spirit to knowledge that he is God and Man. She says to Mary: who am I that the Mother of MY LORD should come to me?

    Jesus is fully God and man. So the equality of the unborn is implicitly understood. There are many other passages that imply that God knows and loves the unborn and recognizes them as human.

    Jesus did not have to speak out against homosexual behaviour because it was widely understood to be wrong, not only according to the Mosaic Law, but also by the Noahide Covenant, which is a Covenant that covers all mankind.

    Jesus never spoke about women’s ordination because he didn’t want it. He could have easily broken the male-female taboos of his time. He was not bound by them. But he didn’t. His wish was that the clergy be male.

    As for celibate priests, it’s not a doctrine of the Church, but Jesus spoke highly of celibacy. In fact, Jesus himself was celibate. Jesus spoke of people making themselves eunuchs. Celibacy allows a greater degree of freedom to pursue religious activities. That’s pretty obvious. That’s why the Church ordains celibate men.

    Divine Revelation, when it is studied in depth– and not just glibly commented– clearly supports Catholic doctrine. But the vast majority of Catholics in this province know squat about the Catholic Faith, and the Catholic clergy don’t do anything to correct that. If you want to be a faithful Catholic, you’re essentially on your own in Quebec.


    April 3, 2009 at 8:54 pm

  22. Liberation Theology tries to politicize Divine Revelation. The Gospel is not a political program. It can and should inspire politics, but it’s not a recipe for political utopia. The Gospel should not be hijacked to advance a political ideology– namely Marxism.


    April 3, 2009 at 8:56 pm

  23. This leaves open the possibility of them allowing it in the future.

    While it’s true that it’s not a doctrine, it’s such an entrenched practice, I seriously doubt it will ever be terminated. Priestly celibacy has deep roots in the church.


    April 3, 2009 at 8:57 pm

  24. As with Québec’s liberation, you can’t be neutral. To be against catholic organisations that actively, and peacefully, opposed imperial aggression is to be for imperial aggression. You can call it marxism, communism, islamo-fascism, radical nationalism or any other common propaganda term, but it doesn’t change reality. Wasn’t Jesus a dissident? As Chomsky writes:

    The Latin American Catholic Church became a particular target when the Bishops adopted the “preferential option for the poor” in the 1960s and ‘70s, and priests, nuns, and lay workers began to establish base communities were peasants read the Gospels and drew from their teachings lessons about elementary human rights, and worse yet, even began to organize to defend their rights. The horrendous Reagan decade, commemorated with reverence and awe in the United States, is remembered rather differently in the domains where his administration waged the “war on terror” that it declared on coming to office in 1981: El Salvador, for example, where the decade is framed by the assassination in March 1980 of an Archbishop who had become a “voice for the voiceless” and the assassination of six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, in November 1989, by an elite force armed and trained by the US which had left a shocking trail of blood and torture in earlier years. The (now renamed) School of the Americas, which has trained Latin American officers, including some of the continent’s most outstanding torturers and mass murderers, takes pride in having helped to “defeat liberation theology,” one of the “talking points” in its public relations efforts. Such matters arouse little interest in the West, and are scarcely known apart from specialists and the solidarity movements. The reaction would be somewhat different if anything remotely similar had taken place in those years in the domains of the official enemy.–.htm


    April 3, 2009 at 10:00 pm

  25. Suzanne, and a few others, you seem to be forgetting the one new commandment that Jesus gave to people when he walked the earth 2000+ years ago: “love one another, the way I have loved you…” (aimez-vous les uns les autres, comme je vous ai aimés).

    Doesn’t sound very “fire and brimstone” to me… and far better words to live by than “you are going to burn in hell”, or whatever…


    April 3, 2009 at 10:12 pm

  26. Désolé Suzanne,

    Your belief in a a severe God that want strict rules enforced and whishes to see dissenters crushed is not Christian. It’s actually the exact opposite of the message of Jesus Christ.

    Forget what is “implied”. Read what he tells you.

    You are not a catholic or even a Christian. Your belief is a form of orthodox Judaism.

    Nothing wrong with that. There is plenty of great wisdom in Judaism and some solid guidelines to help you navigate tough moral dilemna. It’s just not Christianity.

    Hope you’re not a big fan of bacon.


    April 3, 2009 at 10:13 pm

  27. agf,

    goood to see you back – en pleine forme-

    allow me to get back to you – in a manner most un-christrian:

    you! you fuck you!

    silly man that you are.


    April 3, 2009 at 10:15 pm

  28. Being agnostic doesn’t make you cease to be a Jew. Belief and practise are not what Judaism is about. Judaism is the primary religion of the Jewish people. To become Jewish (a member of the people) you must practise Judaism (the religion), but a Jewish person can remains a Jewish person whether or not s/he practises the religion.

    Sorry I don’t have anything else to add to this post. I’m a Jewish atheist and not very welled informed about Christianity.


    April 3, 2009 at 11:36 pm

  29. For real? Are you telling us you are a black Jew? Cool. You Sammy Davis, You….


    April 3, 2009 at 11:42 pm

  30. We know nothing whatsoever about Jesus’ life between His infancy and the period shortly before His crucifixion, other than that He was confirmed in the Jewish religion at age 13. For all anyone knows, He may have been married and widowed. To say that He must have been celibate is a leap of faith—you are entitled to that, of course—but not necessarily fact.

    I also suggest that Jesus may have been referring to pedophilia in Matthew 18:6.


    April 4, 2009 at 1:45 am

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