AngryFrenchGuy

Fuck the Pope, I’m still a Catholic

with 86 comments

benedict-vs-obama1

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. Unfortunately, I can’t tap dance though.

    Fon

    April 4, 2009 at 2:14 am

  2. Every sperm is sacred.
    Every sperm is great.
    If a sperm is wasted,
    God gets quite irate.

    http://immaculata-one.com/index.html

    Anonymous

    April 4, 2009 at 6:03 am

  3. Connaissez-vous la série “L’origine du christianisme”, diffusée sur ARTE?

    Anonymous

    April 4, 2009 at 6:12 am

  4. 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…

    There are many sides to what Jesus said. “Love one anotehr AS I HAVE LOVED YOU” is very much part of the faith.

    But what if you do not love others? What if you’re scum like Saddam Hussein, who gases people with mustard gas? Do you think that Saddam Hussein should be “rewarded” for his behaviour. Do you think Jesus should say to him “Well done, good and faithful servant?”

    No, it’s clear that in the Gospels, Jesus says that those who sow evil will suffer for it. There is no justice in telling the bad that they will not suffer consequences for their actions.

    Catholics don’t live on the threat of hell. Catholics live by “Love one another”. But to those who would not live by it, there are consequences.

    SUZANNE

    April 4, 2009 at 9:37 am

  5. 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.

    If anything, Orthodox Judaism is extremely accepting of various viewpoints.

    In fact, if you examine the Gospels closely, this is what Jesus came to oppose: the notion of mishmash religion, where one person says one thing, and another says another. That’s how it works in Orthodox Judaism. Ask a Jew if you have to believe anything in particular. He will tell you: no.

    But the crowds were amazed at him “because he taught with authority.” He didn’t just “give an opinion.” He said “I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE.” He made it extremely clear, that his words were THE WAY. Jesus made it clear that you had to believe in HIM. “He who believes in me believes in the one who sent me.”

    If you want to understand Catholicism, don’t read liberal authors. Read the Catechism. Read a book of apologetics written by an orthodox scholar.

    SUZANNE

    April 4, 2009 at 9:42 am

  6. Wasn’t Jesus a dissident?

    Jesus never broke The Law. He was a dissident against the contradictory and man-made opinions of the Jewish scholars of his day. He was for Divine Revelation.

    And I am for Divine Revelation. Jesus’ message was to believe Divine Revelation.

    Liberation Theology essentially tries to make Jesus into a Marxist and make Marxism the source of salvation. Jesus’ goal was not heaven on earth.

    It is not wrong to fight oppression. Oscar Romero is canonized because of it. But it is wrong to make politics a form of salvation. The salvation of the people is not a classless society. It’s Jesus Christ.

    SUZANNE

    April 4, 2009 at 9:48 am

  7. Amen to that. Paul might be pissed.
    Then again it was he who turned his back on the religion of his fathers (Judaism) and followed the apostate Jesus. So he might be down with overthrowing tradition.

    Doesn’t much matter since unlike Jesus, he’s dead and he ain’t coming back.

    Edward

    April 4, 2009 at 10:31 am

  8. Pedophilia was a common and accepted practice when Jesus lived. If he had nothing to say about it we can just as easily assume he approved as opposed it.

    Edward

    April 4, 2009 at 10:35 am

  9. ” Celibacy allows a greater degree of freedom to pursue religious activities. That’s pretty obvious.”

    Do you really believe this? Are ministers, rabbis or mullahs pursuing religious activities less freely than priests? God’s first commandment to mankind was to be fruitful and multiply. It is a huge part of life and love. I think it is pretty obvious that a celibate priest is more likely to be distracted by fighting his biological instincts than a married man or woman who has experienced all of life.

    Edward

    April 4, 2009 at 10:43 am

  10. Sorry suzanne but your understanding of Judiasm is entirely incorrect. Jews have no clear belief about the afterlife, but a very clearly and elaborately defined set of rules and beliefs about life and God.
    Jews are tolerant of the beliefs others hold for themselves, but would never, on pain of death, adopt them. Thousands of Jews died at the hands of your church for refusing to convert and embrace Christianity.

    Edward

    April 4, 2009 at 10:50 am

  11. If by “have to believe” you mean a belief required for salvation in the afterlife then you are correct. But this notion of salvation is an entirely Christian viewpoint based on Christian mythology about the afterlife.

    If salvation does not exist then how can there be a required belief to obtain it? It makes as much sense as saying that you absolutely have to believe in unicorns if you ever hope to be able to fly to the moon in a zeppelin. Zeppelin pilots who don’t intend on flying to the moon are not required to believe in unicorns.

    Edward

    April 4, 2009 at 11:07 am

  12. might as well throw this into the mix –

    “I believe that the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world. I further believe that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level.”

    ~ William F. Buckley

    johnnyonline

    April 4, 2009 at 11:24 am

  13. > Jesus never broke The Law.

    That’s questionable. They did execute him for a reason, after all. As far as I can tell, his assaulting the merchants in the Temple attracted negative attention from the Roman authorities who, fearing a revolt due to emotions being high during the Jewish Passover, decided to get rid of him. What he did probably didn’t deserve the death penalty, but it wasn’t lawful, and certainly an expression of dissidence.

    Marc

    April 4, 2009 at 4:19 pm

  14. Many here seem to take for granted that Jesus actually existed.

    Firstly, no historical source whatsoever confirm his existence : None, in any case, confirm the events related in the New Testament, which were written several hundred years after they were supposed to have taken place.
    Secondly, Jesus appears to be the personification of several ancient gods, such as Mithra and Horus, who all share strikingly similar biographies with his. Those deities in turn were personifications of very ancient astrological beliefs revolving around the concept of the Sun God.

    If there were ever some type of inspirational preacher named Jesus walking about around year 0, whatever we think we know about him is largely a construction by Paul of Tarsus and later fathers of the church, who have written and re-written the Bible over the course of the 1st millennia a.d., and who have methodically and violently eradicated “deviant” constructions, such as the Jesus of the Gnostics, to name but one.


    See “Christ myth theory” :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_myth

    Also, see the 1st part of the the movie Zeitgeist for a summary :
    http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=Zeitgeist#
    (I’ve never watched the rest of the movie, which seems to be about 9/11 conspiracy theories…)

    Raman

    April 4, 2009 at 4:26 pm

  15. “If a judgement’s to be made, God gets to make it. Not you. God.”

    -Dennis Miller

    angryfrenchguy

    April 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm

  16. 13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
    16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
    But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided.

    17Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
    The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

    18The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19″Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

    20″We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ[a] would be put out of the synagogue.

    John 9 13-22

    God comes to earth. He breaks all the rules. His followers are thrown out of the Church.

    Yet the lesson you understand from this is obey the rules or else…

    angryfrenchguy

    April 4, 2009 at 5:09 pm

  17. They have rules. They don’t have dogmas. There are no dogmatic requirements in Judaism. You must simply perform actions– and reject other religions. That is the minimal requirement. If you do not believe in God, have faith, believe in the prophets, etc, that is not what is important. What is important is behaviour.

    In Catholicism, belief and faith is a requirement.

    Thousands of Jews died at the hands of your church for refusing to convert and embrace Christianity.

    And many Jewish Christians died at the hands of Jews for not renouncing Jesus.

    SUZANNE

    April 4, 2009 at 7:10 pm

  18. God comes to earth. He breaks all the rules.

    It’s clear in the Gospel: Jesus perfectly respected the law. He did not respect Pharisaical opinion.

    Nevertheless, Jesus taught the people to obey the Pharisees. He was very much in favour of authority and structure. This idea that Jesus rejected authority is revisionism. Jesus respected the authority of the government, of Pharisees and he established authority himself. What he rejected was relativism and man-made opinions. He was a dissident to predominant thought, not to Divine Revelation. Indeed, he believed he was the Son of God and acted that one must of necessity believe in him.

    SUZANNE

    April 4, 2009 at 7:12 pm

  19. Wow, You know a lot about Jesus and what he thought. Must be a cousin of yours.

    Anonymous

    April 4, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  20. That was me.

    kriss

    April 4, 2009 at 10:53 pm

  21. > Many here seem to take for granted that Jesus actually existed.

    True. We’re supposing that he existed, and go from there. But many scholars seem to believe that there did exist around these times a Judean carpenter named Jesus (or rather Yeshua, in Hebrew or Aramaic) who came from Nazareth and had a few followers. Pontius Pilate, for one, certainly existed. There exists non-Biblical evidence of his serving a mandate as Procurator of Judea.

    Of course, much of what the New Testament says about Jesus, especially his supernatural nature, can be traced to earlier myths.

    Marc

    April 5, 2009 at 1:44 am

  22. “Jesus perfectly respected the law.”

    But he sometimes made it difficult for the authorities to enforce it. After all, he got a woman off what would ordinarily have been a death sentence for adultery by reminding the court that it was not itself without sin.

    “The salvation of the people is not a classless society. It’s Jesus Christ.”

    I have an acquaintance who is an immigrant from Mexico, in this country (US) in violation of its law. He is a devout Catholic who prays to the Virgin of Guadalupe, and I am sure he believes (and I hope he is right) that Jesus will grant him an eternal life after he leaves this one. In the meantime, however, he could sure use an American social security number, and it doesn’t appear as if he’s going to get one soon. Human flesh being what it is, I sometimes wonder whether we could all do with a bit more salvation in this life before we all move on to whatever is next.

    littlerob

    April 5, 2009 at 8:06 am

  23. “And many Jewish Christians died at the hands of Jews for not renouncing Jesus.”

    I am not familiar with what you are referring to here. Is this a specific historical event or just supposition on your part?

    I am talking about forced conversions in the Holy Roman Empire, later throughout Europe during the Crusades, in the Spanish Inquisition and AutoDaFe in Iberia, the blood libels throughout European history.

    To what historical events do you refer?

    Edward

    April 5, 2009 at 8:38 am

  24. “They have rules. They don’t have dogmas. There are no dogmatic requirements in Judaism. You must simply perform actions– and reject other religions. That is the minimal requirement.”

    Yes, this sounds correct. I understand what you mean and apologize for disparaging your understanding of the Judiasm earlier. Your assessment is in fact very scholarly.

    But, I would still take issue with your use of the term “mishmash religion”. Leaving room for debate on how to interpret the literal texts of the Bible, is not dogma, but it is also not secular humanism. There is a core of beliefs and a historical framework just like in Catholicism, but simply the absence of an authority who claims to know what the texts really mean in absolute terms.

    Edward

    April 5, 2009 at 8:51 am

  25. In a theocracy, opposing the power of the religious authorities merits a death sentence. It is no different from advocating the overthrow of the government today.

    In any case, Jesus was not a passive prophet like Buddha. He was an in your face radical like Mohammed or Al Sharpton.

    He needed attention. What would it have served to have died on the cross if nobody actually knew it happened?

    It raises the interesting conundrum that there may have been many messiahs in the history of the world, most of whom lived an died anonymous lives without impacting anyone…..hmmm

    Edward

    April 5, 2009 at 8:59 am

  26. But the Church definitely exists.

    Edward

    April 5, 2009 at 9:01 am

  27. L’enfer, c’est les autres.

    Edward

    April 5, 2009 at 9:04 am

  28. Of course, there have been a few successful re-brands in Church history, but most of the time you just end up with Pepsi instead of Coke and can’t even tell the difference (and sometimes you even get something like Mormonism, the Inca Cola of Christandom).

    Edward

    April 5, 2009 at 9:14 am

  29. This is revisionism. The Gospels were written within a generation or two of Jesus’ resurrection. The Gospels are known and quoted by first and early second century figures.

    If the same standards to deny Jesus’ existence were applied to other historical questions, you couldn’t produce history.

    We know that the apostles existed, because letters independent of the apostles confirm this. We have letters from Ignatius and Polycarp attesting to Peter, Paul and John.

    So what deniers would have us believe is that these apostles made up Jesus.

    That is conspiracy theory garbage.

    You do not need non-Christian sources to confirm the existence of Christian figures. History does not work that way. You simply examine a document according to its context– if sincere people wrote it, and you can confirm many of the facts therein, it is a historical source, even if some other facts may be wrong.

    Secondly, Jesus appears to be the personification of several ancient gods, such as Mithra and Horus,

    Nobody ever made a historical claim that Mithra and Horus ever existed. But we know that the apostles lived. And we know that the people who knew the apostles lived. And they all make the claim that Jesus Christ lived.

    That is the big difference between Mithra and Jesus.

    Mithra is a non-historical figure.

    Jesus is a historical figure.

    You cannot simply assume that because of certain elements of similarity, Jesus did not exist, or that his story was lifted off of somewhere else. In literature, stories are invented in different parts of the world that resemble each other, but they are not copied.

    The Jesus-Mithra connection is tenuous at best.

    If there were ever some type of inspirational preacher named Jesus walking about around year 0, whatever we think we know about him is largely a construction by Paul of Tarsus

    But the early Church approved of Paul’s preaching. Peter, John, and those who came after him testify to Paul’s legitimacy as a spokesperson for the Church. In other words, the Church accredited his teachings because it thought it was true. So Paul’s word is just as faithful as any of the original apostles because the apostles thought what he said was true.

    later fathers of the church, who have written and re-written the Bible over the course of the 1st millennia a.d.,

    The Bible was not “re-written”. In certain passages, there may be been a misprint or an omission. But the Bible was the most widely read book in Western Europe. There is no way you could have “re-written” it and not have been noticed. The integrity of the books of the New Testament are as good or maybe even better than many sources of the Ancient World. It was copied so relently and so studiously, and studied so endlessly that someone could not have passed off a false passage as a true one. Someone would have discovered it.

    and who have methodically and violently eradicated “deviant” constructions, such as the Jesus of the Gnostics, to name but one.

    It was the Gnostics who tried to falsify the teachings of Jesus. Jesus appointed the apostles and their successors as the guardians of his word. Gnostics were outsiders. Not one successor of an apostle approved of Gnostic texts as a doctrinal source because everyone knew that they did not come from the apostles or their secretaries.

    SUZANNE

    April 5, 2009 at 3:55 pm

  30. After all, he got a woman off what would ordinarily have been a death sentence for adultery by reminding the court that it was not itself without sin.

    This is an interesting case.

    Jesus did not deny that the law was right on the point. If a woman was caught in open adultery, she had to be stoned.

    The Pharisees who brought the woman were definitively trying to trick him to test his sincerity in obeying the Law.

    But he knew that they were “using” this woman. It’s not that they cared about the Law so much, as trapping Jesus. That is why he said “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” He didn’t say “don’t stone her.” He lifted the veil over the pharisee’s real intentions. And when it looked like they were going to be shamed by stoning this woman, they didn’t stone her.

    Human flesh being what it is, I sometimes wonder whether we could all do with a bit more salvation in this life before we all move on to whatever is next

    Fighting for the rights and good of others is all well and good. We should be inspired to do so. But that is not the purpose of Jesus’ Revelation. It is to remove the alienation between God and man, the alienation that resulted in death for humanity. This is the primary purpose. Everything one does should fit in this vein. Liberation Theology made politics the primary purpose of the Gospel. That’s why the Church condemned it.

    SUZANNE

    April 5, 2009 at 4:08 pm


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