How depressing

The only good thing about the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI is that it will put an end to the interminable prattling on current affairs programs, where a motley collection of logacious loquacious priests and self-appointed Vatican experts discuss a Papal election process about which by definition they have no useful knowledge, while vacuous comperes tell us for the hundredth time about black smoke and white smoke.

God’s Rottweiler is now the Pope, and God help us all. The Catholic Church, which I joined full of hope and incomplete piety in the mid-1980s, will continue to be predominantly a force for evil despite the good and selfless works of millions of priests and lay Catholics throughout the world. Good works at grass roots level are largely negated by Papal opposition to birth control, effective anti-HIV programs, IVF, stem cell research, and voluntary euthanasia, not to mention the Church’s hateful attitude towards gay and lesbian people and its mysogenistic mysogynistic opposition to women priests.

One would have been naive to expect or even hope for a Pope who would take a forthright liberal approach to just about any of these issues. After all, JPII had stacked the ranks of cardinals with ultra-conservatives in his own image. But I confess I hoped for someone who might at least soften the harsh edges of the Church’s current ultra-conservative doctrinal approach, a Pope whose humanity would truly prevail over his innate conservatism and admit rays of compassion and enlightenment to the darker reaches of the Vatican.

Instead we’ve ended up with the man who silenced Hans Kung and a host of other thoughtful priests and theologians, including Australia’s Paul Collins. It will continue to be impermissible for Catholics in any official Church institution or forum to be stimulated by imaginative, challenging thinking about the nature of the universe and God and our relationship with them.

Many Catholics (including this armadillo) will continue walking away from the Church, leaving shrinking congregations of ageing, intolerant, unimaginative and fearful people. I, like many people, feel a need for the comfort of certainty and eternal truths, but that isn’t what Ratzinger and his ilk deliver. Their message has little to do with either truth or Christ’s teachings and everything to do with preserving a dying, ossified creed that has grown up through the accretion of thousands of stupid, small-minded and life-denying edicts imposed by St Paul and like-minded successors, narrow-minded men with impoverished spirits. Such a man is now Pope.

Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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cs
cs
2022 years ago

Nice piece Ken, not that us pagans give a stuff.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

we are moved from our apathy now into a great angry depression

the degree of JP11’s conservatism is evident in this college of cardinals

RATZINGER! i didn’t think they’d actually choose him.

the church is building a fortress againt thinking, sentient humanity.

wouldn’t you think they’d want better for the world?

why does the church feel so beseiged?

Mindy
Mindy
2022 years ago

He’s 78 though, maybe he can be ‘called to God’ before he makes too much of an impact.

W
W
2022 years ago

“The Catholic Church, which I joined full of hope and incomplete piety in the mid-1980s, will continue to be predominantly a force for evil…”

Because it does not support rampant shagging with contraception? Because it says kids who are alive now should be adopted instead of fakely making new babies? Because killing yourself is not the greatest thing to do in the world?

Sheesh, Ken. The only ‘depressing’ thing is that you are law lecturer (ie a bright guy) and you think you’re a Catholic.

You’re not. You don’t have the beliefs.

Graham
2022 years ago

Yeah, because having billions starving and infected with HIV is so what Jesus wants, W.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

anything that will hasten the demise of religion is fine with me

Richard O
Richard O
2022 years ago

Graham,

Yep, drag out that old chestnut. If African men actually only shagged their wife or wives rather than every comely lass that says yes, perhaps AIDS wouldn’t be so rampant. Would you shag someone with full-blown AIDS (even while wearing a condom)? Condoms do not provide 100% protection.

I am an atheist and even I can see that fidelity within marriage, and being very cautious who you shag pre marriage is the only sure way to prevent catching AIDS. If you cannot afford to test your partner keep you willie in your pocket.

Graham
2022 years ago

You mean if men only paid attention to what their church told them? Yeah, I can see that working…

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

We preach safe driving, including not driving after consuming alcohol. But we know a significant minority will fail to heed this advice, so we also legislate to make vehicles safer in collision situations, and design roads with armco fences and other features to minimise the incidence of and damage arising from collisions caused by negligent drivers.

There is nothing either immoral or illogical about preaching abstinence outside marriage, but also accepting that we are all miserable sinners and that some will inevitably fail in their marital vows (and always have done), and therefore simultaneously facilitating harm minimisation strategies like condom use. Is it really any part of Christ’s teaching to insist that the many who break their marriage vows at some time must be condemned to a painful death from AIDS through being denied access to condoms and information about their safe use? Did Christ teach that it’s God’s will that the faithful wives of unfaithful husbands (and occasionally vice versa) must also die because their errant partners negligently infected them as well?

I used the word “evil” advisedly.

Mindy
Mindy
2022 years ago

I also take issue with ‘every comely lass that says yes’. Unfortunately there is a myth in some parts of Africa that raping a virgin cures AIDS. If safe sex education were allowed, then this myth could be dispelled, allowing virgins to escape both the horrors of AIDS and rape.

Paul
Paul
2022 years ago

I don’t know why so many are hard of hearing. When doctrines can’t be changed the church says so. So move on. Do whose who are unhappy with the temporal church and it’s officials understand that they must develop their spiritual side to be really part of the church. It is primarily as spiritual movement. There is no requirement for the disaffected to remain in the church after all they have free will.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Ken,

“St Paul and like-minded successors, narrow-minded men with impoverished spirits”. That’s a big call. Are you saying St Peaul is a narrow-minded man with an impoverished spirit? Please expand.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I’m in agreement, Ken, as I’ve just said at my joint:

http://larvatusprodeo.redrag.net/2005/04/20/habemus-papam/

“The big worry for me (aside from Ratzinger’s hardline on women priests, homosexuality, “culture of life”

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Maybe the Pope would respond to both Ken and Mark by saying that he himself (ex-Cardinal R) doesn’t have a line: only He does; so the lesser he has no choice but to toe it.

Adam
2022 years ago

Ken,

As you’ve walked away from the church, have you had any luck fitting into a church that teaches what you want it to?

Guy
Guy
2022 years ago

As you say Ken, at least the whole annoying media obsession with the election of the new pope is over. And no, it isn’t democratic. Unless you think that your average cardinal is representative of Roman Catholics at large.

Maybe our federal government should look at installing some smoke stacks on parliament house… it bloody well seems like you need something like a novel election process to get the media and your average punter interested in the outcome.

Gaby
Gaby
2022 years ago

Very nice post Ken.

Church as “force of evil”….headed by Benny the Rat….name for a gangster if I’ve ever heard one.

Mindy
Mindy
2022 years ago

smh.com.au has a picture of the new Pope. To me his half smile suggests that he’s thinking “Transitional pope, ha! I’ll show them I’m going to live to 95!”

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Rob, probably, but I’d draw attention to this quote from a profile of (the then) Cardinal Ratzinger in the National Catholic Reporter (which is well worth reading for an outline of his views):

“At the most basic level, many Catholics cannot escape the sense that Ratzinger’s exercise of ecclesial power is not what Jesus had in mind.”

Amen to that.

http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/update/conclave/pt041905e.htm

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

How is the Anglican Church going in Australia? Significant parts of that are very liberal, like Ken. I heard that Kenist churches aren’t overly popular with the punters either and in fact it is the harder line churches that are gaining parishiners (no pun inteneded).

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Mindy, another Pope elected as a transitional figure – Leo XIII – reigned til he was 93.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

I’ve heard the same from Catholic friends of mine – in fact, that it is the harder-line, traditional services that are particularly appealing to young people.

Of course the progressives in the Church aren’t going to like Ratzinger, Mark. Personally, I think the cardinals knew exactly what they were doing. I suspect they believe that there is a great reservoir of religious feeling out there which is not satisfied by the pallid rituals of the post-Vatican II church, and is looking for something tougher, less compromising, more demanding, less accommodating to secular political fashions.

If the extraordinary success of Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion, is anything to go by, they could just be on to something.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Yes, Rob, to a small proportion of young people. Most who are raised Catholic don’t practice after they leave school. If you want to go down the Pope Benedict way, you end up with a smaller, more orthodox church. But didn’t Christ say something about lost sheep?

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

“….you end up with a smaller, more orthodox church. ”

That’s probably right, at least in the first world. I don’t think that would necessarily be a bad thing, either. I think it would do the Chruch no harm to shrink in on itself a little, recognsiing that the discipline it imposes on its devotees is very demanding and difficult for people accustomed – and to an extent conditioned – to consult only their own wishes and desires.

How it plays in Africa and Asia may well be different. Third World catholics seem to much less difficulty with the Papacy’s position on abortion, contraception and homosexuality than western believers do.

Marcel White
2022 years ago

Usually when it says forbidden to me, I am actually banned… :)

Ken, why would you want to be a Catholic, when it appears you disagree on fundamental doctrinal issues?

The emphasis has been all wrong when speculating about the Church’s future health under the leadership of Benedict XVI. The health of the church is measured by the quality of its theological understanding, not the quantity of parishioners at pews. A congregation of one hundred well informed Catholics who hear the truth from Rome is better than a group of ten thousand who won’t listen and feel ashamed of their own church.

Join the Episcopelians, they don’t seem to think too many things are essential to the Christian faith. You and Gene Robinson could discuss Jesus’ sexual ambiguity.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Rob, I think that Jesus’ mission was to save everyone not to create a doctrinally pure citadel.

Tex
Tex
2022 years ago

anything that will hasten the demise of religion is fine with me

Been tried. It was called the Soviet Union.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

There are plenty of other Christian churches, Mark, that don’t make the same demands. The Catholic monopoly terminated in October 1517.

It isn’t the Pope’s job to render the Church’s teachings acceptable to secular humanists, something forgotten by many of the commenters at Prof Quiggin’s.

liam hogan
2022 years ago
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Rob, our new Pope Benedict was very explicit in stating in Dominum Jesum in 2000 that there was no salvation outside the Catholic Church and that to claim that other religions had elements of truth in them was heretical.

He doesn’t agree with you, in other words.

Tempted as I sometimes am, to go off to a nice tolerant High Anglican church, it’s my church, and Ken’s church as much as it is the Pope’s.

Jesus certainly didn’t intend to set up a rigid and doctrinaire hierarchy.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

“Jesus certainly didn’t intend to set up a rigid and doctrinaire hierarchy.”
Indeed, I seem to recall that he had some rather harsh words for Pharisees.

If you believe (with Benny the Rat) that Catholic orthodoxy is the only way to avoid hellfire then wishing for a smaller, more cohesive, church is wishing for more people to suffer hellfire – is that what you mean, Marcel and Rob?

And Jason, hastening the end of the religion racket is indeed a good thing – but this way of doing it will cause an awful lot of suffering in the meantime.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Rob’s said before he’s not religious, dd. Just like the folks at Tim Blair’s comments thread, there seems to be a right-wing theme of heaping praise on conservative Catholic pontiffs. Funny how they never mention JP2’s opposition to the War on Iraq or his praise of trade unions:

http://larvatusprodeo.redrag.net/2005/04/13/laborem-exercens/

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

The Mormons say the same thing, don’t they, and there’s about as much reason to think that they’re right. Well, less, probably.

I can see you’re in a bit of a quandary there, but why should you expect the Pope to sort it out for you? Me, I’d be quite happy to settle for being a heretic.

blank
blank
2022 years ago

Vatican II said “no one can assent to the Gospel teaching in the way necessary for salvation without the illumination of the Holy Spirit”.

If people don’t have faith, then it is because the Divine has decided to withhold it from them.

Ken Miles
2022 years ago

“I’ve heard the same from Catholic friends of mine – in fact, that it is the harder-line, traditional services that are particularly appealing to young people.”

Is this actually true?

I strongly suspect that it only applies to a tiny minority of young people.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Only what I’ve been told, Ken. I’ve only been to post-V II services myself, and found the guitar-strumming Peter, Paul and Mary look-alikes vaguely embarassing. I atttended without the benefit of faith, however.

Mark U
Mark U
2022 years ago

Type “ratzinger” (with a lower case r) into Alta Vista Babelfish with German to English translation and it comes up with “more ratzinger”!!!

grumpymatt
grumpymatt
2022 years ago

“I think it would do the Chruch no harm to shrink in on itself a little, recognsiing that the discipline it imposes on its devotees is very demanding and difficult for people accustomed – and to an extent conditioned – to consult only their own wishes and desires.”

I dimly recall, from a course I attended many years ago, that the Albigensians recognised two categories of believers to deal with this problem. Perhaps the Catholic Church could go for that option?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Rob

“Guitar-strumming Peter, Paul and Mary look-alikes” and a post Vatican II liturgy are not synonymous. In this regard, Vatican II mostly stood for abandonment of the Latin Mass, with local vernacular being preferred (not least because people can then understand what is being said). AFAIK, V II didn’t dictate moving away from traditional church music etc (although it did generally encourage making worship more popularly accessible and understandable).

Before I became alienated from the Church in the wake of priestly sexual abuse scandals and the church’s consistent failure to deal with them in a loving or honest manner, we used to attend the local Catholic Cathedral just about every Sunday, largely because it mostly adhered to the more traditional style of Mass, with sung liturgy, more traditional hymns, organ, choir etc rather than “guitar-strumming Peter, Paul and Mary look-alikes”.

I’ve read material (including, I think from Michael Carden), that suggests that churches that are experiencing rapidly increasing attendances are mostly the Pentecostal Protestant ones and, to a lesser extent, evangelical mainstream ones like the Anglican diocese of Sydney under the Jensens. It’s argued that they attract adherents as much because of the overt love and sense of joy and community these congregations foster, as with the rigid, authoritarian, conservative brand of theology their pastors/priests mostly seem to espouse.

I remain to be convinced that rigid, authoritarian conservativism is deeply attractive in itself to large numbers of young people (or large numbers of people generally). Certainty of faith and emphasis on eternal truths may well form part of the overall feeling of warmth, security and belonging that I believe are at the heart of the attraction of these “successful” churches, but that doesn’t necessarily imply the sort of rigid authoritarian conservatism/illiberalism that mostly characterises both the Pentecostals and Evangelicals (and for that matter conservative Catholics like Cardinal Pell).

I also reject the implicit assumption of several commenters that conservatism and authoritarianism are of the essence of Roman Catholicism, and that liberal Catholics (like me) are not entitled to call ourselves Catholics at all because we don’t subscribe to “core” Catholic beliefs. That’s rather like John Howard arguing that classical liberals aren’t entitled to call themselves “Liberals” because Howard and his conservative supporters currently have the numbers and are able to define the boundaries of acceptable political belief in that political party.

I accept the authority of an authoritarian, conservative Pope only in a similar sense that I accept the authority of the High Court of Australia. I’m forced to accept that both the Catgholic Church and the Australian court system are hierarchical structures (although how much devolution ought to exist is another question) and that the Pope, like the High Court, is the ultimate “court of appeal”. That doesn’t mean it’s impermissible to strongly express the view that some High Court decisions, and some Papal doctrines, are wrong and misguided and ought to be reconsidered and reversed. Some readers may recall that this is essentially what I argue in relation to the High Couert’s approach to federalism, although I don’t expect it to happen any time soon, any more than I expect the new Pope Benedict to do review his unloving ultra-conservatism.

However, I also accept that I’m not free to completely ignore the Church’s teachings if I wish to remain an active part of it (although most Catholics do in fact do this in relation to birth control at least). Because I have concluded, especially from the appalling evidence of persistent priestly sexual abuse, that quite a few of the Church’s teachings, especially about sex and related issues, are profoundly morally wrong, socially destructive and downright evil, I cannot in conscience remain a practising Catholic. Moreover, my broken marriage and impending divorce will mean that I wont be able to receive communion, or remarry in the Church, even if I wished to do so. But that doesn’t stop me believing that these doctrines are wrong and misguided, or from hoping that one day a Pope will realise how wrong these teaching have been and will move to reform them.

NB I’m not meaning to suggest with my final remarks that I advocate the Church taking a similarly lax/liberal view of the sanctity of marriage and divorce as the civil law in Australia (12 months separation irrespective of fault). However, I DO think it should accept that there may come a point where a marriage has irretrievably broken down to a point where insisting on the parties remaining married to each other on pain of exclusion from communion is just plain wrong.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

fair point, DD, I was being facetious. My main point was that if the Church keeps this up, it can expect an ever dwindling number of adherents from the ‘core’ and a vast majority from the ‘periphery’ of the world economy. that will obviously have implications for its own geopolitical power.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Once again, IO agree with Ken’s remarks in his comment above.

Rob – the trend in liturgy has been away from the “folk mass” style thing that you criticise and towards a more traditional service.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

I was just recounting my own experiences (which may coincidentally have been unlucky or atypical).

Phil
Phil
2022 years ago

Ken,
You cannot get a leftwinger as a pope…Or a poofter…or a lesbian…( there was a female pope in the past…) or a lawyer !!! they all are in hell as I know !
Just get drunk tonight and forget about it.
Cheers

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Phil, how do you know that a poofter – or several poofters – haven’t already been Pope(s). I’d suggest that there’s probably been dozens. Cheers!

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

all Ken and Mark want is a church that expressess their leftwing social agenda.
That is fine except for the problem of tearing up the bible.
Or the other thing people don’t like liberal churches because they stand for nothing.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

I meant no disrespect, Ken, but it does seem to me that the Catholic Church puts disssenters from its doctrine in a very difficult position. The Church does not – correct me if I’m wrong – allow the individual the luxury of finding is or her own way to God. That’s what the reformed church set out to do 500 years. For Catholics, it must be through the Church. You are also expected to submit to the will of God, as determined by his priests (ultimately the Pope), confess to what the Church determines to be sin, and repent. The upside of that is there is no sin, however grave, that – if there is repentance – escapes the universality of Christ’s forgiveness (quoting Cardinal Pell from memory, there).

As I said before, that seems a very difficult and demanding regime by which to live (if I am not completely mis-categorising it).

Even getting a liberal Pope wouldn’t solve the problem, because then all the non-progressives will be as agitated as the progressives are now.

If I err here it’s out of ignorance, not malice.

DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

Surely you mean ‘loquacious’? What is logacious? Enlighten me please Ken, not even the Oxford has that term…

Given you came to the Church in the 80’s, I’m not surprised you’re leaving it in the new millennium. The period from 1968 to around the early 90’s is an aberration on the face of Church history. Sex abuse, priest shortages, heresies, guitars, carpet, femmo-nazi nuns and Catholic ‘lite’. I can’t imagine why energetic young Catholics firmly rejected the limpid faith you prefer.

We almost let Hans Kung and Karl Rahner hijack an ecumenical council. The Pope is not a conservative, he is a Catholic.

Maybe you’d feel better with the Anglicans? They stand for nothing and allow everything, surely a solid foundation for human flourishing!

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

jeez – ken – you were a volunteeer – “you don’t see many of them around thse days”

Some of us were conscripts.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Rob, I don’t think you grasp two things:

(a) Catholics are required to believe in things dogmatically (ie infallibly) taught by the Church – such as its divine foundation and the virginity of Mary. Within those limits, there’s room for interpretation and outside the body of dogma, a range of opinions can legitimately be held. This is at the heart of the resistance to Ratzinger’s actions in silencing theologians during his term as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

(b)Yes salvation must be through the Church but every baptised person is part of the royal priesthood of the risen Christ. The People of God are the Church, the hierarchy its servants. Infallible teaching is only such as long as it is received by the whole Church.

Homer’s quite wrong.

Dreaddie’s comment is snarky, and perhaps readers of this blog who are unfamiliar with his work might like to visit his site to get some sense of the Papolatry that is his antidote to the “limpid faith” of which he speaks (an interesting metaphor). Aficionados of pictures of near naked men will also find reason to visit DREADNOUGHT, the self-proclaimed voice of “conservative homosex”.

Pope Benedict of course in his previous incarnation described homosexuality as “gravely disordered”, “objectively evil”, etc etc. If you want to see how Dreaddie resolves the evident contradictions between the teaching which he professes to uphold and his sexuality, I’d encourage you to pay him a visit.

rog
rog
2022 years ago

Ratzingers appointment sends out a strong message, “we will not be swayed”

In the face of umpteen soviet inspired and funded libertarian freedom movements, and that chinese mass of unreligiosity (remember the suppression of Falan Gong?) the Church has remained a resolute defender of life.

So whats so bad about that?