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Pope Benedict Bows Out

Pope Benedict’s last day.  We’re looking at challenges for the Catholic Church and ahead to the conclave.

Pope Benedict XVI greets pilgrims at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. (AP)

Pope Benedict XVI greets pilgrims at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. (AP)

Last day today for Pope Benedict XVI.  The first pope is 600 years to leave his post alive.  To resign.  Abdicate.

At 8pm Rome time today, Benedict officially becomes Pope Emeritus.  Helicopters off to the papal Castel Gandolfo in the Italian hills.  His papal ring, the fisherman’s ring, will be smashed with a silver hammer.  The same hammer once used to tap a dead pope’s forehead – just to be sure.

The Catholic Church has been in stormy waters, Benedict said in his last St. Peter’s Square message.  Deeply true.  Now what?

This hour, On Point:  the Church and its leadership after Pope Benedict.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Rachel Donadio, Rome bureau chief for the New York Times. (@racheldonadio)

Thomas Groome, professor of theology and religious education and chair of the department of religious education and pastoral ministry at Boston College. Author of “Will There be Faith?: A New Vision for Educating and Growing Disciples.”

Robert P. George, he’s been called one of the country’s most influential conservative Christian Thinkers. He has advised and assisted Catholic bishops in the U.S. and in the Vatican on matters of bioethics, religious liberty, and church-state relations.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times ”In the waning hours of his troubled papacy, Pope Benedict XVI held his final general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, telling tens of thousands of believers in an unusually personal public farewell that his nearly eight years in office had known ‘moments of joy and light but also moments that were not easy’ when it seemed ‘the Lord was sleeping.’”

Los Angeles Times ”They represent the region with more Roman Catholics than any other. And their to-do list for the next pope is a long one. Next month, 19 cardinals from Latin America will be among the 117 from around the world expected to be eligible to participate in the secret meetings to choose a replacement for Pope Benedict XVI.”

Pew Research Center ”As the pontificate of Benedict XVI winds down, many American Catholics express a desire for change. For example, most U.S. Catholics say it would be good if the next pope allows priests to marry. And fully six-in-ten Catholics say it would be good if the next pope hails from a developing region like South America, Asia, or Africa.”

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  • Ed75

    It’s not unexpected that the anti-Catholic N.Y. Times would call Pope Benedict’s papacy a troubled one. Every papacy is troubled, the world is a difficult place. St. Peter was crucified, and the first ten popes.

    But those in the Church know that it was a wonderful and faithful papacy and a great success, and that he will continue to work for the Church, that it will be as if we have two popes (we need two) – one active, one contemplative.

    • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

      Anyone who believes that a supernatural being created them, directs their lives, and demands their obedience is more or less bound to feel compelled to follow an old man in a funny hat who tells them what to do and think and who lives in luxury at their expense. P.T. Barnum was right when he said there’s a sucker born every minute.

      • Wahoo_wa

        P.T. Barnum never said that.

        • Steve__T

           Correct it was David Hannum. A Banker in Syracuse.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          It’s inextricably linked to him. I don’t recall his heirs suing because the first song in “Barnum” is called “There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute”.

          • Wahoo_wa

            Regardless…he did not say those words.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      What’s you’re idea of a non-anti-Catholic newspaper in this country?

      • Wahoo_wa

        *your*

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Hoist on my own p’tard! Jeez, I never misuse apostrophe’s.

          • Wahoo_wa

            I was just poking you a bit ; )  LOL

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Hey, if someone didn’t, I’d have left it up there. So thanks are in order.

      • Ed75

        I guess the idea of a non-anti-Catholic newspaper would be what the newspapers were like in the 50s: they reported the holidays and events of each religion with respect and accuracy. No more than that is needed.

        But there have been reports of editorial boards (a Long Island paper) that publish whatever they can to hurt the Catholic Church, by intention. These papers support the abortion and same-sex marriage agenda, and they correctly see the Church as the enemy.

        The New York Times does that. On Christmas Day there is no indication in the whole paper that it’s Christmas – but they report the holy days of other faiths. And that’s just a small point. I’m sure they’ll report with praise on the new Broadway play ‘The testament of Mary’ which is blasphemous.

  • Ed75

    We love the pope!

    • Acnestes

       You’d love Alexander VI, simply because he was Pope.

      • Ed75

        In a sense you are right, if you knew who the pope was and who appointed him, you would too.

        As to Alexander VI, he didn’t reform his life the way the cardinals urged him too. They needed a pope quickly who would be tough and lessen the violence in Rome, and he did that.

        He also stopped the first world-wide war, the one between the Spanish and Portuguese over colonies.

        • Acnestes

          I am well aware of who Rodrigo Borgia was and no, I wouldn’t.  His illegitimate daughter Lucrezia was pretty hot, though.

  • alangig

    Pope’s don’t just quit, retire or even go on holiday, why did this pope quit? maybe an outing of bad behaviour vis a vie the paedaphile scandal which just never seems to go away!

    • Don_B1

      It hasn’t gone away because the Church has not had the integrity to fully address it, without making lame (and false) accusations against others, such as homosexuals.

  • Shag_Wevera

    No judgement on the current Pope, but there seems to be wisdom in someone acknowledging they are too old to keep the position.  He’s 85?  I regularly see 60 year olds who can barely manage life. 

  • Acnestes

    Out goes the bad air, in comes the bad.

  • 1Brett1

    There’s supposed to be some sort of internal scandal recently exposed, which may have been the final straw for Ratzinger. I believe he is a sensitive man, and I also believe that the last few scandals deeply affected him. And, he is 85! 

    …….On another note, I hear the Pope will not be able to wear those hip, red-leather, outdoor Papel shoes, handmade by the Pope’s personal cobbler. He said he will miss wearing those. I wonder if he’ll be able to wear some like those but made of a different color, or if the cobbler makes Papel shoes exclusively?

  • 1Brett1

    From looking at the above photo: 

    Pilgrims? Are ALL visiters to St. Peters Square “pilgrims”? Like, if you work down the street and just stop by during your lunch break to eat your pastrami panini sandwich, you’re still a “pilgrim”?

    • Shag_Wevera

      Mmmmm.  Pastrami.

      • 1Brett1

        On toasted rye, with melted Swiss (this keeps its character/consistency better when melted than provolone or mozzarella) coleslaw, and Russian dressing! 

        • hennorama

          Breakfast of ex-champions.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            But can one eat it on a Friday during Lent in St. Peter’s Square?

            (Part of me is kidding, part of me is actually asking.)

          • hennorama

            TF – TY for your response. One would think respect for the religious practices in SPS would preclude one from doing as you suggest, but I am no expert on the matter.

            However, you can get good pastrami about 2 km from SPS here:

            http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d2510523-Reviews-Bar_del_Cappuccino-Rome_Lazio.html

            Or one might make their own “Roman” pastrami breakfast sandwich as instructed in this video:

            http://youtu.be/fBa0nA_o4Yc

          • 1Brett1

            I doubt that eating anything but fish as a meat on Fridays would get a response of anything other than either a raised eyebrow or otherwise look ranging from mild admonishment to utter chastisement! 

          • hennorama

            1Brett1 – TY for your response.

            You may be right. Regardless, I’ve found that showing respect for local customs, whether they be religious, cultural, linguistic, culinary or something else altogether, is the best way to travel.

            When in Rome … or in this case, when in Piazza San Pietro …

        • Shag_Wevera

          I’m a sucker for mustard.  Any of a number of varieties.

  • donniethebrasco

    Nothing about Sperling threatening Bob Woodward?

    • StilllHere

      Excellent.

      • jimino

         Wrong again.  Your streak is unbroken.

  • donniethebrasco

     They must have got to you too.

  • gemli

    Who cares who sits at the top of this collection of superstitious reality-challenged fear-mongering and sexually immature pederasts?  It’s an honor? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    It was the
    pedofiles, the lawyers, and the media, that took down the Catholic church. But O’Mally
    as pope?   Maybe not  a good idea.

     

    I present
    this point, not as a slur to the Irish nor  to homosexuals,  but as constructive analysis.   Nor do
    I mean to say that all homosexuals are pedofiles, nor are all the irish,
    homosexuals.  

     

    But
    apparently, the media and the church itself, fail to question why ALMOST ALL of
    these pedofile priests in Boston, Ireland and those posted in South
    America, were Irish.

     

    For those
    who can overcome their politically correct apprehensions will understand that
    the Irish culture came into play in two ways: 
    The first is that most (not all) Irish treat priesthood as a profession,
    not as a personal calling from God.
    If a
    child in an irish family is bright,  but light in the loafers as the Irish like to say, his family steers him into the
    priesthood, since he’s not going to marry anyway.   And although not all homosexuals are
    pedofiles, those priest that preyed on young boys, were indeed homosexuals.  

     

    The second
    aspect of the Irish priesthood was their propensity to coverup for their
    countrymen, as if it was Tammany Hall or the Whitey Bulger gang.

    I dare Tom to touch upon this perspective.

  • notafeminista

    OnPoint had to make up for the Ben Carson interview the other day.   Let the frothing commence.

    • OnPointComments

      When I saw that the topic was “Pope Benedict Bows Out,” I thought to myself as I clicked on the link “Let’s see what vile the haters are spewing this morning.”  It appears my assessment is correct.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        If you think this is hatred, you really need to go to the forums of some mainstream and right-wing news (sic as needed) sites. You will spoil yourself.

      • J__o__h__n

        The vile hater is now vile hater emeritus.

      • StilllHere

        So true.  They hate what they don’t understand.  Pathetic.

        • 1Brett1

          Of course, those two concepts are mutually exclusive in your case: you hate, and you don’t understand.

          • StilllHere

            Thank you, once again, for proving my point.  You make it too easy.

          • Fredlinskip

            “..Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.” 
            –STILL HERE 2/26

      • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

        If a person were to say that Roman Catholics are inherently evil and should be discriminated against, then that person would be a “hater” because he would be expressing an irrational prejudice and advocating an unjust action in response to it. If a person points out that Roman Catholic belief is superstitious, anachronistic, foolish, and destructive, he is simply making an observation based on the evidence of the past two thousand years, which does not a hater make.

        • Peter Stroud

          Well said!  People get very defensive when their worldview is threatened.  Rather than objective analysis, they would rather obstinately defend their beliefs- even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

      • hennorama

        OPC – given the proximity of the V and B keys on a QWERTY keyboard, one presumes “vile” was a typo.  Alternatively, one might speculate that you transposed the words “vile” and “the”.

        Otherwise you have transformed “vile” from an adjective into a noun.  Isn’t such alchemy frowned upon in the Catholic faith?

        (tongue firmly in cheek here)

    • jimino

      So far I haven’t seen anyone condemn you to eternal damnation in the fires of hell for what you think, believe and say.  Compared to that, a little criticism isn’t much, is it?

      (Is there still a hell, or has that been changed by the powers that be?)

      • notafeminista

        No man has the power to condemn anyone to eternal damnation.  I’m good thanks.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    One thing I haven’t seen talked about – I wonder if the Pope is stepping down to make way for someone younger and less infirmed by age and health – or if he’s doing it so he has some input (and possible control?) with his replacement and future policies?

  • keltcrusader

    Good riddance to bad rubbish!

    Isn’t it just amazing that the Pope can change church rules to suit his purpose, but to change it in regards to treating women as equals, priests marrying, or contreception, oh no, can’t do that.  

    • StilllHere

      Same to you, hopefully you’ve left the fold.

      • keltcrusader

        I left the fold long ago because the fold was inherently bigoted and delusional. I regard organized churches as bastions of the uneducated and willfully blind.

        I see you are in good company. 

        • StilllHere

          Right, I can see by your comments how enlightened you are.  Whatever works, keep the vitriol coming.

          • keltcrusader

            Apparently more so than you who laps up their lies like so much wine. I feel very sorry for you, the deluded one, Still aren’t all there.

          • StilllHere

            I’m a beer drinker, almost exclusively IPAs, and I’m in no need of your false compassion.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            I’m outraged that my tax dollars pay for high-end beer in an assisted living facility. Let ‘em drink Bud.

          • StilllHere

            Who you kidding slacker, you don’t pay taxes!   

          • keltcrusader

            that’s ok, you aren’t worth my time

          • StilllHere

            Who are you kidding, all can plainly see from your comments that your time is not worth much.

          • keltcrusader

            Just who do you think YOU are kidding? I see no “likes” on your comments, but plently on mine. It is just too bad you are such a sore loser, but a loser you are. Get used to it Still aren’t all there, the bottom feeders are your only friends.

          • StilllHere

            Evenmore pathetic, you’re here for the likes.  So sad. A lifedevoid of meaningunless hegets likes.  You are a joke.

          • keltcrusader

            if you want to see a real live  loser, just look in a mirror

          • 1Brett1

            “Still-Aren’t-All-There” seems an apt sobriquet!

          • keltcrusader

            Well, there it is :)

          • Fredlinskip

            “..Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.” 
            -STILL HERE 2/26

          • Fredlinskip

            “.Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.” 
            -STILL HERE 2/26

      • Fredlinskip

        “Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.”             -STILL HERE 2/26

  • hennorama

    On topic – the choice of a new Pope and/or the simultaneous existence of a  Pope and a Roman pontiff emeritus is a non-issue for most of the population of the Earth.  A collective “meh” and shoulder shrug might be appropriate.

    Off topic – congrats to new Secretary of Defense Hagel.

    Also off topic – as predicted, GDP for 2012 Q4 was revised upward to a positive 0.1% growth rate.

    Off topic remark # 3 – given the very low rate of economic growth shown in the above, why would anyone want to INTENTIONALLY reduce economic growth via any means, particularly using a tool as crude as sequestration?

    • StilllHere

      Why don’t you ask the administration that came up with it?

      • hennorama

        StilllHere -  Yet another false assumption leaps from your fingers.  Well done.

        I HAVE asked that question of the administration.

        • StilllHere

          No assumption from me, only you; but I’ll chalk it up to your reading disability.
          I asked a simple question.
          Do you have an answer?

          • Fredlinskip

            “Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.” 
            ——-STILL HERE 2/26

          • StilllHere

            After your racist comments directed at Ben Carson, I’m surprised you’ve decided to come back to this forum.  

          • Fredlinskip

            Please point out my racist comments at Ben-
             I missed that.

    • Don_B1

      Great on all remarks.

      WRT #3, the $85 billion is on top of the $100 billion cut in worker income due loss of the 2% cut in F.I.C.A. withholding.

      Also that $85 billion is over a 7 month period, and out of a small portion of overall government spending, so that it amounts to 10% or so cuts in some really important programs due to its “across-the-board” nature.

      • StilllHere

        Your facts are wrong, it’s annualized.

        • Fredlinskip

          “Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.” 
          -STILL HERE 2/26

          • StilllHere

            Fred, this is sad.  You apparently have nothing better to do.   I will say that cutting and pasting appears to be your only skill.

          • Fredlinskip

            Apparently you see no hypocrisy in your comment.
            Feel sorry for you.

          • StilllHere

            Don’t pity me, especially   when your life is so devoid of any meaning. Crawl back under your rock, you vile little troll.

          • Fredlinskip

            You see no hypocrisy contained within this comment as well, I suppose?

      • hennorama

        Don_B1 – TY for your kind words.

        Given that my remarks were off-topic, I’ll leave the remainder of your post unremarked upon. No doubt tomorrow will afford ample opportunity to discuss these matters in more detail.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Remember, the agenda is to redistribute the wealth and income to the top. Don’t listen to the noise, just follow the money. The cuts are designed to make sure taxes at the top can stay low.

  • Acnestes

    Here’s an idea for making a real start at cleaning out the Vatican sewer: start by elevating Mary and making the Trinity a Quaternity, and treating women as if they were a legitimate part of creation.

    • WiserNow2

      Just because an antiquated, self-appointed fraternity tells you that they and only they, have complete knowledge and insight over YOUR salvation, doesn’t make it so.  It’s only lasted as long as it has because intelligent and vulnerable people refused to think and act for themselves.  The best decision I’ve EVER made was to leave the church of my childhood.  Those fellas had no idea just how valuable of a human being I was/am.  Today I enjoy deep peace and live an authentically empowered life…just like Jesus!  

      Empty pews = the end of this highly ornate sham 

  • Ryan Haecker

    In many ways, such as in his 2005 homily on the Dictatorship of Relativism or in his 2011 address to the German Reichstag on Legal Positivism, Pope Benedict XVI has directly confronted the prevailing culture of European secularism in a way more reminiscent of popes Pius IX through XII than popes John, Paul and John Paul I and II. In what way may we expect the coming pontiff to similarly exhort sympathetic men and women to reject the prevailing culture of the world, open themselves towards the infinite transcendence of grace, and recognize the idea of nature as tutelary for spiritual life and public policy?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    Tom, all this coverage of the Catholic Church and none of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s noodly appendage. I’m beginning to suspect bias.

  • Steve__T

    So many more important  subjects that could have been discussed. Billionaires for austerity lie. 10 top food co fail Oxfam report. Obama’s Secrecy, from denying drone program’s existence to stonewalling on legal memos. Voting rights act goes to the Supreme Court.

     I won’t be listening to this, there are way too many, more important things going on in America that needs to be paid  attention to. If this topic gets more than 100 post I will be surprised.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Yeah, but just because it can be streamed from anywhere, and is broadcast live in lots of states, doesn’t discount the show’s Boston-basedness.

      The idea of serving their urban/suburban northeast population is something I won’t fault WBRU for doing.

      To compare, the election for agricultural commissioner in a state like Texas or Nebraska (say) is probably much bigger news than in MA or RI.

  • J__o__h__n

    Why is a guest speculating about spirits?  Please stick to reality.

  • Ed75

    The new pope’s task will be the same as any pope’s task: the present the orthodox Catholic teaching, to defend it and the Sacraments, and to strengthen the brethren. And to build bridges to the non-Catholic world, to which it gives witness.

    The next pope, following the prophecy of St. Malachi (1100), the next pope is the first pope who could be the last pope.

  • NewtonWhale

    Holy See? 
    Holy Father?
    What about the Holey Collander?

    When will Pastafarians be given equal time?Millions have been touched by His Noodly Appendage.
    http://www.venganza.org/

    • hennorama

      At least we have little worry that Catholics worldwide will rise up and demonstrate at all the NewtonWhale diplomatic missions. ;-)

  • Ed75

    The Church was not intended to be run by local bishops, Peter is still the head.

    • debhulbh

      Peter is dead

  • coyotejazz

    Such a lovely “happy talk” contribution from Ms. Donadio. She might have mentioned that Ratzinger could expect a life of arrest and depositions if he did not quickly return to Vatican City.There he will be beyond the reach of civil law as the Vatican would never agree to surrender him to the ICC or civil authorities in other countries. His complicity in criminal conspiracy is his legacy. 

  • Ed75

    They’re leaving because they are poorly catechized.

    • Acnestes

       Meaning the brainwashing didn’t take.

  • Ed75

    Good example of poorly catechized. Pope Benedict has been the best on prosecuting clergy sex abuse.

    • J__o__h__n

      None of his predecessors did anything so even his poor work on this issue was superior to theirs.

  • yingyangyou

    I have to say this. Tom, I certainly understand your choice to host a discussion of Ratzinger’s departure, BUT, as an NPR supporter, I don’t appreciate preaching of one particular religion being presented without question on a secular radio channel. The preaching about “Holy Spirit”, an imaginary entity of your presenters’ minds, is rather off-putting. This lowers the bar of the discussion significantly from balanced intelligent conversation to groupie-speak. 

  • Ed75

    Hurray for Robert George and all the work he does!

  • Prairie_W

    Off topic, out of bounds, possibly rude while attempting to be informative about public radio’s choices:

    The three topical talk shows on public radio at the same hour(s) on weekday mornings are:  On Point, Diane Rehm Show, and Radio Times.  The two snoozers this morning are the first two. Both are doing the pope.  The more interesting show (and this is often true) is at Radio Times. Here’s
    what’s going on over there (read, weep!):

    Tomorrow is the day the sequester is set to kick in — that’s the $85 billion in government spending cuts for the coming year that resulted from the failure of Congress in 2011 to raise the debt ceiling (how much money the country can borrow).  Back then Republicans wouldn’t agree to raise
    the debt without making significant cuts to the deficit (how much money the government spends vs. how much money it takes in), Democrats wouldn’t agree to cuts in deficit spending without an increase in taxes, and Republicans wouldn’t agree to increase taxes.  They’re still at a standstill so what can we do it get things going?  That’s the question
    we’ll pose to our guest, New York Times Washington bureau chief and Pulitzer Prize winner DAVID LEONHARDT We’ll start off talking about the politics of sequestration and its impact on the economy.  Then, we’ll tackle the broader issues surrounding our national debt and deficit.  In his new e-book, Here’s the Deal, Leonhardt says that the answers lie neither in tax increases or spending cuts but in government investment that leads to economic growth.

    See more at:
    http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2013/02/28/david-leonhardt-on-the-sequeter-the-debt-the-deficit-and-economic-growth/

    • StilllHere

      They should change the name of the show to the David Leonhardt Show where you get David’s opinion and nothing else.

      • Prairie_W

         ”…and nothing else.”  Only if you choose to be locked into one point of view. 

        Fortunately, Leonhardt (among quite a few more reporters on economic and financial matters) also has experience, knowledge, and facts.

        • StilllHere

          but only one point of view.

          • Fredlinskip

            “.Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.” 
            —-STILL HERE 2/26

          • StilllHere

            Wow Fred, you really took that personally huh.  Did it touch too close to home?  Do you see yourself in that comment or the one to which it applied? Get help Fred as soon as you can, I’m worried about you.

          • Fredlinskip

            Just want to make sure ev a person of integritty everyone knows where you stand.
             Don’t want anyone to mistake you for a person of integrity.

          • StilllHere

            You are truly garbage.

          • Fredlinskip

            Clever

    • JGC

      I think that the resignation of the Pope is an entirely appropriate topic for a show based out of Boston, given the high proportion of Catholics in that metro area. Still, I agree Radio Times is also a great program. When I lived in the Delaware Valley, I always enjoyed the programming put on by WHYY, especially Marty Moss-Coane on Radio Times, followed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air.

      • Prairie_W

        Me, too, JGC, with respect to the WHYY.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

    Robert George seems not to want to address the problems of the Roman Church or even to address reasonable questions. If he and his talking points (he seems obsessed with the New York Times, as Tom finally pointed out) are meant to buttress the institutional Church in its time of peril, then it’s in deep, deep trouble.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dane.wolf.3 Dane Wolf

    How can we get an objective view of the significance of this event when the only guests on the program are citing “The Holy Spirit” as being a tangible influence on current affairs?  It would be nice to get a perspective from someone who is not analyzing everything under the preconceived notions of the Church.  What century are we living in, anyway? 

    • StilllHere

      Yeah, we wouldn’t want the Church’s perspective when discussing the Church.

  • Wahoo_wa

    “Is it a party line?”  Really Tom?!  What an ignorant thing to say.

  • J__o__h__n

    What about Pope Michael’s claim to the throne? 

  • jim_thompson

    I am praying for a Pope named Sean O’Malley.  I think he’d be a great Pontiff in the tradition of Pope John the 23rd.

    Jim in Fort Mill,SC

    • Shag_Wevera

      I think an American Pope is a mistake for the church.  Too much animosity worldwide towards the US and too many “soft” catholics in America.

      • debhulbh

        Might you define ‘soft catholic’ ?

      • debhulbh

        Might we have your definition of a ‘soft catholic’?
        Are you saying that you are the real deal ‘a hard catholic’ perhaps, and what company do you keep? who would you put in both categories? very interested to hear.

        • Shag_Wevera

          I’m a soft Catholic.  I think it is a beautiful faith, represented by a troubled clergy and bureacracy.  By soft I mean I don’t believe American Catholics are a great example of devout Catholics.  This is merely my opinion.  I don’t think the church needs a controversial pick, and I think an American would be one.

        • hennorama

          debhulbh and Shag_Wevera – Given the extensive history of sex abuse scandals involving ordained Catholics, one might be wise to avoid the terms you used here – such as “soft” catholics and ‘a hard catholic’

          • StilllHere

            Disgusting, but typical of you.

    • J__o__h__n

      He is no prize but it would be good to have him leave Boston and join Cardinal Law in Rome.

  • Shag_Wevera

    We know lot’s of people dislike and distrust the Catholic Church.  We know lot’s of people don’t agree with the Catholic faith.
    We know lot’s of people don’t believe in God.

    Hopefully I’ve saved all sorts of people the trouble of slamming Catholicism, the Church, and the faithful.  We acknowledge all three points of view.

    • StilllHere

      Apparently too late.

    • jimino

      But what’s amazing is that so many of them go to mass on Sunday.  A truly conflicted lot are those 21st century Catholics. 

      Conflating “Catholic” with “the faithful” is a profound misunderstanding of where we are at.

      • Shag_Wevera

        I think what you observe is a distictly American phenomenon.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I hope the College of Cardinals chooses a Pope from central/south America.  I think It would be a great move for the church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lschraffa Lisa Ann Schraffa

    It is quite sad the entire state of our Church. I am a life long Catholic from a very immigrant Italian American background but it is growing more and more difficult to remain in a faith and inside an insitution of such discord. I want to remain a Christian, I merely do not know how long I can affliate with the Church itself. A new Pope and a new call to action is so needed. 
    Lisa Ann 
    http://www.style64.blogspot.com

  • debhulbh

    Robert George unfortunately is indicative of what is wrong with the RC Church, failing to discuss the real problems, (he would not address the current reports of MORE clergy abuse sitting on the pontiffs desk) choosing instead to divert attention by citing ‘ny times’ x 2 ++…ridiculous diversion that serves no one and makes a mockery of .
    George is much too heady, a problem methinks which plagues him.
    This approach will get him or the RC church nowhere.
    More rigidity we do not need. On the other hand Thomas Groome approach is that of openness and heart centeredness. Mr George would be well served to take a leaf out of Mr Groomes book.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Isn’t the fundamental problem the continuing arrogance of Man in presuming to know the mind of God? We are Finite, we cannot comprehend the Infinite. Isn’t it about time we stopped pretending that we can?

    • jimino

      I have never understood how secular folks get branded as somehow elevating mere humans to an undeserved level when it’s the religious who claim humans are “uniquely made in the image and likeness of God.”

      Isn’t that the most arrogant thought ever conceived by human beings?

      • hennorama

        jimino – your rhetoric might be right.  But standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon and at the same time thinking one’s lifespan has any significance may too be high up on the list of arrogant human thoughts.

  • debhulbh

    TIme for a woman pope. Try that on for size.

    • Shag_Wevera

      See my post below regarding those who disagree about the catholic faith.

    • Acnestes

      I hope her first act is to declare willful ignorance a mortal sin.

      • debhulbh

         Have you missed that debate?as Romanacus said 2 days ago…What do we need a pope for anyway, man or woman? The papacy has not been the focal point of Christian unity for the past millennium. Increasingly, the papacy is the source of scandals and rumors of scandals, and the popes have been isolated if not insulated from the day-to-day life of Catholics. Paul VI’s insistence on outlawing contraception, John Paul II, creeping infallibilism and Benedict XVI’s attempts to return to tradition as he understands it have thrown the church into turmiol, while the clergy sex abuse crisis continues to bubble and bubble on unchecked.
        It seems that every Catholic is now his or her own pope, with the inherent power of overriding papal fiats, and mercedes too, without having to leave the church they love! Could a woman restore order in the all-male pseudocelibatocracy hitherto known as the Vatican? A millennium of males has already failed, miserably. Time to find the right woman and give her the chance, along with co-operation.Couldn’t have said it better myself….What was that about willful ignorance?

        • Acnestes

          Wow.  That was so totally ferocious that I’m not sure if you’re attacking me or agreeing with me!

          • debhulbh

            Precisely. It is called the Irish definition for diplomacy.

          • Acnestes

             Ahh!!  You’re a Jesuit, arent you? ;-)

          • debhulbh

            On guard!

      • debhulbh

        Have you not read the National Catholic Reporter debate on the subject?

      • debhulbh

        Yes you are right a closed mind is a terrible thing. I prefer myself to be privy to and to know all of the debates that are occurring around this issue.

  • J__o__h__n

    Does the holy spirit read the NY Times?

    • StilllHere

      Just for the crosswords, like everybody else.

      • MattCA12

        Brilliant StillHere!!

        • hennorama

          We have a new nominee for the OOTY (Oxymoron Of The Year):

          “Brilliant StillHere!!”

          • StilllHere

            Your petty jealousy is pathetic, like everything else about you.

      • Fredlinskip

        “….Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.” 
        —STILL HERE 2/26

        • StilllHere

          Presented without context, so Fredesque.

          • Fredlinskip

            No context is required n making such declarations. I see I managed to leave out the word “All” in your quote. Let me amend that.
             That should add greater “context”
            Grow up.

          • StilllHere

            Pathetic Fred, even for you, a new low.

          • Fredlinskip

            Your momma wears Army boots.
             Hah!

        • debhulbh

          fred your flagged. This vitriolic display lowers the tone of the debate, any debate. Serves no one, least of all yourself. Diatribes such as these, well they speak volumes of their author, a sad affair.

          • Fredlinskip

            What happened to the brother thing?

          • debhulbh

            This was how the post went, as I saw it, you said:

            ALL Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.” 
            —STILL HERE 2/26

            I replied…….

            fred your flagged. This vitriolic display lowers the tone of the debate, any debate. Serves no one, least of all yourself. Diatribes such as these, well they speak volumes of their author, a sad affair.

            then I immediately posted……

            Oh, I should say ‘ you ain’t heavy your my brother’, but the truth is ‘you ARE heavy, but your still my brother’. Peace

            However in reading over, you were perhaps not the one who made original quote am I correct?

          • Fredlinskip

            No- SH.
            No I am for encouraging intelligent respectful discourse- this is what is sorely lacking in our political debate amongst our so called “leaders” in Congress.
            Late for work.
            gotta go.
            good day.

          • debhulbh

            I stand corrected my comments are thusly forwarded to SH.
            Is he/she StillHere????

          • debhulbh

            But you were the one who posted this diatribe, were you not?
            Are these your words fred?

          • debhulbh

            and if they are, au contraire, THAT does not signify an open mind. Enlightened?

          • Fredlinskip

            see above 

          • Fredlinskip

            NO! I was quoting SH.
            Please tell me why (his her) comment is appropriate in ANY context and I will be happy to become less “heavy” and pull my comment(s)

        • debhulbh

          Oh, I should say ‘ you ain’t heavy your my brother’, but the truth is ‘you ARE heavy, but your still my brother’. Peace

          • Fredlinskip

            Thanks. If you want to see Still Here’s original post. Go to OP Ben Carson show of 2/26- it’s not too far down.
            I thought it a bit “over top”- 
            even for SH

  • Mel_in_Nashville

    I know Tom was trying to make a point about Robert George’s repeated references to the NY Times, but didn’t appreciate his repeated comment to the effect of “I seriously doubt anyone in Nashville is reading the NY Times.”  Way to perpetuate the stereotype about ignorant, uncultured southerners, Tom.

    • 2Gary2

       given how the south seems to vote for republicans which is not in their economic interests and is in fact hurting them I would say the stereotype of southerners being ignorant is largely true. 

      • StilllHere

        And by doing so, clarify your own ignorance.

        • debhulbh

          Did you really post the following???

          ALL Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.” 
          —STILL HERE 2/26

          Really… StillHere….was that you? Tut tut, I mean really?! Come now… StillHere…such a display, lacking in basic courtesy and common decency…

           This vitriolic display lowers the tone of the debate, any debate. Wouldn’t you agree? Serves no one, least of all yourself. Diatribes such as these, well they speak volumes of their author, a sad affair entirely.

          Furthermore. you missed…..

          Oh, I should say ‘ you ain’t heavy your my brother’, but the truth is ‘you ARE heavy, but your still my brother’. Peace.
          I wish you enlightenment, when you have all of the facts it will happen for you. It will be a joyous day.

          • StilllHere

            No, that quote is inaccurate. Fred is a vile, little provacateur with nothing to offer.  Feel free to peruse the Ben Carson show comments to see the context of my comments.  You will see that many of the criticisms of Dr. Carson were based entirely in racism.

          • Fredlinskip

            A disrespectful trouble-maker that Fred. All’s I did is call majority of America hateful racist psychopaths and he gets all in a huff.

            If you had a centimeter of decency you’d simply pull your offensive post and I’d pull my responses to it- but I doubt you could ever go so far as admit yourself wrong about anything.
            I think the word ego comes into play.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/RQF7SVP7NM3NUUV6OQGITYQLSY Gimpie

      Just a note that Tom referred to the caller: “Jim in Nashville” he didn’t use the broad term “anyone” in Nashville…

      • debhulbh

        precisely

    • debhulbh

      Tom, didn’t say that “I seriously doubt anyone in Nashville is reading the NY times….”, he said, that the caller did not identify himself as a NY times reader and considering what George was saying in response, Tom had no way of knowing nor did the responder whether that was the actual case. It was George who took it upon himself to put that all over the callers comment, twice mentioning the NY times, which was entirely irrelevant to the callers point and was a reflection of Georges own particular bias.

  • Penny Powell

    If the Pope is God’s representative on earth, how can people choose him? And why are the choosers always men? If anyone is actually “God’s representative on earth,” then how can that person always be a man; what about the other (nearly) half of the population on this planet? Surely, a God would not be gender-biased; if God was a “he” at the time of “Creation,” wouldn’t “He” have made only one gender?  Seems dumb to make two genders and then have one gender bash the other gender for thousands and thousands of years, basically as a matter of course.  I’m truly wondering about the logic of this, so perhaps somebody will answer how that works.

    Christianity is made up by Man (mostly, if not entirely, male Man), yet they so seriously take their faith as THE FAITH – true and real and beyond dissection – and we spend hour-upon-hour talking about it, giving it credence as something that it simply IS NOT, namely anything more than a male-created human construct.  I find it grotesque. How can any intelligent human being believe that the Bible is anything but a sometimes-inspired manifesto, re-worked over time by the Catholic Church?

    I’d like to hear an hour of OnPoint dedicated to a critique of the mind-boggling history of Catholicism and the Bible as we know it now, because I believe that there’s a LOT that most people who identify as Catholic do not know about, that if they did, would cause them to question their faith.

    • jer_dna

      You’re forgetting that one person of singular distinction who is a woman – the Mother of God.  In the Catholic Church her role and prominence surpasses that of all the men except Jesus himself.

      • Penny Powell

        And for her to be so venerated, she had to be portrayed as a virgin. A woman is not holy if she actually has sex to procreate, like the rest of the creatures that God supposedly created? I cannot understand how approximately 1.8 billion of my fellow humans believe that, especially since, if I were to go on a yoga retreat, say, and felt some kind of unexplainable energy of the Universe, I would be labeled a New Age Nut by pretty much any Catholic out there. It’s hypocrisy. If you want to be a religious person, fine. Just don’t judge or persecute those who believe differently. I’m not calling my beliefs THE BELIEFS.

  • 2Gary2

    why would any intelligent person give a care about any of this?

    • Penny Powell

      I think that we need to care about “this” because the most influential religions have a huge impact on cross-cultural understanding, or lack thereof; public policy; reproductive issues and rights for women; unrest in the Middle East; bigotry against gay people… 

      The list goes on and on. Unfortunately.

      • Penny Powell

        Oh. And discussions surrounding it take up our airwaves. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/dane.wolf.3 Dane Wolf

        I agree.  For anybody who cares to be objective, it is not difficult to see that the vast majority of the world’s persistent, seemingly unresolvable problems, are either linked to or directly caused by religion.  As a rule, religion is based on faith, and faith, by definition, is belief without or despite evidence; and, naturally, where there is no evidence taken into consideration, people’s disputes tend to devolve into juvenile differences of opinion, which, unfortunately, all too regularly amount to violence in vain attempts to settle the matter.  If we pick practically any issue, nationally or globally, it becomes clear that religion is playing some invidious role in it:  the misogynistic comments we have heard recently regarding contraception or abortion rights have been inspired, by and large, by religious presuppositions; all the homophobia that we see across the country seems to have its origins in religious prejudice and hypocrisy; the Catholic Church has a chronic problem with child molestation, which probably goes all the way back to the Middle Ages, when priests were no longer permitted to get married; Muslim women all across the world are prevented from getting an education and engaging in society all because of long-standing religious bigotries. Things as seemingly disconnected from religion as the economy and high unemployment would appear, upon closer inspection, to be intimately related to the pervasiveness of religiosity in our culture:  as a result of people’s fervent faiths, there is widespread mistrust, even animosity, toward science; consequently, young people go through elementary school, high school, often college with no better understanding of math and physics, chemistry and biology than they had in kindergarten, which is probably the root cause of why there are tens of thousands of science and engineering jobs in this country that are currently not being filled for lack of qualified candidates.  Looking even further to the dysfunction of our government, it would seem that the reason that so many of our politicians are incompetent, irrational, and unrepresentative of the public good is that so many voters have prioritized their backward religious sentiments over their own practical well-being, attaching more significance to what consenting adults do with their sexuality than to issues that really matter, like the preservation of our civil liberties in this largely self-fabricated Age of Terror.  And, then, of course there is the etiology of terrorism itself, a social malignancy, whether in Ireland or Iraq, that is quintessentially religious.  The only way that the Israelis and Palestinians, for example, will ever get along is when they can both start caring more about their fellow human beings than they do about some so-called sacred scrap of land; and this will only ever happen when everybody can stop seeing the world through the arbitrary kaleidoscope of their religion and start forming their beliefs on one equally simple and courageous proposition:  all the things we believe should have foundations in the factual universe, and, when facts seem to be in short supply, we should have the guts (as well as the good manners) to admit that we do not know the answer, rather than pretending, as all religious people do, that the existence of God is not in doubt, and that, moreover, they somehow understand God’s wishes.  (Funny how, over the millennia, God has come in so many different forms and has seemed to want so many different things from so many different people. . . .)  

        • Penny Powell

          Y E A H – 100 times YEAH!
          I wish I were as knowledgeable as you.

        • debhulbh

          Brilliant

        • StilllHere

          An equivalent case could be made for moral nihilism.

          • http://www.facebook.com/dane.wolf.3 Dane Wolf

            Who said anything about moral nihilism?  It is unfortunate that people so often assume that the only alternative to religion is a sort of pandemonium, according to which, in the absence of God, everybody inevitably gives in to depravity and despair.  This line of argument is not only misleading but it also unfairly belittles humanity because it states that, on the whole, we are all so devoid of moral sensibility that, unless some so-called “higher power” (whether it be a man in a funny hat or some graybeard living in the sky) tells us how to behave, then civilization will quickly break apart into bands of marauders, bent on rape, plunder, and meaningless destruction.  On the contrary, a far more potent argument can be made that the only real morality is the kind that comes from within the conscious individual, built upon his or her own genuine desire to get as accurate an understanding of oneself and the universe as possible.  It goes without saying that the best (probably only) way for acquiring such an understanding is by aligning one’s views as closely as possible with information that is open to the senses — rather than making sweeping assertions about how and why everything is the way it is, without ever having the courage to subject one’s convictions to careful scrutiny and experimentation.  Ironically, if we examine the ostensibly moral behavior that comes from faiths all across the world, it becomes clear that there is some deeper impetus driving people to behave in accordance with the dictates of “divine law”:  though one religion differs in so many details from the next, they all have one common, terrible theme — namely, a highly graphic depiction of reward and punishment, often known as heaven and hell.  In general, religion boils down to a completely arbitrary ultimatum, according to which faith ensures morality, which, in turn, assures one of heavenly reward; while, conversely, disbelief results in sin, which, in turn, leads to hellish punishment.  What this scenario amounts to for most religious people is that they follow the guidelines of their religion (many of which are highly absurd, such as the prohibition against eating a certain food on a particular day of the week) because they live in constant fear of God’s displeasure.  In sum, “morality” based on faith is all too often purely a carrot-and-stick approach, which reduces the individual to a sort of automaton that is rewarded to the extent that it does not think independently; and threatened, ostracized, even destroyed to the extent that it dares to.  In the last analysis, I would much rather live in a world where people do what is right because they understand — or at least make an honest attempt to understand — the concrete reasons that it is wrong to do otherwise, rather than inhabit a world in which the primary reason my neighbors are not robbing and leaving me for dead is because of some murky presentiment that God will punish them if they break one of His commandments while, at the same time, slavishly hoping that they will be rewarded if they simply fall in line.  Though I am by no means a person of faith, if I have faith in anything it is that a great many human beings (both past and present) have been more than capable of living highly productive, compassionate, even happy lives without blindly adhering to the fusty pronouncements of a bunch of flatulent theologians.  In fact, I might even go so far as to posit that every genuine advancement that our species has made in the direction of civilization, from ancient Greece to the Renaissance, from the Industrial Revolution to the Age of the Internet, has come from the generative power of faith’s eternal nemesis — doubt.       

  • VTbrewer

     Thank you for presssing the Chicago professor for his continual reference to the “NYTimes editorial pages” it was clearly his buzz word for secularism/liberalism of which he clearly disapproves.

  • Johnajax

    I did not get to listen, but am in my mid-40s and have a family that attends mass. Here’s my take as a marketing and communications professional: If the Vatican doesn’t start making some major changes to several things fairly fast, they will have no flock in about 20 years. Forget history, etc. Whatever you believe in, it is still a “product” with target audiences. You either compete or you don’t. Here is what’s needed, and won’t happen unfortunately:
    1) Revise the obvious sex gender thing– and get with the times. Huge priest shortage. Pretty soon none. Problem would be solved and the faith continues. Lay people cannot replace priests, not from a business or organizational perspective.
    2) Revise the current mass format. 55 minutes is too long for       the attention span of anyone 5 to 55. The 20 somethings are about instant gratification. As a 40-something I struggle to stay with the priest and historic non-applicable mass format, and my two small kids want to leave after 30 minutes. It is a natural thing for humans of various ages–not an insult. Changing the mass to make it meaningful and more focused is no sin or crime to Rome. It is smart business. Rome could do it easily if they gave it some thought and collaborated and did focus groups, formal research, etc. like any business does.
    3) Anyone finding this approach offensive I apologize. But it is true and should seriously be taken into consideration. And the recent long-awaited changes in the mass wordings was a joke. Everything we all learned we need to now re-learn phrases that actually make no difference in any way whatsoever. “He descended into Hell.” Really? Thanks for adding that as a major change to a prayer and giving millions in business to the printing industry the church works with. At least someone is benefiting! :>)

    • jer_dna

      I don’t care for “watering down” the faith so it’s more appealing to those who can’t sit for 55 minutes during Mass.  If it means fewer coming to church, so be it.  I would not be surprised if God wills it that the church be reduced in number such as was in the first century when Christians lived their faith and were willing to give up their lives for the faith.  From that small but strong core of faithful the faith will grow again even bigger than it is now.

  • Dana85

    Torture, burning alive at the stake, drowning of “heretics” and “witches” (women and children); backing of wars; collusion with and support of absolute rulers, tyrants and despots of all stripes including the dictators of Latin America, Africa and European fascism -Hitler, Mussolini (who granted the Church the Vatican) and Franco; continual worldwide sabotage of birth control fforts; brainwashing hundreds of millions of children with nonsense including a warped view of (homo)sexuality and other aspects of life and death which continues to plague them long in to adulthood; undermining the fight against AIDS in Africa by prohibiting condom use and the carrying out, enabling, and cover-up world wide of thousands of instances of child rape, prosecution from which the upper hierarchy including Ratzinger retain immunity to this day.

    The Roman Catholic Church is the worlds longest running crime
    syndicate in the guise of the holiest holders of the sole key to the salvation of humanity. Based on the myth of a god who has himself born (by parthenogenesis no less) as his son. Who then sacrifices himself to himself to save from himself those who believe this story.

    And here we are in the 21st century in front of our LCD screens with vehicles riding around on the planet Mars and not once
    can Mr Ashbrook bring himself to even once hint at questioning the validity of history’s longest running most obvious con-job.

    • Josef1

       This is a little harsh, “longest running crime syndicate, con-job” I’m not Catholic but still and you can’t simplify history its more complicate than just making accusations.  Your statement has some truth to it but much of what your saying is insulting.

    • debhulbh

      Holding the catholic church accountable for its crimes is it?
      Well….
      The Catholic Church holds it better for the Sun and Moon to drop from Heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die from starvation in extremest agony … than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should        tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.this the hysterical, totalitarian fanatical Newman statement, came from a learned man recently declared to be a saint and Ratz traveled to London in the last 2 years or so, to begin the process I believe. how the church would emerge if anything remotely like Newman’s criterion were to be applied to it.
      As a recent author write….
      As we have recently been forcibly reminded, the Roman Catholic Church holds it better for the cries of raped and violated children to be ignored, and for the excuses and alibis of their rapists and torturers indulged, and for a host of dirty and wilful untruths to be manufactured wholesale, and for the funds raised ostensibly for the poor to be paid out in hush money and shameful bribery, rather than that one tiny indignity or inconvenience be visited on the robed majesty of a man-made church or any limit set to its self-proclaimed right to be judge in its own cause.Earlier this year, as Roman Catholic authorities from Ireland to Germany to Australia to Belgium to the United States were being confronted with the fallout of decades of sexual assault and subsequent denial, a simple question was posed, in print. Why was this not considered a matter for the police and the courts? Why were we asking the church to “put its own house in order,” an expression that was the exact definition of the problem to begin with? Why had almost no offending priest or bishop faced justice, and even then usually after a long period of protection from the church’s own “courts”? this was followed up with a telephone call to Geoffrey Robertson, a British barrister with a second-to-none record in international human rights cases. Robertson produced a detailed legal brief against the papacy and has made it widely available for the use of all interested or aggrieved parties. Titled The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse, it has just been published in the United Kingdom by Penguin Books. (It will be available in the United States in October.)As if almost timed to coincide with its publication, the arrival of Ratzinger on British soil, the recent disclosures of the putrid state of the church in Belgium have thrown the whole scandal into an even sharper relief. Consider: The now-resigned bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, stands revealed by his own eventual confession as being guilty of incest as well as rape, having regularly “abused” his male nephew between the ages of 5 and 18. The man’s superior as head of the Belgian church, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, has been caught on tape urging the victim to keep quiet. A subsequent official report, commissioned by the country’s secular authorities, has established that this level of morality was the rule throughout the hierarchy, with the church taking it upon itself to “forgive” the rapists and to lean upon their victims. Very belatedly, a few months ago, the Belgian police finally rose from their notorious torpor and raided some ecclesiastical offices in search of evidence that was being concealed. Joseph Ratzinger, who had not thus far found a voice in which to mention the doings of his Belgian underlings, promptly emitted a squeal of protest—at the intervention of the law.Robertson’s brief begins with a meticulous summary of the systematic fashion in which child-rape was covered up by collusion between local Catholic authorities and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, an office that under the last pope was run by Ratzinger himself. (So flagrant was this obstruction of justice that many senior Catholic apologists have now started to blame the deceased pontiff in an effort to excuse his deputy and successor, all the while continuing to put forward Pope John Paul II as a candidate for sainthood!) The brief continues with a close examination of the Vatican’s claim to be a state, and its related claim that statehood confers legal immunity on the pope, even in gross cases of abuse of human rights. Without undue difficulty, Robertson shows both claims to be laughably void and based, furthermore, on a history of disgraceful collaboration with dictatorship and sheltering of wanted criminals.Cardinal Newman himself was rather dubious about the late-19th-century proclamation ofpapal infallibility. He also asked to be buried in the same grave as his lifelong companion, Ambrose St. John. The Catholic authorities have now rudely disinterred the bodies, finding nothing that had survived decay or could serve as a relic. This is grotesque enough, but not as grotesque as the air of persecuted innocence that they wear when confronted with their obscene offenses. Now at last there is a careful guide to legal redress, which can be taken up either by a victim or by a prosecutor and used to bring a man-made outfit, and its chief executive, within the rule of law. The sun and moon don’t need to fall and the species doesn’t have to die in agony in order to expiate this sin—a little application of simple earthly justice is all that is required. Will it really continue to be withheld?I think not. The bubble has burst, thankfully.

  • Josef1

    While I agree the church is guilty of many past and present crimes  and I’d like to see reforms. However based on many of the comments it seems many simply are attacking religion and would like to pretend it doesn’t exist or see it go away. Why can’t we enjoy religions and except them as another beautiful part of life in stead of attacking them as something we as individuals find insulting.  

    • Penny Powell

      Well, Josef, I think it’s probably because of all of the torture, murder, misogyny, homophobia, guilt, judgement, hypocrisy, lying, pedophilia… 

      If we were to do as you suggest, it would be woefully one-sided and the torture, murder, misogyny, homophobia, guilt, judgement, etc., etc. would go unchallenged and therefore, would continue to harm a whole lot of people in the world and that wouldn’t be very nice, now would it? I’m not pissed off at anthroposophy, for instance, because its quasi-doctrine doesn’t condone torture, murder, misogyny, homophobia, guilt, judgement, hypocrisy, lying, pedophilia and nasty stuff like those things. Catholicism and the other primary religions in the world often do (condone those things). 

      See what I’m saying? It’s not  as simple as accepting them “as another beautiful part of life.”

      I’m not an atheist, by the way. I have enough humility to say that I have no idea what’s actually behind the wonder and splendor of the universe. I wish that more religions condoned humility, even as it pertains to their fundamental beliefs. Without it, life is miserable for a lot of our fellow human beings.

      • jefe68

        You forgot 400 years of the inquisition.

    • debhulbh

      It wasn’t a religion that raped children, it was the men wearing the cloth under the guise of ‘religion’ that did. Pretending that that violation doesn’t exist is the issue here. Why can’t we enjoy religions, you ask, why can’t we enjoy and celebrate our common humanity, more importantly. 
      No one needs a roof over their heads with a spire or none on top to practice humanity and compassion to another.

    • Donna Marie Gaspar

      Josef1
      Religion has nothing to do with crimes against humanity, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutly.
      The RCC has absolutly abused its power.

  • Donna Marie Gaspar

    I dreamed a dream of hope and joy- wanting until the last moment to see this Pope announce to the world today that he is the last Pope. That all the Cardinals are dismissed, except for the known criminals among them who would be held responsible for their “cover-ups” ;  that  the Vatican is to be sold and the money distributed to the worlds poor and finally  he himself, acknowledging his part in the crimes against humanity
    perpetrated by the RCC – turn himself in to the Court at the Hague rather than fly away to a resort – where he is protected forever from the law.
    What I witnessed was a nightmare – the crime boss – escaping unharmed. 

  • jefe68

    George Carlin sums it up, yet again.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjVLJKR6g7U

  • jer_dna

    You can bash the Church all you want, but I still love it because it taught me the faith.  You know, the bread still turns into the body of Christ even when the most evil preist says Mass and that’s why I still go to church.  And the other thing it taught me is to pray for all souls–the victim and the offender.

    • Donna Marie Gaspar

      We are the Body of Christ, and the only Christ on this earth and we are wounded and so we pray for healing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dane.wolf.3 Dane Wolf

      I would be highly interested to find out how, exactly, it is that you know that Jesus is the great Savior of humanity, and that, as a result of this knowledge, you know that something that, to all appearances, looks like a thin white cracker before a priest holds it up in the air and utters some special words, and that, afterward, to all appearances, continues to precisely resemble a thin white cracker, is no longer, in fact, a thin white cracker; but is, on the contrary, not only an entirely different substance but the very meat and sinew of the exulted Son of the Hoary and Omnipotent Father-Creator of the Universe (Each of Whom, by the way, are different aspects of a Triune Deity, which ultimately explains the origin and nature of reality and which, what’s more, imparts meaning to our otherwise trivial existence).  On this note, it would also be interesting, since you appear to be an expert on these esoteric matters, how it is that you know there is such a thing as a soul, since all my attempts to get a handle on it have met with frustration.  It would appear that the excellent method by which you have discovered these momentous things is something called “faith,” which, apparently, the Church has gone out of its way to teach you.  Now, I am highly keen to partake of the body of Christ, as you are, because it seems, as long as one is in the proper frame of mind, to be a deeply satisfying and indeed revelatory experience; but, before I can join you in eating the God, as it were, I am hoping that you can clear up a certain dilemma I am having.  Well, it’s more of a trilemma, to tell you the truth. . . .  Ah, rather, it’s even worse than that, but let me get on with it:  you see, before I came across your most wonderful report that Jesus is the Messiah and that through Him all Truth is revealed, I, quite by chance, encountered a Hindu who informed me that Brahman is the Supreme Deity, presiding over practically countless other gods and demigods, and, later on, I encountered a Zoroastrian, who had a different account of things, involving the opposing forces of Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu; still later, I crossed paths with a Mormon and a Scientologist, who were practically coming to blows on the street because the former was insisting that God inhabits the planet Kolob, while, at the same time, the latter was making a fairly compelling case to the contrary that, in point of fact, Xenu, the Dictator of the Galactic Confederacy, came to Earth 75 million years ago in his DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked billions of his own people around various volcanoes, and proceeded to blow them all up with hydrogen bombs, after which time he collected their disembodied thetans into vacuum zones and forced them to watch a 3-D super-colossal motion picture for 36 days; while the Scientologist’s chronicle seemed to be the most persuasive sequence of events that I had caught wind of up to that point, I next encountered a Muslim, who assured me, with enviable equipoise, that the one and only God is Allah and that his greatest prophet is a fellow by the name of Muhammad.  Now, you can imagine my consternation when I asked this venerable gentleman how it is that he knew these great and noble things with such an admirable degree of certainty, and he responded in exactly the same fashion as you and all the others did — “faith.”  Unless it is somehow possible that Allah can share his lofty throne with Jesus, and that both of them can move over for Ahura Mazda, and that these can make even more room for Zeus, Wotan, Huitzilopochtli, and even Amaterasu, I am quite at a loss for how it is that “faith” can amount to a satisfactory way to determine which is the one, true religion.  In other words, how can I know that Jesus is the Savior when the faith of all these other folks simultaneously tells them a different story?  Please advise, as I am, as you might have noticed, very eager to get to the bottom of these serious matters.  

      • jer_dna

        Dane,  I can tell you
        are a learned man.  You certainly know
        more about many religions than I do.  And
        as much as I think you’re mocking religion I sense some sincerity in
        your questions and what you’re really asking is how do I know that God
        exists.  I have no proof, at least not
        the kind of proof you’re looking for. I’m guessing you’re at most a skeptic.  What kind of proof would make you a believer?  Indulge me and describe a hypothetical scenario
        where if this and this and that happened you’d be a believer?  I certainly cannot write down a formal
        mathematical proof that God exists–no human can.  But I do know that God himself can write the
        proof in your heart, but it will take some work on your part to take the first
        step.  God is not pushy (like me).  If you take a step forward, God may
        reciprocate.  But you have to have an
        open heart, be sincere, be patient and persevere.  Try this every day for a month: anytime you
        have a quiet moment (like before falling asleep) say this to yourself “I
        want to know the Truth.”  Repeat it
        and meditate on it.  That’s my advice to
        you.  Have a nice journey but don’t bring
        the intellect at least not for the first steps. 
        Go and listen with your heart.

         

         
         

        • http://www.facebook.com/dane.wolf.3 Dane Wolf

          What kind of proof would make me a believer?  How about ANY proof!  The problem with the world’s religions (and, quite naturally, faith, in general) is that they not only do not even begin to understand the meaning of the word “proof”, they, by definition, do not care about proof.  They do not care about a lack of proof, and, even more disturbingly, they do not care about existing proofs, evidence, rock-hard facts and data that fly directly in the face of their cherished, dyed-in-the-wool dogmas.  For example, the existence of dinosaur fossils and giant impact craters (like the one near the Yucatan peninsula) all around the globe, amount to powerful, indeed seemingly irresistible evidence, that Earth existed quite independently of humans for immense tracts of time (i.e., millions and billions of years) and that, by a very conservative estimation, all the creation myths of all the religions in the world — including Genesis — are precisely that — myths.  Now, some very well-meaning, yet morally flaccid, individuals often attempt to say that the tale of the Garden of Eden (and any other mystical accounts of creation) are merely metaphors for the mysterious mechanisms by which God has shaped the universe; but, as much as they try, even Darwin himself (if he were so inclined) could have just as easily harmonized the wispy doctrine of the soul with the weighty theory of evolution as Euclid could have found a way to square the circle.  In other words, unless the “infallible” Pope is willing to concede that Nim Chimpsky, Koko and Kanzi, or any of their close or distant relatives (no matter how hirsute or beetle-browed) are in possession, like we incorrigibly self-aggrandizing humans, of that great and wonderful passport to the afterlife — namely, the soul — then I’m afraid that, despite all our fervent wishes to the contrary, we are no more exulted in the eyes of creation than one of the countless species of beetle that has bubbled forth from the exuberant womb of Mother Earth since the first microbe shuffled onto the rocky shore some four billion years ago.  Let me be the first to point out, however, that I find even the lowliest beetle to be quite a fine thing, and, consequently, I feel not the least bit of shame to be no more intrinsically important than one of them.  I simply acknowledge, like all people who care more about evidence than their own psychological yearnings, that all the skeletons of humanoid creatures that have been excavated over the past couple centuries — e.g., H. heidelbergensis, H. erectus, H. habilis (and, of course, who could leave out the adorable H. floresiensis?), etc., etc., etc. — would seem to be a powerful indicator, even to the most dubious of reasoners and the dimmest of wits, that we, H. sapiens, might very well have something in common (like shared heritage) with these earlier “primitive” forms, and that, unless these club-wielding cavemen had souls, too, then it would seem to be highly illogical (not to mention gravely impertinent) to hold that the first recognizable humans somehow came to have a spiritual essence but, alas, their poor parents did not.  By the way, I should be interested to know how the Church is coping with the new evidence that the vast majority of people living on earth right now have something like 3% Neanderthal DNA operating in their cells;  I wonder if, by the zigzagging calculus of the cardinals, this may mean that an otherwise good Christian might only have 97% of a soul.  But one should not put too much stock in the counting abilities of an organization that has miscalculated everything from the age of the Earth to the shape of the solar system.  Speaking of the solar system and the Church’s interest in evidence (or, rather, its zealous lack thereof), let us never forget how kindly and how open-mindedly the Catholics treated poor, old Galileo when he just wanted them to look through the end of his telescope; and, let us not forget poor, old Bruno, goofy though he was, whom the faithful burned alive for his apparently heretical assertion that the earth goes round the sun and not vice versa; and, then there were all the other horrors of the Inquisition, as countless as they were pernicious to any gentle and elevated mentality. . . .  Unfortunately, about as many Christians care to learn about these unsightly episodes as they do to think about the implications, for example, of Deuteronomy’s 13th chapter.

          My, what a tangent I have gone off on!  But, not an unreasonable one, I daresay.  What, in fact, could be more reasonable, more fair-minded, more HUMBLE (yes, HUMBLE in all capital letters and with a spirit of exclamation!), and VIRTUOUS, too, than to say that people’s beliefs should only be as strong as the evidence, the proof, that supports them!

          Unfortunately, the great infirmity of our species is its unwillingness to appreciate that, far from being a source of goodness, faith is, in fact, the very soul of prejudice — because faith, by definition, means to believe something without (or in spite of) evidence; and prejudice, by definition, means to judge beforehand, that is to say, make up one’s mind before seeing any evidence.  Now, of course, the crafty shepherds of the Church (I mean all those spotty theologians) were never without a certain realization that nothing is better than evidence for solidifying firm beliefs, and so they have made many attempts over the centuries to give the downtrodden congregations of the world (who were not quite as battened and bejeweled as the average bishop) something more “tangible” than Latin incantations to bolster their attachment to the belief-system, and so they put a wide assortment of moldy, often moth-eaten, and always macabre items on display in gem-encrusted reliquaries, such as the “death-defying” nose, finger, or some other bodily remnant of some ill-remembered martyr, or they promulgated tales of some weeping statue or other miracles or prophecies to somehow support the magnificent fiction that burning bushes and snakes have the power of speech, that men can walk on liquid water, or that winged messengers in flowing robes sometimes suddenly appear before human beings (who are, let’s confess it, quite the most peculiar of all the primates).  But, as I pointed out at the outset of my hyper-agnostic diatribe, religious types do not understand what constitutes proof — as evidenced by that delightful objet d’art, the Shroud of Turin, which had long been enshrined as a holy relic, indeed, a semblance formed from the divine blood, sweat, tears, and other pious excretions of the Messiah, but which, to the terrible chagrin and dyspepsia of the Church, turned out to be nothing but a pious fraud, having been radiocarbon-dated to the Middle Ages, a time when Europe was positively infested by such “miraculous” things, a time, too, when Popes were rousing millions of men, young and old, to march off to the Holy Land to subdue (I mean butcher, of course) its unsuspecting denizens (all, presumably, in the name of the Golden Rule; or, perhaps it was that chapter of Deuteronomy that I alluded to above).

          Now, before I fly off on yet another diatribe, let me try to briefly address your spiritually uplifting advice (indeed your almost physicianly prescription) to restore cosmic balance to the apparent disorder of the inner life of one who, probably on account of demonic possession, cannot seem to get his soul properly aligned with the rigid (though righteous) orthodoxy of the Church.  Let me be the first to say that I am no stranger to the faith.  I was raised a Catholic, used to call myself one with that unmistakable gleam of false-humility in my eye, and O, how I “wept and fasted, wept and prayed,” O, indeed, how for not mere months but for years my heart was so wide open to God that Jesus could have easily driven a tractor right through the center of it without even upsetting the natural rhythm of its contractions!  But, far from sensing anything from God (all I wanted, anyway, was just to feel the subtle, though unmistakable, impression of only one of his whiskers as He bent down from His lofty perch in the clouds to more carefully gauge the sincerity of my seemingly inconsolable sobbing!), alas, all I heard from Him is what I’m afraid everyone (with the exception of schizophrenics and canines with particularly sensitive cochleae) hears:  silence.  In other words, though, like a good experimentalist, I tried your method, excellent as it may seem, it ultimately offered no better results than all my other attempts so far to alter the forces of nature with nothing more than the energy of my wishes, such as all those times at Thanksgiving dinner when I made quiet, though truly Herculean efforts, to bend my silverware with no other agency than the electromagnetism of my thoughts.

          But, please, my friend, my fellow traveler, do not give up hope on me!  For I have scarcely given up hope on myself!  On the contrary, with every step I take away from God, I take a step farther out of the shadow of superstition, self-punishment, and ghoulish anxiety that perpetually hangs over the heads of all who go through life hoping that some Invisible Entity will have the mercy on them after they die to not flick them into a pit of smoke and molten sulfur, i.e., hell, for ever and ever.

          In summa, miracles are not evidence, and, even if they were, all religions use miracles to support their claims, and, sadly for their sake, they can’t all be right.  For any intellectually, and yes, emotionally HONEST (that is an important functional adjective here; not merely a stylistic embellishment) gentleman or lady who has attempted to utilize prayer as a means to make contact with the supernatural world, they have found that either God uses AT&T and for this reason He can’t be gotten hold of or that God simply doesn’t have the courtesy to answer His phone because He never had the courtesy to exist in the first place.  For any person who is honest when it comes to religious matters (I mean atheists and agnostics), religion is not a game like politics or baseball where people merely take sides and proceed to pull the proverbial wool over their eyes, cheering and jeering purely on the basis of tribal instincts; it is, like all other things, a proposition, an idea, the merits (or demerits) of which should be considered as objectively, i.e., as fair-mindedly, as any other hypothesis, no matter how compelling or absurd it may be.  In other words, I, like any other person who weighs in on the world’s religions in the only justifiable way — that is, as a THIRD person — do not reject religion with the same attitude as the Catholic rejects the Muslim, or the Muslim rejects the Catholic, or the Hindu rejects the Catholic and Muslim and all other non-Hindu religions, and so on; rather, I hold them to the same standard that I hold all other things (including and especially myself) — namely, WHAT WE BELIEVE SHOULD BE PROPORTIONAL TO THE EVIDENCE!  Therefore, just as soon as the Pontiff or any other of the world’s religious leaders can offer up real evidence — I mean something that can be tested and verified to be not merely something that some wrinkled mystic dug out of his duodenum but that has an existence entirely independent from what he or she had for dinner the previous night — then I will be more than happy to believe it with just as much enthusiasm (but not a jot more) as it deserves, for, ironically, if I will have the decency to “do unto my neighbors as I would have them do unto me”, then what I will do is not go about determining what is true and isn’t true simply because that is what was taught to me or because that is what all my hopes and fears would have me believe; yes, ironically, for anyone who cares to be FAIR to all parties, to all sides, to all the competing voices of the world, what the Golden Rule really means (or should mean) is to stop being prejudiced, which is, of course, merely another way of saying stop believing things “just because,” stop using faith as a cover-up for an equally deep and disturbing lack of information!

              
                
            

  • angeloroncalli

    Thomas Groome rocks! I’m going to buy your book. But, as a theology prof from Connecticut once said: “The Church is an oppressive institution. Oppressive institutions are evil. Oppressive institutions do not change from the top down.”…Leo

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Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

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Apr 18, 2014
This undated photo provided by NASA on April 2, 2014 shows Saturn's moon Enceladus. The "tiger stripes" are long fractures from which water vapor jets are emitted. Scientists have uncovered a vast ocean beneath the icy surface of the moon, they announced Thursday, April 3, 2014. Italian and American researchers made the discovery using Cassini, a NASA-European spacecraft still exploring Saturn and its rings 17 years after its launch from Cape Canaveral. (AP)

Oceans in Space. The new discovery on a moon of Saturn, and the possibility of life there.

 
Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

Deadly clashes in Eastern Ukraine. A white supremacist rocks Kansas City. The Marathon bombing anniversary. And Bloomberg on guns. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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