This indecision’s bugging me

Apparently, EJ Dionne’s piece about why he isn’t leaving the Catholic Church generated a huge feedback at Kaplan. We got a lot of interesting responses here too. Aimai:

You belong to a criminal conspiracy of rapists and thieves and you are no more than a beard, interchangeable with any widget that likes incense and history and is willing to look the other way.

Reflection ephemeral:

It seems to me that DougJ, rather uncharacteristically, is making the same mistake that the media makes.

To wit: he allows the hierarchy to speak for the institution.

But as we’ve seen in all those polls, that’s just not the way it works in real life. He’s right that the Official Story has it that “Catholics are deeply concerned about how important it is to ban gay marriage and in vitro fertilization!” and whatnot, but that story is wrong.

It’s true that the Church-going Catholics I talk to don’t listen to anything the crazy ass bishops say. But, for me, I would not join any club that would have someone like Joe Ratzinger or Karol Wojtyla as a head member. I can understand thinking “Joey Ratz is an asshole, he doesn’t get to win, we get to win”, but I think conservatives are like termites or black mold. Once they’re really in the foundation, blow the this shit up and start over, because you’ll never get them out. If that means that I have to leave this country, or this planet, someday, so be it.

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114 replies
  1. 1
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    i saw this movie with the baptists earlier.

  2. 2
    David Koch says:

    I don’t blame EJ for not leaving, who doesn’t enjoy bingo night.

  3. 3
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    To wit: he allows the hierarchy to speak for the institution.

    Um, dumbshit:

    The hierarchy IS, for all practical purposes, the institution.

    You, E.J. Dionne, are now officially and formally an accessory in child rape and the coverup of child rape.

  4. 4
    David Koch says:

    PPP: black/gay jimmy carter up big in mitten’s home state of New Hampshire.

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @David Koch:

    That poll cannot possibly be true! That other poll says Rmoney is up 2 points with women over the near sheriff.

  6. 6
    trollhattan says:

    Hard to imagine a more top-down institution than the Catholic Church. Change from within? Not so much.

    Since JPII and Ratzi have packed the College of Cardinals with like-minded Uber conservatives over several decades, magic 8-ball finds the chances of a drift away from arch conservatism as “unlikely.”

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    @David Koch: @Villago Delenda Est:

    By election day, they’ll be polling 100% republicans just to make it look close.

  8. 8
    lamh35 says:

    …I would not join any club that would have someone like Joe Ratzinger or Karol Wojtyla as a head member….

    This is the same reasoning why alot of Black people will NOT vote Republican and why Black are the most reliably Dem voters of the whole coalition. Who wants to be a part of a club that makes you eat at the back of the building near the trash.

    If the GOP ever got it together, maybe they could turn that around…but I doubt that ever happens!

  9. 9

    The hierarchy is the institution, and individual members are either complicit or delusionally in denial. I would suggest that congregants are accessories after the fact to decades of child rape. In any group other than a church, I suspect that members would depart en masse in horrified outrage that management engaged in such violently criminal behavior. Yet people remain active members of the Catholic Church. Baffling behvior.

  10. 10
    Baud says:

    @lamh35:

    Who wants to be a part of a club that makes you eat at the back of the building near the trash.

    A lot of people who aren’t black, unfortunately.

  11. 11
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid.

    -St. Ignatius of Antioch

    I think a lot of Catholic liberals forget that; yeah Vatican II blah blah blah, but the Catholic Church doesn’t have a congregationalist polity.

    Three things that keep Catholic liberals in the Church:

    1. Scared that they’ll go to hell if they go Protestant. When its rubbed into people from an early age that their sect is the True Church, its not something that is hard to shake, even as liberal adults.

    2. Ethnic ties-its hard to believe in the world of cookie cutter suburban Catholicism, but a lot of people feel vestigal ethnic ties, despite said immigrants often arriving here a century ago.

    3. Man bites dog. As Sully can tell us, being a dissenting Catholic gets you more attention than being an ex Catholic does.

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Baud:

    Of that I have little doubt. There is panic in the Village. Obama’s going to look like Secretariat at the Belmont Stakes at this rate…a horse race that is no contest.

  13. 13
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Baud: Chuck Todd was on NBC News ripping Obama’s commencement speech at Barnard today. A f’n commencement speech deserved his inane analysis.

    Conversely, he was praising Romney’s groveling at the feet of people who believe he is part of a cult.

    They want a horse race.

  14. 14
    4tehlulz says:

    So do I get to dismiss nuns as kid fuckers too?

  15. 15
    WereBear says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): It can be a parent/child relationship, and just as a child might not like getting beaten and abused, they also are afraid to leave their parent; it’s a coded brain template that makes no “sense” but is very strong.

    Of course, with Evangelicals, it’s the whole Hell thing which is hammered home every week; not sure how the Catholics work it… oh yeah. Passion of the Christ. I guess they are not above mental torture, either?

  16. 16
    MattF says:

    Faith is a puzzle, both for those who have it and those who don’t. I’m not a believer, and refuse to pretend to be– and Garry Wills is a believer who gives no quarter to haters, criminals, and hypocrites in his church:

    http://www.amazon.com/Why-Am-C.....0618380485

    I’d hesitate before declaring that I know better than he does.

  17. 17
    Baud says:

    @Hill Dweller: What did Obama say that incensed the Village so?

  18. 18
    jayjaybear says:

    A lot of the blowback from rank-and-file Catholics is also the result of a Catholic education, especially after Vatican II, when religion classes generally emphasized that the Church IS the people. Of course, we’ve had 33 years of reactionary clawback of Vatican II at this point, and a College of Cardinals that looks like the largest criminal conspiracy in history, but to those of us who survived 12+ years of parochial education in the 70s and 80s, it’s hard to shake that Vatican II touchy-feely-hippie-folkmass stuff.

    ETA: And this very post is a prime example…I haven’t been an actual Catholic believer in well over a decade, but I still fall right into “we” mode when talking about Catholics.

  19. 19
    Alex says:

    My very elderly Aunt, who recently passed away, was a devout Catholic who volunteered thousands of hours on Catholic charities in Latin America and on local parish projects, like embroidering altar cloths or mending vestments for the priests. Years ago she had eschewed the more well-to-do church near her home for the poorer, largely Hispanic parish in her community which was populated by priests for whom social justice was a more burning issue than hot altar boys.

    While she was still alive I helped her clear out her house, which she had sold, and move into a retirement apartment. We found at least two papal awards, first an award from a John Paul: “Oh! Let’s save that!” Then a more recent award from Ratzinger: “Hmph. Throw that away.”

  20. 20
    Baud says:

    I would not join any club that would have someone like Joe Ratzinger or Karol Wojtyla as a head member.

    Not joining is completely different than leaving.

  21. 21
    Keith G says:

    I suppose that trying to use rationality to discuss belief in the supernatural is a losing proposition from the start – as is trying to get “believers” to immediately reconsider what they have been believing in for much of their lives. Hurling invective will be of no help either way.

    Aimai’s chest thumping, above, may be an enjoyable read, but right now, I wish folks who want to type things like that would just stay away from the topic for the next six months.

    There is going to be a state or two where we will need the vote of every Catholic who may be willing to consider supporting Obama (regardless how they feel about the Pope and Bishops). Until we win this election, lets work on our addition and not our division.

  22. 22
    4tehlulz says:

    If that means that I have to leave this country, or this planet, someday, so be it.

    Then do it.

  23. 23
    PeakVT says:

    To wit: he allows the hierarchy to speak for the institution.

    It’s hard to have a universal church without a big-ass hierarchy.

  24. 24
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    It’s true that the Church-going Catholics I talk to don’t listen to anything the crazy ass bishops say.

    If you aren’t listening to the leadership of a religious organization but rather going ahead and believing and doing what you wish to, then you aren’t really “one of them”, you’re just along for the ride. You’re not a believer, you are just hitching a ride on the wagon.

    As a young teen I quickly figured out that the RCC was full of hypocrites who sinned all week and went into church on Sundays to be forgiven. That adults didn’t practice what was preached to them and that they then went and lied to their kids about.

    If you are a member of the RCC any more, you’re what’s feeding the problem with it.

  25. 25
    Jay C says:

    @Baud:

    What did Obama say that incensed the Village so?

    I think the offending phrases went something like,,,

    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

  26. 26
    Baud says:

    @Jay C: Touche.

  27. 27
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Baud: Nothing out of the ordinary, but Todd criticized it for being a ‘campaign speech’.

  28. 28
    Jeff says:

    I’m not catholic so take what I say with a grain of salt:
    The problem that Dionne is having is not so much “do I stop believing, ( which is another question entirely) but rather do I stop identifying myself as a Big C Catholic rather than a small c catholic, i.e. a member of a community of believers.
    The quandary for him is if the big C church, the bishops,the pope and cardinals, have left the community then what is left then? There always is the option of becoming protestant, in one flavor or another, or becoming a member of those splinter catholic churches like mistermix wrote about earlier. But the former doesn’t do the ‘smells and bells’ the way the Catholics can do it, and the latter always has the taint of schism which is like hen-bane to the catholic way of thinking.
    Then he could leave the community entirely, but that is like moving to a foreign country,where the sign posts are all in a funny language, and the people all seem to stare at you.
    That leave the thoroughly unsatisfactory option of staying put, remaining faithful to the community of believers, but attempting to keep the increasingly crazy and intolerant bishops at arms length, and to hope against hope for some real change from within.
    I for one don’t envy him.

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Baud:

    It’s not so much what he said, it’s that he says it the way a human being, not Robbie the Robot, says things.

    Which is but one of the reasons why Rmoney is getting his shiny metal ass kicked.

  30. 30
    VincentN says:

    I’m not a believer and I’ve accepted that for some reason other people have this urge to be part of a religion that I don’t. So I totally get DougJ’s argument that it would be better to leave the Catholic Church and maybe join a less hostile religion.

    But is the idea of possibly changing the Church from within really so wrongheaded? It’s not like the Church hasn’t changed before. Aside from Vatican II, didn’t the Church use to be pro-slavery, anti-Galileo, etc? So even though the Church is hierarchical, it is possible for its members to exert influence. Unfortunately, such changes tend to be glacial and are usually the result of the old management dying off.

    So maybe the current Church hierarchy sucks but I can’t help but think of all the nuns and monks and others at the bottom rung of the clergy who do good works. What are they supposed to do? It’s easy and glib to just tell them to pack up and leave but is that a practical solution?

    Maybe American Catholics should just splinter off and choose their own Pope. I understand that there’s some precedent for that. By doing that, Catholics won’t have to become *gasp* Protestants.

  31. 31
    Clime Acts says:

    Yeah, this whole thing with grownups acting like they JUST CAN’T POSSIBLY LEAVE THE CHURCH, IT’S MY HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMEEE…is so weak and weird.

    I was raised solid Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, featuring Church once or twice or three times a week depending on the season, Sunday School every week, youth activities of various kinds, and EIGHT freaking years of parochial school. I began to realize the LCMS was hateful and hypocritical and just plain wrong in the way it taught the Gospel of JC by at least fourth grade if not earlier.

    I stopped attending as soon as I went of to college.

    This myth that it’s so difficult to leave a church or a way of life when you’ve realized it is corrupt is just lazy ass wrong. And the Episcopal church really IS a great option, for Lutherans too. If I ever go back, it will be to that church.

    There seems to be a lot of self inflicted Stockholm Syndrome bullshit going on with RCC members who know the church is full of shit but continue to spend their lives in the toilet.

  32. 32
    Keith G says:

    @Hill Dweller: Sorry dude, but due to you report, I looked up and played the segment in question. No ripping there. If I am wrong (and it happens), please point out the words he used to rip the president.

  33. 33
    nickgb says:

    @VincentN:
    I get where you’re coming from, but how do you make your voice heard? Nothing changes the stance of a contribution-based organization as quickly as voting with your feet. A 1% decline in church membership makes the church appear to be headed towards extinction, a 1% decline in tithes is just a product of the recession. The former causes a drastic need to change policies, the latter doesn’t.

  34. 34
    Raven says:

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  35. 35
    Mattminus says:

    By the logic of this thread we should all be Nader voting Greens!

  36. 36

    I was once a Catholic. I couldn’t be now – they wouldn’t want me – but I could see being Catholic, and loving the church, and wanting to help it, even if thinking it was wrong in so many ways.

    A lot of people talk about the church like it’s just, oh, wow, I hate Hondas now, I’m going to buy a *Ford*.

    But it’s not. It’s a nearly 2000 year old institution, one that claims a great mission. And if you truly love that mission, and feel there’s any chance that the institution can be salvaged, a person can feel a need to stick around.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of emigrating from the US at times, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I do love what America claims to stand for (even if it never stands for it as much as one might wish). Now, we murder people (oops, I mean, make targeted military strikes with regrettable collateral damage – it must be nice to be a nation powerful enough to do that, knowing that if anyone ordered air strikes on your holdings to punish you, you could nuke ’em – as in, literally use nuclear weapons on them), and invade other nations based upon lies, and we watch our people torture people we’ve kidnapped, and let the torturers go free and, sure, we’re not as bad as other nations have been, but I’m sure you know the old joke: “Will you sleep with me for a million dollars?” “Yes!” “Okay, how about $50?” “What kind of woman do you think I am?” “We’ve already settled that! We’re just haggling over the price!”

    The US has done some hideously shitty things. But I still love this country. It’s still my home. And if you list its faults, and then fault me for not leaving it, you’re an asshole at best, an enemy at worst.

    I’ll grant Catholics the right to have the same feelings.

  37. 37
    Cato says:

    I was raised Episcopalian.

    TEC is dying as an institution right now, the median age is in the mid 60s. I don’t think it’s a great option unless you’re driving your Buick to the Early Bird Special at Cracker Barrel.

  38. 38
    Cato says:

    Plus it is kind of ironic to see liberals praising a church (TEC) that was, for many decades and in many ways still us, The Church of the Top One Percent.

  39. 39
    Raven says:

    @Cato: You were raised a fucking virus.

  40. 40
    Baud says:

    @LongHairedWeirdo:

    It’s a nearly 2000 year old institution,

    I’m not Catholic, but the sense I get is that Catholics like Dionne think of the Church in terms of decades and even centuries, rather than just the nature of the current hierarchy.

  41. 41
    Cato says:

    @Raven:

    LOL, what does that even mean? BTW, nice grammar.

  42. 42
    Irving says:

    In a sad sort of way that describes the bulk of Christian Churches, Cato…

    Waitasec. Cato? Cato Not Trolling? Hi, glad to talk without the talking points between us! Pull up a chair, relax and goof off with us, and have a nice big helping of positive reinforcent!

  43. 43
    MD Rackham says:

    @Keith G: So just let the whole child rape thing slide for six months for political reasons.

    Gotcha.

  44. 44
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I’m actually confused as to why some people here are saying that the current hierarchy is inseparable from the larger institution. Has no one here complained that “national Democrats” are fucking things up in one way or another, and that they should act more like real Democrats and listen to what rank and file Democrats across the country are saying as opposed to the Village? I’m not trying to start a fight here, but I do see some parallels. The current College of Cardinals is to John XXIII as the DLC is to, say, Lyndon Johnson. I feel a similar sort of blood loyalty to both groups, myself, for good or for ill. When they fuck up, it’s not just a question of whether to stay or go, it’s a question of identity. If they’re fuck-ups, that means I’m a fuck-up too.

    Not a healthy attitude? Maybe not. But I personally have trouble with the whole self-contained individual thing. I think there are some good sides to that. I like believing in something out there, anything from human institutions to noble ideals up to a higher power, bigger than myself. It helps me make sense of my own place in the world, because I frankly don’t feel important enough on my own to just base that decision on myself, and I don’t think I should be.

    When I said in the last thread on this subject that I feel terrified at that idea that there’s no higher power because that would make the world meaningless, a few people told me that I should make my own meaning and that will free me. Maybe that works for some people. Personally, and I’m not trying to insult anyone here who believes that, it’s not a long walk from there to someone like Margaret Thatcher or Ayn Rand convincing you there’s no such thing as society and that self-fulfillment is the ultimate goal. I just don’t buy that. Maybe it’s a question of healthy forms of self-fulfillment as opposed to unhealthy ones.

  45. 45
    Cato says:

    @Irving:

    Nah, the Catholics are demographically healthy. Despite the exodus of native-born white Americans, hispanic immigrants have replaced them so they’ve been roughly steady in membership instead of falling off a demographic cliff like the mainline protestants.

  46. 46
    Cato says:

    Not to mention all the growth in Africa and Asia.

    Christianity isn’t the White Man’s Religion anymore.

  47. 47
    J.W. Hamner says:

    How does one go about changing an organization that is decidedly not a democracy? Obviously it happens, but it seems weird to be “well maybe if I just stick with it a bit longer it will suck less at some indeterminate point in the future.”

  48. 48
    Irving says:

    Maybe. It’s so regional it’s hard to tell. My Grandmother’s church seems terribly old, but she was Catholic in coastal NC, where Catholics are as rare as Hindus.

  49. 49
    Cato says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Really. FFS, the Roman Catholics didn’t stop using a dead language in their liturgy until the Nineteen fucking Sixties.

  50. 50
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I think from a practical, OK-how-do-we-actually-reform-the-church perspective, up and leaving isn’t enough. Abandonment is a fairly neutral message. The church hierarchy could just say “OK, now that the last of those hippies are gone, let’s double down on the crazy.” If you don’t care about reforming the church (or just any institution you have in mind), and are just leaving for personal reasons, that probably doesn’t matter to you, which is fine. Personally I think that there’s enough good still there that handing the church 100% over to the forces of evil would cause a significant change for the worse in our politics, but I can see how someone could think that we’ve already reached the point of no return on that particular continuum.

  51. 51
    Bill says:

    I certainly can sympathize with the idea that you wouldn’t want to join a club that would choose Ratzinger as its president. That said, for most Catholics I imagine, it’s not a matter of conversion per se but rather of working with the religion of one’s upbringing. I assume Dionne was raised, vaguely or not, Catholic.

    Another point with the Catholic Church is that there is a long history of ideological and liturgical diversity in it. As it purports to be universal, the Church contains within it all the differences of opinion in any given Catholic society. To some extent, I’m speaking historically, and about countries other than the US, but functionally it means that the Church has had in its ranks both Opus Dei and the Catholic Worker. The one despises the other, but they’re both Catholic.

    I raise the point only to make the analytical distinction between a relatively small, rigidly-orthodox institution (do as Pastor says or go to Hell) and a larger group like the Catholic Church. There are limits to its tolerance ideologically but functionally it accepts in most cases people like Dionne who would advocate for pro-choice legislation, etc.

  52. 52
    Heliopause says:

    The RCC will evolve as necessary to survive or it won’t. There have been historical large-scale reformations, which is why I still can’t figure out why the whiners just don’t join another church.

  53. 53
    maryQ says:

    @LongHairedWeirdo: Lotsa ways to be a Christian. Only one way to be American.

    Also, too. America is, for the time being, a democracy. If you don’t like who is in charge, you can vote against them. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But you get to say your say.

    I just don’t get these people.

  54. 54
    Cato says:

    @Heliopause:

    The RCC doesn’t give a crap about the West, so it’s not going to change to suit western Europe and North America. Again, the action is all in Africa and Asia now in terms of membership growth, both from conversions and births.

  55. 55
    Cato says:

    Seriously, guys. The RCC is not going to change its doctrine to suit aging and childless western feminists so it can lose out to Islam in Africa. Not happening.

  56. 56
    Dave says:

    stop concern trolling catholics, they’re dumb, who cares

  57. 57
    Cato says:

    @Dave:

    It’s just an extension of this blog’s Andrew Sullivan obsession.

  58. 58
    Chyron HR says:

    @Cato:

    Your sneering contempt for the views of the American people is duly noted.

  59. 59
    Cato says:

    @Chyron HR:

    It’s not MY sneering contempt. It’s the sneering contempt of the Pope.

  60. 60
    Keith G says:

    @MD Rackham: If that i what it takes to win…yes. Strategy, not tactics. We can do more to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable if we win. Words mean nothing compared to controlling the Justice Dept. and nominating federal judges. That is how we will get to justice for all.

    And that is why the Bishops would rather not see our side win.

  61. 61
    Bill says:

    @Cato: Interesting aside about African Catholicism. I lived a bit in Senegal and was entirely prepared to see colonialist racism in the institutional church there, white Jesuses and whatnot. That is certainly there, but there is also, a process wherein the church, in its leadership as well as its flock, is becoming more African. Meaning, specifically, there are Black people who make decisions.

    There’s a monastery near Dakar called Keur Moussa (“Brother Musa”), and in it there is the most beautiful liturgical painting, as well as liturgical music based on a–get this–kora modified to use a diatonic scale. I had the good fortune to get there. Check it:

    http://aebabroad.blogspot.com/.....stery.html

  62. 62
    pragmatism says:

    Este indecision me molesta

    The choice would be easy for me if I were catholic. I would go.

  63. 63
    redshirt says:

    I’m gonna form a religion based on Science, Humanism, and Community. Who’s in? We could have cool buildings and get together and tell cool stories about Galileo and shit, the kids could play in Science School, and there could be bean suppers and contradances and the whole nine yards and fancy whatnots. But with science, and celebration of the human spirit and not its defilement.

  64. 64
    Recall says:

    I have a grand-aunt who’s a former nun, so it’s kind of hard for me to respect anyone who says they can’t leave the church.

  65. 65
    Donut says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    The simple answer to your question is: do what Jesus did. Literally. You have to pretty much declare yourself the Messiah of something and raise a really big fucking stink, which really challenges the established order; that is to say, raise enough of a funk and really piss off enough powerful people to get yourself killed and/or martyred.

    It ain’t easy to do, but it has been pulled off a few times. Not many, but enough.

  66. 66
    middlewest says:

    Despite what ivory-tower liberals and militant atheists would have you believe, there are plenty of perfectly nice
    Klansmen, who enjoy the group more for the sense of tradition and community it provides than any of the *ahem* controversial positions the institution has sometimes been associated with. Just because they were brought up within that tradition doesn’t mean they march in lockstep with their whole asshole leadership “hierarchy”, and they would never dream of letting anyone tell them whom to vote for, marry, be friends with, etc. Really, it’s more about community service; why, just look at all the roads they clean!

  67. 67

    Thanks for responding, DougJ.

    Yeah, I sure don’t think it’s unreasonable for pro-morality Catholics to leave the Church; nor do I think it’s unreasonable for them to stay, because being a Catholic, day by day, isn’t about what the Bishops’ latest press release says.

    Didn’t mean to drive you to a suicide/doomsday threat, btw…

  68. 68
    Shinobi says:

    This is how it is:
    1. The church is not going to change its mind.
    2. Members of the church who have put up with the child molesting and the refusing to prevent the spread of HIV, are not going to leave over gay people. They’ve gone through all that, they are committed Catholics. If they are going to leave and choose rationality over hierarchy, they have, and if they aren’t they wont. They will find tons of excuses to defend the church, because it is their church, and if you are the kind of person who has a church, you are the kind of person who sticks to that church regardless.

  69. 69
    devtob says:

    @trollhattan: Exactly.

    JP II was quite conservative on doctrinal matters, and on covering up sexual abuse scandals.

    He appointed hundreds of bishops and cardinals who were similarly conservative.

    Ratzinger was one of JP II’s top cardinals, and has continued JP II’s appointment policies.

    Here in the US, Dolan in NY and Chaput in Philadelphia are the most egregious.

    It seems the two popes of the last 30-plus years want to lead a smaller church composed mostly of people who attend Mass every Sunday, etc.; don’t use contraception; and believe in papal infallibility.

    A 19th-century (Pius IX) way to attempt to lead a 21st-century church.

    Which will not work.

  70. 70
    priscianusjr says:

    @Keith G:

    Until we win this election, lets work on our addition and not our division.

    Maybe even after the election too?
    Anyway, thanks for saying this. Nothing more tiresome and predictable on a “progressive” blog than a gang bang of all things (and I do mean all things) Catholic.

  71. 71
    gaz says:

    To wit: he allows the hierarchy to speak for the institution.

    This is the media’s fault? since when?

    The hierarchy INSISTS on speaking for the institution. That is in fact, the very purpose of the institution.

    EJ Dionne seems remarkably confused about the nature of the catholic church. I’d expect better from someone that professes to be catholic. I wonder what the pope would have to say about his statement.

  72. 72
    catapl says:

    is EJ just another catholic feigning ignorance?

    maybe EJ could write about this part of the catholic church.

    The list [of 35] included diagnosed pedophiles and priests who remained in active ministry despite admitting or being accused of abusing minors. It was locked away in the archdiocese’s Center City offices for 18 years

  73. 73
    Chet says:

    @Cato: Philip Jenkins wrote an excellent book about that very subject a few years back.

  74. 74
    catclub says:

    Habitat for Humanity is a product of a Christian commune that was started ( I think) in the 1930’s in Americus Georgia.

    They have a book that is titled “The Theology of the Hammer”
    I did not read all of it, but one phrase really hit home ( pun intended): Doctrine divides, service unites.

    This is what the post about leaving the right way is about.

  75. 75
    catapl says:

    my comment will be forever stuck in moderation, because I actually quoted the total hypocrisy of the cc. uh.

  76. 76
    TG Chicago says:

    Here’s what we know:

    1) The Catholic Church oversaw child rapes for decades, if not more.

    2) New stories continue to emerge, so it’s not a chapter of ancient history. It’s ongoing.

    3) Aside from #2, how precisely do we know it’s ongoing? Well, how many times have we heard about the Catholic Church finding a pedophile in their ranks and then promptly removing the criminal from duty and notifying the authorities? I’ve never heard of a single instance of this. Has that ever happened?

    I went through something similar. I was a Lutheran. In my youth, I was only taught about the good side of Martin Luther. As an adult, I learned that in his later years, Luther became a raging anti-Semite. I wrestled with that… but not for very long. I thought “Geez, do I want to walk around calling myself ‘Lutheran’? What if I meet someone who knows about his full history? Why would I want to refer to myself with a name that connotes anti-Semitism?” And so, I stopped being a Lutheran. I still believe pretty much all the same stuff, but I disassociate myself from the anti-Semitic asshole. It was a bit painful, but it was fucking necessary. (granted, it’s not the same thing since the modern Lutheran church has fully renounced anti-Semitism while the Catholic church still shelters and enables their precious pederasts).

    I’m not sure what’s so hard for the EJ Dionnes of the world. This is totally a “have your cake and eat it too” kind of thing. As others have pointed out, he doesn’t have to change his beliefs and he can find another church that has almost all of the same trappings and ceremony. And he can stop tacitly supporting a worldwide child rape gang. Where’s the downside?

  77. 77
    PIGL says:

    @4tehlulz va te faire cuire un oeuf.

  78. 78
    Lihtox says:

    @Cato: Proof that churches can change.

    @gaz: The hierarchy may claim to be the church, but that doesn’t make it so. Vatican II said that the church is the whole people of God.

    And from the article: But, for me, I would not join any club that would have someone like Joe Ratzinger or Karol Wojtyla as a head member.

    So you’re not a US citizen, I take it? Or perhaps you reclaimed it in 2009?

  79. 79
    burnspbesq says:

    Repetition isn’t making any of these arguments more convincing.

  80. 80
    Joey Maloney says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):

    In any group other than a church, I suspect that members would depart en masse in horrified outrage that management engaged in such violently criminal behavior.

    I dunno. The Boy Scouts are still in business after years of similar revelations.

  81. 81
    AA+ Bonds says:

    anti-Catholic = lose in November

    anti-bishops = win in November

    Y’all’s call, hombres

  82. 82
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I beg of you: do not be fucking stupid

  83. 83
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you as liberals refrain from acting like dumbasses about religious congregations who disagree with their own leaders in favor of your positions

    This is known as “how you got here”

  84. 84
    AA+ Bonds says:

    In closing I would just like to say that DougJ has evolved on this issue, to his own credit, and my comments here are directed at other folks leaving comments who damn well know who they are

  85. 85
    gaz says:

    @Lihtox:

    The hierarchy may claim to be the church, but that doesn’t make it so. Vatican II said that the church is the whole people of God.

    1. So what about the Christians?

    2. How do you engage in confession?, communion, etc, without the institution?

    3. How do you consider the Pope to be the Vicar of Christ?

    4. If you break from the catholic church’s doctrines, how does that make you NOT protestant?

    5. How can you square all of the immorality, anti-christian dogma, and hate with the love of christ? How does one serve two masters? (eg: The Pope, vs Christ)

    6. If you provide material aid to the church, you are providing material aid to hierarchy, and thus material aid to rape-apologists. How is this different than donating to say… NAMBLA?

  86. 86

    @maryQ:

    @LongHairedWeirdo: Lotsa ways to be a Christian. Only one way to be American.

    What you’ve just said is that you value “American” more than you value “Catholic”. You get someone refusing to stop being an American, but don’t get someone refusing to stop being Catholic.

    That’s okay – you don’t have to *understand*.

    But if you can just accept that, okay, maybe some people do have the same level of attachment to “Catholic” – even though you don’t understand it – then you can see where I’m coming from.

    I mean – I’ll grant you there are some crazy fanatics, and there are some people who can’t seem to reconcile the evils the church has engaged in and therefore are in denial. But I’ll accept that some of them just value Catholic as much as I value American, and are fully aware of the faults, but feel they must stick it out.

  87. 87
    gaz says:

    @Lihtox:

    So you’re not a US citizen, I take it? Or perhaps you reclaimed it in 2009?

    2 points.

    1. People who are born here may or may not have the luxury to leave. I do, and am actively working towards that goal, as this country by and large no longer represents my values. (not the only reason I’m leaving, but an important one among the myriad of reasons I do have)

    2. Taxes are compulsory. Support of the Catholic Church is not. At least not in this country.

  88. 88
    Tim I says:

    The Church has been through a lot over the years. I haven’t participated in almost 50 years, but I am still a cultural Catholic. I have a sister, who is also my closest friend, who tries to stick with the Church for her children’s sake.

    We grew up in the revolutionary phase of Catholicism in the sixties, when the Church was a major force for good in the world. While we despise these right-wing assholes who dominate today, we are cognizant that their is always hope for tomorrow.

  89. 89
    gex says:

    @MD Rackham: And the anti-gay thing too. I mean, the laity’s response to the child rape scandal breaking was to wage a decade long war against gays. They managed to change laws and constitutions in many states.

    They have not done anything to pass laws, say, that would make clergy mandated reporters.

    So the Catholic laity can listen to us complain. If liberal Catholics would rather vote with the conservative Catholics they disdain because their fellow liberals are displeased with the conservative Catholics then how liberal can they really be? They’ll vote for what they hate because their fee fees were hurt?

  90. 90
    gex says:

    Doesn’t the RCC work thusly? First God tells the Pope, then the Pope tells the world. Where exactly do the laity think they get a say?

  91. 91
    gaz says:

    @gex: To me it seems people are arguing that it’s okay as long as you are a “cafeteria catholic”

    somehow.

    That’s not much of an endorsement of their religious institution.

    I for one, believe Christ didn’t care much for such a laissez-faire view of god’s message. You’re in it or you’re not.

    Also to me, it strikes of the same line of reasoning that the august KKKers used to justify their membership, to wit: We don’t really buy into the lynching stuff, it’s a social club!

  92. 92
    Mike says:

    There’s a big problem with leaving the Catholic Church for many faithful–there is no where to go. Most protestant sects are devoted to the idea of Sole Fide (i.e. no social justice) or even worse, predestination and Calvinist philosophy. There is no “mass”, just a talk show on Sundays, usually with a band and the guests talking about their “personal savior”. That kind of crap just turns Catholics off big time. There are the Episcopals which have similar goals to the Catholic Church, but they have a lot of variations in their services, too, so it’s not a one to one match. They also don’t have the tradition of monasteries and nunneries that were the first anti-poverty social institutions.

    The thing is that the Church is a big institution, and even liberal Catholics can find a nice niche. The Jesuits are usually a good match, since they are the reformers of the Church (and probably the next group to be targeted by the bigwhigs in Rome), but even individual dioceses can be very different from others. The Detroit diocese, for example, used to be the most liberal in the world. Their practice made the UCC look conservative.

    BTW, the liberal UCC believes in predestination and the elect–i.e. calivinism and all the right wing crap that goes with it.

  93. 93
    gaz says:

    @Mike:

    There’s a big problem with leaving the Catholic Church for many faithful—there is no where to go. Most protestant sects are devoted to the idea of Sole Fide (i.e. no social justice) or even worse, predestination and Calvinist philosophy.

    It must have taken no small effort to cram that much horseshit into such a brief passage.

    Congratulations!

  94. 94
    Mike says:

    @gaz: Oh, really? Name a protestant sect that doesn’t believe in Sole Fide or predestination.

    I named one–The Episcopal/Anglican High Church.

    That’s about it. Evangelical religions are all Calivinist, and even the more liberal sects like UCC share the same beliefs. The Lutheran church is the father of Sole Fide, but at least they don’t get into that predestination crapola. But, Methodists, UCC, Baptists, etc. all are offshoots of Calivnism–a philosophy that Catholics (especially liberal Catholics) abhor.

    So, there’s not much left out there for the Catholic who believes in social justice to convert to.

  95. 95
    Mike says:

    I’m not sure what’s so hard for the EJ Dionnes of the world. This is totally a “have your cake and eat it too” kind of thing. As others have pointed out, he doesn’t have to change his beliefs and he can find another church that has almost all of the same trappings and ceremony. And he can stop tacitly supporting a worldwide child rape gang. Where’s the downside?

    No, actually you can’t. The Church’s beliefs and traditions are pretty unique. The Anglicans/Episcopals have copied much of it in their High Church, but it’s still different. Most Protestant sects worship in a different universe. It’s pretty easy for a Lutheran to find another protestant sect that is similar to Lutheranism, but not so for Catholics.

  96. 96
    Mike says:

    As a young teen I quickly figured out that the RCC was full of hypocrites who sinned all week and went into church on Sundays to be forgiven. That adults didn’t practice what was preached to them and that they then went and lied to their kids about.

    That’s because the Catholic Church doesn’t kick you out or ostracize you for being a bad Catholic. An Evangelical church might, but Catholics have no concept of the “elect” and don’t insist that everyone “look good” in order to be served. The Church will serve every sinner that seeks it, and forgive those who stray. It is an open, and realistic, philosophy…. for the most part, but it got them into trouble with folks that abused it within their ranks. Unfortunately, the Church is still learning that lesson, and not too well. :-(

  97. 97
    hamletta says:

    @Mike: Yes, Luther was the father of sola fide, but Lutherans do not slack when it comes to social justice. We just do it for different reasons. And we don’t like to talk about it.

    And you’ve got your family tree of denominations all wrong. Methodists were an offshoot of Anglicanism; UCC is only partially Calvinist—the Reformed part—they’re also part Lutheran and part Congregationalist; Baptists are rooted in Anabaptism, though the SBC has adopted a perversion of Calvinist thought common to late 20th century American Evangelicalism.

  98. 98

    Just wanted to say “excellent Wire reference”

    But also that you’re putting Joey Ratz in the position of Marlo, who gets everything he wants but is still unfulfilled at the end. I do not like thinking that is all that is in store for our friend Joey Ratz.

    So how bout this reference: “We used to have ourselves a community, and it makes me sick motherfucker to think how far we done fell. You make this right.”

  99. 99
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Mike:

    So, there’s not much left out there for the Catholic who believes in social justice to convert to.

    Isn’t the goal of a Catholic (or any other Christian) to live their life in emulation of Jesus? They could always convert to the religion he practiced. Judaism is very big on the social justice stuff.

  100. 100
    Johannes says:

    @Mike: Yeah, this. I did leave, and am a high-church Episcopalian. It suits me; part of why I left was not just disgust at the cover up of sex abuse (a big piece of it, mind you), but also because the speed with which a large percent Vatican II could be unwound by a pope who did not favor that portion of the Council’s teachings taught me that monarchy in spiritual matters just doesn’t work. The Pope sets the tone for the Church, and that means that yesterday’s gains can evaporate today. Also, the claim to be the only Church, with other denominations reduced to “ecclesial bodies” doesn’t seem to me to be a valid model of Christianity, whereas the Episcopal ethos of Protestants and Catholics meeting around the altar does. In other words, I left and re-affiliated because I became convinced that the RCC ecclesiological claims were not true for me, and that the Episcopal Church was (again, for me) a better model of Christianity.

  101. 101

    @Hill Dweller:

    Romney’s groveling at the feet of people who believe he is part of a cult.

    Romney is part of a cult. Of course, so are those who attend Liberty University.

  102. 102
    PIGL says:

    @AA+ Bonds: “Us liberals” really hate it when people refer to us like that. You jackasses need to learn that.

  103. 103
    Rob in CT says:

    Regarding the people trying to draw equivalence between not leaving the RCC and not leaving America or the Democratic Party…

    Democratic, or even quasi democratic, institutions can plausibly be changed from within.

    The RCC is not a democracy. It has indeed changed over the years. However, as Cato (!) points out, it seems rather unlikely that the concerns of liberal American Catholics will be heeded by the hierarchy.

    I’m not going to lecture believers on what they choose to believe. I’m not one, and I really don’t get it, but whatever. But belief != active participation and support. Pray to God, go ahead. Believe in Jesus all you want. But the institution is rotten and you’re not gonna fix it. IMO, of course.

  104. 104
    gaz says:

    @Mike: You already did. You made a qualified dismissal of the Episcopalian Church. You rebutted yourself. In any case, several commenters here made light work of you, so I don’t feel that any further spanking is necessary.

  105. 105

    […] Dime, ¿Que Tengo Ser? Posted on May 15, 2012 by reflectionephemeral var addthis_product = 'wpp-264'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true,"data_track_addressbar":false};if (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}DougJ at Balloon Juice responded to my post yesterday about how Catholics concerned about morality should react to the current Church, in a post with a title from a Clash song. […]

  106. 106
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):

    In any group other than a church, I suspect that members would depart en masse in horrified outrage that management engaged in such violently criminal behavior.

    Actually, Boston congregants did depart en masse. As the Irish are departing today. The ascent of Irish and Irish-American political power and freedom, as well as improvement in their material circumstances and social integration with Europe and the Protestant majority of the United States, drained authority from the Church. The revelation of decades of horrific Church abuses and abuse of official state power, as well as the disgusting coverup, destroyed the Church’s moral authority and political influence.

    This drive you see by bishops to push the political process is the result of desperation. They are bleeding money, congregants, property (sold to pay legal bills and settlements), and paying students in their schools. They are also losing lucrative government grants due to Ratzi’s purity initiative which as put them at odds with state governments and their once-zealous lay volunteers and donors.

    They must now dirty their hands (and risk co-option) by making common cause with the most extremist of the Calvinist or post-Calvinist Protestant churchs and PACs and with the Mormon Church in order to regain lost ground and preserve their power in a hostile environment. Their rump of a congregation is utterly disgusted by the sex scandals and the Church’s financial excesses, but as they lean very conservative (you see, they are left with their authoritarian followers), any attempt at moderation (and accountability, ie taking responsibility for their role in the abuse of children, as opposed to just plucking out the “bad apples” and unpersoning them, while holding the “holy” leadership immune from accountability) will be punished swiftly by the congregation in the pews, never mind by the Holy See.

    If liberal congregations such as those in Western Washington state still exist, it is because the rot was not as deep there or it has so far escaped exposure.

  107. 107
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Three things that keep Catholic liberals in the Church:

    1. Scared that they’ll go to hell if they go Protestant.

    It’s not so much that as the conviction that only the RCC has a line to God and any legitimacy as a church. Some Catholics don’t believe this, which makes it easier for them to switch to a more liberal congregation. However, many Catholics believe (as you said, drilled in from a young age) that Catholic rituals were passed to them direct from Jesus and no matter how corrupt the Church leadership, they can only be saved by performing these rituals with the assistance of a consecrated priest.

    Without which one goes to hell. So, point taken.

    2. Ethnic ties-its hard to believe in the world of cookie cutter suburban Catholicism, but a lot of people feel vestigal ethnic ties, despite said immigrants often arriving here a century ago.

    Much, much less relevant today. When Santorum can run as a mainstream RWNJ candidate, and people like Thomas and Gingrich CONVERT, anti-Catholic bias ain’t what it used to be.

    Genocidal violence against Catholics is so far in the past that there’s nothing you can say these days to scare the average American Catholic the way screaming “Holocaust, Holocaust, Nazi, Nazi” can be used to silence criticism in certain Jewish circles.

    3. Man bites dog. As Sully can tell us, being a dissenting Catholic gets you more attention than being an ex Catholic does.

    True, but only for pundits.

    I wish to add my own:

    4. Makes you feel self-righteous. No matter what a despicable rotter you are, it’s great to have a tradition that tells you that you’re right no matter what and everyone else is deluded and wrong plus besides you have LOGIC! (Jesuit-style) on your side and those who disparage your religion either “love to sin” or if you, too, love to sin, are just butthurt/envious that your church is the one true church.

    5. Women make you really, really uncomfortable. Or you have a grudge against them. The RCC is a space where you can have thoughtful spiritual conversation with other men without icky things like having to treat women as people (have you met my ex-wife??? women are vile bitches, ugly too, amirite?) ever, ever intruding.

    6. Still afraid to look like an idiot in front of family/friends after being so big in the church in the past, being a deacon, an usher, running a Catholic charity, giving tons of money, convincing friends to become Catholic, starting family feuds over how a child was educated, forcing one’s kids to be confirmed even though they screamed and cursed and said they didn’t believe any of it. Humans are more afraid of losing what they have than they are enticed by what they might gain. Thus, someone can feel committed even though the cause is actively hurting them now, because they’d have to face the fear that so much of what they had spent their blood, sweat, and tears upon was a lie.

  108. 108
    aimai says:

    I’m touched to have my earlier rant front paged. Heard about it from my brother, of all people.

    But what I wanted to say which I think hasn’t been said in the 100 or so comments above mine is that what is particularly galling about the eternal back and forth over whether “the church” is the hierarchy or the people in the pews is that the only reason why “liberal” Catholics like E. J. Dionne are in the pews is that the hiearchy doesn’t muzzle upper class white males the way they do women, non whites, non Catholics, and troublemakers. EJ doesn’t see that side of the church just like top Scientologists don’t see the treatment meted out to lower level peons. There is an imbalance of power between hierarchy and churchgoer which includes a built in axe to the neck of women, for example, that EJ simply refuses to acknowledge.

    Cardinal Law went straight from condoning the raping of children in the Boston Archdiocese and the looting of the Collection Plate churches to leading the attack on women religious and, of course, the Girl Scouts, a decade or so after his flight.

    I don’t care if you are thinking in centuries or in minutes if you aren’t fighting the good fight inside the church you can shut up about the hand wringing when people call you out for being, as they say in the children’s biz “a bystander and not an upstander.”

    aimai

  109. 109
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Joey Maloney: Exactly. Reform Judaism embodies the concepts of charity (love of one’s fellow man, not pharisaical displays of philanthropy) and social justice that appealed to me in Catholicism, without the misogyny and superstition.

    I didn’t convert, however, because I found that I didn’t believe in God.

  110. 110
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Johannes:

    Also, the claim to be the only Church, with other denominations reduced to “ecclesial bodies” doesn’t seem to me to be a valid model of Christianity, whereas the Episcopal ethos of Protestants and Catholics meeting around the altar does. In other words, I left and re-affiliated because I became convinced that the RCC ecclesiological claims were not true for me, and that the Episcopal Church was (again, for me) a better model of Christianity.

    What’s utterly ridiculous is that I’ve discovered as I got older, contra the claims I was fed in CCD, that in the past the church was run by the college of cardinals and before that, the council of bishops who decided much like a legislative body would on points of doctrine and what sources were considered credible.

    Furthermore, the Roman church was just one of a council of regional churches including Copts, the Syriac Church, and the Eastern Orthodox churches. (The RCC began as the western branch of the orthodox church, but broke off in the Great Schism. Despite RCC’s claims to the contrary, bolstered by their squatting on the alleged location of Peter’s tomb, it seems that it was the Westerners who, falling into the darkness of ignorance and illiteracy following the utter economic ruin of the West, broke off from the legitimate church based in Constantinople. Out of envy, greed, and a push for false legitimacy, the Western church rose armies in the West in the middle ages to attack and destroy the Byzantine empire, its economic power, and its institutions.)

    The RCC devolved into idiocy, inventing the new doctrine of celibacy for parish priests. It’s very telling that the eastern rite Catholics are not required to take a vow of celibacy. This doctrine was invented for political reasons in the West.

    It’s hard to hear, after a childhood of propaganda, that one’s ancestors were not the great bearers of the flame of civilization, that one’s grandparents church is a splinter group brought low by thiefs, murderers, rapists, and conmen, the the claims to continuity and legitimacy are medieval fables. Nevertheless, the quest for truth can lead us to no other conclusion.

    Protestants rejected the notion of breaking bread with the Catholic church from the outset. You have to admire that. But the insistence that they are not “true Christians” now, even when many Protestant churches have few doctrinal differences and are committed to ecumenicalism, is just ridiculous. It’s diversity of tradition for me and not for thee. They’d have to make concessions after centuries of having it all their own way, and that will never stand. At any rate, for two hundred years they’ve bet the farm on papal infallibility, so there’s no going back.

  111. 111
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @The Other Bob:

    Romney is part of a cult.

    Mainstream LDS is no more culty than the RCC. Both believe ludicrous things, both cede all moral decisionmaking to the hierarchy, both have leaders who are allegedly Christ’s spokesman on earth, both demand absolute obedience, although in the US individuals can often stray quite a bit from toeing the line, both have central offices who take parish/ward contributions/tithes and use them on real estate deals and investments and gilding their palaces.

  112. 112
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @aimai:

    But what I wanted to say which I think hasn’t been said in the 100 or so comments above mine is that what is particularly galling about the eternal back and forth over whether “the church” is the hierarchy or the people in the pews is that the only reason why “liberal” Catholics like E. J. Dionne are in the pews is that the hiearchy doesn’t muzzle upper class white males the way they do women, non whites, non Catholics, and troublemakers.

    Well said, aimai. I think I was getting at that in my comment posted just about the same time as yours. Dionne, Tweety, and other men like them simply do not find Catholic doctrine and rhetoric as “challenging” as gays and vagina-Americans.

  113. 113
    The Fool says:

    You don’t need policy differences to quit the Catholic Church. Just get some intellectual integrity and quit because it’s a bunch of blatantly baseless horsecrap. Christianity is stupid!

  114. 114

    […] Leave a CommentE.J. Dionne explains why he’s not quitting his Catholic church, prompting this response from DougJ at BalloonJuice:It’s true that the church-going Catholics I talk to don’t listen to anything the crazy-ass […]

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  2. […] Dime, ¿Que Tengo Ser? Posted on May 15, 2012 by reflectionephemeral var addthis_product = 'wpp-264'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true,"data_track_addressbar":false};if (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}DougJ at Balloon Juice responded to my post yesterday about how Catholics concerned about morality should react to the current Church, in a post with a title from a Clash song. […]

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