Kill that calf and call the family around

Despite the headline of this article — “Conservative Catholics question Pope Francis’s approach” — it also contains a lot of examples of conservative Catholics coming to grips with what their faith is really about:

“Maybe Pope Francis is calling me to love someone whose views I don’t like. And how much better would the world be if we got over all this.”

Gregory Popcak, a marriage and family counselor on the radio and in private practice in Ohio, describes being sent deep into prayer after several clients used Francis’s public words to push back on Popcak when he explained church teachings on sex and love. One client recently quit, saying, “I’m much more of a Pope Francis-Nancy Pelosi Catholic, and you’re an old-school, Pope John Paul II Catholic,” he recalled.

First, he felt frustrated, then ashamed.

The story of the prodigal son came to him, and he saw in himself the good son. “The good kid who stayed behind, did everything his father told him to do, ,” Popcak wrote in a recent online essay that prompted dozens of people to share similar sentiments. “People who left the Church, who hated the Church . . . were suddenly realizing that God loved them, that the Church welcomed them, and all I could do was feel bitter about it.”

Many in the Church hierarchy are scumbags who will surely rot in hell if the God they profess to worship actually exists, but there are also a lot of well-meaning people who go to Church every week, care about those less fortunate, but waste too much time hating on gheys and sluts. To me, people like this (and I’m related to some) are the prodigal sons, and I hope they return to decency and sanity.

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66 replies
  1. 1
    jenn says:

    Interesting. Here’s hoping he continues along this path, and doesn’t keep backtracking – I didn’t follow up on some of the things at the end of the article, but excommunicating a priest who speaks out in favor of the ordination of women seems pretty extreme. However, he’s a far sight better than Benedict, IMO.

  2. 2
    scav says:

    What amuses me is their clinging to abortion and ghay marriage as inviolate pillars of Catholicism. Those always struck me as PR moves by Benny and the JPs to stop the hemorrhaging to evangelicals.

  3. 3
    Botsplainer says:

    For the last 15 years or so, I’ve been taking to calling the RCC “The Cult of the Fetus”, which has all too often seemed to be the only thing that the conservatives who emerged ascendant (after JPII and Ratzinger purged every progressive aspect in the 80s) seemed to care about.

    They may be emerging from the wilderness, but it is too little, too late – JPII and Ratzo wrecked the brand for all time. In a decade’s time, North America is going to look like France in terms of dogmatic worship.

  4. 4
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Wasn’t there some swarthy itinerant middle-easterner preacher, couple thousand years back, that also said subversive stuff like Francis is now?

    Yeah, he came to a bad end, and now everyone just ignores that junk he was babbling about.

  5. 5
    White Trash Liberal says:

    Good people are swayed by the sweet message of the Golden Rule.

    Any institution, even if their sky god/resurrected son mythology is warmed over Egyptian balderdash, is a worthy one if they spread the good news of the Golden Rule.

  6. 6
    Booger says:

    That sound? Yeah, it’s me not holding my breath…

  7. 7
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Kill that calf and call the family around.

    That damn well better be a FATTED calf, or I’m not eating.

  8. 8
    Nemo_N says:

    I know I shouldn’t be, but reading Dreher’s and Saletan’s reactions to the new pope, I’m shocked at how important hating on gays is to some people.

  9. 9
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Veal?

  10. 10
    Jeff Spender says:

    So the advertisement at the top of the page for me is that of a church. The graphic depicts the Jesus fish kissing a Darwin fish parody.

    It’s like a new-agey Jesus thing. Confusing.

  11. 11
    Yatsuno says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: You can have my baby cow when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

  12. 12
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Nemo_N: Saletan? That surprises me. Thanks to Ratzinger Catholic Santorum and a few fellow travelers, I think gay marriage might wind up being a wedge issue against Republicans in ’16. Helluva shift from just 2004

  13. 13
    Scott S. says:

    @Nemo_N: Hate is exciting. It gets the heart pumping much faster and more reliably than love. It’s a boring, sad world out there, and something exciting and thrilling and invigorating like hate will make you feel like you’re living an exciting and thrilling and invigorating life.

  14. 14
    jefft452 says:

    All Pope Francis has done was to not go out of his way to be a jerk
    And, surprise, most people don’t think he is a jerk
    There is a lesson there, but I don’t expect many jerks to get it

    And notice the “not go out of his way” part
    He still opposes birth control, for example, but he says the most important thing about being Catholic is not opposition to birth control, and cutting off access to all health care to prevent the possibility of obtaining birth control is not good Catholic doctrine

    When I was a kid, (50’s & 60’s) the leaders of most religions did not go out of their way to be jerks. I know that a lot of them did prior to that (Fr Coughlin etc), and yes, there were jerks opposing civil rights in my day so my glasses should not be so rose colored – BUT it is possible to be a “person of faith” and not be a jerk, more people of faith should try it

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yatsuno: In order to get the veal, I am willing to do that. Unless there is lamb. I would prefer the lamb.

  16. 16
    Jeff Spender says:

    @Scott S.:

    Didn’t they invent porn for that? People should watch more porn, apparently.

    /snark

  17. 17
    Central Planning says:

    @White Trash Liberal:

    Good people are swayed by the sweet message of the Golden Rule.

    He who has the gold makes the rules?

  18. 18
    piratedan says:

    @Central Planning: unless you happen to have platinum laid in, yes

  19. 19
    scav says:

    @Jeff Spender: Jesus kissing Fishy? Well, I’ve heard of Furries, but Finnies? And we know he liked taking two of them and turning them into multiples . . . and then there’s that whole fisher of men, surrounded by still more fishermen thing to re-evaluate . . . I may need to lie down for a bit.

  20. 20
    Bob says:

    I think the headline should be, “kill that calf and call the family round.” Like the good lords, Jagger/Richards, intended.

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @scav: Judge not, lest ye be judged.

  22. 22
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @scav:

    Jesus kissing Fishy?

    Wait, Jesus is in Newfoundland and he’s getting screeched in?

  23. 23
    Yatsuno says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Sayeth the judge.

  24. 24
    scav says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Oh, I’m not judging, just having a bit of a lie-down and catching up.

  25. 25
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yatsuno: Union gig.

  26. 26
    efgoldman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Judge not, lest ye be judged.

    Interesting, coming from a judge.

  27. 27
    Bob says:

    @Jeff Spender: “I can’t figure out your watery love” Sex Pistols
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....29578.html

  28. 28
    srv says:

    @jefft452: Yep. JPII won a lot of battles, and that inertia is going to win some more, but in the end the popular pope’s stratergy lost the hearts and minds of tens of millions.

    Francis appears to be, or is aping being less of an ideologist.

  29. 29
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @scav: Try a cold compress and some scotch.

  30. 30
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Botsplainer:

    In a decade’s time, North America is going to look like France in terms of dogmatic worship.

    The ‘dogmatic’ thing is the important qualifier here. Rocco Palmo has been a pretty astute observer of how American Catholicism may be run by nth-gen Irish, Italian and Polish bishops, but it increasingly speaks Spanish and celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe in December.

    It’s going to be an interesting transition, not least because the fundies have become very used to having Catholic partners in their ghey-affeared, zygote-fetishist “values” ideology, but my gut sense is that the social justice tradition is going to reassert itself gradually but forcefully.

  31. 31
    fuckwit says:

    In one of his books, Robert Anton Wilson posited an alernate future in which there was a Pope Stephen who somehow got elected, the first ever Irish pope. His philosophy was pretty much Daoist or Buddhist, very gentle, pacifist, with strong sense of social justice, extremely open and tolerant, and he had his own set of followers called Stephenites. His demeanor was pretty clearly modeled upon Gandhi, but with a bit of Irish wit. I remember reading that and thinking “heh, Wilson is clearly indulging in some serious science fiction fantasy”, but then I thought, what if such a person actually did end up as the head of that old medieval religion? How would the world be different?

    Maybe this guy will turn out to be like that. Who knows, it could happen. And maybe we can get some pacifist Mullahs in 1000 years or so to take over the major sects of Islam as well.

    Religions do grow up. After all, the catholics gave up on biblical literalism 500 years ago (sometime after Galileo), but the American protestant fundamentalists are still deeply in the throes of it and yet to grow out of it. And the Muslim fundamentalists even more so. Eventually, reality has to assert itself to these religions.

  32. 32
    MikeJ says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    Didn’t they invent porn for that? People should watch more porn, apparently.

    It’s difficult (but not impossible) to control what get’s people’s juices flowing with porn. That’s why you tell them it’s wrong. It’s easy to tell them who to hate. Once you’ve ruled porn off limits, hate is one of the few outlets left to get you revved up.

  33. 33
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @jefft452: Well said.

  34. 34
    Heliopause says:

    Doug, congratulations on utterly missing the point of the Prodigal Son parable.

  35. 35
    jl says:

    Which deluded but well meaning followers can be saved from hateful bigotry depends on their theology. Mainline Catholics and Protestants are taught to pay attention to what Jesus said on earth. So, a conservative (relative to most thinking people) like St Francis should be able to bring many around. Perhaps enough to get Roman Catholicism out of the reactionary ditch it has been stuck in for decades.

    Many Xtianists believe that what Jesus said on earth was part of a previous dispensation (that is, special limited time offer) that THE LORD offered the Jews. The Jews turned it down so that deal is off. Now, worrying too much about what Jesus said on earth too much, or at all, is a path to hell. You worry about being on the side of The Christ Our Lord (edit: who to be clear is not exactly the same as the earthly Jesus), who is coming back to separate the sheep and the goats. And we goats are gonna burn burn burn in the sulfur pit of hell. And that is just fine with Christ: the job of His disciples is help get that Apocalypse going so those goats can get separated. Wake up, you chaff!

    Those folks will just say that St Francis is Satanic, and it proves that the RC Church is the Great Satan. (Edit: and will probably mean RC Church featured more prominently in future, latest version to come, of the Xtianist’s infallable guide to predicting the End Times).

    I guess reactionary and schismatic RC people will hate on the pope too and ignore what he says, but I don’t know enough about them to understand their rationale.

    Any commenters hear know enough about Mel Gibson type Catholics to say what their reasons will be?

  36. 36
    Botsplainer says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    It’s going to be an interesting transition, not least because the fundies have become very used to having Catholic partners in their ghey-affeared, zygote-fetishist “values” ideology, but my gut sense is that the social justice tradition is going to reassert itself gradually but forcefully.

    There’s a faction of converts from Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Fundamentalism that has tried to assert itself in Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions, but about all they were able to do is wreck the OCA. The Greeks and Antiochians ran them off (the Antiochians, of which I’m a member, had a fairly close call, but those goobers are no longer welcome to do their madness) and the regular Russians barely tolerate them. Rod Dreher’s adherence to the mortally wounded OCA gives him a platform from which he can bitch about the liberalism of Francis.

    Their attempts with the Antiochians pissed me off. We got this asshole convert bishop with a seminary degree from Oral Roberts, and suddenly, we were ditching everything that was fun, abandoning historic parish ethnic events and going all abortion and gays. Thankfully, the Metropolitan Archbishop interceded and dealt with all the problem bishops and priests in a span of about two months – it reminded me of the baptism scene from The Godfather.

  37. 37
    jl says:

    @Botsplainer: Weel, yez we had to learn zee relishon, but eet means nossing. (that is the typical response of French youngins I have known to inquires about Catholicism in France)

  38. 38
    Yatsuno says:

    @fuckwit:

    Religions do grow up. After all, the catholics gave up on biblical literalism 500 years ago (sometime after Galileo), but the American protestant fundamentalists are still deeply in the throes of it and yet to grow out of it. And the Muslim fundamentalists even more so

    Islam is heading for its reformation here sooner rather than later. The religion is losing its ability to give the ordinary population succor, and even the elites are losing their taste for total Saudi/Wahhabi domination. One could argue the Baha’i faith is the start of that, but their oppression in Iran and much of the Arab world is stifling that growth, but even with that they gain followers. It’s getting very very interesting.

  39. 39
    Delia says:

    @fuckwit:

    the catholics gave up on biblical literalism 500 years ago

    You know, I remember reading Augustine’s Confessions back in college, and somewhere in there he comments to the effect that he felt much better about the Bible when he realized that certain passages could be read allegorically rather than literally, which would put things more like 1500 years ago. I personally think it’s more that ways of thinking come and go over time and progress isn’t the straightforward thing we sometimes wish it were.

  40. 40
    Botsplainer says:

    @jl:

    Any commenters hear know enough about Mel Gibson type Catholics to say what their reasons will be?

    They’re going to be the pure remnant that rebuilds the church with their fiery zeal. While the rest of the laity will be lulled into sin at guitar masses and watching interpretive dance and listening to Mass in English, the Remnant will be esconsed in holiness in their SSPX parishes, listening to Latin mass and glaring like judgmental assholes at everybody who isn’t in their tiny but pure hate platoon.

  41. 41
    Cliff in NH says:

    F’n relative sent me this, what a Satan worshiping asshole (big dude at his church):

    Winston 12:49 PM (10 hours ago)

    to

    > In church I heard a lady in the pew next to me saying a prayer. It was so
    > sweet and sincere that I just had to share it with you:
    >
    > “Dear Lord, The last few years have been tough. You have taken my
    > favorite actor Patrick Swayze. My favorite musician Michael Jackson. My
    > favorite Blues Singer Amy Winehouse. My favorite actress Elizabeth Taylor.
    > And now my favorite singer Whitney Houston.
    >
    > I just wanted you to know that my favorite politicians are Barack Obama,
    > Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. Amen”
    >

  42. 42
    Botsplainer says:

    @Delia:

    You know, I remember reading Augustine’s Confessions back in college

    Augustine was smart, but he was also a prick who couldn’t keep his dick under his robe, and assumed that everybody else was as sexually confused and oversexed as he was.

  43. 43
    Ash Can says:

    We’re not going to see any movement in the Catholic dogma on abortion in our lifetimes. That’s the way it is. What we might see, however, is movement on contraception, given the questionable political nature of Humanae Vita. And that’s not bad, especially since the developed world — with the exception of the USA, which at this point could probably be called “developed” with an asterisk — is pretty good about making contraceptives available to their childbearing-aged populaces and setting examples for developing nations. A thumbs-up from the Vatican could be a nice boost, especially among the erstwhile colonies/client states of these European nations in Africa and South America.

  44. 44
    jl says:

    @Botsplainer: But what is their excuse for totally ignoring the teachings of the earthly Jesus, or more accurately, fighting against the earthly teachings with hard hearts and stiff necks?

    RC’s give weight to church tradition as well as Gospels, but the Gospels still have weight. I guess the reactionaries can idolize church tradition if they want. The pharisees, like the poor, will always be with us.

  45. 45
    jl says:

    @Botsplainer: Augustine’s famous prayer, ‘Lord grant me continence and chastity, but not yet,’ has been an inspiration to me. I will say that. I’ve added my own little ‘yet, unto the grave’, just to make it extra Holy and adapt it to changing times.

  46. 46
    srv says:

    @jl: Oh, they’re doing Rosaries for an early death.

    He’s 76, I’m not sure what the Cardinals were thinking – perhaps there was enough rivalry amongst the JPII elects and they punted for a term and wanted someone who could hold Latin and South America against the Fundies.

  47. 47
    Botsplainer says:

    @jl:

    But what is their excuse for totally ignoring the teachings of the earthly Jesus, or more accurately, fighting against the earthly teachings with hard hearts and stiff necks?

    They see Christos Pantokrator (the all-powerful judge) as opposed to Christ the Teacher. As authoritarians, their psychological preference is to be judged, and are happy to assist in judging others.

  48. 48
    scav says:

    @Cliff in NH: Write back saying he’s your favorite relative.

  49. 49
    catclub says:

    @Yatsuno: and this kind of thing will take the Muslim world 200 years or so.

  50. 50
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Thankfully, the Metropolitan Archbishop interceded and dealt with all the problem bishops and priests in a span of about two months – it reminded me of the baptism scene from The Godfather.

    Heh. I’m now thinking of an action film — METROPOLITAN — where the final scene is the archbishop putting out a few wispy flames on his fine vestments and walking off into the sunset.

    The more natively American a denomination is, the weirder it seems to me. (Which reminds me that the Jehovah’s Witness Durango showed up this morning, and I politely sent the driver on her way before she made it up the driveway.)

  51. 51
    jl says:

    @Botsplainer: Thanks. They have more in common with the Xtianists than I realized. Where do they get the idea it is supposed to be all Christos Pantokrator all the time?

    The Calvinists (not Calvin himself) worked out an insane, textually crazy, but internally coherent dispensation theory in the 100 or 200 years after his death.
    (Calvin still gets some blame, since he was a lawyer, and it shows in his formal theological works, or at least the parts of his work I read before they put me to sleep, and that lawyerly style of thinking creeps in to Calvin .)

  52. 52
    Belafon says:

    @Botsplainer: I would say that, in America at least, he’s correct.

  53. 53
    fuckwit says:

    @Delia: Good point. Progress is not linear. Linearity is a very Eurocentric, Aristotelian, Western way of looking at time, history, physical/biological processes, etc. Reality is very much messier than that, more like a spiral at times, and there are other models from other traditions that might fit better.

  54. 54
    fuckwit says:

    @scav: Brilliant. Where do you want your internets delivered?

  55. 55
    jl says:

    @Belafon: I don’t think reading the Bible as literally true was common in the early church, though some very influential people did so. Certainly reading the prophecies literally went out of fashion, since the first interpretations of Jesus earthly prophecies of return very obviously were not true. (Edit: lest I be accused of persecuting religion in this Christian Nation, I will rephrase as ‘had little predictive value’)

    I don’t remember any church father smooshing together OT and NT prophecies to get anything like what the Xtianists spout today (and have spouted for about 150 years). But it’s been a long time since I read about that stuff and may have forgotten some school or other.

  56. 56
    Cliff in NH says:

    @scav:

    I just said:
    Satan accepts your prayer.
    Enjoy Eternity.

  57. 57
    Yatsuno says:

    @fuckwit: “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.”

  58. 58
    Cliff in NH says:

    don’t think I should have used accepts. should have said appreciates.

    @#$%.

  59. 59
    Sasha says:

    Don’t lighten up, Francis. ;)

  60. 60
    Wally Ballou says:

    @Cliff in NH: In the ’90s, my family’s (LCMS Lutheran) church had a guest pastor who, during a sermon, made a “joke” about wishing for the life of then-President Clinton to come to a premature end.

    By their fruits shall ye know them.

  61. 61
    WereBear says:

    It’s highly ironic when we remember that most people offer the excuse for religion that “without it, how will people lead moral lives?”

    When sometimes that challenge is “with it.”

  62. 62
    dan says:

    A lot of them are nasty fucks that were happy to use the Church as cover. Without that cover, they will still be nasty fucks. And I too are related to a couple of these.

  63. 63
    aimai says:

    @jl: Greatest book I’ve ever read on the subject “Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Ehrmann which is a detailed study of the marginalia and the amendations made to early copies of the gospels. Also “Lost Christianities” about the various gnostic versions and visions that fell by the wayside. Ehrmann was a true beliving baptist before he learned enough aramaic and other early languages to start questioning his literalist biblical teachers.

    As for the Washington Post article–except for the excerpt I found the entire thing pretty creepy. For one it didn’t really cop to the fact that the majority of the people who were interviewed were basically professional right wing catholics and those types have been angry about everything since Vatican II. Its nothing new for these people to hate on the pope–their catholicism is all about seperatism and hatred and they most fear anyone who comes along and tells them that the entire point of the bible is not, in fact, to separate the sheep from the goats. Talk about your death cults–the insult they throw at Buddhism–there is nothing more depressing than reading (some) Catholics describe how angry they are that their right to be haters is being taken away from them by a Pope who doesn’t toe the hater line quite as closely as previous ones.

  64. 64
    Kay S says:

    It seems to me, a long-lapsed-Catholic-now-atheist, that the warm fuzzy sounds Pope Frankie is making greatly resemble the Big Tent and Compassionate Conservatism twaddle of the GOP. Make feints to outreach, make all the right noises, but don’t change doctrine. Francis’s famous “who am I to judge?” sounds refreshing until one realizes that nothing official is going to change anytime soon, and that this Pope’s reign isn’t going to be very long.

  65. 65
    Paul in KY says:

    @jl: Is this ‘Christian Identity’ BS or is this what the Pentacostals & Assembly of God types are supposed to believe?

  66. 66
    mclaren says:

    I’m on record predicting that Pope Francis will die of a mysterious accident in the near future. He might choke to death on a bite of veal, even though he doesn’t eat veal. Or perhaps he’ll hang himself with his hands tied behind his back.

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