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The Catholic Church has always been a machine for greed

I really don’t get it. Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII are about to be canonized as saints, which is awfully peculiar: they weren’t particularly magical in their life, just relatively popular, and nobody has any insight into what’s going on in their heaven — which seems to be entirely imaginary anyway.

But the Church is having a gigantic gala event in Rome, with swarms of tourists, and big money corporate sponsorship from banks and oil companies…Oh. Right.

Never mind, there isn’t any mystery at all here. Just the con being briefly exposed.

Comments

  1. robro says

    Actual headline from a recent Washington Post article: “As two more popes are canonized, a question emerges: How miraculous should saints be?” I am told that in the Middle Ages there were discussions about angels and pinheads. Now we have a debate in a major news outlet about made up shit as if there’s nothing else important going on, or unimportant but far more interesting.

  2. says

    But the Church is having a gigantic gala event in Rome, with swarms of tourists, and big money corporate sponsorship from banks and oil companies

    Yeah, the church wouldn’t want to spend any of their own money, they need to sit on it for several more centuries.

  3. chigau (違う) says

    I just had an inspiration!
    The Vatican should make a
    *So You Think You’re A Saint*
    elimination TV show.

  4. imthegenieicandoanything says

    I just don’t grok the outrage over this. I’d say Pope JPII exemplifies everything that the Catholic Church is, and has ever been, to an uncanny degree – greedy, abusive, proudly-hypocritical, groveling before power, misogyny-filled (Whoa, boy! For sure! Dang!), and pretty much any and every other bad thing.

    Anything positive done under its aegis was either allowed because it flattered the Church’s truly insufferable vanity or in spite of it.

    JPII really would be a better figure that Jesus for the Church to worship. Many Catholics seem to do exactly that.

  5. mykroft says

    I’ve always wondered about how canonization gets people into elevated positions in heaven. I imagine it works something like this.

  6. scourge99 says

    Here lies Pope John Paul II… brought to you by McDonalds, “I’m loving it”.

  7. microraptor says

    I just don’t grok the outrage over this. I’d say Pope JPII exemplifies everything that the Catholic Church is, and has ever been, to an uncanny degree – greedy, abusive, proudly-hypocritical, groveling before power, misogyny-filled (Whoa, boy! For sure! Dang!), and pretty much any and every other bad thing.

    Yeah, that was pretty much my thought on the subject, too.

  8. Dick the Damned says

    I despair that this sort of superstitious nonsense still has traction in the 21st C.

  9. says

    @mykroft #7 – Canonization does not elevate anyone: it is (supposedly) a recognition of already established fact. That is to say, a person is canonized because they are already a member of God’s Geek Squad; the ritual does not make them a member of God’s Geek Squad.

    As for PZ’s point, the fact is that canonization has always ultimately hinged on how much money would come in as a result of pilgrimages, blessings, special masses, authorizations to create and sell relics, and all the other assorted paraphernalia and brouhaha. The person is a nobody? We can wait a few centuries. The mobs are making demands and waving money? Well, then, that’s different!

  10. Al Dente says

    Since selling indulgences* has become a social no-no (it’s still legal under canon law) the Catholic Church has to get its money from somewhere.

    *Fr. Johann Tetzel OP, the 16th Century Commissioner of Indulgences for Germany, had a couplet attributed to him: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.” Those were the good old days, when Albrecht von Brandenburg bought the Archbishopric of Mainz from Pope Leo X for 21,000 ducats. Later Albrecht bought a cardinality for 10,000 ducats and the Archbishopric of Magedeburg for 25,000 ducats (he held both archdioceses simultaneously).

  11. nich says

    Those were the good old days, when Albrecht von Brandenburg bought the Archbishopric of Mainz from Pope Leo X for 21,000 ducats.

    Indulgences were like the Catholic version of Kickstarter!

  12. atheistblog says

    While everyone believing what mr francis had to lecture about capitalism, and his religious moral, the usual behind the scene stories are as usual.

    ” Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent, but
    the tests that have to be applied to them are not, of course, the same in
    all cases. ” – Orwell
    How appropriate !!

    Vatican and all the churches are nothing but cash machines, churches and capitalism so similar stories, what they say is one thing, what they do is another. When those church people send those kids to knock my door and lecturing how they gonna redeem me from my sins, the reality behind all these are just “money”. More church members more money, Christianity, more consumer more money, Capitalism, Growth.
    I just hate these christian culture.

  13. Douglas Allenby says

    I’m in Rome at the moment, mere blocks from the Vatican. It really is disturbing, the endless kitsch, the awful retrospective videos blaring music in spots across the city, the army of nuns. Such a transparent attempt to cash in on JPII’s popularity as fast as possible, but the hundreds of Polish flags hoisted by people badly in need of a hobby tells me the church knows its audience.

  14. lpetrich says

    What Pope Leo X had done is an officially-recognized offense in the church: simony, the selling of church positions. It is named after how Simon Magus offered Peter and John money for being able to use the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9–24). Despite being a no-no, simony was common in past centuries.

    As to saints working miracles, recent saints’ ones are paltry in comparison with some medieval saints’ miracles. Like St. Genevieve’s ones and St. Francis Xavier’s ones. Where did all the miracles go?

    250 years ago, David Hume noted that conundrum in his Essay on Miracles, and since then, the problem has gotten even worse.

  15. lpetrich says

    Edward Gibbon in Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol 3, chap 37, notes

    I have somewhere heard or read the frank confession of a Benedictine abbot: “My vow of poverty has given me a hundred thousand crowns a year; my vow of obedience has raised me to the rank of a sovereign prince.”—I forget the consequences of his vow of chastity.

  16. azhael says

    My mother was watching the whole thing this morning….i managed to keep my mouth shut because she doesn´t enjoy getting into arguments about this subject and my father was out on a stroll.
    When he came back he came with news about his brother, my 80 year old uncle who has just been appointed to be in charge of mass because there is literally nobody else competent enough or even younger, to do it. Sorry uncle, but i´m still smiling :)

    They are fucked and they know it…spanish clergy is totally dependant on relocating central and southamerican clergy to fill the gaps that keep popping up as people die and there is nobody else to replace them. And the replacement is also happening at the congregation level since inmigrants and people of central-southamerican ancestry are increasingly becoming the only people to take it seriously.
    From what i hear, this is not the only european country of majoritarily catholic tradition where this is happening to some degree.

  17. schnitzi says

    >and nobody has any insight into what’s going on in their heaven

    Actually, I hear they’re about to make an official announcement about the exact number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

  18. sqlrob says

    You know it has to be about the money, just from the lack of internal consistency.

    The pope is supposedly selected by god. Why doesn’t that alone automatically make them a saint? They’re good enough for god in life but not in death?

  19. David Marjanović says

    I’ve always wondered about how canonization gets people into elevated positions in heaven.

    Canonization is a statement to the effect that “we know with metaphysical certainty that this person is in heaven”.

    Why doesn’t that alone automatically make them a saint? They’re good enough for god in life but not in death?

    They can still sin while in office. And God, being ineffable and all, might have chosen them anyway because… eh, whatever. *shrug*

    From what i hear, this is not the only european country of majoritarily catholic tradition where this is happening to some degree.

    Austria’s parishes increasingly get priests from Poland and Nigeria.

  20. says

    What miracles did these candidates perform? Somehow I bet Randi’s not investigating that one… I hope they can manage better than toast-photography or “I prayed to JP2.0 and that, plus chemotherapy, put my cancer in remission for 4 years!”

  21. David Marjanović says

    JPII healed a nun’s varicose veins when she prayed to him after his death.

  22. lpetrich says

    So paltry by the standards of medieval-saint miracles. Why not a crab returning a lost crucifix? Being fluent in several languages without having to learn them? Making someone go blind for stealing from them? Being able to control the weather? Miraculously refilling an oil lamp? With that last one updated to miraculously filling a car’s gas tank or miraculously recharging some batteries.

  23. Pierce R. Butler says

    azhael @ # 19: … spanish clergy is totally dependant on relocating central and southamerican clergy to fill the gaps that keep popping up as people die and there is nobody else to replace them. And the replacement is also happening at the congregation level …

    So how did the Church muster those big crowds demanding an end to the rights of gays and the unwillingly pregnant/married?

  24. says

    @Ipetrich. It’s the same as the god of the gaps; miracles of the gaps if you will. Because a real miracle would be front page news for months, and they’d be doing the jiggy dance “I told you so, I told you so, yeah baby, I told you so!”.

  25. Nick Gotts says

    So how did the Church muster those big crowds demanding an end to the rights of gays and the unwillingly pregnant/married? – Pierce R. Butler@26

    I imagine a chance to parade their bigotry is more attractive to many Spanish Catholics than sitting through an actual church service.

  26. Nick Gotts says

    Canonization is a statement to the effect that “we know with metaphysical certainty that this person is in heaven”. – David Marjanović@22

    When the Pope declares a canonization, he’s acting in his infallible capacity, so there’s absolutely zero chance he’s made a mistake. Should the saint turn out to have been a secret atheist/child abuser/murderer/heretic, or even embezzler of Church funds, or the “miracles” turn out to be deliberately fraudulent, that would make no difference at all. The saint is in Heaven, and that’s that.

  27. says

    Actually, I hear they’re about to make an official announcement about the exact number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

    I remember hearing an unofficial announcement as a kid: 14. No citation or explanation was given.

  28. plainenglish says

    Nick Gotts@29: “The saint is in Heaven, and that’s that.”
    Aw, fuck, and there’s all this planting and shit to do in the garden here. Slackers in slippers.

  29. Mobius says

    On an atheist forum, I just had a theist state that these two popes being canonized is proof-positive that miracles are real.

    Jeez.

  30. johnlee says

    #26 “So how did the Church muster those big crowds demanding an end to the rights of gays and the unwillingly pregnant/married?”
    Good question. I think the answer is that most of these people are pensioners who got a free coach trip to Madrid for the day. They’ve been organising these dayaways in the capital since Franco’s time, and life in some parts of provincial Spain is so boring that a chance to see La Castellana or the Bernabéu stadium with lunch thrown in is worth a couple of hours of flag-waving. They can always be counted on when the right wing needs a rent-a-mob, but quite why they need to import South American priests is a bit of a mystery.

  31. chrisv says

    How many angels…yada,yada,yada…? It depends on the type of dance, of course! And, while I am at it, have ever seen so many silly hats in one place?

  32. says

    I couldn’t believe this was the lead story on the CBC Radio morning news. What, no new developments in the Ukraine crisis? Perhaps Stephen Harper got a hangnail? Instead, we get prominent coverage of a religious ceremony that ought to be of interest only to the adherents of said sect, celebrating a “fact” (ie. that God really, really likes these dead dudes, and has given them like, penthouse suites in the hereafter) that has no truth value outside said sect.

    I spent the weekend at a model train show — where, unlike the RCC, everyone *knows* it’s just make-believe.

  33. David Chapman says

    St. John Paul, not only complicit in vast swathes of child abuse, but notorious in Ireland because, when he visited Galway ( my territory ) in 1979, he addressed the 300,000 strong congregation of a ‘Youth Mass’ with the following immortal line, to rapturous and prolonged applause:

    “Young people of Ireland — I love you!”

    He lied.

  34. David Marjanović says

    When the Pope declares a canonization, he’s acting in his infallible capacity, so there’s absolutely zero chance he’s made a mistake. Should the saint turn out to have been a secret atheist/child abuser/murderer/heretic, or even embezzler of Church funds, or the “miracles” turn out to be deliberately fraudulent, that would make no difference at all. The saint is in Heaven, and that’s that.

    *shrug* Ineffable. God totally had Reasons.

    penthouse suites in the hereafter

    That’s a Protestant, if not specifically Baptist, thing.