Kicking and screaming

I don’t envy the Pope. While sure, it would be nice to wield as much power and influence as he does, it would come at the price of getting hated on by a pretty significant portion of the world. I suppose he tries to balance it out by focussing on his legion of sycophants blowing white smoke up his ass, but at some point you’d imagine he gets a bit down on himself for having to be such a prick all the time. If I’m rude or incivil to someone who, perhaps upon reflection, maybe doesn’t deserve the sharp side of my tongue, it follows me around for days. I can only imagine what it must be like to know you’re responsible for the deaths of millions of poor children and women following your boneheaded advice about condoms (for fear of hell).

Add to that the fact that you’re primarily responsible for an organization whose edifice is rapidly crumbling, particularly among places where the public education systems (which your organization had a hand in building, let’s not forget) are paying off and churning out critical thinkers. Perhaps the only organization in the world with worse PR problems than British Petroleum. An organization whose public face (besides yours) is that of ludicrous and notoriously unpopular failed U.S. presidential candidates. An organization that is the punchline to pretty much every paedophilia joke under the son sun, a reputation for which you made a significant contribution.

No I can’t imagine it’s easy wearing the big pointy hat. Not only do you have to carry around this completely justified international hatred, but you have to do it whilst simultaneously digging holes deeper and deeper for your organization to sink into. After all, what kind of religious institution learns to change with the times and find new ways of doing things without relying on centuries-old practices rooted in patriarchial attitudes and zealous political gamesmanship? Certainly not the Catholic Church:

Pope Benedict XVI issued a blistering denunciation Thursday of priests who have questioned church teaching on celibacy and ordaining women, saying they were being selfish in disobeying his authority.

In 2006, a group of Austrian priests launched the Pfarrer Initiative, a call to disobedience aimed at abolishing priestly celibacy and opening up the clergy to women to relieve the shortages of priests. They issued a revised call to disobedience in which they said parishes would celebrate Eucharistic services without priests, that they would let women preach, and they pledged to speak out publicly and frequently for a female and a married priesthood.

In his homily, Benedict said the dissidents claim to be motivated by concern for the church. But he suggested that in reality they were just making “a desperate push to do something to change the church in accordance with [their] own preferences and ideas.” “We would like to believe that the authors of this summons are motivated by concern for the church, that they are convinced that the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the Church up to date,” he said. “But is disobedience really a way to do this?”

First of all, kudos to the CBC for choosing the best possible picture of the Pope to accompany this article:

Picture of the Pope looking like he'd kill for a shag

"Im Ernst, ich würde für einen Shag jetzt töten"*

Second of all, what kind of dug-in asshole do you have to be to look at a golden opportunity to deflect a whole ton of criticism and say “no, I’m going to dickishly chastise them instead”? Remember that time the Pope got all kinds of kisses and smiles from pretty much everyone for saying that there just might be some extreme circumstances in which condoms weren’t completely evil? Can you imagine what kind of tailspin he could pull the church out of if he granted priests the right to marry? For an organization that claims to be the stalwart defenders of family values, what could be a better way to rehabilitate the church’s image than to get people talking about priests and sex in contexts that don’t include police and the phrase “our little secret”?

But no… it was not to be. Il Papa resolutely decided that modernity and reform, like sanity and evidence, are concepts that are not welcome within the hallowed halls of the Vatican. He also managed to find his inner “cranky old man” (which was hidden just underneath his outer “cranky old man”) to tell Catholics everywhere that disagreeing with his backwards-ass rules was “selfish”. Of course, never mind the good that could have been done for the church, not to mention the priests rankling under the absurd celibacy vows, if the Vatican had slackened its rules. No no no, disobeying the big chair – that’s selfish.

This is, I suppose, what comes from having not only a rigid and inflexible moral code, but a rigid and inflexible dogma based on it. While the rest of humanity learns to adapt their behaviour to new experiences and information, the church stands resolutely for whatever it was they stood for 500 or 600 years ago, right or wrong. They have to – it’s part of the job. If they start making exceptions and allowing changes, then they have to find better defenses for hundreds of their immoral and shockingly harmful beliefs and practices. Even when it probably serves their best interest to do so, allowing social mores to interfere with their supposedly immovable commitment to the will of YahwAlladdha would result in the collapse of the entire enterprise.

And so instead of being dragged into the modern era where sex between consenting adults is hardly worth a mention (boy, do I wish that were the case), the Pope is demanding that everyone else be dragged, kicking and screaming, back to the era when Catholicism actually made sense.

Like this article? Follow me on Twitter!

*“Seriously, I’d kill for a shag right now”


  1. says

    This guy led off on the wrong foot, literally from day one, by blaming “neopaganism” for the Holocaust, even though it happened on an overwhelmingly Christian continent. He’s not a spiritual leader at all, he’s nothing but a lying, sleazy, reich-wing politician wtih absolutely no morals or concience, desperately fighting to bring back those halcyon days of the Middle Ages when his Church had undisputed control of just about everything.

  2. Desert Son, OM says

    Yeah, I think a big part of it is what you highlight toward the end. I wonder if, at a certain level of organizational power and/or a certain longevity, doubt and reassessment are simply not policy.

    Off-topic: Ian, I’m going to be in Vancouver for a conference starting Thursday. I hope to take a little time to see a city I’ve never visited before. Do you have a couple of recommendations for cool things to see/visit/stroll (I like walking, but probably won’t have much time to do anything day-trip sized)? Also, within the constraints of my limited budget, I may undertake measured imbibing of distillates or fermentations. Any recommendations in the vicinity of the convention center?

    Still learning,


  3. says

    Do you mean starting tomorrow? Because if so, we should try and meet up.

    Pretty much everywhere in Vancouver is good for strolling. If you’ve got a couple of hours, you should circumnavigate Stanley Park, which is a breathtaking walk (not in the ‘asphyxiation’ sense). The sea wall is also incredibly nice. Depends on how much slack time you’ve got. You should definitely check out Granville Island, which is just across the Granville Bridge from downtown.

    You’ll also just be a hop/skip/jump from Steamworks, which is a local brewery (not to be confused with the Steamworks gym, which I’m almost certain is a gay bath house). They have a taster’s yard, which puts about 8 or 9 different types of beer on a platter for you. The food there is pretty good, albeit a tad pricey ($12-$20 entree range).

    I’ll e-mail you with my contact deets.

  4. Desert Son, OM says

    Yes, starting tomorrow. Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve heard Vancouver is beautiful, and I’m eager to see it.

    If you have a few minutes, I’d be honored to meet and buy you a satisfying beverage of choice. I’ll look for your email.

    Thanks again!

    Still learning,


  5. Aliasalpha says

    sex between consenting adults is hardly worth a mention (boy, do I wish that were the case)

    Speak for yourself mate! If I found a consenting adult who was bonkers enough to have sex with me I’d be telling everyone!

  6. Dunc says

    Well, they did pick him specifically because of his conservatism, and he was previously the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, so it’s not exactly surprising…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *