Monday, March 23, 2009

The Catholic Church gets it wrong Again

"In his first public comments on condom use, the pontiff told reporters
en route to Cameroon that Aids "is a tragedy that cannot be overcome by
money alone, and that cannot be overcome through the distribution of
condoms, which even aggravates the problems"

Joe also blogged about this bullshit here and here.

Who is going to hold 'His holiness' morally accountable to the death that he is directly contributing to with his failed ideology? Unlike Joe, I do not believe the Pope is guilty of any criminal act by saying that the use of Condoms is wrong, but he is and ought to be held criminally responsible for the blatant falsehoods that he is spreading when he claims that condoms actually contribute to the AIDS epidemic. This is both morally corrupt and outright criminal.

Thankfully, this has backfired on him, and many have left the Catholic church because of this. Apparently "Roman Catholic canon law allows a process known as a “formal act of
defection” from the faith. This means that a note will be made on a
person’s baptismal record stating that they have left the church

Here's just one letter by someone who considered this to be the final nail in the coffin:

"Firstly, I can no longer quiet my moral objections to certain
Vatican policies. This extends from matters raised in the investigative
works of David Yallop, in his books ‘In God’s Name’ and ‘The Power and
the Glory’ up to recent statements which have been made by Pope
Benedict XVI, such as his holiness’s refusal to acknowledge matters of
basic scientific fact concerning the preventative spread of HIV AIDS,
through condom use. The Catholic church is in a unique position to
educate and prevent the spread of this disease, but instead chooses to
make it 10 times worse on the fundamentally flawed assumption that
without the temptation of protected sex, the destitute underclass will
opt for bronze-age fallacies and chastity. This is something which I
find morally repugnant, that in any other reality would see those
responsible for this policy permanently removed from office—if not
exposed to criminal proceedings. That we are instructed instead to view
these comments with reverence, simply because of who uttered them, is
perhaps the single best explanation of why church attendance figures
are in decline one could wish to find.
The Pope has also made illogical pronouncements on greed and
corruption, whilst sitting atop a throne made of gold and precious
stones. He has called the unearthing of a secret Vatican policy of over
40 years standing, which was designed to protect pedophiles in the
priesthood while silencing their victims, “a media exaggeration”. He
has failed to punish Holocaust deniers in the Bishopric while
excommunicating the mother of a nine year old rape victim who became
pregnant by her own step father, who himself remained free to attend
mass. He has an attitude from the dark ages towards people who are
genetically predetermined to be attracted to members of their own sex.
He has turned a blind eye to Knights of Columbus donations to political
campaigns in the hundreds of millions of dollars while in the poorest
countries of the world denouncing liberation theology, welcoming money
lenders back into the temple to literally pontificate on the very
opposite of humility and sacrifice contained in the teachings of Christ.
But more than all of this, Father Stott, I tend to agree with
Agnesë Mother Teresa Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, when she said, “I no longer feel
God’s presence, even in the Eucharist”, because to my mind, it is a
simple matter of deductive logic that there is no such omnipotent being
as God, least of all the petulant sadist worshipped by those of my
former faith from which I now seek final and public excommunication.
If, anywhere in the ever expanding universe, there were such a
being as that which you describe in Yahweh, I find it unlikely that He
would allow the things which take place in His name to continue, were
he capable of intervening to prevent them. Since, for the last 13.7
billion years, God has failed to do this, one can only conclude that He
is incapable of such an act, in which case He is not the benevolent God
of the good book we are dogmatically told by those in your profession
He is, while failing to present the slightest shred of evidence to
back-up one deluded axiom after another, spanning centuries of war,
hate, oppression and greed in defence of this intolerant and
shrivelling credo.

For these reasons and myriad others, which I am almost certain you
are equally uninterested in hearing about as you are those above, I
hereby formally request that I am no longer, as a matter of public
record, to be considered a Catholic. I would be grateful for written
confirmation of this request as and when you are able to provide it.
Look on the bright side, father. You lose me, you gain Tony Blair."

Why does it always seem to me like defectors from the faith tend to be the most Christ like?


Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

Sorry about that. Decided to post only what I thought most interesting instead of just hoping the rest of the text I posted wouldn't distract from it.

Leaving aside observations on his personal moral worth, I think a question worth posing is whether or not the Pope must prohibit the usage of condoms even after assuming orthodox Catholic precepts as true. On the Pope's view (if I am correct in describing it), the use of condoms is a moral wrong because they are towards contraception. However, in the case of distributing condoms to parts of Africa where the population is experiencing an AIDS epidemic, it would seem that the condoms are not being used towards or for contraception, but towards or for the prevention of transmission of a disease gripping the population. I think that this change of the moral situation could be significant enough to make the use of condoms permissible in AIDS-afflicted African communities. Of course, on the Pope's view the resulting contraception is a regrettable side-effect of condom use, but one would not think that the use of medications which make one sterile in order to save one's life would constitute a moral wrong on the Pope's view. The only problem which I think one would need to solve is that which Bhavasindhu dasa raised, or at the least alluded to: that the actions during which one would use a condom towards preventing the transmission of AIDS are very wrong in themselves if one adopts the Pope's beliefs. I cannot see an easy solution, but perhaps there is one (even if it isn't easy).

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David said...


I know what you're saying, and it's an interesting solution. However, I think the Catholic Church would respond to only considering condoms as AIDS prevention by saying that condoms are only used during sex, and sex is only used for reproduction, so it can't be said that they have a use other than contraception. Let me know what you think.


Steve said...

Monster comment:

I'm assuming that the Pope has certain religious precepts which he might hold dear & be justified in (& I would think we should assume this is so), & which form the basis for how he evaluates of the world. Thus I think that even if you were to criticize his views based on medical evidence which runs contrary to his medical claims he could hold his position without having to discount that evidence, as that bit is ancillary to his main concern: the moral status of an action & the consequence that has for a person's soul.

I would think that on his view no amount of harm to the physical body could be said to outweigh a blemish on one's soul. One cannot jail him for making comments based in ignorance or stop him from doing so, especially when he appears to have done nothing that could ever be construed as criminal (except possibly in our "if only" worlds). I, & I think most of the authors & readers of this blog, would agree that what he has done was terribly wrong on some level. However, one must, I think, be able to convince him on his own terms or present him with a new way of looking at the issue that does not significantly stray from his pre-existing beliefs, unless they are at root wrong, as we cannot show his moral concerns to be wrong in the way we can show his scientific claims to be.

The Church's current position on evolution, despite being inconsistent with former papal decrees, was adopted in the face of evidence, along with recent pronouncements on the possibility of extra-terrestrial life, & a surprising number of once thought to be important moral prohibitions were lifted due to changing moral climes. These were certainly changes in beliefs, some drastic. However, in order for these changes to be accepted & decreed they needed to be formulated into a sensible form within the framework of Catholic belief. They were not adopted merely because of overwhelming evidence or public whim.

Anyways, that is why I think that this needs to be solved in this manner. I could be wrong, as this is nothing but personal conjecture, but I think it is borne out. You are right in re-phrasing the problem I myself attempted to express which really takes to task the suggestion I made. I'm not sure if my route (an attempt to shift the end of the action & thus its moral significance) is best, or if other routes could be more valuable.

Steve said...

That is, I think that it is rather obvious who is right & who is wrong on the issue(s) which we can reach a conclusion on in this case. On my view, the most interesting & important issue here is how to change the situation. Approaching the Pope with a stack of scientific papers or telling him his beliefs are (on our view) immoral won't accomplish anything.

David said...

To convince the pope it would certainly have to be on his terms - I just don't know if that is possible. Maybe, just maybe, we could try to convince him of the facts that have to do with the effect of condoms on the HIV epidemic, then given that hope he'll consider a religious trade off. I really don't know if he could be sold on a utilitarian argument - but damn, I'm just at a loss.

Steve said...

That religious trade-off, like the case was with evolution, would need to be able to be constructed so that it is consistent with the world-view he has adopted. Change will need to be made, but it must be veiled, or made to seem as if it is not a "real" change, but merely aligning one's beliefs with the truth of God. One needs the scientific data, as you say, as it is necessary for the change.

AIDS became to be a problem in the early 80s. As other factors (scientific development, for example) now progress at a higher rate, I would hope that if a solution to this problem, if one is at all practically possible, will be reached more quickly.

& if it cannot be done through some Kantian argument about means & ends or some utilitarian consideration of earthly human suffering, what should our response then be? I've no clue myself.