Sh!t the Holy Father Says September 17, 2010

Sh!t the Holy Father Says

by Jesse Galef —

Pope Benedict sure was running his mouth upon arriving in the UK. Maybe he got a poor night’s sleep or maybe it was the way many Britons let him know he was not welcome. Whatever the cause, he lashed out at us with a strange Nazi accusation:

“Even in our own lifetimes we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.

“As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny.”

Let us also never forget how a last alliance of Men and Elves stood against the Papal tyranny that wished to enslave everyone and rule the world in flame.  See?  I can make up my own version of history, too!

As PZ Myers says in what one commenter called the understatement of the year: “Oh, well, we knew he was going to spew lies. That’s nothing new. He’s the pope — he doesn’t care much about truth.” And then, on the other end of the spectrum reaction-wise, we have Richard Dawkins, who wasn’t taking it sitting down:

This statement by the pope, on his arrival in Edinburgh, is a despicable outrage. Even if Hitler had been an atheist, his political philosophy was not based upon atheism and had no connection with atheism. Hitler was arguably (and by his own account) a Roman Catholic. In any case he enjoyed the open support of many of the most senior catholic clergy in Germany and the less demonstrative support of Pope Pius XII. Even if Hitler had been an atheist (he certainly was not), the rank and file Germans who carried out the attempted extermination of the Jews were Christians, almost to a man: either Catholic or Lutheran, primed to their anti-Semitism by centuries of Catholic propaganda about ‘Christ-killers’ and by Martin Luther’s own seething hatred of the Jews. To mention Ratzinger’s membership of the Hitler Youth might be thought to be fighting dirty, but my feeling is that the gloves are off after this disgraceful paragraph by the pope.

I feel like bombarding every newspaper in Britain with letters of protest.

I am incandescent with rage at the sycophantic BBC coverage, and the sight of British toadies bowing and scraping to this odious man. I thought he was bad before. This puts the lid on it.

I wonder whether I would feel that incensed if it were my country the Pope were visiting. But then, I’m used to it and half expecting mudslinging at us atheists. But it was some of the things the Pope said about the child sex-abuse that got me angry:

“These revelations were for me a shock and a great sadness. It is difficult to understand how this perversion of the priestly ministry was possible,” he told reporters aboard his plane to Scotland. “How a man who has done this and said this can fall into this perversion is difficult to understand.”

He added, “It is also a great sadness that the authorities of the church were not sufficiently vigilant and insufficiently quick and decisive in taking the necessary measures.”

No. Just no. Sir, the institution of the church — and you personally — systematically helped to cover up the rapes and to intimidate the victims into silence. I would go on a rant here, but the article goes on to quote someone much more qualified:

“It’s disingenuous to say church officials have been slow and insufficiently vigilant in dealing with clergy sex crimes and cover ups. On the contrary, they’ve been prompt and vigilant, but in concealing, not preventing, these horrors,” said Joelle Casteix of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Another campaigner took aim at the pontiff personally.

“The pope affects the stance of a shocked bystander, when in fact he has been for decades the church’s central handler of sex abuse cases,” said Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability, a group that tracks reports of abuse by priests.

Damn straight. SNAP’s full statement can be found here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Can you imagine Joey Ratz making this slander about any other group? It is the Blood Libel of our day, and most of the world sits by either looking uncomfortably around (at best) or quietly nodding in agreement (at worst). We are the last group that polite society tolerates being called Nazis, except for the skinheads who actually want the title.

  • Secular Stu

    There’s an argument going around that the pope deliberately decided to attack atheists to make the conversation about atheists and not about child molestation. I’m glad to see you address both issues in this post.

  • Narvi

    I thought about the possibility of Elves and Catholic priests in the same universe, and the thought fills me with dread. Why?

    Because Elves, in most stories, take hundreds of years to grow up.

    Now you’re thinking about it to! Aren’t mind viruses fun?

  • Secular Stu

    It’s also worth noting that this alliance against the Nazis was *not* joined by the Vatican, which signed a Concordat with the Nazis in 1933 and remained neutral during the war.

  • Either The Pope IS a head of state, and therefore making hostile remarks such as this could lead to diplomatic sanctions being placed on his “country”. OR His “country” isn’t an actual state, it’s just a part of Italy, and he’s a religious leader making typically ignorant and idiotic statements.

    We need to internationally renounce the Vatican’s undue status as an independent “country”, after all it was only Mussolini’s fascist movement that actually instated it.

    People still commonly assume that it is some kind of official status of “country-ship” that the Vatican actually has. IT IS NOT A REAL COUNTRY/STATE! Let’s make it official eh?!

  • Standard bait and switch tactics… aka “sleight of hand”.

    Don’t look HERE, look HERE…! Pay no attention to the REAL news story– pay attention to this instead!

  • Siamang

    Atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens are EXACTLY who this statement was meant to fire back at.

    This wasn’t a statement about “atheism in general” or even a society that has become more secular.

    This is in retaliation for them speaking out about having the Pope arrested. This is exactly designed to get Dawkins to have to defend himself in the newspapers against charges of Naziism.

    Now let’s spend a news cycle or two talking about Nazis, and the pedophilia story goes away…

  • Feminist Expat in the Middle East

    Question: who cares what the pope says about atheists? I didn’t become an atheist to be part of a club that will take offense at being slandered (or to join a club at all); I simply don’t believe in a higher power.

    I expect that this will upset religious people; I expect that religious people will see non-religious people as the cause for problems in the world. But I simply don’t care – it was a personal choice after years and years of introspection.

  • Greg

    Maybe in a couple of years time some Muslim Ayatollah will be blaming 9/11 on the Hindus, say.

    Disclaimer: There is no reason I chose Hindus above any other religion, and I know not all Muslims were behind 9/11 just as not all RCs were Nazis.

    (Whew – hopefully that should fend off any concern trolls)

  • Hitch

    Ratzi is sadly out of touch with history and reality.

    As for this being a retaliation against Dawkins and Hitchens, well it certainly may be, but it is ill-conceived.

    Just because the pope may want to retaliate does not mean that he can (a) hide the substantial historical contribution to European facism and prefiguring the anti-semitic sentiments leading to the holocaust and (b) blame it on atheism, when in fact atheists were among the first groups persecuted by the Nazis.

    The nazis promoted a new kind of christianity call “positive christianity” so yes they were trying to transcend catholicism and protestantism of the Lutheran type and they mixed in paganism and other stuff. That isn’t atheism either.

    None of the Nazi leadership was excommunicated for their atheism while everybody associated with communism was blanket excommunicated for exactly that reason. The pope should know that.

    In fact even after the war catholic clergy gave protection to Nazi war criminals.

    And a final interesting bit of information is this: In studied that looked at what attitudes made people most likely to help persecuted jews during the time, it showed that the non-religious were most likely to help.

    So much for the moral depravity of atheists.

  • Rich Wilson
  • Great find Rich. Ratzinger needs to learn to keep his mouth shut, but I strongly suspect the only time he will do so is when he’s on the stand at his trial.

  • For this jassack to say he’s surprised by the allegations of sexual abuse by priests is like a former air traffic controller to say, “…they FLY?!

  • Richard Wade

    As the Ratzinger sees his empire’s wealth and power diminish around the world due to its own selfish abuses, he wants to find a scapegoat. As others here have observed, scapegoating is about distraction. Blaming the Jews again is too risky. The Ratzinger won’t touch that one only because the most successful perpetrators lost. Bad P.R. move. He needs another group that people enjoy hating and vilifying.

    So is this the beginning of a softer, more P.R.-savvy, more easily disavowed long-term campaign of defamation of the new scapegoat, secularists and atheists?

  • WishinItWas

    Gott Mit Uns…… I remember seeing that on the Luftwaffe(sp) belt buckles in the history books… Im sure the pope speaks german, lets have him translate …

  • Jon Peterson

    Allow me a moment of grammar police/pain-in-the-ass-ness:

    I would go on a rant here, but their article goes on to quote someone much more qualified

    I’d comment otherwise if I had anything to add or contend at this point. But I don’t.

    [by Jesse: How embarrassing. I think I was going for “the article” but I’ll fix that.]

  • Dan W

    Every time I read about some ridiculous and often morally reprehensible thing Pope Palpatine does or says I think of this song:

  • Siamang

    “For this jassack to say he’s surprised by the allegations of sexual abuse by priests is like a former air traffic controller to say, “…they FLY?!“”

    Ditto anti-Semitism. For the head of the Catholic Church to lay the blame of anti-Semitism on the *ATHEISTS* (!?!!?) is a true WTF moment. The Church practically invented the cursed thing.

    It’s like Ray Krok blaming salad for childhood obesity.

    Let’s get a few more analogies…. Hey, here’s some real ones:

    It’s like Rush Limbaugh blaming the oil spill on Greenpeace.

    It’s like the Republicans blaming Obama for the bank bailout!

    It’s like the Catholic Church blaming condoms for AIDS!

  • Anonymous

    Bill Donohue jumped on the crazy train! How could he resist?

    Atheists Must Apologize for Hitler

  • Dave

    I think today’s ‘Letter of Note’ is all one needs to show the Pope is a lying,disingenuous hypocrite:

  • Scott

    Dawkins should just remind the public of this quote:

    “We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.”

    – Adolf Hitler, Speech …in Berlin, October 24, 1933

  • muggle

    To mention Ratzinger’s membership of the Hitler Youth might be thought to be fighting dirty, but my feeling is that the gloves are off after this disgraceful paragraph by the pope.

    Thank you, Mr. Dawkins. Just thank you. I am tearing my hair out at so many people politely not mentioning that the asshole throwing Nazi accusations around IS A FREAKING NAZI!!! How the hell can they be overlooking this glaring inconsistency? If anything, the controversary should be why is the Catholic church making a member of Hitler’s Youth Guard its fucking head though the answer to that one is extremely obvious.

    Apart from the deflection from the child molestion thing that he played no small role in. But then again if you wouldn’t hesitate to exterminate a whole race of people, why would a “little” thing like raping kids bother you?

    In short, I agree with Tim Minchin (thanks for the link Dan!). I cannot fathom why any decent human being still belongs to the Catholic freaking church! Yeah, I know, they also do good. Hell, so you think you need to connect yourself to an evil institution in order to help people? Tell me, just when it was you took leave of your senses?

  • Luther

    Maybe the Pope would like to come to Washington on October 30th:

    March to Keep Fear Alive

    America, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear — that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our Fear — forces with salt and pepper hair and way more Emmys than they need. They want to replace our Fear with reason. But never forget — “Reason” is just one letter away from “Treason.” Coincidence? Reasonable people would say it is, but America can’t afford to take that chance.

    So join The Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. on October 30th for the “March to Keep Fear Alive”™ in Washington DC. Pack an overnight bag with five extra sets of underwear — you’re going to need them. Because, to Restore Truthiness we must always… Shh!!! What’s that sound?! I think there’s someone behind you! Run!

  • Aguz

    Nice, Pope Mazinger, Godwin’s Law and Reductio ad Hitlerum is in full effect here and even then you fail. Sad.

  • MH

    The pope as the head of a large organization is a politician. So he understands the value of misdirection and the Joseph Goebbels quote:

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

  • AxeGrrl

    All I think when I see the Pope now is:

    why isn’t he in JAIL??

    If it were proven that the leader of any other organization knowingly ‘moved around’ pedophile employees, instead of removing them, it would be a HUGE shi*storm and there would be legal repurcussions….

    The fact that this man hasn’t suffered ANYTHING for it and, moreover, is still treated with respect and worship by millions is beyond disgusting…’s morally repugnant.

    What the hell is wrong with people?

  • Ben Finney

    Those who protest the Pope’s visit should heed Paula Kirby’s plea to not be distracted by these silly lies.

    Please, don’t give an ounce of attention to these ridiculous statements he’s made; they are easily rebutted at length later. Giving precious seconds to them during the Pope’s visit will do the Vatican an enormous favour.

    Don’t make the mistake of letting observers think that “atheist Nazis” is the big issue with the Pope’s visit; we have more important grievances with his visit that need persistence and attention.

    Instead, spend wisely the limited attention the media will give to the protests, by continuing to press the issues of Vatican policies: protecting child rapists, obstructing condom use and abortion, gobbling public taxes in democratic countries, persecution of homosexuals, and so on.

  • Sully

    “People come up to me and tell me ‘Did you hear about that new Pope? He used to be a Nazi!’ Are you kidding me? I’d be more afraid if someone told me ‘Did you hear about that new Nazi? HE USED TO BE A POPE!'” – Doug Stanhope.

  • Wojtek

    May I translate this article into Polish and publish it on the Internet, with link to the original source?

  • It’s a shame that Dawkins had to likewise resort to historical revisionism in his response. Hitler was neither atheist nor christian, but more pagan with the german national identity as ‘god’.

  • and you personally — systematically helped to cover up the rapes and to intimidate the victims into silence.

    Evidence please!

    As I understand it, Ratzinger insisted that his office take the issue out of the hands of local bishops and once he personally oversaw it, in 80% of allegation cases he defrocked the accused and sent it to civil authorities instead of first having a clerical investigation. Further, he got rid of high level offenders who were previously protected by JP II. Yes, there are serious issues there, and much error and much to fix (I’m certainly no fan of the papacy) but I think your is an unfair slander on someone who’s actually trying to turn the ship around.

  • Feminist Expat in the Middle East:

    Question: who cares what the pope says about atheists? I didn’t become an atheist to be part of a club that will take offense at being slandered (or to join a club at all); I simply don’t believe in a higher power.

    I expect that this will upset religious people; I expect that religious people will see non-religious people as the cause for problems in the world. But I simply don’t care – it was a personal choice after years and years of introspection.

    It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself part of a group. YOU are being slandered. That personal choice after years and years of introspection? The Pope is saying that that choice makes you an immoral, potentially murderous fiend. And hundreds of millions of people around the world will agree with him just because of who he is. This man, who abuses his power to cover up the rape of thousands of children – and then pretends ignorance and innocence – is seen as a paragon of virtue and morality, so much so that he is believed to be (at times) infallible and unquestionable. And he’s saying that you are an evil, untrustworthy, dangerous person, simply because of your personal choices.

    If you’re not angry, I don’t understand why not.

    Yes, it may well be a not-so-clever attempt at a distraction from the crimes of the church, but it’s possible to be offended by his remarks without forgetting what he’s done.

  • I am writing to my MP to ask that he publicly denounce Ratzinger for the lying villain that he is. As I don’t like my MP either but at least I get to vote against him..

  • Maliknant

    The reply from Dawkins is devastating.

  • Grifter


    A particularly important bit:
    “Only 20 percent of the 3,000 accused priests whose cases went to the church’s doctrinal office between 2001 and 2010 were given full church trials, and only some of those were defrocked, according to a recent interview in an Italian newspaper with Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, the chief internal prosecutor at that office. An additional 10 percent were defrocked immediately. Ten percent left voluntarily. But a majority — 60 percent — faced other “administrative and disciplinary provisions,” Monsignor Scicluna said, like being prohibited from celebrating Mass.”

    So, by “80%” you meant “Maybe 30”. And of course, that’s 2001-present, AFTER scandals have already rocked the church, let alone back when it was hushed up.

    This is the pope who, when a bishop, said that any victim who spoke out should be EXCOMMUNICATED.

    I have no respect for such a man.

  • Ian

    I am sick of idiot “Christians” making ignorant remarks regarding atheism. First of all, I’d like to make the point that belief in a higher power isn’t a switch you can turn on and off at will. I didn’t choose to not believe in god. I am just completely incapable of believing in god, just as I’m completely incapable of believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy.

    Second of all, if we’re going to start pointing fingers, it can be argued very strongly that Christianity isn’t exactly the bastion of morality it claims to be.

    I can’t wait for the religious nuts to go away. When religion is wiped from the face of the earth, I can finally rest in peace.

    The religious folks are never going to stop until we as a society stop walking around on eggshells around these morons and start openly disrespecting their beliefs. Their beliefs merit absolutely no respect, in my opinion. There is nothing special about their beliefs that makes them immune to criticism and disrespect. I have no respect for religious belief. Why people think religious belief merits any kind of respect is beyond me.

    Especially given that almost every societal ill can be traced back to religion.

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