Church Leader Calls Me ‘Anti-Catholic’ Because I Told the Truth About His Faith July 18, 2012

Church Leader Calls Me ‘Anti-Catholic’ Because I Told the Truth About His Faith

It’s not everyday the Archdiocese of Washington responds to something I wrote… but Monsignor Charles Pope isn’t happy with a post I made about how the Catholic Church is Now Pissing Off the People Who Actually Like Them.

Here’s the gist of my very brief piece: A Catholic Diocese mandated that Sunday School teachers sign a “Profession of Faith” in order to teach. A few teachers weren’t happy with that — I mean, why trust Church leaders 100% on issues of “faith and morals” when they’ve gotten it wrong so many times and in so many serious ways?

Not surprisingly, I sympathized with those teachers. Here’s what I wrote:

We know Catholic leaders are mostly a bunch of men who don’t want to hear any legitimate arguments as to why they’re wrong on issues like contraception usage and gay marriage.

We also know that most Catholics who are not part of the hierarchy don’t buy into what their “superiors” tell them. Catholic women use birth control. Many Catholics support gay marriage. The list goes on.

I’m loving this implosion from the sidelines. The Church isn’t going to back down from their awful ideas and the decent people who actually like the Church are finding more and more reasons to get the hell out of there.

For whatever reason, Pope — insert your cheap joke here — offered a loooooong rebuttal.

Charles Pope

He says I misunderstand the Church… and that I’m too angry (“he doesn’t seem all that friendly”).

First of all, I don’t misunderstand the Church.

Second, fuck you.

Back to point one.

What about those supposed “legitimate” arguments supporting gay marriage and contraception usage that I talk about? Pope writes:

Some argue that Scripture is largely silent on contraception (but remember, NO ONE wanted small families in those days, contraception was unthinkable except perhaps in relation to prostitution), but Tradition is not silent. And as for Gay “marriage” any attempt to validate homosexual activity of any sort is fanciful. Scripture unambiguously and at every stage, condemns homosexual activity, as well as illicit heterosexual activity. Hence it is unclear what “legitimate” (i.e. based in Law) arguments the bishops should be listening to on either topic

Umm… yeah. I know you believe that. But your tradition regarding contraception is a bad one and I don’t care what your holy book says about homosexual activity because it’s wrong. I never misrepresented that. The problem is that more and more Catholics are siding with me on those issues and away from the Church. Are they atheists? Nope. Are they bad Catholics? I don’t care one way or the other, but Pope thinks they are:

And note that what the “friendly atheist” calls “Most Catholics” may be statistically true, but it fails to distinguish between church-going Catholics and merely nominal Catholics. It remains a sad fact that most people who call themselves Catholics are not really practicing Catholics in any sense of the word. Perhaps they will return, but non-practicing Catholics cannot set the norm for what it means to be a believing and practicing Catholic.

In other words, Pope concedes that I’m right… but he still wants to argue.

Ok, here’s the reality of the situation: A lot of people call themselves Catholic, but it means very little. They’re cultural Catholics. Cafeteria Catholics. Who-gives-a-shit-what-the-Pope-says Catholics. I would love it if they stopped using the C-word altogether, but for whatever reason, they still want to be part of the religious tradition.

So what about the “real” Church-going Catholics? Where do they stand on the issue of contraception? Well, a recent Gallup poll said 82% of American Catholics found birth control to be morally acceptable and that percentage includes plenty of Catholics who go to Church.

Gallup also says that half of all American Catholics support legal same-sex marriage:

It’s silly to dismiss non-Church-goers’ beliefs when most Catholics don’t buy into the bishops’ views on contraception and gay marriage.

The Church leaders can cling to those beliefs all they want, but they must be aware that they suck at making their case. Meanwhile, the rest of us are making very powerful arguments as to why Church leaders are wrong and not worth taking seriously. And if they’re wrong on these issues, what else are they wrong about?

Pope goes on:

Here too, our Friendly Atheist misunderstands the nature of the Church which is not a human club wherein the members get to vote on by-laws and determine what seems right according to their thinking. We are a community of believers who gather around a revealed doctrine that we do not get to determine, but are required to give assent to.

It is not so extreme to ask those who do not merely sit in the pews but actually take positions as catechists and who claim to teach in the name of the Church to publicly attest that they actually believe what they are teaching and to promise not to teach anything contrary to it.

I fully agree with Pope here. I have no problem with the Church forcing its teachers to sign a Profession of Faith. They have every right to do that.

And the Sunday School teachers who disagree with them have have right not to sign the document. I would love it if they left the faith altogether — I don’t know why anyone would want to remain in a Church run by bigots like Pope (… and The Pope) — but they probably feel that the Church leaders are just misguided humans, misinterpreting the will of God. So they want to stay and help guide the Church in the right direction.

Lucky for all of us, the male leaders won’t let them, and that’s going to hurt the Church in the long run. (Yay!)

Finally, Pope argues:

So again, the “Friendly Atheist” fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the Church which is not a clubhouse, but is a lighthouse. And to be lighthouse we have to be a light, even when the world prefers darkness.

Setting aside the whole light/dark thing, I don’t misunderstand that at all. The Church isn’t a democracy. I know full well that a few Sunday School teachers aren’t going to change the bishops’ minds on anything because, in the bishops’ view, they’re just women who can’t possibly “know God” any better than the men in charge.

The world doesn’t want darkness. We want a world where — at least in these particular cases — people are treated equally and they get a choice regarding contraception usage. In fact, a lot of good Catholics are going to keep shining a light on the Church, hoping they become more tolerant.

Thankfully, they won’t succeed. Pope’s post only confirms that. It’s the sort of stubborn refusal to accept the reality of the situation — that there’s nothing wrong with gay people, that women have a right to decide what goes on in their bodies — that will push more “Catholics-in-name-only” away from the Church.

Keep doing what you’re doing, Pope. It’s not working. And it’s beautiful to watch the results.

(via Why I Am Catholic)

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  • LesterBallard

     “We are a community of believers who gather around a revealed doctrine that we do not get to determine, but are required to give assent to.”
    I love to start my day with a big fucking laugh.

  • littlejohn

    Substitute “Scotsman” for “Catholic” and you’ve got the tone of his argument.

  • NickDB

    “And to be lighthouse we have to be a light, even when the world prefers darkness.”

    BWHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! The Catholic church is a light in the dark!!! BWHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

    Sorry, need a moment here. That is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time.

    BTW Mr. Pope, the world prefers light, and that is why you (Churches) are failing.

  • asonge

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant?

  • NickDB


    Thinking about the lighthouse analogy is a poor one from Pope. They only work if everything else is dark, so for the church to be a lighthouse, it is their best interest to keep everyone else in the dark. Which explains their operating methods.

  • Sweet semen of baby Jesus does he look like a rapist in that picture. Can we jail him as a precautionary measure?

  • Bender

    The Church leaders can cling to those beliefs all they want, but they
    must be aware that they suck at making their case. Meanwhile, the rest
    of us are making very powerful arguments as to why Church leaders are
    wrong and not worth taking seriously. And if they’re wrong on these
    issues, what else are they wrong about?

    That pretty much sums up why they can’t admit they’re wrong.

  • David McNerney

    In Ireland at the moment there is huge pressure to allow same-sex marriage (or as someone rightly pointed out: ‘marriage’).

    The initial argument from the Catholic glitterati is that 84% of the population is Catholic and ‘Gay Marriage’ is disrespecting the democratic will of the people.

    The big problem is that there was a recent poll which shows that 77% of the population are in favour of same-sex marriage.  That’s most likely 77% of Catholics.

    The response: they’re not real mass going Catholics.

    Obviously they are pressing “Pulse” button on the liquidizer that is their skulls.

    Rock on Hemant – keep poking that wasp’s nest.

  • dorothy30

    the mere fact that he took the time to rebut your column shows that the church is running scared.  if you weren’t a serious threat he wouldn’t have bothered

  • Glasofruix

    It’s funny how when you do not agree with them you’re automatically “angry”.

  • Mary Lynne Schuster

    Cross-post – here is what I posted there: 

    “he will do well to consider that the Church has outlived all her opponents and confounded the predictions of all who have announced her demise.”   My father is a life-long and staunch Catholic.  At the height of the stories about the abuse and cover-up and priests being moved from parish to parish, I asked what he thought of the situation.   He said:   “The Catholic Church will survive.  It has been through a lot.   Nothing can destroy the Church.”I  . . .  actually meant . . ..  what about the children.   The people who have been abused and hurt. their abusers not held accountable, and it happening again and again.   His reply just gave me chills.   My dad is a very loving man, not a monster at all, but to him the health of an organization was the first thought he had, not  real live people who have one life on this planet.   If you are right, monseigneur, is it a good thing?  Why is it a good thing that the institution survives at the cost of hurting real people we can see and touch?   You know the examples – the thousands dying of AIDS in Africa because the Church opposes condoms and the woman who would die in childbirth because the church doesn’t allow abortions in their hospitals, in addition to the abuse and cover up.    I know you have scriptural and traditional justifications for the first two, but does it never occur to any of you that there is something wrong about honoring your understanding of the wishes of a omnipotent being who we couldn’t really hurt if we tried over the short, precious lives of real people? 

  • and the lighthouse analogy is quite phallic. just sayin’

  • Pekka Pekuri

    You should have elaborated the second point more.

  • Pekka Pekuri

    Better to be angry than totally wrong on most moral issues.

  • george.w

    Another term for “Tradition!” is “Shit we made up in the many years since the alleged revelation happened.”  Which is fine and all – it’s like precedent law – but just admit that it’s 100% a human invention, nothing divine about it.

  • I have to be honest. I’ve been getting a bit jaded by the number of “fluff” pieces you’ve been posting, but THIS is a post I can sink my teeth into.
    Bravo for wading out into the fray, kicking ass and taking names.
    A great post.

  • Pureone

    It’s one logical fallacy after another. No True, From Tradition, From Authority and prolly a couple more.

  • Stewart
  • Gotta love the implication that you can’t be right in your criticism of the Catholic Church because — in Pope’s mind — you’re “angry.” First of all, determining whether or not a person is “angry” is often a subjective matter. Second, even if you were “angry,” that doesn’t mean you can’t be right … it is, in fact, very possible to be both angry and correct.

    Pope’s resorting to hurling accusations like “anger” at you, only shows he doesn’t really have much of a true defense. A grown adult would accept that there are people in the world who don’t like Catholicism, that they have a right to express their disapproval, and just live their lives as they wish. But Pope, and most of the rest of the Catholic hierarchy, are not mature adults. They can’t handle knowing that critics of Catholicism actually exist. They can’t tolerate their Church’s critics expressing themselves. It gnaws at them. So they launch invectives at, and make disparaging comments about, the insolent pigs who dare criticize their unassailable Church.

    For the last few years the R.C. Church — both in the U.S. and worldwide — has been engaging in what I refer to as a “pushback” campaign. They view themselves as being “under attack” by the Forces of Darkness, which have wickedly conspired to undermine their authority … first by coercing some poor, hapless, and otherwise-innocent priests into abusing children, then by using that abuse and the Church’s cover-ups of it to attack it, and then by using governmental power to wipe out the Church utterly. That this spiritual war against the Church is not actually taking place, doesn’t matter to the R.C. hierarchy; they think it is, and they’ve decided to launch a counter-assault.

    We are now seeing the ridiculousness of their delusions, in how they carry out this pushback campaign. They’ve long since lost touch with reality, and it shows.

  • Tainda

    This comment “Second, fuck you.” made me laugh out loud way too early in the morning.  Any time I have a heated discussion with someone I know I always say “First, blah blah blah.  And secondly, fuck you” hahaha

    On topic, maybe it’s because I wasn’t raised in a religious home but I don’t understand religious people and their fraking books.  If you say it is the word of your god, then you should ONLY follow the literal interpretation and we all know what that entails.  When everyone follows their own interpretation, it’s a fucking free for all.  I bet someone out there could interpret it to say god wanted us all to be atheists.

  • Ed L

    “First of all, I don’t misunderstand the Church.Second, fuck you.”As an ex-Catholic, I say bravo to you Hemant (especially the fuck you part).

  • Bob Becker

    Well, H, I’d say your reply pretty much establishes beyond reasonable doubt two of the Monsignor Pope’s points:  you are anti-Catholic, and you are angry.   

  • Michael

    When the light you spread comes from burning books you’re doing it wrong.

  • NickDB

    How exactly does it do that?

    Anti-bigotry Anti stupidity != anti-Catholic and I’d say more mildly pissed off than angry, don’t think you can establish beyond reasonable doubt someone else’s emotions over the internet.

  • Bender

     Well, why shouldn’t he? The catholic church is a despicable organization, so what’s wrong with being anti-catholic?

  • I suspect the Monsignor’s article is not directed at you so much as at those 
    non-practicing Catholics, and going-to-church but guilty of free thinking Catholics.    “Look!  Somebody’s attacking your heritage!  Come back to the fold where it’s safe! “

  • Anonymousse

    So, Bob, did you even bother to understand the points that Hemant was making, or are you just here to give assent to Mr. Pope’s irrelevant criticisms?

  • Bob Becker

    I’m not objecting to H’s being anti Catholic.  He’s got reasons some of which are pretty compelling. But his headline suggests H was miffed that the good Monsignor thought him anti-Catholic.   Shouldn’t be.  He is.  Ditto angry. 

  • Bob Becker

    Oh, I don’t know. I’d say the “fuck you” is pretty compelling evidence in re: angry.   And all the rest is pretty compelling in re: anti-Catholic. 

  • Bob Becker

    I said not one word in support of Monsignor Pope’s arguments beyond his claim that H. is anti-Catholic and angry…. both of which claims are amply supported by H’s reply. 

  • NickDB

     The sad part is they could have done a reasonable push back.

    They could have actively condemned;

    Child abuse and put steps in place to stop it that would have been a huge PR plus, not the disaster it turned in to.
    Not done the dodgy financial actions that the pope’s butler uncovered. IF they did they sould have praised the guy who blew the whistle and fixed the issue instead of arresting the bloke and trying to hide it.
    They could still sell that freaking gold throne the pope sits on and give the money to the poor.

    The list is endless and not one of the steps would of being against their teachings and beliefs, but instead they hide and protect paedophiles and corruption, they keep their riches and assets, just making it worse.

    It’s almost as if they believe they’re infallible and untouchable, and are now surprised and hurt that some of us are waking up and going “Hold on a darn minute, we’re not going to take that from ANYONE”

    I have a feeling that their days are numbered, might be numbered in the 100s of years still, but if they carry on like this it will only speed up their inevitable demise.

  • Gunstargreen

    Belief in many ancient gods survived thousands of years as well before their religions dissolved into what we now consider mythology.

    None of us will probably live to see it but Christianity and the others will one day just be history as well. 

  • Gunstargreen

    I agree with Bob here. I don’t know why Hemant should take “anti-Catholic” as an insult either. He’s certainly not pro-Catholic, and neither am I.

  • TheAmazingAgnostic

    The Catholic Church is not a lighthouse in the darkness: it is just as corrupt as other “secular” organizations, groups, and businesses; the child sexual abuse scandal is proof of this.

    The crux of Pope’s argument is, as others have pointed out, No True Scotsman. A “practicing” Catholic wouldn’t use contraception when “tradition” and “Holy Scripture” condemn it. A true Catholic would *never* support the “illegitimate” union of two loving people who happen to be of the same gender. 

    Unfortunately, if Pope is right, there are a large number of people who are not Catholics, even though they say that they are. 

  • “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”


  • Tdesou

    I don’t think you can use two words to describe the emotions an entire blog post on the internet made by someone you don’t know.  And ‘fuck you’ only means anger to some people.  Some of us use fuck in our every-fucking-day language and don’t fucking care because it is just a fucking word.  Was that anger?  Definitely not.  Mostly sarcasm, with a little bit of ‘you catholics are so silly’ thrown in.

  • Tdesou


  • 0xabad1dea

    I believe in more polite circles, that’s called “brainwashing”

  • 3lemenope

    Well, usually “anti-catholic” has the connotation of bigotry, rather than just profound disagreement. That connotation may be what he’s reacting against. Catholics have been oppressed at certain times and places, and the bigotry directed to them often came in the guise of criticizing their practices. So, Mr. Pope is engaging in a bit of sleight-of-hand by suggesting that Mr. Hemant is bigoted against Catholics by pointing out that Mr. Hemant is fairly animated by criticizing their acts and beliefs.

  • Gus Snarp

    I suppose that all depends on what you mean by anti-

    Does that mean you believe the Catholic Church is factually wrong, patriarchal, discriminatory, misogynist, dictatorial, and guilty of doing great harm in the world with its outdated and absurd policies, especially on birth control and gay civil rights? Guilty as charged.

    Or does it mean that you hate Catholics and favor discriminating against them? On that I plead, and expect Hemant would plead, not guilty. But there are Catholic leaders and lay people (see Bill Donahue) who want everyone to believe that every statement critical of Catholicism represents bigotry and discrimination, and when one is accused by a Catholic leader of being anti-Catholic, you can bet that is what he wants people to think.

  • Ronlawhouston

    Still debating the “Second, fuck you” line.  On one hand I liked it, on the other I’m not so sure it was rhetorically a good choice.  Oh well, I guess I’ll get in the spirit – fuck it – you used the line.

  • Annaigaw

    As a former Catholic I love your response. The problem with Catholicism is that it just doesn’t do well in a democracy, people start forming their own opinions and start asserting their own authority over church doctrine. As much as the hierarchy try to put that genie back in the bottle, it will never ever fit again. He claims that it is not a vote-taking organization but in many ways that is how Americans and Europeans have been treating it for generations, despite what he and his friends want to believe. Regular Catholics have routinely taken communion when they are not supposed to because maybe they are divorced but not annulled, have had an abortion or use contraception, they have sex before marriage, they plan their families, they have gay friends and family and would happily attend their marriage if ever given a chance, and they don’t much care what the pope thinks. Most priests in America know these things, many look the other way and focus on community and issues that their congregants care about, others gripe about it and watch their attendance decline.

    Mr. pope needs to wake up and smell the coffee, polls show that the religion at the highest rate of decline in the U.S. is Catholicism. It is dying in the west because a free people will not be told what to do by a controlling dictator no matter how much divine authority he claims. The only place Catholicism is doing okay is in third world countries where people are still the subject of political and social authority. Bring democracy there and then maybe the world will eventually be truly free.

  • Guest

    Wow. Your second point really reinforces the title you’ve given your blog. Using vulgarities just shows you really don’t have an argument.

  • DeFKnoL

    He may understand his church very well from inside the box, but the friendly atheist understands it from the outside. The view from outside makes the inside understanding irrelevant.

  • Gus Snarp

    And your comment just shows you really don’t have a sense of humor.

  • Tainda

    Another thing that confuses me.  Why do words distress the thumpers so much?  This whole “bad word” thing was always idiotic to me.  Does it make you feel “icky” because they are usually always referencing sex in one way or another?

  • Catholicism is a morally corrupt religion that is dying out over most of the world (including all of the developed world) because it is so out of touch with social change. It advocates much that a growing number of people consider reprehensible. As an institution, it has failed to take proper responsibility for the crimes of its leaders that even the Church itself considers immoral! How can any rational, thoughtful, moral person not be “anti-Catholic”? Why does this Popish joker use “anti-Catholic” as if it indicates some sort of unfair belief, or even a moral flaw? Does he believe that an argument based on this idea can hold up to the dozens of rational arguments that are used to expose the flaws in RCC dogma?

    It is indicative of the deep problems within the Catholic church that their spokesmen have sunk to the same intellectual level as the handful of trolls in forums like this, whose only response to solid arguments against their belief system is “you just don’t understand Christianity (or Catholicism)”. Bad argument aside, I think most of us understand it just fine… as do more people in wider society, which explains the decline of those religions. A decline that is likely to continue.

  • Kodie

    I think the “you’re angry” in this context is not the one “damn right I’m angry, as any sane and compassionate person should be,” but “angry at the rules” which the priest believes to be correct. You’re just angry because you want to be gay, or get birth control, or get an abortion. Not: “you’re just angry because we’re a cult that protects pedophiles and takes away women’s rights and gay rights because we believe in fairy tales without questioning them.” He has his head so far up his ass that he didn’t actually understand the criticism and his response is because he’s a bot.

  • 3lemenope

    If you completely ignore the “argument” part of his post then you’d certainly have a point.

  • Sarah

    As refreshing as it is to see people break away from the church, I can’t help but wonder if there would be more benefit for the world as a whole (at least in the short term) if they Catholic church  became more tolerant…

  • Stewart

    Given what we know of the Catholic Church’s dogma, policies and behaviour, there is no respectable justification for being anything but anti-Catholic (meaning the church and its activists, not all individuals who were baptised into it and never thought deeply enough to leave) and pretty damned angry.

  • John Small Berries

    The Catholic church is doing a pretty poor job of being a “lighthouse”.

    Others have touched upon the child molestation scandals – one would expect the earthly representatives of a god to hold themselves to a higher moral standard than the general population – but it becomes even more egregious when these paragons of morality simply cover up for the offenders, and move them around to a new place where they can resume their predation, clearly preferring to protect the church from scandal than to take action to curtail and prevent actual moral lapses amongst their priesthood. And on the infrequent occasions they do take action, they drag their feet for years.

    Compare this to their swift excommunication of hospital administrators who make the choice to violate dogma by terminating a pregnancy to save the mother’s life – rather than adhering slavishly to it and letting both mother and fetus die – demonstrating that these ecclesiastical exemplars of ethics consider human life (or at least the life of a woman) worth less than dogma.

    Or the alacrity with which they spring into motion to condemn nuns who put civil rights over dogma, or arrogate to themselves the right to “investigate” the Girl Scouts for the dual crimes of feminism and tolerance of LGBTQ individuals.

    They’ve run their own church aground on the rocks, yet still boast of their moral guidance. Pathetic.

  • Kodie

    I agree to an extent, and the headline is misleading. The context of the letter sounds anti-catholic and righteously angry. The priest’s accusations using those words are not the same. Hemant’s “anger”, on the priest’s terms, supposedly comes from a denial of god and a wish to defy the rules, and the rules are the rules, and plus hates catholics especially for no good reason. Persecution complex. He pretty much waved his hands and ignored any foundation for Hemant’s, or anyone’s, grievances against the terrible organization he speaks for and loves, and I agree with someone else that said in this thread, for those wandering lapsed catholics, to see how much atheists hate us just for being ourselves as god instructs us to be. He can’t over-ride god, and nothing we can say to him will challenge his beliefs. Basically, he’s saying his hands are tied, and anyone who doesn’t like it is just angry at god and prejudiced against the organization that reveres him just so.

  • Ibis3

    To the Church, Scripture and Tradition are both revealed sources, just as we see them both as “shit we made up”.

  •  Except that he then proceeds to make his argument, in spite of just having used a “vulgarity.” You can do both. You must have missed the argument part because you were too busy swooning and fanning yourself.

    And if there’s an expletive more vulgar than the irrational shit the church is peddling, I have yet to hear it.

  • No

    It’s the modern day version of being called “uppity”. Raise a question or a voice of dissent, and it doesn’t matter how right you are, you’ve rocked the boat, ergo 
    go you deserve to be ignored. 

    “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

  •  Of course, he’s fully entitled to be both anti-Catholic and angry. And since both positions are based on the available evidence, it would be pretty hard to characterize either as bigotry, even if I were inclined to try.

  • Ibis3

    The Catholic Church doesn’t view the bible as the sole repository of revelation. They couldn’t, or none of those early Church councils’ decisions (for example, the one where they picked what books would go *into* the bible) would hold any water. So on one side, they have the bible, on the other side, tradition, which includes canon law, councils of bishops, the college of cardinals, and pronouncements from the pope. The Holy Spirit is there to ensure that it’s not a fucking free for all.

  • 3lemenope

    The Holy Spirit is there to ensure that it’s not a fucking free for all.

    So in other words, it’s a fucking free for all. 🙂

  • Ignatius Antioch

    Considering the fact that less than 30%  of people who are registered parishioners  believe in transubstantiation and only 23% attend Mass weekly, he has a point. The vast majority of people claiming to be “Catholic” do not, in fact, practice Catholicism.

  • Ignatius Antioch

    Indeed, one should call a spade a spade.

  • Ignatius Antioch

    I can think of any number of two-words sets which, if used in a blog post, would set the timbre of the entire document. I’ll be you could too if you tried.

    But even that aside, he is objecting to the fact that he has been labeled as “angry” by using offensive, aggressive language. I think that pretty much proved the point.

  • Carla

    You’re such a bigot, Hemant. >.< But seriously, I'm proud of you for making that whole post without cracking one Pope joke. If would have been so easy…

  • Gus Snarp

    Yes, you’ve proved the point that you have no sense of humor.

  • NickDB

    ” The Catholic church is doing a pretty poor job of being a “lighthouse”.”

    After giving it some more thought I’d say the Catholic church is doing a great job of being a “lighthouse”, a lighthouse is supposed to warn and steer people away from dangerous areas. Their actions are very definitely doing that.

  • Helanna

    Wow. Pope’s whole article was unbelievably, disgustingly, SICKENINGLY condescending, especially considering that it was FILLED with logical fallacies, disingenuous remarks, and occasional outright lies.

    I liked when he spent three paragraphs complaining about the title of the original article, half of which were spent dismissing Hemant’s arguments because he used – gasp – a “vulgar word”! Apparently ‘pissing’ is incredibly vulgar now. Who knew?

    I also liked his claim that the Catholic church isn’t shrinking, it’s growing! Didn’t you guys know that? Now, I would assume this isn’t counting all those people that he just said weren’t real Catholics. “Not real” Catholics who support birth control and gay marriage are only what, like 70%? And I’m sure it also has nothing to do with the fact that once you’re on the Church’s membership list, they never, ever let you off it, even if you’re no longer Catholic. No number inflation going on here, guys! The Church is just growing because it’s THAT AWESOME.

    Finally, I also enjoyed when he made numerous snide remarks about how Hemant certainly wasn’t living up to his ‘Friendly’ moniker, and then acted like that invalidated his opinion! Let me break sarcasm for a moment here – if he thinks Hemant’s original article was unfriendly, I can only assume that he’s never seen anyone else attack the Catholic church with REAL venom. Most people use words a whole lot more vulgar than ‘pissing’, I’ll tell him that much.

    How absolutely disgusting. And yet the worst part is probably the comment section – it’s filled with people saying “Oh, what a great article! What a great response to anti-Catholic attacks, it’s such a shame we’re so persecuted, I’ll have to bookmark this article!” For my sanity, I think I’ll assume they’re deleting any comments that aren’t sycophantic droning.

  • Doug

    To me, “anti-Catholic” implies that one is bigoted against Catholic people. Hemant views the Church hierarchy as corrupt and immoral, which is a distinctly different thing.

  •  Actually, the fact that the one thing you’re able to criticize is his use of a curse word shows that you don’t have a rebuttal to any of the points made after it.

  •  I posted a follow up to the reply by Monsignor Pope. For some reason it has now vanished. Not sure what happened there but I have my suspicions :-/

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    So we’re not supposed to be angry at rapists? We’re not supposed to get mad when an institution uses it’s power and organizational structure to enable rapists to indulge their urges on children with impunity?

    I question the decency and worth as a human being of anyone not angry at this medieval blood-cult.

  • The Berkely
    interface to the GSS
    is possibly a better tool than Gallup for
    Gay Marriage; unfortunately they’ve not asked a lot about

    — attitudes on Gay Marriage (MARHOMO) are correlated to attendance
    rates (ATTEND) and strength of religious identification (RELITEN) for
    Catholics (RELIG(2))

    — while the Church is not a democracy, the US is; such highly attending
    catholics are only a third of the Catholic population, for about 8% of
    the US overall at present (YEAR(2010))

    — attitudes are even weaker for those raised Catholic (RELIG16(2)); this looks to
    be one of the main reasons more those are identifying as not strongly or
    not at all Catholic any more.

    — as your numbers drop because people find Catholic beliefs ridiculous/unconscionable/whatnot, so will Catholic’s influence

    Put simply: you’re only have leadership as long as you’re still followed. You may still be “right”, but not in any way that has empirical impact.

  • As I recall, the Catholic Church is still growing, globally; also in the US, though only in line with the overall population growth rate.

    Contrariwise… in the US, it’s only holding even with overall population growth rate, and that largely due to immigration; and increasingly hemorrhaging younger people raised Catholic, with proportionately fewer of such losses (relative to historical norms) eventually returning.

  • Catholics don’t have the highest rate of decline; largely due to immigration, they’re roughly holding steady. In relative numbers, Baptists are declining slightly, and Methodists and Lutherans appear to be declining faster still; the latter two just start with lower numbers.

    The steady-state may not last much longer for Catholics, though.

  • Under the letter of the Catholic Catechism (2148), the coverup may technically be argued to be blasphemy, committed by some of the highest officers of the Church.

  • phantomreader42

     And the fact that you whine about the vulgarity while refusing to even look at the argument, much less address it, shows that you are full of shit. 

  • The Other Weirdo

     The funny thing about the child abuse scandal in the RCC was that the child abuse wasn’t the actual scandal. It’s been years now since it first blew, and they still haven’t figured that out.

  • The Other Weirdo

     It isn’t just them. I see it in liberal/atheist circles, too. Though, in those cases, they just call you a Fascist.

  • The Other Weirdo

     That only works if you’re fighting people tired of doing whatever it is  you’re fighting them over.

  • Ken

    Given the nature of the issues being discussed, the second comment is well earned and an appropriate response to the condescending assumptions of superiority Pope projects.  Sometimes a sphincter really IS a sphincter.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Let’s not go there, even as a joke.

  • Msgr Charles Pope

    My reply to your article seems to have provoked some anger. I am not sure it deserves the F-bomb from you. I suppose the term “Anti-Catholic” may have bothered you most and for that I regret any misunderstanding or misappropration of the word viz you personally. I used the term because I have found that if I use the word “Atheist” anywhere in my title I am picked up by atheist sites and then besieged with some of the hateful things rife with profanities and very personal attacks. Thus I used the term anti-Catholic in reference to you to avoid that and it worked for a brief time since I got no large atheist response until today. Sadly it was as predicted, though there were some very thoughtful responses too.

    For the record I don’t know if you are personally anti-Catholic in the perjorative sense, though it is clear you are surely not pro-Catholic, at least in terms of the official Church.

    That said I stand by my response to you a reiterate its main point:

    And the point of the article is that most outsiders (as
    illustrated by you) completely misunderstand the
    nature of the Church and how we operate. The Church’s job is not to make
    everyone feel nice and affirmed no matter what they do, her job is not
    to fit in and be accepted by society, she is not a democracy and cannot
    look to polls or take votes from her members as to what is taught.

    Your quoting of all the polls is not really pertinent to the nature of the Church and is not the source of her teaching. It is no secret that many Catholics do not follow some or all the teachings of the Church. There is a reasonable debate as to whether Catholics who no longer attend Mass should even be considered in such polls as you cite. But even if they are, polls are not determinative for the Church as to what to teach. The Gospels and the Sacred Tradition received from the apostles is determinative. Your quoting of the polls shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the Church’s self understanding.

    Church has the mission to proclaim the whole Gospel as received from the Apostles, in season or out of
    season. Gay sex, contraception, secularism, materialism etc are
    currently “in” and the Gospel is “out.” Such is our lot, but we go on
    proclaiming the deposit of faith as we always have.

    Those who want the
    Church to toe the line with modern sentiments ought to look to the
    liberal Protestant denominations to discover that such an approach would
    be a disaster since, for all their relevant “up-to-dateness,” for all
    their affirming of gay sex other modern views, etc., their numbers have plummeted.

    Msgr. Charles Pope

  • Mary Lynne Schuster

    If anyone is still following this thread – lookit lookit lookit!   This is a comment on his article and dear Monseigneur Pope’s reply: 

    Raven says:
    July 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

    No one is misunderstanding the Church’s goals or purpose. What some people are saying is that its purpose is now at odds with the greater good. That wasn’t always the case, but our civilization is starting to outgrow religion.

    Reply Msgr. Charles Pope says:
    July 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    It’ll be back. It does not pertain to the human person to be nonspiritual. Belief in God is a clear feature of every culture going all the way back. Human nature has not changed. Atheism is a flash in the pan, it still remains a minor feature of largely decadent cultures like ours in the declining West. When the current atheist craze has come and gone, the Church will still be here.”

    I just . . .  can you . . . Is this not classic?   Poor little dear.   It will be falling down around him and he’ll be standing with his hands on his ears – “The Church will last forever, The Church will last forever . . .”

  • Stewart

    It was enough of a scandal on its own. It was compounded by the cover-up. And it’s not just that abusive priests were shuffled around to protect them and thus handed new victims on a platter; no, the fact that there must have been inside knowledge that this is how cases were dealt with can only have been the opposite of a deterrent to anyone fighting those urges. 

    So it is arguably possible to say that not only did the Catholic Church’s policies (such as priestly celibacy) increase the tendency of its priests to satisfy their urges in unacceptable ways, since all acceptable ones were denied them, and not only did they obstruct justice as the cases became known, but the inside knowledge of this situation may have increased the number of potential child-rapists who actually became perpetrators. No, “lighthouse” is not the analogy that comes to mind.

  • MV

    Your first paragraph is a really good summary.  That’s what really pissed me off as a young adult.  I was taught a religion by people who didn’t believe it themselves.  I didn’t get that I was not supposed to take the things they were teaching seriously. Apparently, I didn’t get the memo that you were only supposed to go through the motions, discarding the inconvenient parts.  Of course, once I realized this as a teenager, there was no point remaining a Catholic (or Christian really).  Hypocrisy is a powerful impetus for a teenager. But the damage was done.

  • MV

     Sorry, but we do not misunderstand how the Church operates.  Some of us grew up in the Church.  In fact, the Church still considers me a member even though I haven’t attended for over two decades.  I am not a Catholic yet you consider me one and I can’t change that. Yet like most of it’s members in the US, I don’t believe in it’s teachings.  You want to get to have it both ways with an official policy that is disavowed at the local level.  That’s dishonest.  But that’s also the way it’s always been.

  • HA2

     Hey, there’s nothing wrong with either of those things! Considering how reprehensible the Church is, being anti-catholic is a good thing, as is being angry at the Catholic Church! 🙂

  • GeraardSpergen

    Hello Mr. Pope.

    Would you agree that people who already disbelieve or disagree with most of the church’s teachings but continue to call themselves Catholic out of tradition and culture, should just go ahead and defect?

    Not trying to put words in your mouth, I just thought it would be “friendly” if we could find some points we could agree on.

    Geraard Spergen

  • “Perhaps our friendly atheist thinks that arguments from the world are the legitimate arguments. But “the world” is not a “legitimate” (i.e. “legal”) source of the moral Law for the Church.”

    Well. Looks like he’s got you there!

  • Yoav

     When they disagree with the hierarchy then they aren’t really catholic, but when the church want to boast it’s importance in order to convince people that it’s still relevant they will count anyone who was ever baptized as a baby, even if that was the last time they seen the inside of a church, as catholic.

  • TCC

    ‘Tis but a scratch!

  • Bob Becker

    H. does not use “fuck” commonly on his blog.  Very rarely in fact. So for him, I think it’s fair to say it represents an angry response.

  • Bob Becker

    You can define “anti-whatever” as you please. But I think most people, reading H’s post, would reasonably [and accurately] conclude that he was anti-Catholic, without thinking him a bigot.  I don’t think most people require bigotry as an element of being anti-something. 

  • Bob Becker

    When you urge Catholics to abandon their church, I think you’ve safely crossed the border of “anti Catholic.”

  • Bob Becker

    For the record, I at no time suggested H. or his post were bigoted.  And I don’t think most people define “anti” this or that group as necessarily involving an element of bigotry. 

  • Stewart

    Urging Catholics to leave their church is “anti” their church, but extremely “pro” those people being urged to leave it. One is asking them to take a positive step, one which will benefit them and all others.

  • Sorry Msgr. Pope but the Catholic Church is losing influence with advancement of technology and tolerance.  The next generations do not have the same hate as clergy like you do toward gays and women.  The cover up of child rape keeps your organization from being any kind of authority on what is wrong or right.  Atheism has always been around and will continue as people see the evil and intolerance of religions like yours.  I will continue to fight you and your organization for my freedom of reproduction and marrying whoever I love.  Your hate will be your downfall.

  • Stev84

    Of course for most of its existence the Catholic Church simply executed all atheists and heretics. Those were the good old times during which atheism couldn’t flourish.

  • With all due respect, Msgr, re: “And the point of the article is that most outsiders (as illustrated by you) completely misunderstand the nature of the Church and how we operate.”

    I could also say that you (and the rest of the R.C. hierarchy) likewise “misunderstand” what the Church’s critics have to say. First, a note on definitions are in order: Disagreement does not equal misunderstanding. That people “disagree” with Catholic doctrines and practices does not necessarily mean they “misunderstand” them. It is possible both to “understand” and — nevertheless — to disagree.

    There are critics of the R.C. Church who truly do “understand” what it teaches and what it does. I’m one of them, having been raised in a devout Catholic family, and having studied the Church’s history (it can hardly be avoided, when one has a degree in medieval history).

    Given that the Church has critics, and that not all those critics are total ignoramuses, the hierarchy has a choice: To take a good look at what those critics have to say … even if makes them uncomfortable to do so … and determine if there’s anything to what they have to say. Or to just refuse to accept any criticism at all, and complain that the Church is being criticized or is being spiritually attacked by the Forces of Darkness.

    The courageous path, of course, would be the former. The juvenile path, would be the latter. To date the hierarchs haven’t shown very much courage. There’s always a chance they could change their minds … and hopefully they will. But things don’t look very promising.

    Really, it’s too bad. The teachings of Jesus — that humility and meekness are virtuous, that poverty and powerlessness are superior spiritual states, that pride and arrogance are harmful — held so much promise, back in the 1st century when he taught them. Unfortunately the Church he left behind, and most of its followers (both in the R.C. Church and in other sects) don’t really follow those principles very much. More’s the pity.

  • 3lemenope

    I thought it was quite clear from what you wrote that you meant anti-Catholic only to mean, roughly, “disagrees strongly with Catholic teachings and some of the acts of the institutional church”.  All I was saying was that historically, anti-Catholicism generally has an implication of bigotry that Mr. Pope was capitalizing on in a slight equivocation that I’m sure he hoped none of his readers would pick up on.

  • Kodie

     Is the catholic msgr. criticizing Western culture for being decadent?

  • Kodie

     You sell fear.

  • Pollo Diablo

    it’s really funny that he kind of marginalizes “non practicing catholics”. I guess my mom and sister would fall under that category since they don’t think contraception and homosexuality are wrong.  He has no right to be all judgmental about catholics like them because despite all of the catholic church’s bullshit, they still manage to see good things in the church’s faith and traditions. And as an ex-catholic, I can tell you the shenanigans of church officials don’t make that easy.  

    So yeah, in behalf of the “non-practicing catholics” I love who you just undermined, fuck you Pope!

  • Wow – that is an interesting exchange. I’ve had similar exchanges with the Rev. John Codega regarding marriage equality.

    I was brought up Catholic – but the mistake my parents made was sending me t Catholic schools. I realized early on that the whole God thing was just so much made up bovine effluent. And then as my education progressed and I was taught critical thinking skills, I was also told you couldn’t apply that to religion. What? What?

    So it’s no wonder I’m an atheist.

  • Ibis3

     Um. Yeah. I guess that would explain all the antipopes. And Vatican II.

  • george.w

    Even a very friendly person – and Hemant is one such – might be angry given good reason. Which he has. Throw enough condescending, hypocritical hogwash at anyone and they’ll get a little testy. 

    Msgr Pope, since you are presenting the Catholic church as an “all or nothing”, top-down kind of organization, perhaps you are right that it should slim down to just those True Scotsmen. I mean Catholics.  Perhaps you would be willing to make the first move by refusing any monetary donations from anyone who does not agree to the whole doctrinal package?

  • And note that what the “friendly atheist” calls “Most Catholics” may be statistically true, but it fails to distinguish between church-going Catholics and merely nominal Catholics. It remains a sad fact that most people who call themselves Catholics are not really practicing Catholics in any sense of the word.

    Funny how the Church does not make this distinction when they report their number of adherents in order to portray their size in a country, and in several countries, to justify getting more government subsidies. 

    They only count the names on dusty baptism records, and they may or may not subtract the ones who have died. If the Church counted actual butts in pews, their size and their clout would be shown to be much smaller.

  • Helanna

     Belief in gods has been a feature of civilization forever, yes. Of course, many of those gods were things like gods of thunder and fertility. The reason we stopped believing in those gods is because we got smarter, and we used science to explain those things, and now the idea of gods causing them seems ridiculous. Adherents of those religions probably thought monotheism was a ‘flash in the pan’ at one point too.

    Also, I commented above on how condescending the original article was, but it still continues to amaze me. The current atheist craze? It is indeed classic. Remember, if you don’t like something, just casually dismiss it and its members and pretend it will go away if you don’t look at it.

  • NickDB

     Then no wonder “the world” is rebelling against a group that thinks it is above it.

  •  Every once in a great, great while, an adherent of the “New Atheist”
    paradigm offers up a substantive critique against religious thought and
    causes us to actually ponder deeply a certain issue.

    This is not one of those critiques.

    author of the article writes: “…tradition regarding contraception is
    a bad one and I don’t care what your holy book says about homosexual
    activity because it’s wrong. I never misrepresented that”.

    don’t have to be a scholar to practice scholarship, and there is no
    excuse for this kind of unenlightened criticism. You make no attempt to
    explain why these respective traditions of the Roman Catholic Church are
    wrong you simply assert it. To say that you “never misrepresented” that
    the Church’s teachings are true is, of course, to beg the question.

    You do the same thing in the opening statement of your “Catholic Church is Now Pissing Off the People Who Actually Like Them”,
    when you say, “We know Catholic leaders are mostly a bunch of men who
    don’t want to hear any legitimate arguments as to why they’re wrong on
    issues like contraception usage and gay marriage”.

    Really? We
    who? Atheists? I didn’t realize atheists had a creed concerning the
    Catholic Church. Have you polled your fellow atheists concerning their
    thoughts on this matter or are you making an educated guess? Surely you
    don’t suppose to gauge the thoughts of religious believers, do you? If
    so, where do you get your data? Since you decline to give even word of
    support for your assertions, I fail to see how they’re anything but
    unsubstantiated personal jabs.

    You are right when you point out
    that the Catholic Church is having problems inculcating their views into
    their parishioners, a fact that renowned Roman Catholic Archbishop
    Timothy Dolan acknowledges. Dolan said,
    ““I’m not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical
    challenge—a towering one—in convincing our own people of the moral
    beauty and coherence of what we teach. That’s a biggie.” However, Gallup
    also showed that the majority of Catholics sided with their leaders
    over the the Obama contraception/abortafacient mandate.

    their apparent support for contraception, Catholics are still loyal to
    their leaders. Not to mention most every poll shows that the majority of
    Catholics are pro-life in some sense, so apparently the bishops are
    doing something right.

    The author goes to call Bishop Pope a bigot, for whatever reason I’m not sure since the author does not care to clarify. And
    he again makes a wild assertion saying that “in the bishops’ view, [the
    Sunday School teachers are] just women who can’t possibly “know God”
    any better than the men in charge”. I’m sure this was not meant to be
    taken seriously since the author’s atheism precludes the reality of
    supernatural mind-reading, and unless we are given some sort of reason
    or even a logical connection between Catholic leaders teaching Catholic
    doctrine and the authors last statement, how can we avoid the conclusion
    that the author isn’t just taunting and slinging red meat?

    author goes on to say, “The world doesn’t want darkness. We want a
    world where — at least in these particular cases — people are treated
    equally and they get a choice regarding contraception usage”.

    there is nothing to put the author’s ambiguous usage of the words “we”
    and “world” in context, so the reader is left wondering who the author
    is referring to (since the world is made up of both believers and non-believers). We have been given no reason to think that the leaders
    of the Catholic Church want to force anyone to do anything ( requiring
    that a worker under their jurisdiction voluntarily sign a statement of
    faith, does not equal coercion) or that they want to treat people
    unequally, for of course denying someone something that they don’t have a
    right to (ie: same-sex couples and marriage) is not promoting
    inequality. Please note that in a majority of states in the Union
    homosexual couples do not have a legal right to marriage or legally
    recognized partnerships.

    Stating further, “In fact, a lot
    of good Catholics are going to keep shining a light on the Church,
    hoping they become more tolerant”.

    This intrigues me. What is
    good according to the author? On atheism morality is just the spin-off
    of millions of year of random mutation, like a hand or tongue. Who is
    the author to proclaim “good”? Why should we listen to the author? What
    authority does the author have? The author wants to be an atheist, a yet
    reap the benefits of a theistic worldview by assuming that such a thing
    as “good” exists and that tolerance is one of those “good” things.

    the author says, “It’s the sort of stubborn refusal to accept the
    reality of the situation — that there’s nothing wrong with gay people,
    that women have a right to decide what goes on in their bodies — that
    will push more ‘Catholics-in-name-only’ away from the Church”.

    author may be right that the more contentious teachings of the Catholic
    Church will drive away the nominals. Only time will tell. However, the
    author is wrong when he says that there is nothing wrong with gay
    people. There is something wrong with those who experience same-sex
    attraction AND those with heterosexual attraction. It’s called sin. It’s
    what drives a person to say “fuck you” to an elder with whom he
    disagrees with for not other apparent reason than that he disagrees with
    him. It’s what drives a person to hold onto a form of godliness, such
    as objective morality, and yet, deny it’s power and Source. It’s what
    drives the author to shout bigotry, while making all kinds of
    unsubstantiated attacks against those with whom he disagrees.

    I think the author would do well to heed the words of Scripture:

    “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint,
    and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent” and discerning if he holds his tongue”.

  • Piet

    Wow, you seem angry. To bad your religion stops you from understanding reality.
    ‘Sin’ is a religious concept. It does not exist for the non-religious.
    If you really want to fight ‘sin’, go expose your catholic brothers that molest children. 
    Go to the Vatican and tell them to sell all treasures, gold, property, art etd. and give the proceeds to the poor.

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