I don’t suppose there’s a way to impeach a Pope:

The Pope played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests, according to a shocking documentary to be screened by the BBC tonight.

In 2001, while he was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church’s interests ahead of child safety.

Of course – cover up the crimes of pasty-white priests … who cares about parishioners?

The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated.

Perhaps excommunication wouldn’t be so bad … you’d avoid getting raped.

Pope ‘Led Cover-up of Child Abuse by Priests’ [London Evening Standard]

From Slate:

No. The Code of Canon Law has no provision that allows a pope’s removal from office— for any reason, even poor health or psychological trauma. That’s because, according to church law, there is no higher authority than the pope: He “possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.” A pope may resign, but his resignation must be “made freely,” and he doesn’t have to tender his resignation to any particular authority. (The last pope to resign was Gregory XII, who did so in 1415 to end the battle for the papacy known as the Western schism.)

As for other Catholic authorities: Bishops can be removed by the Congregation of Bishops, although there’s no formal process. And pastors can be removed by bishops for just about any reason, including “infirmity of mind or body,” “loss of a good reputation,” or “grave neglect” of parochial duties.

Can the pope face prosecution under secular law? No. The pope is immune from prosecution under the local laws of the Vatican. It’s also a principle of customary international law that heads of state enjoy immunity from prosecution. That includes the pope, who is both the head of the church and the head of Vatican City. When three plaintiffs sued the pope in Texas court in 2005 for allegedly helping cover up their molestation by a priest in Houston, the U.S. Justice Department urged the court to dismiss the suit on grounds that the pope enjoys immunity as head of state of the Holy See and that such a lawsuit would be “incompatible with the United States’ foreign policy interests.” It’s possible that once a head of state leaves office, he can become liable for crimes committed before he took office, since sovereign immunity applies to leaders only while they’re head of state or to acts performed as a head of state. However, the pope almost never retires, so he’s unlikely ever to face prosecution.

I wonder if he dipped a finger or two in the honey pot. He has a honey pot dippy look about him, doesn’t he?

@Dodgerblue: God’s Rottweiler, meet the Devil’s Cerberus.

Incidentally, this puts me in mind of the greatest promise-and threat- Jesus ever made ( feel free to skip, obvs., I am not proselytizing- I just think it is ironic ):

Matthew 25: 37-46 – “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will answer them, saying “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it unto Me. And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

emphasis mine

As I go over that in my head, and then go back to re-read that article, it makes me very sad.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head:
As a nonbeliever who finds the Bible interesting from a literary/historical/anthropological perspective, reading that passage from the Book of Matthew also makes me sad when I think of the spewing of hate and racism, lack of charity, lack of common decency or humanity on display over the weekend by people who call themselves Christians and think that they speak for all Christians.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: There you go quoting that New Testament hippy when today’s version of US American Christianity is entirely about the insane Old Testament God who tested Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his only son.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head:
I will say that I agree. It sums up the ideals one should live up to.

On the other hand it seems that if baby Jeebus were around, the RC priests would be busy trying to molest him.

@ManchuCandidate: Are you kidding? Jesus can’t be an altar boy, he’s a Jew!

@Dave H:
Abraham: And where do you want this killing done?
God: Out on Highway 61


Guy already has a wedding dress.

Put him in a supermax with the neonazis.

They’ll send him to fucking jesus.

Of course a large part of AmeriKKKan xtians problem (not referring to present company, of course) is their fondness for quoting the Bible that only exists in their heads. Biblical illiteracy among US adherents to the religion is shockingly high; only something like 20% have what could generously be described as a grasp of the fundamental tenets of the faith.

Kinda like how the ‘baggers are always shrieking about THE CONSTITUTION, but they sho’ couldn’t tell ya what’s in it.

(The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments never happened, btw).

@Nabisco: The guy could write some lyrics, no?


Christianity is, for me, such an individual experience that I shudder when any large group, even my own birth denomination, lays claim to a perspective which privileges a collective experience of Christ specifically, or of spirituality in general. For me, that is the beginning of a walk down a very bad road, along which you will find both fundie teabagers and criminal popes. The moment you suggest that your experience of God is privileged- so privileged that it should be shared and replicated- is also the exact moment when you have lost sight of what it is to have faith. Faith is about doubt almost wholly for me, and trying to spread your experience of the divine around is the negation of that: an attempt to move from a place of faith to a place of certainty.

This I think, is the central error of most movements in general, even progressivism. The idea that there is a truth that exists outside of the individual, and that there is a general ideological template into which problems are fit to produce solutions forces groups to constantly spin their wheels arguing the proper template. Solutions simply do not emerge because the means to come to them becomes the end in and of itself.

Those people spitting epithets are, in the final analysis, not frightening because they are stupid or ill-informed or wicked (though they are all three of those things), but because they are convinced of the privilege of their viewpoint, and want nothing more that the preeminence of their worldview at the exclusion and silence of all other points-of-view. I am as wicked and stupid as they when I strive for that myself.

I guess what I am trying to say is that religion and politics stem from very similar places, and that we are at our ugliest and least effective in both when we operate from a position of cold certainty. It is something to struggle with mightily, and, I think, one of the central problems of existence.

To which I hastily add: for me, anyway.

Do I need to tell a poopy joke now? That may have been a little much.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head:

There’s lots to admire about Christianity philosphically. I just wish more people put it into practice.

Now the ancient Greeks and Romans with their polytheism, they knew how to party.

@Original Andrew:

I feel like if it isn’t practicing me then in some way I have managed to disconnect myself from it and need to get back to some basics. I am the expression of it, hopefully, not the other way around. Does that make sense?

I don’t mean to bring this discussion here if people aren’t comfortable. And I am not exhorting you to find Jay-sus, hallelujah- not at all! I just think there are parallels, positive and negative, between the expression of spirituality and the expression of political will.

@Original Andrew:

It was good enough for Kahli,
With eight arms for all her folly,
She’d be quite an armful-golly!
And she’s good enough for me.

Gimmie that ol’ time religion!
Gimmie that ol’ time religion!
Gimmie that ol’ time religion!
It’s good enough for me!

@Original Andrew: Agreed.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: I don’t quite buy this: “there are parallels, positive and negative, between the expression of spirituality and the expression of political will.” I think of the desired outcome of political will as something essentially material, e.g. tax breaks for the rich. But spirituality, to me at least, is based on a longing for and appreciation of unity with the infinite, the Godhead, the trees, or whatever it is. And that, as I think you would agree, is an inherently individual endeavor.


The material is only the expression of a spiritual longing. Health care, for example, is about our need for healthy and whole families. The tax code is ultimately about how we value and care for each other. We position ourselves in relation to the infinite and transcendent through finite and material means.

We mediate our personal expression of political will through law, much in the same way an expression of spirituality is mediated through art or music. Or, again, I try to. It is very wrong to try and speak for anyone but myself.

I’ve just always found it downright bizarre that a religion whose main focus seems to be helping the poor and society’s rejects–even a casual reading of the New Testament confirms this–has been transformed into a right-wing ideology of modern-day tribalism, greed and hatred.

If 80% of the country practiced Christ’s teachings, would we still have poverty? Or hunger? Or homelessness? Or war?

@Original Andrew:
Yes, because we humans are a weak lot, but it wouldn’t be as bad or as often.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: I’m still not there. Possibly I took too much acid when younger.

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me.
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: I agree in part but I don’t know about extending it to political activity. I think that yes, “The material is only the expression of a spiritual longing.” You could probably extend that to include anything that is done to excess – American hyperconsumerism of exurban McMansions filled with plastic crap from Blood,Bath,Beyond and ginormous SUVs – I find myself wondering “What is that hole that they are trying to fill?” Shoveling crap into a home doesn’t fill the hole that’s inside…the same way that shoveling food in your mouth or cocaine in your nose fills that need inside. And so that is why I think that a lot of people turn to organized religion. Trying to fill that hole and justify your existence. I think that the individualized form of faith that you describe and live by is a much harder way of living your faith than going to the local megachurch and accepting pat answers about how your sect’s world view is the dominant one.

But you know what this reminds me of and is another way of showing how weird I am? When I was a kid, very young, like ages 4 to 6, I went to Catholic school because my mother wanted me to start kindergarten at 4-1/2 versus having to wait until I was 5-1/2 as dictated by state law for public schools. The Catholics didn’t care about my age so I did the first few years of elementary school with them. I was at prime indoctrination age. Granted, this was a school run by those wacky Benedictine nuns and Franciscan priests in the mid ’70s when liberation theology still reigned and we were singing “De Colores” and strumming a guitar during services. But I digress. Back to my point, I remember sitting in Friday services for K-8 students plus the neighborhood one October when I was in first grade, and I looked around and everyone else was scrunching up their faces in fervered prayer and I thought to myself “Do these people really think they’re talking to God or are they pretending? That must be cool to think you’re talking to God.” My mom had told me not to pretend to pray because that was disrespectful to people who really were praying, and so I was supposed to sit still and not say anything and be respectful. I remember thinking this thought, because after every Friday service the very nice Irish priest who was not a molester would do Q&A with the students as a sort of mini-religion class. I asked him that question I had thought. I had meant no disrespect, I was sincerely honest in asking that question – I just didn’t understand how people could just let go and believe they were all communing with the same God, or why God would really care about one of us because we were so little. Yes, I was a tad precocious. There was stunned silence for about two minutes (or so it seemed) before the priest indignantly asked why anyone would “pretend” to pray and why would I ask such a question. But every time I find myself in a church, I think the same thought I did as a kid: Do people really think they’re talking to God? Isn’t there some nagging point in the back of their head saying “I’m acting”?

The only way to analogize this, and you may get this analogy, is that the closest sensation I’ve had to being in church is that of when I used to do theater or when I’ve had to speak in front of a large group or do a court appearance. The only way I could get through the nerves and the voices telling me how idiotic I looked was to say, “I’m acting, I’m acting, I’m acting” and stay rather detached. That’s why I could never become a Method Actor – because it becomes a very existentially surreal experience for me to do cross-examination or give a speech or act. I get strangely calm and can get through it but I never actually believe what I’m saying or what I’m doing what I’m doing. I force myself to have a level of detachment and keep saying “This is a stage, I am acting.” I had that same sensation (and have it) every time I go to church.

Don’t know what prompted all of that.
It’s been a long tough day/week. Today is the anniversary of my furbaby going to the Dog Park in the Sky, and two friends lost their dogs last week. So I’ve been thinking about mortality for a while. I don’t know if I believe in God, but I believe in Dog Heaven, and hope I get to go there.

Keiff Oh! is back from his dad’s funeral and is on fire and on a fucking roll with his Special Comment – I keep snapping and screaming “Oh Yeah” – it took him about two minutes to hit his pace, but daaaaayyyy-ummmm.


All dogs go to heaven. And there would be no justice in Heaven if you were not there, my dear, so look forward to it.

What you describe- this feeling of “acting”, I feel a lot. In a way, it’s just another facet of doubt, and, as I’ve said before, I believe at the root of all spirituality is this conflict. Is this real? I’ve come in myself to a place where the objective reality of faith- what some here might call “the sky fairy” or”Jeebus”- is only at issue insofar as I must confront it to overcome it. I have to recommit to it daily, and get to the point where my trust in it is so great that the literal truth of God is irrelvant. God exists for me because I believe, even, ultimately, if this God must vanish when my belief disapears with my conciousness and dies.

I struggle with this a lot. I fail to get to that place sometimes. But I have seen some small evidence of the soul, and when I allow my faith to truely shape my soul and my choices, I am a better man. When I do that, faith works through me to make the world a better place. I know both those things to be real, and so whether or not the Jesus of my fathers will speak to me at the end of all things is not at issue. He is real for me because I see him work in my life, and if you showed me tomorrow proof positive that this is all a fairy tale and nonsense, I would shrug my shoulders and go back to this same daily struggle.

Because the struggle to believe is what is important. The rest can come later.

And that, friends, is what has worked for me.

@SanFranLefty: I dabbled – very briefly – with a Pentacostal church in the ‘tucky when I was 14ish. I remember having the same thought when people starting ‘speaking in tongues’. First I thought ‘Wow, will I ever be able to do that?” then “They can’t be serious, can they?”. The ‘rents were seriously tormented by this experimentation by the young ‘bisco, but I snapped out of it right about the time I discovered god’s green herb.

I am always painfully ambivalent about the catholic church. It is the most sexist, downright misogynistic, institution on earth, except that muslims are worse. Its positions on women as priests, divorce, and birth control, as downright evil, birth control most of all, the church encourages hopeless overpopulation of the earth, something visible in catholic countries.

But on the other hand, the social justice teachings are worthy, and though there is a growing, recent element in the RC church, embodied in the US as Opus Dei, strays from these core old RC values, to me, I do still see the tremendous charitable works the RC church does.

Much more personally, I have seen the traditional RC worldview, in the person of my father. He was an alterboy, a star in his catholic high school, and this is information I have gleaned from mere hints, he was thought to be on the track for priesthood, when he was young, and for poor catholic families, if you had a kid who was an academic star, and also religiously inclined, the idea that one of our children could become a priest, was the highest hope of all.

I want to try to explain this at length, I am talking about the 1930s, a catholic family that was dirt poor, there was no college aid of any kind then, no student loans, no way, for a poor family to give even the most stellar student an opportunity.

And this is something that is lost now, back then, the priesthood was considered an academic profession. The professions, then, were: doctor, lawyer, priest,(or pastor or whatever, in one of the traditional protestant faiths), military officer. That was it.

My dad, late in his life, gave hints that he had a choice at some point, they would have welcomed him to a free seminary education, had he chosen the priesthood, and he didn’t. I would guess because he was not particularly religious, like, not at all. My whole family apparently attended church every sunday through about 1965. I went through first communion, which would have been about 1967, but after that, we never went to church, except for weddings and funerals.

Its not anything about doctrine, that I am getting at here, my dad never once spoke of or even encouraged respect for doctrine.

But on a deeper level, my father had a moral humility, which I believe was something he took from his RC upbringing and education. And without any mention of religion, or god, or doctrine, my father taught me a particular morality, divorced from any dogma, that I do truly revere, and believe is an enlightened, or at least partially so, worldview. I believe it consistent with the teachings of buddhism, which I do truly revere, and try to understand and make real in myself.

What it is, is a deep moral belief in the fact that morality, goodness, is something that requires a conscious will to achieve, that it is not inherent in us. That the default state of man is self-interest and sin, and choosing altruism, love, and respect, for all other humans, is an act of positive virtue, which requires discipline and education to achieve.

And ultimately, and deeply connected with this belief, is the belief that noone can, should, is worthy, to judge or condemn another. Because everyone is as likely to lapse as anyone else, because not everyone has the luck to be born with spiritual strength, or intelligence, or was lucky enough to be brought up in a good environment, where the values of altruism, love, and forgiveness were taught.

In other words, a belief that being born with the capacity to be moral, was as much a quirk of fate as being born to be 6 foot 5 inches tall, or to be able to memorize all of Shakespeare, or being able to prove Fermat’s last theorem.

Its a belief that at the core, no human life, no human being, is worth more, or less, than any other.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: I think you may be the only one who understands this. Because what I am talking about is original sin. this doctrine is frequently excoriated, on shallow grounds. It is in the end a doctrine of equality, and to me, one which accurately decribes human nature. I do not think altruism is the natural state, I think it is a value that requires choice, education enough to understand the choice, and moral beliefs which induce the choice.

Selfishness is an overwhelming force, which requires strength to overcome. That you have the strength, does not mean you are better, it means you are fortunate. Those less fortunate are no less your brothers and sisters, noone is excluded from the bond of common humanity.

So many atheists, and all libertarans, impose a far harsher moral judgment on their fellow humans, based on lapses from their beliefs, than the evil catholic church does.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: I did not see your Mathew quote until now, you see, thats all I have been trying to say, this one teaching, its not just love your brother, or do unto them as you would have them do to you, its deeper, it is to know, that god, or whatever it might be that you think gives life, and human life, an inherent right to dignity, that gives inherent value to your soul, intellect, existence, that this value is present, completely and totally, as much in the worst of us as in the best.

Dear Tommmcatt and Prommie, I love you both (and all you other stinquers too, of course). Since I missed out on last night’s wonderful conversation while it was going on, I just will register my gratitude to all here for bringing so much to this table. Here we get the whole gamut, from poopy jokes to shrewd and witty assessments of current folly, high jinks, and wrongdoing to high flights of invective and obscenity to thoughtful and soulful meditations on life, love, and death.

Jesus and Buddha are the ones to pay attention to. Both made it their life’s work to help people get back in touch with what the established orthodoxy of the day was obscuring or subverting. Reading what you two wrote here last night reminded me of a couple of quotes I love. The first is from Saint Teresa: “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” The second is from Buddhist writings: “Neither fire nor wind nor birth nor death can erase your good deeds.”

hi lynn, always good to see you! let me throw in a few quotes on topic i like:

“i consider myself a hindu, christian, moslem, jew, buddhist, and confucian” —mohandas gandhi

“when a man is freed from religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life” —sigmund freud

“a great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep” —saul bellow

“god spelled backwards is dog” –woody allen

@baked: The Woody Allen quote, of course, is my favorite.

of course it’s mine too. i lit a candle for your furbaby’s yartzeit sweetheart. right next to the one for ‘catt’s sister. i’m gonna burn this fucking house down.
and i, like you, rejected religion only after comprehensive study of it.
why i sent bakette to hebrew school. i told her she would have to study whatever she would reject. and great kid that she is, has joined us in holy atheism.

I don’t believe in Elvis
I don’t believe in Beatles
I don’t believe in Buddha
I just believe in me
Yoko and me
and that’s reality.

J. Lennon (paraphrased)

i believe in john lennon.
“imagine” is more than my favorite song. it speaks to my soul and makes me cry every time i hear it.

you can say i am a dreamer, but i’m not the only one. (here at stinque)

@baked: Neil Young’s version just after 9/11 was the second best version EVAH.

going to look for the clip…cause i have to shed tears every day.
it’s how my lymphatic system works.


OMG, that is so sweet, to do that for my sister! I’m so touched by that!


I get a little shy, sometimes, to talk about stuff like that. I really do believe that it is wrong to proselytize, so I hope that no-one feels preached to.


One of God’s greatest gifts is the capacity for evil in his creations, for without that we would simply be automatons, unable to live lives according to our own conscience.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: I don’t mind. I like the diversity and sincerity of our beliefs and the respect shown by others. God told me to tell you that.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: The Original Precious FreedomTM. And I hear you on proselytizing. I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the evangelical aspect of my Protestant background, and have more or less abandoned any charge that befalls me from the Great Commission (“go into the world…”) beyond the idea to set a good example/try not to be too much of a fucking hypocrite.

I think the point that clarified my stance on this came a few years ago when several Christian friends and family members were horrified that I was choosing Peace Corps over a Christian missions organization to go abroad…they couldn’t get past the idea that not only was I choosing a secular organization over a blatently religious one, but that I would be literally barred from proselytizing, which was totally fine–nay welcomed–by me.

@flippin eck: Back in the day they weren’t worried about us ‘proselytizing’, but we sure as hell had to (a) spend an afternoon learning about the Evils of Communism (quaint, I know) and (b) look around and play Spot the Spook. In my group that was pretty easy, it was the guy who was always rocking “dress up clothes” and hanging out at embassy parties in the capital.

@Nabisco: Cheech and Chong used to say that you could always spot the narc by the design on the toes of his shoes.

@baked: Here ya go, sis. First sign that post-9/11 hysteria wouldn’t be a short run thing? The fallout over the lyric “no religion, too”.

@redmanlaw: Didn’t Tom Wolfe say something similar in “…Kool Aid..”?

@redmanlaw: We used to believe that if you ask an undercover cop directly, are you a cop, he had to answer honestly.

There was also something about checking inside the filters of your marlboro reds for some secret number that means you win free cigarrettes for life.

@Original Andrew: Meh. Jesus also said that the poor will always be among us. (Matthew 26:11). It’s the famous cop-out for Christians who don’t give a shit about the poor.

@Nabisco: With us it was the exact opposite: We were encouraged to draw a clear line between us and embassy staff to avoid any appearance of political involvement. A few volunteers got chummy anyway, but that was because they wanted an in when hanging out on the capital and someone to pick up the tab at the ex-pat bars.

The one thing they did hammer on during training, though, was not getting HIV while sleeping with host country nationals. Obviously more relevant to volunteers in Africa and other places with horrific infection rates, but they showed us a video with four teary confessional stories of volunteers who contracted it while serving, then brought out the dildos and had us practice putting on condoms. Because of some negative feedback the year before, they wouldn’t let us do it as a relay race though. Killjoys.

@Nabisco: The tongues business used to freak me out big time. Different denominations have interpreted the practice in different ways. Some say that you really aren’t doing it right if you’re not speaking a real language you don’t know (kind of like the Tower of Babel thing) and there must be an interpreter. Some just go with the flow and babble away.

The thing that always got to me was how this one chick would feel The Spirit, start dancing around and fall out. Every time she fell out, which was every time we were in church, her dress would hike up exposing her knickers. After seeing her drawers time and time again, I knew the church was BS and no longer felt left out because I never felt the urge to Get Happy. Pfft.

@flippin eck: Oh, lines drawn, mos def. But the suspicion was always there. And that one guy, he clearly wore the shiny FBI shoes. They buried him in them, matter of fact (long story, willing to take it up in the clubhouse).

@JNOV: It always sounded like gibberish to me, but then I hadn’t even started in on h.s. French by that point.
@JNOV: Again, I think back to Peace Corps days. I’d grab a beer ‘to go’ before hopping on a bus to my site, and people would ask me if I was a Mormon. I’d point to my beer in a bag, my cigarette, longish hair, etc, and say “really?”

Ended up getting kind of chummy with this one Mormon dude who always appeared in the most unexpected places, and often with some cute local girl or girls in tow. We’d do the macho posturing thing, I’d ask him if he “wanted to get a coffee” (a poke in the eye on that whole no caffeine thing), light up a smoke and flirt with the chicas. Dude probably ended up running a hedge fund – or weapons.

@Nabisco: I’d love to hear more of your stories, maybe even in person one day…any chance you return Stateside via Chicago? I’m sure anyone who did PC in Central America in the 70s has legion of interesting tales to tell!

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