Saturday, May 06, 2006

Those Funny Catholics

Oh dear. Australia's Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, has made rather a fool of himself in the US. Speaking to a group of Catholic business leaders
The Koran, he says, is riddled with invocations to violence. There are so many of these, he says, that after about 50, or 60, or 70 pages, he stopped taking notes. He goes on to say that considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited. And he points to the difficulty that scholars and commentators face when analysing the Koran, such as receiving death threats and violence when questioning the divine origin of the holy book.

EoR could waste his time going through the Bible and noting invocations to violence, but he probably wouldn't make it past Leviticus before his pencil broke. At least Christianity is much more tolerant. Ask your gay friends. Or your liberal friends. Or your evolutionary scientist friends.

Unfortunately, Cardinal Pell, having inserted one foot firmly in his mouth, in an amazing feat of gymnastics managed to also fit the other one in as well.
Green groups are bitter with the way he's described their concerns of global warming as "hysteric and extreme". In his speech, Cardinal Pell describes these worries as a symptom of pagan emptiness. And he says that in the past pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate the gods, but that today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Unlike the vain attempts by contemporary religions to placate their particular gods. And just what is "pagan emptiness" anyway? And why is sacrificing animals a Bad Thing but sacrificing your god a Good Thing? EoR also feels compelled to point out, before any fundies try and justify their particular team, that god sacrifice is a pretty pagan thing to do as well, and was practised long before Christ came along.

So global warming is only a symptom of pagan emptiness. And it will probably just disappear if we all went to church on Sundays. That's church. Not the mosque.

Meanwhile, the Vatican is considering condoning condom use where a spouse is infected with AIDS.
In recent years, even as Vatican officials have criticized anti-AIDS condom campaigns, several bishops, theologians and Vatican officials have said they could envision situations in which condom use to prevent AIDS would be the "lesser evil" that can be tolerated.

So sex that isn't intended for procreative purposes, that isn't solely between married couples, that probably isn't in the dark, and probably involves removal of more clothes than is minimally necessary, is a "lesser evil". This seems like good news for Christians.

EoR suggests a religious syllogism... Murder is a heinous sin. Not killing people is the ideal. Assaulting people is not as bad as murder but worse than not killing. Therefore assaulting people presumably is the "lesser evil". Does this mean the Vatican will condone it?

And, in Brisbane, gay couples who have dual Australian and British citizenship are utilising a loophole to legally marry. Which makes the Catholic Church very unhappy.
And what we would like to do is to point out, you know, the implications that it has when we're talking about an institution that is recognised and supported by society. We're not out to go and bash, talk about bashing the people or whatever, disparaging the people who want to go down this path, we just think that they're mistaken.

That's the accomodating, tolerant church at work there.

Which all just goes to show, to EoR's mind, the confused, illogical and vituperative nature of a religion with its knickers caught in an ontological and theological knot.


  1. How could a man say things like that? Surely, his words are as apalling to everyone as they are to you and I?

    But quite evidently, they are not. And that is even more shocking than the words themselves. For how could any human being actually believe those words, how could someone think that way?

    It is easy to laugh at this, and to criticize this. More so because it's mostly written to appeal to an uncritical, unthinking audience. I think.

    But should we concern ourselves more with trying to understand why a human being could say these things? Is it a problem of intelligence? Rampant, unchecked emotion, or hatred? Dogma?

    I do not pretend to know, but am more and more considering this question to be fundamental to this discussion, even more so than the substance of the debate itself.

  2. Jordan,

    "How could a man say things like that? Surely, his words are as apalling to everyone as they are to you and I?"

    I have a different puzzle. How could anyone study Islam and not come to the conclusion that it is inherently a violent religion?

    It is true that supposedly Christian societies have committed attrocities. The difference is however, those attrocities have no theological backing in the New Testatment, whereas violence committed by Muslims have endless theological underpinnings in the Koran. Try and find the justification for any type of war or violence in the New Testament, and then try and do the same in the Koran. It is much easier in the Koran.

    Islam = trouble and the sooner you an others wake up to this the better.

  3. Just when it seemed the Catholic church was becoming reasonable and warming to the needs of contemporary society, Pell spouts this nonsense. Is he deranged and speaking out of turn? I can accept the church may hold quaint views regarding social issues, but to link pagan emptiness with concern about global warming is incredible. What does the Vatican say? (F***?)

  4. Anonymous,

    I am saddened every time I see Islam identified as the cause of violence.

    The "trouble" to which you refer is a result of many different things, of which this particular religion might be a small piece.

    To the puzzle you pose, I would submit that you and I can both read the Koran without acting violent afterwards. Therefore, so can any other human being on this planet.

    I do not pretend do be an expert on Biblical or Koranic texts, and cannot refute your claims regarding violent content in these various books. But I would suggest that perhaps the bigger problem, which both texts subsume, is that these books are used at all as a starting point for resolving problems here on planet Earth.

    Problems of violence are very real, and people get hurt and sometimes die because of it. I do not need a book to tell me that there's something wrong with that, and neither do Muslims. The issue is hatred, borne of multiple origins, of which the Koran could be a small piece. A bigger piece might be Cardinal Penn going on television, and insulting several hundred million people.

  5. You don't have to be an expert on the Koranic texts to get the gist: Islam is a religion of intolerance and conquest. While a few scattered references can be found advocating tolerance and peace, they normally refer to a "peace" based on subjugation of other religions. As long as they keep their place (pay heavy taxes, wear distinctive clothes, don't dare confront one of the faithful, etc.), we will be tolerant and let them keep their heads. That is unless some Ayatollah declares a fatwa that will give me the right to rip them to shreds. Then, with any luck I can be a martyr and get my 70 virgins in heaven, seated beside my river of (forbidden) wine.

    When one has firm convictions about things for which there is no proof, you cannot rely on logic to temper excesses. When these beliefs are absolute, there is no restraint. 14th century delusions in a world with 21st century weapons is a recipe for catastrophy.


  6. "14th century delusions in a world with 21st century weapons is a recipe for catastrophy."

    Exactly, so instead of telling everyone how much better your religion is than religion X (or trying to scare people into your religion, like in the crusades or inquisition), people like Pell should spend some time in the present day.


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