It seemed these things were popping up in multiple discussions as people like @Suzanne chased me about, so rather than continue the multiple hijacks, maybe putting them here will be more entertaining for everybody.  All I ask is that people be kind, and perhaps answer questions in turn.  These questions come from

1. Why did you choose catholicism over all other religions?

Because it made the most sense to me on several levels.  I of course can't rule out cultural bias, since obviously I'm a westerner and Roman Christianity is culturally pervasive.  For me it was a conscious choice at some point, though I am not a convert.   Interestingly, if I were not Catholic I'd be more inclined to Judaism than the Protestant faiths.  Perhaps the shared intellectual depth of Judaism and Catholicism is a contributing factor.

2. Do you follow the decrees made by the Vatican?

The Vatican does not make "decrees".  The Holy See serves as the administrative center of the worldwide Catholic community, and we do have some administrative rules like any community (our technical term for these is "merely ecclesiastical laws").  For the rest, all we do is teach.

3. Do you agree or disagree with contraception being available to those who would choose to use contraception, if they had access?

I'm not sure why I should care.  Now sometimes when people say "being available" they mean that I should pay for it.  I think that's a different sort of question that belongs more in the realm of public policy.

4. How do you choose which parts of the bible to follow, and not follow.

We don't "follow" the Bible, we read it and refer to it, the way anyone does with a favorite book or reference text.  We try to "follow" God, perhaps, or the example of Jesus or other holy men or women, but not the Bible.  In teaching things or exploring religious ideas, we refer to a wide range of writings and experiences, including long oral tradition, writings of various scholars, journal articles, encyclicals, consensus documents, conciliar writings, etc., much like any intellectual community.

5. Is purgatory in or out, these days.

It's a theory that had moderate but not universal acceptance some centuries ago.  It's still referred to, but not anywhere near as widely as in its heyday.  So it never quite rose to the level of Newtonian Mechanics in physics in terms of acceptance as a theory, and it's perhaps fading faster, but like Newtonian Mechanics it's still referred to in some contexts. 

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Nobody today, Strega - outside of Appalachia - lives in a vacuum, I find it difficult, if not impossible to believe that if a priest, or Cardinal, or Bishop (or Rook or Pawn) is molesting a child, that there's not at least SOMEone who knows about it, and could have and should have reported it. And if Mama Church doesn't insist on that from their clergy, then they ARE liable.

We're morally liable in any event, which is why by any reasonable sense of justice Strega is exactly right.  We absolutely should have done exactly what she describes.

The problem here in the U.S. is that when a tort case is filed, it's the insurance company, not the church/defendant that mounts the defense.  They have a very different view of moral obligations to corporate shareholder value and not to the moral interests of the church.  That, and the plaintiff's attorneys who often have a conflict of interest through being paid essentially on commission.  Their incentive is to go for large monetary judgments, not the healing and treatment of their client.  

It is a system which is not always the best for achieving compassion and care, or even justice.

@archy - Ha,Ha - I bet the lovely Bob thought I had gone away - but no, sorry, not going to happen :)

Dear sweet lady, I don't think that ANYone believes you've gone away, or that you're likely to do so - and I wouldn't have it any other way --

You, go away?  When the subject is Catholicism?!?!  Maybe you will stop when you die.

If it is even metaphysically possible for there to be a life after death, you'll manage it somehow just to keep hammering that claque of pedophiliacs and their enablers, both institutional and the membership just kicking in more money and signing up for the Catholic Defense League's pile of sanctimonious, dishonest filthy bullshit.

Aw c'mon, Steve - tell us how you REALLY feel --

@Bob - I don't know if you have noticed, Bob, but the vatican was mentioned in your blog - so it is on topic. The vatican censored many books - but not Mein Kamp - so Goodwin's Law doesn't come into it, sorry :)

Trauma and psychological harm to many results from the general society or individuals' families making a big deal about how awful it is -

Only in religious circles, and recently by your fabulous pope. Love the people but hate what they do.

Society is for Gay marriage - all over the world, people are sick of it being talked about. What is the big deal, why treat people differently - by your church, Bob. It is not going to change, thank secular societies for that.

The difference between Gays and pedophiles - I want Gays to get married if they choose to do so, I want pedophile priests in jail. Bit of a difference there, Bob.

There are many gays in the catholic church and at the vatican - adults with adults. Pedophilia, once again, with children, non consenting human beings, who are powerless, and are under the control of predatory vermin. If the catholic church knew about it, and when it got too close to a priest being caught - why were they then shunted off to another parish, or another country if the priest thought there was nothing wrong, that the kids were OK with it.

So far, more than 3,000 Catholic priests in America have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors, and nearly 2,000 claims have been paid.

What the pedophilia and the cover ups have done, is ruining your church Bob, which I don't care about, people do not trust any priest. Everyone is so aware now, of pedophilia, not just because of pedophilia in your church, Bob, but the cover up, from the popes, down. Why do you think Ratzinger is the first pope to resign - funny that.

I am so proud of the people who have exposed these crimes, I am so proud of the hundreds of different groups from all over the world, who are there to support the many thousands of children and their families. I am proud of the catholics who want to clean this cancer out of their church. Klonk.

Hi @Suzanne.  I'm still waiting for an answer to my question.   From your perspective as an atheist, why is pedophilia wrong?  We have examples of (pre-Christian) cultures where it was accepted practice, and the culture and society were remarkably enlightened and successful.  Were it not for the wicked, evil Church suppressing the practice, pedophilia might still be accepted throughout the west.

So for you, as an atheist, why is it wrong?

As an Atheist, it is wrong because even though it was accepted in ancient times, we are more evolved now. We are able to empathize and see it from their perspective. It is wrong, because it causes psychological harm. Saying it was the norm in Ancient Greece, is like saying that because Slavery was normal 400 years ago, then it should be normal now. Humans have this little annoying habit of learning from past mistakes, and the church doesn't like this because they are realizing that people are beginning to see the church as one of those past mistakes.

Just because it was normal back then, doesn't mean it was right. Just because we didn't know back then, doesn't mean we should tolerate it now that we do know.

Actually, in some cultures in ancient times, human sacrifice was considered "normal" - Incan and Aztec children were told it was a great honor to be chosen for sacrifice (though like isaac, they likely didn't volunteer), and those societies flourished as well - what's the harm, right?

Can somebody send over a 9-year old girl? I'm feeling a little horny, and hey, what's the harm?

Sorry, Arch, but we don't want to encourage your indulging in any post-coital smoking...

Yeah, well, before you can have the "post," you need to have the "coital," and it doesn't look like that's happening anytime soon.


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