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. 

Tags: Bob, Catholic, Dr., Professor, Robert, Vatican, bible, purgatory, questions

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The other organization in the U.S. that has an overarching governing body was the Boy Scouts.  As far as I can tell, their statistics are as bad or worse, though comparisons are hard.

This creates a bizarre irony in our legal system(s).  The Boy Scout maintained centralized records in an effort to try to keep predators from just moving to a new town/state and doing it again.  Yet the existence of those records have been used against them in civil cases, so much so that they would have been better off had they not tried to protect kids by keeping records.  I believe in Australia there's an issue where the insurer for the Catholic Church actually deliberately destroyed records.

There was a spectacular spike in claims of historical molestation post-Boston; it's hard to tell to what extent that was people seeking monetary compensation or people who were empowered to come forward or both.  The Boy Scouts experienced a similar spike; in their case it may have been plaintiff's attorneys using subpoenaed records to find additional clients. 

This reminds me of a drowning man grasping at straws.


I do find it amusing how discussions of faith or religion are always deflected back to this topic, at least when it's not "facts" from Joe's AntiCatholic Blog. Just look at @Suzanne's latest nonsense about playing with snakes, which seems to come from some Baptist church references done in really awful yellow and red text on black which just screams "Kooks R' Us". 

Talk about grasping at straws!

It does raise an interesting question if individuals do protest a bit too much.

OK, everybody now LOL :D

Example of "grasping at straws";


Talk about deflecting.


I gotta agree Bobby the yellow and red on black was hard on the eyes.

RE: "so that they would have been better off had they not tried to protect kids by keeping records." - of course a man of ethics would have recognized yet another alternative: admit that they had screwed up in not sufficiently screening for pedophiles, admit their mistake, and offer to do whatever it takes to rectify the situation as best they can. But I can see how, when one has become accustomed to using guile to escape responsibility, the possibility of actually ACCEPTING responsibility rarely occurs to one.

You do understand that the paragraph, as paragraphs do, contained several sentences which together referred to the same thing and should be read together as a point or argument.

I was of course referring to the fact that it is an irony of our legal system that an organization should be punished for maintaining records that were being used to try to protect kids.

At the time, of course, we didn't have computers.  We didn't have the ability to do computerized fingerprint background checks.  There were no clearinghouses; records were maintained in individual courthouses or states.  So I'm not sure how one can assume that they had "screwed up by not sufficiently screening".  Even if one pulls all of the records together into one office as the Scouts apparently did, how do you know if Bill Jones who just signed up to be a scout leader in Maryland is the same Bill Jones who was fired as scout leader in Pennsylvania for suspicion of inappropriate conduct? 

Simple, you fax pictures back and forth, and if necessary, fingerprints - now tell me that technology wasn't available either --

You must be a young fellow.  No fax machines back in the day.   No digital photos either.

Nor was anyone at the time ready to fingerprint and mug-shot millions of volunteers.  Even if they had, changing one's name or taking on an alias would have been an easy work-around.

We were a long way from the modern surveillance state.

Well, I don't yet move on the Sphinx's "three legs," if that's what you're implying - on the other hand, the fax machine may well have, as it was invented in 1843, long before I was. The first trans-continental fax transmission took place in 1955. (It took them that long the resolve the paper jam! - true story --)

By the mid 70's, fax machines were in common use - there was one in the office when I started work.

I'm not sure what the mad rush was for, however.  The US postal service (yay! pony express!) could have got the information to the relevant recipient in a matter of days.  How do you think they got all those awesome WANTED! posters distributed in the Wild West?

Sure, governments and major business offices.  Small not-for-profit youth services like the scouts with hundreds of local affiliates?

I think we just have to be honest about where things were at back then.  Nobody was doing that kind of screening, collecting biometrics on millions of people.  Especially not for volunteer positions.  People back then wouldn't have put up with that sort of invasiveness either. 

The boyscouts and the girlscouts both have a strict rule that at least two adults have to be present at any gathering, and encourage parents to attend, not just because it encourages parental bonding, but also because it ensures that the most watchful and protective eyes are around at all times. Is this 100% effective? No, but 99% is close enough for nearly any parent. The BSA and GSA are also quick to punish offenders, and work with victims. This is so much more than what the church does that it's not even funny.

There was a spectacular spike in claims of historical molestation post-Boston; it's hard to tell to what extent that was people seeking monetary compensation or people who were empowered to come forward or both.

When in doubt, blame the victims of being greedy.


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