[Crosspost from here: http://letreasonreign.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/advice-for-pope-fran...].  Visit letreasonreign for more caustic commentary on religion.

In most matters (with one exception I will get to), here’s my advice, one moving picture worth a thousand words:

Lighten up on your priests.  Let them marry.  (You are willing to let Anglicans who cross over be married, so clearly there isn’t a real issue of dogma involved here.)

Lighten up on women and allow them to be priests.   That is if any actually want to be.  The way you’ve treated women in your church, I can’t imagine why they would.

Lighten up on homosexuals.  Why out of the huge raft of Levitican law that mostly got swept under the rug by Jesus and St. Paul, does that one verse about homosexuality stand?  You’re allowed to eat shellfish and wear blended fabrics.  Why is this rule the one you can’t claim Jesus superseded?

Lighten up and allow birth control.  I realize that to you abortion is a murder, plain and simple, and I won’t insult the intelligence of anyone reading this expecting you to condone something you consider to be murder.  But what is the reason not to prevent conception from happening in the first place?  And in a continent riddled with AIDS like Africa is, what’s the rationale for trying to convince people not to use condoms?

On these issues and many others, my advice is to Lighten up, Francis.

But there is one issue I don’t want you to lighten up on.  The Vatican has been entirely too light on this issue for decades, if not centuries.  And it needs to crack down on it with the weight of 2000 years of history.

And that’s pedophiliac clerics.  Instead of defrocking them and handing them over to the civil authorities, you transfer them to another parish–another group of young boys–or even whisk them out of the country.  I’m told Nunavut, Canada, is your North American dumping ground for troublesome altar-boy-buggering priests.  Were I Catholic and in Nunavut for the weekend… I’d skip Mass.  Bishops and cardinals are involved in covering this up.  It’d be far worse, after all, for the Catholic Church to get egg on its face than for justice to be done.

But this is all too typical, a church whose priorities and teachings are inverted almost every single time, hard core on the things that one should be light on, and utterly worthless at attacking truly despicable behavior.

The only thing you haven’t got totally wrong is evolution and an old universe; you are all in favor of actual science from time to time, certainly far more than the protestant fundamentalists we have here in the United States.  But I suppose you could flip on this and give the Catholic Church a perfect–perfectly awful– record on everything.

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Comment by Dr. Bob on March 14, 2013 at 11:17am

I doubt pope Francis would flip on science, since he actually has an M.S. in Chemistry.

Don't confuse the Catholics with the fundamentalists in other ways, either.  The fundamentalists point to Leviticus, but the Catholics are more about tradition and teaching in a holistic way.  In that way in the long run they are more flexible, but only in the long run.  The official position of the Church is that homosexuals "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.  Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

I think everyone can agree that like the caretaker in Hogwarts, on the issue of pedophile priests we'd LIKE TO SEE SOME PUNISHMENT!   The question is, what next?   The civil courts rarely successfully prosecute these cases, and the sentences when they do are typically short ones that come out of pleading to lesser charges.  So what do we do with these people after they serve their 3 years and get out?   Catholicism calls us to compassion even for them.

Besides, have you ever been to Nunavut?   That strikes me as being a lot harsher than a typical prison term at the state pen. <g>

Comment by kOrsan on March 14, 2013 at 12:01pm

The official position of the Church is that homosexuals "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.  Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

While at the same time believing and telling them they're abominations destined to hell.

At least try to stand behind what you believe, instead of making the grotesque claim of being nice and tolerant people. It's insulting, even more than your doctrine.

Comment by Dr. Bob on March 14, 2013 at 5:31pm

@kOrsan, what I quoted was from the Catholic Catechism.

If I were to make a claim about climate science which was contrary to what climate scientists actually said, and what climate scientists had actually written, would that be rational?

You express a personal belief that Catholics believe something different than what they actually say, and what they have actually written.  Do you feel that is rational?

Comment by kOrsan on March 14, 2013 at 5:36pm

You express a personal belief that Catholics believe something different than what they actually say, and what they have actually written.  Do you feel that is rational?

I'm sorry? It's in the bible. Homosexuals are an abomination and those who don't obey the cult rules will burn in hell. This is a simple concept. You cannot just deny "hell." If you are a christian you automatically subscribe to these rules.

And don't you have another analogy than climate change? You've used that like 3 or 4 times now in different posts. It's not even an accurate analogy.

Comment by Strega on March 14, 2013 at 5:57pm

@Professor Robert. 

You explained your arrival on this site as a by-product of your searching for Pope articles, and that was fine.  But you came back deliberately, so I think Thomas's question as to what your purpose is here, is a reasonable one.  As you can no doubt imagine, an atheist site such as TA is full of atheists.  We get the periodic theist, some polite and some completely irrationally offensive.  But all that is really asked of any new member, is why they are here.

Before you question the rationality of our membership, understand that from our perspective, all of religion is irrational.  By stating your religious inclinations, you kind of put yourself in the 'irrational camp' for many of us.  So from the 'irrational camp', questions of rationality seem slightly bizarre.

I find the concept of Hell irrational.  To have people rejoice in the belief that those people not in their club are destined to burn for eternity seems rather sick.  If as has been stated, 1.2billion people are Catholic, that leaves around 5 billion or more that will be tortured in agony for eternity.  Even if you want to reduce that to, lets be absurd and say 100 people, that still would not be acceptable to me.

When you belong to a 'sect' whose members think that eternal torture in fire is rational, it doesn't really put you in the position of having your views on rationality taken very seriously.  Not on an atheist forum, in any event.

Comment by Jorita on March 14, 2013 at 6:15pm

This is the one place I can escape the insane Christian dogma that I have to deal with at home. I have NO urge to go on a christian blog and start chating, WHY, WHY? WHY? do they feel the nead to come onto this blog, please explain this to me. I don't invade their space WHY do they have to invade our space? GRRRRRRRR

Comment by SteveInCO on March 14, 2013 at 9:13pm

Oh because it's all doG's space and it's for the glory of doG.

This is why in the US they must try to hijack our secular government too, and will bring out the pitchforks and torches when you try to stop a creche scene or prayer on government property.

Comment by Dr. Bob on March 15, 2013 at 12:26am

@Strega.  Why am I here?  When I blundered across the first page from an odd Google query on the new pope, I was somewhat surprised by the hurtfulness expressed, but intrigued enough as an academic to honestly engage for a short time.  The blog title suggested that the intention was thoughtful atheism, and I honestly assumed that to be the intent.  On the topic of popes I am by no means a genuine expert, but the topic seemed of interest here and I do have more experience and firsthand knowledge than many other posters, so I thought I'd share a bit.  I didn't see any threads on astrophysics or education, more's the pity.

To be clear, I have not questioned the rationality of your membership, I have questioned the rationality of some of their arguments.   Presumably that is an OK thing, unless there is a doGma of this particular group of atheists of which I am not aware.  It's just fine with me if you consider all religion to be irrational, I won't take offense.  I may suggest that's calling an awful lot of very smart people worldwide irrational, and that perhaps you may want to be thoughtful about making judgments on "all" of anything, but that's your choice.

I'm very sensitive to @Jorita's comment, though, so if I'm an unwelcome interloper in the community I will take my leave.  Everyone needs spaces which are safe and where they can blow off steam among friends without outsiders getting in the way.  All I would ask is that you try to be a touch more kind as a group to those with whom you disagree.  Far too often the unkind things we say about others even when we blow off steam among friends become a part of a our character and narrative over time, and lead to inadvertent unkind words and acts, or the rejection of possible friendships, or other things we wouldn't be proud of.  That lesson at least you should take from the many failings of myself and my co-religionists over the centuries.

Kindest regards,

Professor Bob


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