Monday, March 10, 2008

Nonsense from the Vatican

Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, described as the Vatican's second in command in the area of sins and penance, recently spoke in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano about the "new" sins that Catholics should avoid, and one of his major thrusts in the area of modern transgressions is "ecological" offenses. As a Reuters report put it, "Thou shall not pollute the Earth." I'm just wondering if the good archbishop had gotten the memo about overpopulation being one of the chief causes of environmental damage, such as destruction of the world's rainforests, above. Let's think about this. How could we help control the world's population, and perhaps reduce the strain on our environment, especially in places like South America, where the Catholic church holds considerable sway? Maybe people could use condoms or birth control pills. Oh, wait, the Catholic church considers that a sin of major proportion. It would prefer to continue living in the dark ages. Fortunately, most Catholics in the United States and other developed nations have the good common sense to ignore this church law. But Archibishop Girotti wants it both ways. He wants good Catholics to continue producing more good Catholics, while at the same time expecting less strain on the environment. Does this make sense?



Blogger PRIguy said...

I never knew that the Ten Commandments could be revised. And if they can, as apparently happened this week, I have to wonder why no other Catholic Church leaders ever did so. If so, one would think that the atomic bombings that ended WWII might be high on the list of "don'ts." None of this makes sense to me anyway. I thought sin was sin and that there weren't varying grades or degrees of it to be determined by Vatican officials.

March 10, 2008 at 2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Catholic church prefers that you keep it in your pants when your not married. Following this simple rule would solve much of the overcrowding problems.

March 10, 2008 at 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the archbishop, during the interview in question, talked about the "new" sin and "ecological" offenses while sipping non-free trade coffee from a styrofoam cup?

March 10, 2008 at 5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Catholic church doesn't how many times you "take it out of your pants" when you're married as long as it's not recreational, and that's the problem. Go ahead -- have 13 kids. Meanwhile, "keeping it in your pants" -- or in your loincloth -- has never worked. Abstinence-only programs don't work because they seek to overcome normal urges with fear and guilt.

March 10, 2008 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Dave Gardner said...

Religion has incredible power that is preventing much of society from coming to terms with the need to have a sustainable population level. In addition to Catholicism we have an even more widespread worship of growth everlasting! I'm investigating both of these faiths for my documentary about growth. Fascinating topics!

Dave Gardner
Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity

March 10, 2008 at 11:32 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

These kinds of stories help underscore the distinction between religion and the Christian faith. The gap gets wider and wider. What will it take to bring the two closer?

March 11, 2008 at 6:35 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I just visited your Web site, and I highly recommend it to others. Our Earth has finite resources and capacity to heal itself, but we seem hell-bent on destroying the only planet we have. Controlling population almost seems like an impossibility, and it's just not the Third World countries we need to be concerned about. There are plenty of people in this country who act as if they are nothing more than dumb breeding stock.

March 11, 2008 at 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What really confounds and annoys me is how many people are unwilling to believe that manufacturing, the internal combusition engine and other activities of humans that produce hydrocarbons are affecting the weather. I'm willing to believe in part the scientists who claim that global warming is actually part of a larger climatic cycle, but how can they say that humans have no effect on the environment?

Ten years ago I was part of a group that traveled to Manila, supposedly to give the Filipinos advice on how to deal with their pollution problems. "Experts" were flown in from around the world, many coming from Detroit. Three days of conferences were held, during which speaker after speaker produced tons of data showing that, when Filipinos looked out over the city at daybreak and saw a blanket of smog, they were not suffering from mass hallucination. Then the experts sat down to compile -- in two days -- recommendations for the Filipinos.

I took notes in one of these confabs of "experts" from the auto and oil industries. "Wow, you've got big problems from gasoline and diesel fuel," the experts said repeatedly. After 16 hours of this, one Filipino Manila city official stood up and said, "We know we have problems ... we want you to tell us how to fix them."

"Oh," the experts replied, "we're just here identify problems. It's up to you to find the ways and money to fix them."

Then the experts flew away from Manila.

That's what's wrong -- we run, drive or fly away from the problem. We're willing to spend vast amounts of money and time identifying what's wrong, but we're unwilling to spend the time or money needed to fix things.

Too many older people -- say, over the age of 50 -- seem very content to allow things to deteriorate because they know they will be dead before their generation has to deal with the massive problems that are surely ahead for our kids and grandchildren. The lucky ones WILL be the dead.

March 11, 2008 at 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will all these new Good Catholics be driving hybrid vehicles?

March 11, 2008 at 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pray to Jesus every day that Brant Newman does not reproduce.

March 11, 2008 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

You're a little late on that one. But just for you, maybe I'll make a donation to a sperm bank.

March 11, 2008 at 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems the Catholic Church has much to say about everything and everybody, but they can't figure out why their priests like little boys. Did someone say........"Special Intention??"

March 11, 2008 at 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus protect us from blog commenters who pray for you to take retribution against bloggers.

March 11, 2008 at 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not be too hard on the Catholic church. It doesn't have a monopoly on stupid decisions regarding religion.

March 11, 2008 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

The Catholic church might not have cornered the market on stupid decisions, but it's leading the league. There must be reasons that the Catholic church is bleeding members faster than any other church in America, and were it not for Hispanic immigrants - whether legal or illegal - the numbers would be worse. The situation is much the same in Europe, and even in South America, long a bastion of Catholicism, the church is losing members to other belief systems or to apathy. The Catholic church also struggles to attract a sufficient number of people to the priesthood. Is it any wonder. When you start by excluding 50 percent of the population by continuing to make women second-class citizens in the church, that's a huge hurdle to overcome. The church's position is that it can't allow women priests because the Lord chose only men to serve as the 12 apostles. So, apparently, the Lord created a "He-man Woman-Hater's Club" centuries before Spanky, Alfalfa and the gang thought of it. The church also refuses to accept married men, cutting the pool significantly again. Those single men who do choose the priesthood are then expected to spend a lifetime suppressing natural sexual urges. If that isn't a prescription for illicit sex, I don't know what is. And, as we saw in the priest sex-abuse scandal, it is most often the weakest members of the flock who are preyed upon. The church's answer to this problem was very often an attempt to hide it by shuffling pedophiles from parish to parish. And, interestingly, a church that preaches against homosexuality employs a significant number of gay priests. Go figure. It just seems as if the church could go a long way to restoring its relevancy in modern life if women and married men could join the priesthood. It could also rethink that ban on birth control. I think most people would agree that AIDS and overpopulation-related famine are much greater ills than the killing of a sperm in a condom.

March 12, 2008 at 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


March 12, 2008 at 2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we just comment on the issues and discussion brought to light by the blog... and not comment on the blogger himself? I want to read real debates and conversations. I am getting sick of reading comments and "prayers" about the blogger. Either contribute something worthwile or find something better to do. Why do we have to take personal stabs at the messenger when we should be talking about the message? At least the messenger has the guts to indentify himself.

March 12, 2008 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

"Dear Lord baby Jesus, or as our brothers in the south call you, "Jezus," we thank you so much for this bountiful harvest of Dominos, KFC, and the always delicious Taco Bell. I just want to take time to say thank you for my family. My two beautiful, beautiful, handsome stricking sons, Walker, and Texas Ranger, or TR as we call him. And of course my red hot smokin' wife Carley, who is a stone cold fox." -Ricky Bobby

This is my favorite prayer.

March 12, 2008 at 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Listen, I don't have any mercy for a faith that kills. My family immigrated from Europe many, many years ago because of a king named, Louis XIV. He killed anyone that didn't subscribe to Catholicism. WHAT A GREAT FAITH! Yes, in immigrating, my family had to leave their land, home, and family to have a chance to LIVE. Therefore, before you BLOG, read your history book and learn the demons that have cursed this faith and continue to live.

March 13, 2008 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Whoa Brant! If i did not know better, I would think that you have a thing against the Catholic Church and people that consider themselves Catholic. One could start to be concerned that as an editor of a newspaper, your ability to accurately and fairly present the news relating to Catholicism might be compromised. I am sure that your intent is not to have your blog become a lightning rod to those who find fault with the Church. My reading of your comments tells me that you know very little about the Catholic Church, other than what you read in the media (no bias there right?). Unfortunately this is the case with too many people, including many Catholics who were not properly educated in the gifts and wonders of the faith. This is, after all, about faith. If you have faith and understanding, your comments seem ridiculous and inflamatory. If you do not have faith and understanding, I can see how people are mislead by taking individual facets of the faith out of the context of the Church's teachings as a whole can make apparently logical arguments against those teachings, particularly when viewed solely in the context of today's commercial and "me-first-and-only" culture. These arguments make great sound-bites and easy blog attacks, but show a real lack of understanding of the faith. We can debate statistics and other points, because the internet provides plenty from either side. But my goal here was to invite you to attend Mass with me and allow you to learn more about the Catholic faith. Remember that there are many of us "dumb breeding stock" that you interact with in your life. We are your friends, neighbors, co-workers, newspaper subscribers and advertisers. I encourage you to read about the faith from the point of the faithful since you already seem to have plenty of opinions from the other perspective. It is a challenging and beautiful faith, and I encourage you to understand it before you mock those that follow it. So please consider my sincere invitation to attend Mass with me and get the perspective of the other side. I am pretty sure (but not positive) that lightning will not strike the church! Thanks for hearing me out Brant.

March 13, 2008 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Thanks for contributing. I certainly respect your opinions, and I will tell you that I have no enmity for individual Catholics. I sit next to one every night at work, and she's one of my closest friends. I do have a problem with churches that preach out of both sides of their mouths, which is where this blog entry started, and I merely suggest some ways in which the church could make itself more relevant in a modern age so that it CAN get out its positive, uplifting message to those who might be receptive. It was a very different world when Christianity and Catholicism developed, and I don't think it hurts the central messages of the various churches to make some concession to the vast changes that have occurred in the world in the intervening centuries. And by that, I don't mean adding an electric guitar to the music menu at the Sunday services. I mean embracing social justice issues such as human rights, gay rights, a war on poverty (thankfully, no bombs necessary), etc. In the early days of the Catholic church, there were married popes, and I would suggest that allowing priests to marry would make them infinitely more insightful when it comes to offering counsel to the married members of the flock. Having priests offer marriage counseling is like having me give fashion critiques. If you've ever seen my clothing choices, you'd know what I mean. By the way, I have attended several Catholic Masses, and aside from some added "pageantry," I found them little different from Protestant services. The bottom line is that I don't hate any religions or the practitioners of the same. As I've noted before here, my wife is a Christian educator and all-round good religious person, and we simply respect each other's opinions. I do have problems with some church policies, and I believe churches could be a more powerful force in righting some of the wrongs in our world. Finally, I have no dealings with the religion pages at the newspaper. I think there's a concern that if I handled the page proofs, they might burst into flames. And I always make a conscious effort to leave my personal opinions at the door when handling any story that crosses my desk. When it comes to news pages, my beliefs have no place. I have to assure that all stories we use are fair, accurate and present both sides of any issues at hand. Dave, I hope you will be a regular contributor on the blog. It's good that we can disagree without being disagreeable.

March 13, 2008 at 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brant, I think you should take Dave up on his offer to attend Mass. Learning more is never a bad thing.

March 13, 2008 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

As I noted above, I've been to Catholic Mass on several occasions, and I've attended services in a variety of other denominations. I find much to recommend in all of their core messages, even if I don't accept the Bible as fact.

March 13, 2008 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I've read all of the blog entries on this topic and thought about the accusations flying. Brant has been accused of hating Catholics and allowing his "religious bias" affect what appears in his newspaper. If you look back through what everyone has written, you'll notice that Brant is one of the few who hasn't actually attacked someone or their beliefs. He's stated facts, he's offered his opinions, but I don't see where he has a religious bias other than skepticism. And isn't skepticism necessary when reporting news? One has to make sure that the story is accurate (fewer and fewer news outlets are doing this), so being skeptical until all the facts are in from both sides is paramount. Thanks, Brant. You took the high road on a sensitive topic.

March 14, 2008 at 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skepticism is also necessary in evaluating religion. Recent polls show that nearly half of Americans no longer practice the religion in which they were raised. It's human nature to seek and, when finding a longing unfulfilled, to keep seeking. There is something to be said for faith, but faith does not necessarily mean blind obedience to a set of tenets set down on papyrus 2000 years ago.

The problem I have with so many religions as presented today is that they demand a black-and-white view of life and that their practitioners adopt an absolute view of morals. If religion, faith and life are actually so absolute, why are there so many religions and sects within religion, each of which is certain that other guy has it wrong?

Whoever "intelligently designed" us gave us brains and the power to think. To check our brains at the church door is the ultimate slap in he face to whichever higher power you believe in. You can think and believe at the same time.

March 14, 2008 at 3:04 PM  

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