A New Pope

In case you’ve been blissfully isolated from all news* for the past few weeks, you know that the previous pope stepped down and that there is a new pope—Pope Francis.

The way that I titled this post is a nod to the title of the first Star Wars film. Tragically, I could not work a reasonable way to title it: “Star Wars: A New Pope,” so you’ll have to be satisfied with the second part alone.

Formerly Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis is being very vocally hailed as a “fresh face” and “new hope” for the Roman Catholic Church.

The fresh face of the Vatican.

At the risk of sounding immensely ageist, I have to say that, despite knowing some awesome old people, I have never really thought of celibate clergymen in their late seventies as “fresh faces” or sources of much of anything new.

Pope Francis made a bit of news for paying his own hotel bill and declining to sit on a throne while the cardinals lined up and declared their allegiance to him. Aside from an appearance of humility (though, really, how humble can one be while religious leaders from all around the world kneel and confirm that they answer you) and kind of setting aside the biggest perks of being the pope, Pope Francis’ atypical behavior has distracted from more important information about him.

Namely, his battle against marriage equality and same-sex adoption.

I do not care how many feet he washes (though that is super gross—I don’t even like touching my own feet, and they are quite clean), his opposition to fundamental rights of a portion of society is not acceptable. This is not okay, and it should not be overlooked.

The new pope was always going to be opposed to marriage equality and to female reproductive rights. That a pope was selected who was already known for having fought tooth and nail against his own country’s legal recognition of same-sex marriage and against their efforts to provide free contraception . . . well, that says something about the priorities of the conclave.

More worrisome is some of the language that Pope Francis, as a Cardinal, used to voice his opposition. In addition to the usual arguments about same-sex marriage “opposing God’s plan for humanity” and generally harming society (somehow) and how children need a mother and a father (for whatever reason), he also stated that Satan himself was the true source behind Argentina’s marriage equality campaign and perhaps all same-sex marriage.

Seriously. Read some interviews. Read his Wikipedia page (which is a bit more flattering than it was a couple of weeks ago). He does not seem to be a pope about whom we should become excited.


*By which I also mean social media, as even online news sources tend to be a little slow to report some stories—I mean, I learn about earthquakes in LA because Nickelodeon stars tweet about it, not because CNN tweets the same information two entire minutes later.

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Priests Should Take a Vow of Silence

A lot of people go to priests when they have big life questions. I have never understood that, honestly. If you have religious questions, I think you such seek the counsel of an expert, like a priest.  If you have life, love, relationship questions you probably shouldn’t seek the council of a man who has given up all of these things. I think they may be out of their league. Now, it’s not their fault if you come to them with these questions but they certainly should not be handing it out willy nilly.

Someone should tell that to Father Piero Corsi, a priest in a town in Northern Italy. Corsi was quoted as saying, “Let’s ask ourselves. Is it possible that men have all gone mad at one stroke? We don’t think so, the core of the problem is in the fact that women are more and more provocative, they yield to arrogance, they believe they can do everything themselves and they end up exacerbating tensions. How often do we see girls and even mature women walking on the streets in provocative and tight clothing? Babies left to themselves, dirty houses, cold meals and fast food at home, soiled clothes. So if a family ends up in a mess and turns into crime (a form of violence which should be condemned and punished firmly) often the responsibility is shared.”

What Corsi is saying is women deserve to be raped, beaten, and abused because they don’t cook and clean and clearly ask for it by wearing tight clothes.To this I say: Father Corsi, shut the fuck up. You know nothing of women, of marriage, or even of the current times you live in. Your sole job is to spend time living in a world that a book—a book that was written 2,000 years ago—has created. Furthermore, that book preaches “the golden rule” that means if you think it’s okay to beat a woman than its okay for a woman to beat you.

Practice what you preach, you big jerkface! Jesus was about love, acceptance, understanding and nonviolence. Yet one of his “Shepherds” is advocating hurting women because they deserve it and ask for it? This is the problem I have with the Catholic religion. You can get away with saying and doing whatever you like as long as you go to confession on Sunday.

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The Catholic Church In Germany Getting Stricter, Possibly Not Overcoming Stereotypes

photo of a collection plate pictures
I did not grow up in a household that went to church or was at all religious (in any religion). While I am now religious, I am still not a part of a physical religious body—that is, I do not have weekly or monthly religious gatherings. As such, I do not tithe.

In modern usage, tithing is paying money towards the church or other religious institution to which you belong. Typically, this is approximately one-tenth of your income. From what I can tell, different religious communities within Christianity do this differently, but it is a fairly standard tradition. There is typically some wiggle-room based upon a person or family’s income, but that is the sort of practice that sustains houses of worship and pays the bills.

I had never heard that it is standard in Germany (and, presumably, other countries) for this sort of collection to take place in the same way as taxation occurs. Casually referred to as a “church tax,” this is apparently becoming a bigger deal for German Catholics, as I read in this article.

Germans officially registered as Catholics, Protestants or Jews pay a religious tax of 8 or 9 percent of their annual tax bill. They can avoid this by declaring to their local tax office that they are leaving their faith community.

As you can imagine, some people lie. Shocking that someone would lie about anything related to taxes, I know.* But now, Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops are cracking down on people who allege that they have left Catholicism, even if they’ve only left the Church on paper (and, of course, financially).

In some cases, people are lying. In other cases, however, people have genuinely left the Church—in increasing numbers, which have been partially attributed to recent child-abuse sex scandals and cover-ups (Protestants have also lost numbers at increasing levels, but perhaps not as dramatically as the Roman Catholic Church).

Because of this decree, saving hundreds of euros when paying taxes has some definite consequences for Roman Catholics:

Catholics who leave can no longer receive sacraments, except for a special blessing before death, the decree states.

They cannot work in the church or its institutions, such as schools and hospitals, or be active in church-sponsored associations such as charity groups or choirs.

They cannot be godparents for Catholic children and must get a bishop’s permission to marry a Catholic in a church ceremony.

Personally, I am uncomfortable with the idea of the government taking it upon itself to collect religious money. That should be up to individual churches, temples, and religions. I’m not anti-taxation, but this is an odd blend between faith and government that makes me uncomfortable on behalf of both elements.

Do you guys think that it’s fair for the Roman Catholic bishops in Germany to take this stand? My understanding was that some of these consequences were previously reserved for people who had committed serious violations of the tenets of Catholicism and not shown remorse afterward (such as in the case of suicides).

*Ugh, seriously, people should not do things like that. In the past, my horrible ex-father has claimed me, an adult, as a dependent on his taxes, even though I don’t get any sort of anything from him, directly or indirectly, and thankfully have not had to see him since late in 2009. But isn’t that such a weird lie? Have any of you had weird post-divorce tax lies in your families?

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Jesus Was Just a Dude

photo of jesus of nazareth pictures
Religion is a touchy subject, and people are very protective of their faith. They cling to the doctrines and refuse to hear any evidence or theory that pokes holes in it. The Bible, too, is a very touchy subject.  The Bible was written thousands of years ago, and it was voted on in the Council of Nicaea. Since then, scrolls have surfaced that appear to be written by disciples of Jesus Christ. They have been scientifically proven to be of that time—but because they don’t say exactly what the Church wants them to, they were denounced and that’s the end of the story.

The topic of Jesus and if he was married has been brought up a lot, and naturally, it’s always dismissed. Jesus wasn’t married, so sayeth the Church, so it’s done. Mary Magdalene was a whore and nothing more. It doesn’t matter that there are documents that claimed she was a disciple, that Jesus loved her, that Jesus may have even married her. No. She was a whore.

Generally, the Bible paints women as whores and problems. If you go by that book, we are bigger sinners and demons than any other creature combined. Hell, we’re even responsible for original sin. We started sin. Women cannot hold any position of power within the church. Priests and Nuns cannot be married. The Catholic Church will say they can’t be married because their hearts belong to God, but if you do the research, Priests were married men in the first century.

Jesus himself said (according to the Bible) Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.”

It’s not until the fourth century that celibacy became mandated. Some say it’s due to greed. If people that work for the church have no heirs when they pass, all they own goes back to the Church. There’s a lot of back and forth on these things and it’s about to get…

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