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Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Uncategorized, What's Left | 1 comment

Catholic Church Slowly Catching Up With the Times — Now Believes It’s 1859


Pope Francis - General Audience - Nov. 20 2013


Has Catholicism suddenly become the most progressive of all the world’s major religions?

This appears to be the case now, and the primary reason for such a startling transformation comes from the very top.

Pope Francis has emerged into a true leader and a spiritual rock star, even for some non-believers.  Yesterday, he stunned 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide with yet another astonishing decree which left even the most liberal theologians within the church stupefied.  The Pope stated that evolution is entirely consistent with the notion of divine creation.  He also acknowledged the plausibility of the Big Bang Theory as the actual genesis of the universe.  But the crown jewel of Wednesday’s big Vatican trifecta payoff at Vatican Downs was the Pope’s official pronouncement that god “is not a magician.”

So, according to the Pope — [1] evolution is true, [2] science knows more about the origins of the universe than the church, and [3] god doesn’t wave a magic wand.  Sounds a lot more like a Richard Dawkins’ speech than words from the most powerful holy man in the world.

Let’s give credit where it’s due.  Any Catholic authority at any level who would have dared to proclaim these blasphemous ideas only a few generations ago would most assuredly have risked excommunication.  A few hundred years ago, outspoken free-thinkers might have been burned at the stake.  How astonishingly far the Catholic Church has come in less than two years under the guidance of this truly transformative papacy.

That said and approved, let’s not get too carried away yet.  Claiming Francis might be the most transformational of all Popes dating back to Saint Peter is a bit like saying Genghis Khan was the kindest of all the Mongol rulers.  I mean, the competition for “most benevolent” of Popes is pretty thin.  They’ve been partners in crime with kings, queens, despots, and dictators since 350 AD.

Finally coming to an agreement now with what some scientists knew way back in 1859 (the year Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species was published) — and virtually the entire scientific community affirms today — that evolution is indeed correct, is like coming to the party far too late.  Sort of like walking into a bar after closing time and trying to order a drink.  Gee, thanks for coming Father, but we’ve already emptied the keg and locked the door.  You should have come in before 2 am.

Make no mistake, the three pronouncements were nice to hear and were important, at least symbolically.  But they don’t do much to end mass misery, now do they?  If Pope Francis is really serious about helping the world’s population, believers and non-believers alike, next he will push for a progressive agenda based on 21 Century problems and solutions, rather than adhering to the same church doctrine which has been so catastrophic to hundreds of millions of lives for centuries.

What action items should come next from the Vatican?

First, the Catholic Church must end its universal objection to birth control.  Instead, the church (and its representatives in the developing world) should become the stewards of education, promoting birth control practices in the world’s poorest regions.  No one can possibly justify a 1,700-year-old policy which encourages population growth in parts of the world which are plagued by so much starvation and misery.  For the Vatican to continue this preposterous policy isn’t just archaic, it’s a crime against humanity.  Church officials deserve to be brought up on charges in the Hague and if necessary, extradited for trial.  The leaders who enforced (and continue to support) this policy shouldn’t be worshipped nor sanctified.  They should be shunned and ridiculed.  See those starving children riddled with disease in many parts of the Third World?  Thank the Catholic Church and its antiquidated leadership for those horrors.

Second, the Catholic Church continues to adhere to a belief system that over half the world’s population aren’t fit to think for themselves, nor serve in positions of authority.  The Vatican’s policy towards women within the church, and their respective roles in society, continues to be right out of the Stone Age.  Nothing’s changed from Day One.  Ever.  Not only are apostolic teachings and church doctrine utterly impractical in the modern era, given that women now have just as much access to social and career mobility as men (and arguably even may possess superior skills that would make for a good priest, monsignor, bishop, or even Pope), restricting women’s access to coveted positions in the church is discriminatory.  I’d go so far as to call it insulting.  Take a look at some of the horrible Popes over the past 17 centuries.  You don’t think a woman could have done a better job?  I’ll take a Golda Meir or a Benazir Bhutto over those incompetent jokers wearing Halloween costumes any day.

Then, there’s the touchy subject of sex.  Which really seems to bother the Catholic Church, and always has.  It’s that awkward thousand-ton elephant in the room no one wants to discuss.  They pretend it’s not there.  Maybe it will go away.  Try this.  How about letting priests (and nuns) marry?  How about acknowledging that priests (and nuns) are human, too?  They should be allowed to enjoy the same pleasures as the rest of society.  They certainly have the same biological desires, don’t they?  The many years of pedophile priest scandals merely underscores the much larger alternative universe the Catholic Church continues to live in.

There’s still more for Pope Francis to look into if he’s really serious about making changes and fighting for justice.  Given the Catholic Church’s incalculable endowment of wealth, it’s way past time for some of those assets and resources to be funneled back into society.  This will require more than just seasonal clothing drives and soup kitchens for the homeless.  I’m talking about returning colossal sums of wealth which were stolen and swiped away from countless millions of victims over the centuries, from the Dark Ages to the Inquisition to the Crusades to pacts with corrupt kings and evil fascists which enabled the church to enrich itself beyond anything humanity has ever seen.  The church should begin making voluntary reparations.  As the wealthiest institution in the history of the world, they can afford it.

No doubt, Pope Francis is off to a terrific start and merits our applause.  Assuming he’s sincere in his mission to transform the church, he’ll face powerful enemies and will have to overcome many challenges within his own flock.  Under his leadership and to its credit, the Catholic Church now seems caught up to the middle of the 19th Century.  That’s quite an accomplishment while other religions are living in the 1100s and still others are practicing the same ancient codes of 2,000 years ago.

The calendar in the Vatican now reads the year 1859.  With more of this kind of leadership, the largest of all churches might even realize it’s 2014 someday.

That would surely be an evolution, a big bang, and a divine miracle.

If there is indeed a god, maybe he just waved his magic wand.

1 Comment

  1. While Pope Francis’ comments on science are welcome, they’re not really big news. Don’t conflate the leadership of the Catholic church with the mouth-breathing troglodytes that endorse bible literalism. While it has certainly been the case that Catholicism has been hostile to science in the past, that’s not where it has been in recent decades. Heck, for my entire lifetime the Vatican Observatory has been actively involved in cosmology research, with the Church providing direct funding for these activities. Galileo still gets to smirk when pronouncements such as this are made, but Catholic doctrine hasn’t included bible literalism in any of our lifetimes.

    Despite the “infallibility” of the Pope, it’s not so easy to liberalize as large, political, and inertia-bound institution as the Catholic Church. I applaud every direction Pope Francis has moved, but he’d be a fool to give a damn about what you or I think about the job he’s doing. He’s being very careful about pushing around the edges and setting the stage for a slow process of liberalization on some of the core issues I find objectionable about the Catholic Church, including their positions on birth control, divorce, internal sex abuse scandals, and homosexuality, but even if he really wants to move the Church to what I consider to be civilized positions, he may not be able to reasonably accomplish that in his lifetime. In the mean time, you go, Pope, I guess.


  1. Is Pope Francis a Socialist? - Nolan Dalla - […] Footnote 1:  I don’t entirely let the Catholic Church off the hook.  Read several criticisms HERE. […]

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