I think maybe the pope’s thinking the way I do on Kulturkampf

At first, I was sort of confused.

When I saw this headline on the NYT app Thursday night: “Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion.”

… I thought, What focus? Where’s he been going to Mass?

Because in my experience, there is no particular focus on those things, in actual Catholic churches. And the Church I know is certainly not “obsessed” with those things, as the pontiff said.

All of you who are not Catholic are now asking where I’ve been, that I don’t know the Church is “obsessed” with those things.

Here’s where I’ve been — I’ve actually been in the Church, rather than experiencing it as it is written about by secular media. And I cannot recall when I’ve heard a single homily concentrating on any of those topics. Occasionally, during the petitions, I’ve heard an affirmation of life mentioned among all the other things we’re praying for. But “obsession”? “Focus,” even? No. Not part of my experience.

Now I do hear that there are some parishes that do have more of such a “focus.” But I don’t know that from personal experience.

It’s the rest of the world that thinks about those things, constantly, and only interacts with the Church in terms of its positions on those subjects. That’s pretty much all most Catholics seem to know about us. Well, that, and pedophilia. A topic that also fails to intersect with my experience of the Church.

The only intersection I can recall in this diocese between these separate perceptions is when then-Bishop Robert Baker was one of the bishops who said politicians who favor abortion on demand should not receive Communion. But I mostly read about that in the paper. I don’t recall it intruding into my parish life. And I don’t recall of hearing of anyone actually being denied communion in this diocese, although maybe it happened.

I want to say there was another bishop’s letter regarding a political issue sometime since then, but I don’t remember what it was about. It just didn’t have much impact on my experience of church life.

Oh, wait — I remember now that our current bishop, Robert Guglielmone, wrote a letter advocating for Medicaid expansion in SC. Does that count? Probably not.

So I was wondering what the pope was on about.

But when I read some other versions of the story, with different headlines (such as the WSJ’s “Pope Warns Church Focusing Too Much on Divisive Issues”), I got it.

Pope Francis was, in a way, doing what I did as editorial page editor at The State. Not to elevate myself to the level of the Holy Father or anything.

Y’all know I have an aversion to seeing Culture War issues intrude upon our politics. It’s because of the habit of thought I developed as EPE. My view was that there were all sorts of things we needed to talk about in South Carolina — economic development, education, our dysfunctional form of government, the need for comprehensive tax reform. It was tough enough to try to have constructive conversations about those things, untainted by partisan, ideological foolishness, without wasting any capital we had on issues that were hopelessly divisive.

There was nothing, absolutely nothing, we could accomplish in terms of changing minds on abortion, or same-sex marriage, or any of those kinds of things. Both sides in the partisan battles in this country used those issues for one purpose — to divide. As a sort of password to identify “their” people — to identify the good, right-thinking people — and to delegitimize those who disagreed.

All we could have accomplished by writing about such things would have been to make close to half our readers furious, thereby closing their minds to anything we had to say about pragmatic solutions to the issues we could actually do something about here in South Carolina.

I still don’t like to see such issues take a front-and-center position in our politics, because they drive us apart, and make it even harder to have constructive conversations on anything else.

Anyway, what does that have to do with what the Pope said?

Well, to begin with, this pontifex maximus is a very humble guy. He doesn’t care about winning argument points. And he understands that in terms of the way the world interacts with the church, perception is reality. So never mind that the church isn’t really obsessed with these things. It’s perceived as being so, and that erects walls between the church and lots of people who would otherwise be open to its central reasons for being.

So, he very publicly lets the world know that while he is Pope, the church will not be “obsessed” with such things. He’s not for a moment backing away from church teachings on those matters, but he assures us that he and the church he heads aren’t going to be going on and on about them. From E.J. Dionne’s column on the subject:

Francis responded plainly in the interview. “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible,” he said. “I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

As the WSJ described them, his remarks “appeared intended to nudge the church away from politically charged issues by setting out a vision of a church that is more welcoming and less preoccupied with emphasizing doctrine.”

Doctrine. That’s the key word, I think.

This pope’s predecessor was an enforcer of doctrine. That’s how he made his bones in the church. Under John Paul II, he was the bad cop, the modern-day version of a Grand Inquisitor. He was Mr. Rules and Regulations.

This pope is more about the central issues that our faith is about. Love, mercy, open arms and healing hearts. And he doesn’t want to be going on and on about things that distract from that, or to have the world think the church is going on and on about those things.

I like this Pope.

50 thoughts on “I think maybe the pope’s thinking the way I do on Kulturkampf

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Yes, it is convenient for a middle-aged straight white father of a sit-com’s worth of wanted children to prefer that his church not focus on its doctrines on gays and reproductive control….

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That’s an odd comment on a number of levels.

      So you’re saying you WANT the pope and the church to spend its energies promoting its positions on those issues? ‘Cause I don’t.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I want you to care that your church is harming gays and women, but you don’t even see it because you are privilege blind.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      By the way, you do know that dismissing what I think because of my gender, race, etc., is about as insulting as you can get? Or do you?

      I don’t believe there’s the slightest trace of malice in your heart when you do. You actually believe what you’re saying.

      But the way I take it is that you think I’m too simple, too blind, too lacking in reflection and discernment, to understand anything beyond the most pathetically narrow circumstances of various demographic accidents.

      There are few things more frustrating, or more insulting, than having someone take a glance at you and dismiss you when you are trying to explain carefully things that you’ve thought long and hard about.

      Disagree with me if you will. But do not sneer at me, don’t say that what I have to say is “convenient,” is not worth considering, because of such nonsense as my gender and race. I ask you to respect me at least to that degree.

      1. Bart

        Remember one important aspect of human nature Brad. When it comes to prejudice against white Christians, atheists and non-believers truly believe there are no insults that cannot be leveled at them and they seem to take great delight to denigrate Christians by making fun of that imaginary bearded man in the sky. No, they have no respect for you at all when it comes to faith and religion and if you think they do for one minute, you are very much mistaken. As you have stated, it is one of the safe, respectful prejudices that can be openly practiced without fear of reprisal. But, then they don’t have the damn courage to publically say or print the same thing about the Muslim faith, do they? Maybe they’re worried about some Islamist fanatic coming after them for insulting Mohammed.

        What is noticeable is that since I have been coming to your blog, I haven’t read one offensive comment made about atheists as offensive as the ones they make about Christians. If one was made, I missed it.

        Double standards, sine can’t get through the day without ’em.

        1. Doug Ross

          Bart – I am a Christian but I don’t think atheists and other are intolerant of Christians in a vacuum. If a person presents a case that he believes gays are sinners and they, along with atheists, are destined for damnation and Hell, it’s kind of hard for those of the receiving end of that sentiment to simply say, “Gee, I respect that opinion.”

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Yes, Doug, thanks!

            I totally respect anyone’s religious beliefs and would never speak ill of them, SO LONG AS those beliefs are not hurtful to others. My sister-in-law has been a Scientologist since the early 70s, worked for them for decades, and she is easily the most sane person in my husband’s birth family, also a kind and considerate person. If she wants to believe in Xenu, fine. She does not personally denigrate psychiatry, for one thing.

            A Catholic who at least expresses sensitivity to the difficult reproductive choices many women must make, and dismay at his church’s marginalization of gays gets my full respect. Pray to your Blessed Virgin, and whatever other saints you please!

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Yeah, I suppose so, Doug. But what religion is it that says “gays are sinners and they, along with atheists, are destined for damnation and Hell?”

          3. Doug Ross

            You’re kidding right? What does the Catholic religion say about non-believers? Do they get a pathway to citizenship in Heaven somehow?

          4. Doug Ross

            Mark 16:16

            He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

            Kinda hard to spin that statement.

          5. Doug Ross

            Joseph Cardinal Ratzenberger:

            Just as the Cross was central to the expression of God’s redemptive love for us in Jesus, so the conformity of the self-denial of homosexual men and women with the sacrifice of the Lord will constitute for them a source of self-giving which will save them from a way of life which constantly threatens to destroy them.

            . We encourage the Bishops, then, to provide pastoral care in full accord with the teaching of the Church for homosexual persons of their dioceses. No authentic pastoral programme will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral. A truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.

            If you want to read a point by point denunciation of homosexuals by Ratzenberger:


          6. Brad Warthen Post author

            Back up to Kathryn’s comment, wanting someone to express “dismay at his church’s marginalization of gays.” I hope that’s not a reference to me or my church. If so, it will come as a surprise to the gay people I see around me playing prominent roles in parish life. This “marginalization” notion doesn’t fit with the experience of people who are actually involved in the Catholic Church.

        2. Phillip

          Bart, you say that prejudice against Christians “is one of the safe, respectful prejudices that can be openly practiced without fear of reprisal.”

          I weep for the Christians that are prevented from holding public office in this country, considering that all 44 Presidents of the US have been atheists and that nobody who even remotely admits to Christianity could ever be considered a serious contender for national office…and I think that maybe there was one Christian in all of the US Congress last time I checked except I think now he’s out of office so that leaves none…and how terrible it is that South Carolina actually has a constitutional requirement that one cannot serve as Governor unless one “renounces a belief in a Supreme Being.”

          My point is, Bart, while there are places in the world where Christians might rightly bemoan the very real prejudices they face, living in the US and and especially the Southern US is a place where it’s rather a bit much to speak of “prejudice against Christians.” Opposing Christianist policies or believing in a degree of separation of church and state that might be different from some Christianist politicians (Huckabee, Santorum) is not the same as actual prejudice against Christians. On the other hand, if you reverse every statement I made in the earlier paragraph, that IS exactly the state of affairs in which we live.

          You need to walk a mile in some other people’s shoes, brother, if you really want to know prejudice.

          1. Doug Ross

            Even Mitt Romney experienced the (mostly undercurrent) scorn of Christians in South Carolina for his religious beliefs.

          2. Bart

            Phillip, as usual, you take everything to the extreme in your typical strident fashion.

            “I weep for the Christians that are prevented from holding public office in this country, considering that all 44 Presidents of the US have been atheists and that nobody who even remotely admits to Christianity could ever be considered a serious contender for national office…and I think that maybe there was one Christian in all of the US Congress last time I checked except I think now he’s out of office so that leaves none…and how terrible it is that South Carolina actually has a constitutional requirement that one cannot serve as Governor unless one “renounces a belief in a Supreme Being.””

            So this is your rebuttal to my comment? An exaggerated reverse example to the extreme trying to do what exactly? Sorry, it didn’t work except for the obvious one who agreed with you.

            And one other little fact you missed. In 1992, Herb Silverman successfully defended his position against the provision in the 1868 SC Constitution and it was upheld in 1997 by the State Supreme Court when David Beasly tried to overturn the lower court ruling.

            “Fortunately, that’s one of the few remaining respectable prejudices…” Brad

            Brad is correct and I do agree. Prejudice against Christians, Christianity, Catholicism, and God is the only prejudice that can be practiced openly in America without fear of reprisal.

            “You need to walk a mile in some other people’s shoes, brother, if you really want to know prejudice.”

            “brother”, you have no idea, no idea at all of what real prejudice is. I would strongly suggest you take a walk yourself before admonishing another to do the same.

          3. Bart

            Sorry Phillip, should have clarified Mr. Silverman’s court case. He applied to become a notary public but was denied because he struck out the word God. He sued, he won, Beasley appealed, Beasley lost, the provision is no longer valid or legal.

          4. Doug Ross

            @Bart – there is a difference between prejudice and scorn or derision. I think what Phillip was rightly pointing out was that although there may be atheists and others who mock Christians, the impact of that is not typically seen in any aspect of our country’s workplace or political system.

            Can you point to cases where your rights were infringed upon because of your faith? Have you been denied a job, denied service in a business, not allowed to live wherever you choose to?

            It comes down to a fundamental question – are all men and women created equal? Can there be laws that only apply to men or women who meet the bible’s definition of marriage?

          5. Brad Warthen Post author

            Phillip, I think there’s something that’s invisible to you, because it doesn’t kick you in the gut…

            (Hey, Kathryn, is my mind getting right, now, categorizing the legitimacy of people’s views according to their personal experiences?)

            But seriously…

            Those of us who spend a lot of time online are exposed to more strongly-expressed views of all kinds than we or our forebears were exposed to. Increasingly, that is our reality. Even people who only watch television experience much more of it than previous generations.

            I don’t have any of the statistics in front of me, and don’t have time to look it up at the moment, but you’ve probably seen the comparisons of the vast amount of information we’re expose to today, compared to people who lived 100 years ago, or even 20 years ago — in other words, our former selves.

            When I was young, I had atheist friends, just as I do now. And occasionally, they would be insensitive and say something cutting face-to-face, but it was a now-and-then sort of thing.

            Now, there are firehoses of contempt aimed at religion, and they flow 24/7. And these comments are written by people who are not sitting face-to-face with their believing friends, if they even have believing friends. They are written with all the brutal indifference of electronic text communication. We’re all familiar with this problem. I’ve lived with it since I first started communicating across newsrooms with instant messaging on a mainframe system in the early 80s — we all tend to be more brutal when we’re not communicating face-to-face. Louis C. K. has a good routine about how these forms of communication engender cruelty in kids.

            As I say, we’re all familiar with that.

            But it’s not just about texting. It’s about communities forming online, in which faceless people write for other faceless people who agree with them (sometimes, as with the two main parties, about EVERYTHING, which continues to blow my mind), and if others happen to run across the remarks — as millions will — they get scorched by the contempt expressed for them and their worldview.

            And today, there are great swathes of the Web, very mainstream swathes, where the modifier “Christian” is an expression of something ranging from derision to open hostility.

            I think that’s what Bart is reacting to. I think that’s what he’s experiencing. And you really can’t help running across it. I’m never looking for it when I see it.

            There’s another thing going on, apart from the communications revolution.

            We have a generation of far more aggressive, may I say evangelical, atheists, from the aggressively hostile such as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens to the kinder, gentler insistence of Daniel Dennett. Great armies of fans who may not have the originality of Dawkins and Hitchens nevertheless adopt their postures of open, aggressive hostility toward faith.

            Combine those factors, and you have a situation in which Bart and I experience something that just wasn’t there when we were younger. So I know what he means. And if you reflect on what I’ve said, you may, too.

          6. Phillip

            Brad (and Bart): You can find any opinion floating out there on the Web that is offensive to your religion, or beliefs, or way of life. I don’t condone that, of course, but Doug is right, it is not the same thing as prejudice. Studies in the last decade, on the other hand, have indicated that atheists may be America’s most distrusted minority. And as recently as 2011, Gallup’s polling found that more than 90% of Americans still profess a belief in God, so while I won’t deny that knee-jerk anti-religious attitudes are out there, it seems like the prejudice is far greater in the other direction, based on the numbers and the absolute dominance of religion in American society, particularly the Christian religion. Poll after poll continues to show that America remains one of the most religious countries in the world.

            So Bart, I did not “exaggerate”—everything I said in that paragraph would be exactly true if you reversed it. It only sounds “extreme” because it does sound particularly absurd to our ears when reversed. That’s why I phrased it that way, to show how absurd it is, when the reality is that attitudes and yes, prejudices against atheists would makes it very difficult, nearly impossible, for an openly avowed atheist to win a congressional, governor’s, or national race or to even be a plausible candidate. It is still a taboo in many aspects of our society.

            I think it’s terrible indeed if some people think less of others simply because they are Christians, because they believe in God, and I don’t deny many people with these views exist. But you should not deny that the numbers flowing the opposite direction, who think less of others who call themselves atheists and whose judgments have effects on those atheists’ lives, well that number is vastly, vastly greater.

          7. Phillip

            and incidentally, this is one of the many wonderful things about Pope Francis. In his recent comments, he has reached out to atheists not just in the “God loves you too and it’s not too late for you to repent and be saved and know God’s love” etc. sense, but reached out with real respect. Respect in the sense of acknowledging the spiritual quest of many atheists and agnostics, and the commonality of that quest with those who profess faith within the various religions of the world.

          8. Brad Warthen Post author

            OK, this is apropos of nothing, but my citing Louis C. K. above got me to thinking about whether the comedian himself is an atheist (I don’t know why). Seems like he holds belief and atheism in more or less equal contempt.

            Anyway, in looking that up, I ran across the fact that Todd Kincannon, the Columbia attorney and former official at the state Democratic Party who has become the Twitter equivalent of a Shock Jock, was addressed on Twitter once by none other than Richard Dawkins. Well, it interested me, anyway…

        3. JesseS

          I’ve never understood this “reverse discrimination” outlook. I thought we were supposed to rejoice in persecution? Your sufferings at the hands of others will stand as a witness that you live in an imperfect world in need of Christ’s grace and mercy. At least that is what I was always told growing up. Granted I’m a heathen by most standards, so I really can’t say much.

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        not sneering, but I am pretty sure you have not been pregnant and scared or gay and catholic….and your constant cavalier dismissal of these struggles as “Kulturkampf” instead of personal struggles of individuals lays you open for my claim.


        which is all I got…

    3. FParker

      How many is a “sit-com’s worth”?

      The Clampett’s had two, the Cunningham’s three, the Cleavers two, the Muster’s three, the Brady’s six, the Huxtable’s four, the Ricardo’s one…

  2. bud

    Love, mercy, open arms and healing hearts.

    I had no idea. All the other churches, religions and especially non-believers are absolutely opposed to those things. Thankfully now that I know there is one and only one place to go to hear about love, mercy, open arms and healing hearts I can become a full-blown Catholic.

    Seriously Brad this is really a croc. ALL churches and virtually ALL humans would acknowledge those are wonderful principals. But the devil is in the details. The Catholic church has railed against birth control and ALL abortions for decades now and even openly rebelled against common sense attempts to make it easier for folks to obtain birth control pills.

    1. FParker

      bud, most of the other churchs don’t coddle pedophiles the way the Catholic church does. If Fr. Pedo get caught sexually abusing children, all they do is move Fr. Pedo to a new parish and try to sweep it under the rug. There’s little corruption outside of organized crime that is any more structured than the Catholic church. Actually I believe the Mormons are close but they don’t have nearly the legacy that the Vatican does.

  3. Doug Ross

    It is true that there really is no need for the Catholic Church to expound on issues like homosexuality and
    abortion. Its view of those topics is well documented: homosexuality is a sin and abortion is murder. What else can they say?

    1. Bart


      Honestly, there is nothing they can add, all they can do is continue reminding people of faith that homosexual activity and abortion remains a sin according to the Bible and their faith. Otherwise, the Bible becomes so diluted and the message is adapted to fit the present day societal norms, it becomes irrelevant and offers nothing more than being a kinda, sorta, general guide book on how Christians should live their lives but if one doesn’t agree with what the Bible teaches, ignore it and do whatever you want to do. You know, much the way it is now.

      How one lives their private life is their business and if the law requires equal rights and employers to provide benefits to same sex partners, so be it. However, if one is a believer and holds the teachings of the Bible to be true, they will continue to believe the practice of homosexuality is a sin.

      The varying doctrines of the churches adhering to the Christian faith around the world have changed so much over the past couple of decades that now some churches have practicing homosexuals ordained as ministers or preachers in the pulpit and churches performing marriage ceremonies for same sex couples. Other churches are now agreeing with abortion. Again, if that is the path they choose to take, if one is a believer, when one stands before God and must answer for their life, what will they say? If one is not a believer, it doesn’t matter anyway.

      1. bud

        all they can do is continue reminding people of faith that homosexual activity and abortion remains a sin …

        You gotta love the irony. Bart you are decrying the intolerance of folks against Christianity by invoking a teaching that is highly intolerant.

        As for the new Pope. Good for him downplaying the Kulturkampf issues. It’s a good start toward bringing the Catholic Church into the 21st century.

        1. Bart

          bud, and it is apparent comprehension is well beyond your capabilities when it comes to religion and the teachings of the Bible. Only a clueless liberal or a far leftist would interpret what I said as irony. Maybe you need to understand the difference between intolerant and tolerate. The teachings of the Bible are for believers and for over 2,000 years, the Bible has not changed but people who engage in some activities that are considered a sin according to the Bible have taken it upon themselves to rewrite or interpret it to suit their own purposes and want to force their interpretation on the body of the church. That was the point being made.

          One can be tolerant of or tolerate homosexuals but that doesn’t mean one is required to approve of the practice of homosexual actitvity. My friends who are homosexuals are aware of how I feel but we remain friends because we don’t make an issue of it.

          I have never attacked anyone on the blog or anywhere else about their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, atheism, or agnosticism . If you have proof otherwise, then by damn put it out there. Only you could take a valid point and turn it around to suit your “intolerance” of anyone who disagrees with you and calls your hand on it. Believe me, examples of your intolerance are as abundant as the mosquitos have been this year, and just as annoying at times.

          1. bud

            I have never attacked anyone on the blog or anywhere else about their sexual orientation,

            all they can do is continue reminding people of faith that homosexual activity and abortion remains a sin …

            Call it whatever you want but when you tell someone they are a sinner that’s an attack.

          2. Mark Stewart

            Rich stuff, Bart.

            It isn’t that I am often in agreement with Bud, but have you ever heard of the Reformation?

            I respect Catholicism as I do Protestantism. Because I do believe humanity is not static, nor is it infallible. Which also means I also respect the world’s other major religions as well. But this line of thinking you hue to is a bit much.

            Life is evolutionary. It just is. Religion is our way of dealing with that. It is a basic human need. These are not exclusionary ideas; neither one is absolute.

            People need them to fit together – through time. Which means neither can be static (and certainly not based upon some simplistic stop point of 2000 years ago). FYI, my eyes were opened when I read parts of the Dead Sea rolls (in translation); the stories of the Bible have been brewing for thousands of years before 25 BC. Geographic transformation and human development are both real.

          3. Bart

            “I have never attacked anyone on the blog or anywhere else about their sexual orientation,”…bud

            Thank you bud for continuing to make my point that you fail to comprehend, if anything, all you do is skim over a comment, fail to read it and comprehend it, but react with your usual easily refuted response.

            To reiterate what I posted, I will repeat it for you: “Only you could take a valid point and turn it around to suit your “intolerance” of anyone who disagrees with you and calls your hand on it. Believe me, examples of your intolerance are as abundant as the mosquitos have been this year, and just as annoying at times.”

            Now, exactly “”where”” in the comment did it say you “”attacked anyone about their sexual orientation””? If you will point it out to me, I will extend an apology to you in print, in this thread. Now, put your proof where your mouth or keyboard is.

          4. Bart


            The following is long but hopefully you will indulge me and read it through.

            I am very much aware of the Reformation and the impact Martin Luther had on the Christian faith after he posted his manifesto on the door of the church. When I was in high school, we studied it extensively in our literature class when we were doing an in-depth study of the impact of various religions and religious beliefs throughout history and the impact they had on the founding of this country. Later in life, I read more about the Reformation and how it too became a source of unrest, distrust, and political posturing within the movement. Erasmus is one you might want to study. He was a highly respected intellectual during his time and was one of the first to translate the New Testament into Greek. You might want to read, “The Praise of Folly”. To a large degree, Erasmus and some of his writings are a closer reflection of my personal beliefs than any church doctrine out there today.

            The Reformation came about during a period when the church no longer held to the teachings of the Bible but engaged in appointing seculars to high positions in the church, mostly political and influenced by wealthy families. Power, influence, and money had become the central theme of the church, not God, Christ, or the Bible. It was at a time when the church lost its way and became more of an instrument of evil than one of good. If you had studied the reasons Martin Luther had for starting the Reformation of the church, you would realize he was bothered by the total reconstructing of the Bible to fit what had become some radical practices by papal authorities who believed the Pope had superiority over Christ and was the only one who could interpret the Bible; the monks could actually change water into wine for the Eucharist; and other beliefs and practices contrary to the Bible.

            The Bible has been written, rewritten, interpreted, re-interpreted, and modified hundreds of times and that is just in my lifetime. God’s word has been falsified, modified, and used to justify horrendous acts against humanity and to perpetuate the belief by some that God will provide them with financial rewards if they perform some service or the other. But, when one reads several different versions of the Bible, reads the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially The Great Isaiah Scroll and then compares it to most versions out there, the message does not change and the original definition of sin according to God as given to Moses and included in Mosaic Law did not change when Jesus died on the Cross. Christ was sent to fulfill prophecy and to make a new covenant for us to be able to approach God without an intercessor or intermediary.

            It is not our place to judge or condemn anyone; all we can do is judge their actions which is not the same as judging the person if one stops for a moment and considers the difference. We judge our children’s behavior but we don’t judge our children. We judge the crime or if one chooses to describe it as such, a sin, but not the individual but that does not imply we should abdicate our responsibility to hold the person accountable. Unfortunately all too many do not have the ability to separate the two and consider one equal to the other.

            To go on record and clarify my position on religion and Christianity, I do not belong to or attend any church at this time in my life. Organized religion or adherence to a particular church denomination’s doctrine is not appealing to me at all. I was at one time the lay leader in my church but after witnessing and being a victim of the petty back-stabbing, jealousy, money-grubbing, and blatant hypocrisy most believed was acceptable because they were doing the “work of the Lord”, I walked away but I did not abandon my faith.

          5. Brad Warthen

            I was confused for a bit when Bart said Erasmus translated the New Testament into Greek, because I thought that was what most of it was written in originally.

            But I see he did apparently provide a new version In Greek. So I’m still a little confused, probably because Greek is Greek to me…

      2. Doug Ross

        So then how could a Catholic EVER vote for a Democrat who is pro-choice or pro-gay rights? How can a voter compromise on those fundamental issues and defy what should be their highest moral obligation?

        Ted Kennedy was given cover by the Catholic Church for a long, long time. Why was that? He directly opposed the teachings of the church in both his political views and his private life.

        1. Doug Ross


          “Kennedy was considered to be one of the biggest advocates of LGBT rights in the U.S. Senate,[39][40][41] and he has received ratings of 100 percent by the Human Rights Campaign for the 107th, 108th and 109th sessions of U.S. Congress[42] indicating that he voted in support of issues the HRC considers important with regards to equality for LGBT persons. He was a supporter of same-sex marriage[43] and was one of the fourteen senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.[”

          He was either a religious hypocrite or a political hypocrite. There’s no “nuance” to his views.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          The issue with which Ted Kennedy was identified most of his career was universal health care. That’s pretty much in tune with the Church, which is very big on caring for the sick. It’s also a serious social justice issue.

          Ted, like most Catholic Democrats (there are exceptions, such as Sen. Bob Casey), was at odds with his church over abortion. That’s a problem. And there are some bishops who would deny him communion over that. Others would not.

          As for whom I might vote for… I’m not a single-issue voter; never have been. I preferred McCain to Obama, and as it happened, McCain agreed with me on abortion while Obama most assuredly does not. (Worse, his views on the subject lead to some ideas about the judiciary that are disturbing beyond abortion.)

          But when Obama was facing Romney, who agreed with me on abortion, I preferred Obama, based on a number of issues. If I waited around for candidates who agreed with me on everything, I’d never get to vote…

          1. Doug Ross

            “Ted, like most Catholic Democrats (there are exceptions, such as Sen. Bob Casey), was at odds with his church over abortion. That’s a problem.”

            That’s a “problem”? It’s outright defiance of the teachings of the Church. You can’t be 37% Catholic. You are or you aren’t. It’s much easier to get a free pass though when you are a rich Catholic. Annulments of marriages become legalistic exercises.

            It’s fine to have a spiritual belief system that comes from taking the teachings of organized religion and applying them to your daily life. But to claim to be a member of a particular religion like Catholicism yet reject basic principles of it is ludicrous and hypocritical. You cannot, CANNOT in any way shape or form be pro-choice and be a Catholic.

  4. Juan Caruso

    “I’ve actually been in the Church, rather than experiencing it as it is written about by secular media. ” Brad W.

    That is as close to your criticism of the media as I ever recall. There may be hope for all of us.

    As to the Holy Father’s reasoning, few of them have not been pragmatic. He looks around, and what does he see? – Totalitarian (except for China on gays) and Islamic countries rigidly unified in their condemnation of moral lapses the U.S. leads the world in relaxing.

    To have continuing or greater influence within first world countries that comprise the backbone of the Catholic Church Pope Francis simply reasoned he had to be more than an oddball spectator to secular leaders.

    One thing (from the E. J. Dionne excerpt) puzzles me, however: “I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that.” – Pope Francis

    Who, exactly, reprimands a sitting pope? A secular leade, perhaps?

    1. FParker

      Brad wants to be a Wise Guy, but he realizes his best opportunity would be to try and be a Wise Man which would explain his moving his family to the Catholic church and it’s organized crime family.

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    You know, this is one of those days when I’m not crazy about the “reply” feature on this latest iteration of the blog.

    Sure, it’s great to be able to place your comment right under what you’re replying to, but I see a bunch of new ones have come in, and I try to come here to react to them, I have to scroll up and down looking for them.

    See, in the inner workings of the blog, on the dashboard, the comments are still nice and (reverse) chronological. Here, not so much. Confusing…

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Lots of blogs just use rolling comments in numbered chronological order. It’s more of a stream of consciousness thing. On the other hand, I like being able to inset replies here. It works well here, in my opinion. The only modifications I would like seen made to the comments would be to have some little buttons for italics, bold, etc. so I don’t have to to the HTML code.

  6. Mrs.Dash

    Pls pardon the interruption. [I do like this pope, as well — which is on point — and Jesus was a liberal, kind of on point — but my main point relates to other articles elsewhere, to which I am apparently unable — in the present time and space conundrum — to reply]



    Mrs.Dash: [would say, if account were still active] “I was right about this one (Ben Staples). Columbia Better Business Bureau, can you hear me now?”


    Re: Mr. Collins and family

    Mrs.Dash: [would say if account were still active] “I’m sorry. I was wrong. This has only happened — like — 3 times in my whole life (being wrong). My apologies to you, your beautiful family, and especially your amazing mother, Anne — may her memory be for a blessing — Amen.”

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