Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Catholics Come Home? Uh....NO Thanks!

Apparently the Catholic Church, especially the American mutation of it, is concerned about all the "lapsed" and "fallen away" Catholics, so have initiated a new nationwide campaign via TV commercials under the banner of 'Catholics Come Home'. The deal is to entice all the millions of prodigals back into the fold by using commercials that depict "personal family moments in church" (cheez, gimme a break!) as well as "images from the broad sweep of Catholicism through history" (err.....any from the Inquisition..?)

The alarming basis triggering this response (as well as new efforts at "evangelization" - which I'd suggest they put on ice since Pentecostals and Evangelicals do it better) is a recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Study that shows Catholicism has experienced the greatest losses among U.S. born members. Pew has concluded that roughly 22.5 million American adults fall into the "lapsed" or former Catholic category, which means Catholic numbers in the U.S. would have taken a huge hit were it not for immigration...say from Latin American nations.

There are several questions that ensue on reading this claptrap. One is, how or why do they make the assumption that former Catholics "must come home". Maybe those who left that atavistic religion (still based on the primitive ritual of eating the god, or deophagia) have better things, better more enlightened options...and hence have found much preferable "homes". Take my sister-in-law, seen in the above image. She left the RCs over a half century ago and pursued her own spiritual path eventually finding enormous spiritual solace and inspiration in Eckanckar. Any chance she will come "home" to a primitve church that still teaches birth control is morally wrong while it sanctions (or at least protects) pedophile priests? The answer is, no chance at all.

Meanwhile, I left the church in the late 60s and began my own quest because I simply couldn't take any more of their theological horse shit. It all began in high school, Catholic high school in Miami, when numerous questions asked of the teaching Marist brothers would constantly go unanswered. They had no clue how to deal with an inquisitive mind, that is, one not content to sit back like a baby and just ingest pabulum.

I recall being a Materialist even as an altar boy. On one occasion before my 17th birthday, a few crumbs of consecrated communion wafer dropped off the paten en route back to the sacristy. The priest reprimanded me harshly, saying that I should’ve shown more respect for the "body of Christ". I told him flatly that the fallen crumbs were no more a body than those from yesterday's lunch. I informed him that I’d conducted chemical tests some months earlier and these showed the presence of starch and the absence of protein. He was dumbfounded and replied in words to the effect: "Ah well, so you’re a Materialist then? You don't think there’s anything there other than what your tests can reveal. Is that right?"

I replied: "That's right. And if you can prove to me that there is more than what my tests reveal I'll happily accept your conjectures. Until then, I regard them as a fantasy". Nonplussed, he responded briskly, recommending a solemn re-examination of faith and penance. He also included a smattering of threats about "eternal salvation" and how "Satan works through disbelief”.

His theocratic buttons pushed, he couldn’t respond rationally, only by mechanically regurgitating superstitious and incoherent mumbo-jumbo about nonexistent entities. None of the teaching Brothers fared any better, most fared much worse...including my questions pertaining to how they defined a "just war".

Later, while attending a Catholic university in freshman year, the mysteries of transubstantiation were part of a required course on ‘metaphysics’. The professor priest carefully avoided mentioning that thousands had lost their lives in the Middle Ages’ religious wars over the meaning of the ‘real presence’. Once again, as before in an earlier altar boy incarnation, I questioned that anything real or substantive existed.

His response included a look resembling a sneer, accompanied by more than a hint of sarcasm:

Then clearly you don’t know the difference between substance of the consecrated bread and the accidents of the bread. In that case it’s not very likely you’ll pass this course.”

Of course I knew what the terms meant, given this was primarily a course in Thomist Metaphysics (after Thomas Aquinas). In so many words, ‘accidents’ referred to the phenomenal make-up, or what greets our senses. For example, a Thomist would argue that the earlier starch test merely confirmed the ‘accidents’, i.e. specific carbohydrate composition of the wafer. But none of the tests approached the invisible, defining substance wherein the real body and blood resided.

The reply to this priest can still be recalled with a fair degree of confidence:

The point is there is no real ‘substance’. It’s an artifact of language having the capacity to create concepts or entities with no parallel in reality. By isolating the genuine material composition from the wafer you create an ersatz mystery.”

Ever since then, I have steadfastly maintained this position, and hence that Catholics are consuming no genuine Christic body but a plain carbo wafer. They could as well be ingesting a binet or a pretzel or cookie. Now, since the "Eucharist" is the central act of the Mass and the RC religion, then what would be the point of me "coming home" if I discharge it as so much codswallop? There'd be no point or purpose.

Beyond that, what pissed me off the most was the RCs' antiquated stance on artificial birth control in a world that's doubling in population every 20 years or so. Catholic impediments to a sane birth control policy began with the misguided encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968. The Pope at the time, Paul VI, issued this document in direct opposition to his own specially appointed Papal Commission on the matter. Author David Yallop, in his book In God's Name, (1984, p. 58) has portrayed Humanae Vitae in stark terms indeed, as well as its paradoxical consequences:

"On a disaster scale for the Roman Catholic Church, it measures higher than the treatment of Galileo in the seventeenth century "

The implicit assumption in Humanae Vitae and subsequently, Pope John Paul II's encyclical Veritatis Splendor, was that procreation takes precedence over any other function of sexual intercourse. This is observably true in most other animals (with estrus cycles) but it certainly doesn’t apply to humans who exhibit a diverse array of sexual play. To devalue sexplay for its own end, while extolling procreation-based sex as the be-all and end-all, is to rob humans of their uniqueness as sexual primates.

The claim always made by the Catholic moral authoritarians was that "natural law" dictated this stance, and hence, to even engage in one sexual act using artificial contraception was to really engage in "mutual masturbation" and be eligible for hellfire, based on a "mortal sin". Lost on the Church's morality wonks was the irony that only a century and a half earlier they'd defended slavery as acceptable under natural law, since it was "natural that some men required guidance and mastery". Also lost on these blockheads was that they'd uniformly fallen into the trap of Aristotelian logic which tends to fix human behavior within very limited and fixed definitions and categories.

The jig was up, and the whole faux natural law -based morality super-structure was exposed as a sham once the priest pedophile crisis erupted in 2005. We learned in the aftermath that a cover-up reached all the way to the Vatican and to the one the Catholics now wish to confer sainthood on: Pope John Paul II.

Beyond this exhibition of the loss of any moral authority, we have the further evidence from history that the Church isn't what it purports to be. For example, in the late 1940s, under its Intermarium operation, the Vatican's cooperated with the CIA to use ratlines for the escape of vicious Nazis and especially the SS, to South America. (For those who may be interested, please refer to the book 'Blowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis, and its disastrous effect on our domestic and foreign policy' by Christopher Simpson, Collier / Macmillan, 1988)

Those remaining Catholics who don't wish to remain infants their whole lives, dependent on "Holy Mama church" for permission to do....whatever...., can do themselves a favor by looking further into the operations of the Vatican Bank since the 1970s, and especially Paul Marcinkus ("God's Banker"). Look at the killing of Pope John Paul I, who had vowed to clean up the Vatican Bank and its money-laundering operations for P2 and the Mafia, as well as change Church birth control policy to allow artificial contraception. Who was his biggest opponent at the time? Cardinal Joseph 'Rat' Ratzinger. You can find the sordid details in David Yallop's (previously referenced) book.

Come back to the church? Yeah, when hell freezes over, or more practically, when the Vatican sells all it wealth and gives it to the poor and destitute!

The Vatican insults our intellect by asserting these are all the "crimes of individuals", oblivious to the fact that they are directed and driven by irrational, indefensible and malignant doctrines built into the core of the Catholic religion. Doctrines that have one purpose and one alone: to keep most Catholics at the level of mental or sexual invalids, and more obsessed about the number of "impure thoughts" or "acts" before their next confessions, than about reality.

The Vatican and the Roman Church lost forever what small moral credibility they had some time ago. Like the other posturing authoritarians and their ilk, including the banks and our own financial and political system, we need to grow beyond these crutches and find our own ways. To quote St. Paul: "It is time to put away the things of a child". And no, I find no irony at all in using that quote!

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