Pope Francis gives priests power to forgive abortions

Well, this is clearly a case of making a virtue of necessity. Given the widespread abandonment of the Church by Catholics in many countries, and the archaic stand of the Vatican on many issues that puts that the Church far behind secular moral progress, it’s no surprise that today Pope Francis gave priests the power to forgive abortions. This was the permanent extension of a temporary decree issued by the Pope during Jubilee Year.

That said, it’s still a move to be applauded, even though the Church itself is an outmoded institution that should be scrapped.

As CNN just reported:

Pope Francis will allow Catholic priests the power to forgive abortion, he announced in a letter released Monday.

The letter states: “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father.”
“May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation,” the letter continues. “I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion.”
Developing story – more to come

How does this represent a change? Well, in the past, abortions were considered such a grave sin that anybody who had one was automatically excommunicated. And, as The Independent notes:

In the past, only a bishop or a designated chief confessor of a diocese could grant absolution for an abortion.

What I don’t get about all this is how the Pope even has the power to decree what actions (e.g., unforgiven grave sins or excommunication) can put a person in danger of hell, and which can be forgiven by God. Did God tell Pope Francis? Is the Pontiff speaking ex cathedra (or “inflammably,” as Archie Bunker used to say)? If not—and perhaps some Catholics or ex-Catholics can enlighten us on this—then he’s simply making up Catholic doctrine, which represents a decree about what God wants and does not want.  And if that’s the case, I want to know where Francis got a pipeline to God’s wishes.

 

83 Comments

  1. Geoff Toscano
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    In the Middle Ages, and I daresay many other times according to convenience, it was normal for knights, and the nobility, prior to carrying out acts of wanton violence, perhaps against slightly outspoken villages, including rape, murder and torture, to enquire of their priest that they would be forgiven after the event. Needless to say sanction was always given, normally involving some sort of payment. As the worst that abortion can ever be is murder (and I do not think it can ever be so regarded), then why not just ask the local priest for forgiveness first. Doesn’t need a pope!

    • eric
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      Well because those were men, silly. God hates women exercising sexual independence far more than he hates soldiers killing people the church doesn’t mind being killed. (And I’m only half sarcastic – the OT seems to support the notion that he’s perfectly okay with soldiers killing enemies in war.)

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        Yes He is – it’s even got a name: Just War.

        However, in France landless knights were doing the rape and pillage thing for fun so much, and attempts to stop them by using guilt and threats of hell weren’t working. (Being killed and maimed was stopping the peasants working you see.) So the French pope had to come up with a new idea to distract them. He came up with the idea of blindly forgiving all past sins if these landless knights would just piss off to the Holy Land and fight Muslims instead. Ta da! The Crusades!

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted November 22, 2016 at 1:58 am | Permalink

          For a suitably cynical (and entertaining) view of the Crusades, I recommend the BBC’s 4-part series of the same name, narrated by Terry Jones. (That’s Terry Jones the Python and historian, not Terry Jones the loopy Koran-burning pastor).

          IIRC the Crusaders started off in promising fashion by massacring all the Jews in the neighbourhood (always a popular pastime in mediaeval Europe, and teh Jews were used to it); having arrived to save Constantinople from the heathen they found that Constantinople didn’t need saving and was only too anxious to get rid of them; so they crossed over into Asia and massacred all the local inhabitants, who happened to be Christians anyway but who cares about trivial details like that?

          Oh yes, and they did, as Heather says, have a get-out-of-jail-free card / good housekeeping seal of approval excusing all their atrocities.

          cr

    • somer
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      To quote but two instances

      Deuteronomy, The Song of Moses, 33 36-42

      “See now that I, even I, am he,
      and there is no god beside me;
      I kill and I make alive;
      I wound and I heal;
      and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

      For I lift up my hand to heaven,
      and swear, As I live for ever,
      if I whet my glittering sword,
      and my hand takes hold on judgement,
      I will take vengeance on my adversaries,
      and will requite those who hate me.

      I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
      and my sword shall devour flesh –
      with the blood of the slain and the captives,
      from the long-haired heads of the enemy.”

      and Deuteronomy 20 16-18
      “But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Per’izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb’usites, as the Lord your God has commanded; that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices which they have done in the service of their gods, and so to sin against the Lord your God.”

      Thus says the Lord of hosts, “… Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” (1 Samuel 15:2-3).

      Not to mention other parts of Deuteronomy and Samuel and many passages in Joshua, Exodus, Numbers, Psalms, Daniel, Micah, Isiah,

      • Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        Amazing how sometimes one misses something for years. I grew up in a relatively secular household (and had “comparative religions” for years in school), and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized “lord of hosts” meant “lord of armies”.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        A little light reading while I eat my lunch!

        • somer
          Posted November 22, 2016 at 12:16 am | Permalink

          Specially if its rare steak!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Wish we Catholic boys would’ve known about this advance dispensation provision; we wouldn’t’ve had to feel so guilty after tossin’ one off.

      Would’ve made for long lines outside the confessional every day, though.

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        haha

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Their position on ‘fisting the mister’ has not changed. Choking the ‘ol chicken is still a mortal sin. So you need to see this informative site about the subject:
        http://catholicbridge.com/catholic/masturbation.php

        And stop doing that. I see what you are doing there.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted November 22, 2016 at 2:21 am | Permalink

          That link is good for a laugh, if nothing else.

          Interestingly, if you look at his paragraph ‘Masturbation in the Bible’, not one of the passages he quotes explicitly mention masturbation (except in the case of Onan, whose crime was apparently deliberately avoiding getting his brother’s wife up the duff, not whacking off as such). So he hasn’t even got Biblical authority for it.

          cr

          • Posted November 22, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

            I confessed this sin too many times to remember during my teenage years. This was a few years prior to the Boston Globe breaking their story. I shiver to think what some of these priests may have been thinking as my confessions were told. One specifically memorable time was when a priest told me I’d severed my relationship with God and should be deeply ashamed. Not the greatest thing to tell an already awkward teen…

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted November 22, 2016 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

              The biblical references at that link seem to be talking about *thinking* lustfully (i.e. thoughtcrime) rather than actually, errm, helping oneself.

              I have no idea whether teenage girls feel the same urges as teenage boys do. But if they do, I have this vivid picture of priests hearing their confessions and I’m damn sure the priests couldn’t help but be guilty of exactly the same thoughtcrime.

              Gotta love the irony…

              cr

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted November 22, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

                I’m given to understand that women’s mileage may vary on that particular topic.

              • Posted November 22, 2016 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

                It’s the old “quick, don’t think about a hippopotamus!” problem.

              • Diane G.
                Posted November 23, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

                @ chris–:D

        • Flaffer
          Posted December 2, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          No.

  2. Frank Bath
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.”
    How innocent? It’s my understanding children are supposed to be born in a state of sin – original sin.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Good thinking. Damn those details.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        I agree. Something with which to challenge Christian anti-abortionists. As far as Catholic doctrine goes, summarized in this wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_sin#Roman_Catholicism, and in this rather revealing article written from an RC viewpoint http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/apologetics/salvation/original-sin/. It quotes Psalm51:5, which states, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” which neatly covers the process from conception through delivery. It’s ab ovo. But then the theologians fall all over themselves with casuistic qualifications re the exact nature of the sin and blah, blah, blah.

        The entire business is, of course, completely nonsensical, and Mr. Bath neatly reveals a glaring, fundamental contradiction in all the theological blathering about original sin re “innocent unborn children” — a contradiction that I could kick myself for overlooking until he pointed out.

    • Kevin
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      They are warm meat-sack thinking machines, just like us, only incapable of sustaining their life without an adult. No innocence. No sin.

      Xians need to learn the golden rule: Nature has no conscience, no kindness, or ill-will.

    • eric
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      There’s no contradiction here, the church is merely taking its doctrine of Original Sin seriously. They are innocent as fetuses but born in sin because traveling through the birth canal imparts the mother’s sheer feminine evilness to the baby. [/snark]

  3. eric
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    What I don’t get about all this is how the Pope even has the power to decree what actions (e.g., unforgiven grave sins or excommunication) can put a person in danger of hell, and which can be forgiven by God

    If you check the lawyery language of his proclamation, he didn’t do that. The sin remains exactly the same, what he did was say regular priests can minister to people who have done it.

    If you’re asking how ‘many moons ago’ the RCC decided some sins were grave and some were not…I don’t know. Wikipedia tells me that it was originally based on the 10 commandments, but that source also notes that some sins are graver than others (the excommunication-for-abortion thing makes it one of the real biggies). And it appears they’ve expanded the list, as the curret list of mortal/grave sins reads like “The RCC’s Reaction to the 20th Century,” including such things as contraception, terrorism and drug use.

  4. Gabriel
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    “I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to…”

    This is from a Monty Python sketch isn’t it?

    BTW, “Ex cathedra” is a fancy word to hide an obvious idiocy, like the weird robes of the priests designed to hide their absolute inanity. The Pope speaks “ex cathedra” when he speaks on matters of morals (and he is the one who says what is a matter of morals!) and with the intention to teach. It’s that simple. And yes, God speaks to him; but you should read some theology (more theology, there is always more)to understand that.

  5. rickflick
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    My guess would be that most Catholics do not analyze the Pope’s pronouncements for logical consistency. They adopt a position like one stalk in a sea of grass shifted to and fro by the wind.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I suspect he is just lowering the pay grade of who gets this sinful job. When the complaints come in, guess who gets the pointy figure. Stuff always runs downhill.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      that would be finger…good grief

  7. Walt Jones
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    The Wikipedia article on papal infallibility lists seven generally accepted ex cathedra pronouncements. Only two, which both address heresies, are potentially falsifiable.

    My favorite story about forgiveness involves two bishops returning to Rome with the proceeds from selling indulgences. When they were held up by bandits, they explained that robbing the church was a serious sin. The bandits laughed, showed them the indulgences they had purchased, and then took off with the loot.

  8. Jonathan Dore
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    “What I don’t get about all this is how the Pope even has the power to decree what actions (e.g., unforgiven grave sins or excommunication) can put a person in danger of hell, and which can be forgiven by God.”

    I suspect the origin of this is Matthew 16: 18-19: “And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

    This is the foundation of the Catholic Church’s belief that Peter — and by extension his successors — had full executive authority to decide on doctrinal matters, or in other words, the authority to make stuff up when it suited them. This is why so much core Catholic doctrine has no foundation in the Bible: because the RCC has always considered itself – or at least, the current pope, Peter’s successor – to be at least as authoritative a source for doctrine as the Bible.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      “Matthew 16: 18-19” And how many of these power consolidating passages do you suppose were inserted by the Church itself (when no one was looking)?

      • Posted November 21, 2016 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        The Roman Catholic Church uses your quoted text as the foundation of their authority. However, they selected the writings to canonize and those to get rid of. They decided which philosophers best suited their faith and which didn’t. They revised text over and over again. They also changed rules as it suited them. Once, eating meat on Friday was a sin. Once, Roman Catholic priests could marry and have families. Once, the Roman Catholic See was in both Italy and France with Popes in both places. Once, dead babies went to Limbo. (Where is Limbo now?)The laws/rules of the Church have changed many, many times as it became necessary in order for the Church to continue in power.

        Please also remember that there are numerous other forms of Catholicism besides Roman Catholicism whose hierarchical structure is different, that don’t agree on the sacredness of certain books, don’t follow the same calendar or celebrate the same holidays.

        • somer
          Posted November 22, 2016 at 3:01 am | Permalink

          Charming. Its like Bertrand Russell talks about the general gloom and doom and hatred of the body that followed the chaos and destruction from towards the end of the Roman empire. Until the end of the dark ages the Church saw sex generally but women in particular as evil – only the celibate were really ok but Christians had to reproduce – not least so they could produce some holy celibates and male clerics to lead them. Women were supposed to be punished for theire wickedness. Idea that (Spierenburg, the broken spell) Then the age of courtly romance and some softening of attitudes to women and the idea that both partners should get something out of sex so long as strictly for reproduction, and still very patriarchal. Tho misogynistic itself the church was also struggling with the violent and patriarchal feudal nobility, and didn’t gain complete control of the rites and proceedings of marriage until the 1500s.
          At any rate, its core doctrine (and traditional Christianity/the core of any orthodox organised religion) is always fixation with a particular norms and modes of reproduction – in this case sanctions on any form of birth control, sanction on masturbation, divorce, homosexuality, insistence on having lots of children. Blah blah. Any concern about poverty will only be so long as it doesnt interfere with the reproductive obsessions – which in the modern age include not caring about overpopulation, tho to be fair they care now about the environment (until we cover the earth in layers of humans/dead humans). As Robert Wyman said in global problems of population growth, if a population is in a stage of excess with regards to what resources/environment can provide women have an low status -the more this is the case the more this is true.

          • rickflick
            Posted November 22, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

            Christopher Hitchens remarked that the quickest way to move millions out of poverty is to empower women. Give them the power to control their reproductive cycle and the natural fall out would be a big boost in creative economic productivity. The people most ardently against this obvious solution is the Church, which would rather hold on to it’s control rather than relieve the pervasive suffering. Such a shame.

    • eric
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      They use the quote when it suits them, but then ignore it when it doesn’t. After all, that same quote could be used to support SSM (i.e., “I, the successor to Peter, am loosening the stricture against it”), but I bet if you ask the RCC about that possibility they’d say they don’t have the power or authority to contradict the bible on that issue.

    • Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      The latter bit spins itself into I being told when I’ve argued with Catholics that I was “missing the history of the church” on interpretation. I was heartened by having something in common with one of my heroes, Galileo, but …

  9. Mike Cracraft
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Keep in mind that the next pope can easily rescind this decree.

  10. kieran
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    There are only a few instances of papal infallibility that are not questioned, The one defining papal infallibility, the virgin birth the rest of the small group are contested.

    There was forgiveness for abortion through a bishop, as such it’s not a new thing but rather an expansion of a role to priests. Think of it as a software upgrade for deacon 1.1 to deacon 2.0.

    There was also special dispensation to marry your cousin also needed permission of a bishop. Even getting married outside of the faith needed special permission from a bishop, that moved to parish priest now you just need to do a course. Hell in Ireland you needed permission from the bishop to attend trinity because it was a protestant college.

    Basically with a lot of what Francis says and does, the underlying doctrine has not changed but how it is carried out and how it is packaged has.

    • eric
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Even getting married outside of the faith needed special permission from a bishop, that moved to parish priest now you just need to do a course.

      Yeah, in the US I’ve seen that sequence play out in regards to baptism. First comes “must have been RCC married, no divorce, and both god parents must be RCC.” But they’re just bluffing. They have only the power you give them. You threaten to go to a more liberal church, and pretty soon you’ve negotiated them down to “well can we at least ask that the god parents sign a form saying they’ll raise the kid Catholic.”

  11. Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    This move has to be applauded and taken in good faith as a step in the right direction. We should be gently encouraging pope Francis to further give priests the power to heal the sick and end world poverty. Undoubtedly, this is a timely response to Turkish Islamism’s laudable attempt to end child rape.

    Anvil.

    • somer
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Well I suppose its some improvement though as Kieren says “the underlying doctrine has not changed but how it is carried out and how it is packaged has.”

      The facetious reference to Turkey’s “laudable attempt to end child rape”
      Turkish bill clears men of statutory rape if they marry
      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38030182

      • Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        “The facetious reference to Turkey’s “laudable attempt to end child rape”
        Turkish bill clears men of statutory rape if they marry”

        Hence the facetious reference to Turkey’s “laudable attempt to end child rape”

        Anvil.

        • Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

          … and the facetious reference to men being given the power to forgive abortions.

          • somer
            Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

            Sorry I wasn’t clear on the meaning

            • Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

              Undoubtedly due to my poor ability at satire.

              • Claudia Baker
                Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

                I got it right away, anvil. And thought it was perfect satire. Yet another example of men & religion fucking with women (and little girls too in this case). ffs. Sickening.

                Does the pope have a direct pipeline to god, you ask? That is certainly what I was taught growing up. As god’s representative on earth, he can make shit up and tell us what to do. And say god told him.

                Here’s my answer to the “infallibility” of the pope: fuck off and keep your dictates off my reproductive system.

                Spoken like a true ex-catholic.

  12. Tom
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    abortion is a sin because it puts an end to innocent life? How about insecticides?

  13. Todd Nelson
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    The Roman Catholic Church believes that Peter, the Apostle, was the first Pope. Each successive Pope is understood to be Peter’s successor.

    And since Peter was told in Mathew 16v19:

    “I give you the keys of the Kingdom and whatever you bind on earth I will bind in heaven etc.”

    Those Pope’s who’ve followed Peter have the same authority.

    Papal Infalibility while possibly related is actually a late addition to Roman Catholic teaching and I do not think it applies to this instance.

  14. Heather Hastie
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I note that women still have to feel suitably contrite and suffer in the knowledge that they have done an Evil Act, and it is only a special man who can forgive them. They can’t even appeal directly to God, who is the only one who can supposedly actually forgive them. Prostration before a priest is required. Only he can judge apparently if you feel suitably guilty enough and are suffering enough.

    The level of sexism in this “mainstream” religion is appalling.

    • Posted November 21, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      I wonder what it must have felt like for these special men to awaken with this new godly power? I imagine that, like Harry and Hermione following a dark-arts lesson, they’d be keen to try it out? Perhaps cruising bars near american abortion clinics. Wand at the ready.

      I have to agree on the appalling sexism but have faith that the day when special women, like their special male counterparts, have the power to forgive lesser women’s abortions, is closer than we think.

      Till then, we must console ourselves that the total sum of guilt & suffering is, at least, lessened.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        Yes. It is, at least, progress.

        Though it will not be until secular humanists have made the idea that women are equal that religion decides to see us that way. Then their inviolable texts will be reinterpreted and it will have their idea all along.

        The pope recently commissioned a study into a greater role for women in leadership roles. It recommended no change to the status quo.

        • Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

          “The pope recently commissioned a study into a greater role for women in leadership roles. It recommended no change to the status quo.”

          Phew. Still, good to know that our worries & concerns, Heather, however well meant, were nevertheless ill-conceived.

        • rickflick
          Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          When I hear that a little progress is better than none I think of the fact that at the rate these minute improvements are being grudgingly rolled out, the rest of humanity will be verging on moral Utopia waiting for the Church to catch up. Makes me puke.

    • Kevin
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      “The level of sexism in this “mainstream” religion is appalling.”

      I fear I shall end my days, which is likely over half a century away, and still be surrounded by women who think this stuff is ok. Religion continues to enslave half of humanity, either in mind or body or both.

    • bluemaas
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      .that. = “The level of sexism in this “mainstream” religion is appalling.” … … as of “Sexism: THE Original Sin,” Ms Hastie, and .this. = 14. Who Cooked The Last Supper?, Dr Rosalind Miles. “When man made himself God, he made woman less than human. ‘A woman is never truly her own master,’ argued Luther. ‘Let them bear children TILL THEY DIE OF IT. She is there TO DO IT. If she tires and dies, it is of no matter.’ And from Buddha, ‘The body of a woman is filthy and not a vessel for the law.'” as of thus http://www.thelizlibrary.org/site-index/site-index-frame.html#soulhttp://www.thelizlibrary.org/brett/index.html — is what, within the 20th and the 21st Centuries — f i n a l l y —, has turned the tide for very many of my formerly religious friends.

      Fortunately — for them, that is. Decades to centuries to millennia of shaming and guilting by the Powerful and the Controlling.

      Done with that.
      Blue

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        Yeah. There has been a big change in my lifetime, which I’m very pleased about. I also appreciate very much the many men who have been allies. It annoys me though that some men, especially religious ones, think I should also be grateful.

        • bluemaas
          Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          .which. is why — that exact annoyance — we, my friends and three sons, have had to go to almost purposeful non – acknowledgement of same.

          As a matter of fact, it was my eldest child about a decade and a half ago, after three gap years traveling to and living inside Alaska and Australia and was himself yet, then later, within undergraduate study to become an elementary schoolteacher, who pointed out to me and my friends our more – than – less fawning back onto such attention – seeking men with his statement of, “Why are you thanking him, Ma ? He shoulda been doing that (whatever had been The Right, Anti – Sexist Thing) years ago. What’s more, he .knows. it, too; … … and always has.”

          Blue

          • bluemaas
            Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

            I forgot: Zac, back then as well, did a 13 – week walkabout inside Guatemala and El Salvador. At where sexist wrong was so blatant that not only was it not at all hidden but he was quite encouraged to participate in perpetuating it at wherever he walked.

            Blue

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

            He sounds like a son to be proud of.🙂

            • bluemaas
              Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

              O, indeed, Ms Hastie, and I am. I am proud of him. And his bros.

              Those friends o’mine, though ? They, jokingly since they are no longer Catholic, let alone, religious at all, told Zac that he oughtta elevate me, however, to sainthood: during those 13 weeks’ time that he went South ? His ma ? me ? I … took not only ‘care’ of his Ratty but, as the raging rat – o – phobe that I am but per Zac’s clear directives, I let Ratty take over an entire room within my house, his massive cage parked there, and daily … … daily, I say, … … I actually opened that bloody cage door and let Ratty out to exercise and to play and, with the utmost of unseen and unheralded bravery, lifted then that DamnedRat back up and back into that frickin’ cage. (Which, that cage — twice, during those weeks’ worth I also hoisted on over to my driveway and thoroughly hosed down, cleansed and dried.)

              Sainthood, not ? My deserving thereof, not ?

              Blue

              ps Now — right now — I am having flashbacks that I cannot get rid of !

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted November 21, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

                Ha ha! I entirely sympathize!😀

      • Posted November 21, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        I urge anyone that hasn’t read “Who Cooked the Last Supper” by Dr. Rosalind Miles to read it.

        • bluemaas
          Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

          Whoa, Ms Kitchen ! Dr Miles’ “Who Cooked the Last Supper ? The Women’s History of the World ?” I found her wisdom in y1999, and after completing it, straightaway ordered and gave away 13 copies of it.

          My copy ? Rests upon the mantle and within a homemade cedar gem box cuz I want to be able to easily access it = it being what I consider to be “my .only. scripture” … … pronto. I have at least one time, if not oftener, hawked it here at WEIT before now.

          p 102 and Chapter Five: the Sins of the Mothers = its first quotation there. And, o’course, the rest of that chapter. And the book.

          Incidentally, within her Introduction Dr Miles is pained to report thus: its publisher, literally against all concerns and objections of hers, forced her to put into its title that cutesy and catchy querying statement of “Who Cooked the Last Supper ?” cuz the publisher did not like Dr Miles’ own bland and soooo, so boring “The Women’s History of the World” only – title — stating to her that the book would be feistier and ‘d sell more copies with that spicy muck in its title, that “who th”ell’d wanna read women’s history anyhow ?”

          Blue

        • Diane G.
          Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

          Another book I highly recommend is Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom’s Does God Hate Women?

          Whatever one thinks about Ophelia now, she was…different at the time this was written (as some might conclude independently from the fact that she co-wrote this with Stangroom.)

  15. Posted November 21, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    “What actions can put a person in danger of Hell?”

    Only unforgiven mortal sins put a person in danger of Hell and ALL unforgiven mortal sins put a person in danger of Hell. The distinction between mortal sins and venial sins (which do not put anyone in danger of Hell) is based on a passage in the first epistle of John.

    A grave sin is not necessarily a mortal sin. For it to be mortal the person must know that it is a grave sin and make a free choice to do it.

    Which sins can be forgiven by God? God can forgive anything he wants to forgive. However, he does not forgive mortal sins without the help of a priest unless your motives for repentance are just right. If a priest is present you can be forgiven even with imperfect repentance.

    None of this is new and none of it was made up by Francis (by other Popes maybe, but not by Francis).

    As Pope I suppose Francis is held to have some power over priests and what they are allowed to do in the confessional. It has nothing to do with Papal infallibility.

    I am not sure about this but AFAIK the only infallible declarations made by a Pope since the original Council declaration of Papal infallibility are concerning the Immaculate Conception (not the Virgin birth btw, that is in the Gospels) and the Assumption of Mary.

    • Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      As an ex-Jesuit I can confirm that everything ohtobide says is entirely accurate. Contrary to popular belief, there are very few Ex Cathedra or infallible “dogmas” within the Catholic Church (e.g., the Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Birth, Transubstantiation) and none of them impinges on the practical, moral decisions that Catholics make in their daily lives.

      The rest is “teachings,” and one of those teachings, specifically spelled out in Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, is the supremacy of the individual conscience. One of the conditions of committing a mortal sin (in addition to it being a grave matter and you doing it willingly) is that you have to believe the act to be a sin. Hence, if a Catholic woman in good conscience does not believe that abortion is a sin, then she commits no sin by having an abortion and has no need to confess it or get absolution. Even if she believes it to be a sin and wants forgiveness she can make a “perfect act of contrition” without going to a priest—what ohtobide is referring to by saying that “your motives for repentance are just right.” “Just right” here means that your repentance should be based on your sorrow for having offended God rather than on your fear of going to hell, much as an unfaithful husband should be sorry not mainly because he got caught and is about to be kicked out of the house, but because he loves his wife and recognizes that he has sinned against her.

      In short, none of this is as draconian or even as complicated as many people think.

      • eric
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        Hence, if a Catholic woman in good conscience does not believe that abortion is a sin, then she commits no sin by having an abortion and has no need to confess it or get absolution.

        Hmm I read ohtobide’s post differently: as saying that in such a case the abortion would still be a sin and maybe even a grave sin, but not a mortal sin. Thus in the case of the woman who did not believe she was sinning, God would forgive that sin as upon normal prayer request. It is only if the woman believed/knew she was committing a grave sin and did it anyway, that God won’t forgive it unless one of Peter’s appointed officeholders intercedes on her behalf.

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    … a case of making a virtue of necessity …

    You ask me, that pretty much sums all of small “p” politics. Or hell, of life itself. Doesn’t take a J-P Sartre to see that most of life comes down to making chicken salad outta chickenshit.

    I left the Catholic church as a teenager, going on a half-century ago now — walked out the back door after a sermon one Sunday, ain’t been back since except for weddings and funerals. I have no doctrinal affinity for Catholicism whatever — zero, zip, nada. My fellow feeling for Catholics is strictly tribal, a way of staying true to my working-class ethnic roots (a dilute version of what my secular Jewish friends describe feeling about being a Jew); it’s the same tribal loyalty I feel to my hometown, to my cousins, to the guys I hung out with on the street corner.

    I agree that the Catholic Church “is an outmoded institution that should be scrapped,” just as should be every other man-created religion (which is to say, all of ’em).

    But Pope Frankie the First — he’s alright in my book. I keep rooting for him to be another John XXIII, the heroic pontiff of my youth, from the days when I was studying to be my parish’s most lackadaisical alter boy.

    (I do retain enough doctrine from those days to offer up that the Pope’s power to specify which sins may be forgiven derives from Jesus having supposedly told the first pontiff, Peter: “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” John 20:23)

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Every time something gets posted here about the Pope, or about Church folly more generally, I get the Catholic version of that shanda-for-the-goyim feeling.

  17. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    The letter states: “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life…

    An _innocent_ life? So the Popester is giving up on the doctrine of original sin? This means that the Holy Roman Catholic Church should soon be giving up on the practice of infant baptism.

    Wow, this pope is pretty radical.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Apologies, I see this was covered in comment #2.

  18. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    That whole Protestant thing was based on the idea that no human has exclusive abilities to mediate forgiveness for any infraction whatsoever. Although Anglicans and Greek Orthodox have a confessional, they don’t believe this either.

    The pope is considered infallible when he speaks ex cathedra (twice in church history) but weirdly Catholics don’t agree on what else is considered infallible.
    (Wow. Mathematician Kurt Godel would have a field day with that one!!)

    Love the Archie Bunker reference. In honor of Archibald:

  19. Posted November 21, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    One of several bad poems I’ve written regarding dreams I’ve had about loss of religious faith:

    DEATH OF GOD

    In my dream, that morning,
    I didn’t go to Sunday School
    and was late for church.
    As I stood out front,
    my brother and a friend
    left the building. I went through
    the front doors to the auditorium:
    no one was there. So, I walked
    through the pastor’s office
    back into, what used to be,
    Sunday School classrooms.
    I found myself onstage, behind
    the minister at the pulpit,
    facing the entire congregation.
    All of them shouted at me,
    “Go back! Go back! Get out!”
    They wildly waved their arms.
    It was exceedingly clear that
    I was in the wrong place,
    I shouldn‘t be there. So, I turned
    back the way I’d come:
    through office, auditorium,
    and out the front doors.
    As I stepped into the bright sunlight
    on the sidewalk out front,
    the church roof caved in.

  20. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Can a priest forgive the abortion of a child that they themselves have fathered?

  21. Diane G.
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Whoa, didn’t see that one coming.

    It’s all still stupid and horrible, but I am happy to hear every pronouncement Francis makes that’s to the left of what is now considered important doctrine.

    I doubt he’ll ever consider forgiving abortionists.

  22. Posted November 21, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    There’s quite a lot of bullshit being flung by the Poop here. If the circumstances are dire enough, any priest can absolve a sin that caused excommunication. This has always been the case and could anything from approaching death to physical inability to see the properly appointed clergy member could factor in. This is just more of the same…Frances trying to upsell something that’s not really new. Wake me up when he admits Adam and Eve are a myth, that’d be some real progress.

    • Posted November 21, 2016 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      *could include

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 22, 2016 at 2:24 am | Permalink

      I actually get a much more optimistic reading from this–that the very fact the Pope bothers to bring this up suggests perhaps the tiniest of tiniest acknowledgment that abortions should not be the primary focus of Catholic countries; that they’re not THE most important issue for Catholics to get behind. Go Pope! Now just bring back the RCC antiwar activists and we’ll be all hunky-dory.

      • somer
        Posted November 22, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        Francis is better than his predecessors since John 23 and he does care about the poor in the way his beliefs determine but he’d never do away with the core principles re the nature of the Christian family. That is after all the “core” and “heart” of the christian tradition. Done with just different emphases from the protestant evangelical churches which admittedly are less interested in fairness

        From Pope John Paul 2 on the ranks of cardinals and bishops are all scrupulously conservative. None of that liberation theology stuff thank you as it reeks of secularism – focus on family and increased reproduction with the occasional softening tweek, and any social justice that doesnt threaten this.

        Also re the church structure I doubt the vatican and other senior clerics would let him do anything radical to undermine the elevated position of the clergy itself or its resources – like allow a non celibate stream of clergy.

        It would be great if Francis could find a way/the Vatican structure would let him do away with the secret Papal edict of 1922 (since exposed) that forbids senior clergy from handing clerical sex abusers over to secular authorities.(Kieren Taspell: Potiphar’s Wife) Prior to that the Church let the secular authorities punish pedophile and sex abusing priests and there was not much of a problem with abuse.

      • Posted November 22, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        Optimistic indeed! I’d start to share some of your optimism if he’d come out and tell the USCCB to butt out of politics. They present a much bigger threat to the First Amendment and women’s health than the Vatican.

  23. cornbread_r2
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    According to my priestly informant, priests in the US have been granted the dispensation to remove the automatic excommunication and absolve the sin of abortion for at least the past 35 years. All this does is extend the same dispensation to all priests.

  24. Duncan
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    Whenever the ‘rules’ for being a catholic/muslim/etc get tinkered with it always reminds me of the rules being changed for other well loved imaginary universes e.g when we found out r2d2 could fly in the star wars prequels.


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