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Old 12-27-2013, 02:46 AM
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Default Pope Francis

This is a spin-off from Insert slew of expletives! It's not quite a fit for "Spirituality *and* Polyamory," and although rather bloggish still not directly related to poly, so I am putting it here.

To wit, I was sitting on something until after Christmas was over, a handful of quotes by Pope Francis that should stir up trouble amongst my old Utah friends. The quotes were burning a hole in my text files, so I sent them out today.

Said friends and I were all raised Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), in the sleepy farmlands (sleepy and farmlands no longer) north of BYU, so Catholic matters are technically of secondary concern to us. However, many of us have strayed from the strait-and-narrow Latter-day Saint path and so, non-LDS matters are of greater concern than they might have been.

In hopes of protecting the privacy of non-Polyamory.com persons (i.e. the whole gang except myself), I'll codify their names and summarize their emails in my own words.

It begins with the following:

---

From: kdt26417
To: the Gang (7 guys)
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013
Subject: Pope Francis

It would appear that Pope Francis is something of a flaming liberal ...

Quote:
"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! 'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists. Everyone! ... We must meet one another doing good. 'But I don't believe, Father, I am an atheist!' But do good: we will meet one another there."
-- Pope Francis, #13 @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12...rancis-quotes/
Quote:
"When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts turn to the first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, which states that God placed man and woman on earth to cultivate and care for it. And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? or are we exploiting and neglecting it?"
-- Pope Francis, #15 @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12...rancis-quotes/ (June 2013)
Quote:
"Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up. But it is a difficult journey, if we do not learn to grow in love for this world of ours. Here too, it helps me to think of the name of Francis, who teaches us profound respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment, which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another's detriment."
-- Pope Francis, #16 @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12...rancis-quotes/ (March 2013)
Quote:
"This is happening today. If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy and people say, 'What are we going to do?' but if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that's nothing. This is our crisis today. A Church that is poor and for the poor has to fight this mentality."
-- Pope Francis, #18 @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12...rancis-quotes/
Quote:
"If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society. The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers."
-- Pope Francis, #10 @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12...rancis-quotes/ (July 2013)
Your thoughts? Anyone ... anyone ...
While stirring up trouble here, there, and whereabouts,
Kevin.

---

From: Astronomer
To: kdt26417
Cc: the Rest of the Gang
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013

[In kdt26417's words:] Astronomer wondered what a Pope should do, considering the Pope is faced with a rather flawed Bible and primitive traditions, which have promoted the following:
  • genocide,
  • human sacrifice,
  • incest,
  • execution for innocent things like
    • breaking the Sabbath,
    • homosexuality,
    • non-Hebrew membership,
    • etc.
Yet in spite of it all, a Pope ought to lead the world in a better direction than all of that stuff.

So what role should the Pope play?

Pope Astronomer would draw up a list of great world evils, such as:
  • child abuse,
  • sexual abuse,
  • physical abuse,
  • murder,
  • torture,
  • etc.
He would turn away from the Bible, or at least change a lot of it. Then he'd put on the trappings of his office, so as to gain credibility in the eyes of the world, then orate as Pope Frances is already doing.

So how can a Pope make the most of his office? Gender orientation should be one of his least concerns.

[continued below]
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Old 12-27-2013, 02:47 AM
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Default Pope Francis (continued)

[continued from above]

From: kdt26417
To: Astronomer
Cc: the Rest of the Gang
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hmmm, what would I do if I were the Pope. That, then, is perhaps our new topic? It would certainly be a challenging topic.

Technically, I guess the Pope can do darn near whatever he wants. He is, after all, the Pope, amirite? but how to maximize the effectiveness of his office in bringing about positive social change, that is the question.

The truth is, Pope Francis is probably a lot more limited in what he can do than he'd like to be. If he goes too far in eschewing traditions such as the Bible, he'll incite the wrath of too many Catholics (and even of people of other faiths). All that would accomplish is a bunch of contention. He'd probably rather lead humanity bit by bit in the right direction as the majority becomes ready and willing to hear a new message.

I'd probably start with a general statement something like, "We accept the Bible as an imperfect book as it has passed through the hands of many mortal scholars." I wouldn't even try to change (or subtract from) the Bible at first. I'd just leave that little gem of wisdom for the world to chew on for awhile. Later, if I was still around and a considerable number of people seemed ready to accept some specific changes, I might start issuing general advice to take certain specific verses with a grain of salt. If I really got lucky I might live long enough for people to accept a few physical edits to the most egregious verses.

Pope Francis seems to have a specifically Democratic/Left-Wing agenda. He isn't as concerned about which specific actions of humanity are the most grevious, as he is steering the Church away from a generally Republican/Right-Wing mindset. Thus, if it's a cause that the Democratic Party has adopted, you'll probably find Pope Francis adopting it too. Based on the website where I got those quotes, he seems to be especially intent on opposing corporations, consumerism, and the free market system, calling to replace it with considerable government intervention and control over charity and the marketplace. He seems to blame the lion's share of the world's poverty on the "natural marriage" of greed and capitalism.

I find economic matters to be too complicated to paint that much in black and white terms, and it's very possible that the marketplace needs some governmental controls but not too many. I'm also concerned about the environment but not to the point, for example, where I'd condemn all oil drilling, or where I'd cry out for all nuclear plants to be shut down. Instead, I am more pleased with the Pope's positions on the following matters (these are just the ones I'm aware of -- as I checked Wikipedia -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Francis -- to improve my knowledge):
  • more emphasis on tenderness, mercy and compassion;
  • more emphasis on helping the poor;
  • acceptance of homosexuals;
  • acceptance of atheists;
  • acceptance of non-Catholics in general;
  • promoting interfaith dialogue;
  • more equal rights for women.
Matters I wish he'd take a stronger stance on:
  • opposition against physical abuse;
  • opposition against the use of torture;
  • opposition against the overuse of prisons;
  • opposition against the sexual abuse of children by priests;
  • promotion of the idea of ordaining women to the priesthood;
  • promotion of the idea of re-interpreting/revising the Bible;
  • promotion of the idea that homosexuality per se isn't a sin;
  • promotion of same-sex marriage.
While admitting that abortion is as complex a matter as the economy, I'll note that "Pope Francis, while affirming the present Church teachings, has stated that Catholics have concentrated officiously on condemning abortion ..." In a word, Francis opposes abortion but not as vigorously as his predecessors. I should also note that while he supports equal rights for women more than prior Popes, he has no known plans for the Church to ordain female priests.

As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he said: "Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It assumes that there is room in the heart for the person's point of view, opinion, and proposal. To dialogue entails a cordial reception, not a prior condemnation. In order to dialogue it is necessary to know how to lower the defenses, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth."

As Pope he said: "We also sense our closeness to all those men and women who, although not identifying themselves as followers of any religious tradition, are nonetheless searching for truth, goodness and beauty, the truth, goodness and beauty of God. They are our valued allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in safeguarding and caring for creation."

I'm sorry to say that he's opposed to same-sex marriage. He seems to have called for civil unions as a substitute. His views on homosexuality differ enough from those of former Popes that "the American LGBT magazine 'The Advocate' named Pope Francis their Person of the Year for 2013."

As a bonus Pope Francis is also a plain-dressing Pope, eschews the relatively lavish quarters that former Popes have used, and is the first Jesuit to become Pope (if I understand correctly). He seems to be a remarkably humble man and has spoken out against the Church's obsessing over bureaucratic/dogmatic details.

Hypotheticals about what I'd do as Pope aside, the reality is that becoming a Pope is a highly involved and political process. In light of that, I think we're quite lucky to have the Pope that we now have. I'm encouraged by his relatively good health and I hope he'll be around to "stir up trouble in the Church and worldwide" for a long time.

Even a dedicated Latter-day Saint should be concerned about who the Pope is because the Pope influences so much of the mindset of the world at large. It's because of Pope Francis' acceptance of people of other faiths, for example, that the LDS church will probably enjoy an increased percentage of convert baptisms going forward. On the other hand, some of his liberal views may prove to be an obstacle to the conservative social causes that the LDS church champions.

Ultimately, it should be a concern of Latter-day Saints that the Pope use his office according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit, just as one would hope that a doctor, politician, or anyone else for that matter (but especially anyone with much power and responsibility) would act in accordance to the dictates of the Spirit. As an atheist and "Science worshipper," I hope that whoever the Pope is will carefully act in good conscience at all times.

I'll be thinking more about "what I'd do as Pope" as our discussion continues.
Regards,
Kevin T.

---

Thus and so is the email conversation so far.

One of my old friends is a faithful and very conservative Latter-day Saint, and I am of particular hope that he'll be successfully prodded into joining in on the conversation. I know he would provide a contrasting point of view.

So, what do you fellow members here on Polyamory.com think of all this?

Regards,
Kevin T.
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Old 12-27-2013, 03:51 AM
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Ha! The coincidences. I would say that you are far more courageous than I am. I was raised by one LDS parent, in a similar region of the country. We have decided that discussion of religion and politics is essentially off the table.

I will respond to this piece first. "Pope Francis seems to have a specifically Democratic/Left-Wing agenda. He isn't as concerned about which specific actions of humanity are the most grevious, as he is steering the Church away from a generally Republican/Right-Wing mindset."

What I would say is that we in the west may perceive it this way, but the notion that the Pope is somehow filtering his cognitions and informing his world-view through the American political system seems a bit...off. I don't see it as political as much as trying to adhere to a philosophy that seems to have been in existence through much of his time as a cardinal too - and that's just serving the poor. We just like to call that "socialism" in this country and label it as somehow unpatriotic. So far, he seems a breath of fresh air. Although...it won't have me running to church any time soon.
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Old 12-27-2013, 04:19 AM
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I agree that he's basically continuing the same message that he preached as a cardinal. But as Pope, I'm guessing he's a bit more conscious of the perception United States conservatives may have of his message. Doesn't mean he's going to change the message, just means he's aware that it has more far-reaching effects than it ever did.

I had to word my emails carefully so as to avoid giving offense to the conservative member/s of that group. I'm pretty pleased with the totality of Francis' message though, and agree that he's an unprecedented breath of fresh air.

Interesting that one of your parents was/is LDS. That always makes religion a hot-button topic.

Will continue to post here if/as new messages/emails trickle in.

Regards always,
Kevin T.
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Old 12-27-2013, 04:32 AM
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I saw a demographic assessment of Catholicism worldwide recently and from the looks of the gaps in membership, he is trying to reach out to young people who are the most disengaged segment of the demographic. They are joining in lower numbers and are not attending church. Given that, he has to have a more open philosophy.

I'm glad that your efforts at dialogue have remained cordial. It sounds like an interesting conversation - worthy of 3D. It's too bad you can't get together face-to-face with your group of friends and discuss it. over...not coffee. (We do lemonade at family gatherings.)
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Old 12-27-2013, 04:56 AM
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Heh, I know at least one person (in addition to myself) who'd demand to have some kind of beer or hard liquor handy.

Yeah, without a cordial approach, the gang'd probably get disgusted and walk off. By polishing my performance, there's a better chance that they'll take it as a worthy challenge.

Which reminds me, I didn't just intend to make it cordial, I also wanted to spotlight the relatively "Democratic" bent that Francis seems to have, in hopes of getting the dander up of the one conservative person. Everyone can agree that we ought to help the poor, but not everyone will agree about how that should be accomplished.

Should be an interesting conversation if my friends can find the time to post some more responses. (And even if they don't, the responses on Polyamory.com help the conversation along, in my mind.)

Interesting that the Pope is (I'm sure) aware of the dwindling interest in the Church with the passing of generations. Brother-Husband (in the V I'm in) was raised Catholic but is no longer interested in following that path. He and Hinge Lady were very active in the Lutheran church for many years but have become disillusioned with that as well. And I have transitioned from a very active Mormon into a very Science-oriented atheist.

I'm sure the LDS church is experiencing some dwindling interest with the passing of generations. So far their answer seems to be to push harder for active members to have more kids. But I'm not sure how long that strategy will last.

As time goes on I think many or most churches (in the U.S. at least) are starting to realize that if they don't adapt to the increasingly progressive social atmosphere (spurred on by the passage of generations), they're going to be preaching to an empty church. Which may be the very reason why Francis was elected Pope. Can't tell for sure.
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:58 PM
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Hey, he's a cool pope and all, but if he doesn't address priestly molestation of children and young teenagers, it's all empty and shallow words.

As far as I know, Cardinal Law of Boston (responsible for so many child rapes) still has a job in the Vatican.
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Old 12-27-2013, 03:09 PM
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I can't wait to see how they reply to that aspect. I've never understood how "socialism" got co-opted/re-framed by the religious/fundamentalist right as a bad or unpatriotic thing. I just DON'T get it. And I have yet to hear somebody explain it without tripping over their own logic and doctrine.
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Old 12-27-2013, 04:53 PM
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I am glad the Pope is bringing back the Catholic's Church's focus on economic justice. I disagree on so many issues with the Church but the Church's critiques of economics, particulary unrestrained capitalism and socialism without democracy, is one where I largely agree with them. It's been a much missed viewpoint buried by all the anti-abortion, anti-gay rights focus.

I am also glad the Pope has changed the tone of the Papacy to a more welcoming, less judgmental one. That's welcome.

However, he is not changing any of the doctrines. The Church is still anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion and anti-birth control. That is unlikely to change anytime soon, even under this Pope. He's a tone changer, which is important, but he seems unlikely to challenge doctrine.

And I do not know how he can address the horrific abuse by priests, and the equally horrifying fact that their supervisors - bishops, archbishops and Cardinals - almost all universely protected the Church and not children without generating massive upheaval. That upheaval is necessary but it really needs a huge sweep out of current leaders all over the world. This was a universal problem for the Church. It' wasn't confined to the US. And I don't think they can address it without coming face to face with their generally negative views on sex. And those views are a cornerstone of Catholic thought. So between the political costs and the doctrinal challenges, I dont' see much substantive happening on the abuse issue.

I would love to be wrong though.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:32 PM
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As much as I'd appreciate sweeping changes, changing church doctrine will take time and if he rushes things, he'll de-stabilize the whole system. Slow and steady... and I think he's heading that way. Hoping, hoping.
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