"...the chatter of dominant opinions." The Pope as autocrat

Just a short note on the Roman troubles. The Pope is quoted by the Times of London saying that Christ “helps lead us towards courage which does not allow us to be intimidated by the chatter of dominant opinions.” How's that for autocratic overkill!

The headline reads,
Pope: I 'will not be intimidated' by sex abuse accusations. The Times obviously feels the Pope's quote is reference to the widespread criticism of his role in dealing with sexual abuse issues in Germany while he was still a regular paid up human being. If this is a true quote, or an adequate translation of a true quote, the Pope is far down the road that leads to questions about his moral authority and his ability to govern.

He presumes that "the chatter of dominant opinions" is some sort of intimidation tactic. But what if the dominant opinion carries the weight of truth or the naming of realities? Sometimes the dominant opinion turns out not to be chatter, but truth telling.

Meanwhile, explain again just how the Pope is the symbol of unity such that the return to the Roman Catholic Church is any sort of improvement on communities of faith that order their lives in less autocratic ways.


  1. Peter the Hermit29/3/10 7:30 PM

    How's this for an improvement:

    Perhaps your children and certainly your grandchildren will see TEC cease to exist. How's are those "communities of faith that order their lives in less autocratic ways" workin' out for ya?

    Two more pertinent questions:

    1) In 500 years do you think the RCs will be allowing gay marriage or partnered gay clergy?

    2) Will Protestantism exist in 500 years?

  2. As far as I'm concerned, the Papal response to this mushrooming criminal matter is a great argument for Quakerism.

    The first step on the road to true penance and restoring faith with their laity and the rest of the world would be full cooperation with civil authorities no matter what. This isn't some matter of embezzlement of the diocesan discretionary fund, this is a very serious criminal matter, child molestation and abuse. ALL involved in the crimes and the cover-ups should face the Bench as well as the Lord. They could start by extraditing Cardinal Law to Boston to face the music.
    The days when priests could get away with all kinds of banditry by reciting Psalm 51 before a judge are over.

  3. As a former Roman priest, none of this surprises me. Many groups circle the wagons in the same way: law enforcement folks, military folks, etc. But the mounting evidence, especially as it touches Pope Benedict, is shameful, and I suspect that if Jeff Anderson et al. manage, by some miracle, to sue the Vatican, Benedict will see that it's not just "chatter". The day of accountability, both in Rome and among the Catholics bishops here, is long overdue!

  4. Peter the Hermit,

    Are you claiming that the church has not been ordaining gay clergy for thousands of years? And that is on any level worse than protecting the felonious Cardinal Law? For an institution that has, all over the planet, been complicit in the sexual abuse of thousands and thousands of children (and I suspect, thousands and thousands of nuns, since a culture that condones rape is not likely to make many distinctions about who it rapes), you are going to claim special rights and sanctities on the basis of history? Would you then claim that the institution of slavery, condoned in the Bible, should be revived because it, too, has existed for thousands of years? Gosh.

  5. I think a better question would be "Will Christianity (in any form that we would recognize) still exist in 500 years?"

    If (God forbid) the fundamentalists of Christianity and Islam succeed in their desire to re-fight the wars of the 12th century, the answer to that question might not be so clear or certain.

  6. Well, Peter the Hermit, in 500 years it is unlikely that any of us will recognize anything we currently call either Roman Catholicism or the Episcopal Church. Neither may we recognize what we call Christianity. With no pejorative intent, it is secularism (of the sort that Charles Taylor describes in A SECULAR AGE) and a non-institutional spirituality that are on the ascendancy. As we focus on what is right before us, to avoid the terror of what might be down the road, we do no service to the faith we profess. We simply fail to grow in faith as we cling to the old forms. Every form of institutional Christianity that I am familiar with has lost its moral authority, which means that they have also lost their spiritual authority.

  7. Answers to questions in the first comment:

    Just fine, thank you very much for asking.

    Yes. As long as they're not female.

    Yes. There'll just be more denominations.


  8. Actually, Counterlight, Benefit of Clergy could be claimed by anyone, ordained or lay, who could read the Miserere. In some instances it carried from colonial to state law. B of C was last successfully claimed in South Carolina in 1858, when it saved an individual convicted of arson from the death penalty. Benefit of Clergy was abolished in 1869 by the SC legislature - one more thing to chalk up for Reconstruction.

  9. "Perhaps your children and certainly your grandchildren will see TEC cease to exist."

    Perhaps. Perhaps not. Let's not hold our breaths. (Neither TEC nor the RCC nor any other church should exist for the sake of its own survival. Archbishop Temple said something like that.)

    "How are those 'communities of faith that order their lives in less autocratic ways' workin' out for ya?"

    Well, those "communities of faith that _do_ order their lives in _more_ autocratic ways" often appear to be working out pretty well. But what is their "faith"? Mark 10:42-45 & parallels.

    1) Sure. Why not? (Actually, my hope is that in 500 years, "RCs" will be an anachronism in a universal church that has learned, or re-learned, about diversity in unity. But, silly me, always an optimist!)

    2) Protestantism didn't exist 500 years ago (just barely!). So who knows about 500 years from now? (See (1) above.)

  10. Deacon Charlie Perrin30/3/10 2:35 PM

    Mr. Hermit

    It be workin' out just fine fer me.

    And two pertinent answers:

    1) I care not about irrelevancies.

    2) See answer number 1.

  11. Here's an interesting link:


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.