With Friends Like These

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich on the subject of the sex abuse allegations in the Church:

“The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church. We’re not going down a rabbit hole on this.”

I honestly think he’s taking a piss on the Pope. On no planet can anybody think this is a helpful comment.

33 thoughts on “With Friends Like These”

  1. “I honestly think he’s taking a piss on the Pope.”

    Not at all. He means exactly what he said.

    He’s “taking a piss” on everybody calling for action against the Church.


    1. Right. Clarissa’s being arch here. But: do you think they can actually afford to not take this seriously (which I don’t think has to mean going down a rabbit hole)?

      I am thinking of my professional organization here, one Clarissa has already quit and I am considering quitting although I am just so used to being part of them that [well, it’s like getting an old Catholic to quit]…. They’ve got what I consider to be a big ethics and professionalism problem at the moment, and they really seem to think they can sweep it under the rug and “move on.” I don’t think this is too good for them…


      1. “But: do you think they can actually afford to not take this seriously”

        Yes, I actually think the Church will get away with it AGAIN and suffer no significant consequences. The Pope has already washed his hands of the issue and refused to discuss it further.

        Pennsylvania isn’t likely to pass any state law removing the statute of limitations for sex abuse crimes — and even if such laws were passed, they probably couldn’t be applied ex post facto to crimes already committed.

        Catholics aren’t going to leave the Church in any large numbers, no matter how personally conflicted they may be. Psychologically most of them have a very strong need to hang on to their religion, and they will.

        In a very short period of time, this will all just be a part of yesterday’s news.


        1. Actually, church attendance collapsed since the scandals of 2002. I don’t think the Church can survive this scandal unless something really dramatic is done. But Francis won’t do anything for obvious reasons.


          1. “I don’t think the Church can survive this scandal, unless…”

            So Armageddon has finally arrived for the Catholic Church, just like it’s arrived for Trump’s presidency and for democracy and freedom in America?

            Not a chance! This is just another example of sound and fury in a transient whirlwind that will be over the horizon and out of sight by tomorrow’s sunrise. Like it or not, that’s the way the world works.


            1. Religion is dying anyway. Anything that is even a shade more demanding than MTD doesn’t stand a chance.

              Democracy and freedom are not in any danger because they aren’t anti-consumerist. Religion is, so it’s dying. If people are really interested, I can provide stats from here to the moon on church closures, evaporating parishes, and plummeting attendance.


              1. People have been predicting the death of religion ever since our earliest ancestors crawled out of their caves and starting worshiping the gods of fire and rain. Whatever stats you can provide on organized religious institutions, religion as a personal belief system in something will NEVER die, because so many people have a deep psychological need to believe in something — anything — bigger and more powerful than themselves. Somehow that belief gives their transient lives purpose and meaning.

                Why do you think so many people insist so strongly on the existence of UFOs and Bigfoot and ghosts in haunted houses???


              2. No, only since the 18th century. And those predictions came true. Religion can’t survive alongside consumerism, as we can clearly see.

                Most people have no idea how much we differ from our ancestors of just 200 years ago. We are creatures from a different planet precisely because they lived in a world where religiousness was the default and not an option. Once it becomes an option (that is, a consumer good among many), it’s dead.


              3. Keep in mind that historically one of the strengths of American religion has been that it is a consumer product. Unlike European State churches, we have a marketplace of options.


    2. He’s got to be completely daft to talk about pedophiles in the Church in this dismissive tone. Unbelievable. The Church leadership is digging its own grave.


  2. This comment is particularly frightening considering that one of the accusations in play is that the pope let abusers who shared his politics off the hook.


  3. Why do people seem to think it is noble to believe in something larger and more powerful than themselves – that is unseen? I see that the physical world is larger and older than I and will outlive me, and I am in fact impressed to have the chance to see it. But I never understood the need to feel that something like that endowed me with meaning, it seems to me I have meaning of some sort each day, whether validated by an outside force or not — ? I am serious, this is a serious question!


    1. Because in the absence of anything bigger than ourselves, most people come up with uncontrollable consumption as the only meaning-conferring activity. When they can’t consume as much stuff and people as they think they deserve, they can’t tolerate it and escape into things like chemical dependency.

      You are a lot more intellectually sophisticated than most, so you can put your own limits on consumption. To be entirely honest, I can’t. Most people can’t as evidenced by the state of the planet.


      1. Oh, I consume more than I have to and would like to consume more. I don’t understand the desire for meaning, I do things that have meaning or purpose for me but I don’t have these feelings people seem to have, namely:
        a/ life is futile and must be redeemed by God’s plan. I would say it may well be futile, what of it?
        b/ death invalidates life and must be made to seem unreal. I also kind of think I’d like to live forever but I’m not going to sit around and sulk just because it is unlikely.

        I evidently don’t understand religious people at all – I’ve got a lot of respect for the earth, and I am sure there are worlds, perspectives and dimensions not seen by me, but I don’t get the authority fixation these religious people, especially the monotheists, have. It seems fetishistic, even.

        I thought Tolstoi, a spiritual man, said the meaning of life was that we live and that Christ, in whom the Christians believe, said we should be as the lilies of the field?


        1. Everybody ultimately accepts that there are things we can’t understand. Everybody accepts there are things bigger than us. But I honestly don’t know how one can live thinking it’s all completely random. It must be a very heavy burden. If we look at really bad things that happen to everybody there are only 3 explanations I can see.

          It’s completely random – and then you have to wrangle with constant anxiety that everybody might just die all of a sudden.
          It’s my fault – and then I have to deal with the constant guilt.
          The religious explanation.

          I’m not seeing a fourth option.


          1. “It’s completely random — It’s my fault”

            I tend to think in probabilistic terms, a person can make all the right choices and good results are far more likely but still random bad stuff can happen. It’s not all random by any means but there is a random element that can be reduced but never eliminated and that’s just the human condition.
            There is no such thing as a sure thing and no such thing as a lost cause (until it no longer exists)

            I believe in a fair amount of things for which scientific evidence is unlikely to be found but I don’t have whatever a person needs to have and cultivate religious faith (within an established religion) but I do sometimes get the feeling that some things are kind…. of….. planned?


          2. But that all seems to me to focus so much on self and and on the desire to control things. Things are pretty random but complete disaster doesn’t strike everywhere all the time and you don’t have to court it. Most things aren’t my fault but some are. A lot of things aren’t about me or under my control.

            (Lots of religious people today are very self-destructive and destructive of others/the earth. I’m self-destructive enough to know how anxiety-producing it is; I can’t imagine how they must suffer being as generally destructive as they are. They have this god they keep bargaining with for favors. It seems really exhausting.)


            1. I’m not super knowledgeable about all religions but I do know that in Christianity you definitely don’t bargain. The only thing you can ask God is that “thy will be done,” whatever that will is.


              1. They only say that when they are talking about other people. For themselves, they are constantly asking for things.
                Also, “If you only do this for me now, I will always go to church,” etc.


    2. “Why do people seem to think it is noble to believe in something larger and more powerful than themselves -”

      Because most people cling to the misguided assumption that life is supposed to have a meaning. They don’t understand that human existence is merely an unlikely accident of evolution and fate, a result of humanoid ancestors eating too much meat, providing their bodies with excessive protein intake and resulting in abnormally advanced brain development.

      So the result is a hapless creature uniquely smart enough to recognize his unique presence in the universe, and stupid enough to worry about it.

      Hey, you were born for no particular purpose, you’re going to die and be as non-existent as if you’d never existed, and that’s the beginning and the end forever. So just enjoy the transient trip from nowhere to nowhere, and don’t over-stress your superior mind along the way.

      When it comes to life and religion, take the cash and let the credit go!


  4. “I have trouble referring to MTD as “religion.” ”

    What is MTD?

    My own opinion is that particular religions may or may not be on the way out but the mentality that wants a set of a priori moral guidelines is in no danger and in fact a lot of progressive ideas tie into traditional religious practices. The difference is they’re about limiting diet and/or consumption or personal advancement not for the good of their immortal souls but for the good of the planet or some kind of social justice.
    Since such a lifestyle is not very appealing they’re getting more and more inflexible about deviations from the emerging orthodoxy (see the Brown situation for example).


    1. “What is MTD?”

      • It’s the Oprah-type approach to religion. Good things happen to goo people because they are so good. And since everybody considers oneself a wonderful person, it’s super useful. People refer to this kind of soothing but vapid thing as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”

      “My own opinion is that particular religions may or may not be on the way out but the mentality that wants a set of a priori moral guidelines is in no danger and in fact a lot of progressive ideas tie into traditional religious practices.”

      • Absolutely. And since the ultimate source of truth in neoliberalism is the consuming self, these folks truly feel like they are being wiped out of existence is somebody questions or even doesn’t loudly affirm some inane “truth” they have generated for themselves. I am the God onto myself, and if you deny the truths I dispense, you are assaulting the entire cosmic order of which I am at the center.


      1. “Good things happen to goo people because they are so good.”

        One of the truly weird things in the US (maybe Canada too?) is a folk belief in something like Karma (if you do nice things for other people then someone will do nice things for you when you need it and the reverse, if you’re a dick to others then when you need help you won’t or shouldn’t get it).

        It wasn’t until I moved to Poland that I realized this belief (which I still sort of have) was so culturally specific…


  5. I heartily wish that religion was on the way out, all of it, but I don’t believe it is. On their planet the pontiff and his acolytes will continue to pander to the press, meanwhile their doctrinaire cult will continue to abuse millions of subject people. Is there is a religious cult which doesn’t allow its faithful to abuse the weak and vulnerable?


    1. The USSR was fully atheist yet it destroyed over 100 million people just on its own territory in a fairly short period of time. There’s no connection between religion and exploitation and abuse. Atheists are just as shitty to other human beings as anybody else.


    1. Great article! It’s very disturbing how easily these extremely serious accusations against the Pope are dismissed. It’s scary that even in such a serious issue people have no guiding principles whatsoever beyond “he once made noises I found pleasant, so I’ll now support him no matter what.”


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