Church Politics

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Ash Wednesday, how are you observing Lent this year?  in light of "Vatileaks" and the contraceptive services controversy, does politics affect your religious practice? Paul Moses, former Newsday city editor and senior religion writer, professor of journalism at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace, comes in to discuss.


Paul Moses

Comments [49]

I don't think marriage or hetrosexual relationships are any kind of inoculation against child abuse - in fact, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. But I do think that if you're brought up in a religious, sexually repressed environment where sex and sexuality are strictly verboten, "unnatural" things are bound to happen.

Imagine coming up in a place where sexual issues are repressed with grave consequence, especially anything out of the normative - god forbid... homosexuality!! Here you are coming of age, grappling with sexual questions, your own sexuality which you have repeatedly been told is BAD, BAD, BAD. Where do you go? Well, maybe to a place where you believe you never have to act on or think about your sexuality, a place where you're promised there is no sexuality... the priesthood. So you go into the priesthood hoping to escape any sexual urge you might be harboring, only to discover there is no such thing as escaping sexual urge. You find yourself in a position of power where you're in control, around children that can easily be manipulated... a twisted interpretation of a sexually "safe" environment...

The next thing you know...

...well, we know what the results are.

I'm not suggesting that everyone in the priesthood is so but, you can begin to imagine how the ones that are, arrive at that place.

Sexual repression is unnatural, indeed - religious or otherwise. One thing is certain, it is almost always attached to the fanaticism of religious zeal.

Feb. 22 2012 10:38 PM

Jon Pope
i think u might be right. except these men might have been driven to harm the boys because they did not have a normal sex life with adult women. i'm not sure if that's why they did it but there is an unnatural pressure put on men who are being told they are not allowed to have a normal sex life. the boys might have just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. celibacy is not a normal male behavior
but I agree, kids are not safe from married pedophiles

Feb. 22 2012 04:55 PM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

hjs11211, I agree 100% with what you say except for letting priests marry so they wont molest little boys and girls. Make no mistake about it, a pedophile is a pedophile, even if he or she is married. Its extremely dangerous to think kids are safe from pedophiles as long as they are under the care of married adults.

Feb. 22 2012 04:34 PM

To debate the politics of the khurch would be to acknowledge the legitimacy of the khurch.

Dave, my argument starts before that. I REFUSE to acknowledge the legitimacy of an institution predicated on fantasy thinking, with a history of murder and mayhem and a very recent history of INSTITUTIONALIZING child rape.

Perhaps that is where your frustration lies...

To defend this institution is unconscionable and illogical, given the FACTS, both CURRENT and HISTORICAL.

Illogical debate is typically predicated on ideology, which you clearly refuse to relinquish.

FACTS are always preferable to fantasy thinking.

Feb. 22 2012 04:26 PM

St david really has his head in the sand.
he claims a world wide epidemic of child rape taking place over many decades is just " A deviant molesting children." A deviant, just one. and the holy fathers are just handling it wrong, STILL TO THIS VERY DAY. they sure are handling it wrong. Let the men marry and they won’t rape boys because they are asked unnaturally to stop having natural sex with audlt women. And now the holy fathers are laundering money. I wonder for whom. Drugs, prostitutes, terrorist or all 3?
st david, ed and their sunday school friends are a very sick bunch

Feb. 22 2012 04:04 PM

Dave, don't say "intercourse"!!! I'd hate for you to propagate!!

Feb. 22 2012 02:37 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

You forgot "you're ugly & you smell bad too"

Since reasoned intercourse is beyond you - I'm done

Feb. 22 2012 02:35 PM

Sure, if we ignore the systematic, INSTITUTIONALIZED brutal RAPE of thousands of children AROUND THE WORLD... we could probably come to the conclusion that the Khurch has never and currently does not force folks to do anything they don't want to...

You're right charging you with a lack of logic would be breathtaking. Instead, I charged you with lacking the capacity for logic. Which is clearly, far more accurate.

Feb. 22 2012 02:31 PM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY


It funny how many worry about sharia law in this country when Catholics have taken the law into their own hands. The Catholic church covered up and protected pedophiles and enabled known pedophiles by just moving them to other churches instead of turning them in to the police as required by law. They are still protecting and covering up these pedophiles. That makes them just as guilty as the pedophiles. Yes pedophiles are everywhere. But can you name any other public, private or non profit group with such a horrific and on going struggle with pedophilia inside its own institution and so much cover up of this behavior? If I was still a Catholic, I'd leave because I'd be to ashamed to be associated with how the church has handled this very real and serious ongoing problem.

Feb. 22 2012 02:26 PM

You're right Dave.

Children enjoy being sodomized.

Feb. 22 2012 02:23 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

I never said the Catholic Church never forced anyone to do anything. I said they are not forcing anyone to do anything - as in now, today.

The unification of Italy and end to the Papal estates was probably the best thing to happen to the Catholic Church in a long time.

Feb. 22 2012 02:16 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Your charging me with a lack of logic is breathtaking. You lurch from one subject to another and fail to make a coherent argument. I'd suggest a good class on logic (a class on writing math proofs would be a good place to start).
"Don't preach in my bedroom and I won't fornicate in your church!"
As we've established, nobody has been preaching in your bedroom.

"It's O.K. to rape children but NOT O.K. to prevent unwanted, unsustainable children from being conceived???"
What does rape have to do with insurance paid contraceptives?

"When you try to have it written into law, that's when it becomes a problem."
I agree, when you try to force people to do something they consider immoral, it's a problem.

"The International Child Sex Ring? Why do they have even a fragment of credibility???"
Ad hominem attack - a sure sign of inability to argue from logic.

"If you don't like contraception, DON'T USE IT!! OR, STAND IN MY WAY IF I CHOOSE TO!!

Keep your medieval, fantasy worldview to yourself!"

First, you have no idea what my position on contraception is - I've never stated it. I've simply stated what the Catholic Church's position is. Not paying for someone else's contraception is NOT interfering with their right to obtain it.

Feb. 22 2012 02:13 PM

That's right. Dave. The Khurch has NEVER forced ANYONE to do anything they don't want to of believe in...

Good job.

Feb. 22 2012 02:12 PM
Ed from Larchmont

They're commanding contraception now, which many people seem to have no problem with, but next it will be drugs for the frail elderly that are too expensive. This is only the first event of many. Sibelius is in charge of healthcare, and she answers only to the president.

Feb. 22 2012 02:05 PM

Dave, I'd like to say your logic is flawed except, that would imply there was capacity for logic in the first place.

Have a chat with the victims of the Inquisition, or the exploits of Pizarro or any of the other zany "holy" campaigns the so-called "church" has gotten up to...

Oh, right, all those folks were killed.

Maybe a history book might be a good place to start...


Feb. 22 2012 01:56 PM

No, Dave. I didn't imply that anywhere.

But, if we could do away with the institutionalized child rape and the organized obstruction of justice and have folks take off the rose-colored glasses and have a long CLEAR look at the organization that propagated these crimes, then we might be on our way to the rightful delegitimization of this corrupt cult.

Archdioceses closing due to the financial weight of endless child rape suits is a good start to ending the insanity, though.

Some critical thought goes a long way.

Feb. 22 2012 01:37 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Name me one instance the Catholic Church has forced someone in America to do something against their will. A deviant molesting children is not the Catholic Church. Just as pigs raping women in Okinawa are not the US Military - they are in the military but it is not the military's policy to rape women.

You may have a problem with how the church handled the offences, fine. I would point out to you that you are using today's standards on many cases that happened years ago. They were awful, hateful offences & improperly handled but many such things were improperly handled by many other groups.

I know of a mother that let her child molesting husband come back home in the 50's. No, she wasn't a Catholic. Yes, it was a terrible mistake - but it was a different time and many such terrible mistakes were made.

My not buying you a car is not denying you the right to own one!

Feb. 22 2012 01:25 PM

st. david
were u really suggesting a priest would preach in a someone’s bedroom without his fancy costume, altar boys, incense and other toys?
no one was suggesting that
I think we should talk about all religious people being crazy not just the followers of the church in roma

Feb. 22 2012 01:21 PM

u misunderstand dboy and others are using examples of child rape,, christian war on science, birth control, in vitro fertilization and other Talban-like tactics not as a smoke screen. THAT is the reason we hate your church and other ancient mystical cults

Feb. 22 2012 01:12 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Wow - the Swiss Guard was arresting people in Texas?

Have you lived in the South? Are you really asserting that the Catholic Church dictated Texas law?

Feb. 22 2012 01:08 PM

in texas in the 80s or 90s 2 men were arrested for having sex after a neighbor called 911

Feb. 22 2012 01:02 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Ah, there we have it - you hate the Catholic Church & would like to see it destroyed. Everything else is just a smoke screen.

Feb. 22 2012 12:53 PM

Oh, Dave, just so we all have this straight:

It's O.K. to rape children but NOT O.K. to prevent unwanted, unsustainable children from being conceived???

Would that be because the "church" needs children to rape??

Feb. 22 2012 12:00 PM

Dave, you can prattle-on all you like, that's not my issue.

When you try to have it written into law, that's when it becomes a problem.

I know it's hard.

Feb. 22 2012 11:56 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

You should have the person who entered your bedroom arrested for tresspassing.
Of course, no such thing happened. You don't like people saying what you don't want to hear. This is America, we have freedom of speech, not freedom from speech.
See the Nazis' right to march in Skokie, IL.

Feb. 22 2012 11:31 AM

Don't preach in my bedroom and I won't fornicate in your church!


Feb. 22 2012 11:23 AM
Greg Caulfield from New Jersey

I. Was grow up catholic. And I used condom all the time and I was punished
For using them , my. Freshman year at Harvard the davenaty school
Appointed a catholic prist as dean.

Feb. 22 2012 11:22 AM
John A.

"Religion is a field for people with limited ability for critical thought"
So tired of hearing that comment, repeated ad infinitum, as I spend large amounts of time on youth social internet. There might be some such people, but there are also the greatest* moral reasoners in history. The religion they teach kids is absent of some of the "heavier" thought because that's the audience at hand. For adults, I assure you there is plenty of room for a well-reasoned position.
* you could say Half of the greatest moral reasoners as there is a tension between the concepts of absolute freedom and that of self-giving - always. That is the price of having a society.

Feb. 22 2012 11:06 AM

Once again WNYC shows how bigoted they are toward the Catholic Church.
We are starting our Holy Season Ash Wednesday and you bash the Church. You would never air a program about Jews in a negative light on Yom Kippur or Muslims during Ramadan.
Bigotry is wrong and Anti Catholic bigotry is alive and well in the media and you and your programs promote it. Shame on you!

Feb. 22 2012 11:05 AM
John A.

Samuel J. Howard:
Thanks for that link. Right where I needed some information.

Feb. 22 2012 10:55 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Assisting someone do something sinful is a sin. If I buy a gun so someone can commit a murder, I too have sinned (as well as being an accessory to murder).
Besides, that's not the point. Government is trying to force people to do that which is against their conscience. What would you think if you were forced to pay for female circumcision? As repulsive as we all find female circumcision, the Catholic Church finds violating the dignity of human life.
It's not about who's right - I can't decide what you think. I can't tell you what the right thing to do is - unless your actions violate another's rights. There is no right to insurance for contraceptives - period.
Further, this whole christmas tree approach is wrong headed. It's like requiring home owner policies to cover house painting.

Feb. 22 2012 10:52 AM
dboy from Nyc


Feb. 22 2012 10:45 AM
Nick from UWS

Why the hell has WNYC suddenly become a platform for discussions of religious hocus pocus? Religion is a field for people with limited ability for critical thought, because any discussion of religion is based on a completely unfounded presumption, which is the factual truth of the Bible in the first place. This is not a subject for a station which purports to be a bastion of adult intelligence.

Feb. 22 2012 10:45 AM
dboy from Nyc

If you don't like contraception, DON'T USE IT!! OR, STAND IN MY WAY IF I CHOOSE TO!!

Keep your medieval, fantasy worldview to yourself!

Feb. 22 2012 10:43 AM
Ed from Larchmont

You're not speaking for all Catholics at all, and not young Catholics, you're talking about the Catholics from the 1960s.

Feb. 22 2012 10:42 AM
Samuel J. Howard from New York, NY

It's unfortunate to hear the host repeating the 98% of Catholics use birth control statistics. The Washington Post described this statistics as a "media foul" and gave it "two pinocchios".

Feb. 22 2012 10:42 AM

no one will ever force u to have an abortion

Feb. 22 2012 10:41 AM

Just because a person "knows his Bible" doesn't give him the right to dictate what I choose to do with my body. And, frankly, Dolan is a perfect example of the paternalism the Roman Catholic Church engages in.

Feb. 22 2012 10:39 AM
Chris from Brooklyn

Lent is not observed by all Christians. I would like for someone to tell me what the biblical justification is for lent. I wish someone would give the history of this festival.

Please stop using Catholicism as a synonym for Christianity.

Feb. 22 2012 10:37 AM
Bob from Brooklyn Heights

The church is irrelevant to me. As a former Roman Catholic seminarian in the 1960s and a gay man, I feel the church left me and so I left it. My rector at the seminary when I asked how a gay person could find God in the church told me that such a person would have to find God outside the church. And so, I have. Yet, I feel that church has abandoned me.

Feb. 22 2012 10:37 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Because it's not about contraception, it's about religious freedom.

Feb. 22 2012 10:37 AM

the "sin" is to take birth control not to offer birth control.

Feb. 22 2012 10:36 AM
dboy from Nyc

The International Child Sex Ring? Why do they have even a fragment of credibility???

Why do we waste our time??


Feb. 22 2012 10:35 AM
Jay F.

BTW, Catholics are not the only ones who celebrate Ash Wednesday.

Feb. 22 2012 10:33 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

The Catholic Church didn't get into US politics - US Politics got into the Catholic Church by trying to over-ride church teaching.

Feb. 22 2012 10:32 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The Catholic Bishops aren't getting involved in politics, they are standing up for American rights, that we all share.

We love our new Cardinal!

Feb. 22 2012 10:32 AM
John A.

I started going to church in reaction to GWB's attempting to start WW3. Sort of a petition for the future of mankind. An extra side effect was finding the absence of political speech there. I might say that the church I attend is not fundamentalist. If you don't go to church, you don't know what you're talking about. Outside of church, I would agree that politicians are abusing religion.

Feb. 22 2012 10:31 AM
Robert from NYC

No, religion interfere with politics and government and secular society. What nerve to ask it the other way around. We were established as a secular but moral society that allows for all religious beliefs to practice their individual theology and if something they believe in clashes within our social structure then fine, let those who practice that religion follow their own practices and beliefs but keep their noses out of the business of those who don't follow that particular religious practices and beliefs. So, for example, if the culture allows for legal abortions and there are folks who don't believe that is acceptable to them then let them not have abortions but keep their hands out of the lives of those who might have need of that procedure. That was just an example. Keep your hands off my body if you don't have my permission to touch it; that's rape!

Feb. 22 2012 09:59 AM

"does politics interfere with religious practice?"

religion is politics! church and state have always been one.
opiate of the masses

as for the church of roma. what a joke. how many more times will we catching them sinning before we stop going to church? OH most already have.

Feb. 22 2012 09:35 AM

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