Saturday, May 12, 2012

Monsignor Pope, and the Pope, not only cherry-pick scripture, they misinterpret it.

Over at the Joe.My.God blog this morning, Joe shares with us a quote from Monsignor Charles Pope, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington.

Monsignor Pope's reliance on authority emanating from the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church is utterly misplaced.  I grant that he is a spokesman for that apparatus, but the moral evil that his quoted statement reflects must not be left unchallenged.

Let's start with this:

"We cannot pick and choose the books of the Bible, we cannot tear out pages, or cross out lines. Orthodoxy is to accept the whole of the Sacred Text, and to consider its claims with reference to the whole of Scripture and in keeping with its trajectory."

Monsignor Pope, in his essay, is addressing President Obama's non-Catholic Christianity as expressed in an interview he gave to ABC News about his conversation with his daughters about marriage.

Okay, Monsignor, if we're talking about "picking and choosing," - how about 1 Samuel 18:1-4, when David and Jonathan get married (become "one soul.") - How about the complete and total misrepresentation made by the then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in an official 1975 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Persona Humana:

"In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God.[ Rom 1:24-27 ] This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of."

In the 1983 document Homosexualitatis Problema, Ratzinger's theological ignorance and deeply-seated and disordered bigotry comes out with this misinterepretive gem:

"Thus, in Genesis 19:1-11, the deterioration due to sin continues in the story of the men of Sodom. There can be no doubt of the moral judgement made there against homosexual relations. In Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, in the course of describing the conditions necessary for belonging to the Chosen People, the author excludes from the People of God those who behave in a homosexual fashion."

The actual fact is that the patriarchal misogyny that is at the root of the moral theology of the Roman Catholic Church is the root cause of the evil which is preached from the pulpits, and from the Thone of Peter.  But let's leave the Pope's own moral failures, and return to return to Monsignor Pope's: 

"For a Catholic, of course this is done in union with the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition."

But the problem with this is that the Magisterium is so morally corrupt and evil that it cannot be a moral compass.  Tradition was corrupted from the time Augustine of Hippo cemented the Manichaean and Gnostic debasing of the body and elevation of the "spirit" that informs much of Roman Catholic theology.

"Many supporters of homosexual behavior adopt this heresy by saying, 'Jesus never said a word about or against Homosexuality.'"

But Jesus DID talk about transgender people, and some theologians believe that this same quote also actually addresses those who are hard-wired gay - all covered under the term "eunuch."  It is Matthew 19:12, which refers back to Isaiah 56 and forward to Acts 8 - so it's not an isolated passage.  It is misused by the RCC as a principal biblical argument in favor of priestly celibacy, which involves a clear misinterpretation of the passage.  However, let's face it, most gay people who have been hounded out of churches aren't scripture scholars, so the meme that "Jesus never said anything against gay people" is at least easy to state - what they don;t realize is that it is likely the Jesus did say at least one gay-positive thing.

"True, but he also never said a word about a lot of things: drinking to excess, beating one’s wife, he never forbade ethnic humor, or said people should wear clothes, He never declared how big and how much money should be spent on the military etc, whether Government should provide welfare etc. Since Jesus did not say out of his own mouth we cannot beat our wives then it must be okay to beat them? Of course not. An argument from silence is very poor and unhelpful." 

Monsignor Pope, Jesus never spoke out against the marriage of David and Jonathan as described in 1 Samuel 18:1-4.  So from your analysis, we can imply that this particular silence involves a implicit approval of gender-neutral connubium.  Isn't that special?

Of course, Monsignor Pope serves as a flack for the Magisterium in the Archdiocese of Washington, so it is no surprise that he spouts the evil party line, particularly of he wants to keep his job.

Now let’s turn to the source for Joe.My.God’s quote of Monsignor Pope, as there is much more to analyze:

Monsignor accuses President Obama of cherry-picking a simplistic portrait of Jesus Christ (as distinguished from the likely historical man, Yeshua ben Miriam, an itinerant preacher of a Jewish religious movement that became known as “The Way” after his death, who was crucified after he moved from preaching a message of non-violent resistance to starting a riot in Jerusalem during the Passover Season by driving the money-changers out of the Temple pricincts).

When President Obama talks about the genuine central message of the Good news, Monsignor Pope chooses to focus on matters that relate to the cultural assumptions of the times in which Yeshua lived.

The biggest problem with Pope’s “orthodoxy” is the fact that it relies on all the encrustations that the writers of scripture (including added passages by others than the original authors), and early scriptural analysts and Church Fathers added, in order to deify Yeshua and turn a message of non-violent resistance to oppression, of speaking Truth to Power, and involving the relationship between Love and Power to achieve Justice, into one that is centered on the myth of the resurrection.  I grant that most Christians are resurrection-focused, which obfuscates the real message – one that is not unique or exclusive to Christianity but can be found in many other paths.

So the path that Monsignor Pope takes is to rely on this orthodoxy that is the principal source of the bigotry and prejudice that has corrupted Roman Catholic “moral” theology.

MOnsignor Pope himself heretically “picks and chooses” scripture – and he and the Magisterium intentionally choose to misstate and misinterpret much of what is actually there – just go and reread  what Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) once wrote as authoritative scriptural interpretation, as quoted above.  

Ratzinger ignored the message of Romans 1, which was Paul’s disrespect for the sacramental sex of the religious competition from the other mystery religions that were all the rage in first century Rome.  Ratzinger ignored the message of the story of Sodom – which is strangely not a moral condemnation against homosexuality, as he states it is, but is rather a moral condemnation of macho, misogynistic, disrespectful prejudice against strangers, foreigners and people who are different – a condemnation that should be seen as aimed squarely against the institutional Roman Catholic Church’s patriarchal misogyny. (Take as just one example, the insistence on patriarchal male pronouns for their trinity in the formula for baptism, and the invalidation of baptisms that used any gender-neutral formulation.)

So much of Monsignor Pope’s essay is filled with arrant nonsense similar to that that emanates from his top boss in Rome – he and the Magisterium not only "heretically" pick and choose their scripture, they consistently misinterpret that which they pick and choose in order to magnify the depth of the evil to which they have stooped.

The fact is that there is not a single bit of Christian sacred scripture that actually condemns homosexuality – and some that describes a marriage between David and Jonathan.  There is not a bit of scripture that condemns trans people – and three interrelated citations that show how special we are in the eyes of God – and which some theologians believe include gay people as well.

Monsignor Pope writes that:

Thus orthodoxy, which holds to the whole and does not pick and choose Scripture, must in every way accept and announce that these are sinful acts, sinful enough to exclude one from the Kingdom if they are not repented of (e.g. 1 Cor 6:9)”

What Monsignor Pope conveniently ignores in citing to 1 Cor. 6:9 is the fact that the English translations are mostly incorrect, and even Jerome, who was notoriously heterosexist, misogynistic and cissexist, took pains to mistranslate some key passages when he produced the Vulgate.  

The Greek word arsenokoitai does not mean homosexuality – but rather was most likely to be related to the practice of adult sexual relations with children – a practice which is almost universally condemned, and with which many Roman Catholic priests are familiar, either as eager participants, or with their heads stuck in the sand trying to ignore it,  or even diligently trying to root out the practice despite the obfuscations of others among them (though going after gays as a means to eradicating the problem is an error, the root problem is mandatory priestly celibacy, which is unnatural except for those few form whom abstinence is possible without psychological harm).  Certainly, the term arsenokoitai has no connection with the modern understanding of adult gay relationships.

Similarly, malakoi is a term that refers to the indolent who take no risk, sit on the fence and go with the flow – to give it the correct flavor, “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of crisis, maintain their neutrality.”  Those people are the malakoi.  Nothing gay about them, either.

Given Monsignor Pope's clear misunderstanding of his scriptures in the pursuit of bigotry and intolerance for strangers and people who are different, a teaching that is consistent with what his masters in the Vatican want him to teach, it is clear that the only way to save Christianity is for it to reform.  It must abandon the barbarism and immoral teachings that have no place in a civilized society. 

The Roman Catholic Church has failed to address its deeply rooted patriarchal misogyny which is at the root of its anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-trans teachings, and as a result, it has lost any shred of moral authority it may have once commanded among people who are possessed of an informed conscience and a working moral compass.  The Church is wrong about women, it is wrong about gays, it is wrong about trans people, it is even wrong about masturbation – simply put, the entire structure of Roman Catholic moral theology is like a house of playing cards set up on a beach in the face of a gale-driven incoming tide.

The actions and statements of Monsignor Pope, as well as those of the Pope in Rome, are just more examples of the misguided teachings of a Church that has been losing its way for many centuries, and has never bothered to abandon its barbarism and become civilized, beyond the small movement forward when Aquinas and the Scholastics brought the Church up to the level of science that was taught many centuries earlier by the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

I continue to mount a call for all Roman Catholics of good will to break with the Roman Catholic Church, which has long abandoned the authentic teachings of Yeshua ben Miriam in so many ways.  Find some other spiritual home - one that is not so intrinsically bound up with evil counsellors.  There are even Catholic alternatives, such as the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America and the Old Catholics.  There are main line Protestant churches that are evolving their theological approaches to become more civilized - even though they are having pains at getting there.  Then there are the paths that take one farther afield from more traditional Catholicism, including United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church, Unitarian/Universalism, the Society of Friends, Ethical Culture, Buddhism, Wicca, and others.

The bottom line - there are many paths, but not all paths lead to the top of the mountain.  The Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church pushes a path that leads to the depths of the swamp.  It's time to leave - stop contributing time, talent and treasure to the churches run by evil counselors and their ilk.

One last note - to be fair, I have to point out that Monsignor Pope, like anyone else, is not totally and completely evil.  Some of his blog essays are even pretty good!  To get the bad taste of his bigotry out of one's mind, I suggest something inspirational like his May 9th essay, Just an ordinary, daily word, yet a word that mystically reaches for the stars.

 I grant that it is a Catholic perspective, and thus doesn't speak to those of different traditions - but if only, when it comes to LGBT people and the theologies that relate to is, Monsignor Pope, and the Pope, could just consider opening up their minds to a better-grounded theological approach to those of us who are not intolerant and wicked Men of Sodom like them. Our natures, even acting on them, come from the same God who created them - and God does not create junk.  Neither their natures, nor ours, are intrinsically wrong - cis, het, trans and gay, we are all loved (even though Isaiah 56 makes trans people really special, as we get a special place in God's House, but don;t ask the Pope about that, he thinks that we're more dangerous than the destruction of the rain forest.)

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