Pope Benedict admits he isn’t infallible

The pope admitted mistakes:

Pope Benedict XVI, acknowledging “mistakes” that he “deeply regretted,” issued an unusual letter Thursday attempting to quiet a storm of protest over his embrace of an excommunicated bishop who denied that Nazis killed Jews in gas chambers. The letter also appeared to be a broader attempt to answer recent criticism of his papacy.

For once, the pope is right. There were mistakes. Bad mistakes. (Of course, the pope has yet to fix this mistake – apologies are nice, but why is this anti-Semite still a bishop?)

Catholics are taught the pope is infallible. Basically, we were supposed to believe the pope is never wrong. “Papal infallibility” is another of those made-up concepts designed to preserve authority and power. It’s absurd, of course. But, Benedict has admitted the pope isn’t infallible.

So, let’s not stop here with the mistake about the Nazi-loving Bishops. The pope should start admitting to other mistakes. I’ll start a list. Most of these are as made-up and faulty as the doctrine of papal infallibility:

the way the Catholic Church treats women;

the virulent homophobia (which isn’t only wrong, it’s hypocritical considering all the gay priests around. D.C. is crawling with gay priests who hold prominent positions in the church);

the sex-abuse scandal, over which many church leaders are still in denial;

denying contraception, which is bad enough. But, that is compounded by the Catholic church’s vehement objection to condoms even when they can save lives;

letting the homophobic, racist Bill Donohue act like the leader of the U.S. Catholic Church; and the double standard for Republicans, who start wars, implement the death penalty, abuse the poor and worship money above all else (pretty sure those all run counter to church teaching)

That’s a just a starter list. Since the pope is admitting mistakes, he should keep going. He’s admitted to the world’s Catholics that he is not infallible. So, the Catholic church can start rectifying other mistakes.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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  • Walter

    Basically, we were supposed to believe the pope is never wrong.

    That is not what infallibility is. Your bombastic rhetoric is undercut when you post untruths about something you don’t know about.

  • Guest

    This is a truly stupid article. There has never been a teaching that the Pope is never wrong. The Pope is infallible only when making a doctrinal proclamation “Ex Cathedra” on a serious matter of faith or morals, only if acceptance of the doctrine thus proclaimed is a prerequisite for salvation for Catholics, and only if the whole church already believes it. At no other times is a Pope infallible. there have been only three proclamations in history that meet the qualification: The two Marian dogmas — The Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Doctrine of the Bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary — and the dogma of Papal infallibility itself. No other utternaces of a Pope have ever been infallible.

  • Steve_in_CNJ

    you didn’t answer my question. but since you brought it up, i don’t see why atheists are less well equipped to understand religious devotion than anyone else. people are looking for escape from worry. they don’t want to be concerned that life could be meaningless. they don’t want to be on the hook for coming up with answers. they want authority, stability and community.

    but religion is not unique in its spiritual orientation. i wouldn’t even call it a spiritual “quest”, since many of the “answers” are presupposed. religion is noteworthy only for its addiction to easy answers.

    perhaps the poster meant that the devout deal with their existential discomfort in a very different way from the non-devout. maybe they have a lower pain threshold for uncertainty and confusion.

  • Poor pig. (Babs, I mean.)

  • LOL!! And how about Sulpicians? Ever hear one of them try to pronounce “Saint Sulpice” without lisping?

  • Peter Waksman

    How about the mistake of the church supporting death in one form or another, eg war.

  • Ratzinger sees himself as the successor to the throne of St. Peter. The legitimacy of the Papal succession is a fun topic, considering the Great Western Schism in which anywhere from two to four men claimed to be Pope at the same time. In short, one Pope was elected upon the death of his predecessor. But the cardinals who elected him didn’t like him, and they claimed that they were forced to elect someone they didn’t want. A few months later they declared him antipope, and elected a second Pope. But the first Pope refused to step aside. So the cardinals declared BOTH Popes to be antipopes, and elected a third Pope which led to three competing papal lines of succession. And in the end when none of them would step down, a Council was called, and it declared all three Popes to be antipopes, and elected a fourth. Both the first and the second Pope had legitimate claims of being the true Pope. Clearly one or the other was the legitimate successor to the Throne of Saint Peter. But instead of determining which one was valid, the Church canned them both and replaced them with someone else whom they later canned as well. Thus ended the legitimate succession. But ask any Catholic and they will tell you how proud they are to be part of a Church whose leaders are in a direct line of succession that goes all the way back to Jesus.

    Here’s how it all went down.

    The city of Rome was a mess, so the papacy was moved from Rome to Avignon, France from 1309 to 1377. Seven Popes presided there over the years, one following the other in legitimate succession. Many of them however were quite corrupt Popes. Finally Pope Gregory XI returned the papacy to Rome in 1377. When he died, the Romans rioted, fearing the election of yet another corrupt French Pope because most of the cardinals Gregory brought back to Rome were French. Out of fear of the populace the cardinals elected Pope Urban VI, and Italian, in 1378. But he turned out to be a paranoid authoritarian with a violent temper, and the cardinals soon regretted their vote. So a few months later they sneaked off to the city of Anagni and elected someone else – a Robert of Geneva who took the name Pope Clement VII. He promptly took his papacy back to Avignon. But Pope Urban refused to accept the secret meeting of the cardinals, and refused to be fired. So now you had two rival Popes at the same time – Urban in Rome and Clement in Avignon – both with legitimate claims to the papacy. Urban in Rome claimed he was legitimately elected by the college of cardinals in the usual manner according to Church rules, and Clement in Avignon claimed that the cardinals had been coerced into electing Urban, and therefore Urban was never really Pope in the first place.

    This wasn’t the first time the Church had had several competing Popes at the same time, but in the past when more than one Pope existed at the same time it was the result of election by rival factions, and one or the other was eventually declared legitimate. This time both Popes were elected by the full college of cardinals, so both could claim full legitimacy.

    Most likely Pope Clement in Avignon, the second Pope, was the legitimate heir to the papacy if you believe that the college of cardinals had truly been coerced against their will to elect Urban. However that is perhaps a bit of a stretch. They were happy enough to elect Urban in order to save their hides from the Roman mobs. Keep in mind that all papal elections are highly political affairs that have nothing to do with any “Holy Spirit”. So they chose the candidate that suited their political purposes at the time of the election. How is that different from any other papal election? You could say the threat of violence made the difference, and therefore Urban was never really Pope. Or you could say that for whatever reason, they chose Urban, and that makes him valid, even if after a few months they changed their minds because he turned out to be a horror to deal with. This is still debated by historians and theologians.

    The Pope was a major political power in those days, so Europe was thrown into political chaos as various countries recognized different Popes. Meanwhile both Popes died and were replaced – Urban in Rome was replaced by Pope Boniface IX, and Clement in Avignon was replaced by Pope Benedict XIII. So now there are two separate papal lines of succession. When Boniface died in Rome in 1404, the Roman cardinals offered to refrain from electing his replacement if Benedict in Avignon would resign. Benedict refused, so the Roman cardinals elected Pope Innocent VII. So twenty-six year after the schism began there still were still two Popes – now it was Benedict in Avignon and Innocent in Rome – and both lines had a legitimate claim to be the true successors of Saint Peter.

    Efforts were made to call a Church council to resolve the mess, but Church laws required that only the Pope could call a council. But which Pope would that be? Benedict or Innocent? Eventually both colleges of cardinals agreed that Benedict and Innocent should meet at Savona to try to iron things out. But both Popes backed out of the meeting at the last minute. So both colleges of cardinals got fed up and decided to invalidate their Popes. Both colleges of cardinals agreed to at a joint council in Pisa in 1409 where they elected a new Pope – Pope Alexander V – to replace both Benedict and Innocent. No matter how you look at it, either Pope Benedict XIII of Avignon or Pope Innocent VII of Rome was the legitimate successor to Saint Peter, and both of them had just been fired against their will and declared antipopes. Church rules don’t allow for that. So of course Benedict and Innocent refused to be fired. Both saw themselves as Pope for life, which was according to Church law, unless they voluntarily resigned, which they didn’t. Neither was willing to be fired by an unauthorized gathering of two colleges of cardinals only one of which each Pope recognized as legitimate. So now you have THREE POPES at the same time. Benedict in Avignon, Innocent in Rome and Alexander in Pisa.

    Then Alexander V up and dies less than a year into his papacy, so he is replaced in 1410 by Pope John XXIII. That means that there are now three papal lines of succession, headed by Benedict in Avignon, Innocent in Rome and John XXIII in Pisa. If that last name sounds familiar, it is. This was the FIRST Pope John XXIII. The second one many of us remember from the early 1960’s and the Second Vatican Council.

    Finally the Church tried again to fix the mess. It decided on its own that it no longer needed papal permission to meet, and it convened the Council of Constance in 1414. Pope Innocent VII in Rome and the first John XXIII in Pisa were declared antipopes and forced by the Council to resign in 1414. The Council couldn’t force Avignon Pope Benedict XIII to resign, so it excommunicated him. In those days excommunication meant being condemned to burn in Hell for all eternity. So what had the Church just done? Regardless of which Pope you think was legitimate, the Church had just fired the true successor of Saint Peter and declared him to be an antipope. And if Benedict in Avignon was the legitimate heir, which he most likely was, then it could be said that the Church had also just condemned the true Pope to burn in Hell. And all of this was done in violation of Church law, because the Council of Constance was called without permission of any Pope.

    Having disposed of the three Popes, the Council then elected Pope Martin V in Rome. So it could be said that there were now FOUR living Popes, though the Church had invalidated three of them with or without the authority to do so. Problem solved? Well, not quite. The Kingdom of Aragon refused to recognize Martin V, and continued to recognize Pope Benedict XIII in Avignon whom the Church had just excommunicated. So at least we’re back down to only two recognized Popes, plus two dethroned antipopes who still claimed legitimacy because they felt they were forced to resign against their will.

    Just before dying, Avignon Pope Benedict XIII (excommunicated, but likely the true Pope) created his own college of cardinals – four cardinals in all – that were loyal to him. Three of them elected Clement VIII upon Benedict XIII’s death. But one of the cardinals, Jean Carrier, question the legitimacy of the election, so he decided to act as his own college of cardinals and he (unanimously) elected Pope Benedict XIV of Avignon. So now we’re back up to three Popes – one in Rome, and two in Avignon, one of which was likely the true Pope. Eventually Pope Clement VIII (one of the two Avignon Popes, and most likely the legitimate one) resigned and recognized Pope Martin V of Rome, bring us back to just two Popes again – Benedict of Avignon and Martin of Rome who had previously been installed by the Council of Constance. If you consider Clement to have been the true Pope, then you could say that his resignation, if voluntary, and recognition of Pope Martin in Rome, if voluntary, would lend some legitimacy to the Roman line. But within Church law how can a legitimate Pope resign and recognize one that was elected illegitimately? He can’t. The Church can only hold a new election after the resignation of a legitimate Pope. It didn’t. So the only way Martin in Rome could be considered valid is if he was elected validly in the first place. But he wasn’t. He was appointed by a Council that acted without papal authority in violation of Church law to invalidate three competing Popes, one of which was valid. So the most likely true successor to Saint Peter has resigned and given his support to an invalid Pope.

    Meanwhile the other Avignon Pope, Pope Benedict XIV became known as “the hidden Pope” because he conducted his office in secret and almost no one knew his location. He is mentioned in a letter from Jean Carrier to Joan of Arc, which states that only Carrier knows the location of Pope Benedict XIV.

    When Benedict XIV of Avignon died in 1430, his cardinals named Carrier as his successor Pope. However Carrier had already been captured and imprisoned by antipope Clement VIII of Avignon (the one who later resigned and recognized Martin V of Rome). While in prison Carrier acted as Pope, and chose the name of Benedict. But since his predecessor Benedict XIV had already been declared antipope, Carrier was also called Benedict XIV. (Antipopes lose their numbers.) Of course, history would eventually decide that the second Benedict XIV was also an antipope. So there were two antipopes in Avignon named Benedict XIV. The second one had singlehandedly elected the first one, and then later succeeded him.

    When the second antipope Benedict XIV of Avignon died in 1437, the Church at last had just one Pope again. Pope Martin V of Rome. But the validity of his line remains in question to this day. The Council of Constance created him Pope rather than trying to sort out which of the three already existing Popes was legitimate. In doing so the Council made an antipope of the true successor to the Throne of Peter, and handed the papacy to someone else. You could say that the Council of Constance put an end to the legitimate succession of the Throne of Saint Peter in 1414. To this day scholars disagree on which line, if any, is the legitimate successor to Peter. The Church itself had avoided the subject until well into the 1900’s when it finally took some steps to retrospectively legitimize the Roman line. It reinterpreted Church law to say that the Council of Constance had divine authority to act. Otherwise it hasn’t made any definitive statement declaring which Pope was valid. It’s easy to see why. Either the Roman line or the Avignon line had to be valid, and the Church broke both lines, and there is no way around it except to skip over it. If the Church declares the Popes of either line as valid, then they must acknowledge that they invalidated a valid Pope. So the Church simply remains silent, skips over several Popes and pretends the line simply continued unbroken. The fact is, the papal line of succession was broken six hundred years ago. Any attempt now to legitimize the line only draws more attention to the fact. If the Church had actually cared about the legitimate line of succession, it could have solved the crisis when it first began by determining which of the first two Popes was valid. But since all they were concerned about was solving the political crisis, they simply got rid of them and replaced them with someone else. Eventually they had just one Pope again, and that was all that mattered to them. Now they’d just rather forget and pretend that Benedict is part of an unbroken chain that goes all the way back to Saint Peter.

    Eventually another Pope dared to take the name of John, and thus became the second John XXIII in 1958. It was his efforts at reforming the Church that Benedict XVI (Ratzinger) finally buried, setting the Church back centuries.

  • Scottsdalian

    Then make George W Bush the Pope — he never made ANY mistakes.

  • Ignatz

    what would be an example of atheists making up some incredibly stupid crap and pretending it’s rational?]]

    Read the post. The claim that religious people are religious because they are “not comfortable being a human being” is not just ludicrous and bigoted, it’s obviously pulled out of the ass. And considering the fact that atheists are a rather small minority, it’s one hell of bizarre thing to say about the vast majority of humanity. The vast majority of human beings are not comfortable being human beings? On the basis of WHAT EVIDENCE do you claim something that stupid?

    The fact is that atheists are CLUELESS about what makes people religious. It’s opaque to them. A closed book. But that doesn’t stop some of them from making pontifical pronouncements about something that they actually don’t understand at all.

    But someone should point out that believing that MOST people are delusional and screwed up and that YOU are one of the few sane ones is the sort of thing you actually DO hear in the asylum.

    “Religious people are uncomfortable being human.” Holy crap.

  • wearing out my F key

    oh, no doubt. their stand on birth control in general, and condoms in particular, is a real determent. but that doesn’t mean that the catholic church doesn’t help poor people.

    again, i agree with several things on the list, but to say the catholic church supports “wars… the death penalty, abuse the poor and worship money above all else” is just flat out wrong.

  • wearing out my F key

    here are some examples of the church not making much of an effort-
    Fighting A Food Crisis~By educating farmers and distributing disease-resistant cassava plants, CRS is helping to prevent a food crisis in Africa’s Great Lakes region.
    *Hunger Haunts Cameroon Schoolgirl~
    Thirteen-year-old juggles homework and family hardships on one small meal a day.
    *Protecting Education and Trees in Darfur~
    Learn how CRS is using an eco-friendly construction method to build classrooms in Darfur, Sudan, without harming the fragile environment.
    Matchmaker Unites Farm Workers and Employers~Independent Agricultural Workers’ Center recruits much-needed labor for U.S. farms while offering training, opportunity and hope to Mexican workers.
    *Cameroon Students Battle Corruption With FACTS~In an effort to reach the country’s full potential, educators and students are working to change corrupt behavior in Cameroon.
    *In Darfur, A Way to Grow Their Own~
    Through innovative fairs, thousands of farmers in Darfur receive vouchers for seeds and tools to help them grow critical food during uncertain times.
    *Better Rice Eases Hunger Fears in Gambia~ Amie Bayo, a rice farmer in The Gambia, saw her rice crop take off thanks to fertilizer from CRS.
    *Food Aid Warms Flood Victims’ Winter~
    After floods wiped out crops in several Eastern European villages, CRS food helped villagers make it through the winter.
    *Microfinance Helps Others Help Themselves~Microfinance programs offer ways for even the poorest families to save money, access loans and improve their lives.
    *A Clean Start for Egypt’s Villages~
    By improving sanitation, CRS projects help people in Egypt live healthier, happier lives.
    *Hunger Haunts Cameroon Schoolgirl~
    Thirteen-year-old juggles homework and family hardships on one small meal a day.

    really not that extraordinary at all.


  • Steve_in_CNJ

    i think they’d be a MUCH greater force against poverty if they’d spend their resources encouraging birth control. women in particular are economically and physically healthier if they don’t have to be constantly pregnant.

  • Steve_in_CNJ

    what would be an example of atheists making up some incredibly stupid crap and pretending it’s rational? are you talking about UFOs? Loch Ness monsters? are they at all competitive with religion in this category?

  • Kiwi Jackson

    50% are Teh Gay? He’s shooting somewhat low, particularly among Jesuits.

  • Steve_in_CNJ

    forgive me, but i still think you’re muddled on this question. i would of course disregard attacks on the church (or GLBs) that start with “you’re all pedophiles”. but it’s entirely appropriate to attack the church for harboring and enabling pedophiles.
    i would also challenge you to distinguish between “disparaging” people’s beliefs and criticizing them. the terminology seems to suggest that some people can’t help what they believe, so it is too personal to criticize them. this leads to the acceptance of destructive, misanthropic beliefs whenever they can be classified as “faith”. but you see where that has brought us: homophobia is essentially a religion, whereas acceptance and respect are a loony liberal ideology that can be “disparaged” at will. i completely reject that. all beliefs must be disparaged if they are wrong. that is not bigotry and it is not even disrespect.

  • The concept of Limbo started off as a theory, expanded greatly by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274). But the Church eventually did give it quite a bit of official weight. Limbo was given papal authority by Pope Pius X (1903-1914), who in his Catechism declared Limbo to be a place where the unbaptised “do not have the joy of God but neither do they suffer…they do not deserve Paradise, but neither do they deserve Hell or Purgatory”. You don’t get much more official than that. John Paul II began the process of downplaying Limbo at the urging of Ratzinger. And finally, in October of 2006 the Church officially abolished Limbo. The Church quibbles over what was official dogma and what was simply Church tradition. But for the faithful who were taught Limbo as children along with all the official dogma, it was all the same. Purgatory…. indulgences…. apparitions of the BVM…. veneration of relics…. revelations revealed through apparitions of saints….. stigmata….. intercession of saints….. condemnation to Hell for eating meat on Friday…… dubious saints removed from the Church calendar such as St. Christopher…. etc……….. quibble or not, it’s all Catholic.

  • wearing out my F key

    “The Church doesn’t even make much of an effort.”
    really? really?
    i’ve pointed out some of the charity works that the catholic church church is involved in above. things like that make a big impact on the lives of poor and disadvantaged people all over the world. does that absolve the church of all it’s many sins? hell no, but it’s not exactly $50 dollars either.

  • jc

    I think the church and the pope deserve bashing pretty much all the time.

  • LOL! And technically the Pope is speaking ex cathedra when he is on the toilet.

    Speaking of which, a friend of ours attended a ordination once. During the service at the cathedral he ducked downstairs to use the restroom. When he opened the door to the toilet stall, there sat the archbishop in his miter and full liturgical drag, with his crosier leaning up against the inside of the stall. Our friend, a lowly seminarian at the time, froze in shock. With that the archbishop looked at him impassively and said, “Tell this vision to no one.”

  • Tom

    Thank you for the best laugh I’ve had in awhile. Babs Bush and the pig parts. LMAO!

  • Ignatz

    All religion is bullshit anyway. If you’re not comfortable being a human being, and being among human beings, warts and all, you take up religion for your shortcomings.]]

    I love when atheists – who like to pretend that they base everything on empirical evidence – make up some incredibly stupid crap that they have no evidence for whatsoever and pretend that it’s rational.

    So – prove me wrong. What’s your EVIDENCE that religious people are religious because they are “not comfortable being a human being”?

  • Most Catholics are well aware that the Church has nver considered any Pope personally infallible, so Ratzinger’s admission comes as no surprise to believers. So called “infallibility” is applied only under very specific circumstances, wasn’t officially defined until 1870, and thus far applies to only two Papal doctrines – the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and the Assumption of Mary. And deep down, most Catholics know the doctrine of Papal infallibility is BS even if they choose to believe it. They need only look at the crap the Church has been teaching for centuries to see how far off the mark the Popes can be on matters of faith and doctrine.

    What’s really interesting is how far off the mark Ratzinger can be. Some Vatican insiders are murmuring about Ratzinger as a loose cannon who acts on his own and doesn’t do his homework. Apparently there is considerable discontent in Vatican circles with the Ratzinger Poopacy. I’m sure the latest scandal doesn’t help. Catholicism is now the largest religion in the US (53% of Americans say they are Catholic) but that is due to immigrants, and despite that, the number of Catholics attending church regularly continues to decline. All mainstream Christian churches are in decline in the US and Europe. Catholicism is gradually becoming a third-world religion, and deservedly so. The number of Americans who say they have no religion at all has doubled in recent years to 15%.

    As for the Church’s hypocrisy on gay issues, my husband who is an ex-priest says he estimates 50% of priests in America are gay, and he assumes Europe has a similar percentage. The Church has shot itself in the foot by trying to deflect the pedophile scandal off as a gay issue. Church teachings on gays already turn off many potential vocations to the priesthood. Add to that the ugliness of wrongly blaming gay priests for what some pedophiles have done, and they guarantee the critical shortage of priests will grow worse.

    OT: Barbara Bush has been released from the hospital with her new heart valve. And because they used a pig valve, she won’t need anti-rejection drugs!

  • Tom

    A church that is built on the teachings of to give until it hurts, yet they won’t even come close to stubbing their toe in the efforts they could do with the resources they have.

    Americans and our government do not follow a doctrine that it is easier to put a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven. The Church doesn’t even make much of an effort. It’s like the church is Warren Buffet giving $50 to charity. It’s really not the extraodinary at all. The billions they spent paying off sexual abuse could do far more for the worlds poor than what the church is using it for.

  • Ann

    As previously noted, the doctrine is that the pope speaks with infallibility ONLY in very narrow circumstances. Only when speaking on specific issues of faith. I think you are confusing the requirement that Catholicism is not a democracy and the Pope’s word on institutional issues is final with the infallibility thing. Catholics must be obedient to the Pope even when he is not being infallible. If you’re a priest and the Pope says, “Hey, shut up!” , you have to shut up even if he is being an asshole. See ‘Liberation Theology’ and Pope John Paul II.

  • wearing out my F key

    by that standard, how do you view american charity efforts? we haven’t given everything. are we despicable?

  • Dominic Hughes

    You seem to think that you know me and that you’ve seen me post frequent “apologies” for the Pope (can you even read — see where I said that “on occasion” the Church and the Pope deserve bashing). You also seem to think that you know something about the concept of ‘Papal infallibility” but by comparing it to Bush’s actions, you demonstrate that you simply don’t understand the concept. You seem to think that, because there is a “widespread presumption” about the meaning of the concept, the fact that the presumption is inaccurate doesn’t mean using the presumptive, inaccurate meaning is wrong. You seem to think it is okay for Joe to mischaracterize the concept in his post because he provided a link where people could go to find out what it really is.

    Why did I bring up the shanty-town issue…because there s a post on it just a few posts down. Not odd in the slightest. Why should I be compelled to address what you think I should address? Who died and made you Pope?

  • wearing out my F key

    i think there are a lot of poor people all over the world who would disagree with you.

  • wearing out my F key

    “Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. Founded in 1943 by the U.S. bishops, the agency provides assistance to 80 million people in more than 100 countries and territories in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.”


    “Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Roman Catholic relief, development and social service organisations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Collectively and individually their mission is to work to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed.”


    “Catholic Charities is a worldwide network of charities whose aim is to “reduce poverty, support families, and empower communities.” It is one of the largest and most respected charities.”


    hey, it’s no secular organization, but that’s not too bad, huh?

    and besides, i agree that several things on the list are valid. but those last three (the war, the death penalty, the poor) are not fair criticisms.

  • catdance

    Christianity is the triumph of the religion of Paul over the religion of Jesus.

  • Tom

    Why should they get credit for half assed efforts and doing the least possible with the resources available to them?

    I think it makes them dispicable.

  • catdance

    Even if people DO believe in God they can and should be comfortable in their humanity and embrace it as God’s role for them.

    If you buy the Christian “myth” then God created human beings, gave them dominion over the earth and its creatures, and thought so highly of humanity that his own son lived as half-human/half-divine. Why Christians deny Christ’s humanity and scorn humanism is beyond me.

  • wearing out my F key

    hey, i said they could do more. but be fair! don’t they deserve some credit for what they do contribute?

  • Tom

    They are the richest Church in the world and could end starvation and millions of preventable deaths if they would just sell of the priceless art they stole. They don’t do anything better than a secular organization could do, and for less.

  • wearing out my F key

    not a bad list of beefs, except of course the part about the war. pope john paul was a vocal critic of the iraq war for the beginning. and the vatican is also against the death penalty in almost all cases. and while they could always do more, i think the catholic church has done a good deal to help the poor.

    i mean, come on.

  • econprofes


    I also teach college and most of my fellow professors are Republicans

  • wmforr

    Actually, they should extend the doctrine to say when the Pope doesn’t speak ex cathedra he is always wrong. That would be much more reality based.

  • wmforr

    Are you telling us that most everyone in the Department of Labor is anti-labor?

  • wmforr

    I once told my Lutheran mother that she did not believe in the Immaculate Conception, and she replied, “Of course I do!” I had to explain the meaning of the term to her.

  • James

    The original post misrepresented Catholic doctrine regarding papal infallibility. The commenters who are correctin this are getting it right: papal infallibility is something that only applies under extremely rare, extremely specific instances.

    The commenters who bash the folks who are setting the record straight as “religists” aren’t acting like members of the reality-based community. Rather, they are embracing truthiness. The Catholic Church does stuff wrong, so let’s manufacture some fake problems.

    For the record, I’m an atheist who once was Catholic. So I don’t believe in any of this doctrine. But I believe in getting the facts right. There’s plenty of legitimate grounds for criticism (like sheltering sex offender clergy and pressuring a 9-year-old to carry a pregnancy to term) of the Catholic Church without resorting to trumped up stuff.

  • jc

    Actually its nothing like blaming the gays for pedophilia. Pedophiles were attached to the gay community by the religious community to demonize us when in reality statistics point to pedophiles being more likely to be straight. The Pope is the head of the Catholic church and by contributing to the church you are supporting his message/actions. Its really that simple.

  • Jim

    Strictly speaking, according to Catholic Vatican I doctrine, the Pope is only “infallible” when he speaks ex cathedra. If you were once told that everything he says or does is infallible, this is not official.

    That said, any apologies from the Nazi Pope are long, long overdue; too little and too late.

  • MNPundit

    Americablog is useful but you have to parse statements through their spin or you will look silly.

  • Older_Wiser

    All religion is bullshit anyway. If you’re not comfortable being a human being, and being among human beings, warts and all, you take up religion for your shortcomings. There is no perfection in the universe, and no being that is perfect. My thinking is that only people who have authority over themselves really don’t need some outer authority, like religion. It’s really a distraction from true self growth and acceptance of others. I think that religion itself creates a lot of mental illness, especially depression, and that people would gain much more from an hour of deep introspection every week instead of a steady diet of listening to someone telling you how you should live your life and extorting money for the “privilege.”

  • Kiwi Jackson

    Gave BO an A, thx for the heads up. Currently it’s 47% As, 34% Fs.

  • ndtovent

    k…I went on and voted. Gave him an A

  • nicho

    Yes and No. You are technically correct about the real meaning of infallibility. However, in recent years — ever since the Wotyla/Ratzinger crowd got into power — the casual statements of the pope and the magisterium of the church have been treated as almost infallible. In other words, if you refuse to adhere to them, you are out on your ass.

    Case in point — the priest in CA, who spoke out against Prop H8 (in opposition to the church’s “non-infallible” stance, and was booted out on his ass within hours — by the same people who coddled pedophiles for years.

  • PopeImpiousXXIII

    Um.. No.
    Catholics are taught that the Pope is infallable only when he speaks “ex cathedra” (sic). This has happened, if I recall properly, twice. Once regarding the Immaculate Conception (that Mary was born without Original Sin), and once regarding the Assumption of Mary (that she was brough physically into heaven).
    Other than that, no, to be Catholic you don’t have to believe that the Pope is infallible.

    That being said, I always thought that the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption were both pretty silly things to tie your faith to. But what do I know? My Catholic card lapsed a while back, and I haven’t renewed. My faith these days rotates between Eris, Bob and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Why have one perfect, unaltering Truth to believe in when you can have three?

    -Pope Impious XXIII, ULC, RSVP, EIEIO

  • ndtovent

    add to that list:
    forbidding priests to marry
    prohibiting the ordination of women as priests

  • econprofes

    MSNBC has a poll grading Obama’s performance so far. Republicans are flooding it giving Obama an “F”. Everyone go to the poll and give Obama a fair grade. here is the link.


  • Gridlock


    When there is a grand poobah of gaydom, sitting in his palace of buttsex, handing down proclamations and then being rightly criticized for his arrogance.. only then will your silly example make any sense.

    When the leader of a religion does something blatantly stupid, like declare that gays are “part of the overarching ideology of evil”…. and then the rest of the blighted organization under him simply shrugs or agrees..he represents the ENTIRE ORGANIZATION. He is the leader. The one the rest of the organization follows. He is their face. Their representation.

    What he says GOES. If people disagreed with his infallibility in this area, they would have to leave the organization. Otherwise, they’re just playing at Catholicism.

  • blip

    What are you talking about? At least 23% of US voters are practically Nazis, who prefer killing Muslims to Jews. Ratzinger is marginally better than that.

  • Kiwi Jackson

    I’ve got to agree with Joe’s laundry list. I walked away from the Catholic Church a long time ago, soon after a heated discussion with a Jesuit friend who ended the debate we were having by declaring, “Kiwi, the Catholic Church is not a democracy, it’s an oligarchy. The fellas at the top will never accept female clergy, contraception, or open gays. You’ll have to get over it if you want to stick around.”

    I took that to mean fairly lightly closeted fella-type clergy was fine though, & if said male clergy could ever somehow become pregnant, birth control would be made a sacrament. Didn’t stick around.

    I like my organized religion straight with no hypocrisy chaser, thanks. Namaste.

  • blip

    No. I am not trying to link the two. I am saying that there are gay people who commit crimes, and they should not be used as examples by which to judge the rest of the gay community.

    Some people are born gay and some people are born straight, but in both groups you have people who are abusive. One of my close friends in high school was physically beaten by her partner and had to leave her because of it. This does not mean that lesbians are violent, it means that some lesbians, just like everyone else, need to get help.

    For someone who is an authority on information and misinformation, you should know the difference.

    The Catholic Church has done no more to enslave people than the public school system (the history of physical abuse and anti-gay discrimination in public schools is easily comparable, and possible worse, that that of the church). And for what…. so you can get a crap job after you graduate. That’s some phony salvation.

    Why don’t you direct your bigotry at school teachers and students for their belief in the system?

    I don’t feel the need to attack public education because I can distinguish between what happened in the past and what is happening now. I can distinguish between administrators, teachers, and students. I can recognize good intentions and some very positive things coming out of schools. But still there is a lot of horrible stuff that happens in school, things that ruin people’s lives, drive them to suicide or chronic depression, rob them of a happy life. But, on the whole, schools tend to be OK. The Chuch is the same.

  • Gridlock

    I got mine at a local gay kitsch shop. I also got some nummy “Bitch mints”, the mints you leave on your desk so people don’t think you’re a bitch.

  • michaelc

    Joe – As an ex-Catholic, I’m no fan of the Church and certainly not of Ratzinger. But you’ve been corrected several times in this thread concerning infallibility – which any Catholic who listened in Catechism should know applies only ex cathedra – and has almost never been invoked since that nut case Pius IX invented it. Please update your diary. Or delete it.

    Next I suppose you’ll tell us that the Immaculate Conception refers to the birth of Jesus? After all, millions of protestants think so.

    Your ignorance is showing. Clean it up.

  • naschkatze

    Where do you get them? I’d like one.

  • Gridlock

    Curses and drat, I’ve been found out! *runs out of the room, red silk robes flapping*

  • Gridlock

    1) If people will follow said silly commandment, despite it being wrong, then millions of people are mental incompetents and should be soundly mocked.

    2) Gays seek relationships with other adult gays. It’s called an adult, consenting relationship. Pedophiles prey on children in a non consentual, abusive manner. They are not linked. Nice try.

    3) I don’t respect institutions that have done their best to enslave humankind, and continue to spread misinformation, downright lies, and stupidity in the guise of eternal salvation.

  • Indigo

    Although I hasten to add that your laundry list of Roman transgressions is a good one. You’re a (good?) Catholic boy, you know how to take that list into the box and share it with Father Jack. You might get further with that approach than you expect if you try it. It’s Lent . . . give it a whirl! See what happens . . .

  • blip

    No… I know how good you are. You even strategically pretend to only partially know Church teaching so that you can add to the irony of your post. You’re funny.

  • blip

    If the Pope or the Church does something wrong, and you disparage millions of people for it, that’s bigotry.

    It’s like blaming the gay community for pedophilia, just because some gay men (just like straight men and Catholic priests) are deeply disturbed and engage in criminal behavior.

    Sure, Fred Phelps (and, unfortunately, many Catholic leaders) say that pedophilia means that all gays are pedophiles…. and they will say… as you say, “You can’t be bigoted against ‘wrong.'” But walking around with this self-righteous, I’m blessed and you’re all damned attitude leads people to identify something wrong with someone, and then apply that judgment to a general group.

    It’s unjust. And I am going to call it bigotry.

    I once taught at a Catholic school with extremely inclusive policies for students (and aggressive policies regarding harassment). In addition, their theology was extremely progressive. And I do not think it is fair to paint those people with the same brush. I was also raised by an atheist, and he never disparaged other people’s beliefs. He simply did not share them. And, so I also have a problem with anti-religious people who are more belligerent than religious fundamentalists.

    If your belief (or non-belief) does not equip you to respect people, regardless of what they believe, what good is it?

  • jc

    The Catholic church is a cult. No matter what kind of flambouyant (sp?), costumed, Nazi closet case runs it. Still a cult.

  • Indigo

    I’m in no position to defend or attack papal infallability. I know the expression as an insulting response when someone says something outrageous. I learned it from my Sicilian American sponsor for the sacrament of Confirmation more than 50 years ago. You look the outrageous commentator in the eye, sneer or not, and you say, “The Pope is infallable.” (There’s a hand gesture that goes with it.)

    And so, Joe, “The Pope is infallable!”

  • Gridlock

    D. ‘trying too hard’

  • Tom

    Ex Cathedra or not, it’s all bullshit. The Pope is a human being 24/7 just like the rest of us. He just happens to be a Nazi, unlike most of the rest of us.

  • Gridlock

    HAh! I’ve got that one too! :D

  • Gridlock

    *dabs at the corners of your mouth with a hanky*

    Bless his heart, he’s foaming.

    Meta-hilarity: the original poster either not realizing my quasi mockery of his fragment was irony.

    Meta-Meta-hilarity: Me overestimating his ability to grasp irony and hilarity at the same time, and attributing his long-winded screech as the ultimate in ironic meta-hilarity.

  • foxy

    The “Roman’s” have always made this “claim” of infallibility. Ah, if only Valentinus became bishop of Rome. We would of seen a different Vatican today.
    Thanks to Irenaeus , we have four gospels (where more than fifty existed)…why? Because there are four seasons and four corners of the world! These are the “Roman’s” [[Catholics]] we see today…..

  • blip

    What are you talking about? Limbo was never officially recognized by the Church. It was something that some people speculated about in the middle ages, and was picked up as a folk-belief.

    There are plenty of actual things that you can criticize the church for. It’s just ignorant to pretend you know something about official teaching and how it has changed, when you clearly don’t know anything about it.

    That joke is funny. Especially answer C. Also, it is funny that Volkswagens are German cars and that Hitler was German. Very funny, too, when someone ROFLs. I wasn’t sure if this was a real exam question, or if I was supposed to laugh. Thanks for that. I needed the laugh.

  • Gridlock

    .. and this is because people pretend that a guy in a silk dress, elected by other men in a political decision, somehow has the big sky fairy telepathically directing him, from a mythical paradise, to do its will.

    Hilariously, much of this “will” centers around the total obsession the giant omnicient creator of existence has on where one species of half-evolved ape on some backwater world sticks its reproductive organ into another half evolved ape.

    Yeah. That’s a sound basis for claiming infallibility.

  • Steve_in_CNJ

    that made me dizzy. but here’s the deal. you can’t be bigoted against “wrong”. let’s not water down the notion of bigotry.

  • Pace

    Infallibility, a claim that began with Pius IX in the 19th century, only pertains to matters of faith and morals. It is a relatively modern claim, made by a certifiable mental case, and disputed to this day even by many Catholic theologians. It is supremely suspect even for devout Catholics for any human being to make the claim to speak infallibly for the Most High God. “I speak for God on all matters pertaining to faith and morals. How do I know this? Because I’m infallible. I’m infallible because I’m infallible.” Lovely….

  • blip

    Haha… That’s almost as funny as the Liberace joke! You crack me up. It’s ironic, too, to use a fragment to critique another person’s sentences. I cannot tell which is more hilarious, your sentence or my own. But then when I read your hilarious “sentence” and notice that it points to my sentence, then I think that my sentence is that much more hilarious. I mean, if your already hilarious sentence says that my sentence is hilarious, then that means it’s really hilarious. And then when you consider that your sentence is based on knee-jerk bigotry masquerading as a plea for tolerance, it get even hilariouser (and that’s not even a word!). And, then, to attack ignorance, while betraying an utter lack of knowledge about history, it’s even more hilariouser.

    I love irony! You are like a Shakespeare-level writer. I mean, one, short sentence (an incomplete one, no less), and you have unleashed a tidal wave of hilarity! You rock!

  • Cpeterka

    Actually… I think the phrase is “Infallible on matters of faith”,
    Like … Limbo for unbaptised babies… OOP’s sorry, we changed that… they are now in Heaven.
    Like… St Christopher… OOP’s sorry, we needed the money from some pretend saints for statues and medals.
    Like… etc, etc, etc…

    How can you get 4 Popes in a Volkswagen?
    A. Ask Hitler?
    B. Remove their hats?
    C. ???


  • Greg

    From a theological standpoint, the notion of ‘infallibility’ does not refer to the Pope’s decidedly human mistakes such as support for the holocaust Bishop at all. It only refers to matters of Church theology. If the Pope makes a formal statement on Church doctrine such as an Encyclical or Papal Bull on a matter like abortion or human sexuality – then it carries the weight of infallibility. Day-to-day decisions can be are wrong-headed as any other right wing Hitler Jugend would make.

  • Steve_in_CNJ

    you seem to have this constant need to apologize for the pope. papal infallibility is a widespread presumption, if not a legality. it is similar to the presumption that bush was trying to safeguard and improve our lives, only a bit more ingrained. people who “lack understanding” of the legal concept can just follow the link in Joe’s post.

    why are you bringing up the infamous camaroon shanty-town cleansing here? very odd. there is a bullet list in the post which you could address instead.

  • Phil
  • Apphouse50

    I nearly spit my food out when I read this.

    My friend has Pope On A Rope Soap, from when Pope Paul (I think it was) visited the US. I threaten to steal it all the time. I think he hides it when I go there now.

  • Gridlock

    No kiddin. I think they’re feeling offended on behalf of their invisible Zardoz head.

  • Phil

    So much for Catholic charity and its fine tradition of education:


  • foxy

    Boy the “Religists” are extremely active today…..

  • Gridlock

    “catholic teaching”… something of a hilarious sentence when you think of all they’ve tried to suppress…

  • Did you even read the Wikipedia article you linked to? Heaven forbid the facts get in the way of a perfectly good argument, right?

  • GoBlue

    Popes are buried in red vestments. I have a refrigerator magnet which shows John Paul II lying in state, the body clothed in a red chasuble. Kneeling beside his bier are Bush 41 and 43, Laura, and Bill Clinton. The thought balloon over 43’s head reads: “What happened to Santa?”

  • blip

    You sound like Fred Phelps when you make such blatant mistakes about Catholic teaching, and assert them as though you are trying to educate people. I mean, where did you learn about infallibility? A Jack Chick comic?

  • Gridlock

    What is the Liberace of religion going on about now. Is he waving his magic booga booga wand, trying to scare children with his wonder twin powers again?

  • Since the solemn declaration of Papal Infallibility by Vatican I on July 18, 1870, this power has been used only once ex cathedra: in 1950 when Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary as being an article of faith for Roman Catholics.


    Benny and The Hets…She’s got electric boots a mohair suit
    You know I read it in a magazine

  • foxy

    Does that mean he’s going to be shopping at “Payless” for his shoes?

  • Apphouse50

    Correctamundo, sorta. He is (purportedly) infallible on “matters of faith and morals.” Meaning stuff that is totally subjective and therefore he can claim to be right (and so the hell what)? Like encyclicals, I believe. (Well actually I don’t but that’s another story.)

    He can’t walk out on his front balcony and declare himself to be the best weightlifter or swimmer in the world and insist that this is covered by the “infallibility” bit, however. I mean, he can, but would be laughed at even more than he is now. Which seems impossible sometimes.

    I confess I enjoy it when popes die and they have all that ritual and dignitaries come in their funny clothes to install the new guy and the smoke thing and singing. Half of me feels like she’s watching something that’s cultural/historical phenomenon. The other half thinks it’s a hysterical phenomenon. Both go well with popcorn. When Pope Paul died and shortly therafter his successor (who seemed like a nice guy, actually) died too, we got a twofer.

  • The pope is only infallible when making Ex cathedra statements

  • Dominic Hughes

    Your lack of understanding of the Catholic Church’s concept of “Papal infallibility” is quite apparent. In addition, I recognize that you have this constant need to bash the Pope and the Catholic Church, and, on occasion they deserve it, but implicitly blaming the Pope for what the Cameroonian security forces did to the street stalls is taking things pretty far out there.

  • Johnny

    No no no no no! The Catholic Church does NOT teach that the pope is “never wrong”. Papal infallibility is only in effect on very rare occasions when the pope officially declares himself so on matters of dogma. It’s only happened once in the last hundred-plus years.

  • RainbowPhoenix

    We are not taught that the pope is infallible in normal circumstances. The pope is taught to be as fallible as any other human except for specific instances where it is believed that the presence of the holy spirit prevents falsehoods. According to the church itself, this has happened only six times in history, and only in matters concerning fundamental dogma.

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