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Banning Mugabe would drag the Vatican into a diplomatic minefield

The Vatican is a Church; on what grounds can it ban someone from coming to Mass?

By on Monday, 2 May 2011

Robert Mugabe receives Holy Communion at the beatification Mass in St Peter's Square (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Robert Mugabe receives Holy Communion at the beatification Mass in St Peter's Square (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

Like millions of Catholics all over the world I am absolutely overjoyed by the beatification of the Blessed John Paul II. I remember thinking at the time of his death that here was a man who gave himself 100 per cent to his mission – a true example to all priests and bishops, and to all the baptised. Now that shining example of personal holiness has been raised to the altars as a Beatus.

However, not everyone shares my joy. The usual suspects have rounded themselves up to try and pour cold water on this celebration. One cloud on the horizon was certainly provided by the presence of Comrade (as he prefers to be called) Robert Mugabe, and this was enough to give some commentators the excuse they were looking for.

The Independent’s report contains this misleading statement:

Mr Mugabe is the subject of an EU-wide travel ban and the Vatican had to obtain special permission for him to be allowed to enter the pocket statelet. It will be at least the third time that Mr Mugabe has taken advantage of the Vatican’s and/or Italy’s diplomatic largesse since John Paul’s death.

The Lateran Treaty established a “diplomatic corridor” between the Vatican and the rest of the world. When Sir D’Arcy Osborne was holed up in the Vatican for the duration of the Second World War, the Italians were obliged to allow him and his staff to travel across Italian territory to Switzerland in a sealed train, so that he could take a holiday, despite the fact that he was an enemy alien. Likewise, personae non gratae in Italy have always had the right to pass through Italian territory in order to get to the Vatican – this includes members of the Savoy family, Italy’s former ruling house, who were banned from Italy by law, but who were perfectly entitled to fly into Rome and visit the Pope any time they wished (a privilege they never made use of.)

Incidentally, this convention applies to the United Nations as well. Hence Mugabe can fly into New York and Rome to get to the UN, and no one can do anything about it.

However, the Vatican could ban Mugabe, as could the UN. Quite so. But there is a problem here. The Vatican is a Church; on what grounds can it ban someone from coming to Mass? It is perfectly true it could place Mugabe under interdict for his many sins and misdemeanours, but if you start with Mugabe, where would you finish? Should Berlusconi also be banned? What about the much married Sarkozy? What about, let us say, the late Robin Cook? In these circumstances, given the difficulty in judging politicians, it does seem reasonable to accept all comers. They accepted Mussolini and Jörg Haider, after all. The latter did cause an outcry, but to have banned him would have made every prospective visit a nightmare of potential protest.

Another matter that most English readers may not realise is that Mugabe, a hate figure in the UK, is much admired in many parts of Africa. Indeed, in some countries he is treated as a hero. And he is not disliked in Italy: that he has victimised white farmers in the name of anti-colonialism does not play badly in Italy where what is perceived as British hypocrisy over Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 is not altogther forgotten. However, Zimbabwe is not much of an issue for Italians, and this would explain why Fr Lombardi’s comments seem so lame.

Incidentally, La Repubblica, Italy’s top newspaper, seems to have no mention of Mugabe’s presence in its current online edition. Far more interesting, from their point of view, is the spectacle of a hardworking prime minister falling asleep at the beatification. Poor Silvio Berlusconi. He is 74, and those late nights spent on official duties must be taking their toll.

  • http://madhominem.wordpress.com Jon von Kampen

    The beatification may have been a religious ceremony, but the Vatican itself is a state, a situation it has no qualms about making use of when it suits the Church’s purposes. And why can priests and bishops deny communion to pro-choice voters, and the Church can excommunicate abortionists, but a head of state complicit in torture and corruption gets a pass — at a ceremony for a pope lauded as a great humanitarian? What do Church teachings mean, and how important will they seem to Catholics, if the Church ISN’T willing to penalize Berlusconi, Sarkozy, and others who not only fail to follow Church doctrine, but do so shamelessly and as public figures? Your next-to-last paragraph indicates you’ve bought in to the idea it’s acceptable (or at least not worth criticizing) to sacrifice morals for politics, too. How is it that the great moral leadership of the world (i.e. the Catholic Church, the Vatican) is utterly uninterested in doing the right thing? The flesh isn’t exactly weak; I’m guessing the spirit just isn’t willing.

  • Nick

    Your post is very biased and non-factual.

    For example, you said
    > “deny communion to pro-choice voters”

    That happens in about 4 parishes in the whole world… The Church is extremely lenient in giving holy communion. Most priests trust the faithful to examine his conscience.
    In fact, many lay Catholics complain that priests are too lenient, and they should stop giving communion to corrupt politicians, such as those that think babies are expendable. And even these strict lay Catholics are talking about POLITICIANS, not simple voters.
    You hypothetical contrast – “the Church denies communion to pro-abortion voters, but not to Mugabe” is only in your imagination.

    > a head of state complicit in torture and corruption
    Except that it is difficult do judge politics authoritatively. The Church usually only disciplines wayward members of the clergy, if they clearly disrespect the Church in a grave manner. If a hypothetical priest is preaching for nazism or abortion, then it is clear that he should be given a warning and, if the sin continues, he should be disciplined (usually with some weeks of suspension from pastoral work). That hypothetical priest was objectively and clearly preaching misery, and, as a member of the clergy, he cannot do that in the name of the Church. But even that happens very rarely. Many Catholics do not understand why is the Church so lenient with priests who disrespect the faith.

    But if a politician starts a war (say, Iraq war) than it is extremely hard to judge authoritatively whether it was right or wrong. There are just wars, and each war may be just or not depending on a lot of details. The Church hardly has enough information about, say, the Iraq war, to judge authoritatively whether it was right or wrong. Was Saddan Hussein really dangerous? Was there a better method of solving the situation? Did the American government try keep military discipline, to avoid soldiers hurting innocent Iraqis? That is very hard to judge. It involves not only morality, but a lot of on-the-field information the Church does not have. So the Church wouldn’t deny communion to pro-war American politicians (even though John Paul II was personally against the war, and spoke against it).

    By the way, I bet that if the Church actually denied communion to everyone in a sate of grave sin (that is, half the population), you would be shouting from the rooftops against the “totalitarian” Church…

  • Claire

    The Vatican is a state as well as the headquarters for the Catholic Church. I still don’t agree with his presence. This has made me hate the church all the more since the sex scandals…what image is the Vatican giving out by inviting people like Mugabe??

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but victimising people is wrong: even if they are white, Caucasian & male. “Love your enemies” =///= “Harm your friends”. Maybe the Desert Rats should not have shown up the all-conquering Italian Army as the cowards they were.

    Granted, Italy give the world the Mafia – but does the Pope really have to fraternise with murderers ? Only as long as they kill thousands, rather than having just the one abortion, it seems: do that, & you’re excommunicated. Be Mugabe, a terrorist & murderer & tyrant – and forget about being excommunicated. With perverted morality like that, not wonder children have been abused.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant post :)

    This is what those teachings mean: nothing. To behave like that is opportunistic, tyrannical, and cowardly – does the Papacy really want to be mistaken for a bully ?

  • Nick

    Dude, did you even read the article, as well as my commentary above?

    Biased comments like yours make me cynical.
    You are likely an atheist, that really needs to disbelieve in the Church
    so that you placate your conscience while living the atheist morality –
    “if you can get away with it (adultery, abortion…) then do it.”

  • Anonymous

    Let us pray for Mugabe: And allow God to deal with him.

  • http://madhominem.wordpress.com Jon von Kampen

    Speaking of bias…

    Saying there’s an atheist morality is like saying there’s a Christian morality. Yes, in and out of religion, various people and organizations will form doctrine or something close to it; but every such doctrine is different, and even the self-described followers take and leave what they will. No one atheist morality, no one Christian morality — is there a Catholic morality? Certainly, it’s right there in the Catechism. Even then, being raised by Catholic parents, it’s been my observation that of the Catholics I know, half hew to Church moral teaching, and half just do what they think is best. (How you judge either side for that is your prerogative.)

    I know pro-choice, adulterous, peacenik Catholics. Strict, faithful Catholics? No. But they call themselves Catholics, even if they don’t follow the rules (something you’ll find among the Lutherans, Baptists, Sunnis, and Hindus). I also know of pro-life atheists, atheists who will wait for marriage, gun-owning conservative atheists. If it’s silly to make an assumption about a Catholic’s personal morality, when you can compare it against the actual doctrine, it’s just absurd to assume there’s a single, universal atheist morality.

  • http://madhominem.wordpress.com Jon von Kampen

    I didn’t say “denies communion,” I said priests and bishops -can- deny communion. I not only accept your observation, I’ll run with it: You can’t practically undertake a moral examination of everyone who comes up to the altar. But when a priest sees a public figure like a politician, with a record of unrepented public statements and votes cast against Church teaching, it seems like negligence -not- to make a judgment about whether that politician should receive communion. Mugabe is certainly a public-enough figure to be scrutinized.

    Given their role, priests absolutely should be in conformance to the doctrine of their church. Wars are admittedly morally complex, but you seem to be of the opinion that, because we can’t make a black-and-white judgment about some wars, politicians can’t be held to a standard, for wars -or- other political actions.

    If the Church actually denied communion to everyone in a state of grave sin, I’d applaud it for following the standards it promotes as right and best. I figure more outsiders would be able to believe the Church was being serious.

  • Nick

    I didn’t mean to offend all the atheists – nor did I mean to claim that all Catholics are good.

    I merely realized that those most likely to hate the Church are

    1) Protestants, whose theology requires the Catholic Church to be a monster.
    For example, they claim that Protestantism is the true Christian church. But protestantism
    was missing for 15 centuries. This contradicts the Bible, which says that the Church would never
    lose to the forces of Hell (so it couldn’t disappear for 15 centuries). Some Protestants explain
    it away by claiming that Protestantism always existed as an underground church, hidden from
    the evil Catholic Church and its inquisition. For this and other reasons, Protestantism need the Catholic Church to be (seen as) evil to explain the validity of itself. That is why they spread historical absurdities about the Middle Ages. If the Catholic Church is nice, than Protestantism cannot explain itself.

    2) Secular totalitarians, such as nazis and marxists. The Church, as a source of morality and
    doctrine separated from civil power, makes the totalitarian state impossible. Totalitarianism requires the state to monopolize both civil power and morality/doctrine.

    3) Atheists or heterodox Christians who engage in fornication, sodomy, adultery and even abortion. When the Church speaks of morality, sin and salvation, they take it to a *very* personal level.

    I emphasize that I am only speaking of the portion of Protestants and atheist who hate the
    Church. There are of course nice and friendly Protestants and atheists. And evil Catholics – among the very first 12 apostles, one literally sold the life of the son of God.

  • Nick

    > when a priest sees a public figure like a politician, with a record of unrepented public statements and
    > votes cast against Church teaching, it seems like negligence -not- to make a judgment about whether
    > that politician should receive communion

    I still have the impression that is is anti-Catholic bias. If Mugabe went to a Buddhist service with Dalai Lama, I doubt so many would complain. Some people could complain about Mugabe’s hypocrisy, but few would complain about Dalai Lama’s tolerance. But if it is the Catholic Church, the institution that Britons love to hate, than this event just showed that the Church is evil.

    Second, in the US a few rare priests have denied communion to politicians that practice horrible
    crimes, such as supporting abortion. American voters (who probably weren’t even Catholic,
    but for some reason cared about it) complained, apparently claiming that the Church was interfering
    with political matters (which some Americans don’t like). This was an issue in a Republican primary.

    And they were minor politicians. If the Church denied communion to Nancy Pelosi, the press would lose its mind.

    In short:
    If the Church denies communion to those that support evil, then the Church is intolerant and dogmatic. Also, if she denies communion to politicians, then she wants to interfere with politics, which certain secularists find unthinkable.
    But if she gives communion to all baptized, then she condones evil.
    There’s no way she won’t be hated.

    And something you said in a previous post:
    > Your next-to-last paragraph indicates you’ve bought in to the idea it’s acceptable (or at least not
    > worth criticizing) to sacrifice morals for politics, too.

    Instead of “politics”, I would say “diplomacy”. And the Church is not “sacrificing morals” for diplomacy; the Vatican merely refused to actively make a statement (by denying communion); you can accuse the Vatican of being neutral, but not of being actively evil.

    And it is justifiable to be neutral in this situation, for prudent diplomacy. In fact, this reminds me of the 2006 Regensburg address. The Pope delivered a very wise speech, but, because some words were distorted by dishonest journalists (including the BBC) and extremist muslim clerics, the speech caused hatred in the muslim world. Christians were killed, hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from the Pope, because of poor diplomacy (partly caused by idiot journalists). Now, the Central Africa may be less bad than certain parts of the muslim world, but it is still a quite violent place. Conducting bad diplomacy may cause the persecution and perhaps death of Christians. And remember – a Pope that is brave enough to be martyred is to be admired, but he shouldn’t be irresponsible enough to cause the martyrdom of OTHERS (including women and children).

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    I agree with Paul!

  • Terence

    Does Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith actually know what Mugabe has done? He hasn’t just chucked a lot of white farmers off the land. In the early 80′s he had over 20,000 Ndbele horribly killed and since then he has not stopped, it has just got worse since the Zimbabwe people started an opposition. You should just hear of some of the tortures he gets his thugs to do, like something called de-gloving where the skin is cut off the penis. Go to some of the sites that show what torture he has perpetuated. Many many people in Zim have died in agony. It is absolutely disgusting that he is still allowed to belong to the Catholic Church – especially as he has targeted members of the same church in his repression – but to allow him to take the Holy Communion must be an abomination in God’s eyes.

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    Yes, I do know what Mugabe has done. I am aware of the situation in Zimbabwe. I am not an apologist for him or his regime. However, I still think that the Vatican’s approach is the only right one. If Mugabe were banned the pressure to ban others would be enormous, and every time anyone even mildly controversial came to the Vatican there would be an eruption of protest, all calling for a ban. So I think it is best not to go down that path.

  • Weary Convert

    Surely the real answer is to do away with the Ruritanian nonsense of the Vatican State.

  • Parasum

    “It is perfectly true it could place Mugabe under interdict for his many sins and misdemeanours, but if you start with Mugabe, where would you finish?”

    Two words: King. John. Thanks to him, Innocent III put all England under interdict. Granted, that was a while ago, but Canon Law still provides for interdicts. That being so, the Pope could pefectly well impose one.

    It’s amusing – in a rather sad way – that Popes are being defended for not doing all sorts of things they have frequently done in the past; and still do in the present. If US politicians can be deprived of the Eucharist for not being “pro-life”, it is not clear why an African politician cannot be deprived of the Eucharist for his crimes. There is no perceptible principle here.

    If US politicians can be disciplined, not for being privy to an abortion, but for failing to be as “pro-life” in their attitudes – not actions, attitudes – as is required of them; why should a man as subject to the Church as they are, whose regime is far from pro-life, be an honoured guest at a Papal function ? Where is the consistency or the social justice in that ? It looks, to refer to something the Pope mentions a lot, remarkably like moral relativism. And that makes the Church’s teaching, as well as her disciplinary actions, look very hollow :(

  • Parasum

    I read it. If you can refute anything in that post – go ahead. That is what posts for – a civilised exchange of ideas. No ?

    “You are likely an atheist, that really needs to disbelieve in the Church
    so that you placate your conscience while living the atheist morality”

    That is no reply to anything you’re criticising.

  • http://twitter.com/contemprisma Faith Flaherty

    A Church has to receive sinners or what kind of church would it be.

  • Nick

    > I read it. If you can refute anything in that post – go ahead. That is what posts for – a civilised
    > exchange of ideas. No ?

    Duh, my point is that the ideas in our post were already refuted. Which is why I got irritated.
    Read the article and my posts again.

  • Please No Spam Here

    > If US politicians can be deprived of the Eucharist for not being “pro-life”, it is not clear why an
    > African politician cannot be deprived of the Eucharist for his crimes.

    First, there is a difference between one small politician and a head of state.
    Second, and more importantly, there are very very few parishes that deny communion to politicians who advocate misery (such as abortion). Even Nancy lets-kill-babies Pelosi is received warmly at her parish, and got an audience with the Pope. And out of the politicians in John Paul II beatification, I bet most were abortion-supporters. There is an open doors policy.

    So you can criticize the priests for being too lax and politically correct (many orthodox Catholics do). But not for being inconsistent – the Church is only inconsistent in your wild imagination.

    This (among other reasons) is why I complain that you are biased.

    If you want to criticize the Church, then at least be honest.

  • Tkomusekiwa

    Terrence, I pity you for your poor knowledge of Zimbabwe and its history. You should not rely on websites that manufacture stories just to tarnish indiscriminately. You should take the time to get the facts right by visiting Zimbabwe and you will discover a very beautiful peace-loving people, a people maltreated by Ian Smith and his predecessors. The question I can ask you is how many Zimbabweans did Ian Smith mentally maime, and physically kill using his machinery during Rhodesia which is only 31 years ago? Was he not given a huge pardon for all the crimes against humanity he perpetrated? African land was taken forcibly without compensation prior to 1980 and do you expect Mugabe to have let millions of Zimbabweans continue to live in squalor, the squalor that is a product of Ian Smith’s apatheid policies. Man, we are all equal in the eyes of the creator therefore we should practice what we preach. Mugabe did not start the land invasions- read the book by Ian Scoones (Zimbabwe’s Land Reform- Myths and Realities) and you will begin to introspect about your attitudes if you are really a God loving, peace loving and righteous person. No one is perfect and we all need some forgiving for the things we say and do in life. How would you feel if you were a Zimbabwean dispossessed by Ian Smith without compensation and have lived for nearly a century at the periphery of civilization and development? You would definitely demand your share of that pie, wouldn’t you? Give the man a break! There are so many White farmers in Zimbabwe who have given their land for free after realising that they would be doing a great service to the Lord by helping a fellow person to enjoy what they have enjoyed for so many years under the pretext of democracy and property rights, afterall none of us will live to take all this land when we pass from this our mother earth. Just one more thing I would like you to know- in Ian Smith’s democracy no Black person was allowed to go to shop from the same supermarket, attend the same school, ride the same bus as a White person. These were all segregated and to make matters worse no Black person was allowed to vote in Rhodesian elections. This was happenning just 31 years ago in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. What do you say of that? Here is the icing on the cake- Ian Smith lived and enjoyed his life in independent Zimbabwe, no one sort to punish him for all his misdeeds. He had a farm and it was never taken away from him by Mugabe or anybody. He remained as defiant as he was in his heydays. People need to love one another, that way we can prosper together. I could tell you more because I lived that life of poverty and deprivation under apatheid. Good luck with your misinformation hatred for another human being whos crime is to fight for basic human rights.

  • Terence

    I work for an NGO that helps Zimbabwean refugees in Cape Town. Every day I want to cry when I hear their stories. Mugabe has destroyed a whole generation – people who had jobs and houses now have nothing, children who used to go to school are now denied education, people who were once healthy and happy are now sick and miserable, families who had food on the table now go hungry. Remember Murambatsvina? Gukuruhundi? 2008 elections? You are obviously Zanu PF. Why go on about Ian Smith? Last year when I was in Bulawayo, an old man I met said to me: “It was better under Ian Smith, at least we had food in our stomachs…” Mugabe loves noone, only money and power

  • Tkomusekiwa

    I guess we could talk for many years and never come to an understanding so God Bless you for your side of the story. I can see that you get hell bent on labelling but that ain’t the point- like I said read the book: Ian Scoones et al (Zimbabwe’s Land Reform- Myths and Realities) and see where we are coming from, what has been achieved, who has benefited from the land reform and what progress they have made inspite of the huge hurdles. The book is apolitical, it does not label anyone like you have just done. It gives well researched information, not inuendo. I wouldn’t call living in Rhodesdia paradise afterall I have narrated to you before; infact it was tantamount to prison minus a toilet. If you can condemn one man for allegedly perpetrating heinous deeds why do you seem to have selective amnesia to his predecessor’s worse crimes? I do not think there is any crime that can surpass what Rhodesia did to the African mind and body…hence today many still believe that they cannot make it without it.

  • Terence

    Ian Scoones just covered one small part of Zimbabwe and he himself said he was not condoning how the land reform was done but investigating whether there were any success stories after it. Of course there are some people who are successfully farming the land that was given them but there are many more who are “cellphone farmers” – they own numerous grabbed farms but have no real desire to make a success of them. And remember, one million people were displaced through the farm invasions. But the truth is, the invasions were not done to give land back to the people but to make sure the opposition did not gain a stronghold in the farming areas.
    Of course the time of Ian Smith was a dark part of Zim’s history, the worst part of it being that it lead to a war that was so unnecessary. In fact I think Ian Smith is responsible for Mugabe coming into power. If he hadn’t taken the country to war, they might have a true democrat ruling today.

  • http://twitter.com/betpool101 Martin T

    Very interesting! The tabloids portrayal of Mugabe in the Vatican was highly misleading!

  • Weary Convert

    “For this and other reasons, Protestantism need (sic) the Catholic Church to be (seen as) evil to explain the validity of itself. That is why they spread historical absurdities about the Middle Ages”

    One wonders what these historical absurdities are. For example,was the forged Donation of Constantine really genuine? Is it untrue that Innocent III, usually depicted by Catholic writers as a great Pope, let loose not only the Fourth Crusade that sacked Constantinople but also destroyed the civilisation of Provence with his “crusade” against the Albigensians? Did not Boniface VIII make the wildest of all Papal claims in “Unam Sanctam”? And then, was there not a Great Schism with two and then three Popes, all equally valid, busily excommunicating each other but in the end all being kicked out by a Council – Constance, not Vatican II – and a fresh start made? Not much of one sadly as the Church still had the corrupt Borgia, Cibo, della Rovere, Medici etc Popes and their innumerable relations to look forward to. And then the Papal madmen (that’s being charitable – i.e. one hopes they were not fully responsible for their actions) like Paul IV and St. Pius V (Inquisitor, torturer and Jew-baiter) to follow.

    Protestants hardly need to make anything up.

  • Auricularis

    We should have used that excuse for Hitler too! Let God deal with him… after he’s eliminated a whole entire race from the planet!

    There is absolutely no point in complaining how Catholics in the pew go to communion out of habit, but never darken the door of a confessional – when the Vatican can’t even muster the fortitude to deny a notorious individual Holy Communion.

  • Tkomusekiwa

    I come from Mash West in a vilage called Tagarira in Mhondoro (once TTL: Tribal Trust Land)- over cowded, barren, dry, drought prone and rocky, farming on the little plot allocated to my grandfather in the 1950s (and he passed it on to my father as inherittance) the size of a soccer field is hopeless. What Ian Scoones et al talks about is replicated in that area and I have many relatives who have benefitted immensely and are not “Cell phone farmers”. Their lives have been transformed from abject poverty with no hope for posterity to great foundations of an eagerness to shape a new era in development. It will probably take many years to see success stories as people begin to learn to become real farmers. My grand father who passed in 1981 and born during the 1880s noted one time that when the white farmers started they did not have draught power neither did they have financing and guarantees. It took them many years up to the 1960s to start emerging from that inertia. They only bacame successful in the 1970s; in the same way the so called “cell phone farmers” will struggle but given time, support and free space they are capable of achieving the same if not better. There were white farmers (until year 2000) who had multiple farms some held for their relatives overseas and others lying idle for speculative purposes when millions where wallowing in poverty. Yes, that is a tragedy of human behaviour the world over but it should not be a yard stick to judge the sanctity of allowing people access to land and its uses. The issue of multiple ownership can be dealt with by audits and government intervention. Of course such a change is enormous and bound to displace many, just as it did when our grand parents were moved from their original homes to Reserves (Ruzevha) paving way for the new white farmers. We are all agrieved and sometimes feel we have a score to settle, but we must realise that we all have a right to basic needs and that can only happen if we can accord each other equall recognition. Dwelling on misdeeds only exacerbates instead of mollifying the environment we live in. I am sure our creator (the Lord God) sometimes wonders why he/she made us different complexions and colours. That is a questions that begs anwers but I guess all we can do is pray for our continued forgiveness. Thank you my man for discussing with you.

  • Mikecat10421

    “First, there is a difference between one small politician and a head of state.”

    Of course there is – it’s much easier to bully someone weak than some who is strong. There is a danger for those who bully someone roughly their own size: they might get the thrashing they deserve. Far better to judge justly, and to suffer for doing so – not that Mugabe could do much to the Papacy, even if he wanted.) At the very least, if Mugabe is not denied the sacraments, despite his crimes – neither should US politicians be. For the greater criminal to be allowed what is denied to the lesser, is ridiculous; there is no justice there at all.

    I’m sorry, but until the Vatican is prepared to apply the same degree of moral rigour to the Catholic Mugabe as has been applied to the Catholic Kennedy (say), it will give the impression of tolerating Mugabe because it is too cowardly to apply the same standard to him as it does to US politicians or the mother of a raped & pregnant nine-year old. Is the Vatican incapable of cowardice or other failings ?

    The Papacy cannot have one moral standard for Mugabe, & another for US politicians. This is a suicidal idea, because it makes right depend, not upon what is good and fair, but upon whom one is dealing with. The Church has never thought like this. If the Papacy begins to measure morality by what people can do to it, it is basing its morality on a form of self-interest – not on the charity of Christ & the justice of God (BTW -how many atheists bother with either ? But perhaps you’ll say one is *posing as” a Catholic, or some foolery like that: but in that case: why would I want to ? Shouldn’t it be possible for you to make a reasoned case for why think this or that poster is wrong ? And what is so atheistic about criticising the Vatican ? Popes have severely criticised, by Saints not least; so Popes are not beyond criticism, nor should they be. Popes are not lords of the Church, but are the servants of the servants of God.)

    It’s quite true that the same moral standard can be applied to different people in very different ways: no confessor in his senses would treat an adolescent at school in precisely the same way as he would an enclosed nun. The difference would lie, not in the moral standard applied, but in how the christian life of penitents of very different backgrounds & spiritual development unfolded, and so, to the circumstances of the sorts of temptations of each. The application is different – the moral standard is identical.

    That said, is the difference between two Catholic politicians so different that it is not scandalous for Mugabe to be present at two Papal functions; but would be scandalous for a US politician to receive the Eucharist ? The only difference in their respective crimes, is that Mugabe has been directly ressponible for the deaths of thousands, whereas Kennedy was told by his bishop some months ago not to receive the Eucharist until he had come round to accepting the Church doctrine on abortion. It is hard not to conclude that he should, ideally, have killed a few thousand people, rather than failed to kill anyone.

    I suggest that this disparity in treatment cannot be accounted for even by the reasoning that moral theologians & confessors use when assigning very different penances to very different penitents even though the same moral standard is applied to both penitents.

    If you know of a consistent moral principle underlying the very different treatment of these politicians – please, tell us what it is. Because, like others, I can see no moral principle in this at all.

  • Parasum

    Short, sweet, and to the point :) Why can’t the Vatican join the dots, for crying out loud ?

  • Valkyrie

    Roberta Mugabe was number 1 on the list of the World’s Dictators in 2009 and has never strayed far from the top. His human rights record is abysmal. There are people on trial in the Hague for similar offences. The Vatican is using double standards. Why, is there perhaps a financial benefit? After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that indulgences have been sold for cash. I am a lapsed Catholic, however, if I were still a Church attendant, this type of thing would make me leave the church. Ratzinger is doing the Church a lot of harm, his brother was closely associated with the sex scandals around the Regensburger Dom Spatzen, Ratzinger has been accused of assisting the Nazis, and now this. The man is of the same ilk as Roderigo Borgia.

  • Nick

    > After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that indulgences have been sold for cash.
    Read your history better (and Dawkins doesn’t count as respectable history). You don’t know how indulgences work. There may have been some extremely rare instances of simony (there is always a Judas), but people who say “indulgences are sold!” typically don’t even know what an indulgence is, and how you can get one by doing good works for society’s benefit.

    Oh, and financial interest? As if Church members wanted cash for a life of pleasure… People who say “religion is a money scheme” wouldn’t handle one month of the life of a typical Catholic bishop – abstinence, penance, celibacy, tight work schedule.

    > Ratzinger is doing the Church a lot of harm, his brother was closely associated with the sex scandals
    You would only think this if you read the Guardian or the Huffington Post. There has never been any decent evidence for your accusation.

    > Ratzinger has been accused of assisting the Nazis
    Oh… “assisting”. As in, he as a teenager was forced to participate in the Hitler Youth. Never fired one shot, and deserted as soon as he could. He “assisted” the nazis in the same sense that a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag “assisted” the soviets.

    Really; get your story from decent sources.

  • Nick

    > Of course there is – it’s much easier to bully someone weak than some who is strong.
    First, the word “bully” here is absolutely meaningless; the Church does not coerce anyone. People can leave any time they want. In fact, it takes a positive effort to remain in the Church; leaving is easier than remaining. Those who remain, do it because they love the Church.

    Second, it is not about “weak or strong” in the sense of “what that guy might do to the person of the Pope”. It is in the sense of “what could happen to African Catholics as a result of this”. As I explained before (and people conveniently ignored), it takes bravery to give oneself to martyrdom, but it takes irresponsibility to cause the martyrdom of OTHERS. This does happen. When the Pope said some true and respectful (but easily distorted) words about Islam, they were distorted by journalists and extremist Muslim clerics, Muslims got mad, and Catholics (including nuns) were murdered a thousand kilometers away. That is grown-up diplomacy for you – behave unwisely and people die a thousand kilometers away.

    Third, quit talking about US politicians. I have already told you, multiple times
    1) The strictness of admission to communion varies from bishop to bishop.
    2) In the vast vast majority of cases, priests do NOT deny communion to horrible politicians (such as Nancy free-abortions-for-all Pelosi, who goes to the Church without any obstacles)
    3) In fact, Nancy abortions-for-all Pelosi has even got an audience with the Pope, thus demolishing your theory.

    So, please, don’t speak of any contrast between the treatment of US politicians and Mugabe. It only exists in your wild imagination.

    > I’m sorry, but until the Vatican is prepared to apply the same degree of moral rigour to the Catholic
    > Mugabe as has been applied to the Catholic Kennedy (say)

    You mean, the same Kennedy who, despite being an ardent abortionist, got a grandiose Church funeral, with praising eulogies and all? Some rigor.

    > (BTW -how many atheists bother with either ?
    All followers of Richard Dawkins do. Since Richard Dawkins started his cult, his acolytes spend 80% of their time offending Christians. They don’t seem to have anything else do to.

    > Popes have severely criticised, by Saints not least
    Saints would criticize with respect, and would make criticisms that made sense.
    Such as demanding the Pope to return to Rome (when he was in Avingon) – and the Pope obeyed.
    But you are criticizing with disrespect, and you are not even being rational – you allude to
    a contrast that simply does not exist, and when I tell you about it, you simply criticize the Pope again.
    You refuse to even think about my response.

    > Kennedy was told by his bishop some months ago not to receive the Eucharist
    If THAT SAME bishop had accepted Mugabe (or another public criminal) at communion, then you COULD have a point. But as I said, this varies from bishop to bishop (and often from priest to priest), so it is meaningless that the rigor in Kennedy’s diocese is different from Rome.
    You conveniently fail to mention the many, many abortionists that take communion without obstacles.

    > It is hard not to conclude that he should,
    > ideally, have killed a few thousand people, rather than failed to kill anyone.
    Kennedy failed to kill anyone? In the same sense that Hitler failed to kill anyone (he never pulled
    a trigger outside his service in WWI, as far as I know). My point is, establishing a politics
    of death is as bad as pulling the trigger yourself.

    > Because, like others, I can see no moral principle in this at all.

    Of course. You get your info from British tabloids; how can you see a moral principle, when you don’t even have the facts?

  • Nick

    > For example,was the forged Donation of Constantine really genuine?
    No, but that is not the point. We do not know who wrote it, when, and for what purpose.
    Read more at
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05118a.htm

    > Is it untrue that Innocent III, usually depicted by Catholic writers as a great Pope, let loose not only
    > the Fourth Crusade that sacked Constantinople

    What a textbook example of bias! You forgot about the decentralized nature of Medieval Europe. In your diatribe against the Fourth Crusade, you forgot about this tiny detail:

    Pope Innocent III, who had previously excommunicated the entire Crusade, strongly denounced the Crusaders!

    This is the typical anti-Catholic bias. All the good things that happened in the Middle Ages – the invention of the concept of hospital, and university; agricultural developments; the great perfection of written language, and also the creation of writing systems for languages that didn’t have one; advancements in Math, arts, economy, astronomy; the development of the concept of universal human rights; the evangelizing of barbarians (even the Hungarians became civilized). All these things (many of them were directly advanced by the Papacy, and many directly brought by Catholic priests and monks) somehow are not the credit of the Church. But all the bad things, including things that were actively denounced by the Papacy (such as the sack of Constantinople) are the fault of the Church!

    > was there not a Great Schism with two and then three Popes, all equally valid, busily
    > excommunicating each other but in the end all being kicked out by a Council – Constance, not
    > Vatican II – and a fresh start made?
    I don’t get your point at all. There were human intrigues in the Church (and you some factual details wrong, but I won’t go there). We never said all Church members were perfect. Well, among our first twelve apostles, one sold God’s life for money! The Church is the first one to admit that there were always some Judas among the bishops. Specially in times when the secular powers interfere with the Church, imposing incompetent or even dishonest bishops. Really, I don’t get your point at all.

    I answered the accusations I know, because you dishonestly used the argumentation tactic “let’s make so many attacks, true of false, that our opponent can’t possibly have time and knowledge to answer it all! Remember folks, it is 1000 times easier to attack than to defend.”

    Anyway, buy the book “Catholic Church – builder of civilization” by Thomas E. Woods (a historian with a Harvard PHD). There are also videos about the book in youtube (if you are cheap). It will blow you away.

  • Terence

    Good to discuss things, hey? Keep well my friend. I love Zimbabweans.

  • Ingrid

    Fr Lucie-Smith – Mugabe has not only `victimized white farmers’. (An understatement) He is responsible for the systematic GENOCIDE of thousands of his own Matabele countrymen/women/children. He currently holds the majority of his nation in fear and poverty. Anyone opposing him suffers brutality and often torture. No sugar-coating please.

  • Caleb

    A state setup by … Mussolini – hmmm – sounds OK to me!

  • Weary Convert

    The point of my post was to pick up on your comment – that I put at the beginning – viz “”For this and other reasons, Protestantism need (sic) the Catholic Church to be (seen as) evil to explain the validity of itself. That is why they spread historical absurdities about the Middle Ages”

    I was not trying to list the good things of the Middle Ages but to show a few examples of the unpleasant things in which the Church was involved, none of which can be described as “absurdities” invented by Protestants. I fear that your reply comes into the category of “what did the Romans do for us?” (and if you are too pious ever to have watched “The Life of Brian” then I suggest that you find out about it).

    To pick up again on some of your points, I know perfectly well that Innocent excommunicted the 4th Crusade – but what did he do to restore the Byzantine civilization that his Crusade had destroyed? Further I see no mention in your reply of Innocent’s Albigensian Crusade.

    Then you “don’t get my point” about the Great Schism – MY point was that for the Church to have two and then three Popes at the same time and have the situation sorted out by a COUNCIL ( horror of horrors!) is not an “absurdity” invented by Protestants- how ultra Catholcis would love that to be the case – but a fact.

    Why on earth do you automatically have to accuse someone who has simply pointed out fallacies in your post as being “Anti-Catholic?” And call me dishonest? What I listed were true examples that were not “Absurdities” invented by Protestants – the only point at issue..

    Finally, may I pick up your new point,” Remember folks, it is 1000 times easier to attack than to defend.”
    I suggest that this exactly describes the point on which I took issue with you viz, I repeat,
    “Protestantism need (sic) the Catholic Church to be (seen as) evil to explain the validity of itself. That is why they spread historical absurdities about the Middle Ages. ”

    Have a nice day.

  • Nick

    > The point of my post was to pick up on your comment – that I put at

    > the beginning – viz “”For this and other reasons, Protestantism need

    > (sic) the Catholic Church to be (seen as) evil to explain the validity

    > of itself. That is why they spread historical absurdities about the

    > Middle Ages”

    They do spread a lot of absurdities, such as “the inquisition killed

    millions of people” (which is wrong by orders of magnitude, and fails to

    mention the reality of those times, including the fact that it was the

    populace and civil governments that demanded punishment for heretics),

    “the Catholic Church taught the Earth was flat” (not remotely true) or

    “Catholics burned Galileo” (not remotely true).

    This is what I was talking about. What YOU did was different; you made a

    lot of assertions out of context, insinuating sinister things, and

    failing to also say how the Catholic civilization compared with other

    civilizations of the time, or comparing the European barbarians

    pre-evangelization and post-evangelization.

    > To pick up again on some of your points, I know perfectly well that

    > Innocent excommunicted the 4th Crusade – but what did he do to restore

    > the Byzantine civilization that his Crusade had destroyed?

    I don’t know. Since you are attacking, the onus is on you to explain

    what the Pope could and should have done. Did he have a strong army to

    storm the Latin empire and give that land back to the byzanthines?

    Would it have been wise to to so?

    > I fear that your reply comes into the category of “what

    > did the Romans do for us?”

    My reply comes in the category “for all the bad things that happened in

    the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church was a huge force for good; without

    it, we would be illiterate and have a life expectancy of 40 years.”

    > Further I see no mention in your reply of Innocent’s Albigensian Crusade.

    As I explained, I cannot explain dozens of accusations; remember that

    attacking is far easier than defending.

    > Then you “don’t get my point” about the Great Schism – MY point was that

    > for the Church to have two and then three Popes at the same time and

    > have the situation sorted out by a COUNCIL ( horror of horrors!)

    First, there weren’t three Popes; there were one Pope and two anti-popes.

    The Council deposed the two anti-popes. The Pope chose to resign. Then

    the Council chose a Pope to restore union and sanity.

    Second, “COUNCIL”, “horror of horros”? Why? Who said that it is

    a “horror of horrors” for a Council to enact necessary reforms in the

    Church? You do not think I am a follower of Lefebvre, do you?

    If so, that explains your views. Maybe you use the internet too much,

    and think that Lefebvre is representative of the Church. I tell you

    that the followers of Lefebvre, although extremely vocal on the

    internet, are pratically unseen in the real life. They are a tiny

    minority that is very vocal on the internet. And they are a bit crazy.

    If you know Catholicism by this caricature, then you must pity us. By

    the way, although fortunatelly I am not a follower of Lefebvre, I am a

    very socially inadequate nerd. I was worse than this before integrating

    with the Church, so don’t blame the Church for my rudeness and

    inadequacies, for which I apologize.

    > is not an “absurdity” invented by Protestants

    The point is not that it is an absurdity or not; the point is that this

    is irrelevant; you completely fail to explain why that Council was a

    sinister thing.

    > Why on earth do you automatically have to accuse someone who has simply

    > pointed out fallacies in your post

    What fallacies?

    I mentioned historical absurdities put forward by Protestants,

    and you answered with _something else_. You answered things that (AFAIK)

    are not absurdities, but mereley taken out of context (such as the

    donation of Constantine).

    > as being “Anti-Catholic?”

    Your post was indeed weird. You mentioned the donation of Constantine as

    if I were to deny it was a forgery; and you insinuated that it was

    something sinister caused by the Church. There is no evidence for that,

    except “it was convenient to the Church therefore the Church did it”.

    If you accept this is an “evidence”, than you ally yourself with the

    conspiracy theorists who say that George Bush blew up the WTC. What

    they say is basically “it was convenicent for George Bush therefore

    George Bush did it”.

    And that thing about the sack of Constantinople? Blaiming the Pope

    for something he tried hard do avoid? That sounded very dishonest for

    me.

    > dishonest? What I listed were true examples that were not

    >”Absurdities” invented by Protestants

    Except that I never claimed that _everything_ a Protestant says against

    the Church is a “historical absurdity”. I claimed that they _do_ spread

    historical absurdities (such as the “Catholics thought the Earth was

    flat” myth). I never said they say _only_ absurdities. They also attack

    the Church by taking things out of context. For example, they talk about

    the inquisition. When they control themselves and don’t inflate the

    death toll by 3 orders of magnitude, they at least fail to mention the

    horrible things that happened at the time elsewhere in the world; they

    fail to mention the with-hunts in Protestant lands; they fail to mention

    the many Catholic martyrs in Protestant land; they fail to mention that

    Calvin built a totalitarian theocracy in Switzerland that made Iran look

    like a free democracy.

    > Finally, may I pick up your new point,” Remember folks, it is 1000

    > times easier to attack than to defend.” I suggest that this exactly

    > describes the point on which I took issue with you viz, I repeat,

    > “Protestantism need (sic) the Catholic Church to be (seen as) evil to

    > explain the validity of itself. That is why they spread historical

    > absurdities about the Middle Ages. ”

    Do you deny that Protestants attack the Catholic Church frequently, and

    that this attack often involves black legends such as “Catholics thought

    the Earth was flat”, “Catholics burned Galileo”?

    And I must be clear that I don’t accuse every Protestant of being like this.

    There are many many nice and friendly Protestant. But many pastors, when

    someone mentions the world “Catholic” near them, start a dishonest diatribe

    against the Church.

  • Nick

    And I apologize for the bad English above.

    I typed in a hurry. And English is not my native language.

    I also apologize for the weird formatting of the text; disqus failed me.

  • Weary Convert

    Calm down dear! I am a Catholic who has never heard Protestants say Galileo was burned (though Giordano Bruno most certainly was) nor do I imagine that Protestants believe that Catholics say the world is flat. My dear sir, do try to keep things to the point at issue. You made a claim; I believe I refuted it; you replied with a lot of comments that were not relevant. There it stands and there it can stay. Good night and good luck!

  • Nick

    > My dear sir, do try to keep things to the point at issue. You made a
    claim; I believe I refuted it

    I believe not, as I explained in the post above.

  • Parasum

    > Of course there is – it’s much easier to bully someone weak than some who is strong.”First, the word “bully” here is absolutely meaningless; the Church does not coerce anyone. People can leave any time they want.”
    Hasn’t anyone told you that leaving the CC is a mortal sin ? The freedom to go to Hell because one take no more is no freedom. The idea is absurd – it reduces the Church to a club; it is nothing of the kind. It’s a body, with limbs, which is what members are. It’s intolerable that the Church should be thought of as though it were a club one could leave; for this is utterly contrary to its character.
    “In fact, it takes a positive effort to remain in the Church; leaving is easier than remaining. Those who remain, do it because they love the Church.”
    Not only because of love. Fear helps. It doesn’t hold a gun to people’s heads – but it uses sacramental discipline as a weapon. Dante complained of some of the Popes of his time did this. The Papacy is not innocent of using spiritual weapons for political ends, neither are other bishops. This degrades holy things, is gravely abusive, & is scandalous & tyrannical. Jesus Christ gave His body as Food, not as a weapon to be denied to His members when it suited their shepherds. As for loving the Church – that’s why a lot of people stay; which makes the conduct of the people with power even worse. They have a captive audience.
    > Because, like others, I can see no moral principle in this at all.”Of course. You get your info from British tabloids; how can you see a moral principle, when you don’t even have the facts?”
    Tabloids like the Catholic Herald and other Catholic papers. Maybe it would be wise not to make inaccurate guesses about people who are applying Catholic moral theology. I hope you don’t think that Catholic moral theology is inapplicable to the Papacy. That would imply the Pope is not a Christian or even a human being. If the Pope is a human being in any sense whatever, it is impossible for him not to be subject to the moral law, for it derives from God, the Source of all Right. Therefore he & what he does is as subject to the laws of morals and logic as anyone else. He can’t be Catholic without being affected by the consequences of Catholic moral teaching, just like the rest of us. Christ was not too great to be subject the law of Moses, and unless the Pope is greater than Christ or either equal to Him, he is subject to Him and cannot escape the consequences of living in a universe that is Christ-centred. So unless you’re going to adopt the common Calvinist position that we can know the Will of God only in so far as it is revealed to us, but cannot reason from analogies in nature, it follows that the Will of God can be and is disclosed in creation; not by Papal authority. So if the Pope does unjustly, he cannot invoke Papal authority as a defence & neither can his defenders.
    Instructing the ignorant is a work of spiritual mercy – failing to instruct someone who cannot see what moral principle guides the Vatican, is not very merciful. Sorry, but the Papacy is supposed to be guided to by moral principle. If he can set moral principle aside, it is arbitrary to say no one else can. How is the Papacy being morally consistent ? You have not explained that. If consistency doesn’t matter, than it is impossible to have an understanding of the Catholic Faith – because there are then no principles to show what is possible and what is not. Principles are like a skeleton – they are framework on which everything else is built. Because moral theology (for example) has certain principles, it is possible to gain an understanding of how it works. Principles give one an intelligible vision of what one is dealing with, and of what it can and can’t do. Take away the principles, and you have, not a skeleton but a pile of bones. Take away principles from the Papacy and you have chaos: a Papacy without moral principles can say & do anything, however ruinous to understanding this may be.
    You say I don’t have the facts – so what am I missing that others are not ?
    “Second, it is not about “weak or strong” in the sense of “what that guy might do to the person of the Pope”. It is in the sense of “what could happen to African Catholics as a result of this”. As I explained before (and people conveniently ignored), it takes bravery to give oneself to martyrdom, but it takes irresponsibility to cause the martyrdom of OTHERS. This does happen. When the Pope said some true and respectful (but easily distorted) words about Islam, they were distorted by journalists and extremist Muslim clerics, Muslims got mad, and Catholics (including nuns) were murdered a thousand kilometers away. That is grown-up diplomacy for you – behave unwisely and people die a thousand kilometers”.
    ## I agree with you, up to a point. What I absolutely reject without qualification is the idea that diplomacy can ever justify giving the Eucharist to someone with Mugabe’s record, even for the reason you’ve mentioned. If the Church had a “low” Eucharistic doctrine, I’d agree with you – but it has an exceedingly exalted one. By your reasoning, lying would permissible if the circumstances are sufficiently desperate; but lying is never allowed; the CCC is absolute in its prohibition. If a moral precept can be absolute, why should the treatment of the Eucharist be any less absolute ? It is either everything – and more ! – that the Council of Trent says it is, or it is not. If it is permissible to give it to a tyrant with blood on his hands, it cannot without inconsistency be denied to those who have less blood on their hands; perhaps none. It’s denied to a lot of people – but they don’t govern nations, so they can be refused with impunity.
    But what cannot be done, is for the Eucharist to be bestowed, or not, as diplomacy may suggest is needed. That is is indefensible, because it amounts to using God. :( Please, tell me how this difference in treatment is just.
    > Kennedy was told by his bishop some months ago not to receive the Eucharist
    “If THAT SAME bishop had accepted Mugabe (or another public criminal) at communion, then you COULD have a point.”
    ## The Pope accepted Mugabe. He was allowed to receive what another bishop refused to Kennedy. That is the scandal. How is that not scandalous, & how is the scandal any less for involving two different bishops & two different laymen ? How is it not scandalous that Mugabe, who is directly morally responsible for many deaths in his own country, can receive the Eucharist, while a US politician not directly responsible for abortions among thoise he represents, is refused the Eucharist ?
    “Third, quit talking about US politicians.”
    Why ?
    “I have already told you, multiple times1) The strictness of admission to communion varies from bishop to bishop.2) In the vast vast majority of cases, priests do NOT deny communion to horrible politicians (such as Nancy free-abortions-for-all Pelosi, who goes to the Church without any obstacles)3) In fact, Nancy abortions-for-all Pelosi has even got an audience with the Pope, thus demolishing your theory.”
    Millions of children have not been abused by priests – therefore, there is no abuse of the young in the Church: that is the logic of your argument. Ignoratio elenchi, which you also rely on here, is illogical & unconvincing. Things are wrong, *not* because they are frequent, or usual, or happen on all possible occasions, but because they happen even once, so opposing the moral law that is written in the human heart by the Creator Whose is as Righteous as He is Mighty. And how does having an audience amount to receiving the Eucharist ?
    “But as I said, this varies from bishop to bishop (and often from priest to priest), so it is meaningless that the rigor in Kennedy’s diocese is different from Rome.You conveniently fail to mention the many, many abortionists that take communion without obstacles.”
    ## Convenient nothing – those who are not being denied the sacraments as a weapon, don’t give rise to complaints that the sacraments are being used as weapons. When the sacraments are used as weapons, it is reasonable to say so. If the discipline differs, that reduces the justification for it to tatters. Why is that so hard to see ? Something cannot, in one place, be a crime so grave that anyone even loosely associated with it can justly be deprived of the Eucharist, & in another place, be a relatively unimportant that does not hinder accress to the Eucharist. Does the Holy Spirit hate abortion in some US dioceses, while shrugging it off as no big deal elsewhere ? What you’re defending is moral relativism; not the appropriate kind, founded on moral principles echoing the moral character of God that guides confessors & moralists, but the chaotic and unprincipled kind. The Pope cannot denounce relativism and expect those who also reject it not to notice when he acts in a relativistic way.
    > I’m sorry, but until the Vatican is prepared to apply the same degree of moral rigour to the Catholic> Mugabe as has been applied to the Catholic Kennedy (say)”You mean, the same Kennedy who, despite being an ardent abortionist, got a grandiose Church funeral, with praising eulogies and all? Some rigor.”
    Of course not; that the wrong Kennedy. You call the late Senator Kennedy an “ardent abortionist”. Very well – why was he not refused the rites of the Church, if the Church minds so terribly about abortion ? It can’t be because he was a head of state in a position to persecute the Church, which is the defence you give for the treatment of Mugabe. Why does the Church, treat an ardent abortionist (which is a misleading description; he was not medic, unlike Dr. Tiller, who was indeed an abortionist) in one way, while refusing the Sacraments to so many other Catholics ? Why is sin tolerable in Mugabe or Kennedy, but intolerable in those who are not as influential ? This is human respect – something denounced in both Testaments. This inequality of treatment for an immoral reason is an excellent example of bullying, and it’s detestable :(
    “Saints would criticize with respect, and would make criticisms that made sense.Such as demanding the Pope to return to Rome (when he was in Avingon) – and the Pope obeyed.But you are criticizing with disrespect, and you are not even being rational – you allude toa contrast that simply does not exist, and when I tell you about it, you simply criticize the Pope again.You refuse to even think about my response.”
    The merits of a criticism don’t depend on who makes it. When Saints criticise, they may be right or they may not – I raised *this* issue as there are people who think the Pope is beyond criticism no matter what. When a Saint criticises, that doesn’t make a difference to the worth of the criticism, but it does give the criticism an extrinsic weight it would lack otherwise. You think I’m disrespectful ? That doesn’t affect the content of what is said; the criticism matches reality to whatever degree it may; or it is unfounded. Truth is truth, even in the mouth of an habitual liar.
     
     
     

  • Nick

    > Hasn’t anyone told you that leaving the CC is a
    mortal sin?

    But if you don’t believe in the Church, you don’t care about what

    the Church teaches to be a mortal sin.

    > The freedom to go to Hell because one take no more is no
    freedom.

    You have poor theology. The question “how is man free if he goes to Hell depending on

    his choices” has been answered long ago.

    > It’s intolerable that the Church should be thought of as though it were
    a club

    Never said it was a club.

    > one could leave

    Of course people can leave; religion needs freedom to be meaningful.

    > Not only because of love. Fear helps.

    Your insinuation makes little sense. In a world where the faith is attacked constantly,

    so the enemies of the soul – the flesh, the world, and the devil – are

    in full steam, the Church would be stupid (in every sense) to try to control

    people with a sinister form of fear. People would quickly lose their

    love of the Church, and then their faith.

    > Tabloids
    like the Catholic Herald and other Catholic papers. Maybe it would be
    wise not to make

    > inaccurate guesses about people who are applying
    Catholic moral theology.

    That is the only way I could explain your weird world view. You seem to think that it is commonplace

    for US politicians to be denied communion for supporting misery such as abortion; in fact, while some strict Catholics would love it to happen, it does not. It is extremely rare.

    > I hope you don’t think that Catholic moral
    theology is inapplicable to the Papacy.

    Whoa, what? If I thought that, why would I defend the Holy See in the first place?

    I would just say “it does not matter what they do, they can do it”. But I didn’t -

    I explained to you that your views were based on faulty data and that you weren’t

    properly considering the situation.

    > You say I don’t have the facts – so what am I missing that others are not ?

    One misconception is the fiction of inconsistency.

    Another is that you don’t consider the strong diplomatic consequences

    (including deaths) of excluding Mugabe.

    Another is that you (and me too, I admit) have much less knowledge of the

    situation than the Holy See does, and are basing your opinion on old information

    from limited new stories.

    >> That is
    grown-up diplomacy for you – behave unwisely and people die a thousand
    kilometers”.

    > ## I agree with you, up to a point. What I absolutely
    reject without qualification is the idea that diplomacy

    > can ever justify
    giving the Eucharist to someone with Mugabe’s record, even for the
    reason you’ve

    > mentioned. If the Church had a “low” Eucharistic doctrine,
    I’d agree with you – but it has an exceedingly

    >
    exalted one.

    > By your
    reasoning, lying would permissible if the circumstances are sufficiently
    desperate;

    Not necessarily; the sin of lying falls on the lier. But the sin of sacrilege falls on the person

    who takes communion without preparation (AFAIK). If this is true, then the priest could be justified

    in using diplomacy, as in “in what situation less people will die, less evil will occur?”. The sin of sacrilege would fall on the person taking communion, not the priest. Anyway, this is moral theology ground that you and I do not know.

    >> “If THAT SAME bishop had accepted Mugabe (or another public criminal) at communion, then you

    >>
    COULD have a point.”

    > ##
    The Pope accepted Mugabe. He was allowed to receive what another bishop
    refused to Kennedy.

    > That is the scandal. How is that not scandalous,
    & how is the scandal any less for involving two different

    > bishops
    & two different laymen ?

    Your original point was that, since “the Church” behaved differently with certain US politicians

    than with Mugabe, than certainly “the Church” was just interested in “self-interest”. That was cynical. And I explain that this is not the case – there are very grave consequences of denying communion to Mugabe.

    And since the US bishop is different from the Vatican bishop, that discredits your theory even further – what happened is that two different bishops, with two different views of Church discipline, analyzing different situations, with immensely different consequences, reached two different conclusions. Pretty natural.

    >> “Third, quit talking about US politicians.”

    > Why ?

    I explained already, multiple times.

    > Millions of
    children have not been abused by priests – therefore, there is no abuse
    of the young in the

    > Church: that is the logic of your argument.

    Not at all; that was extremely poor analogy on your part.

    My argument is that contrary to your original claim, lousy US politicians were not consistently being

    denied communion. Only a tiny minority were. This, and the fact that we are speaking of different bishops,

    destroys your theory of “the Church accepts Mugabe because the Church has self-interest and is insensitive to what Mugabe does”.

    > And how does having
    an audience amount to receiving the Eucharist ?

    Nancy kill-babies Pelosy also goes to Mass and receives the Eucharist, AFAIK.

    > If the
    discipline differs, that reduces the justification for it to tatters.

    WHAT?

    > Why is that so hard to see ?

    Because it makes no sense?

    Moral truth is universal and eternal, but discipline can and does vary with time and,

    sometimes, from place to place. Discipline involves prudence. Different situations

    may warrant different disciplines. Will you claim that, because the Eastern churches

    have married priests, then clerical celibacy has no justification?

    >Does the Holy
    Spirit hate abortion in some US dioceses, while shrugging it off as no
    big deal elsewhere ?

    Dude, you are hugely confused. There is a difference between the wrongness of a sin

    and the discipline (specially the punishment) around it.

    For example, adultery was a mortal sin in 1000BC and is still mortal in 2011AD.

    But Jews no longer kill adulterers by stoning.

    Regarding abortion, things have also changed, AFAIK. Some centuries ago,

    the excommunication for abortion could only be relieved by the Pope.

    Today, it can be relieved much more easily (assuming, of course, the person

    repented). Abortion is still not only a mortal sin, but one that cries to Heaven

    for justice. Only the Church _discipline_ changed.

    > You call the late Senator Kennedy an “ardent
    abortionist”. Very well – why was he not refused the rites of

    > the
    Church, if the Church minds so terribly about abortion ?

    I don’t know. Maybe the bishop thought that, after a man’s death, people should

    pay respect? Maybe the bishop was a coward?

    I don’t know. Since you are attacking, the onus is on you to explain.

    I was merely point that there is not systematic inconsistency of the kind you insinuated;

    a tiny minority of lousy politicians get denied communion, the vast majority do not.

    Your insinuation “the Church gives communion to big evil people like Mugabe

    but denies to small evil people. That is because of self-interest”
    is only in your wild imagination.

    Finally, I want to say that your views are pretty weird. You seem to believe in the mission

    of the Catholic Church, but does not like the Church. Please answer: are you a follower

    of Lefebvre? Or of Hans Küng? Or of liberation theology? Do you like the direction

    (more orthodoxy) the Church is going thanks to blessed John Paul the Great and Benedict

    XVI? If you were to propose changes to the Church, what would be the biggest one?

    Finally, liar.

  • Nick

    Disqus has some horrible bug. It completely screwed up my formatting. And that “Finally, liar” shouldn’t be there.

  • Nick

    [trying again]

    > Hasn’t anyone told you that leaving the CC is a mortal sin?

    But if you don’t believe in the Church, you don’t care about what the Church teaches to be a mortal sin.

    > The freedom to go to Hell because one take no more is no freedom.

    You have poor theology. The question “how is man free if he goes to Hell depending on his choices” has been answered long ago.

    > It’s intolerable that the Church should be thought of as though it were a club

    Never said it was a club.

    > one could leave

    Of course people can leave; religion needs freedom to be meaningful.

    > Not only because of love. Fear helps.

    Your insinuation makes little sense. In a world where the faith is attacked constantly, so the enemies of the soul – the flesh, the world, and the devil – are in full steam, the Church would be stupid (in every sense) to try to control people with a sinister form of fear. People would quickly lose their love of the Church, and then their faith.

    > Tabloids like the Catholic Herald and other Catholic papers. Maybe it would be wise not to make inaccurate guesses about people who are applying Catholic moral theology.

    That is the only way I could explain your weird world view. You seem to think that it is commonplace for US politicians to be denied communion for supporting misery such as abortion; in fact, while some strict Catholics would love it to happen, it does not. It is extremely rare.

    > I hope you don’t think that Catholic moral theology is inapplicable to the Papacy.

    Whoa, what? If I thought that, why would I defend the Holy See in the first place? I would just say “it does not matter what they do, they can do it”. But I didn’t – I explained to you that your views were based on faulty data and that you weren’t properly considering the situation.

    > You say I don’t have the facts – so what am I missing that others are not ?

    One misconception is the fiction of inconsistency. Another is that you don’t consider the strong diplomatic consequences (including deaths) of excluding Mugabe. Another is that you (and me too, I admit) have much less knowledge of the situation than the Holy See does, and are basing your opinion on old information from limited new stories.

    >> That is grown-up diplomacy for you – behave unwisely and people die a thousand kilometers”.

    > ## I agree with you, up to a point. What I absolutely reject without qualification is the idea that diplomacy can ever justifygiving the Eucharist to someone with Mugabe’s record, even for the reason you’ve mentioned. If the Church had a “low” Eucharistic doctrine, I’d agree with you – but it has an exceedingly exalted one.

    > By your reasoning, lying would permissible if the circumstances are sufficiently desperate;

    Not necessarily; the sin of lying falls on the lier. But the sin of sacrilege falls on the person who takes communion without preparation (AFAIK). If this is true, then the priest could be justified in using diplomacy, as in “in what situation less people will die, less evil will occur?”. The sin of sacrilege would fall on the person taking communion, not the priest. Anyway, this is moral theology ground that you and I do not know.

    >> “If THAT SAME bishop had accepted Mugabe (or another public criminal) at communion, then you COULD have a point.”

    > The Pope accepted Mugabe. He was allowed to receive what another bishop refused to Kennedy. That is the scandal. How is that not scandalous, & how is the scandal any less for involving two different bishops & two different laymen ?

    Your original point was that, since “the Church” behaved differently with certain US politicians than with Mugabe, than certainly “the Church” was just interested in “self-interest”. That was cynical. And I explain that this is not the case – there are very grave consequences of denying communion to Mugabe. And since the US bishop is different from the Vatican bishop, that discredits your theory even further – what happened is that two different bishops, with two different views of Church discipline, analyzing different situations, with immensely different consequences, reached two different conclusions. Pretty natural.

    >> “Third, quit talking about US politicians.”

    > Why ?

    I explained already, multiple times.

    > Millions of children have not been abused by priests – therefore, there is no abuse of the young in the Church: that is the logic of your argument.

    Not at all; that was extremely poor analogy on your part.

    My argument is that contrary to your original claim, lousy US politicians were not consistently being denied communion. Only a tiny minority were. This, and the fact that we are speaking of different bishops, destroys your theory of “the Church accepts Mugabe because the Church has self-interest and is insensitive to what Mugabe does”.

    > And how does having an audience amount to receiving the Eucharist ?

    Nancy kill-babies Pelosy also goes to Mass and receives the Eucharist, AFAIK.

    > If the discipline differs, that reduces the justification for it to tatters.

    WHAT?

    > Why is that so hard to see ?

    Because it makes no sense?

    Moral truth is universal and eternal, but discipline can and does vary with time and, sometimes, from place to place. Discipline involves prudence. Different situations may warrant different disciplines. Will you claim that, because the Eastern churches have married priests, then clerical celibacy has no justification?

    >Does the Holy Spirit hate abortion in some US dioceses, while shrugging it off as no big deal elsewhere ?

    Dude, you are hugely confused. There is a difference between the wrongness of a sin and the discipline (specially the punishment) around it. For example, adultery was a mortal sin in 1000BC and is still mortal in 2011AD. But Jews no longer kill adulterers by stoning. Regarding abortion, things have also changed, AFAIK. Some centuries ago, the excommunication for abortion could only be relieved by the Pope. Today, it can be relieved much more easily (assuming, of course, the person repented). Abortion is still not only a mortal sin, but one that cries to Heaven for justice. Only the Church _discipline_ changed.

    > You call the late Senator Kennedy an “ardent abortionist”. Very well – why was he not refused the rites of the Church, if the Church minds so terribly about abortion ?

    I don’t know. Maybe the bishop thought that, after a man’s death, people should pay respect? Maybe the bishop was a coward? I don’t know. Since you are attacking, the onus is on you to explain.

    I was merely point that there is not systematic inconsistency of the kind you insinuated; a tiny minority of lousy politicians get denied communion, the vast majority do not. Your insinuation “the Church gives communion to big evil people like Mugabe but denies to small evil people. That is because of self-interest” is only in your confused imagination.

    Finally, I want to say that your views are pretty weird. You seem to believe in the mission of the Catholic Church, but does not like the Church. Please answer: are you a follower of Lefebvre? Or of Hans Küng? Or of liberation theology? Do you like the direction (more orthodoxy, more faith) the Church is going thanks to blessed John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI? If you were to propose changes to the Church, what would be the biggest one?

  • Bruce Saunders

    As an Anglican priest in London, Mugabe’s visit makes me question the Vatican’s rhetoric about ecumenism, limited as it has become. If Mugabe were doing to Catholics in Zimbabwe what he and his thugs are doing to Anglicans, maybe we’d hear a different story. Legitimately consecrated Anglican bishops are receiving death threats, masses are interrupted by the police, priests and congregations are regularly arrested, imprisoned and beaten, Anglican Church property has been stolen. The police, CIO and army are regularly employed to enforce this intimidation and and violence. The courts are powerless or unwilling to enforce justice. The chief culprit is the excommunicated former bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, a political ally of the President and multiple benificiary of land reform. Churches, schools, mission hospitals that I have visited are now being threatened and claimed by Kunonga. He has the President’s authority to intimidate, arrest and harass. This is religious persecution. It appears that the Vatican either doesn’t know what is happening to their separated brethren or doesn’t care.

    Bruce Saunders

  • Auricularis

    No surprise there

  • Bill Anderson

     I am so saddened to read the words of Mr Lucie-Smith. Go to Uganda; ask the victim strapped to the torture table if they think it good that Mugabe was  greeted by a smiling Pope. Ask those who suffer if your hair-splitting arguments convinced THEM that you are a true believer following in the steps of Jesus, who knew how to deal with organisations that put self-interest before humanity. Is it possible that you are wrong – that you, your  Church and it’s  elected (by humans) Pope is wrong? Christ must weep for your heartless mind as He does for those Mugabe has turned his evil eye upon. Stop  arguing and become the priest who need not consider right from wrong; dare to tell your Church that it has failed the victims and raised high the torturer. Dare you? I think not – it would take a better man and finer priest than you… Church and it’s  elected (by humans) Pope is wrong? Christ must weep for your heartless mind as He does for those Mugabe has turned his evil eye upon. Stop  arguing and become the priest who need not consider right from wrong; dare to tell your Church that it has failed the victims and raised high the torturer. Dare you? I think not – it would take a better man and finer priest than you…

  • Philomena Carolan

    I think it would be a really good thing to ban him, especially if it is huge trouble for the Vatican as it could be a “Wake-up” call for this Pope, not that he should need it, if he doesn’t realise the tragic problems now, he must be dead.
    This Pope should have been forced to resign a long, long time ago, the state the church is in now, and this idiot just wont do a thing, The Vatican needs to say a bit more than “sorry” to the victims, there is child sex abuse, lots of priests fathering children and being moved to other parishes, what does that say for the Catholic church, it says, it is nothing but bad news and getting worse, even the Popes new ideas are completely pathetic.