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Do you think the election of a new pope will bring many changes to the Catholic Church?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on April 4, 2005

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Photo of Mike Smith

“Very few. They are really slow to change the policies of the church.”

Photo of Jerri Johnson

“I doubt it, but I hope so. I just think it need some modernization. Not a lot, just a little.”

Photo of Kylee Wright

“I think that a more liberal person may be elected, so in that case there may be some noticeable changes.”

Photo of Barbara Bunge

“It quite possibly could, because he has been so ultraconservative.”


jonas 13 years, 2 months ago

Fangorn: Probably a little late. . . .

Activist judges are one side of a problematic coin; but I have difficulty believing that you, or for that matter you: Liberty, really would buy into the concept of taking the constitution, which, at the state or the federal level, has generally been about securing individual liberties, and enshrining in it a law that serves no real purpose other than to deligitimize and (I'll just go ahead and say it) discriminate against one segment of the population.

(damn, that was one hell of a sentence)

Here's to hoping tomorrow's question is about our reaction to Roy Williams getting his national title! Gonna have me some fun with that!!

lunacydetector 13 years, 2 months ago

I predict that there will not be many changes in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church doesn't change doctrines on a whim to appease pop culture morality. It's been this way for 2000 years. It's called consistency and it seems to work.

Beck Wilson 13 years, 2 months ago

Something to address the priest shortage will have to be done within the next few decades, though. Having one priest serve more than one parish -- the priest in my parents' town serves three parishes, and there's a priest in Oklahoma who has seven -- isn't sustainable if you want to build a strong community.

Jayhawk226 13 years, 2 months ago

As a non-Catholic, I'm very interested to see if the new Pope does represent the regions of the world that does have the most practicing Catholics--Central America, Africa or Asia.

Or will the new Pope be Italian to return to its historical roots?

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

r_u: I would assert that reliance on extra-legal considerations mentioned above (as has been the case in a number of recent Supreme Court rulings) constitutes misconduct, warranting impeachment. I agree that the judiciary may function more freely when unburdened by re-election concerns. However, I also believe we have discarded too many of the checks against judicial power and have mistakenly accorded the courts the role of sole arbiter of matters constitutional. Thomas Jefferson considered this a "dangerous doctrine" which would lead to the "despotism of an oligarchy." I believe we are close to that point, if indeed we haven't already reached it.

I share your skepticism that our elected representatives are guided solely, or even primarily, by the collective will of their constituents (thus, my "hopefully" parenthesis in that comment above). I would be very interested to hear your ideas on election reform. One idea I support would be turning the decennial redistricting over to a non-partisan committee that might be more likely to put things like district cohesion and community above such considerations as demographics or previous voting patterns. When I lived in Louisiana, my congressional district started in Shreveport (NW corner), hugged the border with Arkansas, followed the Mississippi wound south, then cut east again toward New Orleans (excuse me. . . Nah Lenz). It wandered across the state like a big Z, as in biZarre. I appreciate your thoughts. Hopefully this issue will come up in a future question.

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

The following post is in answer to a question posed to me earlier today. It is considerably off-topic. I have waited until the end of the day to respond in order to avoid derailing the discussion, which appears to have rolled to a stop on its own anyway. I inform the reader of this digression now to avoid wasting your time on an unrelated tangent. Of course you are quite welcome to read it, whoever you may be (like I would have any way of stopping you! "pretty please, with cream and sugar?")

Carmenilla (and possibly Jonas): Thank you for waiting, although the delay appears to have been unnecessary. I realize I bolted down a side trail anyway, but I just couldn't help but respond to BunE's post! I beg your forgiveness for my weakness.

Now to the question of why I would support a constitutional amendment concerning gay marriage. I have already contributed way more than my share in today's forum, so I'll try to give you the Readers' Digest outline here. The family (viewed as two biological parents and their offspring) has been the foundation of society for millennia. Much sociological poking, prodding, and observation have determined that this arrangement works best. (That is not to say that other arrangements cannot work well. I was not raised by my biological father. I know many people raised in non-traditional families, and none of them are axe-murderers or sociopaths. Well. . . there is this brother of one of my best friends. . . but I digress from my digression). The family is even more fundamental than the state, congregation, or community. Anything that hurts the family, hurts society. That is why government has a compelling interest to protect the family and accords it special privileges not available to other domestic arrangements. Recognition of gay marriage or domestic partnerships (homo- or hetero-sexual) dilutes the uniqueness of the family and undermines the protections and benefits it provides. So my support of the amendment developed, based on my experience and beliefs, from a "pro-traditional family" worldview, not an "anti-gay" attitude.

We are experienced posters (number of posts as of this writing: Carmenilla, 271; Jonas, 269; at 125, I'm practically a neophyte!). We, along with the other members of this community, enjoy the give-and-take of discussion and can usually disagree without being disagreeable. I hope that this does not chance and that I have presented my position to you without being contentious or hurtful. I appreciate the spirit in which you, Carmenilla, asked the question, expecting some reason other than simple hatred. If you've read this far, you're a real trooper, and I appreciate your perseverance as well as your patience. It's nearly 2:00am, so I apologize for any misspellings, grammatical errors, or bits of random incoherence in my post. I'll "see" you guys tomorrow!

kansas 13 years, 2 months ago

If today's question is the LJ World's way of asking: "So, do you think that the Catholic Church will be performing/celebrating same sex marriages anytime soon?".....My answer is: "Oh, please! Don't hold your breath."

However, I do think it's quite possible that the next pope may be black. And it's precisely for that reason that I don't think that the Catholic Church will be changing its position concerning homosexuality anytime soon. Reason being, because I think that the Catholic Church is capable of undergoing only one "monumental change" per millennium. And having a black pope would be the one and only "monumental change" for the Catholic Church in this millennium.

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

Performing or celebrating homosexual "marriage" would indeed be a "monumental change". Abandoning the plain teaching of Scripture, in effect tearing loose from the biblical roots of the Christian faith, to fit in with the current (i.e. ever-changing) "morality" of our times, wouldn't be a good change.

John Paul II was the first non-Italian Pope in four centuries. If the next Pope doesn't come from Europe, I think he will be from Latin America. It would be tremendous, however, to live to see history's first black Pope.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 13 years, 2 months ago

I consider myself a Recovering Catholic. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools and finally bailed out because they were teaching more about church doctrine than the actual teachings of Christ. If anything, I hope the new pope gets back to the fundamentals of Jesus' teachings rather than getting more involved in world politics. Politics and religion should be kept separate.

crsifers 13 years, 2 months ago

I would like to bring something to everyone's attention. Every time I look at an article in the Journal-World concerning the proposed marriage amendment, I am forced to just shake my head and realize the LJW is just as bad as the proponents of the amendment. Let me just make one point--the amendment will have absolutely NO affect on homosexual couples. It is already illegal for such couples to marry in Kansas. The only people this amendment actually affects are those heterosexual couples that are currently receiving benefits under common law marriage.

Why has this been turned into such a gay rights issue? Will it make it twice as illegal?

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

crsifers- to answer your question, a law is only good if the courts will up-hold it. Massachusetts had such a law on its books, but a 4-3 majority of their state Supreme Court overturned it. Constitutional amendments effectively put the law beyond the reach of the courts, although that doesn't always turn out to be the case.

remember_username 13 years, 2 months ago

Fangorn - thanks for the response and hopefully we'll get a question about election reform in the future so we can get a smattering of other ideas.

I personally don't believe that same sex couples degrade the "sense" of family. I agree that it may erode the traditional view of a family, but I don't see that as bad. The traditional view has undergone considerable change since Victorian times and we still managed to win WWII. (No tangable connection there just ending the sentence.)

remember_username 13 years, 2 months ago

I doubt there will be any "shocking" changes from the new pope. If there is a shift it would be to a slightly more conservative position since this is the direction of the current social pendulum. Thus I would expect to see better policing of priest's behavior, greater activism on church issues, and more involvement in world politics.

Although I don't agree with most Catholic doctrine the church is in a position to improve society in many repressed and poor countries and I hope they increase efforts in these areas - after all the previous pope had considerable effect on the opening up of Eastern Europe.

lunacydetector 13 years, 2 months ago

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie, i recommend a book called, "Where does it say THAT in the bible?"

It is a very good book, and it will help you realize that EVERYTHING the Catholic Church teaches is based on scripture. It's a short and fast read, though you better have your bible handy.

Carmenilla 13 years, 2 months ago

The Catholic Church is not going to make astounding leaps and bounds anytime soon. I agree with some of the others on here and believe that a non-European pope is a possibility. That in itself would be a huge change. But the reality is that the Catholic Church is one of the most secretive and powerful religious institutions in the world. They aren't going to change their doctrine anytime soon. Its still working for them.

Also, in regards to crsifers comments on the gay marriage amendment. Isn't their a second part to the ban that basically says that there can be no civil unions and essentially no state recognition of homosexual relationships? So I guess if that part is in there then homosexual relationships WOULD be affected. Since the state constitution already says gay marriage is illegal then why do we need this ban? It seems that its sole purpose is to make sure that gay people are treated as lesser citizens. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

remember_username 13 years, 2 months ago

While I was not aware of the polls i_tching mentioned. I was referring to U.S. society in general becoming more conservative. It is only my perception of the direction of shift, and the imaginary social pendulum may currently be located to the left of current Catholic dogma yet still moving to the right. I admit a pendulum makes a poor metaphors but it does seem to me that there is a cycle of "left-right" societal swings and that we are currently "swinging right" in the U.S.

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

Carmenilla- The state constitution currently does not address the issue of gay marriage. Only state law does this. And to reiterate my earlier point, courts will sometimes overrule a law (i.e. declare it unconstitutional) but cannot do this if the constitution itself has been amended. And even an amendment isn't an iron-clad guarantee: McCain-Feingold comes to mind.

BunE 13 years, 2 months ago

I mourn the passing of JPII. He lead the church in the new millenium. I am puzzled though. While JP was conservative when it came to women in the clergy, birth control and such, he was a champion of the poor and called the war in Iraq unjust. Liberals and Conservative need to look at everything the man stood for.

The Catholic Church really looks at the US Catholics as a bunch of nuts. The sex scandal has really taken the wind out their sails. Also, with America being a super power, they feel like they need to protect the Church from our influence. Do not be surprised if the exact opposite of JPII is elected. The lord works in mysterious ways.

As for the Pendulum "swinging right" knock yourself out. The right has shown its true colors again and again. Look at the Republican Party. It took the Dems 40 years to get as corrupt as the Repubs did in 10. DeLay has lost it, Frist is already running for President. Attacks on the Judiciary are becoming the norm. This conservative thing can't last much longer, reality is starting to set in. Look at the public's view of the Schiavo fiasco. While the congress really didn't write a bill of attainder it sure skirted it power. Then they tried to attack the Judiciary directly. The Republican party is poised to collapse on itself. Soon Very Soon.

Ember 13 years, 2 months ago

As a devout Pagan, I can't help but admire the strength of character and integrity of the late John Paul II. The man was a true juggernaut on many major issues in the world, and did affect quite a few monumental changes in the course of world history.

That being said, I still despise the concept of Christanity, since it seems to ring so familiar with so many of the other, vastly older, religions of the world. But I am not going to get into that right now. Too nice of a day to waste it stirring muck.

The next Pope? I feel truly sorry for him. Look at what he has to face; the memory of John Paul II. Given human nature, regardless of who they elect to become the next Pope, expect either a continuation of the ultra-conservative methodology John Paul II utilized, or expect a wide swing in the opposite direction. Perhaps not 180 degrees, but certainly enough to distinguish he new Pope from the most recent one.

Either way, it's still a continuation of a religion that I think humanity could do without, truth be told. Probably never will, but it's a nice thought, if only to me.

Carmenilla 13 years, 2 months ago

Fangorn, I think I know what your views on gay marriage are. Why do you feel the state constitution needs to be changed regarding this issue? Are you one of those conservative folks always coming down on "activist" judges? Do you really favor more governmental involvement in people's everyday lives? I wonder why someone who is fair-minded (as you seem to be) would look to discriminate against people who are essentially trying to live their lives as monogomous, responsible couples. .

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

Carmenilla- Check at the end of today's forum, either late tonight or tomorrow sometime. I want to answer your question but don't want to risk completely sidetracking today's topic, especially since we've already started on something of a tangent. Thanks for your patience! :)

BunE 13 years, 2 months ago

We need more activist judges to protect us from the tyrany of the Congress!

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

BunE- Help me make sure I'm understanding you correctly: to protect us from a duly-elected legistlative body (i.e. one whose job it is to create laws), populated by people who have to run for re-election every 2 or 6 years, respectively, and who are guided (hopefully) by the collective will of their constituents, you want to have a bigger pool of unelected judges (whose job description does not include making laws), who are often appointed for life, have become largely unaccountable even to Constitutional checks-and-balances, and who are too frequently guided by such extra-legal considerations as "international opinion" and their own self-imagined "evolving sense of decency"? No, thank you. I'll take our constitutional republic over a judicial dictatorship any day.

Liberty 13 years, 2 months ago

I'm so pleased that someone else in Lawrence understands that the USA is supposed to be a constitutionally limited republic and not a democracy! Great job Fangorn!

remember_username 13 years, 2 months ago

Fangorn - frankly I'm grateful for the additional balance that the judicial system provides. I'm not saying that all judges are perfect and yes they can be removed from office when they are found guilty of misconduct. The job of the judicial branch is critical to checks and balances and it is important that the position not be an elected one.

I'd feel much more comfortable if the legislative body worked the way it was intended and not be so twisted by special interests. I'm not confident that any of our elected officials are guided solely by the collective will of their constituents. Lets get election reform through congress and then question the "lifetime appointments" of the judicial system. I personally believe our election system has the greater faults.

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