Tuesday, February 12, 2013

10 Ways The New Pope Will Be Like Marco Rubio

Stop speculating. Here's what we know.

1. He will represent a large, ancient, impersonal organization.

2. Many will be praise him for not being almost dead.

3. He will speak, and we will talk about how he spoke.

4. Someone, somewhere will use him as evidence of a struggle within the impersonal organization.

5. He will be someone who has wanted a high office in the organization for decades.

6. He will attempt to reach out to people merely by talking about them, as if by magic.

7. He will criticize the organization in the most inoffensive way possible. People will make much of that.

8. Here's where I mention his connection to the Spanish-speaking world, but I want to focus on what's certain to be true, so... he will in no real way represent the Spanish-speaking world.

9. He will spend his career defending the indefensible.

10. He will be a charming way of changing the subject.


  1. Marco Rubio.....this year's Bobby Jindal....the candidate who shoots himself down......

  2. Explain impersonal. You used it twice to describe Rubio's and the Pope's respective organizations. How exactly is the church impersonal?

    1. It is in no way responsive or accountable to ordinary people.

  3. Can you provide an example of that? I know the definition, but I've not personally experienced that.

  4. RR: perhaps you've heard of the child abuse? Or prohibiting condoms when their use could prevent the spread of AIDS? Or the laundries in Ireland? Or Mother Teresa's cult of pain and death?

  5. Sorry, Amy I was speaking to Paul. At any rate, I don't see how your comment answered my question. The child abuse you speak of happens at a higher rate by our trusted teachers and staff in our public schools -- are our schools in no way responsive or accountable to ordinary people? Certainly not -- the vast majority of teachers and staff in our school are committed, caring individuals. Only a small percentage prey on those entrusted to their care. Such is the case in the Catholic church, as well, which is quite well documented (which I can provide if you like). Studies also indicate that sex abuse occurs across all protestant denominations at or above the same rate as in the Catholic church. Are all those protestants in no way responsive or accountable to ordinary people? Again, of course not -- most are caring and committed. So how do a small percentage of bad apples in the Catholic church then somehow equate to being "in no way responsive or accountable to ordinary people" when it doesn't equate to the same thing in our schools and other churches?

    1. The coverups have been widespread and well-documented, and they involve people at the highest levels of the Church. To say otherwise is silly or dishonest.

    2. I'll not deny that there were coverups -- we know that... and you didn't have to goad me into that admission by saying I'd look "silly or dishonest" if I didn't.

      What we now also know is that the majority of allegations occurred only during a narrow band of time from the 1960s to the early 1980s. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has been tracking abuse data regarding United States Catholic clergy for several years. In the seven years from 2005 to 2011, the total number of accusations deemed credible were 58. 2006 presented the most credible accusations with 14. That sounds like an organization being responsive and accountable. Specifically, those low numbers coincide with U.S. Bishops adopting the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002, just a few months after the stories broke in the Boston Globe.

      From an article posted on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) website, we can also find documented evidence of the responsiveness and accountability here in the states. Says the author, David Gibson:

      "Whatever its past record, the Catholic Church in the U.S. has made unparalleled strides in educating their flock about child sexual abuse and ensuring that children are safe in Catholic environments.

      "Over the past 10 years, Catholic parishes have trained more than 2.1 million clergy, employees, and volunteers about how to create safe environments and prevent child sexual abuse. More than 5.2 million children have also been taught to protect themselves, and churches have run criminal background checks on more than 2 million volunteers, employees, educators, clerics and seminarians.

      "Allegations of new abuse cases continue to decline, as they have since 1980, and appear to reflect the effectiveness of some of the charter’s policies as well as ongoing efforts to increase screening of seminarians and to deal with suspected abusers before they claim multiple victims."

      The entire article appears here:


      If you reference it, you will note, too, that it does mention some of the things that have been noted previously on this blog, especially in Europe, where it does appear that in fact they are behind the curve on this issue. Nonetheless, change is taking place and it is being led here in U.S.

      And we now know, as well, the Church in most instances merely followed the then-prevailing view of experts that offenders could be successfully rehabilitated and sent accused priests off for treatment. From the 1950s through the 1970s, the Catholic Church sent suspected abusers to psychologists rather than calling the police.

      As Dr. Monica Applewhite points out, "From the 1950's to the 1980's, these treatment-based interventions for sexual criminals were not only enormously prevalent in the United States, but surveys of ordinary citizens showed that they were enormously popular.

      "[T]he science of human sexuality and sexual offending is extraordinarily young. Virtually all of the information we utilize today regarding the treatment and supervision of sexual offenders has been discovered since 1985."

      As one employed in social services working with sexual offenders in the corrections system, I can attest to the validity of her observation.

    3. Are you really going to make me look up CARA in order to find out that it is a Catholic organization run by a bishop, and therefore not a reliable source for this?


      And therefore, your central point, that the "credible" allegations are diminishing is ridiculous? Do you understand why you're losing credibility here, by throwing stats at me from an obviously biased organization and not mentioning the bias? Do you understand why the label silly and dishonest applies?

      So you agree with your article that "treatment-based intervention" was effective and popular. It was, of course, treatment BY the very institution which had victimized these people. What happened were crimes of abuse and rape. The authorities needed to be notified. They were not. The church had well-documented policies enforcing cover-ups. I doubt this program was "enormously popular." But this doesn't matter. You are arguing that "treating" rape victims and covering up the crimes of the rapists was a reasonable response.

      I'm going to add other labels: stupid and evil. Do you understand why it's stupid and evil to argue in favor of covering up the crime of rape? Do I have to explain that?

    4. OK, if you don't like CARA, why not try the Huffington Post:


      And the report from John Jay College mentioned in the Huffington Post piece:


      No one is denying, especially me, that crimes of sexual abuse occurred. I'm just trying to provide you with context -- no higher rate than other institutions such as schools or Boy Scouts; majority of cases decades ago; response was flawed, but not inconsistent with practices of the day; significant improvement in most recent decade. Look at the report, the independent John Jay report.

      All along I've been trying to share this with you in an at least reasonable way, providing sources, and even noting shortcomings of the Church where applicable. I'm not picking a fight, but you seem intent on it by throwing at me the "labels" you mentioned such as silly, dishonest, stupid, and evil. I'm sorry you felt it necessary to do that, but I don't think I provoked it.

      I wish you the best Paul, I really do, but I think it's pretty obvious we're both sort of set in our ways on this one. So, I'll leave it at that and leave this space to others. Thanks for the discussion.

    5. No, it's not independent. It was commissioned by the Catholic bishops themselves based on surveys completed by the Catholic church dioceses. The guy who wrote the HuffPo article, the professor from the Jesuit university who says it was unbiased, might not be the best source on this.

      But even he admits the bishops themselves are not accountable. He soft-pedals it, but I think that is the central problem. All other organizations you can mention - schools, Boy Scouts, etc. - can be fixed, because they are transparent. The Catholic hierarchy as an institution is still not in any way transparent, so when their study says the problem has essentially gone away I can reasonably be skeptical.

      And yes, your actions did provoke the labeling. When you present an organization like CARA as some kind of reasonable source for data on this - and you don't mention that it's not at all independent, that it's run by a Catholic bishop - that is dishonest.

      And when you try to make the argument that the Church was somehow reasonable trying the "treatment" approach to this criminal problem - which included a massive coverup - I think silly and evil can be safely used.

      The response wasn't just "flawed." They hid child rapists from the authorities and shuffled them around to other places where they could continue to do terrible things, and we still don't know just how bad the problem was, because this Church has a well-documented record of hiding the facts. We don't know how long its been going on, because victims have died or gotten old.

      You and I are indeed set in our ways. Because you want to defend the Catholic Church and minimize the problem, and suggest it wasn't all that bad, comparatively. And that's not right.

    6. Here... this says everything I just said.

      Critics point to John Jay study's limitations

    7. And this is important to note. This level of cover-up has no parallel anywhere. The top hierarchy of the Church used the power of excommunication to force silence on victims and bishops. Do you understand how you can't compare this to the Boy Scouts? Or to school districts?

      "The Vatican instructed Catholic bishops around the world to cover up cases of sexual abuse or risk being thrown out of the Church. The Observer has obtained a 40-year-old confidential document from the secret Vatican archive which lawyers are calling a 'blueprint for deception and concealment'...

      The 69-page Latin document bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII was sent to every bishop in the world. The instructions outline a policy of 'strictest' secrecy in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and threatens those who speak out with excommunication.

      They also call for the victim to take an oath of secrecy at the time of making a complaint to Church officials. ...

      Bishops are instructed to pursue these cases 'in the most secretive way... restrained by a perpetual silence... and everyone... is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office... under the penalty of excommunication'."


      So no, it's not the same as with other groups.

  6. Amy, the Catholic Church has no authority to prohibit condoms. You are free to use them if you like -- no one will arrest you or forcibly remove you from church should you decide to attend. The Church has, however, always held and taught that artificial birth control is immoral. As an aside, monogamy in a committed relationship is a great way stem the tide of STDs.

    1. The Church has enormous influence, and it's using that influence to prevent people from adequately treating a deadly disease. And it's doing so for indefensible reasons. And that's enough. There's more of course, much more, but that's enough.

  7. First, the church has never prevented anyone from obtaining a condom if they wanted one.

    As for the facts: According to the latest research, condom promotion is ineffective for anything but lowering the rate of AIDS in concentrated, high-risk groups, like homosexuals in San Francisco or prostitutes in Bangkok. Dr. Edward C. Green, a medical anthropologist and senior research scientist with Harvard’s School of Public Health, says, "“When it comes to AIDS epidemics, one-size-fits-all health prescriptions don’t work. Different types of AIDS epidemics require different solutions.”

    In the November 27, 2004, issue of the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet, more than 150 of the world’s leading AIDS scientists and other experts in AIDS prevention and treatment signed a statement in which they declared that “the time has come for common ground” on preventing HIV/AIDS. Of the three interventions scientifically shown to prevent AIDS—abstinence, being faithful, and using condoms—they argue that the use of condoms clearly comes last and should be promoted as a first-line defense only to those in extremely high-risk groups, such as commercial sex workers.

    But why? Maybe because the research being done at that time showed some alarming trends:

    In South Africa, which has strongly promoted condoms as the best way to prevent AIDS, the number of free condoms distributed to the public rose rapidly between 1994 and 1998, from 6 million to 198 million. Including those sold, the total number of condoms distributed in South Africa during 1998 was nearly 210 million, according to an October 20, 2001, article in the British Medical Journal. Did this giant increase curb the pandemic? On the contrary: Statistics released by South Africa’s government in 2005 revealed that death rates skyrocketed from an average of 870 deaths a day in 1997 to 1,370 deaths a day in 2002—a 57 percent increase. Deaths of individuals ages 15 to 49 (when people are most sexually active) more than doubled, the New York Times reported.

    In Botswana, condom sales rose from 1 million to 3 million between 1993 and 2001. Meanwhile, HIV prevalence among urban pregnant women rose from 27 percent to 45 percent.

    During the same period in Cameroon, condom sales increased from 6 million to 15 million, while HIV prevalence rose from 3 percent to 9 percent, Dr. Hearst and Sanny Chen reported in the March 2004 Studies in Family Planning.

    In Zimbabwe, which Dr. Green notes “has one of the highest condom user rates in Africa,” infection rates were so high by 2002 that UNAIDS experts noted that if present trends continue, by 2020 the country will have lost 30 percent of its work force to AIDS-related diseases.

    All these dreadful results led to conclusions such as this:

    Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning at University of California, Berkeley, wrote in the June 21, 2003, British Medical Journal: “The rapid spread of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the greatest failures in the history of public health.”

    While Dr. Green concluded, "So far, there’s no good evidence that condoms will reverse population-wide epidemics like those in sub-Saharan Africa."

    1. Before we get to why your second point is moot, I want to show why your first point is wrong.

      "First, the church has never prevented anyone from obtaining a condom if they wanted one." - This, what you wrote, is incorrect. The church uses its enormous influence to make state authorities make contraceptives illegal or unavailable for the poor.

      Two cases:

      In the Philippines...

      In Ireland...

      The second point is moot, because even if I accept everything you're saying, what you admit is that condoms are actually an effective way to combat AIDS for some people, and that they are part (not the only part) of the solution. So some deaths are clearly being caused by the church's position. I think it's worse than that. And you are completely ignoring the problems of overpopulation. So your citation, while impressive, misses the mark.

      Are you seriously doing apologetics for stopping condom use in Africa? Do you know how crazy that sounds? These are real deaths that are happening, because of this stupid argument. You feel this need to defend an outdated and criminal organization, and it puts you at an obvious intellectual disadvantage... Maybe there's a reason for that. Why not begin to think about whether your own first principles need to change?

    2. Also, the main expert in your cite specifically says that he's in favor of condom access, because of the reasons I outline. He just makes that case that it's not the answer to everyone's problems, and condom use can cause people to be more likely to engage in risky behavior. Fine. I encourage everyone to read the full article.


    3. And let's add to this, because it's an important point:

      World Health Organization:

      "Condoms, when used correctly and consistently, are highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A large body of scientific evidence shows that male latex condoms have an 80% or greater protective effect against the sexual transmission of HIV and other STIs.

      Condoms are a key component of comprehensive HIV prevention. WHO supports a combination of approaches to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV, including correct and consistent condom use, reduction in the number of sexual partners, HIV testing and counselling, delaying sexual debut, treatment for STIs and male circumcision."


    4. You know what? It's not fair to say you ignored overpopulation. We haven't been talking about it. My bad. It's not as bad as doing PR for a criminal organization, but still.

  8. "So how do a small percentage of bad apples in the Catholic church then somehow equate to being 'in no way responsive or accountable to ordinary people' when it doesn't equate to the same thing in our schools and other churches?"

    To the best of my knowledge, abusive teachers aren't being moved from school to school to avoid scandal. That is how the Catholic church is being 'in no way responsive or accountable to ordinary people.' They were knowingly setting predators in uninformed populations because the 'dignity' of the priest was more important than the lives of the children they abused.

    Oh, and you may have been "speaking to Paul" but you were doing it on a public forum. If you wish to have an exclusive discussion with someone, I suggest you contact them privately.

  9. Paul, I thought we're just having a spirited conversation -- I don't have a need to defend an outdated and criminal organization, it doesn't put me at an obvious intellectual disadvantage(and there is a reason for that) and in fact I did change my first principles for quite a number of years... and then I changed them back. And really, I don't see what those types of statements and questions add to the conversation.

    But since you asked, I'll expound. No, I don't feel a need; I just like to engage in it once in awhile, see if I encounter anything new or interesting. I don't feel the organization is outdated and criminal -- I find it very relevant to the issues we face today and while some of its members have been found to be criminal, I don't think the organization itself is (kinda like our government). As for being intellectually disadvantaged, I'm not sure how to respond to that. I can only hope to follow in the footsteps of such intellectuals as Copernicus (that would be Father Nicholas Copernicus), or Georges Henri Joseph Edouard Lemaitre (Monsignor), who first proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory; or Fr. Roger Boscovich, the founder of modern atomic theory; or Fr. Athanasius Kircher, who led the way in modern Egyptology; or Fr. J.B. Macelwane, who wrote the first American textbook on seismology; or Fr. Nicholas Steno, a founder of modern geology; though I've no doubt I'll fall short of their example.

    I accept your premise about influence -- it does play a role and the church's influence may have contributed to the reduced availability of contraceptives in the Philippines.

    Even so, the church has no authority to pass the laws there, or enforce the laws there. If most people there are in disagreement with the church's teaching, and they obviously aren't benefiting from adhering to it, what is the great pressure the church brings to bear that keeps the law from changing? What's the incentive for them not to change it? Certainly the church may trumpet its beliefs on billboards, but I wouldn't call that strong-arming. Suggesting excommunication? That might be considered strong-arming -- but if you really don't believe in what the church teaches, then why would that be a big deal?

    I do know how crazy stopping condom use in Africa sounds. But I can only look at what the experts say about the results. Yes, I am aware about the WHO's recommendations -- but if results in Africa are right, and the WHO's evidence is right, then there must be something missing in the equation, because it doesn't add up, does it? All those condoms yet HIV increased?

    1. We are having a spirited conversation, but that doesn't mean you're not defending an outdated and criminal organization. You're doing so, and I'm trying to get you to see the light, and you're resisting it.

      Now, the church doesn't make its own state laws, but it can use its influence on lawmakers. The lawmakers make laws which take away the rights of the people. The people are of course, free to disagree with the church. But they must obey the law or face real-world consequences. In this way, the church motivates a minority of people to deny rights to the majority. It does indeed prevent people from having access to contraception. Your statement was demonstrably wrong.

      Your evidence on condom use suggested condoms were not sufficient in some cases, not that they were ineffective in all. And therefore opposing them (as part of a comprehensive plan) is wrong, and it gets people killed. That's the piece of the equation that you are missing. I am not missing it. I see it clearly. What's also clear is that your beliefs make you only see what you want to see.

    2. When I say outdated and criminal organization, I want it to be clear I'm talking about the hierarchy. I've known good priests and nuns and laypeople - I know and I'm willing to admit that their position is complicated. But toward the hierarchy the only proper response is some degree of rebellion. It's doing bad things, and people are dying or their lives are getting wrecked.

    3. Actually, my evidence showed that condoms were ineffective in stopping the spread of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. Period. The experts themselves said it they are the third and last option, suitable only for only extremely high-risk populations such as sex workers, a very, very small percentage of the population. Really, it seems like you who are resisting.

    4. "Less effective than other options" doesn't mean "ineffective." They're not the same thing. And the source didn't say it was only "suitable" for sex workers. The main expert in your source said specifically that he wanted to keep condoms as part of the solution. So, what you just wrote doesn't match the evidence.

    5. Also, you lifted almost your entire post from a Catholic magazine without attribution! Seriously.


      I found it, because I wanted to verify what I already knew, the experts you refer to in the Lancet want a program the includes condom use. They definitely say the focus should be on abstinence and being faithful, and that condom-use should be primarily used for people who are high risk. But that does not mean what you are saying, that it's "suitable only for only extremely high-risk populations such as sex workers, a very, very small percentage of the population."

      This is their quote:
      "All three elements of this approach [Abstinence, Being Faithful, Condom Use - Bibeau's NOTE] are essential to
      reducing HIV incidence, although the emphasis placed on
      individual elements needs to vary according to the target population. Although the overall programmatic mix should include an appropriate balance of A, B, and C interventions, it is not essential that every organisation promote all three elements:
      each can focus on the part(s) they are most comfortable
      supporting. However, all people should have accurate
      and complete information about different prevention
      options, including all three elements of the ABC approach."

      Here's another point they made:
      "People who have a sexual partner of unknown HIV status should also be encouraged to practise correct and consistent condom use and to seek counselling and testing with their partner."

      Here's the document itself, so people can read exactly how they phrased it:


    6. And just so we're clear on the church's culpability, here's an article on how back in 2003 church officials at all levels were spreading misinformation that condoms were permeable to HIV. They were condemned by the WHO for this, but it was clear these untruths were getting through to people on the ground and putting lives at risk from a lethal disease.


      Here, look:
      "In Lwak, near Lake Victoria, the director of an Aids testing centre says he cannot distribute condoms because of church opposition. Gordon Wambi told the programme: "Some priests have even been saying that condoms are laced with HIV/Aids."


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