Monday, April 4, 2005

My two pence: Pope & Catholicism

A friend of mine asked me what is all the fuss about the Pope? Most of us (the British) are totally disconnected from religion...what is the point caring who is elected a new Pope?

As much as I hate writing about religion, here are my views on this. I can write one can I even though I am not a Christian (even if I was I would not be Catholic)? Well here is what my two pence is worth:

The Catholic church has more than one billion members worldwide of which 113 million of them resides in Asia and 282 million in Europe. Now, that is one hell a lot of people. In statistical terms it means that there is a Catholic for every six people walking on this blessed planet.

The Church is divided into various factions too. On the left we have the liberals who are not homophobic, are pro-choice, advocates euthanasia and probably on drugs too. Next we have those in the middle like the dead Pope who was ultra-conservative but equally modern. Finally we have the Christian right whose views are deeply conservative who if given a choice would strip women of their rights and cast all gays into prisons while burning me as a 'heretic'. There are so many views on how to run the Catholic Church and I suggest you ask a more open-minded Catholic friend who happens to know the politics of the Vatican.

So what has this whole issue got to do with us? Well for starters, whoever is elected Pope could actually sway World opinion. On the front we were given some choices by the media on whether the next Pope would be from Africa. Any hope that an African Pope would bring in a more progressive view to the Church is sadly out of the question. I have many Catholic friends from Africa and their views on the World are totally backwards. Cardinal Francis Arinze who is the front runner for a African papacy has been described as a conservative.

Coming from a progressive Asian-Muslim country and now living in a liberal Western society, I was raised as a Buddhist with Confucius values and then teared it all up when I came to Britain. Buddhism in Malaysia is a little different. Rather than a way of life, it is a worshipping religion where one frequently pray towards the Goddess Kwan-Yin. Praying for what? Pray for money that's what!

Anyway as you can see I was brought up in 'fake' Buddhism. Well I should not call it fake. Each religion takes its own form in different country. My ancestors probably came from a certain part of China which believes in these things. Just like Christianity.

Okay back to the Pope...My point is no matter who is elected Pope, this new Pope would be the head of the most powerful sub-religion in the World. Two leading architects in the illegal war on Iraq - Tony Blair and Dubya, both happens to be Catholic.

The Christian right has in recent times managed to hijack the news media to further their cause. The issue surrounding Terri Schiavo should never have been broadcasted outside the United States and certainly should not have been politicalized. The United States senate even attempted to muzzle the rule of law to further their political careers all in the name of religion.

I do not care much about religion but I do know that religion plays a role in my everyday life here. Whatever I do, whatever I watch has moral consequences that have conservaticism breathing down my neck all the time. You see I am not a Catholic, am not a please please leave me alone to do whatever I want. Do not pass laws barring my freedom.

Here's hoping the next Pope would be more open-minded and more liberal. Advocate condom use for safe sex. Approve of divorce. Hell even the future king of England and defender of the Church is a divorcee so what is wrong with that? Women's lack of equality in the Chuch must be stopped and so are the attack on gays/lesbians.

By the way, Waterstone has a sale on the blasphemous Da Vinci Code novel. At £3.50 it is a cheap way of reading a poorly written thriller now.


Anonymous said...

you are confusing catholics with protestants. Dubya and Blair are protestants not?

Halian said...

Hi. Can't help but to leave a comment.

I'm not a Catholic and I have nothing against what you have said. It is indeed your utmost right say so.

But, I do look at him more as a human than a religious leader. A person who did try to change the world to be a better place. Whether it promotes his religion or not while doing his job, to me is immaterial. At least, he had contributed something to the world. I wish I had his opportunity to slam George W. Bush on his face about his oily war.

Jon said...


Tony Blair is an Anglican but its well known here that he is a 'closet' Catholic. The rest of his family are Catholics and he reguarlarly attends Catholic Churches.

As for Dubya, you are the first I heard from that described him as protestants. Well I could be wrong. His views are just catholic...


Thanks for the view. I agree that the dead Pope has some good side in him that was his modernisation of the Vatican, his play in the downfall of autocrat Communisism in Eastern Europe and his opposition to the war against Iraq. He was also keen on opening dialogue with other religious leaders.

Anonymous said...

you views are greatly biased. well, you have the right to remain so, but if you dare publish such thoughts why not allow some space for mine as well?

firstly like what anonymous said, they're NOT catholics. also, attending catholic churches doesn't make you catholic.

secondly, what is "being conservative"? your definition of being conservation is only "in reference" to the utterly bad standards you see today.

why not condoms? why not divorce? why not euthanasia? why not gay? why not kill each other? why not eat humans? why not cloning? why not becoming a "earthly God"?

you might think condoms are GOOD for safe sex today.

few hundred years later people might think being gay is GOOD for health.

and killing and eating your own siblings and children is good for the exploding world population.

the catholic church has doctrines and dogmas which are consistant with what Christ taught us. not what society believes, but what is the Truth.

thirdly, when you were young your parents would smack you when you do something wrong. when you're 30 your parents would reason with you.

this is the same as the world (or the Church in this case). do i have to explain more?

Yun said...

I see quite a few loopholes in your argument. Nevertheless, you have the right to view religion in your own ways.

Personally, I believe that religion is a very grey area. You mentioned:

"Here's hoping the next Pope would be more open-minded and more liberal. Advocate condom use for safe sex. Approve of divorce."

There is a reason for each religion to have a leader. I believe that rules have to be there, to some extent. If you do not agree with the Catholic ways, then just let it be. After all, you said you are not Catholic.

When the next Pope that comes into power and starts shifting things around in the world, then only shall we discuss its pitfalls. For now, it has yet to be determined if something "wrong" will happen because of his status and power.

Buddhism, just like Christianity and any other religion, can be broken down to smaller beliefs. People are brought up differently and you cannot say which is right and which is wrong.

This is my two cents of worth. Have a nice day.

Jon said...

To 2nd Anonymous, thanks for the highly charge comment.

I am biased although I am still open to debate. That is why I have not locked the comments area. As long as there are no racist or homophobic (or advertising or just pure dissing) remarks I would not delete anything.

Morality is a touchy subject and one totally open to discussion. Obviously different culture will have different interpretation of how far morality can go. Living in liberal secular Europe my thoughts are skewed towards freedom of doing whatever you want.

Condom is a necessary to contain AIDs. Ask youself how many millions of people have died in Africa just because of the Vatican's condemnation of the use of condom.

Yan, thanks for the comment.

I might not be Christian but that does not mean that there are some Christian right who wishes to impose their views on me.

Take for example BBC's decision to broadcast Jerry Springer The Opera. It was met with about 30,000 Christian rightwingers who demanded the show be scrapped because it was blasphemous. These are the kind of people whom I am afraid will attempt to hijack freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

How many millions in Africa?

I have had sources telling me that in Africa, there are so many AIDS cases because of WHO's syringe. I don't have a explicit site to quote here because superpowererful organization like WHO would not allow such news to be published.

did you really think there are so many erotic perverts in that poor country?

Jon said...

And yes there are many perverts in many countries. There are only humans after all.

Anonymous said...

hey.. ppl do not always pray to Kwan Yin for Money!!
Maybe when you were brought up, you didnt understand Buddhism, its teachings and what's it about.. it's not about mindless worshipping for money.. maybe you should find out more about Buddhism before jumping to conclusions..

Anonymous said...

oh yeah.. your ancestors came from Sun Tak.. but dont ask me where that is.. =P go find out more bout your family's history.. it's pretty interesting..

Jon said...

anonymous 3,

I wasn't implying that worshipping for money is buddhism, but that was what we did.

I know what is real buddhism, and it is very very different from the one we brought up with.

Not really interested in genealogy. I would probably die without ever knowing who my ancestors were or where they came from. I live in present and look forward in my life. Maybe when I am old and when I turn into a grumpy old man and turn into a conservative bastard, only then maybe, just maybe I will consider it. :)