Thursday, January 20, 2011

And a Designer Dress...

The Catholic League is all furious about this song. Fr. Z has called Denis Leary "scum" because of it. I listened to it and found it to be just the sort of critique the institutional church needs thrown at it! I don't see it attacking the religion itself anywhere in there.

It's certainly vulgar, and the part about communion especially could be taken as irreverent (though not nearly as much as letting molesters remain priests and consecrate the eucharist with the same hands they used to abuse children, which really does profane It like that). And some might also argue that the flippant tone is insensitive to the victims themselves. Some might also be of the opinion that the song really isn't all that clever or funny...

But, at the same time, satire is sometimes the best weapon. If we are allowed to use it against politicians, why not against prelates? Maybe you'll conclude differently, but this seems to almost entirely attack the dysfunctional institution and its pathological personnel, not God, nor Saints, nor holy things, nor dogmas, nor the sincere faith of your average Catholic (many of whom are just as angry at what has been done). And in that case, I don't really see a problem.

And now, as a final slap in the face, the video has disappeared from Youtube. Just like that "Pepsi and Doritos Communion" video. I can't say for sure why, but I have my suspicions. Is this really the sort of pressured censorship that the conservative Catholics want to promote??? Thanks for the great discussion, though, everyone.

13 comments:

JD said...

The Institution has, of course, completely invited this - it is no victim. I can see why people are amused. Yet, I am still highly uncomfortable with this and probably couldn't stand to be in the audience.

Of course, leave it to Father Z to stir up his version of the ACLU, or whatever.

Maybe its a sad symptom of the extent to which we are taught to see the hierarchy as manifestations of the divine, but in videos like this, it feels like dearly held symbols are being attacked. Its not so easy to separate the pope and priests from one's encounter with the sacred, though I suppose it is proper Catholic theology to do so. Perhaps this is why its difficult for so many people to confront the truth.

The other thing worth noting is the extent to which the hierarchy tries to pin this all on homosexuals, which is I think is blatantly unjust. Yet, comedians actually tend to do the same thing, at least for farcical and satirical purposes: designer dress, queens and effeminacy, ect.

A Sinner said...

Hmm. I'd probably be "uncomfortable in the audience" too.

But the medievals were attacking popes and clerics all the time, and this is directed more at rejecting the "Catholic ADL" attitude of Fr Z and his ilk. "Oh, look, it's 'anti-Catholic' bigotry! Call in the troops! Boycott Comedy Central!!!" Please.

The clergy and pope being put on a pedestal as sacred "symbols" is a huge part of the problem, I fear. They are mortal men, not intrinsically mystically symbolic 23 hours of the day (when they're not saying Mass, basically) and are as wicked and perverse a group of men as the world has ever known.

As for the gay references, I think the point is that the self-loathing homosexuals within the clergy ARE a huge part of the problems. They promote homophobia (and I'm not talking about the moral teachings, but stuff like the ban on homosexuals in the seminaries, the language of "intrinsically disordered," etc) even as they go around in their dresses, have papal portraits painted (as you yourself have pointed out) with Adonis Christs, and live in a celibate (or "celibate") all-male world.

Their own "disavowal," of which you have spoken, is indeed part of what creates the whole McCarthyism and I think that is all this guy is getting at. Because it's so obviously true, and yet the conservatives will all deny and try to paint the priesthood as some bastion of heteronormative masculinity while the rest of us just snicker at such a ridiculous assertion...

Catholic Boy said...

'not nearly as much as letting molesters remain priests and consecrate the eucharist with the same hands they used to abuse children, which really does profane It like that'

Whoa, dude! Where did that Donatist thing come from?

These people hate the Catholic Church. It makes them feel uncomfortable and bad about themselves. If they happen to be right about one or two things from time to time that's not really the point.

Rubricarius said...

I would not condone the use of the Name of Jesus and His Holy Mother but, apart from that, I agree with 'A Sinner' that as polite discussion has had no effect on the ingrained defensiveness and duplicity of the Curia satire and other methods are needed to get the message across.

Our Medieval ancestors had no problem depicting the reigning pope squealing in Hell in the afterlife for his sins - why are modern minds so delicate and easily offended by the prospect of a damned pope?

Andrew said...

...and how many of those medievals are burning in hell for their detraction and calumny? Who knows, the point is that this sort of public "criticism" sullies the whole Church and does not really address anything constructive. I watched the video, and the song is rather vulgar, sacrilegious and blasphemous (in the indirect sense). A better way to accurately portray a true sense of the human reality of clergy would be like they did in some Last Judgment scenes-show anonymous people with certain symbols of the office they held in life (i.e. miters for bishops, crowns for kings and emperors, papal tiaras for popes, etc.) but do not go after a specific person as "damned". As we all know, that is up to God. For all we know, Alexander VI and Boniface VIII are chilling with St. Gregory and St. Leo in heaven right now.

Also, I would hope you really wouldn't be caught up in calling cassocks and simars "dresses".

A Sinner said...

"Whoa, dude! Where did that Donatist thing come from?"

It's not Donatism. I never said a molester priest saying Mass made it invalid.

But it is a sacrilege, on his part, to preform ANY sacraments while in a state of mortal sin himself like that (all discussion of reduced culpability or perfect contrition aside).

And the idea of someone touching the body of Christ with the hands that molested a child...just FEELS wrong.

"These people hate the Catholic Church. It makes them feel uncomfortable and bad about themselves. If they happen to be right about one or two things from time to time that's not really the point."

Yes, it is the point: when they're right, they're right.

Your attitude seems to be the one taken by the neocons and traddies; which is the same one that led to all the cover ups!!

That, basically, this is an "us/them" sort of battle between those "loyal to the Church" and Her "enemies" and therefore this whole child abuse question is really just a proxy battle.

That they should be ignored and we should be defensive because their REAL goal is to destroy the Church, not fix it, so we should react by being cheerleaders for the institutional church and becoming even MORE supportive of their regime.

Maybe they hate the Church because they see all this dysfunction, and then can't distinguish between the human institution and the divine element because they see that conservative Catholics don't really make that distinction either!

It's sick.

A Sinner said...

"how many of those medievals are burning in hell for their detraction and calumny?"

Do you really think Dante is in Hell for the Divine Comedy?? Come on, get real.

"the point is that this sort of public 'criticism' sullies the whole Church and does not really address anything constructive."

Except to get people as angry as they should be, and to knock these awful old men off their high horses.

It does not sully "the whole Church." I don't feel like it sullies me! I'm very glad someone is sticking it to Bennie and the Jets for their institutional myopia and obvious psychosexual issues.

Every time a hierarch says something about sex (or about homosexuals, specifically)...I can't help but feel like they're Tobias from "Arrested Development," if you know what I mean.

"A better way to accurately portray a true sense of the human reality of clergy would be like they did in some Last Judgment scenes-show anonymous people with certain symbols of the office they held in life (i.e. miters for bishops, crowns for kings and emperors, papal tiaras for popes, etc.) but do not go after a specific person as 'damned'. As we all know, that is up to God."

I don't think this song damns anyone...

But specific figures need to be called out for their specific failings, yes. We do it to politicians, why can't we do it to prelates? We can and should.

The problem with admitting that "the clergy" in general can be bad, but then showing this sort of virtual hyperdulia to the specific Pope and bishops is that...clergy are only ever specific men. There is no "clergy" separate from the actual specific clergy who are alive and exist.

As such, admitting that some Platonic Form of "the mortal human clergy" can contain bad men while letting the ACTUAL mortal human clergy off the hook...doesn't solve anything.

Saying that "some Popes might be bad" doesn't solve anything in terms of THIS Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, being so entrenched in his little curial world that the thought of major structural reforms is unthinkable to him, that the realization that the clergy is a neurotic mess (which to everyone else is quite obvious) is beyond the pale of possibility for him.

"Also, I would hope you really wouldn't be caught up in calling cassocks and simars 'dresses.'"

I would though. Because they are. The very fact that conservatives always need to explain how they aren't...proves that they are.

You can say, "They're not dresses"!! till the cows come home. And historically, that may be true.

But, the fact is, we aren't living back in medieval times. A flowing purple garment on a man DOES have immediate psychological connotations for people today. And so for a young man to nevertheless embrace such garments (and then try to disavow their dress-like connotations) does instantly raise questions about his psyche and sense of gender.

In a world were all men wore garments like that...it would be no problem, of course. But in a world where other men DON'T wear them, and where they are viewed as effeminate in most people's minds...yes, that raises some serious questions about just what sort of man would choose to nevertheless dress that way, in defiance of those gender-norms.

Of course, if they admitted, "Yeah, I like dressing up. I like drag. I like the dandiness of wearing period costume"...okay, fine, to each his own.

But they don't admit that. That's where the real weirdness comes in. In doing something so gender transgressive and then trying to argue that it ISNT, in trying to claim that it's all perfectly heteronormatively masculine.

To which the rest of us can only think, "Who are you kidding?"

George said...

seriously why defend them here? how CAN the pope put up with this pedophile sex? he IS "in charge of this whole big mess"! and yet what they did is "move you when the damage is done"!!! most organizations couldn't get away with this, the police would shut them down. and yet, apparently, "the Vatican can" get away with it.

sadly, this song describes the situation perfectly...

sortacatholic said...

I'm not offended by this song. Quite the opposite, in fact. So what if many people think that the Pope is gay, for example? He's not the first gay pope and he won't be the last. I've suspected that Pope Benedict is gay every since he got on St. Pete's chair. In fact, I was hoping that his putative homosexuality would lead to greater dialogue about gay clergy. Guessed wrong. The Vatican is still playing them mind games. If the Vatican and their ultramontanist defenders aren't going to call the shots as they are, popular culture will.

What Fr. Z, EWTN, National Catholic Register, et. al. don't realize is that pop culture has discredited the clergy and institutional Church years ago. Why can't the self-anointed conservatives just deal with the abysmal public perception of the Church? Pius XII ain't going to save this day. It's time to have some real discussions about sexuality and the Church across all ideological factions before the Church loses even the last shred of credibility. And yeah, look at that flying bacon outside my window.

Denis Leary is doing Catholicism a service with this song. Yeah, it's vulgar, but it gets the point across well. Someone's got to talk about the pain. If PBXVI and his backers can't, pop culture will (rightfully) tear them to pieces.

sortacatholic said...

Oh, and one more thing ...

Pope Benedict wants to beatify JP II with THIS level of public hostility? He may not be touching others' balls, but he sure has some of his own!

George said...

or maybe the ones from his eye sockets are stuffed in his ears.

i don't think he has any idea the hostility exists really, or at least not the reasons behind it. he's a sincere guy, but absolutely blinded by the institution he has lived his life as part of.

Rubricarius said...

The comment by 'Andrew' exemplifies the strong knee-jerk reflex of Ultramontanists to defend Rome against any form of criticism whatsoever. One suspects that if a photograph ever appeared of a cardinal or pope in the act of abusing a child, or engaged in a sexual act, there would be Ultramontanists actually defending the perpetrator coming out with how everyone else was too sinful to understand the Magisterial action and how the cleric was actually doing the child (or other party) a favour.

Good practice in the area of child protection, and the much neglected area of vulnerable adults, is to raise an alert when abuse is suspected - not to wait until it has acually happened. In the majority of cases of course there are no inappropriate actions taking place and decent people respect the intergrity of a robust protection policy.

One of the most disturbing things I ever heard was several years ago in Ireland when I was eating breakfast in an hotel in Co. Mayo. Two, quite elderly, priests at the next table were lamenting the 'fuss' as they called it when a certain hierarch was criticised for 'shuffling' a paedophile. 'People always make a fuss about that sort of t'ing' one said to the other. There was no basic Christian compassion for the abused child or their family whatsoever.

A root cause of the problem is the battle between centralism and local governance - an issue which underpins nearly all the current malaise in the RCC. Rome and the Curia are desparate to strenghten their hand over the ground they see as 'lost' in the years after the SVC - power at any price has always been the Curia's modus operandi. The idea that a low grade monsignor in the Curia considers themselves 'in charge' of a diocesan bishop etc.

Where local hierarchs have tried to deal with the issue, the example of the Abp. of Dublin comes to mind, the Curia have tried to frustrate the process of co-operation with the civil and judicial authorities.

When satire doesn't work the bottom line response has to be to stop funding the operation - the Curia has always understood the jangle of coins!

sortacatholic said...

UPDATE 18 January 2011:
National Catholic Register apologist Jimmy Akin tries to salvage the Irish nuncio letter. As Rubricarius predicted, the ultramontanists still can't resist the temptation to shelter the curial apparatus even when it's clear that Vatican diplomats have encouraged the obstruction of civil justice.

You're right on, Rubricarius. Hit the Vatican with the wallet (or steal their purses, in the case of some clergy.) Nothing, I mean nothing else will halt the Curia in their tracks. Problem is, in countries with nominal church-state separation such as the United States, Canada, and even perhaps Ireland, shunning the collection plate will not bring about change. This will only hurt the parish and the diocese. The Germans (well, mostly Bavarians) and the Austrians have the key. Their countries (maybe Poland as well?) still charge a church tax. Plenty of Germans and Austrians have sent their tax monies to secular charities instead of Rome. If every German and Austrian Catholic deregistered with the Church, Rome would lose massive funding. That's the way to do it!

Some Austrians are tying in their tax protest with demands for women deacons and other liberal reforms. Hold off on that until we crack the Vatican spreadsheet and get them to listen. Whether one agrees or disagrees with these motives is irrelevant right now. The focus now should be on structural reform and abuse protection, then internal debate on hot-button theological and ecclesiological issues.

Opus Dei and similar ultramontanist groups will not stop funneling money into the Vatican. There's only so much the skepical laity can do outside of these quasi-ecclesiastical structures. However, even the mighty Legion of Christ fell because of scandal. I'm not wishing ill on OD, but it's important to recognize that large organizations also have systemic faults.