More reader comments: problems with the pope

Very often, people do not leave comments on my blog but rather post the comments to Facebook or e-mail them to me.

That is what happened a few days ago, when my posting trying to show what an ad-hominem fallacy was attracted the attention (and disagreement) of my FB friend Robert.

I find Robert's comments intriguing and engaging. His argument is that it may be impossible to separate the man from the ideas:

About the pope: "...He's led a campaign to maintain poverty in South America, spreads fatal diseases to millions by teaching them to have unprotected sex, and was one of the key people who arranged for paedophiles to be protected and witnesses (mostly raped children) to be intimidated into silence, which led to further child rape and the rapists themselves escaping justice. How can anyone /not/ have a problem with the pope?"

To which I (maybe naively) responded: "...I was discussing ad hominem fallacies so it is the ideas we have to go after... for all we know the guy's intentions may be good, as twisted as that may seem..."

Robert's reasoning was implacable. "By that logic we'd be letting Hitler and a whole bunch of other villains off the hook. It's not just the intention that matters, it's knowledge and awareness about what harm you are doing, as well as how you go about doing it. He opposed the anti-poverty campaign in South America because living in a wealthier environment would make them less ... Read More religious. Now it's well-known that being wealthy is no barrier to being religious, as America has shown, so instead of trying to guide them down that route he instead chose to keep them living in conditions that made them poorer, less healthy and unhappier. When it came to contraception in Africa, he could have told the truth about condoms and distributed them from churches, increasing attendence and saving lives at the same time. When a system-wide level of corruption was found in the church he could have led the charge to have them excommunicated and brought them to justice, placing the feelings of the innocent and justice above the church's power. However, in every instance where he could have done things differently that led to the church remaining strong and done a lot of good for the world he chose the option that led to an enormous amount of suffering, just so that the catholic church could get stronger. Because of his evil ways at least 4 continents have suffered, just for the sake of making the vatican more powerful."

I understand what he is talking about and tend to agree. Maybe we should be more careful of where we may place sympathies... I have indeed reflected on how pope Ratzinger, being such an erudite, must know the things I know about the bible and the history of the church and yet continues to preach strict adherence to catholic dogma... A true contradiction, in my book.

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