General Brock wrote:
Are you arguing that taking immoral stances is justified because that's what the job calls for?
The Pope cannot responsibly take stances not clearly set out by the Bible; that would be immoral in accordance with his fundamental belief system, because to him the word of god trumps the law of man, and therefore humanitarian considerations. God has priority over man. It is not objectively justifiable, but the Church is not objective, and being religious is not an objective endeavor.
Part of being religious is adherance to the tenets of the faith. If you go by the Old Testament, slavery and homophobia are not explicitly crimes either. There is confusion in the Church because [humanitarian] principle and doctrine are so tied together as to be one in the same, with the Word, the doctrine element, paramount. An injunction of sorts not to make to much of any discrepency exists, making things more confusing. Like a good soldier and lawyer, the top priest accepts standing orders and prosecutes doctrine as a matter of faith even when it contradicts principle.
Indeed, a cleverer and extremely charismatic Pope might have found loopholes in the Bible to lead the Church to stand against what we recognize clearly as crimes, as some of the more liberal lay Catholics and Protestants have. However, those are kind of shaky, based on a vacuous claims of an omnipotent all-loving all forgiving deity nowithstanding what is actually written in the Bible.
Unlike, say, English common law, there is no mechanism that has evolved to effect change and set new precidents in Catholicism. The Reformations were a shuffling and rewording of the same cue cards. Even a new prophet arising is out of the question, closed out by the Second Coming. The Biblical deck is set, stacked, and frozen from very dark times during the late bronze age and late iron age.
The Pope has to take on faith that a seemingly, [in our eyes definite] immoral stand will work out for the best, because god said so, part of the plan, and therefore it is not immoral since god will make it all better somehow. Consider the way a soldier in battle believes he is not murdering the enemy even when that enemy is not posing a direct threat, and perhaps not even a combatant, and that the sacrifices made are worthwhile. To a less biased observer, this might not be the case. The Catholic Church was modelled on the Roman army model, after all. The Church exists as a soul-conquering society of soldiers, whose territory is hearts and minds.
Taking immoral stances is not what the job of Pope calls for. It calls for taking stances that defend the Church's defintiton of what is moral. The Pope is unable to see that some of his stands are immoral, because he does not accept a different standard of morality, or is able to persuade himself that the some actions have only the illusion of immorality if they can be squared by the Bible and the demands of evangelism.
I started to parse your reply, but really my answer sums up to this- adherence to an objectively immoral system is immoral. Actively promulgating an objectively immoral system is immoral. The Pope condemned people who practice purely consensual, non-harmful sexual activity as evil, among other abhorrent stances that he took on social issues as well-listed in previous posts.
We can play shell games with the fact that his morality was different than mine all night long, but in the end the difference is this: my ethical beliefs are essentially utilitarian in nature- do the most good for the most people. It is a rational system that is the most current product of all the misery and suffering we've gone through on this rock in order to produce something resembling stable civilization.
On the other hand, Old Testament morality was designed to justify atrocity, explain disaster, and keep its adherents properly cowed into deference to the religious leadership. It's a sad and savage relic of older, more brutal times.
That it still forms a large portion of the moral teachings of the largest organized Christian denomination around is not something that should simply be accepted as a fact of life. It should be challenged, it should be derided, and eventually, it should be thrown into the museums and history books where it belongs.
That a man held fast to such barbaric principles is not something to be lauded at the end of his life. It is more properly treated as a flaw, and taken into the sum total of good and bad in his life to form a proper judgement of whether or not he truly improved the world by his presence.
Strip away the religious context for a moment, and what are you left with? Murderously retrograde attitudes, not mitigated by fact of the difficulty of implementation (in the case of contraception, which is an issue that extends beyond Africa to the entire global Catholic community), condemnation of innocent men and women who are simply following their sexuality, and a sickeningly misogynistic viewpoint that implicity reduces women to the status of property and brood mares. Honestly, if somebody created a secular charity combining those attitudes with a 'aid the impoverished' message, which of their messages do you think would get the most attention?
Now, tying that back to it being his religion, well, that doesn't provide any sort of rational justification for such behaviors. We rightfully throw out the 'I was just following orders' defense in military trials.
Did he work for the common good in places? Yeah, he did. That's why I'm not celebrating his death and pissing on his grave, as compared to the glass I hoisted to the demise of Yasser Arafat. But that does not absolve him of using his power in an ethically reprehensible fashion. He's dead, and the sooner his institution either evolves beyond its stone-age moral structure or perishes altogether, the better.