Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Huffington Post, Catholicism, and Angry Comments

The Huffington Post is a well known as a liberal news and blogging site. It was recently purchased by AOL for $315 million, which many analysts felt was far too much. In any event, whenever this popular news source publishes articles on the Catholic Church, they are almost always negative.

So I was surprised to see an article quoted Pope Benedict where he said violence in religion or done in the name of God is the work of the antichrist. The article was straight-forward and did not add any twists or bring up any negatives about the Church. This was indeed a rare event.

I was interested to see how people would react to such an article in the comments. I glanced over some on the first page, and was shocked at the sheer negativity in them. To give you an unbiased sampling, I just randomly thought of some numbers and pages and from there I will take comments. I will also respond to them.

Here are the pre-selected numbers (from 23 pages):
Page 2: comments 3, 8
Page 4: comments 2, 7
Page 9: comments 1, 3
Page 15: comments 2, 5

So here they are (not including responses):

1. (2,3) Swell. Thanks for clearing that one up, Mr. Pope. I'm sure everything will be all peachy-kee­n now that you've figured it all out for us...

2. (2,8) This coming from a Pope who covered for pedophile priests for years? Was a member of the Nazi Youth program. Hmm. I pick door #2, CHENEY. Makes the Koch bros, Karl and Rupert, look like just spoiled brats.
3. (4,2) obviously this is turning a page in the history of the catholic church, but if you read between the lines he is not only condeming the use of religion in promoting violence, but also its past uses. many posts seem to sugest that you dont appreciate the gravity of this, and that perhaps the pope doesnt know the history of his own religion, and if this is so, perhaps you'd prefer if we continualy use religion to wage meaningles­s wars. I prefer to embrace this change in stance, and hope that other religious authoritie­s will support this move. when you look solely to the past than thats where you will live, in the mistakes of yesterday. however, if you embrace past and present as a means to the future, it begins to open up- and this is definately opening up a new future.

4. (4,7) Let's see...ther­e is only one God. You can't count the trinity because all three are only one. I think that's semantics, but I'll let them define their own words.

But, the Antichrist­? Is that another God? No, that would make two gods. You can't put the Antichrist into the Trinity because that would make God good and evil - - but if God were evil, why would I follow him.

I could go around a few more circles, but still won't be able to answer why evil is an equal force in our world, but there is only one God. Maybe the Pope could try to make some sense of that. But, why bother, most Catholice and many others, just accept the story without even trying to think about it.

The Pope desperatel­y wants us to believe this myth, but doesn't bother to make it logical.

Antichrist­, what a crock.

5. (9,1) ...And they're STILL refusing to take responsibi­lities for their actions or own up to their own autonomous behavior. Claiming the Devil did it or the Devil "made me do it" is an affront to reason, and more telling about their moral delusions and ethical ineptitude than anything else these superstiti­ous/supern­aturalist headcases might ever say.

6. (9,3) So the antichrist is here? Isn't that supposed to be big news?

7. (15, 2) My understand­ing the anti christ, wants to be worshiped as a God himself, bowed to, have a Kingdom, to become like God, but the opposite of all that God is. All told this world is not Kingdom, God's world will dwell on earth. We right now are to become light in darkness, till God comes, and the world of ungodly ones, unrighteou­s ones lawless ones, their world will end. Remember the evil one, was cast down here, with 1/3 of his angels. And know God has a family, his children are the image of God, what God's spiritual character is, they are one with God, their father. There also is many anti christ he has many children also. Told do not worry about the anit christ, rather worry more the anti christ does not enter you. I love all pray for all. I love all and pray for all, yes even my enemies I love and pray for.

8. (15, 5) Apparently he missed the chapter in his history book about the crusades. However, I love his ability to improvise. Like Jimi Hendrix, except for wackos.

Comments 1, 2, 5, 8 were clearly negative comments toward the Catholic Church.

#1 simply seems to take a mocking tone of the Pope, without specifying any beefs the user has with it.

#2 says the pope was in the Nazi youth and that he covered for pedophile priests. These two comments are irrelevant to the comments made by the pope at this time and represent the false logic of an "ad hominem" attack, meaning attacking the person rather than the idea. The pope was conscripted into the Nazi youth like all youth in Germany at the time. However, despite a possible penalty of death, the future pope risked his life to abandon his post. He was not directly involved in killing anyone. He and his family hated the Nazis and everything they stood for. As for pedophile priests, the pope has called them filth that must be removed from the Church. He has done a lot to make sure these priests are eliminated from ministry and that children are protected. But no matter what he does, people will continue to use this as an argument against the Church.

#3 seems to somewhat support the church. well at least the user is supporting the pope's comments, but he sees it as a change in policy of the church, implying that waging war used to be a legitimate part of Catholic teaching. this is probably the best of the random comments.

#4 discusses the idea of the anti-christ and basically tries to show that it is a contradiction. however, you could replace his comments about the anti-christ with comments about evil in general and he could use the same argument. he finishes his comments by saying the pope wants people to believe in a "myth", so I'm assuming he is atheist, and then says the idea of the antichrist is a "crock". I prepared an essay a while back about how everything God created was good, but he did not create evil, yet evil does exist. For that essay, click here.

#5 This user says the Church is refusing to take responsibility for unspecified "actions". He says the Church says the Devil made them do it, but no Church official has said that, so I'm not sure what he's referring to. He then claims the Church's teachings are contrary to reason and that it teaches superstition and stuff. Obviously this has nothing to do with the article and as happens many times, this user is just venting his frustration with religion in general under the guise of criticizing the Catholic Church.

#6 This is more of a comical statement.

#7 This is a general comment about the user's view of the antichrist.

#8 This one comments on the crusades. The implication is how could the pope be talking about not using violence if the Catholic Church went to Jerusalem and other places to fight the crusades. Although this may seem like a good point, if you think about it, is has the opposite effect. There were several crusades, the earliest was about a thousand years ago. There must not be many examples of Catholicism being associated with war, if the only example that comes to mind is from a millenium ago. Secondly, most people have a deficient view of the crusades, seeing it as a wholly offensive war, when in fact it was primarily defensive. Europe was being threatened by an Islamic conquest and the Byzantine Emperor requested the assistance of Western Europe to expel them. I agree that some people involved in the crusades were acting contrary to Catholic teaching by killing innocent people or looting areas, but it was not a directive of the Church to do this. You will not find a papal encyclical or pronouncement stating "Kill innocent people and steal their goods".


These comments were completely randomly chosen, and certainly not cherry-picked. There were dozens more, some probably much more vitriolic. To see for yourself what I am talking about, go to any news article on the Catholic Church from a main stream news or opinion outlet which allows comments and look at some of them. Often they will express very mean-spirited and nasty opinions which have absolutely nothing to do with the article at hand. Usually they will simply repeat old canards and well-worn ad hominem attacks. If you are Catholic, always try to post a comment presenting the Church in a true light.


  1. I may no longer be a practicing Catholic, but I have to add one overwhelmingly positive comment about the church in modern times. Nuns saved the lives of thousands of at risk kids, like me, in the 50s and 60s. My Catholic education has served me well throughout my life. Yet, I was a child on welfare with an absentee father and a mentally ill mother. My siblings and I have broken the cycle of poverty because of the dedicated, tireless work of nuns.

  2. That's great Katherine! Thanks for sharing :)