Pope Francis’s Empty Rhetoric On The Abuse Scandal

Pope Francis took the rare step of sending a letter addressed to all of the world's Catholics on the sexual abuse scandal. Words are fine, but they need action to back them up.

In the past month, the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, which had largely disappeared from the headlines in recent years, has once again become a front and center story due to two major the developments. The first came in late July when Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who had severed as a Bishop in three separate dioceses in the United States as well as being one of the highest-ranking Catholic officials in the United States, was revealed to have a long past of sexually abusing both boys and young seminarians while managing to have those reports covered up and hidden by Church authorities. In response to these reports, McCarrick was stripped of nearly all his Church titles and awaits further Church discipline that could go so far as to include being defrocked as a Priest. The second, of course, came last week when a Pennsylvania Grand Jury released a report that had been in the works for several years. This report revealed thousands of instances of children who were abused by hundreds of Priests in nearly all of the state’s dioceses and the efforts that Church officials at the time took to cover up those allegations and protect the Priests from criminal prosecution and the Church from civil liability.

In what is obviously a response to all of this, as well as the fact that he is scheduled next weekend to visit Ireland, a nation where the sexual abuse of children by Priests has led to a diminution of the authority of the Church in what used to be one of the most Catholic nations in Europe, Pope Francis has released a letter to Catholics worldwide addressing the issue:

ROME — Pope Francis issued a rare letter to Catholics around the world on Monday, condemning the “atrocities” of priestly sexual abuse and its cover-up, demanding greater accountability, and asking his flock to “join forces in uprooting this culture of death.”

The pope said that the church would spare no effort to ensure that such situations never happened again. But he acknowledged that much damage had already been done, and that the church had fallen short of its responsibilities, to children, and to the faithful.

“With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives,” Francis wrote. “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”

A Vatican spokesperson said it may have been the first time a pope has addressed the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics about sexual abuse.

Francis’s message came ahead of his scheduled trip next weekend to Ireland, where the abuse issue has dominated headlines ahead of the visit, and just days after a searing grand jury report in Pennsylvania found that the church had covered up the abuse of more than 1,000 minors by some 300 priests over a period of 70 years.

The pope acknowledged in his letter that “efforts to beg pardon” would never be sufficient. The deep wounds of the victims “never go away,” he said.

Over the past two decades, the church has often resisted acknowledging the scale of the crisis, or even specific sexual abuse scandals as they came to light in parishes and dioceses in multiple countries. A prominent member of the pope’s commission on the issue resigned last year, saying that forces within the Vatican had impeded the panel’s work.

Francis, too, has drawn intense criticism for apparently failing to take some revelations seriously, and in the past few months he has projected a new determination to investigate and address the problem.

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to Ireland’s Catholics when the abuse scandal came to the fore there. And earlier this year, Francis wrote to Catholics in Chile after an abuse scandal forced the ecclesiastical hierarchy there to tender their resignations.

More from The Washington Post:

Pope Francis said in an unprecedented letter to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on Monday that the church has not dealt properly with “crimes” against children and must prevent sexual abuses from being “covered up and perpetuated.”

“We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them,” Francis wrote.

The 2,000-word letter, the first by a pope addressed to the world’s Catholics on the topic of sexual abuse, amounted to a direct response by Francis to a rekindled crisis that has engulfed his own papacy and eroded the credibility of the Roman Catholic Church.

But after years of high-level pledges to end abuse, the letter renews questions about whether Francis will be able to follow through with a more concrete plan to reform the Vatican’s handling of sexual offenses.

Francis on Monday did not mention specific steps that the church should take, but he did acknowledge that systemic change is needed. He also expressed “shame and repentance,” saying the church has been slow to realize the magnitude of the problem and has damaged many lives.

Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such [abuses] from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated,” Francis wrote.

The letter was issued after the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that documented alleged abuse in the state by more than 300 priests against 1,000 children over seven decades. This weekend, Francis will travel to Ireland, a country scarred by decades of sexual abuse in parishes and in Catholic-run schools. In Dublin, many have demanded that Francis acknowledge during his trip the role that church higher-ups played in silencing victims and helping to keep pedophile priests on the job.

Though the Catholic Church has been dealing for more than three decades with publicly known cases of abuse, new cases in recent months have caused a wave of anger among Catholics, who say the Vatican has been slow to make meaningful reforms.


In his letter Monday, Francis specifically mentioned the Pennsylvania grand jury report, but he did not reference other scandals in the United States, Chile or Australia that have ensnared his papacy.

Francis said the Pennsylvania report reflected “abuse of power and of conscience.”

“The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced,” Francis wrote. “But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity.”

In a statement Monday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called Francis’s letter “powerful.”

“The Pope has long been a fighter for the defenseless,” Shapiro said. “As he notes in his letter, actions and sanctions to protect children and hold abusers and those who cover up abuse accountable have been ‘delayed.'”

Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, said the pope’s letter was “to some extent disappointing” because it lacked specifics.

“I think they are trying to buy some time,” Faggioli said. “But it must be read in the context of something that doesn’t end today.”

You can read the Pope’s letter at the link.

Rod Dreher, who has written extensively about the abuse scandal and been highly critical of the Church’s response to the crisis, calls the Pope’s letter a failure:

It’s very late in the game for this or any Pope to think that words alone are credible. Pope John Paul II said similar things when clerical sexual abuse was exposed … but the status quo remained. Pope Benedict XVI was significantly more active in fighting the culture of abuse, but bad bishops remained in place. (The rumor is that when he was presented with a dossier detailing the extent of homosexuality in the Roman Curia, he resigned when he realized that he was powerless to combat it.) And now we have Francis, who releases a torrent of good words, but whose deeds, to this point, do not match them.


To be fair, Francis has done some good things on this front, like accepting the resignation of three Chilean bishops implicated by the gay sex abuse scandal rocking that country’s church. But he had to be dragged into acting in that case, after long rebuffing victims. [UPDATE: He also agreed to remove McCarrick from ministry, and to take away his cardinal rank. But if he really cared, he would be moving heaven and earth to uncover how McCarrick got away with his corruption and deceit for so long. Taking away his red hat — so what? — RD]

It is nice to have strong words from the Pope, but as Father Longenecker says, pay attention not only to what Francis says, but what he does not say. And, in the end, deeds are the only thing that count at this point. Catholics have heard strong words from popes and bishops for 16 years, and yet, here is the Church in 2018, its moral credibility shattered. Ordinary Catholics — priests and laity alike — surely know that if rescue is going to come, it’s going to have to come from them.

While I don’t completely agree with Dreher’s words here or in the post as a whole — for example, he has a singular obsession with the issue of homosexual priests which is, of course, a completely different issue from the issue of child sexual abuse and pedophilia — his overall sentiment strikes me as being spot-on. We’ve known about the sexual abuse problems in the Catholic Church for more than two decades now, and the reports of that abuse here in the United States as well as in nations such as Ireland and Australia stretch back decades into the past and reveal a long history on the part of the Church of covering up things that are obviously crimes by paying off victims and their families and moving offending Priests from one Parish or Diocese to another. In that sense, the revelations about McCarrick and the situation in Pennsylvania, while shocking, are not new but merely confirm things that we already knew were going on. For years, Francis’s predecessors, including both Benedict XVI and John Paul II, maintained almost complete silence on the issue and took no steps at all to address the injustice of what the Church had permitted to continue, including the numerous instances in which it moved an offending Priest from one location to another and essentially resume the same abusive behavior he had engaged in before. Given this, while the Pope’s words in this letter are welcome they are nothing but empty rhetoric unless they are followed up by action and by an indication that the Church will permanently change the manner in which it handles matters like this in the future.

As a first step, the Church ought to open up its files and agree to cooperate with Pennyslyvania-style investigations in every state in the country. While it’s likely that the scandal may not as extensive in those parts of the United States where the Catholic population is a smaller segment of the population, there can be little doubt that there are numerous examples of behavior identical to what the report that was released last week occurring throughout the United States. Additionally, in those cases where statutes of limitations have yet to expire, or in states where revisions to the law may allow the victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring charges long after the limitations period may have otherwise expired, the Church must agree to submit those suspected of crimes to the jurisdictions that may want to prosecute them. Additionally, the Church ought to agree to waive the protection of the civil statute of limitations for any victims of abuse that may wish to file civil claims against it. Finally, they need to come completely clean and reveal everything they have regarding the abuse scandal and cover-ups that occurred in the past, no matter how long ago it may have occurred. Beyond this, the Church must demonstrate how it is going to handle allegations of abuse in the future and must agree that when such allegations are made they will be immediately reported to the relevant law enforcement agency and that that they will submit to whatever legal process may be necessary to prosecute in those cases.

Over the course of the past week or so, there has been some discussion about the issue of forgiveness. At some point, I suppose, forgiveness might be possible but that forgiveness must come primarily from the victims and their families and then secondarily from the Catholic laity that has been betrayed by a Church more concerned with covering its own ass than protecting children. As I learned when I was a mere second grader preparing for the Sacrament of Penance, though, in order to be forgiven one has to show repentance, make reparations where possible, and resolve to “sin no more.” Until the Church does that, it isn’t entitled to forgiveness.

FILED UNDER: Religion, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. An Interested Party says:

    …he has a singular obsession with the issue of homosexual priests which is, of course, a completely different issue from the issue of child sexual abuse and pedophilia…

    Unfortunately, for many homophobes, homosexuality is directly linked to child sexual abuse and pedophilia…

  2. Gustopher says:

    a long history on the part of the Church of covering up things that are obviously crimes by paying off victims and their families and moving offending Priests from one Parish or Diocese to another.

    Why is this not “accessory after the fact”?

    In that sense, the revelations about McCarrick and the situation in Pennsylvania, while shocking, are not new but merely confirm things that we already knew were going on.

    The only shocking thing is that people are shocked by it. How many times have we discovered this same exact thing going on with the Catholic Church?

    Until we start prosecuting the Church hierarchy that has been covering this up, this will continue to be a major problem. If it means that we need to create new laws, then we need to do so.

    The Catholic Church provides access to young children — it will always attract a number of pedophiles, just like every other church, day care, etc. That may be harder to address, but stopping the reassignment of pedophile priests to a new set of victims should be relatively easy.

  3. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    It’s a business, guys. As the CEO of one of the largest, furthest reaching businesses in the world, words are all he’s got because he can’t clean up a mess that envelopes, what, 50% or more of the total management of the organization? Even if it’s only 25 or 30%, it’s still too large of a breach to create in an organization this large.

    I would that they would do something, too, (and am not Catholic) but I get both the entropy and the logistical issues that go with cleaning up the mess.

  4. CSK says:

    This seems hopeless. Even if the Roman Catholic church could identify and purge itself of all its pedophiles and ephebophiles, how does it keep them out in the future? Intense vetting in the seminaries?

  5. al Ameda says:

    While it’s fashionable to assign blame to Pope Francis now ….

    It is instructive to remember that many in the Church were in a hurry to canonize John Paul II into sainthood, and we all know now that by the time he died (2005) he was well aware of the Church hierarchy’s role in sweeping all of this scandal under the rug. John Paul did nothing, as ‘did’ most of the Church hierarchy.

  6. Kathy says:

    I’d take a long hard look at other religious denominations, too. Defending pedophiles and other sexual abusers is common, as we’ve seen in the cases involving sports programs in universities.

    The Catholic church, though, as a global organization, has more room, literally and figuratively, not to mention resources, to offer refuge to such miscreants, for very long periods.

    Other religious organizations lack this kind of reach, wealth, and organization, but some are mere differences in degree.

  7. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: They could change the process to reduce the priests’ private access to children. That would cut the abuse right there. And they could stop covering things up and reassigning priests to other parishes when they do molest children.

    Even if they cannot reduce the number of pedorasts, they can reduce the damage that each pedorast does.

    I’m not sure of any reputable and non-creepy ways to detect pedophiles before they become pedorasts, but it might be good to start acknowledging that some people struggle with this attraction, that many fail, and making it very clear that there are other positions in the church where they won’t be as tempted. I’m assuming that most of the offenders started out in the church wanting to help others and thought that they would never give into their temptations, but I might be wrong.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    When an organization is responsible for covering up thousands, tens of thousands, of child rapes by thousands of their employees, whatever they thought the purpose of the organization was, it’s not that any more.

    If this was a corporation or even an NGO there would be annihilated by this and would deserve to be. No corporation could survive being shown to cover up child rape on this kind of massive scale. The Pope and the rest of the organization are saved only by the word, ‘church.’ We grant them that immunity and it’s a mistake and a terrible failing of our society and our laws that we’ve allowed this rolling atrocity to continue.

    You do not get to run a worldwide child raping institution and then shrug it off with, “Well, it’s a church.” No, it’s not a church, it’s an organization that relocates child rapists to new locations where they can rape again. No amount of charity buys your way out of that.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s the culture of power within the Church that is the problem. The sexual abuse of children gets the headlines, but it goes far deeper than that. The abuse that is endemic within it is not just sexual, it is physical, it is emotional, it is of children, it is of adults, it is thru and thru. The culture of the church is what holds up this nearly 2 thousand years old fraud that for the vast majority of it’s time was the most powerful player everywhere it went.

    You want to change that culture? You can’t. It is the Church. There are good people in the church. I like to think Francis is one of them. But neither he nor any of the others can change that culture because the power centers within it won’t allow things to change.

    It will have to rot out from within.

  10. Leonard says:

    “For years, Francis’s predecessors, including both Benedict XVI and John Paul II, maintained almost complete silence on the issue and took no steps at all to address the injustice of what the Church had permitted to continue…”

    Just not true.

  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    At the point where an organization that holds itself out as a moral guide, divinely-inspired and led, has managed during its existence to entirely miss the evils of torture, slavery, genocide, anti-semitism, peonage, Naziism and child rape, I kind of think their claim to be a fundamentally good institution is in question.

    Name another still-extant organization with that kind of rap sheet.

  12. Guarneri says:

    “Name another still-extant organization with that kind of rap sheet.”

    The Islamic Faith.

  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    Sheese Doug, how can you possibly expect the church to actually start doing something about this issue, when the Pope has far bigger problems like the threat of female bishops monopolizing his attention? /sarcasm

  14. Kylopod says:


    “Name another still-extant organization with that kind of rap sheet.”

    The Islamic Faith.

    In the previous thread on this topic, you called Michael Reynolds a bigot for his harsh criticisms of the Catholic Church (an organization, not a “faith”), and now you just attacked the entire Islamic faith. How is Michael’s view “bigotry” and yours isn’t? Or is that you view what you said as “legitimate” bigotry or something?

    (For the record, your comment inspired my first downvote on OTB in a long time. I’m very selective about downvoting comments here.)

  15. Mister Bluster says:

    No one is surprised here that Goonari reveals himself to be a religious bigot. Are they?

  16. Kylopod says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    No one is surprised here that Goonari reveals himself to be a religious bigot. Are they?

    Not surprised, I’m just struck by the blatant hypocrisy that he says this just a few days after calling Michael Reynolds a religious bigot.

  17. Kylopod says:

    And who in the heck is upvoting Guarneri’s comment smearing the entire Islamic faith?

  18. Stormy Dragon says:


    Guarneri’s cell phone and home computer.

  19. Leonard says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The Catholic Church not only spoke out against all those things, it was the first organization to speak out about half of them.

  20. Gustopher says:

    @Leonard: That’s just not true.

    The Catholic Church was very friendly with the Nazis — an argument can be made that they could do more for people in that situation, but it’s a weak argument. They certainly didn’t speak out.

    And Sinead O’Connor spoke out more against child rape in the church than Pope John Paul II did. She had a backing band, so she qualifies as an organization.

  21. An Interested Party says:

    @Leonard: Oh?

    Though the sexual-abuse crisis reached its peak in the public sphere during Benedict XVI’s papacy, the single figure most responsible for ignoring this extraordinary accumulation of depravity is the sainted John Paul II. In the context of his predecessor’s deplorable neglect, Pope Benedict gets slightly higher marks than most. In 2001, he acted to give his office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, jurisdiction over all sexual-abuse cases, and soon he began to push the Maciel investigation, despite considerable Vatican opposition. After ascending the throne of St. Peter, he became the first Pope to kick predator priests out of the Church: in 2011 and 2012, the last two full years of his papacy, the Church defrocked three hundred and eighty-four offending priests.

    That said, it was too little, too late. As the second-most-powerful man in John Paul II’s pontificate, Ratzinger had more ability to know and to act than almost anyone. The actions he finally did take were largely dictated by a series of embarrassing scandals: his move to take control of pedophilia cases in 2001 closely followed scandals in the U.S., Ireland, and Australia, and staggering financial settlements for American plaintiffs. The decision to reopen the case against Maciel would almost certainly not have happened without the courageous reporting of Berry and Renner. And the zero-tolerance policy that led to the systematic defrocking of abusive priests happened only after the annus horribilis of 2010, in which a new sexual-abuse scandal seemed to explode every week and loyal parishioners left the Church in droves.

    Ratzinger understood better than most, if late, that priestly abuse was the negation of everything the Church was supposed to stand for. But, for much of his career, his focus and priorities were elsewhere. During most of his tenure, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was too busy disciplining anyone who dared step out of line with Church teachings on personal sexuality and family planning to bother with the thousands of priests molesting children. In 2009, a nun named Margaret McBride sat on the ethics committee of a Phoenix hospital that had to decide the case of a pregnant woman whose doctors believed that she (and her fetus) would die if they did not terminate her pregnancy.* The committee voted to allow an abortion, and the woman’s life was saved. Almost immediately, McBride’s bishop informed her of her excommunication. It took multiple decades and thousands of cases of predatory behavior to begin defrocking priests, but not much more than twenty-four hours to excommunicate a nun trying to save a human life. In 2011, also under Pope Benedict, the Vatican lifted its excommunication of McBride.

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: A Trump supporter? TM01? Jenos/Warren? JKB? Florak? Lava Land? Joan? Starshine? Have I missed anyone (I expect so)?

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Oooh, missed them! Good catch!

  24. Argon says:

    Sinéad O’Connor was spot-on 20 years ago when she ripped the Pope’s picture in half to protest the abuse she and others suffered from the Catholic church in Ireland. She was lambasted for that protest but she was absolutely correct.

  25. Leonard says:

    @An Interested Party: Good examples of how much Benedict did.

  26. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: :Name another still-extant organization with that kind of rap sheet.:

    The Trump administration?

  27. An Interested Party says:

    @Leonard: Rather, good example of how John Paul II did almost nothing and how Benedict came to it late..indeed, he seemed to be more worried about other things rather than this issue…

  28. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    A Trump supporter? TM01? Jenos/Warren? JKB? Florak? Lava Land? Joan? Starshine? Have I missed anyone (I expect so)?

    I’ve seen many comments by Trumpoids here that never receive a single upvote, or at best only one upvote. The three upvotes that Guarneri received for his comment blasting the entire Islamic faith is unusually high for a Trumpist comment here. I think that says something.

  29. Kylopod says:

    @An Interested Party: I found this part especially damning:

    It took multiple decades and thousands of cases of predatory behavior to begin defrocking priests, but not much more than twenty-four hours to excommunicate a nun trying to save a human life.

  30. Modulo Myself says:

    You really can’t blame the Catholic hierarchy for having contempt for American Catholics. It’s like what any cult leader feels for their flock. It’s hard to sympathize with anyone who doesn’t leave the church now. The problem is that these morons have children, and they’ll have to force and guilt-trip their kids into doing anything other than call their parents fools, which will simply perpetuate the cycle.

    Same goes for Trump, obviously.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    Benedict, née Ratzinger knew about plenty of child abuse when he was a Bishop and did nothing. There’s also good evidence he helped cover some of it up. In addition to his brother leading a choir that abused hundreds of boys for three decades, Ratzinger headed a meeting where the details of a particularly sick and depraved child predator priest was discussed and then it was decided to move him to a different parish and lie about the reasons for doing so. When this came out it became controversial and his spokespeople defended him by saying that as bishop he dealt with big issues and not the disciplining of one errant priest.

    The reality is that there is one overwhelmingly likely reason why someone seems to ignore the rape of children and continuously defends and covers up for those who get caught. And it isn’t because they have “bigger issues to deal with”.

  32. Kylopod says:

    @Lava Land: It has to do with Trump because insulting the entire Islamic faith, as Guarneri did earlier in this thread, is a lot likelier to be met with approval from supporters of the candidate who called for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

  33. Tyrell says:

    Why not start a new Catholic church? No pope, cardinals, or bishops. It would be governed by the church members.

  34. al Ameda says:


    Why not start a new Catholic church? No pope, cardinals, or bishops. It would be governed by the church members.

    I would settle for a Nuevo Avignon Papacy

  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    Numerous commenters have already pointed this out, but there is a difference between what people believe (their faith) and the organization that profits from that faith (organized religion.)

    But I’m not surprised you don’t know the difference. You’re very much in the line of people who think so long as they don’t say n—-er they can’t be racist. Clueless.

    As a student of human nature and the human brain, I have some sympathy. You just don’t understand, you just don’t grasp basic concepts. Very much like me trying to understand particle physics. The difference being that I don’t pretend to be able to understand a physics equation. I know my limitations, you don’t.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: I take it you’ve never heard of Congregatonalists and Baptists? Most Evangelicals and Assemblies of God also operate on that sort of government.

  37. de stijl says:


    Martin Luther says, “What am I, chopped liver, here?”

  38. al Ameda says:

    @de stijl:

    Martin Luther says, “What am I, chopped liver, here?”

    … even by the standard his day, Martin Luther was a virulent anti-semite.

  39. de stijl says:

    @al Ameda:

    I was going for Protestantism, sola scriptura, and Tyrell’s ignorance of the whole of post-Reformation Christianity.

  40. Gustopher says:

    @Tyrell: well start our own church, with hookers and blackjack…

  41. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: Oh, come on, Tyrell had to be joking there. And it’s a good joke.

  42. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher: Tyrell is the reason Poe’s Law was invented.

  43. al Ameda says:

    @de stijl:

    I was going for Protestantism, sola scriptura, and Tyrell’s ignorance of the whole of post-Reformation Christianity.

    No problem, I got your point.
    I had to laugh, that ‘what am I, chopped liver’ line.

  44. de stijl says:

    @al Ameda:

    I was being kind – I could have gone for a Moloch comment.

    Catholicism has become an institutional Moloch cult, as have some pockets of Protestantism, and the whole of heretical Mormonism. You make a contract to get into heaven and you sacrifice your children – you don’t actually cut your kid’s throat, you merely offer them up to clergy / elders as molestation toys. It’s not just obscene, it’s damning.

  45. grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: (cracks knuckles and clears throat) As a theoretical physicist with a Ph.D., what is it about particle physics you would like an explanation of?

    (also you can always take Fermi’s attitude: “If I could remember the names of all these particles, I’d be a biologist.” )

  46. de stijl says:

    I’m 60 / 40 that Tyrell is real. That stupid

    Why not start a new Catholic church? No pope, cardinals, or bishops. It would be governed by the church members.

    comment matches up what he used to say about gay rights – that they should be ruled by local dictate as opposed to state or federal laws. Tyrell is consistent. If Tyrell were a sock-puppet, he would gyrate, be more wind-vaney based on the dictates of the news cycle .

    If Tyrell is a con, it’s looooonnng con. Studious, committed, character-driven. I imagine Jack McBrayer who never made it out of the Ozarks or the Great Smokies.

    Just because bright, but unsophisticated rural rube is a cliche, does not mean they do not exist.

  47. de stijl says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Just tell me if the cat is alive or dead. “It depends” is not an acceptable answer.

  48. de stijl says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I know this a fault of mine, but I truly cannot fully accept a multiverse, but at least that is still theoretical. Much worse, certain experiments are demonstrable and replicable – one photon out, two photons registered. I think I have a Newtonian brain.

    I can understand and accept the experiment, and still “reject” it.

    Intellectually, I accept it, but some substrate of my mind or psyche or whatever just says “Bullshit!”. Quantum mechanics disturbs me at a fundamental level – even the replicable ones. Those perhaps most of all.

  49. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl:

    I’m 60 / 40 that Tyrell is real.

    I lean toward 70 / 30. His/her behavior is consistent with people I’ve known who have Asperger’s Syndrome.

  50. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: the bright, but unsophisticated rural rube can also make a joke.

    It’s a little bit of a “my Protestant Church is better than your Papist Cult” joke, but it trims all of the most obvious signs of that away, to become a simple funny statement.

    I have no opinion on whether Tyrell is himself real or a character that he just enjoys portraying to please himself. I suspect we are all the latter to some degree.

  51. de stijl says:

    On a much brighter note, Keiko Agena – aka Lane Kim from Gilmore Girls showed up up on Better Call Saul last night in what looks like a salient role.

    Also, Lodge 49 is turning out better than I expected (Big Lewbowski redux). Dud isn’t full retard – the memorial speech was stupid and epic and he is just no longer a Dude stand-in. Plus, sister Liz (Sonya Cassidy) is not just a Skyler scold. It started out very reductive.

  52. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: Do you want them to just kill that cat for you, so you will be sure?

    (I just reject the entire experiment — you cannot isolate the cat from the rest of the universe, even inside the box, so you will always know whether the cat is alive or dead. Did you hear a sad thump as the cat collapsed? Have other particles adjusted their course slightly to account for the cat now being at the bottom of the box? You might not be checking whether the cat is alive or dead, but the rest of the universe is)

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @al Ameda: “…even by the standard his day, Martin Luther was a virulent anti-semite.”

    And pretty darn proud of it, too, based on his own writings. Still, I believe he was the one that left us with the adage “it is better to be ruled by a wise Saracen than a foolish cleric,” so his animus didn’t cloud his wisdom overmuch.

  54. de stijl says:


    The Tyrell I know isn’t that dry or clever.

    If Marc Maron said that I would laugh; since Tyrell said it, I 77.3% believe she thought that was an original and smart idea.

    If Tyrell said that as a joke, it undercuts his / her entire persona built for years. I’m 89.7% he said that straight.

    Tyrell (or the Tyrell character) is built upon the premise that simple solutions exist for complex national and international issues and that the heartland volk obvious common sense answer is the answer that the coastal elites missed and it will work if we just try it.

  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: “…people I’ve known who have Asperger’s Syndrome.”

    Hey! watch it, there!

  56. de stijl says:


    The cat is just stunned. Pinin’ for the fjords, ‘e is.

  57. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Yeah, don’t get special, boyo. There’s probably more than enough dysfunction here on this thread alone to fill DSM-6.

    I dig your “outness” about your Asperger’s. I just learned that this last year. I just learned that telling people that I’m agoraphobic / GAD isn’t really that big of a deal to them. It’s quite liberating, actually.

  58. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Still, I believe he was the one that left us with the adage “it is better to be ruled by a wise Saracen than a foolish cleric,” so his animus didn’t cloud his wisdom overmuch.

    Luther wrote a book called “On the Jews and Their Lies,” in which he called for burning the Jews’ synagogues, schools, and homes, confiscating their property, and either expelling them or putting them into forced labor. His poisonous views weren’t limited to writings, either; he successfully campaigned for an edict against Jews in his area. The Nazis were heavily influenced by Luther, who was seen as a prophet in Germany, and his writings served as a blueprint for the Nuremberg Laws.

    I am not sure how his line about “Saracens” (i.e. Arabs) is supposed to mitigate any of that. Let’s put aside for the moment that the line itself is fantastically condescending (it implies that foolish clerics are so bad that even a Saracen might be preferable). It has absolutely nothing to do with Luther’s attitude toward Jews. Are you under the impression that because Luther has been described as “anti-Semitic,” that it’s somehow mitigated by a (supposedly, but not really) tolerant remark about Arabs? That’s a dangerous misconception.

    The term anti-Semitism first arose in the 19th century where it was nothing more than a euphemism for “Jew-hatred,” at a time when race theories were popular and Jews were the only “Semites” with any significant presence in most of Europe. When the Nazis proudly referred to themselves as anti-Semites, they knew exactly what the term meant, and it didn’t mean “hatred of all Semitic peoples”; indeed, they had no compunction about entering pacts with Arab leaders.

    To this day anti-Semitism (i.e. Jew-hatred) is widespread in Arab countries, and it doesn’t stop being anti-Semitism just because it’s being perpetuated by “Semites.” Indeed, a common deflection used by anti-Semites today is to say “I can’t be anti-Semitic, because I like Arabs”–which makes about as much sense as responding to charges of bigotry against Latin Americans by claiming to like Italian-Americans. In both cases it’s a semantic word game that conflates unrelated things in order to dodge accusations of prejudice. Luther’s views on “Saracens” have no bearing whatsoever on his attitude toward Jews.

  59. de stijl says:

    I would argue that last night Jimmy became Saul. That Bavarian Boy Hummel was a straight cash job. No charming con. No Robbin’ Hood. No robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    The charming con came only to save a failed burglary . No greater good. Jimmy McGill sold his soul for a Bavarian Boy Hummel and the possibility at $4,000.

  60. JohnMcC says:

    @de stijl: Just happened to wonder if Mr/Ms de stijl could possibly be a bit of performance art, myself. Probably not. But sometimes I have to wonder….

    And don’t pick on Tyrell; I kind of feel protective.

  61. george says:


    The Trump administration?

    Well, actually the gov’ts of major powers have rap sheets that include the killings of hundreds to thousands (and sometimes millions) in unnecessary wars – its been awhile since the Catholic church had the power to be evil on that scale. Which is why Reynolds rightly compared them to an NGO or a corporation rather than a gov’t.

    Trump’s administration is far worse than the Catholic Church. The sad thing is that every American (and Russian and Chinese) administration since at least WW1 has also been far worse. My guess is that much of the Catholic Church’s carrying on as if it were normal is that for much of their history they were a major power, and as a major power did things which are far worse than this (the inquisition for instance).

  62. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    (cracks knuckles and clears throat) As a theoretical physicist with a Ph.D., what is it about particle physics you would like an explanation of?

    To begin with, are they particles or waves? 🙂

    I’ll show myself out.