The Roman Catholic Church owes allegiance to the Pope in Rome. Roman Catholics believe that the pope is the successor of Saint Peter and has unchallenged authority from Jesus. The Eastern Orthodox Church split off. Later at a time of serious papal corruption Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation.

Out of touch[]

Ordinary Catholics increasingly disagree with the Church hierarchy, the hierarchy blame the world rather than themselves. The Roman Catholic Church hierarchy believes it has a direct line to God. The Church is not out of touch with the modern world, rather the world is out of touch with God. Pope Francis fears ""the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards"" Francis believes a new balance is needed but the problem is deeper than that.

The moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church is based on supposedly divinely inspired texts up to 4,000, 5,000 years old for the Old Testament and 2,000 years old for the New Testament as is all Christianity, see Christian morality for more. Additionally Roman Catholics teach that The pope and the church hierarchy sometimes have divinely guided authority. The Roman Catholic Church is weighed down by millennia old scripture and also by centuries old (or millennia old) teachings from popes and Church councils. There is a great deal of corruption in the Roman Catholic Church. [1] [2] Too much Church teaching is out of step with 21st century thinking but because it's supposedly divinely guided they're stuck with it. Is it any surprise that Roman Catholic moral authority is collapsing?

Disagreeing with large sections of traditional Roman Catholic doctrine has become the norm in advanced nations, see Cafeteria Catholics. But the Roman Catholic hierarchy face a dilemma.

  1. If the Church hierarchy officially declare that some tradition teachings weren't divinely guided after all that will disturb the faithful. Ordinary Roman Catholics will ask if any of their teachings were divinely guided. If some weren't divinely guided how do we know what was divine?
  2. If the Church hierarchy carries on insisting that all those traditional doctrines were divinely guided numbers of ordinary Roman Catholics who accept only part of Church teachings will steadily increase as traditional RC teachings get steadily more out of touch with 21st century thinking.

How all this will pan out is unclear, as of early 2014. Pope Francis is maintaining traditional teachings but is telling Roman Catholics to stop giving too much attention to a range of areas where traditional teachings are out of touch with recent social developments. [3]

Celibacy of priests, monks and nuns[]

  1. Inevitably some supposedly celibate men and women seek sexual outlets in whatever is their preferred sexual orientation.
  2. Inevitably the requirement of celibacy reduced the numbers of men interested in heterosexual marriage who become priests and monks, also the numbers of women interested in heterosexual marriage who become nuns. Therefore the priesthood monasteries and convents include disproportionately many people with different orientations.

Anyone who understands the sex drive knows not every human adult is strong enough to maintain celibacy over a lifetime so continual sex scandals should not surprise us. It can be confidently predicted that more dirt will be uncovered in the future. [4]

Obedience of priests, monks and nuns[]

Priests, monks and nuns take a vow of obedience which means they have to obey any reasonable or unreasonable orders from a superior that are not sinful.


But at the end of the day, the bishop is heir to the apostles, and unless he is teaching a false doctrine — namely a heresy, or asking a priest to do something immoral or evil or acting contrary to Church teaching — obedience is still required.

Those subject to the vow of obedience are all at risk of being given harsh or onerous and unreasonable orders. Officially a subordinate should refuse to obey any order to do anything specifically sinful but the power of superiors is so extreme even refusing sinful requests can be difficult.


"You have to understand," explains the ex-priest [who accuses Cardinal Keith O'Brien of serious sexual abuse], "the relationship between a bishop and a priest. At your ordination, you take a vow to be obedient to him.

"He's more than your boss, more than the CEO of your company. He has immense power over you. He can move you, freeze you out, bring you into the fold … he controls every aspect of your life. You can't just kick him in the balls."

Discipline of priests, monks and nuns[]

Those suspected of wrongdoing are notably at risk.

Administration of justice can potentially be arbitrary and unfair, either lenient or harsh.

  1. On the one hand those guilty of serious abuse to children or others have too frequently escaped with little more than a call to repentance.
  2. On the other hand priests can be ordered to retire to a monastery which amounts to an indefinite prison sentence. Most Reverend Vangheluwe was ordered to a monastery after admitting serial child abuse for example, though he disobeyed. [7] The normal rules of Natural justice and other safeguards which would apply in law courts of liberal countries when a defendant faces a possible prison sentence may not exist. Cardinal Keith O'Brien for example, complains that he has not been told the charges against him. [8]

How the O'Brien case will end not quite clear but by March 2013 O'Brien rumours emerged he had been ordered to "lead the life of a hermit and a shamed recluse." [9] Well what did all that mean? I researched what is expected of hermits in the Roman Catholic Church and it turns out some were totally isolated socially while others had companions and contact with local communities. Again as of March 2013 the punishment may have been disproportionately lenient or disproportionately harsh, we didn't know. And remember we don't know either exactly what he's being punished for. [10] The public unfortunately didn't know till May 2013 when it appeared The Church let O'Brien off lightly. Despite his shame the sinful Cardinal tried to creep back into a cottage in a pleasant Rural areas where he planned to spend his retirement before the scandal broke. The Vatican ordered O'Brien out of the UK and his friends complained. [11] As of Autumn 2013 O'Brien has been ordered to do prayer and penance for an unspecified period of time in an unspecified place. Journalists haven't tracked O'Brien down and we have no idea if he is willingly wherever he is or not.

A serious weakness in the Roman Catholic justice system has been exposed.[12] Worryingly obedient priests, monks and nuns are at greater risk of abuse than those like Vangheluwe who was willing to disobey.


Since 1950, when Pope Pius XII issued the Encyclical Humani Generis, the official position of the Roman Catholic Church has been to accept that the Theory of Evolution is consistent with Roman Catholic faith. [13] John Paul II went further saying scientific evidence points to evolution being real. [14] The Roman Catholic Church accepts some type of theistic evolution, and teaches evolution in its schools though Roman Catholics are not required to believe it. [15]

Roman Catholics are however required to believe in a literal Adam and Eve who were the universal parents of all mankind and Roman Catholics must believe in Original sin.[16] PZ Myers considers this unscientific and unreasonable. Myers claims introducing God into evolution violates parsimony. Further universal descent from Adam and Eve would lead to a recent genetic bottleneck which would be observable in the genome and has not been found. [17] However some Roman Catholics have been rejecting the "Adam and Eve" myth, unfortunately as they don't really understand what "Monogenism" and "Polygenism" is, their statements can be confusing. [18] [19] [20]

Roman Catholic or Catholic[]

Christians who believe in Roman Catholicism call themselves Catholics and dislike the term Roman Catholic. Roman Catholics believe that those who owe allegiance to the Pope in Rome are the one universal Church of Christ, catholic means universal. In Roman Catholic opinion other Christians who reject the authority of the Pope are heretics and don’t belong to the true Church of Christ. Non-Catholic Christians of course don’t believe that they are outside the community of true believers. The Anglican creed traditionally included, “I believe in (…) the Holy Catholic Church.” There Catholic means universal and doesn’t imply allegiance to the Pope. Anglo Catholics are a branch of the Anglican Church. They are, “High Church” and share some Roman Catholic rituals but owe no allegiance to the Pope.

The author of this article is not a Christian and does not believe that there is any true Church of Christ. The author prefers the term, “Roman Catholic” for Christians who accept the authority of the Pope. That avoids confusion with other Christians who also call themselves Catholic.

There is a good and a a bad side to Christianity, see the category page

See also[]


  1. The Corruption of the Vatican’s Gay Elite Has Been Exposed
  2. Abolish the Priesthood
  3. Pope Francis: Church too focused on gays and abortionPope Francis sets out vision for more gay people and women in 'new' church
  4. A New Pope Won't Save the Sinking Ship
  5. The Promises That Free Priests to Serve Christ
  6. UK's top cardinal accused of 'inappropriate acts' by priests
  7. Child abuse bishop disappears from French monastery;Pedophile Bishop goes into hiding
  8. Cardinal Keith O'Brien 'very upset' about his resignationCardinal O'Brien's departure leaves a rudderless Church
  9. Disgraced cardinal Keith O'Brien facing possible police investigation as it emerges church officials have 'told him to live as a hermit'Disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien facing possible police investigation
  10. Note: a hermit and shamed recluse may be forbidden to contact even close friends at a time when he is in crisis and badly needs support. Even prison inmates are normally allowed outside visits from friends so again this punishment could be arbitrary and extreme.
    1. There is a problem that the accusations against O'Brien aren't specific.
    2. There is a second problem that what the public knew about the punishment wasn't specific.
      1. Had O'Brien got a comfortable retreat where he was forbidden to enjoy a public life but is otherwise not severely restricted?
      2. Had O'Brien been forced into extreme social exclusion and been denied even what inmates in prison are allowed?
    3. The exact nature of the punishment depended on the subjective judgement, perhaps whim of one or more superiors. There is no consistent system of justice in the Roman Catholic Church. In May 2013 we found out O'Brien had temporarily been let off lightly.
  11. Disgraced cardinal Keith O’Brien creeps back into Scotland, only to be told to leave the the UKCardinal ordered into exile by VaticanVatican 'orders Cardinal Keith O'Brien to leave Scotland'
  12. Atheism Wiki is not arguing one way or the other over whether Cardinal O'Brien should face discipline, as of May 2013 the public knows quite a number of unspecified accusations and an unspecified admission that O'Brien broke the vow of celibacy. Concern is over lack of safeguards for the accused in the disciplinary procedure generally.
  13. Humani Generis
  14. The Vatican's View of Evolution: The Story of Two Popes
  15. Pope John Paul II, Darwin, and Evolution
  16. The Problem of Polygenism in Accepting the Theory of Evolution
  17. Sunday Sacrilege: Cant can’t
  18. [1]
  19. [2]
  20. [3]

External links[]