Hawking's Audience with Pope

(basis for judging pope - does sexual abuse scandal define Catholic Church?)

Hi, Mr. Bloom.

I am unexpectedly surprised, and pleased that you responded. (see previous email)

Before examining the claim can we both agree that it would be dumb, even laughable, for the pope to make such a demand?

To ascertain how someone would have behaved in a given situation, I must examine their past behaviours. If you asked me what Jude Law thinks about pre-marital sex, I couldn't begin to fathom his answer without knowing about his past behaviours, or his opinions on such matters.

If someone has been charitable several times in the past, it is easy to imagine that they will be charitable again in the future.

I offer a kitchen sink of items not as a taunt, but to give a perspective on how the Catholic Church has behaved in the past and currently behaves in the present. Evidence is used to give weight to an argument.

The “audience” was not a private conversation between the pope and Hawking. Nor was it an off the record discussion between Pope John Paul

I did not mean to imply it was a private audience between Hawking and the Pope. Again, the part of the quote that is, to me, of key importance reads:

At the end of the conference the participants were granted an audience

Although it can be read as the participants were each given a private individual session, I imagined that Hawking meant that the Pope talked with them all, collectively as a private group session.

You are correct, though. Even a small, private audience would not seem to fit with how the Pope communicates with the public.

kitchen sink. In a marriage or a friendship that kind of argumentation is disastrous.

I could not agree more.

Kind regards,

Dave Jarvis


Dear Dave,

Thanks for your measured reply. Much appreciated. I do agree with you that the main way we can judge others is by their past behavior.

I apologize for overreacting - accusing you of the "kitchen sink" argument. You might imagine that I get tired of the clergy abuse scandal being used as if it defines the Catholic Church. Somebody told me that our major daily newspaper did four different articles on our new archbishop. In each article they brought up the abuse of minors by priests. They never mention that we have had no new cases since 1988!

Maybe a comparison would help. Suppose that each time the media does an article on the Obama administration, they refer to the corruption of Chicago politics and the president's use of cocaine. Would that be fair?

Fortunately most people make judgments independent of the media. My own experience is that ordinary folk have a great trust in priests and far from fearing our involvement with youth and children, they welcome it.

For sure people have come to me because of past abuse by a priest, but the usual perpetrator is a family member or some other trusted figure. I am sure you know that public school teachers have abused children at a much higher rate than clergy ever did. Moreover they have done little to "clean up their act." That has not gotten much attention from the media - and almost no calls for accountability on the part school administrators. Do you detect a double standard?

Speaking of youth, I will be gone the next two weeks for World Youth Day as part of a delegation of sixty-one young people and adults. Dave, may I offer you my prayers as I make this pilgrimage?


Fr. Bloom