May 4, 2012

The Pope and the Saints

I am listening to a discussion on NPR about the bounties offered to New Orleans Saints defensive players to take out opposing players and about the penalties imposed by the National Football League for the incentive system to injure opponents. To date, I have neither read nor heard any defense of the Saints’ program. There is, of course, some irony in the name of the team caught in what is generally considered unethical—perhaps even sinful—behavior.

To add further irony to the day, while listening to Tell Me More, I encountered a link to a story on the Mail Online Web site. The story is titled “Pope Benedict XVI makes £150,000 donation to ‘disaffected’ Anglican church so it can convert to Catholicism.” Anglican readers, without my help, can figure out the content of the story.

Question for the day: How is what Pope Benedict XVI did any different from what the Saints did?

Extra Credit Question: Who imposes penalties on the Pope for unsportsmanlike conduct?

9 comments:

  1. I'd say it's a whole lot different. Pope Benedict was buying people off, and bankrolling them so them so they could shift to another religion. How is that even remotely similar to paying football players a bounty for injuring or maiming an opposing player and putting him out of a game? Must have been a slow news day.

    No one imposes penalties on the Pope for unsportsmanlike conduct. How was what he did unsportsmanlike, anyway? He advanced some funds to help a group of conflicted people. He didn't go helmet to helmet, or hit someone in the knees or poke someone through his face mask. He made a legitimate "business" decision. Companies do this every day. He was promoting his cause. Was what he did illegal? I don't think so, certainly not in the way putting a bounty on an opposing football player would be illegal.

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  2. Lionel:

    The Pope has communicated to a group of people that may be sympathetic to his church's position, "if you need a home, we will welcome you". If this is in some way unethical, I'm not sure how your "Bumper Sticker Riposte", a few posts down on your blog, should be considered any differently...

    John Campbell

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  3. Obviously, the Pope didn’t break anyone's kneecaps. Arguably, however, he is paying one group (disaffected Catholic-inclined Anglicans) to harm another group (the Church of England) by taking members out of action (i.e., out of the church). If you don’t see a similarity, I suppose, you don’t see it.

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    1. To carry the football analogy forward. We are all free agents who are not bound to our present team by any contract. We can sign up with any team that makes us an offer, at any time. This is an inexact analogy because the members aren't being offered a direct stipend to attend church.

      To be like the Saints the Pope would have to do something like sabatoge the rector's car on Sunday morning and invited the congregation to come over to his Church. This would give him a "competitive advantage."

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  4. Another issue with the analogy is that payment was the primary motivator for New Orleans Saints to injure players on the opposing team. Winning the game may have resulted from such injuries, but this is not what the bounty system was about; they were bing paid to inflict injuries, period. Not even the most cynical person would say the same about the Pope. He has not made his offer to disaffected Anglicans out of a desire to injure the Church of England. Depending on your perspective, injury may be a side effect, but it is not the primary purpose or goal of the offer.

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    1. New Orleans players already had incentives to win the game. Taking out players certainly contributed to winning (and perhaps even to winning future games).

      Admittedly, the Pope does not primarily want to harm the Church of England. His invention of the Ordinariate, however, necessarily has that effect. It may matter to the Pope that he does not primarily want to harm the Church of England. It surely does matter to the Church of England. Harm is harm, irrespective of the intention behind it.

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  5. I simply can't imagine that the pope's actions will have any consequence. That's the funny thing about the whole Ordinariate: it amounts to close to nothing. The RC Church gains a few old C of E converts, The CoE looses a few old tiresome priests and a couple of bishops, and then we all get on with life. In the end, a bad move by the pope perhaps, (handled rather graciously by Rowen I thought) but all of it is barely a blip on the big screen..

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  6. Bad analogy, Lionel. I don't see the similarity at all.

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  7. All right, already. I thought there was an interesting connection here. If others don’t see it, they don’t see it. I wasn’t claiming any earthshaking insight.

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