Judging by the comments, it would appear that I wasn't as clear in my last post as I should have been. I apologize. Let me try again.
I think I'd have a few questions for this pope. Like, "What about over-population, Ratzi dear? What's the devout Catholic plan for dealing with that rather serious environmental issue?" and "Hey, have you noticed all those hell-holes of destruction in Africa? How does catholicism help people achieve economic and individual autonomy, huh?"
I read that as covering two separate points: overpopulation, and the major problems faced by African (and by implication other developing world countries). Some of you appear to have read both as dealing only with birth control, and, since I just plain forgot to get back to the topic of birth control in the original post, I added to the confusion by never actually saying anything about at least half of what I was criticizing. I was also far too vague with the bulk of my complaints - a different form of intellectual laziness than what I was criticizing, but intellectual laziness nonetheless. Again, I apologize.
With regard to environmentalism and birth control:
Overpopulation is an environmental issue, and it's one that the Catholic Church's policies contribute to. I don't think it's the single most pressing problem we face, and I think that it would be entirely possible (in theory) to reach zero (or even negative) population growth while still wrecking the environment. At the same time, there are many environmental problems that have been caused largely by the conduct of the developed nations, which continue to grow worse because of that conduct, and which can be addressed separately from population issues.
I do not think it's unreasonable to criticize the Church's position on birth control, or to point out the long-term environmental harm overpopulation can cause. But if you honestly think that the Pope's position on birth control is enough to disqualify him from talking about environmental issues alone, then you're being just as asinine and small minded as the right wingers who said that Al Gore has no authority to speak on environmental issues because he flies around a lot to talk about the environment. Please. Being part of the problem at the same time you're trying to be part of the solution is a basic human characteristic.
The second part of PZ's response to the Pope ("Hey, have you noticed all those hell-holes of destruction in Africa?") is something that I still read as being a separate issue from the birth control one. If PZ took the time to look, he'd be able to see that the answer to that question is, in fact, "yes." The Vatican has involved itself in things like trying to reach a peaceful solution in Darfur. The pope met with the President of Sudan, and suggested that the Church could, "make a positive contribution in Sudan, especially in the field of education."
As to the next question - "How does catholicism help people achieve economic and individual autonomy, huh?" - I'd have to say that Catholic theology does not, in and of itself. Catholic schools, hospitals, and relief supply distribution efforts, on the other hand, can, do, and have.
Here, again, I think there's plenty of room for criticism of what the Church has done and is doing. Motivations, effectiveness, how much more (or less) they could and should be doing, to what extent their efforts at solutions are part of the problem - as far as I'm concerned, all of that is fair game. But suggesting that the Pope isn't aware of the problems at all - which is what PZ did - is not either a fair or reasonable criticism.
I hope that makes my problems with what PZ wrote clearer. I said that it was characteristic of blinkered vision because that's exactly what I think was going on here. I've known Paul for a while now, and I do not honestly think that he'd ever let an opponent get away with that sort of argument. For that matter, I don't think he'd let a friend get away with it.
This brings me to my final point - one that's not at all connected to my disagreement with PZ:
PZ Myers and I have inhabited the same parts of the intertubes for over a decade at this point. In that time, I've found that I agree with him more often than I do not. Slightly more often. This post hardly marks the first time I've publicly disagreed with him on something, and I strongly doubt it will be the last. I have not ever manufactured a disagreement with him in order to get traffic, and the day I do will be the day I stop blogging because I'll know that I'm taking it far too seriously.
However, those of you who think I am doing this for traffic gain are more than welcome to come over here, add to my traffic, comment, add more to my traffic, and check back for responses, adding to my traffic every step along the way. Whatever floats your boat.