Archive for February, 2009

The Vatican is still smarting over its support for the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson and is still highly sensitive to any criticism over the matter. A parody on Israeli TV has sparked outrage from the Holy See, because like little children, they cannot take what their own minions dish out (as reported by the AP):

The Vatican said Friday it has formally complained to the Israeli government about a private Israeli TV show that ridiculed Jesus and Mary in an “offensive act of intolerance.”

In Israel, the television station assured the Israeli foreign ministry that the segment would not be shown again and that its host, well-known Israeli comedian Lior Shlein, had apologized.

In the program, Shlein sarcastically denied Christian traditions — that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus walked on water — saying he was doing so as a “lesson” to Christians who deny the Holocaust.

It was a reference to the Vatican’s recent lifting of the excommunication of a bishop who denied 6 million Jews were killed during World War II. The rehabilitation sparked outrage among Jews.

Now that it is willingly harboring a known Holocaust denier, the Vatican is hardly in any position to whine about anyone else’s “intolerance.” Of course, the Pope could have demonstrated that he took the matter of Williamson’s Holocaust-denial seriously, by firing or re-excommunicating him … but to date he has refused.

Note to Benedict XVI: Turnabout is fair play. Deal with it … or not. The choice is yours.

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The Drudge Report this morning relayed the breathless headline from the [UK] Sun:

Is this Atlantis?

Google Oceans photo of the supposed Atlantis, found at the UK Sun
Map from Atlantis … spotted on ocean floor

THIS is the amazing image which could show the fabled sunken city of Atlantis.

It shows a perfect rectangle the size of Wales lying on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean nearly 3½ miles down.

A host of criss-crossing lines, looking like a map of a vast metropolis, are enclosed by the boundary.

They seem too vast and organised to be caused naturally.

Gee, it’s nice to see a newspaper decide things based on how they “seem.” We all know that things must always be the way they “seem,” don’t we? The earth certainly “seems” flat on most occasions … so I guess that’s how it must be, no?

Fortunately there is a ready explanation for this, as reported by CNET:

It pains me to say that I am the winkler of bad tidings. For I have discovered the words of one of those excitement dampeners employed by Google official job title “spokesperson.” …

“In this case, what users are seeing is an artifact of the data collection process. Bathymetric (or sea-floor terrain) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the sea-floor…The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data. The fact that there are blank spots between each of these lines is a sign of how little we really know about the world’s oceans.”

Whew! It’s good to know that “seems” still does not equal “veracity,” and that critical thinking is still alive and well somewhere in the vast, increasingly-credulous world of the mass media.

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Conservative columnist Rod Dreher wrote a piece for USA Today’s “On Religion” blog which is about as reprehensible a piece of journalism as I have ever seen. He actually believes that, because knowing the truth about a religious organization can break its followers’ faith, it is best for them to know nothing about that group’s corruption (in the piece, he speaks here of Father Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic priest who vociferously defended his Church over its cover-up of the priestly-pedophilia scandal some years ago):

The details of the Catholic sex abuse scandal nearly destroyed my Christian faith. In a painful spiritual epiphany, I learned that the whole truth does not always deliver a greater good. …

Are there things people don’t need to know? I do not believe Father Neuhaus was a cynic; he really did believe that there were certain things that ought to be concealed from the public for the greater good. And though it might be heresy for a journalist to say, as a matter of general principle, I agree with him.

Here is the comment I posted, in response, on that blog entry:

It is staggering that a journalist could actually argue that an active cover-up of definitely-immoral and possibly-illegal activity, within a large multinational organization — with complicity going on at all levels of said organization — is actually a good thing.

Sorry but I do not get it. Dreher needs to resign as a journalist and never work in that field again, if he truly believes this. Moreover, any religion that demands its believers never question it — as Dreher believes the Catholic Church requires, and which he believes to be a spiritual benefit to its followers — is not one to which any moral human being ought belong.

It’s absolutely pathetic the depths people will dive into, in order to maintain and rationalize their religious beliefs. If religiosity can overcome a journalist’s own desire to uncover the truth of human affairs, then it is something that humanity can and must reject and learn to do without. Immediately.

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The government of Argentina has looked into the raving lunatic Bishop Richard Williamson, and decided he no longer should be in their country, as CNN reports:

Bishop Richard Williamson, who last month denied the existence of the Holocaust in an interview with Swedish television, was ordered Thursday to leave Argentina within 10 days, the Ministry of Interior said.

“The bishop has repeatedly forged the true motive for his stay in the country, having declared that he is an employee of ‘La Tradicion’ Civil Society when, in reality, his true activity was as priest and seminary director of the Society of Saint Pius X in the neighborhood of Moreno,” Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said in a written statement. …

“Williamson has had public notoriety following his anti-Semitic statements to Swedish media in which he questioned whether Jewish people were victims of the Holocaust,” Randazzo continued.

“For these reasons, along with the strong condemnation from the Argentine government of how statements like these harm Argentine society, the Jewish community, and all of humanity by trying to deny a historic truth, the national government has decided to demand that the Bishop leave the country or be expelled.”

Please note the initial reason given for Williamson’s expulsion: that he had come to Argentina under false pretenses. How nice of a Catholic bishop — someone whose morals, ethics and conduct should be above reproach — to have defrauded a country in his immigration papers. I’m not quite sure why a Catholic cleric, even an excommunicated one, would have needed to conceal his affiliation in a Latin American country, since the Roman Catholic Church has a massive presence in that part of the world, and lots of controversial clerics live there. It might have made more sense, had he done so in a country hostile to the Catholic church or to religious folks generally, such as China.

Given no apparent reason for his dishonesty, one must again wonder what it is that the Vatican sees in Williamson.

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One would think that the United States in the 21st century is immune to phenomena such as honor killings — but that, as it turns out, is just not the case (as Reuters reports):

The founder of a U.S. Muslim television network has been arrested and charged with murdering his wife by beheading her, the network’s Web site and local media reported.

Muzzammil Hassan, founder and CEO of Buffalo, N.Y.-based Bridges TV which launched in 2004 with a mission to show Muslims in a more positive light, was charged after reporting the death of his wife, Aasiya Hassan, 37, on Thursday night.

After Hassan, 44, told police his wife was at the Bridges TV offices, in the village of Orchard Park, they found her body there, beheaded, The Buffalo News reported.

Hassan, notably, is originally from Pakistan, that hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism which recently capitulated to the Taliban and will be making the barbaric shari’a law legal. An added irony here is that Hassan had founded his TV network as a way of making Islam look good to Americans. Too bad he managed to live down to everyone’s expectations.

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The situation is worse than we’d thought, about Bishop Richard Williamson. He might already sound like a Holocaust-denying kook, but as this New York Times Lede blog entry reports, his views are even loonier than that (WebCite cached article). Among them:

1. Women should be barred from universities, because “true universities are for ideas, ideas are not for true girls, so true universities are not for true girls”

2. The September 11, 2001 terror attacks were staged (I guess this makes him a 9/11 truther?)

3. God allowed the Muslims to conquer Spain in the 8th century to punish “slack Catholics” there

4. Jews have used the Vatican II reforms to achieve world domination

Read the Lede blog entry for details on all of these, and also to see Williamson denying the Holocaust on Swedish television.

I’m not sure what’s worse, that he’s as insane as he sounds, or that there is actually an organization that ever made this guy a bishop (as schismatic Archishop Lefebvre and the Society of St Pius X did).

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By now you’ve probably heard about the Holocaust-denying erstwhile-renegade Catholic bishop who, a few weeks ago, was reinstated into Catholicism by the Vatican, along with the rest of the group known as the Society of St Pius X. The SSPX (as it has been acronymed) was founded in opposition to a number of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and therefore was an ultra-conservative group. The reconciliation between the Vatican and the SSPX last month had been the culmination of many years of negotiation and discussion.

Bishop Richard Williamson, originally from the UK but living and working more recently in Argentina (not coincidentally, Latin America tends to be ultra-conservative in its Catholicism, thus the SSPX had been at home there) has denied the Holocaust on multiple occasions, and very publicly. This speaks to the heart of the rift between the SSPX and the Roman Catholic Church, because one of the canons of II Vatican to which the renegades had objected, had been the doctrinal denial of collective Jewish guilt for the crucifixion of Christ. While the SSPX did not make much of this particular aspect of the Vatican reforms, it did acquire something of a taint of anti-Semitism nonetheless — an accusation which the group has denied, but cannot seem to shake, especially since the Holocaust-denier Williamson ranked so highly in their organization.

In its effort to reconcile with the SSPX as a group, the Vatican appears not to have investigated the individual members of SSPX, though, since it was caught off-guard over Williamson’s Holocaust denials. After a couple weeks of trying to act as if there was no controversy, the Vatican finally ordered Williamson to recant his Holocaust denials, as the Boston Globe reports:

The Vatican, facing the biggest controversy to confront the papacy of Benedict XVI, yesterday called on a bishop who has denied the extent of the Holocaust to recant his views. …

The Vatican’s action yesterday came in the form of a statement from its secretary of state’s office. The statement said that Benedict was unaware of Williamson’s comments — some of which were made recently on Swedish television, but some of which date back much further — when he decided to lift the excommunication. The statement also said that in order for the Society of St. Pius X to be fully reconciled with the Vatican, it must accept the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which include the church’s renunciation of anti-Semitism.

Sounds good, but to date, Williamson has not done so, and is resisting having to do so, as Deutsche Welle reports:

A bishop recently rehabilitated by Pope Benedict XVI said he want to “examine the evidence” of the Holocaust before possibly recanting his statement that no Jews died in Nazi gas chambers, a German newsmagazine reported.

Even as Vatican officials were working to control the damage caused by Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to rehabilitate a Richard Williamson, a bishop who denied the Holocaust in an interview, with papal meetings and inter-faith dialogue, Williamson told Germany’s Der Spiegel news weekly he needed time to scrutinize data surrounding the Holocaust.

Note that this rhetoric is very typical of Holocaust-deniers. They frequently claim to have “examined the evidence” but they are simply not persuaded by it; if anyone gives them more evidence — they claim — they are certainly willing to change their views. Only they never do — no matter what evidence they’re given. Thus, they posture as though they are somehow “open-minded,” but never actually behave as though they are.

But Williamson was not directed by the Vatican to re-examine the evidence and reach a new conclusion; rather he was told explicitly and plainly to repudiate his Holocaust denials and reject anti-Semitism. He is not obeying the Pope. As a clergyman newly restored to the Church’s graces, it is a violation of his vows as a priest not to obey.

This in turn led SSPX to fire him from the seminary they’d set up, as the BBC reports:

An ultra-traditionalist British bishop who denies the Holocaust has been removed from his post as the head of a Roman Catholic seminary in Argentina. …

In a statement, the head of the Latin American chapter of the Society of St Pius X, which runs the seminary in La Reja, said Bishop Williamson had been relieved of his position as director.

My guess is that the SSPX, newly accorded with the Vatican, will dump Williamson altogether, unless he stops being a good little Holocaust denier, because right now the SSPX’s standing depends on his doing so.

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