Archive for July, 2011

Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Leanza has been called back to Rome to discuss the impact of the recent Cloyne Report / BBCI’ve already blogged about the damning Cloyne Report, and the justifiable anger of the Irish government over what it revealed about the Catholic hierarchy’s behavior.

A key element of the report, and which sparked so much ire, is this: In the midst of several Irish investigations into the abuse of children by Catholic clergy, it turns out that, as late as 2009, Ireland’s Catholic bishops were still actively protecting abusers, in spite of promises made as long ago as the 1990s that things had changed. The Vatican itself had, in a 1997 letter to Ireland’s bishops, intervened and specifically ordered them not to turn reported abuses over to secular authorities.

In other words, the cover-up went all the way to the very top echelons of the Catholic hierarchy.

One would think that the Roman Catholic Church — which ostensibly teaches the humility and contrition that Jesus demanded of his followers — would respond humbly and show some contrition over this. However, that’s precisely what they are not doing. In the wake of the documentary evidence of wrongdoing provided in the Cloyne Report, the Vatican continues to lie … insisting it never did anything wrong and never ordered bishops not to cooperate with secular authorities.

After Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny ripped the Vatican a new one the other day, the Holy See responded … by recalling their nuncio (ambassador) to Ireland. The BBC reports on this latest event in the history of Catholicism in the Emerald Isle (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican has recalled its special envoy in Ireland after a damning report on the Catholic Church’s handling of child abuse by priests.

Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Leanza has been called back to Rome to discuss the impact of the recent Cloyne Report. …

Vice-director of the Vatican press office Father Ciro Benedettini said the nuncio’s recall “should be interpreted as an expression of the desire of the Holy See for serious and effective collaboration with the (Irish) government”.

He added that it “denotes the seriousness of the situation and the Holy See’s desire to face it objectively and determinately.

“Nor does it exclude some degree of surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions.”

That last sentence is the real cause of this ambassadorial recall. Yes, folks, it’s true … the Vatican is so angry that the Irish government and people are (understandably) angry at the Church for what it did, that they’ve brought their nuncio home in protest! How dare the Taoiseach publicly condemn the Vatican for what it was shown to have done wrong! Why, that kind of insolent response just can’t be tolerated!

Fucking childish is what it is. And a fucking disgrace.

Photo credit: BBC.

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Christian Fascism in America: If Fascism Comes to America, It Will Come Wrapped in the Flag & Carrying the Cross Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National ArchivesAs if the government and people of Norway don’t have enough to deal with at the moment, America’s favorite no-longer-televised paranoid schizophrenic, Glenn Beck, felt the need to insult them by invoking a reductio ad Hitlerum against them. You see, one of the attack sites was a summer camp on Utøya Island run by Norway’s Labor Party. According to Gawker, Glennie thinks political camps are just horrific (WebCite cached article):

Today, on his stupid radio show, [Beck] compared the Norwegian Labor Party youth camp that was the site of a spree killing that left 76 people, most of them teenagers, dead, to the Hitler Youth:

There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler Youth. I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.

OK, so incendiary and insulting comments are something one expects from the Glennster. My guess is, he’s still enraged with the Norwegians because in 2009 they dared give the Nobel Peace Prize to Glennie’s mortal enemy, President Barack Obama. So really, I get that Beckie-boy would want to insult that country. Of course he would! He’s much too childish to be able to control his sanctimonious rage at anything and everything associated with Obama.

But there’s a problem with Glennie’s complaint about Norway’s Labor Party summer-camp … and Gawker also picked up on it. You see, guess what other political and ideological organization also hosts summer camps for kids? That’s right … a Tea Party outfit connected with none other than Glenn Beck himself (cached)! Yes, folks, even the Tea Partiers that Glennie so dearly loves, are guilty of doing the very same thing he condemns in Norway’s Labor Party!

Wow. Glenn Beck, a hypocrite? Whodathunkit?

Memo to Glennie: Since you’re such a devout Christian, I suggest you go open your Bible and read the parts of it where your own Jesus specifically, clearly, and unambiguously ordered you never to be hypocritical. Ever. Not at any time, and not for any reason. Try it just once. OK?

This despicable escapade reveals the morally and intellectually bankrupt nature of the Christofascist mindset, as depicted in this post’s graphic (above): “It’s not fascism when Christians do it.”

Photo credit: Austin Cline / About.Com.

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Saint Marys Cathedral, SydneyThe title of this post sounds like the tagline from some sort of anti-Catholic horror movie. But while what happened in Australia is indeed a horror — and although it sounds quite unbelievable — it’s not fiction at all, and it truly happened. The Catholic Church in that country even plans to apologize for it … so that it occurred is not even in question. ABC News (Australia) reports on the revolting practice of forced adoptions that happened in the mid-20th century (WebCite cached article):

The Catholic Church in Australia will today issue a national apology over past adoption practices that have been described as a “national disgrace”.

The apology has been prompted by an ABC investigation into claims of abuse and trauma in Newcastle.

What happened was not isolated or localized:

It is believed at least 150,000 Australian women had their babies taken against their will by some churches and adoption agencies between the 1950s and 1970s.

From the stories related in the article, it seems unwed teenage mothers were the targets of Catholic adoption agencies all around Australia, who were either coerced or manipulated into giving up their babies, so they’d be given to couples the Catholic Church there deemed “appropriate.” Sometimes this forced “giving up” occurred while they were still on the delivery table recovering from childbirth.

This revelation is not, apparently, all that shocking, as irregularities in Catholic adoptions were known to have happened as long as 11 years ago:

The Catholic Church’s adoption agency has previously apologised for misguided, unethical or unlawful practices, after an inquiry by a New South Wales Parliamentary committee in 2000.

Honestly, I hardly know what to say any more. Really. I shudder to think what other countries this same thing happened in. Ireland, after all, had the phenomenon of the Magdalene laundries … Catholic Church-run asylums where unwed mothers were essentially imprisoned, some for decades even after they’d been forced to give birth and forfeit their children. And that, too, occurred in the 20th century.

When is this going to end? How many more of these scandals are we going to hear about? What depths of depravity and illegality did the Catholic Church not stoop to in its unending quest to control people?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Anders Behring Breivik is seen in a screenshot from a 1,500 page web document which apparently shows his political views on Islam and Marxism. The document is entitled "2083 - A European Declaration of Independence." Source: 2083 - A European Declaration / Screenshot. Courtesy of International Business Times.I blogged yesterday about the discovery that the Oslo and Utøya island attacks in Norway was the work of a single domestic terrorist, and not of a cadre of Middle Eastern Islamofascists. I also noted that early reports indicated the attacker, Anders Behring Breivik, may be a Christian fundamentalist.

For the record, I still am not sure to what extent his religion per se inspired him to do what he did. It’s clear, however, that he despised Muslims, feared they would take over his native country and all of Europe within decades, and wanted them out before they destroyed western civilization.

In other words, he is a Neocrusader.

The New York Times offers a profile that explains his thinking on the subject (WebCite cached article):

The Norwegian man charged Saturday with a pair of attacks in Oslo that killed at least 92 people left behind a detailed manifesto outlining his preparations and calling for a Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination, according to Norwegian and American officials familiar with the investigation. …

In the 1,500-page manifesto, posted on the Web hours before the attacks, Mr. Breivik recorded a day-by-day diary of months of planning for the attacks, and claimed to be part of a small group that intended to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.”

He predicted a conflagration that would kill or injure more than a million people, adding, “The time for dialogue is over. We gave peace a chance. The time for armed resistance has come.”

Breivik claims, in his manifesto, to be part of a small group, although he names no one else and is strangely vague about his supposed cohorts:

The document also describes a secret meeting in London in April 2002 to reconstitute the Knights Templar, a Crusader military order. It says the meeting was attended by nine representatives of eight European countries, evidently including Mr. Breivik, with an additional three members unable to attend, including a “European-American.”

There are rumors he may have had an accomplice in the attacks, but so far, authorities haven’t been able to confirm this. The existence of any of his claimed cohorts has yet to be confirmed.

Breivik’s fear of Islam undermining and destroying Europe and the west is shared by many Neocrusaders here in the US, and by European pundits and politicians such Mark Steyn and Geert Wilders. However, this fear is not couched in reality. According to the research of the Pew Forum (cached), the proportion of Muslims worldwide will only grow from 23.4% in 2010 to 26.4% in 2030 — incredibly modest by comparison with extreme claims that the world will become majority-Muslim in only a slightly longer time frame.

At this point it sure looks as though Breivik was motivated more by his own apparent mental illness than anything else. However, his illness seems to have latched onto this anti-Muslim fervor, and he bought into it so completely that he was willing to kill innocents over it, and — if his manifesto is to be believed — to martyr himself for it.

Allow me to be very, very clear here: At this point I am not willing to claim Breivik’s religiosity drove him to this. Nor am I blaming what he did on people like Steyn, Wilders, or any other Neocrusader. What I am saying is no more nor less than what I said in the previous paragraph: He seems to have latched onto this raging anti-Muslim fervor, and coupled with his apparent mental illness, this became an impulse to kill and possibly be killed. At the very least, it’s time we all take a serious look at these anti-Muslim Neocrusading scare campaigns. Is it really worthwhile to keep up them up?

Photo credit: 2083- A European Declaration (Screenshot) via International Business Times.

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Evacuated Apartment building: Armed police from the emergency squad was Friday night action against the apartment that the arrested 32-year-old put in Oslo. All the neighbors were evacuated and the press were told to pull away. Photo: Frode HansenThe twin terror attacks in Norway yesterday were horrific beyond description. As is quite understandable in such cases — since they’ve been behind many other terror attacks in Europe in recent years, e.g. the March 11, 2004 bombings in Madrid and the July 7, 2005 attack in London — the immediate assumption was that Islamofascist terrorists had been behind this. Apparent confirmation of this assumption came when a previously-unheard-of jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attacks, as reported widely yesterday, and as included, for example, in this New York Times story on the attacks (WebCite cached article):

Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks. American officials said the group was previously unknown and might not even exist.

But it turns out this atrocity may not have been carried out by Islamofascist terrorists. Norway’s Verdens Gang and other outlets are reporting, now, that there’s only one suspect for both the Oslo bombing and the Utøya shootings, and it’s a Norwegian nationalist (WebCite cached version; translation to English courtesy of Google Translate, presented as-is):

VG has received confirmation from several independent sources that it was Anders Behring Breivik, who was arrested by armed police after the mass killings of Utøya Friday. VG was also present when the emergency squad took action against the flat 32-year-old susceptible west of Oslo. Several foreign media have also named Breivik as the perpetrator.

A profile of the reportedly-nationalistic Breivik is also available courtesy of the (UK) Telegraph (cached):

The blond-haired 32-year-old appears to have set up accounts on the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter just a few days ago.

Although police have not officially named Breivik as the suspect, Norwegian media identified him as the gunman. Police say the suspect is talking to police and was keen to “explain himself”.

In a remarkable twist on the original assumption that Islamist terrorists had been behind these attacks, it seems Breivik may be a Christian fundamentalist instead:

On the Facebook page attributed to him, Mr Breivik describes himself as a Christian and a conservative. It listed his interests as hunting, body building and freemasonry. His profile also listed him as single. The page has since been taken down. …

Police officials have also said that the suspect appeared to have posted on websites with Christian fundamentalist tendencies.

I should caution that it’s far too early yet to be sure of Breivik’s motives. But Norwegian authorities are certain that he is the culprit, and are equally sure that Islamism had nothing to do with it. Whether or not this is an example of Christian terrorism … well, at the moment it seems a possibility, but that’s about it.

Photo credit: Verdens Gang / Frode Hansen.

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First Assembly of God, Torrington, CT / Stay cool with Jesus sign / Mike Angogliati / Torrington Register-CitizenI know I’m going to get complaints about this, so let me straighten this out, right at the start. There are many sorts of “terror” in the world. Only a little of it is what we generally connect with the word “terror” — i.e. suicide hijackers and abortion-clinic bombers. By using the word “terror” in the title of this post, I am not, by any means, asserting any kind of equivalence among these events. “Terror” does not always mean “killing many innocent bystanders at once.” Many sorts of threats can constitute “terror,” even if those threats are never manifested in violence. There are degrees of terror, some much worse than others. But still, they all remain “terror” in some way or another.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. Most Christians — especially of the fundamentalist sort — will not accept this as an example of “terrorism.” They don’t view it that way, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything other than a form of terror by threat.

The nearby Torrington Register-Citizen ran a story today about the heatwave which is gripping much of the country (WebCite cached article). It included a picture of a Torrington church’s sign:

MIKE AGOGLIATI / Register Citizen / A sign of the times. This sign at the First Assembly of God Church on New Harwinton Road offers advice for keeping cool in the summer heat. 'Think it's hot here? Imagine Hell.'

Mike Agogliati / Register Citizen / A sign of the times. This sign at the First Assembly of God Church on New Harwinton Road offers advice for keeping cool in the summer heat. Their 'loving' message? 'Think it's hot here? Imagine Hell.'

I can think of no better example of what is wrong with fundamentalist / evangelical Christianity, than this sign. It carries the threat of this particular religion, which claims that, if one fails to believe precisely what it teaches, one will be condemned to an eternity of torment.

Those who adhere to this sort of thinking haven’t the slightest clue how horrific it is. To them, it’s “fact,” and its ramifications don’t matter to them. They do not realize theirs is a campaign of terror: “Believe what we order you to believe, or you will FRY with the Satan’s demons in ‘the Lake of Fire’!”

Consider if what they believe is true … that their angry, sin-hating, almighty God will condemn people to eternal torment merely because of what they happen to believe. Why should mere “belief” provide relief from eternal perdition? What being worth worshipping should care so much about what the beings he ostensibly loves “believe” rather than what they “do” or what they “are”? How does this sort of threat differ from any other kind of extortion?

To put it bluntly — it doesn’t. It’s a threat. Nothing more, nothing less. Any being who feels the need to threaten people, in order to coerce their adoration and worship, is not worth adoring or worshipping. Period.

Photo credit: Mike Agogliati / Torrington Register Citizen.

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Irish Times / Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Cloyne report told 'a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children'Just under a week ago, I blogged about the release of the Cloyne Report into Catholic clerical abuse of children in that diocese. There’s been no small amount of furor over it in Ireland. Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny recently addressed the Dáil (or lower house of parliament) over it, as reported by RTÉ, and he minced few words in his condemnation of the Vatican (WebCite cached article):

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has strongly criticised the Vatican for what he said was an attempt to frustrate the Cloyne inquiry, accusing it of downplaying the rape of children to protect its power and reputation. …

Never before has a Taoiseach used such language in criticising the Catholic Church.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil that the Cloyne Report highlighted the ‘dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.’

The rape and torture of children had been downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, which are its power, standing and ‘reputation’.

The hierarchy had proved either unwilling or unable to address what he called the horrors uncovered in successive reports, a failure which he said must be devastating for so many good priests.

Mr Kenny said that the Catholic Church needed to be truly and deeply penitent for the wrongdoing it perpetrated, hid and denied.

Kenny all but accused the Vatican of being a criminal enterprise. Virtually every news outlet which has reported on the Taoiseach’s condemnation of the Vatican, has noted its vehement and unprecedented nature.

Another Irish official had similarly harsh words of a papal spokesman, based on the latter’s denials of Vatican wrongdoing:

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, speaking in a personal capacity, has said that there was nothing in the advice given by the Papal Nuncio in 1997 to encourage bishops to break Irish laws.

He said that the Vatican’s advice to Irish bishops on child protection policies could not be interpreted as an invitation to cover up abuse cases.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the comments were disingenuous and he said he expected a more considered, formal response from the Vatican.

The minister called Lombardi a liar. He had very good reason to. The Vatican’s 1997 order to Ireland’s bishops was most assuredly an instruction to cover up abuse.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Irish Times.

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