Posts Tagged “australia”

St Patrick's Cathedral-Gothic Revival Style (East Side)The Australian state of Victoria has been investigating child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church there. As part of this investigation, Cardinal George Pell, current Archbishop of Sydney and former Archbishop of Melbourne, was questioned by the committee. As The Australian reports, he admitted at least some of what many of us had long suspected, but which most hierarchs had avoided saying (WebCite cached article):

Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric has taken the stage today as the final witness for the Victorian inquiry into how religious and non-government organisations have responded to sexual abuse claims.

Cardinal Pell said while he had personally never covered up offending, it had largely escaped the view of church officials who didn’t know what a “mess” they were presiding over.…

Cardinal Pell agreed under questioning that the fear of scandal led to a cover-up.

“The primary motivation would have been to respect the reputation of the church.

“There was a fear of scandal.”

About the victims, Pell made this excuse we’ve heard already from other hierarchs:

“Many in the church did not understand just what damage was being done to the victims. We understand that better now.”

The hierarchs who’ve said similar, if not identical, things are Rembert Weakland, former Arcbishop of Milwaukee, and Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archbishop of Los Angeles.

The Age of Melbourne offers this video of Cardinal Pell being questioned (cached):

Interestingly, Pell further conceded that the practice of priest shuffling led to additional pedophilic crimes having been committed. But, I must also note that Pell engaged in a little excuse-making, as described in the Australian article:

“If we’d been gossips, which we weren’t … we would have realised earlier just how widespread this business was,” Cardinal Pell said.

This is, of course, nowhere near a valid excuse. If an allegation had been made against a priest that appears to have some weight, it wouldn’t be “gossip” to warn other bishops about him; rather, it’d be “prudent” to do so. I guess I’ll have to add “We’re not gossips!” to the long list of the Church’s sniveling excuses for why it chose not to deal with child abuse by its clergy.

At any rate, what Pell said to the Victoria inquiry is remarkable in its candor, even if he did punctuate it with an excuse or two. Would that more R.C. hierarchs had been as candid.

Hat tip: Red Prince at Pulling to the Left forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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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?

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JESUS SAVESChristians are a remarkably immature bunch. They think nothing of advertising their beliefs to anyone and everyone, all the time, everywhere; they missionize, they distribute tracts, they put up signs (including bright neon signs), they hold up placards at sporting events, and more. Yet — they seem to think no other types of believers are allowed to advertise their beliefs … and they especially hate when non-believers are the ones doing the advertising (going as far as to destroy non-believers’ signs and level death threats over them).

A sterling example of Christians’ attitude about other religions advertising, can be seen in this story by the Conservative Cybercast News Service about a Muslim group’s ad campaign in Australia (WebCite cached article):

“Jesus: A prophet of Islam” states the provocative tagline in a “public awareness” advertising campaign launched by a Muslim group in Australia’s largest city.

The group, calling itself Mypeace, says its aim is to inform, not offend – but offend it has, with one Catholic bishop calling the assertion about Jesus “a direct assault on Christian beliefs.”

So advertising is “a direct assault”? Seriously? Sorry, bishop, but no. A punch in the face is “a direct assault.” Someone advertising their beliefs, is not. It is, instead, free speech. Something Christians think only they should have, and everyone else must be silent, because they can’t tolerate the idea that there might be a non-Christian lurking around somewhere, trying to destroy them or something.

Christians who think this way — and that would be nearly all of them — are not only being childish, they’re fucking hypocrites. But remarkably, Jesus Christ himself clearly, explicitly and unambiguously forbid his followers — without exception — ever to be hypocritical. His multiple condemnations of hypocrisy in all its forms are both unmistakable and unequivocal. Any offended Christians, including the quoted Julian Porteous, auxiliary bishop for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, need to fucking grow the hell up for the first time in their sniveling little lives, and accept that there are non-Christians in the world, and they do not, in fact, have to be silent and unseen, just to keep Christians happy.

Another note to Christians: Just because you consider Jesus Christ to have been “the Son of God,” does not mean everyone else on the planet is required to think the same thing about him. This means Muslims are free to consider him a mere “prophet” if they wish to. What right do any of you have to control what other people think about Jesus?

Photo credit: Songkran.

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Power BalanceMaybe you’ve heard of “Power Balance” bracelets … silicone bands with “hologram technology” that lots of prominent athletes have begun wearing. Advertising for the product claims “Power Balance is based on the idea of optimizing the body’s natural energy flow, similar to concepts behind many Eastern philosophies. The hologram in Power Balance is designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.” The problem is, there is no such thing as a “natural energy flow” within the body. No one has found it, no one has documented it, no one has measured it; it does not exist. These bracelets are, basically, bullshit.

Although the company has had little trouble selling its product in large numbers, based on celebrity examples and woo claims, officials in Australia investigated and ordered them off the market. In addition, the (New York) Daily News reports that, as part of its response to this injunction, the company has had to make a rather stunning, explicit admission (WebCite cached article):

Shaquille O’Neal and David Beckham may want their money back after the company behind the Power Balance bracelet admitted to an Australian court that there is no proof to back up its claims that it improves athletic performance.

“We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims,” Power Balance, LLC said in a statement.

Of course, even after having made this admission to an Australian court, the company insists the contrary, that its product works:

Taking to its Twitter account, Power Balance, LLC defended its product and posted tweets from customers who still believe in the bracelet’s abilities.

“don’t believe what u hear. We stand by our products. (our trainers did test on us and we saw a difference in wearing them),” the company tweeted.

They can get away with this disingenuousness, because the buying masses are stupid enough to fall for it.

Congratulations to Australia for taking on these insidious peddlers of woo and nonsense.

Photo credit: PoweredByLarios.

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A frame from Fitna, a short film by Geert Wilders, Dutch MP, condemning Islamist extremism, showing Surah 8, verse 60 of the QuranDutch politician Geert Wilders has been something of an anti-Muslim firebrand. One of my first blog posts, over two years ago, was about the release of his short movie Fitna, which condemns Islamist extremism. Wilders has found some acclaim in the Netherlands and is slated to take part in its government. On the cusp of this development, a Muslim cleric in Australia has called for him to be beheaded, as Reuters explains (WebCite cached article):

A well-known Australian Muslim cleric has called for the beheading of Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders, a newspaper said on Friday. …

Wilders demanded to know why he had learnt about the threat from the newspaper and not from Dutch authorities who are guarding him after a film and remarks he made angered Muslims around the world.

De Telegraaf, the Netherlands’ largest newspaper, led its front page on Friday with a story on the speech by Feiz Muhammad.

In case you wanted to see it, here is De Telegraaf‘s story (with cached version and in Google translation to English).

The reason Wilders was not notified by the Netherlands government may have something to do with the fact that they’ve been going after him for his criticism of Islam:

Wilders is currently on trial in the Netherlands for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.

The Freedom Party leader made a film in 2008 which accused the Koran of inciting violence and mixed images of terrorist attacks with quotations from the Islamic holy book.

Wilders was also charged because of outspoken remarks in the media, such as an opinion piece in a Dutch daily in which he compared Islam to fascism and the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf.”

Yes, he’s being prosecuted for his rhetoric. Not only have Muslims like Feiz Muhammad launched fatwas against him, his own government is on his case too. Terrific.

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This target has been hit twice at the top with one near miss at the bottom right.I suppose that psychics missing their targets is not really news. It happens all the time; I’ve blogged on various such things before, including one example of this phenomenon which disrupted people’s lives. The problem is that “miss” stories are not really newsworthy enough to get any attention. The latest one I’ve come across is this story from Australia, reported by the (UK) Sun (WebCite cached article):

A “psychic” hunting the body of a missing child found the headless torso of an adult woman instead. …

Aboriginal elder Cheryl said: “I had a dream about a little girl being murdered and that her body was about here.”

So the psychic was wrong. Nevertheless, authorities couldn’t seem to just come right out and admit it; instead we have some equivocating:

Det Chief Insp Pamela Young said: “It’s interesting that a woman had a feeling it was worth coming to this particular part of the park.”

You may find it “interesting,” Detective, if perhaps you’re wondering whether the “psychic’s” information hadn’t come from a more mundane source, such as genuine knowledge about the crime (such as having directly seen the dumping of the body, or having been told about it from a witness). I have to wonder, however, if maybe you’re trying to justify having examined the area on the say-so of a “psychic,” only to find something other than what was reported to you.

Authorities have no business taking “psychics'” tips seriously, as happened once — unfortunately — in Barrie, Ontario. (On that occasion, too, authorities attempted to rationalize leaping to action and targeting a family, merely on the word of a “psychic.”)

Beyond that, however, other folks appear also to have no problem whatsoever shoehorning this “psychic’s” tip into the actual discovery; take for example this comment on the Sun article (scroll down the page a bit):

Wether you believe in here soothsayer skills or not, she pointed them to where a body was. Still pretty impressive. Unless of course there are bodies strewn in ponds and lakes all over the country and the chances of finding one is nearly 100%.

Let’s be perfectly clear on this: The “psychic” said she had dreamed about “a little girl being murdered”; this dream also revealed that this particular girl’s body would be found at the spot in question. The “psychic” did not have some amorphous dream about some sort of female person being murdered and dumped there … her dream was, specifically, about “a little girl.” Not about “a woman.”

The psychic was wrong. Period. End of discussion. No amount of rationalizing or shoehorning can change that.

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A caveman hanging out with a dinosaurSome Australian Pentescostalists have absconded with education in Queensland, and have begun a laughable effort to swindle school children there into believing absurdities, such as that humans and dinosaurs had once coexisted. News.Com.Au reports on their campaign of ignorance (WebCite cached article):

Primary school students are being taught that man and dinosaurs walked the Earth together and that there is fossil evidence to prove it.

Fundamentalist Christians are hijacking Religious Instruction (RI) classes in Queensland despite education experts saying Creationism and attempts to convert children to Christianity have no place in state schools.

Students have been told Noah collected dinosaur eggs to bring on the Ark, and Adam and Eve were not eaten by dinosaurs because they were under a protective spell.

The Pentecostalists stooped to incredible absurdities in order to withstand any objections that might be thrown at them, such as in the following story:

A parent of a Year 5 student on the Sunshine Coast said his daughter was ostracised to the library after arguing with her scripture teacher about DNA.

“The scripture teacher told the class that all people were descended from Adam and Eve,” he said.

“My daughter rightly pointed out, as I had been teaching her about DNA and science, that ‘wouldn’t they all be inbred’?

“But the teacher replied that DNA wasn’t invented then.”

Really, these people have no shame … and no minds of their own, either.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith blog.

Photo credit: dewalt.

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