Posts Tagged “vatican”

Benedict XVI in FatimaThe latest example of what I like to refer to as “the Christian martyr complex” comes in this pronouncement by Pope Benedict XVI. The Catholic News Service reports that the Holy Father has declared Christianity — and even religion itself — to be in danger of extinction (WebCite cached article):

Christianity and even religious belief are in grave danger across the globe, risking oblivion, Pope Benedict XVI said.

“Across vast areas of the earth, faith runs the danger of extinguishing like a flame that runs out of fuel,” he said.

Last I knew, religious faith was still going strong. The vast majority of people in the world are religious, and while religious fervor is fading in a few places such as Europe, in most regions religion is going strong and is nowhere near dying out.

It almost goes without saying that, in those few places where religion is becoming less common, the Roman Catholic Church’s own conduct has very likely contributed to this trend. “Charity begins at home,” or so the saying goes, so maybe the Pope should look in his own mirror and figure out how he might try to reverse this trend that so alarms him? My guess is he’ll refuse to do so and continue to wail about the evils of “secular humanism,” rather than examine and ferret out the evils within his own Church.

The article includes an additional quote, though, which I find remarkable:

“Without faith, the whole ecumenical movement would be reduced to a form of ‘social contract’ that’s adhered to out of common interest,” the pope said.

I’m not quite sure what Benedict’s problem is with a “social contract” that people embrace “out of common interest.” Wouldn’t that be the best thing … for people to get along with each other, because it’s in their own best interest to get along? And isn’t this precisely how the Ethic of Reciprocity works — a principle which, ironically, none other than the founder of the Pope’s own religion promoted? If this is something Jesus taught, why would the Pope find it objectionable?

None of this should be news to any Vatican-watcher. As the clerical child-abuse scandal has hammered the Catholic Church around the world, the current Pope and his predecessor both staunchly refused to acknowledge any part in it; they both tried to prevent bishops from allowing abusive clergy to be investigated by local authorities; and Benedict remains committed to a policy of evading responsibility for it, becoming offended when he’s forced to face it. He could, in one moment, restore the credibility of his own Church — and by extension, that of Christianity and of religion generally — by dealing with the scandal in a contrite and moral manner. But he never will. Count on it.

Hat tip: CNN Belief Blog.

Photo credit: Catholic Church (England & Wales).

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94 Stephen's GreenIt appears the government of Ireland is unruffled by the Vatican’s recent rejection of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s condemnation of the Vatican over its attempts to prevent secular governments from prosecuting child-abusing clergy. Almost immediately after the Vatican’s fierce denial, CNN reports that Justice Minister Alan Shatter proposed a new law that would hit the Church particularly hard (WebCite cached article):

Ireland stepped up its battle with the Roman Catholic Church over child abuse Sunday, with Justice Minister Alan Shatter vowing to pass a law requiring priests to report suspicions of child abuse, even if they learn about them in confession.

The Catholic Church regards information learned in confession as completely confidential.

But under the law proposed by Shatter, priests could be prosecuted for failing to tell the police about crimes disclosed in the confession box.

Shatter said in a statement through a spokesman last week that priests’ failure to report what they learn in confession “that has led sexual predators into believing that they have impunity and facilitated pedophiles preying on children and destroying their lives.”

The R.C. Church considers the confessional to be more sacred than almost anything else, so it’s sure to resist this law. Furthermore, even outside the confessional, the Church is vehemently opposed to any kind of mandatory-reporting requirement. This was a key sticking point in the Vatican’s rejection of changes in procedure which had been contemplated by Irish bishops in the mid-90s, and specifically and explicitly condemned in the (now famous but then secret) letter to Ireland’s bishops in January of 1997 (available at the NY Times and on this server):

In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature.

Shatter’s proposal, then, is especially provocative, and it strikes at the very heart of how the Vatican wishes to operate. Good for him … and good for the Irish government.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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This image shows a copy of a newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, warning Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police, a disclosure that victims groups described as "the smoking gun" needed to show that the Vatican enforced a worldwide culture of cover-up. The letter documents the Vatican's rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland's first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits. Via the Globe and Mail.The aftermath of the Cloyne Report, about which I’ve blogged already, continues to play out, in Ireland and in Vatican City. The Vatican threw a fit, recalling their nuncio to Ireland because Taoiseach Enda Kenny dared call the Vatican out for its conduct in the clerical child-abuse scandal. This nuncial recall was, all by itself, a childish reaction to criticism, and showed how out-of-touch the Holy See is. But as is normal with the Holy See, it has not changed. The BBC reports that the Holy See once again has dug its heels in and remains firmly in denial that it could have done anything wrong (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican has rejected claims by Irish PM Enda Kenny that it sabotaged efforts by Irish bishops to report child-molesting priests to police. …

In a speech to parliament in July, Mr Kenny accused the Church of putting its reputation ahead of abuse victims.

The Vatican said it was “sorry and ashamed” over the scandal but said his claims were “unfounded”.

“The Holy See is deeply concerned at the findings of the commission of inquiry concerning grave failures in the ecclesiastical governance of the diocese of Cloyne,” said the Vatican, in a detailed response to the allegations [cached].

“The Holy See… in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne.”

“Furthermore, at no stage did the Holy See seek to interfere with Irish civil law or impede the civil authority in the exercise of its duties.”

The Vatican continues to claim innocence in spite of the discovery of a “smoking gun” document … a (then) secret letter to Ireland’s bishops in 1997 … which showed the Holy See had derailed efforts by those same bishops to cooperate more fully with secular authorities (cached). As the BBC article relates, the Vatican insists any such conclusion about the letter is a “misinterpretation”:

But the Holy See’s response, published on Saturday, said Mr Kenny’s blistering accusations were based on a misinterpretation of a 1997 Vatican letter expressing “serious reservations” about the Irish bishops’ 1996 policy requiring bishops to report abusers to police.

I challenge anyone to read this letter (available at the NY Times and on this server) and not conclude — rather than “interpret” — that it was intended to do anything other than prevent the sort of cooperation with local authorities that the Irish bishops had been contemplating in the mid-90s. It clearly and explicitly states that, for example, mandatory reporting requirements are, in papal eyes, canonically and morally problematic:

In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature.

What Irish bishop, reading this Vatican instruction, would fail to conclude that he should not follow mandatory reporting guidelines? Seriously?

Once again the Vatican demonstrates its proclivity to act in denialistic and juvenile fashion, continually refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing, even in light of demonstrable evidence of its own wrongdoing. The robed denizens of the Holy See — nearly all of them middle-aged or elderly — are far too old to be acting as childishly as this. It’s time for them to act their ages.

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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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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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Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and PaulI’ve already blogged about the slow response of the Philadelphia archdiocese to a grand jury report covering cases of abuse by its clergy. It took an entire month for them to finally get around to suspending some — but not all — those accused in the report of abusing children. This is staggering, since most companies or government agencies will usually suspend employees accused of crimes almost immediately, as a protective measure.

Since the report was issued, and especially after the suspension of some — but not all — the accused, folks have been asking if and when Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, would resign. Until now he and his archdiocese have resisted discussing his own fate, and it looked as though he’d remain in place, even though just a short time before the grand jury report was issued, he stated that he knew of no abuse cases in his see. (He must have known about the grand jury’s investigation, which endured for two years, at the time he made that statement … so he had no viable excuse for having made it.)

At long last, the Vatican finally decided to let him resign, as the Voice of America reports (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of the leader of the Roman Catholic archdiocese in the U.S. city of Philadelphia — which has faced accusations of covering up sexual abuse by priests.

The Vatican said Tuesday that Cardinal Justin Rigali’s departure was on the grounds of age. The 76-year-old Rigali submitted his resignation when he reached the traditional retirement age of 75, but the pope did not immediately act on it.

As for why the Vatican would hold out for so many months, for Rigali’s benefit, the VoA story offers a clue:

Rigali, a former bishop in St. Louis , spent decades as an official at the Vatican.

Hmm. Yes, it turns out Rigali is a Vatican insider!

I honestly must ask the question posed in the title of this blog post: Was it really so fucking hard to just get rid of Rigali? Seriously?

It seems the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal just won’t die … because the Roman Catholic hierarchs steadfastly refuse to meet it head-on, like grown men, and continue to try to sneak their way out of it, hoping each revelation is the last and that the world will somehow forget the horrors it has inflicted on so many children around the world. But, as everyone knows, scandals like this never die on their own. They need to be dealt with substantively … and until they do, they just linger on forever. Yes, it takes courage to do so, courage which is rare if not non-existent these days. The Catholic Church is run by cowards … and every minute of every day that they allow this scandal to keep going on, they prove it.

Photo credit: elPadawan.

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Cosmological Models: Disquisitiones MathematicaeIt’s now the 21st century, and by now people are well-acquainted with the fact that our solar system is heliocentric (i.e. the sun, not the earth, is at its center). Of course, the Catholic Church, in the 16th and 17th centuries, attempted to prevent the world from understanding this. The Vatican ultimately lost its war on science, even if men like Galileo Galilei paid the price for having dared speak up for the heliocentric principle.

While today one might assume the Catholic Church would prefer to move on and fight new battles against rationality, one would be very, very wrong to think so. Oh no. The Catholic battle against the heliocentric model has by no means been ended. The Chicago Tribune reports on a Catholic organization which teaches that the heliocentric model is a wicked, vile conspiracy, cooked up and propagated solely to undermine the Catholic Church’s authority (WebCite cached article):

A small group of conservative Roman Catholics is pointing to a dozen biblical verses and the Church’s original teaching as proof that the Earth is the center of the universe, the view that prompted Galileo Galilei’s clash with the Church four centuries ago.

The relatively obscure movement has gained a following among a few Chicago-area Catholics who find comfort in knowing there are still staunch defenders of original Church doctrine.

This parish belongs to a Catholic organization called the Society of St Pius X (or SSPX). They’re a paranoid bunch:

Indeed, those promoting geocentrism argue that heliocentrism, or the centuries-old consensus among scientists that the Earth revolves around the sun, is nothing more than a conspiracy theory to squelch the church’s influence.

“Heliocentrism becomes ‘dangerous’ if it is being propped up as the true system when, in fact, it is a false system,” said Robert Sungenis, leader of a budding movement to get scientists to reconsider. “False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions — thus the state of the world today. … Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world; and governments and academia were subservient to her.”

That rotten, stinking, horrible Galileo! He ruined everything!!! All by himself, he destroyed the “command of the world” which the Roman Catholic Church once enjoyed. How awful it must be for the poor, downtrodden Church not to run the show any more!

Boo fucking hoo hoo.

Some of their “proof” that the earth is the center of the universe is offered in the story:

There is proof in Scripture that the Earth is the center of the universe, Sungenis said. Among many verses, he cites Joshua 10:12-14 as definitive proof: “And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, while the nation took vengeance on its foe. … The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course.”

While it once had been a schismatic group, four of its bishops have been readmitted to the Church (cached article), so one would assume its teachings to be considered authoritative by the wider Church. Therefore this can’t be taken as the word of just a few screwy “fringe” Catholics with strange and deviant ideas.

Note that one of the aforementioned four un-excommunicated bishops, Richard Williamson, is — like the rest of his organization, apparently — a paranoid thinker. He’s denied the Holocaust on the grounds that it’s an attempt to elevate each Jew in the world to the status of messiah, as I’ve blogged previously. Yeah, SSPX is a really nice crew.

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

Photo credit: Vicious Bits.

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