Posts Tagged ‘Roman Catholic Church’

Dovetail tools, bless 'em ...

I have almost no idea why two particular stories in today’s news dovetail in my mind, but for reasons perhaps only the severely disturbed might grasp, they do.

First is this piece on some little dudes who’ve managed to stay alive for … get this … 34,000 years.

It wasn’t long ago that a whole new life form was discovered, and here we are again learning that the impossible is … well … not.

“It was actually a very big surprise to me,” said Brian Schubert, who discovered ancient bacteria living within tiny, fluid-filled chambers inside the salt crystals.

Salt crystals grow very quickly, imprisoning whatever happens to be floating — or living — nearby inside tiny bubbles just a few microns across, akin to naturally made, miniature snow-globes.

“It’s permanently sealed inside the salt, like little time capsules,” said Tim Lowenstein, a professor in the geology department at Binghamton University and Schubert’s advisor at the time.

Ah … the stuff we don’t know until it bites us on the ass. (Okay, until science folks dedicated to the looking find. Not the same as an ass bite, sure, but it’s not like the stuff didn’t exist before the finding, is it?)

A quick mention of the fact that both these discoveries come out of California, as do I, and I’m liking that and trying to think of a clever link, but failing.

Perhaps because I’m so far out on the linking limb already in tying that story to this one titled: Is John Paul ll Being Fast-Tracked To Sainthood?

Sure, there’s a time thing they have in common … 34,000 years alive and six years dead … but that’s a stretch, isn’t it? Maybe it’s something to do with bacteria in general?

Or maybe it’s the whole miracle-makes-saint deal …

Pope Benedict XVI has recognized a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II, bringing the late pontiff one step from sainthood a mere six years after his death, the Vatican announced on Friday (Jan. 14).

By signing a decree accepting the miracle, Benedict completed one of most rapid beatifications in the modern history of the Catholic Church. Another miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession will be required before he can be declared a saint.

Where am I going with this? (That’s a question to self, btw.)

Let’s try this …

Some old git kicks it back in 2005, the crowd goes wild shouting “santo subito” in that We-are-all-individuals! sort of way and sets up a chain reaction that ignores the fact the dead guy was up to some nasty shit before biting the dust yet does manage to dig up a nun who started feeling better a couple of months later. Okay.

On the other side of the planet, life goes on as it has for the last 34,000 years within some salt crystals.

Both stories make today’s news. One is no surprise at all while the other is an astonishing discovery. One adds to the body of human knowledge as the other points out how pointlessly inane people can be. One recognizes a new and unexpected push at the edge of the envelope we call life while the other bestows honors that are only awarded to dead folks.

I’m thinking 34,000-year-old bacteria actually trump anything that managed to stick around for less than 9 mere decades, so perhaps it would make some sense if the popester were to convey some sort of holyosity on the microorganisms for toughing it out.

Nah. What good would that do them?

But, then again …

What good will it do John Paul at this stage of the game? He’s more bacteria than anything else by now anyway …

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Today is my birthday, so I’ll assume that this offering of easy blog fodder is a gift for the occasion from my good buddy, Ben the Popester … or not.

Pope pens children’s book entitled The Friends of Jesus

Pope Benedict XVI joins a long list of celebrities looking for younger audience with release of book about apostles …

Following in the footsteps of Madonna and Geri Halliwell, Pope Benedict XVI has written a children’s book.

I confess that my own work has taken a turn toward the salacious lately, so perhaps that’s one reason the cliché Old Ben opens with … Once upon a time … followed by, “… there was a small group of men who, one day two thousand years ago, met a young man who walked the roads of Galilee,” has me giggling like a Catholic School girl and mentally replacing the subsequent 48 pages of the imagined actual text with all sorts of rude allusions that run in directions that would make Geppetto, fairy tale version of pedophile that he is, blush; not an easy feat for a guy so into wood, sperm whales and his heart’s desire turning into an ass.

It’s not like there’s any giant leap needed to get from Point A … “group of men”, Catholic, “met a young man” … to Point B … sexual abuse of children by priests … so it seems either stupid or arrogant an angle to choose for a debut foray into kiddy lit.

Could it be Ben’s trying to make a point? The prologue could be considered stirring the pot to any with an abuse/power/bondage thing going on in their head:

The pope “takes us by the hand and accompanies us as we discover who Jesus’s first companions were, how they met Him and were conquered by Him to the point that they never abandoned Him” …

Okay, I’m a cynic. Forgive me. But I can’t help thinking, given the present tone of Papal PR, Benny would have been better off writing a tale on some aspect of Catholic that had less potential for punny parallels … the four horses, for instance. A pony called “Apocalypse” would make one hell of a bedtime story.

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In a bold and sensible move, Argentina has thrown off at least one of the bindings that have yoked Latin America for centuries.

Ever since the conquistadors showed up and began pillaging in the name of the Church, countries geographically south of the US have been ideologically under the thumb of Rome, a very profitable set of circumstances for the collectors of hearts, minds, priceless art and vast tracts of tax-free land, but not so great for millions of struggling Latins for whom it’s been commanded that the path to salvation can best be trod barefoot and pregnant.

So, it is with some hope that the grip is slipping I learn that this week Argentina has legalized same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

Argentinean lawmakers have legalized same-sex marriage and adoption after 14 hours of debate. The measure passing makes Argentina the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage thereby also legalizing same-sex adoption too.

Lawmakers in the Senate began their debate on Wednesday but heated talks lasted well into early Thursday morning. The Senate voted 33 to 27 to approve the bill despite staunch opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups.

The bill had the backing of the center-left government of President Cristina Fernandez, who said previously if it passed she would not veto it.

“I believe this has advanced equal rights,” Sen. Eugenio Artaza told reporters after the debate.

Seems that it’s been okay for gays to adopt for a while in Argentina, but those opposed to same-sex marriage were hoping to derail that as well, so passing this bill has been vital to protecting the option of adoption in family building.

If I’d been following this, I would have thrown more of my support behind the country’s football team in the World Cup. Seems a popular soap opera has featured a story line about gay footballers that looks worth a gander.

Soap star Cristian Sancho

Even the NBA gets a mention as an Argentine player for the Spurs has stepped up with a three-pointer in support of the new legislation.

Of course, not everyone is happy about extending human rights. The conservative site citizenlink.com, a “focus on family” finger, has this to say:

“The legalization of same-sex marriage in Argentina sets a very negative precedent for Latin American nations,” said Yuri Mantilla, director of international government affairs for CitizenLink. “The decision deconstructs one of the most important historical foundations of any nation, which is marriage as the union between a man and a woman.”

Mantilla has little hope that the new law will help resolve the economic and moral problems of Argentina.

“Considering that the family is the foundation of society – and the foundation for social and economic development,” he said, “the deconstruction of marriage, as the union between a man and a woman, will increase the moral and economic challenges that face Argentina.”

Considering the fact that Argentina is a Catholic country, I’d suggest there be more focus on the moral challenges faced by that institution … and that it’s the economic worries that are tugging on the rosary; there’s a lot of dosh to be lost when Argentines stop auto-plopping into the plate.

One Senator opposed to the bill took an interesting angle:

Sen. Juan Perez Alsina said, “Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species.”

Yeah. Right. Like that’s still a viable imperative. Yes, it’s existed for centuries, but so did smallpox and we manage without that. I also hate to break it to Sen. Alsina, but reproduction does actually occur even without the holy bonds of matrimony.

So, tip of the hat to Argentina’s law makers. Now, get the church to pay taxes and we’ll call it equal.

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I really do not begin each day thinking, “Gee, Sandra, how can you trash the catholic church today?”. Really. But I do read the news and the Vatican delivers fodder on an almost-daily basis. Who am I to ignore these offerings? I learned early in life that when the plate is passed in front of my face, I must contribute.

Du jour, this report on a “… coherent and significant connection between radiation from Vatican Radio aerials and childhood cancer”, and the Vatican response.

The Italian experts looked at high numbers of tumours and leukaemia in children who live close to Vatican Radio transmitters.
The 60 antennas stand in villages and towns near Rome.
The Vatican said it was astonished and would present contrary views to a court in Rome.

The fact that the church’s knee immediately jerks rather than genuflects seems a clear indication that arrogance is included in the Douay version of the 10 Commandments and that confession is not a requirement.

Ten years of investigation into childhood cancers, and deaths resulting from, culminated in a 300-page report that finds a connection between what are now obsolete, but still functioning, Vatican radio towers leaking electromagnetic waves into the bodies of those living near and sick people.

Instead of a Mea Culpa, what do we get?

The Vatican says it intends to defend its position and claims there is no threat to public health through its transmissions.

Defend its position no matter the guilt? Well … that’s no surprise.

Vatican “astonishment” seems a bit overwrought since there has for years been a great deal of data supporting a connection between exposure to radio towers and cancers:

In studies by Michelozzi (2001, 2002), the researchers found that “The risk of childhood leukaemia was higher than expected up to 6 km from the high-power radio station and there was a significant decline in risk with increasing distance both for male mortality and childhood leukaemia.” [Michelozzi 2001, Michelozzi 2002]. Maskarinec also found an increased risk of childhood leukaemia within 2.6 kilometres of radio towers in Hawaii [Maskarinec 1994].

So, why in holy hell does the church feel the need to pull out the alter cloth and wave it around like a toreador’s cape? Doesn’t anyone on that 110 acres of Vatican soil understand that denial is not an easily navigable river in Egypt?

Someone should tell his holeyness that no one is buying that priests live celibate lives and don’t abuse children, that the host is skin, that Mary was a virgin, or that electromagnetic waves don’t get cancer growing in people living near his towers, no matter how emphatic the protestations.

If that doesn’t work, perhaps he can be convinced to hire a better PR firm. The one dealing with the press these days just makes it all too easy for this simple blogger. If I didn’t have pope-on-a-plate delivered so often, I might have to write about other stuff. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

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I’m almost sorry about banging on so much lately about the Catholic Church, but neglecting to respond to the crap coming from the Holy See-no-evil is simply beyond my powers of resistance.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, church officials are turning six shades of cardinal red over the Belgian government’s attempts to unearth information on allegations of sexual abuse and are reacting about as one would expect someone guilty as shit to react.

The RC royals aren’t accustomed to having authority other than their own consider it a matter of course to look for dirt in the dark nooks and crannies so well tucked away for centuries beneath their voluminous skirts.

Perhaps it’s time they get the message that they no longer rule any part of the world, other than the 110 acres of the country the where the Pope wears the big hat. Yes, they can deal with sexual abuse of children any way they like in the Vatican … that’s what the Swiss Guard is there for … a moot point, since no children live there.

Vatican City is home to approximately 920 full-time residents who maintain passports from their home country and diplomatic passports from the Vatican. Thus, it is as though the entire country is composed of diplomats.

Which, one could suppose, makes it pretty easy to keep a wrap on PR.

(An aside: In looking for info on how many women live in Vatican City, what came up on a Google search was a dating site … “Men seeking women in Vatican City”, Considering the fact that the place is completely surrounded by Rome, it may be safe to assume these guys don’t get out much.)

Anyway …

It was only a matter of time before the Pope-ster weighed in on the “serious and unbelievable” treatment his poor bishops were subjected to, forced to hang around during a police search, and perhaps more than annoyed that keeping them incommunicado greatly reduced the chance of stuffing damning files up their vestments.

As the BBC leads:

Pope Benedict has joined mounting Vatican criticism of raids by Belgian police investigating alleged child sex abuse, calling them “deplorable”.

Note that it’s “mounting Vatican criticism” in the paragraph, and although I have trouble suppressing a sneer when “mounting” and “Vatican” are used in the same sentence, it’s important to catch the fact that people outside the web of the church are probably more than okay with raids, seizing records, even digging up dead bishops for DNA.

That the church’s version of the bishops’ isolation holds less water than a cracked baptismal font doesn’t bode well, either.

Belgium’s justice minister has responded to the criticism robustly, saying normal procedures were followed.

Stefaan De Clerck defended the police action, in a series of TV interviews on Sunday, and said the investigation was legitimate.

“The bishops were treated completely normally during the raid on the archdiocese and it is false to say that they received no food or drink,” he said.
Continue reading the main story

Mr De Clerck said the Vatican’s reaction had been excessive as it was based on false information.

Hm. False information … ? Rather like going to hell if you eat meat on Friday or the sanctity of Christopher? How about covering the asses of child-screwing priests?

Sorry, Old Ben, but your cred is shred.

And you need to clue up to the fact that statements like this …

I hope that justice will follow its course while guaranteeing the rights of individuals and institutions, respecting the rights of victims.

… grate more than a bit, especially amongst real victims.

Those of us outside the grip of the 110 acres very much hope that justice will follow its course, and if part of the process is keeping bishops away from the hard drive for a while, so be it.

Ben’s predecessors may have had the power to run the world on their rules, but those days are over. I can imagine how that pisses him off, but we’re all done with outrage issuing from the palace and insist that confession comes out of the box … and, since it doesn’t, digging is enthusiastically encouraged.

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Because it’s Sunday, religion chomps at the bit to be topic du jour, this being the jour of choice for some to trot into a church and listen to some galloping gospel nag before racing to put on the old feedbag down by la mer (Notice my restraint in not ponying up with a canter/cantor ref … although I was tempted to geld the lily.)

Do you sense that I have been led to the baptismal font, but passed on the drink?

Fodder for my Sunday sermon comes from the news, and, as you know, I can rarely put the blinders on when presented with horse shit.

Winner of today’s “Horse’s Ass Award” goes to Vatican secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone Cardinal Bertone for his take on the Belgian government’s efforts to get to the bottom of sex abuse by priests in that country.

Apparently outraged that men of the cloth were “held for nine hours without eating or drinking” and that police seized 500-some files from a “Church commission” that was supposedly investigation allegations of abuse, the Cardinal expressed astonishment, saying:

“It was sequestration, a serious and unbelievable act,” … and, “… there are no precedents, not even under the old communist regimes”.

Yeah … right, you salacious git … putting dinner plans on hold and forcing bishops to enjoy their own company for a few hours is the “serious and unbelievable act”. He must be vibrating in his vestments over what the cops might find in those files. Could there be information that might be … shall we say … damning?

Moving right along, we flip the unleavened sandwich and find facial hair.

As this report illustrates, to beard or not to beard is ongoing as a hairy issue in the Muslim world, and being taken to new lengths by Hizbul-Islam militants in Somalia who are now ORDERING men to grow their beards and trim their moustaches.

I doubt that one of the dudes involved in the mandate intentionally punned when he announced,

“Anyone found violating this law will face the consequences.”

… or maybe Somali militants are really little more than frustrated comics … hence, the funny face growth?

Probably not, since it would take some humor somewhere under all that hair to grasp that a centuries-old fashion suggestion does not a mandate make.

Muslims learn about the Prophet’s views on facial hair not from the Koran, but through hadith – or sayings – attributed to Muhammad.

One such hadith, related by Muslim scholar Sahih Bukhari centuries ago, stipulates: “Cut the moustaches short and leave the beard.”

Good thing, then, that the 1970s came along later, as a hadith edict on sideburns, silver lamé and platform shoes would be just silly.

As a Sunday offering, I’ll close with some sense from Deepak Chopra, who notes that ” … religion is the primary form of spirituality in most people’s lives … “, then goes on to write about the tug-of-war between religion and science.

Science comes down to earth as technology, religion comes down to earth as comfort. But viewed together, they fall short of a common factor that guides every moment of daily life: consciousness. The future of spirituality will converge with the future of science when we actually know how and why we think, what makes us alive to the outer and inner worlds, and how we came to be so rich in creativity. Being alive is inconceivable without being conscious. “I think, therefore I am” is fundamentally true, but Descartes’ maxim should be expanded to include feeling, intuition, a sense of self, and our drive to understand who we are.


And that’s enough horsing around for a Sunday …

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I live on an island. That is my only excuse for being caught off guard by the preposterous news that a fundamental function of America’s founding fathers is under attack.

The separation of church and state is about as basic as it gets as far as making and keeping the USA a sane and livable nation, so the information in this piece in the NYTimes Mag is like a ball-peen to the brain case:

To conservative Christians, there is no separation of church and state, and there never was. The concept, they say, is a modern secular fiction.

The fact that headway … although that seems completely the wrong word to use juxtaposed against such brainlessness … is being made in efforts to remove the vital barrier between gods and government is testament (Like that one?) to just how stupid people can be.

I know. I know. Using words like ‘stupid’ shows no brilliance on my part and I should attempt to wax eloquent when referring to those so determined to limit … ban even, if at all possible … thinking, but, sorry, they piss me off, and stupid fits so well.

A couple of days ago I wrote about the poperific dude’s take on the UK’s efforts to take the “in” out of religious intolerance …

The effect of the government’s proposals, he said, in an address to Catholic bishops in Britain, has been to impose “unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs”.

… and mentioned the dangers of slopping religion all over governing:

… freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs” is an old saw that has cut deeply over the centuries since religion was invented, excusing everything from mass exterminations to female genital mutilation, serving up the Kool-Aid in one form or another and forcing millions to stop with the thinking stuff and take a big ole swig.

A couple of days later, I picked up The 19th Wife, a novel based on fact by David Ebershoff woven around the true story of Ann Eliza Young, one of the many wives of Brigham Young, prophet for profit of Momons and a staunch and paunchy advocate and practicer of polygamy with more than 50 women tethered to his bits and hundreds of children spawned … the guy the university is named in honor of who is well-revered to this day amongst the Latter Day Saints, as they like to call themselves.

Have been forced to sit through hundreds of hours of LDS claptrap as a child … this after hundreds of hours of Catholic claptrap … I am more than familiar with the tale of the golden books and magic sunglasses that delivered the message of the Moron angel to Mr. Smith, eventually leading thousands of those with thoughts of something to gain to Utah in much the same way Jim Jones got San Francisco folks to head for South America and for many of the same reasons.

Ann Eliza’s tale is rife with horrid consequences of life under a government controlled by a “faith” where abuse of all flavors is considered part and parcel, so condoned, then … eventually, when forced into the light of day by those who passed on the Kool-Aid … concealed, excused, apologized for, and finally condemned.

Today’s news brings reports on decades of sexual abuse by Catholic priests … and it’s about time.

An investigation last year revealed that church leaders in Dublin had spent decades protecting child-abusing priests from the law while many fellow clerics turned a blind eye. A separate report in Ireland released months earlier documented decades of sexual, physical and psychological abuse in Catholic-run schools, workhouses and orphanages.

The popester is reportedly “”disturbed and distressed” by the report and shares the “outrage, betrayal and shame” felt by Irish people … but still insistent, as we saw in the article last week, that government should keeps hands off.

Yeah. Right.

Does anyone think that any religion would come clean on anything if there were no secular government to grab it by its over-starched lapels and shake?

The days of religion running nations should be as far behind us as the possibility of owning other humans … but we all know many countries have a faith-shod foot on the controls and slavery happens every day in our world. The trick is to keep from backsliding in places that have moved beyond these archaic, abusive methods of ‘leadership’.

“Secular” … Latin saecularis, from saeculum ‘generation, age,’ used to mean ‘the world’ (as opposed to the Church)

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I’m not a big fan of popes, although I will admit to admiring their art collection. I’m largely suspect of the whole name change thing, even if it does work for subsequent Bozos and Ronald McDonalds, and I resent the hell out of their tax-free status.

Add the papal nod to the Nazis, coverups of abuse, opposition to reproductive rights for women and personal fallout from years of Catholic upbringing, and popes get a big thumbs down from me.

For the most part, I’m able to ignore the popeular press as it asks the old git du jour for opinions on just about everything happening in today’s world out of some misguided bow to hierarchies long beyond their sell-buy dates, but Papa Benny’s recent reaction to the British gov’t move toward a level playing field for gays is more than I’m in the mood to let slide this morning.

The Pope has sparked a major political row in Britain by speaking out strongly against the government’s policies on equality.

The effect of the government’s proposals, he said, in an address to Catholic bishops in Britain, has been to impose “unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs”.

For starters, that “freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs” is an old saw that has cut deeply over the centuries since religion was invented, excusing everything from mass exterminations to female genital mutilation, serving up the Kool-Aid in one form or another and forcing millions to stop with the thinking stuff and take a big ole swig.

It’s also just bloody rude for the popester to come out swinging when his upcoming trip to the UK is going to cost a bomb, as pointed out by the head of the National Secular Society:

“The taxpayer is going to be faced with a bill for £20m for the visit – in which he has indicated he will attack equal rights and promote discrimination.”

On top of it all, the elephant in the room … pink, of course … securely tethered to Ben’s insistence:

Pope Benedict XVI has condemned British equality legislation for running contrary to “natural law” as he confirmed his first visit to the UK later this year.

We’ll call that pachyderm “gay priests”.

There is no question that homosexuality in the priesthood is widespread … so to speak.

One can only wonder what Ben would have to say about ChurchOuting.Org, a website set up to out gay priests who “… stand silent while Archbishop Wuerl and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops increase their dogmatic war against gay families.”

Openly acknowledging and addressing the elephant, however, isn’t likely, but we can expect more papal bull.

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