Tag Archives: Vatican

Handling of Child abuse cases may have led to Ireland closing embassy at the Vatican

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image of a Celtic CrossIreland announced on Thursday that is was closing its embassy at the Vatican – headquarters of the Catholic Church – due to economic reasons. However some believe it was the result of strained relations between the majority Catholic Ireland and the Church over a bad report about the handling of child abuse cases involving the Church.
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Church and State news in brief

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While checking out the Sunday “papers” I came across some of these stories about church and state:

Some clarity on the perils of Bush’s church and state
News Book Reviewer

In it, Michelle Goldberg takes to task many of the views you and your dittoheads express, and she warns those views threaten to crumble the democratic society upon which the nation is built.

Goldberg examines in depth all the touchstones of the right vs. the left, all with the premise that the right she labels Christian nationalists don’t want to take over the democracy, just dominate it. To that end, she compares the far right’s regard of homosexuality to that of the Nazis; she lambastes the disregard of science in matters of evolution and the environment; she labels faith-based initiatives nothing more than “a spoils system for evangelical ministries,” and she sees a takeover of the judicial system as the ultimate goal of the Christian right. Goldberg has done an admirable job of gathering information and interpreting it to follow her theory. Her work is certain to elicit knowing nods from some and vitriolic outrage from others.


Iranian activist teaches us to be grateful but vigilant
By Jerry Large
Seattle Times staff columnist

That little “separation of church and state” thing we have is a pretty good deal. Imagine living in Iran, governed by religious law interpreted arbitrarily.

Shirin Ebadi, a lawyer who considers herself a devout Muslim, has been resisting the injustices of Iran’s government since she first realized that freedom from the shah came with its own costs, especially for women.

Ebadi, who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work, has been promoting her memoir, “Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope.” She was in Seattle recently, head uncovered, a tiny woman dressed in a red blouse and black pants that wouldn’t distinguish her from anyone else on the street.

Religion isn’t bad, she’ll tell you. What’s bad is using religion to excuse behavior that has no justification.


Judge in Dover case says founders saw religion as inquiry

The Associated Press

CARLISLE, Pa. – A federal judge who outlawed the teaching of “intelligent design” in science class told graduates at Dickinson College that the nation’s founders saw religion as the result of personal inquiry, not church doctrine.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones gave the commencement address Sunday to 500 graduates at Dickinson College, his alma mater.

“The founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry,” said Jones, who was thrust into the national spotlight by last year’s court fight over the teaching of evolution in the Dover school district.

The founding fathers – from school namesake John Dickinson to Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson – were products of the Enlightenment, Jones said.

“They possessed a great confidence in an individual’s ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws through the exercise of his or her reason,” he said.

“This core set of beliefs led the founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.”


Sex Ed & Money
Heritage Community Services is a major player in abstinence-only sex education, but questions about curriculum and financial dealings have drawn criticism.

The Post and Courier

In a darkened cinderblock classroom near the back of Summerville’s Alston Middle School, some boys learn about the downsides of sex. Graphic photos of gonorrhea and herpes flash past them.

Billy Rogers, who’s 24 and their instructor for the next several days, narrates. The boys listen and wince.

“Sex is like fire,” Rogers tells them. “Good things, bad things. Right place, wrong place.”

He peppers them with questions: What is abstinence? What are the four basic sex acts? One by one, these seventh-graders rattle them off. Oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, masturbation.

“Can you get pregnant from all these types of sex?” he asks. “Can you get (diseases) from all of them?”

Rogers is one of the many foot soldiers in the abstinence-only education movement. He is young, religious and doesn’t think preaching condom use will curb the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. To prevent the spread of infection among adolescents, he advocates abstinence, period.

His employer, the North Charleston-based Heritage Community Services, has spread the same message for the past 10 years. Not only in South Carolina, but in Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Maine and Rhode Island.

Heritage Community Services began more than a decade ago as an offshoot of a Christian anti-abortion group called Lowcountry Crisis Pregnancy Center. The two maintained a close relationship, and their offices are sandwiched in a North Charleston strip mall.

Anne Badgley founded the pregnancy center in 1986 to provide support groups, parenting classes and supplies. In the decade that followed, she saw dozens of desperate teenagers. Many of them were unmarried. Some had venereal diseases.

Their damaged lives prompted Badgley in 1995 to found Heritage Community Services to teach young adults abstinence-only. She kicked off the program at several U.S. Naval hospitals in 1996. Soon after, Heritage received a grant from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for a pilot program to run in middle schools and high schools in Dorchester County.

Federal money for Heritage started as a trickle during the Clinton years and has flowed more freely during President Bush’s time in office.

Badgley campaigned vigorously for Bush in his 2000 and 2004 presidential races, and for Republican David Beasley in 1998 when he ran for re-election as South Carolina’s governor. In 1999 Badgley organized a meeting between Bush and state conservative leaders and helped introduce him to key state Republicans.


Religion, Rome and The Reich: The Vatican’s other dirty secret
Forget ‘The Da Vinci Code’, ‘God’s HQ on earth’ has a real ghost in the cupboard – collusion with the Nazis. No wonder then, says Peter Stanford, that the church is hiding papers on the dealings of ‘Hitler’s Pope’, Pius XII
Published: 21 May 2006

As The Da Vinci Code arrives in our cinemas with its lurid accusations of a church cover-up of Jesus’s life as a family man, Roman Catholic leaders have been vocal in dismissing the film of Dan Brown’s bestseller as unsuitable viewing for believers. Cardinal amongst its sins according to them is its suggestion that a church organisation, Opus Dei, would attempt to manipulate history to fit its beliefs. But that, it was charged last week, is precisely what the Vatican is doing in regard of a much more recent event, the Holocaust.

An unflattering spotlight fell on God’s business address on Earth when the German Justice Minister, Brigitte Zypries, announced on Tuesday that her country is finally to open its huge archive of Nazi records on 17 million concentration camp inmates and slave labourers. Germany’s belated move to answer the pleas for access to its archives by Holocaust survivors and their families now leaves only the Vatican standing all alone in denying them the chance to read what is in its wartime documents.

You might expect an organisation that – as the bishops have been busy pointing out last week to counter the picture of their church presented in The Da Vinci Code – is dedicated to truth, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation to have been among the first to offer access to its files. And its refusal to open its secret files has only increased suspicion that it has something it wants to cover up – principally evidence of the alleged pro-Nazi sympathies of wartime pope, Pius XII.


Now Catholics want separation of church and state?

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It seems that when the majority religious sects have a government policy go against them and their religion – they make a legal claim demanding separation of church and state. They never ask for it when a policy – say the Faith Based Initiative – supports them or gives them an advantage – like government funding.

On April 3rd, The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights sued the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (similar to a city council) for violating the 1st Amendment in passing a resolution asking the Archdiocese of San Francisco to ignore an edict from the Vatican to stop placing children in need of adoption with homosexual households through their Catholic Charities group.

The League is using the services of our buddies at Thomas More Law Center – who represented the Dover, PA school board last year in their lawsuit about their Intelligent Design school curriculum.

Positive Liberty has the text of the resolution at the heart of the lawsuit.

The Catholic League termed the resolution as “hate speech”.

According to Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, “The demagoguery and virulent words of this resolution are reminiscent of the anti- Catholic bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan and the Know Nothings, which marred our Nation’s earlier history. San Francisco may as well have put up signs at the City limits: ‘Faithful Catholics Not Welcomed.”

Robert Muise, the Law Center attorney handling this matter, commented, “Our constitution forbids hostility toward any religion. In total disregard for the Constitution, homosexual activists in positions of authority in San Francisco are abusing their authority as government officials and misusing the instruments of government to attack the Catholic Church. This egregious abuse of power is an outrage and a clear violation of the First Amendment.”

San Francisco’s Hateful Anti-Catholic Resolution Prompts Lawsuit

Yes, the 1st Amendment, and past court cases, do prohibit hostility toward religion – in laws enacted by a legislative body. If the Board of Supervisors had passed an ordinance that attempted to force Archbishop Niederauer and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to defy all discriminatory directives of Cardinal Levada, then it would be a good case of a violation, however since the article is a resolution, their claims are weaker.

Resolutions are non-binding and are expressions of the view of a public body. The San Francisco resolution addressed the issue of a foreign country “meddling” in the affairs of the citizens of the city. That foreign country is the Vatican. According to the US State Department – the Vatican IS a country.

The resolution doesn’t force Catholics to do anything. The Church can continue to teach against homosexuality and members of the Church can follow those teachings. The charity group can also continue to follow the Vatican edict.

It isn’t the first time the Archdiocese of San Francisco had an issue with the city. A few years ago the city passed a law requiring that businesses and groups that do business with the city had to provide domestic partner benefits to employees. The Archbishop complained but backed down when it found out how much of hit their social service group would take without city funds.

I think The Catholic League filed the suit because the make up of the US Supreme Court favors their views now that 5 members of the court happen to be Catholic. The League is probably shooting for the case going to the high court. If they succeed in their case then it would put a chill in any criticism of religion.

Further reading:

Catholic group sues San Francisco over gay adoption remarks

Vatican reaffirms Evolution

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On Thursday, 11/03, Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into “fundamentalism” if it ignores scientific reason.

He made the comments at a news conference on a Vatican project to help end the “mutual prejudice” between religion and science that has long bedeviled the Roman Catholic Church and is part of the evolution debate in the United States. The project was inspired by the 1992 apology by Pope John Paul II for the church’s persecuting of Galileo in the 17th century. He was condemned for supporting Nicolaus Copernicus’ discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun while the church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe.

“The permanent lesson that the Galileo case represents pushes us to keep alive the dialogue between the various disciplines, and in particular between theology and the natural sciences, if we want to prevent similar episodes from repeating themselves in the future,” Poupard said.

But he said science, too, should listen to religion.

“We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb and the possibility of cloning human beings are fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link,” he said.

“But we also know the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism,” he said.

“The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity.”

Vatican: Faithful should listen to science

What was just as important was this quote:

Monsignor Gianfranco Basti, director of the Vatican project STOQ, or Science, Theology and Ontological Quest, reaffirmed John Paul’s 1996 statement that evolution was “more than just a hypothesis.”

“A hypothesis asks whether something is true or false,” he said. “(Evolution) is more than a hypothesis because there is proof.”

He was asked about comments made in July by Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who dismissed in a New York Times article the 1996 statement by John Paul as “rather vague and unimportant” and seemed to back intelligent design.

Basti concurred that John Paul’s 1996 letter “is not a very clear expression from a definition point of view,” but he said evolution was assuming ever more authority as scientific proof develops.

While I’m glad the church has reaffirmed John Paul II’s statement on Evolution, we should still remain on guard for the more conservative view point which disputes Evolution and science.

A Correction

In my previous entry about the AEI Forum held on October 21st, I mentioned that part 2 of the video on the C-Span site had as a speaker Father George Coyne who is the director of the Vatican Observatory and I made an inference that the Vatican was now dismissing John Paul II’s statement mentioned above. I wrote:

The second part had a priest, Father George Coyne, gave the Vatican perspective on the issue of Evolution and ID and science. To sum that up – the church shifted from past statements that said natural selection was compatible with religion to now it isn’t. (YAWN!!)

I also mentioned I hadn’t watched the entire video (it is 5 hours in length for all 3 parts). Well after reading the article that is the subject of the post today I watched the first part of Father Coyne’s talk and found that my previous comments were wrong. Father Coyne had some harsh words for the Intelligent Design crowd and pretty much repeats the context of what Cardinal Paul Poupard had to say in today’s article.

My comments were based on the intro given by someone at the forum and was a rehash of comments made in July by Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who dismissed in a New York Times article the 1996 statement by John Paul as “rather vague and unimportant” and seemed to back intelligent design.

I regret the error and have corrected my previous entry.