Ten reasons to be pleased that Pope Benedict is resigning

Here are ten reasons to be pleased that Pope Benedict is resigning.

  1. He has international political influence through the Vatican
  2. His Vatican works with Islamic States to oppose gay rights
  3. He blames atheism for Nazi Germany and lack of virtue
  4. His Catholic Church claims that atheists are not fully human
  5. He protects the Vatican ahead of child sex abuse victims
  6. He blames secularisation for priests raping children
  7. His Vatican compares child sex abuse with ordaining women
  8. He offered free plenary indulgences to Lourdes pilgrims
  9. He is skeptical that there were donkeys in the crib
  10. He silences priests who want a more democratic church

1. He has international political influence through the Vatican

As an atheist, I respect the right of the Catholic Church to elect whoever they want as their Pope. But the Catholic Church also operates within civic society, acts as a quasi-State at the United Nations, and sends ambassadors to real States.

So we all have an interest in seeing a Catholic Pope who is motivated by compassion and human rights instead of conservative religious dogma, and who will work with people of good will for a better world based on fairness for all.

The Vatican is by far the smallest State in the world, being just over a hundred acres in size. It plays at being a real State by issuing its own stamps, but it has no proper citizens (just transient employees of the Catholic Church), few public services (Italy provides it with police and water) and no real economy (though it does have a novelty ATM machine that issues instructions in Latin).

But under its alter-ego of the Holy See, which is the central government of the worldwide Catholic Church, it masquerades as a State and deals with actual States. The Holy See swaps diplomats with actual States, and has Permanent Observer status at the United Nations and other bodies.

Because the UN takes most decisions by consensus, the Holy See has been able to frustrate negotiations on population, contraception, reproductive health care and women’s rights. And Pope Benedict has ensured that the Holy See’s work at the United Nations is based on his own conservative theology.

2. His Vatican works with Islamic States to oppose gay rights

The Catholic Church under Pope Benedict has joined with Islamic States to try to stop the United Nations from protecting the equal rights of gay people throughout the world.

Gay people can be executed in seven Islamic countries: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Mauritania and parts of Nigeria and Pakistan. And gay sex between consenting adults in private is a crime in almost eighty other countries.

In 2008, France wanted the UN to pass a declaration calling for an end to these laws. It wanted all States to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention.

The Catholic Church joined with Islamic States in opposing this move. The Vatican complained that the move would “add new categories of those protected from discrimination”. They also feared that it could lead to gay people being allowed to marry.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s representative at the UN, opposed the move as it would:

“add new categories of those protected from discrimination”.

He also complained that it would

“create new and implacable discriminations… For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure.”

After protests by gay rights groups outside the Vatican, and a statement by the European Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup, Vatican Radio later claimed that Migliore’s real concern was:

“the introduction of a declaration of political value, which could result in control mechanisms according to which, norms that do not place each sexual orientation on the same level, would be considered contrary to respect for human rights.”

Removing the double negatives, and translating the gobbledegook into plain language, it seemed that this may be the part of the French resolution that the Vatican had problems with:

“We reaffirm the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In essence, the Vatican was complaining that respect for human rights would include placing each sexual orientation on the same level. And preventing this from happening was more important than preventing gay people from being executed, tortured or jailed.

3. He blames atheism for Nazi Germany and lack of virtue

When he visited Britain in 2010, Pope Benedict made two scandalous comments in his opening speech: firstly, his attempt to blame atheism for the crimes of Nazi Germany, and secondly his inference that, if you do not want God or religion in public life, you also do not want virtue in public life. He said:

“Even in our own lifetimes we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.

As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny.”

On the first point, Hitler regularly proclaimed his belief in a god as justification for dehumanising Jews, as is clear from a cursory reading of Mein Kampf. This does not, of course, mean that religion, any more than atheism, is to blame for Nazi Germany. If the Pope wants to find modern examples in Britain of people dehumanising other people, he might ask his colleague, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, why he said on BBC Radio that atheists are not fully human.

On the second point, the Pope talked of “the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life” and linked these very different concepts as if they were a single package.

God is a concept that exists in people’s minds. Everybody should have the right to freedom of religion and from religion, and the only way to protect all of these rights is for the State to stay neutral on such issues. And it is scandalous to imply that, if you do not want God or religion in public life, you also do not want virtue in public life.

4. His Catholic Church claims that atheists are not fully human

The Catholic Church makes a distinction between being human and being fully human, and it does not consider atheists to be fully human. It believes that being fully human requires a relationship with its imaginary God, and that by excluding this from our philosophy we are not fully human. Most of the time they phrase it subtly, by saying that you require religious faith to be fully human, and sometimes they let the mask slip and explicitly say that atheists are not fully human.

This dangerous arrogance starts at Vatican level. The Catholic Catechism says that man is by nature a religious being, and lives a fully human life only if he freely lives by his bond with God. Pope John Paul II said that a culture which rejects God cannot be considered fully human; that spiritual values are ultimately what make us fully human; and that Jesus came to teach us what it means to be fully human.

And Pope Benedict has said that to truly live up to our being we must recognise that we are dependent on God.

In 2009, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor told BBC Radio 4 that atheists are not fully human because we leave out of our philosophy the search for what Cardinal Murphy calls God. This is a transcript of the relevant section of the May 2009 interview:

Roger Bolton: “A lot of church leaders speaking on national matters sound rather defensive but you’ve gone on the attack because you’ve talked about secularists having an ‘impoverished understanding of what it is to be human.’ They might find that quite offensive, mightn’t they?”

Cardinal Murphy O’Connor: “I think what I said was true, of course whether a person is atheist or any other…there is in fact, in my view, something not totally human, if they leave out the transcendent. If they leave out an aspect of what I believe everyone was made for, which is, uh, a search for transcendent meaning, we call it God. Now if you say that has no place, then I feel that it is a diminishment of what it is to be a human, because to be human in the sense I believe humanity is directed because made by God, I think if you leave that out then you are not fully human.”

With the resignation of Pope Benedict is there at least a chance, however slim, that the Catholic Church might elect a leader who believes that atheists are fully human?

5. He protects the Vatican ahead of child sex abuse victims

In responding to the evil of child sex abuse by Catholic priests, Pope Benedict’s main priority was to protect the church and not its victims. This was made clear in his 2010 pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland on child sexual abuse, in which he wrote that:

“Since the time when the gravity and extent of the problem of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions first began to be fully grasped, the church has done an immense amount of work in many parts of the world in order to address and remedy it.”

This assertion was simply untrue. The Catholic church has known for centuries that some priests have been raping children, and they have known for centuries that raping children is gravely wrong, both as a sin in their religion and a crime in civic society. The Pope did not even acknowledge (never mind apologise for) the Catholic church policy of bishops covering up the repeated rape of children by priests. Instead he referred euphemistically to “mistakes” made by bishops in responding to allegations, and he did not even include the Vatican or himself as making any of these “mistakes”. He also wrote:

“In order to recover from this grievous wound, the church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children. Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future.”

On the face if it, this looks commendable. But read it again for its nuances. The reason that sins against children must be acknowledged is to allow the church (not the victims) to recover from “this grievous wound”. It is only as a follow-up point that this must be accompanied by sorrow for the damage caused to the victims. If you parse the language throughout this letter, these same priorities are repeated again and again. The priority of this letter is to revitalise the Catholic church, not to pursue justice for or make reparation to its victims.

6. He blames secularisation for priests raping children

In his 2010 pastoral letter to Irish Catholics on child sexual abuse, Pope Benedict suggested that secularisation of society is the context in which we must understand priests raping children, which in turn weakens faith and respect for the church. This is self-serving nonsense. The reality is almost the exact opposite.

Catholic priests were raping children, and Catholic bishops and the Vatican were covering up these crimes, long before Irish society became more secular. What secularisation has done is empower the victims of these crimes to speak out about their experiences, and more importantly be heard and believed. And secularisation has helped to reveal the traditional methods used by the Catholic hierarchy to cover up these crimes, such as swearing children to secrecy and moving the criminals to another parish, diocese or country where they could rape more children.

The Pope then listed four specific factors that he said contributed to the problem. Three were within the control of the church: procedures for selecting priests; training in seminaries, and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties. Notably, he did not include as a factor the failure by bishops to report serious crimes to the police. And the Pope’s fourth contributory factor was “a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures”. But how could secularism possibly cause this tendency? In fact, it has done almost the exact opposite.

The Pope’s muddled and manifestly false claim about secularism was part of a pattern of the Catholic church denying responsibility for its own actions. Earlier that month the Vatican’s official exorcist (!) had blamed “Satan at work in the Vatican” for priests raping children. And in September 2009, the Vatican’s representative at the UN argued that child sexual abuse was common among Jews; that fewer than 5% of Catholic clergy were sex abusers; and that most of them are actually ephebophiles and not paedophiles, because they are attracted to adolescent males. This evasion has to stop. It is time the Catholic church stopped blaming others for its own crimes.

7. His Vatican compares child sex abuse with ordaining women

Apologists for the Vatican have claimed that the Catholic Church does not compare sexually abusing a child with attempting to ordain a woman, but that it merely included both crimes in the same document as a procedural matter. However, this is not true.

A Vatican official has explicitly described the crimes contained in this document as being “on the same level” of seriousness. They are the “Delicta Graviora”, the crimes which the Catholic Church considers the most serious of all, and which are reserved to the Holy See for judgment.

In 2007, the Vatican published a pamphlet on Paedophilia and the Priesthood, written by Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and member of the editorial commission of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This pamphlet explicitly states:

“The seriousness with which the Church evaluates and judges acts of pedophilia is shown by the fact that with a new law passed in 2001, the Holy See (and not the local bishops) decided to reserve the right to judge those crimes…

The fact that the Pope wanted to reserve to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — a dicastery of the Holy See — judgment of the acts of pedophilia committed by priests, shows that the Church considers those acts to be very serious, serious crimes on the same level of the other two serious crimes — reserved to the Holy See — that can be committed against two sacraments: the Eucharist and the holiness of confession.”

In 2010, with the updated document Normae de Gravioribus Delictis, the Vatican has now added the attempted ordination of women to this strange list of the most serious crimes of all.

And the direction of the comparison is not that they consider these theological crimes to be as serious as sexually abusing a child, but that they consider sexually abusing a child to be as serious as these theological crimes, to be judged by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which used to be the Congregation of the Inquisition.

For example, sexually abusing a child is listed not as a crime against the child, but as a crime against the Biblical commandment forbidding adultery. And attempting to ordain a woman attracts a more serious punishment than sexually abusing a child. This is the type of morality that results when people put theology ahead of reality.

8. He offered free plenary indulgences to Lourdes pilgrims

In 2008 Pope Benedict gave Catholics a special time-limited promotional offer: if they visited Lourdes during 2008, they would get a free plenary indulgence that would get them early release from Purgatory, and get them faster to heaven, after they died.

This unsubstantiated sales pitch for Lourdes was not an extreme example of primitive cultist belief. Encouraging seriously sick people to travel great distances, in the hope of a miracle cure, is very much part of mainstream Catholic practice.

Just a few months before this special offer, the Vatican had started its own official airline, with the launch slogan ‘I’m Searching for Your Face, Lord’, and Vatican logos on the headrests and air hostess’s uniforms. And the inaugural flight just happened to travel to Lourdes.

Lourdes is big business. About five million people travel there every year, and it has more hotels than anywhere else in France except Paris. And all because, 150 years ago, fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous was one of a spate of French and Spanish children who claimed to have seen the virgin mother of the Catholic god.

Just to be clear, I believe that everyone has right to believe whatever they want to believe, however absurd those beliefs may seem to others. However, when those beliefs cause people to behave in way that unfairly exploits vulnerable people, then others have a right to challenge them to justify that behavior, and to justify the underlying beliefs.

I believe that it is unethical, in the early twenty-first century, that wealthy organizations like the Catholic Church can promote commercial ventures using unsubstantiated sales pitches like these.

9. He is skeptical that there were donkeys in the crib

In his recent book, the third in his trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict expresses skepticism at the idea that there were animals in the crib when Jesus was born.

He says that there is no mention of animals in the Gospels, and that they were probably a Hebrew invention of the seventh century BC, as outlined in the Book of Habakkuk.

But he is satisfied that Mary was a virgin, and that Jesus was conceived with the Holy Spirit alone. To him, these seem much more reasonable beliefs than that there may have been donkeys in the crib.

In reality, the first fiction in the New Testament is on the first line of the first page. The title is the Gospel of Matthew. In reality, nobody knows who wrote any of the Gospels, other than they were Christians who spoke Greek and lived outside Palestine between about 65-95 CE. It was much later, maybe as late as 180 CE, that the names Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were attached to these books, in order to give them credibility and authority.

The first contradiction in the New Testament is also on the first page. It begins with a lengthy genealogy of Jesus, to prove he was descended from David and Abraham. The list starts when Abraham begat Isaac, and ends when Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary. But the very next paragraph tells us that Joseph was not the father of Jesus, which means Jesus was not related to anyone in this lengthy genealogy.

In reality, this is a clumsy attempt to merge two contradictory myths: that the Jewish messiah would be descended from King David, and that Jesus had a virgin birth. And the virgin birth myth has a mix of two sources: somebody mistranslated the Old Testament Hebrew word for ‘young woman’ into the New Testament Greek word for ‘virgin’, and early Christians were seeking converts among Greek and Roman Gentiles who were familiar with existing gods who were believed to have been born of virgins.

In his book about Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict explains these contradictions with a classic example of his God moving, and presumably writing, in mysterious ways. He says that:

“Matthew’s genealogy, on the one hand, is steeped in the utter continuity of God’s saving action, and yet breaks off at the end and speaks of an entirely new beginning.”

Ah, yes. Because that makes much more sense than the idea that there might have been donkeys in a crib.

10. He silences priests who want a more democratic Church

In Colombia, Father Alfonso Llano Escobar reviewed Pope Benedict’s book on Jesus of Nazareth, and disagreed with his analysis of the doctrine of the virginity of Mary. Last December, in a message to the editorial board of his newspaper, Fr. Llano wrote that

“Father Adolfo Nicolás, the superior general of the Jesuits, has ordered Father Alfonso Llano to consider his apostolic vocation as a writer to be over, has deprived him of his freedom of speech, and is demanding that he not even say goodbye and that he keep absolute silence.”

In Ireland, the Vatican under Pope Benedict has silenced several priests, including Sean Fagan, Tony Flannery, Gerry Moloney and Brian D’Arcy. Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, who is studying for a doctorate in canon law at Rome’s Gregorian University, has described this development as dreadful. At the launch of her book ‘Quo vadis: Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law’, she said that:

“There is a fear at the centre [Rome] of how they can cope with these voices”

She said that the Vatican was dealing with dissent by demanding obedience, and that this demand:

“was translated into a really, really dangerous silence where children suffered abominably”.

Just this month in America, an editorial in the National Catholic Reporter said:

It would be difficult to develop a script more revelatory of the confounding priorities of the Vatican than that contained in the news of recent days. Real scandal — covering up the rape of children, compromising the church’s reputation with bizarre behavior and sexual shenanigans by its priests — is met with either silence from on high or unpersuasive explanations.

Meanwhile, advocates of open discussion about church teaching on women, celibacy, contraceptives and homosexuality — advocates who have advanced questions, not scandal — are met swiftly by the long arm of the law in the form of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

What the church finds deserving of its wrath in light of what it will tolerate to preserve the clerical culture and protect bishops is increasingly inexplicable to anyone outside that culture.

As I said at the start, I respect the right of the Catholic Church to elect whoever they want as their Pope. But the Catholic Church also operates within civic society, acts as a quasi-State at the United Nations, and sends ambassadors to real States.

So we all have an interest in seeing a Catholic Pope who is motivated by compassion and human rights instead of conservative religious dogma, and who will work with people of good will for a better world based on fairness for all.

We can only hope that Benedict’s successor will be more likely to do this. However, given that his successor will be elected by Cardinals that Benedict himself appointed, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for such an outcome.

Ten reasons to be pleased that Pope Benedict is resigning

32 thoughts on “Ten reasons to be pleased that Pope Benedict is resigning

  1. I like the informaton given here, but I wish you had cited more of your sources, as I want to be confident in putting this out there on my Facebook page, and adding the link. I was unaware of some of the comments, such as the athiesm in relation to Nazi Germany, as well as the comparing ordaining women to abusing children. He is as delusional as his followers, and therefore I am very glad he is going bye-bye.

  2. The Vatican cooperated with Islamic states in international fora to block the rights of women (particularly but not exclusively regarding birth control) at least as far back as the ’80s. But that was all okay, because they were joined in these efforts by the blessed Reagan administration.

  3. So we all have an interest in seeing a Catholic Pope who is motivated by compassion and human rights instead of conservative religious dogma, and who will work with people of good will for a better world based on fairness for all.

    Hear, hear – would that we should have a Pope motivated by compassion and human rights! How about one who also has more progressive (and more mature) religious views? How about one who recognizes Catholicism as one tradition among many – one way some humans have chosen to satisfy their longing to connect with something greater than themselves – instead of being so provincial as to insist it is the only one true church. Much of society has grown beyond such tribalism. Shouldn’t we have a Pope who CAN LEAD the rest of society beyond it too?

  4. Add the fact the he specifically rejects the Theory of Evolution as it is understood by the scientific community, and replaces it with a version that is guided by god with the sole purpose of creating humans at its pinnacle:
    “It is not the case that in the expanding universe, at a late stage, in some tiny corner of the cosmos, there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it. If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature. But no, Reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine Reason. And because it is Reason, it also created freedom; and because freedom can be abused, there also exist forces harmful to creation. ”

  5. As a former protestant I find Catholicism no more bizarre than Mormonism or even Scientology. It’s all just superstitious nonsense rooted in ancient attempts to make sense of a mysterious and frightening world. The pope and any who follow him are brainwashed at best and dangerous at worst.

  6. Excellent post. Congrats.

    As some other commenters mentioned, shame no space in that list for the whole “I’m more than content for thousands of poor people to die, just so long as they don’t put a bit of rubber on their willy. God doesn’t like condoms. He would rather see people, particularly poor people, suffer and die in agony.”

    I’d spit in Ratzinger’s eye for that alone.

  7. I live in Italy so I wanted to add my point of view. Having the Vatican inside your territory is the worst that could happen to a country. Vatican, through their political links, manage to influence the politics of the State.
    We’re the only country of Europe (alongside a couple) with no law to legalize gay unions (god forbid us to even speak about marriages!!), we cannot have a “biological will” to choose how we want to be treated if seriously ill and the word euthanasia is compared to blasphemy.
    There’s everyday pressure on the doctors willing to practice abortion and they are in small numbers in our hospitals.

    Our country is not ruled by us, but by the Pope and his men, in all the ethical matters: most of the politics in our Chambers are either submitted to Church or have no galls to raise their head and go against the will of the Pope and his State.

    Oh, and lets speak about taxes. In Italy there’s this tax called IMU (former ICI), if I’m right in US it’s called “estate tax”. You pay if you own an house (either the first, where you live or if the second-third-etc house, no matter its conditions, if it can be rented, if you own it in a dead village and so on). Church has a HUGE estate not only in churches (we don’t ask to pay taxes for Saint Peter!) but in houses (rented NOT to disable or poor people, and the rent is high as every other appartment of the same city), shops, hotels (that cost a little less than non-Churc ones because of taxes, see below), nursing homes. The law was written so that, if the property was a general “place of worship” (ie = a luxury hotel with attached shrine/chapel) they exempted. Some say the amount of taxes they legally evaded is near 2 bilion of Euro so far – an amount that would definitely help in our economy.
    The Pope, when finally people protested over this, glissed with a generic “the Church has to pay when it’s due.” But they don’t pay for the services you mentioned Vatican gets from Italy and Rome (water bills, use of the streets, don’t help with any maintenance). And, through fake no-profit associations, don’t pay taxes for their income in their shops, hotels and places where tourists sleep when they come to Rome.

    The biggest charity organization in Italy – Caritas – which provides food for the poor, uses OUR money, money the State gives to the organization because – evidently – the service they offer is good. But the thanks is to them, as if the money put was theirs.

    Speaking of taxes, another one. There is this one called 8×1000. It’s a long story, so perhaps the wiki page helps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_per_thousand). It’s a pity the English page doesn’t cover the whole “controversies”: I just can say that the Church takes 4 times what it should take according to the pacts. And only a small portion of it it’s used for charity.

    We’ll not cover about the well-known connections between the IOR (the Vatican bank) and the mafia: their money transited from this bank. YThe Pope did little to clean the IOR.

    So, hmm, yeah, be happy that the Vatican it’s here and we are the ones subjected to their rule. 🙂

    P.S: About the one who is told to be in line to be the next Pope (Card. Scola from Milan). When a journalist asked him about the many scandals inside the Church, he said “the Church lives on other things.”

    I feel very pessimistic about a change in the next Pope.

    Sorry for the bad english, my brain is not enough awake to beta-read. 😀

  8. Please stop living in the past.

    I would ask Mr Nugent, assuming he’ll at some point take a break from writing “scary catholic” stories, to investigate the number of Salafist mosques being constructed in Ireland.

    I’ve toured practically every Free-Thought blog and have yet to see a single mention of Laars H…..

    Stop living in the past.


  9. Psst! Can anyone be ‘fairly exploited’?

    Other than that quibble, very interesting article. I’m thinking I might post it to my Facebook if I have the energy to tolerate the inevitable catholic boosters outcry.

  10. Well done Michael. Terrific article on the present pope. Up to this I did not care who the Cardinals elected but having read your piece I am now aware of the great adverse civic, political and moral influence this Roman organisation has on the lives of us all. Another guy like Joe R will really wipe them out further.

  11. Great post Michael. The 3rd point was the one I remember that really made my blood boil.

    “When he visited Britain in 2010, Pope Benedict made two scandalous comments in his opening speech: firstly, his attempt to blame atheism for the crimes of Nazi Germany, and secondly his inference that, if you do not want God or religion in public life, you also do not want virtue in public life. ”

    I am always afraid of mentioning he following point for fear of it being untrue …

    “Members of the SS could be of any religion but atheists were not allowed. In 1937, Himmler wrote in a letter to a pastor that an SS man’s religious denomination was his own personal choice. Himmler wrote, “Atheism is the only world-view or religious view that is not tolerated within the SS.”
    … is this attribution to Himmler correct? Is it “safe” to use this as a rebuttal?

    Longerich, Peter. Heinrich Himmler, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 220.

  12. Hey – that comment 15 – under the name “Jesus and Mo” – I’d bet money that’s not Author of Jesus and Mo (who is a friend of mine). I think the commenter wants us to think it is.

  13. Thanks for the suggestions for extra reasons. Yes, it was hard keeping it to ten! I’ll update it later to include condoms, evolution and finances.

    I’m not sure what point ‘Jesus and Mo’ is making in comment 15.

    I regularly write about and campaign against Islamic oppression, as well as debating with Muslims about Islam. That doesn’t mean that highlighting the harm done by the Vatican is ‘living in the past.’

  14. One thing that just came to mind Michael …

    In his Easter letter to Ireland in march 2010 he washed his hands clean of the cover up and protection of the clerical child predators. He also made it seem like he had just heard of the issue from the Irish bishops, a sort of diminished responsibility defense used by our very own Cardinal Brady ( another one with one foot out the door ).

    Anyway my parents ( still vague believers but both anti-clerical ) told me of how their parish priest ( a redemptorist ) dealt with this letter. They told me that he printed copies that would be at the door for people on the way out if they wanted it. But he himself said he would not waste time reading it to the congregation, as he felt it undermined the credibility of the church making such statements that everyone in the country knew were contra the facts.

    One part in particular was a doozey

    “…11. To my brother bishops

    It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations. I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice”

    I think the problem was that they applied the norms of canon law TOO well!

    Anyway here is a link to that lovely letter 🙂


  15. I have no idea why ‘Matthew’ gives Joseph’s genealogy rather than Mary’s and I agree that it makes no sense. But the story of the virgin birth and the story that Jesus was descended from King David are not contradictory. Why would you think they are?

  16. @Ophelia – hardly a surprise you’re a friend of his. Bigots of a feather and that.

    “His Catholic Church claims that atheists are not fully human”

    Yeah. Citation needed. Not just vague claims about “they think this… trust me, it’s in their catechism honest. No I don’t have a quote or link”

  17. Yeah. Citation needed. Not just vague claims about “they think this

    Anti-Catholic bigots don’t need citations.

    Just ten straw men…

    The next pope will be from Africa…The Dark Continent!

    And why not seeings 75% of Catholics are non-white.

    Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana?

  18. Very good. A plethora of links. That post was very well cited.

    Not convinced that they mean anything more than ‘the full potential of a human life includes a spiritual dimension, if you don’t explore it you’re not living your human life fully’ rather than ‘atheists are part inhuman’ but I’m very convinced I don’t care about them or it enough to find out.


  19. Mr Nugent you’re deliberatley misrepresenting what the good ponitff has said.
    Pretty much every human culture has had a spitiual dimension.

    Even SamHarris spent some time studying eastern religions.

  20. Have you ever been to Lourdes? Of course not. It is filled with love and compassion. The sick in Lourdes are king. Most all receive free accommodation and cared for by 100,000 volunteers a year. It’s amazing.

  21. Derek – you answered the question without waiting for an answer. Most in Ireland at least know someone who has been there, it is not some great mystery that we only need to be exposed to to find our faith.

    What does “most all receive free accommodation” mean? Is it free or not? I know that volunteers must pay their own way ( a friend of mine used to do it ).

    Someone i know had her leg amputated a few years ago. Do you think if we had brought her to Lourdes that her leg would have grown back? THAT would be amazing. Might start believing this stuff then

  22. Whilst the new Pope appears to be ‘committed to compassion’, he still has some incredibly archaic views, so nothing will change in respect to things such as homosexual and reproductive rights, among other things.

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