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Superstition


Roman Catholic bishops in the Philippines have criticised the traditional Easter rituals of people publicly whipping themselves or having themselves crucified.

It should not be done as an act of superstition,” Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, the bishops’ spokesman, said in a statement.

from ABC News

Which made me smirk a little, and think “isn’t all of religion an act of superstition?”. I wondered, how can a senior religious figure tell his followers not to conduct any acts of superstition, when one could consider everything about religion is a superstition? Perhaps I had incorrectly remembered the definition of superstition, so I thought I better find a definition and check. From Wikipedia:

Superstition is a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason, knowledge, or experience.

So my first reaction was correct, but then I read the rest of the Wikipedia entry. Not surprisingly this line in Wikipedia intrigued me, “religious believers have often seen other religions as superstition” which is like the oft used phrase “We’re all atheists, I just believe in one less god than you do”. It’s that amazing ability of religious people to look skeptically at other beliefs but not their own.

This sentence in the Wikipedia entry for Superstition also intrigued me:

Religion and superstition are usually considered separated because while superstitions are based on fear, uncertainty and insecurity in the future and in peril, religious people can feel secure and safe under the protection of their God(s), thus actually making them fearless and resilient to calamity.

But isn’t a fair portion of most faiths based on the fear and uncertainty of what happens in the afterlife? Don’t a lot of religions teach that the followers better be good or else they’ll go to hell when they die. Isn’t that then the definition of superstition per “fear, uncertainty and insecurity in the future”?

Then I got to the bit about the Catholic Churches take on superstition, which explains why the bishops in the Philippines criticised some of their followers who whip and/or crucify themselves at Easter.

The Roman Catholic Church considers superstition to be sinful in the sense that it denotes a lack of trust in the divine providence of God and, as such, is a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments.

But what constitutes superstition for the Catholic Church?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states superstition “in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion” (para. #2110); or this “a deviation of religious feeling” (para. #2111).

So according to the Catholic church its only a superstition if your too religious? 😉

A lot of people have superstitions about all sorts of weird things, but as long as you don’t let them rule your life, or worse make your superstitions rule other people’s lives, then they are probably reasonably harmless.

Then there’s always this fantastic Superstition:

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In the news (last week)

What I would have discussed last week if I’d had the time and inclination.

Safran ‘crucifixion’ offends villagers

Devout Christian followers of Good Friday’s crucifixion rituals in the rural Philippines village of Kapitangan were devastated to learn that John Safran‘s nailing to the cross alongside local penitents was a TV comedy show stunt.

Safran actually had nails hammered through his hands for this show, talk about suffering for your art.

Young couple shot dead for trying to elope

A Taliban firing squad killed a young couple in south-western Afghanistan for trying to elope, …

The Taliban, Sahria Law, religion a law unto itself, and very unjust laws they are.

Pell backs Pope in saying condoms worsen AIDS spread

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney said on morning television yesterday that condoms “encourage promiscuity” and were not the solution to the AIDS epidemic.

“The idea that you can solve a great spiritual and health crisis like AIDS with a few mechanical contraptions like condoms is ridiculous,” he said on Sky News.

Proving Pell is just as stupid and ignorant as the Pope. AIDS isn’t a spiritual problem it’s a health problem, and one of the best methods of preventing it, if you are engaged in an active sex life (as eventually just about everyone gets involved in; like it or not) is to use a condom.

Pakistan seals sharia deal

Pakistan’s President has signed an accord to put some of the country under Islamic law as part of efforts to end a Taliban insurgency despite fears it would encourage extremism.

If you can’t beat them, let them have their own way. Since when is that a good model of government?

“Encourage extremism”, like shooting a couple because they want to elope (see above), of course you are going to encourage extremism if you legitimise the Taliban.

Word Up, Christendom!

A witty satirical Easter message.

An Easter re-think on miracles

Another opinion piece about Easter.

If the life of Jesus is going to be questioned alongside Santa and the Easter Bunny, perhaps it’s time religious leaders took a more flexible view of the Bible and those who read it differently.

What do Jesus, Santa and the Easter Bunny have in common? None of them are real.

I know several of these article relate to Easter, which was a week ago, but better late than never I guess.

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Pope wants humanity ‘saved’ from homosexuality

I wasn’t going to bother blogging today, but when I heard this headline on the news, I knew I had to say something.

In the Pope’s annual Christmas speech he stated that:

… saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction. from ABC News

Reading between the lines the Pope seems to be inferring that if nothing is done to stop them ‘teh gays’ will take over the world, and humanity will then fade away. Well unless everyone on the planet suddenly becomes homosexual, and I for one am not about to (sorry guys, LOL), I don’t think we have anything to worry about.

I think I can confidently state that heterosexuals are as likely to become homosexual as homosexuals are to become heterosexual. I don’t think the Pope realises that your sexuality is not something you choose. Just because you legalise homosexuality, and give the GLBT community all the same rights and privileges as everyone else, it will not suddenly cause everyone to decide to become gay.

Quite rightly gay groups and activists have labelled the Pope’s comments as irresponsible and unacceptable.

Even one of Australia’s Catholic Bishops has criticised the Pope’s comments.

Happy Christmas Pope, you twat.

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what I found today

Bad Ass Popes – the six most awful Popes, via Five Public Opinions

Soft toys for boys – teach your child how to conduct Mass, via Nullifidian

Proposition 8 the Musical – satirical look at Prop 8, via Matt’s Notepad, via Pharyngula

Tim Minchin is funny – and doesn’t mind saying what he thinks about religion, via Sean the Blogonaut

20 Unusual Churches – say what you like about the religious, they build some amazing churches, via Stumbleupon

From the same site as above comes the following road sign:

M Yass

M Yass

Yass is a town in rural New South Wales, Australia.

No Clean Feed video – Priceless, via efa_oz on Twitter

Infallibility – The Catholic church explains how it infallible (yeah right!), found when researching for the comment I made at Five Public Opinions (see above). The two main proofs of the churches infallibility:

  • Proof from Scripture
  • Proof from Tradition

Such great proofs </sarcasm>

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Like shooting ducks in a barrel

In answer to a question on another forum I stated that one of the reasons Catholics are being ‘picked on’ lately is because they are making themselves such easy targets. What with Catholic World Youth Day (C-WYD)  and all the apologetics saying how wonderful it’s going to be.  Not to mention they are an out-dated, misogynistic, homophobic, power hungry, imaginary sky god worshipping, religious organisation, led by an old authoritarian man in a dress, red shoes and a pointy hat.

 

loaves and fishes A lot of the criticism aimed at C-WYD is the cost to the NSW taxpayers, with the state government spending over $100 million on it. The government has tried to deflect some of the criticism by saying that the event would bring economic benefits to NSW and particularly Sydney. Well it seems that’s not entirely true. It was revealed yesterday that a $3 million contract to provide 800,000 meals for pilgrims has gone to Melbourne. As NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said:

“The Government has boasted this is an event not just about hosting Catholics coming to New South Wales, but bringing economic benefit to New South Wales. We’ve just seen that go over the border.”

 

pope_redshoes

Then there is the report from the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano decrying the media picking on the Pope and his extravagant clothing. Esquire magazine had named the Pope as the “accessoriser of the year” mainly for his bright red shoes supposedly made by Prada. As the ABC reports

The [Vatican daily] article explained that the pope’s shoes, like his range of flamboyant hats, are nothing to do with vanity but all to do with tradition.

“The Pope, in summary, does not wear Prada, but Christ,” it said.

Except Christ doesn’t protect the pope’s delicate little footsies so he wears a nice pair of red loathers.

 

acceptance_mass_sm Did I mention the Pope and his catholic entourage are homophobic?

The group Acceptance was hoping to hold an event to discuss the issues around young Catholics who are gay or lesbian.

C-WYD organisers had already refused an initial request to allow the event to be part of official activities, now they have intervened to stop the forum being sponsored by the Jesuit group MAGis.

… MAGiS was contacted by World Youth Day officials and instructed to withdraw its support.

And some of the C-WYD apologetics say this event is going to be so inclusive. Inclusive if you are a catholic youth who isn’t gay or lesbian.

If you would like to support the gay and lesbian community, and protest the anti-condom stance of the catholic church, then you can get involved in the NoToPope Coalition. Also reported here where they say the protesters plan to hand out free condoms to pilgrims en route to the papal Mass at Randwick Racecourse.

(Though what the heck the Raelians are doing in this coalition, I have no idea. But it is probably in protest to their leader being denied a visa to visit this country.)

 

tip Catholic Church, I have a tip for you. Stop trying to make out the World Youth Day is such a great thing, we all know it’s just a recruiting drive. If you want people to stop ‘picking on you’ or ‘having a go at you’ then shut up. Most of us really aren’t interested in your bizarre rituals, including bringing dead bodies to youth festivals. This is not a catholic country so don’t try and impose your homophobic, misogynist ideals on the rest of us.

 

Richard Ackland reports that today an application is going before the High Court to see if there is a case that the Commonwealth governments expenditure  on Catholic World Youth Day is in breach of the constitution. We await the outcome.

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Crimen Sollicitationis

On Soliciting for Sex within the Catholic Church

Crimen Sollicitationis (Latin for crime of soliciting) is a document that was issued by the Vatican in 1962 to all Catholic Bishops.

The document is essentially a set of procedural norms for processing cases of accusations against priests for soliciting sex while in the act of sacramental confession.

In other words, using their status, power and authority to obtain sex whilst offering confession to one of their parishioners. The document doesn’t just cover acts perpetrated via soliciting in the confessional, it also covers acts, which it deems “the worst crime”, as follows:

To have the worst crime, for the penal effects, one must do the equivalent of the following: any obscene, external act, gravely sinful, perpetrated in any way by a cleric or attempted by him with youths of either sex or with brute animals (bestiality).

One has to wonder what was happening in the Catholic church that the Vatican had to release a special document covering solicitation, pedophilia and bestiality! (I think a WTF! is appropriate here)

The Catholic Crimen Sollicitationis Instruction was issued in the strictest confidentiality and urged the utmost secrecy in dealing with any sexual abuse claims. (see below)

As Doyle (see References) points out, these sorts of cases had been dealt with by the 1917 Code of Canon Law. The fact that an additional document was released in 1962 doesn’t necessarily

indicate a rise in cases of clergy sex crimes but could indicate a heightened concern over the incidence of clergy crimes

The document, or Instruction to give it the more accurate term, was purportedly also aimed at providing a greater degree of confidentiality than that covered under the existing Code of Canon Law.

The Crimen Sollicitationis instruction was released to Bishops world wide in 1962 but was supposedly not very widely known of. The document appears to have only come to the general publics attention sometime between 2001 and 2003 (as much as I tried, I couldn’t find an exact date when this document came into the media and the civil legal system’s general knowledge, but in 2003 it was definitely known about).

The document has been used in evidence by sexual abuse victims (of the catholic clergy) to show that, despite some protestations, the church knew that sexual abuse was occurring before 1984. Such that they deemed it necessary to issue an additional instruction in 1962 specifically covering solicitation and sexual abuse.

Secrecy

The secrecy could be seen as a way to cover up the sexual abuse, or as a method to protect the victims and accused until guilt is established.  I can see a need for a certain amount of secrecy in a sexual abuse claim. Victims, and witnesses, are more likely to come forward in the first instance and accused are more likely to allow an investigation if they know their name is to be withheld if they are innocent. I’m sure this level of secrecy is not common to the Catholic church alone.

However, it can be argued that the overriding level of secrecy within the church leads to a culture of secrecy such that no one ever admits to anything. Even though the Crimen Sollicitationis doesn’t expressly prevent a victim, witness or accused taking direct civil legal action, it does assist the church in preventing abuse cases being discussed outside the church’s legal system. (luckily it appears that the lack of general knowledge of the instruction actually enabled some victims to come forward who otherwise may not of)

As Doyle says:

The almost paranoid insistence on secrecy throughout the document is probably related to two issues: the first is the scandal that would arise were the public to hear stories of priests committing such terrible crimes. The second reason is the protection of the inviolability of the sacrament of penance.

Neither of which excuse sound very good to me. They both seem to be more worried about protecting the Catholic Church’s reputation rather than supporting the victims.

To be fair, Doyle also points out that:

It seems to be stretching a bit too far to conclude that this process is a substitute for civil law action or is an attempt to coddle or hide clergy who perpetrate sex crimes.

Even though, in many instances, the Catholic church did just that.

One final word from Doyle’s article

… the obsession with secrecy through the years has been instrumental in preventing both justice and compassionate care for victims. It has enabled the widespread spirit of denial among clergy, hierarchy and laity. The secrecy has been justified to avoid scandal when in fact it has enabled even more scandal.

Couldn’t have said it better myself, and this comes from a Catholic Reverend and canon lawyer! Reverend Doyle received a Priest of Integrity Award for his work in addressing sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy. The award also recognised his attempt to alert bishops within the Catholic Church that sexual abuse should be reported and warning of the effects on victims.

Excommunication

The ultimate penalty for anyone being convicted (within the church legal system) of the crimes within the document is excommunication. Catholic officials were threatened with automatic excommunication if they even discussed abuse cases outside the church’s legal system. Even victims and witnesses were threatened with excommunication if they broke the oath of secrecy they made at the time of making a complaint. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Excommunication is worse than death for some/most Catholics. So what incentive is there for any church official or witness to ‘dob in a mate’ they suspect of abuses?

Richard Sipe, a former Catholic priest and national expert on the church sex abuse scandal, said this about the document, “It’s a straight jacket, a religious straight jacket.” He calls the 1962 Vatican document a blueprint for cover-up and says it’s a document that demands even victims remain silent.

Conspiracy

I don’t buy in to the whole conspiracy theory that the Crimen Sollicitationis document was specifically designed to systematically cover up sexual abuses by the Catholic clergy. As Doyle puts it, it’s more: “a policy of secrecy rather than a conspiracy of cover up“. But it certainly demonstrates that the Catholic church was aware of these sexual abuses, and the mantle of secrecy would have made it more difficult for people to discuss the issue. The document isn’t the cause of clergy sexual abuse, but surely reflects the underlying culture of secrecy within the Catholic Church, which possibly led to these abuses continuing for so many years.

Relevancy

Claims the document was no longer in force after the release of the 1983 Code of Canon Law have shown to be false when in 2001, the then Cardinal, Ratzinger sent a letter to Bishops invoking the 1962 document. The fact was also brought out in a court case in 2005:

Msgr. Brian Ferme, … stated in an affidavit submitted in a California civil case in 2005 that “technically the 1962 Instruction was in force until the publication of the 2001 document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

Why?

So what piqued my interest in this now redundant document? I came across this whilst watching an episode of Silent Witness (ABC Fridays at 8:30pm) titled “Suffer the Children” in which several men are murdered and a priest commits suicide (the other part of this show dealt with young boys seemingly being ritually sacrificed). The head of the Catholic boys boarding school (I bet those four words conjure up horrible memories for some?) asks the pathologist if they had ever heard of Crimen Sollicitationis, he then goes on to explain it. The gist of the document is that the worst crimes were to be dealt with in secrecy lest the perpetrators and victims become excommunicated. Not to give too much away about the show, but the murders and suicide were linked to the priest using Crimen Sollicitationis as part of the reason for not reporting a case of sexual abuse.

So I got in the net and started researching, I was a little surprised by what I found.

Old News to Some

I understand that this story may be old news to some, a lot of the news reports I read date back to 2003. However, as I’d never heard of it, and it was featured recently on a TV show, I thought others may also not know, and be interested. Also the recent visit of the Pope to America and the impending visit to Australia has again raised the issue of sexual abuse within the church. However, to-date, most media are either unaware of this document or are ‘too polite’ to mention it.

PS. I hope the Pope has the fortitude to formerly apologise to all the Australian victims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse when he visits here for Catholic WYD.

 

References

I’d like to thank Jay at Renegade Catholic for access to documents referenced in this article, namely:

THE 1962 VATICAN INSTRUCTION 
“CRIMEN SOLLICITATIONIS,” PROMULGATED ON MARCH 16, 1962
Observations by Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.
November 1, 2006

INSTRUCTION
ON THE MANNER OF PROCEEDING IN CASES OF SOLICITATION
The Decree 
CRIMEN SOLLICITATIONIS
The Vatican Press, 
March 16, 1962
(edited translation)

Further information was obtained from the Wiki entry Crimen sollicitationis and reports in the National Catholic Reporter and FAIR on-line, as follows:

Explaining Crimen Sollicitationis
Many bishops unaware obscure missive was in their archives
Pope Gets Pass on Church Abuse History
Catholic League’s Inaccurate Critique of FAIR

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Clover versus God

SYDNEY Lord Mayor Clover Moore plans to kick Pope Benedict XVI and the six-day World Youth Day festival out of the council-controlled Hyde Park for failing to pay their bills on time.

I’d love to see that match Clover V Pope. cue WWF style MC: In the red corner, weighing in at 85Kgs, his papalness looks fighting fit, but in the blue corner, Clover, 2005 kick boxing champion, looks hard to beat. cue raucous WWF style crowd: Go Clover!

The extraordinary stand-off between the City of Sydney supremo and the pontiff follows the Catholic Church’s failure to pay a $150,000 bond for use of the park by a 5pm deadline on Friday.

and the Catholics are so poor.

The Lord Mayor supports the event but wants to make sure that Hyde Park, part of which may be

closed for up to three months after World Youth Day to repair damage from thousands of Catholic pilgrims treading on the turf,

receives due funding for the necessary repairs and re-turfing.

… but now, just weeks before it’s due to start, organisers are backing down on a commitment to fully fund the cost of restoring Hyde Park to its pre-WYD condition.

Hey, Catholic Church, you know you have the funds, just cough up.

I applaud Clover standing up against the Catholic World Youth Day, its organisers and the Pope, and trying to ensure that Hyde Park is suitably rehabilitated after the C-WYD event.

from smh.com.au

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