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Your daily dose of religious morals

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 25, 2010

Of course without religion we’d have no morals. Who would show us, by example…over and over again, what immorality looks like? As reported in the NYTimes:

Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger. It is still the office that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.

In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case from Rembert G. Weakland, Milwaukee’s archbishop at the time. After eight months, the second in command at the doctrinal office, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vatican’s secretary of state, instructed the Wisconsin bishops to begin a secret canonical trial that could lead to Father Murphy’s dismissal.

That’s what I’ve been saying all along!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 11, 2010

The Vatican’s chief exorcist has said the devil resides in the Vatican, which is what people like me have been saying for a while. He also claims to have done 70,000 exorcisms. There’s a bit of a problem with the math there as Evan of the SGU Rogues points out. My only comment is this: if after 70,000 exorcisms the devil is residing in Vatican City, wouldn’t that make them 70,000 failed attempts at exorcism?

I endorse this idea too

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 18, 2009

I am Skepdude and I approve this!

Intelligent Design gets kicked in the nuts by the Vatican

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 12, 2009

The Vatican has officially accepted that Darwin was right. That’s right folks, the Vatican accepts evolution.

The Vatican has admitted that Charles Darwin was on the right track when he claimed that Man descended from apes.

A leading official declared yesterday that Darwin’s theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. “In fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God,” said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Furthermore ID get’s a kick on the nutsack:

The Vatican also dealt the final blow to speculation that Pope Benedict XVI might be prepared to endorse the theory of Intelligent Design, whose advocates credit a “higher power” for the complexities of life.

Organisers of a papal-backed conference next month marking the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species said that at first it had even been proposed to ban Intelligent Design from the event, as “poor theology and poor science”. Intelligent Design would be discussed at the fringes of the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University, but merely as a “cultural phenomenon”, rather than a scientific or theological issue, organisers said.

Three years ago advocates of Intelligent Design seized on the Pope’s reference to an “intelligent project” as proof that he favoured their views.

Wow, the Vatican thinks ID is poor theology on top of poor science, and you know what. For once I agree with the Vatican? It’s a miracle!

Vatican issues major new bioethics document

Posted in Uncategorized by Skepdude on December 12, 2008

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican raised its opposition to embryonic stem cell research, the morning-after pill, in vitro fertilization and human cloning to a new level Friday in a major new document on bioethics.

But in the document, the Vatican also said it approved of some forms of gene therapy and encouraged stem cell research using adult cells. And it said parents could in good conscience inoculate their children with vaccines produced with cells derived from aborted fetuses.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued “The Dignity of a Person” to answer bioethical questions that have emerged in the two decades since its last such document was published.

With it, the Vatican has essentially confirmed in a single, authoritative instruction the opinions of the Pontifical Academy for Life, a Vatican advisory body that has debated these issues for years.

The Vatican’s overall position is formed by its belief that human life begins at conception, and must be afforded all the consequent respect and dignity from that moment on. The Vatican also holds that human life should be created through intercourse between husband and wife, not in a petri dish.

As a result, the Vatican said it opposed the morning-after pill, even if it doesn’t cause an abortion, because an abortion was “intended.” In the use of drugs such as RU-486, which causes the elimination of the embryo once it is implanted, the “sin of abortion” is committed; their use is thus “gravely immoral.”


The Vatican and evolution: the usual crap

Posted in Rationally Speaking by Skepdude on December 2, 2008


The news coming out of the recent, and much trumpeted, Vatican-sponsored conference on evolution isn’t that good, according to a brief article that appeared in Science magazine on November 14. Molecular biologist John Abelson commented on the most controversial figure at the conference, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn: “He believes there are gaps in evolution and [that] God acts in those gaps.” Oh boy, not the “gap theory” again?

Schönborn is infamous for an op-ed piece he published in the New York Times, “Finding design in nature,” in which he referred to neo-Darwinism as a “dogma,” a word that really should never be uttered with contempt by any member of the Catholic Church, ever. Despite Pope John Paul II’s conciliatory statements toward science in general (he pardoned Galileo) and evolution in particular, Schönborn dug himself deeper and deeper in the editorial: “Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.” Ah yes, as opposed to those most empirically based of all doctrines, the teachings of the Catholic Church!

Apparently, good ol’ Christoph gave an acceptable talk at the Vatican conference, making the distinction between “evolution” (ok) and “evolutionism” (bad). The problems started during the following Q&A session, when the Cardinal apparently felt more free to speak his mind, so much so that even Francis Collins complained! Collins, you might remember, is the former director of the human genome project, who recently flirted with intelligent design in his book, “The Language of God,” nonsensically subtitled “A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.” Even so, Collins wasn’t too happy about Schönborn’s reservations concerning evolution’s ability to explain “all aspects of biology.”

The above mentioned Abelson, on his part, didn’t mince words: “It was preposterous … a step backwards.” For Gereon Wolters, a philosopher at the University of Konstanz in Germany, Schönborn “is just repeating this creationist gibberish” so popular in the USA. Just about the least damaging statement that the Science reporter could find for Schönborn was from director of the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Peter Raven, who commented that the Cardinal’s lecture was “confused.”

Why, why, why, one would want to ask. Why is Schönborn insisting in picking a fight with science, knowing full well the past history of such conflicts, where the Catholic Church has invariably come out looking foolish? On the part of the scientists, why did eminent cosmologist Stephen Hawking agree to lend credence to the conference, and even to be touched on the head by the Pope? (What for, a benediction of the man who famously said that his theories allow him to look into God’s mind?)

The answer to the question of why scientists are so complacent with the Church is that it is hard to refuse a free trip to Rome and the occasion to schmooze with the Pope. Heck, even I would have accepted the invite, though I might have tried to steer clear of any head touching by Ratzinger and his associates. The answer to the question of why people like Schönborn keep spouting patent nonsense is more complex, but it must have a lot to do with the realization that if the Church were to fully embrace the Darwinian view of the world it would be really hard to hang on to silly notions like the trinity, original sin and my favorite, transubstantiation. The God-of-the-gaps retreat is a desperate position, but it does allow Schönborn to keep both face and a steady income. Which is why scientists should not attend religious conferences: let the religionists deal with “the problem” as best as they can, but do not lend them a crutch on which to fool the world into thinking that what they are saying makes any rational sense at all.


Vatican: Screen for possible gay priests

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 31, 2008

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Thursday recommended that Catholic seminaries test certain applicants for psychological traits — including “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” — that could render them unsuitable for the priesthood.

The statement appears in a new document, “Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood,” published by the Congregation for Catholic Education, which supervises Catholic seminaries around the world.

While they do not mandate psychological testing as an automatic part of the seminary admission process, the guidelines call for expert evaluations “whenever there is a suspicion that psychic disturbances may be present.”

The document states that such evaluations can help diagnose any of several “possible problems that block the vocational journey,” including excessive aggression, inability to trust others, and a “sexuality identity that is confused or not yet well defined.”


Science is not your merkin

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on September 17, 2008

The Vatican has announced that they are having an evolution congress, and that no creationists or intelligent design creationists will be invited. Isn’t that sweet? They’re still inviting a swarm of theologians, though, so their exclusion is all window-dressing, a transparent attempt to sidle medieval peddlers of superstitious nonsense up next to some serious science for a photo op and a little propaganda. And they aren’t even trying to hide what they’re doing.

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, told Catholic News Service Sept. 16 that organizers “wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific” and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries.

Right. Strictly scientific. With theology.

He said arguments “that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite” supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

What an out — they’re only going to allow arguments critically defined as scientific, oh, and theology. Those are two different things, you know.