Roman Catholicism: Recent News, Information, and Posts
Priest Sentenced to 7 Years for Child Porn
The Catholic Church is still having trouble with priests who are way too interested in children. In Chicago, a priest has been sentenced for the possession of not just child pornography, but violent child pornography. I shudder to think of what that might mean and why Daniel Schulte would get any pleasure out of it.
Blogsnark: Pope is Infallible in All Things
Pope Benedict XVI gave a talk in Germany which has caused a lot of controversy. What's become interesting to me are the various ways in which conservative Christians have tried to justify and defend that talk. There are legitimate arguments and, in context, what Benedict said shouldn't have been a big deal. Why, though, are the defenses so poorly reasoned and filled with so many errors?
Spain Eliminating Subsidies for Catholic Church
There is a long tradition of close cooperation between church and state in Spain. In fact, Spain has long been one of the most Catholic countries with one of the most Catholic governments - second only perhaps to Italy. All of this is quickly changing under the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and it appears to be one reason why he was elected in the first place.
Benedict: Christianity Needs to be Privileged
Catholic officials are naturally upset with the growing movement to recognize homosexual relationships on the same level as heterosexual relationships. The Vatican wants to privilege heterosexual couples and deny equality to gays and gay couples, but there is little prospect of any reversal occurring in the West - Americans and Europeans are simply moving beyond Catholic tradition.
Fear of God is at the Root of Atheism? Benedict Flubs Again
The more time that passes, the more disappointing Pope Benedict XVI becomes. Granted, I can't claim to have ever thought very much of him to begin with so it's not like I ever had very high hopes for his papacy. Still, that doesn't mean that he can't speak and behave so awfully that he will go even further downhill and become even worse.
Pope: Priests Not Meant to be Politicians
While visiting Poland in May, Pope Benedict XVI made a very clear statement against priests getting too involved in politics. Although not quite a statement in support of separating church and state, it does come close and expresses some basic principles behind why church and state should be kept separate.
Catholics Leading the Fight to Break Up American Protestant Churches?
I have written many times about the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), an organization apparently dedicated to either transforming mainstream Protestant churches into conservative evangelical churches like the Southern Baptist Convention or breaking them up and thereby eliminating their influence. What I didn't know, however, is the extent to which the IRD is led by Catholics.
Missouri Catholic Church Threatens Politicians over Stem-Cell Research
In Missouri, a nonprofit organization that advocates greater funding for stem-cell research has made contributions to the campaigns of state candidates. This is upset the Missouri Catholic Conference which is demanding that Catholic politicians return the money... or else. This has led to charges of illegal political interference against the Catholic group.
Pizza Pope Backs Off on Catholic Town Restrictions
News outlets were buzzing a few months ago when Domino's Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan announced that he was creating a "Catholic" town in Florida around the Ave Maria Catholic University he was also creating. This town was supposed to be run according to traditionalist Catholic doctrines and values, as interpreted by Monaghan. He was sharply criticized and now seems to be backing away.
Cardinal's Clause: Firing Employees With Invalid Marriages
Can a church or church-related organization condition employment on whether people uphold all of the religious dogmas and doctrines of that religion? This is obviously necessary when it comes to positions like priest, but what about other positions like secretary? The law generally provides wide latitude for churches to do this, but this doesn't mean that every example is just and reasonable.
Pope Benedict XVI Christianizes the Holocaust
Pope John Paul II was very sensitive towards Jewish feelings about Christianity's historical anti-Semitism and the Holocaust in particular. He did several things which improved relations between the Vatican and Judaism; unfortunately, Pope Benedict XVI is either tone deaf to these issues or just doesn't care as much. His attitudes suggest a failure to appreciate the perspectives of others.
Rome and the Reich: the Vatican's Dirty Secret
Critics allege that the Vatican could have done more to help Jews and more to oppose Nazis during World War II. Defenders insist that the Vatican and Pope Pius XII did all they could, given the circumstances. Much of the evidence we have tends to support the former position, but there is a lot of material still locked up in Vatican archives. Why don't they make it available to independent study?
Legion of Christ Founder Marcial Maciel Punished by Vatican
A year ago I wrote about how the Vatican was investigating the activities of Marcial Marciel Degollado, founder of the religious order the Legionaries of Christ. This is a very popular and powerful man in Catholicism, but he has also been accused of abusing and sodomizing young boys for decades. The Vatican is finally taking action, but are they doing enough?
German Bishops Want to Ban Satirical Cartoon
Muslims are not the only ones who want to ban cartoons they find blasphemous and disrespectful. In the German state of Bavaria, bishops and other Catholic leaders want to ban the MTV cartoon Popetown, which depicts the pope on a pogo-stick. Apparently, Germans just can't handle seeing this sort of thing.
Gay Adoptions, Immigration, and American Catholics
On the east coast, Catholic Charities is discontinuing adoption services in Boston rather than continue to place kids with gay families. Conservatives are happy about this. On the west coast, Catholic leaders are gearing up to disobey government immigration laws, but conservatives aren't quite so pleased about this. Why the difference?
Atheist Wins Discrimination Suit Against Catholic School
Last year, I wrote about David McNab, a math teacher in a Catholic school near Glasgow who was denied a promotion to "teacher of pastoral care" because he's an atheist. McNab sued and won - he was awarded £2000 in a ruling with wider implications for sectarian schooling.
Pizza Pope Building Catholic Town
After Tom Monaghan sold the Domino%u2019s Pizza chain which he founded, he started investing millions of dollars in conservative religious causes. Now he's working on his most ambitious project yet: a town in Florida which will be run according to his interpretation of Catholic principles. Yes, Tom Monaghan seems to want to create his own personal theocracy in the Florida swamps.
Florida: Priest Banned for Saying 'Vagina'
Priests have to be careful about what they say. That probably seems obvious, but evidently they have to be really careful about even being too clear and forthright about the truth. Catholics' sensitive ears can't always handle unvarnished facts and appear to prefer euphemisms so that they don't have to concentrate too closely on reality.
More on the Quebec Communion Wafers
Early in January, I wrote about how communion wafers are being sold in Quebec as a snack food. The story struck me as incredible and I received email from a reader in Quebec who adds some more background.
Sexual Molestation Brings Kids Closer to God
Rev. Joseph Byrns, a Brooklyn priest, is accused of molesting a boy by telling him that the sexual activity would 'bring him closer to God.' It's implausible that this might have been the only priest to abuse religion and religious beliefs in children in order to make it easier to molest them.
Vatican Owes USD $65 Million to Israel
In Israel, only houses of worship and prayer are tax exempt. Other property owned by churches must pay taxes. For some reason, the Vatican has been refusing to pay taxes on buildings it owns in Jerusalem and now the tax bill is almost USD $65 million. Other churches also owe money, but the Vatican owes most of that total.
American Catholics and Capital Punishment
Catholicism's position on capital punishment accepts it in theory, but in practice has excluded it as a legitimate option in practically all circumstances. This has led to the interesting fact that conservative Catholics who condemn liberals for ignoring Catholic teachings on matters like abortion are themselves equally guilty when it comes to the death penalty. This may change, though.
Communion Wafers Sold as Snack Food
In Quebec, a traditionally conservative and Catholic region, people can now buy communion wafers in their local grocery stores. They aren't making purchases for their priests, however. The communion wafers are popular as easy snacks. The Body of Christ: low in fat, low in calories, good for your cholesterol.
Judge Rules that Catholic Archdiocese Owns Parishes
In a very important legal decision, a bankruptcy judge has ruled that parishes and schools in western Oregon are actually owned by the Archdiocese of Portland. The archdiocese argued that they were all locally owned and controlled, meaning that they couldn't be included in assets for the purpose of bankruptcy or sexual abuse settlements.
Catholicism and Homosexuality: Complex, Delicate Relationship
New Vatican rules about gays in the priesthood threaten to upset a delicate balance which the Roman Catholic Church has been holding on to for centuries. Gays in the priesthood provided the church with a strong supply of committed priests and gays with a safe community where they could serve their communities. Shutting gays out threatens to harm both in the long run - and for no good reason.
Religious Education in Spain
A few days ago I wrote about Spanish bishops protesting the government's proposal to end mandatory religious education. Not long after that, a reader in Spain wrote to me to offer more insight on the issue.
Pope Benedict XVI Gets Immunity in Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
As was probably expected, a federal judge in Texas has struck Pope Benedict XVI from the list of defendants in a civil lawsuit against Catholic officials accused of aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of children in America. Although his actions which are in question occurred before he became pope, the fact that he is head of a 'state' matters more.
Priest, Board Excommunicated Over Finances
In February, 2005, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke placed the board of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church under the 'canonical penalty of interdict' because they refused to turn all parish property and funds over to his control. Interdict meant they couldn't receive communion or other sacraments; now, they have been excommunicated completely.
Spanish Bishops Protest Non-Mandatory Religious Education
Zapatero's socialist government in Spain has made a lot of changes which has outraged Catholic leaders: legalized gay marriage, liberalized divorce laws, legalized stem-cell research, and so forth. His latest move really has them in a tizzy, however: he wants to make religious education classes in public schools optional. Yes, that's right, just optional.
Benedict XVI Restrains Franciscans of Assisi
An interesting example of how Pope Benedict XVI is working to establish greater centralized control over the various arms of the Catholic Church is the creation of new rules governing the Franciscan monks at Assisi. They used to have autonomy, guaranteed by Pope Paul VI in 1969 - but no more.
No Catholic Exemptions for Emergency Contraception
Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, often seen courting the Christian Right in an apparent preparation to run for president, has agreed to require all hospitals in the state to provide emergency contraception. He had been expected to grant Catholic hospitals a special exemption from the general regulation, but his lawyers convinced him not to.
Catholics Bashing Gays in Poland
In Poland, gays are increasingly under attack from Catholic politicians and Catholic religious leaders. The intolerance and vilification is exceptional even for homophobic bigots, and it's generally occurring as part of an effort to defend traditional religious morality and sexual values.
Archbishop: Failure to Fund Catholic Schools = Communism?
For a long time now, Catholic Church leaders have been actively working for greater government funding of Catholic schools. This has mostly been avoided, with only limited funding for incidentals being achieved. Perhaps because of Bush's faith-based programs, however, the rhetoric is being ratcheted up.
Bush Administration Sides with Vatican Over Abuse Case
A lawsuit filed in Texas alleges that Pope Benedict XVI, while he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, participated in protecting Juan Carlos Patino-Arango, a seminarian at St. Francis de Sales Church in Houston, from accusations of having sexually molested boys. The Bush administration contends that as the head of a state, Benedict should be immune from such lawsuits.
Was Pope John Paul II Jewish?
Pope John Paul II did more than any other pope to reach out to Jews and try to reach some sort of reconciliation between Catholicism and Judaism. Could part of the motivation for this have been knowledge that he had Jewish ancestry? One historian thinks so and he may have a good case.
No Unionization for Catholic School Teachers
In Michigan, a state appeals court has rejected efforts by Catholic school faculty to join the state's teachers' union. Teachers at Brother Rice High School in Detroit hoped to achieve the benefits of collective bargaining and union representation, but it doesn't look like that will be possible now.
Catholic Chaplain Sentenced for Sodomizing Troops
In Germany, a Catholic Army chaplain was sentenced to 5 years prison after he pled guilty to forcibly sodomizing enlisted men. For some reason, this surprises people. It's certainly a bad situation, but that doesn't make it a surprising situation.
Political Value of the Papacy
Many people wonder about the value of the papacy today. After all, the pope is the last real example of the absolute monarch of the European Middle Ages. Some countries still have kings or queens, but they don't have absolute power like the pope does. How can an absolute monarch like him exist in the modern era?
Catholic School Still Trying to Seize Bar for Football Field
Not long ago I wrote about how a New Jersey town is trying to use eminent domain to seize a bar and turn the property over to a Catholic school. They are arguing that it is a better 'public use' of the property if the school can expand its football field. Thus far, the bar's owner has been unsuccessful in his legal fight.
Catholic School Bans Student Blogging
Students at Pope John XIII Regional High School in Sparta, New Jersey, are prohibited from keeping weblogs. If anyone is caught with a blog, they will be expelled. Supposedly this policy is designed to protect students, but it's more likely an attempt to stifle unwanted speech.
Student Defends Firing Teacher for Past Volunteer Work
A few days ago I wrote about a teacher who was fired from a Catholic school because of volunteer work she did at an abortion clinic before she was hired by the school. The case continues to be a point of controversy as students, parents, and faculty all take different sides on whether Marie Bain should have been dismissed.
Pandering to Religious Special Interests
"There is the much vexed question of giving birth control advice at Maternity Centres.... Nevertheless the Government opposes it on the ground that Roman Catholics object: that is to say, the Government is of opinion that it is right to withhold knowledge from the majority on the ground that a minority wishes not merely to remain ignorant itself but to inflict ignorance upon the majority."
Auschwitz, Anti-Semitism, and Modern Christianity
"After Auschwitz the mission of reconciliation and acceptance permits no deferral. Even if we know that Auschwitz is the gruesome expression of an ideology at not only wanted to destroy Judaism but also hated and sought to eradicate from Christianity its Jewish heritage, the question remains..."
Teacher Fired for Previous Volunteer Work at Abortion Clinic
Marie Bain, a drama teacher at a Scaramento Catholic school, was fired after administrators learned about her volunteer work at an abortion clinic. This may seem innocuous because such a decision follows logically from Catholic teachings. The problem is, Bain's volunteer work appears to have occurred before being hired by the school.
Italy: Vatican Upset Over Abortion Pill
Experiments with RU-486, the abortion pill, are being launched in Italy and this has outraged the Vatican. L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's official newspaper, has condemned the experiments as an "act against life," but once again some Italians are wondering if the Vatican shouldn't keep out of Italian politics.
Archdiocese Releases Clergy Files, Shows Failure to Protect Children
The Los Angels Archdiocese is losing its long-running legal battle to keep secret all of the things it did to cover up the sexual abuse of children and protect the priests who were doing the abuse. The truth is coming out and, at every turn, the truth makes the Catholic Church look increasingly worse.
Voice of the Faithful Still Fighting
Probably the largest and most influential group of liberal Catholic believers is called the Voice of the Faithful. They seek primarily to reform church policies when it comes to organization and control - their name comes from the idea that the faith is just fine, but there is something wrong with the church. Do they have any chance at success, though?
Philadelphia: Cardinals Excused and Enables Sexual Abuse
For more than three years, a grand jury has been investigating the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. They have also been looking at what the Catholic leaders had done about the abuse and concluded there existed an organized, systematic effort to cover up crimes for more than four decades.
Catholic Church Doesn't Swear By Truth of the Bible
The Catholic Church has never, or at least not for a very long time, insisted that the Bible must be read literally. Allegorical and metaphorical readings have long been standard, in contrast to fundamentalist approaches. Now, however, Catholic leaders are being even more honest in acknowledging that the Bible contains out-right errors.
Is Catholicism All About Sex?
The recent moves of the Vatican to investigate homosexuality in seminaries and in the priesthood is leading some to question whether the Catholic Church is obsessing too much over sexuality. Christianity has long had problem with sexuality, but even within that historical context it may be that they are going too far.
Vatican Considers Sanctions Against Liberal Politicians
A synod of the world's bishops has opened in the Vatican and one of the measures being considered is denial of communion to politicians who support equal civil rights for gay citizens. Yes, the Vatican really is considering punishing politicians who consider placing domestic civil rights over Catholic doctrine.
Moral Relativism and the Catholic Church
One of the most common complaints being heard from religious authorities today, and especially Catholic leaders, is the 'moral relativism' of the modern age. Religious authorities insist that we need absolute, objective values to anchor society and they just happen to know which ones....
Anti-Gay Bigots Paying for Petition Signatures
Anti-gay activists in Massachusetts are fighting hard to undermine marriage in that state. They think that they are 'protecting' marriage, but they are trying to eliminate gay marriage - and eliminating existing marriages for a class of people actually does more to harm the institution than to protect it. Unsurprisingly, they appear to be using dishonest tactics.
Massachusetts: Catholic Church Enforcing Political Conformity
Apparently it's no longer enough for Catholic priests to agree with the Vatican that gay marriage is evil; now, they also have to agree that the state should ban gay marriage - including in those places where gays are already married, thus retroactively eliminating existing marriages for large numbers of people. One Massachusetts priest found this out the hard way.
Political, Extremist Order of Priests Formed in Texas
The Catholic Church is supposed to stay out of politics, but the Vatican has approved the creation of a new order of priests based in Texas that will not only engage in overt politics, but will reportedly endorse breaking the law in order to fight abortion.
Jesus & the Money Launderers: Catholic Church Profiting From Dug Money
Is it legal or moral for a church to receive and profit from drug money - or any money made from criminal activity? The Catholic Church seems to think so. They think that donating drug money to their church "purifies" it, an ultimate form of money laundering.
Vatican Investigating Seminaries for Homosexuals
Roman Catholic leaders are stepping up their efforts to rid their church of dirty little gay priests and dissenting theologians. Their most recent move is to launch an investigation of all American seminaries of any "evidence of homosexuality" and faculty members who disagree with any church teachings. If they can end all of that in the seminaries, perhaps it won't keep popping up later on, right?
Pope Benedict XVI Warmly Greets Exorcist Convention
Yes, even exorcists have national conventions and evidently one is taking place in Italy now - though in an undisclosed location, for privacy reasons. Pope Benedict XVI seems to appreciate what the exorcists do, welcoming them by saying they should "carry on their important work in the service of the Church."
Relationship Between Catholicism and Nazism in Germany
A popular image of the Nazis is that they were fundamentally anti-Christian while devout Christians were anti-Nazi. The truth, however, is far more complicated because there were many issues on which Nazis and religious conservatives found common ground. Like any politician, Hitler was able to use these to his advantage
Archbishop: No Queer Priests
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, who is overseeing a Vatican assessment of American seminaries, has declared that gay men should not be permitted in the priesthood - even if they have been celibate for many years. It is expected that the Vatican will officially endorse this view in the near future.
Catholic Opposition to Religious Liberty (Book Notes: God's Rule)
Pope Benedict XVI has come out many times blasting secularism and political liberalism. Given how entrenched they are in the modern West, this might seem strange, but in fact what's probably stranger is that the criticisms aren't harsher. The Catholic Church has a long history of its theology being positioned against religious liberty.
Washington: Church Can Sell Churches to Pay Debt
The Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington, tried to argue that all churches and local assets belonged to individual parishes, not the diocese, and therefore could not be counted as diocese assets for the purposes of bankruptcy, debts, and sexual abuse lawsuits. A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled against them, meaning that churches could be sold to pay off debts.
Pope Links Liberal Democracy with Fascism, Attacks Secularism
Pope Benedict XVI continues his assault on secularism and liberal democracy by connecting them with fascism. Benedict learned from his youth in Nazi Germany that the best defense against an authoritarian state is a church that teaches members to submit to an authoritarian institution. Right, that makes sense.
Bioethics: Cardinal Newman Society vs. Catholic Colleges
The Cardinal Newman Society, a powerful group of conservative Catholics, has sent a letter to various Catholic colleges demanding that 18 'academics' be removed from their positions for supporting a "culture of death." These people have defended abortion rights and/or sided with Terri Schiavo's husband.
Rector Resigns After Infidelity Allegations
I wrote the other day about allegations that Msgr. Eugene Clark, rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, had been involved in a long-term affair with his married secretary. Now he has resigned his post, but without admitting that the video tapes show exactly what they appear to show.
Defrocked Priests Admits: Church Covered Up Molestations
A lot of people have accused the Catholic Church of actively covering up the sexual abuse committed by some of its priests over the years. Now, a defrocked priest has stated clearly that that's exactly what they were doing: moving him around and working to ensure that the truth of his actions didn't get out.
Vatican Slaps Down Boston Archdiocese
The Boston Archdiocese has been trying to close down various parishes that supposedly are too small to remain viable. They have also wanted to seize the large assets of these parishes, leading some to speculate that the real motivation is to get cash - perhaps to pay off debts incurred from the sexual abuse crisis. The Vatican, though, is putting the brakes on this.
New York: Top Priest Had Affair with Married Secretary?
Msgr. Eugene Clark is a very public priest in the Archdiocese of New York. More than once, he has complained about America being a "sex-saturated" society. While doing this, however, he may have been involved in a long-term sexual relationship with his married church secretary.
San Francisco: Archbishop Subpoenaed at Mass
Archbishop William Levada is supposed to take over the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a post once held by the current Pope Benedict XVI, making him the highest-ranking American in the Vatican. Just before mass, though, he was given a subpoena to testify about sex abuse in the church. Talk about embarrassing...
Vatican Rift Over Creationism & Evolution
Not every official in the Roman Catholic Church agrees with Cardinal Christoph Schönborn's recent statements about evolution. The Vatican%u2019s chief astronomer, George Coyne, has come out publicly to insist that good science shouldn't be discarded simply because some people have theological problems with it.
Catholicism as a Failed Monopoly
Can the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation be explained in economic terms? Perhaps: the Reformation could be described as an attempt by an upstart firm to move into a market controlled by a monopoly, the Catholic Church. How did this monopoly react?
Archbishop: Woman Should Have Used Birth Control
William Levada is currently prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a post last held by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - now Pope Benedict XVI. While still Archbishop of Portland, Levada objected to paying support costs of a child fathered by a seminarian by arguing that the woman should have used birth control.
Why Judge John Roberts' Religion Matters
Some conservatives have objected to criticisms of John Roberts which include aspects of his religion - conservatives argue that his religion should be off limits. This is a hypocritical position to take because conservatives themselves have done so much to make religion a political issue. They can't insist that religion only be excluded from consideration when it might hurt their agenda.
Police, Courts Helped Catholic Authorities Hide Sexual Abuse
Did it ever seem strange to you that Catholic Church authorities were able to cover up so much sexual abuse for so many years? How were they able to hide so many priests abusing so many children over the decades? It turns out that, at least in some places, they had the assistance of civil authorities: police, politicians, judges, and more who looked the other way.
Pope Benedict XVI: Western Churches Dying?
Western nations are becoming increasing secular and this has Pope Benedict XVI worried. He thinks that mainstream churches in the West are dying out and increasing numbers of people no longer have any use for his god. I wonder if religious leaders of ancient Greek and Roman paganism experienced anxiety over a similar realization at some point?
The Lessons of Nazi Germany for Christianity
The actions of Nazi Germany appear to contain important lessons for humanity about the use and abuse of power, the insidious nature of hatred and fear, and of course the importance of democratic institutions in protecting us from the whims of authoritarian impulses. Not everyone learns the same lessons, though.
Women in the Vatican (Book Notes: The Pontiff in Winter)
The Catholic Church tries to argue that its refusal to allow women into the priesthood is not a sign of misogyny - women have many other opportunities to serve in the church and use their skills, right? We can tell a lot about the real attitudes of Catholic prelates towards women by observing how they treat women in their employ.
John Roberts, Catholicism, and the Constitution
The Vatican has declared that politicians who support things like abortion rights must be denied holy sacraments like communion. So how should Catholic judges rule when American law defends abortion rights? If you are John G. Roberts Jr., nominee to the Supreme Court, that's a very problematic issue.
The Catholic Church in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany was responsible for some of the most horrific acts of the twentieth century, if not of all human history. Germany was at the time a very Christian nation with large numbers of both Protestants and Catholics. How did they reconcile their religion with Nazism? How did the churches go along with the Nazi government?
Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka: Woman Behind Pope John Paul II
The Roman Catholic Church has a reputation for being at least somewhat misogynistic; this reputation is not unearned, given the unequal role allowed to women. What many people don't realize, however, is the important role played by a female philosopher in refining, clarifying, and developing the ideas of John Paul II.
Christian Adoption Agency Rejects Catholic Couples
A Christian adoption agency based in Michigan receives money from the state of Mississippi, but it doesn't treat all citizens of Mississippi equally. They refuse to place children with Catholics because Catholicism is inconsistent with the group's "statement of faith."
Cardinal: Children of Gay Couples Cannot be Baptized
As the numbers of gay couples increases, so do the numbers of children being raised by gay couples. Churches may not approve of the gay relationships, but how will they treat the children? Some Catholic prelates insist that the children be discriminated against.
Will Benedict XVI Ban Gay Priests?
There have been rumors that the Vatican is preparing a document that would ban gay men from the priesthood, even if they are willing to remain celibate. Supposedly Benedict XVI currently has it in his possession, but it's unclear what he intends to do with it.
What Does it mean to be Pope? (Book Notes: The Pontiff in Winter)
Personally, I can%u2019t imagine what it must be like. Any head of state has a difficult job, but how much worse would it be for a pope? Any religious leader or pastor has a difficult job, but how much more difficult must it be for the head of the entire Catholic Church?
Catholicism, Evolution, and Intelligent Design
For many years, Catholicism and evolutionary theory have been perceived as being compatible rather than in conflict. That may be changing in the wake of an article written by Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. He seems more interested in defending the pseudoscience of Intelligent Design than the science of evolution.
Why Did the Media Fawn Over Pope John Paul II
One of the more interesting - or perhaps depressing - aspects of the media coverage of John Paul II's death is the way in which everyone absolutely fawned over him and his life. It's undeniable that he had many good qualities and policies, but the utter lack of even a hint of criticism or questioning was deplorable.
Coming Catholic Cold War with Evangelicals?
There was a time when American evangelicals were strongly opposed to all things Catholic, fearing a "papist" take-over of America. More recently, American evangelicals have made common cause with the Vatican in the fight against things like abortion. Is another shift in their relations looming on the horizon?
The Pope as Celebrity and Cult Figure (Book Notes)
Pope John Paul II was not only one of the longest-lived popes in the history of the Catholic Church, he was also one of the most popular popes in history. Perhaps in part because of his theatrical training, he was masterful in his use of the media to promote himself and, thereby, his ideas. Did this do more to help or harm his church?
Pope Benedict Opposes Harry Potter Novels?
Most religion-based criticisms of the Harry Potter series of books come from evangelical Christians. Catholics tend to be silent on the matter, but a report indicates that while still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the current Pope Benedict XVI was very critical of Harry Potter.
Catholic Bishops & the Sexual Abuse Scandal
As bad as the reports of Catholic priests sexually abusing children were, many were more outraged over the way bishops failed to act to defend children. Sometimes, bishops did more to protect the molesters, moving them to unsuspecting parishes where they could molest again. Was John Paul II responsible for this kind of behavior?
Catholicism in Spain Losing Ground
Spain is a traditionally Catholic nation where government and church have been close partners. Today, though, this is changing - Spain is becoming more secular and more like its northern neighbors, a development that is very distressing to Catholic prelates both in Spain and in the Vatican.
Tin Ears in the Archdiocese of Boston
The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has come into increasing conflict with its own parishioners. The Catholic prelates of Boston should be leading local Catholics; right now, they are at odds in ways that a few years ago wouldn't have been imaginable. Part of the problem is likely the refusal of the Catholic leaders to listen to the people.
Pope Benedict XVI on Anarchy and Freedom
The recent comments of Pope Benedict XVI on gay marriage have received a lot of attention, but just as most news media ignored how his criticisms were also leveled against divorce, the wider cultural implications and point of his comments have been ignored.
Italy: Fertility Law Fails; Church Wins
A vote in Italy on changing the nation's fertility laws only drew about 25% of eligible voters, far short of the 50% needed to make the vote legitimate. Most of those voting favored changing the law, but that doesn't matter. This is being read as a victory for the Catholic Church which told people to stay home rather than vote.
Canada: Nine Women to Become Catholic Priests
The Catholic Church doesn't officially ordain female priests, but that isn't stopping nine women in Canada. On July 25, the women intend to be ordained on the river near Gananoque. The spot is considered "international waters" and, therefore, outside the jurisdictional reach of any diocese.
Benedict XVI Blasts Gay Marriage
Pope Benedict XVI has continued his shrill attacks on gay marriage. I say "shrill" because there is really no substance to his complaints - he throws every negative adjective in the book at gay marriage, but what's lacking is any coherent and substantive reason for civil governments to refuse to recognize such unions.
Maciel Scandal: What's Really Going On?
There are numerous, credible allegations against Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the religious order the Legionaries of Christ, that he molested young boys for decades. If he were a priest in America, he'd have already been removed. There was an indication that the Vatican would investigate, then reports that they wouldn't. What's the truth?
Hypocritical Church's Sex Lessons
The Catholic Church has traditionally adopted a tactic of repression when it comes to various sexual feelings and expression. At the same time, they repressed evidence and discussion of sexual abuse of children by their own priests. Is there a connection?
Pope Benedict Urges Boycott of Italian Vote
Italians will be voting on a referendum to appeal restrictive laws on assisted fertility. A "yes" vote would lift the ban on embryo research, lift the ban on egg and sperm donors, and increase the number of eggs that can be fertilized in fertility efforts. Pope Benedict is urging Italians to not even show up to vote.
Vatican Lets Legion of Christ Founder Off
I earlier wrote about how the Vatican was finally going to investigate the long-standing allegations of sexual abuse against Marcial Maciel, founder of the militant, right-wing Legionaries of Christ. Now it turns out that the Vatican is going to close the proceedings down and let him off.
Divorce in the Philippines?
Divorce is illegal in the Philippines and the Catholic church would like to see it remain that way, but many citizens appear to be tired of Catholic prelates assuming the authority to dictate civil laws. Thus, a bill that would legalize divorce is moving through the government.
Brazil: Paraplegic Denied Wedding Due to Impotence
Opponents of same-sex marriage sometimes argue that such marriages would be invalid because of the absence of children. Critics say that straight couples wouldn't be denied marriage for that reason, so why do it to gay couples? In Brazil, however, the Catholic church has done exactly that: denied marriage to someone for being impotent.
Suppressing Dialogue in the Catholic Church
Jesuit Fr. Tom Reese was recently removed from the Jesuit magazine, America. People have wondered whether this was just a routine change or retaliation for his fairness in how he presented issues. It looks like the latter is the case.
Separation of Church and State: Just a Slogan?
Archbishop William J. Levada of San Francisco has been made head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Inquisition. Benedict XVI himself held this office before becoming pope. Levada's views will, thus, become important for Catholics in the future.
Pope Benedict XVI: Sins of Omission
Has Pope Benedict XVI been completely honest about his past? The facts suggest that he hasn't - that his activities in Nazi Germany went a bit further than what he has thus far said.
Pregnant Student Banned from Graduation; Father Not Banned
In Montgomery, Alabama, Alysha Cosby was forbidden from participating in the graduation ceremonies at her Catholic high school because she was pregnant. What's interesting is that the school had no problem with letting the father of the child participate - and that didn't sit well with Cosby, so she took matters into her own hands.
Pope Benedict XVI Loves Beer
The new pope, Benedict XVI, is German so it is perhaps no surprise that he has a preference for beer. In fact, he had a large shipment sent to him in the Vatican from Germany recently.
Vatican to Investigate Legion of Christ Founder
The Vatican has long refused to seriously investigate the credible allegations that Marcial Maciel, founder of the militant, right-wing Legionaries of Christ, repeatedly abused young boys and seminarians over the course of decades. That's about to change.
Most Catholic Doctors Would Prescribe Birth Control
Catholicism forbids "artificial" birth control, but a recent survey shows that Catholic doctors are almost as likely to prescribe birth control as non-Catholics. These doctors recognize that their moral and medical responsibility lied with helping their patients, not with enforcing Vatican doctrines.
Teacher: Girl a 'Slut' for Kissing
At the Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Chicago, a student had to go to the hospital because she contracted mononucleosis. People can catch this through kissing, but one of Rebecca Alvarado's teachers suggested to other students that Alvarado was a slut for catching the disease.
Florida: Judge Should Be Denied Communion?
You may remember that a judge in Florida ruled that a 13-year-old girl in foster care was mature enough to make her own decision about whether she should have an abortion or carry her pregnancy to term. Some now want him denied communion at whatever Catholic church he attends.
Catholic Hospitals Helping Rape Victims Get Pregnant
Should a woman receive worse health care because she is ovulating? That's the standard being used in Catholic hospitals, at least those in Colorado. According to their procedures, rape victims who are thought to be ovulating are denied information about all their options, like emergency contraception.
Cardinal: Gay Marriage is Destruction of the World
The Catholic church is two-faced when it comes to gays in society. On the one hand, Catholic leaders insist that gays should be treated well; on the other hand, Catholic leaders treat gays as if they were carriers of some atrocious moral evil that must be eliminated.
Nazi Pope: Italian Website Offends Catholic Religion
By now everyone knows about how Pope Benedict XVI was a member of the Nazi Youth. Critics of the pope have been using this against him in satire and this has begun to outrage defenders of Joseph Ratzinger's past. It's even led to calls for censorship.
Ebay Submits to Catholic Pressure
I've written before about efforts by Catholics to get Ebay to stop selling items they consider blasphemous. Unfortunately, Ebay has "gone to Canossa" and submitted to Catholic pressure, agreeing not to sell communion wafers. There's no word on what's next on the list of blasphemous items to be banned to appease Catholics.
Catholicism & Protestantism in China
It's difficult to know exactly how many Christians there are in China. Official estimates place the number of Catholics at 5 million and Protestants at 15 million. Unofficially, there are more than 10 million Catholics and who knows how many Protestants - between 2 and 7 percent of the total population may be Christian. Why, and why is Protestantism more popular?
Hell-Bound Pope Sign: Not a Good Idea?
In Newport, Tennessee, the Hilltop Baptist Church put on their sign the message "No truth, No hope Following a hell-bound pope!" and "False hope in a fake pope." Coming just after the death of Pope John Paul II, many people took offense at this. But why?
Wisconsin: Living Wills a Mortal Sin?
Robert Morlino, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, has told Catholics under his leadership that living wills are a mortal sin if they include provisions that call for withholding treatment that could prevent death. It's likely that he's wrong about that, though, because Catholic doctrine doesn't require life-saving treatment in every circumstance.
Vatican Condemns Gay Marriage in Spain
A recent bill would allow gays in Spain to marry and adopt children - in fact, Spain could become the first European country to do this. The Vatican is not pleased and the fact that Spain is traditionally a very Catholic nation is probably annoying them even more.
Straight Sex Good, Gay Sex Bad?
Pope John Paul II wrote quite a few things about sex and sexuality. What's interesting about people's reactions to these writings is that they tended to ignore his pronouncements regarding heterosexual activity but nodded in agreement to his pronouncements regarding homosexual activity. The theological basis for all of it, though, was the same.
Catholicism vs. Islam
The Vatican has been having discussions with Muslim leaders for about 20 years now, but the talks have gotten nowhere and now Vatican leaders are reconsidering their relationship with Islam. Some are saying that the next pope should make stronger demands that the rights of Christian minorities in Muslim lands be protected and respected.
The Future of the Catholic Church
There are places in the world where the Catholic church is the only institution with real power and ability to get things done. It's the only institution that can make a difference in people's lives. Sometimes this power is exercised with care and helps people, but will the continue in the future?
Catholic Pedophilia Crisis: Plot to Weaken Pope John Paul II
One might be forgiven for imagining that the sexual abuse crisis in America (and elsewhere) has been caused either by the priests who abuse children or the clerical culture that allowed them to get away with it for so long. According to the highest ranking female member of Germany's parliament, however, the real source of the scandal was very different.
Speaking Ill of a Dead Pope
Was Pope John Paul II a good person? That's what many think and people have been effusive in their praise for him; dissenting voices on the pope's policies are relatively rare in the media today. Such voices should be heard, however, because there are good reasons to think that John Paul II wasn't all that good and, in fact, did a lot of real harm.
Papal Contradictions: John Paul II's Flaws
Many people around the world have praised Pope John Paul II as a great man; he was, however, a man of many contradictions. For every good thing he said or did, there were at least as many bad things that he said and did.
Financial Issues for Next Pope
One of the biggest issues facing the next pope won't be Islam or worldwide poverty, it will be the financial crunch hitting the Catholic church. Depending upon what happens, it could affect the political and religious leanings of Catholicism.
John Paul II: Early Candidate for Sainthood?
A great many Catholics would like to see John Paul II made a saint; not a few Catholic leaders agree. Thus, there is a movement at work that hopes to see John Paul II made a saint quickly, perhaps even this year. If successful, it would represent an undermining of Catholic tradition.
Place Your Bets on the Next Pope
You can bet on just about anything going on in the world, and that includes who will become the next pope. Several thousand have already placed bets with Irish bookmakers. Will you?
Eulogizing a Dictator
All over the news people have been praising Pope John Paul II as a man of peace and vision, but one thing never entirely mentioned is the fact that he was a dictator - not just of a church, but also of a small state. Would any other dictator be praised in this manner, however benevolent?
Blasphemy on Ebay?
Should Ebay exclude auctions for items that are "blasphemous" or "sacrilegious" according to religious believers? That's what some are calling for in the wake of an auction for a Eucharist host from a mass said by Pope John Paul II.
Does Choosing a Pope Matter?
Some non-Catholics may wonder why they should care about who gets chosen as the next pope. After all, the pope doesn't affect their lives - right?
Public Financing of Catholic Schools?
It's getting more expensive to run Catholic schools. The nuns who used to work for nothing are getting too old to do everything and now the schools have to pay more bills for teachers. Enrollment is also down in many places. This, in turn, means charging more per student - so some are saying that the government should starting paying.
Priests for Life... Priests Against Liberty
One of the most vocal supports of the Shindlers, Terri Schiavo's parents, has been Father Frank Pavone, the national director of the anti-abortion group Priests for Life. If you pay close attention to his rhetoric, however, you'll find that his position would entail an authoritarian government where liberty is ignored.
What Would Jesus Do? Not Work With Catholics!
Christians like to pretend that they pattern their actions after what they think Jesus Would Do. I say "pretend" because it happens so often that they act so horribly - like a Charlotte, North Carolina church that withdrew from a food pantry serving the needy because the pantry works with Roman Catholics.
Bishop Apologizes for Refusing Gay Man's Funeral
I earlier wrote about the gay bar owner denied a funeral by the Catholic diocese in San Diego; well, public pressure there caused the bishop to reconsider the decision and now he says that the decision was wrong.
Catholic Funeral Denied to Gay Bar Owner
If you are a bar owner, should the Catholic church refuse to bury you? What if you are a gay bar owner? Well, that's what happened in San Diego where a very popular gay bar owner was denied burial by the Catholic church because his "lifestyle" was incompatible with Catholic "values.
Facts and Lies About Terri Schiavo (2 updates)
Terri Schaivo's sad case keeps appearing in the news, but more often than not we hear lies, myths, and distortions - consistently from religious conservatives (and especially conservative Catholics) determined to say or do anything in the name of their cause. If only they paid closer attention to medical facts and logic...
Catholic Students Complain About Writing 16-page Paper
A Notre Dame freshman in a Film, Television, & Theater class was required to write a paper because he refused to attend a performance of the "Vagina Monologues." For some reason, people are treating this like an anti-Catholic punishment.
Moderate to Head Spanish Church
It appears that the new head of the Catholic Church in Spain is a moderate who is willing to work with the government. The Catholic Church has, in the recent past, attacked the government harshly for moving away from Catholic teaching on things like gay marriage - but will that change now?
Vatican Suppression of American Theologian
The Vatican has issued a notification against a book written by a Catholic theologian. The author, Roger Haight, has also been banned from teaching Catholic theology. Many Catholics are worried about this, arguing that even if one disagrees with Haight, his book doesn't merit the punishment the Vatican is trying to employ.
The Passion for Kids?
You may have heard the Disney will be releasing a film version of C. S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe soon. What you may not have heard is that they intend to engage in extensive marketing to conservative churches, billing it as a "Passion of the Christ for kids." What, will they show Aslan being flayed to the bone?
Schiavo's Catholic Parents Seek Divorce for Daughter
In Florida, Michael Shiavo is trying to have his wife's feeding tube removed - he argues that Terri wouldn't have wanted to be kept alive in such a situation. Her parents have thwarted his efforts in one court battle after another. Now, they want a judge to declare the couple divorced.
Gay Marriage: Ideology of Evil
Did you realize that efforts to legalize gay marriage are part of a new "ideology of evil"? That's the judgment of Pope John Paul II in his most recent book. Apparently it isn't enough to categorize it with the "culture of death," so a new rhetorical phrase had to be found.
St. Louis Parish Under Interdict
In St. Louis, Archbishop Raymond Burke placed the board of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church under the "canonical penalty of interdict." This means that they are no longer in communion with the Catholic Church and cannot receive sacraments like Holy Communion. Why? It's all over a land dispute.
Catholic Church Frowns on German Burial Trends
Funerals are getting much too expensive in Germany; as a consequence, more and more Germans are opting out of formal funerals altogether. Instead, they are having themselves cremated so their family can scatter their ashes in forests or bury them in unmarked graves. The Catholic Church is not pleased.
The Passion, Recut
It looks like Mel Gibson is trying to create a new version of his controversial film The Passion, one that is more "family friendly" so that kids can go see it - and, perhaps, one that will earn him even more money. Maybe it should be renamed The Mammon
Coming Persecution of American Catholics?
Should Catholics in America expect to be persecuted? Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis thinks so - at least if by "persecuted" one means "disagreed with strongly and publicly." You'd think that a church with a tradition of honoring people who have actually died for their faith wouldn't toss around the word "persecution" so quickly.
Can Publicly-Funded Catholic Church Turn Away Non-Catholic Couples?
In California, people want to use federal funds to restore historic Catholic missions. They claim that this is warranted because of the missions' historic importance, despite the fact that they continue to be working churches. If they are government-funded churches, though, can they legally turn away non-Catholic couples who want to marry there?
Sash Wearers Disqualified from Communion?
The "Rainbow Sash" movement is a group of people who wear rainbow colored sashes to signal their disagreement with the Catholic Church's policies on gays and homosexuality. Sometimes they wear the sashes to church services which gives priests and bishops a problem: should they be allowed to receive communion? Word from the Vatican now is that they shouldn't.
Vatican Revises Annulment Rules
On orders from Pope John Paul II, Vatican lawyers have revised canon law on the issue of annulments. The purpose is to tighten up standards on who can get an annulment and why.
Roman Catholicism is experiencing a resurgence in the American South. There the numbers of Catholics is growing, but so is the number of ordained priests. At the same time, the Catholicism being practiced is far more orthodox and traditionalist than the Catholicism seen elsewhere in America, possibly portending a dramatic shift in religious and political attitudes.
Colorado: Catholic Leaders Blast Giving Info to Rape Victims
Most people usually agree that more information is a good thing, but not always. Catholic leaders in Colorado are objecting to a bill that would require all hospitals to provide information about emergency contraception. Note that the bill doesn't require giving the contraception, it merely requires telling rape victims what it is, that it exists, and how it might be obtained.
Catholics Seeking Better Evolution Education
Usually when we hear about "religion" and "evolution" in the same news story, it involves Christians complaining about the teaching of evolution in schools - but not all Christians object to evolution. Catholic educators are now calling for more teaching of evolution in Catholic schools to counter the anti-evolution bias that kids pick up elsewhere.
Ex-Priest Convicted of Child Rape
Paul Shanley, already removed from the priesthood, has been convicted of child rape and could be sentenced to life in prison. Some will see this as a victory for the many who were abused by priests, but the fact that this case rested upon claims of "recovered" memories makes it troubling to say the least.
In Boulder, Colorado, a hospital and a mortuary are trying to hammer out an agreement that would allow for the respectful disposal of the remains from miscarriages and still births â€” but not religious burials that have in the past occurred without the parents' permission. Some are claiming that objections to Catholic burials without parental permission amount to anti-Catholic bigotry.
Author of Evolution Text is a Practicing Catholic
I've written numerous times about the lawsuit in Cobb County, Georgia, over anti-evolution disclaimer stickers that were put in biology texts. A court ruled against the stickers, but the creationists are persevering. They are even attacking the author of the text - a practicing Catholic.
Canada Rejects Vatican Call to Halt Gay Marriages
The Vatican has called upon the Canadian government to pull back from legalizing same-sex marriages, but Canada is refusing to heed the advice. Catholic officials want the government to invoke Canada's "notwithstanding clause" that allows the passage of bills that violate The Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This essentially acknowledges that prohibiting gay marriage violates peoples rights.
Insurers Sue Church for Abuse Data
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles is being sued by three insurance companies who want internal information on priests accused of sexually abusing children. Apparently they believe that there is data there that would mitigate the church's responsibility for the abuse, thus also reducing the insurers' financial liability.
Creepy Opus Dei
Highly secretive and very conservative, Opus Dei is one of the most influential organizations within the Catholic Church today. The full extent of its influence is probably unknown to all but a few. It doesn't try to hid the fact that it exists, but it does tend to try to hide where it is active
WWII: Pope Kept Jewish Families Separated
One of the problematic aspects of Jewish-Catholic relations is the long history of the Catholic Church allowing Jewish children to be permanently separated from their families if they were baptized - regardless of the circumstances. It has occurred as recently as World War II, and with the pope's approval.
Catholic School Admits Gay Couple's Son, Outrages Parents
St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa, California, has decided to admit a boy adopted by a two gay men. This has outraged the parents of other students there and they want the school to admit no one except from families who abide strictly to Catholic teachings - like I'm sure all of they do. Let he who is without sin cast he first stone...
Austin Cline, Anti-Christian
There are quite a few theists who dislike what I write and what I do with this site. Some even comment on the site, though most have the sense to at least take an opposing position when they comment negatively on something here.
France: Catholics Denounce Books on Mary
Roman Catholic leaders in France that condemned two recent books on the Virgin Mary because they criticize traditional Catholic dogmas about whether she was a virgin and whether she gave birth to Jesus. It's rare for bishops, especially in France, to publicly attacks books like this.
Ireland: Priests Defrocked for Sex Abuse
The scandal of priests sexually abusing children made headlines in America, but it wasn't something that only affected America - similar stories have cropped up elsewhere in the world. Now, for the first time, priests in Ireland have been defrocked for abusing children.
Saint-Making Pope to Abandon Miracle Clause?
Pope John Paul II has created more saints than any other pope in history - in fact, he's created more saints than all previous popes combined. Now he may be looking at a rules change that would make the creation of saints easier: eliminating the requirement that a "medically inexplicable" posthumous miracle be demonstrated.
Rainbow Sash in Minneapolis
The Rainbow Sash movement is made up of Catholics working for equality for gays within the Catholic Church. Most bishops deny people communion when they show up wearing rainbow sashes, but not Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Some Catholics have criticized him for this and even tried to block it from happening.
Massachusetts Churches Oppose Being Treated Fairly
Non-profit organizations in Massachusetts have to release their financial records to the public. Churches are exempt from this provision and attempts to force them to toe the line with everyone else are being blocked. Why do you suppose they want to be given such privileges?
Vatican Campaigning for 'Christophobia'
In what appears to be an effort not to fall behind in the victimization arms race, Vatican leaders are trying to push for international adoption of the term "Christophobia," an analogue to something like anti-Semitism or homophobia. Most seem to be giving the proposal the due consideration and attention it deserves.
Knights Templar Demand Apology
King Philip the "Fair" of France and Pope Clement V accused the Templars of things like atheism, sodomy, blasphemy, and worse. Knights were tortured, forced to confess to all kinds of crimes, and the order was disbanded so that France and Vatican could appropriate their lands and wealth. Today, an order claiming to stem from the original Templars wants an apology
California: Record Priest Abuse Settlement
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County, California, has agreed to settle 87 sex-abuse claims against various priests (past and present) - to the tune of $100 million dollars. This is the largest settlement that any Catholic diocese has ever agreed to and it will probably influence what happens elsewhere around the nation.
Minnesota: Anti-Gay Exorcism Damages Cathedral
Conflict between anti-gay Catholics and those Catholics who support gay rights has come to a head in the St. Paul Cathedral in Minnesota. After a brief confrontation, it appears that the anti-gay group Catholics Against Sacrilege performed an anti-gay exorcism that caused thousands of dollars in damage.
Atheist Supports Ratzinger's Crusade Against Secularism
Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's "Iron Cardinal" in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formally known as the Inquisition), has launched a campaign against secularism in Europe. Apparently, institutions that don't adopt any particular religion are a threat to Catholicism.
French Cardinal: Islam Must Adapt to Secularism
One of the conflict points between Islam and the West is the fact that government in the West tends to be largely secular while Islam doesn't entirely acknowledge the appropriateness of secular administration of civil affairs. Muslims would appreciate a more religious government but Westerners prefer their traditional secularism. What's to happen?
Moderate Bishop Elected
There is a lot of pressure on American Catholic bishops to adopt more conservative policies, but they don't appear to be willing to always succumb to that pressure. Just recently they elected to the key post of chair the bishops committee on liturgy Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, a known liberal.
Congress Passes Bill To Repair Catholic Missions
Despite the fact that many are active churches and not simply museums, Congress has voted to spend taxpayer funds on restoring historic Catholic missions in California. This was expected for quite some time and President Bush will probably sign the measure, despite the implications of church/state separation.
Spokane Diocese Filing for Bankruptcy
Sexual abuse lawsuits are claiming yet another Catholic diocese in America, this time the Spokane, Washington, diocese. According to Bishop William Skylstad, they will file for bankruptcy by the end of November.
Federal Medical Plan Based on Catholic Doctrine
Federal workers in Illinois will now be able to get a medical plan constructed around Catholic doctrine rather than medical needs. There's no word on when the government will start offering medical plans for Christian Scientists that only covers prayer and for Jehovah's Witnesses that doesn't cover any blood products, like transfusions.
European Constitution Ignores Papal, Catholic Whining
Pope John Paul II as well as many leading European Catholics have been pushing for the European Constitution to include some reference to Christianity. Secular Europeans, led by France, have opposed this and in the end secularism won out over religion: the signed Constitution doesn't mention Christianity at all.
Stem Cell Research in Spain
Catholic leaders are already trying to fight the Spanish government's decision to legalize gay marriage, but now they are going to have to fight the government's decision to allow stem cell research. The Vatican is opposed to this move, but the Spanish government just doesn't seem to care.
California: Priest's Files Ordered Sealed
Lawyers for people sexually abused by Catholic priests have been trying to get access to those priests' employment records. The files could reveal what, if any, actions the diocese took against the priests - including, for example, transferring them from place to place instead of taking them to the police. A judge has turned the requests down.
Irish Bishop Backs Gay Couples' Rights
Not all Catholic leaders agree with the Vatican's harsh position against gay couples. Irish Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh, has said that some sort of civil union for gay couples shouldn't be a problem and may in fact be the most just course of action.
Catholic Issues and Politics
One of the problems facing Catholic voters is how to weigh various ethical issues. Democrats tend to be in line with most Catholic social principles and Republicans are more in line with just a couple - but, according to conservatives, those couple of principles outweigh everything else.
Kerry Popular With Vatican?
Catholicism is usually associated with cultural and political conservatism; while that is certainly true on a broad range of issues, it's also false on another broad range of issues. Liberals tend to focus on the former while conservatives focus on the latter and, hence, the Vatican often defies political expectations.
Colorado: Archdiocese's Tax-Exempt Status Challenged
A church's religious tax-exempt status depends upon not participating in any political campaigns to endorse or oppose particular candidates. Churches can speak out on issues, but not on candidates. Has the Colorado Catholic Archdiocese crossed this line? A liberal Catholic group thinks so and has complained to the IRS.
Mexico: St. Death Growing in Popularity
Catholicism has a lot of saints and has long encouraged the veneration of saints, but a new trend that started in Mexico is not receiving Vatican approval. Among many of the poor and desperate of Mexico it is becoming popular to venerate Saint Death. There are statues of the Grim Reaper, amulets of protection, and offerings of food or liquor.
Catholics Voting for Kerry
American Catholics have traditionally voted for Democratic rather than Republican candidates. That has changed somewhat in recent years because the GOP has been able to push certain issues like abortion so well. Still, Democratic support for the separation of church and state as well as compassionate social polices continues to resonate with Catholics.
Anti-Abortion Sermons & Catholic Women
Over 40% of American women will have an abortion some time during their lives - and that includes a lot of Catholic women, too. It's been more difficult for pro-choice Catholic women these days because the clergy have stepped up their attacks on legalized abortion. They don't want choice to exist and, as a consequence, many are feeling less at home and less welcome in their churches.
Catholicism, Contraception, and Misogyny
There is a growing movement to deny women access to birth control pills through the guise of "conscience clauses." The argument is that pharmacists have a right to refuse to fill such prescriptions if their religion opposes contraceptives, but the implication is that their religious interests are more important than women's reproductive interests - and that is arguably misogynistic at its heart.
Catholic U. Approves NAACP Chapter
I wrote earlier about the decision of Catholic University in Washington D.C. to refuse to allow a student chapter of the NAACP to form. Well, they have relented and will allow it - but only so long as the group doesn't say or do anything that the Vatican disapproves of.
Bishops Campaign Against Kerry
Catholic leaders have begun a more explicit campaign against John Kerry and in favor of George W. Bush by telling American Catholics that if they vote for Kerry, they should go to confession to admit complicity with evil before taking communion. Yes, labeling a vote for a particular candidate as "cooperating in evil" qualifies as partisan campaigning.
Austrian Emperor to be Beatified
Pope John Paul II has beatified Karl I, last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This has caused a lot of debate and dissent not only in Austria but elsewhere in Europe as well. Karl I is not a universally well-regarded figure - and for good reason.
Catholic Church Land Transfers Not Challenged
In San Diego the Catholic Church is being accused of trying to hide or shield property from lawsuits by transferring it to sham corporations. In doing so, it is alleged that they might be able to avoid selling it or having it seized over child abuse lawsuits.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Pious
Put yourself in the shoes of a company that doesn't make a great deal of profit but is facing tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits - what do you do? Go out and spend millions on a new house or new facilities? Well, you do if you are the Catholic Church - or at least the Catholic Diocese of Orange County, California.
Supreme Court Turns Down Catholic Charities' Appeal
A few days ago I wrote about how Catholic Charities in California were being forced to provide contraception coverage to employees because they didn't qualify as a "religious organization" under the law. Well, the Supreme Court has turned down their appeal - so the law stands.
California: Catholics Are Serpents
Catholics in California are fighting a ballot proposition that would fund stem-cell research. They oppose the measure for religious reasons, but they are publicly using financial reasons because they hope that the financial arguments will attract more support. They are, in their own words, acting like snakes in the grass.
Germany: Catholic Churches in Financial Crisis
The economic slowdown in Germany is affecting the Catholic Church there. Unless a lot of new funding comes in, a lot of services will have to be cut back - and employees let go, which only exacerbates things.
Spain: Gay Marriage a "Virus"
The socialist government of Spain is planning on legalizing gay marriage, something that has outraged the country's Catholic clergy. They, of course, are opposed to gay marriage - but their opposition isn't having much effect in the Spanish society, especially when they label gay marriage a "virus" that needs to be eradicated.
Kansas: School Forfeits Football Game Rather than Play Girl
St. Mary's Academy in northeast Kansas is a private Catholic school that believes so strongly in gender segregation that it was willing to accept forfeiting a football game rather than play a team that included a girl. Because the school isn't a member of any activities associations, no other punishments are possible.
Are Catholic Charities really "Catholic"?
Catholic Charities has been trying to fight a California law that requires all employers that provide health insurance to also cover prescription contraceptives for female employees. The organization argues that this violates their Catholic mission, but according to California law they aren't a "religious employer" - and they can't deny it. So what will they do?
Deal Hudson Forced to Resign
I recently wrote about Deal Hudson, a conservative Catholic who had made a big deal about the immorality of Catholic politicians who support legal abortion but who had to resign from the Bush campaign because of some very vile behavior in the past. Now he is resigning from the magazine he runs.
Arizona: Tucson Catholic Diocese Files for Bankruptcy
Portland was the first Catholic archdiocese in America to file for bankruptcy. Now, Tucson is the second. Both are due to the massive legal costs and settlements in the wake of the sexual abuse scandals and the efforts of Catholic leaders to cover up the molestation of children at the hands of priests.
South Carolina: Kerry Supporter Denied Communion
Conflict over whether people who in any way support legalized abortion should be allowed to receive communion in Catholic churches continues. In South Carolina, a man with a "John Kerry for President" button was denied communion by a eucharistic minister.
Pennsylvania: Protesting the "Crusader" Team Name
The name "Crusader" is very popular among sports teams in America, but there has been a growing awareness of it's historical connotations of violence that has led to efforts to eliminate it. In Pennsylvania, Carl Silverman is trying to convince the local diocese to drop this from its field hockey team.
Pope: New Zealand Far Too Secular
When Pope John Paul II criticizes modern secularism, he usually directs his comments to the United States and, sometimes, Europe. Now he has set his sights on New Zealand, claiming that "unrestrained secularism" has caused the island nation to become overwhelmed with fun and games on Sundays. How horrible
New Abuse Allegations in Boston
Boston still hasn't fully recovered from the earlier allegations of widespread child abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church, but now a new round of allegations have been released - at least 140. Even worse, they may not be able to afford to settle these claims.
Catholic Church, Catholic Schools, Catholic Unions
The Catholic Church opposed communism, but it still has a strong tradition of social justice that opposes any exploitation of workers. Catholic principles expect employers to treat workers well and honor union agreements. Catholic school teachers in Brooklyn and Queens are alleging, though, that the church has engaged in unfair labor practices against their union.
Fugitive Priests Protected in Rome
Vatican officials, including Pope John Paul II, have insisted on transparency and justice when it comes to priests molesting children. Why, then, are fugitive priests being allowed to hide out in Rome with the Vatican covering their costs?
Catholics for Kerry Won't Go To Hell
American Catholics contemplating voting for John Kerry in the presidential election have had to contend with claims that doing so would be a violation of Catholic doctrine. That, however, does not appear to be the case. So long as a Catholic doesn't vote for Kerry specifically because of his abortion stance, it's OK.
California: Court Demands Priests' Files
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has, for more then two years, attempted to conceal the personnel records of two priests accused of molesting children. Courts have consistently ruled that the separation of church and state provides no protection here and the same has happened once again.
Pope Condemns Gay Marriage in Canada
Gay marriage is proceeding forward in Canada now that the national government will stop challenging local efforts or court decisions that legitimate such unions. The pope is not pleased about this and berated the Canadian ambassador for extending freedom to gays.
Australia: Cardinal Challenged to Debate on Homosexuality
Australia's Catholic Cardinal George Pell has been challenged to a debate about homosexuality and gay rights by lesbian activist Monica Hingston. Monica, by the way, is George's cousin. It should be a very interesting debate, assuming Pell ever accepts.
Deal Hudson Getting Free Pass from Press
I wrote recently about Deal Hudson, Bush's Catholic advisor who had to quit because it came out he had sexually abused (some might call it rape, or at least date rape) an intoxicated student at Fordham while he taught there. For some reason, though, the press has largely ignored this. Why?
Catholic Advisor Quits Bush Campaign
Deal Hudson is a conservative Catholic who has done a lot to create public pressure on liberal Catholics, including John Kerry, by attacking their religious and moral character. Now he is on the defense and has had to resign as the Catholic advisor to Bush's re-election campaign. Why? For sexually harassing a student (some would call it assault) at Fordham University where he used to teach.
Religious Orders Won't Be Bullied by Vatican
Catholic religious orders in America don't always agree with Vatican pronouncements on various issues, like homosexuality, but they also aren't comfortable with speaking out and dissenting publicly. That, however, may be changing: a recent meeting in Texas showcased religious orders making a case for public disagreement.
It's a fact that Catholicism has long been involved with authoritarian and fascist movements. This includes both forces within the church and church alliances with outside political or social movements. Have such tendencies simply evaporated? No, they still exist - they have simply managed to go unnoticed by the general public for a while.
Communion Invalidated - Wafer Contained No Wheat
In New Jersey, a little girl's first Holy Communion has been invalidated. Why? Because it contained no wheat. Why didn't it? Because she has a digestive disorder that could cause her to fall seriously ill if she does consume wheat gluten. Roman Catholic officials refuse to make any exception for her.
Atheism as the Root of all Evil
Catholic leaders have been labeling feminism an "evil" which undermines God's plans for society - even in a recent and official statement from the Vatican. Apparently, though, the root of feminism's problems is atheism.
Vatican Condemns Human Cloning
The Roman Catholic Church may have eventually apologized for it's treatment of Galileo and they may now accept evolutionary theory, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't continue to oppose science and scientific research. Only the topics have changed and, today, that biggest topics may be cloning and stem cell research.
Italy: Religion-Based Fertility Laws Frustrate Citizens
If you are curious what America might be like if Roman Catholic officials have their way and are able to get health and fertility laws rewritten in accordance with Catholic doctrine, you merely need to look over at Italy. There the laws have been changed to better fit Catholicism and the people are getting more and more upset over it.
UK: Catholics Accused of "Tribalism"? Over Shared Schools
There have been some efforts in Scotland to merge religious schools so that Catholic and Protestant students can learn together - this might decrease sectarian distrust and prejudice. Catholic leaders, however, are pulling back from the program and are being accused to fostering tribalism.
Bush Courts Catholic Vote
President Bush is actively chasing the Catholic vote for the upcoming election, hoping that he can get as many conservative Catholics to vote for him as is possible, despite the fact that he rejects much in the way of Catholic social policies. He does, however, agree with certain extremist positions of far-right Catholics.
Catholic Orthodoxy in Oregon
Bend, Oregon's Bishop Robert F. Vasa is making things difficult for liberal Catholics who disagree with anything from the Vatican. Vasa has declared that lay ministers and cantors must adhere to orthodoxy on regarding same-sex relationships, abortion, and contraception in order to keep their jobs.
Vatican Attacks Feminism
The Vatican has released a new statement on the nature of women as well as the relationship between women and men. It is described as a "defense" of true feminism but an attack on "radical" feminism.
South Dakota: Bishop Gets PP Link Off State Web Site
Governor Mike Rounds of South Dakota has removed from the state's library web site to Planned Parenthood - after complaints from Robert Carlson, bishop of the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese. According to Carlson, he has a duty to provide "moral guidance" to the governor - guidance that ensures that Catholic beliefs are reflected by the state government.
Bush Looking for Catholic Parish Directories
Not content with getting Protestant church directories, the Bush reelection campaign is now trying to get their hands on Catholic parish directories as well. This seems to be sparking similar complaints and outrage as the Protestant effort.
Denver Archbishop: Pro-Choice People Not "real" Catholics
Who is a "real" Catholic? Conservative Catholics in America are pushing hard to make sure that the definition is restricted to those who loyally follow a strict pro-life political agenda, excluding all those who might call themselves pro-choice. Even some in the Catholic hierarchy are working with them.
Dissenting Catholic Politicians & Catholic Universities
One of the issues facing pro-choice Catholic politicians (the Democrats, at any rate) is whether their stance on abortion will mean that they will no longer be permitted to speak at Catholic institutions, like universities. Conservative Catholics would like to see exactly that happen.
Abortion Doesn't Affect Catholic Votes
One of the premises of the movement to deny communion to pro-choice Democrats (pro-choice Republicans are acceptable) is the hope that by making a big issue of their support for abortion rights, they will convince Catholic voters to go with Republican candidates. The problem is, Catholic voters don't seem to make choices for that reason.
The 'Passion' Wasn't Very Effective
It was a major theatrical event. Churches reserved entire theaters for their members. Christians were giving away tickets left and right in the hopes of encouraging profound and life-altering religious experiences in as many people as possible. And the results? Yawn-inducing, at best.
Fugitive Friar Hiding in U.S.
Catholic priests sexually abusing children is not a problem limited to the United States - but the United States does appear to allow such sexual abusers to hide out within its borders. Franciscan friar Gerald Chumik has been a fugitive from Canada for 14 years. He is an admitted child molester and he is living at a beautiful California religious complex.
Spurning the Vatican Position on Contraception
Latin America has long been a bastion of Roman Catholicism, but recent polls suggest that people there are moving closer to the northern neighbors regarding contraception - namely, that it is justified to use it.
Whistleblower or Hypocrite?
The Catholic Church has come under a lot of heat for their handling of sex abuse allegations. Unfortunately, when Catholics report priests who have been acting inappropriately they aren't always hailed for their courage. Instead, they are attacked for not taking the matter to the bishop and keeping things quiet.
Vatican Accused of Child Molestation Cover-Up
Now the Vatican itself is becoming a target of those who are trying to hold the Roman Catholic Church more accountable for the years of child sexual abuse that were allowed to go on and even covered up in America. I'm not sure what can be done to the Vatican, but they shouldn't completely ignore the move.
Shroud of Turin Must Be a Hoax
People continue to believe that the Shroud of Turin is genuine - that is to say, that it's really the burial cloth of the Jesus Christ instead of a medieval forgery. Why? There's no good evidence for its authenticity while there is all sorts of evidence for it being a fake.
Vatican Bank Being Sued
It seems like the Vatican Bank is in a bit of trouble. Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale has filed a lawsuit charging officials at the Vatican Bank with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. If he wins, damages could exceed USD $600 million.
Secret Anti-Kerry Orders from Vatican
I have written before about a letter sent by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Inquisition) to the American bishops indicating that the denial of communion to pro-choice politicians wasn't necessarily the wisest course of action. A new, secret letter has been released that takes a much stronger stand.
Vatican Running a Deficit?
The Vatican is apparently running a deficit - to the tune of USD $11.8 million, in fact. People often insist that the Holy See is an incredibly wealthy organization, something denied by Catholic leaders.
AmeriCorps Must Stop Funding in Catholic Schools
AmeriCorps has been financing programs that put volunteers in Catholic schools, even teaching "Christian values" via programs like University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education. Now, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler has ruled that this must stop because it violates the separation of church and state.
Kerry Cited in Heresy Charges
Conservative Catholic outrage at John Kerry seems to increase on an almost daily basis. Why? I would hazard to guess that his public presence as a liberal Catholic makes it more difficult for them to claim to be the only True Catholics in America and to argue that there is something unseemly about liberal Catholicism. Perhaps that's one heresy charges have been filed against Kerry.
Portland Archdiocese Files for Bankruptcy
Paying victims of sexual abuse committed by the clergy has been difficult for Catholic dioceses in America. Now, the Portland Archdiocese has announced that the prospect of huge judgments against them is forcing them to file for bankruptcy in order to protect their assets from creditors. This is believed to be the first time a diocese in America has ever filed for bankruptcy.
Sex Abuse Lawsuit in Pittsburgh
Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh has long enjoyed a positive reputation for his handling of allegations of sexual abuse committed by priests against children. That may be about to change: a new lawsuit charges the bishop, along wish his predecessor, of covering up numerous instances of child sexual abuse.
Catholics Continue Opposition to Morning-After Pill
Massachusetts is considering a bill that would require all hospitals to provide information about morning-after pills (emergency contraception) to rape victims as well as make the pills available upon the request of the women. Catholic clerics fiercely oppose this, saying that this would violate their religious beliefs. Apparently, the medical duty of the hospitals doesn't matter to them.
Singling Out Catholic Democrats
Catholic bishops who talk about denying communion to pro-choice politicians and voters keep insisting that this is simply a matter of internal church discipline. Don't they have the right to determine who may and may not receive communion in their churches? Of course they do. But don't believe for a second that this is only a matter of church discipline.
Catholic Confusion on Gay Marriage
Catholics have been experiencing some difficulty getting other Americans to go along with their view regarding gay marriage. More and more people are adopting tolerant attitudes towards homosexuality and Catholics can't get people to understand that there is something intrinsically wrong with it all.
Republicans Plan Catholic Outreach Tour
President Bush's visit to the Vatican and request to get American bishops to fall in line behind him doesn't appear to have worked, so now Bush is looking to reach out to Catholic voters directly, bypassing their clergy entirely. I wonder how many will falls for it?
Bishops vs. The Bible
Catholic leaders argue that abortion is wrong and should be outlawed. They do not do this simply as a matter of Catholic theology but, rather, as a matter of "natural law"? They say that abortion is just as wrong as murder and it doesn't require Christianity to understand that. At least, that's what they argue.
Pro-Choice Catholics Advised to Confess
The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a sin - not simply in the sense that getting an abortion is a sin, but also in the sense that voting to keep abortion legal is a sin. Because of that, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has said that Catholics who support abortion rights must go to confession before receiving communion.
Voting for Pro-Choice Politicians Not Sinful
The debate over whether it is appropriate for Catholic bishops to threaten withholding communion from pro-choice politicians and maybe even those who vote for them has tended to ignore whether there is even a good reason to do such a thing. Conservatives act like it's obvious, but the Vatican disagrees.
Pope Expresses "Sorrow"? Over Sacking of Constantinople
Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, spiritual leader of around 300 million Orthodox Christians, recently visited the Vatican. Pope John Paul II expressed "sorrow"? over the sacking of Constantinople in 1204. He didn't say he was "sorry"? (it was, after all, Western Crusaders who did the deed during Easter week), just that he shared "anger and pain"? over it.
Anti-Catholic Editorial in Jewish Weekly?
There has been growing criticism of Catholic bishops and their efforts to influence American elections. Even more interesting, though, are the responses of conservative Catholics to these criticisms - they reveal a great deal about their theology and politics.
Nun Settles 50-year-old Abuse Allegations
Most reports of Catholic religious figures abusing children involve priests, but sometimes they also involve nuns. Recently a woman abused by a non 50 years ago was awarded a large amount of money in settlement - and an apology.
Catholic Hierarchy Backs Gay Marriage Ban
That Catholic leaders in America would oppose legalized gay marriage is no surprise, but it's still important to note when official statements are released on this matter. Recently, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops gave his official backing to a Constitutional ban on gay marriages
Catholic University Rejects NAACP Student Group
The Catholic University of America, located in Washington, D.C., has refused a student's request to begin a campus chapter of the NAACP. This has led to charges of racism and a lawsuit may occur. The University argues that the decision was because the NAACP support choice in abortion, a position which conflicts with Catholic doctrine.
Pimping the Catholic Church
Quite a few conservative Catholics are practically salivating at the thought of Catholic bishops putting pro-choice Catholic politicians on the spot by requiring them to either stop voting pro-choice or stop taking communion. They insist, however, that such standards not be applied to them and their positions on issues like war or the death penalty.
Priests' Abuse of Kids Goes Back for Centuries
Roman Catholic officials have treated priests' sexual abuse of children as a relatively new phenomenon, at least in the sense of being a major problem. Some have argued that it's an American issue, due to our puritan attitudes towards sexuality. Some have argued that it's due to allowing too many gays into the priesthood. In reality, officials have known about this for at least 1,700 years.
Catholics Urge Denial of Communion to Pro-Choice Politicians
Conservative Catholics in America are making more noise about their desire to see pro-choice Catholics denied communion. They are, I suppose, getting tired of having to share mass with Catholics who don't think that the criminalization of abortion is the best or only way to reduce the number of abortions.
Church May Fire Gay Wedded Couples
Churches in Massachusetts have been placed in an interesting quandary: if they oppose homosexuality and gay marriage, what do they do if any gay employees decide to marry? Such a marriage would be completely legal and legitimate in the eyes of the state, but it would be immoral in the eyes of the church. Can the church act against people engaged in legal activity?
Bishops to Decide on Giving Communion
There has been a lot of debate recently about whether bishops should give communion to Roman Catholic politicians who vote for laws the bishops oppose. American bishops met recently to discuss the matter and reached a decision: let individual bishops do what they want in their own diocese.
Priests Charged with Sex Abuse Hidden Abroad?
The American Catholic Church has been struggling with the sexual abuse scandal for a couple of years now and even efforts at reform have been met with suspicion and doubt. Now there are reports that priests accused with sexual abuse have been hidden abroad, out of the reach of the law, and if true that will infuriate critics even more.
Misplaced Faith at Catholic Schools
There is a debate in Scotland over the status of non-Catholics in Catholic schools. Should only Catholics be able to hold teaching and administrative positions? Some think so and argue that it is necessary to maintain the uniquely 'Catholic' (and superior) quality of the school.
Catholics Told to Reject Pro-Gay Candidates
In a new sign that certain Roman Catholics in America are trying to impose their religious doctrines on all of society, a Catholic group in Boston is instructing Catholics to reject candidates that don't support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages. Why? Because gay marriages are contrary to Catholic doctrine.
Catholic Priest Tells All. And Then Some
We know for a fact that not all Catholic priests remain true to their vows of celibacy. Few priests have been willing to come clean about their behavior to the public and reveal just what they have done. Father Jose Mariani in Cordoba, Argentina's third-largest city, has broken with tradition and written a book.
Free Presbyterians To Save Catholic Priests
The pope may not be the Antichrist anymore, but that doesn't mean that Catholics aren't on the way to hell and don't need to be saved from their own religious perfidy. Free Presbyterians in Ireland understand this, that's why they are on a crusade to save the Catholics by converting all their priests.
The Pope is Not the Anti-Christ!
I know that it's hard to believe, but a recent news item indicates that the pope may not, in fact, be the Antichrist after all! At least, that's the word from the new Presbyterian Moderator, the Rev Dr. Ken Newell. I wonder if he's right?
Vatican to Combat Alternative Religions
Catholic leaders around the world are growing more and more concerned about the influence of (and competition from) New Age, alterative religious movements. As a result, many have met at the Vatican to come up with a coherent and organized strategy for dealing with alternative religions.
Anti-Catholic Bigotry or Political Prudence?
Efforts by Roman Catholic leaders to get both politicians and regular voters to more closely adhere to church policy regarding abortion (but not much else) has caused some to become concerned about the possible influence of the Vatican on American politics. Is this a return to anti-Catholic bigotry?
Bush Seeks Vatican Help to Get Reelected
In a step regarded by many as unprecedented. President Bush has actually asked the Vatican for help in getting re-elected. In 1960 a Catholic candidate assured the American public that he would not govern according to Vatican demands; today, an evangelical Protestant has requested help from the Vatican and made promises about his policies in return.
Pro-Choice Republicans Given Pass By Bishops
Many conservatives and Catholic leaders have assailed Catholic Democrats who oppose the criminalization of abortion. It is interesting, though, that Republicans who are pro-choice don't receive the same treatment. If this were simply about Catholic doctrine, bishops and others wouldn't have a double standard.
TVs and Phones "Destroying"? Irish Society?
Archbishop Sean Brady, highest ranking member of the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland, has declared TVs and cell phones to be threats that could tear society apart unless people turn them off one day a week. Isn't that just a bit over the top?
Imposing Catholic Teachings on the Nation?
Critics have argued that Roman Catholic leaders have been stepping over the line by trying to encourage the criminalization of abortion. It is claimed that these religious leaders are simply trying to have Catholic doctrine imposed upon all Americans, regardless of their religion, and this would be an illegitimate violation of the separation of church and state. Is this a valid criticism?
Ratzinger Critical of Denying Communion to Politicians
A number of American bishops and cardinals have threatened to withhold communion from politicians who refuse to criminalize abortions and even voters who support such politicians. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Inquisition), has suggested that this might be the wrong way to do things.
Priest Defrocked for Abusing Girls
Most cases of priests sexually abusing children involve young boys - but not all. One man has been removed from the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston for sexually abusing girls preparing to become nun
Which Senators are the most Catholic? According to conservatives, liberal Democrats are insufficient Catholic to justify even using that label, but a study done by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois indicates that Democrats' voting record more closely matches the standards and value set by the Catholic hierarchy.
American Cardinal Calls for More Church Control of Society
Chicago's archbishop Cardinal Francis George, visiting Rome with other American bishops, has issued a statement to Pope John Paul II and the public which indicates that he thinks more control over social institutions should be removed from government oversight and turned over to religious groups (in particular the Catholic Church, I assume).
Colorado Bishop 'Clarifies'? Political Remarks
The recent attempt by Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs to tell Catholics they shouldn't vote for pro-choice candidates if they want to receive communion has generated a lot of negative reaction. It's no wonder, then, that he might want to 'clarify'? his remarks.
Is Kerry Safe from American Bishops?
John Kerry has been experiencing some problems with American bishops who argue that politicians who support abortion rights, and perhaps even the citizens who vote for them, should be denied communion by the Roman Catholic Church. Polls suggest, however, that the average Catholic isn't very supportive of this.
Pope to Beatify Antisemitic Gibson's Muse
Anne Catherine Emmerich was a 19th century German nun whose bloody visions of Jesus's death served as a principle inspiration to Mel Gibson when he made his movie 'The Passion of The Christ.'? Now, it looks like she will be beatified, which means that her violently antisemtiic visions will be given legitimization.
Vows Change for Roman Catholics in Italy
The vows one says when one gets married says something about the nature of the relationship and about the way men and women are regarded in society. It is thus good that the vows Italian Catholics say are being changed from 'I take you' to 'I receive you.'
Pope: America is 'Soulless'
Pope John Paul II isn't really happy with the United States of America and never has been. He objects to America's liberal, secular culture and doesn't approve of how liberal American Catholics can be. It's no surprise, then, to hear him describing America as 'soulless'.
AU Calls for Audit of Catholic Diocese
The recent attempt by Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs to tell Catholics they shouldn't vote for pro-choice candidates if they want to receive communion has generated a reaction from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State: they are asking the IRS to take a look at whether Sheridan has violated the diocese's tax exempt status.
Disgraced Cardinal Given Top Vatican Post
Former Archbishop of Boston Bernard Law, believed by many of having covered up for pedophile priests and forced by the scandal to resign, has been appointed to a prestigious sinecure by the Pope. Now the Archpriest of the St Mary Major basilica, the third most important place of worship in Rome, Law will be in charge of the basilica's administration.
Why Girls Shouldn't Be Altar Servers?
Apparently, there is a feeling among some Catholics that female altar servers are intimidating to the boys who might otherwise be serving. Girls couldn't always be altar servers and that was only recently changed. Some Catholics think, though, that it should be changed back.
Catholic School Boots Whistleblower Student
Sometimes Roman Catholic official act like caricatures of themselves - itâ€™s almost like they sit down and plan how to validate othersâ€™ prejudices about how the church works. In latest case, a Catholic school student who went public about the alleged sexual meaning behind colored bracelets has been kicked out of her school.
Birth Control Coverage in Peril
First legislators wanted to just exempt Catholic institutions from having to fund health insurance coverage for things like birth control, arguing that it was a violation of Catholic doctrine to do so. Now legislators are looking to extend such exemptions to all employers. That's fair from the perspective of employers, but it marks a major step in undermining women's rights and health.
Pedophile Priest Marries Ex-Nun in Prison
James Porter of Massachusetts was convicted in 1993 of sexually abusing 28 children. He's served out his sentence, but the state of Massachusetts would like to keep him in jail as a "sexually dangerous person"? who would continue to be a danger if released. While he awaits the decision on that, he has married - an ex-nun.
Wafer Watch: Double Standard in Religion Reporting
There is a lot of attention paid to John Kerry's religious habits: where he goes to church, when he goes to church, and whether he receives communion or not. Is it interesting that similar attention is paid to the religious habits of George W. Bush? What about Republican Catholics who are pro-choice?
Bishops Pressures Politicians, Parishioners Resist
I‘ve written before about how American bishops are trying to pressure both politicians and citizens into voting for Republicans by threatening to deny them communion if they vote for pro-choice candidates. Neither group - citizens or politicians - are happy with this and they are reacting very negatively.
Nuns Abused, Raped Deaf Students?
Usually when we hear about abuse - especially sexual abuse - of children in the context of the Roman Catholic Church, was assume that we will be hearing a story about priests. Nuns, however, sometimes get out of line as well it seems.
Vatican Warns Against Marriage to Muslims
Interfaith marriages are relatively common in America - because people of so many different cultures, ethnicities, and religions are thrown together rather than kept separate, the chances for friendship and romance are increased. Some religious leaders are, however, dismayed by such developments.
Anti-Abortion Saint Canonized
Pope John Paul II has canonized several new saints, one of whom appears to have been chosen as an "anti-abortion" saint. She worked hard for her family, her children, and others as a pediatrician - but none of that ever would have qualified her for sainthood. No, that came because she chosen to carry her final pregnancy to term despite the risk to her health.
Anti-Abortion Democrat on Abortion and Politics
Although most Democrats are pro-choice, even among them there are those who think abortion is wrong. So why are they pro-choice? Because there is no absolutely and necessary connection between thinking abortion is wrong and believing that it should be criminalized. There are other ways to deal with the matter - ways which include allowing women to make their own decisions and choices.
Reining in the Faithful
Catholic leaders are taking new steps to enforce political orthodoxy among America's Catholics. Before archbishops threatened to withhold communion from politicians who had their own ideas about how Catholic doctrines should be translated into public policy. Now, the Archbishop of Colorado Springs is threatening to do the same with citizens who vote for those politicians.
Vatican: Prisoner Abuse Bigger than 9/11
Although the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were a tremendous physical and psychological blow to the United States, some think that the ever-growing prisoner abuse scandal could end up being a much larger blow - because it strikes at the heart of American claims to credibility and leadership.
Papal Envoy Hints at Support for Gay Unions
Pope John Paul II has said that gays should not be allowed any kind of official union that might be considered "marriage," but Monsignor Manuel Monteiro de Castro, papal envoy to Spain, has spoken out in favor of some sort of legal recognition for same-sex couples. He doesn't think that they should be considered marriage, but he does think that the church's position here should change.
New Jersey Politician Leaves RCC Over Abortion Policy
Bernard Kenny, Senate Majority leader in New Jersey, has informed the pastor of his Catholic church that he is leaving Roman Catholicism after 57 years. Why? Because he does not feel that he can remain part of a church that tries to tell him how to vote as a legislator in order to remain a "Good Catholic."
Polish Church Spokesman Refuses to Condemn Church Antisemitism
Antisemitism has long been a serious issue in Poland. In fact, Polish antisemitism was an significant factor in the Nazi extermination of the Jews - some of the worst extermination camps were located in Poland and almost all Polish Jews were killed. Unfortunately, Polish antisemitism hasn't ended yet - and the Roman Catholic Church bears some of the responsibility for it.
Church Playing Politics
Is it a good idea for the Roman Catholic Church to try to insert itself in the middle of political debates by attempting to intimidate Catholic politicians into voting certain ways? Well, the bishops certainly think that its a good idea - at least when it comes to matters like abortion - but they may be making a serious mistake.
Irish Nuns Apologize for Abuse
During the 1950s and 1960s, institutions run by the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland were responsible for horrific abuses of young girls - including working long hours for little compensation and vicious physical beatings. The order has publicly apologized for what they have done, despite fighting the allegations in the past.
Cuomo: Religious Belief and Public Morality
The Roman Catholic Church is attempting to come down hard on Catholic politicians who won't try to criminalize abortion. According to some, it's not possible to be a "good Catholic" without doing that - thus excluding both those who don't disagree with abortion and those who think that fighting abortion should be done via other means. How valid is this position?
Vatican Rebuffs Spanish Muslims
Once a Roman temple and then a Muslims mosque, the cathedral of Cordoba is important to both Christians and Muslims. Now some Spanish Muslims are asking for the right to pray there - and the Vatican regards this as trying to "take revenge" on the Catholic Church.
Evaluating Kerry's Catholicism
There is a lot of debate about John Kerry's Catholicism. Whereas John F. Kennedy needed to reassure voters that he wouldn't govern based upon Vatican policy, conservatives today are trying to argue that Kerry isn't a "good Catholic" unless he does exactly that. Is such criticism legitimate?
Vatican's Exorcist Growing in Popularity
Exorcism sounds like an outdated practice that wouldn't be done anymore, but in reality it continues to be quite popular among Catholics and non-Catholics. The Vatican's "top exorcist," for example, is very popular and evidently does around a dozen or so exorcisms every single week. Every week! That's more than most Catholic priests say mass.
NJ Governor Won't Seek Communion in Public
The latest Catholic politician to get hit by a Catholic Church more concerned with whether liberal politicians are adhering to church doctrines than conservative politicians is New Jersey Governor James. E. McGreevey. He has agreed not to seek communion in public because he supports the right of women to make their own decision about whether to get an abortion.
Anti-Abortion Voters Should Support Kerry
People who oppose abortion want to see the numbers of abortion drop and, preferably, reach zero. This means voting for candidates who are anti-abortion, right? Maybe not. Evidence indicates that the number of abortions is lower in places where abortion is legal and higher in places where it is illegal. Thus, anti-abortion Americans should perhaps vote for John Kerry rather than George W. Bush.
Catholic Institutions in Massachusetts Grapple with Gay Marriage
It is very likely that gay marriage will become fully legal in Massachusetts soon. Everyone will have to make some adjustments, but the difficulties facing Roman Catholic institutions may be the greatest. The Massachusetts has ruled that gay couples will have to get the same benefits as straight couples. What will Catholic institutions do?
Republicans Furious at being Criticized by Catholic Group
I've written before about the curious fact that Catholic politicians in American are being expected by some to unwaveringly hold to Roman Catholic teaching on abortion in order to be considered "good Catholics," but not when it comes to any other facet of Catholic teaching. That double standard has been mostly unstated, but now some Missouri Republicans are openly proclaiming.
Conservative Catholics Fight 'Future Church'
There are a number of grass-roots liberal groups working to change the direction of the Roman Catholic Church in America. Conservatives, however, are not sitting down and taking this lightly. In Cleveland, Ohio, conservative Catholics have formed a group called "Save Our Church" to combat the efforts of a liberal group called "Future Church." Let's get ready to rumble!
Archbishop Fires Abuse VIctim Advocate
For many years, the Rev. Thomas P. Doyle has been one of the most vocal supporters of victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic clergy. Now Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of the Archdiocese for the Military Services has withdrawn his endorsement of Doyle and that means that Doyle can no longer say mass. Some see this as retaliation for Doyle's support of victims over the victimizers.
Priest Was 'Godless,' Satanic Killer?
One of the ways in which prejudice against atheists comes out is the way everyone who does anything depraved gets described as an atheist, as godless, etc. It seems like no one can imagine a devout religious believer doing anything wrong. That's seems to be what's going on in Toledo, Ohio, where a Catholic priest has been charged with the murder of a nun 24 years ago.
Catholics Question Abortion Focus
Some Roman Catholic bishops want to deny communion to politicians who support abortion rights - a position which might seem reasonable given the church's opposition to abortion. The reasonableness of this falls away, however, when we consider the fact that these bishops aren't taking a similar stand when it comes to other issues like war, poverty, or the death penalty.
Letting Doctors Refuse to Treat Gays
Catholic healthcare providers get a lot of sympathy for their desire to be allowed to refuse to perform certain procedures like abortions or sterilizations. In Michigan their attempts to get exemptions from the legal and ethical standards that apply to everyone else may mean that any healthcare provider will be able to refuse to treat any person on moral, ethical or religious grounds.
Anti-Catholicism in "Left Behind" Series
The "Left Behind" series of books, created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins in 1995, have been hugely popular. They also represent a view of Christian theology which is not universally held by all Christians - and, according to some, it encourages an anti-Catholic attitude that has been an undercurrent in Protestantism for a long time.
Suffering vs. Resurrection
One of the curious features of Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion" is its almost-exclusive focus on Jesus' suffering and death. While it is true that they are important to Christian theology, it is also true that Jesus' life and resurrection are important as well. So why are they given hardly any attention?
Pope's Support of Feeding Tubes Riles Catholic Hospitals
What should be done with a person who is in a persistent vegetative state and whose body only continues to live through the intervention of machines, like feeding tubes? According to Pope John Paul II, we are morally obliged to keep the machines running - a decision that conflicts with the standard practices in many Catholics hospitals.
Bishops Delay New Sex-Abuse Audits
In the wake of the sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, bishops agreed to institute new disciplinary and reporting standard as well as a follow-up audit in order to determine how well the various dioceses were implementing the changes. Now, a second round of audits has been delayed - and a lot of people are criticizing the decision.
Liberal Priest Booted, Starts New Church
In April 2002 Rev. Bill Hausen was transferred from his Sewickley parish (located in a Pittsburgh suburb) to the Sacred Heart Parish in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Why? Because he had the audacity to say in an Eastern sermon that the church should ordain women and let priests marry.
While visiting Greece in 2001, Pope John Paul II issued ao formal apology for crusaders who sacked Constantinople 800 years ago. In a speech on the 800th anniversary of the attack, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the Orthodox Christians, formally accepted that apology.
Polish Bishops: Vote Christian!
In Poland, the Roman Catholic hierarchy doesn't want people voting for politicians who are insufficiently Christian and/or insufficiently Catholic. Apparently, such people just can't be trusted and don't have very good values. This, I suppose is what Catholic leaders in Poland think passes for appropriate behavior.
Gay Marriage Exposes Hate and Fear in South
In many areas of the south, gay marriage and homosexuality in general have become "public enemy #1." They are regarded as an unforgivable assault upon Christian values and American society - so much so, in fact, that the opposition is often accompanied by a great deal of hatred and violent language.
Catholic Scorecard for Democrats?
Democratic politicians keep coming under attack from conservatives for not being sufficiently religious and even for not being sufficiently "Catholic." Is this true? Such allegations usually focus on a couple of issues, like abortion or stem-cell research, and Democrats argue that a wider range of subjects should be considered as well.
A Second Face on the Shroud of Turin
All scientific tests done so far have indicated that the Shroud of Turin is not a genuine burial cloth of someone like Jesus but is, instead, a fake. Even a casual examination by someone familiar with anatomy will reveal that it can't be a genuine image of a real person. A new test has even revealed something very interesting: a second face on the back of the cloth.
Catholics Identifying Feminism as a Secular
Is feminism an evil that is comparable with the abuse of drugs? Apparently so - at least from the perspective of some Catholic leaders who can't abide by the idea of women having equal rights and opportunities in modern society. After all, women have a divinely ordained place in the church, the home, and society - any time they get uppity and seek something better, they are defying God.
Catholic War on Gay Marriage
Catholic legislators in Massachusetts who support gay rights are experiencing lobbying pressure from the Catholic Church unlike anything that they have ever seen before. Even the church itself hasn't gone to such lengths when it comes to issues like abortion or the death penalty.
Oil Tears Don't Deter Faithful
Statues that weep or bleed are popular among some religious believers, especially Catholics, despite the fact that none have actually been proven to cry real tears or shed real blood. In fact, even when it is proven that such statues are a fake, the flood of pilgrims doesn't seem to abate.
Bootlegging 'The Passion'
Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion" is supposed to be a religious movie and its audience is supposed to be sincerely Christian people. One would think, then, that such people would refuse to break the law in order to see their Savior tortured and crucified for two hours - right? Well, maybe not.
Unreliable Shroud of Turn Documentary
Conservatives like to complain about the "liberal" media, but the fact of the matter is that even a place like PBS will pander to popular religious beliefs when it serves their interests. It's not their fault that ultra-conservative religious beliefs aren't the most popular and, hence, aren't worth pandering to.
Catholic Masses Outsourced to India
The question of "outsourcing" is a big issue in the American media today. More and more companies are outsourcing whatever they can to other nations where the same job can be done with the same quality but at a lower cost. Who would have thought, however, that the Roman Catholic Church would be doing the same thing?
Church Employee Supports Kerry, Is Fired
Ono Ekeh was an employee of the U.S. Bishop's Conference. Ekeh was also founder and moderator of the Catholics for Kerry e-mail discussion list. Unfortunately, his participation in the latter ended his employment. The Conference has the right to fire anyone who is involved in any sort of political or social activity they don't approve of - even supporting the "wrong" candidate for president.
Sunday For God, Not Sports
In most Christian denominations, Sunday is supposed to be a "day of rest" in remembrance of the idea that after God spent six days creating the world, he rested on the seventh. Most Christians, though, don't do much in the way of commemoration - even if they attend church, the spend the rest of the day doing other things like working or watching sports. Pope John Paul II doesn't like that.
Catholic Publication Won't Run Seminar Ad
One of the thorns in the side of the Catholic Church in America is the vocal presence of several groups of Catholics who claim to work for the improvement of Catholicism - but who also argue against a number of Catholic doctrines like the opposition to abortion and female priests.