Questionable Motives

April 25, 2010

How can we get rid of the New Atheists’ reason for being?

From the Nigerian Tribune:
Citizen Oluwatoyin Oluseesin was killed recently by irate students of the Government Day Secondary School, Gandu, Gombe State, where, until her gruesome murder, she was a contract staff member.

The deceased was reportedly assigned to invigilate the SS1 students who were writing their Islamic Religious Knowledge paper when she observed that one of the students was attempting to smuggle some books into the examination hall. Sensing that a foul play was about to take place, she allegedly collected the books and threw them outside.

Unfortunately, that simple act of preventing the occurrence of fraud was to prove fatal for Mrs. Oluseesin. Unknown to her, a copy of the Holy Qur’an was among the books she allegedly collected from the aberrant student and threw outside. Newspaper reports claimed that she was attacked outside the school premises after the examination and beaten to death by the students for allegedly desecrating the holy book. Efforts made by the principal of the school, Mr. Mohammed Sadiq, to control the rampaging students, the reports further claimed, proved abortive. His attempt to protect the victim by hiding her in his office also failed. He was reportedly beaten up by the riotous students who also burnt down his car as well as three classrooms, the school’s clinic, library and the administrative block.

Acting on religious belief is unjustified. The sooner we accept this concept for judging any behaviour in the public domain that attempts to use religious belief as an excuse, the sooner religious apologists will have to stop pretending that religious belief’s intrusion into areas of public policy, law, education and governance is somehow acceptable. It isn’t. Religious belief has no business in the public domain because it is informed by nothing but assertion and assumption.

Want to get rid of the New Atheists’ reason for being and protect people like Oluwatoyin Oluseesin from the hatred of the religious mob? What better way than making public expressions of religious faith tantamount to an attack on religious freedom and supporting the return of religious belief to the private domain where each of us has the freedom to believe whatever delusion that comforts us the most and leaves our neighbours free from us attempting to reduce their rights and freedoms and dignity of personhood in the name of some unjustified religious belief?

March 26, 2010

Can anybody still be surprised that the Vatican intentionally covered up child abuse??

Excerpts from the NYTimes article Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys:

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal. The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

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

The New York Times obtained the documents, which the church fought to keep secret, from Jeff Anderson and Mike Finnegan, the lawyers for five men who have brought four lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The documents include letters between bishops and the Vatican, victims’ affidavits, the handwritten notes of an expert on sexual disorders who interviewed Father Murphy and minutes of a final meeting on the case at the Vatican.

Father Murphy not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims. Three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told that Father Murphy was sexually abusing children, the documents show, but never reported it to criminal or civil authorities.

Oh my.

So much for all the commentary here and here that insisted that the catholic church had no official policy of secrecy and denial and cover-up and collusion in the face of justified accusations and allegations of sexual abuse and rape and molestation by clergy against children. It seems the evidence that it did and still does just keeps on piling up, and the apologies by so many catholics on behalf of the church is not only growing stale but is really a major impediment against forcing an institutional change from the top down. And as long as apologists stay the course, it seems that the same policies of secrecy and emphasis on the church’s reputation will take precedence over fixing the problem that led to the global abuse in the first place. Just re-read the letter from the pope to to the Irish here

Global problem? It’s not a global problem, remember? It’s a local problem! And good little catholics will continue to believe their apology carries weight against the growing evidence: that this local problem can be corrected at the local level, in Ireland, in England, in Spain, in Germany, in Mexico, in Canada, in the Netherlands, in the Philippines, in the U.S., in Brazil, in Australia…

Remember folks: if you can believe in transubstantiation, is it too much to ask to believe that widespread abuse in the catholic church is a local problem?

March 20, 2010

Who (or what) is to blame for sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church?

This sound suspiciously like the pope is suggesting that that old bugaboo secularism lies at the root of this Irish problem! Leave it to the pope to set us all straight:

In almost every family in Ireland, there has been someone – a son or a daughter, an aunt or an uncle – who has given his or her life to the Church. Irish families rightly esteem and cherish their loved ones who have dedicated their lives to Christ, sharing the gift of faith with others, and putting that faith into action in loving service of God and neighbour.

In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected. Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations.

It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse.

How refreshing it is to see that the Vatican has taken on its fair share of the responsibility. Oh, that’s right; it is blameless, of course. Silly me. Why should senior leadership in any organization take any responsibility whatsoever for the actions taken under its policies and procedures, right? It’s not like the two are associated in any way if the effect of those policies and procedures is negative; that’s always the fault of middle management… which helps explain why, after all, this whole Irish problem of sex abuse brought about by rapid secularization  is obviously a problem for Irish catholic churches to overcome their failure.

Good grief.

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