Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
Despite the friendly facade of Pope Francis, the Vatican continues to protect and enable pedophile priests engaged in the sexual abuse of children, according to a scathing report issued by the United Nations.
The UN report demands that the Vatican “immediately remove” all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers, and turn them over to government authorities for criminal prosecution.
In the unprecedented report the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said Catholic Church officials had imposed a “code of silence” on clerics to prevent them reporting attacks to police, and moved abusers from parish to parish “in an attempt to cover up such crimes.”
The UN watchdog for children’s rights denounced the Vatican for adopting policies which allowed priests to sexually abuse thousands of children. The report expressed its “deepest concern about child sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic churches who operate under the authority of the Holy See, with clerics having been involved in the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children worldwide.”…
…The UN report demonstrates that Pope Francis has failed to address in any meaningful way the sexual abuse of children by clergy. As Pope, Francis continues the Catholic tradition of protecting pedophile priests from criminal prosecution, allowing the cancer that has destroyed any moral authority the church may have once claimed to continue to metastasize and fester.
The report offers compelling evidence that Pope Francis, and the Vatican, continue to protect and enable pedophile priests engaged in the sexual abuse of children. Francis may be a likable and charismatic leader, but he represents a product that is toxic, and obnoxious to reason and human decency. By continuing to protect and enable pedophile priests, Pope Francis indirectly sanctions and promotes the rape and sexual abuse of children.
Things Pope Francis has curiously failed to say.
While rebuilding the image of the church, it’s strange that he has all but ignored the main reason for its disgrace in the first place; the likely reason for the resignation of his predecessor; You know, the whole aiding and abetting child rapists thing.
Pope Francis is reaching out to Atheists to unite with all religions to work towards peace. How about reaching out to your own followers? There’s more of them and religion has caused much more warfare than Atheism ever has.
Support this. Please, I’m begging you.
I mean, you do realize that more people died during the 20th Century in wars started by atheists regimes than in any so-called Church supported wars in the previous 2000 years, right?
Actual, real historcal fact is not on your side. Stick to posting animals.
You do realize that wild-earth isn’t committing association fallacy; you are though. Stalin and Mao didn’t murder millions because they were atheists; if you want to blame something, blame their ideologies. Why was Stalin so opposed to the church? Because he was an atheist? No; because he recognized that a religion like Christianity exercises considerable clout and thus, to monopolize power, he saw it as necessary to oppose the church.
Holy wars were in the name of this or that god—Yahweh and Allah in particular. When the Arabs expanded their empire, they did it in the name of Allah—in the name of an obscure monotheism that eventually became Islam.
I am aware that you’re a Catholic though; you need look no further than the OT to see bloodshed in the name of Yahweh. The Dark Ages did happen; the Crusades did happen; the Inquisition did happen; the Salem Witch Trials did happen. The Inquisition was so bad that even new converts to Christianity were killed! They were called New Christians or conversos; they were accused of secretly remaining Jews or Muslims though professing to be Christians. This and a lot more was done in the name of Christianity.
What Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot did was for the sake of politics, maintenance of power, and especially in Stalin’s case sheer paranoia. The man sent men to another continent (North America to be exact; Mexico to be even more precise) to assassinate someone he suspected of attempting to impose his influence in the Soviet Union. That man was one Leon Trotsky. An article over at The Examiner called Stalin a religious opportunist; this is true because he eventually reinstituted the Orthodox Church to gain support.
The article also hits the nail on the head when concerning Pol Pot. He wasn’t an atheist like I am an atheist. Though he didn’t believe in gods, he was a Theravada Buddhist. Theravada Buddhists are involved in religious conflict in Burma; why not attribute their crimes to atheism? Because you obviously recognize that they’re not atheists and thus, acknowledge that an atheist is more than just a nonbeliever in gods. It follows that Buddhists aren’t atheists. Mao Zedong was raised Buddhist; he eventually embraced Leninism. So if you want to blame some ideology for Mao’s and Stalin’s crimes, you have to blame Marxism-Leninism.
Ultimately, I’m glad Pope Francis is taking a modern approach. However, wild-earth is correct in his point (though I would have justified it differently); in other words, I wouldn’t have pointed to holy wars to make my case. I would simply point to religiously motivated oppression. For instance, if the Pope wants more peace, he should address anti-gay Catholics; he should address anti-choicers who are attempting to limit women’s rights; he should address Catholics like some Tumblr Catholics, who aren’t trying to find common ground with atheists, but rather provoking us at every turn.
So take your own advice. Historical facts aren’t on your side. Stick to posting Catholicism and leave history to enthusiasts like myself.
Sean Faircloth, author of Attack Of The Theocrats
The Catholic Church’s leading exorcist says he will ask Pope Francis to grant all priests the power to perform the ritual amid what he describes as “a huge demand” for the service.
Father Gabriele Amorth, who claims to have carried out 160,000 exorcisms himself, says he was prompted to make the request after witnessing what he insists was the Pope carrying one out in St Peter’s Square earlier this month.
Francis was filmed placing his hands on the head of a boy sitting in a wheelchair after a Pentecost Mass.
Father Gabriele Amorth claims to have performed 160,000 exorcisms himself
The boy, who was accompanied by a priest, appeared to convulse, with his mouth dropping wide open before exhaling deeply. (Scroll down for video.)
The Vatican played down reports Francis had applied the religious practice of evicting demons, with a spokesman claiming the Pope “didn’t intend to perform any exorcism.”
But in an interview with The Sunday Times, Amorth remains adamant an exorcism was carried out and appears to suggest the ritual will help balance the growth of atheism.
He said: “The Pope’s exorcism is a splendid sign because one of the main causes of today’s atheism is that people don’t believe in the Devil any more. But Jesus said: ‘Who is not with me is with Satan.’ If you don’t believe in Satan, Satan has got you in his pocket.
Pope Francis was filmed after a Pentecost Mass earlier this month
“The priest told Francis: ‘Look, this is a young man who is possessed by the Devil.’
"And the Pope blessed him and prayed over him, it was a real and proper exorcism. The Pope prayed that the Lord liberate this man. It was a prayer of liberation.”
The 88-year-old, who is the head of the International Association of Exorcists, told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper: “The Pope is also the Bishop of Rome, and like any bishop he is also an exorcist.
"It was a real exorcism. If the Vatican has denied this, it shows that they understand nothing.
Last year the Catholic diocese of Milan created a special exorcism hotline to cope with demand for the service.
Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, the diocese’s chief exorcist since 1995, told IncrociNews: “We get many requests for names, addresses and phone numbers; that’s why we’ve set up a switchboard in the curia from Monday to Friday from 2.30pm to 5pm.”
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Exorcism is (1) the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things, which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice; (2) the means employed for this purpose, especially the solemn and authoritative adjuration of the demon, in the name of God, or any of the higher power in which he is subject.
The former Pope, Benedict XVI never performed an exorcism, while Francis is on record as having performed them, as was Benedict’s predecessor John Paul II, the Irish Independent reports.
Amorth’s comments come as the Vatican was forced to clarify atheists will still go to hell if they reject God – after Pope Francis broke with tradition to deliver a homily stating non-believers who do good will be redeemed through Jesus.
The Pope’s words made headlines around the world after he gave an unprepared speech in which he emphasised the importance of “doing good” as a principle which unites all humanity.
After international media attention, the Vatican attempted clarify how exactly one gets in to heaven, with Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, saying that people who know about the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”
That is, atheists [and non-Catholics] are still going to hell.
However there was still hope for the sinful among us, as “every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin.”
The Vatican issued an “explanatory note on the meaning of “salvation,” on Thursday, May 23, after media reports circulated indicating that Pope Francis” promised heaven for everyone engaged in good works, including atheists.
In response to the media attention, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who know about the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”
(Translation: Atheists are going to Hell if they don’t accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.)
Rosica also said that Francis had “no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation,” during his homily on Wednesday.
The current theological confusion began after the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics made comments during the homily of his morning Mass on Wednesday, May 22, indicating that atheists would enjoy the fruits of eternal salvation if they were good people. Francis said:
The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!
We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.
Atheists and other nonbelievers largely welcomed Wednesday’s (May 22) remarks by Pope Francis that performing “good works” is not the exclusive domain of people of faith, but rather a place where they and atheists could and should meet.
In a private homily, Francis described doing good not as a matter of faith, but of “duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because he has made us in his image and likeness.”
Then, referring to non-Catholics and nonbelievers, he said, “if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.”
Reaction among American nonbelievers ranged from mild surprise to warm welcome. Some say they see Francis’ remarks as a sign that nonbelief — atheism, humanism and other forms of freethought — is being normalized, while others see recognition of what they say they have known all along: Having no faith does not mean having no morality.
"We are a community that is just trying to do good and live good lives, just like most communities are," said Greg Epstein, Harvard University’s Humanist chaplain and author of "Good Without God." ”His statement is an acknowledgment of that. It is welcome and it is gratifying."
Epstein was struck by the contrast of Francis’ remarks and Tuesday’s broadcast of an interview by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer of an Oklahoma tornado victim. When Blitzer asked the woman if she wanted to thank God for her family’s survival, she replied she is an atheist.
"You have this small example of this soft-spoken young mother who is recovering from the tornado who by her presence, her quiet dignity, not only exemplified what the pope was saying, but overshadowed him," Epstein said. "The quiet dignity of her just being a person and so clearly a good and loving person, it makes my reaction, and I would think a lot of people’s reaction (to Francis’ remarks), ‘Well, of course.’"
Dale McGowan also affirmed the pope’s recognition of nonbelievers. His Foundation Beyond Belief collects funds from nonbelievers and distributes them to charities and relief organizations and organizes teams of secular volunteers. To date, Foundation Beyond Belief has raised more than $35,000 for victims of the Oklahoma tornado.
"Anything that decreases the mistrust and fear between people is a good thing," he said. "Some people might say it contradicts past statements (of other popes), but I don’t care about any of that. It is terrific when a position evolves to where we can put division behind us, and this is an example of that and I think it is great."
D.J. Grothe, president of the James Randi Education Foundation, an organization of skeptics, said he hears echoes of the landmark Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in Francis’ remarks. And while he takes issue with some policies of the Catholic Church — the promotion of miracles, the opposition to contraception — the pope’s address was nonetheless “refreshing.”
Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, was a vocal opponent of secularism and unbelief, even as he approved a new initiative called “Courtyard of the Gentiles” to engage in dialogue with nonbelievers and linked arms with outspoken Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, an atheist who saw trouble in the growth of European Islam.
"I don’t see that disdain for nonbelief that was so apparent before" in other popes, Grothe said. "He is really talking about what I would call humanism — the ethical approach to making the world a better place without recourse to supernatural beliefs."
In the same homily, Francis said all people, “even the atheists,” are “redeemed” through “the Blood of Christ” — the Christian belief that the sins of humanity are wiped clean through the crucifixion of Jesus. The inclusion of atheists in a belief they do not share seemed to raise few hackles.
"He was using his own language and speaking from his own beliefs," McGowan said, a statement echoed by others. "That is not the point. The point is he is saying, ‘I don’t fear you,’ and I think that is a lovely thing."
The pope also said “killing in the name of God” is blasphemy”.