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Vatican nixes the idea of a virtual confessional

Senior Catholic Church officials in the UK and US gave the iPhone application “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” their seal of approval, but the Vatican had serious reservations. Agence France-Presse reported:

“It is essential to understand that the rites of penance require a personal dialogue between penitents and their confessor … It cannot be replaced by a computer application,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told journalists.

“I must stress to avoid all ambiguity, under no circumstance is it possible to ‘confess by iPhone’,” he said.

It was created by Little iApps and is on sale for $1.99 via iTunes. According to the Los Angeles Times, developer Patrick Leinen says he worked “with the Rev. Thomas Weinandy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Rev. Dan Scheidt, pastor of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Mishawaka, Ind:”

He said he was inspired by a papal message in January in which the pope asked “that young people may learn to use modern means of social communication for their personal growth and to better prepare themselves to serve society.”

With all of that official assistance, why did no remember that on January 24, Pope Benedict XVI said:

It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives.

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February 10, 2011 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, WWW | , , , | Comments Off on Vatican nixes the idea of a virtual confessional

Pope’s change of the Catholic discussion re condoms

In the Catholic magazine America, James Martin, S.J., wrote regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s “comments about the use of condoms in the prevention of passing on HIV/AIDS:”

Once again, the Catholic Church has not changed its teaching on the use of condoms as a means of birth control. Nor has the church “officially” changed its teaching on the use of condoms: an interview is not the same as an encyclical or a document from a Vatican congregation. But the previously out-of-bounds discussion about whether condoms can be used as a means to prevent the spread of disease is now in-bounds. That is change, by any definition. And that change is a good one, for if it moves the conversation ahead, it may mean a further lessening of the spread of HIV/AIDS and the prevention of death. It is a pastoral approach that has listened to the voices of many in the field–Catholic lay health care workers, moral theologians, bishops, priests, sisters and brothers–who have reflected on their experiences ministering to those living with AIDS, especially in the developing world. As such, it may be seen as a new kind of pro-life initiative on the part of the Holy Father.

Read the entire post here.

November 23, 2010 Posted by | Health, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , , , | Comments Off on Pope’s change of the Catholic discussion re condoms

Condomonium: Pope Benedict XVI moves toward agreement with the Centers for Disease Control

Regarding the use of latex condoms to prevent Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Pope Benedict XVI now says, yes. Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi “told reporters Tuesday” that it wasn’t just a matter of HIV-infected male prostitutes seeking to prevent infection of their partners:

“I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me no. The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.”

“This is if you’re a man, a woman, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point. The point is it’s a first step of taking responsibility, of avoiding passing a grave risk onto another,” Lombardi said.

The clarification is significant.

The Catholic right has lost the battle to define Pope Benedict’s remarks in his book-length interview Light of the World as changing little or nothing.

Pope Benedict XVI has rethought his March 17, 2009 remarks to journalists aboard his flight to Cameroon. On that occasion, he put himself at odds with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and ruled out use of condoms to prevent AIDS:

One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.

The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are factors that help and that result in real and visible progress.

The change is startling and, Lombardi made clear, it is not something the pope somehow stumbled into:

“He did it because he believed that it was a serious, important question in the world of today,” Lombardi said, adding that the pope wanted to give his perspective on the need for a greater humanized, responsible sexuality.

The formulation is new and a “game changer,” observed the Rev. James Martin, S.J., culture editor of the Catholic magazine America. A “Papal Biggie after all,” as Mark Silk put it.

November 23, 2010 Posted by | Medical Care, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion, Science | , , , , , | Comments Off on Condomonium: Pope Benedict XVI moves toward agreement with the Centers for Disease Control

Scottish Catholics asked to come up with the cash, fast

Scottish Catholics asked to dig deep this weekend, apparently in part because Pope Benedict XVI attracted 30,000 fewer pilgrims than anticipated. They’re being asked to come up with another £800,000 ($1.1 million). That’s on the heels of £1.7 million they were asked to come up with prior to the visit.

October 29, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI | , , | Comments Off on Scottish Catholics asked to come up with the cash, fast

Deaf victim of abuse by a Roman Catholic priest sues Pope Benedict XVI

Terry Kohut, a deaf victim of sex abuse by a Catholic priest, is suing Pope Benedict XVI. His story is emblematic of the horror of clerical sexual abuse. Scott Bronstein of CNN writes:

Father [Lawrence C. Murphy] Murphy is believed to have picked out victims who were especially vulnerable, or had been through tragedy already in their young lives. Terry Kohut fit that pattern. His older brother was electrocuted and died when he was just 10 years old. The next year, their father hanged himself. And the following year Kohut’s only close companion, his dog, died. “It all really tore me up…. I saw Father Murphy and I thought that he could be a second father. But to my shock he took advantage of that.”

Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson is the lead lawyer in Kohut’s lawsuit. Anderson has filed hundreds of lawsuits for sexual abuse victims of priests, and has obtained a massive trove of internal Vatican documents to build his case against the pope. He says numerous abuse cases show that Vatican officials all the way to the top, including then Cardinal Ratzinger, did little to help the victims, and were mostly interested in protecting the church from scandal.

Father Murphy was “one of the worst pedophiles” in U.S. history, says Peter Isely, a leader in SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Isely, of Milwaukee, says he himself was raped repeatedly by a priest as a child. He has led groups of victims to Rome to criticize the church and demand accountability – especially in the case of Father Murphy.

“This is the story of a man raping and assaulting 200 deaf children,” he says. “To think that there are all these children being raped -– these disabled deaf children – who can’t even scream out, can’t speak out. It’s monstrous.

Read the rest of Kohut’s story here.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, children, Crime, Pope Benedict XVI | , | Comments Off on Deaf victim of abuse by a Roman Catholic priest sues Pope Benedict XVI

Roman Catholic Church abuse survivors demand justice

Hilary Whiteman of CNN reports:

Sue Cox was 10 years old when she says she was raped by a priest in her family home on the eve of her Confirmation, a sacrament which signifies the cementing of bonds between baptised believers and the Church.

The attack occurred in her bedroom while her family was downstairs. “I was mortified. I started to self-harm. I was ashamed and guilty,” she said. Her mother told her: “Perhaps it was one of God’s plans.”

It wasn’t one of His better ones,” Cox said.

Cox was interviewed by Ruthe Glendill, religion correspondent for the Times of London. Glendill uploaded the interview to YouTube:

Michael Hirst of BBC interviewed Cox, who told him:

I feel liberated because I am now able to speak out; I believe that secrets keep you sick.

They do.

September 17, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, children, Crime, Pope Benedict XVI | , | Comments Off on Roman Catholic Church abuse survivors demand justice

Anglical mural upbraiding Catholic Church failure to ordain women priests

St. John’s, an Scottish Episcopal Church in Edenburgh, Scotland, has a tradition of murals which are an appeal to community conscience.

On their Web site, they explain:

Murals addressing contemporary issues relating to justice and peace have appeared at St John’s for many years. They are intended to provoke discussion and a response from passers-by on Princes Street. The murals are painted by Artists for Justice and Peace and planned by a small group including the Rector and Associate Rector of St John’s.

For the pope’s visit they offered the following mural commenting on the Roman Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women priests, as the Scottish Episcopal Church has since 1994:

The pope is likely to have seen it, since the mural is along the procession route he followed.

The pope is meet Church of England Canon Jane Hedges this evening when he goes to Westminster Abbey for prayer. Four years ago, she was the first woman appointed as a residentiary canon at Westminster Abbey. She is a leading candidate to become the Church of England’s first female bishop.

September 17, 2010 Posted by | Anglican, Churches, Pope Benedict XVI | | Comments Off on Anglical mural upbraiding Catholic Church failure to ordain women priests

German Cardinal Walter Kasper too ill to visit GB

Of course Cardinal Walter Kasper has been ill “for some days,” but who knew he would not be accompanying the pope to England before it became known that he had commented:

When you arrive at Heathrow you think at times that you’ve landed in a Third World country.

Nick Squires in Rome and Martin Beckford of the London Telegraph wrote:

Cardinal Kasper, who recently retired as the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity having headed it since 2001, said that Britain was a “secular and pluralist” country in which there was a “distance from God”, noting that there was “a crisis of faith” in much of the West.

He referred to the case of a British Airways employee, Nadia Eweida, who was suspended by the airline in 2006 after she refused to stop wearing a crucifix around her neck, and alluded to the activities of prominent atheists such as Professor Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion.

Cardinal Kasper made the remarks during an interview with the German magazine, Focus, and is said to be ignoring suggestions that he apologize.

So the remarks become an unretracted part of the pope’s [now ongoing] state visit to England, and is dubbed by Michael White of the Guardian, “only the latest contribution to what now amounts to a major motorway pile-up.”

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | | Comments Off on German Cardinal Walter Kasper too ill to visit GB

Catholic abuse in England/Wales more fully revealed as Pope Benedict’s visit nears

Just in time for Pope Benedict’s visit the Guardian tells us:

More than half of the Catholic clergy jailed for paedophile activity in England and Wales remain in the priesthood – with several receiving financial support from church authorities, raising serious questions about depth of church commitment to child protection and overshadowing the start of the papal visit.

There are also claims the church has breached guidelines it agreed to in 2001 by not punishing offenders appropriately and that it has even relaxed some of the rules on how to treat them.

The allegations, shown on Channel 4 News, will fuel hostility towards a trip that is proving controversial on many levels and in many quarters.

Channel 4 News “trawled through the public records and double checked with court documents to put together a map of Catholic clerical abuse” — what they explain is necessarily a partial, but nonetheless illustrative interactive map. It is hair-raising.

Thirty-eight priests committed 331 offenses. But:

…even this is likely to fall short of the real numbers. In some cases claims have never come to court because the priest has died, is believed to have been too old to come to court or has simply absconded.

. . .

Unless the Church authorities open their files to full independent scrutiny we will never know the full extent of the scandal.

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, children, Crime, Pope Benedict XVI | | 1 Comment

Impetus for Belgian police raids on Catholic Church offices

Vatican outrage which greeted raids by Belgian police last week on church offices and a cathedral in the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels was misplaced.

Doreen Carvajal of the New York Times reports that they were the result of “a formal accusation that the church was hiding information on sexual abuse lodged by the former president of an internal church commission handling such cases.”

The Flemish newspaper Nieuwsblad reported [via Google translate] that Godelieve Halsberghe, who from 1998 to 2008 “directed the [church] commission for handling complaints of sexual abuse in a pastoral relationships,” went to authorities after receiving a phone call warning that she and commission files she had were in danger. She turned over her files and talked to authorities about the possibility that the church was hiding other files.

Taking action on serious, formal complaints like those lodged by Ms. Halsberghe, a retired magistrate, is the responsibility of the police in a free society.

The incandescent Vatican response, which descended to references to Communist police state tactics, was inappropriate.

[H/T: Religion Clause]

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Law, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Impetus for Belgian police raids on Catholic Church offices