The Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are gathering, right now, to start the process of electing the next pope. Exciting stuff, eh? No, not really, to be honest! What will almost certainly happen is that this group of old ecclesiastics, all of whom were chosen by one of the last two popes, will be shut up in the mildly cramped but relatively posh digs of the Apostolic Palace, and will take a few days, tops, to come to a consensus on who the next pope will be. Maybe the winner will be a surprise, and maybe the conclave will end on the first vote for once, or will extend [...]
The rest of the western world pretty much gave up on organized religion 40 years ago, but here in America we kept Christian-soldiering onward, because America is special that way. Or it was special that way: A shocking new study reveals that the number of Americans abandoning all religion jumped by 15% in the last half decade. With one in five Americans (five in five in New York) now in the "no religion" category, we should catch up with Europe by 2032 or so, by which point the Earth is expected to be a boiling cauldron anyway.
Good news, Jews: Pope Benedict XVI has cleared you of collective responsibility for killing the shaygetz god Jesus Christ. Benny, who, as the AP delicately notes, "has had his share of mishaps with Jews," takes up the issue in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth 2: Bigger and Blacker, wherein he "re-enacts Jesus' final hours, then analyzes each Gospel account to explain why Jews as a whole cannot be blamed for having turned him over. Rather, Benedict concludes, it was the Jewish leadership, the 'Temple aristocracy' and a few supporters of the figure Barabbas who were responsible, but not Jews as a whole." So that's sorted, then. As [...]
You'll enjoy this: "Pilgrims attending the large public events during Pope Benedict's visit to England and Scotland next month have been issued a long list of do's and don'ts including a ban on musical instruments and"-wait for it, wait for it… okay, here it comes-"steel cutlery." So very satisfying!
The Times continues its "what did the Pope know and when did he know it" series today, this time with a story that claims Benedict "was kept more closely apprised of a sexual abuse case in Germany than previous church statements have suggested," having been appraised that "a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish." Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is unimpressed.
"Pope Benedict XVI has criticised the use of airport body scanners, insisting that 'human dignity must be preserved.'"
Yeah, uh, pass, thanks: "You won't get a chance to poke him, but a new Vatican website is offering a Facebook application to 'meet the Pope'. The Roman Catholic church is keen to use the networking site to woo young people back and its www.pope2you.net site has has gone live. Another application allows the faithful to see the pontiff's speeches and messages on their iPhones or iPods."
When you think of a bigoted anti-homosexual non-profit organization that routinely allows its adult male leaders to sexually abuse the boys entrusted to the organization's care, you usually run screaming from the room because now you can't get the image of Pope Ratzinger out of your mind. Oh no he is wearing the bejeweled dress with the red Prada slippers again, and the Santa hat, oh no. But this story is different. This story is about the Boy Scouts of America.
A Southern California judge has ordered the Boy Scouts of America to release two decades of internal files detailing sexual abuse allegations [...] The ruling [...]
"I thought of the smells the Pope would smell when praying at the Grotto of Lourdes." —Italian perfumier Silvana Casoli explains the creative process behind the new scent she has made to be worn exclusively by Pope Benedict XVI.
"Church officials believe that the Polish pope, who himself suffered from the condition, interceded for the miraculous cure of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a Frenchwoman in her late forties. She has said her illness inexplicably disappeared two months after John Paul II's death, after she and her fellow nuns had prayed to him. Church-appointed doctors agreed that there was no medical explanation for the curing of the nun, although last year there were some doubts about the validity of the miracle. A Polish newspaper said that a doctor who scrutinised the nun's case had concluded that she might have been suffering not from Parkinson's, but from a nervous disorder from [...]
If you ever wanted to see what the Pope looks like in a baseball cap, well, now's your chance.
"Benedict XVI, like many of his predecessors, is often called on to confront very difficult situations…. The way in which he responds is remarkably efficient, at least for all those who are not guided by totally hostile sentiments, and it is efficient both for its humility and sincerity and for the sound reasoning of the pope. The pastoral letter to the Irish is only the most recent example of his great charisma…. Our people know how to differentiate between human error, and history is full of this, and the huge fruits of goodness which have come and continue to come from our Christian roots." -As the growing outrage in Europe [...]
My usual Friday attack of Let This Week Be Over Syndrome came early this week (if you're scoring at home, here's exactly when it happened), and I'll try to gut it out and take you through the rest of the day, but man am I finding it hard to care. Still, here are a couple of things you might be interested in.
Joseph Alois Ratzinger-also known as "Joey The Hat," "Benny 10-6," and "The Pope"-is facing criticism from Israelis who are bothered by a speech he gave yesterday at Yad Vashem, the country's national Holocaust memorial. The Israelis are upset that the Pope did not apologize for the Catholic Church's role during the genocide.
"Something was missing," said Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. "There was no mention of the Germans or the Nazis who participated in the butchery, nor a word of regret. If not an apology, then an expression of remorse."
What's the pope up to, this Christmas? Oh, just rallying the world's other intolerant religious leaders against the global menace of gay people registering at Macy's. Nothing says "Peace on Earth and good will towards men" like a yuletide jihad against same-sex marriage—because if there's anything the story of Christ's birth teaches us, it's to stigmatize and then attack people who lack legal and societal protections.
Pope Benedict on Friday signaled the Vatican was ready to forge alliances with other religions against gay marriage, saying the family was threatened "to its foundations" by attempts to change its "true structure."
The pope's latest denunciation of gay marriage came in [...]
"The pope did not go far enough. Radical atheists like the British Humanist Association should apologize for Hitler. But they should not stop there. They also need to issue an apology for the 67 million innocent men, women and children murdered under Stalin, and the 77 million innocent Chinese killed by Mao. Hitler, Stalin and Mao were all driven by a radical atheism, a militant and fundamentally dogmatic brand of secular extremism. It was this anti-religious impulse that allowed them to become mass murderers. By contrast, a grand total of 1,394 were killed during the 250 years of the Inquisition, most all of whom were murdered by secular authorities." -Catholic [...]
"Despite the cloud of volcanic ash, the pope was able to travel." Alright, Pope! Is there anything he can't do? Oh, yeah, comfort the victims of priestly abuse to their satisfaction, which is what he flew to Malta in an attempt to do.
In the wake of another Catholic Church sex scandal, the Pope's brother-a former choirmaster at a church boarding school-admits that he used to slap his young charges around, but denies ever messing with them.
Today in unlikely celebrity juxtapositions: "Bob Geldof joined the Pope to turn up the pressure on Silvio Berlusconi yesterday with a strident attack on the Italian Prime Minister's record on aid before this week's G8 summit." Although seeing as Bob Geldof probably considers himself to be the Pope anyway, it's maybe a little less ridiculous than it seems at first glance. Anyway, I'm sure it's a nice break for Silvio; I'd rather be condemned for fucking the poor than for fucking a bunch of prostitutes.