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Morning Catholic must-reads

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Rome Reports describes the Bolivian President Evo Morales’s audience with Pope Benedict yesterday as “spontaneous and impolite” (video).

The Belfast Telegraph claims that Cardinal Seán Brady has asked Pope Benedict to appoint an “archbishop in waiting” to succeed him as Primate of All-Ireland.

The Irish National Board for Safeguarding Children has asked Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to produce evidence that parishes are not adhering to abuse guidelines.

A village postmaster fears that he will lose 95 per cent of his business if he is forced to close his post office during the Pope’s visit to Coventry in September.

Cardinal Pell has called for tougher action against abusers after the Church confirmed that two Irish priests accused of molesting girls were still performing priestly duties in Australia.

A group of Catholic scholars has argued that attempting to break trade unions is a mortal sin.

The Pope has given permission for a married father of six to be ordained a Catholic priest.

Fr Donald Cozzens says it’s foolish to expect bishops to be held accountable for their actions.

Alma Guillermoprieto of the New York Review of Books examines the Maciel case.

Fr Rob Johansen asks whether the new English translation of the Mass is a disaster or an opportunity.

Simon Rowney wonders if the 83-year-old Pope Benedict “can drag Richard Dawkins into the modern world”.

And Rima Fakih, reportedly the first Muslim Miss USA, attended a Catholic school in New York.

Morning Catholic must-reads

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Fr Federico Lombardi has issued a short reflection marking the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s election today.

If you missed Pope Benedict’s visit to Malta this weekend, you can read all his homilies and speeches here, the Times of Malta’s complete coverage here and The Catholic Herald’s coverage here.

John Allen describes the Pope’s approach to the abuse crisis as “pastoral, not political“.

AP reports that Jeffrey Lena, the lawyer representing the Holy See in America, has had to move office following threats. Washington Post also speaks to him.

Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto has issued a forceful pastoral letter on abuse (PDF, video).

Bishop Richard Williamson will appeal his £9,000 ($13,000) fine for Holocaust denial.

Pope Benedict has donated £32,000 ($50,000) to the victims of landslides in Brazil.

The Vatican has given its recognitio to the Revised Grail Psalter.

The Pave the Way Foundation says it has unearthed documents showing that the Church excommunicated members of the Nazi Party.

Catholic Culture is inviting Catholics around the world to join it in a defence of Pope Benedict.

The Irish Times has published Hans Küng’s scathing open letter to the world’s bishops.

Nicholas Cafardi asks why the US bishops fought healthcare reform to the end.

The New Liturgical Movement mourns Cardinal Tomas Spidlik.

Robert George wonders if it’s true that not a single Opus Dei priest has ever been accused of abuse.

And Rory Fitzgerald asks if Richard Dawkins should be arrested “for covering up atheist crimes”.

Morning Catholic must-reads

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Mgr Charles Scicluna, the Vatican official in charge of abuse investigations, has given a rare and outspoken interview to the Times of Malta.

The bishops of Malta have issued a pastoral letter ahead of Pope Benedict’s visit to the island on Saturday.

Benedict XVI will visit Cyprus on July 4-6.

Richard Dawkins has distanced himself from a Sunday Times report claiming that he will arrest Pope Benedict during his September visit to Britain. Lawyer Neil Addison says he is relying on “a rubbish legal argument“. Law professor Kal Raustiala disagrees.

BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme says Archbishop Vincent Nichols is “taking legal advice” over an “unwarranted slur” in a Times report on Saturday (audio from 26:08).

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph has reported on an abuse case in the Diocese of Leeds.

AP claimed on Friday that the future Pope had delayed punishing a paedophile priest. Author Phil Lawler, lawyer Jeffrey Lena, journalist John Norton and priest Fr Joseph Fessio debunk the claim.

The PR guru who guided the US bishops out of their abuse crisis says he is “in agony” watching the Vatican fail to communicate effectively.

Ronald Goldfarb, a Washington attorney and expert on confidentiality law, argues that the Church must lift the seal of the confessional.

Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Alon Goshen-Gottstein says critics should have read Fr Raniero Cantalamessa’s Good Friday homily more carefully.

Fr Z unveils a logo to mark biased coverage of Pope Benedict and the abuse scandal.

Fr Philip Powell, OP, explains what lay Catholics can do in response to the scandals.

And the Onion makes a refreshingly inoffensive joke about Pope Benedict.

Morning Catholic must-reads

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Photo: Benedict XVI is seen during his visit to Rome’s synagogue yesterday (AP Photo/ Osservatore Romano, Ho)

This is what Pope Benedict XVI said during his visit to Rome’s Great Synagogue yesterday. John Allen provides analysis, while the New York Times asks whether Pius XII was a saint.

Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), has released details of his correspondence with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concerning Anglicanorum coetibus, and says the TAC will respond formally to the Pope’s offer at Eastertide.

Meanwhile, America magazine has named the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the winner of its Campion Award.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has issued a qualified apology to Bishop Ratko Perić of Mostar-Duvno following his controversial visit to Medjugorje.

The New York Times reports on yesterday’s Mass outside Port-au-Prince’s ruined cathedral. Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins doesn’t want believers to get the credit for helping Haitians following the devastating earthquake.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray has finally left hospital after breaking his hip in the Midnight Mass incident in St Peter’s Basilica.

Peter Steinfels pays tribute to the late theologian Edward Schillebeeckx.

Charlotte Allen argues that, following the deaths of Schillebeeckx and Mary Daly, the flame of Catholic dissent is dying out.

The University of Notre Dame is once again at the centre of controversy after its student-run newspaper published an anti-gay cartoon.

Michael Sean-Winters challenges Archbishop Raymond Burke’s assessment of America (the archbishop’s full homily is here).

Pastor in Valle says Pope Benedict has transformed Rome.

You can find out what the Pope is doing for the next three months here.

And Fr Dwight Longenecker explains why Catholic churches should be tall.

Will the 21st-century public lose faith in scientists?

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The Catholic Church was just one of many institutions that received a battering in the 20th-century West. The scientific establishment was one of the few that survived the century relatively unscathed.

I wonder whether the “Climategate” furore is a sign that this is about to change. Could this century see more scientific scandals and public trust in scientists plummet? Will people begin to treat the pronouncements of scientists such as Richard Dawkins with the same cynicism they reserve for those of Churchmen?

The brilliant science writer Jonah Lehrer says he’s amazed it’s taken general public so long to realise that scientists are fallible human beings, rather than Olympian truth seekers. Nevertheless, he believes that science as a whole is robust enough to survive these crises.

He argues:

The larger point … is that the effectiveness of science has never depended on the inhuman objectivity of scientists. Instead, science works – and it really does work – because of the institutions that help correct for our innate imperfections. Scientists don’t have to be rational, because science is.

Here’s Richard Rorty:

‘There is no reason to praise scientists for being more ‘objective’ or ‘logical’ or ‘methodical’ or ‘devoted to truth’ than other people. But there is plenty of reason to praise the institutions that they have developed and within which they work, and to use these as models for the rest of culture. For these institutions give concreteness and detail to the idea of unforced agreement.’

Over at the First Things website, Stephen M Barr, a professor of physics at the Bartol Research Institute at the University of Delaware, picks up the theme:

Ideologues who would trample down legitimate scientific questions raised by their entirely qualified colleagues are risking terrible damage to science in the long run. If it turns out, as it might, that the global warming fears are overblown or ill-founded, the credibility of the scientific establishment will suffer a grievous blow from which it will be hard to recover. It will open the door for all the real kooks and purveyors of pseudoscience, who will be that much harder to resist in the future. And what if at some point in the future an environmental catastrophe looms about which there really is a solid consensus in the scientific community? And what if at that point it really is only kooks who deny it? Won’t non-scientists be disposed to say: ‘We’ve heard that all before? We believed you the last time and you led us astray?’


PS If you are interested in the relationship between science and faith, do visit the Second Sight blog, run by The Catholic Herald’s science editor, Quentin de la Bédoyère.

Written by Luke Coppen

December 3, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Are you at risk of Personal Ordinariate Derangement Syndrome?

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Last year scientists identified a new condition affecting thousands of people around the world: Obama Derangement Syndrome. They define this as “the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the statements – nay – the very existence of Barack Obama”.

Researchers have now discovered a debilitating new substrain, which they are calling Personal Ordinariate Derangement Syndrome, or PODS.

If you are highly intelligent, have a worldwide following which hangs on your every word and have a pre-existing dislike of Benedict XVI, then you run a high risk of developing PODS. How do you know whether you have the syndrome? Simple: if you begin to write an article about the Pope’s new Anglican provision and find yourself raging about cannibalism, homophobia, misogyny and pederasty, then you should consult your doctor immediately. Prominent sufferers include Richard Dawkins, Maureen Dowd and Hans Küng.

Photo: A patient receives an inoculation against PODS

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 28, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Darwin’s favour

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In case you missed it, Richard Dawkins and Karen Armstrong fought a duel in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month over whether the theory of evolution has disproved God’s existence.

Armstrong’s key point:

Darwin may have done religion – and God – a favour by revealing a flaw in modern Western faith. Despite our scientific and technological brilliance, our understanding of God is often remarkably undeveloped—even primitive. In the past, many of the most influential Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers understood that what we call “God” is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence, whose existence cannot be proved but is only intuited by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable us to cultivate new capacities of mind and heart.

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Written by Luke Coppen

September 24, 2009 at 2:04 pm