Indian priest arrested for sexually assaulting girl in US #Vaw


The diocese has placed the priest on administrative leave.

Posted on June 12, 2013, 

Blue Earth:An Indian Catholic priest has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a girl at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth in Minnesota, US.

Father Leo Koppala, who is serving the Winona diocese in the US, is currently lodged in the Faribault County Jail.

The priest’s name still remains on the Marquee at his church in Blue Earth, despite facing second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

The diocese has placed the priest on administrative leave, saying that they had not received complaints on his conduct in the past.

The alleged incident happened last week at the home of the girl’s grandmother where he had been invited to dinner.

A criminal complaint filed in Faribault County says after dinner the young girl went downstairs to watch television.

It goes on to accuse the 47-year-old priest, who belongs to Nellore diocese in Andhra Pradesh, of grabbing the girl, kissing her, touching her breasts.

The complaint also alleged that the priest told the 11-year-old girl that when she was done with school, he wanted them to… quote… “be free together.”

If proved guilty, the priest could face up to 25 years in prison.

Source:  http://www.ucanindia.in/

 

 

Pope Francis Says Athiests are O.K.


It’s not about being right, it’s about being loving, the unusually tolerant Pontiff tells his flock.

Photo Credit: Emipress/Shutterstock.com

May 23, 2013  |

 

It likely doesn’t matter much to the atheists of the world that — of all people — Pope Francis is on their side. But he is. And that’s a cool thing for all of us.

In a message delivered Wednesday via Vatican Radio, the new pontiff distinguished himself with a call for tolerance and a message of support – and even admiration – toward nonbelievers.

Naturally, a guy whose job it is to lead the world’s largest Christian faith is still going to come at his flock with a Jesus-centric message. But he’s taking it in an encouraging new direction. In his message, Francis dissed the apostles for being “a little intolerant” and said, “All of us have this commandment at heart: Do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not (a) Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must.”

And the pope spoke of the need to meet each other somewhere on our on common ground. “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. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.” It was a deeper affirmation of his comments back in March, when he declared that the faithful and atheists can be “precious allies… to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation.”

That’s a message that’s vastly different from Catholicism’s traditional “We’re number one!” dogma. Six years ago, the Vatican reasserted the church’s stance that while there may be“elements of sanctification and truth” in other faiths, “that fullness of grace and of truth… has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.” In other words, close but no cigar, everybody else.

The pope was not, of course, addressing the non-believers of the world in his Wednesday sermon, or trying to win them over. Instead, he was telling his Catholics about the importance of cutting outsiders slack. And it’s a hugely important message for Christians to hear. It’s not about being right. It’s about being loving. And it’s a necessary concept, one that needs to be expressed again and again, in a world in which the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor  in Virginia is justifying his repulsive hate speech against gays and lesbians because “I’m a Christian, not because I hate anybody, but because I have religious values that matter to me.” Coming within a week when atheists have been stepping into the spotlighthere in America with their own messages of live-and-let-live tolerance, it’s downright refreshing to get a similar message from the biggest Christian in the world.

There are plenty of atheists out there who will no doubt take the pope’s message with a grain of salt or even flat-out disdain. The last thing somebody who doesn’t believe in heaven could possibly need is some guy in a funny hat telling them that they’re okay in God’s eyes anyway. But maybe, whatever we believe or don’t believe, we can consider that the man is on to something when he speaks about “the culture of encounter.”

Francis notes that the apostles were “closed off by the idea of possessing the truth,” an arrogant certainty that no one group currently has a monopoly on. Where we find each other is in practicing tolerance for our differences, and in finding the commonality of our values. “Doing good,” Francis says, “is not a matter of faith.”

It’s not that faith, for the faithful, doesn’t matter. It’s that belonging to a church isn’t what saves us. It’s belonging to each other.

 

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of “Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream.” Follow her on Twitter:@embeedub.

 

Ireland proposes abortion law after Savita’s death #womenrights #reproductiverights


 May 1, 2013,

 
 Ireland unveils bill on life-saving abortions
 
Ireland unveils bill on life-saving abortions

DUBLINIrish government ministers agreed draft legislation on Tuesday to allow for limited access to abortion where a woman’s life is in danger, including the threat of suicide, a proposal that has already divided the country’s ruling coalition.

Ireland’s two-decade-old debate over how the government should deal with a Supreme Court ruling that abortion be permitted when a woman’s life was at risk was re-opened last year following the death of a woman who was denied an abortion of her dying foetus.

Successive governments had sidestepped acting on the ruling, the result of a challenge by a 14-year-old rape victim in the so-called “X-case” of 1992 to a constitutional amendment nine years earlier that intended to ban abortion in all instances.

However the death of Savita Halappanavar and subsequent large-scale protests from both sides of the debate spurred ministers into action despite misgivings among some members of Prime Minister Enda Kenny‘s conservative Fine Gael party.

The case of Halappanavar, an Indian dentist living in Ireland, highlighted the lack of clarity in Irish law that leaves doctors in a legally risky position. Critics have said this means their personal beliefs can play a role.

Though the influence of the Catholic Church over society has waned since the 1980s and a younger, secular generation want to stem the tide of Irish women travelling to nearby Britain to terminate their pregnancies, the issue still polarises opinion.

Following an extended Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the government published the outline of the ‘Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013′, the contents of which have dominated the political agenda in Ireland in recent weeks.

“The proposed legislation sets out a clear legal framework for women and for medical practitioners in Ireland,” the government said in a statement.

“It will provide legal clarity for the medical profession of the circumstances where a termination is permissible where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of a woman as a result of a pregnancy.”

Backbench rebellion?

On the contentious issue of suicide, the proposed law states that a panel composed of one obstetrician and two psychiatrists must jointly certify that a termination is required to avert a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.

The government hopes to enact the legislation before parliament adjourns in July and Kenny has said that he expects the government to vote as one on the issue, meaning that any defectors could be expelled from his party.

One backbencher has already said he would vote against the legislation while at least a dozen more, including minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton, have said they believe the inclusion of suicide could lead to abortion on demand.

While this would be unlikely to threaten the government’s record majority, it would be a blow for Kenny who, midway through his five-year term, has kept all but one of Fine Gael’s 76 members of parliament on side, even as he pushes through tough austerity measures required under an EU/IMF bailout.

Kenny’s centre-left junior coalition partner Labour, which has expelled five of its members for rebelling against budget cuts, has campaigned for a clarification of the country’s abortion rules and some of its members took to Twitter late on Tuesday to welcome the bill’s publication.

But opponents dismissed assurances by Kenny that the law will be restrictive, with the Pro Life Campaign criticising the government for proposing a law that it said provides for the direct intentional targeting of the life of the unborn child.

 

Pope’s decision to wash feet of a woman is final straw for traditionalists


Foot soldier’s 1st battle

Vatican City: Pope Francis has won over many hearts and minds with his simple style and focus on serving the world’s poorest, but he has devastated traditionalist Catholics who adored his predecessor, Benedict XVI, for restoring much of the traditional pomp to the papacy.
Francis’ decision to disregard church law and wash the feet of two girls — a Serbian Muslim and an Italian Catholic — during a Holy Thursday ritual has become something of the final straw, evidence that Francis has little or no interest in one of the key priorities of Benedict’s papacy: reviving the pre-Vatican II traditions of the Catholic Church.
One of the most-read traditionalist blogs, “Rorate Caeli,” reacted to the foot-washing ceremony by declaring the death of Benedict’s eight-year project to correct what he considered the botched interpretations of the Second Vatican Council’s modernising reforms.
“The official end of the reform of the reform — by example,” ‘’Rorate Caeli” lamented in its report on Francis’ Holy Thursday ritual.
A like-minded commentator in Francis’ native Argentina, Marcelo Gonzalez at International Catholic Panorama, reacted to Francis’ election with this phrase: “The Horror.” Gonzalez’s beef? While serving as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, the then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s efforts to revive the old Latin Mass so dear to Benedict and traditionalists were “non-existent.” Virtually everything he has done since being elected pope, every gesture, every decision, has rankled traditionalists in one way or another.
The night he was chosen pope, March 13, Francis emerged from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica without the ermine-rimmed red velvet cape, or mozzetta, used by popes past for official duties, wearing instead the simple white cassock of the papacy. The cape has since come to symbolise his rejection of the trappings of the papacy and to some degree the pontificate of Benedict XVI, since the German pontiff relished in resurrecting many of the liturgical vestments of his predecessors.
Francis also received the cardinals’ pledges of obedience after his election not from a chair on a pedestal as popes normally do but rather standing, on their same level.
Francis may have rubbed salt into the wounds with his comments at the Good Friday procession at Rome’s Colosseum, which re-enacts Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, praising “the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters” during a prayer ceremony that recalled the suffering of Christians in the Middle East.
On Thursday at the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention facility in Rome, where the 76-year-old Francis got down on his knees to wash and kiss the feet of 12 inmates, two of them women. The rite re-enacts Jesus’ washing of the feet of his 12 apostles during the Last Supper before his crucifixion, a sign of his love and service to them. The church’s liturgical law holds that only men can participate in the rite, given that Jesus’ apostles were all male. Priests and bishops have routinely petitioned for exemptions to include women, but the law is clear.
Francis, however, is the church’s chief lawmaker, so in theory he can do whatever he wants. The inclusion of women in the rite is problematic for some because it could be seen as an opening of sorts to women’s ordination. The Catholic Church restricts the priesthood to men, arguing that Jesus and his 12 apostles were male.
Francis is clearly opposed to women’s ordination. But by washing the feet of women, he jolted traditionalists who for years have been unbending in insisting that the ritual is for men only and proudly holding up as evidence documentation from the Vatican’s liturgy office saying so.
In the face of the pope doing that very thing, many conservative and traditionalist commentators have found themselves trying to put the best face on a situation they clearly don’t like yet can’t do much about lest they be openly voicing dissent with the pope.
The Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a traditionalist blogger who has never shied from picking fights with priests, bishops or cardinals when liturgical abuses are concerned, had to measure his comments when the purported abuser was the pope himself.
“Before liberals and traditionalists both have a spittle-flecked nutty, each for their own reasons, try to figure out what he is trying to do,” Zuhlsdorf wrote in a conciliatory piece. —AP

 

PHillipines Supreme Court temoparily stops Reproductive Health (RH) Law #Vaw


SC stops RH for 120 days

By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 20, 2013 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) temporarily stopped the executive branch yesterday from implementing the controversial Republic Act No. 10354 or the Reproductive Health (RH) Law.

Justices voted 10-5 to issue a status quo ante order enjoining the Palace and concerned agencies from implementing the law.

The order will be in effect for 120 days. Oral arguments on the consolidated petitions will be on June 18.

Despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church, which espouses only natural family planning methods, Congress passed the RH law last Dec. 19. President Aquino signed the law two days later.

The Department of Health (DOH) approved the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the law last week. It was scheduled for implementation beginning March 31.

Catholic leaders consider the law an attack on the Church’s core values. The government and even certain Catholic groups say it will help couples choose to space childbirth, plan the size of their  families and promote women’s reproductive health.

The Philippines has a population of 94 million and has one of the highest birth rates in Asia.

Those who voted for the issuance of the SC order were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion,

Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, and Bienvenido Reyes, according to SC spokesman Theodore Te.

On the other hand, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno dissented together with Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen.

Sereno, Bernabe and Leonen are appointees of President Aquino.

Irreparable violations

A member of the high court explained to The STAR that majority of the justices saw the need to issue the order “so as to prevent irreparable violations of constitutional rights raised in the petitions, especially if in the end these are established.”

The magistrate pointed out that the order is “preliminary” and the possibility of the high court ruling in favor of the legality of the law still remains.

The SQA order was directed at Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who were all named respondents in the case.

The consolidated petitions were filed as early as January by couple James and Lovely-Ann Imbong, non-profit group Alliance for the Family

Foundation Philippines Inc. (ALFI), Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City, Task Force for Family and Life Visayas Inc., lawyer Expedito Bugarin,

Eduardo Olaguer of the Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines, former Sen. Francisco “Kit” Tatad and his wife Ma. Fenny

and a group of doctors represented by lawyer Howard Calleja.

The petitioners argued that the RH law “negates and frustrates the fundamental ideals and aspirations of the sovereign Filipino people

as enshrined in the Constitution.”

They cited Article II Section 12 of the Constitution, which states: “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the

development of moral character shall receive the support of government.”

Petitioners said at least 11 provisions in RA 10354, which allow couples to choose to suppress life, violate this constitutional provision.

They added that the new law violates constitutional freedom of religion and expression of those who will continue to oppose it and also creates doubtful or spurious rights called reproductive health rights.

Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, an administration senatorial candidate, sought intervention to the case also last January and asked the high court to dismiss six petitions questioning the constitutionality of the RH Law.

Gov’t to defend law

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said they will observe the SQA order issued by the SC but they are confident that the government will be able to defend the merits of the RH Law.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. also said the House of Representatives will respect the order but he remains optimistic that the matter will be resolved soon.

“This (order) is well within the high court’s power and just a temporary setback,” Belmonte said in a statement. “I am hopeful the main issues will be deliberated on so that these can be resolved as soon as possible.”

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the principal author of the RH measure in the House, described the order as only a temporary delay to enable the SC to fully assess the merits and demerits of the pending petitions challenging the law.

“I firmly believe that eventually the constitutionality of the RH Law will be sustained,” Lagman said in a statement.

“The RH advocates had prevailed in the legislative and executive departments, and they will likewise triumph in the high court,” he said.

He said the law is constitutional as the right to life is not defiled, and the right to health not infringed.

Religious freedom is upheld, and parental role in the rearing of the youth is supported by the state under the law, Lagman said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) said they have not received a copy of the order.

“We are calm about it because we have been monitoring the activities of the RH Law opponents,” said DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag, chair of the technical working group that drafted the IRR of the law.

Tayag said the DOH was supposed to publish the IRR anytime now had the SQA order not been issued.

“The publication will be delayed once again. But if we were able to wait for 14 years before the law was enacted, why can’t we wait again? We just hope it won’t take that long,” Tayag said.

“When we were drafting the IRR, we also checked all related laws in the Constitution. We also had three public consultations because we don’t want an IRR that will not be beneficial to women. This is supposed to be our gift to women this Women’s Month,” he said.

Under the IRR, local government units are required to promote both the artificial and natural methods of family planning. This means that banning contraceptives shall be prohibited.

The IRR considers health professionals who cannot deliver reproductive health care services or information because of their religious beliefs as “conscientious objectors,” who will not be penalized but have to refer clients to other health care facilities.

The guidelines also stated that only the modern family planning methods registered with the Food and Drug Administration are “safe, effective, non-abortifacient and legal.”

SC justices pressured?

Reproductive health advocates slammed the SC decision to stop the implementation of the RH Law.

In a phone interview, Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) executive director Romeo Dongeto said they did not expect the ruling.

“This is an affront to the intention of our lawmakers to improve maternal and reproductive health of Filipino women,” Dongeto said.

“The question is, ‘Did the SC justices succumb to the pressure of the Catholic Church?’” he said.

As one of the strong supporters of the RH Law, Dongeto said the PLCPD believes all issues raised against the measure including medical, scientific and moral questions, have been addressed.

Clara Rita Padila, executive director of EnGenderRights, also denounced the SC ruling.

“It’s unfortunate that the SC issued a 120-day status quo ante order against the RH Law. We badly need the law to reduce unintended pregnancies and maternal mortalities in the country,” Padilla said.

“In our interviews with poor women in Manila last November, we found 65 percent of them were candidates for ligation, meaning, they have way surpassed their desired number of children,” she said.

Padilla said 11 Filipino mothers die from pregnancy and childbirth complications every day.

TRO welcomed

On the other hand, Sen. Vicente Sotto III, who opposed the RH measure, yesterday welcomed the SC order, saying the Supreme Court knows what’s best for the country.

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay added that the SC might have found some merit in the petitions against the RH Law.

“The high court must have thought that there are indeed provisions in the law that are illegal or in conflict with existing laws and the Constitution. I strongly suggest that its authors make the necessary amendments or repeal it outright,” Magsaysay said in a telephone interview.

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said that the issuance of an SQA order was an indication that the magistrates were listening to the objections of the Catholic Church.

He, however, said the people should not be complacent since their struggle is not yet over and the RH Law can still be implemented.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Family and Life executive secretary Fr. Melvin Castro said that the SC has heard their prayers and they were pleased to know this even if it was just a temporary victory.

He also said this serves as a challenge to the voters to elect candidates who give importance to life and family.

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial candidate Nancy Binay, for her part, said the high tribunal’s decision will give advocates and opponents of the RH Law the opportunity to air their positions.- With Sheila Crisostomo, Jose Rodel Clapano, Delon Porcalla, Evelyn Macairan, Paolo Romero, Helen Flores, Christina Mendez, AP

 



 

Drinking to become a sin for Kerala Catholics #Wtfnews


There might also be a ban on employing people who drink in institutions run by the church.

(Photo courtesy: indiavision.com)

Kochi: If the bishops’ council in Kerala has its way, alcohol consumption would become a sin for over 5 million Catholics in the state.
The temperance commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC), which has taken up the issue, also said that a person would also have to confess if he/she had consumed alcohol.

The commission is also seeking a ban on employing people who drink in institutions run by the church.

The proposals form part of a 30-point draft liquor policy to be put up for discussion before the Kerala Catholic Council (KCC), an apex body comprising bishops, priests and the laity of the church.

“The panel was forced to take the extreme stand in view of the crisis the Kerala society is going through due to excessive drinking,” Fr. P.J. Antony, secretary of the commission said.

He said the draft proposals were based on the teachings of Bible and were also in tune with scientific studies that held alcohol as a cause for various physical and mental illnesses.

“On the basis of the discussions, the liquor policy will be announced on February 2. The church believes this is its moral responsibility,” he added.

However, there are differences of opinion on making drinking a sin in the state.

Charlie Paul, president of KCBC Madhya Virudha Samithi, said making drinking a sin may need more theological backing.

“Some bishops have reservations on this and want it to be referred to theological experts,” he said.

Source: asianage.com

 

Sanal Edamaruku faces death threats and jail for pointing weeping Jesus, as Bad Plumbing #Rationalism


Jesus wept … oh, it’s bad plumbing. Indian rationalist targets ‘miracles’

Guardian

Sanal Edamaruku faces jail for revealing ‘tears’ trickling down a Mumbai church statue came from clogged drainage pipes

CHRISTIANS PREPARE FOR POPE'S VISIT

A statue of Christ in Mumbai. Local people declared a miracle when ‘tears’ trickled down the statue at the Church of Our Lady of Velan Kanni. Photograph: Sherwin Crasto/Associated Press

When water started trickling down a statue of Jesus Christ at a Catholic church in Mumbai earlier this year, locals were quick to declare a miracle. Some began collecting the holy water and the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni began to promote it as a site of pilgrimage.

So when Sanal Edamaruku arrived and established that this was not holy water so much as holey plumbing, the backlash was severe. The renowned rationalist was accused of blasphemy, charged with offences that carry a three-year prison sentence and eventually, after receiving death threats, had to seek exile in Finland.

Now he is calling for European governments to press Delhi into dropping the case. And on the first leg of a tour around EU capitals on Friday, he warned that India was sacrificing freedom of expression for outdated, colonial-era rules about blasphemy.

“There is a huge contradiction in the content of the Indian constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and the blasphemy law from 1860 under then colonial rule,” Edamaruku told the Guardian in an interview in Dublin.

“This blasphemy law can affect anyone in India – even a girl recently who wrote on Facebook against closing down a city because of the death of a famous local politician. She was prosecuted under the blasphemy law and another girl who ‘liked’ her comment on Facebook was also arrested and then charged with blasphemy.”

Edamaruku, who has the support of rationalists and atheists such asRichard Dawkins, is well known in India for debunking religious myths, and was already unpopular among Indian Catholics for publicly criticising Mother Teresa‘s legacy in Kolkata.

When the state “miracle” was pronounced, he went to Mumbai and found that the dripping water was due to clogged drainage pipes behind the wall where it stood. His revelation provoked death threats from religious zealots and ultimately charges of blasphemy under the Indian penal code in the Mumbai high court.

“India cannot criticise Pakistan for arresting young girls for blaspheming against Islam while it arrests and locks up its own citizens for breaking our country’s blasphemy laws,” he said. “It is an absurd law but also extremely dangerous because it gives fanatics, whether they are Hindus, Catholics or Muslims, a licence to be offended. It also allows people who are in dispute with you to make up false accusations of blasphemy.”

Edamaruku said his exposure of the weeping statue was also a contribution to public health in Mumbai as some believers were drinking the water hoping it could cure ailments. “This was sewage water seeping through a wall due to faulty plumbing,” he said. “It posed a health risk to people who were fooled into believing it was a miracle.”

He has been living in Finland since the summer. He was in Europe on a lecture tour in July when his partner rang to say the police had arrived at his flat. “I felt really upset because under the blasphemy law you cannot get bail until the court case begins. I would be in jail now if I had been at my apartment in Delhi,” he said.

He has spurned an offer from a senior Indian Catholic bishop to apologise for the exposure of the “miracle”.

“The Catholic archbishop of Bombay, Oswald, Cardinal Gracias, has said that if I apologise for the ‘offence’ I have caused he will see to it that the charges are dropped. This shows that he has influence in the situation but he will not use it unless I apologise, which I will not do as I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

“In a way I am lucky because I have friends and supporters in Europe. I am well known in India and have the telephone numbers of at least five Indian cabinet ministers. And I have some means of fighting back. But what would happen to the common man or woman if they were accused of blasphemy? They would be sent straight to jail without any chance of bail,” he said.

Edamaruku asked for “mounting international pressure”, particularly fromIreland and other EU nations, on the Indian government. Delhi had the power to halt the prosecution before a court case, citing a lack of evidence to pursue it, he said.

Mick Nugent, from Atheist Ireland, the organisation hosting the Indian’s visit to the republic and Northern Ireland next week, said Edamaruku’s plight also underlined the need for Dublin’s Fine Gael-Labour government to repeal Ireland’s blasphemy law.

“Blasphemy laws are very strange because they can be both very silly and also very sinister. They are very silly because you are talking about crying statues and moving statues or Virgin Marys appearing in tree stumps in Co Limerick. But on the other hand these type of laws are used in Islamic countries to jail people or sentence them to death. Or in Sanal’s case facing a jail sentence for his work exposing bogus miracles.

“The Irish government should pay attention to Sanal’s case and realise they must get rid of this absurd and dangerous law. Because we shouldn’t be so smug in Ireland. After all, we have had the hysteria about moving statues and a man bringing people to a shrine in Co Mayo so they can look at the sun and see the Virgin Mary.”

What the Bible Says About #Rape #Gender #Vaw


Christians of many stripes are scrambling to distance themselves and their religion from Republican comments about rape. But a literal interpretation of the Bible is quite disturbing.
November 1, 2012  |

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (left) and U.S. Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock greet supporters at a campaign event at Stepto’s Bar B Q Shack on August 4 in Evansville, Indiana.

Christians of many stripes are scrambling to distance themselves, their religion, or their God from Republican comments about rape. The latest furor is about Washington State congressional candidate John Koster, who opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and added for good measure that “incest is so rare, I mean it’s so rare.”  Before that, it was Indiana candidate Richard Mourdock, who said, “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen” backed up by Texas senator John Cornyn insisting that “life is a gift from God.” These men share the January sentiment of Rick Santorum:  “the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.”

Those Christians who see the Bible as a human, historical document have the right to distance themselves. Those who see the Bible as the unique and perfect revelation of the Divine, essentially dictated by God to the writers, do not. The fact is, the perspective that God intends rape babies and that such pregnancies should be allowed to run their course is perfectly biblical.

I am not going to argue here that the Bible teaches that life begins at conception. It doesn’t. The Bible writers had no concept of conception, and no Bible writer values the life of a fetus on par with the life of an infant or an older child. One does say that God knows us while we are developing in the womb, but another says he knows us even before. Levitical law prescribes a fine for a man who accidentally triggers a miscarriage. It is not the same as the penalty for manslaughter. Therapeutic abortion is never mentioned, nor is the status of the fetus that spontaneously aborts. Under Jewish law, a newborn isn’t circumcised and blessed until he is eight days old, having clearly survived the high mortality peri-natal period. For centuries the Catholic Church believed that “ensoulment” occurred and a fetus became a person at the time of quickening or first movement, sometime during the second trimester.

However, if we take the viewpoint of biblical literalists and treat the Good Book as if it were authored by a single perfect, unchanging Deity, then a man is on solid ground thinking that rape babies are part of God’s intentions. Consider the following Bible teachings:

The Bible never teaches that women should have a choice about sex. The Bible makes a clear distinction between forcible stranger rape and other forms of nonconsensual sex, condemning the former while sanctioning the latter in many, many circumstances. The fact that conservative Christians – or politicians who are pandering to a Conservative Christian base–keep fumbling with these distinctions is no accident. According to the commands of Yahweh, a man can give his daughters in marriage, keep concubines, have sex with his wife’s servants, or claim a desirable war captive as his own sexual property after a series of rituals to purify her. In no case, including in the New Testament, is the woman’s consent required for sexual contact.

Male female relationships in the Bible are determined by a property ethic. The punishments for rape have to do not with compassion or trauma to the woman herself but with honor, tribal purity, and a sense that a used woman is damaged goods. A woman herself may be killed for voluntarily giving up her purity. A rapist can be forced, essentially, to buy her. In the Ten Commandments, the prohibition against coveting a neighbor’s wife is part of a broader prohibition against coveting property that belongs to another man: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17NIV).

God’s purpose for women in the Bible is childbearing. Martin Luther, who brought us the concept of “sola scritura” meaning Christianity based solely on the authority of the Bible, had this to say: “Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear and bring up children. If a woman grows weary and, at last, dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing; she is there to do it.”  He drew his scripturally informed opinion from the biblical record broadly but most specifically from the words of Paul’s letter to Timothy: “Women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (1 Tm. 2:15).

Virtually all Bible books, like almost all Hollywood movies fail to pass the Bechdel Test (Are there two named female characters who talk with each other about anything other than men?). In the Bible, as in Hollywood, women exist largely as props in plotlines about male protagonists. Biblical plotlines are even more homogenous than Hollywood, however, in that the vast preponderance of females exist simply for the purpose of producing male offspring. It all starts with Eve, who, after she defies Yahweh and eats from the Tree of Knowledge, is punished thus:“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). After Eve’s curse, we encounter Abraham’s wife Sarah and the slave girl Hagar who Sarah sends to “lie with” her husband when she herself cannot conceive. Then come the pathetic deflowered daughters of Lot who get him drunk and have sex with him so they can fulfill their purpose. Then come the archetypal bitch sisters Rachel and Leah who compete over Jacob’s bed and pump out the twelve tribes of Israel with the help of a few mandrake roots. The New Testament leads with the story of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist who is barren in her old age until an angel promises her the best thing that can happen to a woman. Her unborn son leaps in her womb when the pregnant Mary comes into her house, prompting one of the most repeated songs of joy in the whole Bible, the Magnificat (Luke 1:40-55). And then, of course, there is the Virgin Mary herself. They are made to do it. It is as God intended.

In the Bible, children are counted as assets belonging to men. Children, like women, in the Bible are treated primarily according to a property ethic. In the Old Testament stories of Jepthah’s daughter and the sacrifice of Isaac, scholars glimpse a residual of child sacrifice in the early Hebrew religion. This in turn leads to the New Testament notion of God giving his only begotten son as a sacrifice—all of which make sense only when we think of children as property which a father can dispose of as he pleases.  When Yahweh is pleased with men he multiplies their flocks and their offspring. When he is displeased, he may kill their firstborn sons, as he does to the Egyptians in the Moses story. When Yahweh and Satan agree to play out their cosmic competition in the life of Job, Satan tests Job’s loyalty to Yahweh by taking away is riches including his livestock, children and wives, and Yahweh later replaces them with new ones.

There is no sense, ever, in the Bible, that a woman might prefer a choice about having a child; that wise parents might think about when is best to bring another child into their family or how many children they can nurture; or even less that bringing a child into the world should be an matter of thoughtful and mutual decision making. The only Bible story in which someone declines to produce a child is the one about Onan refusing to father a son for his deceased brother. He spills his seed on the ground instead, and God kills him for it. Whether the widow wanted the seed inside her plays no part in the account whatsoever.

The Bible is loaded with divinely sanctioned rape babies. The Bible both depicts and scriptsa world in which women have no choice about who they are given to. Daughters can be given in marriage or sold outright, slaves can be sent by their mistresses to bear proxy babies, virgin war captives can be claimed as wives, widows can be forced to submit to humping by their brothers-in-law until they produce sons. Presumably any of these women can be laid at any time, at a man’s discretion, much as is the case in parts of Afghanistan or analogous Iron Age tribal cultures today. In such a world, a significant portion of babies conceived will be the product of non-consensual sex. In other words, rape.

Christians who like to retroactively sanitize the Biblical record because they insist that it is the literally perfect word of God often sanitize it quite literally. They want to think of these women as willing participants in sexual unions with benevolent, high status patriarchs. What slave girl wouldn’t want one? In reality we are talking about forced sex with primitive desert tribesmen whose cleansing rituals mostly focused on their hands and feet rather than their genitals, armpits or teeth. Airbrushing the Bible to the point that it doesn’t condone rape requires that we deny much of what we know about human history and biology.

If we are ever going to move on from Iron Age conflicts, it is imperative that people understand the Bible in its own context, not as a literally perfect prescription for how we should live today but as a record of our very imperfect ancestors struggling to live in community with each other, instinctively seeking patterns that worked within a given ecological and technological context to create a stable, functional society in which men, women, and children could thrive.

As we now know, many traditional gender scripts and sexual rules once served to ensure that men could invest their energy in their own genetic offspring. The saying, “mama’s baby, papa’s maybe” reflects the reality that humans are only partially monogamous, that both men and women have reason to cheat, and that at the level of evolutionary biology males gain advantage if they can control the sexual behavior of females in whose offspring they will then invest their time and energy. The Abrahamic virginity code, which evolved before the time of contraception and paternity tests, ensured a greater degree of confidence that men were in fact raising their own children. A woman who bled on her wedding night was unlikely to be carrying another man’s sperm or fetus or to have formed an emotional bond that would result in an ongoing extramarital liaison. By increasing male confidence that the offspring of their wives were their own, the virginity code may have increased the investment of men in pregnant women and dependent children, helping both to survive in a harsh desert environment where producing food was hard work.

The harshness of this environment and human frailty within it probably contributed to another aspect of the Mourdock mentality that so plagues many Abrahamic adherents. From the time we humans have first been able to understand our plight as suffering, mortal creatures we have struggled to transcend it. But much of life’s hardship cannot be transcended; it must simply be endured. In the time before modern science this was even more true than it is today. Consequently all of the world’s great religions cultivate acceptance or resignation as a virtue. Islam literally means submission. Buddhism centers itself on the absence of desire, on “living into” what is. Christianity teaches that God’s actions are not for us to question. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.” “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Submit, accept, don’t question. In all cases, submission has a hierarchy: men are to submit themselves to the will of God or to the divine flow; women are to submit both to the will of God and to the will of men.

In a world where what’s done is done, accepting a rape pregnancy and falling in love with the resulting child is an unmitigated good. Seeing all pregnancy as God-intended and all childbirth as a blessing from a loving heavenly father helps to make this possible. But we live in a world where we have far more knowledge and choices than did our Iron Age ancestors. And with knowledge and choices comes responsibility. We now have the ability to stop a rape from developing into a pregnancy or an early pregnancy from developing into a person. Consequently, we also have a responsibility in this situation to activate such moral virtues ascompassionforethought, discernment, and, where appropriate, action—just as our ancestors had a moral responsibility to employ these same virtues in situations where they were equally empowered. As the popular Serenity Prayer reminds us, what we should do depends in part on what we can do: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.  As conditions change, our responsibilities change. The kind of resignation or submission that once enabled women and children to flourish may now be a barrier to flourishing; a virtue applied wrongly, out of time, can become a vice.

This is where John Koster, Richard Mourdock, Rick Santorum, anti-contraception Bishops, and so many other devout conservatives have gone wrong. They have elevated a virtue, devotion, in this case devotion to a sacred text and tradition, to the point that it appears a vice to everyone but those who are caught in their retrogressive thought spiral. The consequences are there for all to see:  Instead of pointing the way toward wisdom—humility, prudence, discernment, kindness, insight, knowledge, and effectiveness—their devotion to the traditional subjugation of woman under man under Church under God (as embodied in a Golden Calf known as the Bible), simply makes them cruel.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder ofWisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

 

Withdraw case against Sanal Edamuruku -#Rationalist #FOE #Miracle


JOHN DAYAL, VETERAN JOURNALIST AND MEMBER, NATIONAL INTEGRATION COUNCIL | Issue Dated: July 22, 2012, New Delhi, Sunday Indian

Sanal Edamuruku, or for that matter Rationalists International, were not names the Indian Catholic Church was familiar with before it ran into them in Mumbai, triggering an obnoxious controversy that has crossed national borders and is making news in the US and the UK. This is a purely Catholic controversy and does not touch the other church denominations in India.
Sanal of the Rationalists International movement has been a fixture on the more sensational Indian print publications and TV news channels with his exposes of godmen of which India has a large number. In the past, he has taken on some venerable names in this sector and has survived. He can, in fact, be thought of as an extremist and fundamentalist himself in his belief as the subjects of his enquiry.
On March 10 this year, Sanal was asked by the TV9 channel to investigate the phenomenon of a crucifix at the Mumbai Church of Our Lady of Velankanni which had started attracting large crowds of believers because of little droplets of water trickling from the feet of Jesus. Mumbai, like Kerala, Goa and Mangalore, has a pretty large concentration of Catholics, most of them by all accounts active members of the Church. People, and not all of them Catholics,  collected the droplets as “holy water”.
Sanal, in his widely publicised findings, claimed the source of the water from the cross was a drainage near a washing room percolating through capillary action. This was the same phenomenon which made the idols of Lord Ganesh apparently “drink” milk some years ago. The laity and clergy of the Archdiocese of Bombay cried foul, describing Sanal’s statement as an insult to their faith.
Father Augustine Palett, the priest of Our Lady of Velankanni Church, and the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) demanded that Sanal apologise. Mumbai Auxillary Bishop Agnelo Gracias sought to restore some sanity saying the church was “always cautious in attributing supernatural causes” to such phenomena and always striving “to find ‘scientific’ explanations.”
A criminal case was nonetheless filed against Sanal. The police have been going to his house in Delhi to arrest him. Sanal has mobilised a powerful international rationalist community to his aid. Not surprisingly, extremist groups in the Hindutva brigade have extended him support, presumably arguing that an enemy’s enemy is a friend, but conveniently forgetting the time they too were baying for his blood not too long ago.
As someone who is in touch both with the Mumbai church and Sanal Edmaruku, I am pleading the return of a sense of proportion in this issue. It would seem a clash of two fundamentalist groups. It also comes in the context of a satellite TV and Internet social media environment in which many prominent Hindu temples, seminaries and their leaders have been exposed, often in what are called “sting operations”.
Unlike the violence and hate campaigns unleashed on the Christian community by Hindutva strategists and cadres in many states, and by Muslims mullahs in the Kashmir valley and a few other areas in East and South India, Sanal’s is neither “persecution” nor “communalism” as we understand those terms. A section of the Catholic community is embarrassed and therefore enraged. Sanal is an extremist in his own way, especially in the manner in which he believes in his rationalist theories. To that extent, he is a bit of a social maverick. But he is “catholic” in his approach, and confronts all mythology and superstition irrespective of which group propagates it or how powerful those who believe in these superstitions and miracles are.
I believe Christ is absolutely capable of defending Himself, if perhaps not the church in India. These statements by Sanal or the probe by his Rationalists must not be taken as an attack on the church or on the community. It certainly is not an attack on the faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.The faithful of Mumbai think they are defending faith when they go on hunger strikes against books of fiction or films from Hollywood and Bollywood. But in reality they are defending their own positions and constituencies and do not want them to be exposed to the sunlight.
Christ does not have to drip water from crucifixes to prove the love he has for each one of us. His healing is deeper and needs no instruments. I have experienced this in my own life. Catholics of Mumbai possibly realise the controversy is not getting the Church any new friends, nor is it adding to its lustre.
It is time the church leadership really forgave Sanal. He has learnt his own lesson – not to mock at genuine faith of the people and not confuse a passing popular fancy for a “miracle”, however untenable, to say the community is being taken for a ride by the church. The police case against Sanal Edamaruku should be withdrawn as a sign that a mature Church in India needs no props for the depth of its faith in God.

 

Vatican orders crackdown on ‘radical’ nuns in the US


The Leadership Conference of Women Religious ( LCWR )

Source: BBC

The Vatican has ordered a crackdown on a group of American nuns that it considers too radical.

It says the group is undermining Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality and is promoting “feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith“.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is the largest organisation of Catholic nuns in the US.

An archbishop has been appointed to oversee its reform to ensure that it conforms to Catholic prayer and ritual.

The Leadership Conference, which is based in Maryland, represents about 57,000 nuns and offers a wide range of services, from leadership training for women’s religious orders to advocacy on social justice issues.
Vatican concerns
“Working for a more just and peaceful world is an integral component of LCWR’s vision and goals.”

But its activities have clearly worried the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the nuns’ organisation faced a “grave” doctrinal crisis.

It said issues of “crucial importance” to the church, such as abortion and euthanasia, had been ignored.

Vatican officials also castigated the group for making some public statements that “disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops”, who are the church’s “authentic teachers of faith and morals.”

The review will include an examination of ties between the Leadership Conference and Network, a Catholic social justice lobby.

Network played a key role in supporting the Obama administration’s health care overhaul despite the bishops’ objections that the bill would provide government funding for abortion.

The Leadership Conference disagreed with the bishops’ analysis of the law and also supported President Barack Obama’s plan.

A Vatican report into the group suggested that they

“Collectively take a position not in agreement with the church’s teaching on human sexuality.”

In its presentations investigators noted “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

The investigation also found that the group has been

“Silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States“.