Pushing his luck

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Am I the only one seeing the irony here?

Hey Rratzinger, that’s a good one, reality is important, I couldn’t agree more. But you forget a few more “realities” that you should mention:

How about not lying about condoms and AIDS?

Better yet, what about NOT COVERING UP THE RAPING OF THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN ALL OVER THE WORLD?

Yes, your concern is totally commendable! Thank you.

New technologies confuse reality and fiction: Pope

October 13, 2010 – 9:21AM

Incense smoke surrounds Pope Benedict XVI as he leads a solemn mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican January 1, 2010.

Incense smoke surrounds Pope Benedict XVI as he leads a solemn mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican January 1, 2010. Photo: Reuters

Pope Benedict XVI said today that the media’s increasing reliance on images, fuelled by the endless development of new technologies, risked confusing real life with virtual reality.

“New technologies and the progress they bring can make it impossible to distinguish truth from illusion and can lead to confusion between reality and virtual reality,” the pope said.

Pope Benedict XVI's astronomer: the Catholic Church welcomes aliens

Dr Guy Consolmango, curator of the Pope's meteorite collection

Brother Guy Consolmagno is curator of the Pope’s meteorite collection Photo: AP Photo/Plinio Lepri

The senior Vatican scientist, Brother Guy Consolmagno, said that he would be delighted if we encountered intelligent aliens and would be happy to baptise them.

His pronouncement opens up the possibility of space missionaries heading out to the stars to convert aliens to Christianity.

Speaking on the eve of addressing the British Science Festival, Dr Consolmangno said he had no problem with science and religion co-existing together.

But he dismissed Creationism and claimed that the revival of “intelligent design” – the controversial theory that only God can explain gaps in the theory of evolution – was “bad theology”.

Dr Consolmango is one of a team of 12 astronomers working for the Vatican, said the Catholic Church had been supporting and funding science for centuries.

He said he was “comfortable” with the idea of alien life and asked if he would baptise an alien, he replied “Only if they asked”.

“I’d be delighted if we found life elsewhere and delighted if we found intelligent life elsewhere,” he said.

“But the odds of us finding it, of it being intelligent and us being able to communicate with it – when you add them up it’s probably not a practical question.

“God is bigger than just humanity. God is also the god of angels.”

He said the characteristics synonymous with having a soul – intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions may not be unique to humans.

“Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has has a soul,’ he said.

However machines were unlikely to be smart or human-enough to have souls.

Dr Consolmango, 57, the curator of the Pope’s meteorite collection, is a trained astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican’s observatory.

He worked as a scientist in California for 15 years before turning to the church.

He said “intelligent design” had been “hijacked” by religious fundamentalists.

“The word has been hijacked by a narrow group of Creationist fundamentalists in America to mean something it did not originally mean at all.

“It’s another form of the God of the gaps,” he said.

‘It’s bad theology in that it turns God once again into the pagan god of thunder and lightning.’

The phrase ‘Intelligent Design’ was centuries old and described the idea that God could be discovered in the laws of space and time and the existence of human reason..

The Vatican was ‘very aware’ of what was going on in the world of science, he added.

The Pontifical Academy of Science, of which Stephen Hawking is a member, kept the senior cardinals and the Pope up-to-date with the latest scientific developments, he said.

The discovery of aliens would raise huge theological problems for the Roman Catholic church that would make the debate over women priests, clerical abstinence and contraception pale into insignificance.

Priest blames girl for abuse

AN Ipswich priest who claimed he sexually abused a 12-year-old girl because she encouraged him has been sentenced to three months in jail.
SHAMED: Murray Alexander Moffat at court.

Rob Williams

AN Ipswich priest will spend the next three months in jail after admitting abusing a young girl.

Murray Alexander Moffat was an assistant priest at Sacred Heart Church at Booval when he sexually abused the girl from 1978 to 1980 – when she was aged between 12 and 15.

Ipswich District Court heard the victim, now aged 43, confronted Moffat last year while wearing a police wire and he admitted the abuse.

But he claimed she encouraged it and kissed him first.

“I made a mistake – you invited me,” Moffat told his victim in the taped conversation.

“I should’ve said no but I didn’t. I thought you wanted me to do that.”

Moffat, 64, apologised for any pain the abuse caused her.

“You were special to me,” he told the girl.

Crown Prosecutor Sarah Farnden said the priest told the girl she instigated the behaviour and it was “his mistake to allow her to do that”.

Ms Farnden said the priest was regularly allowed to spend time with the girl in her bedroom where he kissed and touched her.

In about 1980 the girl remembered her dad driving her to see an industrial fire at Bundamba with Moffat sitting in the front passenger seat and her behind him when the priest reached back and molested her.

The court heard Moffat gave the girl gifts including a pushbike and an Easter egg and said he loved her and wanted to marry her.

The girl approached the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane in 1995 to complain and it was referred to Queensland Police, but she did not take the case further.

The church sent Moffat on a “retreat” and he had five counselling sessions with a psychiatrist before returning to work a few months later.

Moffat pleaded guilty to three charges of indecent treatment of a child aged under 16.

He was sentenced to 18 months jail which will be suspended after he serves three months for an operational period of three years.

Defence barrister Gary Long said his client had no prior criminal history and was held in high regard by his parish, friends and members of the clergy.

Mr Long said Moffat now suffered a range of health complaints, including heart problems and diabetes.

The Archbishop of Brisbane, on behalf of the Archdiocese of Brisbane expressed deep remorse for the pain and suffering experienced by the victim.

The Most Reverend John Bathersby said he was deeply saddened by the grave abuse of trust and breach of pastoral care in the case.

“The Archdiocese offers a sincere apology to the victim,” the Archbishop said. “We credit greatly her courage in coming forward to speak with the police so that justice might be achieved.”

The Archdiocese confirmed Moffat had not been involved in any public priestly ministry since June last year and the Archbishop will initiate processes under church law to see if other penalties are called for.

Moffat’s authorisation to minister publicly or privately was revoked upon his conviction.

When asked why Moffat was not stood down in the mid-90s, an Archdiocesan spokesman said the matter was referred to police in 1995 and investigated but the victim chose not to proceed.

“In the absence of charges being laid but to ensure that Fr Moffat posed no risk in continuing to undertake his priestly duties, the Archdiocese had Fr Moffat professionally assessed by a psychologist,” the spokesman said.

Catholic adoption agency loses bid to bar gay parents from service

I find this was a just decision.

A Catholic adoption agency has lost its attempt to restrict its service to heterosexual couples after the Charity Commission found there was no justification for barring gay and lesbian parents.

Leeds-based Catholic Care sought exclusion from the 2007 sexual orientation regulations and began legal action to change its constitution so it could continue helping married couples only. The commission initially refused to give its consent, but the charity won the right to appeal against its decision.

Catholic Care told the high court that it would have to stop finding homes for children because Catholic donations would cease if it helped gay prospective parents. Mr Justice Briggs instructed the commission to reconsider the case.

But the commission said today it could not accede to the charity’s demands, with its chief executive, Andrew Hind, saying the decision had been “complex and sensitive”.

He said: “In certain circumstances, it is not against the law for charities to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. However, because the prohibition on such discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights law, such discrimination can only be permitted in the most compelling circumstances.

“We have concluded that in this case the reasons Catholic Care have set out do not justify their wish to discriminate.”

A one-line statement from the Catholic bishops of England and Wales said the welfare of children had “always been Catholic Care’s primary concern” and that it would now carefully consider the ruling.

Catholic Care said it was very disappointed by the outcome as it would reduce the number of people recruited as adoptive parents.

It would now consider whether there was “any other way” in which the charity could continue to “support families seeking children in need”.

The country’s Catholic hierarchy fought hard to secure an exemption for adoption agencies and their struggle became the focus of an unprecedented papal outburst last February, which saw Benedict XVI condemn UK equality legislation.

In a strongly worded letter to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, the pope criticised the then-Labour government for creating “limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs”.

He wrote: “The effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.”

Harriet Harman, who was equality minister at the time, defended the laws. The two will come face-to-face for the first time next month, when the pope visits Britain and is due to meet Harman in her role as acting leader of the Labour party.

Their meeting will follow “courtesy calls” from David Cameron, who will enjoy 20 minutes with the pontiff, and his deputy Nick Clegg, who gets half that time, before mass at Westminster Cathedral.Other details from the full papal itinerary, released today, show there will be two joint public appearances by the archbishop of Canterbury and the pope. Relations between the two churches have been strained since the Vatican announced a new structure for disaffected Anglicans that would make it easier for them to convert to Catholicism.