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An embattled pope

Gavin Hewitt | 14:55 UK time, Sunday, 12 September 2010

The German town of Freising is overlooked by a hill called the Domberg. It is dominated by a twin-towered Romanesque Cathedral. Just off to one side is a museum to Pope Benedict.


Joseph Ratzinger in the uniform of a German air force assistant, in a 1943 photo


It is little more than a corridor with a few photos. One stands out. It is of a young man in uniform. He looks past the camera. The stare is empty, expressionless, at a time when safety lay in a vacant look that could not be read. Joseph Ratzinger is 16, an assistant in an anti-aircraft unit in the Wehrmacht. Hitler's Imperium is drawing to a close.

A short while later the young man is in a seminary. His face is lively, absorbed, immersed in books. He is the stand-out scholar of his generation and his peers know he is destined for Rome.

The gallery of pictures is thin. Joseph Ratzinger left few visual traces as he rose from Bavarian priest to become the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He was and remains, at heart, an academic. Recently he told Professor Wolfgang Beinert, his former assistant, that his times teaching had been his "most important days". "I was at my prime," he said. Beinert's view is that the Pope remains "a professor down to his boot straps".

When he was elected Pope in 2005 the crowd began shouting "Benedictus! Benedictus!" He recoiled from the adulation. "I am not the main event," he said. He was a reluctant pope who, before he was chosen, had confided to friends that he longed to retire to Bavaria and to walk the hills.

But this elderly academic, who one ambassador likened to a "grandpa", presides over a Church buffeted by scandal. On an almost daily basis there are revelations of priests abusing children. Last Friday a dossier was released in Belgium cataloguing the grim details of abuse of children as young as two. In Belgium they say this is the Church's "Dutroux", referring to a paedophile found guilty of six rapes and four murders.

And from the sidelines, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC shouts "j'accuse" and makes the charge that perhaps 100,000 children have been abused.

In a square near the Pantheon in Rome I meet a priest. He is an older man, familiar with the ways of the Vatican. He has no doubt in his judgement. "I think," he says, "it is the most serious crisis since the Reformation". In 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his theses to the church door in Wittenberg, it shook the Church to its core and ushered in the Protestant Reformation.

Time and again in Rome and elsewhere I found people asking the same question: "Is the Pope up to the challenge?"

Pope Benedict is not reclusive, but he has lived simply. He plays the piano, especially Mozart. The British Ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Campbell, says: "He lived outside the Vatican walls... in an apartment with a cat, a piano and his books. In the months after he became Pope, one of his neighbours says she saw him return to his flat to see the cat and play the piano."

Ambassador Campbell says: "He is one of the greatest intellectual minds to have inhabited the papacy for two to three hundred years. He is a member of the French Academy."

Joseph Ratzinger is conservative by instinct. "My heart beats Bavarian," he once said. During the 1960s he favoured reform, finding the Church too bound by rules, but the student riots of 1968 changed him. According to Beinert, his assistant, Joseph Ratzinger saw in the protests "an atheistic world, which lacked any form of godliness or spirituality". "I stared into the ugly face of atheism," Ratzinger said later. Beinert says "he switched back to the more traditional values of the Church and fighting secularism became his mission".

Later he became the prefect in charge of one of the most important bodies within the Church, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is the successor to the Inquisition. Ratzinger was the enforcer, uncompromising, cracking down on dissidents within the Church. It earned him the name God's Rottweiler.

As Pope he has taken a strong line against women priests, contraception and homosexuality. He has had his controversies, like when he quoted a Byzantine Emperor who characterised some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman". He later claimed that his use of the quotation had been misunderstood.

But the sex abuse scandal is eating away at the Church's moral authority. In parts of the world the revelations have driven away congregations. In Ireland, where almost a third of the population once greeted Pope John Paul II, they are struggling to sell tickets to see Pope Benedict in London.

While a cardinal, he took steps that were intended to signal zero tolerance of sexual abuse. "He was the first to see the seriousness of the issue," said Ambassador Campbell. But Cardinal Ratzinger wanted investigations to be handled internally and for priests to face canon law, rather than criminal prosecution. He remains very protective of the Church's power.

The liberal theologian Hans Kung knows the Pope. He says of the abuse: "These were criminal acts, covered up by many, not just by individual bishops. The Pope himself wrote a letter ordering the matter to be dealt with internally by the Church.

"The Pope should apologise. He should say 'mea culpa'. The whole thing reveals a wrong attitude towards sexuality. But also the wrong attitude towards authority. The Church needs to be more transparent, open and democratic. We need a more open Church - not just a Roman system of imperial power."


Pope Benedict XVI attends his annual meeting with Holy See Diplomats at the Vatican's Hall of the Throne, 7 January 2008

I meet Monsignor Mark Langham at the English College in Rome. He is unusually candid. "As a priest, I have had my confidence shaken," he tells me. "It is difficult for the Church to get hold of this issue." But, he adds, the Holy Father "has made it very clear that we can't accept this sort of behaviour".

The Pope has apologised and has met victims of clerical abuse. Earlier this year in Malta he was said to be close to tears.

Hans Kung insists the Pope has the means to radically reform the Church. "The Pope is more powerful in his Church than the president of the United States is in his country," he says. "The Pope could change overnight the rule of celibacy and it would be changed. But if he does not want to change? Then nothing happens."

Monsignor Langham disagrees. "People misunderstand what the Pope can do," he says. "He can't change the whole agenda. The Church has a much deeper, and a very proud, history of faithfulness that makes it very hard to change. This Pope and any future Pope are very unlikely to bring about change. Their area of movement is very limited. It is not that he can say something and it is done. The tradition of the Church does not allow him to do that."

And personally the Pope is wary of reactive change. He does not want a Church that trims its message to suit the times. His time-frame is the span of centuries. Francis Campbell notes that the Catholic Church is "the world's oldest organisation". "Perhaps the Pope's attitude to change is that we have got something right ... if we are still here today?" he asks. The Pope's preoccupation is with the future of the West and how secularism is undermining its values.

In Rome I stand on a rooftop with an Opus Dei priest. There are magnificent views of the Eternal City. He points out some of the 400 churches and seminaries. He takes comfort from the fact that most of the abuse cases go back more than 20 years but that does not answer the questions "why?" and "why so many?".

Back in Bavaria I sit down with one of the Pope's former students. They are friends and still meet. He gives me a signed picture from the Pope. Within 10 or 20 years celibacy will be dropped, he tells me. It does not exist within the Eastern Catholic Church. I express surprise. It is inevitable, says the priest, with the wave of a hand. I wonder aloud whether the Pope might contemplate such a change. "With this Pope, it's impossible," he tells me swiftly.

Beneath the surface, there is a clamour for change. Robert Mickens from the Catholic paper the Tablet says that increasingly parishes are going their own way. Unofficially there are women priests in the US. He raises the possibility that the Church may even split.

I drive along the Appian Way to the Albana hills and Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence. The Pope is holding his Wednesday audience in the town square. There are people from all over the world. Some are dressed in traditional costume. Some have lugged statues of Mary from their local churches so that they can be blessed. There are brides in extravagant wedding dresses who hope that merely being in the presence of the Pope will bless their marriage.

As the audience begins, messages are read out in different languages indicating some of the groups who are in the square. When their names get mentioned they let out a cheer and the Pope waves to them. Afterwards several people said they liked his smile, his humility.

In the early autumn sunshine it is tempting to believe that the Church - with its long view of history - could emerge from this scandal unchanged. But then I recalled the Pope's Bavarian friend who said to me: "We can't find the priests. There are dioceses here that have no new candidates for priesthood. The churches are empty."

Comments

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  • 1. At 4:00pm on 12 Sep 2010, U14609674 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 4:59pm on 12 Sep 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    People asking the same question: "Is the Pope up to the challenge?"
    What “challenge” do the people want the Pope to deal with?
    Francis Campbell says: "He is one of the greatest intellectual minds to have inhabited the papacy for two to three hundred years. He is a member of the French Academy."
    What challenge do the people want this intellectual Pope to deal with?
    He switched back to the more traditional values of the Church, fighting secularism became his mission."
    Is this the challenge that the people want the Pope to deal with?
    I think not.
    Ratzinger was the Church’s enforcer - uncompromising, cracking down on dissidents within the Church. It earned him the name God's Rottweiler, but when it came to priests absuing children, he became God’s pussy cat.
    Is this what the People want the Pope to deal with – to come down on abusers like God’s Rottweiler?
    As Pope he has taken a strong line against women priests, contraception and homosexuality.
    As God’s representative on earth, here (I believe) are three primary areas that the people want the Pope to deal with:
    Ordain female priests.
    Allow contraception.
    Stop the condemnation of homosexuality.
    The Catholic Church cannot espouse to a loving God, a Christian God like Jesus Christ; yet treat some “people” as less than a man. Based on the Pope’s strong beliefs – only a hetreosexual man who does not use contraception can become a priest. Does that seem right to you, to anyone?
    In Ireland, where almost a third of the population once greeted Pope John Paul II, they are struggling to sell tickets to see Pope Benedict in London. While a cardinal, he took steps that were intended to signal zero tolerance of sexual abuse. He was the first to see the seriousness of the issue. Was he also the first to hide the abuse internally, allowing priests to face canon law rather than criminal prosecution.
    As God’s representative on earth, (I believe) the people want this to change – whether there is a shortage of priests or not.
    The Church needs to be more transparent, open and democratic.
    I believe the people want the Church to be transparent. It’s hard to abuse when the doors open.
    The Pope has apologised and has met victims of clerical abuse. Earlier this year in Malta he was said to be close to tears.
    Cry all he wants, his tears will not heal the abuse and will no stop future abuse.
    The Pope could change overnight the rule of celibacy and it would be changed.
    I believe Catholics want this to change.
    The Church has a much deeper, and a very proud, history of faithfulness…to what? Burning dissidents, capturing the Holy Land, excummicating persons who ask question, protecting abusers?
    Celebecy must change. I believe the people want it to change.
    With this Pope, it's impossible..
    Increasingly parishes are going their own way. There are women priests in the US. The Church may even split. If it does who gets the riches in the Vatican, who gets the archives that tell the truth about early Christianity, who gets the artifacts that are really the legacy of all Catholics?
    Is it a wonder that: The Catholic Chutch can no longer find the priests, that churches are empty.

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  • 3. At 5:19pm on 12 Sep 2010, stanilic wrote:

    `In Ireland, where almost a third of the population once greeted Pope John Paul II, they are struggling to sell tickets to see Pope Benedict in London.'

    This statement is ridiculous: it makes no sense at all.

    To travel from Ireland, to stay over for a night or two in London and pay for a ticket for a Papal mass will cost more than a few shillings for even the most faithful

    Don't you know there is a recession on?

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  • 4. At 5:39pm on 12 Sep 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    The Pope and his lot have a lot to answer for. But at least their version of the Commandments of the Great Being in the Sky allows one to eat a bacon butty.

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  • 5. At 6:23pm on 12 Sep 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "And personally the Pope is wary of reactive change. He does not want a Church that trims its message to suit the times. His time-frame is the span of centuries."

    In the United States where there is no great love of the Catholic Church by much of the population and it has no special legal status or protection the way it seems to in other countries like Ireland, the time-frame of District Attorneys seems to be months or a few years to build a case, not centuries.

    Could the Pope be indicted as the leader of an organization involved in systematic sexual abuse of children and a conspiracy to cover it up and hide it from criminal prosecution? Under our racketeering laws, I think the answer is yes. We'll see. So far nothing has gone that high yet.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/25/pope-accused-sparing-priest-suspected-sex-abuse

    As with the Anglican church, my hunch is that much of the money the church collects comes from its American followers. That could wane. The views of the current pope seem reactionary to many Americans. You have to wonder if its influence and the size of its flock in America won't go into sharp decline.

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  • 6. At 6:26pm on 12 Sep 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:


    Van Rompuy likened the"EU" to the Catholic Church.

    Quite!

    To what extent do the privileges of Eurocrats make paedophilia easier?

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  • 7. At 6:48pm on 12 Sep 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    EUprisoner209456731 @6,

    So that explains why the EU is based in Belgium ;-)

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  • 8. At 7:59pm on 12 Sep 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Well, the 'show' is heading to the UK next week.

    He's as welcome as any other Head if State/Leader of a Faith I imagine.

    Clearly the Pontiff's opposition to female priests is a controversial attitude, but not one I feel able to comment on as I don't believe in any of the doctrines he espouses nor those of any other Church.
    IMO, it just seems so incredibly antiquated to still be denying Women a full & equal role with Men: Upto & including the role of Pope.

    However, on Homosexuality & Contraception Ratzinger is as dangerously anti-social & anti-humanitarian as all the others from the past Vatican. His Faith encourages Catholics to be less than fair & equal in their attitudes & conduct toward individuals & is a threat to the health of all of us: That IMO is of itself a disgraceful position to take in the 21st Century.

    His judgement can also be seriously questioned for quoting someone's view that Islam wasn't all its cracked-up to be & even more so for then apologising - - it's almost a Pastor Jones' Koran-burning episode in its ludicrousness - - a man as able & learned as the Pontiff either means what he says or he doesn't!?
    Or, was that a bit of a speech not inspired by the Almighty!

    Though clearly Ratzinger's achilles heel is his pre-Pope role dealing with 'sexual abuse' cases: He made a hash of it & in some ways it seems to me incredibly wrong any such misled/misguided (Almighty again!?) senior cleric could have then been elected to the post of Head of the RC Church! One wonders who or what was entering the minds of the Cardinals to elect a fellow with such a dubiously weak attitude to surely the most heinous of crimes a Church representative could ever perpetrate.

    Ratzinger was not complicit in any of it: Through & through an honourable and devout man.
    All the same, the Pontiff in his previous guise just wasn't vigilant enough, not pro-active & when the man at the top is seen in that light anything he has to say next week to the Faithful or the rest of us just has to be taken with huge amounts of cynicism.

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  • 9. At 8:30pm on 12 Sep 2010, Louell wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 10:19pm on 12 Sep 2010, blefuscu wrote:

    A very Eurocentric view of the Catholic Church. (and of the nature of the religious experience)

    I want to make one observation. The Church is changing its colour. Once the majority of Catholics were European. It was dominated( before modern communications) by Italian Cardinals. Now Europe is dying in terms of religion (except Islam) but the Church is growing. There are more priests in formation (ouside Europe and America) than ever before. I look forward to an African Pope in the fullness of time. Some African priests I have met are splendid.

    There will always be a Catholic Church and it will be universal in the sense of being a faith community. Not a political club with social agendas ..women priests and other non-issues but a vehicle of salvation which I expect few of your readers will have much feeling for.

    But a few more specific points.

    Küng. Not to be taken seriously. Showman and a sense for headlines. Preferred sports cars as a student to Benedict's bike.

    The Manuel Quote. The Pope did not APOLOGISE, he regretted it had been taken amiss. His argument was that a confrontational approach, even in a city under a cruel moslem siege, was wrong. Reason was the way. Talk and if necessary suffer. Turn the other cheek. The truly, deeply Christian way.

    The Pope is speaking to the deepest truths of human nature.

    I respect him.

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  • 11. At 10:19pm on 12 Sep 2010, Anton Altavilla wrote:

    It seems like the Catholic church is sadly outdated and loosing ground every day. It must change! I think this is a very sensible thing to say if one thinks of the Catholic church as a sort of club or commercial venture that gets points for having lots of participants. It is understandable that Mr. Hewitt's article and the comments of the blog see the church in this sort of way. But what is this weird institution? If we are to take her for her word the church is, despite her all too obvious ugly sins, the spotless bride of Christ. She is black but beautiful. She is the only known entrance into eternal happiness. etc. If you take all this hokus pokus seriously as I do, the article and blog are just very odd.

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  • 12. At 01:53am on 13 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    He can do all he wants about homosexuality, people have heard its a biological thing, comes from the mother.

    Its genetic, but you know when I was young, in the late 70s, people said to themselves this is the way I am, therefore, it IS.

    And the thing that makes it weird to me, is all the younger people who think its normal, they are the ones to make future decisions. I used to be afraid of these younger people, but now they are the neat ones.



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  • 13. At 01:56am on 13 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    So, what a Square (lol)...watch Klute that is where I got that word. Jane Fonda in her role as a prostitute.

    She would put people down as squares in that movie. Watch that movie, Web Alice.

    To see why Jane was such a revered actress.

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  • 14. At 02:07am on 13 Sep 2010, Ellinas wrote:

    Ok apart the serious and abominable subject like "child abuse by catholic priests with no excuses"...That's the most laughable "Dan Brawn - The Ratzinger Code" i have ever read or may i say "Monty Python's - Life of Ratzinger"...

    --✄-- In a square near the Pantheon in Rome I meet a priest. --✄--

    Hewitt! You came all across Europe just to find a priest...Excellent investigation

    --✄-- He is an older man, familiar with the ways of the Vatican. --✄--

    Old wine ---> good convincing wine!

    --✄-- He has no doubt in his judgement. --✄--

    just like another Nostradamus...

    --✄-- "I think," he says, "it is the most serious crisis since the Reformation." In 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his theses to the church door in Wittenberg, it shook the Church to its core and ushered in the Protestant Reformation. --✄--

    Are you sure it wasn't the Ghost Whisperer of Martin Luther?

    --✄-- Time and again in Rome and elsewhere I found people asking the same question: "Is the Pope up to the challenge?" --✄--

    WHO? HOW MANY? WHY? Did they were catholic or maybe some tourists passing by?

    --✄-- Pope Benedict is not reclusive but he has lived simply. He plays the piano, especially Mozart. The British Ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Campbell, says: "He lived outside the Vatican walls... in an apartment with a cat, a piano and his books. In the months after he became Pope, one of his neighbours says she saw him return to his flat to see the cat and play the piano." --✄--

    Ok! Like you said it seems more that he preferred to be "Elton John for his cat" but Italians force him against his will to be a Pope...Berlusconi would said...bloody Italian communists ( ☭ )

    --✄-- Francis Campbell says: "He is one of the greatest intellectual minds to have inhabited the papacy for two to three hundred years. He is a member of the French Academy." --✄--

    ...But wait after all they save his talent and now he is the Michael Jordan of the Pope's recent history ?

    --✄-- Joseph Ratzinger is conservative by instinct. "My heart beats Bavarian," he once said. --✄--

    That means that all Bavarians are conservative?

    --✄-- During the 1960s he favoured reform, finding the Church too bound by rules, but the student riots of 1968 changed him. According to Beinert, his assistant,
    Joseph Ratzinger saw in the protests "an atheistic world, which lacked any form of godliness or spirituality". "I stared into the ugly face of atheism," Ratzinger said later. He switched back to the more traditional values of the Church and fighting secularism became his mission." As Pope he has taken a strong line against women priests, contraception and homosexuality. --✄--

    An homosexual, women priests, contraception church is a modern church to your point of view? To me it's more like a mix of a gay pride, female Brazilian carnival crew to a Star Trek mission against Klingon with a "Scientology" Captain Kirk

    --✄-- Later he became the prefect in charge of one of the most important bodies within the Church, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is the successor to the Inquisition. --✄--

    Inquisition? Bravo Hewitt!...So sounds more EVIL + his 16 years old nazi ( 卐 ) uniform foto and you certainly scored...

    --✄-- Ratzinger was the enforcer, uncompromising, cracking down on dissidents within the Church. It earned him the name God's Rottweiler. --✄--

    No wait!...Inquisition + 卐 + God's Rottweiler = 235U + n → 236U "instabile" → 144Ba + 89Kr + 2/3 n + 211,5 MeV i.e. Atomic Ratzinger religious bomb

    Take several pounds of Uranium Ratzinger 235
    Keep in seperate LEAD Jars.
    To detonate the Bomb break jars and load all the U235 into one vessel.
    Run like Hell ! you have five seconds before the blast wave overtakes your Ferrari.

    --✄-- But then I recalled the Pope's Bavarian friend who said to me: "We can't find the priests. There are dioceses here that have no new candidates for priesthood. The churches are empty." --✄--

    Don't worry Ratzinger the Anglicans will be your saviors they will quickly send priests as well as new churchgoer

    Ok! I admit it! After all by this topic i have learned that: at least the German town of Freising is overlooked by a hill called the Domberg. It is dominated by a twin-towered Romanesque Cathedral. Just off to one side is a museum to Pope Benedict.

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  • 15. At 02:32am on 13 Sep 2010, Ellinas wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 16. At 04:49am on 13 Sep 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    As I understand , celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church has nothing to chastity , sanctity , or ancient religious beliefs .

    Pope PlagiousI forbade married priests and those with concubines , to bequeath their wealth and properties to their wives , women and children .
    The problem was that some priests accumulated considerable wealth in their lifetime , leaving it to their families , instead of the church .

    In 1022 Pope BenedictVIII banned marriage by priests .

    Priests are asked to lead a very lonely , unatural and inhumane life . It is all very well for monks and nuns who live in a closed community to remain celibate , at least theoretically . But for parish priests , they are on their own . It is not a ligitimate arguments that they are married to the church or God .

    I believe that priests should be allowed to marry , sooner rather than later . I believe in the equality of women to men and in the eyes of God . Women can make excellent priests .

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  • 17. At 06:28am on 13 Sep 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 18. At 08:18am on 13 Sep 2010, Nik wrote:

    Bof, this whole issue about Ratzinger has absolutely nothing to do with theologic matters and certainly even less to do with the paedophilic crimes commited by priests - crimes that were committed 2 decades ago at a time Woytilla was the Pope, yet back then non-one would speak of these crimes. Woytilla was as much against all the things Ratzinger is against and there was no problem.

    The difference. Woytilla was Polish and as such he was up to the good old role of the catholic fanatic anti-orthodox, fanatic anti-Russian which the US & Britain so much loved. Ratzinger on the other hand, is German, and is a less easily manipulated man than Woytilla and will not yield to the pressures of continuing to play the same violin as Woytilla, hence he has already fallen to disgrace in the eyes of Americans and British. Hence the long pre-existing scandal with the paedophilic cases surfacing today. Hence, his refusal to take part into it, afterall this is a case of police, he has no jurisdiction over it, not even inside the hierarchy of the church (it is the local bishops that have to deal with it primarily).

    Don't you ever think of any different, religion while having lost its allure in western societies still retains some of its value for politics. In Greece we saw the opposite: Christodoulos, a fiercely pro-Russian, pro-ND (philo-russian right wing party) and anti-Constantinople (the patriarch is pro-US and anti-Russian) archibishop died mysteriously under a rapidly (too rapidly deteriorating condition) and after a medical visit in the US (and after it, his condition became quickly notably worse) so that everyone now talks of induced cancer, a very common method of assasination among services of you know whom. Death came months after the signature for the Black Sea gas pipeline. By divine miracle (ouaou!) the next archibishop was an anti-Russian, pro-Constantinople, pro-US patriarch, pro-PASOK (philo-american socialist party), and most people (even PASOK voters) just hate him, still speaking of Christodoulos, no wonder.

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  • 19. At 08:52am on 13 Sep 2010, Philippe Drevait wrote:

    "In Ireland, where almost a third of the population once greeted Pope John Paul II, they are struggling to sell tickets to see Pope Benedict in London."
    Does Hewitt realise that the visit is to the UK and not to Ireland or is there a vestigial imperialism in this remark? France is far closer geographically to London than Ireland is, so why are the French not buying tickets?


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  • 20. At 10:54am on 13 Sep 2010, Ellinas wrote:

    I see when we tell the truth about Ratzinger comments are being obscured...and for the first time i found my self in the position to defent him...Anyway i will try to be more clever in my posts to this subject...

    He never apologised to the Muslims (there wasn't the need for doing so) for quoting the erudite Greek emperor Manuel II Paleologus words: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

    He only said that: "HE IS VERY SADDENED BY THE REACTIONS..." = "Sono vivamente rammaricato per le reazioni suscitate..."

    ...and for the whole story...only the Turks get upset by his words not the Muslims and we Greeks know why...

    But it's better Hewitt to take a closer look of his words and find out if they were any controversies with the Muslims...and strangely an Orthodox like me agree with every single of his words:


                                     LECTURE OF THE HOLY FATHER

                             Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg
                                    Tuesday, 12 September 2006

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  • 21. At 11:21am on 13 Sep 2010, Ellinas wrote:

    Ok apart the serious and abominable subject like "child abuse by catholic priests with no excuses"...That's like a new thriller fiction "Dan Brawn - The Da Vinci Code"

    --✄-- In a square near the Pantheon in Rome I meet a priest. --✄--

    Hewitt! You came all across Europe just to find a priest...Excellent investigation

    --✄-- He is an older man, familiar with the ways of the Vatican. --✄--

    Old wine ---> good wine!...convincing...

    --✄-- He has no doubt in his judgement. --✄--

    just like another Nostradamus...but wait he said to you nothing more about Vatican issues than the Protestant Reformation history

    --✄-- Time and again in Rome and elsewhere I found people asking the same question: "Is the Pope up to the challenge?" --✄--

    WHO? HOW MANY? WHY? Did they were catholic or maybe some tourists passing by?

    Ok! I admit it! I can't complain...After all by this Hewitt topic i have learned something...that:

    --✄-- At least the German town of Freising is overlooked by a hill called the Domberg. It is dominated by a twin-towered Romanesque Cathedral. Just off to one side is a museum to Pope Benedict. --✄--

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  • 22. At 11:35am on 13 Sep 2010, Ellinas wrote:

    --✄-- Pope Benedict is not reclusive but he has lived simply. He plays the piano, especially Mozart. The British Ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Campbell, says: "He lived outside the Vatican walls... in an apartment with a cat, a piano and his books. In the months after he became Pope, one of his neighbours says she saw him return to his flat to see the cat and play the piano." --✄--

    Ok! Like you said it seems to me more that he would preferred to be "Mozart for his cat" but Italians force him against his will to be a Pope...

    --✄-- Francis Campbell says: "He is one of the greatest intellectual minds to have inhabited the papacy for two to three hundred years. He is a member of the French Academy." --✄--

    ...But wait after all they save his talent and now he is the "Mozart" of the Pope's recent history ?

    --✄-- Joseph Ratzinger is conservative by instinct. "My heart beats Bavarian," he once said. --✄--

    That means that all Bavarians are conservative?

    --✄-- Later he became the prefect in charge of one of the most important bodies within the Church, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is the successor to the Inquisition...It earned him the name God's Rottweiler. --✄--

    Inquisition? Bravo Hewitt!...So sounds more EVIL + his 16 years old nazi ( 卐 ) uniform foto + the Rottweiler description and you certainly scored...

    I can go on like that for the whole topic...

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  • 23. At 11:54am on 13 Sep 2010, Ellinas wrote:

    --✄-- During the 1960s he favoured reform, finding the Church too bound by rules, but the student riots of 1968 changed him. According to Beinert, his assistant,
    Joseph Ratzinger saw in the protests "an atheistic world, which lacked any form of godliness or spirituality". "I stared into the ugly face of atheism," Ratzinger said later. He switched back to the more traditional values of the Church and fighting secularism became his mission." As Pope he has taken a strong line against women priests, contraception and homosexuality. --✄--

    An homosexual, women priests, contraception kind of church is a modern church to your point of view? To me it's more like a mix of a gay pride, female Brazilian carnival crew to a Star Trek mission against Klingon with a "Scientology" Captain Kirk

    --✄-- But then I recalled the Pope's Bavarian friend who said to me: "We can't find the priests. There are dioceses here that have no new candidates for priesthood. The churches are empty." --✄--

    Don't worry Ratzinger the Anglicans will be your saviors they will quickly send priests as well as new churchgoer

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  • 24. At 12:28pm on 13 Sep 2010, lacerniagigante wrote:

    18. At 08:18am on 13 Sep 2010, Nik wrote:

    "Christodoulos, a fiercely pro-Russian, pro-ND (philo-russian right wing party) and anti-Constantinople (the patriarch is pro-US and anti-Russian) archibishop died mysteriously under a rapidly (too rapidly deteriorating condition) and after a medical visit in the US (and after it, his condition became quickly notably worse) so that everyone now talks of induced cancer, a very common method of assasination among services of you know whom."

    What makes you think so? Maybe this is just the proof that God, as GW Bush and Tony Blair used to tell us, in all his might is on the side of the USA and its friends? ;-)

    Anyway, thanks to Ratzinger (and Hewitt's lengthy article) I find myself today in agreement with many of the anti-EU posters on this thread. For some reason their gut-feelings against the "Dictator from Rome" seem to be of the same nature they direct towards the "Dictator from Brussels". Van Rompuy may have a point?

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  • 25. At 3:02pm on 13 Sep 2010, Nik wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 26. At 3:53pm on 13 Sep 2010, Chris wrote:

    Well I hope that at some point the police gets people that have commited crimes. I also strongly hope that at some point all religious activities stop interfiering with how people live their lives, what clothes to wear, what to think, etc. and go back to serve the purpose that they were originally designed for, i.e. ensure that people who believe in their teaching have a secure path to a happy after-life!!

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  • 27. At 3:55pm on 13 Sep 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #24. At 12:28pm on 13 Sep 2010, lacerniagigante,

    I've not seen what Van Rompuy said but if he likened the EU to the church I think I can understand a correlation but am very surprised it is he, as an ardent federalist, that is saying it. In both cases we, the supposed 'believers', are supposed to believe in a fictional entity that has no basis in reality. All churches of all religions are an invention just as the EU is an invention to subjugate the serfs living in Europe once more.

    I have little regard for religions and their imaginary deity(s), as there have been far too many examples of lack of morals shown by their believers and especially their inner circles. The latest example of child abuse within the Catholic church is the tip of the iceberg, children have been seen as a commodity by various churches for generations,look at the lost children who were sent as forced labour until not so long ago, look at the number of children who were indoctrinated to be recruits to 'gods' war.

    As for this pope, I am against him touring at the expense of the tax payer and believe that if he wishes to meet his followers it should be totally at his expense. What next, being asked to pay for Bin Laden to tour the EU?

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  • 28. At 4:30pm on 13 Sep 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    The Church is in trouble not becuase it has not modernized but rather because it has. The founding moral code has been abandoned and the thrust has been toward the economics of running such a vast institution. Fundamental doctrine has been the basis of success for 2,000 years and if it is to continue the Church must become more active in the spiritual development of people and leave the political agendas outside of the Church. Like the governments, the impact of the decade of greed and corruption seduced the Church. The Church is needed to counter-balance the era of consumerism and promote the value of human beings beyond what they may own and acquire. The question is how does the Church un-invent itself rather than re-invent itself.

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  • 29. At 5:01pm on 13 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    BTW, who cares about religion?

    Remember? Now I understand. With so few choices, Anglican or RC or Protestant, why not be an atheist, but I wonder if non-demominational is a better word....that is what I am--a secular humanistic cafeteria style Christian...

    Adults pick their own religion-their own rules that fit them.

    **********

    BTW, unsatisfied gays dont equal pedophiles. Logic makes its appearance.

    Maybe the Catholic Church provides a function, gets all those pedophiles into a profession--but they should be constantly given therapy.

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  • 30. At 5:05pm on 13 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    BTW, again,

    I have a friend who counsels one-time pedophiles, showing them techniques to not molest again.

    It probably takes a degree in counseling though, I THINK its because no one else takes up the job...his degrees are in ex army service--one would think it takes a masters in psychology.

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  • 31. At 5:07pm on 13 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    Is Bin Laden being equated with the pope? Hmmmm even I find that outrageous.

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  • 32. At 6:01pm on 13 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    To say that Bin Laden is THE leader of the Muslims is not too "hopeful" I mean in the above.

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  • 33. At 11:26pm on 13 Sep 2010, Sallyboss wrote:

    Wait a minute. In BBC report on child abuse by priests in Belgium, the writer said that two-thirds of abused children were boys, but there were also 100 girls." That makes about 300 total. In today's BBC TV News (13 September 2010), the Belgian story was foregrounded as well, and information was given that the period of abuse extended over forty years.

    Hm. 300 case per forty years. Horrible as child abuse is, I have read elsewhere that there is virtually no residential district in the US (and presumably elsewhere) where child abuse (yes, pedophilia) is not going on. All religions, and atheism too, are professed by child molesters. In terms of sheer numbers, we are talking about a number of cases that dwarf child abuse in Catholic schools. Could it be that there is just a bit of anti-Catholic prejudice in these juicy reports from Albion?

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  • 34. At 00:45am on 14 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    Anti-religion, antihypocrites is more likely the attitude here, SallyBoss

    Also, I had a friend (had cuz he was a jerk...a player...) who was an Anglican priest,

    And he said that he and other priests had to go to bathrooms in pairs for fear of being accosted by lawsuit pursuers (fake molestation reports)

    You are right...its an excuse for hating a religion or religion, itself.

    I would think the Pope is a symbol and should be more of a manager than the idea of God on Earth. They need to admit that they are not God on Earth...that is not Christianity...faith and believing in the Jesus thingy.

    (more than one son of God???)



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  • 35. At 00:51am on 14 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    Also, I like the Catholic Church's festive traditions, therefore I must like the Greek and Russian Orthodox festive traditions...incense, ornateness, confessions, and the stateliness of it all.

    But, aren't most religions out of date, the last people to learn hat moralities (one would think scholars would be more prevalent in these religions) change because of science and society change?

    Princess Diana and Elizabeth Taylor had more sense of the tragedy of AIDS than ...excuse me...Pope Paul II.

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  • 36. At 01:24am on 14 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    BTW, I do think, Marcus, your writing is easy to read (pulls one in) and I'm still reading your comments....like anyone I do skim.

    That is why people turn on you, your posts turn verulent (sp?) and they've been pulled in by your very rational (at first) posts,

    No advice for you and also, I've learned to like Democracy Threat And I have always liked CBW. He is probably an apologist, but his writing and views are easy to like :)

    Once I read a piece by Democracy Threat expressing his view that America didn't lose Vietnam in an economic way--the USA thrived economically he said ...I liked that but inflation did hit in the 70's very horrifically (I remember G. Ford's WIN buttons--Whip inflation now--who knew and should have known it was OPECs oil prices that did all this to us--inflation of the the 70s.

    That is why Germany is the way it is today...Afraid of any inflation...growth with inflation tends to be higher growth...but that is heresy.

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  • 37. At 01:27am on 14 Sep 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11288162

    "The European Parliament has urged the government to halt the deportations - a call rejected by Paris."

    So when did this pompous, arrogant, wasteful, over-paid, based-on-antidemocratic-treaties, sick-joke, pseudo-parliament ever complain about the fact that we in the UK did not get the referendum we were promised?

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  • 38. At 04:33am on 14 Sep 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Gavin Hewitt.

    "He was and remains, at heart, an academic."

    well, that must explain why he, unlike most of 'us', thinks that apologising and meeting "victims of clerical abuse" is enough.

    "Academic and aristocratic people live in such an uncommon atmosphere that common sense can rarely reach them." (Samuel Butler)

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  • 39. At 04:41am on 14 Sep 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Sallyboss #33.

    "Hm. 300 case per forty years. Horrible as child abuse is ... Could it be that there is just a bit of anti-Catholic prejudice in these juicy reports from Albion?"

    crickey, how many cases of abuse would it take to make you think different?

    do you not agree that even one case is one too many?

    also, have you ever considered that most victims of abuse never actually talk about their experiences, so the "300 case per forty years" is the tip of the iceberg at best.

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  • 40. At 09:35am on 14 Sep 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @33 Salyboss

    "Hm. 300 case per forty years. Horrible as child abuse is, I have read elsewhere that there is virtually no residential district in the US (and presumably elsewhere) where child abuse (yes, pedophilia) is not going on. All religions, and atheism too, are professed by child molesters. In terms of sheer numbers, we are talking about a number of cases that dwarf child abuse in Catholic schools. Could it be that there is just a bit of anti-Catholic prejudice in these juicy reports from Albion?"

    So what has the Catholic church done so far to help investigate all this thoroughly?
    Oh wait, they always tried to cover it up, even after the media outrage.

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  • 41. At 10:15am on 14 Sep 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #31. At 5:07pm on 13 Sep 2010, DavidStvn and #32,

    I guess you are referring to my earlier post, my reference to Bin Laden was simply that he is a detested religious figure who some look up to, I could easily have referred to other religions that have a leader. The principle is that I dislike the state paying for religion and especially for tours by religious leaders of any denomination, the state and religion should be separate, if the religion does not have sufficient funds it should fold as it is just another business. In Belgium the state pays for the various churches and it is causing a lot of anger at the moment that this includes more than 40 mosques. In Germany there is a church tax that can be opted out of, but not so in Belgium as we are not given that choice. Likewise in the UK, the public cannot choose to opt out of paying for the pope's visit.

    Most, if not all, religions are hypocritical businesses that prey on the weak and fallible and attract the fanatic, and the revelations about child abuse are of no surprise. I was always amazed at the duplicity of Irish Catholics and their priests who professed religion whilst supporting and funding the IRA. Likewise the duplicity of Muslims who talk about innocent people yet support the killing of other Muslims who are not of their particular thinking.

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  • 42. At 10:21am on 14 Sep 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #40. At 09:35am on 14 Sep 2010, DurstigerMann,

    The Catholic church has a history of cover up that originates from its inception when it was decided which writings would be adopted and which would be called heresy. There are many who would like to see the Vatican archives as they could be very illuminating as to history and could maybe refute many of the tenets of multiple religions. Therefore when you remember this culture of secrecy at all costs, it is of no surprise that it has been extended to encompass many other misdeeds including child abuse.

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  • 43. At 10:34am on 14 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    I see now, Buzet...I kind of knew it was sarcastic, just didnt know the context.

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  • 44. At 11:13am on 14 Sep 2010, Anonimo Lombardo wrote:

    100% agree with Ellinas on the Regensburg speech issue. It has been voluntarily misunderstood and blown out of proportions by the press and by certain, limited sectors of the muslim world. Sadly, Ratzinger, great advocate of the human Reason, had to experience what he was up against: irrationality. On one side (the western press and mainstream ideologies), sheer ideological hatred and manipulation of the truth via media - how do you argue with that by using Reason? On the other side, fanaticism and religious fundamentalism - how do you argue with them using Reason (which, incidentally, is the same doubt the Byzantine Emperor had)?

    Anyway, I find it curious that the most radical elements of British Atheism keep stating the religion is irrelevant (Dawkins) and they do not care about the Pope - and then spend an entire editorial life spitting hatred against religion and even try and have the Pope arrested... so, you DO care, quite obviously.

    The same could be said about the british media: they keep alternating scorn and poisonous articles to "polls" showing how british people don't care, while the headlines are all for the event... quite pathetic.

    To these I prefer Ian Paisley: at least he has the guts to say that he DOES care: he's on a mission to eliminate the Antichrist. Perhaps you should follow him, might have more chances than Dawkins.

    A final, amused remark: the Pope will beatify John Henry Newman, a great supporter of Darwinism. Rock on.

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  • 45. At 12:27pm on 14 Sep 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    anonimolombardo #44.

    "Sadly, Ratzinger, great advocate of the human Reason, had to experience what he was up against: irrationality."

    hm, let me see if I've got this straight, you say that the leader of the largest organisation dealing in invisible friends, who ask their members to have faith in miracles and accept promised afterlives, was up against irrationality? well, I never..

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  • 46. At 1:42pm on 14 Sep 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Drugstore man;

    "All religions, and atheism too, are professed by child molesters."

    They don't all have an international organization that shields them from criminal prosecution by civil authorities and they don't have control over the governments of entire countries like Ireland where they have overwhelming influence and power over both the criminal authorities and the legislative process that blocks investigations and prosecution and then allows escape through statute of limitations clauses in their laws. Under American law the Catholic Church could likely be compared and prosecuted as an international organized crime syndicate dealing in child sexual abuse that could face indictment right up to the pope. Even here its tentacles seem to have avoided it that fate so far.

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  • 47. At 1:59pm on 14 Sep 2010, Anonimo Lombardo wrote:

    jr4412 n.45

    "hm, let me see if I've got this straight, you say that the leader of the largest organisation dealing in invisible friends, who ask their members to have faith in miracles and accept promised afterlives, was up against irrationality? well, I never.."

    Your problem is that you confuse materialism with rationality.

    In the Dawkins vs Lennox debate, prof. Dawkins focused his argument on similar comical characterizations of Christian beliefs, as you kindly pictured them. When it came to the final conclusions, he startled me (and anyone who had a little bit of philosophical background) by admitting that there is "some kind of morals" in humans.

    So, to sum up: he thinks that humans are nothing but a fantastic agglomerate of chemicals, ever changing, without a funny thing called "soul". But hey, they do have some kind of morals.

    And who would Mr. Dawkins be, in this scenario he devised? An ever-changing agglomerate of moleculas somehow REASONING upon itself and its own meaning?

    Is this what you call rational?

    As to the faith in miracles, I let Newman answer you (copied and pasted from a recent BBC article):

    "Mr Cornwell even quotes the scepticism of Newman himself on miracles, arguing that the faithful should be prepared to accept they occur within, rather than outside, nature."

    I quite agree with him. The same is worth for the so-called evolution vs. creation debate. Apart from some sectarian deep-american lunatic, no serious catholic thinker believes that there is necessarily any opposition between evolution and creation. It is unfathomable how any serious philosopher - b.C. or a.D, before or after the Middle Ages, before or after the Renaissance, before or after the Enlightenment - would rule out (with scorn) the presence of a Paradigm that explains all reality. Not even Voltaire.

    Science is a method, not an end. Science works, and is true, if applied as a method to measure and explain the physical reality. Not as reality itself.

    Its limits are there for everyone to see: if I try and divide a unit of any kind, mathematical, chemical or physical, I am doomed to go on forever, because "unit" simply does not exist but as a postulate concept. Space and time themselves, Einstein showed, are relative.

    Existence and Non-existence seem to be the only sureties (well, sort of) we have. And we don't know how it came to be (the past is inappropriate, because it is not in the past, "it comes to be", I should say) that the universe exists and doesn't NON-exist.

    How can anyone, with this scenario, amputate his brain so much as to not conceive other possibilities than a "random" unbalance? Is "random" a rational word to use? And again, random as opposed to what? The term random has a sense if you compare it with another state: order, causality, call it whatever you want. But if we are talking about the beginning of everything, the reason for existence, there's no other "state" we can relate randomness to: in which case, "random" is not random.

    My friend, we christians are rational beings and we always strive to be all the more so. If you want to talk about Christ, we'll go on from here, but this is a starter served to all believers in materialism (and it takes them a hell of a lot of faith to believe in it) who want to convince the world they are the defenders of human reason, reducing all others to superstitious monkeys.

    That is untrue, unfair towards history and philosophy, unfair towards human reason.

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  • 48. At 3:05pm on 14 Sep 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    47. anonimolombardo

    hear hear!

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  • 49. At 3:17pm on 14 Sep 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    anonimolombardo #47.

    "My friend, we christians are rational beings.."

    look matey, I do not care about Dawkins or the Pope or whomever else you chose to drag up, you think Ratsinger is rational, I suspect he isn't (but if he is then he must be a cynical hypocrite).

    you believe in an invisible friend, in my book that makes you irrational.

    "Your problem is that you confuse materialism with rationality."

    oh and let's not get into philosophy, I've the feeling you might turn out to be a sophist.

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  • 50. At 4:19pm on 14 Sep 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    junior;

    "Ratsinger is rational"

    The queston is not whether or not Ratsinger is rational or not, the question is in the child sex abuse scandal whether he is criminal or not having played a role in the coverup, particularly in Wisconsin. The question is if he is found to be likely criminally culpable is he indictable and prosecutable. And if he is prosecutable, will the authorities actually prosecute him.

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  • 51. At 4:21pm on 14 Sep 2010, Ellinas wrote:

    #45 #49 jr4412

    --✄-- let me see if I've got this straight, you say that the leader of the largest organisation dealing in invisible friends...you believe in an invisible friend, in my book that makes you irrational.--✄--


    You must be jocking...my church is dealing with concrete matters and the entity of the God is...so visible and at the same time invisible as visible and invisible are my words to you...and our church (The Orthodox one) ask their members to have faith in miracles i.e. have faith on the Trinity "Verb" and if you read the LECTURE OF THE POPE in my #20 post you will see that same concept

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  • 52. At 4:24pm on 14 Sep 2010, Ellinas wrote:

    #45 #49 jr4412

    --✄-- who ask their members to have faith in miracles and accept promised afterlives, was up against irrationality? well, I never..."Your problem is that you confuse materialism with rationality."--✄--

    Because you seem to me to "rational" i will put the whole thing at the same direction...Suppose me and you are Atheists..So let's bet to if there is God afterlife or not.

    For which case you'll bet for if you would like to win that bet...

    ...to the fact that there is a God's and "promised afterlives" or that there is no God nor "promised afterlives".

    Let me hear your bet...!

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  • 53. At 4:30pm on 14 Sep 2010, Ellinas wrote:

    Now as far it concerns to Catholicism...sure had a despicable history made of religious wars (Crusades), the destruction of the Constantinople in 1204, the Inquisition, the violent religious conversion of the indigenous in South & Central America, "the fascism story" which catholics said nothing serious about the persecution of other minorities at that time and now those sex child abuse crimes and so on...and they did all by themselves.
    From a point of an Orthodox view, Catholicism, is a historical fault and they became quite an heresy but we still hopping that "Il figlio prodigo" will come back home and there are signs for doing that through time (Riconciliazione).

    But someone here try to make a huge melting pot of everything. The New Testament never said that one has any right to do such execrable crimes and if criminals want to hide themselves inside the church don't change a thing about the truly Christ message of love...and in no way will leave their EVIL crimes unpunished...and of course people mustn't be so naive with any kind of Priests.

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  • 54. At 4:36pm on 14 Sep 2010, Anonimo Lombardo wrote:

    n. 49

    Aw. Looks like a white flag to me. I was looking forward to a rational discussion, but... amen.

    "Let's not get into philosophy". ?? You want to talk about the existence (or not) of a principle of all things and you don't get into philosophy? What do you want to use, a microscope? Then, grab your microscope and measure things like ethics, love, morals, right, wrong.

    Or, if you deny the existence of all these, separate yourself from society because these are things every society's laws and every co-existences among humans are based on.

    Does that sound sophist?

    See, that's the problem, you made my point: I bear no ill towards you, and I apologize for dragging Dawkins into the discussion; you used similar terminologies and I assumed (maybe wrongly) that you had a spiritual mentor in him.

    But this approach leads nowhere. Philosophy is not used by people who blab nonsense only to confuse others. It is the exercise of trying to answer the question "why?" over and over again, using the human mind.

    And it went beyond the empirical approach (which only focuses on "how?") many, many years ago.

    And don't worry: no sophists here. Cheers.

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  • 55. At 6:41pm on 14 Sep 2010, Sallyboss wrote:

    @39 jr4412, @40 DurstigerMann:

    Look, I too think that what happened in these schools was monstrous, and I agree that those bishops who looked the other way (or even participated in abuse!) should be considered lucky if they were sent to an impoverished monastery in a dangerous territory, never to see civilized life again (the way clerical transgressors were punished in the Middle Ages). If they were sent to jail, I would not cry for them either. I was trying to make a different point. Given the fact that pedophilia is a recurrent crime in human society and that other denominations (as well as atheists) practice it too, the incessant barrage of abuse heaped on the Catholic Church in that regard seems to be prejudicial. To wit: in the city in which I live, it was discovered that my Episcopalian friend’s pastor’s father (also a pastor) was a pedophile 40 years ago. A reprimand was issued and the issue never made it to the papers. No follow-up. It is the Catholic Chuch that is the “beneficiary” of public investigation.

    Surely you understand that real people in real time decide which bits of information go to page one of BBC News. Human depravity is bottomless, to mention only human trafficking (where pedophilia is only a tangential crime, so to speak). But human trafficking stories involving hundreds of thousands are reported and there is no follow-up, while there is more than a follow-up on child abuse in Catholic schools and churches.

    And one more issue. The Catholic Church runs more schools, hospitals, shelters, old folks homes etc. than any other NPO in the world. Its contribution to social welfare surpass those of other organizations by far. No wonder, given the numbers, that the number of transgressions is also huge. It is a little bit like anti-Semitism: a country where Jews have never settled, such as China or Japan, knows no anti-Semitism. A country where Jews were a fraction of one percent of the population, has very little anti-Semitism. A country where Jews were 11 percent of the population will be declared anti-Semitic no matter what.

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  • 56. At 7:17pm on 14 Sep 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    MAII #50.

    are rare moment of agreement. ;) fwiw, I don't think he can be prosecuted, we cannot even lay our fingers on Tony Blair (who hasn't the benefit of protection afforded by being a head of a sovereign state).


    anonimolombardo #54.

    "I was looking forward to a rational discussion.."

    yes, sorry. this subject (Pope visit, etc) has occupied far too much of my time in the last few days and I haven't got the patience (or the will) to discuss it further on blogs. if we sat sat someplace, over a beer, maybe, but no more electronic 'conversation'. again, sorry.

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  • 57. At 8:57pm on 14 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    Ellinas won the argument, Jr, admit it. There is no way to tell....and their ARE theology classes.

    Maybe you should take at least one, Jr#####

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  • 58. At 9:11pm on 14 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    Anyway...see where Pope discussion heads ...south....not from the mind

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  • 59. At 9:13pm on 14 Sep 2010, Friar Abelard the Venerable wrote:

    Pope Benedict declared this past year to be “the year of the Priest.” He should follow the example of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, ordained in 1815 and died on August 4, 1859. His parish for life was Ars, France a town of 250 people. He heard confessions 16 hours per day for some 300 people who traveled to his town for counseling, upwards of 100,000 per year. He fasted his entire life eating only boiled potatoes and black bread. He whipped himself with a leather whip with metal door keys tied to the ends which he found laying on the streets. When he died he told his assistant priest to bury him in his cassock and not to change his clothes so that no one would see all the wounds and scars on his body from whipping. He whipped himself and fasted because he believed that he could not give his confessional penitents the penance they deserved for their sins so he did their penance for them.

    Pope Benedict should not resign because of the heat of public pressure, embarrassment for past decisions, nor because of guilt from the abuse scandal -- but because he is the Father of his family of all priests and Bishops and he needs to set an example of humility and penance for his Bishops who are in denial and drunk on their own power and egotistical reputations. No Pope has resigned for over 500 years.
    Benedict should see that God needs him for the very penance he speaks of for the sins of his priests. Benedict could make a magnificent public statement which would mark him as Great for all of history by announcing retirement to a mountain top monastery to live a life of penance as reparation for the sins of his priests and Bishops who destroyed the faith of Ireland, Germany, America, Canada, Austria, the Netherlands, etc.

    We all know Benedict did not hand write the 20 page letter to Ireland. It was composed by Vatican writers, circulated by email for editing among theologian staff, and then given to Benedict for a few word changes as is the practice of busy corporate executives. It is too easy for Benedict to say “We are sorry” in twenty sheets of paper emailed around the world. It was too little too late for Ireland which has lost its faith. There was no such letter written to America -- why not??

    But Benedict could make a world statement by putting his body on the line by doing penance for his people, priests, and Bishops as St. John Vianney did. Benedict’s “motive” would be to do the penance for his sinful priests and Bishops, which they refuse to do and are in denial of, as a real showing of reparation for the destruction of the church and lost faith of the victims of sex abuse and to begin rebuilding the faith of entire nations.

    This scandal will take 500 years for Catholicism to live down. The Church is still wrestling with the devastation of the Reformation of 500 yeas ago when it lost entire countries and societies of peoples who left the faith. A dramatic statement needs to be made which 20 sheets of paper in a letter to Ireland or meeting with 5 or 10 preselected victims in America, Malta, Australia, and now in England will not accomplish. Retirement to a life of penance in a monastery would be such a dramatic world statement.

    Pax Vobiscum, Friar Abelard the Venerable
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

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  • 60. At 9:19pm on 14 Sep 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    DavidStvn #57.

    "Ellinas won the argument, Jr, admit it."

    ¿qué?

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  • 61. At 9:35pm on 14 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    JR, Mea Culpa?

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  • 62. At 00:49am on 15 Sep 2010, tom wrote:

    The church is dying. There's nothing can be done to save it. The emperor has no clothes.
    Once the con has been exposed, it makes it impossible to have people fall for it. The creature will slowly starve itself financially before finally dying with a whimper.

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  • 63. At 01:22am on 15 Sep 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    tom #62.

    "The creature will slowly starve itself financially before finally dying with a whimper."

    although this may take a long time.

    "The Catholic church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence. She is a greater possessor of material riches than any other single institution, corporation, bank, giant trust, government or state of the whole globe. The pope, as the visible ruler of this immense amassment of wealth, is consequently the richest individual of the twentieth century. No one can realistically assess how much he is worth in terms of billions of dollars."

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  • 64. At 09:23am on 15 Sep 2010, Nik wrote:

    """and in no way will leave their EVIL crimes unpunished...and of course people mustn't be so naive with any kind of Priests."""

    Exactly. Not that I am any religious person, but indeed this old saying of ours is one of my favourites:

    Priest clothes do not make one a priest.

    Crimes are for the police. Justice also has to punish people who were in knowledge but did not inform. But that is all about it. Asking the Pope to do something is certainly not reffering in reality to this affair but to other hidden agendas behind - afterall why did they keep all these scandals hidden for more than 20 years and they remembered to bring them on surface only a couple of years after this Pope's election? It seems that Ratzinger does not yield to pressures and hence has to be attacked and contained. Religion is at the end only a power game.

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  • 65. At 11:15am on 15 Sep 2010, U14592213 wrote:

    IS THE POPE CATHOLIC OR WHITE ARYAN?
    _____________________________________



    ". . . born: Joseph Alois Ratzinger a child of Odin. . ."

    Do the bones of the children of Odin still resonate to the sound of his voice?



    Which is stronger NORDIC BLOOD or CATHOLIC BLOOD?


    http://raceequalitysecretservice.blogspot.com/2010/09/race-equality-inspectorate.html


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  • 66. At 12:58pm on 15 Sep 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "The Catholic Chutch can no longer find the priests, that churches are empty."


    A very narrow, parochial point of view.

    Indifference and moral relativism may be growing in OLD Western Europe.

    Not so much in New Europe.

    Let alone in Central and South America.

    One can like it, one can dislike it, but facts are stubborn things.


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  • 67. At 1:03pm on 15 Sep 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "The views of the current pope seem reactionary to many Americans. You have to wonder if its influence and the size of its flock in America won't go into sharp decline."



    That might be true, but at the same time there's a strong rift among Episcopalians, and quite a few British Anglicans (including, I hear, even some bishops) who contemplate rejoining Roman Catholic Church since they don't approve of 'reforms' taking place in churches they've traditionally belonged to.

    Only time will tell.

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  • 68. At 1:19pm on 15 Sep 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #20 "and strangely an Orthodox like me agree with every single of his words"


    There's a renewal in another major Christian Church: the Greek Orthodox one.

    Particularly in countries it was supressed, opressed or corrupted during Communist times: particularly in Russia and Bulgaria.

    And the Orthodox Church is hardly 'modernizining" or "reforming" in order to be hip/cool.


    P.S. Among the Catholics in New Europe there's a strong trend to return to at least one ancient tradion: a mass celebrated in Latin, according to the old rite. Interestingly: among the young ones.

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  • 69. At 1:24pm on 15 Sep 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #31 "Is Bin Laden being equated with the pope? Hmmmm even I find that outrageous."



    Don't be surprised.

    There are plenty of people on the Left who think that anybody on the right of Angela Davis and Noam Chomsky is a Nazi.

    Or at least a neo-Nazi. :)

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  • 70. At 1:31pm on 15 Sep 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #33 "All religions, and atheism too, are professed by child molesters. In terms of sheer numbers, we are talking about a number of cases that dwarf child abuse in Catholic schools. Could it be that there is just a bit of anti-Catholic prejudice in these juicy reports from Albion?"



    I am hardly an aficionado of a Roman Catholicism, or any other religion for that matter; however I must say I have not read/heard so many derogatory, hateful comments about the pope even on the eve of his visit to Turkey whose population is 90% Muslim.

    Could it be Muslims felt less threatened by that old man than...hmmm...

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  • 71. At 2:26pm on 15 Sep 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #66


    I wrote about a growth of Roman Catholicism in Central and South America.

    I forgot to mention its impressive growth in AFRICA.

    My sincere apologies.

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  • 72. At 3:19pm on 15 Sep 2010, Chris wrote:

    #65. At 11:15am on 15 Sep 2010, RESS wrote:
    IS THE POPE CATHOLIC OR WHITE ARYAN?


    RESS, if one doesn't know the answer to that, then that person should have a rest and sort out his/her confusion:)

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  • 73. At 10:56pm on 15 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    At least with Catholics one can drink, have sex, then just confess your sins...

    Baptists like my ...parents and surrounding communities are anti-everything ...they are like parochialism gone OVER THE EDGE.

    I say...let these religions self detonate....and to really make Muslims angry send all our religious people to be missionaries in Islam practicing nations...

    One way of getting rid of Tea Parties.

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  • 74. At 11:43pm on 15 Sep 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    73. DavidS

    I grew up going to a Baptist church. My dad was Baptist and my mom was Methodist. In those days if you were a Baptist it was a sin to dance. Well the Methodist thought it was OK. I married a Methodist myself.

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  • 75. At 09:51am on 16 Sep 2010, U14592213 wrote:

    72. At 3:19pm on 15 Sep 2010, ChrisArta wrote:
    #65. At 11:15am on 15 Sep 2010, RESS wrote:
    IS THE POPE CATHOLIC OR WHITE ARYAN?


    RESS, if one doesn't know the answer to that, then that person should have a rest and sort out his/her confusion:)



    RESS Response:

    Good point.

    Who would dare question the POWER of the Germanic people in the current economic climate?

    Is it not true that the financial world have made Italy the "I" in the PIGS of darker breeds of southern Europe?

    What say ye? (What say you all?)




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  • 76. At 10:10am on 16 Sep 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #73 " and to really make Muslims angry send all our religious people to be missionaries in Islam practicing nations..."


    On suicide missions? :)

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  • 77. At 10:12am on 16 Sep 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "Who would dare question the POWER of the Germanic people in the current economic climate?"



    Questioning German power and German supremacy over Untermenschen has been historically very dangerous.

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  • 78. At 10:53am on 16 Sep 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    RESS #75.

    "Is it not true that the financial world have made Italy the "I" in the PIGS of darker breeds of southern Europe?"

    no, that "I" is for Ireland, maybe you meant the second "I" in PIIGS.

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  • 79. At 11:48am on 16 Sep 2010, PlanetEnglish wrote:

    The Pope is the unelected Head of State of the EUSSR.
    The EU is 75 % Catholic.
    Tony Blair turned Catholic to become President of Europe.
    France created EU to challenge the English-speaking world.
    He is the 'Emperor' of Europe - with eyes on America next.
    The next Pope is currently the Bishop of Montreal.
    The UK signed up to the EU.
    So, whats the fuss about ?
    So, why call the Pope an embattled one.

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  • 80. At 08:35am on 17 Sep 2010, Nik wrote:

    The Pope is the unelected Head of State of the EUSSR.
    The EU is 75 % Catholic.

    The 2% is Orthodox. In order not to battle, we could pick them to lead - they are more stylish afterall. I think the recently deceased previous archbishop of Athens, Chrystodoulos would do an excellent head of state of the EUSSR.

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  • 81. At 3:12pm on 17 Sep 2010, Gregory Baker wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 82. At 05:32am on 18 Sep 2010, JoanneJaffe wrote:

    The American Catholic Church will split from the Roman Church within the next 20 years. There must be either married or women priests. Better would be both. I've been told that the reason there can be no women priests, is that all the Apostles were men. Well all the Apostles were Jewish. Must all priests be Jewish too? In the early Church, woman were leaders, and spoke for the congregations. It was only later that powerful men suppressed them. That was political, not religious. In the early Church, there were married priests. But they left what should have been Church property to their sons. That is why celibacy became mandatory. Many priests already were. Now that priests have a salary, celibacy is not necessary. It can again be optional. Many would still choose it.

    Religious beliefs are a matter of faith; it needs no proof. That is why it is faith, and not science. I believe in God. I believe in the scientific method. They are mutually exclusive, but because one is faith, and the other is science, I can have faith and believe in science at the same time.

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  • 83. At 09:29am on 18 Sep 2010, Apolloin wrote:

    I'm not at all sure that Pope Palpatine knows what to do. Perhaps, as an academic, he prefers a smaller and purer church than a larger, more socially relevant church. But then, it's not the first time he's been part of an organisation obsessed with purity, is it?

    His recent tirades about the evils of secularity completely avoid the fact that there is no empiric evidence that religious people are more moral than secular people in the slightest.

    There are also a lot of people missing the point about the child abuse scandal. The scandal is NOT the fact that it happened at all, the scandal is that the Catholic church and this Pope personally believe that it is quite proper and moral to conceal these acts and protect the perpetrators from proper criminal prosecution and incarceration for their crimes.

    Methinks that the brilliant, genius, academic Pope needs to check a dictionary for the difference between a Sin (his area of responsibility) and a Crime (the State's responsibility).

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  • 84. At 10:04am on 20 Sep 2010, Nik wrote:

    """Methinks that the brilliant, genius, academic Pope needs to check a dictionary for the difference between a Sin (his area of responsibility) and a Crime (the State's responsibility)."""

    Correct, but following this logic, you should not expect the Pope to be any responsible for it, nor would you expect him to make the slightest reference of it. Does the president of Toyota goes out to make a statement if a Toyota employee was found to have taken and assaulted a child in a Toyota stock room? Nor would he fire the manager of the unit, unless of course he would be found to have known and covered the issue but that has to be proven first to court. Which was not the case for these child rapes perpetrated 15 and 20 years back. At a time there was another Pope you know, but him was Polish, fiercely anti-Russian and was that was very helpful you know. This Pope is problematic since he is German and he is less willing to play along the same game. Hence, the outrage about these rapes. One should go directly for the direct responsibles, i.e. the criminal priests and whoever else in their environment knew but did not speak rather than lose time dealing with the Pope.

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  • 85. At 8:06pm on 21 Sep 2010, bevi wrote:

    thanks guys for taking this story for a spin on a lighter side;
    it gives me hope for humanity.

    at age 14 I entered the seminary with full enthusiasm of mission,
    next 11 years studied to become priest
    served as priest for another 11 years
    and walked away from it all

    It was sad to leave the people
    but as I was youngest priest bishops have used me as a "temporary administrator" after "a priest left" - was all I was ever told.
    Most times I had only 2-4 days to pack up and be there.

    One day while taking the trash out to the curb I was accosted by two plain clothes policemen holding their hands on gun holsters.
    They asked me about my predecessor.
    As I knew nothing about his whereabouts I gave them the chancery contact info.
    That moment I knew that I don't want to be associated with this organization any more...
    In my last conversation with bishop offered me a recommendation if I want to go to another diocese...

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  • 86. At 10:48pm on 22 Sep 2010, googootree wrote:

    I wish the Pope handn't recanted his remarks about Mohammed. If anyone has read biographical info about Mohammed, one would realize that he engaged in sex with underage girls and encouraged it. His creed was to conquer (kill anyone who would not convert) any nation that didn't have Islam as its core religion. This is now the major religion of our world and G-D help us, and the Pope, who felt that critisizing Mohammed would bring more violence, once again vindicating his views on Mohammed and Islam.

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  • 87. At 08:07am on 25 Sep 2010, mark chapman wrote:

    As a person brought up a Catholic, my greatest concern is that the Church - espoused by St Paul as the 'body of Christ' on earth - is currently a very flawed Christian organisation.

    Jesus Christ would not abuse children... ever, so how can an organisation regularly describing itself as the living Christ on earth be truly representative of the Son of God?

    To my mind - and in my prayers - I see the Church has to change much more than it currently realises. The most shocking charge it faces today is that is is NOT the 'body of Christ' on earth today... there are far more worthy, humble and dedicated Christian groups and people that deserve that title, it seems. That is the most shocking and terrible indictment of the corporate Catholic Church.

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  • 88. At 04:35am on 30 Sep 2010, David wrote:

    No. 87

    That may be just disillusionment and focusing too much on one part of the whole...

    Which can pass into a distant memory, as time goes by...

    (in my experience--though I'm not Catholic--

    I've a much worse past...I was a Baptist preacher's son///my father did change into a government worker--he did not make "enough money" as a preacher and was not altogether happy as a preacher:)

    But, I've transcended that past or forgotten most of it :)

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