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Posts Tagged ‘ Catholic Church ’

News In Brief: Stage The Concert For Br**ks Sake

Putin's reportedly a BIG fan of Brooks (image: ndtv.com)

Putin’s reportedly a BIG fan of Brooks (image: ndtv.com)

It hasn’t been a great week for Ireland, what with, you know “the thing” but we’re not talking about that. Not a word. Thank God for NIB your Garth free news source- bugger.

Anyway, up North where residents are busy preparing for the 12th (i.e. locking the doors and turning up the telly) a Christian bakery has been upsetting people almost as much as, ahem, B****s. Ashers bakery came under fire for refusing to make a cake featuring popular Sesame Street stars Bert and Ernie with a slogan for a gay rights campaign group. They must really hate Sesame Street. Continue reading

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Pope Francis: “Who Am I To Judge Gay People?”

The Inauguration Mass For Pope FrancisIn a rather unexpected move, Pope Francis – head of the Catholic Church – has announced that he does not judge gay people.

The Pope has been on a week long trip to Brazil, and made the comments on his return plane journey, stating – “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” Continue reading

Catholicism Heralds In The Era Of Jorge Bergoglio

popeJorge Mario Bergoglio was yesterday (March 13th) elected to be the 266th Pope, as white smoke emerged on the second day of the Papal conclave. He took the name Francis, after Francis of Assisi, and breaks two traditions; he is the first Jesuit Pope, and the first Pope from the Americas.

Bergoglio is an Argentinian, born in Buenos Aires in 1936; this puts him at 76 years of age, which could be considered a disappointment to those hoping for a younger Pope to lead the Catholic Church. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1969, and became an Auxiliary Bishop in 1992. He was believed to have been a strong contender for the Papacy during the last conclave, that saw John Paul II elected. Continue reading

Cardinal Who Denied Homosexual Allegations Admits They Are True

Cardinal Keith O'BrienLast week Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland and Britain’s most senior Catholic cleric, resigned from his post, amid rumours that he had engaged in homosexual activity with other priests in the 1980’s. He denied these allegations as he stepped down, but has now admitted that his “sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me”. Continue reading

Catholic Church Still Sits At The Crossroads

popeThe recent news concerning the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has drawn a wide range of reactions from surprise and dismay to sheer indifference. The main reason the outgoing pope has given is that he no longer has the state of body and mind required for the gruelling work hours as Supreme Pontiff in a world “subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.” Pope Benedict is to resign at the end of the month, leaving the throne of St. Peter vacant and paving the way for the first papal conclave since 2005. Continue reading

The Religious Have Their Say On Final Day of Oireachtas Abortion Committee

 

 shThe Oireachtas Committee yesterday held their final day of hearings regarding abortion in this country.

Representatives from several Christian sects, the Methodists, Presbyterians, Church of Ireland and the Catholic Church, along with Ali Selim from the Islamic Cultural Center,  Rabbi Zalman of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation and Michael Nugent from Atheist Ireland, convened in the morning session to give statements regarding their respective organisation’s stance on abortion.

The morning’s proceedings began with a statement from Christopher Jones of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, who stated that “Abortion…is gravely immoral in all circumstances”. The representatives for the Catholic Church conjectured that if the Govt. decided to legislate for the X case, in which a young teenage girl was raped and consequently impregnated, then that would pave the way in the future for women to seek abortions unrestricted. It was stated that:

“Reassurances that the Government’s decision to legislate for the X case will lead to very limited abortion in Ireland are not reliable. It will be open to anyone who wants to avail of abortion on the wider grounds provided for by the X case to challenge any attempt to limit these grounds in legislation and/or regulation through the Courts.”

The underlying message is that abortion is morally wrong in any situation and allowing abortion at any level will inevitably lead to abortion on demand.

Church of Ireland representative Michael Jackson and Methodist Church of Ireland representative Heidi Good both opposed abortion on demand and realized that the issue is contentious and very complex. Although opposed to abortion on demand Jackson and Good both recognized that there is some cases where an abortion would be permissible, namely if there was a ‘real and substantial risk to the life of the mother’. Trevor Morrow of the Presbyterian Church stated that his church were ‘strongly pro-life’ and believed the unborn foetus should be treated as a person, but insinuated that if there was a substantial risk to the life of the mother then an abortion may be what is required. Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Center reiterated much of what was said before him and stated that “Abortion could be conducted as the last and only alternative to protect the mother’s life”. Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland enjoined the committee to legislate based on ‘human rights and compassion’…and not on religious doctrines.’ Nugent bypassed all dialogue about the legal and medical aspect of abortion, expressing the view that the decision should be entirely that of the pregnant woman’s and her medical team, and said:

“Please respect that individual ethical decisions should be made on the basis of personal autonomy and individual conscience, while not infringing on the rights of others. Please respect that individual ethical decisions about pregnancy should be made by a pregnant woman in consultation with her medical team.”

Refuting the decision to automatically include religious institutions in the debate Nugent went on to say the religious must be respected but they should ‘not impose their own religious values on pregnant women who do not share those religious beliefs’.

What is wholly apparent is that the religious agree on much more than they disagree on. But there are some discrepancies. The Catholic representatives tip-toed precariously around the issue of rape and incest, refusing categorically to state that the stance of the church meant that a pregnancy as a result of rape or incest is still a valid pregnancy and should remain. Ali Selim was agreed upon this, also. He stated that:

“Women who have victims of rape deserve due sympathy and help. But a child conceived in this unfortunate situation still has the right to live. The continuity of this pregnancy of course places a heavy burden on the mother, which may drive her, likewise many other economic and social scenarios, to think of terminating this pregnancy. But killing the foetus is not the right solution. In fact it is a crime against this innocent human being.”

Selim believes the foetus, however conceived, is sacred and should be protected.

Following the representative statements the committee was opened up for questions from TD’s and Senators, and the Catholic representatives were duly pressed on clearing up their stance on the X case. Christopher Jones, the second representative of Catholic Bishops, expressed regret over cases of pregnancy following rape but reiterated that the denial of life in these circumstances is still not condonable. There was also much dialogue on the issue of suicide. Rabbi Zalman stated that the Jewish stance on this is one of compassion; if there is risk to the life of the woman it must be addressed. The outspoken Ivan Bacik, a Labour member of the Seanad, wanted to know by what right the Catholic Church felt they could advise on such an issue regarding pregnancy and a woman’s body, their institution being made up exclusively of celibate men. Marc MacSharry makes a point that only 3% of pregnant women were deemed suicidal last year, a relatively low number he contends. The Methodist representative Heidi Good took issue with this and said probably the most memorable thing of the morning session.

She stated that the need for legislation was absolutely necessary and that if only 3% of women were deemed suicidal it would be wrong not to legislate for that 3%. She said “This country was founded upon respect for the individual… If there was only 1 murder in the last 100 years we would still have to legislate about murder. If one pregnant woman in the next 10 years is deemed to be suicidal it would be wrong of us not to legislate for that.” There will be much rumination in the following weeks regarding this contentious issue. With an ongoing investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar and this weeks proceedings, Ireland is likely to begin legislating in the near future.

By Shuki Byrne.

The Innocent Muslims?

The latest furore to shock and ignite the Muslim world into filling our streets with their complaints comes with the release or rise to prominence on Youtube of a film called ‘The Innocence of Muslims.’ In it, Islam and Muslims are portrayed quite negatively while it attempts to highlight the ‘hypocrisies of Islam.’ To be sure it isn’t a great work of art, and considering the allegations from the actors who maintain that Sam Bacile (a pseudonym for Nakoula Basseley Nakoula) mislead them concerning the real plot and real character names while they were filming, the content is surely rather dodgy. But in the end this was simply some US man born in Egypt with a criminal record, a pet hatred of Islam and a love of Youtube. He was arrested by US police over attempts to lie about his role in making the film. And that was it. Done and dusted. Except, of course, for the massive overreaction from Muslims around the world who feel that because a non-Muslim doesn’t agree with their religion, he should pay.

There’s something very irritating about this reaction. Of course they have the right to express themselves publicly, as part of having a right to free speech, but the way it is so often done beggars belief. Masses of often violent protests in cities and countries around the world leading to quite a number of injuries and deaths. The familiar and now old catchphrase of ‘Death to America’ was tossed about in Kabul as peaceful protestors threw rocks at an army base there. Muslim leaders across the globe decried a ‘devilish act’ of blasphemy, though failing to really mention the free speech on which they themselves depend on to make their voices heard. On the 18th of September, a female suicide bomber drove a car filled with explosives into a mini bus containing foreign aviation workers, for the crime of being foreign and therefore linked to this video, not to mention several Afghan natives, responsibility for which was later claimed by Islamic militant group, Hizb-i-Islami. Evidently murder in the name of Allah is a reasonable reaction. Ireland, too, has seen a reaction from our Islamic community. Interestingly former editor of Irish Muslim magazine Abdul Hazeeb, speaking to the Irish Times, told of his reluctance to join the march, which he feels only serves to alienate wider society, and that he attended only to ensure it didn’t digress into violence, a statement quite telling in and of itself. To be sure, many Muslims will feel outraged without the need to kill somebody, involved or not. But should they feel so angered?

I’ve already mentioned the Catholic Church and the negative role religion has played in the formation of our world and society. Islam isn’t the only drain; certain forms of Christianity have had their part to play. And yet murder only seems to be a response from the Islamic world. Westboro Baptist Church represents extreme Christian fundamentalism, they too like their signs and extreme reactions yet murder isn’t a step they have taken yet to express a point. Not to tar all Muslims with the same brush – murder is a response from the fanatical few, but even the protests and marches are over the top. If this video, or those cartoons are so offensive, why are they looking at them? If you don’t like or agree with something, the best thing to do is ignore it. Is it just me or do these millions of protestors not realise that by reacting so angrily and so widespread they have and pumped up that which they hate with life, and simply making millions more people around the globe aware of it. Speaking personally, the first time I heard and watched the video came after I heard about the Muslim protests over its content. It’s been on the web since the 1st of July. Poorly shot with terrible acting and rarely making any form of sense, this should have simply slipped under the radar and into obscurity.

It’s quite easy to be blasphemous under Muslim law; the list of blasphemous items is as long as it is outdated. Evidently freedom of speech isn’t a major concern for those who prosecute their brethren or those unfortunate enough to have provoked their ire – individuals have been accused and prosecuted for naming a teddy bear after their prophet, speaking about what Muhammad might have done were he still alive (apparently ‘WWMD?’ bracelets aren’t a thing in Islam), finding fault with Islam (just as well these rules don’t apply to Catholicism or else our entire country might find themselves in the dock), being alone with persons of the opposite sex barring relatives or daring to wear makeup on television (presumably for women only).

Should we give in, and hold up our hands and say ‘yes, Muslim world. You are right. Free speech shouldn’t really be free.’ Should that be applied to freedom of religion, the two of which are so often entwined? What if we look at things from a different angle? Perhaps shouting and roaring bearing signs and placards which proclaim ‘The only God is Allah,’ is offensive to those who believe with similar fervour in different gods and different prophets? Will Islam champion their right to be offended? Or is it simply one rule for Islam, and another for everyone else? Islam doesn’t hold Jesus in the same regard as Christianity, refusing to acknowledge him as anything other than a prophet. Does Christianity shout and wail and riot and, at the most extreme end, suicide bomb?  And why does the right to religion triumph the right to free speech? Is one more important than the other? One of these has resulted in the deaths of millions of people over the centuries, the promulgation of hatred and killing in the name of God, despite what he might say on the matter. I’ll give you a hint. I’m not talking about freedom of speech. If we go down this road of picking and choosing what one is free to say and what one isn’t, we are taking a very dangerous path. If one thing can be censored then suddenly everything is up for review. Why is Islam so special that the world must bow down before them in fear every time they get their knickers in a twist over a laughably simple cartoon or Youtube video? If you believe that other religions are wrong then fine. If you believe that this video or those cartoons are wrong or insensitive or downright hateful then lovely. You’re not alone. Just react in the same way as the rest of civilised society and rant on the internet in the privacy of your own home. Save your time and effort for your faith and leave the rest of us alone.

Many will say that they can’t simply do that. According to blasphemy laws in Islam, the Muslim community is obliged to seek retribution owing to the fact that Muhammad is long dead and can’t exactly take revenge himself. But in reality, the overreaction to this perceived blasphemy doesn’t really have a basis in their scriptures. Neither the Quran nor Hadith makes any solid mention of blasphemy. What does make mention is Sharia law, man-made and which you might recognise from certain groups attempting to bring it into the west in place of our own, fair, laws. Ironically, the only mention made in their holy book says that blasphemers will be dealt with in the afterlife, so those living here on earth needn’t worry about it. Something evidently lost on those who throw stones and rocks, roar abuse and protest violently and shoot and kill in the name of retribution for a prophet who didn’t ask for any of this. Ironically (perhaps) while this is being written, Ireland still clutches on to the remnants of a past time with our own blasphemy law, which prohibits the ‘publication or utterance of blasphemous matter,’ blasphemous matter being that which insults anything held sacred by a religion and the result is mass outrage.

Believe in your God, live your life as best you can, follow the teachings of your religion if it makes you happy, live your life as an example to others because if you want to convert someone oftentimes what you do is as important as what you say. Somehow any such arguments will be lost on the masses who refuse to understand why the everyone in the West doesn’t love Islam as much as they do, and things are unlikely to change. If there’s anything we can take from this, it is this – let us all pray that the next figure to insult Islam is Justin Bieber. Nicky Minaj will do either.

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