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Irish Government to pursue religious orders for €250 million in unpaid compensation to abuse victims


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The Cabinet of the Irish Government agreed this week to pursue religious orders for payment of the remaining €250 million needed to make up their half of the cost of €1.46 billion compensation promised to victims of horrific ill-treatment in orphanages, schools, borstals and other institutions run by Catholic monks and nuns. The amount was revised upwards from €1.36 billion after more victims came forward.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has been given the task of extracting the money from the orders.

The congregations of priests and nuns initially offered just €128 million in cash, property and counselling services as part of a controversial indemnity deal dating back to 2002. Only €106 million of this was ever realised.

Four of the eighteen orders named in the Ryan Commission that investigated the decades of abuse that was perpetrated have said they are willing to consider transferring more school buildings and other educational infrastructure on top of what has been offered.

Mr Quinn said: “The Government is obviously disappointed that the congregations have not agreed to a 50:50 share of the very considerable cost for redress. This decision represents the most pragmatic way to maximise the level of contributions to be made by the congregations and the management bodies so that the taxpayer does not bear an unreasonable burden of the costs.”

via National Secular Society – Irish Government to pursue religious orders for €250 million in unpaid compensation to abuse victims.

UN presses Vatican for details on child abuse scandals


The UN has called on the Vatican to hand over details in the cases of tens of thousands of children allegedly abused by clergy.

The Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of the Child published a detailed “list of issues” it wants Rome to address before Holy See officials go before the body next January.

The list, published on the committee’s website earlier this week, calls on the Vatican to give “detailed information” on cases of alleged abuse “committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns”.

The committee said it wanted to know what measures the Church has put in place to ensure clergy members accused of sexual abuse were cut off from contact with children.

It has also asked what support has been given to victims of sexual abuse by the Holy See.

Moreover, the UN has requested details where kids “were silenced in order to minimise the risk of public disclosure” and what measures the Vatican has taken to prevent further abuse.

The UN has long raised concerns about the ongoing paedophile priest scandal, but the committee’s list represents its most far-reaching request for information about the cases.

Pope Francis has vowed to “act with determination in cases of sexual abuse”.

His predecessor Benedict XVI was the first pontiff to apologise to victims.

However, campaigners have argued that Vatican words outstrip action when it comes to tackling the widespread problem of abuse and subsequent cover-ups.

The list also includes questions about other issues, including its labelling of kids born outside wedlock as “illegitimate”.

It also asks about physical abuse, forced labour and degrading treatment suffered by girls in the Magdalene’s laundries run by Catholic Sisters in Ireland from 1922 to 1996.

via UN presses Vatican for details on child abuse scandals | GlobalPost.

George Carlin – Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life


George CarlinPro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own”

Why, why, why, why is it that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place, huh? Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They’re all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re pre-born, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re fucked.

Conservatives don’t give a shit about you until you reach “military age”. Then they think you are just fine. Just what they’ve been looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers. Pro-life… pro-life… These people aren’t pro-life, they’re killing doctors! What kind of pro-life is that? What, they’ll do anything they can to save a fetus but if it grows up to be a doctor they just might have to kill it?They’re not pro-life. You know what they are? They’re anti-woman. Simple as it gets, anti-woman. They don’t like them. They don’t like women.They believe a woman’s primary role is to function as a brood mare for the state.

Pro-life… You don’t see many of these white anti-abortion women volunteering to have any black fetuses transplanted into their uterus’s, do you? No, you don’t see them adopting a whole lot of crack babies, do you? No, that might be something Christ would do. And, you won’t see a lot of these pro-life people dousing themselves in kerosene and lighting themselves on fire. You know, morally committed religious people in South Vietnam knew how to stage a goddamn demonstration, didn’t they?! They knew how to put on a fucking protest. Light yourself on FIRE!! C’mon, you moral crusaders, let’s see a little smoke. To match that fire in your belly.

Here’s another question I have: how come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelet? Are we so much better than chickens all of a sudden? When did this happen, that we passed chickens in goodness? Name six ways we’re better than chickens… See, nobody can do it! You know why? ‘Cuz chickens are decent people. You don’t see chickens hanging around in drug gangs, do you? No, you don’t see a chicken strapping some guy to a chair and hooking up his nuts to a car battery, do you? When’s the last chicken you heard about came home from work and beat the shit out of his hen, huh? Doesn’t happen. ‘Cuz chickens are decent people.

But let’s get back to this abortion shit. Now, is a fetus a human being? This seems to be the central question. Well, if a fetus is a human being, how come the census doesn’t count them? If a fetus is a human being, how come when there’s a miscarriage they don’t have a funeral? If a fetus is a human being, how come people say “we have two children and one on the way” instead of saying “we have three children?” People say life begins at conception, I say life began about a billion years ago and it’s a continuous process. Continuous, just keeps rolling along. Rolling, rolling, rolling along.

And say you know something? Listen, you can go back further than that. What about the carbon atoms? Hah? Human life could not exist without carbon. So is it just possible that maybe we shouldn’t be burning all this coal? Just looking for a little consistency here in these anti-abortion arguments. See the really hardcore people will tell you life begins at fertilization. Fertilization, when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Which is usually a few moments after the man says “Gee, honey, I was going to pull out but the phone rang and it startled me.” Fertilization. Source: LYBIO.net

But even after the egg is fertilized, it’s still six or seven days before it reaches the uterus and pregnancy begins, and not every egg makes it that far. Eighty percent of a woman’s fertilized eggs are rinsed and flushed out of her body once a month during those delightful few days she has. They wind up on sanitary napkins, and yet they are fertilized eggs. So basically what these anti-abortion people are telling us is that any woman who’s had more than more than one period is a serial killer! Consistency. Consistency. Hey, hey, if they really want to get serious, what about all the sperm that are wasted when the state executes a condemned man, one of these pro-life guys who’s watching cums in his pants, huh? Here’s a guy standing over there with his jockey shorts full of little Vinnies and Debbies, and nobody’s saying a word to the guy. Not every ejaculation deserves a name.

On LYBIO.net you can find – The Largest community of text-script-video blogging service. http://www.lybio.net

Now, speaking of consistency, Catholics, which I was until I reached the age of reason, Catholics and other Christians are against abortions, and they’re against homosexuals. Well who has less abortions than homosexuals?! Leave these fucking people alone, for Christ sakes! Here is an entire class of people guaranteed never to have an abortion! And the Catholics and Christians are just tossing them aside! You’d think they’d make natural allies. Go look for consistency in religion. And speaking of my friends the Catholics, when John Cardinal O’Connor of New York and some of these other Cardinals and Bishops have experienced their first pregnancies and their first labor pains and they’ve raised a couple of children on minimum wage, then I’ll be glad to hear what they have to say about abortion. I’m sure it’ll be interesting. Enlightening, too. But, in the meantime what they ought to be doing is telling these priests who took a vow of chastity to keep their hands off the altar boys! Keep your hands to yourself, Father! You know? When Jesus said “Suffer the little children come unto me”, that’s not what he was talking about!

So you know what I tell these anti-abortion people? I say “Hey. Hey. If you think a fetus is more important that a woman, try getting a fetus to wash the shit stains out of your underwear. For no pay and no pension.” I tell them “Think of an abortion as term limits. That’s all it is. Biological term limits.

But you know, the longer you listen to this abortion debate, the more you hear this phrase “sanctity of life”. You’ve heard that. Sanctity of life. You believe in it? Personally, I think it’s a bunch of shit. Well, I mean, life is sacred? Who said so? God? Hey, if you read history, you realize that God is one of the leading causes of death. Has been for thousands of years. Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians all taking turns killing each other ‘cuz God told them it was a good idea. The sword of God, the blood of the land, vengeance is mine. Millions of dead motherfuckers. Millions of dead motherfuckers all because they gave the wrong answer to the God question. “You believe in God?” “No.” *Pdoom*. Dead. “You believe in God?” “Yes.” “You believe in my God? “No.” *Poom*. Dead. “My God has a bigger dick than your God!” Thousands of years. Thousands of years, and all the best wars, too. The bloodiest, most brutal wars fought, all based on religious hatred. Which is fine with me. Hey, any time a bunch of holy people want to kill each other I’m a happy guy.

But don’t be giving me all this shit about the sanctity of life. I mean, even if there were such a thing, I don’t think it’s something you can blame on God. No, you know where the sanctity of life came from? We made it up. You know why? ‘Cuz we’re alive. Self-interest. Living people have a strong interest in promoting the idea that somehow life is sacred. You don’t see Abbott and Costello running around, talking about this shit, do you? We’re not hearing a whole lot from Mussolini on the subject. What’s the latest from JFK? Not a goddamn thing. ‘Cuz JFK, Mussolini and Abbott and Costello are fucking dead. They’re fucking dead. And dead people give less than a shit about the sanctity of life. Only living people care about it so the whole thing grows out of a completely biased point of view. It’s a self serving, man-made bullshit story.

It’s one of these things we tell ourselves so we’ll feel noble. Life is sacred. Makes you feel noble. Well let me ask you this: if everything that ever lived is dead, and everything alive is gonna die, where does the sacred part come in? I’m having trouble with that. ‘Cuz, I mean, even with all this stuff we preach about the sanctity of life, we don’t practice it. We don’t practice it. Look at what we’d kill: Mosquitoes and flies. ‘Cuz they’re pests. Lions and tigers. ‘Cuz it’s fun! Chickens and pigs. ‘Cuz we’re hungry. Pheasants and quails. ‘Cuz it’s fun. And we’re hungry. And people. We kill people… ‘Cuz they’re pests. And it’s fun!

And you might have noticed something else. The sanctity of life doesn’t seem to apply to cancer cells, does it? You rarely see a bumper sticker that says “Save the tumors.”. Or “I brake for advanced melanoma.”. No, viruses, mold, mildew, maggots, fungus, weeds, E. Coli bacteria, the crabs. Nothing sacred about those things. So at best the sanctity of life is kind of a selective thing. We get to choose which forms of life we feel are sacred, and we get to kill the rest. Pretty neat deal, huh? You know how we got it? We made the whole fucking thing up! Made it up! The same way… Thank you.

George Carlin – Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.

via George Carlin – Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life.

Senior Catholic priest says gay men can marry lesbians |


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It’s common knowledge that the Catholic church has a rather poor view of gay marriage. But there is hope! Archbishop Oscar Cruz, judicial vicar of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal (try saying that three times fast) just announced that it’s totally acceptable for a gay man to marry a lesbian.

There is, apparently, some logic to this. After all, if the purpose of marriage is to create dozens of horrible little children, then a man and woman who are both capable of procreation should, for the progression of the human species, put their child-creating abilities to good use, within the boundaries of marriage set out by the church, of course.

It might be worth pointing out that the original purpose of marriage was mostly to forge tribal alliances, and to establish that any offspring were legitimate, but that would be nitpicking. Besides, it’s not like Christianity is meant to be about love or anything like that, right?

If you’re thinking that this is all well and good for the Philippines, but that over here we’re seemingly much more socially advanced, you might be disappointed to know that at a recent meeting between the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, it was agreed that marriage should remain something that exists solely between a man and a woman. It’s nice that the Church of England, an institution started because a King was sick of his wife and wanted a younger, hotter one, is taking such a strong stance on this.

So, in summary, according to the Catholic church, it doesn’t matter whether two people are in love, or genuinely want to spend their lives together, so long as one of them has a penis and the other has a vagina. Thanks Catholic Church! How could we possibly know anything about meaningful relationships without your input?

via Senior Catholic priest says gay men can marry lesbians |.

THE HOLY WAR ON IRISH WOMBS


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It’s a freezing Saturday afternoon in Dublin and, on the corner of O’Connell Street, a nervous young man called Dennis wants me to sign a petition with a picture of a dead baby on it. Dennis is 21 years old and doesn’t like abortion one bit. Especially not now that there’s a chance, for the first time in a generation, of liberalising the law just a little to allow women at risk of actual death to terminate their pregnancies.

“I’m trying to keep abortion away from Ireland,” repeats Dennis, churning out the slogan being yelled by stern older men behind him. “If [a woman] doesn’t want a child, there’s obvious steps she can take to not have a child.” Like what? “Well, for example, abstinence,” he says, looking down at me uncomfortably. “Purity before marriage.” What about sexual equality? Dennis is blushing, despite the cold. “Well, I’m here against abortion. I wouldn’t have anything to say to that.”

It’s illegal for a woman to have an abortion under almost any circumstances in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, even if she might die in the delivery room. Every year, thousands of women with crisis pregnancies scrape together the money to travel overseas to have abortions – and that’s if they’re lucky. If they’re unlucky – immigrants, shift-workers or too poor to afford a red-eye Ryanair flight to London – the only options are to take black-market abortion pills or be forced to give birth. Right now, members of the Irish parliament are trying to push through legislation to allow women to have abortions if they’re at risk of suicide, but the Catholic hard-right are fighting back.

Since 1967, when Britain made abortion legal, over 150,000 Irish women have gone to England to end their pregnancies. They go in secret and, since that figure only covers those who list Irish addresses, the true number is probably much higher. It’s a situation that has been tacitly accepted in Irish society for years: abortion is sinful, but we’ll put up with it as long as it happens far away and the women involved are shamed into silence. “It’s an Irish solution to an Irish problem,” says Sinead Ahern, an activist with Choice Ireland. Now all that might be about to change.


A protest against Ireland’s abortion laws in Dublin after the death of Savita Halappanavar.

Last November, 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar died of septicaemia in a Galway hospital after being refused an emergency abortion. The inquest into her death is ongoing, but Savita’s husband and family are adamant that she would be alive had the doctors not insisted that, because there was still a foetal heartbeat, a life-saving termination couldn’t be performed. If the results of the inquest show that Savita died as a direct result of Galway doctors’ refusal to abort, she will not have been the first woman to die in great pain because of the Irish Catholic Church’s war on reproductive rights.

In 2010, Michelle Harte – a cancer patient who had to travel to England to have the abortion that would have prolonged her life – spoke before she died of how Cork doctors turned her away. It’s happened before, and without legislation it’ll happen again. But it’s the story of Savita Halapannavar that has drawn global attention and outrage to the situation.

Suddenly the grisly reality of women being forced to go through months of pregnancy and painful labour, begging to have dead babies removed from their bodies and sometimes dying in pain has a name and a face. Vigils have been held for Savita across Ireland. Pro-choice marches are being held in a country where calling yourself “pro-choice” is still a risk to your job and your safety. Answers are being demanded from the government, and now the government is being forced to listen.

Something is changing in Ireland. For women across the country, shame and intimidation are no longer quite enough to stop them from speaking out about abortion, about contraception and about sexual equality. A majority of the population now agrees, according to the latest polls, that the laws need to be relaxed. In response, Ireland’s pro-life movementbacked by big money from the United States, has poured its energies into a massive propaganda campaign, informing women that if they have abortions they will go mad, get breast cancer, kill themselves or, with any luck, all three.

On O’Connell Street the rain is blowing in horizontally. Two little girls in matching red jackets who can’t be more than six years old are handing out pictures of oozing, bloody foetal corpses. Muffled up in scarves and mittens, they look like they’ve stepped off the front of a Victorian biscuit box and smile as they offer you leaflets telling you that your sister, your mother, your best friend is a sinner. “We call these street information sessions,” says 29-year-old Rebecca, a spokeswoman for Youth Defence, one of Ireland’s largest pro-life organisations, which has recently attracted controversy because of its acceptance of large financial donations from the Christian right in the United States.

Rebecca tells me that opposition to abortion in all circumstances is “a value that’s held deeply by Irish people”. She is quite correct that in both the Republic and the North, and on both sides of the sectarian divide, anti-choice proselytising is one issue where religious men in positions of power find common cause. “In the North, where in previous years there would have been conflict between Catholics and Protestants, this is the one thing they both agree on,” says Rebecca. Her broad lipglossed smile seems to indicate that this is a good thing.

Some of the more extreme pro-life campaign groups make exceptions for pregnancies that are the result of rape, reasoning in their generous, Christian way that women who didn’t want to have sex in the first place should not be punished by being forced to carry a child to term. Even that, however, is too liberal for Ireland’s Youth Defence. “Rape is a horrific crime”, says Rebecca, “but even though that child is conceived in a non-ideal situation, two wrongs don’t make a right.”

The smile seems to be sprayed on to her face, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. Although they claim to represent a broad, grassroots movement against abortion, most of the pro-life groups operating out of Ireland list the same address as their base of operations. That address is 6A, Capel Street, Dublin – a building called Life House. Its facade is the colour of arterial blood.

In a hotel lobby in downtown Dublin, six pro-choice activists are distracted by a baby. Little Ailbhe Redmond is four weeks old and freshly-baked, blinking and wriggling as she is passed from hand to hand by a bunch of excited young women who spend their free time being called baby killers by the Catholic right. Ailbhe’s mum, Sinead Redmond of Choice Ireland, was new to activism when she started an online campaign against pro-life propaganda this August.

Since then, over the course of a lot of rainy marches and a reeking heap of harassment, the women of Choice Ireland have become, amongst other things, good mates, and these women need all the friends they can get. Pro-choice activists in Ireland face targeted retribution – harassment of a kind that feminist activists in many other countries would struggle to comprehend.

Many have been individually targeted by right-wing groups. Over four days in Dublin, I spoke to women who had been followed home, had phone-calls tipping off their employers about their politics and made to fear for their jobs, and had graphic hate-mail and death threats delivered to their homes and the homes of their families. The favourite flavour of hyper-religious hate-mail is the delivery of a set of rosary beads in an unmarked package, which seems an odd message to send: “Jesus knows where you live.”

Sinead Redmond got a rosary whose individual beads were carved to look like foetuses in pain. She unhooks herself to breastfeed Ailbhe as she tells me, “Being pregnant made me so much more pro-choice. It brought it home to me how barbaric it is to force a woman to go through pregnancy, never mind labour.


Photo by Andrew Flood.

“Pregnancy is incredibly emotionally and physically debilitating. I would never, ever dream of forcing that on another woman and I don’t know how anyone who’s been through it can. Furthermore, having given birth to a baby girl, I don’t understand how anyone who’s the parent of daughters can not be pro choice. I just don’t get it.”

Fear of prosecution and of social backlash has kept generations of Irish women from speaking out against abortion and contraception. The paranoia is so pervasive that, of the many women and girls I spoke to who had had abortions, only two were willing to go on the record. “A lot of people talk about having abortions, but they don’t want to put their name or their face to it,” says 23-year-old Suzanne Lee, a shy mathematics student at the University College Dublin. Last summer, Suzanne ended an accidental pregnancy at six weeks by taking the abortion pill, which she ordered off the internet.

As one of the few people willing to speak out about her abortion experience, Suzanne has been interviewed on television before and received death-threats from pro-life individuals. “I knew if I was ever going to have a child I needed to be in a position where it could have everything,” she says, explaining her decision.

Ordering the abortion pill online is risky, but international organisations like Women on Web attempt to make the process simpler for those who can’t afford to travel to England. “What I’ve done is completely illegal,” says Suzanne, who had to cross the border and travel to Belfast to pick up the pills. “It’s weird knowing that I could be facing years in prison.”


A pro-choice group demonstrating outside the courts during the “Miss D” case.

“In some ways, I’m not the best face for this cause because mine was what they’d call a ‘social abortion’ – my life wasn’t at risk,” she says. “But the majority of women having abortions are probably having them for social reasons.” “Social reasons” would include: not wanting to go through pregnancy against your will, being too young or too poor to have a child or simply not being ready, which are – when you get down to it – the reasons most people decide that abortion is the best option for them.

Even if the new laws do pass, they won’t permit women any real choice about abortion unless they’re on death’s door, at which point a doctor will choose for them. Thousands of women will continue to travel abroad every year and risk their health by taking black market abortion pills, unless there are major changes to the constitution, which was amended in the 1980s to enshrine the “rights of the unborn” as equal to the rights of women.

The shambolic state of the Irish economy makes the situation more urgent for women in need. Unemployment in Ireland is 14.6 percent, and standards of living and income are falling all over the country. “A lot of it is to do with the recession,” says Bebhinn Farrell, an activist with Choice Ireland. “Before, there wasn’t as much talk about social issues, it was all about money and spending. If you needed to have an abortion, you went to England.” Now, however, with the economy wheezing and stuttering, the class divide between those who can afford to travel to England and have an abortion and the many who can’t has been brought home.

Many of those who can’t receive help from the Abortion Support Network (ASN), a group that funds and supports women flying from Ireland to terminate unwanted pregnancies. ASN sends money to hundreds of Irish who can’t afford the ticket to an English clinic, but because of the time it takes to organise travel and drum up the cash for the procedure, many don’t arrive at English clinics until they’re at a late stage of pregnancy.


A pro-life counter demonstration during the “Miss D” case.

That delay makes every difference. It means that the procedure is often costlier and more complicated than it needs to be, that British abortion law directly affects Irish women and that current efforts by British pro-life groups to reduce the time limit on legal abortion will have devastating implications for women travelling from Ireland.

Abortion is, effectively, the one issue where the laws of the English still hold sway over Irish citizens. “It’s really ironic,” comments Anthea McTiernan, a journalist at the Irish Times, “that the loyalists are fighting to keep the Union Flag over Belfast city hall, but we’re willing to have the flag of the Catholic church flying over the wombs of Irish women 365 days a year.”

“It’s a democratic issue about women’s bodily integrity,” says Ivana Bacik, a politician in the Upper House of the Oirechtas and a leading spokesperson for abortion rights in Ireland. It is pure chance, Bacik tells me, that the case of Savita Halappanavar hit international headlines just as the new laws allowing abortion in the case of a risk to the pregnant woman’s life started passing through parliament. These laws centre on the story of an anonymous woman 20 years ago, a woman known only as “Miss X”, whose human rights were found to have been violated by the Irish Supreme Court.


Demonstrations during the “Miss X” case. Photo by Andrew Flood.

Miss X, a 14-year-old rape victim, was denied permission to travel to England to terminate her pregnancy. The police found out about her travel plans after her parents asked them if DNA from the aborted foetus could be used to convict the rapist. Miss X was left suicidal as a result of being forced to continue to pregnancy and the Supreme Court ruled that, in her case and others, risk of suicide should be considered a case for legal abortion. By the time the ruling came through, Miss X had had a miscarriage.

That was in 1992. Wherever she is now, Miss X is 35 years old. It has taken 20 years for Irish politicians to even begin to implement the legal changes. This, according to Bacik, is “because the anti-choice lobby is so powerful that no politician has wanted to touch it. Until the last election in February 2011, there were only a handful of us willing to identify as pro-choice, but the mood has changed politically. We will bring in legislation before the summer,” she insists.

Ivana Bacik has been fighting the lonely battle for women’s sexual health since long before she entered parliament. As a student at Trinity Dublin, she was taken to court for providing information on abortion and contraception and almost went to prison. “The introduction of this legislation will undoubtedly change the culture in Ireland,” she says. Bacik, like many others, hopes that the extremely limited legal changes coming in this year will pave the way for real choice for women in the future. “Things are changing, and for many young women [the suicide exception] won’t be enough.”

Right now, though, thousands of women and girls continue to catch budget flights to London every year, alone and scared to have abortions they aren’t allowed to speak about without shame. Jan O’Sullivan was caught travelling to England to have an abortion 20 years ago at the age of 18. “I’d seen how unmarried mothers get treated,” says Jan, who now has two kids of her own. “There’s huge stigma even now – you’re damned if you have the baby and damned if you don’t.”

Contraceptives were only made legally available over the counter in Ireland in 1993 and the infamousMagdalene laundries were still open for any young woman who slipped up. “We’d been using condoms, but one broke and I ended up pregnant,” says Jan. “Sheer panic. I’d never left the country before, never been on a plane. Between finding out, trying to get an appointment and sorting out traveling and money, I was 11 or 12 weeks pregnant when we arrived in London. My hands shook nearly the entire time. We were terrified we’d meet people – we had already done so much lying about leaving the country for three days for a ‘romantic break.'”

“I woke up after the procedure to find I was lying flat on my front, and I knew before I was even awake that I wasn’t pregnant any more. It took a year to pay back the credit union loan.” Jan still believes it was the right decision, but the trauma of the journey has stayed with her over two decades. It’s a journey that thousands of desperate Irish women continue to make every year. “I haven’t been back to London. I’ve travelled plenty of other places, but not there, never there,” she says.

“Abortion isn’t rare in this country, it’s just not talked about.”

To find out more, or if you’d like to donate to the Abortion Support Network, visit abortionsupport.org.uk.

Follow Laurie on Twitter: @PennyRed

Too funny for the Church? Comedy show gets “excommunicated”


Licking a crucifix and pressing some very hot buttons: German satirist Carolin Kebekus 

THIS SORT OF THING really shouldn’t happen. Article 5 of the German constitution clearly states that “Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.” This freedom is absolute – except in cases involving a publicly sanctioned religious group, above all the Catholic Church.

The latest case: This week the German TV broadcaster WDR abruptly cancelled a completed and broadcast-ready satire show starring comedienne Carolin Kebekus. Set to premiere tonight at 8:15, it was to be the popular performer’s first solo show. But now her series has been trashed and she won’t be hired back anytime soon. Why? It turns out that the centerpiece of Kebekus! was going to be an elaborate rapper sequence lampooning the Catholic Church.

The offending musical number starts out with Kebekus dying of boredom at Sunday mass, when suddenly the church door opens and she appears in person, now dressed in a white nun’s habit and wearing golden chains around her neck and waist. During the ensuing rap number, this naughty nun twirls her chains, repeatedly licks a crucifix, flashes an altar, joins other nuns in dancing around a burning bush, and otherwise desecrates revered religious symbols. In other sections, an altar boy raps about how superior he is for being Catholic, and a pudgy gangsta-style rapper (German-Moroccan rap artist MC Rene) dressed in priestly robes expounds on virgins, celibacy, and pedophilia. (“In the church I’m the king,/Everyone kneels when I sing./Skip the bitches, I look away,/Celibacy means I do it my way” etc.).

The guiding theme of the video is the popular hym “Danke dem Herrn” (“Thank -you Lord”), a favorite of Sunday school classes and bible camps, sort of a Central European equivalent of Kumbaya. But Kebekus gives this normally ho-hum tune a different twist:

Thank-you for my golden chains,

Thank-you for my virginity,

Thank-you for letting me wear the same dress everyday.

She and the other nuns deliver a break dance before singing:

Thank-you for my fear of gays,

Thank-you for the condom ban,

Thank-you for threatening hell for every sin I commit.

You can read the entire German song text here.

Hence the rap-song’s title: “Dunk den Herrn.” Yes, that’s really “dunk,” i.e. what you might think of doing to a donut.

WDR explained its decision as follows:

Particularly the scenes with the crucifix could injure viewers’ religious convictions. This was and is not the intention of the “Young TV” editorial group. Nor could it be reconciled with the WDR {code of conduct}, which states clearly in Article 5 that the religious convictions of the population are to be respected.

In other words, there shall be no censorship – until there is.

This sort of censorship is nothing new here – I’ve already written about similar cases in this space before. But those who deplore such satires would do well to reflect on where they come from in the first place, namely from the ban on religious free expression at the expense of basic civil rights.

Let me cut WDR some slack here and admit that the segment is about as blasphemous as you could ever get. Call it Piss Christ on crack. But that’s the whole point of the exercise: Provoking a response. If they’d just let these caricatures go through without comment, the public would no doubt tire of them quickly, and people like me, who don’t even watch TV, would never even have known about this one. As it is, “Dunk den Herrn” is now attracting millions of visitors to Youtube.

You’d think people would learn.

via Too funny for the Church? Comedy show gets “excommunicated” – Alan Nothnagle – Open Salon.

Pope Admits God Probably Doesn’t Exist But Encourages Catholics to Get Imaginary God Friend


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Catholics everywhere were flabbergasted when, merely days after celebrating his 85th birthday, Pope Benedict XVI issued a formal statement acknowledging that God probably does not exist. Nevertheless, the Pope assured believers worldwide that they were not without a place to turn for spiritual sustenance. Specifically, he urged every practicing Catholic to get an “imaginary God friend,” which he emphasized will serve virtually the same purpose of what they had previously thought of as a real God.

Since the Pope’s statement, the Vatican has, predictably, been flooded with questions and comments from clergymen, parishioners and even lapsed Catholics who still consider themselves believers. Many chastised the Pope for imposing his own doubts upon devout Catholics.

In a follow-up statement, the Pope stated that his acknowledgement that God probably does not exist is not properly categorized as a “doubt.”

As he explained, “A doubt is thinking that even though the sun has come up every morning of every day in the history of humanity, maybe, for some reason, it won’t rise tomorrow. I don’t have that kind of doubt about God. The God façade is a sham, with no evidence whatsoever to back it up. I couldn’t continue to take part in upholding it. I’ve been living a lie.”

The Pope equated his announcement with the children’s fairy tale in which an innocent but perceptive little boy points out that the naked emperor has no clothes. He emphasized, however, that despite the revolutionary nature of his atheistic message, not much really needed to change for Catholics on a practical, day-to-day level.

“Catholics can talk to and even pray to their imaginary God friend. For me, creating a personal imaginary friend, whom I call God, has been a great source of comfort,” he elaborated. “In fact, my imaginary God friend is just as effective, perhaps even more so, than the ‘God’ I used to believe was real. It’s very common for children to have imaginary friends. Now adult Catholics can have them as well.”

It remains to be seen the effect that the Pope’s statement will have on the unity and vibrancy of the Catholic Church. However, religious leaders of other faiths were delighted at the Pope’s message, anticipating a likely boon to their own religions.

“This is terrific for us,” said Rabbi David Golinkin, head of the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies. “The Catholic Church was always one-upping the Jewish faith by offering people God plus Jesus. But now we have something they don’t: a real God. People can’t but respond to that. I think we’ll get a lot of new recruits.”

via The Spoof : Pope Admits God Probably Doesn’t Exist But Encourages Catholics to Get Imaginary God Friend funny satire story.

Vatican corrects infallible pope: atheists will still burn in hell


Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman

 

The Vatican has just announced that, despite what Pope Francis said in his homily earlier this week, atheists are still going to hell.

What a relief. For a brief moment there it was possible to imagine a brave new world of compassion, generosity and acceptance, not qualities we have come to associate with the Holy See.

Said Pope Francis this week: ‘The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!’

That seemed like a pretty clear admission that people of other faiths and none have intrinsic worth to God and will be saved alongside the faithful. But this turned out to be wishful thinking.

Although they are otherwise good, moral people they are still doomed to burn in a lake of fire for having the temerity to have been born outside of Catholicism or having chosen to remain so.

The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, spelled it out for the world on Thursday. People who know about the Catholic church ‘cannot be saved’ if they ‘refuse to enter her or remain in her,’ he said.

So that’s one tall order of eternal hellfire for the rest of us, then.

It makes for an interesting spectacle to see the infallible pope being corrected by his handlers, doesn’t it? For a moment it was possible to recall the welcoming and indulgent style of the short lived Pope John Paul I in the unexpectedly all-embracing words of Pope Francis. But you’ll recall how quickly John Paul I was replaced by the much more doctrinaire John Paul II.

There’s no question that Pope Francis sees the divinity in all human beings, but that’s a message that comes with caveats. God may make them all, Jew and Gentile, but unless they’re Catholic they’re ultimately kindling. The Vatican waited 24 hours to correct him, but they corrected him.

Yes, yes, the Council of Trent clearly taught that Jesus Christ, humanity’s one and only Redeemer, redeemed both Jew and Gentile. But there is a huge difference between redemption and salvation. See how that works? Judas Iscariot was redeemed by Christ’s death on the cross, but he was not saved – Catholics believe he is damned in hell.

To be justified requires faith – and that faith must be Catholic. You see where this is going?

If I was Pope Francis, I’d be employing a food tester right about now.

via Vatican corrects infallible pope: atheists will still burn in hell | Manhattan Diary | IrishCentral.

With New Leaders In Rome And Beijing, China’s Catholics Face Uncertain Future


The some 10 million Catholics in China remain divided between those loyal to the Pope and those in step with the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy.

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SHANGHAI – On the last Monday of April, this city’s main Cathedral was filled with believers. They had come to honor the memory of the man who had done more than anyone to improve relations between the Vatican and China’s so-called “Patriotic” Catholic Church.

Bishop Jin Luxian died last month at the age of 97. He had done his novitiate preparation for the priesthood in France, returning to his native China in 1951, only to be imprisoned five years later by Mao’s regime — and would go on to spend a total of 18 years in prison and nine in a labor camp.

Despite all of this, Jin joined the official “patriotic” Church once he got out of prison in 1982, and worked for years trying to bring it closer together with the clandestine communities of Catholics loyal to Rome. The estimated 10 million Catholics in China are split between those with allegiance to the Pope and those that practice under the auspices of the Patriotic Church that is sanctioned by the Communist Party.

In 2005, Monsignor Jin successfully pushed for the ordination of an assistant bishop, who was approved both by Rome and the Chinese authorities. This event marked the beginning of a relative thawing of relations between Beijing and the Holy See.

But that compromise came undone in November 2010 in the northeastern city of Chengde, when the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association resumed the ordination of bishops who had not been previously approved by the Pope. Members of the clergy who were faithful to Rome were forcibly taken to religious services by State security forces.

On the one hand, Beijing argues that the ordination process must be accelerated, especially in dioceses where there is no bishop. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, see this move as a hardening of Beijing’s stance. What they are not sure about is whether this is part of a more general control over human rights militants, or a stratagem on the part of the officials in charge of Catholic affairs, who fear their power would collapse if the improved relationship between Rome and Beijing solidified.

A telling sign of the growing tension was evident at the memorial service for Jin, which was led by a simple priest. Indeed, Ma Daqin, the new auxilliary bishop of Shanghai, has been under house arrest since last summer. During his own ordination ceremony on July 7, Ma had refused blessings from two bishops who had been imposed by the state-sanctioned Church.

It was during this same ceremony in July that Ma had announced he would no longer be part of the body in the Communist Party that controls the Catholic Church. “Thunderous applause among young people, livid faces among officials!” a European witness recalls. All officials from the Communist Party promptly left the Cathedral. Shortly after the service, the new bishop was forcibly taken to the Sheshan seminary, 30 kilometers outside the city center, where he has been detained since.

Mass alone

The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association thought they had found in Ma Daqin a consensual, even docile new bishop. Contrary to someone like Msgr Jin, who had spent 27 years in prison and saw any changes as improvements on the harsh situation of the past, the new generation has raised expectations, explains one Western expert on Catholicism in China. “There has been an unaccounted for tightening in the State policy since 2010, and the young generation is making clear they do not want to go any further in that direction,” he says.

Jin’s last wish was to leave behind him an appeased community. Last year, in an interview with Le Monde, he refused to make any comment on this reactionary movement, though he did express concern for younger generations of clergymen.

His successor remains cut off from the rest of the world. On a visit to his seminary last month, one of his friends explained that Monsignor Ma could have his meals with the other seminarians, but had to say Mass on his own.

“The freedom of Catholics is subjected to their obedience to the system,” his friend remarked. Being allowed to visit the bishop on house-arrest, he confirmed that Ma Daqin was still allowed to manage his account on Weibo, the Chinese  version of Twitter, on which verses of the Gospel are sometimes published. The bishop has been allowed a few visitors, but no foreigners, as it would “make things even worse for him.”

Since last summer, the government in Beijing has been undergoing a handover of power, while in Rome a new Pope was elected this spring. But if the new Chinese President Xi Jinping has been talking about reforming the party internally, he has not given any indication on the future of Catholics in China. As a priest explained to us, “the relationship with the Roman Church falls within the scope of Foreign Policy, and Xi Jinping’s stance on this is still unclear.”

As a friend of the new bishop, he hopes “the government will be more open on this and let Msgr Ma go back to Shanghai.”

For weeks, the government had been aware that Jin was dying, and intentionally kept his successor away from his Cathedral. Sources say he has now been removed even further, to the capital, Beijing.

Read the article in the original language.

Photo by – Heurik

via With New Leaders In Rome And Beijing, China’s Catholics Face Uncertain Future – All News Is Global |.

via With New Leaders In Rome And Beijing, China’s Catholics Face Uncertain Future – All News Is Global |.

10 Weird Religious Practices


Most religions have one or two unusual practices or devices but occasionally you find one which is just completely weird. This list contains ten of the more unusual things found in modern religions.

1. Mormom Temple Garments Wikipedia

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In some denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement, the temple garment (or the Garment of the Holy Priesthood, or informally, the garment or garments) is a set of sacred underclothing worn by adult adherents who have taken part in a ritual ceremony known as washing and anointing ordinance, usually in a temple as part of the Endowment ceremony. Adherents consider them to be sacred and may be offended by public discussion of the garments. Anti-Mormon activists have publicly displayed or defaced temple garments to show their opposition to the LDS Church.

According to generally-accepted Mormon doctrine, the marks in the garments are sacred symbols (Buerger 2002, p. 58). One proposed element of the symbolism, according to early Mormon leaders, was a link to the “Compass and the Square”, the symbols of freemasonry (Morgan 1827, pp. 22-23), to which Joseph Smith (creator of Mormonism) had been initiated about seven weeks prior to his introduction of the Endowment ceremony.

2. Scientology E-Meter Wikipedia

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An E-meter is an electronic device manufactured by the Church of Scientology at their Gold Base production facility. It is used as an aid by Dianetics and Scientology counselors and counselors-in-training in some forms of auditing, the application of the techniques of Dianetics and Scientology to another or to oneself for the express purpose of addressing spiritual issues.

E-meter sessions are conducted by church employees known as auditors. Scientology materials traditionally refer to the subject as the “preclear,” although auditors continue to use the meter well beyond the clear level. The preclear holds a pair of cylindrical electrodes (“cans”) connected to the meter while the auditor asks the preclear a series of questions and notes both the verbal response and the activity of the meter. Auditor training describes many types of needle movements, with each having their own special significance.

A 1971 ruling of the United States District Court, District of Columbia (333 F. Supp. 357), specifically stated, “The E-meter has no proven usefulness in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease, nor is it medically or scientifically capable of improving any bodily function.”

3. Exorcism Cogitz

Exorcism Video

Exorcism is the practice of evicting demons or other evil spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed (taken control of). The practice is quite ancient and still part of the belief system of many religions, though it is seen mostly in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Solemn exorcisms, according to the Canon law of the church, can only be exercised by an ordained priest (or higher prelate), with the express permission of the local bishop, and only after a careful medical examination to exclude the possibility of mental illness. The Catholic Encyclopaedia (1908) enjoined: “Superstition ought not to be confounded with religion, however much their history may be interwoven, nor magic, however white it may be, with a legitimate religious rite”.

To listen to two authentic recordings of exorcisms, visit the Top 10 Incredible Recordings. For more audio, video, and images of excorcisms, you can gohere.

4. Jewish Kaparot (?????) Wikipedia

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Kaparot is a traditional Jewish religious ritual that takes place around the time of the High Holidays. Classically, it is performed by grasping a live chicken by the sholder blades and moving around one’s head three times, symbolically transferring one’s sins to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor, preferably eaten at the pre-Yom Kippur feast. In modern times, Kapparos is performed in the traditional form mostly in Haredi communities. The ritual is preceded by the reading of Psalms 107:17-20 and Job 33:23-24.

On the eve of Yom Kippur 2005, more than 200 caged chickens were abandoned in rainy weather as part of a Kaparot operation in Brooklyn, NY; some of these starving and dehydrated chickens were subsequently rescuedby the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Jacob Kalish, an Orthodox Jew from Williamsburg, was charged with animal cruelty for the drowning deaths of 35 of these chickens. In response to such reports of the mistreatment of chickens, animal rights organizations have begun to picket public observances of kaparot, particularly in Israel.

5. Shamanism Wikipedia

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Shamanism refers to a range of traditional beliefs and practices concerned with communication with the spirit world. There are many variations in shamanism throughout the world, though there are some beliefs that are shared by all forms of shamanism. Its practitioners claim the ability to diagnose and cure human suffering and, in some societies, the ability to cause suffering. This is believed to be accomplished by traversing the axis mundi and forming a special relationship with, or gaining control over, spirits.

Shamans have been credited with the ability to control the weather, divination, the interpretation of dreams, astral projection, and traveling to upper and lower worlds. Shamans were used in Tibetan Buddhism as a form of divination by which the Dalai Lama was given prophesies of the future and advice.

6. Dowry Wikipedia

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This is a cultural practice rather than a religious one. The practice of dowry exists across India. Despite laws against it, the practice continues. The girl child’s dowry and wedding expenses often sends her family into a huge debt trap. As consumerism and wealth increase in India, dowry demands are growing. In rural areas, families sell their land holdings, while the urban poor sell their houses.

To curb the practice of dowry, the government of India made several laws detailing severe punishment to anyone demanding dowry and a law in Indian Penal Code (Section 498A) has been introduced. While it gives boost to a woman and her family, it in the same time also put a man and his family in a great disadvantage. Misuse of this law by women in urban India and many incidents of extortion of money from the husband done by the wife and her family (this is called sowry) have come to light.

7. Mormon Baptism of the Dead Wikipedia

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Baptism for the dead, vicarious baptism or proxy baptism is a religious practice of baptising a living person on behalf of an individual who is dead; the living person is acting as the deceased person’s proxy. It has been practiced since 1840 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where it is also called temple baptism because it is performed only in dedicated temples.

In the practice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a living person, acting as proxy, is baptized by immersion on behalf of a deceased person of the same gender. The baptism ritual is as follows: after calling the living proxy by name, the person performing the baptism says, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for and in behalf of [full name of deceased person], who is dead, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The proxy is then immersed briefly in the water. Baptism for the dead is a distinctive ordinance of the church and is based on the belief that baptism is a required ordinance for entry into the Kingdom of God.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vicariously baptizes people regardless of race, sex, or creed. This includes both victims and perpetrators of genocide. Some Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their supporters have objected to this practice.

8. Jainist Digambaras Wikipedia

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Digambar also spelled Digambara is one of the two main sects of Jainism. Senior Digambar monks wear no clothes, following the practice of Lord Mahavira. They do not consider themselves to be nude — they are wearing the environment. Digambaras believe that this practice represents a refusal to give in to the body’s demands for comfort and private property — only Digambara ascetics are required to forsake clothing. Digambara ascetics have only two possessions: a peacock feather broom and a water gourd.

The native Jain communities of Maharashta, Bundelkhand (MP/UP), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu are all Digambaras. In north India, the Saravagis and the Agrawals are also Digambaras. In Gujarat and Southern Rajasthan, the majority of Jains follow the Svetambara tradition, although some Jain communities of these regions like the Humad are also Digambaras.

9. Islamic Niqab (?????) Wikipedia

Niqab

A niqab is a veil which covers the face, worn by some Muslim women as a part of sartorial hijab. It is popular in the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf but it can also be found in North Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

The niqab is regarded differently by the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence known as madhahab. Some see it as obligatory, or fard , while others see it as recommended, or mustahab, and a few see it as forbidden. The majority of scholars believe hijab is required, but only a few see niqab as required, although this is not the common perception among the general population.

10. Jehovah’s Witnesses Refusal of Blood Transfusions Wikipedia

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A fundamental doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses teaches that the Bible prohibits consumption, storage and transfusion of blood, including in cases of emergency. This doctrine was introduced in 1945, and has been elaborated upon since then. Although accepted by a majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses, evidence indicates a minority does not wholly endorse this doctrine. Facets of the doctrine have drawn praise and criticism from both members of the medical community and Jehovah’s Witnesses alike.

In 1964, Jehovah’s Witnesses were prohibited from obtaining transfusions for pets, from using fertilizer containing blood, and were even encouraged to write to dog food manufacturers to verify that their products were blood-free. Later that year, Jehovah’s Witnesses doctors and nurses were instructed to withhold blood transfusions from fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses. As to administering transfusions to non-members, The Watchtower stated that such a decision is “left to the Christian doctor’s own conscience.”

JAMIE FRATERJamie is the founder of Listverse. He spends his time working on the site, doing research for new lists, and cooking. He is fascinated with all things morbid and bizarre.

Irish Catholics flee the church


Clergy sex abuse revelations and a more secular climate have created a stigma against attending Mass.

BELFAST, Northern IrelandMalachi O’Doherty says his nieces and nephews are helpless at funerals.

Raised without religion, they are flummoxed by the practices and customs that accompany a Catholic ritual. Though he himself left the church as a teenager in the 1960s, he’s ambivalent about the loss of a binding and, at times, beautiful religious culture.

“People are rejecting something they don’t even remember,” said O’Doherty, whose 2008 book “Empty Pulpits: Ireland’s Retreat from Religion” chronicled the impact of secularization on Ireland. “We may have only a sterile, secular culture that looks at the Catholic Church as an army of priests raping children.”

As Pope Francis takes over the global church, O’Doherty, like many church-watchers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, ascribe the religion’s current troubles to secularization. In 1946, Pope Paul VI called Ireland “the most Catholic country,” but starting in the mid-1960s, a growing number of the Irish — like many in Western Europe and the United States — began questioning the authority of religious institutions. Today, the percentage of Irish practitioners remains high compared with most of the rest of Europe.

But attendance at weekly Mass continues to decline, also reflecting fallout from two decades of revelations about clergy sexual abuse. William Crawley, a BBC journalist who covers religion in Belfast, agreed that secularization and the sex abuse crisis have dealt a one-two punch to the faithful.

“People are rejecting something they don’t even remember.”

~Malachi O’Doherty

“There’s no stigma in not going to church,” said Crawley, who is an ordained Presbyterian minister. ”In fact there’s a stigma to going. Parents need to explain why they are sending their children to church.”

Although Catholicism is declining in both the north and the south, the situation is different in each country. The south is 84 percent Catholic, while the north is 48 percent. In both places, however, the number of those practicing their faith is significantly lower than those who just check the census box. According to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, in 1984, nearly 90 percent of Irish Catholics went to weekly Mass. In 2011, only 18 percent did. Numbers in the north are harder to come by. Rev. Edward McGee, spokesman for the Diocese of Down and Connor, where Belfast is located, said his jurisdiction has no longitudinal surveys on membership or attendance.

That may be why northerners like McGee say the church merely faces challenges, while southerners tend to call the current situation a “crisis.”

“Northern Catholics were a persecuted people, those in the south were more like landed gentry,” said Rev. Gary Toman, Catholic chaplain at Queens University. “There is a very different experience of being [part of the] church in the north. We came through a difficult time during the Troubles and were grounded in the community.”

The Troubles, which started in the 1960s and ended in the “Good Friday” agreement of 1998, was a period of ethnic and religious violence between Protestants and Catholics. According to O’Doherty, years of fighting helped make Catholicism as much an ethnic and political identity as a religious one.

“Leaving your church had the same connotation as leaving your community,” he said.

Another reason for the church’s relative strength in the north may be that neither the northern dioceses nor the local government have thoroughly investigated clergy sexual abuse.

A series of church-based and government investigations in the south revealed widespread abuse of children as well as illicit heterosexual relationships extending over the last quarter of 20th century. Compounding the problem, offending priests had been reassigned by bishops, seeking to cover up or ignore problems.

The revelations were particularly painful for a population that revered priests and saw the church as its social bedrock. In 2010, Pope Benedict apologized to the Irish Church, admitting there had been “serious mistakes.” But victims’ groups felt the statement did not go far enough in accepting responsibility or positing change.

Adding insult to injury, the church may ask parishioners to help pay settlements for abuse victims. The estimated cost of claims is 1.36 billion euros (about $1.75 billion). Since the Catholic Church is a state institution in Ireland, the government is expected to pay part of the bill, but wants religious orders and the dioceses to help.

Still, an ongoing economic slump as well as dwindling numbers of worshippers have made collecting donations difficult. In 2011, a leaked document suggested fining local parishes to help pay costs.

The church, which is the biggest property owner in the south, has been slow to turn over real estate to be sold for compensation. As of last year, a third of the buildings promised in 2002 have yet to be handed over to the state. Some of the buildings may be held in trust and unable to be transferred; others are protected by an indemnity agreement that in 2002 capped the amounts owed by 18 religious orders.

Anger over the handling of the abuse crisis has fueled calls by reformers for a more democratic church. According to Rev. Sean McDonagh, head of the Association for Catholic Priests, the clergy now needs to catch up with laity — the legion of faithful.

“The laity is way ahead of the bishops in terms of the ordination of gays and women,” said McDonagh, referring to two issues that many reformers consider basic. “I’d like to see the church as a communion of equals. The question is: How do we get there?”

via Irish Catholics flee the church – Salon.com.

via Irish Catholics flee the church – Salon.com.

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