Good to know that the Vatican is not above a bit of cynical self-promotion. (Remember before all of this when we thought that god, or that sort of thing, was the only driver behind the Vatican’s actions? And I’m sure there’s no money in it either. *ahem*) If I was a god-fearing sort at all, I’m sure I’d be all over this (though I am still waiting for the, “It was all a joke/ satire announcement).
Vatican offers ‘time off purgatory’ to followers of Pope Francis tweets
In its latest attempt to keep up with the times the Vatican has married one of its oldest traditions to the world of social media by offering “indulgences” to followers of Pope Francis‘ tweets.
The church’s granted indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins. The remissions got a bad name in the Middle Ages because unscrupulous churchmen sold them for large sums of money. But now indulgences are being applied to the 21st century. But a senior Vatican official warned web-surfing Catholics that indulgences still required a dose of old-fashioned faith, and that paradise was not just a few mouse clicks away. [Rest, guardian.]
So, the pope’s Twitter followers get time off purgatory. What’s the problem?
Is it really ludicrous that the Vatican should be claiming you can get time off purgatory by following the pope on Twitter?
There are obvious problems. If as a materialist you don’t believe in purgatory, or hell, or any kind of moral balancing in an afterlife, then the whole thing is absurd, though no more absurd than any other belief about purgatory. Or you may be a Christian, happy to imagine our souls must be purified before they are fit to see God entirely (and this is the most charitable interpretation of the doctrine of purgatory I can find) but none the less amused and outraged that the pope should stick his oar into the business. Indulgences, after all, were the single greatest and grossest abuse of papal power to inspire the Reformation.
But let’s suppose, just for the sake of argument, that the pope does have an informed opinion on what behaviour pleases God and benefits the soul. Does it then matter at all what technology he uses to spread his opinions? Is there anything intrinsically more ridiculous in following a devotion on Twitter than in the flesh, or on television? [Rest, commentisfree.]
Hugely important progress. It’s not enough (see below re. rape cases for example) but it is a start I thought I’d never see.
Irish parliamentarians passed a groundbreaking law early on Thursday allowing limited abortion rights in the republic.
Enda Kenny and his coalition government pushed through the protection of life in pregnancy bill, which will allow for abortions only when a woman’s life is under threat if her pregnancy continues or if she is suicidal.
Despite threats of excommunication from cardinals and bishops, the privately devout Catholic prime minister eventually won the vote after a marathon two-day debate in the Dáil.
Members voted by 127 to 31 to legalise abortion in cases of medical emergencies as well as the risk of suicide.
However, pro-choice and anti-abortion groups have already threatened court cases to challenge the new law.
The legislation which passed through the Dáil after 24 hours of tortuous debate will not stop the annual abortion trail from Ireland to Britain.
According to Irish department of health figures released on Thursday, about 4,000 Irish women travelled to British hospitals and clinics to terminate their pregnancies last year. They included 124 who were under 18.
The new law also does not include women who were raped, meaning grim traffic across the Irish Sea for abortions will continue.
Rest: The Guardian.
From what I gather, this could happen in cases where there is “suicidal intent” and an abortion is denied. In other words, a woman who seeks an abortion because she is suicidal could be locked up until she gives birth. And, as if that’s not horrific enough, I can think of a number of ways in which that net could be widened.
Ireland has very strong anti-abortion laws. It’s illegal. That’s it. However, new legislation has been proposed that would allow Irish women to terminate their pregnancy if there is a threat on their life—including suicidal intent.
The New York Times explains that even if the bill passes, terminating a pregnancy will not straight-forward. If a woman’s life is in an emergency situation, one doctor will be able to approve an abortion. With non-emergency situations where a woman is still at risk, two doctors (one being an obstetrician or a gynecologist) will need to sign off on the procedure. For cases of suicidal intent, a woman will need approval from two psychologists and an obstetrician. According to the Irish Examiner, if a woman is denied a termination she might be forced to spend the rest of her pregnancy in a psychiatric ward. [Rest.]
When women are in the running for pope, I’ll be interested. Any moment now, wouldn’t you say?
The release of black smoke, and not white smoke, from The Vatican chimney signified that a new pope had not been named. But what was the meaning of the less visible and less discussed pink smoke released over The Vatican? It was a protest against The Vatican’s refusal to ordain women priests.
Erin Saiz Hanna, the director of the Women’s Ordination Conference, which staged the protest and has been advocating for the ordination of women for three decades, stated,
“The current old boys’ club has left our Church reeling from scandal, abuse, sexism and oppression…. The people of the Church are desperate for a leader who will be open to dialogue and embrace the gifts of women’s wisdom in every level of Church governance.”
Miriam Duignan, Communications coordinator of the association ‘Women can be priests’ said,
“The Catholic church should be a healthy and vibrant place with equality, with both men and women called to the priesthood. Jesus did not exclude women. Jesus encouraged women and actively sought to include them…. So why do the cardinals who are supposed to represent Jesus, make a point of actively excluding women, of telling them to be quiet? And of criminalising anybody that speaks out in favour of women priests?”
Therese Koturbash, the international ambassador of the organization Women Priests explained, “[t]he pink smoke is a sign of the voices we’re mourning who are excluded from the current conclave.” Despite the Church’s intransigence and Pope Benedict’s crack down on the ordination of women, Koturbash is hopeful: “Already there have been so many changes that have happened in the church, that it wouldn’t be a big step to start including women.”
[Rest: feminisiting. Also, this: pinksmokeoverthevatican]
Don’t believe the Vatican hype.
The myth of altruism and generosity surrounding Mother Teresa is dispelled in a paper by Serge Larivée and Genevieve Chenard of University of Montreal’s Department of Psychoeducation and Carole Sénéchal of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education.
The paper will be published in the March issue of the journal Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses and is an analysis of the published writings about Mother Teresa. Like the journalist and author Christopher Hitchens, who is amply quoted in their analysis, the researchers conclude that her hallowed image—which does not stand up to analysis of the facts—was constructed, and that her beatification was orchestrated by an effective media relations campaign.
“While looking for documentation on the phenomenon of altruism for a seminar on ethics, one of us stumbled upon the life and work of one of Catholic Church’s most celebrated woman and now part of our collective imagination—Mother Teresa—whose real name was Agnes Gonxha,” says Professor Larivée, who led the research. “The description was so ecstatic that it piqued our curiosity and pushed us to research further.”
Below is a very good account of the abortion situation in Ireland. Note Dennis’ “Oh, I wouldn’t know anything about all of those other things about women’s rights you’re talking about, I just want to tell women what to do with their wombs”.
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 [link] Ireland: The Holy War on Irish Wombspetition 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 liberalizing 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… anyone who is 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 that would 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.