From the ABC
Pope labels resurrection 'crucial leap'
Pope Benedict XVI has celebrated the Easter vigil mass in St Peter's Basilica, calling the resurrection of Christ the "most crucial leap into a totally new dimension".
In a liturgy filled with the symbolism of Christ's passage from the dead to the living, he told thousands of pilgrims in the vast sanctuary and millions watching around the world, "The resurrection was like an explosion of light".
The Pope carried a paschal candle through the darkened basilica, which was bathed in bright light when he reached the altar.
The pilgrims lit each other's candles to symbolise the light of Christ replacing the darkness of sin and death.
The Pope used his homily to refer to the theory of evolution to explain Christians' belief in Christ's resurrection and the afterlife.
"If we may borrow the language of the theory of evolution, it is the greatest 'mutation,' absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development," he said.
Read more at the ABC
From the ABC
Gay groups hijack US Easter event, say critics
By Washington correspondent Michael Rowland
A political bun fight has erupted in the United States over plans by gay and lesbian parents to converge en masse on the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
The parents say they want to show President Bush and other conservatives that happy and loving gay families do exist, but the move has drawn outrage from religious groups who claim the Easter Monday event is being hijacked for political purposes.
For nearly 130 years, American families have been beating a path to the White House on Easter Monday, to hunt for eggs, hear a book reading by the First Lady and, if they are really lucky, catch a glimpse of the bunny in chief.
But, like so many annual fixtures in the US, the Easter Egg Roll has become another battle front in the culture wars.
The executive director of the Family Pride Coalition, Jennifer Chrisler, has arranged for at least 200 gay and lesbian parents to bring their children to the White House Egg Roll.
read more at the ABC
Gus is glad there is push towards better recognition of gay families... and that the bunny in chief will be distracted for a few minutes away from his duties of bombing the world, by a few rainbows. But he might become more irrational, peeved to be directly exposed to homosexuality, an event that could delay his dropping of a few rotten eggs over Iran... Ah, Easter is not what it used to be...
Gays in Iraq fear for their lives
By Michael McDonough
BBC News website
"I don't want to be gay anymore. When I go out to buy bread, I'm afraid. When the doorbell rings, I think that they have come for me."
That is the fear that haunts Hussein, and other gay men in Iraq.
They say that since the US-led invasion, gays are being killed because of their sexual orientation.
They blame the increase in violence on the growing influence of religious figures and militia groups in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was ousted.
Read more at the BBC
Gus: The liberation of Iraq: More leeway for the fundamentalists to repress and less freedom for the rest to be who they are... Imagine Bagdhad's gays chasing Easter eggs in the Big Bunny's backyard at the White House... and Chenye with his anti-quail two-shooter... What a mess...
From the BBC
Cardinal backs limited condom use
One of the Roman Catholic Church's most distinguished cardinals has publicly backed the use of condoms among married couples to prevent Aids transmission.
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said that in couples where one had HIV/Aids, which could pass to the partner, the use of condoms was "a lesser evil".
The Vatican says condoms should never be used, even to stop Aids spreading from one married partner to another.
The Church teaches that abstinence is the best way to tackle disease.
Read nore at the BBC and...
.... please don't have sex to do as the cardinal says... and see the cartoon that leads this line of blogs.
From the NYT
Ideals Collide as Vatican Rethinks Condom Ban
By IAN FISHER
Published: May 2, 2006
ROME, May 1 — Even at the Vatican, not all sacred beliefs are absolute: Thou shalt not kill, but war can be just. Now, behind the quiet walls, a clash is shaping up involving two poles of near certainty: the church's long-held ban on condoms and its advocacy of human life.
The issue is AIDS. Church officials recently confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI had requested a report on whether it might be acceptable for Catholics to use condoms in one narrow circumstance: to protect life inside a marriage when one partner is infected with H.I.V. or is sick with AIDS.
Whatever the pope decides, church officials and other experts broadly agree that it is remarkable that so delicate an issue is being taken up. But they also agree that such an inquiry is logical, and particularly significant from this pope, who was Pope John Paul II's strict enforcer of church doctrine.
read more at the NYT
See cartoon at head of this line of blogs
Homogenization of homophobia in the world with Homophobe-Georgie
from the Moscow Times
By Chris Floyd
Published: May 12, 2006
They say that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, but these days, fearmongering invocations of "Islamofascism" perform the same rump-covering function just as well.
Defenders of U.S. President George W. Bush's war crime in Iraq -- particularly those super-tough "liberal hawks" who have cast their lot with the crony conquistadors -- trot out the term at every opportunity. What else can they do? All the other excuses for their pet war have been exploded as bare-faced, deliberately concocted lies. So they've been reduced to the ludicrous claim that Bush's murderous plunder is actually a noble defense of civilization against black hordes of "Islamofascists." In this way, these desk-bound warriors seek to identify themselves with the sainted figures of old, like George Orwell, who actually put their bodies on the line against real fascists.
Yet it is painfully obvious that the forces which come closest to matching this ignorant propaganda term have in fact been empowered by Bush's war. Obscurantist clerics and deadly sectarian groups backed by Bush now rule in Iraq, while his war of aggression there -- and his global gulag of torture and unlawful detention -- are swelling the ranks of violent extremists around the world, as his own State Department acknowledges in its latest report on international terrorism.
For example, last month, 14-year-old Ahmed Khalil was shot dead by the Bush-backed Iraqi police on the doorstep of his home, the Independent reports. His crime? Homosexuality. He was just one of scores of homosexuals -- or suspected homosexuals -- systematically slaughtered by the sectarian militias that Bush is arming and training to serve as Iraq's official "security" forces. Ironically, Ahmed might not even have been gay; he was having sex with men in the neighborhood for money to help his poverty-stricken family, which has been completely wiped out in the economic meltdown wrought by Bush's "liberation."
read more at the Moscow Times
‘When America panics, it goes hunting for scapegoats. But
from Salem onward, we've more often than not ended up pillorying the innocent.
Abe Rosenthal, the legendary Times editor who died last week, and his
publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, were denounced as treasonous in 1971 when
they defied the Nixon administration to publish the Pentagon Papers, the secret
government history of the Vietnam War. Today we know who the real traitors
were: the officials who squandered American blood and treasure on an ill-considered
war and then tried to cover up their lies and mistakes. It was precisely those
lies and mistakes, of course, that were laid bare by the thousands of pages of
classified Pentagon documents leaked to both The Times and The Washington Post.
This history is predictably
repeating itself now that the public has turned on the war in Iraq. The
administration's die-hard defenders are desperate to deflect blame for the
fiasco, and, guess what, the traitors once again are The Times and The Post.
This time the newspapers committed the crime of exposing warrantless spying on
Americans by the National Security Agency (The Times) and the C.I.A.'s secret
"black site" Eastern European prisons (The Post). Aping the Nixon
template, the current White House tried to stop both papers from publishing and
when that failed impugned their patriotism.’
Will The Real Traitors
Please Stand Up?
Ze French are funny.
What used to be known as "le Parvis de Notre-Dame" has been renamed by the Mayor of Paris, amongst protests of magnitude 9.2, "la Place du "Pope" Jean-Paul II"...
In a country where Church and State have been brooding at each other for more than a century, in a country that saw the birth of Jean Paul Sartre, the pope of existentialism, this is anathema of the greatest extreme...
Of course one can see that as the thin edge of religion infiltrating secular organisms, but more likely to be part of the globalisation of a religious fervour... towards fundamentalism of moving right, towards totalitarian sneaky governments...
See cartoon at top of this line of blogs...
Muslim anger grows at Pope speech
The Pope's comments came on a visit to Germany
A statement from the Vatican has failed to quell criticism of Pope Benedict XVI from Muslim leaders, after he made a speech about the concept of holy war.
Speaking in Germany, the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things.
Pakistan's parliament passed a resolution on Friday criticising the Pope for making "derogatory" comments.
The Vatican said the Pope had not intended to offend Muslims.
Gus: See cartoon at top of this line of blogs...
Pope has nothing to apologise for: Pell
The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney has backed the controversial speech Pope Benedict XVI made in Germany last week that linked Islam to violence.
The Pontiff has apologised saying he is deeply sorry about angering so many Muslims, and that the 14th Century passages that he referred to in no way reflect his views.
Some Muslim groups have accepted the apology.
Cardinal George Pell says the Pope did nothing wrong in making the speech.
"I think he's trying to move the dialogue on a bit so that we can agree without resorting to the use of weapons," he said.
"I think what he feared has been established and that is that if there is some sort of criticisms, even mild, there are elements among the Muslims who will resort to violence or threaten violence."
I thought the Pope fame to be was infallibility... And so soon after being "papalised", this Benedict has eggs on his face... Having to apologise for talking cheese is not bright and shows the Papal truth being no more than relative to human failures...
And our Pell adds to the fire...
From the new York Times
Vatican Excommunicates Zambian Archbishop
By IAN FISHER and CHRISTINE HAUSER
Published: September 26, 2006
ROME, Sept. 26 — The singular clerical career of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo — faith healer and exorcist, who returned to the church after marrying an acupuncturist in 2001 in a group wedding presided over by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon — appears to be over. The Vatican announced today that it had excommunicated Archbishop Milingo, 76, for an offense that the Catholic church, short of priests and under some pressure to loosen celibacy rules, takes seriously: Two days earlier, he installed four married men as bishops in Washington, in a breakaway Catholic sect.
Noting that the church has watched over Archbishop Milingo’s case with “vigilant patience,” a somewhat pained Vatican statement said that he had conducted himself with “irregularity and a progressively open rupture with the communion of the Church.”
The statement also said that church had waited with hope for his “reconsideration and his return to the full communion with the pope.
“Unfortunately these latest developments have cast away any such hopes,” it said.
Efforts to reach Archbishop Milingo were not immediately successful. Telephone messages left at the contact number on his Web site, www.archbishopmilingo.org, were not returned.
After his marriage to a Korean acupuncturist, Archbishop Milingo, who is from Zambia and who was once considered a rising star of the church in Africa, had lived for most of the last five years in a convent in Italy, returning to Zambia briefly after complaining of kidnapping threats.
But this summer, in the United States, he reunited with his wife, Maria Sung, then appeared at a news conference in Washington in July for the formation of a new group, Married Priests Now.
Gus: read more overthere...see cartoons above and at the top, etc... It's a hard life to be a pained patient Pope...
From Berlin opera drops Mohamed's severed head:
In the opera house's production of the Mozart work that was first shown
in 1871, the Cretan king, Idomeneo, holds up the severed heads of
Poseidon, Jesus, Buddah and Mohamed. When the production by the
director Hans Neuenfels was first shown in 2003, several religious
groups said that they were offended.
Yes, religious fanatics also rejecting "Finding Nemo" and "The Cat in the Hat"... not to mentioned "The Little Mermaid", the original version being very sensuous... to sell cruxifiction and christians to the lions...
From the metropolitan Opera...
THE CHARACTERS of the Cretan King
Ilia (soprano) – A Trojan princess held captive on the island of Crete. She has fallen in love with the Cretan king’s son, Idamante, but is torn between this love and love of her country.
Elettra (soprano) – A Greek princess, also in love with Idamante. She is jealous of Idamante’s feelings for Ilia, but believes that if she could only get him alone, she would make him fall in love with her.
Idomeneo (tenor) – King of the Greek island of Crete. During a storm at sea, he vows to Neptune that if his ship is spared, he will sacrifice the first person he meets on shore. He is heartbroken when the first person to greet him on shore is his son, Idamante.
Idamante (tenor/soprano) – Idomeneo’s son, who is in love with Ilia. Idamante does not understand why his father avoids him and is so emotionally distant. This role was originally written for a castrato, but nowadays is usually performed by a countertenor or soprano.
Arbace (tenor) – The king’s trusted advisor. Arbace serves both as a confidant of the king and as a messenger of news throughout the opera.
Now, who was the sea monster....?
Opera isn't one of my interests, but I understand it to be one of the high points in development of European culture. From Opera Canceled Over a Depiction of Muhammad:
The disputed scene is not part of Mozart’s opera, but was added by the
director, Hans Neuenfels. In it, the king of Crete, Idomeneo, carries
the heads of Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha and Poseidon on to the stage,
placing each on a stool.
I guess Neuenfels knows why he made that addition.
Listening to a re-play of Radio Eye - 22/10/2000: Greetings from White Australia, 1955 on ABC radio, another disembodied head came into discussion. It was the portrait of Jimmy Djungarrayi on the two dollar coin. The same image was on magazine covers, postcards, postage stamps and souvenir ceramics.
of Aboriginal souvenir ceramics in the 1950's was done by post-war
migrants. At Sydney's three main pottery studios, almost all the
workers were new to the country. Some of them were refugees, starting
life from scratch. Lilo Pakulski is in her late 60's, from
Augsburg in Germany. Lilo and her Polish husband Bill worked at almost
all the studios producing ceramics at the time. Most of the classic
Aboriginal designs you see on ceramics in 1950's kitsch shops belong to
Lilo. Lilo and Bill fled Europe after World War Two. By
marrying a Polish man, Lilo forfeited her German nationality, and so
they were both stateless. For the first few years here life was
difficult: they lived at Silver City, they made little money, and they
worked where Immigration told them to. They moved to Sydney in 1954 and
Lilo began working in the pottery studios, churning out ceramic
Two stateless refugees became integral parts of traditional Aussie culture. But Lilo, after 50 years, still spoke a kind of creole that would not have been out of place in the most remote indigenous community.
LA: what do Aboriginal people say when they see your work, have they ever talked to you about it? Lilo: Er, I haven't seen any Aboriginal people.
So, good luck to Andrew Robb as he tries to weave a cloth that is uniformly and uniquely Australian, from the remnants of indigenous culture, post-war refugees, invisible mohammedans and all the rest. And good luck to that tiny fringe of transplanted post-modernist enlightenment on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean. It's just as well Neptune's sea-monster is patrolling just off Tel Aviv. But the gods have their demands, so expect more heads on platters.
In Communication threatening Aboriginal health it's suggested
That's a good idea, because it would require having the interpreters educated to be fluent in a basic level of English language. That may not be what was meant ....?
In Munich, Opera With Muhammad Role Gains Support:
With all the issues dividing Muslims and Germans, there was one point
on which all 30 participants in a landmark Islamic conference agreed
here today, its German organizer said. They would like to see the Deutsche Oper of Berlin reinstate the Mozart opera it canceled earlier this week for fear that the production —
which features a scene with the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad —
would offend Muslims and put the opera house at risk.
Excellent! Several centuries ahead of Pope Benny.
Kenneth Davidson notes, in Politicians skew the citizenship debate:
A more fruitful discussion should focus on the institutions that
reflect and reinforce the values to which we subscribe,
institutions that we undermine to our collective peril.
Please include the arts, and shared cultural narratives, next time, Ken.
Newsweek Scraps "Losing Afghanistan" Cover Story For American Edition...Off to the newsagent ...
Pope considers allowing use of condomsROME: Pope Benedict is considering whether to allow Catholics to [http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/pope-considers-allowing-use-of-condoms/2006/11/22/1163871487477.html|wear a condom] to protect themselves from AIDS, Vatican experts said yesterday.At the request of the Pope, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has submitted a 200-page study on Pastoral Aspects of the Treatment of Infectious Diseases.
Gus: see cartoon at head of this line of blog....
US cuts funding for condoms in Marie Stopes' African clinics * Sarah Boseley, health editor * The Guardian, * Saturday October 4 2008The US government is cutting its funding for the supply of contraceptives to family planning clinics run by Marie Stopes International in Africa, alleging that it condones forced abortions in China.MSI has categorically denied that it supports forced abortions or coercive sterilisation in China or anywhere else in the world, and says that the actions of the Bush government will result in more abortions in Africa, as women will be unable to get contraceptives and will end up with unwanted pregnancies.One of George Bush's first acts after becoming president was to stop all US funds to foreign organisations that helped women in any way to get an abortion, including providing advice. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) lost $34m that Congress had appropriated for it in 2002.In a letter to Dana Hovig, chief executive officer of MSI, based in London, the assistant administrator for global health at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Kent Hill, noted that MSI did not currently receive any funds from the US government.
see toon at top...
From the letters in the Sydney Morning Herald (16/10/08)I am not religious. I don't attend places of worship but I listen to Radio National's Religion Report every week. It is everything that one would expect from our ABC: informative and unbiased coverage of an important aspect of Australian life that perhaps is less than properly covered in other media.For the likes of me it is almost the only window into the more important developments in the spiritual world, and thus I was outraged to learn it is up for the chop.Surely the production of this sort of program is the very reason that Radio National exists? If not, why am I coughing up eight cents a day for more of the same popular dross that is more than adequately covered elsewhere?John Tuckfield Abbotsford--------------------Gus: Ditto... And I am a rabid dedicated atheist... But I still get a good insight on how other people think by listening to a show like the Religion Report (not religiously, but often enough)... And axing the Media Report as well? Bugger!!! We'll have to blog with renewed vigor on these subjects!!!!Some programs to bite the dust : Religion Report, Media Report, Sports Factor, The Ark, Perspective and In Conversation...
I heard that these shows, from a long established solid programming list, were axed to divert funds from the "oldies" to the "Yoof" — as the esteemed Helen Razer calls the latest underaged silly generations... The other esteemed Shelley Gare calls the older yoof, some of it dangerously in position of power, "airheads"... So, may the management at the ABC see its BIG stupid mistake. Trying to woo the young people and airheads by ignoring the thinking people, "oldies" or "yoofies", may sound cool but quite idiotic if you ask me. From the ABC news:"Decisions to wind up programs are never easy as all of the network's shows are made with passion and care and each have their devoted following," Dr Connors said."The move of resources and staff and without job losses into the development of new content offered in new ways, including online, means ABC Radio National can respond to its hugely successful digital growth and shift in audience trends, especially amongst younger audiences."'Death of religion'As part of today's Religion Report, presenter Steven Crittenden criticised the decision."The ABC specialist units have been under attack for years but the decapitation of the flagship program of the religion department effectively spells the death of religion at the ABC," he said."That such a decision has been taken in an era when religion vies with economics as a determinant of everything that is going on in the world it almost beggars belief, but you have to remember that just a couple of years ago they axed the Environment program."
from the SMH
Supporters of radio presenter Stephen Crittenden, who has been stood down as the host of Radio National's The Religion Report, have accused ABC management of seeking to suppress religious and cultural debate at the national broadcaster.
Mind you, the SMH should be shamed for having sacked Mike Carlton for supporting the Journos in their last strike...
Boy isn't this world totally screwed? Throw more money at the ABC, Mr Rudd!!!... For the oldies! Yes, for the continuum of educated culture, not just that on skateboards!!!!
see totally irrelevant toon at top, just for fun...
Robert Fisk’s World: Examine the Pope's words, and there's only one thing to concludeBenedict will demean other religions to prove Christianity’s ‘superiority’Saturday, 28 February 2009So it's all the fault of the Pope's satraps. "Vatican advisers blamed for Pope's woes," I was informed by one headline. "A self-imposed cone (sic) of silence surrounds Benedict." And now poor old Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, the solitary German who found himself manning an anti-aircraft gun at the end of the Second World War ("briefly" and "unwillingly", I know) has had some "harsh words" for his advisers because – according to the Vatican – he "had no idea of Bishop Williamson's views before lifting an excommunication order against him last month".Williamson, I should add, is the disgusting British-born prelate of the Society of Saint Pius X who has said that "not a single Jew died in a gas chamber" in the Second World War. This Cambridge-educated priest says he is prepared to "re-examine" the historical evidence of the Holocaust – but, needless to say, declines to visit Auschwitz. Unsurprisingly, the Vatican has rejected Williamson's mealy-mouthed apology to those who suffered "injustice" at Nazi hands.Now a lot of folk will go along with the line that the Holy Father is so stupid – so utterly out of touch with Planet Earth and all its Catholic children, so "cut off from the real world" (here I quote a Vatican "insider") – that he has no idea how disastrously his actions are received. Hmmm. Well, I wonder.For was this not the same Pope who actually visited Auschwitz and – to the understandable outrage of Jewish dignitaries who were present – blamed a Nazi "gang" for the Jewish Holocaust? Before this infallible pronouncement, an awful lot of people thought that the Nazi German nation was to blame for Auschwitz, but old Joseph apparently thought it was a mafia clique in Berlin that murdered six million European Jews. And – here we go again – was this not the same ex-Cardinal Ratzinger (anti-divorce, anti-gay and anti-aircraft, as I always remind myself) who delivered a lecture at Regensburg in 2006 in which he quoted from a Byzantine text which characterised the Prophet Mohamed as evil and inhuman?
Read more of Robert Fisk at The Independent and see toon at top, just for fun...
From the SMH
Libelled with love: the fight continues
What sort of reputation does your religion have? It's Easter, so it's an appropriate moment to ask - assuming you've got a religion.
The issue is scheduled for a good airing in Geneva in a week's time at a conference known as Durban II, a follow-up to an international chin-wag held in South Africa in 2001 with the disciplined title of World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
"Defamation of religion" is the hot topic for this get-together. The body responsible for preparing the conference and for the "outcome document" is the UN Human Rights Council, which is chaired by Libya. Last month the council adopted a resolution proposed by Pakistan. The preamble said that "defamation of religions … could lead to social disharmony and violations of human rights".
My very own favourite development came the other day in London. The Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, who recently bought the newspaper The Evening Standard, says he plans to sue Forbes magazine for understating his wealth in its Rich List. Lebedev said, "I will demand compensation of material and moral damage".
Moral defamation, a whole new game. It just goes to show that there are libels lurking everywhere.
See toon at top... and blog above... and read the beginning of the uprising...and this one whingealot, too...
Climate change is causing a breed of wild sheep in Scotland to shrink, according to research.
Scientists say milder winters help smaller sheep to survive, resulting in this "paradoxical decrease in size".
Classic evolutionary theory would predict that wild sheep gradually get bigger, as the stronger, larger animals survive into adulthood and reproduce.
Reporting in Science journal, the team says this shows the "subtle interplay" between evolution and the environment.
Of course the sheep could have sinned or became the prodigal mutton. see toon at top.
'Yup. People ask - do you mean religion poisons aerobic dancing? Chess? Tantric sex? And I say yes - it does. Religion attacks us in our deepest integrity by saying we wouldn't be able to make a moral decision without it, and that a supernatural dictatorship is our only hope. That makes us all into serfs. And chess and Tantric sex and Chinese food are pointless if you must enjoy them as a serf.''
see toon at top ... and read more godless ramble by Gus all over this site including this one.
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI has created a new church structure for Anglicans who want to join the Catholic Church, responding to the disillusionment of some Anglicans over the ordination of women and the election of openly gay bishops.
The new provision will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining their Anglican identity and many of their liturgical traditions, Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican's chief doctrinal official, told a news conference.
The new church structure, called Personal Ordinariates, will be units of faithful within the local Catholic Church headed by former Anglican prelates who will provide spiritual care for Anglicans who wish to become Catholic.
Smart proselytising move... See toon at top
See also toon at top...
and here: http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/7695
and there: http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/4960
and overthere: http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/7835
Pope Benedict XVI has said the use of condoms is acceptable "in certain cases", according to a new book.
He said condoms could reduce the risk of infection with HIV, such as for a prostitute, in a series of interviews he gave to a German journalist.
The Vatican newspaper ran excerpts on Saturday.
The comments appear to soften the Roman Catholic Church's hardline stance, which until now had banned the use of any form of contraception.
When asked whether the Catholic Church is "fundamentally against the use of condoms", the Pope is said to have replied, in the book entitled Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times:
"It of course does not see it as a real and moral solution.
"In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality," he said.
see toon at top
The Vatican has played down the importance of Pope Benedict's remarks appearing to temper the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to condoms.
The Vatican spokesman said the pontiff's comments were not "revolutionary", but added it was the first time Pope Benedict had commented on the issue informally.
The Pope made clear in his view condoms were no answer to the Aids pandemic.
But he said their use could sometimes be justified in exceptional cases.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said the Pope was speaking about "an exceptional situation" in one of the interviews in the book Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times, which is being published on Tuesday.
see toon at top...
The Vatican has clarified recent comments by Pope Benedict XVI on condoms, saying he did not mean they could be used to avoid pregnancy.
The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith said some analysts had misunderstood the remarks, made by the Pope in recently published interviews.
He said condoms could reduce the risk of HIV infection in certain cases, such as for a male prostitute.
The interviews were published in a book entitled Light of the World.
After several years of scandal in which the Catholic Church has faced allegations of financial impropriety, paedophile priests and rumours of plots to kill the Pope, the Vatican is now facing a new €600m-a-year tax bill as Rome seeks to head off European Commission censure over controversial property tax breaks enjoyed by the Church.
As the EC heads closer to officially condemning the fiscal perks enjoyed by the Catholic Church and introduced by the Berlusconi administration, Prime Minister Mario Monti has written to the Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, saying that the Vatican will resume property tax, or Ici, payments.
The Pope has accepted the resignation of an Argentine bishop after the publication of pictures showing him embracing a woman on a Mexican beach.
Bishop Fernando Bargallo, 57, was photographed in the sea, hugging a woman in a bikini.
He initially said she was a childhood friend, but later admitted to having had "amorous ties" with her.
Bishop Bargallo was in charge of the diocese of Merlo-Moreno, in the province of Buenos Aires.
The scandal broke last week, when an Argentine television station broadcast pictures of Monsignor Bargallo on holiday at a beach resort in Mexico in the company of a woman.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has pulled out of a speech at the Australian Christian Lobby's national conference, after its head compared the health effects of smoking to homosexuality.
Ms Gillard said the group's managing director Jim Wallace's comments were "heartless and wrong" and said it would be "inappropriate" for her to attend the conference next month.
Mr Wallace made the remarks in Tasmania yesterday during a debate with Greens leader Christine Milne on the merits of same-sex marriage, although this morning he has accused "gay activists" of misrepresenting his comments.
"I was not comparing homosexuality with smoking at all," Mr Wallace said in a statement.
"What I was saying is that on one hand we are vocal on our discouragement of people to smoke and on the other we are suppressing public dialogue about the health risks associated with homosexuality.
he Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) says the prime minister's decision to pull out of a speaking engagement to the group's supporters will be seen as an "abandonment of the Christian constituency".
Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday withdrew from speaking at the ACL conference in Canberra on October 5 and 6, citing "offensive" comments about homosexuality made by its leader Jim Wallace, who compared smoking to same-sex marriage.
Ms Gillard, an atheist, was due to address the conference on religious freedom in a secular democracy and said the organisation was entitled to its views.
"To compare the health effects of smoking cigarettes with the many struggles gay and lesbian Australians endure in contemporary society is heartless and wrong," Ms Gillard said in a statement on Thursday.
"In light of this, I believe my attendance at the conference would be inappropriate."
She urged people to use respectful language when participating in the public debate on gay marriage.
let us spray... see toon at top...
Very very funny... One needs to listen to Father Maguire explain about the Pope resigning his post... If by the end of the day Father Maguire is not elevated to Pope Bob the first himself, he could be excommunicated (if he has not been already) for telling it straight about "Occupy Vatican"...
See toon at top...
Pope Benedict used last night's Ash Wednesday mass to deliver a withering and extraordinary blast at the warring factions in the Vatican's upper-echelons, whose power struggles many believe influenced the Pontiff's historic decision to stand down.
Earlier on Wednesday, during the general audience, the Pontiff had alluded to the need for church figures to avoid the temptations of power and privilege.
But yesterday evening his warning was clearer. “We must reflect on how the face of the Church is marred by sins against unity and division of the ecclesiastical body. We must overcome individualism and rivalry,” he told great and the good of the curia assembled in St Peter’s Basilica. “The true disciple does not serve himself or the public, but the Lord.
“Many are ready to get on their high horse over scandals and injustices – obviously committed by others – but few seem able to act according to the real wishes of their own hearts and consciences.”
Pundit Gerard O’Connell of the Vatican Insider said: “This was a very, very, clear and strongly worded speech. It was an appeal for an end to the personal rivalries and of people competing to put themselves in high profile positions. I think Benedict is passing messages to the cardinals and to those who will succeed him.”
This morning a Portuguese cardinal was reported in La Stampa newspaper as saying the scandal and the presumed power struggles in the Holy See thought by many to lie behind Vatileaks, maybe have influenced Benedict’s decision to quit.
Speaking after the audience, Vatican expert Gerard O’Connell who writes for La Stampa’s Vatican Insider, noted: “The Vatileaks affair was a very personal blow to him. There are unanswered questions about it.” He said the unpublished report on the scandal, which Benedict was privy to, may have further upset the pontiff revealing, as many have speculated, a wider conspiracy against him.
But the coming change – an official and existential one – is not in doubt. At 8pm on Thursday 28th of February, Pope Benedict will cease to be infallible. At 5pm that afternoon he will finish his day’s work at the Vatican and fly by helicopter to the Papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome. Holy See spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said today that the final couple of hours will be “normal, calm; he’ll have dinner. It will be a simple evening, I think.”
But the curious transformation described by Catholic doctrine has continued to perplex and intrigue the press and public. And his historic decision to quit, despite winning praise from many church figures, continues to raise more questions than answers.
Vatican City — Guests at the going-away party for Carlo Maria Viganò couldn’t understand why the archbishop looked so forlorn. Pope Benedict XVI had appointed Viganò ambassador to the United States, a plum post where he would settle into a stately mansion on Massachusetts Avenue, across the street from the vice president’s residence.
“He went through the ordeal making it very clear he was unhappy with it,” said one former ambassador to the Vatican, who attended the Vatican Gardens ceremony in the late summer of 2011. “And we just couldn’t figure out, us outsiders and non-Italians, what was going on.”
read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/pope-benedict-xvis-leaked-documents-show-fractured-vatican-full-of-rivalries/2013/02/16/23ce0280-76c2-11e2-8f84-3e4b513b1a13_story.html?hpid=z1
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