Catholics tackle the abortion issue

Roman Catholics form a large proportion of voters in the United States, around 25 per cent.  They’ve seldom been considered a particularly monolithic voting block, however.  A report in the Washington Post on October 8, 2008, highlights a new poll that examines the attitudes of older and younger Catholics to traditional Catholic hot buttons associated with the so-called “culture wars”,

The teaching of the Roman Catholic church on contraception and abortion is particularly draconian: they are both forbidden, and in this election the American church hierarchy has gone out of its way to discourage any Catholic from voting Democrat because of the Democrat “pro-choice” policies on abortion.

But attitudes towards abortion in the Catholic church are changing, if the opinions of younger Catholics in a poll from Public Religion Research is correct.  Half of all Catholics disagree with their church and say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.  In younger Catholics (18-34) this rises to 60 per cent.

This comes at a time when, according to a report released by Pew Forums, most Americans are becoming wary of church involvement in politics.

Another factor of interest is the recent intellectual dissent within conservative Catholicism itself, when Douglas Kmiec, a well respected conservative legal scholar, endorsed Obama for the Presidency. Elsewhere, Kmiec argues that the battle to ban abortion has been lost, but Obama’s health policies will lead to a reduction in abortions. This hasn’t made him popular with the Catholic clergy, but there is clear evidence that the laity have become practised at such nuanced judgements for some time, despite the single-issue exhortations of the bishops.

Away from the soundbites and the headlines and the simplistic “child-murder” slogans of the anti-abortionist core, Catholics continue to exercise their judgement in balancing issues of faith with more practical matters of how the world’s most powerful republic is to be governed.  Each new generation is more liberal than the last.

New Ecuador constitution may open another chink in anti-abortion South America

Associated Press reports that a vote on the new constitution has passed by a strong margin in the South American republic of Ecuador, despite opposition from the Roman Catholic church.  While the constitution defines life as beginning from conception, it contains wording that opens up very wide chinks in Catholic traditionalism.  The family is recognized  “in its diverse types” and the new constitution guarantees “the right to freely make responsible and informed decisions about one’s health and reproductive life.”

Yes, it has opened the door to abortion and same-sex marriage a little wider.

About bloody time too.

Beyond belief: up to 5 years for a joke about the Pope

No, it isn’t some lunatic fantasy of some depraved Catholic, it’s the reality of Italian law.

In 1929 the fascist leader of Italy, Benito Mussolini, signed the Lateran Treaty, part of which provided that an insult to the Pope carries the same penalty as an insult to the Italian President.  Bizarrely, insulting the President in Italy carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

In 2008, famous satirist Sabina Guzzanti told a political rally that within 20 years Italian teachers would be vetted and chosen by the Vatican. “But then,” she joked, “within twenty years the Pope will be where he ought to be, in Hell, tormented by great big poofter devils — and very active ones, not passive ones.”

Not very funny, but hardly heinous.  The deranged prosecutor of Rome disagreed and asked the Justice Ministry for permission to prosecute Ms Guzzanti for ” offending the honour of the sacred and inviolable person”of the Pope.

The Justice Ministry showed some sanity by refusing permission: “I decided not to authorise it, knowing well the stature and capacity of the Pope for forgiveness.”  Or perhaps because he realized what an insufferable twat the prosecutor was being.

Shame really, it could have been fun.  They really should repeal those hideous and stupid laws, though.

Fatwa envy and Clemens Bittlinger. Police called.

Harry de Quetteville reports that Clemens Bittlinger has become yet another target of fatwa envy.

The German protestant pastor has been performing his songs for 25 years.  Recently he put a song on Youtube, Oh man, Benedikt, a walk with the Pope, and he has been receiving hate mail that has attracted the interest of the police.

The song is particularly critical of Pope Benedict’s attitude to contraception: “Why do you revile other Christians?…Why are you openly looking for a fight, saying: Yours is not a church…. You ban condoms, even for the poor of this world. So you encourage the spread of AIDS even if you do not like it. Meanwhile you abandon limbo for babies who haven’t been baptised. Did you seriously believe that the Lord had something like that in the first place?”

He has received communications that are, Harry says, being investigated by the police.

Fatwa envy makes a particularly ugly appearance:“When a newspaper prints a Mohammed cartoon, entire cities burn. But when the Holy Father is ridiculed in blasphemy, we are supposed to just accept that? No, not like that Mr. Bittlinger – you will surely receive the justice you deserve.”

As Harry puts it: “while the vast majority of Christians condemned the outpourings of violence after the Mohammed cartoon polemic, some found such determination to respond to perceived offence something to admire.”

“Sex in confessionals” book angers religious kooks

“101 Places To Have Sex Before You Die” is a humorous catalog of unusual places in which to have sex, with facetious comments about the prognosis, advantages, and drawbacks of each.  One of its suggestions has unsurprisingly angered some people whose chosen occupation these days is to express anger.

Yes, it’s Bill Donohue again.  How did you guess?  Bill is thundering against the thing: “The kind of people who would have sex in the confessional would also have sex in a graveyard. And I don’t mean with each other,” he told the New York Post.  A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New York said “This is sick stuff and the authors and the book publishers should be ashamed of themselves…Let’s hope the reaction from people is… strong.”

Thanks to both for letting us all know about this–previously unheard-of–booklet.  Who knows what damage might have been caused had it remained in obscurity.

Apparently the times to avoid are Sundays and church feast days, when parishioners are likely to want to use the church for other purposes.  The book lists drawbacks as “splinters, ex-communication, Peeping (Father) Tom.”  Kudos goes to NEWS.com.au, who ran the story under the headline “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

In 2002, Simon & Schuster, the publisher’s sister company Viacom was fined $357,000 for an ad for a radio station that showed a couple having sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The book is due to be published in Britain in early November, just in time for Christmas.

Pope didn’t tell frog to hop it after all

ArtInfo reports that contrary to many reports in the global press last week, the Pope has not anathematized Kermit. (See Crucified cartoon frog angers Pope).

Apparently the person who wrote the letter brandished by Franz Pahl, the hunger-striking Bolzano politician, isn’t the Pope.  He’s the Vatican State Secretary.  That’s just fine.  100 words per minute and a Masters degree in spotting blasphemy, but no tiara.

Nancy Pelosi is right on the history of Catholic thinking on when human life begins

There’s a lot of rewriting of history going on.  Nancy Pelosi isn’t the one doing it.

Continue reading

Mexico: supreme court upholds abortion law

In a victory for women’s rights in Mexico on Thursday, the country’s Supreme Court upheld a Mexico City law permitting first trimester abortions in the city (Los Angeles Times).  Outside the city, abortion remains illegal except in rare cases such as rape and incest.  Abortion campaigners have declared this a landmark victory.  Maria Consuelo Mejia, leader of a Catholic group that campaigns for abortion rights describes it as “historic, with a huge impact on women’s rights, not only in Mexico but throughout Latin America.”  The court ruled 8-3 in favor of the law. In order to have it declared unconstitutional, the opponents needed at least 8 court justices to rule against it.

According to city officials, more than 12,600 women have had abortions since the law was approved in April, 2007.  They cite a drop in the number of women who have died in abortions as a vindication of the new law. Abortion was previously widely available but illegal.  Under the law, Mexico City provides free abortions to women up to the end of the twelfth week of pregnancy.

The New York Times says that in all of Latin America, Cuba is the only other place where unrestricted abortions are allowed in the first 12 weeks (article).

Crucified cartoon frog angers Pope, President in hospital. Jesus still dead.

It’s that Crazy Frog again! Continue reading