Category Archives: Catholicism

The Vatican has lost any possible claim of a right to secrecy.

In a recent article from USA Today, we learn that:

Pope Francis overhauled the laws that govern the Vatican City state on [July 11], criminalizing leaks of Vatican information and specifically listing sexual violence, prostitution and possession of child pornography as crimes against children that can be punished by up to 12 years in prison.

… Many of the new provisions were necessary to bring the city state’s legal system up to date after the Holy See signed international treaties, such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. [This was signed into international law nearly 23 years ago, and two sets of further optional protocols have since been added, one of which explicitly deals with the sexual exploitation of children.]

… Anyone who reveals or receives confidential information or documentation risks six months to two years in prison and a €2,000 euro ($2,500) fine; the penalty goes up to eight years in prison if the material concerns the “fundamental interests” of the Holy See or its diplomatic relations with other countries.

…[The ]crime of leaking Vatican information never existed before in the Vatican legal system.

I know they say they’re criminalizing child sex abuse, child pornography, and so on. But here’s the deal: these laws only cover the Vatican, which is a miniscule nation. It’d be nothing more than a tin-pot dictatorship, if people didn’t think that this cloister of geriatric celibates had a direct psychic hotline to the omnipotent creator of the universe. And while their legislation has laughably small power, their attempt to ban the leaking of information of interest to the Vatican has a much more wide-reaching impact.

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There’s no such thing as a memory hole.

Father Dwight Longenecker, a Catholic priest, wrote a rather ridiculous screed against atheists on his blog. When atheists began to respond to him and challenge his bigotry, he deleted the post and replaced it with another one where he threw a whiny tantrum about how the atheist trolls were being mean to him. When people continued to challenge him, he deleted that post as well, hoping it would all fade away.

Well, it won’t. This is the internet.

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Give them the exemptions–it will backfire.

The New York state Senate is currently mulling over a bill to legalize gay marriage in New York, finally bringing marriage equality to one of the most famously liberal states in America. There’s just one little nit to pick first: religious groups, like the Catholic church, are insisting that lawmakers write exemptions into the law allowing them to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.

I say we should give them what they want.

Despite the stereotype of hard-core conservative Catholicism, recent polling shows that as many as 43% of American Catholics support the rights of same-sex couples to marry, with another 31% supporting civil unions that are equal in all but name. Imagine nearly half of the Catholic population suddenly being legally at odds with their own church. This organization that they’ve made such a central part of their identity suddenly becomes a caricature of itself, sticking dogmatically to old, hateful moral ideas they’ve long since discarded.

And it’s not just the Catholics. Part of what keeps people in organized religions is the idea that they’re a part of some great force of moral authority. Hundreds of thousands of liberal Christians officially ally themselves with anti-gay groups without even recognizing it. But when a gay Christian couple approaches their church to ask them to perform a marriage ceremony, only to find themselves tossed aside as immoral garbage because of the bigoted teachings of the larger church, they’ll become disillusioned with the body of the church and may start to question the claims of authority it makes on other issues.

So as I said before, let the bigoted religious groups refuse to perform marriage ceremonies. It’ll be a good way to sort out the hateful fools from the more reasonable folks, and it’ll push people to leave organized religions and thus force church officials to come to grips with just how out of touch they are with the rest of humanity.

Weekend Ruminations #2

Continuing the weekly tradition of random tidbits of atheist/skeptical thinking…


Pope John Paul II has been beatified and is on the way to sainthood. Sex abuse scandals be damned; the guy supposedly healed a nun of Parkinson’s disease (even though she was never officially diagnosed with anything)! Sounds to me like the sainthood standards are pretty low…


Despite popular misconceptions, atheists really aren’t all that bad. Says the atheist: duh. Says the evangelical Christian: it doesn’t matter how good they are – they’re still not saved, so to hell with them (literally). It’s a great article, but I don’t expect it to change any minds.


When I told one of my Catholic coworkers that I’d had my Easter dinner at a Chinese buffet, she (jokingly) said it sounded like I was basically Jewish. (She knows I’m an atheist.) I wondered for a while if this would actually bother someone who is Jewish; among the Jewish people I do know, it’s a pretty common tradition to spend Christian holidays when everything is shut down at Chinese restaurants (which tend not to close).