A Future of Catholic Reform?

 

Pope Francis, since his election in March of 2013, has been heralded by major news outlets as progressive and open minded. Pope Francis looks to be a Pope of firsts, being the first elected Pontiff from the Americas, the first Jesuit Pope, and the first non-European Pope in over 1200 years.

On Monday morning, in a press release Pope Francis announced major revisions to the Vatican bureaucracy. These reforms, coming in the wake over scandals involving the Vatican Bank, are the largest reforms to happen to the Vatican in over 25 years, since Pope John Paul II issued the apostolic constitution in 1988. The intent of these overhauls are to increase transparency in the institution by setting up a powerful economy council headed by the new Secretariat for the Economy position, a role filled by the Australian Cardinal George Pell.

The Vatican’s Istituto per le Opere di Religione (Institute for the Works of Religion, abbreviated IOR), commonly referred to as the Vatican Bank, has been under scrutiny for several years for a scandal relating to money laundering. Since 2009, the Bank has had an ongoing investigation of multiple cases of money laundering, involving several members of the Bank including Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the ex-president of the IOR.

The new Economy Council, headed by the new Economics Secretariat Cardinal George Pell, consists of 8 Cardinals from numerous nations around the world and 7 economic experts. This council is appointed control all economic, personal procurement and administrative functions of the Holy See, tasked with the goal to improve transparency and consolidate existing management structures.

The news of this reform comes two days after the appointment of 19 new Cardinals by Pope Francis. Many of these Cardinals, 16 of which are under the age of 80 (permitting them to vote in the Papal Conclave), come from the developing world.

I think that this type of reform that is being initiated by Pope Francis is crucial to the Church at this time. After the numerous political scandals involving the Vatican Bank, Child Abuse and exposed internal corruption, the Church appears to be suffering from significant internal issues. The Church also has a public image issue. A common problem plaguing the Holy See is the lack of appeal to modern audiences, specifically youth. Its doctrine often seems out of touch with the common issues that many of its followers have day to day, from economic issues in first world counties to the rapid change of lifestyles in developing nations. Pope Francis has been praised by media for his seemingly down to earth rhetoric, his moderate view can hopefully realign official catholic doctrine to a more personal, meaningful message to the Church’s billion followers.

Article: http://wapo.st/1ds7Zdh

State-sanctioned discrimination

 

 

Through the United-states constitutional rights, citizens are entitled to their own religious freedom. That being said, everyone is able to receive service from any business as long as they meet the requirements for service. This article nevertheless goes against certain individual freedom rights given to every citizen in Arizona. I believe that the Arizona bill is upright disrespectable to various citizen within the state. Even if your religion forbids one of same-sex relationship, it should not follow through the services offered. The business is meant to offer benefits for both sides but to refuse others based on their sexual preference is irrational.

 

Everyone of every religion despite his or her sexual orientation should not let themselves become a victim or witness to such scandal. I believe that essentially this discrimination will only in effect reduce stability within the state itself. I believe that even though religion is an important aspect to many in their way of life, religion itself should not be allowed to affect others who do not believe in it. In what way would it be fair to be discriminated against for something just because your religion does not abide by someone else’s decision?  Should people with tattoos or plastic surgery also not be approved of certain services just because your religion is against it?  Should a Sikh business owner not provide service to everyone just because they cut their hair and it’s against their religion?

 

I believe that as religion becomes a set of beliefs and rituals, which one abides to within their lifestyle it does not necessarily have to extend to the involvement of others. In addition, its absurd to think that services such medical treatment can be denied. This issue can be a matter of life and death and a conflict of religion belief should not be able to interfere with it. A matter of such caliber should be able to bypass conflicts such as these to a certain extent.  

 

The Republicans say that this bill was put in order for religion freedom rather than discrimination but I believe it will only generate more conflicts.  I believe that nothing good can possibly come out of it; United-states are only bound to have an increase in the amount of discriminations within the country. Religion should not the cause of such conflicts among citizens but instead clear the spiritual path for those in who believe in it.

 

Shorten url: bit.ly/1gUchig

Religious Persecution and Oppression

Can you imagine through torture and turmoil, persecution and hate crimes, holding on tightly to your own beliefs with a heart full of rapture and love? Every day, across the globe, this is what people of numerous religions have to face. Christians, Muslims, Baha’is, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists – name a religion and you can likely assume that at one point its followers have been persecuted, or will be. One might even claim that this is a component of being a religious follower. When we observe these individuals we become aware of their reality, and see the strength that they have in their beliefs; we see that the persecution and torture they face often makes them firmer in their beliefs. It is astounding what humans can endure when their faith is tested. We expect these people to fall, to collapse under the pressure of their lives when all that they have is taken away, but instead we see an incredible response of strength illuminating from them.

 

There are many directions that this discussion could take. Should I discuss the persecution of religious believers by governments, or the uproar this causes in neighbours and friends of believers? Or perhaps I should discuss how this does not merely happen in non-democratic nations, how it happens right here in Canada and in the United States. Perhaps the best route to take is to discuss the common theme that runs throughout this entire issue: that the human race will not stand for this or any kind of persecution based on beliefs.

 

In one article from the Huffington Post http://huff.to/1f9gCsY Anthony Vance discusses how the religious minority of Baha’i’s in Iran have been persecuted since the birth of their religion and are still, to this day, being persecuted, simply because they are part of a religion that arose after Islam. They are restricted from pursuing any form of higher education, prohibited from working in many types of businesses, some are threatened and attacked on the street, and many are imprisoned with little explanation from the government. Vance discusses in this article, that the global community is becoming much more aware of this issue and as a result have responded with overwhelming intolerance to the persecution and support for the Baha’i’s and have, in fact, requested a call for action from the government of Iran.

 

In another article from the Huffington Post http://huff.to/MO4OGw Imam Muhammad Musri speaks out against the actions of many followers of his own Muslim faith, in order to stand up for those individuals of many different religions, who are being persecuted. He states that a large number of Muslims, in fact, disagree with this kind of harmful oppression. Once again we see that the global community will not stand for these kinds of injustices. Even if it requires speaking out against believers of one’s own religion, for the sake of justice and protection, friends and strangers, will stand up to fight religious persecution and injustice.

 

– AE #205

“We study the past to understand the present; we understand the present to guide the future.” — William Lund

 

Many base their numerous every day tasks on this concept presented by William Lund. We can only analyze the previous events that have occurred and hope to understand it. There is no absolute, stable, or certain method of predicting the future; not even the weather (especially in Calgary). Hypotheses predict affairs based on assumptions made by those with enough evidence from the past to simply estimate. Everything we know and are is based on transpired matters. So why do we think that religious history is insignificant? It seems trivial to confidently state religion is simply fading into the background. As far a religious history goes (practically time immemorial), religion and spirituality will always be a part of the human essence. Christian adherents, although the leading religion, are dropping. Reginald Bibby, a renowned religious scholar, concludes the upkeep of religion must be obtained through family focused activities. Today’s youth is becoming more and more disinterested by the traditions their preceding generations found mandatory and worthwhile. Church, as a standard example and classical in the sense of Roman Catholics, has become a dreary service. During which the younger generations revolutionize society, technology and all other aspects of ones life, we sit back and hold that religion is absolute, through an hour that has grown increasingly valuable to all. My greatest concern is, what is the issue of interpreting religion as the era sees fit? Martin Luther restored the bible to explain what he conceived to be the purest information possible from bible, creating a rejuvenated form of catholicism. Why not? Nobody needs to re-write sacred texts, or even adhere to them, to feel correct in their religion. This is the generation of change and individuality! Feeble attempts such as televised services have been tried. It is prevalent that religion no longer excites people. As Irving Hexham declared while explaining the purpose of yet another religious textbook, there may not be a satisfying product on the market, nobody is excited about it, and there is no new way of presenting the material. I find this analogy with the textbook and actual religion extremely helpful in exploring this topic. People need a fresh way of understanding the “higher power” that is omnipresent in their lives. A new divinity, scripture, or religion all together is not necessary, as many new movements have attempted; simply a new way to make it their own on a level of individuality. Maybe the new religion is “spirituality”. People are still looking for a purpose, a meaning of life, which can rarely be satisfied by a secular life. By learning and appreciating the past, specifically that religion cannot be absolute, religion can evolve as other domains have.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/rise-in-new-city-churches-bucks-secular-trend-1.2486024

With the events that have been laid out recently in Denmark the ministry of agriculture has declared “animal welfare takes precedence over religion,” outraged many members of the Jewish and Muslim community in Denmark. As stated in the article there was “immediate accusations of anti-Semitism and Islam-phobia from Jews and Muslims,” which is not hard to believe when the Halal and Shechita religious slaughter of these animals hardly meets the cruelty faced in many factory farmed animals in Denmark.

The issue here is that European law states that the only legal and humane way to kill these animals is if they are stunned before having their throats slit, whereas when an animal is sacrificed for religious rites the animal is required to be alive, fully healthy, and most importantly conscious. After hundreds, if not thousands, of years of Jews and Muslims performing this ritual act they have mastered the skill of killing the animal while preventing its suffering, however the agricultural ministry sees this act as inhumane due to the fact the animal has not been stunned.

The major argument surrounding this new law is the fact that the factory livestock which lives out its days in cramped concrete cells, being force fed, and ruthlessly stunned and killed for consumption is being compared to the Halal and Shechita slaughters which the animals are generally given a better overall life, even though the last minutes of their existence they are not stunned before having their throats slit. However, even though the practice has been banned in Denmark, Muslims and Jews are still able to order more kosher meats from other areas, which is slightly ironic.

When it comes down to it, this new law has ironic tendencies, such as the mass murdering of livestock for public consumption rather than the ritual killing for religious practices which, realistically, are done in a more humane fashion when looking at the overall quality of life for the animals. The second issue with this new law is that it does create an issue with religious freedom and has a lingering effect of antisemitism and Islam-phoibia which in turn will only create a greater hostility among these religious groups and others.

Who is to say that Halal and Shechita slaughter is worse than factory killings and create a ban on these religious acts? Apparently Denmark’s ministry of agriculture, but, who is to say that his decision to outlaw these practices because of their inhumanity is right when the factory killing of livestock for mass consumption is in itself just as inhumane.

http://bit.ly/1jSVVJJ  Original link 

Is the Catholic Institution in Need of Humanity?

Some religious institutions could be regarded as vehicles of morality, and as the communicators of the good of divinity for the betterment of humanity. However, this notion may be far from real when we look into the behaviour of some religious authorities, which instead of promoting the good, seem to be more congruent with the unjust.

                  There is no doubt that the Catholic Church has been involved in many disturbing controversies in the last few years, which absolutely oppose the loving teachings of Jesus Christ. Besides the Church’s public intolerance of people’s sexuality and lifestyle, the institution has damaged the most vulnerable members of society: children. This blog is not only about the sexual predation of some priests towards the innocence of childhood, but about the survival of children from an episode of abusive, racist and unjust political-religious regime in Canada.

                  The nation’s Residential Schools were an educational regime that went from the late 1800s until the 1990s, and focused in the indoctrination of Aboriginal children. It was run mostly by Christian faith schools, where about 70% were Catholic run, with the support of the federal government. It is estimated that approximately 150,000 Aboriginal children attended these schools throughout its duration.

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an estimate of 4,100 children died in 130 schools around the nation, and the number of deaths is expected to rise as the federal and provincial governments are in the process of releasing documents. These children perished from diseases, malnutrition, building fires, drowning, negligence, abuse, and suicide. These do not include the inconclusive fates of the many children that went missing. The Commission also estimates that many schools had up to a 60% mortality rate, and it is obvious that the government of Canada was well aware of this as it was recorded. In relation, some documents imply that the federal government carried medical and nutritional experiments on the attending Aboriginal children. Thus, I believe there is no doubt that the children which were able to complete or leave this horrific system regard themselves as survivors, and when reading some of their testimonies, there is clear evidence of psychological distress and post-traumatic stress disorder.

                  In 2006, there was a settlement of $1.9 billion reached for reparations from the federal government and the participating religious institutions, payable to the survivors of the system. The government, and the Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches fulfilled their payment in full. However, the Catholic Church was supposed to pay $29 million into the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, but lowered it to $18 million to cover ‘expenses’, from which it is still outstanding $1.6 million in payments. The federal government has expressed outrage for the Catholic Church’s cover of their legal fees at the expense of the victims. In addition, Catholic groups committed to fundraise $25 million, and only a small part of that amount has been collected.

This, in my opinion, is truly an undignified situation from an institution that is supposed to promote the good, virtue, faith, and the word from the God of millions of people. An institution of such power and size, which claims morality, should not behave in the greedy ways of many multinational corporations. In turn, this institution should promote justice and provide the requested reparations, which in my opinion, are not enough to cover over a century of heinous crimes. However, the faith of the religion itself is not the one to be criticized, since there are good, conscious and just Catholics. Thus, perhaps Catholic authorities should look into many of its carrying and loving believers, and perhaps restructure the institution from the bottom up, from a more humane perspective, from the people that would give the Catholic faith a good representation. Perhaps the institution needs to become more humanized, since it seems that it has, ironically, divorced from humanity.

 

 

 

All information gathered from the following sources:

 

CBC News

http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/new-documents-may-shed-light-on-residential-school-deaths-1.2487015

http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/catholic-church-withholding-millions-from-victims-alleges-government-1.2542363

The concept of belief and suicide bombings

 

Belief is one of the most strongest and abstract tool of the human mind. It can give rise to customs, culture and religion. In fact, our very existence can be a product of belief, who knows? Many existentialists believe that we have existential needs like need to be loved, a chance to be forgiven, unbiased justice and fairness- which leads to faith in God, a sanctuary of the ever curious and unsatisfied human mind. However, what we see is not all that exists; it’s not very long that we discovered that human eyes can perceive a very tiny slot of the electromagnetic spectrum, much of the phenomenon that exists beyond human physical capability is left to the mind. I mean I cannot even see my eyelids with my own eyes! The concept of solipsism from an epistemological view suggests anything perceived by human is an illusion. This makes belief our only option to understand reality and beyond. Death and afterlife are a very clever choice of events to lead people to believe in God: it’s impossible to take an account of a dead person, it’s the greatest enigma.

 

 In the minds of the wrong person, belief can be the tool of destruction and devastation- it can be religious like suicide bombings or ideological like anti-Semitism- the holocaust. I believe religion is an attempt, going on for millennia, to harness this power of belief to do what is righteous. Now what is righteous needs justification which needs further justification and leads to infinite regression and infinite conflict. Most Islamic researchers agree that suicide bombing is haram (forbidden) in Islam, in fact suicide is one the most sinful crimes anyone can commit. However some “scholars” argue that the semantics of the word suicide in suicide bombing is a misnomer. Whichever way you put it, it’s someone bombing himself up killing himself and many others to achieve, what he believe was the only option for justice, hoping his deed would undoubtedly land him in heaven. But it’s tragic, that nowadays many of the bombings are merely part of an elaborate political scheme, to strike fear and terror about certain groups who in the name of religion are actually seeking political power. Innocent people are being killed in large numbers. These conversions into brainwashed weapons of mass destruction, is the best way to spread their “message”. In Islam it’s a ubiquitous proverb that “killing a single innocent human is like killing the whole of humanity, saving an innocent being is like saving the whole of humanity”. Suicide bombing has become a major issue trending in Muslim dominated countries, there are tons of news articles out there, matter of fact in the time of my writing there was a suicide attack “Ottawa man killed in Somalia suicide bombing, attack blamed on Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab” 10 others were also killed.(Refer:2) I for one am pretty sure this is not what “God” intended. It’s a tragedy because nothing good is ever going to come out of it, it is neither a Holy nor a just war. Most of these bombings are based on political grounds while those poor souls, unbeknownst of the real intentions of their “masters”, bomb their life away believing there is heaven waiting. (Refer: 3) Many of these bombers are children. It horrifies me and disgusts me, to know how the human mind can be molded and belief be exploited to satisfy the lustful needs of the “leaders”. The term jihad which is now synonymous with the word “murder” actually means ones battle with his/her nafs (lust, immoral desires and ego). Islam means attaining peace by submitting your will to God, taking away innocent lives is not what the religion preaches.

 

In Peshawar Pakistan, 9 people were killed in a restaurant; it is believed that the suicide bomber primarily targeted the shitte Muslim minority just as the government and Islamist militants prepared to meet for peace talks. Among the 30-40 injured were a number of very young children.(Refer:1) It sickens me, how Islam is misinterpreted, twisted and shaped to brainwash victims to the point of killing themselves just to get their unjust claims across. A tool as powerful as religion, to infiltrate into the very depths of a person’s moral, in the wrong hands is very dangerous. The holy books are to people as a constitution is to a state. It requires proper interpretation to discern what is moral and just to humanity. People should use their head and heart before the act of believing. Because believing in humanity is what keeps it alive.

 

 

(1)http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2551712/Suicide-bomb-tears-Pakistani-city-Peshawar-just-hours-peace-talks-Taliban-delayed.html

(2)http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-man-killed-in-somalia-suicide-bombing-1.2547082

(3)http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/20121014102539659862.html

 

F.A#205