Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is clerical celibacy in the Catholic Church used to preserve the Vatican's wealth?

With the recent news from the Vatican that there is now a more streamlined way for disillusioned Anglicans to join the Catholic Church, a discussion of clerical celibacy has once again arrisen. This is a legitimate discussion, but there are some old canards that have reared their heads. The two main ones are that priests should be allowed to marry because priestly celibacy was only implemented by the Vatican to protect the Church's assets and also that priestly celibacy would reduce incidences of child sexual assault. Both of these are false assertions and I will explain why.

There is no evidence that the Church implemented celibacy to keep its grip on Church assets. Celibacy is advocated by Christ and St. Paul. Jesus says any man who becomes a eunuch for the kingdom of God is very blessed (spiritual eunuch). St. Paul recommends celibacy for those who can do it without sinning. Obviously St. Paul and Jesus were not advocating celibacy to keep their grips on the treasury of the apostles.

Celibacy was widely practiced by Christians well before it became mandatory for priests. Desert fathers and monks were always celibate and did not marry. It seems all of the apostles were celibate, especially after they became disciples of Jesus. Of course, there is mention of Peter's mother in law, but there is no mention of his wife, and we do not necessarily have evidence that Peter continued with marital relations after becoming an apostle. In any event, it does not matter in this case.

Celibacy was made mandatory by the Church in later centuries because it was seen as beneficial in many ways. First of all, it was following the example and teaching of Christ. Secondly, a man would not be torn between the will of God and the will of his family. The Bible speaks of the virgin who is concerned only with God, but contrasts this with the man who is concerned for his family. Celibacy allowed missionaries to travel to far off lands and convert large numbers of people. It allows priests to have a life of contemplation and holiness. They can be available at any time for an emergency, such as giving last rites. Celibacy is a way for a man (or woman) to give himself fully to the service of God.

What about money and inheritance? I would invite you to think logically about this. From a financial point of view, priests do not generate revenue, they are a liability. The more priests the Church has, the more it has to pay to give them a place to live, to provide food, transportation, travel costs, and other living expenses. Not only that, the Church pays for them to attend seminary in the first place, which also includes lodging. The Church is not preventing priests from passing on their inheritance, rather, priests would have no inheritance, and without the financial support of the church, would be paupers. The claim that the Church enforces celibacy in order to maintain its hold on finance simply flies in the face of reason.

Another illogical thought which has been floated by some Church skeptics is the idea that allowing priests to marry would reduce or eliminate priestly sexual abuse. Anything which can eliminate this perversion is very welcome, but this suggestion may not be sensible. Again, let's look at the information. The vast majority of cases of priestly sexual abuse involved POST-pubescent boys by male priests. This is clearly a homosexual issue, otherwise the abuse would have been of girls or young women. If these priests have homosexual tendencies, allowing them to marry would do little. They have a desire for sexual relations with male children, so allowing them to marry women would not satisfy this desire. Over the past couple of decades, there have been few incidences of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. With new guidelines, the incidences can be expected to decrease even further. There is also a bias in the public and in the media. Teachers sexually abuse children at a rate 4 times higher than priests, but the stereotype of pedophile teacher has not emerged. It's also important to note that around 98% of the time where a teacher was caught in this illicit activity, they were allowed to continue teaching or transferred to a new school. Many accuse the Catholic Church of acting inappropriately, but these allegations do not seem to come out for teachers. It seems this practice was not specifically endorsed by the church, but rather by psychologists who felt these priests and teachers were rehabilitated.

As you can see, mandating clerical celibacy is not a matter of maintaining wealth for the Vatican, nor would it reduce clerical sex abuse claims. Rather, it would have negative effects on the Church.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pope makes new Anglican rite

Great news has just emerged from the Vatican. The pope will be creating a new Anglican rite for Anglicans who want to become Catholic. This will ease the transistion of tens of thousands of Anglicans who want to come home to Rome. There's a few things to keep in mind. These people must become Catholic and will be subject to the Pope like all Catholics are now. There will be no difference. The only difference is that they will have a liturgy that they are more or less used to. Catholics could also attend these Anglican-rite Catholic Churches.

The main reasons why Anglicans are becoming interested in the Catholic Church is that there have been many unfortunate changes in the Anglican church, including female ordination, acceptance of homosexual lifestyles and bishops and blessing of homosexual unions. The liberalization of the Anglican church started in 1930 when they became the first Christian church to accept contraception. It sort of went downhill from there. At this point, there is a real schism in the Anglican communion between conservative and liberal factions.

That's not to say these are the only reason former Anglicans are now Catholic. A look theologically will show the Anglican church lost holy orders several centuries ago, and therefore their sacraments are not valid. Some are surely joining because they recognize the Catholic Church as the one founded by Jesus Christ which has maintained the four marks of the church - one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

This is great news. Let's look forward to welcoming our Anglican brothers and sisters into full communion with the Church.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I can't wait to watch Molokai: The Story of Father Damien 1999

There was an awesome movie made about Fr. Damien who was recently canonized by the Pope. Check out the preview, it looks awesome!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Love exists and so does God

I just had a random thought. Many atheists mock theists, Christians specifically, because they believe in something invisible, i.e. God. They say we believe in an invisible man in the sky. They say there is no scientific proof that God exists. They refuse to accept how God has transformed our lives or go by feelings because these cannot be measured by science. But there is something else that cannot be measured by science and is also invisible. That is Love.

Love is invisible, is expressed through feelings and life changes, and cannot be detected or measured with scientific instruments. Many people have gone to their deaths for love, so it can be very powerful. But no one ever says, If you exist LOVE, strike me down! All atheists, or nearly all, would believe in love. But why? If you can believe in love, you can believe in God.

It's interesting also to note that Christians say God is Love. The first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI was titled Deus Caritas Est, which translates into God is Love. Let's pray that our friends who do not yet belief in God, will see this and believe.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where's the hot air balloon boy?

A young child, aged 6, was sent up into a hot air balloon owned by him and his family. Authorities were chasing the balloon, which has now landed about 4 minutes ago, but the boy doesn't seem to be anywhere to be found. I don't know where he is. I'm following this story and this seems very tragic. Where is the young boy?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama DOES NOT deserve a Nobel Prize

Barack Hussein Obama does not deserve a Nobel Peace Prize. Not in a million years, unless he has an St. Augustine-like turnaround. Obama has done absolutely nothing for peace. After reading further information on this, it seems the committee which awarded Obama the peace prize were doing it more to get back at Bush than to actually say anything about Obama. This committee hated Bush with a passion.

There are many reasons why Obama should not receive the Nobel Peace Prize. These include the following (and this is certainly not an exhaustive list):

- he voted against a bill that said if a baby was being aborted in a late term and was born alive, medical care should be given to this baby. Obama voted 3 times to not give such a baby any care, even though he was virtually alone in this.

- Obama wanted to pass a bill which eradicated all abortion laws in the whole country, including every state, such as parental notification, counseling, etc. - he has been recorded as saying
previously during a national prayer breakfast that there is no God that condones the killing of a child, so why the double-talk?

- he bowed down to the leader of Saudi Arabia

- he said the US is not a Christian country (even though 80% of the population is). This was totally unnecessary.

- he covered up Jesus's name when he was speaking at Notre Dame university. It was above him during the speech, and he had a black cloth put over the words IHS (which is a Greek symbol for Christ)

- he says during his campaigning that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but when he's elected he devotes an entire month to LGBTand basically says how everyone oppresses gay people

- he has quadrupled the national deficit, has socialized banks and automobile companies

- he made fun of the Special Olympics

- he said the US has 57 states

- he seems unable to pick an ambassador to the Vatican, because he can't find one person who is pro-life in his cabinet

That's just a brief list. There are many more things.

But the big question is, what HAS he done exactly? Nothing.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Atheistic source of the Invention of Lying not hard to find

I did a little research to find out why The Invention of Lying contained such a blatant atheistic perspective. The reason became quite apparent when looking into the beliefs of those involved with the movie.

First, the main character is played by Ricky Gervais. Gervais is an atheist and belongs to atheist organizations. Not surprisingly, he is also an animal rights activist (many atheists take on this cause).

Secondly, a major role is played by Louis CK, infamous for his vitriolic and extremely offensive portrayals of the Catholic Church and religion in general. He made a video for youtube which is downright nauseating, where he claims the Catholic Church was set up for one goal - to rape boys.

I could not find specific information regarding the religion of others involved with the film, besides the religion into which they were born. As usual with other anti-religious movie, this one is doing poorly. It premiered in 4th place and has only made around $7 million in the box office so far. I'm not sure how big the budget was for this movie, so I can't say if they will lose money.

Let's hope that at least if moral reasons do not stop theatres from releasing anti-religion films, financial reasons will.

The Invention of Lying - a movie for angry atheists

Last night, my girlfriend and I went to see The Invention of Lying, starring Ricky Gervais of the sitcom The Office in Britain, and Jennifer Garner, among others with smaller roles, such as Philip Seymour Hoffman. The movie started off with promise, looking like it would be a fun and entertaining. However, it wasn't long before an atheistic theme became obvious.

I will not give any major spoilers, but I will give you my thoughts on this movie. Very quickly into the movie, we realize the premise: people are in a world where they are unable to lie. In fact, people are brutally honest about everything and do not keep secrets. When Ricky Gervais goes to see Jennifer Garner for a date, she clearly tells him he is fat, not very attractive, and because of these things combined with his financial situation, she will probably not date him again. She also mentions certain vulgar things she will be doing.

Ricky's life seems rather dull and uninspiring. He is doing poorly at his job, and of course, everyone lets him know. He ends up getting fired and doesn't have enough money to pay for rent. He goes to the bank to get everything he can. The teller says the system is down, and asks how much he has in his account. Since lying doesn't exist, everyone believes everyone else no matter what. Ricky makes history when he asks for $800 instead of the $300 he actually has. When the system comes back up, it shows he only has $300, but since lying is not possible and the concept doesn't even exist, the teller apologizes and gives him the $800 he asked for, attributing the discrepancy to a computer glitch. This is the beginning of his lying.

Now that Ricky's character has discovered this ability, he abuses it. He lies about many things to get what he wants, such an enormous mansion, which probably took no more than telling the vendor that he already paid for the house. The movie was going along fine, until Ricky's mother is dying in hospital. This is where the atheistic themes come in. His mother is terrified with death. Ricky, out of desperation and to put her mind at ease, tells her that when she dies, she will not just go into nothingness, but will instead be sent to a place where she is reunited with dead family members, where everyone is happy and gets a mansion, where all our desires are fulfilled. His mother dies in peace.

News spreads about this place that Ricky spoke about with his mother and soon hundreds of people had gathered around his house to find out more. Out of desperation, seeing the crowd would not leave, Ricky took a couple of pizza boxes and wrote out 10 things about God. He brought out the boxes like Moses with the tablets containing the 10 commandments. This was an obvious poke at monotheism and religion in general. He then proceeded to talk about God and Heaven. They did not say God though, instead they mockingly said "the invisible man in the sky". Someone asked if the "invisible man" lived in the clouds, and Ricky said no, he's above the clouds, then someone asked if he's in space, and Ricky said, no not that high. Then he said the place you go when you die is the best place imaginable and you get the best mansion.

Then Ricky went on to answer questions. The questions were very childish and the answers were all made up. There was the obvious implication that someone just invented heaven and God and everyone just wanted to believe him. Then atheistic arguments against the existence of God came out. Some people asked if the invisible man in the sky caused their relative to get sick, or if he made a natural disaster happen. Ricky responded in the affirmative. Then everyone got really angry at this invisible man in the sky. But Ricky calmed them down by saying this invisible man also does all the good stuff too, and like dumb animals, the crowd was appeased.

The implication of the movie was that everyone there was super gullible and didn't ask any real questions and just believed whatever they heard. It was implied that Christians are like that as well. Only Ricky seemed to have any ability to think on his own and not appear to have an IQ below 50, and he was the only one who didn't believe in the invisible man in the sky.

There were other elements of mockery. For example, the church had a sign saying something like it was a quiet place to go to imagine the invisible man in the sky. The "pastor" wore what looked like a cross, but was actually a silouette of Ricky holding his arms out with the tablets in them. The pastor started the marriage ceremony and gave a very naturalistic view of marriage saying things like do you want to be with this person for as long as you feel like it, do you think your genetics match, etc.

If this movie wasn't atheistic enough, near the end, Ricky goes to visit the grave of his mother. He laments the fact that he created this big lie and that all these gullible people believed him. He then says she's not in heaven, she's in the ground. Later, he tells his friend that he made up all this stuff about the invisible man in the sky and that in fact there is no man in the sky.

The basic premise of this whole movie is that those who believe in God are doing so for irrational and emotional reasons, based around their fear of death and the afterlife. They are presented as stupid, unintelligent, and extremely gullible. Atheists are presented as being intelligent and not bound to a false hope that's based on nothing but desire. Ricky is seen as a man whose eyes were opened, who was freed from the oppression of a lie, who "knows the truth". He's not a sheep who is ready to follow anywhere he's told to go. He uses his own brain, makes his own decisions.

Of course, the truth is much different. The fact is atheists are afraid of judgment, or Hell, and they do not want there to be an afterlife because that would mean they must adhere to a moral code. Without judgment, we can live any way we choose, treat others in any fashion, and feel no regret for anything. There are no schools or hospitals or any great monument erected to an atheist. Without true believers, the world would be a much more desolate place. It is kind of ironic that atheists are so vitriolic against theists, even though without theists, the world would be much more bleak.

I give this movie 1 out of 5 stars. I would have given it 0, but there was a funny scene where the main character said that in heaven, you could have any flavour of ice cream that you could imagine. A man in the crowd became very upset, because he said he imagined a flavour of vanilla and skunk! Now that I said the only funny part, there's no reason for you to see this movie.