Bringing blasphemy back from the dead

Advertising is a free speech issue. To say ‘you can’t say that’ in an advert – to say that mocking Roman Catholicism, no matter how tongue-in-cheek, is not suitable advertising content – is as censorious as excluding a work of art from an exhibition.

‘If you ban our ad’, Antonio Federici’s spokesman told spiked, ‘you might as well ban any controversial story about the church – that’s the logical conclusion’.”
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Pope under fire as half of paedophile priests still in clergy

More than half of Catholic priests convicted of sexually abusing children in the last decade are still listed as members of the clergy, it was reported.

A Channel 4 News investigation said that of 22 priests convicted and jailed for more than a year for child sex abuse since 2001, 14 were yet to be laicised or sacked from the Catholic Church of England and Wales.

Last night programme said some were still even receiving financial support from the Church and living in Church-owned property.

The revelations follow recommendations made in 2001 by senior Judge Lord Nolan, who suggested that any priest sentenced to a year or more in prison for sex offences against children should face “laicisation” – the stripping of their title, priesthood and privileges. [Read more...]

Catholic Church and UK colluded in Northern Ireland bomb cover-up: report

The British government and the Roman Catholic Church colluded to protect a priest suspected of involvement in a 1972 bombing in Northern Ireland that killed 9 people, an official report said on Tuesday.

The Police Ombudsman’s report revealed that an Irish cardinal was involved in transferring Father James Chesney out of British-ruled Northern Ireland, highlighting again the role of the Church hierarchy in protecting priests against allegations of criminal activity.

Justice must be served for nine people killed in NI bombings who were “failed” by a cover-up of a priest’s suspected role, victims’ relatives have said. [Read more...]

Bomb threat hits Lourdes pilgrims

Thousands of Roman Catholic pilgrims have been evacuated from Lourdes in south-west France after a bomb threat, officials are reported as saying.

The threat came as 30,000 worshippers were in the town to celebrate the annual Feast of the Assumption, the French news agency AFP said.

Lourdes is famous for what many Roman Catholics believe was a vision of the Virgin Mary by a local girl in 1858. [Read more...]

The Vatican’s Gay Priests

For residents of Rome, the sight of courting priests is hardly an anomaly. The phenomenon is a well-known secret here, and one that was largely ignored until last weekend, when the Italian weekly magazine Panorama published a shocking exposé called “Le Notti Brave Dei Preti Gay,” or “Good Nights Out for Gay Priests.”

Investigative journalist Carmelo Abbate spent 20 days undercover posing as the boyfriend of a man who ran in gay clerical circles, secretly videotaping the sexual escapades of three Rome-based priests.

Abbate caught the priests on hidden camera dirty dancing at private parties and engaging in sex acts with male escorts on church property. He also caught them emerging from dark bedrooms in time to celebrate mass. In one postcoital scene, “Father Carlo” parades around seminaked, wearing only his clerical vestments. Abbate’s “date” even had sex with one of the priests to corroborate the story.

This is not about homosexuality,” Abbate, who is not gay, told NEWSWEEK. “This is about private vices and public virtues. This is about serious hypocrisy in the Catholic Church.” [Read more...]

Catholic priests ‘filmed at gay clubs and having casual sex’

The Catholic Church in Italy was embroiled in a fresh scandal on Friday when photographs apparently showing homosexual priests attending gay nightclubs and engaging in casual sex were published in a magazine.

A journalist from Panorama, a conservative weekly news magazine owned by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, used a hidden camera to film interviews with three gay priests, who introduced the journalist to the gay clubs they apparently frequent, and allowed the journalist to film their sexual encounters with strangers, including one in a church building.

The Catholic Church insists on celibacy for priests and sees homosexuality as a sin. In 2008 the Vatican issued guidelines which said that any would-be trainees should not join if they had “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

Panorama editor Giorgio Mule said: “This was a two week investigation and was not aimed at creating a scandal but showing that a certain section of the clergy behaves very differently.” [Read more...]

Pope To Be Protected From Arrest On UK Visit

The British Government has moved to prevent the possibility of an arrest warrant being issued against the Pope during his state visit this autumn.

Sky News understands that Whitehall officials have been “seriously concerned” that campaigners would use international criminal rules to try to detain the Pontiff while he is in the UK.

Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC were among those campaigners reported to be looking at the options for bringing a private prosecution in relation to the Pope’s alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Now Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has proposed changes to the rules on universal jurisdiction, a law that allows individuals to be prosecuted in the UK for serious offences such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture even if they were carried out abroad.

The plans would mean the Director of Public Prosecutions would need to give his consent to any arrest warrant issued under universal jurisdiction. [Read more...]