It is deplorable that, as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave… there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions.A statement from the Vatican • Decrying reports in the Italian media, in advance of the meeting of the conclave to select a new Pope. Of particular irritation to the Vatican — an unsourced story in La Repubblica, Italy’s largest-circulation daily newspaper, regarding a special report by three Cardinals, conducted in the aftermath of the theft and leaking of the Pope’s personal papers by his butler. It suggests that the special report uncovered myriad scandals relating to sex, money, and the management of the Vatican’s bank, but CNN’s Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen finds the idea this hastened Benedict’s departure unlikely: “For the most part, one has to take the pope at his word: He’s stepping aside because he’s old and tired, not because of any particular crisis.” source
» A modest throng of protesters have descended on Federal Plaza in Chicago today, rallying against the mandate in the Affordable Care Act dictating that employers must cover birth control in their employees’ health insurance plans. The original dustup on this issue came about because the law, while it did exempt churches from the mandate, did not have an exemption for other religiously-backed institutions (such as Catholic hospitals). The Obama administration thus compromised, tweaking the rules so that insurers themselves would have to foot the bill, not directly the religious institutions, but that hasn’t quelled a testy opposition.
Should be lost on no one that the newscycle after the best economic news in years has been dominated by all culture war all the time.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 10, 2012
A brief, yet very astute observation by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. Following news that among other (tenuous, obviously) positive economic indicators, the rate of unemployment claims had fallen to a four-year low, it’s hard not to notice that the conservative tact against the Obama administration has been a whole lot of talk on contraception, and the occasional remark on same-sex marriage.
This kind of attack was expected after the government’s response to governor Taseer’s assassination. Because of the government’s very weak response … it has encouraged the hardliners in society.Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies Amir Rana • Explaining how the response to the assassination of Salman Taseer, who fought a blasphemy law unpopular with Christians in the country, may have led to today’s assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti. Before his death, Taseer fought in favor of a pardon for a Christian mother of four who had been sentenced to death for reportedly saying blasphemous things about Prophet Muhammad. After Taseer’s death, Pakistani officials have stayed away from changing the law. Some feel that the effect of this has encouraged some to take more hardline approach to minority groups. Sigh. source (via • follow)
The clash between faith and modernity is happening again, and it is very strong today. … Spain saw in the 1930s the birth of a strong and aggressive anti-clericalism.Pope Benedict XVI • Seeming to suggest that Spain’s growing secularism will bring rise to the kind of fascism that led to the Spanish Civil War. See, Spain (currently ruled by Socialists) has done a few things that the Catholic Church doesn’t like, including getting rid of religious education in schools and legalizing abortion. The pope suggests a ”meeting between faith and secularism and not a confrontation.” Perhaps we’re cynical, but does anyone see this as the Pope’s attempt to scare people back towards religion in Spain? source (via • follow)