Holy Week Headlines

Easter time brings a fresh spring crop of Church-related stories, meant, I suppose, to amuse the people during the one religious time of the year still taken seriously. Most are edifying, but among them are always a few silly and/or thought-provoking ones. Here’s a few that have come up recently:

West German intelligence used Munich Cathedral as a secret listening post

Better reception
Holy antennas

German and Austrian Catholics are outraged at the news of a secret antenna and listening post installed in the northern dome of Munich Cathedral during the Cold War by the BND, the West Germany intelligence service, and are demanding it be removed. “The church must be bug free,” said Christian Weisner of the Austrian Catholic We Are the Church movement. But it may still be being used, by another unidentified “authority” (their quotes – NSA, anyone?) Better check the confessionals, Chris…

Hmm, maybe that’s why the domes are capped with balls, not crosses. Better reception?

Have People Really Sworn Off Internet Porn for Lent?

Spank it, Jesus!
Holy spanking

Based on reported virus infections (the software kind, not the biological kind), a new survey suggests that many Catholics actually give up internet pornography during Lent. Supposedly malware infections have dropped 17% overall since the season began, and a whopping 38% in Boston. Even Sin City, Las Vegas, was down by  21%. The fact that the infection rate rises to normal levels shortly after Easter suggests that it is indeed the case.

There’s a certain irony in using infections to track sexual activity. The claim itself is based on the idea that porn sites are laden with viruses. Maybe, but I recall another study years ago that said that church sites were more often hacked and passed more viruses to unsuspecting visitors than did porn websites. It was thought that churches and the people who visited their websites were more naive than porn seekers or the webmasters, who after all, want visitors. Maybe this also means that Catholics are just too cheap to spend money on quality porn sites.

Vatican media chief resigns over doctored papal letter

Trust us, he liked it

Monsignor Dario Vigano, head of the Vatican’s communications department, has resigned as a result of photoshopping a letter. A picture released of a letter by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had the bottom paragraph blurred, and almost all but the signature on the second page was covered by a stack of books. It was a private letter from retired Ratzi for a book launch for a Vatican-published, 11-volume set of books about Francis’ theology. It was supposed to show the continuity between the old pope and Francis. However, in the letter Ratzinger says he never read them. Oops. And as always, it’s the cover-up that gets ’em.

One might think that for an institution that literally invented the word “propaganda,” this is clumsy beyond belief.  So clumsy that one might even think that it was done deliberately, by someone not too happy with Frankie.

Christians boycott ice cream chain for blasphemy

Demonic Jon Benet, anyone?
Sickening sweet

Who knew the Canadians were so irreligious?  A Toronto-based ice cream company, called “Sweet Jesus” has begun selling their frosty blasphemies at the Baltimore-Washington Airport and will soon spread to Miami. The ads uses Catholic as well as overtly Satanic ones to push their wares, often featuring creepy, bruised and injured kids. But the company claims that “Our name was created from the popular phrase that people use as an expression of enjoyment, surprise or disbelief.”

Sweet Jesus! I like bad religious humor as much or maybe more than most people but this is a bit beyond the pale. Look at the image of the little girl and ask yourself if that’s really ice cream they’re trying to sell you.

Police search Michigan bishop’s home in sex abuse investigation

Person of interest
No ABP issued… yet

And finally, this comes from just south of Canada, not funny either but a something never seen before: a police raid on a bishop. Not just the home of retired Saginaw, Michigan bishop, Joseph Cistone either, but also the diocesan chancery and also the rectory of the cathedral were searched. The cops said it was part of an ongoing investigation into sex abuse allegations against several diocesan priests, Frs. Robert Deland and Ronald J. Dombrowski.

And that it happened because the Church wasn’t cooperating. No word given on what the police were looking for but they have good reason to be suspicious. The bishop lied about destroying documents in Philadelphia in 1994 that contained the names of abusive priests.

This is an old, old pattern with the Catholic Church. The bishop are commanded by Rome to keep records of abusive priests, but they are also never to create scandal. Which means the cover-up is as much a part of clerical culture as the bishop’s pointy miter. As the old joke goes, there’s a reason that the symbol for a bishop is a crook, and that of an archbishop, a double-cross.

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