I’m sure we have all seen the recent news from Philadelphia grand jury revealing the abominations by Catholic priests that have spanned decades. I know that many of my Catholic colleagues feel intimately betrayed and are currently struggling to understand the scope of disloyalty and harm unleashed on their church by duplicitous and predatory leaders. To its credit, the Vatican accepted the “shame and sorrow” at the findings and responded with powerful language describing the abusers as “criminal and morally reprehensible” Followed by Pope Francis’ statement condemning priestly sexual atrocities and asserting that “no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”
The Pope offers a very real hope for change for his flock and hints at a long and drawn-out battle with clericalism. Unfortunately, sexual predation is far too common among powerful clergy of any faith. I don’t need to recount the cases in the Pagan and Polytheist communities.
IRELAND –Voters in the Republic of Ireland came out in force this week to roll back the clock to 1983 – a time before abortions were effectively banned in this heavily Roman Catholic country. The “once in a generation vote,” as it was framed by prime minister Leo Varadkar, brought out people across the age spectrum to support the repeal; the movement even garnered the support of Brigid. Article 40.3.3 of the Irish constitution establishes “the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother,” calls for that right to life to be vigorously defended. Under the language approved by voters with a two-to-one margin, the article now reads, “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.” It will fall to legislators to decide what new laws to that end actually get passed.
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On Thursday, Pope Francis released his long-awaited 184-page encyclical on climate change and environmental protection. We will have reactions to this work in the coming days. In the meantime, we consider one particular phrase from that document as it relates to a question recently raised by Debra Macleod in The Huffington Post. Macleod asks whether the Catholic Church should acknowledge its role in the destruction of classical Pagan culture and religion. In the new encyclical, Pope Francis says, “Human Beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.” Using that framework, Macleod’s question can be rephrased.