It seemed these things were popping up in multiple discussions as people like @Suzanne chased me about, so rather than continue the multiple hijacks, maybe putting them here will be more entertaining for everybody.  All I ask is that people be kind, and perhaps answer questions in turn.  These questions come from http://www.thinkatheist.com/forum/topics/mad-at-the-outcome-thought...

1. Why did you choose catholicism over all other religions?

Because it made the most sense to me on several levels.  I of course can't rule out cultural bias, since obviously I'm a westerner and Roman Christianity is culturally pervasive.  For me it was a conscious choice at some point, though I am not a convert.   Interestingly, if I were not Catholic I'd be more inclined to Judaism than the Protestant faiths.  Perhaps the shared intellectual depth of Judaism and Catholicism is a contributing factor.

2. Do you follow the decrees made by the Vatican?

The Vatican does not make "decrees".  The Holy See serves as the administrative center of the worldwide Catholic community, and we do have some administrative rules like any community (our technical term for these is "merely ecclesiastical laws").  For the rest, all we do is teach.

3. Do you agree or disagree with contraception being available to those who would choose to use contraception, if they had access?

I'm not sure why I should care.  Now sometimes when people say "being available" they mean that I should pay for it.  I think that's a different sort of question that belongs more in the realm of public policy.

4. How do you choose which parts of the bible to follow, and not follow.

We don't "follow" the Bible, we read it and refer to it, the way anyone does with a favorite book or reference text.  We try to "follow" God, perhaps, or the example of Jesus or other holy men or women, but not the Bible.  In teaching things or exploring religious ideas, we refer to a wide range of writings and experiences, including long oral tradition, writings of various scholars, journal articles, encyclicals, consensus documents, conciliar writings, etc., much like any intellectual community.

5. Is purgatory in or out, these days.

It's a theory that had moderate but not universal acceptance some centuries ago.  It's still referred to, but not anywhere near as widely as in its heyday.  So it never quite rose to the level of Newtonian Mechanics in physics in terms of acceptance as a theory, and it's perhaps fading faster, but like Newtonian Mechanics it's still referred to in some contexts. 

Tags: Bob, Catholic, Dr., Professor, Robert, Vatican, bible, purgatory, questions

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RE: "so that they would have been better off had they not tried to protect kids by keeping records." - of course a man of ethics would have recognized yet another alternative: admit that they had screwed up in not sufficiently screening for pedophiles, admit their mistake, and offer to do whatever it takes to rectify the situation as best they can. But I can see how, when one has become accustomed to using guile to escape responsibility, the possibility of actually ACCEPTING responsibility rarely occurs to one.

You do understand that the paragraph, as paragraphs do, contained several sentences which together referred to the same thing and should be read together as a point or argument.

I was of course referring to the fact that it is an irony of our legal system that an organization should be punished for maintaining records that were being used to try to protect kids.

At the time, of course, we didn't have computers.  We didn't have the ability to do computerized fingerprint background checks.  There were no clearinghouses; records were maintained in individual courthouses or states.  So I'm not sure how one can assume that they had "screwed up by not sufficiently screening".  Even if one pulls all of the records together into one office as the Scouts apparently did, how do you know if Bill Jones who just signed up to be a scout leader in Maryland is the same Bill Jones who was fired as scout leader in Pennsylvania for suspicion of inappropriate conduct? 

Simple, you fax pictures back and forth, and if necessary, fingerprints - now tell me that technology wasn't available either --

You must be a young fellow.  No fax machines back in the day.   No digital photos either.

Nor was anyone at the time ready to fingerprint and mug-shot millions of volunteers.  Even if they had, changing one's name or taking on an alias would have been an easy work-around.

We were a long way from the modern surveillance state.

Well, I don't yet move on the Sphinx's "three legs," if that's what you're implying - on the other hand, the fax machine may well have, as it was invented in 1843, long before I was. The first trans-continental fax transmission took place in 1955. (It took them that long the resolve the paper jam! - true story --)

By the mid 70's, fax machines were in common use - there was one in the office when I started work.

I'm not sure what the mad rush was for, however.  The US postal service (yay! pony express!) could have got the information to the relevant recipient in a matter of days.  How do you think they got all those awesome WANTED! posters distributed in the Wild West?

Sure, governments and major business offices.  Small not-for-profit youth services like the scouts with hundreds of local affiliates?

I think we just have to be honest about where things were at back then.  Nobody was doing that kind of screening, collecting biometrics on millions of people.  Especially not for volunteer positions.  People back then wouldn't have put up with that sort of invasiveness either. 

The boyscouts and the girlscouts both have a strict rule that at least two adults have to be present at any gathering, and encourage parents to attend, not just because it encourages parental bonding, but also because it ensures that the most watchful and protective eyes are around at all times. Is this 100% effective? No, but 99% is close enough for nearly any parent. The BSA and GSA are also quick to punish offenders, and work with victims. This is so much more than what the church does that it's not even funny.

There was a spectacular spike in claims of historical molestation post-Boston; it's hard to tell to what extent that was people seeking monetary compensation or people who were empowered to come forward or both.

When in doubt, blame the victims of being greedy.

The difficulty for the scouts, as for the Church, is twofold.  First, protections like two-deep leadership were put in place only in the late 80s/early 90s, after the large spike in pedophilia which occurred in the two decades prior.  The second is that, as close as I can tell from reading the L.A. Times investigative reporting on the matter and other releases, most of the abuse didn't occur on scout outings.  Scout leaders befriended kids and families through scouting, and then the abuse occurred at non-scouting events.  In this way it parallels what we saw in abuse by priests, or what we saw in abuse by sports coaches like Jerry Sandusky.

The scouts also had many hundreds if not thousands of cases where the L.A. Times reported that they did not report the abuse, covered it up, and let the perpetrators offend again.  I think the L.A. Times report overstated the case, but there's no question that there were a number of cases as tragic and infuriating as what we saw in Boston. 

At the same time, their system prevented hundreds and perhaps thousands of abusers from getting access to their kids again... adults who the criminal justice system allowed back on the streets without monitoring.

This is the real-life tale in most youth service agencies.  People were surprised; it took a couple decades for most to put in place additional barriers; some handled things well or did their best, others handled things poorly and covered up crimes that should have been reported.

In our area, the Church's youth protection rules are stricter than those for scouting.  Longer required training, deeper background checks, more clear lines of reporting as close as I can tell.

The difference being, that the Scouts decided to punish those they found out about, where as the Church decided to hide them in another Parrish, and let them continue what they where doing. The "Infallible" Church made the biggest fuck up ever. OF ALL TIME!

You have taken the time to read the L.A. Times investigative reporting on the scouts, right?  I would recommend it.  While I think it's unfairly sensational, it does point out what I described and conclusively disproves your blanket statement in their defense.

But yes, like the scouts, some of our church leaders made one of the biggest fuck-ups ever.   That's saying something, because we've had quite a few real doozies over the centuries.

@Bob - Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5:21-32

So, this Bob will agree with, because the vatican follows the bible, but only with things that give them power.

So Bob, how strong is your faith, hey.

Has Bob and his fellow catholics played with snakes and drank poison to 'prove his faith' in god? Jesus said you must prove your faith - Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
Mark 16: 16-18

http://holiness-snake-handlers.webs.com/

If you don't do this, you just don't have enough faith - you fail.

You are not good enough for Atheists, you are not even good enough for your Jesus.

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