The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (1603) by CARAVAGGIO

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (1603) by CARAVAGGIO



The Shroud of Turin is stained with the blood of a torture victim, scientists have claimed.


Analysis of the linen cloth, purportedly used to bury Jesus after his crucifixion, contains “nanoparticles” of blood which are not typical of that of a healthy person, according to researchers.


Institute of Crystallography researcher Elvio Carlino, one of the authors of the report, said the particles are conducive with someone having been through “great suffering”.


“Our results point out that at the nanoscale a scenario of violence is recorded in the funeral fabric,” authors wrote in the scientific article, published in PLOS One.


“The consistent bound of ferritin iron to creatinine occurs in human organism in case of a severe polytrauma.”


Researchers believe the particles show a “peculiar structure, size and distribution”, which corroborates the theory that it was used as a burial cloth.


They also believe it contradicts previous theories that the shroud was made in medieval times.


Professor Giulio Fanti, one of the author’s of the research, said: “The presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments point to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin Shroud.”


The cloth’s authenticity is highly contentious and divides religious opinion.


Some Christians believe the fabric – which is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin – is the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazereth, dating back over 2,000 years.


But previous scientific studies have suggested the cloth, which appears to be imprinted with the face of a man, may in fact be from the 13th or 14th century – centuries after Jesus is believed to have died.


One study found the cloth had been manufactured in India.


The research was published in US scientific journal PlosOne and is titled: “New Biological Evidence from Atomic Resolution Studies on the Turin Shroud.”



Lucy Pasha-Robinson
The Independent


***


Shroud of Turin on display for first time since 2002 restoration (April 22, 2010)

  • Raid at flat belonging to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
  • Occupant of flat was allegedly secretary to Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio
  • Coccopalmerio heads Pontifical Council for Legislative texts and is a key adviser to the Pope

Vatican police have broken up a gay orgy at the home of the secretary to one of Pope Francis’s key advisers, it has been reported.


The flat belonged to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is in charge of tackling clerical sexual abuse.


Reports in Italy claim the occupant of the apartment is allegedly the secretary to Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio – a key aide to the 80-year-old Pope.


Coccopalmerio heads the Pontifical Council for Legislative texts and was said to have once recommended his secretary for a promotion to bishop.


The explosive claims were made in the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.



It is the latest scandal to hit the Vatican and comes after its finance chief Cardinal George Pell was charged with historical sexual offences.


Pell has protested his innocence and said he was looking forward to having his day in court after a two-year investigation, ‘leaks to the media’ and ‘relentless character assassination’. Police have not revealed details of the charges against the 76-year-old, citing the need to preserve the integrity of the judicial process.


In March the Vatican was hit with a wave of lurid accusations of misbehaving priests across Italy with scandals involving orgies, prostitution and porn videos.


The claims were embarrassing to the Vatican, which under Pope Francis has attempted to demand high standards of the clergy.


Francis has tried to clamp down on unethical behaviour ever since being made Pope in 2013 and has often spoken out against the pitfalls of ‘temptation’.



Julian Robinson
The Daily Mail


***


Italian Catholic priests ‘filmed having casual sex at gay clubs’ (July 26, 2010)

Arkansas' Ten Commandments Monument Lasted Less Than 24 Hours, Laurel Wamsley, NPR, June 28, 2017

Staff at the Secretary of State’s Office inspect the damage to the new Ten Commandments monument outside the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark.,
on Wednesday morning. Police say a car crashed into it less than 24 hours after it was installed. Jill Zeman Bleed/AP



Less than a day after a monument of the Ten Commandments was installed outside the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock, it was destroyed when a man smashed a car into the stone.


Authorities say Michael T. Reed II drove a 2016 Dodge Dart into the 6,000-pound granite slab at about 4:47 a.m. local time on Wednesday.


“My boss called me and told me the Ten Commandments monument had been destroyed,” Secretary of State and Capitol Police spokesman Chris Powell told NPR. “When I got here, it was rolled over on the sidewalk and broken into multiple pieces.”


A video that appears to have been taken from inside the car was posted on the Facebook account of a Michael Reed early Wednesday; Powell told the AP that officials believe the video is authentic. It shows what looks like the Arkansas State Capitol building. A man’s voice says: “Oh my goodness. Freedom!” as the car careens into the monument.



Powell said the crash into the 6-foot-tall slab was no accident.


“This was deliberate. The individual drove down there and stopped. He was videoing it on his cellphone as he accelerated into the monument,” Powell said. “One of our Capitol Police officers was on patrol and witnessed it.”


Reed, who police say is a 32-year-old white man from Van Buren, Ark., was arrested outside the Capitol and booked at the Pulaski County Jail. He faces preliminary charges of defacing an object of public respect, a Class C felony; criminal mischief in the first degree, a Class C felony; and trespassing on the state Capitol grounds, a misdemeanor.


Reed was arrested in 2014 for driving a car into the Ten Commandments monument at Oklahoma’s state Capitol, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Opgrande told The Associated Press. He was admitted to a hospital the next day for mental treatment and was not formally charged, the AP reports. In the 2014 incident, The Oklahoman reported that the U.S. Secret Service interviewed Reed and that he told agents that he has bipolar disorder and that Satan had directed him to destroy the monument.


The Tulsa World reported in 2015 that Reed sent the newspaper a letter apologizing for the destruction of the Oklahoma monument. “I am so sorry that this all happening (sic) and wished I could take it all back,” Reed wrote, explaining to the World that he had begun to believe the voices in his head.


Police said Wednesday that Reed was cooperative during his arrest and that, so far, there is no indication of motive.


The erection of the privately funded monument has been contentious. The Arkansas Legislature passed a law in 2015 requiring the installation of the monument on Capitol grounds. The Ten Commandments were erected Tuesday morning, and the ACLU of Arkansas has said it will sue for the monument’s removal.


Meanwhile, Powell said Capitol workers are left picking up the (extremely heavy) pieces: “Our crew is in the process of cleaning all that up and carting it off. They have to get a tractor and put it on pallets and lift it up.”


And the Dodge Dart was towed away, Powell said, adding, “There was minor damage, but not what you’d think, from what I hear, from knocking over a big stone monument.”


Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert, who spearheaded the effort to install the Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol, says he wants to replace it, Michael Hibblen of member station KUAR reports.


“We will rebuild the monument,” Rapert said. “It will be put in place and hopefully protect it from any future harm.”



Laurel Wamsley
NPR


***


Ten Commandments Monument Destroyed. The Satanic Temple Comments: "My immediate response is one in which I want to be clear that we do not celebrate the monument's destruction or vandalism. Ultimately, it will come down, but it can and should be done by the proper legal process," said Lucien Greaves (Satanic Temple) in a statement Wednesday. "I also want to stress that the man who did this, while clearly mentally ill, is also a self-described born again "Jesus Freak." When he did the same thing in Oklahoma, the politicians there attempted to describe him as a Satanist. I want it to be clear that while we do not celebrate what he has done, he clearly also does not align himself with us either." (Article © Arkansasmatters.com by Austin Kellerman) #thesatanictemple

A post shared by The Satanic Temple (@thesatanictemple) on

There is no sharp distinction between cult and regular religion

Cult or religion? The Easter ‘Passion of the Christ’ procession in Comayagua, a small town in Honduras. Photo by Teun Voeten/Panos



Cults are exploitative, weird groups with strange beliefs and practices, right?
So what about regular religions then?


Cults, generally speaking, are a lot like pornography: you know them when you see them. It would be hard to avoid the label on encountering (as I did, carrying out field work last year) 20 people toiling unpaid on a Christian farming compound in rural Wisconsin – people who venerated their leader as the closest thing to God’s representative on Earth. Of course, they argued vehemently that they were not a cult. Ditto for the 2,000-member church I visited outside Nashville, whose parishioners had been convinced by an ostensibly Christian diet programme to sell their houses and move to the ‘one square mile’ of the New Jerusalem promised by their charismatic church leader. Here they could eat – and live – in accordance with God and their leader’s commands. It’s easy enough, as an outsider, to say, instinctively: yes, this is a cult.


Less easy, though, is identifying why. Knee-jerk reactions make for poor sociology, and delineating what, exactly, makes a cult (as opposed to a ‘proper’ religious movement) often comes down to judgment calls based on perceived legitimacy. Prod that perception of legitimacy, however, and you find value judgments based on age, tradition or ‘respectability’ (that nice middle-class couple down the street, say, as opposed to Tom Cruise jumping up and down on a couch). At the same time, the markers of cultism as applied more theoretically – a single charismatic leader, an insular structure, seeming religious ecstasy, a financial burden on members – can also be applied to any number of new or burgeoning religious movements that we don’t call cults.


Often (just as with pornography), what we choose to see as a cult tells us as much about ourselves as about what we’re looking at.


Historically, our obsession with cults seems to thrive in periods of wider religious uncertainty, with ‘anti-cult’ activism in the United States peaking in the 1960s and ’70s, when the US religious landscape was growing more diverse, and the sway of traditional institutions of religious power was eroding. This period, dubbed by the economic historian Robert Fogel as the ‘Fourth Great Awakening’, saw interest in personal spiritual and religious practice spike alongside a decline in mainline Protestantism, giving rise to numerous new movements. Some of these were Christian in nature, for example the ‘Jesus Movement’; others were heavily influenced by the pop-cultural ubiquity of pseudo-Eastern and New Age thought: the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (aka the Hare Krishna), modern Wicca, Scientology. Plenty of these movements were associated with young people – especially young counter-cultural people with suspicious politics – adding a particular political tenor to the discourse surrounding them.


Against these there sprang a network of ‘anti-cult’ movements uniting former members of sects, their families and other objectors. Institutions such as the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) formed in 1978 after the poison fruit-drink (urban legend says Kool-Aid) suicides of Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple. The anti-cult networks believed that cults brainwashed their members (the idea of mind control, as scholars such as Margaret Singer point out, originated in media coverage of torture techniques supposedly used by North Korea during the Korean War). To counter brainwashing, activists controversially abducted and forcibly ‘deprogrammed’ members who’d fallen under a cult’s sway. CAN itself was co-founded by a professional deprogrammer, Ted Patrick, who later faced scrutiny for accepting $27,000 from the concerned parents of a woman involved in Leftist politics to, essentially, handcuff her to a bed for two weeks.


But that wasn’t all. An equal and no less fervent network of what became known as counter-cult activists emerged among Christians who opposed cults on theological grounds, and who were as worried about the state of adherent’s souls as of their psyches. The Baptist pastor Walter Ralston Martin was sufficiently disturbed by the proliferation of religious pluralism in the US to write The Kingdom of the Cults (1965), which delineated in detail the theologies of those religious movements Martin identified as toxic, and provided Biblical avenues for the enterprising mainstream Christian minister to oppose them. With more than half a million copies sold, it was one of the top-selling spiritual books of the era.


Writing the history of cults in the US, therefore, is also writing the history of a discourse of fear: of the unknown, of the decline in mainstream institutions, of change.



Every cultish upsurge – the Mansons, the Peoples Temple, the Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church (or Moonies) – met with an equal and opposite wave of hysteria. In 1979, the US sociologists Anson D Shupe, J C Ventimiglia and David G Bromley coined the term ‘atrocity tale’ to describe lurid media narratives about the Moonies. Particularly gruesome anecdotes (often told by emotionally compromised former members) worked to place the entire religious movement beyond the bounds of cultural legitimacy and to justify extreme measures – from deprogramming to robust conservatorship laws – to prevent vulnerable people falling victim to the cultic peril. True or not, the ‘atrocity tale’ allowed anti-cult activists and families worried about their children’s wellbeing (or their suspicious politics) to replace sociological or legal arguments with emotional ones.


This terror peaked when atrocity tales began outnumbering genuine horrors. The ‘Satanic panic’ of the 1980s brought with it a wave of mass hysteria over cult Satanists ritually abusing children in daycare centres, something that seems entirely to have been the product of false memories. In the now-discredited bestselling book Michelle Remembers (1980) by the psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder and his patient Michelle Smith (later, Mrs Lawrence Pazder), the lead author relates how he unlocked Smith’s memories of Satanic childhood. This influential atrocity tale influenced the three-year case in the 1980s against an administrator of the McMartin Preschool in Los Angeles and her son, a teacher, that racked up 65 crimes. The prosecution spun a fear-stoking narrative around outlandish claims, including bloody animal mutilations. The number of convictions? Zero. But mass-media hysteria made Satanic panic a national crisis, and a pastime.


And yet it is impossible to dismiss anti-cult work as pure hysteria. There might not be Satanists lurking round every corner, lying in wait to kidnap children or sacrifice bunny rabbits to Satan, but the dangers of spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse in small-scale, unsupervised religious communities, particularly those isolated from the mainstream or dominant culture, is real enough.


It is also keenly contemporary. The de-centred quality of the US religious landscape, the proliferation of storefront churches and ‘home churches’, not to mention the potential of the internet, makes it easier than ever for groups to splinter and fragment without the oversight of a particular religious or spiritual tradition. And some groups are, without a doubt, toxic. I’ve been to compounds, home churches and private churches where children are taught to obey community leaders so unquestioningly that they have no contact with the outside world; where the death of some children as a result of corporal punishment has gone unacknowledged by church hierarchy; or where members have died because group leaders discouraged them from seeking medical treatment. I’ve spoken to people who have left some of these movements utterly broken – having lost jobs, savings, their sense of self, and even their children (powerful religious groups frequently use child custody battles to maintain a hold over members).


In one Reddit post, James Chatham, formerly a member of the Remnant Fellowship, a controversial church founded by the Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin, listed every reason he’d been punished as a child:


Allow me to give you a short list of the super-crazy [discipline] I recieved [sic] ‘Gods loving discipline’ for.
Opening my eyes during a prayer
Joking with adults (That joked back with me) …
Saying that i don’t trust ‘Leaders’ (Their name for those that run the church)
Asking almost any question about the bible.
Trying to stop another kid from beating my skull in …
Sneezing …
Not being able to stand for 30 minutes straight with no break.
Asking if my mother loved me more than god.
Does such extreme disciplinarianism make the Remnant Fellowship a cult? Or does the question of labelling distract us from wider issues at hand?


We label cults ‘cults’ because they’re easy pickings, even if their beliefs are no more outlandish than reincarnation

The historian J Gordon Melton of Baylor University in Texas says that the word ‘cult’ is meaningless: it merely assumes a normative framework that legitimises some exertions of religious power – those associated with mainstream organisations – while condemning others. Groups that have approved, ‘orthodox’ beliefs are considered legitimate, while groups whose interpretation of a sacred text differs from established norms are delegitimised on that basis alone. Such definitions also depend on who is doing the defining. Plenty of ‘cults’ identified by anti-cult and counter-cult groups, particularly Christian counter-cult groups such as the EMNR (Evangelical Ministries to New Religions), are recognised elsewhere as ‘legitimate’ religions: Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, even the Catholic Church have all come under fire, alongside the Moonies or the Peoples Temple.


To deny a so-called ‘cult’ legitimacy based on its size, or beliefs, or on atrocity tales alone is, for Melton, to play straight into normative definitions of power. We label cults ‘cults’ because they’re easy pickings, in a sense; even if their beliefs are no more outlandish, in theory, than reincarnation or the transubstantiation of the wafer in the Catholic Eucharist.


In a paper delivered at the Center for Study of New Religions in Pennsylvania in 1999, Melton said: ‘we have reached a general consensus that New Religions are genuine and valid religions. A few may be bad religion and some may be led by evil people, but they are religions.’ To call a group – be it Scientology or the Moonies, or the Peoples Church – a cult is to obscure the fact that to study it and understand it properly, both sociologically and theologically, we must treat it like any other religion (Melton prefers the term ‘New Religious Movements’). His point underscores the fact that questions of legitimacy, authority and hierarchy, and of delineation between inner and outer circles, are as much the provenance of ‘classical’ religious studies as of any analysis of cults.


Whatever our knee-jerk reaction to Scientology, say, and however much we know that compounds where members voluntarily hand over their savings to charismatic leaders are creepy and/or wrong, we cannot forget that the history of Christianity (and other faiths) is no less pockmarked by accusations of cultism. Each wave of so-called ‘heresy’ in the chaotic and contradictory history of the Christian churches was accompanied by a host of atrocity tales that served to legitimise one or another form of practice. This was hardly one-sided. Charges were levied against groups we might now see as ‘orthodox’ as well as at groups that history consigns to the dustbin of heresy: issues of ecclesiastical management (as in the Donatist controversy) or semantics (the heresies of Arianism, for example) could – and did – result in mutual anathema: we are the true church; you are a cult.



Of course, the uncomfortable truth here is that even true church (large, established, tradition-claiming church) and cult aren’t so far apart – at least when it comes to counting up red flags. The presence of a charismatic leader? What was John Calvin? (Heck, what was Jesus Christ?) A tradition of secrecy around specialised texts or practices divulged only to select initiates? Just look at the practitioners of the Eleusinian mysteries in Ancient Greece, or contemporary mystics in a variety of spiritual traditions, from the Jewish Kabbalah to the Vajrayāna Buddhist tradition. Isolated living on a compound? Consider contemporary convents or monasteries. A financial obligation? Christianity, Judaism and Islam all promote regular tithing back into the religious community. A toxic relationship of abuse between spiritual leaders and their flock? The instances are too numerous and obvious to list.


If we refuse any neat separation between cult and religion, aren’t we therefore obligated to condemn both? Only ontological metaphysical truth can possibly justify the demands that any religion makes upon its adherents. And if we take as writ the proposition that God isn’t real (or that we can never know what God wants), it’s easy to collapse the distinction with a wave of a hand: all religions are cults, and all are probably pretty bad for you. The problem with this argument is that it, too, falls down when it comes to creating labels. If we take Melton’s argument further, the debate over what makes a cult, writ large, might just as easily be relabelled: what makes a religion?


Besides, accusations of cultism have been levelled at secular or semi-secular organisations as well as metaphysically inclined ones. Any organisation offering identity-building rituals and a coherent narrative of the world and how to live in it is a target, from Alcoholics Anonymous to the vegan restaurant chain the Loving Hut, founded by the Vietnamese entrepreneur-cum-spiritual leader Ching Hai, to the practice of yoga (itself rife with structural issues of spiritual and sexual abuse), to the modern phenomenon of the popular, paleo-associated sport-exercise programme CrossFit, which a Harvard Divinity School study used as an example of contemporary ‘religious’ identity. If the boundaries between cult and religion are already slippery, those between religion and culture are more porous still.


In his seminal book on religion, The Interpretation of Cultures (1973), the anthropologist Clifford Geertz denies that human beings can live outside culture (what he calls the capital-M ‘Man’). Everything about how we see the world and ascribe meanings to symbols, at a linguistic as well as a spiritual level, is mediated by the semiotic network in which we operate. Religion, too, functions within culture as a series of ascriptions of meaning that define how we see ourselves, others, and the world. Geertz writes:


Without further ado, then, a religion is:
(1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing those conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.


Such a definition of religion isn’t limited to groups with formal doctrines about ‘God’, but encompasses any wider cultural narrative of the self in the world.


Geertz’s definition – somewhat dated now – has been updated: most notably by postcolonial thinkers such as Talal Asad, who argue that Geertz overlooks one of the most significant mechanisms for meaning-making: power. How we conceive of God, our world, our spiritual values (a hunger for ‘cleansing’ in yoga, or for proof of strength, as in CrossFit, or for salvific grace) is inextricable both from our own identities and our position within a group in which questions of power are never, can never be, absent.


Even the narratives that many religions, cults and religious-type groups promulgate – that they are in some sense separate from ‘the others’ (the Hebrew word for ‘holiness’, qadosh, derives from the word for separation) – are themselves tragically flawed: they are both apart from and firmly within the problems of a wider culture.


Cults don’t come out of nowhere; they fill a vacuum, for individuals, and for society at large

Take, for example, the cultural pervasiveness of ideals of female thinness. It is precisely the aspirational desire to be Kate-Moss skinny that allows a Christian diet programme such as Remnant to attract members in the first place (don’t eat too much; it’s a sin!). So too does it allow cults of ‘wellness’ to take hold: a woman who is already obsessed with cleansing toxins, making her body ‘perfect’ and ‘clean’, and ‘purifying’ herself is more likely to get involved with a cult-like yoga practice and/or be susceptible to sexual abuse by her guru (a not uncommon occurrence).


Likewise, the no less culturally pervasive failure of mainstream institutions – from the healthcare system to mainline Protestant churches – to address the needs of their members gives rise, with equal potency, to individuals susceptible to conspiracy theories, or cultish behaviours: to anything that might provide them with meaningfulness.


The very collapse of wider religious narratives – an established cultural collectivism – seems inevitably to leave space for smaller, more intense, and often more toxic groups to reconfigure those Geertzian symbols as they see fit. Cults don’t come out of nowhere; they fill a vacuum, for individuals and, as we’ve seen, for society at large. Even Christianity itself proliferated most widely as a result of a similar vacuum: the relative decline of state religious observance, and political hegemony, in the Roman Empire.


After all, the converse of the argument ‘If God isn’t real then all religions are probably cults’ is this: if a given religion or cult is right, metaphysically speaking, then that rightness is the most important thing in the universe. If a deity really, truly wants you to, say, flagellate yourself with a whip (as Catholic penitents once did), or burn yourself on your husband’s funeral pyre, then no amount of commonsense reasoning can amount to a legitimate deterrent: the ultimate cosmic meaningfulness of one’s actions transcends any other potential need. And to be in a community of people who can help reinforce that truth, whose rituals and discourse and symbols help not only to strengthen a sense of meaningfulness but also to ground it in a sense of collective purpose, then that meaningfulness becomes more vital still: it sits at the core of what it is to be human.


To talk about religion as a de facto abuse-vector of hierarchical power (in other words, a cult writ large) is a meaningless oversimplification. It’s less an arrow than a circle: a cycle of power, meaning, identity, and ritual. We define ourselves by participating in something, just as we define ourselves against those who don’t participate in something. Our understanding of ourselves – whether we’re cradle Catholics, newly joined-up members of the Hare Krishna, or members of a particularly rabid internet fandom – as people whose actions have cosmic if not metaphysical significance gives us a symbolic framework in which to live our lives, even as it proscribes our options. Every time we repeat a ritual, from the Catholic Mass to a prayer circle on a farm compound to a CrossFit workout, it defines us – and we define the people around us.


Today’s cults might be secular, or they might be theistic. But they arise from the same place of need, and from the failure of other, more ‘mainstream’ cultural institutions to fill it. If God did not exist, as Voltaire said, we would have to invent him. The same is true for cults.



Tara Isabella Burton
Aeon


***



Holy Hell
Will Allen, USA, 2016, 100 min



Based on 22 years of footage inside a modern cult


Just out of college, a young filmmaker joins a loving, secretive, and spiritual community led by a charismatic teacher in 1980s West Hollywood. Twenty years later, the group is shockingly torn apart. Told through over two decades of the filmmaker’s archival materials, this is their story.


holyhellthedocumentary.com

SYDNEY – Seven percent of Catholic priests were accused of abusing children in Australia between 1950 and 2010 but the allegations were never investigated, “shocking and indefensible” data showed Monday during an inquiry into paedophilia in the church.


The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard that 4,444 alleged incidents of pedophilia were reported to church authorities and in some dioceses, more than 15 percent of priests were perpetrators.


Australia ordered the Royal Commission in 2012 after a decade of growing pressure to investigate allegations of child abuse across the country, with the inquiry now in its final phase after four years of hearings.


“Between 1950 and 2010, overall seven percent of priests were alleged perpetrators,” said Gail Furness, the lawyer leading questioning at the inquiry in Sydney.


“The accounts were depressingly similar. Children were ignored or worse, punished. Allegations were not investigated. Priests and religious (figures) were moved,” she added.


“The parishes or communities to which they were moved knew nothing of their past. Documents were not kept or they were destroyed. Secrecy prevailed as did cover ups.”


The average age of the victims at the time was 10 for girls and 11 for boys. Of the 1,880 alleged perpetrators, 90 percent were men.


The St John of God Brothers religious order was the worst, with just over 40 percent of members accused of abuse.


The commission has spoken to thousands of survivors and heard claims of child abuse involving churches, orphanages, sporting clubs, youth groups and schools.


The church in Australia set up the Truth, Justice and Healing Council to coordinate its response.


“These numbers are shocking, they are tragic, they are indefensible,” its chief executive Francis Sullivan told the commission.


“This data, along with all we have heard over the past four years, can only be interpreted for what it is: a massive failure on the part of the Catholic Church in Australia to protect children from abusers. As Catholics we hang our heads in shame.”


The inquiry has embroiled Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric George Pell, now the Vatican’s finance chief, who was questioned over his dealings with paedophile priests in Victoria state in the 1970s.


Pell was also accused of historic sex abuse claims when he was the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney in 2002, but was later cleared of any wrongdoing. He has denied all allegations.


Since being set up, the commission has made over 300 referrals to police but so far there have only been 27 prosecutions with 75 cases pending.



Agence France Presse


***


La névrose chrétienne (1976) par le Docteur PIERRE SOLIGNAC (May 25, 2012)


***


Des prêtres de Montréal se verront interdire d’être seuls avec des enfants (June 23, 2016)
Le pape crée une instance pour juger les évêques couvrant des abus sexuels (June 10, 2015)
Les propos du pape sur la pédophilie ont des échos jusqu’au Québec (July 15, 2014)
Des victimes de prêtres veulent Mgr Ouellet comme pape (March 11, 2013)
Pornographie juvénile : un prêtre de Sorel-Tracy accusé (March 8, 2013)
Congrégations générales – Les problèmes de l’Église sur la table (March 7, 2013)
Agressions sexuelles: un deuxième frère de Sainte-Croix sera arrêté (December 29, 2012)
Symposium sur la pédophilie – Le pape appelle au «renouveau de l’Église» (February 15, 2012)
Pornographie juvénile – Sitôt condamné, l’ex-évêque Lahey est libéré (January 5, 2012)
Église néerlandaise: des «dizaines de milliers» de mineurs abusés sexuellement (December 16, 2011)
Pédophilie – L’Église veut éduquer son clergé par Internet (June 28, 2011)
Former Catholic bishop Raymond Lahey pleads guilty to child pornography charges (May 4, 2011)
Pédophilie – Le Vatican va envoyer une «circulaire» aux évêques (November 20, 2010)
Le Vatican durcit les règles contre la pédophilie (July 15, 2010)
Top Catholic Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing His Own Sons (June 25, 2010)
Pope addresses priest abuse scandal (June 11, 2010)
Vatican Sex Abuse Prosecutor: Guilty Priests Are Going To Hell (June 4, 2010)
Priest Accused Of Abusing Boy, Turning Home Into ‘Erotic Dungeon’ Surrenders To Police
(May 26, 2010)
Le Vatican publiera un guide contre la pédophilie (April 9, 2010)
Agressions sexuelles par des membres du clergé – Les victimes exigent la démission de Mgr Ouellet (February 17, 2010)

La statue de l’Enfant-Jésus érigée devant l’église Sainte-Anne-des-Pins au centre-ville de Sudbury passera un deuxième Noël sans tête après avoir été vandalisée il y a plus d’un an.


La tête originale de la statue de l’Enfant-Jésus, qui avait été dérobée il y a plus d’un an, sera remise en place au printemps prochain.


Il faut attendre le retour des températures douces, explique le prêtre de la paroisse, Gérald Lajeunesse.


Pour la protéger des intempéries et des vandales, il avait songé à rentrer la statue de Marie et de l’Enfant-Jésus dans l’église Sainte-Anne-des-Pins, mais elle ne peut pas être déplacée parce qu’elle est ancrée au sol.



Une opération délicate


La tête de la statue érigée devant l’église du centre-ville de Sudbury avait déjà été vandalisée, mais c’était la première fois qu’elle disparaissait.


Comme la tête a déjà dû être restaurée, il faut d’abord retirer les restes des adhérents sans abîmer davantage la pierre avant de la remettre en place. Cette opération est délicate, explique Gérald Lajeunesse.


Si c’était faisable, ce serait bien d’avoir une nouvelle [statue] identique à l’originale, mais en même temps elle perdrait un peu de son caractère historique.

– Gérald Lajeunesse, père de la paroisse Sainte-Anne-des-Pins


Gérald Lajeunesse garde précieusement la tête originale dans son bureau. Un homme qui a entendu parler de cette histoire est prêt à payer les réparations, selon le père Lajeunesse qui préfère taire son identité pour l’instant.



La tête temporaire rendue à l’artiste


La tête temporaire qui avait notamment suscité des moqueries sur les réseaux sociaux a été rendue à l’artiste locale Heather Wise.


Gérald Lajeunesse aurait aimé la garder et se dit intéressé à l’acheter à l’artiste si jamais elle souhaite la vendre.


Sur le plan personnel, le prêtre garde un bon souvenir de toute cette histoire. C’est le genre de choses qu’on ne nous apprend pas en séminaire, dit-il en riant.



Sophie Houle-Drapeau
Radio-Canada


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Victime de vandalisme, une statue de Jésus a une nouvelle tête temporaire (October 11, 2016)

Des scientifiques ont ouvert pour la première fois depuis au moins deux siècles le lieu considéré par les chrétiens comme étant la tombe de Jésus dans l’église du Saint Sépulcre à Jérusalem.


La plaque de marbre recouvrant la tombe a été déplacée durant trois jours dans le cadre de travaux de restauration menés dans cette église située dans la vieille ville, a pu constater une photographe de l’AFP.


C’est la première fois que cette pierre tombale est ainsi soulevée depuis au moins l’année 1810, lorsque de précédents travaux de restauration avaient été entrepris à la suite d’un incendie, a indiqué le Père Samuel Aghovan, le supérieur de l’église arménienne.


“C’est émouvant car c’est quelque chose dont nous parlons depuis des siècles”, a ajouté cet ecclésiastique.


Selon la tradition chrétienne, le corps de Jésus a été posé dans un lit funéraire taillé dans le roc à la suite de sa crucifixion par les Romains en l’an 30 ou 33. Les chrétiens croient que le Christ a ressuscité et que des femmes venues oindre son corps trois jours après son enterrement ont affirmé qu’elles n’avaient rien trouvé.


L’opération en cours doit permettre d’effectuer des analyses des matériaux et des structures, ont indiqué à l’AFP des experts.


Selon le magazine National Geographic, qui a consacré un article aux travaux de restauration, la mise au jour “du lit funéraire va fournir aux chercheurs une occasion sans précédent d’étudier la surface d’origine de ce qui est considéré comme le site le plus sacré du christianisme”.


Le projet de restauration dans l’église du Saint-Sépulcre a débuté en mai. Des échafaudages ont été montés autour du site, ainsi que des panneaux de protection tandis qu’une structure métallique a été apposée devant l’entrée du tombeau pour protéger les touristes.



Importants travaux


Le tombeau est situé dans une petite structure connue sous le nom d’édicule qui a été reconstruite en marbre à la suite d’un incendie.


Il est soutenu depuis des dizaines d’années par une structure métallique, qui maintient ensemble les blocs de marbre. Mais ceux-ci se désolidarisent sous l’effet, autrefois des intempéries et, aujourd’hui, de l’afflux quotidien de milliers de pèlerins et touristes.


L’édicule dressé sous la coupole de l’église sera démonté et reconstruit à l’identique, a indiqué la Custodie. Seules les pièces trop fragiles ou cassées seront remplacées tandis que les plaques de marbre pouvant être conservées seront nettoyées. La structure qui les supporte sera consolidée.


Les travaux seront financés par les trois principales confessions chrétiennes du Saint-Sépulcre (Grecs-Orthodoxes, Franciscains, Arméniens) ainsi que par des contributions publiques et privées.


Cette restauration est prévue pour durer huit mois afin d’être terminée pour les fêtes de Pâques de 2017. Elle est menée par des experts grecs avec le soutien de la National Geographic Society.


L’édicule est la dernière en date des constructions qui se sont succédé depuis le IVe siècle sur les lieux du tombeau du Christ.



Agence France Presse
AFP.com


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Caesars Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to invent Jesus (2012) by FRITZ HEEDE & NIJOLE SPARKIS (February 13, 2015)

Liturgie Apocryphe

"The production of nervous force is directly connected with the diet of an individual, and its refining depends on the very purity of this diet, allied to appropriate breathing exercises.

The diet most calculated to act effectively on the nervous force is that which contains the least quantity of animal matter; therefore the Pythagorean diet, in this connection, is the most suitable.

...

The main object was to avoid introducing into the organism what Descartes called 'animal spirits'. Thus, all animals that had to serve for the nourishment of the priests were slaughtered according to special rites, they were not murdered, as is the case nowadays".