Rumour bungaing

The Telegraph is trying to drum up traffic on its website by publishing photos from Silvio Berlusconi's infamous bunga bunga parties. I'm not showing any of the photos here. Gruts is a family site.

Have you heard the rumour that the reason they're so desperate to cover up what really went on at these parties is that Pope John Paul II was a regular attendee? Apparently tarts and bishops of Rome was a popular theme.

Apparently, they're trying to cover it up because they don't want to blow his chances of a sainthood.

Apparently.

I'm pretty sure the rumour is not very reliable, as I just made it up. But feel free to pass it on.

Oh, all right then, just one photo…

Partygoers

The photo they didn't want you to see: John Paul II and an unidentified 'good-time girl'.

…And, yes, that is indeed Darth Vader in the background. Just behind Yoda. (Don't ask.)

Compare and Contrast: Pope becomes victim of 'power struggle'

Heaven knows, I'm no fan of the Pope. Nor of anyone else reckoning to be infallible. But I've resisted writing about the latest series of scandals to rock the Roman Catholic Church. His Holiness seems to be destroying the final vestiges of whatever reputation his post still might hold perfectly well on his own, without any help from me.

But I was intrigued to see how the BBC's reporting of the latest revelation that the Pope (who was, at the time, the presumably still-fallible Cardinal Ratzinger) delayed action against a paedophile priest. I first read the story last night, but, by this morning, the original story had been replaced by a very similar story with a subtly different slant. So I thought it would be interesting to put together a side-by-side comparison. Note how, in the amended story, His Holiness has become the victim of an internal Vatican 'power struggle':

Original BBC story Amended BBC story
1. Pope Benedict hit by new Church child abuse allegations
10 April 2010 00:41
Vatican defends Pope in paedophile letter row
10 April 2010 05:32
2. The Pope is facing allegations he was responsible for delaying Church action against a paedophile priest - the first time he has been accused so directly. The Vatican has defended the Pope against allegations that he was responsible for delaying Church action against a US paedophile priest.
3. The allegations stem from a letter signed by Benedict XVI in 1985, when he was a senior Vatican official. A spokesman said the claims, which stem from a letter signed by Benedict XVI when he was a senior Vatican official, had been taken out of context.
4. Associated Press said it had obtained the letter, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, resisting the defrocking of offending US priest Stephen Kiesle. AP published a letter, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1985, resisting Stephen Kiesle's defrocking.
5. The Vatican says he was exercising due caution before sacking the priest. The Vatican says he was exercising due caution before sacking the priest.
6. Cardinal Ratzinger - who was at the time the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - said the "good of the universal Church" needed to be considered in any defrocking, AP reported.
7. A leading British Catholic commentator said the issue had exposed an ongoing power struggle between senior Vatican cardinals that started during the papacy of Pope Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II.
8. Series of scandals Series of scandals
9. In the letter, Cardinal Ratzinger - who was at the time the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has responsibility for tackling abuse by clerics - said the "good of the universal Church" needed to be considered in any defrocking, AP reported.
10. Vatican officials say the letter was part of a long correspondence and should not be taken out of context. A Vatican spokesman said the letter was part of a long correspondence and should not be taken out of context.
11. Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi said: "The press office doesn't believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context regarding particular legal situations." "The press office doesn't believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context regarding particular legal situations," said the spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi.
12. The allegations come as the Vatican says the Pope is willing to meet more victims of clerical abuse, and as the Vatican prepares to publish a guide on the internet about how bishops should deal with accusations of sexual abuse.
13. He acknowledged that the Church had lost public trust and said Church law could no longer be placed above civil laws if that trust were to be recovered.
14. This is an abrupt change of tone by the Vatican, says BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott.
15. Officials had previously accused critics of trying to smear the Pope personally and only last weekend said he should ignore petty gossip directed at him, our correspondent adds.
16. The Catholic Church has been hit by a series of child abuse scandals, including in Ireland, the US, Germany and Norway, and has faced criticism for failing to deal adequately with the problem. The Catholic Church has been hit by a series of child abuse scandals in recent years, including in Ireland, the US, Germany and Norway, and has faced criticism for failing to deal adequately with the problem.
17. On Friday, the Vatican urged Catholic dioceses around the world to co-operate with police investigating sex abuse allegations against priests.
18. The allegations come as the Vatican says the Pope is willing to meet more victims of clerical abuse and as the Vatican prepares to publish a guide on the internet as to how Bishops deal with accusations of sexual abuse, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome. The Vatican says the Pope is willing to meet more victims of clerical abuse, while the Church is set to publish an internet guide as to how bishops deal with accusations of sexual abuse.
19. 'Grave significance' 'Grave significance'
20. AP said the Rev Kiesle was sentenced to three years of probation in 1978 for lewd conduct with two young boys in San Francisco. It said the Oakland diocese had recommended Kiesle's removal in 1981 but that that did not happen until 1987. AP said Fr Kiesle was sentenced to three years of probation in 1978 for lewd conduct with two young boys in San Francisco.
21. It said the Oakland diocese had recommended Fr Kiesle's removal in 1981 but that that did not happen until 1987.
22. A Vatican attorney said Kiesle was not accused of any misdemeanour during the period.
23. Cardinal Ratzinger took over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases, in 1981. Cardinal Ratzinger took over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981.
24. AP says the 1985 correspondence, written in Latin, shows Cardinal Ratzinger saying that Kiesle's removal would need careful review. AP says the 1985 correspondence, written in Latin, shows the cardinal saying that Kiesle's removal would need careful review.
25. Cardinal Ratzinger urged "as much paternal care as possible" for Kiesle. Cardinal Ratzinger urged "as much paternal care as possible" for Kiesle.
26. Kiesle was sentenced to six years in prison in 2004 after admitting molesting a young girl in 1995. Kiesle was sentenced to six years in prison in 2004 after admitting molesting a young girl in 1995.
27. Kiesle is now 63 and is on the registered sex offenders list in California. Kiesle is now 63 and is on the registered sex offenders list in California.
28. On Friday, the Vatican urged Catholic dioceses around the world to co-operate with police investigating sex abuse allegations against priests.
29. Father Lombardi acknowledged that the Church had lost public trust and said Church law could no longer be placed above civil laws if that trust were to be recovered.
30. He also said Pope Benedict was prepared to meet more victims of abuse to offer them moral support.
31. BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says this is an abrupt change of tone by the Vatican.
32. He says officials had previously accused critics of trying to smear the Pope personally and only last weekend said he should ignore petty gossip directed at him.
33. Meanwhile Italian media have reported that the Vatican is to issue guidelines on its website on Monday on fighting paedophilia.
34. Power struggle
35. While the scandal has prompted calls for the Pope's resignation, a columnist for Britain's leading Catholic newspaper said Cardinal Ratzinger had actually wanted to crack down hard on paedophile priests in the 1980s.
36. Clifford Longley said the cardinal was thwarted by other senior Vatican figures who wanted to cover up the sex-abuse crisis, until he was given overall control of the issue in 2001.
37. "Ratzinger was thwarted on several occasions... by people surrounding the Pope, and indeed possibly by John Paul II himself, who did not appear to be taking the situation anything like as seriously as Ratzinger," said Mr Longley.
38. Since Benedict XVI was elected as Pope in 2006, things had changed radically, added Mr Longley, but the power-struggle was ongoing.
39. The Vatican has ruled out any possibility of a papal resignation over the scandals. The Vatican has ruled out any possibility of a papal resignation over the scandal.

I'm not going to comment on the above, other than to say that I think it's interesting to compare the two versions of the same BBC story. I would also point out that, if the Vatican hopes to rely on the defence that the Pope's letter was part of a long correspondence and should not be taken out of context, in the interests of openness, perhaps they should publish the entire correspondence.

Giving dogma a bad name

Reuters: Pope says some science shatters human dignity

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Thursday that embryonic stem cell research, artificial insemination and the prospect of human cloning had "shattered" human dignity.

The scientists carrying out stem cell research have realistic hopes of finding effective treatments for cancer, Parkinson's Disease, brain injuries, and many other horrible ailments.

My grandfather spent the last 20 years of his life bedridden with Pakinson's Disease. It was not dignifying. A very close family member recently underwent major cancer treatment. They found it utterly humiliating. Another close family member has been disabled for many years following a major brain injury. They would give their ineffective left arm for a cure.

Repeat pious bullshit like that in front of me, Ratzinger, and you'll be making an unplanned trip to Lourdes—on your knees, wearing sackcloth—to beg for the intervention of a figment of your imagination.

I trust you'll find that commensurate with your human dignity.

Moral foundations

Who says the pope has lost touch with reality?

A thoroughly practical solution to a very serious problem, I'm sure we'd all agree.

Meanwhile, in other news, the former Bishop of Oxford (and thoroughly good egg), Lord Harries of Pentregarth, points out:

Best kind of morality, if you ask me, M'Lud: none of that imaginary-friend-in-sky-looking-down-on-you-and-judging-you nonsense. I always thought that particular philosophy was a bit dodgy as the foundation for an entire system of morals.