Priest Sex-Abuse Case Hits Church of Pope’s Adviser

I am shocked…. shocked I say!

Priest Sex-Abuse Case Hits Church of Pope’s Adviser

(GENOA) — The latest sex-abuse case to rock the Catholic Church is unfolding in the archdiocese of an influential Italian Cardinal who has been working with Pope Benedict XVI on reforms to respond to prior scandals of pedophile priests.

Father Riccardo Seppia, a 51-year-old parish priest in the village of Sastri Ponente, near Genoa, was arrested last Friday, May 13, on pedophilia and drug charges. Investigators say that in tapped mobile-phone conversations, Seppia asked a Moroccan drug dealer to arrange sexual encounters with young and vulnerable boys. “I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger. Fourteen-year-olds are O.K. Look for needy boys who have family issues,” he allegedly said. Genoa Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, had been working with Benedict to establish a tough new worldwide policy, released this week, on how bishops should handle accusations of priestly sex abuse.

Bagnasco said that when he met the Pope this weekend, he “asked for a particular blessing for my archdiocese” in light of the alleged crimes, adding that “like every father toward a son [feels] great pain in seeing a priest who is not faithful to his vocation.”

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi praised Bagnasco’s handling of the Sastri Ponente case, lauding its “timeliness and competence.” On Saturday, May 14, the Cardinal visited the Santo Spirito church, where Seppia was the parish priest.

According to investigators, Seppia told a friend — a former seminarian and barman who is currently under investigation — that the town’s malls were the best places to entice minors. In tapped phone conversations the two cursed and swore against God. The priest is charged with having attempted to kiss and touch an underage altar boy and of having exchanged cocaine for sexual intercourse with boys over 18.

Seppia’s defense lawyers are expected to argue that those conversations — monitored since Oct. 20, 2010 — were just words, sex games that were played by adults. It was just a game even when he claimed to have “kissed on the mouth” a 15-year-old altar boy, according to the defense.

On Monday, May 16, during formal questioning by Genoa’s investigating magistrate Annalisa Giacalone, Seppia chose not to respond. The magistrate decided to keep him in custody to avoid a risk of relapse or tampering with evidence. Defense attorney Paolo Bonanni said the defense wants to evaluate all the charges, reserving the right to respond to public prosecutor Stefano Puppo in the coming days.

Questioned by the investigators, the altar boy reportedly confirmed the attempted kiss. Another male minor who, according to the investigators, was stalked with messages and pressing invitations, will be questioned soon. Psychologists are helping Carabinieri police officers obtain testimony from the alleged victims. “The boys are ashamed to talk and to admit what happened,” says one of the investigators. The evidence amounts to at least 50 messages and phone calls. In the tapped phone conversations, the drug dealer contacted the boys and gave their phone numbers to the priest, who paid them with cocaine or 50 euros each time for sexual intercourse.

“[The investigators] made us listen to that man saying terrifying things about our children. Things so terrible that I cannot repeat them,” a father of one of the boys said.

Investigators are also examining three confiscated computers: the priest allegedly looked for partners via chat as well.

Seppia is currently being kept in a confinement cell in a Genoa prison. He met the jail’s priest and psychologist. “He has read the newspapers, and he is pained by his parishioners’ comments,” says his lawyer. The investigation is ongoing.

Online survey author alleges atheists have better sex lives

Online survey author alleges atheists have better sex lives

Psychologist Darrel Ray, who was raised in a conservative Christian household, conducted an online survey to determine the impact of religion on sexual satisfaction.

Ray set out to confirm whether his own experience- that his sex life vastly improved when he ditched religion- bore out among others. Ray, who authored the book The God Virus: How God Infects Our Lives and Culture, sought out 14,500 people who had once been religious or raised in a religious environment before becoming atheist or agnostic. What Ray discovered is that guilt seems to heavily influence sexual satisfaction in many specific subsets of Christianity.

The survey did not adhere to social science study guidelines, but Ray reported the results as follows:

Those who had been raised Mormon with their strict views about sex, showed the highest rating among those who had sexual guilt with an average score of 8.19 out of 10. Others with similar responses were Jehovah’s Witness, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist and Baptist.

Catholics, on the other hand, rated their guilt at 6.34 and Lutherans came in at 5.88. Atheists and agnostics were the lowest in guilt at 4.71 and 4.81.

University of Texas at Austin associate professor Mark Regnerus dismissed the survey as biased and said Ray’s methods were “unscientific,” adding:

“It appears that it was a ‘fill it out if you want to’ kind of survey that is not random, not nationally representative, and relies entirely on self-selection,” he said. “In other words, they have data from people who felt like filling out a survey on atheism and sex. As a result, I am not surprised at their findings.”

Regnerus said the results were based on “hearsay or guesswork,” and opined:

“I don’t fault the author for running the survey he did, but it does display research methods which do not meet the standards of most published social science.”

Indeed, the results would have been a bit more interesting even just stacked against responses from religious folk who consider themselves sexually satisfied. Do you agree with Ray’s findings? Does religion or lack thereof significantly affect your view on sex?

Christian Responses: What good has Christianity done?

What good has Christianity done?

Quick-read this article:
While evolution’s philosophy of “survival of the fittest” has brought overwhelmingly harmful movements such as Nazism, Stalinism, and eugenics, Christians following Christ’s teaching of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” have established hospitals, welfare agencies, orphanages, charities, relief agencies, universities … and fought for prison reform, abolition of slavery, better education, and treatment for alcoholics.

Christian Baptism (4K)Jesus Christ said: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matthew 7:18).

The frightful evolutionary catchphrase of “survival of the fittest” has led to many harmful movements, such as Stalin’s murderous rampages, Francis Galton’s appalling eugenics ideas, and Hitler’s master race program. (See the article What harm can come from believing in evolution?)

Is Christianity any better?

Atheists and skeptics sometimes say that Christianity is no better — just look at the crusades, the Ku Klux Klan, slavery in the American South, etc.

Yet true Christianity is based on Jesus Christ’s Golden Rule — Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12). None of the movements they mention — the crusades, the KKK, slavery in the American South, etc. — have been based on this principle or any other of Jesus Christ’s teachings.

In fact, if you want to compare the fruit, you will find there are no Skeptics’ or rationalists’ hospitals, charities, or aged-care homes, no evolutionists’ orphanages, welfare agencies, or relief agencies, or any other life-improving institutions such as those founded and funded by Christians who have followed Jesus’ teachings.

Christianity has always been humanitarian

The early church in Jerusalem appointed deacons and elders to care for widows and the sick (Acts 6:1, James 5:13), and churches still do this today. In the Middle Ages, the monasteries created hospitals. Burgeoning numbers of pilgrims to the Holy Land were cared for by the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.

The noble nursing reformer Florence Nightingale received her training at the first Protestant hospital — at Kaiserwerth in Germany.

While Charles Darwin was finalizing publication of his Origin of Species in 1859, Swiss humanitarian and Bible-believer Henri Dunant was planning the Red Cross and negotiating the Geneva convention for the care and treatment of wounded soldiers. Dunant was co-winner of the first Nobel Prize for Peace in 1901, and his inspiring Red Cross committee later won the award three times.

It was the Bible-believing Christians in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries — not the evolutionists of the day — who tackled the illiteracy problem, adult education, abolition of slavery, prison reform, and treatment for alcoholics. The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was formed in 1844, the YWCA a decade later, and the Salvation Army launched its multinational welfare organization based on Christian ethics and precepts six years after the release of Darwin’s Origin of Species.

Care for those who are troubled

Christians have always offered pastoral care to those who are hurt, troubled, grieving or alienated. Christians set the foundations for education in North America, including the establishment of universites such as Harvard and Yale.

It is unlikely that the evolutionary world view would ever allow significant humanitarian causes to arise and flourish, because if you believe you are the product of purposeless evolution through “survival of the fittest”, there is little incentive or reason to help the weak. Hence we get monumental abominations under the likes of Stalin, Galton, and Hitler.

The concept of humanitarianism comes from Christ’s teachings. That is definitely not a “corrupt tree” or “corrupt fruit”.

History shows that it is the Christians who have made this world a better place for all — even for Skeptics, anti-Christians, evolutionists and atheists.

Christian Responses: 8 Really Good Reasons Why Christianity Is True

8 Really Good Reasons Why Christianity Is True

In a world of logic, reason and science, why do millions of people still follow a religion that is nearly 2000 years old? How can any faith compete with the collective knowledge and wisdom of modern society? Isn’t it time to start demanding that religions either stand up to the rigors of intellectual investigation or be discarded in the name of progress?

Mankind has had greater advances in education and science over the past 100 years than ever before. Once upon a time the horse and buggy were cutting edge technology, but now we fly around in jet aircraft. Our knowledge of physics, astronomy and other sciences has absolutely exploded. So why does anyone still listen to an ancient religion that is thousands of years old?

Everywhere you go on the internet today, and I mean EVERYWHERE, there are debates going on about Christianity, and these debates can get incredibly heated. Some of the best minds and some of the best educated people in the world claim to have the answers. Atheists, skeptics, philosophers, preachers, bloggers and other self-appointed religious experts are constantly battling for the intellectual high ground.

So who is right?

Do logic, reason and modern science have anything to say about religion?

Can religion survive in an era when most of the people are educated and when many people look at religious claims with skepticism?

When skeptics attack most religions, they DO indeed have the intellectual high ground. For when one closely examines such “faiths” as Islam or Hinduism one does find that logic, reason and real, hard evidence are directly contradictory to these religious systems.

However, Christianity is the one faith that is different in this regard. It is our assertion that there is absolutely no conflict between Christianity and the truth.

If you make the decision to actually investigate these matters objectively, you will find that Christianity has a MOUNTAIN of evidence to support it. Those who have actually studied these things with an open mind know the truth.

Dr. Simon Greenleaf (Harvard University – one of the greatest professors of Law in U.S. history) once said: “According to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.”

Have you ever spent much time wondering if Christianity is true or not?

Perhaps you should.

We have studied these matters for over 20 years, and we have come to the conclusion that after you have asked all the questions, and after you have done all the research, the evidence does lead to an overwhelming conclusion:

Christianity is true.

But the sad reality is that the vast majority of Christians do not know how to defend the Christian faith. Why? Because the church has done an absolutely MISERABLE job of teaching people about the evidence for Christianity. So when Christians come up against atheists, skeptics and self-appointed, know-it-all “experts” they don’t know how to respond to their questions.

We would encourage all of you to investigate these matters for yourself.

The following are 8 really good reasons why Christianity is true…..

#1) The world around us reveals that God DOES exist. The following short videos were produced by an ex-atheist and ex-evolutionist who is a graduate of Yale Law School. These videos drive atheists and skeptics crazy, but for a more complete treatment of this topic, please read Strobel’s excellent book entitled “The Case For A Creator”:

#2) The historical evidence reveals that Jesus Christ really did come to this earth:

#3) There is overwhelming evidence that Jesus Christ really did physically rise from the dead:

#4) All of these things about Jesus were prophetically foretold by God in the Bible with specificity:
(Click “Watch” to view the presentation)


#5) There is massive evidence that Jesus is doing miracles in our day:

#6) There are thousands of stories of Jesus appearing to people all over the globe:


#7) Jesus is coming again and the signs of the end times that were foretold in the Bible are coming to pass right in front of our eyes:

#8) Credible witnesses have seen the afterlife and have come back and reported to us that it is precisely as the Bible describes:


The truth is that the afterlife is very real, so make the right choice and give your life to Jesus Christ today:

If you have been persuaded by the evidence and you are interested in becoming a Christian, the following link is a place where you can learn more:

Christian Responses: ‘‘Dawkins was Wrong.’ Come on, say it. Say it!’

‘Dawkins was Wrong.’ Come on, say it. Say it!

For those of you who, like me, were raised on a diet of “Happy Days” back in the seventies you will remember that the Fonz could not say “I was wrong”. Whenever he was expected to he would mumble and stutter and stumble over his admission, much to the delight of the viewing audience.

I thought of that this last day as I have read Beetle’s comments in the blog regarding Richard Dawkins’ terrible advice to his poor child. After I pointed out that Mr. Dawkins’ advice to his daughter was irresponsible, arbitrary and self-refuting, you think that Beetle might come out and say “I was wrong”, but alas he can’t even get as far as the Fonz.

In fact, he’ll apparently say just about anything BUT “I was wrong”. And it would seem the very last thing he’ll say is “Dawkins was wrong.”

Initially Beetle tried just asserting that all we can know is through our five senses. Perhaps he thought that repeating a self-refuting statement would make it true. Or maybe he just wanted to stand in solidarity with his champion.

Next, he said that my commentary was “facile”. I asked for explanation and this is what he wrote:

“Yes, your complaints against well articulated common sense are facile. It is, after all, a letter to child, not a freshman philosophy class.”

Note the shifft here. Beetle has now ceded the ground of the argument itself and has retreated to defending it with respect to the fact that the target audience was a child.

Frankly, I find this an ageist defense for it amounts to saying “False and self-refuting statements are okay if they are presented to a child.” Let me tell you this: if I discovered today that my daughter’s elementary school teacher was telling her things that were false and self-refuting, she’d be out of that class tomorrow. There is only one Doctor who is allowed to say self-refuting things to kids, and his name is Dr. Seuss. Now if Dawkins wants to put his advice into the form of a winsome children’s poem and accompany it with fantastical illustrations I might take a second look.

This may look like a churlish attack on Beetle. But the fact is that such deference to authorities like Dawkins is a plague within the atheist community. They pride themselves on being “free thinkers” and yet so many fall in line to defend the most indefensible statements of their stars. They denounce deference to authority and yet they fall over themselves to defer to their own authorities.

Beetle’s attitude toward Dawkins reminds me of the popular phrase “My country, right or wrong.” So it goes for the free thought authorities as well, apparently.

The problem is that that is only the first part of Carl Schurz’s famous quote, and we are impoverished if we miss the last bit. So here it is:

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

Christian Responses: ‘Can atheists be trusted?’

Can atheists be trusted?

Last week Stephen Maitzen, a very fine philosopher of religion, provided the links for two of his papers. The popular distillation of the argument is “Does God Destroy our Duty of Compassion?” (Free Inquiry, (Oct/Nov 2010), 52-53). That is the place if you want a quick overview of the argument. The second paper, ostentatiously titled “Ordinary Morality Implies Atheism,” (European Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 2 (2009), 107-26), lays out the argument more fully. We’re going to spend some time on the topics. I really do recommend you take the time at least to read the Free Inquiry article.

Since I’m still recovering from teaching a one week intensive class, I’ll take a very modest step into the whole debate today by addressing a topic that emerges in the beginning of both papers when Maitzen refers to a recent survey by Penny Edgell et al which shows that “Americans distrust atheists more than any other group…” (“Duty,” 52).That’s not quite true I suspect. Rather, Americans distrust atheists more than any other group surveyed. But I am pretty sure that given the choice of hiring a member of the free thought society or a member of Al-Qaeda that most Americans will choose the former. Still, I also admit this may not seem like much of a consolation. As a general observation atheists are viewed askance. To put it bluntly, atheists are like the Dodge Nitro: they may not be the worst car on the road but they’re not far off.

I think that this is a really important issue to camp on for a bit not least for the enormous practicality of it. So what explains the low esteem in which atheists are held? This is Maitzen’s analysis: “This distrust apparently comes from the widespread belief that atheism is bad for morality and that atheists are therefore morally unreliable.” (“Duty,” 52) Again he writes, “This popular association of morality with theism may explain why atheists showed up as the single most distrusted minority group in a recent opinion survey….” (“Ordinary,” 107). So Maitzen’s analysis is that Christians (by far the largest demographic group in Edgell’s survey) typically reject atheism for having an inadequate meta-ethical framework to ground moral discourse.

I demur. I think that analysis is off by a good bit. In point of fact I don’t think the general distrust is generated by concerns over the inadequacy of atheistic morality at all. So then what is the problem? I would suggest that the problem lies not with atheism but rather with atheists and it is outlined in Romans 1:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

From an epistemological perspective, there are two ways to read Paul’s claim here. Either people naturally have belief in God and certain of his attributes as properly basic or they naturally reason to it from properly basic evidence available in the natural world. Whichever of these two views you take doesn’t really matter for our purposes. What does matter is the consequence. In short, this means that atheists who deny the knowledge which is generally available to everyone are wickedly suppressing evidence that is available to them.

Consider the following analogy. Imagine you are Galileo staring in amazement through your telescope at the moons of Jupiter. It makes no sense: according to the church’s official Ptolemaic cosmology there shouldn’t be movement in the heavens around anything but the earth. And yet these satellites appear to be moving around another heavenly body.

Word has gotten out about your discovery and so a Jesuit astronomer shows up on your doorstep and sternly demands to peer through your telescope. You willingly oblige – after all, you’ve nothing to hide. He does so but instead of admitting your discovery he sternly retorts “I see nothing” and he writes as much in a report back to the Vatican.

Would you still include that Jesuit on your Christmas card list? Not likely. How can that Jesuit scholar possibly deny the evidence right in front of him? And yet he does. It is pretty obvious to you that he did see something. After all, he’s a competent scientist, and he surely isn’t blind. In that moment you conclude that he was suppressing the truth by his wickedness, unwilling as he was to confront the falsity of his Ptolemaic worldview and submit to a new theory.

I submit that this is the way many Christians view atheists, as unwilling to admit what they see through the telescope. The only way that atheists can deny the existence and attributes of God is because of a sinful unwillingness to confront the truth that lies before them.

This means that insofar as atheists are interested in increasing their public image among Christians it will come not by defending an atheistic view of moral objectivism or critiquing the Christian theistic view of moral objectivism. Rather, it will come by challenging the popular view based on Romans 1 that they are sinfully suppressing that which they really do know.

For further discussion see chapter 10 “Not All Atheists are Fools,” in my book You’re Not as Crazy as I Think (Biblica, 2011).

Apocalypse not right now: ‘Rapture’ end of world fails to materialise

Apocalypse not right now: ‘Rapture’ end of world fails to materialise

Inhabitants of New Zealand, scheduled to be among the first to meet the apocalypse according to a US fundamentalist preacher, this morning confirmed they were still in existence as the appointed time was reached in their time zone.

There were also unconfirmed reports that Tonga has, thus far, failed to boil into the Pacific.

Eighty-nine-year-old tele-evangelist Harold Camping had prophesied that the “Rapture” would begin with powerful earthquakes at 6pm in each of the world’s regions, after which the good would be beamed up to heaven.

This morning, Kiwis confirmed there were no signs of the dead rising from the grave, nor of the living ascending into the clouds to meet Jesus Christ.

Twitter users were disappointed by the absence of Armaggedon.

Daniel Boerman said on Twitter, the micro-blogging website: “I’m from New Zealand, it is 6.06pm, the world has NOT ended. No earthquakes here, all waiting for the Rapture can relax for now.”

Gavin Middleton wrote: “Well it’s 13 minutes past the Rapture here in New Zealand. I’m still holding out hope for the trumpet call and the firey rain…”

Similarly, on the Pacific islands whose clocks ticked over to 6pm before the fateful hour hit New Zealand, there was no evidence of a “super horror story” predicted by Camping – no zombies, no true believers hurtling skywards, no arch-angels and no trumpeters.

A post on Godlike Productions, a website dedicated to conspiracy theories and UFOs, reported that Tonga, which reached 6pm one hour before New Zealand, was “still on the map”.

Likewise, no reports of chaos were heard from Christmas Island in Kiribati, where the super-earthquake was set to hit first.

Two minor earthquakes did hit the Pacific earlier in the day, measuring 3.1 and 4.8 and not triggering any tsunami warnings, but earthquakes of that magnitude are a regular occurrence in the region.

Vicky Hyde, spokesman for the New Zealand Skeptic Society said she was confident the Rapture was not imminent.

“These kind of predictions come up particularly in times of economic or social uncertainty – which is pretty much almost every year actually, you can track them, whether it’s commentary impacts or the rapture or giant space aliens or something.

“And the only thing they have in common is they are all wrong,” she said.

Camping spread his message of doom via Family Radio, which has a network of 66 radio stations and online broadcasts.

After today’s day of reckoning, he said non-believers would suffer through hell on earth until October 21, when God would pull the plug on the planet once and for all.

But after incorrectly predicting the end of the world in 1994, Camping’s prophecies have been met with derision. And it seems this time he was wrong again.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg – who is Jewish and, according to Camping’s prophecy, therefore unlikely to be beamed up to sit alongside Jesus in heaven – said on his weekly radio show yesterday that he would partially suspend parking restrictions in New York if the world ended today.

David Speer, on Twitter, said: “Oh well no rapture. Just as well. New Zealand didn’t need that right now. Another delay to the filming of The Hobbit would’ve been terrible.”