Mickey Malta

Notes from the zone where 'normal' things don't happen very often

Posts Tagged ‘Social Issues

Something is not quite right

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Someone must have spiked our water. No doubt about it.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I’m convinced that someone must have spiked our water with some funny substance that forces us to behave like nincompoops who have been drugged with a substance more powerful than cocaine and magic mushrooms put together.

Why anyone would do such a thing is still a mystery to me, but something has been going awfully wrong these past few weeks – even by the standards of The Zone Where Normal Things Don’t Happen Very Often!

I first started suspecting that things are not quite right when there was an uproar against the bishops’ declaration that those living in permanent sin should not receive communion. As you are VERY well aware, I am no supporter of any organised religion but in this case the bishops are right. Morality is all about the choices we make, and unmarried people who have sex with each other are no exception. It is their choice to lead that lifestyle. It is their choice to live together. It is their choice to have sex with each other. These choices are not congruent with the Catholic doctrine, and therefore – by Catholic standards – these people are living in a permanent state of sin. Now the Catholic Church teaches that in order to receive communion, one should have a clean conscience. Since humans are sinners by nature, Catholics must be aware of their wrongdoings,  repent and confess their sins to cleanse their souls before receiving “the body of Christ”. A powerful statement indeed.

So this essentially means that if someone is living out of wedlock, she or he must realise that she or he is living in sin, repent, confess and ditch that lifestyle once and for all. Clearly, this is not possible for anyone living with a sexual partner out of the Catholic wedlock. How can two people who choose to live together out of Catholic wedlock claim to repent from their sins on a weekly basis, ask for forgiveness, receive communion, and go back home to their partner? This makes a whole mockery both out of confession and communion – two bastions of the Catholic religion.

Religion is a way of life. If you feel that the teachings of your religion don’t make sense to you and your personal circumstances, then all you have to do is leave that religion. It’s easy. Unless you’re living in some extremist Islamic Theocracy, no one is going to kill you if you do it. I did it myself, and so can anyone else.

In a strange way, this is similar to the educational grants blunder. We cannot expect to defy the rules (even though in this case it was a genuine oversight – but the fact of the matter is that an important rule was not respected) and still claim the prize. Once the rules are broken, the players are disqualified. This is the reality in the real world.

When the dust on the communion saga started to settle, our dear Prime Minister made a conscious and a bold statement by visiting the Cana movement accompanied by his wife and claiming that the government’s policy is to promote a society based on a stable family. BRAVO. Which government doesn’t want to promote a society based on strong families?

The message he wanted to convey is very clear: he does not and will not support the introduction of divorce – even though he claimed that he welcomes a discussion on the subject. We can discuss divorce till we’re blue in the face, but that’s where the buck stops.

The objective of divorce is not to save a shattered marriage. It never was, and never will be. Divorce is a mechanism to give another opportunity to those people who were unfortunate enough to go through the harsh experience of a marital breakdown. The irony is that the introduction of divorce will make it possible for these people to re-marry thus creating more stable families; so if our politicians were REALLY in favour of stable families, the House would approve a divorce bill unanimously.

Just a footnote: the subject of re-marrying brings me back to the first point. Couples who were married, got divorced, and married someone else are STILL living in permanent sin according to Catholic teachings. So divorcees will still be barred from receiving communion. This is , once again, very obvious to me but given the uproar a few weeks ago, I feel that I need to include this disclaimer.

As time went by, the funny substance in our water system was clearly leaving its mark. Cue Dr Adrian Vassallo  and Dr Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici in the Parliamentary version of Dum and Dumber. Dr Vassallo got all worked up because some of our hotels are screening porn movies on their tv screens as part of their pay per view packages. On his part, the Justice Minister replied that the Police is investigating these cases. I bloody well hope that the Minister’s reply is not a serious one, and that he just blurted something out instead of asking Dr Vassallo if he really meant what he said in the PQ or whether this was just a sad, silly practical joke done in bad taste.

As if this wasn’t enough to spice up our dull news pages,  Dr Vassallo notched his mission to takes us back to the middle ages a bit higher. A few days following his ludicrous PQ, he went on record stating that he’d rather rot in the streets of Iran defending his religion than living in a country where . . . horror of horrors . . . porn is screened in hotels. Do I actually need to comment on this?

This whole saga led to another unusual occurrence: a positive news delivered by MaltaToday. Today’s edition of this newspaper carried an interview with Dr Vassallo where he claimed that he won’t be contesting the general elections again. Hurray. Some sense at last.

Is the effect of the funny substance wearing off?

Written by mickeymalta

13/06/2010 at 23:35

Mass on Facebook

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I will attract youngsters to me thanks to this trendy attire

The smiling bishop has just claimed that “The Catholic Church should examine itself and its methods of evangelisation” according to The Times. I guess that this means that we will be flooded with Facebook churches and “bible reading of the day” tweets.

Obviously, the Church needs to choose a medium that is a one way communication vehicle. No matter how much the Catholic Church talks about changing times, it has to keep preaching and talking down to its followers. It has no other option because it’s a religion. It is promoting a product full of logical fallacies, superstition and fantasy; and blind faith is the only reason why people don’t question and challenge their beliefs. The minute that dogma is challenged, the very existence of the organisation is threatened. That’s why Religions have to resort to indoctrination as opposed to teaching – even though they claim otherwise.

When you teach something to someone, you reason it out, discuss it with the learner, let him or her challenge your claims, and reach a conclusion. For very obvious reasons, no religion can ever adopt this approach. Otherwise there will be chaos together with a whole myriad of mixed messages coming out from different people.  For this reason, no religion can be ‘modern’ and appealing to an intelligent society.

It’s also funny to see the head of Rocker Curia coming up with this assertion, especially when this is put into the whole context of his previous assertions. Only a few months ago, these same heads were on the brink of hysteria to intimidate and control revellers at the Nadur carnival; when carnival is the reign of anarchy.  The smiling bishop is also that same person who lashed out at secularism during his homily on 8 September 2008.

If the heads of our Curia can’t understand post-modern philosophy – which is now passé, how can they ever think of speaking the language of “modern people”?

Written by mickeymalta

18/04/2010 at 10:34

This is not a Hollywood movie

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It seems that Nazinger is surrounded by cover-ups everywhere he goes

This is a report from today’s The Guardian:

As Pope Benedict XVI flew to Malta yesterday for his first overseas visit since the eruption of the latest clerical abuse scandal to rock the Roman Catholic church, it emerged that new claims were to be made of a cover-up operation to clear him of responsibility.

A report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, to be published tomorrow, will say that a former aide was put under “heavy” pressure to take the blame for an abuse scandal in the pope’s former archdiocese of Munich and Freising. In 1980, while the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was archbishop, a priest known to be a paedophile was accepted into the archdiocese and, instead of being given therapy as planned, he was swiftly assigned to parish duties.

After the case was brought to light by the New York Times last month, Benedict’s former vicar-general in Munich, Gerhard Gruber, accepted “full responsibility” for the decision.

According to Der Spiegel, citing sources very close to the 81-year-old prelate, Gruber received a string of telephone calls in which church officials “begged” him to take the blame. After he agreed, he was sent a fax containing the statement that he eventually issued, the weekly will say. The priest, Father Peter Hullermann, went on to commit an offence involving a boy for which he was tried and convicted.

In Spain, meanwhile, it was reported that a cardinal who congratulated a French bishop on not reporting a paedophile abbot said he had cleared his message of congratulations with the late pope, John Paul II. La Verdad, a newspaper in the southern city of Murcia, said that Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos told a press conference in the city on Friday that he wrote a letter to the bishop “after consulting the pope and showing it to him”.

The cardinal added that the late pontiff “authorised me to send the letter to all the bishops in the world and put it on the internet”.

The pope flew out of Rome after receiving an unexpected and unconditional endorsement from Silvio Berlusconi’s government. In greetings sent to the pontiff on his 83rd birthday on Friday, the Italian government blamed the scandal on an “unspeakable campaign of slander against the church and the pope”.

The statement was one of several indications that Benedict’s supporters were shifting from defence to attack in their run-up to the fifth anniversary of the start of his papacy tomorrow.

A junior minister at the Italian ministry of culture, Francesco Giro, was joined by six other members of parliament and numerous regional, provincial and local councillors in a special prayer service for the pope yesterday in Rome.

Critics and supporters alike will be watching to see if Benedict uses his visit to Malta to comment on the continuing scandal and meet local abuse victims.

Some 2,000 police and military have been deployed by the government to ensure the pope’s security during his two-day visit to the island where St Paul is believed to have been welcomed after a shipwreck on his way to Rome. Tradition has it that he landed on Malta 1,950 years ago, and last night Benedict was due to pray at the grotto where, according to tradition, the apostle took refuge.

Written by mickeymalta

18/04/2010 at 09:46

Christopher Hitchens brought me back to my senses

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This guy's boss once said "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself". He took it literally, miskin. Xi tridu jaghmel?

After being shocked by the Luqa Council, I needed a quick fix. So I turned to Christopher Hitchens for a good reality check. I’m reproducing an article he published 4 hours ago in Slate.

We Can’t Let the Pope Decide Who’s a Criminal

Bringing priestly offenders and the church’s enablers to justice.

In 2002, according to devout Catholic columnist Ross Douthat, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke the following words to an audience in Spain: “I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign … to discredit the church.”

On April 10, the New York Times—the apparent center of this “planned campaign”—reprinted a copy of a letter personally signed by Ratzinger in 1985. The letter urged lenience in the case of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, who had tied up and sexually tormented two small boys on church property in California. Kiesle’s superiors had written to Ratzinger’s office in Rome, beseeching him to remove the criminal from the priesthood. The man who is now his holiness the pope was full of urgent moral advice in response. “The good of the Universal Church,” he wrote, should be uppermost in the mind. It should be understood that “particularly regarding the young age” of Father Kiesle, there might be great “detriment” caused “within the community of Christ’s faithful” if he were to be removed. The good father was then aged 38. His victims—not that their tender ages of 11 and 13 seem to have mattered—were children. In the ensuing decades, Kiesle went on to ruin the lives of several more children and was finally jailed by the secular authorities on a felony molestation charge in 2004. All this might have been avoided if he had been handed over to justice right away and if the Oakland diocese had called the police rather than written to the office in Rome where it was Ratzinger’s job to muffle and suppress such distressing questions.

Contrast this to the even more appalling case of the school for deaf children in Wisconsin where the Rev. Lawrence Murphy was allowed unhindered access to more than 200 unusually defenseless victims. Again the same pattern: repeated petitions from the local diocese to have the criminal “unfrocked” (an odd term when you think about it) met with stony indifference from Ratzinger’s tightly run bureaucracy. Finally a begging letter to Ratzinger from the filthy Father Murphy himself, complaining of the frailty of his health and begging to be buried with full priestly honors, in his frock. Which he was. At last, a human plea not falling on deaf ears! (You should pardon the expression.)

So in one case a child rapist escaped judgment and became an enabled reoffender because he was too young. In the next, a child rapist was sheltered after a career of sex torture of disabled children because he was too old! Such compassion.

It must be noted, also, that all the letters from diocese to Ratzinger and from Ratzinger to diocese were concerned only with one question: Can this hurt Holy Mother Church? It was as if the children were irrelevant or inconvenient (as with the case of the raped boys in Ireland forced to sign confidentiality agreements by the man who is still the country’s cardinal). Note, next, that there was a written, enforced, and consistent policy of avoiding contact with the law. And note, finally, that there was a preconceived Ratzinger propaganda program of blaming the press if any of the criminal conduct or obstruction of justice ever became known.

The obscene culmination of this occurred on Good Friday, when the pope sat through a sermon delivered by an underling in which the exposure of his church’s crimes was likened to persecution and even—this was a gorgeous detail—to the pogroms against the Jews. I have never before been accused of taking part in a pogrom or lynching, let alone joining a mob that is led by raped deaf children, but I’m proud to take part in this one.

The keyword is Law. Ever since the church gave refuge to Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston to spare him the inconvenience of answering questions under oath, it has invited the metastasis of this horror. And now the tumor has turned up just where you might have expected—moving from the bosom to the very head of the church. And by what power or right is the fugitive cardinal shielded? Only by the original agreement between Benito Mussolini and the papacy that created the pseudo-state of Vatican City in the Lateran Pact of 1929, Europe’s last remaining monument to the triumph of Fascism. This would be bad enough, except that Ratzinger himself is now exposed as being personally as well as institutionally responsible for obstructing justice and protecting and enabling pederasts.

One should not blame only the church here. Where was American law enforcement during the decades when children were prey? Where was international law while the Vatican became a place of asylum and a source of protection for those who licensed or carried out the predation? Page through any of the reports of child-rape and torture from Ireland, Australia, the United States, Germany—and be aware that there is much worse to come. Where is it written that the Roman Catholic Church is the judge in its own case? Above or beyond the law? Able to use private courts? Allowed to use funds donated by the faithful to pay hush money to the victims or their families?

There are two choices. We can swallow the shame, roll up the First Amendment, and just admit that certain heinous crimes against innocent citizens are private business or are not crimes if they are committed by priests and excused by popes. Or perhaps we can shake off the awful complicity that reports this ongoing crime as a “problem” for the church and not as an outrage to the victims and to the judicial system. Isn’t there one district attorney or state attorney general in America who can decide to represent the children? Nobody in Eric Holder’s vaunted department of no-immunity justice? If not, then other citizens will have to approach the bench. In London, as already reported by the Sunday Times and the Press Association, some experienced human-rights lawyers will be challenging Ratzinger’s right to land in Britain with immunity in September. If he gets away with it, then he gets away with it, and the faithful can be proud of their supreme leader. But this we can promise, now that his own signature has been found on Father Kiesle’s permission to rape: There will be only one subject of conversation until Ratzinger calls off his visit, and only one subject if he decides to try to go through with it. In either event, he will be remembered for only one thing long after he is dead.

Written by mickeymalta

12/04/2010 at 23:30

Arabs with shoes on

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National sport: a Rocker looking down on an Arab from his high horse

I really think that it’s ironic how Rockers tend to look down from their high horse on the Arab and Muslim world. Many Rockers regard both Arabs and Muslims as a bunch of people stuck in a time warp thousands of years away from  us. And they are right.

Now, for the record, I’m being generous here. Some Rockers can’t fathom the reality that there are many different cultures within the Arab world: that it’s not just one big country called Arabia. Worse still, many more don’t even regard them as humans at all.

The irony is that they fail to see the reality that our European cousins look at us in the same way we look at the Muslim/Arab world. The absence of divorce and our Quaker approach to abortion project a Neanderthal image in our cousins’ eyes. So the moral of the story is: before you start berating your cousins down south, keep in mind that we are to our cousins up north what the Muslims/Arabs are to us. An English friend of mine defines the Rockers as “Arabs with shoes on.”

These last few days I couldn’t help myself pointing out to those who were shocked and expressing their dismay at the Dubai incident that that this is a classical case of the pot calling the kettle black. It’s true that this incident an extreme case, but let’s not forget that the absence of civil rights and liberties here is equally shocking to countries that are more secular – and by consequence – more advanced: both economically and intellectually.

The common denominator between the two realities (us and them Arabs) is . . . . . surprise, surprise: Religion. I’m not going to go into how religions keep people backwards. I think that I made my case during lent, l and I don’t want to sound like a broken record.

Ironically, many Rockers jump at every opportunity to tell the Arabs how backwards they are whenever they interact with them. Yet, at the same time, these same people get all worked up and defensive whenever they are – rightly so – told that this Rock is still stuck in the 17th century. They retaliate by invoking foreign interference and by telling the foreigners to mind their own business.

I guess that some people are in a dire need of a reality check.

Written by mickeymalta

07/04/2010 at 16:46

This God is an idiot

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As the saying goes: an idiot is a genius to another idiot

Imagine that life here on this earth is a small scale reflection of the cosmos. In the same way  that every village here on earth has an idiot – THE idiot – the big guys in the ever expanding universe must have their own idiots too.

If that is the case, then we’re unlucky to be born on THE planet that was created by the Gods’ village idiot. Yeah, that’s right. The God that’s venerated by billions of people on this little planet must be the village idiot in Godworld. Just take a cursory look around you and you’ll see hundreds, if not thousands,  of clues leading to this conclusion.

I don’t believe that we’re alone in the universe. If we will ever be lucky enough to make contact with other civilisations out there in the future, and these turn out to be more advanced than us, they will either be a religion-free (o r free of any other superstitious beliefs at all) civilisation, or believe in Gods that are completely different to the ones worshipped here.

If the latter will be the case, I can bet my head that they won’t be worshipping someone who consistently seems to be making the wrong choices while proclaiming to be almighty and all knowing.

Faith and fear  are the greatest assets that this God could ever have. If people weren’t  brainwashed to fear God and have total faith in his plan since their birth, then he would be cast aside even by the creatures of his own making.

Let me point out a few reasons why I believe that this God is an idiot:

Many religions claim that their God is the creator of the whole universe. This means that he had (and still has) total control over his creations: the looks, the actions, the thoughts, etc. worse still, some religions hold that we’re created in his true image and likeness! Yet, a few hundred years after he went through the hassle of creating Earth and the universe, he was enraged by  the way humans were behaving and decided to (practically) eradicate mankind bar a 600 year old man and his family, and all the animals that this poor old sod could take on his ark.

Since God is all-knowing, he must have known that humans would piss him off in the future, so why did he make man fallible in the first place? And why did he only tell Noah to save animals (that must include mice and insects) but he didn’t save the innocent new born children. This would have at least spared Noah’s family from practicing incest (like Eve and her sons did before them) to multiply the human race.

Speaking about man’s fallibility, instead of creating his mistakes in “take two”, the post-flood humans don’t seem to be any different from those who lived in the pre-flood era. So why go through all the trouble of destroying the planet when after some time humanity would go back to that same point that irked him so much? This genocide must have been a total failure. Only an idiot would go through such a hassle when he knows that it’s not going to yield any desired result.

But it gets worse. He wanted to communicate his love to us, and he wanted us to know that he has a divine plan. Instead of doing something about it himself, he chose humans to do it. The result of God’s laziness: different religions and peoples killing each other in God’s name through all the different ages. In his wisdom,  God also promised a holy land to his people. One would expect The Holy Land to be a true example of heaven on earth. Ironically, it’s the complete opposite. It’s literally hell on earth.  This is the single most violent region on the whole planet; and it has been like that for centuries and “God knows” when or if this holy war will ever end. Excellent work indeed.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t go into the old testament’s claim of God causing people to sacrifice their children or allowing Lot to offer his daughters to the mob to gang rape them. I didn’t mention how the Bible promotes xenophobia; homophobia and hatred towards women; or how Jesus spoke about the need for salves to respect their master and did not utter a single word about womens’ rights. I also left out God’s (ethically-challenged) deals with people – especially locally – where he is willing to tweak his divine plan in exchange for prayer, a gold ring, a bracelet, and other material items.

Only an idiot can be easily bribed by people who will then spread the word tall all and sundry accompanied by pictures of the statue which is then adorned with the  golden watch, necklace, or earring. Wise people take bribes in private and they make sure they cover all their tracks. And why do statues need jewellery anyway?

Closer to our time, I’m deeply concerned about his choices. He is supposed to handpick people to act as his ministers. His preachers. One would expect priests to be a shining example of how God would like man to behave. Unfortunately, it turns out that a huge number of the people God himself has handpicked (remember?) throughout the years were anything but. The Catholic Church’s history is inundated with priests who would have been more suitable for Alistair Crowley’s role (in the divine plan?) than the one they actually played. Just think about the inquisition, the missionaries, paedophile priests, high ranking Church officials connected to various secret organisations . . . .  The list goes on and on.

Islamic suicide bombers and other Jihad fanatics choose to do what they do because they believe that they’re God’s (or Allah’s) soldiers. They’re simply the messengers of the supreme being, and are acting on his behalf. Obviously defenders of religion will say that this is the wrong interpretation of the Quran. This takes me back to my original point: why did he deliver his word through humans? Is that wise? Look at the consequences.

I’m really not impressed.  There are loads of other examples that I can bring. In fact, I can write a whole book about God’s idiocy. However, I still won’t manage to do it as eloquently as George Carlin described the greatest bullshit story ever told: “Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong in the résumé of a supreme being. This is the kind of shit you would expect from an office temp with a bad attitude………. In between you and me, in any decent run universe this guy would have been out of his all-powerful-ass a long time ago.”

I don’t know if there’s some form of energy or supreme being out there that is the prime moving force for creation. It doesn’t really make a difference to the way I lead my life. I can only be sure of one thing: the idiot projected by religions cannot possibly be true. It simply just cannot be. No creature can be so self-contradictory, extremely violent and utterly stupid, let alone a supreme being.

Written by mickeymalta

29/03/2010 at 16:37

Sweet dreams

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The Catholic Chrch's new dogma: reputation is more important than moral principles

The clip below is a very recent conversation on Real Time which is a popular show in the US hosted by Bill Maher. During this brief chat, Christopher Hitchens raises some very interesting points about the seriousness of the recent child sex abuse scandal that involves Josef Ratzinger himself.

A few days ago, I pointed out that “Apart from being a religious leader, the Pope is also the Head of the Vatican State. If a similar incident had to happen under the leadership of any of his counterparts in the democratic world, she or he would have had the decency to resign – most probably even before the news would have been made public.”

A few days after I wrote the above statement, a new and more sinister case has surfaced. This time the case involves Josef Ratzinger himself. As you are very well aware by now, he is accused of taking no action against a priest who allegedly abused of more than 200 deaf  boys in the US. I am not going to repeat Hitchens’s claims but he raised a point that is worth analysing – especially in view of the fact that the Pope will be visiting us shortly. He asks whether the Western governments are going to treat the head of the Vatican state in the same way they would treat any other head of state – ie banning him from stepping on their shores and putting political pressure for him to resign.

If the claims against Ratzinger are proven to be true, then he is no different to Robert Mugabe. Ratzinger would be a supporter of atrocities. He is currently being accused of facilitating and supporting (by not taking action to prevent) sexual abuse on hundreds of children – some of whom are physically disabled. Generally speaking, in the eyes of the Civil Code, the crime of omission is as serious as commission. Hence if his accusations are proven to be true, Ratzinger would actually be guilty of facilitating and abetting one of the worst atrocities people can ever commit.

Let me make my point clearer to those who may be blinded by faith. I think that we all agree that child abuse is atrocious, to say the least, and morally VERY wrong. If someone knows about a child who is repeatedly being sexually abused and does nothing about it, that person is as guilty as the perpetrator. Worse still, if the person who turns a blind eye is a Police officer, the offence is even more serious and the penalty handed down by the Magistrate would be even harsher (than that handed down to a civilian) as the Police officer would be an accomplice to a crime that he or she is responsible to prevent.

You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m (sure I’m) not the only one; but I have a dream. I dream of a government to wave the middle finger at Josef Ratzinger and inform him politely that supporters of child molestation and torture are not welcome.

Additionally Sinead O’Connor gave a very interesting interview to CNN. Here it is:

Written by mickeymalta

27/03/2010 at 18:24