Sunday, July 8, 2012

That Breguet watch

It’s not only Afghan clerics ridiculed or in trouble with their flock. The Russian Orthodox Church has apologised for showing a photo of its leader Patriarch Kirill that was doctored to airbrush out a luxury watch he was wearing. Despite the airbrushing the watch's presence was given away by its reflection on a polished table top. The gold Breguet watch is estimated to be worth more than $30,000 (£19,000) was spotted by Russian bloggers. The original photo, dated 3 July 2009, showed a meeting between the Patriarch and Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov. The doctored version appeared quite recently. In a statement the Patriarch's press service said "we reject on principle any use of photo editing software to alter the appearance of images the manipulation would be investigated and the guilty ones will be punished severely." In February a photo of Patriarch Kirill meeting President Putin - who was prime minister at the time - showed Kirill wearing the Breguet watch. Last week he told a Russian interviewer, that expensive watches were not part of his official attire. He admitted owning a Breguet watch but said he kept it in its box. He keeps the box on his wrist?
The Pope has accepted the resignation of an Argentine bishop after the publication of pictures showing him embracing a woman on a Mexican beach. Bishop Fernando Bargallo, 57, was photographed in the sea, hugging a woman in a bikini. He initially said she was a childhood friend, but later admitted to having had "amorous ties" with her. In one of the pictures, he is seen half-submerged in the water, embracing the woman. Shortly after the pictures were published, Monsignor Bargallo gave a public statement saying that the woman was a childhood friend, whom he had known all of his life. He said the situation in which he had been photographed was "imprudent, as it could lead people to jump to the wrong conclusion." He asked his flock to forgive him for "the ambiguity of the pictures" and urged them to view the photos "in the context of a long friendship." But later that same week, Monsignor Bargallo convened the priests of his diocese and told them he had had "amorous ties" with the woman and would resign.
The Vatican has strongly condemned a book on sexual ethics by an American nun and theologian – “Just Love – A framework for Christian sexual ethics by Sister Margaret A. Farley. Published in 2006, the book has received widespread praise from Christians of all denominations and has been used as a textbook in college courses on sexual ethics. For it, Farley won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Religion from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 2008. (Presbyterians are coming into the modern age? Wow! How about Muslims? Fat chance.) The "notification" says Farley's book "ignores" or "contradicts" Catholic teaching, presenting it as "one opinion among others," and warned that it should not be "used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue."  In plain English we believe it’s a load of crap – ignore it. The "notification" was approved by Pope Benedict XVI on March 16. The Vatican's doctrinal office singled out masturbation, homosexuality and marriage as specific areas of concern in Just Love. Well it would wouldn’t it? Any mention of masturbation or homosexuality will get any number of knickers in a right old twist.
For example, Farley writes that "masturbation … usually does not raise any moral questions at all," and that homosexual acts "can be justified" following the same ethics as heterosexual ones. The Vatican statement retorts that "masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action" and that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to natural law."
The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states that Sister Farley’s writings manifest “a defective understanding of the objective nature of natural moral law.” If that isn’t gobbledygook I would like to know what is and since when did nature evince any moral law? Sister Farley to my way of thinking has obviously written a book of sound commonsense and sound commonsense is always dangerous to the religious bigots.
The conservatives and the reactionaries will have their day though. I suppose it’s too much to hope they will drag themselves into the 21st century.

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