Friday Link Roundup

Ann notes that HPV causes not only cervical cancer but also penile cancer, and wonders if it means legislators will be less squeamish about mandatory vaccinations.

Jenny Dreadful complains about people who argue for expanding birth control in the third world as a measure of environmental population control. Population pressure in third world countries too far away from the first world to induce massive emigration does increase the pressure on natural resources, but by less than the increase in population. The more global the issue is, the less this population growth has an effect: population explosion in Madagascar has contributed to soil erosion, a local issue, but not at all to climate change.

G. Willow Wilson writes about the Cairo Book Fair, which attracts a gigantic number of people every year. She worries mostly about the proliferation of religious propaganda:

It would be one thing if the religious texts in question were copies of the Qur’an and hadith and jurisprudence, but too often they are mere propaganda: texts that claim shaving one’s beard is a worse crime than adultery, for instance; because adultery is a momentary offense, but habitual shaving accrues bad deeds for as long as you do it, potentially years and years. I have seen Wahhabi books devoted entirely to the supreme virtue of fear.

Pam notes that Pope Benedict XVI can’t control his own church:

A yawning gulf between the stern doctrines preached by Pope Benedict and the advice offered by ordinary Roman Catholic priests has been exposed by an Italian magazine which dispatched reporters to 24 churches around Italy where, in the confessional, they sought rulings on various moral dilemmas.


Another journalist posed as a researcher who had received a lucrative offer to work abroad on embryonic stem cells. With the extra cash, he said, he and his wife could think about starting a family. So should he take up the post?

“Yes. Yes. Of course,” came the reply.

2 Responses to Friday Link Roundup

  1. Bruce says:

    It is well known among many Catholics that the advice given by a priest to a confessor will frequently deviate from Church teaching; the seal of the confessional is absolute and there is accordingly no method of quality control. Pastors have many names for this: being “pastoral”, “meeting people where they are”, “imperfect contrition”, etc. Of course strict Catholics lose their minds when they hear about this but it is the reality on the ground.

    In the U.S., where anticlerical traditions have not taken much root and Catholicism is often tied intensely to U.S. ethnic identity, it is quite common for Catholics to stay but dissent, quietly or loudly. A majority of U.S. Catholics supports at least non-abortifacient birth control, including a majority of married Catholics. Yet most who attend church receive communion, which cannot be done by someone who is not in a state of grace after an uinconfessed mortal sin (a sin involving serious subject matter committed with full consent of the will and full knowledge of sinfulness.) Every adult Catholic knows the birth control teaching, knows that it is an extremely serious matter, and knows that the teaching is held to be binding with absolute strictness.

    The difference between Italy and the U.S., though, is that active Catholics in Italy (a minority) still do attend confession, whereas confession in the U.S. Church is a very lonely, dark, quick hour or even half hour on Saturday at most parishes. There are probably 25-50 times as many birth control users receiving communion on any given Sunday at St. Whatever’s as there are penitents at the Sacrament of Reconciliation the day before. If those who use birth control stopped tithing and giving offering, the Church would start bouncing payroll checks and facing foreclosures.

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