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Friday, October 10, 2003
Catholicism is a religion that cares deeply about ethics, and specifically about the human role in determining ethical rules. (Contrast this with fundamentalist Protestantism, which relies on a supposedly "literal" reading of the Bible to answer ethical questions in a societal context that is completely different from the one in which the Bible was written.) There is a great, long Catholic tradition of ethical thinking and moral philosophy. So I guess they've had a bad week.

First, it was reported that they are arguing that people shouldn't use condoms in Africa because the HIV virus might pass through them. This advice could kill millions of people. Then, just today, a senior Vatican official was quoted in a wire service report as saying the American Catholic sex abuse scandal was overblown by the media and not a big deal.

At its best moments, the Church is a great force for moral discourse. But on days like these, I am able to understand how such a great institution could nonetheless produce the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the selling of indulgences, etc. Lord Acton may not have been thinking about the Church when he uttered his famous dictum, but he could have been.

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