Quebec Politician Ousted for Challenging Christian-Centric Charter of Values

As Quebec faces criticism within the province and throughout English-speaking Canada over their Christian-centric Charter of Values, the federal Bloc Quebecois has made it clear that they stand with their provincial-level counterparts by forcing a Member of Parliament out of the party.

Maria Mourani, former member of the federal Bloc Quebecois, has released a statement (en français) announcing that she has broken ties with the Bloc Quebecois, having elected to quit the party altogether rather than step down from her position as a caucus member. She will continue to represent her Montreal riding of Ahuntsic as an Independent until the end of her term in 2015.

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Quebec Charter of Values Lifts Christianity Above Non-Christian Faiths

In a move that has been criticized by English-Canadian politicians as “playing identity politics,” the provincial governing party of Quebec has unveiled plans to institute a Quebec Charter of Values that will bar most symbols of religious observance worn in public service.

For the secularly-minded, it’s tempting to celebrate the Parti Quebecois for their efforts at enforcing church-state separation… Until you look more closely at the rules being proposed.

Some religious symbols are seen as more acceptable than others, mostly because they are small, unobtrusive, and easily concealed. The “acceptable” items include small, modest pieces of jewelry featuring a cross, Star of David, or other religious symbol. Items deemed “unacceptable” include Sikh turbans, Jewish kippahs, and Islamic head coverings like the hijab and niqab. In other words, the faith symbols typical of Quebec’s Judeo-Christian history are — coincidentally, I’m sure — mostly acceptable, but symbols of “immigrant faiths” are banned.

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Pope Francis: Atheists Can Be Saved if They ‘Obey Their Conscience’

No matter how much criticism he gets from his faithful, or how often his cardinals scramble to walk his statements back, Pope Francis just won’t stop offering atheists a chance at salvation.

In recent months, newspaper editor and stalwart atheist Eugenio Scalfari has written two open letters to the pontiff, both of which were published in Scalfari’s Italian daily La Repubblica. Scalfari’s letters appear to have addressed some of the Pope’s reflections in his first encyclical, Lumen fidei.

Any earlier pope would have likely ignored the communiqués, but that’s not Francis’ style. Instead he responded in a three-page-long letter that made the newspaper’s front page:

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Pedophile Priest Scandal in Dominican Republic Puts Vatican Officials in the Hot Seat

Once again, the scandal of child sexual abuse perpetrated by priests has made it all the way to Rome. In this case, the Dominican Republic’s papal nuncio (the Vatican version of an ambassador) has been called back to Rome after his name was linked to abuse allegations.

The Vatican insists that Polish-born Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, removed from office late last month, has not been accused of molesting anybody. However, official channels are withholding details about what really happened. A Vatican spokesman confirmed that the Church is conducting an investigation but refused to provide details about its subject matter. Francisco Dominguez Brito, the Attorney General for the Dominican Republic, however, has not been so reticent, and has announced his plans to investigate and prosecute Wesolowski in spite of the difficulties of criminally investigating a diplomatic figure.

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Pope Francis’ First Encyclical Shows What He Really Believes About Unbelievers

The Vatican has released the first encyclical letter written by Pope Francis.

That’s big news for Catholics, who comprise the target audience for this sort of document, and who often put a great deal of stock in the pontiff’s opinions on how to live their faith. In atheist circles, the most likely reaction is a shrug, a raised eyebrow, and a big ‘so what?’ But with news about outreach to the ‘nones’ and dialogue with non-believers making headlines in the early days of Francis’ pontificate – and it is still early days, at least in relative terms – this document is instructive. It gives us a window into what the pope really thinks about the irreligious. [Click the headline for more...] [Read more...]