Bulletin # 89 (29 January 2002)



Sanal Edamaruku in Danish TV on 30 January

Vatican: Secret Ecclesiastical Courts try priests for child abuse

International Rationalist Award 2002

Overwhelming Response


Sanal Edamaruku in Danish TV on 30 January

Sanal Edamaruku Under the title "Seduced", the Danish Broadcasting Corporation will air a documentary, which has unleashed storms during the last months. Featuring Sanal Edamaruku, India's best known "Gurubuster", the film exposes "Godman" Sai Baba: his tricks and pretentions, which earned him an empire, his political connections and powerplays, and his crimes of sexual abuse of mentally dependant followers and even children. Danish Sai Baba organizations tried to stop the broadcasting of the embarrassing material with four legal court cases. But finally the documentary will reach the public eye: on 30 January, 8 p.m., in Chanel I, Danish Broadcasting Corporation.


Vatican: Secret Ecclesiastical Courts try priests for child abuse

Excusator Pope John Paul II has tried to wipe away another spot on the immaculate robe of the Roman Catholic church by apologizing to the victims: sexual child abuse by priests. But since this one is not only a matter of history, but continues to be the most frequently committed crime among priests and clergymen, the spot would not go with an one-time apology. Coming more and more under public scrutiny, it has become both, highly embarrassing and very expensive for the church. According to a high ranking Vatican official, some US bishops have been complaining about the increasing financial burdon of the defence of priests in sex-abuse cases.

In 2001, the Pope has issued two documents dealing with the problem, but the publication was stricly limited to insiders. Meantime they appeared in Latin language in the annual volume of the "Journal of Record of the Holy See". As expected, the Pope's orders do not contribute to solve the homegrown priestly desease, which is as old as celibacy, in the only effective way: by abolishing celibacy. Instead they stick to the old policy of hiding and suppressing. Over centuries, the special position and authority enjoyed by the perpetrators, made discovery and legal persecution of the crime rare exceptions. The cruel secret used to remain for ever under the cover of silence, and the human tragedy of the victims unfolded in darkness and isolation. The Pope's new orders don't want to change this.

The pope-near and powerful German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was given responsibility to issue guidelines and circulate them - after the Pope's approval - among all bishops and heads of religious orders - strictly confidential. They rule that priests accused of child abuse are to be tried in secret ecclesiastrical courts, straightly supervised by the Vatican. They decide about the future of the accused priest within the church. The main intention is, however, according to high ranking Vatican sources, to "protect the right of the accused". The interest of the Vatican is clearly not prevention of the crime by eliminating its root cause, but hiding it. The victims and future victims are not of great concern. Anyway, they can find consolation in the Pope's general apology.


International Rationalist Award 2002

Citation of the Rationalist International Award 2000
Prof. Paul Kurtz receiving the International Rationalist Award 2000 from Joseph Edamaruku. Sanal Edamaruku is also seen.

ROnly 10 more days to the Inauguration of the Third International Rationalist Conference on 8th February at New Delhi. The event is awaited with great expectations. One question is raising special interest during the last weeks: Who will be the recipient of the International Rationalist Award 2002? Though the Award Committee has already made its decision, we have to request for patience: The recipient will be announced in the Award Function during the Conference.

The International Rationalist Award was created to recognize outstanding contributions for liberation of human mind and freedom from religion. During the Second International Rationalist Conference at Trivandrum, the International Rationalist Award 2000 was received by Prof. Paul Kurtz, Prof. Emeritus of the State University New York at Buffalo, founder and leader of the Council for Secular Humanism and the Center for Inquiry and Honorary Associate of Rationalist International. The International Rationalist Award 2002 will be announced and given on 9th February at New Delhi, during the International Rationalist Conference.


Overwhelming Response

In Bulletin # 88, we published Sanal Edamaruku's letter to the President of Pakistan, demanding immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Shaikh. We requested our readers to support this demand. The response was overwhelming: till today we received copies of 745 letters to President Musharraf!

Let this impressive flood of letters further continue! Pakistan's announced policy change vis a vis fundamentalism improved the chances to rescue Dr. Shaikh, who has been convicted to death for "blasphemy" last August and is awaiting his fate in one of the death cells of Rawalpindi Jail. (For information about Dr. Shaikh's case, please visit our web site: www.rationalistinternational.net) Please, write to President Pervez Musharraf: CE@pak.gov.pk and send a copy of your letter to us: Dr.ShaikhDefense@rationalistinternational.net. If you have already written, please ask your friends to join the campaign.

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Honorary Associates: Dr. Pieter Admiraal (The Netherlands), Prof. Mike Archer (Australia), Katsuaki Asai (Japan), Sir Hermann Bondi (UK), Prof. Colin Blakemore (UK), Prof. Vern Bullough (USA), Dr Bill Cooke (New Zealand), Dr. Helena Cronin (UK), Prof. Richard Dawkins (UK), Joseph Edamaruku (India), Prof. Antony Flew (UK), Jim Herrick (UK), Christopher Hitchens (USA), Ellen Johnson (USA), Prof. Paul Kurtz (USA), Lavanam (India), Dr. Richard Leakey (Kenya), Iain Middleton (New Zealand), Dr. Henry Morgentaler (Canada), Dr. Taslima Nasreen (Bangladesh), Steinar Nilsen (Norway), Prof. Jean-Claude Pecker (France), James Randi (USA), Prof. Ajoy Roy (Bangladesh), Dr G N Jyoti Shankar (deceased, USA), Barbara Smoker (UK), Prof. Harry Stopes-Roe (UK), Prof. Rob Tielman (The Netherlands), David Tribe (Australia), Barry Williams (Australia) and Prof. Lewis Wolpert (UK).

Sanal Edamaruku, President of Rationalist International, can be contacted at Edamaruku@rationalistinternational.net