Torture priest blames devil for his conviction

The (ironically first-named) Christian von Wernich has just been convicted of involvement in the Argentinian “Dirty War” * of the late 1970s. The BBC reported that:

Christian Von Wernich, 69, was convicted for involvement in seven murders, 42 abductions and 31 cases of torture during the 1976-83 “Dirty War”.

He reported prisoners’ “confessions” to the police and even played a pretty supportive role in their torturing and murdering activities.

They say he attended several torture sessions and absolved the police of blame, telling them they were doing God’s work

Predictably, when it came to himself, he decided confession was not good for the soul and did a runner to Chile when he faced prosecution.

In fact, far from confessing and doing absolution or anything of that nature, he blamed the devil. Not for the murder/torture combo, which is surely the sort of evil activity that the devil might usually get blamed for. But, remember, that was “God’s work”. No, it’s the devil’s fault that his victims were speaking against him.

The priest said he had never violated the prohibition against revealing information obtained in the sacrament of confession and accused those torture victims who gave evidence in court of being influenced by the devil.
“False testimony is of the devil, because he is responsible for malice and is the father of evil and lies,” he said.

One little aside, he worked as priest in Chile under a false name. How easy is it to convince Church authorities you are a priest, then? Can you just turn up in a country and say “Hi, bishop. I’m Father Bloggs” and just get your own parish. You don’t have to hand over a curriculum vitae and some references and supporting documents? That must be the case, otherwise you might imagine that some members of the Chilean RC hierarchy must have been involved…..

Pining for a miracle

In an uncharacteristic display of wanton scepticism, the RC Church has rejected a group based around the worship of a pine tree which is claimed to show an image of the Virgin Mary’s face, according to the BBC.

The Family of the Divine Innocence was founded by a jewellery designer from Surbiton after she saw a vision of Mary in a tree. She then started channelling messages from the tree/Mary, such as demand that aborted foetuses be baptised as martyrs. However, the RC Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

was “not convinced” by the “substantial” content of the messages allegedly communicated to Mrs de Menezes.

Blimey, these messages sounded completely legit to me. I mean it’s not as if we don’t know exactly what Mary is supposed to look like, given the wide use of digital photography in the world ca 0 AD. So it would be easy for a holy designer of jewellery to recognise her instantly.

It would naturally be completely unlike the standard Rorschach-style thing every non-holy person does when they look at trees or clouds or bread. (See comment by no more hornets on GI food post here)

All the same the BBC was definitely cheating in the choice of picture on this story. It shows a picture of a Madonna and child icon, with gold leaf and attendant angels or butterflies or somethng. This picture carries the title “The tree is known locally as Our Lady of Surbiton.” Well, no. While I suspect that the tree may be called that beautifully bathetic name, I think you can be pretty confident the tree “image” looks nothing like the picture. You would definitely have to kiss your lifelong atheism goodbye if it turned out that anything looking remotely like a full colour painted medieval icon had magically appeared on a tree.

Anyway, shame on you, RC hierarchy. Once you start setting a lower bar for things to be too ludicrous to accept, who knows where it will end?

This atheist blog will boldly go where your sceptical RC selves fear to tread. Straight to the website of the Divine Innocence of course. You may think the images of El Morya look comically sickly-sweet. I defy anyone to look on this “baby Jesus with lamb” image without retching. You will be begging for the mildly sinister saving grace of the El-Morya Bin Laden visual undertones just for a bit of artistic complexity.

I couldn’t actually read the text right now. There is only so much you can face after a day’s work. So I am reduced to suggesting that if this picture epitomises the artistic flair of the designer, I ‘ll definitely know where not to go if I ever get struck with an uncharacteristic desire for jewellery.