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Australian Catholic Archbishop a Nuclear Energy Convert

CONTROVERSIAL Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey says he is now a nuclear convert, prompting an immediate attack by the green lobby.
A former opponent of nuclear power, he now believes its technology is safe.

A lot had changed since the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster of 1986, but he believes people's view of nuclear energy was tarnished by the incident.

"I was totally opposed to it (nuclear power) 10 years ago, but since then advances in technology have made me less opposed because I can see it can be safe,'' Archbishop Hickey told The Sunday Times.
Of course, some folks aren't happy about this:
Long-time anti-nuclear crusader and former WA Greens senator Jo Vallentine said Archbishop Hickey was out of touch with the realities of nuclear power.

"Goodness me. Is that what he said?'' Ms Vallentine said.
This reminds me a lot of what happened to the late Bishop Hugh Montefiore. Before he died, Montefiore was drummed out of Friends of the Earth when he changed his mind on nuclear energy. Here's hoping Archbishop Hickey sticks to his guns.


gunter said…
Well, I suppose you've got your official spiritual advisor now for the second coming of nuclear power.
Being Catholic I guess he might have missed reading from The Book of Revelations at Chapter 8 Vs. 10-11. Then again, NRC and industry long ago adopted "faith based" regulation otherwise known as PRA.

One thing that I know has changed since the 1986 Chernobyl accident is that exclusion zone has grown larger and spread farther out. See the April 2006 issue of National Geographic.

Anonymous said…

Being Catholic, he probably also knows that the Book is "Revelation;" no "s."
David Bradish said…
The PRA is "faith based" huh? Well the PRA is based on the fields of mathematics, engineering and probabilities so I guess these are all based on faith as well. And if that's the case then every single engineering achievement i.e. bridges, skyscrapers, the space shuttle, cities etc. were all built on faith too. It is of course mathematical equations that allows us to even build these marvels.
Anonymous said…
Well, I suspect the Archbishop has read Revelations 8:10-11 but as I understand it, the official Catholic teaching is that the book was written to buck up the courage of the 1st century faithful at a time when there was heavy persecution and competition with alternative flavors of Christianity that threatened the orthodoxy. The book promised (erroneously) that the second coming would come in their lifetimes, but is nonetheless sound regarding matters of dogma.

There are hundreds of alternative interpretations of Revelations over the centuries that that have tried to force fit contemporary events into some sort of context (usually ending in some prediction about the time of the Apocalypse).I guess we can add Gunter's to the steaming pile.
Anonymous said…

I have to say that it is most annoying when someone perverts sacred Scripture for on'e own end. Revelations Chapter 8 verses 10 and 11 has no relevance in nuclear energy. I will demonstrate that fact from Seiss' Commentary on the Apocalypse and Matthew Henry's Commentary. Specifically the cited passage states:

When the third angel blew his trumpet, a large star burning like a torch fell from the sky. It fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.
The star was called "Wormwood," 7 and a third of all the water turned to wormwood. Many people died from this water, because it was made bitter.

The notes in the Catholic New American Bible state:

7 [11] Wormwood: an extremely bitter and malignant plant symbolizing the punishment God inflicts on the ungodly; cf Jeremiah 9:12-14; 23:15.

Seiss Commentary on the Apocalypse states (in part - I can only quote an excerpt here):

Revelation 8:6-12

Here is another marvelous meteoric phenomenon; perhaps a comet striking the earth. But nobody seems to be quite willing to take it for what John says it was. Interpreters tell us, that a star denotes an eminent teacher or angel of the Church. They refer us for proof of this, to the first chapter of this book. But there is one important link lacking in this argument, as applied to the case before us. There Christ himself says, that "the seven stars" beheld by the seer, denote" the angels of the seven churches;" but here He says no such thing; nor is there any proof that the Church is at all in question. This star falls out of heaven, but there is no evidence whatever that the Church is heaven. Besides, so great a star of the Church, in such lonely distinction, could only be Christ himself, who never falls out of the Church, whose name is not Wormwood, and who does not poison the fountains and rivers of the earth by His teachings. When the Scriptures tell us that a thing is a symbol, we are to take it as such; but when they give no intimation that a thing is other than literal, there is no warrant for making a symbol or figure of it.

Matthew Henry's Commentary states (in part):

Revelation 8:7-13

III. The third angel sounded, and the alarm had the like effects as before: There fell a great star from heaven, &c., v. 10. Some take this to be a political star, some eminent governor, and they apply it to Augustulus, who was forced to resign the empire to Odoacer, in the year 480 A.D.. Others take it to be an ecclesiastical star, some eminent person in the church, compared to a burning lamp, and they fix it upon Pelagius, who proved about this time a falling star, and greatly corrupted the churches of Christ. Observe, 1. Where this star fell: Upon a third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters. 2. What effect it had upon them; it turned those springs and streams into wormwood, made them very bitter, that men were poisoned by them; either the laws, which are springs of civil liberty, and property, and safety, were poisoned by arbitrary power, or the doctrines of the gospel, the springs of spiritual life, refreshment, and vigour to the souls of men, were so corrupted and embittered by a mixture of dangerous errors that the souls of men found their ruin where they sought for their refreshment.

Your distortion is exposed for what it is.

Paul Primavera
Anonymous said…
A little religious bigotry there, Gunter? Branching out from slamming nukes to slamming Catholics? Figures. BTW, the Scripture you refer to is from The Revelation of St. John The Divine, sometimes called The Revelation to John, or simply Revelation, singular, not plural.
Rod Adams said…

I am no student of the book of Revelation, but I find it interesting that you have introduced the discussion of "wormwood" and related it to the Chernobyl accident.

There is a very interesting book titled "Wormwood Forest" that is about the present state of the forests and fauna in the area that was evacuated after the Chernobyl accident. It was written by a woman named Mary Mycio who combined academic training in biology, a law background, experience as a journalist and fluency in Ukrainian to become an exceptional observer and reporter about the effects of the accident.

I highly recommend reading this book. It might give you a different perspective on that exclusion zone that you mention.

If you want a brief introduction, you can listen to an interview that I did about a year ago with Ms. Mycio for The Atomic Show Podcast. The direct link for that show is
gunter said…

No question that PRA is widely used in both engineering and casinos.

Playing the odds has certainly become more sophisticated. Still the Challenger accident and other catastrophes demonstrate what happens when PRA is used to push those odds for a particular agenda whether it be glory or money. That's where "faith based" decisions enter; for example the NDT in a reactor pressure vessel when the quantity of contaminant metals is unknown or remaining those fuzzy margins in a steam generator tube for its next 24 month operational cycle. I believe it was actually the NRC Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards where I first heard "regulation by religion" in reference to pushing the envelope when crack growth rate are complete unknowns.

As for annoying anonymous with the Revelations of St. John reference... You all must know this by now but it bears repeating given our theme here...

"Wormwood" as referenced in Book of Revelations 8 vs 10-11 when translated into Ukrainian is "Chornobyl". Where is the distortion, anon? Anyone reading scripture, even non-believers, must marvel on whether this is prophecy or coincidence, don't you think?

What are the odds?

Anonymous said…
Facts and/or reasoned argument will not sway Gunter. To steal a phrase from Stephen Colbert, one could say that Gunter will believe the same thing on Thursday that he did on Tuesday... regardless of what happens Wednesday. That's what I call dogmaticisim at its finest.
Gunter, "Chernobyl" is not in fact Russian for "wormwood."

"Chornobyl" (Ukrainian) means "black grass." Are we joining the Heaven's Gate here or discussing science and technology?
Anonymous said…
Gunter said, "Playing the odds has certainly become more sophisticated. Still the Challenger accident and other catastrophes demonstrate what happens when PRA is used to push those odds for a particular agenda whether it be glory or money."

Um, Gunter appears to be a failed bible scholar AND historian. NASA developed its probabilistic risk analysis AFTER the Challenger event. In fact, the lack of a PRA was judged to be one of the root causes of the accident.

Coincidences are a dime a dozen. See for several. The mistake is to draw any significance from them.
Anonymous said…
Challenger accident? Oh, blow it out. If anything, what that showed was what happens when you base a decision on political factors rather than science. Kind of like the anti-nuke movement browbeating politicians and regulators and the public, whipping them into an anti-nuclear hysteria not based on science, but emotion driven by lies and fear. Or sending demagogues like Helen Caldicott around the country to spread fear and lies. And the country pays the price of that demagoguery: energy shortages, higher prices, increased air pollution, less energy security, vulnerability to economic blackmail, a lower standard of living, lives needlessly lost.

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