Friday, March 5, 2010

Speaking of Satan And His Legions Entering The Vatican......

Father Marcial Maciel in his 'CIA' persona.

More abuse allegations against Maciel surface
Mar. 04, 2010 By David Agren, Catholic News Service

MEXICO CITY -- Many in Mexico -- and beyond -- know Father Marcial Maciel as the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, an influential Catholic order famed for its elite schools and well-heeled followers.

Blanca Estela Lara Gutierrez came to know him in Tijuana by the alias "Raul Rivas," who, she said, "wanted to have a family" and, at various times, masqueraded as either a private detective or a CIA agent.

Her three sons, Jose Raul, Omar and Cristian, came to know Father Maciel as "Dad."
On March 3, the family went public with unflattering details of their life with Father Maciel. Lara told Mexico City radio host Carmen Aristegui of MVS Radio that she and Father Maciel were a couple for some 25 years and raised three sons -- one of whom, Cristian, was not his biological child. Jose Raul and Omar, meanwhile, tearfully said they had been sexually abused by their dad, Father Maciel.

The allegations threaten to further cloud the legacy of Father Maciel, who founded one of the most successful Catholic orders of the 20th century and gained enormous respect among Catholics worldwide, but lived a double life in violation of church teaching. (And a whole bunch of international criminal statutes.)

After an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against Father Maciel, the Vatican in May 2006 ordered him to stop practicing his ministry in public and live a life of prayer and penitence. Father Maciel died in January 2008 at age 87. Barely a year later, the Legionaries acknowledged its founder had fathered a daughter. (The Vatican investigations of Maciel started in the fifties. It only took Vatican authorities sixty years to accept the truth.)

The latest revelations of impropriety come as a five-member apostolic visitation team investigates the Legionaries of Christ. (White wash,)

Jose Raul Gonzalez Lara -- he and his brothers were not given Father Maciel's family name -- dismissed a recent public apology by Father Evaristo Sada, general secretary of the Legionaries, as "very embarrassing."

On Feb. 22, Father Sada asked for forgiveness "from the persons that our founder has affected because of immoral acts in his personal life." He also called on Legionaries to become more "humble" in their behavior and attitudes.

The Legionaries in Mexico responded March 4 by releasing a Jan. 12 letter from Father Carlos Skertchly, the order's general procurator, to Jose Raul. The order said releasing the letter was done "with absolute respect for the person of Raul Gonzalez Lara, bearing in mind that he himself published it on March 3."

The letter recapped a meeting and a phone call in January between Jose Raul and Father Skertchly in which he asked the order for $26 million.

The two met for an hour Jan. 6, according to the letter, and discussed the request, which included $6 million "in fulfillment of what you say was your father's will, expressed orally to you in a conversation." The letter also said Jose Raul asked for "another $20 million as compensation for your sufferings."

Father Skertchly said in the letter that Jose Raul called him Jan. 8, repeating his financial requests and "affirming that 'if you give me the money, I will keep quiet about the truth.'" The letter said that Jose Raul wanted a response from the order by Jan. 13.

"However in no way can we accede to your request for money in exchange for silence," Father Skertchly wrote. "While we value all of the pain and suffering that you have shared with us, and we deplore the evil of scandal that may follow, we will never accept petitions of this sort, which are also illicit. We prefer to seek and face the truth, no matter how painful it may be." (Hey, money in exchange for silence was how the official game was played. Facing painful truth is now much cheaper than paying for silence.)

Father Skertchly also told Jose Raul in the letter that the order was willing to "accompany" him and offer "the pastoral support you are willing to receive, since you told me, the deepest solution to your difficulties is not economic." (This is a diabolically clever move to deflect any monetary compensation---using Jose Raul's truth against him.)

Father Skertchly also wrote that the order remained committed to "uncover the truth" about Father Maciel's life. (I'm far more interested in uncovering the truth about the Legion and it's complicity in Maciel's multiple lives, it's penchant for abusive techniques, and it's other cult practices. There are lots of Maciel and Legion abuse victims, not all of them were sexually raped. Most of them were spiritually raped.)

Lara said her relationship with Father Maciel began in Tijuana toward the end of the 1970s, when she was 19 and he was 56. Father Maciel, she said, told her he wanted a family, but didn't want to get married. He also told her he worked as a private detective, but at other times said he worked for the CIA. (I wonder why in his fifties Maciel seems to have suddenly begun to desire to father his own children. The objective and gender may have changed, but the age bracket remains the same.)

Jose Raul was born two years later. He said beginning at age 7 he was sexually abused when his father "tried to rape me" while they were visiting Colombia. Omar said he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Father Maciel, beginning at age 8. Cristian said he was not sexually abused. (He was not Maciel's 'child'.)

The three young men spoke glowingly at times of their father, however. They described him as "very loving" and "the patriarch" of the family. Neighbors would say, "He should be a saint," a reflection, they said, of his easy manner with people.

Lara also spoke glowingly of Father Maciel.

"I idolized him," she said. "One time I told him, 'You're my god.'"

He traveled frequently, but would call daily and send letters, Lara said.

Lara said she had no idea of his double life. She raised few questions about Father Maciel's line of work or questioned suspicious happenings, such as Father Maciel registering Jose Raul with the surname "Gonzalez" even though the priest had used the alias "Rivas." Even people -- described as the "elites" of Mexico -- greeting him as "Father," failed to raise red flags.

"When we were eating breakfast, there were some that would say, 'Good morning, Padre,' and we had orders to withdraw ourselves," Omar said.

"We never asked ourselves why they called him 'Padre.' We supposed it was because he had many children."

The charade was exposed in 1997, when the family saw Father Maciel's image on the cover of the Mexican magazine Contenido, which ran a story on allegations of sexual abuse against him. He denied the contents of the story and Jose Raul said the family was sent money to buy all the copies in Cuernavaca, the city near Mexico City where they resided.

Lara believed him.

"I was totally blind," she said. Previous to the story, she said, "I never suspected a thing. I didn't know who I was living with."

She said she stopped believing him in 1999, when Jose Raul told her that he was sexually abused. "I didn't ever not believe my sons," she said.

Jose Raul and Omar were sent to Spain by their father to receive psychological treatment.
Before he died, the Gonzalez Lara family said Father Maciel promised them an inheritance that had been deposited in a trust fund, but that money has not been located. Legionaries' officials have not been of assistance, Jose Raul said. (How utterly shocking that the Legion can't find it. Their existence depends on Sgt. Schultz's favorite defense. "I know nothing.")

"We're totally forsaken," Jose Raul said. (Believe me the Legion feels bad about this, but they Know Nothing and Can't Find Anything.)


It's pretty obvious the Legion strategy in defending themselves is to maintain they are the primary victim. They sound pretty much like any mother or elder sibling who becomes aware of the fact that daddy has been taking favors from younger siblings and children. Really accomplished narcissistic pedophiles rely on the willful ignorance of other primary care givers. Operative word is 'willful' because there are usually all kinds of signals the enablers only let themselves see in hind sight---when the game is up and the only thing left to protect is themselves.

That Maciel was able to go for sixty some years is a testament to tons and tons of willful ignorance supported by tons and tons of willful and purposeful enabling behavior. The exact same strategies are being played out in the so called investigation of the Legion. Archbishop Chaput and his fellow investigators are willful Legion enablers. I wrote it before, I'll write it again: If the Vatican was serious about getting to the bottom of the Legion they would have used independent professional investigators and stocked the group with forensic accountants. Apparently the Vatican didn't feel neither they nor the Legion could 'afford' to this.

I actually agree with Fr. Amorth about Satan getting into the Vatican and his minions including Cardinals, and undoubtedly some popes. I don't necessarily use the same mythical structure to explain this network of very dark energy. Like many networks of dark energy it is generational and gets darker and darker.

Maciel was allowed to function through six different popes. He got most out of control and brazen under John Paul the not so great. Under this Vatican pontificate Maciel actually began begetting his own victims on victims. This escalation in his behavior coincided with Maciel's ascendancy in the Vatican. Yes, there is definite linkage, because the more notoriety he got as the 'sainted' founder of the Legion, the more this served to both cover and fuel expression for his narcissistic ideation. Using the cover of a CIA agent or private detective was hugely symbolic, except in his case it was the priesthood which was the cover. He was Satan's perfect mole.
The Legion, founded on the energy of a psychopathic narcissist, wreaks with the very dark energy of a narcissism fueled by predation on the innocent. Is this not the definition of Satanic evil? Does this not describe the typical Catholic the Legion runs on? Well meaning, innocent Catholics from sheltered family structures?

The real problem with Vatican II is it used the language of lay empowerment. That did truly represent a discontinuity with the past because Catholicism ran, and is now desperately attempting to recover, the power of abuse dynamics. The uncovering of global clerical sexual abuse, but most especially that of Maciel and the Legion, are direct signs pointing at the generational dysfunction and outright evil in the Catholic structure. How much more of a direct sign do we need before we Catholics take up the sword of our empowerment and deal with the evil? Jesus wonders.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What If Catholic Progessives Went In For Spiritual Warfare?

Just think what a highly trained squad of progressive spiritual warriors could do if this was filled with Holy Water.

Perhaps it's time for spiritual progressives to get in this Spiritual Warfare Battle. It seems the conservatives can't even figure out who is under the influence of the evil side.

Spanish exorcist addresses claims of Satanic influence in Vatican
Rome, Italy, Mar 3, 2010 / 04:20 pm (CNA).-

A renowned exorcist in Rome recently released a book of memoirs in which he declares to know of the existence of Satanic sects in the Vatican where participation reaches all the way to the College of Cardinals.

A second demonologist, also residing in Rome, entered the debate this week, clarifying the origins of the information and defending the Vatican's clergy as an "edifying and virtuous" collection of prelates. (Michael the AA seems to have some difference of opinion in his ranks of exorcists.)

In a book of memoirs released in February, the noted Italian exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth affirmed that "Yes, also in the Vatican there are members of Satanic sects."

When asked if members of the clergy are involved or if this is within the lay community, he responded, "There are priests, monsignors and also cardinals!"

The book, "Father Amorth. Memoirs of an Exorcist. My life fighting against Satan." was written by Marco Tosatti, who compiled it from interviews with the priest.

Fr. Amorth was asked by Tosatti how he knows Vatican clergy are involved. He answered, "I know from those who have been able to relate it to me because they had a way of knowing directly. And it's something 'confessed' most times by the very demon under obedience during the exorcisms."

The famous Italian exorcist was also asked if the Pope was aware of Satanic sects in the Vatican, to which Fr. Amorth replied, "Of course, he was informed. But he does what he can. It's a horrifying thing."

Benedict XVI, being German, comes from a place "decidedly averse to these things," argued Fr. Amorth, saying that in Germany "there practically aren't any exorcists." However, he clarified, "the Pope believes (in them)." (Yes indeed, Benedict is creating his own army of exorcists.)

The Italian priest also warned of the existence of bishops and priests who do not believe in Satan in the interview. "And yet, in the Gospel, Jesus speaks extensively about it, so it should be said, either they've never read the Gospel or they just don't believe it!"

Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurull, a Spanish priest and theologian who specializes in demonology and is now studying for his doctorate of theology in Rome, responded to Fr. Amorth's assertions on March 1.

After reading reports of Fr. Amorth's accusations pointing a finger at members of the clergy, including cardinals, Fr. Fortea declared that it is a "duty of justice" to speak out in their defense.
Noting that some prelates "are more spiritual and others more earthly, some more virtuous and others more human," he wrote on his blog, "from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of Satanic sects is an unacceptable distance." (Not for progressives. For us the Vatican would be a prime strategic target.)

The Spanish priest then explained the sources of information used by Fr. Amorth to say that Satanic sects are operating in the Vatican.

In addition to the people that seek help for demonic possession, said Fr. Fortea, "innumerable persons come to us who claim to have visions, revelations and messages from Our Lord." Among these, "a certain number offer apocalyptic messages and revelations about the infiltration of Satanism and the Masons within the dome of the Church."

Fr. Fortea added that the only acceptable stance is to suspend judgment of the messages while they are subjected to time-intensive discernment, "sometimes months for each one of the cases." (It might also be acceptable to consider the influence of the 'demon' schizophrenia.)

The other source Fr. Amorth refers to, according to Fr. Fortea, is the demons who are being exorcised. Of this, the Spanish priest wrote that knowing whether or not the demon is telling the truth "is in many cases impossible." (That's the problem with delusions.)

"We can know with great confidence when a demon tells the truth in the subject directly related with the exorcism. That is, the number of demons, their name and similar things. But we cannot be confident in what regards concrete news relating to people."

"Father Amorth does not have other sources of knowledge than the two that I just cited," indicated the Spanish exorcist, "I refer to his own words for this affirmation."

Fr. Fortea observed that the existence of similar messages from the same sources is "something known by me just as (it has been) by many other colleagues for many years."

"Among exorcists, some have come to similar conclusions as those of Fr. Amorth. Others have not."

Fr. Fortea also defended those implicated in Fr. Amorth's statements, stating, "Our College of Cardinals, if we compare it with past centuries is the most edifying and virtuous that history has ever known. One would have to go back to the epoch of the Roman Empire to find a body of electors so distanced from all earthly pretension as the current one is. (Did I previously mention the world delusion?)

"Cardinals might be better or worse," he reflected, "but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God."

He concluded by emphasizing, "Statements must be proven, especially when they are about such grave accusations that affect the honorability of those who form part of the Head of the Church as far as they help the Supreme Pastor."


What a delightful little dispute this is. A sort of my delusions are truer than your delusions kind of dispute. Or else it's a case of conservative spiritual practioners turning on each other over the Vatican carcass. Kind of like jackals. I'm sure the devil is making them do this.

However, I did run across a progressive blog whose author lays out an appropriate military course of action in which progressives, who think broad thoughts, could lead the way in this Catholic version of spiritual warfare:

Personally, I believe in demonic possession, and that it is indeed widespread. How else to account for all of the evil we see in the world today? I believe that the Pope is on the right track here, but is naive if he thinks that mere squads will suffice when it is obvious that at least two armies are needed for an overwhelming "shock and awe"campaign.

If those possessed can be identified their evil acts, then it is clear to me that massive well- organized armies must be quickly mobilized and equipped, and must carry out coordinated attacks to drive the demons out of their unwitting victims all at once, or else the demons are likely to find other vulnerable hosts to take over without even having to leave the room.. The devil and his minions will not be easily dismissed. (Only a progressive could come up with the kind of battle strategy that acknowledges Satan's true power,)

There are areas in our country where demonic activity is concentrated. These "nests of evil" must be attacked and cleared out simultaneously, and then the armies can be split into squads or platoons to fan out and clear the smaller nests which abound.

The two main infestations are large enough to pose logistical issues, and may well require small water purification plants to ensure a sufficient supply of holy water, and tank sprayers for the exorcists to use both offensively in group situations and as a defensive weapon against the inevitable vicious counter-attacks. (Here is the beginning of the Spiritual Warfare Industrial Complex. Where can I buy stock?)

Once every branch of government has been "dis-possessed"(starting with the Executive), and the financial centers in New York brought back into the light, the squads can go to work on the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and fan out to corporate boardrooms across the country, stopping at several conservative "Christian" churches and organizations on the way. (Oh, I like this part of the strategy.)

You can see that this is a massive undertaking, and the Vatican will surely need all the help it can get. Finally, we progressives are presented with a golden opportunity to quit bitching and actually do something to set our country aright. (Amen brother, amen.)

I'm sure that the Pope will appreciate your help, so get ready--you'll need a heavy-duty crucifix, a dependable tank sprayer, holy oil (Valvoline will do in a pinch), and either this or this prayer--and join the fight! (also a reliable cell phone with Fr. Amorth on speed dial and VZ Navigator)


It's way past time to drop a bomb of Holy Water on the Vatican. Fr. Amorth says so.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Battles Over Language Go Well Beyond Literal Latin Translations Of The Mass

'Hermeneutics of discontinuity' is all about what size truck one can drive through the language of Vatican II documents. Reformers prefer the background truck, reform of the reformers prefer the foreground truck.

This is a short excerpt from an article posted yesterday on the NCR: The New Spin on Vatican II. I don't think it's exactly new, it's been a long time in the making. The new is in the language used in the talking points. It's no longer enough to silence the messengers. Now it's about respinning the language and message.
When it comes to Vatican II, however, the term has come to mean how one interprets that event and it is usually modified by phrases that have become a sound-bite way of separating Catholics into two general camps:

- Hermeneutic of discontinuity (sometimes referred to as the hermeneutic of rupture) is used to refer to those who think the council represented a distinct change from the past, and is used often to disparage those who speak of a pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II church.

- Hermeneutic of continuity or renewal refers to those who would hold that very little actually changed at Vatican II, that it was a “reaffirmation” of all that went before only cast in new language so as to be understandable to the modern era.

Dividing people into hermeneutic camps has become a favorite tactic of conservative commentators and some bishops, especially those who most want to downplay the idea that the council altered the teaching or attitude of the church in any significant way. Others, however, see the categories as artificial and overstated, attempts at marginalizing as extreme anyone convinced that Vatican II ushered in important changes.

Talking points

Whatever one’s point of view, “hermeneutics” has taken on a life equivalent to campaign talking points. The categories provide a coherent, easy-to-understand critique of what has become a standard perception of the council. Hermeneutics is echoing around the Catholic landscape and is being used to package ideas ranging from the investigation of religious orders to alterations in the liturgy.

The term played large at a meeting in September of last year at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., a gathering said to have been influential in the decision of Cardinal Franc Rodé to initiate an investigation of women religious in the United States. At that gathering, Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, Wis., spoke of the “discontinuity hermeneutic” and “the language of rupture.” He was responding to a talk by Rodé about religious formation and education.

“The language that many people have learned -- it is clear from today that most of you resisted learning it, and I resisted learning it -- but the language that many people have learned is the language of the discontinuity hermeneutic, the language of the rupture, between pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II,” Morlino said.

“Many if not most of our people have learned the language of the discontinuity hermeneutic. And in order to learn the language that Pope John Paul the Great and Pope Benedict are trying to teach us they have to unlearn the language that they learned.”


Bishop Morlino's message goes right to the heart of every issue which emanated from Vatican II. While John Paul 'the Great' did his best to restore the Church to pre Vatican II clerical and dogmatic control, it falls to Benedict and his successors to stamp out the language and 'attitude' of Vatican II. It is the language of the documents and the attitudes they convey that was the real legacy of Vatican II. If your goal is to return Catholicism to clerical control and dogmatic obedience, you must not only silence the messengers, but the language used by the messengers.

Language is so very powerful. Especially for minds enculturated in the West. I suppose this is why so many battles during the Council were not over dogma per se, but in the words used to convey the teachings. It 's not surprising the canon lawyers like Morlino would object to phrasing in which it was possible to drive a truck through. It is not surprising that Benedict is obsessed with literal translations of Latin for the Mass--translations in which it is not possible to drive a Tonka Truck through. Many or our current battles are all about the language of Vatican II and the attitude it attempted to convey.

JPII did his best to stack our hierarchy with literalists and canon lawyers in order to change the attitude associated with Vatican II because his own logic necessitated the documents stay in place. Otherwise he himself would invalidate the whole notion of Papal infallibility. Vatican II then becomes a council which affirmed all of the past but used terrible language that allowed reformers to get out of control. The teachings were all correct, but the language fostered incorrect attitudes. Somehow we learned the 'language of rupture' and need to unlearn it as fast as possible.

When caught in actual violations of both canon law and it's spirit, the hierarchy has resorted to the language of silence, disinformation, and outright lies. This is the language of politics, not Jesus Christ. This is the language of ego survival, not service to others. This is the language of control, not the freedom offered by the words of Jesus.

The ironic thing is the New Testament is full of the 'language of rupture'. So much so the powers that be killed the Messenger. In that sense Vatican II truly did go back to the source and summit of our Faith.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Getting Over The Sin Of Religion Is Like Getting Over Notions Of Traditional Winter Sports

Why is it the Chinese excell at free style skiing and the Russians don't? Could it be a failure to think outside the box of what constitutes a 'traditional' winter sport--or valid expressions of gymnastic movement?

The following is an excerpt from an interview by Religion Dispatches with Sarah Miles, the author of "Jesus Freak: Feeding, Healing, Raising the Dead." The entire interview can be read here. Sara Miles makes some very interesting points about religion and culture. She also makes a whole slew of other important points. The entire interview is well worth reading.

In Jesus Freak you write about going around the country, to talk about your work with food pantries, and change in churches, and meeting many people who say something like, “Oh, it’s wonderful what you do, but we could never do that here...!”

It’s this weird thing. Before I became one, I didn’t understand there’s this whole industry of church professionals whose job it is to be inspirational.
So here’s what I think—and this is not an original thought, St. Paul had this thought—people want to change and people don’t want to change. People profoundly want to be made new, and people profoundly want to be clothed in Christ, to be born again. And they profoundly want to cling to everything old—about the world, and about themselves. The thing is, that church, as it’s set up, is not usually a way to change; it’s a way to cling to the way things are. (Which is why the most successful religions are bastions of support for the status quo of whatever power dynamic rules culture.)

I just read an article about a set of emerging renewed churches, two churches, actually, and one synagogue. And it was all about how we’re making churches that aren’t like those old-fashioned ones, they’re places where we can feel comfortable.

But of course that’s the impulse shared by members of the most conservative old-school parish, where you just mumble your way through the mass. Church is a place where you’re comfortable. And it’s a place that certainly replicates class structures and racial structures.

You go where you feel you belong (the phrase “our church home” is telling). Of course I understand that people want to feel at home. You live in capitalism, to be crude about it; you live in a hard place, and you want a place that feels authentic and real and where you can be yourself. But what I see over and over again is this inability to tell the difference between tradition and nostalgia. (or between real truth and plain old safety.)

And so, whereas I think there’s incredible power in trying to recuperate tradition and reflect on it and consciously appropriate it, there’s also this individual and social psychology of clinging to tradition, and “if we just keep doing the same things over and over again we’ll be okay.” Which is, of course, idolatry.

It was interesting to me that you make very clear distinctions among “religion,” the church, theology, and practice. You say, for example, that religion is “a set of ideas about God.” You don’t talk much about sin, but when you do it’s this surprising reading of the story of the Canaanite woman (from Matthew) in which Jesus has to be “healed of the sin of religion.”

As someone who is not a scholar of religion, there are a couple of things that struck me when I became a believer. One is, of course, that every religion claims that it has the inherent path to truth, when in fact it is a catalog and piling on of heresies. You pile the heresies on top of each other and the ones that last become orthodoxy. There’s a constant re-making of religion. (Religions, because they are products of culture, are formed and passed on exactly like cultures, which is why we currently have all the angst about the 'traditional' family and Catholic 'identity.' Neither one is really about the Good News, but about preserving one culturally supporting notion of God.)

So, there’s this desire for “pure” religion, and then there’s actually how it’s made. And how it’s made is how all cultural stuff is made: people pile stuff on. And they sometimes fight over it, and they win by violence, and they win by persuasion. It’s a cultural artifact that’s made by people. Religion can also very easily become a way to manage God; this is why people say they lose their religion when bad things happen to them.

The idea that you're appeasing God by performing ritual actions is really profound. And people long for it—I long for it. I like the idea that if I simply light the candles at a certain time and say the prayers at a certain time and cross myself in the right way, I will be safe. And I’ll be good. And I’ll be right with God. But that reduces God to an object that can be manipulated by my technology—my words, thoughts, gestures. Or I create an even more complex system in which my priest tells me how to be right with God, and all I have to do is obey the human authority. I start to imagine I can control God. (We are taught that all of this is designed to help us control ourselves, but it's really about teaching us to conform ourselves to our current culture by using the notion of pleasing God with our culturally approved actions. The real God here is culture.)

Why I think that’s sinful is that it takes you out of relationship, and I think sin is what breaks relationship. You’re divorced from having to have a real relationship with God—including one that is unsatisfying, frustrating, painful, confusing, mysterious.

It’s hard. But people want it. They want to be protected from relationship with God and with other people but they yearn for it. They yearn for it so much, because it’s great and scary. It’s like falling in love; it’s a powerful, real thing. (and then controlling the relationship becomes more important and less scary than living in/out the relationship.)

And this transcends politics. It’s not as if liberals are any better at serving the poor than conservatives. You talk about these very progressive congregations using “charity” or of “doing good” to distance themselves from those they’re serving.

I think the desire to be good gets expressed in different ways. I have a friend, a volunteer at our food pantry, who sleeps in the street under a bridge and is here at 7:30 in the morning because he wants to do something for people. He’s got a passionate desire to give something, because he’s realized that the experience of giving changes him.

But there’s also this alienated idea that you can please God by doing good deeds. Crossing yourself, saying the prayers, refusing to eat meat, are like being nice to a poor person. In other words, instead of having relationships with the people you’re giving to, the act of charity becomes a magical ritual that will save you, or protect you, or make God like you better.

And I don’t think God's interested in people being good. (me either.)

I think the personalizing of God as a parent who wants you to behave is not helpful. I think the continual conversion and change of yourself to more and more reflect God’s love: that process, of coming closer to God, is God’s desire. Our patron saint Gregory of Nyssa says that we’re most like God in our desire. That God’s desire for us and our desire for God’s love is a desire that is never satisfied, never reached. The more love there is the more love is created. (And that takes the guts to engage in real relationships, not categories of 'others'.)


I love that notion that the Canaanite woman cured Jesus of the sin of religion. None of us can get very far on any spiritual path if we aren't cured of the sin of religion. We can't get very far if we can't get past the enculturation (brain entrainment) of our youth--all the notions of safety, security, and 'correct behavior' that are supposed to bring us closer to God but actually serve to allow us to fit into our birth culture. We sacrifice mystery and meaning for certitude and safety.

Secular culture is not really as relative as Pope Benedict would have us believe, it's just changing too fast. The traditional methods of passing on culture no longer work. Religion and the family structure culture has relied on to pass itself on and reinforce it's values, can't work well because the culture which succeeding generations live in has different demands, is in a state of flux.

Here's kind of an off the wall example. The Russians did not have a very successful Winter Olympics and President Medvedev is stroking out because the next Olympics are in Russia. He's angry about the inclusion of 'non traditional' sports in which Russians have no cultural interest, like snow boarding and short track speed skating. He wants to fire all his slacker Olympic managers.

On the other hand, China and other oriental cultures who are not burdened by 'tradition' did exceedingly well in non traditional winter sports. They sent people who were essentially gymnasts and divers to do gymnastics and diving moves on skis. Once the Russians make the same leap in thinking, the Russians will do OK. Gymnastic movement is about as traditional as it gets. Aerial skiing takes gymnastic movement outside the box of floor mats and diving boards and puts it on skis. It's also really visual and really cool and whether Medvedev wants to admit it, it's also culturally relevant--just not to his historic culture.

Catholicism is pretty much in the same place and some of us really want to fire all the slacker managers. I suspect the folks who are going to show the way out are not the folks burdened by our historical cultural prejudices. I don't think it's too surprising that the best theology is coming from the Orient.

Like gymnastics, there are spiritual movements if you will, universal in human nature, and different ways of both putting those movements together and avenues to display them. The human truth is in the universality of those movements, not in the way they are displayed. One of those truths is the pursuit of relationship and the mystery of love. For our religious institutions to insist love relationships fit into only certain boxes is just as futile as President Medvedev whining about aerial skiing. It's an attitude which doesn't fly for our younger generations and a lesson our religious institutions have yet to learn.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Is Mandatory Celibacy A Form Of Heresy?

Pope Gregory VII was no friend of married clergy or their wives.

The following is an excerpt from a longer article posted on Clerical Whispers. The article makes an interesting case concerning the 'heresy' of priestly celibacy. It's an interesting read in it's totality, and I encourage readers to take in the whole article. Maybe as just a way to kill time before the Olympic Gold Medal hockey game.

Speaking of which, no matter if the USA wins, it will not be another 'miracle on ice'. Both the Canadian and American teams are fully comprised of NHL professionals. In some respects it's a cross boarder NHL all star game. It's not a national referendum. Now if only Brian Rafalski would take the current resurrection of his game back to the Redwings...., but I digress from more important matters.

The Medieval Papacy

For more than 700 years after Constantine, Roman Emperors and later European monarchs controlled papal elections and personally appointed bishops and abbots who served at their discretion, not the Pope’s.

Monasteries and dioceses brought great wealth to these secular lords through Simony, although little accrued to Rome.

During all that time bishops and priests were married and Churches became Sacramental filling stations owned by mercenary clerics who willed them to family heirs, who then often bought and sold these valuable offices. (Hmmm, perhaps this could be another version of Monopoly.)

The Church had a strong need to curb priestly heirs’ power and corruption, and this problem was solved when Popes submitted to the Emperor’s secular authority, with agreement that Cardinals alone would elect future popes. (This needs more explanation, but perhaps I should read the book this whole article is based on: Illicit Celibacy and the Deposit of Faith.)

Finally, after a 700-year struggle, and desiring to eliminate future loss of wealth and control over married clerics, mandatory celibacy laws preventing future heirs were finally instituted.

Again, no vow was sought as it is today, it was demanded.

Failed Vatican efforts to end priestly marriage had continued sporadically until 1139 AD, and Pope Innocent II’s desire to seize clerical wealth and property.

Then, asserting that apostolic continence was the first priestly tradition, Innocent II reached back 700 years to Popes Damasus’ and Siricius’ use of Gnostic-Christian legend in support of his new effort to subdue the priesthood.

Previously, three councils in the 11th century had failed to end priestly marriage by selling wives and children of priests into slavery, with proceeds accruing to the Vatican treasury.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux correctly prophesied in 1135 AD, “Take from the Church an honorable marriage bed, and do you not fill it with concubineage, incest, homosexuality, and every kind of uncleanness?”

But Pope Gregory VII stated, “The Church cannot escape from the laity unless priests first escape the clutches of their wives.” (This is really quite a statement on a number of levels. In truth, it's very, very gnostic and not very Christian.)

Doctrine vs. Discipline

To justify modern papal demands for priestly celibacy, the Church today denies celibacy is a Church doctrine, claiming it is merely an ancient discipline freely initiated by the apostles.

This defense arose only after Vatican Council I in 1870, when the Church infallibly declared that “some new doctrine” may not be added to the Deposit of Faith.

Prior to that time the law was taught as a doctrine because all Church teachings that are claimed to be from the apostles are doctrines.

But, in order to retain control over the priesthood, the Church now denies the law of mandatory celibacy is a Church doctrine that changes Christ’s Sacramental doctrine of priestly matrimony, thus denying the Sacramental grace of matrimony originally given to them by Jesus.

This new terminology was necessary in order to obscure the reality that mandatory celibacy actually alters Jesus’ teaching.

At this point it is important for Catholics to understand the Church’s definition of ‘heretic’: “One who, having accepted the faith of Christ, corrupts its Doctrine.”

Today Christ’s original doctrine, allowing priests to marry and propagate, has been changed.

All popes from Innocent II until Benedictine XVI have knowingly supported this law and are therefore partakers of heresy.

Today St. Peter could not become a priest, because he was married.

The ‘discipline’ of apostolic continence is historically false. There is absolutely no evidence from the Deposit of Faith, none.

Church authorities today can produce no legitimate evidence of its truth. It is myth disguised as doctrine.

It is a doctrinal impediment that intentionally alters Christ’s infallible teaching, it denies a Sacramental grace from God, a sanctifying grace given to Christians by the Son of God, and thus voids all Church claims of infallible teaching authority.


The author of the above article is the author of the book. I may have to get this book because the point he is making is somewhat critical. Is it in fact heresy to use a 'doctrine' to circumvent a direct teaching of Jesus or the Apostles? That particular teaching is the choice the disciples and early Christians were given about choosing marriage or celibacy, and the very clear directive of Paul that marriage was far preferable to attempting a life style one in fact couldn't live.

But of course this question has bigger ramifications. If the Church somehow has the power to circumnavigate Christ's instructions on the acceptability of monogamous marriage for the Apostles, how in the world can it then turn around and claim it doesn't have the power to ordain women?

Secondly, accepting the gnostic notion of sexual continence making one more spiritual has had huge repercussions on the nature and role of sexuality with in Catholicism. None of these repercussions has been very beneficial or healthy for Christians--especially women-- because in essence the exalted status of the Catholic priest was achieved by denying the God given role of women for men. Real spiritual men don't need female 'companionship' and in fact, should they accept such companionship, they have accepted a lesser spiritual state. So much for Genesis and God's intentions about male spiritual needs.

Celibacy, and the theology which supports it, really is a core root issue in Catholicism. It denies the role of women in salvation history, it produces a warped view of sexuality with regards to spirituality, and it produces enormous hypocrisy with in the priesthood. It really needs to be re evaluated. Finally, for the majority of priests, it does not provide for occasions of sanctity, it provides for occasions of sin and exploitation. It's well past time to reform this reform.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Catholic Pursuit Of A Culture Of Death In The Philippines

I have posted this photo previously. It truly haunts me, as does this topic in this country. Follow the link for the opinion of a more enlightened Catholic opinion, that of Cardinal Cottier.

Church 'has silenced women's rights debate'
Feb. 25, 2010 By UCA News

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The church's catechism opposing the Reproductive Health Bill, which is now before Congress, has silenced election candidates on women's rights, a leading advocate of the proposed law says.

Politicians seem to have "all meekly acquiesced to the dictates" of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, which issued the "Catechism on Family and Life" for the 2010 elections, former Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez said. National, provincial and local elections will be held nationwide May 10.

The Catholic church teaches that married couples must have as many children as they can support and educate. It allows only for natural family planning methods.
The bill before Congress proposes allotting funds for a population control program to curb poverty. (This is not precisely true. Ultimately the Church teaches couples must allow all pregnancies that happen irrespective of whether they can support or educate them.)

Romualdez urged supporters of the bill not to allow "religious extremists to dominate the discussion or suppress it altogether."

"Reproductive heath advocates should view with concern the deafening silence of presidential candidates and politicians in general on the issue of reproductive health," he said.

Romualdez is the trustee of the Forum for Family Planning and Development. The organization is an association of national, business and other leaders funded by international donors, including United Nations Population Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
At a recent forum on "reproductive health rights of Filipinos and the 2010 national elections," Romualdez and other supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill said the church was interfering in politics.

"Interference by a religious body in civil and political affairs is a violation of our constitution's section on the separation of church and state, and candidates should take a stand on this," Romualdez said.

Ramon San Pascual, executive director of the Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development Foundation, told the forum the church should stay out of the debate.
"Priests and bishops are not allowed to become parents and to have families … and yet they are involved in the issue of taking care of the bodies of women," he said.

The 2008 surveys of the Social Weather Stations, a private research institution, found 71 percent of the nation and 86 percent of Manila City residents want the bill passed into law.

Urban poor group leader Fe Nicodemus reported that on Valentine's Day her group distributed 200,000 condoms while the church gave out rice. "Residents got the rice, then came to us" for the condoms, she said.

In a separate interview on Feb. 19, Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the church's national judicial vicar, said the church is exercising its role of reminding Catholics about right and wrong.

"The real problem of government officials is their futile wish for the bishops, priests and religious to act as if they know nothing, see nothing, say nothing even when said public officials engage in unethical and/or immoral plans, programs and projects," Cruz said.


The situation in the Philippines is truly an all out war between corrupt politicians and the Church on one side, and poor women and their advocates on the other. Only one side is paying any consequences in this war. It's not the celibate males of the Church nor the corrupt politicians. I find it very interesting that the families of those ruling politicians are much smaller than what they themselves advocate for others.

I just finished reading a report on the effects of the NFP mandate issued by Manila Mayor Jose Atienza in 2000. His decree stated this:

“the City promotes responsible parenthood and upholds natural
family planning not just as a method but as a way of self-awareness in promoting the
culture of life while discouraging the use of artificial methods of contraception like
condoms, pills, intrauterine devices, surgical sterilization, and other.”

The result of Executive Order #003, which is still in effect, has been devastating for Manilla's poorer families. Infant and maternal mortality has risen significantly and keeps rising. The number of families who have sunk below the poverty line keeps increasing. One of the top two reasons for admission to local hospitals is complications from botched abortions. HIV/AIDS is steeply rising, the number of infections now doubling in less than a year and the Church officials castigate government officials for distributing free condoms. All of this misery is happening in service to the "Culture of Life".

Although the report I linked is long, I found it interesting because it illustrates the exact same arguments put before the Vatican's Birth Control Commission during Vatican II. Those arguments convinced all but three members of the 57 person commission to vote for a change in the Church's stance on birth control.

One of the arguments which doesn't get enough play, is that NFP assumes an equal voice in the sexual relations with in a couple's marriage. Women have to have the ability to say no and have their husband respect this no. The fact is no such equality exists within the defined gender relationship in Catholic culture. This is certainly true in the vary Catholic Philippines:

As a way of coping with lack of access to family planning, women interviewed would
often try to refuse sex with their partner to avoid pregnancy. Fear of getting pregnant
because of lack of protection during sex is the primary reason why they refuse sex with
their partners. Women described how this puts a strain on their relationships and has led to
heated altercations, temporary separation and even sexual violence. More often than not,
women yield to their partners’ wishes rather than create a shameful situation where the
neighbors learn they fight because of sex.

My husband and I would quarrel when I refused to have sex for fear of getting
pregnant. He suspected me of having an extramarital affair. He would hit me
on the thighs. He left us for the province and didn’t communicate. I went to my
sister’s place with my six children and worked as a laundry woman to support
myself and my children. We were separated for one year.

Some women finally succumb to their husbands to avoid confrontation
and abuse:
We used to fight, shout at each other when I refused to have sex. My
husband would get mad when I refused and grab me. Because of these
problems, we separated for three months during which time I lived with
my mother. I feel embarrassed if people learn that we fight because of sex
so now I just give in to my husband’s sexual needs, all the time. Ako na
lang maghahanap ng paraan para di mabuntis. [I take it upon myself to
look for ways not to get pregnant.]

* * *
Sometimes when there’s no money to buy condoms and I don’t want to have sex
with my husband, he gets angry and forces me. I tell him, “Aren’t you ashamed
of yourself? You’ve got so many kids already and we don’t have privacy.” Our
house is very small; we sleep together with the kids. Only a thin wall separates
us from the neighbors and I don’t want them to hear us arguing so I just give in
to what my husband wants

Another erroneous underlying assumption in Catholic moral theology-as it pertains to women-is that there should be no such thing as an unwanted pregnancy. No matter the source of that pregnancy, they are all gifts from God. I guess this is really easy to say for men who won't ever experience pregnancy, or childbirth or for that matter, parenthood. Under those circumstances it's really easy to believe in a God who gives 'gifts' to others, no matter the causes. God sure is 'gifting' the women of Manila. How dare those women not revel in eight pregnancies in ten years.

And then in the Philippines we have the political interference another of the ubiquitous lay Catholic Evangelical Groups. (cult) This one is called El Shaddai. It's leader is a failed real estate developer cum healer who based his Catholic philosophy on the American Evangelical prosperity Gospel. Needless to say he is now very wealthy again, courtesy of his followers and the Philippine administration of Joseph Estrada. His youngest son is considered one of the richest of all Philippine legislators.

His group may be way out on the Evangelical scale, but it's well with in the Catholic sexual morality scale. The Philippine Church provides it's spiritual direction. It's political choice in the upcoming presidential elections is another Philippine real estate mogul who strongly believes in NFP. Talk about repeating the past. Can anyone say Marcos?

It's easy for American Catholics to get all distracted by American issues, but American women will always enjoy real reproductive freedom. Philippine women are fighting a fight American women won fifty years ago. In this battle the stakes really are life and death. Philippine women and children can be victimized by these Roman Catholic pro life values because Paul VI could not, or would not, place the safety and health of women and children above papal infallibility and tradition.

Nothing has changed in the last fifty years except for the numbers of silenced theologians and the number of corrupt politicians willing to use Church influence to further their personal goals. Oh yea, and the fact that now the Church is willing to sacrifice clerical abuse victims on the same altar of papal infallibility and tradition. Perhaps this is the real culture of death.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Uncle Dick And Papa Ben And My Shrinking Waistline

I try to look for the positive on a daily basis and lately it's been hard to find much that's positive in Roman Catholicism. At least from a progressives point of view. Anyway, yesterday I'm really slamming on the Bow Flex--(This is a commercial endorsement) and realised that the article I had written was really fueling my workout, not the 20 grams of protein power bar--(not a commercial endorsement, more of a Lenten penance.) Then I got on my Nintendo Wii fitness platform--(another commercial endorsement) and hit three consecutive perfect scores on the soccer balance game and personal bests in three yoga positions.

The yoga work out seems to have centered my mind and I had this strangle little thought. I realized the two personalities who have really influenced my life in it's anger and frustration quotient in the last twenty some years are Dick Cheney and Joseph Ratzinger. In a very real respect I was working off all the weight I had accumulated under their influence. By the way, I have lost 45 pounds in the last four months using the Body For Life program. (another commercial endorsement). I have fantasies of making the 2014 Bobsled team as I figure by then I could still push a bobsled and park my butt in the back, perfectly willing not to see what I was hurdling down. (commercial endorsement for practical cowardice--no offense intended to brakepersons.)

Low and behold, I discovered Maureen Dowd of the New York Times had come to the same conclusion about Cheney and Ratzinger way back in 2005:

Uncle Dick and Papa
By MAUREEN DOWD Published: April 23, 2005--NY Times.

It was a move so smooth and bold, accomplished with such backstage bureaucratic finesse, that it was worthy of Dick Cheney himself.

The éminence grise who had long whispered in the ear of power and who had helped oversee the selection process ended up selecting himself. In Cheneyesque fashion, he searched far and wide for a pope by looking around the room and swiftly deciding he was the best man for the job. (It seems Cheney still harbors similar thoughts about his own future.)

Just like Mr. Cheney, once the quintessentially deferential staff man with the Secret Service code name "Back Seat," the self-effacing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has clambered over the back seat to seize the wheel (or Commonweal). Mr. Cheney played the tough cop to W.'s boyish, genial pol, just as Cardinal Ratzinger played the tough cop to John Paul's gentle soul.

And just like the vice president, the new pope is a Jurassic archconservative who disdains the "if it feels good do it" culture and the revolutionary trends toward diversity and cultural openness since the 60's.

The two leaders are a match - absolutists who view the world in stark terms of good and evil, eager to prolong a patriarchal society that prohibits gay marriage and slices up pro-choice U.S. Democratic candidates.

The two, from rural, conservative parts of their countries, want to turn back the clock and exorcise New Age silliness. Mr. Cheney wants to dismantle the New Deal and go back to 1937.

Pope Benedict XVI wants to dismantle Vatican II and go back to 1397. As a scholar, his specialty was "patristics," the study of the key thinkers in the first eight centuries of the church.

They are both old hands at operating in secrecy and using the levers of power for ideological advantage. They want to enlist Catholics in the conservative cause, turning confession boxes into ballot boxes with the threat that a vote for a liberal Democrat could lead to eternal damnation.

Unlike Ronald Reagan and John Paul II, the vice president and the new pope do not have large-scale charisma or sunny faces to soften their harsh "my way or the highway" policies. Their gloomy world outlooks and bullying roles earned them the nicknames Dr. No and Cardinal No. One is called Washington's Darth Vader, the other the Vatican's Darth Vader.

W.'s Doberman and John Paul's "God's Rottweiler," as the new pope was called, are both global enforcers with cult followings. Just as the vice president acted to solidify the view of America as a hyperpower, so the new pope views the Roman Catholic Church as the one true religion. He once branded other faiths as deficient.

Both like to blame the media. Cardinal Ratzinger once accused the U.S. press of overplaying the sex abuse scandal to hurt the church and keep the story on the front pages.

Dr. No and Cardinal No parted ways on the war - though Cardinal Ratzinger did criticize the U.N. But they agree that stem cell research and cloning must be curtailed. Cardinal Ratzinger once called cloning "more dangerous than weapons of mass destruction."

As fundamentalism marches on - even Bill Gates seems to have caved to a preacher on gay rights legislation because of fear of a boycott - U.S. conservatives are thrilled about the choice of Cardinal Ratzinger, hoping for an unholy alliance. They hope this pope - who seems to want a smaller, purer church - encourages a militant role for Catholic bishops and priests in the political process.

Cardinal Ratzinger did not shrink from advising American bishops in the last presidential election on bringing Catholic elected officials to heel. He warned that Catholics who deliberately voted for a candidate because of a pro-choice position were guilty of cooperating in evil, and unworthy to receive communion. Vote Democratic and lose your soul. "Panzerkardinal," as he was known, definitely isn't a man who could read Mario Cuomo's Notre Dame speech urging that pro-choice politicians be allowed in the tent and say, "He's got a point." (Quite a different scene this past year at Notre Dame.)

The Republicans can build their majority by bringing strict Catholics and evangelicals - once at odds - together on what they call "culture of life" issues. (Turns out Catholic bishops have generously included the Mormons as well.)

But there's a risk, as with Tom DeLay, Dr. Bill Frist and other Republicans, that if the new pope is too heavy-handed and too fundamentalist, his approach may backfire. (Benedict is turning out to be much more duplicitous than Dick Cheney.)

Moral absolutism is relative, after all. As Bruce Landesman, a philosophy professor at the University of Utah, pointed out in a letter to The Times: "Those who hold 'liberal' views are not relativists. They simply disagree with the conservatives about what is right and wrong."


The more I think about Dick and Joe the more the energy builds. It's time to go workout it all out and off. Dowd's article was just a tad bit prescient. Maybe too much for my tastes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Saving The Head At The Expense Of The Body Is A Losing Healing Strategy

Muzzling Martin was sole outcome of summit
By John Cooney-Irish Indenpendent- Monday, February 22-2010

A WORTHY dirge was penned by the writer Aubrey de Vere to Owen Roe O'Donnell about the failure of the earls in Kilkenny's Council Hall before their vanquished flight to the continent.
It can be paraphrased in verse about the reining in of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin by Pope Benedict, the curial cardinals and his 23 fellow bishops at last week's Rome summit:

"Pope, Cardinals and bishops, ye talked and talked/In the Vatican's Salla Bologna, such a grand hall;/But this man whose game ya balked/Was the one man 'mong you all!'

The lamentable end to the two-day Rome talks was crystallised on Friday by Maeve Lewis, director of the One in Four abuse victims' support group. She expressed acute disappointment that Archbishop Martin could not say why their concerns, conveyed in an open letter to Pope Benedict, had not been addressed.

Archbishop Martin could not give a straight answer as to why the pope had not accepted unequivocal responsibility for the clerical abuse and cover-up by church authorities detailed in the Murphy report -- nor sought the resignation of Martin Drennan as Bishop of Galway .

It suggests he has been muzzled by the former head of the Vatican's inquisition. The one united voice -- in which the former Joseph Ratzinger ordered the Irish bishops to intone after the Roman summit -- is his own.

It was not by chance that one of the curial cardinals present at the meetings was a legal expert. It was his job to ensure that the Good Shepherd's published text did not contain anything that would subject the Holy See as a sovereign state to legal challenge from abuse victims. (This is most certainly the over riding reason for the Vatican's silence concerning it's own culpability.)

Any admission of the Vatican's culpability in its directives to bishops of reporting abuse complaints would intensify pressure for accountability from the elderly German pope.

Little wonder that victims' groups said Archbishop Martin returned from Rome not as strong in the Irish hierarchy as he was before and that abuse victim Andrew Madden described him as a changed man. (Chastened is probably more accurate. Perhaps he was told to shut up or he would be assigned a Vatican watch dog ala Archbishop Hunthausen.)

A stoic archbishop of Dublin told the abuse survivors that he would be "more optimistic" about the eventual outcome of the "process" of the Irish church's response to the abuse scandals. The next step will see publication in a few weeks' time of Pope Benedict's Lenten letter to the Catholics of Ireland.

But the prominent victims of clerical abuse in the Dublin archdiocese have no expectation whatsoever from this letter. Except for the additional acceptance by the Irish church of mandatory reporting to the gardai and HSE of complaints, the pope will mainly rehash the press release issued last Tuesday.

Archbishop Martin was not underestimating when he warned, before the publication of the Murphy Report, that its findings "would shock us all".

Three months on we have Bishop Drennan openly blaming Archbishop Martin for propelling the resignations of Bishop Donal Murray and Dublin auxiliary, Eamonn Walsh. Now there is talk of the pope declining the resignations of Bishops Walsh and Ray Field. But Bishop Jim Moriarty will step down at Easter.

Over the weekend the Irish bishops proclaimed the coming of the papal letter to the faithful. Yet only Archbishop Martin has offered the wise counsel that the letter may not be exactly what people are expecting.

Archbishop Martin is isolated, but remains the only bishop in real dialogue with victims. However, that dialogue is now firmly within the parameters prescribed by the Pope and "the Episcopal Gang of 24".


As long as this current Pope lives, Catholics can forget any meaningful admission of culpability by the Vatican when it comes to the systemic policy of covering up sexually abusing priests. Catholics can forget about the Vatican City States ever turning over the approximately two dozen abusers that currently live with in it's walls and are avoiding extradition to other countries. Catholics can forget about experiencing an authority structure which cares about them more than it cares about it's own survival and it's desperate attempts to avoid legal accountability for it's own criminal decisions.

Irish, American, Australian, Canadian, and now German abuse victims know first hand how much they really count to the Vatican. They count only as much as they are perceived to be a threat to the Vatican. Victims can take heart in the fact they must count a lot because the Vatican is bending over backwards to avoid dealing with them on it's own behalf. Can't take a chance on criminal prosecutions and law suits. Can't take a chance on any meaningful real life accountability. Can't admit any mistakes. Mistakes are only made by national episcopacies, not the Vatican. Apparently we are supposed to ignore the fact the national episcopacies all made the exact same criminal mistakes. The Church is only universal when it serves the Vatican's interests. Otherwise it's each episcopate for itself--especially when it comes to legal accountability.

I feel very badly for Archbishop Martin. I saw him as the one bishop who understood the real danger inherent in this crisis might be in setting up a war between the laity and lower clergy with the hierarchy. He really did his best to attempt to get the Irish hierarchy on the same page as the Irish laity. He was succeeding, but it looks as if the Vatican determined in advance that the price of his success was too high for the Vatican to pay--especially over a dieing church in Ireland. Better to heed the advice of Vatican attorneys and stay silent while keeping Vatican eyes focused on the South, on the Philippines, on any place in which the constant use of the sexual morality card still had some authority.

I suspect Archbishop Martin spends some of his time staring at walls, reflecting on where he personally moves from where he's currently positioned. Does he squander his moral authority with the Irish Church in favor of protecting the German pope or does he follow his heart. If he follows his heart he keeps his soul and his moral authority. If he follows the Vatican line he puts another nail in the coffin of Jesus's church in the West. I bet recently his eyes have tracked towards Germany. Will a German bishop take a principled stand or will the Pope's country of origin fall in line, repeating a past German mistake?

There is a kind of karmic dogma which says that those things in your past that you refuse to heal will keep repeating until you finally deal with them and heal them. These situations aren't always about one's own transgressions. Very frequently they are about situations in which one was victimized and just couldn't deal with the situation at the time. Some psychologists think this kind of mechanism is operating in abuse victims who become predators themselves or continue to experience victimhood in other aspects of their lives. Other psychologists would see this as learned behavior, and others as maladaptive neural entrainment.

Sometimes this process gets played out on a very big stage. Institutional Roman Catholicism is currently experiencing this 'karmic' play on a global stage. The strategy of protecting the clergy at the expense of the victims is not a healing strategy. Moving the nexus point up the food chain to protecting the Vatican at the expense of national churches is not a healing strategy. A physician does not keep cutting off various parts of the body strictly to save the head.

Unfortunately Benedict is not a physician nor a healer--not for the church and not for himself. This karmic cycle is going to keep repeating until the lesson is learned and the healing happens. If the Vatican is incapable of learning the lesson it may be that the various national churches cut off the head. And maybe that's the ultimate lesson we all need to learn: the Vatican is not, in fact, the head of the Catholic Church, Jesus is.

Monday, February 22, 2010

For an explanation of where the lit areas are in the brain, and what it may signify click here. It appears compassion is as deep seated in human neural functioning as fear or anger and involves some of the same centers. A theology of God based in compassion can be just as powerful as one based in fear and anger.

If there has been one incident in the past year which really underlines the differences in neural mapping between the world view of the conservative Catholic base and the progressive Catholic base, it's been in the passionate responses to the rape of the nine year old Brazillian girl and the subsequent therapeutic abortion of her twin fetuses. As Archbishop Fisichella is finding out, there is no room for compassion when it comes to the absolutist position on fetal life--not for the girl and certainly not for him.

Move to oust head of Pontifical Academy for Life
Feb. 19, 2010 By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY -- Several members of the Pontifical Academy for Life have suggested that the academy's president, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, be replaced because he "does not understand what absolute respect for innocent human lives entails." (This is a beautiful statement about Grand Scale morality and how no compromise can be tolerated because it is an attack on the entire moral structure. Even when the issue concerns a totally innocent sexually abused nine year old girl, her situation can not be used to violate the Grand Scale morality about the total evil of abortion.)

The controversy stems from Fisichella's criticizing a Brazilian archbishop's response to 9-year-old girl's abortion for lacking compassion.

The call came in a statement distributed to some news outlets Feb. 18, five days after the academy ended an annual meeting at the Vatican. It was signed by five of the academy's 159 members.

The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, told journalists Feb. 19 that the group had not yet made a copy of their letter available to Pope Benedict XVI or the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

"It's a bit strange that persons who are members of an academy address a request of this kind without addressing it to the competent authorities," Lombardi said. "It's astounding and seems incorrect that such a document be given public circulation." (This might seem astounding to Father Lombardi, but it's perfectly reasonable to the five signatories because a Vatican authority figure violated the Grand Scale moral belief.)

Lombardi also said "the natural place to discuss" the group's criticisms would have been during the general assembly itself and not in the public arena.

The criticism of Fisichella stemmed from an article he wrote last year, which said a Brazilian archbishop's response to an abortion performed on a 9-year-old girl had shown a lack of pastoral care and compassion. (The absolutist position has no room for compassion or understanding. Understanding in this case only involves understanding there can be no compromise.)

The Vatican, reportedly after complaints from some Academy for Life members, later issued a clarification reiterating its teaching against abortion and saying the Brazilian archbishop had, in fact, acted with "pastoral delicacy" in the matter.

When the academy met at the Vatican Feb. 11-13, many observers expected the disagreement to take center stage. But the issue was not directly raised, according to participants, and Fisichella told Catholic News Service that the atmosphere at the meeting was "serene and calm."

In their statement, the five members said they had made "a political decision" to not publicly question Fisichella's leadership during the assembly's proceedings because "an open challenge to Fisichella in the assembly would have divided the academy." (Essentially they weren't going to take a chance on submitting their point of view to a general consensus. There is no such thing as a legitimate general consensus of opinion when it comes to issues of fundamental morality. There is only fundamental morality.)

Another reason the group decided not to openly dissent during the meeting, it said, was because they believed there was "a reasonable hope that the Holy Father will recognize the need to provide [the archbishop] with an occupation better suited to his abilities." (Like silent retirement.)

However, several days after the assembly concluded, the group decided to publish its critical statement, in part because of an opening address Fisichella delivered to the academy Feb. 11. The statement said the archbishop not only did not retract what he said in his 2009 article, but claimed that the Vatican's subsequent clarification -- issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- had vindicated him.

According to the statement, Fisichella described criticism against him as "personal attacks ... motivated by 'spite.'" (Probably not. They are more likely personal attacks motivated by disgust that he failed to tow the absolutist line. In that sense they may be directed at him but aren't really about him.)

The proceedings of the pontifical academy were not public. Asked to verify the account given by the five signatories, an official at the academy told CNS Feb. 19 that an academy member "has no right to publicize" proceedings from a private meeting. (Apparently they do.)

The statement said the lack of a public and open challenge to Fisichella "has created the unfortunate impression that academicians are behind his presidency, resignedly or otherwise."
"Far from creating unity and genuine harmony in the academy, Fisichella's address on the 11th of February had the effect of confirming in the minds of many academicians the impression that we are being led by an ecclesiastic who does not understand what absolute respect for innocent human lives entails," it said. (He probably doesn't understand the moral principle in the way that his detractors do, and he never will.)

"This is an absurd state of affairs in a Pontifical Academy for Life, but one which can be rectified only by those who are responsible for his appointment as president," it said.

Pope Benedict appointed Fisichella as president of the academy in 2008.

The signatories of the statement included: Luke Gormally, a senior research fellow of the London-based Linacre Center for Healthcare Ethics; Christine De Marcellus Vollmer, chairwoman of the Washington-based Alliance for the Family; Msgr. Michel Schooyans, a retired professor of theology and philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; Dr. Maria Smereczynska of Poland; and Dr. Thomas Ward, president of the U.K.-based National Association of Catholic Families.

Vollmer sent Catholic News Service a copy of the statement Feb. 18. In an e-mail, she said that despite hopes that the controversy over the Brazilian abortion had been properly clarified, Fisichella had "reignited the crisis" with his speech to the academy.

The abortion case prompted an unusual series of statements from different Vatican departments, as well as worldwide commentary. After doctors in Recife, Brazil, aborted the twins of the girl, who had been repeatedly raped by her stepfather, Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife announced the excommunication of the girl's mother and the doctors involved, saying the abortion was "a crime in the eyes of the church."

Fisichella, in an article published March 15 in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reiterated the church's teaching on the serious evil associated with direct abortion and the penalties involved. But he also wrote that the local archbishop had put too much emphasis on the punishment of automatic excommunication incurred by the girl's parents and the doctors who carried out the abortion and didn't show enough pastoral care or compassion for the people involved.

The girl "should have been defended, hugged and held tenderly to help her feel that we were all on her side," Fisichella said. (To a more progressive empathic thinker, this is entirely appropriate, but to a moral agenda thinker, the girl isn't an issue, the moral principle is the entire issue.)

Four months later, the doctrinal congregation published in the Vatican newspaper a clarification saying that any confusion over the church's stance on direct abortion had been caused by "the manipulation and exploitation of Archbishop Rino Fisichella's article."

Before the academy met at the Vatican, one of the five signatories of the Feb. 16 statement, Schooyans, had widely circulated among journalists an article he wrote criticizing Fisichella.
While he didn't name the archbishop directly, the monsignor quoted from the archbishop's March 15 article and said it was one example of many in which some members of the church were engaged in a dangerous form of "bogus compassion." Schooyans was not present at the academy's assembly.

When asked about the priest's critique, Fisichella told CNS Feb. 12, "If a member of the academy, if some people, for reasons of political exploitation, wanted to misconstrue my words, it is not my responsibility. Rather it's the responsibility of those who wanted to create a situation of conflict."
(Unfortunately for Archbishop Fisichella, responsibility isn't an issue for the Fr. Schooyans of the world because the only thing that counts is the moral principle and the end really does justify the means.)

I've gone back and reflected on this particular story a great deal in the last year. It really does serve to illustrate the fundamental differences in world views between conservative religious believers and progressive religious believers. To a conservative, who is concerned with defending historic core principles, (in this case historic usually means family or birth culture), the principle always takes precedence over singular circumstances. There are no exceptions.

I suspect this particular case doesn't go away because it does not lend itself to dispassionate logic for either side in this debate. This kind of case generates real emotion in both progressives and conservatives. My original reaction to this story of Archbishop Cardoso's excommunication of the doctors and mother of the nine year old was a very strong physical disgust. Just like some folks react to other folks eating worms. I had such an adverse physical response because the Archbishop's official response violated my world view about the importance of compassion, and more deeply than that, it violated my personal historical experience of Catholicism. My Catholic experience had always placed pastoral compassion above rigid enforcement, placed relationship above obedience, had taught love of God and others over fear of hell. My brain was not conditioned to obedience and absolutism, but to love and union with the Mystery of the faith.

I'm aware that right now the meta paradigm for the Vatican is the truth of the history and tradition of Roman Catholicism and thoroughly grounding that truth in the hierarchical Petrine tradition of papal infallibility. Nothing, no matter how illogical or indefensible will be allowed to interfere with that meta paradigm. Any means will be used to justify that end, even abuse victims of all kinds.

My difficulty is that I truly believe Jesus meant that authentic authority to be grounded in Christ like compassion, not what currently passes for papal infallibility. Jesus taught constantly about practical compassion and very little about infallibility. Maybe what He really meant when He gave the keys to Peter is that as long as Peter acted compassionately through love, what Peter bound or loosed would be honored in heaven. That's a whole different kind of basis for Papal infallibility. It's a whole different intellectual basis for papal infallibility and it's reasonable in the definition of reason used in yesterday's post, because it involves emotion as well as rational thought. It's holistic and there for healing, not divisive.

Maybe some day.