Friday, April 30, 2010

When Parenting Becomes All About Thought Control

Spanish education course similar to 'totalitarian indoctrination,' says Cuban immigrant
Madrid, Spain, Apr 30, 2010 / 02:52 am (CNA).

A Cuban immigrant living in Spain stated this week that the Socialist government’s mandatory education course, “Education for the Citizenry,” reminds him of the indoctrination students receive in Cuba under the Castro regime.

Omar Rubio Garcia, who has objected to the fact that his daughter is required to attend the class, remarked that he found it unbelievable that 20 years after leaving Cuba he has had to confront totalitarian indoctrination once again. “Now I have to defend my daughter from indoctrination in the radical fascist culture of the left,” and ensure that it does not “undermine, manipulate or cast doubt on” the love, belief in God and upbringing Garcia has worked to provide for her. (In my own personal case, science courses provided most of the impetus to question the religious upbringing I received.)

Garcia recounted the harassment he and his daughter have received from school officials for being the only family to object to attending the course. He criticized the content of Education for the Citizenry as “provocative, morbid, anti-democratic and totalitarian,” and added that the course “divides parents and children.”

Garcia urged parents to resist the efforts by “ideological mercenaries and left-wing ‘fascists’ to manipulate without any moral or ethical scruples the relationship of love and formation between parents and children.”

Experience has taught him, he warned, that the failure to resist “these left-wing, fascist ideologues can be very costly, as our children will question us first because of our ignorance and later they will judge us for our lack of action.” (Someone's identity is really wrapped up in the notion that 'Father knows best'.)


The reason I posted this article is contained in the last sentence. That sentence could have been spoken by any number of bishops and Cardinals with regards to the laity. The implication is that children should shut off the information stream when it conflicts with parental belief, just as Catholics are being asked to shut down certain information streams when they conflict with Church teaching. Ultimately it's never a matter of which information stream carries the most truth, it's a matter of who has the authority to enforce their version of truth, and more often than not, it's who is enabled to enforce their version of truth.

In my own family, my father bent over backwards to enable my mother's version of the truth. The joke amongst us kids was that dad talked the Republican line around the dinner table, but probably voted Democrat in the privacy of the voting booth. Both my parents had this interesting ability to forgive disobedient actions, even when it patently enabled the behavior they were objecting too, but my mother especially, could not forgive 'disobedient' thinking. It was never enough for her to illicit conforming behavior. She demanded obedience to her world view. It was never our actions which specifically made us untrustworthy, it was our thinking.

It's obvious to me the very same dynamic is playing out in the Church. Clerical authority has always found it much easier to forgive egregious abusive actions than it ever has non conformist thinking. It's never mattered that those non conformist thinkers were frequently pillars of Christian living, conforming their actions to doctrines with which they disagreed. Just as it's never been hard to find forgiveness for abusing priests who thinking appears to conform to the prevailing hierarchical world view. The paramount issue is not behavior, it's conformance of thinking to a particular world view.

Catholics in the west are seeing this dynamic being played out in sexual morality issues. In an attempt to underscore the necessity for conforming one's world view to the official Catholic one, abortion has become not just an unthinkable issue, but also the unforgivable sin. Like heresy, it mandates automatic excommunication. There is a movement now to equate as many forms of birth control as possible with abortion, even though science does not support many of the contentions espoused by the hierarchy. The issue is not about scientific truth, it's about stretching the abortion doctrine to cover another issue. This is also why gay sex is forgivable, but gay marriage calls for bankrupting dioceses in order to fight the whole unthinkable idea of sanctified sexual relationships as opposed to sinful sexual acts. The Catholic world view does not view sex in terms of relationship, it views them in terms of acts.

The problem with all of this is that it compartmentalizes thoughts from acts. This in turn profoundly effects personal integrity. When any spiritual system encourages the separation of thoughts as distinct from acts, it encourages acts like bishops placing the forgiveness of the sins of abusive priests ahead of any thoughts of compassion for the priest's victims. The spiritual path is all about integrating thought and action. It's fundamentally about personal integrity. You must walk both your internal and external talk and they must all be congruent. Other wise you send a lot of mixed messages and mixed messages really under cut authenticity.

Lack of integrity also seriously effects one's spiritual communication. This is expressed in the notion floating around in spiritual circles that the higher one vibrates, the clearer and more powerful the spiritual communication. Frank Fool's Crow, the Souix Holy Man, taught that the goal of a spiritual life was to become a hollow bone through which God's gifts could pass unimpeded. In order to become that hollow bone, one had to be congruent in thought and action, and those thoughts and actions had to be oriented around unconditional love. If God is love, then our love attracts that Love as much as we are able to actually love. This essentially means the choices about our relationship with God are all ours. The integrity in our thoughts and actions directly determine the strength of the relationship. God doesn't change in His love for us. We change in our understanding of love. In this sense it's really not about obedience. It's about a willingness to change behavior and to act with more integrity, in order to increase our capacity to love and to relate.

Somewhere along the line my mother, like the father above, grabbed onto this thought that successful parenting meant raising children who replicated her thinking. Behavioral transgressions were just bumps which she could forgive and then use to point out the correctness of her thinking. That's a useful strategy up to a point. Eventually a parent has to let their child develop as their child's experiences and education influence that development. The parent has to learn that their own validity and authority as a person is not dependent on whether their children think exactly as they do. It is not infrequent that parents learn a lot from their children--if they are open to the thought, and wonder of wonders, the relationship deepens.

Pope Benedict might find the laity have a lot to teach at this particular moment in Church history, but in order for that to happen, he would have to continue to be a student. He's demonstrated a learning curve on the abuse issue, at least as far as abusive priests go, and the damage this has done to victims. The question is can he open himself up to the thought that the nature of the Church and it's priestly theology is itself a part of the problem? My guess is he can't, but if he could, he might find out that the relationship between laity and sacramental celebrants deepens enormously.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Moral Order Of The Hierarchical Mindset Is Not Moral

Cardinal Levada decries media bias, defends Pope in PBS interview
Catholic News Service - April 28, 2010

In an interview that appeared on the PBS television show NewsHour, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, criticized media coverage of the clerical abuse scandal while defending Pope Benedict and upholding the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter as a model for dealing with the issue.

I don't want to scapegoat anybody or have a conspiracy theory, but I do think that the American media in particular … the question has been driven by information given by the plaintiffs' attorneys who are looking for ways to involve the Pope somehow in a court process or something like that, which are I think bound to be futile but nevertheless I think that has driven a fair amount of the media coverage, if I may say so,” said Cardinal Levada. (I just love 'but' statements. They are so useful for introducing exactly what you first said you aren't saying.)

“I think the causes, we will see, go back to changes in society that the Church and priests were not prepared for, particularly changes involving how to be a celibate person in a time of the sexual revolution, that's one of the causes I'd say,” he added. (There have been no changes in clerical culture. Clerical sexual abuse has been a problem for 1500 years. The changes in society which really hurt the Church were those that freed people to report their abuse.)

“With regard to the work of the Pope here at the Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith], those criticisms I think were basically unfair criticisms,” he continued. “I think that they were biased in the sense in trying to find an accusation of the Pope's mishandling a case back then. I don't think that that's true. I think that many people have spoken, given a reasonable account of what happened, and it's not a question of the Pope's mishandling. He was following the practice of the congregation at that time. These were cases that went back 20 and 30 years before, they were not dealing with children in harm's way at the time, and I don't think that the pope can be rightly criticized in those cases.” (That's the whole problem. He was following, not leading, and as the head of the CDF he theoretically could have changed the policy long before media pressure forced changes. The implication here is that that the Pope can't be held accountable for maintaining the immoral policy of his predecessors.)


In this interview Cardinal Levada manages to hit all the usual excuses with the exception of gay priests. When asked point blank about the case in the Munich diocese which involved Cardinal Ratzinger, Levada had this to say:

CARDINAL WILLIAM LEVADA: Well that I can't speak for him but I mean in my analysis of those two incidences that you bring up, I think his case in Munich, it does not strike me as unusual behavior for a bishop in those circumstances to let whoever is charge of that particular work and office in the archdioceses to make the decisions about a particular priest and I think that was the case in Munich.

This is quite a statement. If sexually abusive priests who have confessed to pedophilia and have been accepted in a diocese for treatment purposes aren't an issue which demands the attention of a bishop, then what does demand the attention of a bishop? So much for the whole idea of bishops having a 'parental' relationship as Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos wishes us to believe. I'm confused. Are we to let bishops off the hook because they were acting like parents, or are we to let them off the hook because they were acting like delegating CEO's? Or are we supposed to let them have their excuses any which way they want?

Fr. Geof Farrow has a very insightful blog post, written by a psychiatrist, that makes some important points about the abuse crisis. It is well worth reading. The author makes a very critical observation which directly pertains to Levada's interview. It has to do with hierarchical structures:

I for one suspect that the hierarchy’s different ordering of values has something to do with the very notion of hierarchy-—that the mutuality and equality that orders life for those of us who maintain intimate adult relationships is at odds with the hierarchical order of Roman Catholic clerical life, and the idea that one’s subordinates should accept bearing a cross for the good or the aggrandizement of someone or something greater seems more in keeping with moral order when everyone is one up or one down, and never straight across the breakfast table from you.

Virtually everything Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict has done in his ecclesiastical career supports this very notion of the moral order of hierarchy. That to me is what is so frightening about him. When he was subordinate to JPII, he did whatever JPII wanted, even if it disgusted him. Now that he's Pope he allows his subordinates to hang for him, possibly even coerces them to follow this moral order.
He places obedience before love as the prime Catholic virtue because obedience underscores his notion of hierarchical moral order. He raises suffering to a noble endeavor because that makes noble suffering the justification for the unjust pain inherent in his ideal of moral order. In other words, in his moral universe, shit rolls down hill and suffering under the load saves our souls. Silently and secretly enabling 'filth' for the sake of the moral order is a salvific strategy.

No, actually it's much closer to a satanic strategy. Rank and file Catholics are being asked to choose. Do we accept the supremacy of the hierarchical moral order, or do we start making breakfast and insist on equal seating at the Lord's table? It seems to me it's way past time we said "The shit stops here."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Vatican Warns About Loss Of Donations

Vatican fashinistas better get these while they still can because the indifferent taxed laity are losing their indifference when it comes to using their tax money to support the Catholic church.

Catholic sex abuse scandal could trigger donations slump, Vatican warns
John Hooper in Rome, Monday 26 April 2010

Vatican officials fear the clerical sex abuse scandal could have a devastating effect on the finances of the Italian church, undermining what until now has been a bastion of the faith.

Italian taxpayers have until the end of July to declare their income for 2009 and, under a system in force in several European countries, they can opt for a proportion of their taxes to be paid to the church.

In Italy, 0.8% of income tax revenue is divided between state-run aid organisations and recognised denominations and religions according to the preferences expressed by taxpayers on their returns.

"The media always talk of class actions, compensation for the victims of abuse by the clergy and the legal fees which, since 2001 have forced the American dioceses to sell schools, hospitals, convents and universities," the daily La Stampa quoted a Vatican source as saying. "But in fact the biggest economic damage is done by the collapse in donations."

In Italy, among those who expressed a preference, the proportion of taxpayers earmarking a share for the church rose to a peak of 90% in 2004. It fell slightly to 87% in 2008. That percentage was far higher than the proportion attending Mass each Sunday, perhaps because only predominantly middle-class non-wage earners have to fill in a tax declaration. Last year, they earned the church some €900m (£776m) from the state.

With many Catholics across Europe saying the scandals have robbed them of their faith, there is a risk that this year's income could be much lower. In Germany, where church membership is registered and has a direct impact on church funds, pollsters for Focus magazine this month found that 26% of Catholics were reconsidering their religious allegiance.


I'm hardly surprised the Vatican is admitting fears of a slump in donations. A potential slump of 26% in Germany is hardly a little slump. That's not the statistic I found most informative. The one I found informative is the fact mixing donations with taxes allows the Church to collect money from lots of people who are no longer active members but haven't yet changed their tax returns. That's a pretty sweet deal when you think about it. How many corporations would love the notion of generating income from large numbers of people who don't use their services or buy their products while having someone else do all the collecting?

Pope Benedict has has quite an advantage here. He can preach the leaner and meaner church, alienate more and more people, while collecting revenue from the taxes of the very people he's alienating. It kind of looks like this alienation process, now being further catalyzed by the Vatican response to the abuse crisis, has energized people to financially act on their spiritual marginalization. The Vatican has good cause to be very concerned. The version of a leaner and meaner Church was never going to be a go it alone operation. It's pomp and Vatican bureaucracy could only be sustained by additional revenue from marginalized Catholics indifferent to changing their tax status or from those who continued donating from a vague sense of past duty. All of that is now changing and these passive revenue sources are drying up. If any change comes in governance, it will be because of the revenue losses, not the loss of Catholic souls.

But then one could make the case the whole system exists to generate revenue and has for centuries upon centuries. It looks now though that bishops who need Cappa Magnas better buy them while they still can because the gravy train is drying up.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reforming The Vatican? No, A New Evangelization For The Secular West

Recent convert Tony Blair was one of the keynote speakers at the 2009 Communion and Liberation meeting in Rimini, Italy. His appearance went over very poorly with more conservative pro life/pro family groups.

Report: Pope to launch 'Pontifical Council for New Evangelization'
by John L Allen Jr on Apr. 25, 2010

According to a report from a well-connected Italian Vatican writer, Pope Benedict XVI will shortly announce the creation of a “Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization,” to be presided over by Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella. The office will be dedicated to rekindling the faith in the developed West, above all Europe and North America. (Hopefully Archbishop Fisichella will start his new evangelization in the Vatican itself.)

Assuming that report is correct, it’s striking for at least three reasons:

It’s the first significant new structure in the Vatican created under Benedict XVI, reflecting his personal interest in the re-evangelization of traditional Christian lands in the West, where centuries of secularization have taken a steep toll; (Uhhhh, and Vatican arrogance, creeping infallibility, excessive piety and pomp, and clericalism is blameless?)

The move would amount to a vindication for Fisichella, who has been under fire from some pro-life forces for an allegedly “soft” stance on abortion as President of the Pontifical Academy for Life; (Those same forces don't much like the Communion and Liberation movement either.)

It’s also another trace of the influence of the Catholic movement Communion and Liberation upon Pope Benedict, since the suggestion for the creation of a “Council for the New Evangelization” first came from the movement’s late founder in the early 1980s.

The report was published in the Italian daily Il Giornale on Sunday, April 25, 2010, by veteran Vatican writer Andrea Tornielli. He wrote that a formal announcement of the new “dicastery,” meaning a department within the Vatican, will be made “in coming weeks.”'

The term “the New Evangelization” was popularized by Pope John Paul II, who used it to refer to efforts to reawaken the faith in traditionally Christian parts of the world, particularly Europe. The idea was that while the developed West was first “evangelized,” or converted to Christianity, many centuries ago, today it stands in need of a “new evangelization.” (Buzz words for re en'cult'uration.)

By way of background, Tornielli writes that the idea for a “Council for the New Evangelization” was first floated by Fr. Luigi Giussani, founder of the Communion and Liberation movement, in the early 1980s, but was not taken up by Pope John Paul II. More recently, Tornielli reports, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, himself close to the Communion and Liberation movement, represented the idea to Benedict XVI.

Founded in Milan in 1954 by Giussani, Communion and Liberation was long seen as a more conservative alternative to the center-left ethos of the largest lay movement in Italy, Catholic Action. The movement's best-known leader in the United States is Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, who has jokingly defined Communion and Liberation as "Opus Dei for lazy Catholics." (That's just what I want, an alternative for lazy Opus Dei Catholics. Now we get to marginalize another second class tier of Catholics. Does this marginalization thing never end?)

Benedict’s fondness for Communion and Liberation is well known. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger delivered the homily at Giussani’s funeral Mass in 2005, and a group of consecrated women who are part of the Memores Domini group within Communion and Liberation run Benedict’s papal household. (Fascinating how things keep circling around. Google 'Mother Pasqualina' for some interesting insight on the Papacy of Pius XII.)

When Ratzinger was elected to the papacy five years ago, many cardinals at the time said they had turned to him because they regarded him as the figure best equipped to respond to the crisis of secularization in the West, especially in Europe. His choice of name, “Benedict,” was in part a reference to St. Benedict, the founder of European monasticism. (I wonder if they really meant Interpol.)

In the intervening five years, a series of controversies and scandals during Benedict’s pontificate – most recently, the global sexual abuse crisis swirling around the Catholic church – has often obscured that aim and arguably made it more difficult to realize, at least in the short term.

Nevertheless, the creation of a new council suggests that Benedict has not thrown in the towel.
If Tornielli is correct in suggesting that Fisichella will be the first president of the new council, it amounts to a significant papal vote of confidence in one of his more embattled aides. (At least Fisichella hasn't been accused of taking bribes.)

Fisichella is a well-known figure on the Italian scene, having served as Rector of the Lateran University and as chaplain to the Italian parliament. A philosopher by training, he and Ratzinger were primary advisors to John Paul II for his 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio. In 2008, Benedict named Fisichella as President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Vatican’s primary pro-life body of scholars and activists.

His role in Italian politics, his media savvy, and his background in philosophy rather than theology have all given Fisichella a profile as someone who knows how to talk to the secular world, making him a logical candidate to head a council dedicated to re-evangelizing the West.
Fisichella is also an ambivalent figure, however, for some of the church’s most staunchly pro-life forces, as a result of his role in a 2009 controversy from Brazil involving an abortion for a nine-year-old girl. The girl had become pregnant after reportedly being raped by her stepfather, and her mother arranged for an abortion. Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife, upon learning of the case, announced that the mother, the doctor, and others involved in the abortion were excommunicated.

Sobrinho’s position aroused widespread protest in Brazil and around the world, but drew swift backing from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. Fisichella, however, then penned a front-page essay in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that appeared to criticize Sobrinho.

“Before giving thought to excommunication, it was necessary and urgent to safeguard the innocent life of this girl, and return her to a level of humanity of which we, men of the church, should be expert heralds and teachers,” Fisichella wrote. (You'd be a whole lot better experts if you included a few women amongst your ranks----like God did in Genesis.)

What is needed now, he added, “is the sign of a testimony of closeness with the one suffering, an act of mercy that, even while firmly maintaining the principle, is able to look beyond the juridical sphere.” (Like you did with sexually abusive priests for instance.)

That article brought protests both from bishops in Brazil and from pro-life activists all over the world, resulting in a July 10 “clarification” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith indicating that church teaching on abortion has not changed and will not change.

Within the Pontifical Academy for Life, a group of members led by Belgian Monsignor Michel Schooyans wrote a lengthy letter calling for Fisichella’s removal, arguing that he had falsely invoked the concept of “compassion” to justify actions contrary to Christian morality. Nonetheless, Fisichella has remained on the job. (There is no compassion in Catholic morality--except for the brotherhood of clergy.)

If he indeed becomes the head of the new pontifical council, that would put Fisichella in line to become a cardinal, and, at least in theory, potentially a candidate to be the next pope – suggesting that his stock has not been overly damaged by the Brazilian affair.

“Pontifical Councils” are a largely post-Second Vatican Council (1962-65) addition to Vatican structures, and are generally considered less powerful than the older “Congregations,” which exercise decision-making authority in the name of the pope in some specific area. Councils, on the other hand, are more akin to think tanks set up to promote a good cause: the family, Christian unity, justice and peace, and so on.

Because most pontifical councils are focused on the outside world rather than internal church politics, however, they can often have an important impact in shaping public perceptions of the Catholic church.


When I read this last night, coupled with yesterday's AP story in which Benedict stated the laity "must place absolute trust in their clergy, I was speechless. Again I asked myself: What planet is Benedict living on? Does he have any meaningful connection with current reality? Does he truly think the laity are both 'simple' and stupid? Does he not get that he and his fellow 'teachers' have thoroughly destroyed the trust level of most Catholics in the West and that includes a lot of conservative catholics? How in the world does he think pushing the agenda of yet another generally conservative Catholic group advocating obedience to the Papacy is going to help? Especially after the Legion fiasco.

I read TheraP's blog post yesterday about boots stuck in the mud, and laughed--on one level-- because when I went to parochial school we leased state of the art Greyhound buses and the public school kids hated us for our reclining seats and air conditioning. (Not that we made an issue of that or anything.) But on a more serious note, the question of "why am I doing this blogging thing hit home". It isn't a matter of resolving past issues with Catholicism. I've been beyond that for a couple of decades, but I couldn't come up with an expression for what I was feeling, until I read this conversation on Catholica Australia and saw this quote from the Gospel of Thomas:

Jesus said, 'The Father's kingdom is like a merchant who had a supply of merchandise and found a pearl. That merchant was prudent; he sold the merchandise and bought the single pearl for himself. So also with you, seek his treasure that is unfailing, that is enduring, where no moth comes to eat and no worm destroys.'

That more or less describes my path in Catholic Christianity. I had to let go of a lot of the Catholic merchandise before I could really buy the Great Pearl. The moths of inherent contradictions and the worms of corruption and deceit were actively destroying both the merchandise and my search for the Pearl. It was after I had worked through and sold off all the merchandise that I found the truth of the Pearl hiding under all of it.

Archbishop Fisicella would do well to meditate on this passage, reputedly said by Jesus, from a rejected Gospel. It's an important quote from a symbolic source. There is a ton of wisdom out there in the rejected Catholic landscape, but to integrate that wisdom calls for selling off of a lot of merchandise. This is the exact opposite of an attempt to repackage and resell the same merchandise to disenfranchised costumers. That approach didn't work for Detroit's auto industry and it won't work for the Vatican in an educated and skeptical West.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

SNAP leaders Peter Isley and Barbara Blaine did not receive papal kudos from Benedict.

Pope Hails Anti-Pedophilia Group
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: April 25, 2010Filed at 10:05 a.m. ET

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI told priests Sunday they must protect their flock from harm and regain trust as he hailed efforts to battle pedophilia but did not mention the sex abuse scandals buffeting his papacy.

Benedict noted Sunday was Italy's national day to remember children who are victims of violence and offered praised for a group, led by an Italian priest, that pioneered efforts in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation to combat ''violence, exploitation and indifference'' toward children.

The pope didn't mention the word pedophilia, but the association he cited, known as Meter, has denounced cases of pedophile priests in Italy. The group was founded by the Rev. Fortunato Di Noto. Earlier this year, Di Noto lamented that some of these cases were handled ''with imprudence'' by the Church. (Fr Di Noto is one priest who has acted on behalf of the world's children. Some of you may remember him from the global internet porn sting of 2001. Given the recent SEC sting here in the states, internet porn is another problem which isn't going away.)

''On this occasion, I want to above all thank and encourage all those who dedicate themselves to prevention and education'' against violence, Benedict said. He singled out ''parents, teachers and so many priests, nuns'' and other church workers who work with young people in parishes, schools and groups.

Sunday was the day the Vatican dedicates annually to efforts to encourage young men to enter the priesthood, and Benedict urged clergy to follow the example of Jesus ''the God Shepherd'' in carrying out their ministry.

A priest should ''take care of his flock with immense tenderness and defend it from harm, and the faithful must place absolute trust'' in their clergy, the pope said. (This is Benedict's whole problem in a nut shell--the clerical structure, of which he was a key part, didn't defend, they harmed, and now the laity no longer trust. Demanding trust from the laity at this point in time is pretty brazen.)

Benedict's encouragement of efforts to prevent abuse of children comes after weeks of stepped-up accusations he and other top churchmen helped perpetuate systematic cover-ups of abusive priests worldwide in the past decades. (And this comes after decades, centuries, a millenia, of silence, secrecy, denials, and cover ups.)

Clergy abuse victims have been demanding he acknowledge his role in fostering what they call a culture of secrecy, including frequent shuffling of pedophile priests from parish to parish or even country to country after complaints of sexual abuse were not quickly reported to police and prosecutors.


It's sort of amazing that Pope Benedict would demand the laity must place absolute trust in the priesthood. What reality is he living in? Apparently not the one I am.

It is something I guess, that he singled out Meter for praise, but in my reality I can't forget that SNAP representatives were arrested and detained protesting outside the Vatican--not even a month ago.

One other aspect about the abuse crisis which is receiving little play, but should be receiving more, is that this is a perfect example of President Kennedy's notion of the importance of separating Church and State. It is all too evident from reading case material that secular officials dropped the ball when it came to prosecuting religious figures. They did not make this separation and we have all paid the price, especially lay Catholics. Our children have paid for it, our parishes have paid for it, gays have paid for it, the media has paid for it, all kinds of innocent people and groups have paid for this non separation.

It seems to me the USCCB, and it's chief political agitator Archbishop Chaput, want a win/win situation for themselves. A very self determined separation when it comes to pet political issues, but total separation when it comes to legal, constitutional, and tax issues. That might be part of their unique reality, but it isn't part of mine and hopefully they are completely unsuccessful in making it part of the common reality.

This muddling of Church and State does neither Church nor State any lasting good. Jesus never stated His Church needed the State to enforce His teachings. He was pretty adamant about keeping their spheres of influence separate. Perhaps He saw that this path would lead directly to the State controlling the Church, the State directly rejecting and suppressing the Church, or the Church being totally compromised by it's entanglement in the power issues of the State. We have seen all these scenarios played out in the history of the Church. In the abuse crisis we have seen secular authorities get tangled up and compromised in the issues of the clerical church. No one benefits.

Vatican II was correct in placing the primacy of the individual conscience as paramount in living one's life, especially for those who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus. In the final analysis we will be judged (and judge ourselves) on how we actually acted on Jesus's teachings, not what we thought about them or taught about them or believed about them.

Actions always speak louder than words because they point directly to the state of one's intellectual, emotional and spiritual maturity. For Pope Benedict to demand the laity place absolute trust in the clergy does not demonstrate a very high level of spiritual maturity on his behalf, but then neither has his history of capitulation to Cardinals like Sodano or Castrillon Hoyos or his total obedience to the whims of JPII. But he is now Pope, which says what about the maturity level and motivation of the College of Cardinals?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

More Spin From John 'The Apologist' Allen

This is the portrait of a man who is a clerical restorationist, not a Vatican reformer. No amount of John Allen spin can change this picture.

The following is an extract from John Allen's Friday article in the National Catholic Reporter. The abuse crisis must really be generating serious angst in Vatican circles because John is really starting to blow his cover as an objective insider. Objective? I think not. Insider? Most definitely.

Ratzinger and Castrillón
Finally, a footnote about the impact of the Castrillón episode: Ironically, resurrecting that 2001 letter may have doomed Castrillón, but it could actually help Pope Benedict XVI. (Only in the minds of people who seriously need to hang on to the notions of a papacy that cares about something other than the papacy.)

Throughout the most recent round of media coverage, there's been a serious mismatch between Pope Benedict's actual record on sex abuse -- as the senior Vatican official who took the crisis most seriously since 2001, and who led the charge for reform -- and outsider images of the pope as part of the problem. (John, you are asking us to ignore all kinds of information which point directly to Cardinal Ratzinger in favor of your obvious agenda to exonerate Pope Benedict. Unfortunately for you, elevation to the papacy does not magically erase Ratzinger's past.)

While there are many reasons for that, a core factor is that the Vatican had the last ten years to tell the story of "Ratzinger the Reformer" to the world, and they essentially dropped the ball. That failure left a PR vacuum in which a handful of cases from the pope's past, where his own role was actually marginal, have come to define his profile. (There was no ball to drop because Ratzinger held the ball and he didn't drop it. Most likely because it was thoroughly stuck to his fingers and he wanted to be Pope. There are only a 'handful of cases' because the records from the CDF are still secret.)

One has to ask, why didn't the Vatican tell Ratzinger's story? (Most likely because there was no perceived need to invent 'Ratzinger the reformer' until now.)

At least part of the answer, I suspect, is because to make Ratzinger look good, they'd have to make others look bad -- including, of course, Castrillón, as well as other top Vatican officials. (Interesting Freudian slip. To 'make' Ratzinger look good, is not at all the same as showing Ratzinger was good.)

Lurking behind that concern is a deeper one, which is that to salvage the reputation of Benedict XVI it might be necessary to tarnish that of Pope John Paul II. (It didn't take long to tarnish the reputation of JPII when it came to defending their own criminal actions. The issue is these guys made their own personal decisions to continue the corruption and the lies--including Ratzinger. Blaming JPII is the Vatican's version of the Nuremberg defense.)

In this case, however, Castrillón has inadvertently licensed the Vatican and church officials around the world to use him as a foil, effectively waiving a cardinal's traditional immunity from criticism. (You and they wish. Hoyos has also pointed the finger directly at Ratzinger as an accomplice, has laid down a challenge to other Cardinals to either shit or get off the pot, and made no bones about the fact he isn't going down alone.)

From here on out, when spokespersons insist that Pope Benedict fought inside the Vatican for reform, the world will have a much clearer picture of what his opposition looked like. At stake wasn't just the question of cooperation with the police. Castrillón was part of a block of Vatican officials who thought the sex abuse crisis was fueled by media hysteria, that "zero tolerance" was an over-reaction, and that removing priests from ministry without lengthy and cumbersome canonical trails is a betrayal of the church's legal tradition. (The truth is more likely that Hoyos was using all those excuses to maintain his own clerical power and that of Vatican Cardinals. Exposure of corrupt Cardinals like Groer, Trujillo, Rode, and Sodano would not bode well for the future of Hoyos, Bertone or Ratzinger and there might not have been a Pope Benedict XVI, and the real truth might have put an end to the restorationist agenda.)

That's important to keeping the record straight, because the truth is that the real choice in Rome over the last ten years vis-à-vis the sex abuse crisis was never between Ratzinger and perfection -- it was between Ratzinger and Castrillón. (Uhm, I don't think so. I think it's pretty obvious they were all on the same page when it came to protecting their version of Catholicism which generates great wealth for them as individuals. For Benedict, for whom wealth wasn't much of a motivator, the system generated great power of another sort.)


I'm not the only one who thinks John Allen is sipping too long and hard at the Vatican trough. Here are a couple of very good comments which also take John the Apologist to task:

John, time to come back to the Christian faith and get out of the Vatican! You write: "That's important to keeping the record straight, because the truth is that the real choice in Rome over the last ten years vis-à-vis the sex abuse crisis was never between Ratzinger and perfection -- it was between Ratzinger and Castrillón." You've been there too long and it is affecting your thinking. Throughout this entire crisis, the choice has always been between Ratzinger and Christianity [not Castrillon-----he's lost]. Admittedly, Ratzinger, as far as we know at this point, never wrote a congratulatory letter to someone who obstructed justice in a felony. WOW--------that makes him a Master Reformer! I don't think so! For decades Ratzinger has held positions of power in the Vatican and was very knowledgeable about what was going on in the back rooms. Did he ever hold a press conference and expose all the sexual rot that he knew about? Did he ever publish an article in a religious periodical demanding reform? Did he ever publicly reprimand and cause a demotion of an offender at the hierarchical level? Did he ever call for a Third Vatican Council to begin a restructuring process in the hierarchy of the church? Of course not! That's why he was made Pope; he was one of the good ole boys! And for this, you give him the status of Reformer Exemplar! Wake up, John, and smell the rot all around you!

One does wonder how many in the Vatican actually are Christian. And then there is this one which lays out some pretty damning evidence:

I'm sorry, John, but your attempt to rewrite history doesn't work. Ratzinger's letter to all the bishops reserving prosecution of child sex abuse by priests to his jursdiction came out months before Castrillon's letter supporting secrecy was distributed with JP 2's approval and without Ratzinger's objection. Ratzinger's letter places child sex abuse cases within the pontifical secret in which only priests participate and any information leaking from the proceedings was to be punished by excommunication. There was no language allowing referral of crimes to civil authorities;the pontifical secret implies it is forbidden and Castrillon'sletter was consistent with Ratzinger's.

Bertone, Ratzinger's past and current chief assistant strongly supported the maintenance of secrecy in 2002. Ratzinger also refused to answer questions from reporters at that time, even slapping a reporter on the hand for asking them.
Whatever "Ratzinger the Reformer" did for ten years was done behind this wall of secrecy which was precisely the problem.
Ratzinger may indeed wish to change this policy now. But it is dishonest to pretend he wasn't part of it. After all, he was always JP 2's loyal assistant.
The problem then and now was the reservation of all church power to the clerical boys club which believed it was above scrutiny. Regrettably Ratzinger has been making it worse, most recently in his new canon law reserving governance to priests and bishops.
If he were sincere in changing the system, he would eliminatethe cleric-only proceedings that caused the problems. He would write a new canon law in which priests and bishops are forbidden from exercising governance without the participation of lay men and women.

There are some other less apologetic articles which have recently come out in the evil media and if one has time on this lazy Saturday they are worth reading. There is this article from the Houston Press, and this article from Newsweek, and this article from

Finally, totally off topic, I must admit to great disappointment with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. My own Governor Bill Richardson is now susceptible to racial profiling when he attends Diamond Back games in Phoenix. I have a suggestion for Governor Richardson. New Mexico should pass a law which allows police to stop any car with Arizona license plates if there is suspicion of illegal immigrants. Police should be instructed that said illegals could be in the trunk of any Arizona car. If some poor white snow bird gets stopped six times on the way to Albequerque maybe they would get the point of their own immoral law.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cardinal Hoyos Speaks Again. Now It's The Masons

Cardinal Hoyos presiding at a TLM, surrounded by lots of ego stroking gold. Unfortunately his is an ego that need no more stroking.

Colombia cardinal defends church's abuse policies

BOGOTA — A senior cardinal defended the Roman Catholic Church's practice of frequently not reporting sexual abusive priests to the police, saying Thursday it would have been like testifying against a family member at trial. (Theological constructs about the brotherhood of priests is not recognized in secular law. Same thing with the brotherhood of the Masons or the Mafia.)
Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos also said in a radio interview that Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was involved in a 2001 decision to praise a French bishop for shielding a priest who was convicted of raping minors.

"The law in nations with a well-developed judiciary does not force anyone to testify against a child, a father, against other people close to the suspect," Castrillon told RCN radio. "Why would they ask that of the church? That's the injustice. It's not about defending a pedophile, it's about defending the dignity and the human rights of a person, even the worst of criminals." (Uhhh...maybe because this is the twenty first century and not the sixteenth century. But you are right, the cover up was never about defending a pedophile, it was about protecting the clerical church from the laity ever knowing the truth.)

While the church stands by "those who truly were victims (of sexual abuse)," he added, "John Paul II, that holy pope, was not wrong when he defended his priests so that they were not, due to economic reasons, treated like criminal pedophiles without due process." (I think this is supposed to be a reference to greedy lawyers--not the one's used by the clergy or their insurance companies---only the lawyers of "those who truly were victims". I guess all those legal tactics employed by the Church were to protect the victims from their greedy lawyers.)

His comments came just days after the Vatican posted on its website guidelines telling bishops they should report abusive priests to police if civil laws require it. The Vatican has claimed that was long its policy, though it was never written before explicitly. (Time is relative in the Vatican. "Long it's policy" is now a whole week.)

The Vatican posted the guidelines as a response to mounting criticism that it mandated a culture of secrecy that instructed bishops to keep abuse quiet, letting it fester unchecked for decades.
Castrillon, 80, was an influential figure at the Vatican before his recent retirement from active duty, heading the Vatican's office for clergy as well as efforts to reconcile with ultraconservatives who had broken away from the church.

Recently the cardinal himself has been drawn into the international scandal over the church's handling of child abuse by priests due to the surfacing of the 2001 letter, which he wrote, praising the French bishop.

Castrillon said last week in Spain that he showed the letter to then-Pope John Paul II, who authorized him to send it to bishops worldwide.

On Thursday, he said the letter was the product of a high-level meeting at which Ratzinger was present. (If true, this is not good for the Pope and the defenders of his 'filth' crusade.)

"It was a meeting of cardinals. Therefore the current pope (Benedict XVI), who at that time was a cardinal, was present. The pope (John Paul II) was never at those meetings. However the Holy Father was indeed present when we spoke about this matter in the council, and the cardinals ruled." (Which Cardinals? The ones with envelopes from the Legion?)

At the time the letter was drafted, Castrillon was prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and president of the Pontifical "Ecclesia Dei" Commission.

The cardinal also accused unnamed insiders and enemies elsewhere of feeding the sex abuse scandals hurting the Catholic Church.

"Unfortunately there are ... useful idiots inside (the church) who lend themselves to this type of persecution," Castrillon told RCN, using a term for people duped into sympathizing with a foe of their interests. "But I'm not afraid to say that in some cases it's within the Masons, together with other enemies of the church." (And most especially those always unnamed gay Masons in the media.)

He would not give details, however, saying that "since I'm not stupid, I don't tell everything I know. Only drunks, children and idiots tell, and I'm not a child, nor a drunk, nor stupid." (Hmmm, no comment.)

This week, after the 2001 letter made news, a Catholic group in the United States announced it would find someone else to celebrate a special Mass this weekend marking the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's inauguration. Advocates for abuse victims had objected to Castrillon's presence.


Wow, someone does not like being publicly embarrassed. If Cardinal Hoyos thought he got shafted by the Paulus Institute and the French press, the latest from Jason Berry will just absolutely be the icing on his cake. If readers can take the time, it really is fascinating to read the correspondence attached to Berry's article. Cardinal Hoyos actually writes to Bishop Moreno, who is desperately trying to do something with a serial predator, that Moreno should consider that the priest deserves financial indemnity for the bishop's lack of pastoral care. This to a bishop who had to pay out millions to victims for said priest's predation.

What I find consistent in the Berry story is the bizarre self justifying attitude of the priest is equally matched by the bizarre self justifying attitude of Cardinal Hoyos. This is maximal narcissism on display. It is really frightening to think clerics with this kind of psychological profile hold the positions they do. It's not like there is just one or two of them. There seems to be a majority of them in very high places all protecting others. Maciel sure knew birds of a feather would stick together. They may not all have engaged in sexual predation, but they all seem quite willing to engage in bizarre self justification strategies.

Cardinal Ratzinger appears to have been in over his head when it came to this cabal of Cardinals. It sure appears to me that he is still in over his head because he seems incapable of acting to rid the church of this 'particular filth'. It is this particular filth which fought and is still fighting Benedict over cleaning up the other 'filth'. It is not the Masons, or gays, or the media.

It should not come as any surprise that the very clerics who desire to return the Church to the clerical triumphalism of the Tridentine liturgy appear to have major ego issues. It isn't about a more transcendent triumphalist vertical expression of worshipping God. The worshipping is about someone else. Like any staged production, the props can fuel the ego of the actor, and there is little question the props in the TLM are far more ego propping than the Vatican II rite.

Cardinal Hoyos will continue to be a loose cannon in Benedict's war on clerical sexual abuse. However, Benedict could learn a few things from observing Hoyo's behavior. If he wants to really clean the church of abuses, he needs to re evaluate all those things about the priesthood that produce wealthy clerical narcissists instead of devout humble parish priests like the St John Vianney he seems to admire. Of course, that means giving up some of his own ego props, and it also means spending more time governing and less time writing. Other wise the idiocy of the narcissism of the Hoyos, Sodanos, Bertones and Burkes of the Vatican world will be free to do a whole lot more damage to the moral standing of Catholicism.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hans Kung Attacked By The Crying Room Generation

Hans Kung is one cat Benedict can not charm, nor can traditionalist easily dismiss--as one can tell from their pathetic attacks.

Hans Kung's Long Goodbye
by Michael Brendan Dougherty 4/22/10

Hans Kung is still alive! He periodically sends out messages to remind us of the fact -- kind of Bin Laden-ish of him, which speaks to his ecumenical integrity. Last week he published an open letter to the bishops of the world with one message: Undermine my gracious friend and medieval dictator, your pope. (Kung asked for a rethinking of the theology of infallibility and the office of the papacy, as he has consistently done through out his career.)

George Weigel has ably answered many of the plain calumnies in the letter, and I'm happy to add to the catalog of Kung's errors. Kung complains that Protestants "have been denied the status of churches in the proper sense of the term," making intercommunion impossible. And he decries the move to bring the Society of St. Pius X "back into communion with the church." Apparently if you are trying to be part of the Catholic Church (like the SSPX), you deserve no quarter; but the pope should shuttle Tradition, doctrine, and dogma for people who don't think of themselves as Catholics and don't ever want to. (This is so typical of the narrow kind of self serving statements of a 'traditionalist'. Catholicism has never been one monolithic Roman latin expression. Google Eastern rites.)

Kung desires that "the spirit of the Second Vatican Council" become the compass for the Church and charges Pope Benedict XVI with violating "the spirit of the Council Fathers." These are spirits that Kung has no trouble divining, and they increasingly resemble a private revelation that I dearly wish the Holy Office would examine more fully. (Name another theologian who has had the Vatican scrutiny that Hans Kung has undergone. By the way it's called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, not the Holy Office.)

Kung says, "He [Benedict XVI] promotes the medieval Tridentine Mass by all possible means." Except by publicly celebrating it. And exactly what Mass did the Council Fathers celebrate? Oh! That old thing. (What other one were they going to celebrate?)

The New York Times has gone after Benedict for being too concerned with doctrine and not enough with governance. But this is much more true of Kung than Benedict, who declares the lack of Vatican II spirit as "the most serious of all" defects in the current Church. (Vatican II had one or two words to say about governance, as Benedict well knows.)

But apart from the errors, obfuscations, and lies, Kung's letter is notable for its utter lameness, and sadness. There are people who tell me that I just "don't get it," and "it" is the 1960s. They play the records and try to tell me how it felt to listen to them. Hans Kung is a lot like this.

Vatican II is his Woodstock. Oh Ratz, you were one of us. Now you've become "the Man," man.
Kung's protesting missive is befuddling; it's as if someone decided to defiantly burn a bra today. The gesture is so antique, it borders on the endearing. His treasured ideas about the liturgy, recognizing Anglican orders, and changing the Church's teaching on birth control are as outdated and naive as free love. "It was the spirit, man -- a liberation. And we need more of that today." No, we really don't, one thinks, before politely asking, "Want me to mash your meds in some hummus?" (This entire paragraph is utterly childish. It is a perfect example of juvenile male gibberish.)

So long as boomers make decisions in the media, we'll be stuck with documentaries extolling the 1960s counterculture. Similarly, we will stop hearing about "the spirit of Vatican II" (and probably most of the texts) once those boomer priests are falling into their graves, as they are starting to do. (What kind of education did you receive that you truly think the 60's were all about free love, folk music, and drugs? Google John and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, civil rights, Richard Nixon, and the Vietnam war.)

And that is why Kung believes the Church is dying or in its worst crisis. His "Church" really is as gray-haired and grumpy as the one he imagined euthanizing at the Council. Go to the most liberal parish in your area; along with the Marty Haugen and guitars, you'll find expanding guts, ladies with short-cut gray hair. At a traditional-leaning parish, like my own St. Mary's in Norwalk, Connecticut, you'll find young families, lots of kids, women with long hair sometimes tucked under mantillas. (I have long hair. Does that make me one of your kind of women? I guess not, I tend to tuck it under a golf cap complete with sunglasses perched on the brim---not Oakley's though.)

Here's some real talk: The generation of priests and bishops who made it their mission to "implement the Council" -- the ones who expected ongoing revisions to liturgy, faith, and morals in the Church -- are graying fast. Already the Church's soixante-huitards are being replaced by a clergy that came into the Church because they were inspired by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. And as Benedict allows for the emergence of the traditional Mass and begins the painful process of reforming the reformed liturgy, traditionalists like myself will begin to recover from their battered-child pathologies. (Google Archbishop Mixa, before you start in about battered-child pathologies. He's one of your kind of traditional clerical 'blue hairs'.)

Kung's vision of the reformed Church deserves to die, but I find it hard to be angry about his protests. He is a revolutionary whose ideas enthralled his world for a time before slipping away. He never succeeded in changing the Church forever. And despite his pretensions to persecution, he never got the satisfaction of the heretic who nobly troops to the pyre, either. Between now and his obituary, he has only the op-ed pages. (You are in for a rude awakening. Your remnant can not sustain the Vatican Church in all it's splendor. Economic reality will win out over your fantasy. Changes are coming. The Holy Spirit is moving and She is not moving backwards. She never does. You might even see her burning a Fiddle back chasuble in St. Peter's Square. Maybe you can ask for your own rite--like those traditional Anglicans.)


George Weigel's commentary is better only in that he uses big words and doesn't call down the entire 'boomer' generation. He keeps his attack focused on Kung, but is little better in addressing Kung's points.

I admit I found Kung's letter to the worlds bishops a bit over the top. For instance, I really can't blame Pope Benedict for being:

"directly responsible for engineering the global cover-up of child rape perpetrated by priests, according to this open letter to all Catholic bishops."

I can question Benedict's courage to act on his conscience when he implemented the strategy of JP II. I can question the level of his real authority in his apparent failure to have any sway with the Hoyos and Sodano's of the Vatican world. I can question why he continued to operate in and support a culture he apparently found corrupt and 'filthy'.

Unlike Kung, I think the real roots of the clerical cover up lay with Cardinal Ottaviani. It was his dicastery which issued the original letter, Crimen Sollicitationis in 1962. It was Ottaviani and his supporters who surreptitiously changed parts of the final documents of Vatican II. It was Ottaviani who was most instrumental in sabotaging the work of Pope Paul's Birth Control Commission--along with one Archbishop Wojtyla. The pews started emptying with in days of Pope Paul issuing Humanae Vitae. The incredible hope the laity had, that finally the Vatican would get out of their bedrooms, was crushed. The incredible hope the clergy had, that celibacy would be made optional, was crushed. The ranks of priests emptied and the seminaries closed.

If the 60's were about anything it was about the empowerment of marginalized classes of people like racial minorities, women, and oh yea, young men forced by the draft to participate in an ugly war. "Hell no, we won't go" was a more common refrain than Kumbaya. The NCAA shots heard round the world were the real ones fired at Kent State. This is not to disparage the shots fired by Texas Western's all black stating five in 1966 when they upset an all white Kentucky team for the NCAA basketball championship. They were quite a statement themselves. There was no women's basketball championship in 1966 because the bra burning hadn't started yet. There were dead women at Kent State though. Empowerment sometimes got you killed, not pregnant.

The same surge for individual empowerment was felt by John XXIII and given voice in the council. I'll be the first to admit, there wasn't always a concomitant understanding that personal empowerment also meant personal responsibility and personal accountability. That understanding was always going to be a difficult concept to get across when the society itself previously addressed that notion by reinforcing the idea that personal choice was best left to one's betters. This is why Catholics accepted the rightness of the Vatican intruding in their bedroom. They were conditioned to give those choices to their clergy and Vatican teaching. The combination of Vatican II and the 60's movements of empowerment spelled the end of that kind of thinking in the West.

The personal empowerment genie is not going back in the bottle and no amount of Latin is going to magically make that happen. Benedict is in the unenviable position of leading a hierarchy that let their 'betters' make their decisions, shirking their personal responsibility. Society doesn't much tolerate that kind of thinking any more. Now Benedict has to face the fact the it was the duplicitous restoration started by Cardinal Ottaviani and Ottoviani's supporters in the Vatican, carried through in JPII's papacy, and fully supported by himself, that engendered the kind of lock step global cover up he and his bishops engaged in and for which they are soundly being castigated.

However, there are some bishops who are getting this whole notion of failure to accept personal responsibility and they are willing to pay the price:

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has today formally accepted my resignation as Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, which I offered on 23rd December, in the wake of the Murphy Report.
The decision to offer my resignation was the most difficult decision of my ministry. I did not anticipate resigning when I first read the Murphy Report, because I was not directly criticised.

However, the Murphy Report covers far more than what individual Bishops did or did not do. Renewal must begin with accepting responsibility for the past. I served as an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Dublin from 1991 until my appointment to this diocese in 2002. I was part of the governance of the Archdiocese prior to when correct child protection policies and procedures were implemented. Again I accept that from the time I became an Auxiliary Bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture. Once more I apologise to all survivors and their families. (The most refreshing part of this is that Bishop Moriarty is using all "I" statements. There is no attempt to spread blame by using 'we' statements.)

I know that words of apology are not enough. Before speaking on other matters, it is important to be able to report that, learning from the past, the Irish Church now has excellent child safeguarding procedures in place. Kildare & Leighlin Diocese has fully subscribed to the definitive ‘Standards and Guidance’ document published by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in 2008. This is exemplified in the policy document we subsequently produced ourselves, in our training programmes undergone by priests and lay people, many of the latter having volunteered to act as ‘designated person’ in their parish, our use of Garda vetting and our co-operation with civil and Church audits. We remain keenly aware of the need for constant vigilance and updating to ensure that the Church is the safest possible place for children.

When I announced before Christmas that I was offering my resignation to the Holy Father, I explained what I hoped it might achieve - I hope it honours the truth that the survivors have so bravely uncovered and opens the way to a better future for all concerned.
(Clerical abuse survivors exemplify another very difficult path of personal empowerment in the face of incredible opposition from entrenched power.)

The truth is that the long struggle of survivors to be heard and respected by church authorities has revealed a culture within the Church that many would simply describe as unchristian. People do not recognise the gentle, endless love of the Lord in narrow interpretations of responsibility and a basic lack of compassion and humility. This has been profoundly dispiriting for all who care about the Church. As I stated in my contribution at the recent gathering of Irish Bishops with the Holy Father. Let us be clear, our failures have damaged our peoples faith and the strength of our witness.

The truth is also that the Church is at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, always follows the way of penance and renewal (Lumen Gentium 8). I believe the spiritual well-being of the People of God demands that this principle of the Church as always in need of reform, which was embraced at the Second Vatican Council, should again come to the forefront of Church life. I believe, as I said at the recent Vatican gathering that the goal should be a new fellowship (cf. Acts 4:32-37); a deeper sharing of the mission that transcends the kind of clerical culture that led us here..... (Read the rest of Bishop Moriarty's statement here.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Arizona: Tea Bagger Heaven?

God reaches out to inspire Arizona's Gov Jan Brewer. But will she listen or will she prefer to compete with Sarah Palin for the title of Goddess to tea baggers? News Flash for Jan: You haven't got a chance to over take Sarah. Might just as well face it, and veto SB 1070.

Religious leaders urge Arizona governor to veto anti-immigrant bill
Phoenix, Ariz., Apr 21, 2010 / 06:24 am (CNA).-

Arizona’s three Catholic bishops and other religious leaders in the state have issued a statement calling on Gov. Jan Brewer to veto recent legislation targeting undocumented immigrants. They warned the bill would separate families and discourage crime victims and witnesses.

The Arizona Senate passed SB 1070 on Monday by a vote of 17 to 11. It requires state and local police to determine the immigration status of people if there is “reasonable suspicion” they are illegal immigrants. They must arrest those unable to provide documentation showing they are in the United States legally.

The religious leaders’ April 19 letter voiced “common serious concerns” about the bill. Bishop of Gallup James S. Wall, Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted and Bishop of Tucson Gerald Kicanas were signatories to the letter, as were leaders from Protestant denominations and a rabbi with the American Jewish Committee.

They warned it could classify as felons not only dangerous criminals, but also undocumented immigrants who came to the United States at “a very young age” and have “no familiarity” with any other country.

“We are concerned for these children and for families that may have a mother and a father, one of whom is a citizen and the other of whom would now be considered a criminal,” the letter continued.

While SB 1070 responds to concerns about violence on the Mexican border, the religious leaders said the bill is “not a legitimate solution” and may inadvertently reduce public safety.

They explained that provisions of the bill may compel local police to ignore more serious crimes because of language that they enforce federal immigration laws to the “full extent permitted by federal law.”

Acknowledging that SB 1070 has been improved so that police officers now have discretion over whether crime victims and witnesses should be turned over on immigration charges, the letter said “It would be much better, however, if victims and witnesses could come forward knowing for certain that they will not be deported.”

Fears about reporting serious crime would threaten public safety in all Arizona communities, the religious leaders said.

The legislation would make Arizona the first U.S. state to create its own crime for “people who are merely present in the country without proper paperwork.” A first offense is a high misdemeanor while a second offense is a felony.

The letter noted that supporters of the bill claim the provision requiring documentation would be narrowly enforced. It countered that the bill itself does not limit the enforcement of this provision.

The religious leaders also warned the bill may “scare off” potential employers and employees seeking to come to Arizona. This could further delay economic recovery.

“For all of the reasons above, we are united in respectfully asking that you veto SB 1070 and spare Arizona the many negative consequences of this ill advised bill,” the religious leaders’ letter concluded.

Noting a veto would require “great political courage” from Gov. Brewer, the leaders professed willingness to support her.

Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony harshly criticized the bill in a post on his blog Sunday, calling it the country’s “most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law.”

Blaming the present immigration system for its inability to balance the labor market, he noted that retiring baby boomers need to be replaced. (To be honest, when I read this in Mahony's letter I just laughed. Projection, projection, projection. Apparently Mahony hasn't been to Walmart lately. Not too many boomers can afford to retire.)

The cardinal claimed the bill assumes Arizona residents and law enforcement personnel will give their total attention to guessing which Latino-looking person is properly documented.

“I can't imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation,” Cardinal Mahony wrote.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the proposed law would not in fact require people to report suspected illegal immigrants to authorities. It would require law enforcement officers to make such reports “when practicable.”


I don't have a great deal of hope that Governor Jan Brewer is going to find the 'political courage' to vetoe this bill. It sure looks to me that the Great State of Arizona has been taken over by tea bagger gun toting whites, not brown skinned illegal immigrants.

It is now legal in Arizona to carry a gun into a bar if the bar has no policy against it, and it is legal to carry that weapon concealed, as no one needs a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

She has saved the state a whopping 3 million dollars out of a state employee benefit budget of 685 million by denying benefits to 'domestic partners' of employees. Not that this was aimed at gays or anything. She has eliminated Arizona's version of the CHIP program for uninsured children. The 2011 caps placed on enrollment in the states health insurance program for Arizonans who don't qualify for medicaid will throw 300,000 people out of the program. She has also called for a special session of the state legislature to join 13 other states in challenging the constitutionality of the federal mandate to purchase health insurance. So much for the 3 million dollars saved on the backs of gay employees as convening special legislative sessions aren't cheap. And lest I forget, there is the bill which gives discretionary power to Arizona's attorney general to determine whether a given candidate for office is a real citizen. Gosh I wonder who that could be aimed at?

In the meantime Sherrif Joe Arpaio is saving the state money by purchasing stationary bikes which serve as electricity generators for his prisoners who might want to watch TV. Well, this will save money when the prisoners eventually pedal off the cost of the bikes. The male prisoners are not being all that cooperative as apparently they don't care much for afternoon soap operas. I'm sure Joe will figure out some way to get more prisoner hours on his bikes.

It is inconceivable to me that this law has passed both houses of the Arizona legislature. I guess it's because I have to envision Canada checking white folks for their citizenship papers in order to stem the tide of American illegals. Or vice versa, and I just can't imagine that--and not because of the disparity in the economic situation between between the North and South borders. I can't conceive of this kind of racial profiling practiced against whites.

This bill does not help one iota with the national problem of illegal immigration. The best Arizona can hope for is that they shuffle their perceived immigration problem to the borders of New Mexico, Texas, and California. Which is more or less the whole impetus of the tea bagger movement. Don't actually solve any problems, just shove it off on the backs of some other group, and when in doubt carry a gun. Terrified White America, love it or leave it.

I hope and pray that Governor Brewer vetoes this bill. The economic cost to the state from groups calling for an economic boycott could be a potential disaster for a state that depends on tourism and convention business. The rise of the tea bagger mentality is very bad business for a multi racial multi cultural country. Especially when all of those white tea baggers have immigrant ancestry and most of them don't have families with near the number of generations in this country many of Arizona's brown Hispanic and Native families do. Maybe those Arizona tea baggers forgot that.

I have written in the past that immigration reform would make the political battles over health care reform seem positively gentile. If this bill in Arizona is indicative of the battle to come, it's going to get very ugly.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pope Benedict's Vatican Legacy May Wind Up Being All About Trust--As In No One Has Any

Change the word 'financial' to 'Catholic sexual abuse crisis' and one gets the same results. Nobody trusts the managment team, no matter their politics.

One can't help but wonder just how stupid Benedict and his Cardinal cronies think the 'simple' faithful are. I no longer believe this is a matter of thinking the 'simple' are naive. No, it's a matter of thinking the 'simple' are plain stupid. Sometimes translated as 'willfully blind' but in either case, perfectly willing to sustain an incredible level of dishonesty and deceit.

One of the recent trends which is a very ill wind for the papal barque, is the admission by true believing Catholics that their faith is hanging by a thread. It didn't get that way because of the 'evil anti Catholic' media, or gay agendas, or what ever else the Vatican has puked forth. It's gotten that way because it is no longer possible to ignore the deceit and the lies.

The latest information on the Hullerman case is just one more nail in the Vatican coffin. This is no longer a story about the 'coincidence' of a multitude of individual bishops hiding predator priests. It is a now story about how the Vatican does business and how little integrity there is in how they conduct their business. It is becoming all too apparent that Jesus's Church conducts its business no differently then any other corrupt wealthy secular organization. This generates a fundamental mistrust of the real motivation for virtually everything the hierarchy may pronounce. It forces backtracking and convoluted explanations and sometimes when prelates are really under pressure, it elicits truth. One such case is the Hullerman case where the pressure forced a monsignor to admit he was pressured to take the fall. Another such case is this one, in which an Archbishop is forced to fumble his way around his truth.

After distorted interview, Brazilian archbishop reaffirms Catholic teaching on abortion
Recife, Brazil, Apr 17, 2010 / 07:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).-

After an interview with a Brazilian newspaper appeared to indicate he supported abortion, Archbishop of Olanda y Recife Fernando Saburido has said there was “a misunderstanding” and that he may have been insufficiently clear. He said he fully adheres to Catholic teaching that life is a “gift from God.”

Last year the then-archbishop of his diocese, Jose Cardoso-Sobrinho, said that anyone who performed or facilitated an abortion would incur an automatic excommunication. Archbishop Sobrinho's remarks came in response to the case of an abortion performed on a nine-year-old pregnant with twins after being raped by her mother’s companion. (I can't help but notice the word 'step father' was not used.)

Recently a forced abortion was performed on a 10-year-old girl, who became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather. (Where was CNA's editor? We're not supposed to use that word anymore.)

Archbishop Saburido responded to the new case by reiterating Catholic teaching that life must be defended at all points. However, during an interview with a local Brazilian newspaper, Diario de Pernambuco, he appeared to imply that abortion was permitted if deemed necessary by a physician.

In a statement provided to CNA, Archbishop Saburido said there was a “misunderstanding.”
“I adhere, in fullness; to the teaching of our Holy Church which defends life and does not admit, under any circumstances, its destruction because it is a gift from God that only He can take away,” he explained. (Except in the cases of war, capital punishment, self defense, and women in life threatening pregnancies forced on them by the state.)

Noting that there are some specific cases in Brazil in which abortion is not penalized, he said: “With the Church, I believe that this law is contrary to the basic principles of Christian ethics and cannot be accepted, because it is a law that kills.” (It's OK if abortion laws kill the mother though.)

He said he disagreed with the case of the pregnant girl, saying he believes it to be “anti-Christian for taking away a life that could have perfectly been saved.”

“A family willing to adopt the baby would have not been missing, providing affection and dignity,” he continued. (That's all fine and good for the baby, but what about the child mother?)

He said his comments to the press corps on April 10 would verify his position against abortion in any circumstances.

“In the specific case of the Diario de Pernambuco, I believe the interview was biased, with repetitive questions, and I admit I may have not been sufficiently clear, leaving room for doubts that I want to clarify by means of this statement,” he continued.

“I believe that all those who know me and know my history, will never have doubts regarding my love for the Church and my fidelity to her Magisterium,” Archbishop Saburido’s statement concluded.


I have no doubt about Saburido's fidelity to the Magesterium. I have doubts about his compassion for ten year old girls, and his understanding of the medical dangers in pregnancy for ten year old girls, or for the sexual abuse male 'companions' inflict on girl children. And, I have very serious reservations about the motivation for his 'clarification'.

So do conservatives as judged by this comment after the CNA article: I am quite horrified at the statement made by Archbishop Saburido of Brazil. He then compounds the problem by lying.

That's the just the problem Benedict and the Magisterium are now facing: neither conservatives nor liberals are buying into the lies and the clarifications. The Magisterium and their defenders are losing the faith and trust of everybody. In the end, that may just be Benedict's legacy.