Saturday, July 30, 2011

CNA's Spanish Affiliate Is Running Another "Bishop Morris" Campaign

CNA has rallied the troops in Mexico to go after Bishop Raul Vera Lopez -seen in this photo with recently deceased human rights activist Bishop Samuel Ruiz.  Hmmmm why do I wonder if this crusade has zero to do with gay rights and everything to do with other human rights issues in Mexico?

The following article from CNA caught my eye this morning, not because it describes a bishop under Vatican investigation precipitated by fundamentalist Catholics---that's hardly novel.  What made this article eye catching was the reaction of Bishop Vera:

Mexican bishop confirms Vatican inquiry into his support for homosexual group

.- Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, Mexico has told a Mexican newspaper he has received “a series of questions” from the Vatican about his support for the San Elredo community, which holds positions on homosexuality that are contrary to Church teaching.

“There has been a call from the Vatican and I am ready to clear things up … I have to respond to a series of questions that Vatican City has sent me about my work with homosexuals,” Bishop Vera told the newspaper Zocalo.

He said the Vatican inquiry has come about “because a Catholic agency based in Peru, ACI Prensa, has made false claims that I promote homosexual relations.”
ACI Prensa is Catholic News Agency's Spanish-language sister publication.  (Oh my goodness, is Bishop Vera actually calling out a Chaput News Agency story?  This is novel.)

He accused ACI Prensa of distorting his work. “They allege that I am against the magisterium of the Church and unfortunately they are driven by prejudice and phobias against the homosexual community.
The request for clarification from the Holy See, he insisted, “is because this Catholic news agency has said outrageous things.” (No...not CNA.)

Bishop Vera told the newspaper, “In the Diocese of Saltillo, we have very clear objectives. We work with (the gay community) to help them recover their human dignity, which is frequently attacked at home and in society, and they are treated like scum.”  (And quite frequently in Chaput News Agency publications.)

“I am not against the magisterium of the Church, nor do I promote dishonesty. It would go against my principles to promote depravity and immorality,” he said.
In response to the Vatican inquiry, the coordinator of the San Elredo community, Noe Ruiz, told Zocalo the group would be willing to leave the diocese in order to prevent the work of Bishop Vera from being hindered.
“If tomorrow they come tell Bishop Raul Vera, ‘You are endangering your work in Saltillo because of such a small community, a network of barely 600 people,’ it would not be worth the risk,” he said.

In March of this year, Bishop Vera published a statement on the diocesan website expressing support for the “sexual, family and religious diversity forum.” The event was aimed at “eradicating what some sectors of the Church believe about homosexuality” — especially the belief “that homosexual actions are contrary to God.”
Father Robert Coogan, the American priest who founded San Elredo, maintained that the group’s work is not contrary to the teachings of the Church.

He added: “How can a person with same-sex attraction have a fulfilling life? And the only answer the Catechism gives is to tell them to be celibate, and that is not enough."


Good luck to Bishop Vera.  Since no prelate seems to stand higher in the Vatican's scheme of things than Archbishop Chaput, I suspect Vera will be very lucky to keep his diocese.  I certainly support his view on the veracity of the news coverage of CNA and it's Spanish affiliate.  CNA is a propaganda outlet under the cover of a Catholic news outlet.  I'm pretty sure Opus Dei probably has more than one finger in it, although not quite as overt as the Legion fingers all over Zenit.  At least Zenit is useful for publishing and translating the full texts of Papal speechesWhile I always read Zenit translations with caution, Zenit is a useful source of information.  I am not quite sure what CNA is good for except to get a feel for the radical right.  Here's a taste of their definition of inclusiveness.  It's a comment left after another CNA article about Bishop Vera.  (CNA has run three articles on this situation in the last two weeks.  Here's a link to the first one.)

"Mexico has enough problems, it does not need a pro-gay Bishop or his defenders.   He & they, should be removed immediately as an example to other spineless prelates !   Unity of the faithful is primary to the inclusiveness of the deviates !"

Nice comment that, expresses a profound understanding of Christian love.  But I'm wondering why CNA has seen fit to publish three articles about a situation in a smaller Mexican diocese.  Then I remembered this quote from Chaput in John Allen's extensive interview

Gay marriage?
This is the issue of our time....
WHAT!!!!  Gay marriage is the issue of our time?  Where is that true?  In the Church?  I would think abuse, corruption, fiscal malfeasance, and the incredible exodus of laity are the issues of our time.  In society?  I would think the iniquitous distribution of wealth, corporate exploitation, global warming, human poverty, war, and disease are vastly more important issues.  In the family?  No, that would be heterosexual divorce,  unwed parents and the aforementioned social ills relating to disease and poverty.  If gay marriage isn't the issue of our time in the church, society, or family then just where is it the issue of our time?  In the minds of those who do not want their followers to see any of those other issues.  Those very issues where they have failed mightily and in some cases purposefully enabled that failure for their own ends.  

So I am not surprised that CNA has chosen to run three articles about a gay ministry in a Mexican diocese at the exact time the rest of the Catholic world has been focused on Ireland and the fact the Irish government is taking on the Vatican.  I am not surprised CNA is running these articles when the rest of the Christian world is debating white European Christian terrorism.  I am not surprised CNA is running these articles when the US is debating the insanity of the manufactured debt ceiling crisis which has the potential to send the whole world back into another devastating recession.  I will grant this, gay marriage is the issue in our time for those who desperately need a scapegoat to divert chunks of the population from considering the real issues facing humanity in our time.  It stinks to high heaven and I can't imagine heaven enjoys the smell.

God Bless Bishop Vera and may He grant Bishop Vera success in his quest to free himself and his diocese from the tyranny of CNA and it's purposefully misled readership.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fr Mychal Judge Nominated For The Congressional Gold Medal

I saw this live on TV and lost it.  This was a man for all seasons in our time.  He has more than merited  the secular honor, but the religious equivalent will not be his in this current Church climate.  God Bless Mychal Judge.

ACTION ALERT! Father Mychal Judge has been nominated for The Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his heroic life and death. This is the nation's highest and oldest honor, first awarded to George Washington in 1776. Please contact members of Congress to urge them to support this award. See details here

Mychal's Prayer:
Lord, take me where You want me to go,
let me meet who You want me to meet,
tell me what You want me to say,
and keep me out of Your way.

In view of some things going on in my life at this moment, it's really interesting to me I caught this prayer of Mychal's today.  Just one more proof God is good and things are really moving in terms of an enlightened Catholic consciousness.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

USCCB On The Debt Ceiling Crisis: A Return To A More Traditional Political Stance

This aspect of the Republican party platform does not have the USCCB seal of approval

Today the USCCB sent out a letter with their views on the current budget debate-- or budget war or political grandstanding or political death march or economic suicide or whatever it is that congress is engaged in.  Here's a small part of it, but it did my heart good to read it:

"A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly." (The bold emphasis is in the original text)

 The entire letter is worth reading if only because it's close to being progressive and it reflects actual Catholic teaching on social justice.  Plus it's Christian as well as Catholic.  (The two are not always the same.)  Unfortunately, unless the USCCB is joined by LCWR, Congress probably won't pay much attention.  It seems religious women have more of an impact in Congress than Catholic bishops.  Maybe that's because religious women tend to be in life's trenches with the laity far more than most Catholic bishops.

My own personal opinion of this idiocy is that Barak Obama would have made a very good Nixon like corporate Republican.  I always suspected he was going to be far more Bill Clinton that JFK, but the reality seems to indicate he's actually closer to Nixon than Clinton.  Which says what about how far right this country has swung.  It's so far to the right,  mainstream Republicans couldn't find their way back into their own home  with satellite navigation.

Which brought back memories of the USCCB in the 70's and 80's, when they really were progressive social justice Catholics who thought more like Jesus and less like Robert P George.  That was before St Ronald Reagan recognised their influence and then had his heart to wallet talk with Blessed JPII.  From then on things swung to the right faster than one could say Archbishop Chaput.

Anyway this got me thinking what it would take for progressives to get any kind of foothold and start swinging things back towards JFK and away from Ayn Rand.  Since God is good,  I came across these thoughts at the end of this article on the debt crisis by Robert Borosage:

 "Progressives need to learn not so much from the Tea Party as from their own history and build an independent movement to stand with working Americans. Unlike the Tea Party fringe, a progressive movement has the advantage of mobilizing Americans around values and the policy priorities that are supported by a broad majority. It can organize to hold legislators in both parties accountable, demanding that they stand up for the many, not the privileged few. Today, a range of groups are doing just that, calling on members to inundate Congress with demands that Medicare and Social Security be protected, and that the rich pay their fair share of any deal. The challenge for the movement is whether it can gear up to run its own challengers in Democratic primaries against incumbents who are more responsive to their contributors than their constituents. The American Dream Movement, championed by Van Jones,, the Center for Community Change, the Campaign for America's Future that I help direct and others, is beginning to build that uprising.

There is much talk about new centrist third parties, about the need for bipartisan compromise to get things done. But when the Democratic position is to embrace $2.7 trillion in cuts from discretionary spending, divorced from any demand for progressive tax reform or any growth strategy that will rebuild the middle class, the "center" has been wrenched so far to the right that it is at odds with the common sense of most Americans. We need a citizen's movement willing to challenge money politics, clean out the corrupt stables in Washington, and demand a politics that works for working people."

If the USCCB got on board with this idea it would only be in their best interests.  For starters, abortion numbers will go way up if the Tea Party gets it's way and millions more Americans will die from lack of lack of medical coverage, lack of any ability to access preventative medicine, lack of decent food and housing, stress from joblessness, suicide,  and any number of other ways life provides for those who can't fend for themselves.  Really, it would be the pro life thing to do.  They've at least made a start.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Breaking News: Vatican Recalls Apostolic Nuncio To Ireland

Irish Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe  Leanza is being 'recalled' to the Vatican to answer questions from some other inquiring minds.

The following announcement is taken from the Vatican Radio website, English version.  Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has been heard loud and clear in Vatican City.

Cloyne Report: recalling of Nuncio denotes seriousness of situation
On Monday the Vatican Press Office released a statement announcing that the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, has been recalled to Rome for consultations.

The press release states : “Following the publication on 13 July, of the Irish government’s Commission of Inquiry Report into allegations of abuse of minors by clergy of the diocese of Cloyne, otherwise known as the ‘Cloyne Report’ and, in particular, the reactions that have followed, the Secretary of State has recalled the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, HE Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza for consultations”.

In response to journalists questions, Fr. Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican Press Office outlined the following points:
- The recalling of the Nuncio is intended primarily to allow the Secretary of State and other Dicasteries involved to consult with those working on the ground in order to prepare the official answer of the Holy See to the Irish Government following the Cloyne Report.

- The recalling of the Nuncio, a measure rarely used by the Holy See, denotes the seriousness of the situation, and the desire of the Holy See to deal with it objectivity and with determination, as well as a certain note of surprise and regret regarding some excessive reactions.

- The recalling of the Nuncio should be interpreted in line with the Holy See’s desire for a serious and effective cooperation.

 There is more background information on this decision an article in the UK Daily Mail.  I found these paragraphs most interesting:

The decision to recall Monsignor Leanza was taken by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone after he had been informed of the attack by Mr Kenny during his holiday in the Alps.

A Vatican source said: 'His Eminence although on his summer break had asked to be kept informed of developments in Ireland and he like other senior Curia figures was surprised at the attack by the Irish prime minister.

'He consulted with them and with the Pope's private Secretary and it was decided that Monsignor Leanza should be called back so he could explain in first hand the report and the reaction.

'The Holy See does take the situation in Ireland very seriously and is keen to show it wants to rebuild relations with the faithful following the abuse cases.'

To recall an ambassador is not the same as requesting they come back to head quarters for consultation.  Recall is a term generally used when an ambassador's government is making a strong statement of disapproval of a given direction taken by the host government.  Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone may say he was surprised at the tone of Enda Kenny's speech, but I imagine the truer words would be 'very angered by'.
If the Holy See is truly interested in rebuilding relations with the Irish faithful, they could start by 'recalling' a few other Irish bishops including one with a red hat, and stop the shunning of Archbishop Martin of Dublin.  
I doubt we will see that level of seriousness.


Repeat 10 Times Daily - " I Am Not The One Who Is Mad Here."

This is a series of five stained glass panels by Fr. Dan Hillen, entitled 'We Are Not Alone'.  They were donated by Dr and Mrs Leroy Byrd to Holy Family Hospital, Spokane WA.  Rest in peace Dan.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has generated a great deal of discussion and debate from his speech to the Irish Dael, July 20.  When I originally read his speech, there were a couple of sections that really stood out for me, but one actually brought tears to my eyes.  It was this section:

"This Roman Clericalism must be devastating for good priests .... some of them old ... others struggling to keep their humanity .... even their sanity ........ as they work so hard ..... to be the keepers of the Church's light and goodness within their parishes ...... communities... the human heart."

I've been very close friends with priests who have lived the exact struggle described here by Kenny.  Some even went so far as to literally question their sanity as so many of the reasons they chose to become priests were shelved, dumped off the table, twisted to mean something far different than they thought.  It didn't help that my birthday, which was the day before Kenny gave his speech,  is also the same date my very close friend/priest died. I can state with certainty that he died in absolute turmoil about his priesthood, having gotten to the point where he questioned if there was any truth in it at all.  In any event, there was one comment to the NCR article from Tom Doyle on Kenny's speech that addresses the statement above.  It was written by a priest, but it really speaks for many of us.

written by Fr. Anthony

I read out Enda's speech at Mass at the weekend. The congregation applauded!
There were many tearful moments for me personally in that speech. When Enda stated that teenagers are still children, I wept. Bertone attempted to say that the vast majority of abuse victims were teenagers and tried to lump the blame on gay men. The US Bishops blamed "Woodstock." Liberals, secularists, the post Vatican II Church, the Media, - all got the blame from these clericalists.

Enda named the culprits and shamed them - all of those involved in the culture of CLERICALISM! The soutane wearers, the thurible wafters!! Those who have replaced the gospel of compassion with this obnoxious, anti-kingdom religious theatre. (I love this line.)

It didnt escape me that while all of this was going on in Ireland, last week, here on NCR, the two Chaput threads were filling with triumphalistic, nauseous remarks, glorifying yet another clericalist being prepared for a red hat in Philadelphia. Sad, sad short-sighted people.

I loved Enda's comments about decent clergy who must have been questioning their own sanity over the years. Yes, Enda, we did! We have watched the Gospel being replaced by dogma. We have watched good men and women being sacked and excommunicated while wickedness has been rewarded.

I watched them undermining Oscar Romero and Helder Camera while extolling the "virtues" of Opus Dei and Legionnaire's founders - the money men! I wondered if I was going insane. Enda got it spot on there!

I now watch them revising history, especially that of Vatican II Council, attempting to tell the world that what was said and written then, was not actually what was meant. That the call for collegiality - and the overwhelming votes FOR such things as Mass in the vernacular, increased participation for the laity, a renewed focus on the gospel - that the Council actually meant the OPPOSITE to all of these things. Yes, Enda, I thought I was going mad. (He was not the only priest who thought this.)

When the Synod of Bishops met in Rome to discuss how to get the Eucharist to the poorer areas of the world, - didnt speak about the role of women, nor the permanent diaconate, nor married clergy (unless you are an Anglican!!), voted for the status quo with the addendum that we might want to consider reopening Junior Seminaries (WHAT?????!!!!) - they should have been sacked for deleriction of duty. Instead, Benedict treated them all to a sumptious banquet declaring, "It was not unintended that Jesus chose the imagery of a banquet as presaging Heaven..." That was all I needed to know about these clerics. They showed utter contempt for the poor. Jesus would have walked through their fine dining room and wrecked it that day.

So, thank you, Enda Kenny. Thank you the 2500 priests, victims of clergy abuse and ordinary Catholics from around the world who have written to Enda since his speech to thank him. Vatican II will not go away, the Holy Spirit will not be defeated. Enda, ad multos annos!

As one writer stated on here, "Repeat ten times daily - I am not the one who is mad here!!"


I could write reams and reams on this comment, but I choose instead to let it stand alone, because that is unfortunately the state of mind of far too many of our good priests.  They are not alone. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What Does Sir Rupert Murdoch Tell Us About The Vatican's Relationship With Money?

It could be that today's nouveau riche won't be all that interested in the traditional honors scrambled after by yesterday's nouveau riche.

There's been interesting fall out from some international stories in the last couple of weeks.  Some of those stories have intersecting points of interest for the Church.  One such story is the scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch's news empire.  Back in 1998, Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory under the sponsorship of Cardinal Mahoney of LA.  At that time Murdoch's then wife Anna was a Catholic and she herself was made a Dame of the Order. These honorary papal knighthoods are interesting in and of themselves, at least as to who is in and who is out, but now some folks think there should be some accountability for membership--and I'm not talking accountability in the financial sense.  The following is from Britian's Catholic Herald:

Debate: Should Rupert Murdoch’s papal knighthood be rescinded?

In 1998 Rupert Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory. He had apparently been recommended for the honour by Cardinal Roger Mahony, after giving money to a Church education fund. A year later he donated $10 million to help build Los Angeles Catholic cathedral.

Is it right that papal knighthoods should be awarded in this way? The honour is supposed to recognise a person’s service to the Church. Certainly, Murdoch’s money has helped the Church; but surely there are many, many faithful Catholics, whose tireless service to the Church goes unacknowledged, who deserve to be honoured much more.

And is Rupert Murdoch a person the Church should celebrate? He owns – or did own – a newspaper that lost its moral bearings; he ought to bear some responsibility for that.
On the other hand, rescinding his papal knighthood might be difficult to justify. Other papal knights may also have flaws. Where do you set the bar?
So, should Rupert Murdoch’s papal knighthood be rescinded? Or is it fair to honour someone who has helped the Church financially?


First off I have no doubt Rupert Murdoch will retain his knightly status.  Back in 1831 when Pope Gregory  XVI initiated this entirely lay knightly order, he said this in the inaugural brief:    

"gentlemen of proven loyalty to the Holy See who, by reason of their nobility of birth and the renown of their deeds or the degree of their munificence, are deemed worthy to be honoured by a public expression of esteem on the part of the Holy See"

I wrote yesterday that the Holy See has been right on top the changing economic scene in Europe, and back in 1831 the handwriting was on the wall via old noble money and the burgeoning upstart nouveau riche.  Hence one could achieve Papal Knighthood through the age old notion of noble birth or by the new reality of donating loads of money.  For the Vatican, selling papal nobility kept them connected with the changing scene of wealth and power, and nothing has changed about that 'mission'.

There will be no real reform of Catholicism as a spiritual system until leadership changes it's relationship with money.  Catholicism has to stop rewarding billionaires for donating millions to build cathedrals.  They could start altering this relationship by taking the very tiny step of looking at how those billionaires made the money they donate.  Murdoch has done more to destroy the integrity of Western news media than any other single individual.  He has done more to lower the level of discourse in the West by promoting the soft porn of his tabloids right thru to the ideological venom which now passes for cable news in the US.  If his business practices are seriously being held up as some sort of Catholic notion of chivalrous behavior, it's a form of chivalry with zero basis in the Gospels.

If readers take the time to read some of the comments after the Herald article they might catch a glimmer of where common ground can be found in Catholicism.  It's this notion of how the Vatican relates to wealth.  I don't think we can even begin to address the other multiple expressions of abuse until we start seriously demanding accountabilty for how our leadership relates to the wealth of the world.  There is a spiritual way and a worldly way.  The vast majority of Catholic history has been thoroughly polluted by relating to wealth in the worldly way.  It's past time to try a different path.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ireland Is Getting The Real Picture Behind The Vatican's Insistence On The 'Pastoral' Autonomy Of Catholic Bishops

Pictures like the make one wonder where the safety of kids stack up vs Vatican wealth.

 Tom Doyle has another hard hitting article in the NCR on the recent speech of Enda Kenny in the Irish Dael.  The following is the last part of Doyle's essay:

.....The Vatican and various elements of the hierarchy have flooded the Catholic world with countless words, all very carefully nuanced and wordsmithed, to express their regret and to their promise to change. Mr. Kenny no doubt was as fed up with the meaninglessness of words without relevant action as the people of Ireland and every other country plagued by clergy abuse. He by-passed the seemingly endless and often convoluted rhetoric of the Vatican by getting right to the heart of the matter, the culture of arrogant neglect of children and some of key underlying causes. One target is clericalism, the virus that continues to corrupt the church to the point that the People of God are buried in anachronistic monarchism.

This groundbreaking address buries the destructive myth that the institutional Catholic church with its monarchical governing structure is some sort of superior or exalted political entity with self-created rights to subvert the civic order of any society that calls it to accountability for the behavior of its privileged class.  (The bigger problem for the Church is that this crisis has pretty much put to bed the idea it's any kind of exalted spiritual entity--at least in it's supposedly Holy Spirit inspired ruling class.)

Charlie Flanagan, chairman of Fine Gael, the single largest party in Ireland and lead party in the ruling coalition, framed this in a stark and eye-opening way in his call for the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio: "If any foreign government conspired with Irish citizens to break the law here, their ambassadors would be expelled."
The Taoiseach repeated this sentiment by reminding the Irish lawmakers and indeed everyone that Ireland is not Rome. (This statement is not far fetched.  It is exactly what happened in Ireland and many other nations.)

"Nor is it an industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish Catholic world. This is the Republic of Ireland 2011. A Republic of laws, of rights and responsibilities…of proper civic order…where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version…of a particular kind of morality…will no longer be tolerated or ignored."
This is much more than a stirring address to the Irish parliament. It is the voice of a long awaited and sorely needed liberation from the chains of a clericalist control that sacrificed the very ones Jesus spoke out so passionately in defense of. This liberation is essential not only in Ireland but in any state or country where the Catholic church hopes to regain its relevance not as a gilded institution but as a Christian way of life. One can only hope that this momentous breakthrough and long-awaited challenge will be taken up in every other country where children have been violated by the Catholic clergy or religious.

The only fitting conclusion is with Mr. Kenny's own words:

"I am making absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this state, the standards of conduct which the church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic. Not purely, or simply or otherwise. CHILDREN … FIRST.


As Tom Doyle points out in his article, Enda Kenny has laid down a manifesto about how secular governments should approach Roman Catholicism.  Not as some higher authority accountable only to it's own internal rules and unique view of moraliy, but as just one more member of a shared society under the same rules and regulations which apply to any other member of that society.  It will be interesting to see if, in fact, the Papal Nuncio is expelled, because Charlie Flannagan is also right in his observation that no other foreign government would be allowed to conspire with citizens to circumvent internal laws.  The Holy See certainly doesn't silently tolerate the influence of other governments in what it sees as it's own internal prerogatives.

This Irish stance, although made in response to the abuse crisis, could potentially effect the Church in other ways, in other countries.  Here in the US, the hierarchical church seems addicted to conspiring with political and financial individuals and corporations to remake the US into an image more to it's liking.  And they are free from the taxes which constrain the amount of money the rest of us have available to present a different message.  I don't think for a minute this preferred message has much to do with what Jesus taught as His WayI happen to think it has more to do with protecting Church assets which are tied up with the financial and corporate interests of a completely different way.  The US Catholic Church has to have virtually a trillion dollars in collective assets as either hard property or hidden ownership stakes in US international corporations and banks.  

That's only in the US.  In Europe, it has to be more because the Church has had 1200 years of sitting in the driver's seat in European economic expansion and colonial imperialism.  I suspect the reason the Vatican is stressing the independence of dioceses has nothing to do with the sacrosanct authority of a bishop in his diocese, but to maintain the fiction that Rome is virtually bankrupt and to isolate financial losses.  I've thought this way for quite some time.  So I did not find it particularly shocking that Archbishop ChaputAccording to the AP:

"The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has fired its top financial officer as authorities investigate what happened to an unknown amount of missing church funds. (other articles say hundreds of thousands of dollars.)

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Anita Guzzardi was escorted from the church offices on July 14. Diocese spokeswoman Donna Farrell says that was a day after city prosecutors informed church officials about an investigation into the missing funds....

I almost feel sorry for AB Chaput, but I am seriously wondering how Cardinal Rigali managed to mismanage so many aspect of his patrimony.  I guess it's possible when you aren't accountable to anyone for your 'management'.  Philadelphia is the perfect storm of what happens when the Vatican demands uniformity in belief while simultaneously insisting on the legal decentralization of financial and diocesan governance issues.   It allows the Vatican to insist on personal loyalty through doctrinal obedience while avoiding any appearance of controlling the financial assets.  It gives the Vatican the appearance of non interference in the internal policies of a given country while exerting huge financial and political influence via 'independent' bishops.  It's a neat system.  Anyone who thinks 'mother church' can not change except in terms of centuries is naive.  "Mother Church" has accomplished much of this change in wealthier democracies in the last century.

Since Benedict's elevation to the Papacy I have appreciated much of what he has written, but paid for more attention to what he has done.  I have come to the conclusion he is using his writing to mask his actions.  He has no intention of giving up any of the behind the scenes power the Vatican really wields.  He will do nothing to change this neat little system where the seeming independence of bishops exists to protect Catholic material assets and has very little to do with shepherding it's human assets.  A situation Bishop Morris probably understands to well.....oh yea, and AB Chaput was involved in that little mess as well.  What a coincidence.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Golf And Gender Evolution

In the old days, actually not so long ago, those tee boxes at the bottom of the picture were gender specific. 

Over at Open Tabernacle there's a somewhat testy conversation going on as to whether gender is a biological fact or influenced by culture.  It's actually both. Culture works to put serious restrictions on both sexes and this usually has very little to do with biological reality.  I used to see this play out all the time on golf courses. In golf, ideas of gender appropriateness really effected men as much as women, but men didn't see it.  Of course.

When I started playing golf back in the late seventies, there weren't very many women playing the game relative to the numbers of men.  Most women who did play only took up the game as another way to socialize with their husbands.  The first teaching pro I ever worked with absolutely forbid me to play with women, except on women's day, because he thought it would ruin my progress in the sport.  I thought it was kind of strange there was such a thing as 'women's day'.  I learned very fast how much sexism there was in golf.  I can remember being asked to join a local country club only to find out there were days and times women were not even allowed on the course, including Saturday.  It didn't make a great deal of sense to me to pay through the nose to join a club which discriminated against me simply for being a woman, not how I could or could not play the game.

Anyway, I played a lot with men and the first thing I learned was the various ways one could make or lose money playing golf.  It was called betting and there were seemingly an unlimited number of ways to do it and that handicap was critical in determining a fair competition.  It always kind of amazed me how a person's betting handicap was frequently lower than their tournament handicap.  I learned that was due to something called 'sandbagging'.  

Any way, being a woman, I started play from the 'women's tees', until I hit my first drive and then the haggling would begin.  I was told to move back to the men's tees otherwise I had an unfair advantage.  I would suggest to my partners they move up to the red tees and try playing the course from the red tees. In my thirty some years of playing golf I only ran into two men who took up that challenge, and both of them were working towards their PGA cards.  They understood that playing the course from different tees changed one's strategic approach to the game, not the level of their testosterone.  For these guys tee boxes were just different starting points that called for different shots to get to the same end.  For every other male they seemed to be a hardwired definition of gender.  Men did not play from the red tees and some went so far as to force their young sons to play from the white or blue tees just because they were boys.  I have no idea how many young boys quit the game because they didn't  have the necessary striking power to play from the whites.  The whole thing drove me crazy.

But just around the time that Tiger Woods started to hit the scene, the USGA started pushing a novel concept.  The various color of tee boxes had nothing to do with gender.  They had everything to do with striking power and ability---and the more difficult courses started enforcing handicap rules with regards to tee boxes.  One did not play the back tees if one did not have a sub five handicap.  Tiger brought such a huge influx of new golfers, that this became mandatory to keep speed of play reasonable.  

The old language dies hard.  Too many golfers still refer to the various tees as women's and men's instead of front, middle, back and really way back--or red, white, blue, and black tees.  It is slowly changing, and it's sort of gratifying to me to actually see not only good women golfers playing the white and blue tees, but men playing the reds.  When I see men play the reds that's when I know 'we've come along way baby'.

One last thought, golf didn't fall apart and cease to be golf because women play white and blue tees, and men occasionally play the red tees.  I think there's a lesson in there somewhere for the Roman Catholic Church.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Republican Catholic Church Gets Another Vatican Endorsement


 I was beyond angry when Cardinal Wuerl was appointed to Washington DC and got his red hat.  I saw that as payment received for going into Seattle and putting the Vatican hatchet in Archbishop Hunthausens' back.  Now it's Archbishop Chaput in line for a red hat after putting the Vatican hatchet in the back of Australia's Bishop Morris.  The following is the complete John Allen article from the National Catholic Reporter.  I feel great empathy for Philadelphia Catholics.  Wow....Sighhhhh

 Pope taps Chaput for Philadelphia

 John Allen - National Catholic Reporter - 7/18/2011
DENVER -- Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, widely perceived both as a leader of the church's conservative wing and a tough administrator with a strong work ethic, has been named by Pope Benedict XVI as the new archbishop of Philadelphia.

Sources confirmed the appointment to NCR, which is scheduled to be announced by the Vatican tomorrow. Chaput replaces Cardinal Justin Rigali, 76, who has led the Philadelphia archdiocese since 2003.
Chaput, 66, steps into an archdiocese in turmoil as a result of the sexual abuse crisis.

In February, a grand jury report asserted that 37 Philadelphia priests facing credible charges of sexual abuse remained in ministry in Philadelphia, despite pledges by the U.S. bishops of "zero tolerance." Rigali immediately suspended three of those priests, then later suspended an additional 21. Rigali also commissioned a former child abuse prosecutor to conduct an investigation, which is on-going.

Also as a result of the grand jury report, a former official of the archdiocese, Monsignor William Lynn, now faces criminal charges -- the first instance in the United States of a Catholic official indicted not for committing abuse, but for failing to stop it.

As Philadelphia Catholics get to know their new leader, the overall contrast with Rigali -- known as a behind-the-scenes power-broker, who prefers to keep a fairly low public profile -- could be jarring.

Far more outspoken, Chaput has emerged over the years as a prominent lightning rod for controversy. He's seen as a strong voice for doctrinal orthodoxy, and he champions a robust role for people of faith in political life.

Among other battles, Chaput has clashed with pro-choice Catholic politicians, publicly rebuked the University of Notre Dame for awarding an honorary doctorate to President Barack Obama, and has been a strong force in national debates over gay marriage and embryonic stem cell research.

Chaput also has also sternly called Catholics to adhere to church teaching. In a recent address to a group of Catholic social workers, for instance, he insisted that church-affiliated charities "have the duty to faithfully embody Catholic beliefs on marriage, the family, social justice, sexuality, abortion and other important issues."
Ahead of the 2008 elections, Chaput published a book titled Render unto Caesar, insisting that "people who take God seriously will not remain silent about their faith." Given that Pennsylvania is a major battleground state in American politics, Chaput's visibility and influence seems likely to grow. (Nice call John.  Me thinks you hit this nail right on the head.)
In light of the crisis in Philadelphia, Chaput's record on the sexual abuse front is likely to draw special scrutiny.
Admirers say Chaput has a no-nonsense approach to priestly discipline, and doesn't hide behind clerical privilege. Robert Brancato, an abuse victim and a former resident of Denver, is a member of the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, a group ordinarily among the harshest critics of the U.S. bishops. Yet Brancato, now based in South Dakota, has expressed praise for Chaput's tough line.

"One of the first things Chaput said to me was to apologize for what happened to me," Brancato told a newspaper in Rapid City in March.
On occasion, however, SNAP and like-minded groups have blasted Chaput, not only for his handling of specific complaints, but also for fighting efforts to lift the statute of limitations in Colorado to sue the Catholic church over abuse claims.

Despite the fact that Chaput has been rumored to be in line for virtually every major opening in the American church in recent years, his appointment to Philadelphia nonetheless comes as something of a surprise.
Speaking on background, sources told NCR that Chaput was a highly personal choice by Pope Benedict. Most insiders considered Chaput a long-shot for Philadelphia, regarding Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., a Pennsylvania native and a prelate with a reputation for brokering compromise, as the favorite.

Benedict, however, tapped Chaput, solidifying his profile as a papal favorite.
In recent years, Benedict turned to Chaput to handle two other sensitive assignments: Chaput was part of a team of bishops tasked with conducting a review of the Legionaries of Christ, and he was also entrusted with a visitation of the Toowoomba diocese in Australia under Bishop William Morris.

That latter investigation led to Benedict's decision to sack Morris, in part because Morris suggested openness to women priests in a pastoral letter.
Chaput will be installed in Philadelphia on Sept. 8. Sources told NCR that Rigali may settle after the transition in the Knoxville, Tenn., diocese, where his longtime friend and protégé, Bishop Richard Stika, has prepared a residence.

Although Chaput is a native of Concordia, Kansas, and has served as a bishop in two Western dioceses -- Rapid City and Denver -- he does have a background in Pennsylvania. He studied at a Capuchin college in western Pennsylvania in the mid-1960s, and later worked for the Capuchins in Pittsburgh during the 1970s.
Chaput also has a special interest in Native American issues, given that his mother, who died in 2007, was a member of the Potawatomi tribe.


As much as I hate to write this, it looks more and more as if Pope Benedict is on a mission to stamp out progressive Catholicism the way certain right wing German factions were on a mission to stamp out the Weimar Republic

Archbishop Chaput should never ever be confused with any Native American medicine person or spiritual leader.  Those men and women do not condemn anyone.  They do not bluster and threaten.  They do not withhold any spiritual ceremony from anyone who wishes to attend.  They do not wear much in the way of expensive ceremonial gear or live in a mansion.  They more or less do their spiritual thing for gas money and food.  You could say they practice  the 'give us this day our daily bread' philosophy on a daily basis.  The men and WOMEN I have studied under were the salt of the earth and some of the best examples I have ever had the privilege of associating with of what it really took to live the Way.

Of course none of them have the impressive clerical resume of Archbishop Chaput, but then I seriously doubt he has the 'mystical/healer'' resume they do. I have yet to meet a real mystic who has both an impressive worldly and other worldy resume.  I believe Jesus actually said it was pretty much impossible to be really successful in both worlds.  I know this much, the day I see one of our Cardinal Archbishops dancing the entire four days of a Sun Dance, like I have Native American spiritual leaders and some Jesuits, I'll eat that mans' red hat--the beanie one, not the gallero, that would be overkill.

Philadelphia is in for a ride, as if they haven't had enough of one.  I will give Chaput this much, there will not be a repeat of the interminable Philadelphia grand jury reports.  He's not one to tolerate that kind of abuse of his version of the priesthood, and it is about priests abusing 'his' priesthood.  He is Benedict's man in this sense as well.  As to the other kinds of priestly abuse, the kind based in other expressions of power over others, that will be just all right by him.  All one need do is ask Bishop Morris.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I Try To Make Sense Of Vatican Reasoning On Orientation And Gender---And Get A Headache As Opposed To Enlightened

There are days this almost seems just, given the biblical history of boys in religious authority stoning girls and all.

Vatican Insider is running a piece on the Vatican's issues with the UN resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The following paragraph has some really fascinating convoluted thinking which seems to say that because heterosexuality is natural, straights are not subject to the same kinds of moral reasoning as LGBT which even though these states may be natural they are not the same kind of natural as straight--or something a long those lines.

The Holy See shares the legitimate scope of avoiding unjustified discrimination and protecting "LGBT" people from violence , but condemns any attempt to force opinions and conscience, by imposing the idea that any kind of relationship (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transgender) would be equivalent in terms of nature and morality. (The Holy See never defines what might be considered unjustified discrimination. Based on their own behavior I'm not sure there is anything they actually consider unjustified short of violence.)

This, according to the Holy See, violates several fundamental rights since it weakens the freedom of opinion, expression and religion. What is at risk then, is the freedom of the Church and believers. (Which means what is weakened is the freedom of Churches to publicly condemn and castigate a minority who are the way they are through no fault of their own.)

In addition, family and children would no longer be recognized as a natural reality in themselves but as an object of subjective desire because of the existence of the right for gays to marry, to adopt and establish a “family”, as if natural realities did not exist. (Family and children are a subjective desire.  Many people neither want or have children--including Catholic religious-- and the vast majority happen to be straight.)

The Holy See is concerned about the denial of any difference between the reality of relations between heterosexual couples and LGBT people, as well as for the neutralization of sexual morality. The controversy between Rome and Geneva, is based on the opposite evaluation of a premise: whether or not sex is outside the moral sphere. For Catholic morality, human sexuality, like all voluntary activities, has a moral side: it is an activity engaged in by an individual desire, for a purpose; it is not an “identity”. In short, it depends on doing and not being, regardless of the degree of homosexual tendencies that may be rooted in the personality. (Then this is also true for heterosexuals, regardless of the degree of heterosexual tendencies that may be rooted in the personality.  This makes gender identity a doing, not a being.)

To deny the moral dimension of sexuality is to deny a person’s freedom in this area and leads, ultimately, to a breach of their ontological dignity. The Holy See is concerned that the recognition of full legal equality for persons with homosexual orientation can lend itself to the demands for marriage between two men or two women.


If I've understood this correctly, the Vatican is inventing a different reality for homosexual orientation than the reality experienced by heterosexuals.  Heterosexuality is NATURAL, and transcends in it's ontological nature any doings or desires of any given heterosexual. Heterosexuals 'are' no matter what they 'do'.  Homosexuals 'do' irrespective of how homosexual they are.  Gender is a hard wired aspect of the ontological nature of heterosexuality.  Men are men, women are women, and gays are queer. Ergo to let homosexuals marry is really bad for heterosexuals whether those heterosexuals desire children or not.

Too bad it doesn't work like this in real life.  In real life people experience sexual arousal and both gays and straights can 'do' that arousal responsibly or not.  Same arousal mechanisms;  more or less the same choices; consequences can vary.  There is that children thing for heterosexuals, unless of course they are using birth control, which some ninety per cent of Catholics do in the West.  In fact some heterosexuals maintain that using birth control frees them from enslaved gender roles.  OK mostly that's women, but I know a lot of straight men who are very happy their sexual partner has not made them involuntary daddy's.  Sighhhh.

There are days I despair that these sexually stunted boys masquerading as spiritually evolved adult men will ever grow up. I guess it's going to take some more pressure from the rank and file.  The good news is when they finally do start maturing, and accept their own sexuality, they will experience what real freedom truly feels like, and part of that is making real choices, not guilt infected coerced choices.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Irish Government Has Had Enough Of Papal Authority

This kind of oath is not going to fly very far in Ireland anymore. The Vatican is beginning to find out the Pope no longer rules by proxy in Ireland

The following article from Dublin's Evening Herald underlines one of  points in the conversation generated by the last post on this blog.  The Irish government is not going to give the Vatican a pass after information in the Cloyne report revealed that the Vatican deliberately undercut the program the Irish Bishops had put in place for the protection of children.  Essentially the Vatican maintained this proposal superseded Canon Law.  Vatican opposition opened the door for bishops to act on their own initiative when it came to clergy abuse.  Hence Bishop Magee felt free to give one story to his diocesan review board about one priest, and an entirely different story to the Vatican.  Oh yea, he gave no story to the Irish police. Since everything in the Cloyne report deals with cases from 1996-2009, the idea the Church can be trusted to clean up it's collective act is pretty well shattered on the Emerald Isle.  Onto the article:
Papal visit now looks doomed after Cloyne backlash hits Church

By Michael Lavery and Cormac Murphy - Friday July 15 2011
PROPOSALS for a Papal visit to Ireland next summer are likely to be shelved in the wake of the Cloyne report.

The State and the Catholic Church remained on a collision course after the chairman of Fine Gael called for the Pope's representative in Ireland to be expelled. (This references the Papal Nuncio for Ireland, an office whose cooperation with the Irish government has been non existent if not outright oppositional, no matter who held it.)

It was also suggested that the Government could close our embassy to the Holy See as public anger grows over the failure of Bishop John Magee to publicly apologise for the scandal.

Asked for his reaction to calls for the Papal Nuncio to be expelled, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the direct interference by another state in preventing the application in Ireland of child protection guidelines is unacceptable. (I would think so....except this isn't just another State like England for example.  This is the Roman Catholic Holy See.  Politics and religion mixed to the max.)

However, he stopped short of saying the Papal Nuncio should be expelled in light of the findings of the Cloyne Report. (Rest assured that if we were talking about England, there would be no stopping short.)

"I very much understand the view expressed by Charlie Flanagan. I think there are a number of people who would have a great deal of sympathy with that view," Mr Shatter told Newstalk.

"I believe the first step is that the Papal Nuncio provides to the Tanaiste the answers that are being sought. My central concern in this is that we truly protect children," he added. (that doesn't appear to be the Vatican's central concern.  Their central concern seems to be protecting the authority of the clerical priesthood.)

The minister said there was a great deal of shock and outrage in Government, and right across all political parties.

Government plans to jail priests for up to five years if they fail to report information on child sex abuse, even if it was obtained in the confession box, put it in direct conflict with the traditional teachings of the Church. A Catholic Bishops spokesman said the seal of confession "places an onerous responsibility on the confessor/priest, and a breach of it would be a serious offence to the rights of penitents".  (Now things are really getting sticky with the idea of the separation of Church and State.  I hope Archbishop Dolan reads this, since he's one of the exalted tasked with resurrecting Irish Catholicism.

Separately, Fr PJ Madden of the Association of Catholic Priests, said the seal was "above and beyond all else" and could not be broken, even if a penitent confessed to a crime. (Therapists have to deal with this all the time. Besides, I thought restitution was part of reconciliation.)

Taoiseach Enda Kenny backed the tough new laws to compel priests to report paedophiles to gardai.
"The law of the land should not be stopped by a crozier or a collar," Mr Kenny said. He was replying to a question from journalists as to whether the traditional Catholic seal of the confessional would be exempted from the law.  (The fact this is even being discussed is indicative of the anger level and lack of trust in the Irish clerical caste.  My gut level feeling is there is some old history behind this angst.)

He described as "absolutely disgraceful" the attitude of the Vatican to complaints of child sex abuse in the Cloyne diocese.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald will publish new guidance on child protection rules today, along with a HSE plan to implement the rules consistently across the State.

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza was yesterday summoned to the Department of Foreign Affairs and told to get answers from the Vatican on damning revelations in the report that it allowed priests to ignore the law.

Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said he warned the Archbishop about the new law of five years jail for anyone who does not alert authorities about crimes against a child.

"I told him I believed that a response was required and I look forward to receiving it."
The hardline Government stance followed revelations in the Cloyne report that Bishop John Magee and the Vatican encouraged the concealment of child abuse allegations.

Pressure continued to mount today for Bishop Magee to come out of hiding and answer questions publicly about the Cloyne report. Some sources suggested he was visiting the southern states of the US. (Really?!?  The Southern states?  I'm not sure that's all that much better than hiding out in Rome.)


Holy cow, the speculation on Magee's whereabouts is getting as fun as playing "Where's Waldo?"  Apparently he's not in Rome, Italy, he's in Rome, Georgia.  Who'd a thunk?  In any event, no matter what Rome Magee is in, the real Vatican in the Italian Rome is going to have very rocky sailing in Ireland.  Somehow I don't think Archbishop Dolan's fondness for cigars and Jameson whiskey is going to be much help.  Slight personal aside:  I don't agree with Archbishop Dolan about too much, but Jameson's is one such point.  It is very good whiskey.  Best I've ever tasted.

This business with legally mandating violation of the confessional is probably not going to go forward.  A good priest can usually convince a penitent it's in their own best spiritual interests to confess in places other than the confessional, and said priest could in fact withhold absolution until such a thing is done and proven. I can see where threatening the Church with this proposal would send a message to which  the Church would hopefully listen.  Especially since they don't seem to have really listened to any other message sent by any other laity or lay group.  Those pesky elected political authorities sure can be a pain the butt for those unelected Church authorities.  I find it fascinating how power seeks it's own balance no matter what the power brokers may think.

There was one other article in the Herald I actually found kind of sad.   This one is an editorial by Andrew Lynch about Ireland's chief prelate, Cardinal Brady.  Here's the sad parts:

Last year, Brady was accused of playing a small but crucial role in covering up crimes committed by the most notorious priest rapist in Irish history. (Brendan Smyth was a real piece of work. A Hannibal Lector kind of predator is the best way to describe him.)
A victim of the late Brendan Smyth alleged that in 1975, Brady used his position as a canon lawyer to persuade a 14-year-old girl and an altar boy to sign an oath of silence.

By his own admission, he believed that the children were telling the truth -- but he still did absolutely nothing to inform the Gardai.  (Which resulted in dozens more victims, including victims in Connecticut and North Dakota, plus the collapse of the Irish government in 1995.  Smyth's story is chilling. A simple Google search will yield more information and help illuminate why the Irish might be more than a little touchy about this subject.)

When this became public, Brady asked to be given time to reflect on his position.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, he announced a couple of months later that he would not to quit.
With the support of Pope Benedict, he was given a second chance -- but God himself would struggle to explain why he should be given a third.

Everybody who knows Sean Brady describes him as a kind and decent man.
In some ways, that makes his sins even worse.
If such an obviously holy priest could become corrupted by the culture of secrecy and fear within the Church, it's hardly surprising that so many perverts took advantage of it as well.
Martin McGuinness once described Brady as "the most humble priest ever to become a cardinal".

One of the most important lessons I have learned on my travels in other dimensional realities is that cultures create their own energy.  A corrupt culture will most certainly corrupt the pure and the innocent if they are not prepared to believe the corruption exists.  Cardinal Brady is exhibit number one.  The Vatican cannot play authority games in Ireland anymore than Cardinal Schonborn can play those games in Austria.  The energy is changing.  The good thing for Catholics, and I know it's hard to trust, is that the new energy will not tolerate the corruption of the old energy.  Let me repeat that, the new energy will not tolerate the corruption of the old energy.  We are beginning to witness the first signs of the incoming new energy.  It will continue,  and with the added prayers, hopes, and diligence of the faithful,  it will grow. 

Is Vatican City Becoming A Version Of The Hole In The Wall Gang?

Back in the good ole days, Bishop Magee played "Sundance" to JPII"s Butch Cassidy.

According to the Dublin Herald, the missing Bishop in the midst of the Cloyne Diocese sexual abuse report is hiding out in---ready for this---Rome.  How familiar does this sound?  The Vatican sure does seem quite willing to protect it's pedophile enabling bishops while at the same time it throwing it's pastorally concerned bishops out to pasture.  I will concede, that in the case of Bishop Magee, the Vatican has managed to do both.

Vatican shelters Magee as abuse report fury grows

By Michael Lavery - Dublin Herald - 7/14/2011
THE Vatican is today protecting disgraced Bishop John Magee.

Magee is now believed to be hiding out in Rome following the latest scandal to hit the Church.
Insiders believe he is being protected by the Vatican and Pope Benedict (right) amid the furore of the damning Cloyne Report.

The Vatican has so far refused to comment on the report which accuses Magee of lying to the state about the protection of children.

Pressure is now growing on the Church to call the Bishop to account.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has demanded a meeting as soon as possible with the Papal Nunico.
A spokesman at the Department of Foreign Affairs said Mr Gilmore would be bringing the Cloyne Report to the attention of the Vatican authorities.

The report shows that the Catholic Church was ignoring its own guidelines of child protection as recently as 2009. (And according to the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report and the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph, the same thing is happening at this very time in the US.)

It also says that Bishop Magee kissed and touched a teenage boy in a manner described by investigators as "inappropriate behaviour".

Bishop Magee's exact whereabouts remained a mystery today as pressure was growing on the Catholic Church to call the bishop to account. (This is also true for upwards of two dozen clerical abusers who are rumored to be hiding out in Vatican City.)

He has not commented on the report or made himself available to answer questions from the media.
A visibly shaken Archbishop Dermot Clifford said he would have been "very happy" if Bishop Magee was in front of the press responding to questions about the Cloyne report instead of him.
"I'd be very happy if he was sitting here in this seat and it's a pity that he isn't," he told a press conference in Cork after the publication of the report.

The diocese's caretaker bishop, who is also the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, described himself as "having distanced himself from John Magee" in recent years and had not any contact with him recently.
He said he believed that the former Bishop of Cloyne was out of the country.

Bishop Magee has been accused of lying to the State over child protection procedures in the Cloyne Diocese where he and a senior assistant failed a succession of victims of clerical sex abuse......


Bishop Magee is also accused of inappropriate contact with a seventeen year old pre seminarian but said contact was not judged to be criminal in either a canonical or criminal sense. Magee was instead sent to counseling to learn appropriate boundaries. I'm kind of wondering where Magee learned his inappropriate boundaries, or if he thought his position elevated him beyond the notions of appropriate boundaries. In any case, he is apparently hiding out in clerical Rome where notions of appropriate boundaries do not include national boundaries and especially boundary things like extradition.

Sighhhh. How long Oh Lord, must it take before we Catholics finally admit too many of our upper clergy do not serve anyone other than themselves. When will we the people clean our Temple of our ordained money changers? Will it actually take a Second Coming? Or will will it be a second Reformation? Personally I think a second reformation would be the much more mature solution rather than waiting like scared children for Jesus to come and save us from ourselves. It's pretty obvious by now that the Vatican has no intention of forcing bishops to clean up their own act, other than to lay down the law on anything they might say which impacts Benedict's notions of the priesthood and that priesthood will be male, celibate, closeted, and delusional about it's ontological superiority.
Unfortunately for Catholicism, none of these clerical attributes reflect the social, cultural, and consciousness evolutions of the last hundred or so years, but worse yet, they just lay the seeds for the next round of clerical abuse and episcopal cover up. There will be more Bishop Magees until enough laity and clergy of integrity say we've had enough--and mean it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Very Serious Call To Action In Austria

Depending on the next month or two, Cardinal Schonborn may get another up close and personal meeting with you know who.

Just when I am too angry and frustrated and saddened to even want to attempt to write a coherent sentence, God gives me another reason to keep on keepin' on.  This article from The National Catholic Reporter about the call to reform in Austria from 300 priests came as a breath of serious fresh air.

300 Austrian clerics call for women priests, reform

Cindy Wooden - Catholic News Service - 7/12/2011

VATICAN CITY -- Austrian bishops have criticized an effort by a group of priests calling for reforms in church practice, including opening the priesthood to women and married men, but the bishops have not taken or threatened disciplinary action.

Michael Pruller, spokesman for Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, said the cardinal plans to meet in late August or September with the Viennese priests who are among the leaders of the "Initiative of Parish Priests," which launched a "Call to Disobedience" in June.

The initiative, which says it has just more than 300 members, suggested saying a public prayer at every Mass for church reform; giving Communion to everyone who approaches the altar in good faith, including divorced Catholics who have remarried without an annulment; allowing women to preach at Mass; and supporting the ordination of women and married men.

In a telephone interview from Vienna July 11, Pruller said that as far as he knew, the Austrian bishops have not discussed a common response to the priests.

"No bishop has threatened disciplinary actions, but at the end of the day if a priest leads his parish away from what the church teaches, action would have to be taken," Pruller said.

The "Call to Disobedience" said the priests felt forced to follow their consciences for the good of the church in Austria because the bishops have refused to act.

Cardinal Schonborn issued a statement June 22 and said he waited three days to respond because he did not want to react "out of the anger and sorrow" the priests' initiative caused him.

"The open call to disobedience shocked me," he said.
The cardinal said none of the priests was ordained by force and all of them vowed obedience as they strive to do God's will. (Operative words here are 'strive to do God's will'.)

Cardinal Schonborn said righteous human beings must follow their conscience, and if the priests really believe they have such an extreme conflict of conscience with the church, they probably should consider whether they still belong in the church.

"I believe and hope, however, that this extreme case does not occur here," he wrote. But ultimately, "we all decide whether we want to walk the path with the pope, the bishops and the universal church or not." (Our first choice is to decide whether we want to walk the Way of Christ and that path is not always the same as the one walked by the pope and the bishops in a given era of time.  In fact, the universal church is a large road atlas of paths.)

Bishop Egon Kapellari of Graz, vice president of the Austrian bishops' conference, issued a statement June 28 saying the priests' proposals "seriously threaten the identity and unity of the Catholic Church." (Yes it does.)

While pastors are right to be concerned about providing more and better pastoral care to Catholics in the country, the situation in Austria is not so drastic that it would require priests to act outside communion with the universal church, he said. (Depends on what one is referencing as drastic.  Mass attendance in Austria could easily be considered a drastic situation.)

It is one thing to call public attention to the needs of the church, Bishop Kapellari said, and it is another to encourage people to disobey church teaching and practice. (The situation with Bishop Morris would seem to say that calling public attention to the needs of the church is determined to be disobedient by the Vatican.)

Bishop Kapellari said that while personal conscience is a "highly respected value" in the church, it is wrong to imply that the pope and bishops are not acting out of their own good conscience when promoting the unity and tradition of the church. 


Cardinal Schonborn has a problem which could get out of hand very quickly if he isn't careful.  300 priests is about twenty per cent of the priests in Austria.  That is not an insignificant number.  In contrast, SSPX's Archbishop LeFebvre started his 'call to disobedience' with far far fewer numbers.  Even today SSPX has only slightly more than 500 priests and yet they have proven to be a major head ache to the Vatican.  It's not hard to imagine how 300 priests in Austria could snowball very quickly into thousands world wide in this day and age of internet access and utter frustration with the Vatican.  Yes indeed, Cardinal Schonborn has a problem.

I doubt any of this actually shocks Cardinal Schonborn, except maybe the actual numbers and he probably knows there are a bunch more priests behind those who did sign.  The signing or not signing may have a lot to do with which diocese a given priest works in.  Schonborn's first problem will undoubtedly be trying to keep his bishops reacting from the same playbook.  Good luck there.  I seriously wonder how many Austrian bishops would have signed this initiative is they only had the courage.  The 'Bishop Morris solution' has to have been very fresh in their minds.

This weekend, after reading the CNA article on Archbishop Thomasi's views on the UN Declaration for Human Rights, and then sitting stupefied reading Archbishop Gomez's response to a California bill to include the achievements of GLBT people in California's school curriculum, I had pretty much concluded all things Catholic were beyond my stomach.  They say though that the night gets coldest just before the breaking of dawn.  Maybe there's more truth to this than just the ambient air temperature.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stop Engines: Full Speed Astern

This engine room telegraph is exactly like the one on the Titanic.  In that case, after striking the iceberg,  the Captain asked for full speed astern only on the port engines.  That would be the left side engines.  Hmmmm.

We all knew this would have to happen, and I couldn't wait to see how Cardinal Policarpo of Portugal was going to wiggle out of his admission there was no theological reason women could not be ordained.  After all he did sort of forget JPII said something totally different.  I admit JPII's reasoning wasn't based in real theology but in personal belief babble, but he was pope,  when he said the Church did not have the authority to ordain women he meant just that.
Taken from Vatican Insider, what follows is the Cardinal's response.

The reverse trend of Cardinal Policarpo: "the ordination of women is impossible"

vatican insider staff Rome He had talked recently about women and the priesthood. Now Cardinal José Policarpo, Patriarch of Lisbon, goes back on his statements to the Portuguese magazine "Ordem dos Advogados" and explains his position.  In a letter re-launched by Zenit news agency, the spiritual guide of Lisbon clarifies with regards to the ordination of women priests he is "in communion with the Pope."
During the interview, when consulted on the issue, the cardinal said that in his opinion there is no fundamental theological obstacle to the ordination of women, even though he stressed that no Pope has powers in this regard. This would lead to tensions, and it will happen only if God wills it to happen and if it is in His plans”. (Which means what?  God has to appear in person and ordain the pope to ordain women?)
In his explanation, Cardinal Policarpo acknowledges that he had never "consistently treated the question: The reactions to this interview have forced me to consider the issue more carefully, and I found that, especially for not having taken into due consideration the latest declarations of the Magisterium on this subject, I gave rise to these reactions”. For this reason, Policarpo felt compelled to clarify his position with the faithful:  It would be painful for me that my words could cause confusion in our adherence to the Church and the words of the Holy Father. I believe I have shown that communion with the Holy Father is absolute in the exercise of my ministry ”. (So where does your communion with Jesus fit in?)
The Patriarch also stressed the "complementarity of men and women in the history of salvation," that "reaches its fullness in the revelation of Christ and Mary”. Rooted in the New Testament, the Christian priesthood, from the beginning, was bestowed only to men.
The fact that there are no women among these cooperators and successors does not mean a minimization of women, but the search for the complementarity between males and females, fully realized in the relationship of Christ with Mary”. (Is he saying the real complementarity between males and females is not between man and wife, but son and mother?)
In the early days of the Church, the cardinal stated, "it is known that there was harmony between the apostolic priesthood granted to men, and the importance and dignity of women in the Church”.
For the
Cardinal one of the causes for women’s claim to ordination is the loss of awareness by all members of the Church of the dignity of the priesthood, thereby reducing the priestly expression to ordained priesthood”. (This is a situation fully endorsed by the Holy See who is terrified of the diminishing of ordained priesthood at the hands of educated laity.)
Another cause is understanding the ministerial priesthood as a right and power, without perceiving that no man or woman can claim this right, by accepting the Church's call to this service, which includes the gift of one’s life”.
At first, when this issue came to light, "it was not excluded that it was an open question, or the attention that must be paid to the actions of the Holy Spirit, in the search for the mystery of the Church in the new reality”.
However, the most recent Papal Magisterium interprets this uninterrupted tradition of ordaining only men not only as a practical way to proceed, which can change the rhythm of the Holy Spirit, but as an expression of the mystery of the Church, which we must accept in faith ”. (I guess the Holy Spirit will get thrown out of kilter if forced to work with women--or maybe I just don't get what the Cardinal is trying to say as this is a confusing translation.)
“We are therefore asked to observe the teachings of the Holy Father, in the humility of our faith, to continue to deepen the relationship of the ministerial priesthood with the priestly quality of all the People of God and discover a female way of building the church, in the critical mission of our sisters, the women”, Policarpo concluded. (The traditional 'allowed' female way of building up the Church is to pop out babies by the dozen, which by the by, is something Mary never did---or so we're told.)


The Vatican must be in quite the mood, because not only has Cardinal Policarpo reversed course, but in the upcoming Vatican synod on clergy abuse, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is conspicuous by his not having been  invited.  Also according to Vatican Insider: 

"Too radical in the methods used to combat sexual abuse of clergy. The Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, Diarmuid Martin was not invited to the meeting on pedophile priests that is due to take place in February at the Vatican. Monsignor Martin is a bishop who is not loved by all departments of the Roman Curia due to his intransigency and excessive public visibility in sex scandals."

What I found interesting in the article on Martin is that while Martin is a favorite of the Pope for taking a hard line on clergy abuse, Martin is not liked at all by the Vatican Curia.  As the article points out, this should not be too surprising since the Curia contains the likes of Cardinals Bernard Law and Angelo Sodano, two men who were coddled not by Benedict, but by his predecessor JPII.  It seems Pope Benedict's Curia is not always on the same page with Pope Benedict.  Snubbing Martin is pretty egregious considering he's one of the few in Catholic leadership anyone trusts on the abuse crisis.

But back to Cardinal Policarpo, the line that set me into gales of laughter was the line about Jesus and Mary representing the ideal of Catholic notions of gender complementarity.  What ever happened to JPII's notion of gender complementarity being expressed by husband and wife in a sacramental marriage?  I hate to think of myself as gender deficient because I never had a son, because according the Cardinal having had a daughter just won't do.  Realistically, since the whole male gender thing with the ordained priesthood is taken literally, how am I not supposed to take this little gem literally.  Please, somebody help me, is it sacramental marriage between a man and a woman, or is it the parental relationship between a mother a son, which fully expresses my womanhood?  Oh well, never mind, I strike out no matter which way.  I guess I'll just have to live with the fact God wanted me deficient as fully female. Or what ever.

Is it just me or is this Catholic craziness getting all too predictable?  I might have to stop reading Vatican Insider because I might not be crazy enough to really be a Vatican insider.  That's OK, because I'm in some good company.  Archbishop Martin isn't crazy enough either.