Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"A Hint Of Hypocrisy"

Earlier today Tom Roberts posted a very good editorial at the National Catholic Reporter about the two interviews NPR's Terry Gross did on the CDF's displeasure with LCWR.  (Wow, are there enough acronyms in that sentence?)  Roberts makes the point there is more than a little 'hint of hypocrisy' in the whole idea of compromised bishops having anything at all to say to any Catholic about 'giving scandal'.  The following in an excerpt from his article.  It's starts at about the half way point of the article:

......While the bishops view the nuns as in need of supervision and have accused the nuns of "betraying core values of the church" and causing "scandal to the faithful," Gross asked if there wasn't a bit of hypocrisy in those allegations, if the same charges might apply to "the institutional church that appears not able to reform itself and to be in the need of outside supervision."

It is an obvious and fair question, given the ongoing scandal and continued revelations about how the hierarchy mishandled the crisis over decades. Blair, in his answer, attempted to relativize the enormity of the scandal, even attempting to soften the reality by referencing "the mystery of iniquity in the church," noting that even Jesus didn't get it perfect, that he had chosen Judas, the betrayer, as one of the Twelve. Noting that bishops are the successors of the apostles, he implied it would logically hold that today's bishops would be visited by the same iniquity. (Jesus made no mistake.  Judas was a necessary instrument in salvation history. I could make a similar point about these bishops. They are forcing Catholics to re evaluate the relationship between power and real authority.  Our bishops are now doubling down on power because they no longer have any real authority. The more cappa magnas that come out the clerical closets can not mask the fact they are not wearing any 'clothes'.)

That strange rationalization aside for the moment, the reality is that more than a quarter-century of evidence has accumulated. Hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation are available, much of it stored online at bishopaccountability.org, that shows bishops:
  • Callously disregarded the welfare of the most vulnerable in the community as they secretly moved priests who raped and molested children from parish to parish;
  • Hid records and lied about the abuse to parents, reporters and prosecutors;
  • Lifted millions from diocesan coffers without informing the community to secure silence from victims and their families;
  • Did whatever necessary, from declaring bankruptcy to payouts of hundreds of millions in settlements, to avoid trials, which would have exposed in great detail the depth and breadth of the scandalous behavior and bishops' roles in protecting predator priests. Five years after a settlement in Los Angeles, the archdiocese is still fighting release of documents mandated by that settlement. We haven't heard that its lawyers are working pro bono.
  • Have no fear of losing their jobs no matter how irresponsibly they've acted and no matter how much scandal they've caused. The only bishop to have resigned because of the scandal was Cardinal Bernard Law, who, until his recent retirement, maintained membership on at least six of the highest level departments in the Vatican, including the one responsible for naming other bishops. Judas was distraught enough after his betrayal that he went out and hanged himself. No one wishes suicide on anyone, but bishops who have deeply betrayed the community know that in the princely circumstances of today's secretive hierarchy, one needs only wait out the scandal.
Blair went on to say, "I think we've done everything humanly possible we can, as a body, to try to deal with this problem." (Except of course,  for the one thing that might really make a difference, make yourselves fully accountable to some other agency not called the Vatican.)

It is difficult to judge, of course, what all is humanly possible. What was done, however, is not a matter of conjecture, but record. And the record of more than 25 years clearly shows that everything the bishops did -- the education programs, the national review board, the local review boards, the charter and the office for children and youth, and on and on -- was the result of a reaction to intense public pressure. It wasn't that they did all that was humanly possible. It was rather that they did all they had to do to try to put the scandal behind them.

 Nothing they did was voluntary. In the years before the crisis exploded anew in 2002, 17 years after the first national stories ran (in NCR) about the scandal, they had, in fact, rejected many of those same suggestions they ultimately adopted. They had, as a body, scoffed at the warnings and vilified the messengers of bad news.

A nonreligious university, Penn State, has demanded more accountability of football coaches and administrators than the church has of its spiritual leaders. (At least someone took some lessons from the bishops failures to deal with their cover up.)

Blair recited what have become standard episcopal talking points about the priest sex abuse scandal. The scandal is "a dark cloud" over the church. He wouldn't try to "defend the indefensible." And "there were tremendous failures." But the bishops must move on, being "teachers of the faith ... And if we have to -- if we are to continue that mission, well, that includes our responsibility for church teaching. And that's the issue here with the doctrinal assessment" levied against the nuns.

The assessment takes issue with the nuns for not engaging more overtly in the divisive anti-abortion political tactics that the bishops have employed -- largely ineffectively and at great cost to the church's credibility -- since 1973. It argues that the nuns have not engaged as actively and vociferously as the bishops in the culture's anti-gay campaigns. It accuses the sisters of entertaining undefined "radical feminist" notions, and it takes them to task for daring, as women, to question the church's exclusion of women from the decision-making counsels of the church and from ordination. They should expunge such questions from their minds because the church has declared that such thoughts are out of bounds and not to be entertained.
The degree of accountability the bishops would require of women, then, would include a prohibition against entertaining questions that occur naturally to anyone outside the closed, all-male, celibate culture (and even many within who dare not admit publicly to such thoughts) and condemnation largely for things they haven't done.

These are the crimes, the infractions, the women will have to spend endless hours devising a response to; they will have to justify their lives, their ministries, their very being in a way no bishop would ever require of a group of priests or bishops. Declared heretics of the right are given a special papal appointee in a specially arranged office to hold their hands through their continued denunciations of the church. The nuns are given papers outlining a hostile takeover.  (This is just a brilliant summation of the handling of SSPX vs the LCWR.)


This is one of the best articles I have read from Tom Roberts in quite awhile.  It's got an edge to it, and I think more Catholics who care about any real future for this Church need to have a little more of an edge when it comes to confronting the corruption of the hierarchy.  I'm using corruption here in the sense not just of secular and psychological corruption, but spiritual corruption.  I can't believe Bishop Blair came up with the Judas comparison.  Judas at least had the decency to remove his corruption from the body politic, where as our current crop of betrayers insist on staying in place and attacking the hands that feed them.  Judas had more integrity by far.  Even Jesus Himself didn't mince words when it came to the corruption in Jewish Temple and with Temple priests.  Maybe it's time we all took the lesson.

For myself, I have to admit Bishop Cordileone's appointment to San Francisco and Bishop Blair's attempting to defend the indefensible have set my dander on edge.  Not because I think either man is capable of effecting change--they are not-- but because each case represents another purposefully struck crack in the foundation of the Church in the US. The only US Catholics that seem to count anymore are the ones who don't question and actively support the hierarchy, those who have money and are still willing to use the Church as a tax shelter, but most especially, those willing to do both.  Unfortunately, that's not just true for the US, it's a strategy playing out across the first world, and it's real aim is to maintain Western control of the resources of the developing world.  Given that, it does make perfect sense to hand hold the eternal nay sayers of the SSPX while simultaneously initiating a hostile takeover of the LCWR.  When it comes to maintaining control in the developing world, the SSPX and their particular philisophical bent are far more valuable than LCWR.  In fact, the LCWR is a major threat precisely because they have inroads in the developing world with women's religious congregations, and those congregations are actively involved in social justice issues.

The truly sad thing is all of this is very traditional and very cyclical.  The official messengers have corrupted the message for the sake of temporal power and influence since the Donation of Constantine.  The focus of the hierarchy in terms of dominance and control has changed given the geopolitical situation, but the march of history is always to maintain it's political might and economic status.  The West is pretty much lost for the JPII/Benedict Church.  Once the boomers exit the stage, the pews will be very empty.  The developing world is not all that far behind. The Church of pomp and power is on it's last legs, and that is a good thing. Now maybe we can form one that will actually be about the teachings of Jesus, get past the 1700 year failure with the temptations in the desert, and advance in our Gospel understanding to the Transfiguration.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What Does The Vatican Do With A Catholic Like Melinda?

Melinda Gates with some of the women she hopes to give a helping hand in making a fundamental life choice--when to have a baby.  The Vatican is not thrilled with Melinda's choice to do so.

In my last post I wrote that I feel the particular culture war issues the Vatican has chosen to do battle over are really a message for Africa and not the West--well other than to more or less tell Western progressives to go to hell.  Yesterday the Vatican Insider ran an article dedicated to a front page article in L'Osservatore Romano.  In that front page article, Bill and Melinda Gates are attacked over Melinda's self stated mission to provide birth control for those women who want it in the developing world.  It's Melinda who launched the program the Vatican objects to, but of course she can never be acknowledged with out dragging in her husband--and listing him first. The following is the entire article from Vatican Insider.  I couldn't find a link for the L'Osservatore Romano original article. 

L’Osservatore Romano attacks the Gates’

The Pope’s newspaper has criticised the philanthropic contraception initiative launched by the wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, referring back to Nestlé’s “cunning” operation in Africa

Andrea Tornielli - Vatican Insider - 7/28/2012
L’Osservatore Romano, the Holy See’s official daily newspaper, has taken up arms against Bill Gates and Nestlé. The Pope’s newspaper has launched a tough and clear attack against the two on the front page of this afternoon’s issue: an editorial by Giulia Galeotti on “birth control and disinformation” entitled “The risks of philanthropy”, defines Bill Gates’ wife as being “slightly off the mark and confused” as well as “misinformed”. Melinda Gates announced to the CNN that over the next eight months she wants to spend 450 million Euros on research into new birth control methods, improved information on contraception and providing access in the planet’s poorest countries, primarily Africa, to such services and instruments. Speaking to the CNN, Mrs. Gates confided the difficulty she faced as a believer, aware that her initiative challenges the leaders of the Catholic Church. (Melinda Gates has spent far more time on the ground in Africa bringing medicine to sick babies, talking with their mothers, and providing funds to keep their babies healthy than most Vatican clerics, but she is the one who is misinformed, slightly off the mark, and confused.)
In an attempt to erase the idea of the Catholic Church as a promoter of the deaths of women and children as a result of the misogynous intransigence shown in its aversion to contraceptives, an interpretation it defines as “unfounded and cheap”, L’Osservatore Romano recalled that the Church “agrees with natural birth control methods, that is, with methods based on reading the signs and messages sent by the body.” Here it refers to the Billings method which is “considered 98% effective.”L’Osservatore Romano points out that “in some parts of the world” the Billings method “is seen as a double disadvantage” because since it is a simple method that is easy to adopt, women, including the illiterate among them, use it independently and consciously, without the need for mediation.” “The unforgivable original sin inherent in this method is that it is a solution that is completely free. This makes it highly unpopular in the pharmaceutical industry which makes huge profits from the administration of chemical contraception. And this will be guaranteed through Mrs. Gates’ philanthropic actions.” (Oh yes, I can certainly see a good Catholic woman or girl insist their panting rapist wait until she can take her temperature and examine her vaginal mucus. Oh and the perception of the Church 'as a promoter of the deaths of women and children as a result of misogynous intransigence' is not that unfounded.)

But the Vatican newspaper also packs a mighty punch at multinational company Nestlé. On its front page, L’Osservatore Romano writes: “The multinational company notoriously and in a cunning and improper manner supplied African women with free packs of dried milk for their newborn children. These lasted just enough time for the mothers to lose their natural milk. Mothers were then forced to purchase the dried milk, lured by advertisement campaigns which presented breast feeding as barbaric and the artificial method as the modern and civilised alternative; the campaign was furthered through various forms of psychological pressure exercised by elusive doctors and nurses. A need was therefore created in the name of charity and with profit in mind.” (Nestle has been embroiled in this issue for almost forty years.  The Roman Catholic Church has not been a major player in getting Nestle to change it's practices.  It was the UN and World Health Organization, amongst other secular NGO's that were at the forefront of this campaign.  Nestle is still being boycotted world wide over this issue.  It's nice though that the Vatican has finally noticed, even if it is only to slander Melinda Gates by association.)


I find it deliciously ironic that one of the richest, if not the richest practicing Catholic woman, is using her wealth to promote the very religious freedom issue the USCCB is trying to manipulate in an effort to throw the US presidential election to Mitt Romney.  And she is doing this for the women of the very continent the Vatican is bending over backwards to keep in the patriarchal fold mostly for the benefit of their own continued exclusively patriarchal existence.

I love the attack on Melinda Gates as a lackey for pharmaceutical companies. I am still waiting for the Vatican itself to admit it's stock portfolio has made millions off of ED drugs, and that Pfizer PR people waited breathlessly for the Vatican to give it's OK to Viagra as a morally neutral drug before pushing it in US TV commercials. The cynic in me wonders how large the 'donation' was for that Vatican stamp of approval.  But I digress.

The single largest killer of girls 15-19 in the developing world is pregnancy and giving birth, but as we are all, endlessly reminded by 'real Catholics'  pregnancy is not a disease and shouldn't be treated like a disease.  That maybe true, but it's also true pregnancy is the number one killer of young women. For some reason we aren't supposed to look at that Truth.  Melinda Gates is saying it is time we look at that truth.  

Lets look at some more truth.  The thirty one countries with the highest infant mortality rate are all in Africa with the lone exception being Afghanistan.  A child born in Chad is 70% more likely to die by age five than one born in Sweden.  The Gates foundation has pumped enormous dollars into evidenced based solutions for the largest killers: vaccinations for the usual childhood diseases, mosquito netting for beds, antibiotics, clean water, and micro nutrient supplementation amongst others. The single biggest factor in dropping these numbers in other global areas has been reliable birth control.  It's easier for poor women to take care of their children if they don't have ten of them and they are spaced out.  No woman wants to watch her young children die.  Not even to 'save her own soul'.  Melinda Gates has finally said it's time to deal with real facts and to ignore the clueless clerical men and their silly politics around this issue.  Thank God she has the financial resources to do just that.  She may not be the Pope, but she doesn't have to be when she can put 650 million dollars where her heart lies.

Melinda Gates is not talking about forcing artificial forms of birth control on anyone.  She is promoting education and choice, and making sure the choices are available. The Billings method has advantages, at least in theory, in more rural areas just for distribution reasons.  The problem is getting the men to go along with the necessary periods of abstinence in cultures which don't facilitate women having any power in determining when they will or will not have sex, or in cultures that use rape as a weapon of war. Artificial forms of birth control go a long way to solving those kinds of problems.

Ultimately birth control is about empowering women to make their own determination as to how many and how frequently they will give birth.  That is not acceptable when the religious mentality is absolute about all things involving women's reproductive biology and when it's coupled with a sexual moral theology that says women are their reproductive function.  It doesn't even matter that reliable birth control has had a huge impact on reducing the numbers of abortions.  Bishops like Cordileone lie outright about that when they claim birth control increases the abortion numbers.  The real data support just the opposite, and it's time more Catholics called out these bishops for these kinds of lies.  It is absurd to think you can 'evangelize' truth through spreading lies.  Well, maybe not in the Vatican.

Melinda Gates says she has gotten an out poring of support from women all across the globe--even many nuns. Shock. For what it's worth she has my full support as well, because this issue of empowering the women and children in developing worlds has been a big concern of mine--especially as Roman Catholicism has been involved in it.  Africa will be the final battle ground with mindless entitled murderous patriarchy and the Vatican has chosen it's side.  Thank God women have their own champion. This woman doesn't carry a sword, just a large checkbook, a pen, a lot of brains, and a heart large enough to dream of a different world for the women and children of an entire continent---and lest I forget, a husband who agrees with her. A formidable combination indeed.

The Vatican Promotes Another Defender Of Traditional Loveless Patriarchy

Bishop Sal is headed to San Francisco.  This is a shot meant to be heard all over the globe.

I can not even begin to describe the shock of anger and dismay I underwent when I read that Bishop Salvatore Cordileone was assigned to take over the Archdiocese of San Francisco.  And he will absolutely attempt to 'take over' the Archdiocese.  In my opinion, Cordileone is a very disingenuous and deceitful excuse for a bishop.  I followed his so called 'defense of marriage' campaign with some interest because it doesn't defend marriage so much as it reduces men and women to vessels for sperm and uteri. This is amply demonstrated in the following interview with the National Catholic Register's Sue Ellen Brewer.  I have edited this for length.  The link for the full article follows this excerpt.

What’s the cornerstone of marriage between a woman and a man?
The reality of marriage as the union of a mother and a father is grounded in our very biology. A child comes into the world by the union of a man and a woman. That’s a basic biological fact that cannot be denied. There’s a mother and a father for every child. (As you continue to read his answers, you will soon see that love between partners is never part of his definition of marriage.)

What do Catholics most need to understand to enter reasonably and effectively into the public debate over marriage in our society? 
Our people need to understand what’s really at stake here, and that’s the very concept of marriage itself. Is it a relationship to be defined by adults for their mutual benefit and enjoyment? Or is it a relationship to bring children into the world and to provide them with the best possible context for their well-being and education?(Not, love but the shared selfishness of 'mutual benefit and enjoyment.')
If it’s first and foremost about children, then we’ll want children to be connected to their mothers and fathers.

The definition of marriage as a relationship that exists “solely for the benefit of adults,” you point out, is an extremely recent development. In an interview on EWTN, you cited it as “the greatest error of our times.” 
It’s a completely novel concept. From the beginning of the human race, up until a few years ago, marriage has been understood as the best possible context for raising children, for giving children what they need, so they can be protected and nurtured. (This is such an absurd statement I don't know where to begin.  Marriage has historically been a property contract between men to insure the economic continuity of the paternal biological line.  Tribes, villages, or extended families were considered the best possible context for raising children and protecting their futures--especially those children who did not win the 'first born son' conception lottery slot.  And again, no mention of love.)

Why exclude people of the same sex as heads of a family?
Because children need, deserve and long for a mother and a father. The optimal situation for children is to be raised by the man and the woman who brought them into the world in a loving, committed, stable relationship.
Many studies show the role of the father figure — just the presence of the father figure in the family — is especially critical. Children need that. When they don’t have it, they long for it.
As someone wiser than I put it, when a child is born, the mother is sure to be nearby. There’s no guarantee the father will be nearby. Society needs a cultural mechanism to connect fathers to their children, and that mechanism is marriage. (Now Bishop Sal is telling us marriage exists as a coercive device to get men to take responsibility for their own children.  Again, no love allowed, not even paternal love.)

How does divorce fit into the bigger picture?
Sometimes divorce happens beyond people’s control, beyond their will for it to happen. Many single parents are making great sacrifices to give their children the best possible upbringing in less-than-ideal circumstances, and those parents need and deserve our affirmation and our support. Still, society should do everything it can to help children have what is best for them. (Which means their gay parents can never marry the person they love.)

Where does this error of thinking about marriage as “solely for the benefit of adults” come from?
Well, if you trace it back far enough, I’m convinced it comes from the contraceptive mentality.
The Church has always understood that the two ends of marriage are: first, the procreation and education of offspring and, second, the union of the man and the woman for the mutual good of the two spouses. They’re inseparable. The contraceptive mentality, however, attempts to separate those two.
When contraception became much more available and prevalent because of marketing, (yes indeedy, we women are so susceptible to marketing) as well as technology in the ’60s, we began to see much more sexual promiscuity. With more promiscuity, you have more children born out of wedlock. Because contraception is not perfect — it misfires, so to speak — children are conceived, so now we need abortion as a backup. We also see a rise in divorce.(Sexual promiscuity has always been 'prevalent'.  The difference in the 60's was people got over the cultural taboos and assorted sexual closets and started talking about sex in all it's here to for hidden facets.  The rise in divorce mirrored a rise in women's participation in the economic life of society. No question reliable birth control helped that trend, because women were no longer slaves to their reproductive biology.)

What’s essential to the definition of marriage? 
The Church has long understood the three “goods” of marriage as defining what is essential to marriage. Those three “goods” — the language comes from St. Augustine — are procreation, fidelity and permanence. (Well, using Augustine as your starting point, no wonder love isn't one of the three 'goods' of marriage.)

So how has the contraceptive mentality eaten away at this essential definition?
With the contraceptive mentality, we saw sexual promiscuity, which led to the novel concept of so-called “open” marriages. That strikes down the good of fidelity in marriage. Then we saw couples entering into marriage without any intention of having children, so that strikes down procreation. And in the early ‘70s, we had states passing laws allowing for no-fault divorce. When we’re in a divorce culture rather than a marriage culture, that strikes down the permanence of marriage.
So, this erosion of the meaning of marriage has been going on for a very long time.
('Open marriages?' Good God, that concept floated for about a summer amongst less than 5% of all marriages. There have always been childless marriages by choice. What changed was the move to children later in life. No fault divorce had a huge impact, but the Hierarchical Church was dead silent on this, seeing it as a civil issue which did not impact the Church's doctrine on marriage.)

And now we’re facing same-sex “marriage.”
It’s the latest and, I would say, most drastic, episode in this long-term erosion of the meaning of marriage.

What’s the result of emotionally changing the definition of marriage away from the way it has been reasonably understood since the beginning of the human race? (Notice how Sal doesn't answer this question about emotionally changing the definition of marriage.  He jumps right back to intellectual rationalization.)

The result of changing its definition is that marriage becomes drained of all meaning, because it can be defined in any way the people involved want to define it. If we start changing what is essential to marriage in its definition, then there is no end to it. If it doesn’t have to be a man and a woman, why does it have to be two people? Can’t there be several partners, male and female, in a marriage? Who’s to say it should be limited to two? So what is the point of government giving benefits to married people?
(It would appear that Bishop Sal has never read the Old Testament or studied much of the history of his fellow Mormon 'traditional marriage' supporters.)

When we defend marriage between a man and a woman, our opponents say we’re just imposing our religion on everyone else. What’s the answer to that?
This is not a matter of religion. This is how every society has understood marriage in all of human history. The truth is: They’re imposing their new idea of marriage — an idea no society has ever had before — on everyone else. This is a very serious social experiment that will have dire consequences.(Sighhhh, such blatant a lie. This all gets so gets old.)

You said we need a massive educational effort to defend marriage. Where should that begin?
We need to start with young people, teaching them the basic facts of life. The whole way man and woman are designed in nature, all the changes that take place in our bodies — especially the woman’s body — are geared to conceiving a new life and then nurturing that life to birth and even after birth.

Beginning with biology will help our young people better respect their own bodies, and it will lay the groundwork we need to teach them all the other reasons behind the Church’s teaching: the psychology, sociology, developing the virtue to be able to sustain a lifelong committed relationship, the benefits people derive from that relationship personally and the benefits to society. Then we can move out to the theology underlying marriage, the mystical marriage between Christ and the Church. It’s all interconnected. We need to begin with the biology and move out from there. (And since it's all about biology, and how that theologically relates to the 'mystical marriage' we don't ever need to talk about LOVE in any context at all.)

One thing that struck me very strongly about this appointment of Cordileone to San Francisco is that this career trajectory of his has been thoroughly planned in advance to put him exactly in San Francisco.  He, like Cardinal Dolan, are where they are because the Vatican has long planned to put them there.  They are to serve as a message to the South that Roman Catholicism will not tolerate inroads into the patriarchy that is still so prevalent in the South and has been the historic foundation for the wealth of the West and the Church in particular.  In other words, the Vatican is sending the message that Roman Catholicism is not only not a threat to traditional African patriarchy, it will support and defend patriarchy as enthusiastically as Islam.
The anti gay marriage campaign serves as the perfect cover for sending the message that the Church will not support the emancipation of women in the South.  All the current Catholic culture crusades in the US are sending this same message, whether it be abortion, birth control, ordination of women, gay marriage, or the attack on the LCWR for not prioritizing those issues. 
It sure does look to me that the Roman Catholic Church is doubling down on presenting itself as all about male power and male control and the maintenance of same by exploiting the biology of women.  Given this, it's not surprising that Cordileone never mentions love, not once, not ever, in defending traditional marriage. The real threat in gay marriage is precisely the fact that it is being argued in terms of the equality of the love between partners,  and not the so called 'complementarity' of biological roles.  Male virility, as demonstrated by quiver fulls of children raised by exhausted mothers, is not part of the gay marriage equation.  Nor are traditional gender roles.  The culture Cordileone is worried about collapsing, is not the one that understands the need to procreate, it's the one that places men at the head of everything and raises male entitlement to a divine mandate.  You know, the male culture that is most completely represented in the clerical structure of the Roman Catholic Church.

Vatican II's real 'heresy' was not in liturgical abuses or watered down ecumenism.  The real heresy was that taken to it's logical conclusion it mandated real power sharing and real gender equality. If that happened then by golly there would be no need for all that nonsense about 'mystical marriages' justifying ontological clerical superiority and the necessity for a working penis in order to confect the Eucharist. Apparently, as long as one culture is left standing that promotes patriarchy, it will have the Roman Catholic Church at it's beck and call.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An Argentine Dictator Talks About The Collusion Of Catholic Hierarchy In The Dirty War

In Argentina it was the Mothers of Plaza De Mayo whose voices made all the difference in exposing the 'dirty war'.

The following article is taken from the Irish Times.  It should make any Catholic, at least Catholics who believe in Christ and not the hierarchy, sick to their stomachs.  For those of us who lived through these times, late 70's through early 90's, this should not be news.  Most of it was chronicled to some extent at the time it was happening, although from the perspective that such was necessary to root out communists and/or cells of liberation theology in the Central and Latin America. From the mid seventies to the late eighties communism was a crusade for JPII in both Latin America and Eastern Europe.  In the early 80's he had a very willing partner in US President Ronald Reagan, but he also had an earlier ally in Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the Ford Administration, and a wishy washy Jimmy Carter in between.  Unfortunately, what happened in Latin America is not at all what happened in Eastern Europe.  Latin America was about raising fascist dictators to power through corrupted democratic channels and eliminating opposition without resorting to pesky court proceedings. Eastern Europe was about pushing over a failed governmental system.

The following article describes how this played out in Argentina with the collusion of the highest levels of the Church hierarchy.  It is a story that needs retelling in today's current poisonous atmosphere.

Former Argentinian dictator says he told Catholic Church of disappeared

Tom Hennigan - Irish Times - 7/24/2012
ARGENTINA’S FORMER military dictator said he kept the country’s Catholic hierarchy informed about his regime’s policy of “disappearing” political opponents, and that Catholic leaders offered advice on how to “manage” the policy. (I'm sure they did, masters of secrecy that they are.)

Jorge Videla said he had “many conversations” with Argentina’s primate, about his regime’s dirty war against left-wing activists. He said there were also conversations with other leading bishops from Argentina’s episcopal conference as well as with the country’s papal nuncio at the time, Pio Laghi. (Laghi was subsequently posted the USA with an apparent mandate to push through conservative US clergy to US dioceses.  Some of these appointments were Bernard Law in Boston, John O'Connor in New York, and Anthony Bevilacqua in Philadelphia.)

“They advised us about the manner in which to deal with the situation,” said Videla in a series of interviews conducted by the magazine El Sur in 2010 but published only on Sunday.
He said that in certain cases church authorities offered their “good offices” and undertook to inform families looking for “disappeared” relatives to desist from their searches, but only if they were certain the families would not use the information to denounce the junta.

“In the case of families that it was certain would not make political use of the information, they told them not to look any more for their child because he was dead,” said Videla. He said the church “understood well . . . and also assumed the risks” of such involvement.

The confession confirms long-held suspicions that Argentina’s Catholic hierarchy collaborated with the military’s so-called process of national reorganisation, which sought to root out communism. In the years following the 1976 coup led by Videla, thousands of left-wing activists were swept up into secret detention centres where they were tortured and murdered. Military chaplains were assigned as spiritual advisers to the junior officers who staffed the centres. (Here's a link to a Vatican Insider story which confirms that confessors were assigned to the torturers to help them deal with tossing people out of helicopters.)

In contrast to the Catholic hierarchy in Brazil, where church leaders denounced that country’s military dictatorship and provided sanctuary to its victims, in Argentina bishops were prominent defenders of the regime against accusations of human rights abuses from abroad.

At the height of the state’s offensive, Cardinal Primatesta refused to meet with mothers of the disappeared who, in the face of violent intimidation and media silence, were seeking help in finding out what had happened to their missing loved ones. He also prohibited the lower clergy from speaking out against state violence, even as death squads targeted Catholic priests critical of the regime.

The cardinal’s defenders said he believed a break with the regime would be counter- productive and that in private he characterised disappearances and torture as against the Christian spirit. On his death in 2006 human rights campaigners in Argentina said he took to the grave many of the junta’s secrets after they failed to force him to testify about his dealings with it.

Accusations of collaboration with the junta also dogged the subsequent career of Laghi, who had been a regular tennis partner of the navy’s representative in the junta, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera, when in Buenos Aires.

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group tried to prosecute him in Italy for his involvement with Argentina’s dictatorship but the effort failed.
Videla is serving life in prison for human rights abuses committed while in power. Earlier this month a court sentenced him to 50 years for orchestrating the theft of babies born in captivity to women subsequently murdered by their military captors.

He gave the interview to El Sur on condition that it be published only after his death, saying he did not want to cause any more pain. But the magazine said it was released from its obligation after Videla subsequently gave a series of interviews to other journalists that were published.


I think it's important for American Catholics to meditate on this disgusting collusion of a national hierarchy with it's national political leadership.  The current USCCB campaign is designed by bishops who were and are closely linked to the men that Laghi vetted for JPII, and whose conservative politics were as important to their promotion as their loyalty to the papacy.  The Argentina of Jorge Videla, Cardinal Laghi, and Cardinal Primatesta is a perfect example of the perfect storm the alliance of right wing politics with like minded Catholic clergy can create for innocent people. 

Pio Laghi continued his diplomatic career and penchant for rubbing shoulders with politicians in the US.  He was a frequent dinner guest of the first George Bush, which could be why the second George Bush felt free to blow him off when as JPII"s Special Ambassador Laghi presented JPII's objections to the Iraq warThey 'were old friends' said GWas the US went to war and Laghi went back into retirement. 

I find it quite alarming that Cardinal Dolan seems to be working very hard to be the US version of Cardinal Primatesta.  Dolan's problem is the wrong president sits in the White House, but he and his USCCB bretheren are doing all they can to change that little stumbling block.  Perhaps Dolan should study the career of Pio Laghi because Laghi's silence about the atrocities committed by his Argentine friends destroyed any chance Laghi had of becoming pope---all those Brazilian bishops probably had something to with that.

 Silence is not golden when it concerns atrocities and abuse.  For some reason this seems to be a very difficult lesson for some men to learn, whether they lead multimillion dollar football programs or wear cardinal red with their white collars.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Judging The Victims In Spreading Jesus's Core Message Of Fear

Y'all need to stop dreaming about yourself on FOX TV Mr Gohmert.

There really are times when I am gob smacked by the rantings of the Religious right.  This is one of those times.  The following is an excerpt from Huffington Post and references a couple of articles that left me very angry and very speechless.  I really appreciate Clay Naff for writing this response to the American Family Association's Reverend Jerry Newcombe and Texas Representative Louie Gohmert. I appreciate it because he says what I was thinking, but does it much better than I would have.

Religious Right Just Can't Resist Exploiting Aurora Tragedy for Political Gain

By Clay Ferris Naff - Huffington Post - 7/22/2012

......What I find utterly revolting and indecent, however, is the rush by the Religious Right to exploit this tragedy to trash their enemies, judge the victims, and bully people into joining their religious and political movement.

On the American Family Association's radio program AFA Today, the hosts wasted no time lining up a far-right Evangelical minister, Jerry Newcombe of Truth in Action Ministries, to tell the audience that among the dead in the theater only those who were true Christians have gone to heaven. The rest, he suggested, are already consigned to hell. (Yep, Christians are sure known by their love.)

Thanks, Preach. Great message to share with the grieving families. Of course, AFA Today doesn't give a turd about their feelings; the lesson of the day was not of comfort or comprehension; it was yet another opportunity to scare their listeners into joining the flock. And not just any flock. The program went to great lengths to discredit any minister or church that deviates from the Old Time Religion view of God as a stern and wrathful judge. How, according to Rev. Newcombe, should we respond to the shooting? (Yep, it's like the Son never said anything at all about the Father being all about love.)

"This would be a good time to ask yourself, why have you not accepted Jesus Christ? ... Unless you repent, you know, you too will fall under God's judgment." That was, word for word, the take-home message broadcast with approval by the American Family Association before the families concerned had even had a quiet moment to come to terms with this awful event.

But for pure, unadulterated indecency, it's hard to beat Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas. Appearing on a radio program hosted by former Congressman Ernest Istook, Gohmert spared no time before politicizing the tragedy in the most irresponsible manner imaginable:
"You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place. ... Some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important. ... We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country."
I'm not sure why he didn't come right out and blame Barack Hussein Obama and Nancy Pelosi for the shootings, but perhaps he was so caught up in his bloviating that airtime just ran out. Talk like this just adds one more piece of evidence to the case that the American Religious Right has sunk back down in the slime pit to the record depths it set back in the 1950s.


But, Representative Gohmert did manage to imply that the sky rocketing suicide rate amongst Iraq and Afghani Vets is because they were all atheists before his airtime ran out:

"But, ya know, I might mention something else that had not been public yet, most of us that follow the military know we have had an extraordinary increase in suicide in the military –and it’s just heartbreaking. And, I’ve sat with families around their kitchen tables and they are going ‘we never saw this coming – ya know, we didn’t know.” And there was a study commissioned…
ISTOOK: And, Louie, we’re gonna have to finish...
GOHMERT: Well, let me say this very quickly – but its six thousand personality index profiles. And, what they found, and I don’t know if they will make it public – one of the participants told me ‘ the results may not go public’; but, all of the people who committed suicide, within their thousands of people studied, were part of the 2-percent most atheistic members of the military . We’ve lost our faith."

This last sentence in the Istook interview really red lined my anger meter.  We are now losing our soldiers/vets at the rate of one a day from suicide.  As with Viet Nam, at this pace the casualties from suicide will exceed battle casualties.  But of course they won't be considered battle casualties and so their surviving relatives will receive no survivors benefits.  According to Gohmert these soldiers who were psychologically crippled fighting his neocon wars are just hopeless atheists without the spiritual strength to survive the brutality they witnessed.  They would have been better off if they had a very healthy dose of 'fear of the Lord'.  I guess that means too terrified of the Lord to take their own lives.

Just how ignorant is Gohmert? He also mentioned the Aurora gunman could have been stopped if even a few people in the theater had been carrying concealed weapons.  This conveniently overlooks the fact the gunman was in a dark theater in which he had thrown tear gas canisters and he himself was in full body armor.  Perhaps this deranged gunman's thinking was just a little ahead of Gohmert's.  And that is quite the statement about the current state of the Republican party.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Dish Of Potpouri

Bill Moyers and Chris Hedges discussing the abusive immorality of transnational corporatism.

First off I want to give readers a link to an absorbing interview Bill Moyers had with Chris Hedges.  The link will take you to the transcription of the interview.  The video of the interview is at the end of the transcription. This fifty minute interview is packed with challenging thoughts and observations from both men about the current economic and global situation and the morality....well, more accurately, lack of morality....in the corporate oligarchy that passes for Western Capitalist democracy.

One current illustration of one Hedge's main points can be found in this Salon article explaining Mitt Romney's use of El Salvadoran right wing money to initially fund Bain Capital back during the Reagan Administration. I seriously burst out laughing when Mitt is quoted as having passed the names of these venture capitalists through the US government to assure that they were moral and upstanding investors.  Excuse me...Wouldn't this be the same Reagan government whose School of the Americas was training all those right wing military death squads, and whose CIA was planting political and military operatives through out El Salvador?  No wonder Mitt's investors passed.

Speaking of passing, or not passing, or a glass half empty kind of thing, the Vatican Bank's Moneyval report was released and I guess one can make what they want of the review.  John Allen takes the glass over half full approach, but I was far more interested in the three areas Allen mentioned that needed work, in as much as these are the three areas that have been historically used by one nefarious group after another to launder money.  They are:
  • A high volume of cash transactions and wire transfers. (The report acknowledges that cash transactions “are an important contributor to the funding of the global mission of the church”.)
  • The global footprint of the church’s activities, which include transactions with countries that insufficiently apply transparency standards.
  • Limited information on non-profit organizations operating within the Vatican.
Bullet point number three is especially important because some of these organizations and personal accounts are currently being investigated as suspected fronts for Mafia involvement.  Allen also mentioned the snails pace activity of the Financial Information Authority that Pope Benedict set up as the corner piece of his transparency efforts:

"Evaluators found that the Financial Information Authority has not yet conducted any on-site inspections, nor has it done any sample testing of files. The report also said that the watchdog unit hasn’t yet performed an inspection of either APSA or the Vatican Bank, despite the fact that bank officials requested one. Further, evaluators said the number of reports the Financial Information Authority has received regarding suspect transactions is low, even allowing for the small size of the Vatican’s financial sector."

This sort of sounds like building a dog house for a watch dog that never comes out of the house.

One last related story concerns Penn State.  There is a boatload of window dressing going on by the powers that be.  Joe Paterno's statue in front of Beaver Stadium was taken down yesterday, and the NCAA will put Penn State under severe sanctions.  These are rumored to include a significant loss of scholarships and no bowl games for awhile.  I'm not sure why the NCAA is involving itself since none of the Penn State transgressions involved anything the NCAA is empowered to enforce.  This isn't about cheating to win football games or under the table money for players.  This is about criminal sexual offenses by a coach that have so far been taken care of quite decently by the system empowered to take care of things like this, the Criminal Justice System. 

In effect all the NCAA is accomplishing is to penalize innocent football players.  I suspect the real reason the NCAA is involving itself is to pretend that big school college football programs aren't the tail that wags the university dog.  We're somehow supposed to believe that college coaches don't have more real power than university presidents.  Right.  

This too is all about money, which is why Penn State did not suffer the football death penalty.  There was no way the other members of the Big 10 were going to give up their lucrative Penn State pay days. Hence it makes perfect sense to punish innocent individual student athletes while keeping the really big money rolling in.  Did I mention something at the beginning of this post about the lack of morality in the corporate capitalist system?


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

IHM Sisters Still Rock

Nuns on the Bus in front of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Mother House in Monroe Michigan.

The following is taken from America Magazine and written by Nancy Sylvester IHM.  I wish I had written it because it describes my own faith journey from a slightly different perspective.  I sometimes wonder if having had IHM Sisters in grade school in Detroit didn't leave some sort of mark on me, because IHM sisters of one congregation or another have really been in the fore front of VaticanII theology.  They weren't all perfect, but some of them were utterly dynamite in my faith journey.

Into the Future

The bishops are right. Women religious have changed, not only in the United States but throughout the world. We have changed in ways that invited us to let go of who we thought we were. Surrendering to the Spirit, we awakened to new understandings that touched our deepest core. Change at that level is transformation. It radically altered how we see ourselves, the Gospel, our church, our world and most importantly how we understand our God. This change in consciousness was not easy. No, it was painful, but like the pain at childbirth it dissolves in unspeakable awe at the life that emerges.
I do not want to pretend that everything that transpired over these past 50 years was perfect and without mistakes or poor choices. But what is clear to me is that the renewal that followed in the wake of the Second Vatican Council invited women and men, vowed religious and lay, to experience our faith in ways that both permeated and was shaped by a modern, pluralistic, democratic society.
The council document, Gaudium et Spes, invited the church to embrace the joys and hopes, the pain and suffering of the people of God and to be in the world and not stand apart. It “opened the windows” of an institution that had been nailed shut and freed the Spirit. In that invitation the official church echoed what Jesus did in his life when he “opened the windows” of the restrictive purity system that prevailed in his time and proclaimed in word and deed that everyone was welcome to the table and loved by God.

An Act of Obedience

Women religious took that invitation seriously and, urged by the official church, undertook renewal. That was an act of great obedience. I know because I entered religious life in 1966 having grown up in Chicago in a Catholic enclave. Catholic defined every aspect of my life—Catholic schools, Catholic funeral parlors, Catholic sports teams, Catholic spirituality, the list goes on. The official church today would be very proud of who I was back then. I did not want things to change. I envisioned wearing a habit my entire life, living in a convent with a daily routine, teaching in schools. So when I entered and things began to change it was not an easy road for me; however, I obeyed and took seriously what I was being taught in our theology and philosophy classes.
Integrating the questions that arose about faith, scripture and theology into my prayer life was key to my journey, as it was for many women religious. We began to see with new eyes who Jesus was and how the Scriptures were formulated within the context of its time. We learned the history of the church and its tradition of social justice teachings. We learned liberation theology and began to understand how structures and systems of political and ecclesial power too often oppress the very people they were formed to serve. As U.S. dioceses paired with cities in Central and South America, many sisters served in those newly established ministries and experienced the power of liberation theology and were transformed by the people they served.
Guided by the council documents we learned about other faith traditions and that they, too, had something to offer to the exploration into God. Liturgical renewal brought an openness and freshness to liturgical celebrations that had ossified within the Roman church.

Prepared in the 1950s through the Sister Formation Movement, women religious were poised to move quickly to prepare themselves academically following the council. And we did. Liberal arts, the social sciences as well as hard sciences became friends to us. The insights of quantum physics, evolution and discoveries about the origins of the universe were not alien or suspect. Rather they too were pointing to a greater understanding of God and who we are in this marvelous world.
Immersing ourselves in the world opened up new ministries in which women religious worked directly with women who were struggling with abusive relationships or decisions about carrying a pregnancy to term; with young girls who mistakenly understood that according to the church’s teaching it was better to have an abortion and be forgiven for one mortal sin than to use contraceptives and be in a constant state of mortal sin. Our ministries brought us face to face with the outcasts of our society—the homeless, those in prisons, those on drugs, the economically disadvantaged, those suffering because of their sexual orientation. These experiences seeped into us and as we brought them to prayer they transformed us. We saw and understood that those are the people today who Jesus would have called friends and welcomed into his company.

The Awakening

Our life within congregations was changing as well. As we changed the clothes women wore in an earlier era to clothes of our time and began to live in different types of community, we experienced ourselves as individuals in our own right. Like women everywhere in those years we awakened to our own identity as women and claimed the rights that were ours, equal to those of men. Having ministered among women we felt in a new way the challenges that are ours because of our gender, the gift of our sexuality and as bearers of new life. We came to understand that the official church’s teaching on sexuality was not accepted by most Catholic women because it did not touch women’s hearts, our lives, address our pain or the difficult choices facing us, or celebrate the joy of our sexuality.
Having grown up in the United States women religious began to integrate democratic principles into our governing structures. The council asked us to move toward servant leadership and we saw that patriarchal and hierarchical structures do not foster that model. Rather we chose more circular models of leadership with an emphasis on participation and shared leadership even as we affirmed and accepted certain individuals among us as our elected leaders.
The social movements of our time became part of our lives—the women’s movement, the civil rights struggle, the non-violence and anti-war movement and more recently the gay and lesbian movement. What we learned was a visceral knowledge that every human person is endowed with certain inalienable rights regardless of race, gender, religion, class or sexual orientation. All are children of God.
More recently, women religious have brought to prayer the insights from quantum physics and cosmology that reveal the interconnectedness of all life. We have consciously chosen to see the plight of our Earth as a justice issue and to formulate congregational directions and public positions regarding sustainability, global climate change and the care of Earth and its natural resources.

Speaking Out

We found ourselves immersed in a society that was pluralistic, democratic and secular and we knew that our faith had something to offer as well as to receive from the culture. We spoke out about the abuses of greed, consumerism and selfish individualism and the public policies that are shaped without regard to the common good or to those who are the least among us. We lobbied and we demonstrated. We used our economic power through shareholder resolutions. And we offered at our retreat centers and educational forums opportunities for others to integrate their experience as adults in this culture with their evolving faith.
Women religious have changed. And that change is shaking the very foundations of what continues to be a church seemingly caught in an earlier time and place. That is not what is needed now. The signs of our times reveal to us persons who are Catholic but who no longer can go to “church” because of feeling alienated and angry at the corruption and lack of integrity among many of its male clerical leaders. These persons so want to know God as adults. They are longing for a spirituality that is rooted in their faith and in their life.
I believe that the Gospel and the richness of our Catholic tradition have something to offer our post-modern world. I don’t want to see it collapse under the weight of structures that maintain power relationships that no longer serve. I believe that the faith that is waiting to be offered to the 21st century is one that comes from a stance of openness and understanding of the changes that our evolutionary development has brought us. It cannot be a faith that comes from a position of condemning modernity. It will be a faith that has been tested in the crucible of our time and has emerged with new insights and new interpretations of how we can love one another as Jesus did. In difficult and chaotic times we can come to a greater awareness that we are more alike than different, more one than separate.
Yes, women religious have changed. And I believe that our journey has much to offer this moment in history. Together with others who have walked in similar paths, the future of our faith has been beckoning us forward since the Second Vatican Council. On the 50th anniversary of that event let us move courageously into the future claiming once again that we are Catholics and we are the church.

Of Wingnuts And True Believers

It's not exactly the Bradbury Museum in Los Alamos, but it's just as fun in it's own way.

July 8th marked the 65th anniversary of the Roswell incident and I meant to do a post on it but that intention got lost somewhere in the multiverse.  Today I ran across this article and found out it has been featured somewhat prominently in papers and blogs all across the country.  The original article is longer and ran on Huffington Post.  The following is the hi light version of that article.

Ex-CIA agent: Roswell, N.M., incident really happened

By Melanie Eversley - USA Today - 7/10/2012
A former CIA agent is going on the record to say the alleged UFO incident on July 8, 1947, in Roswell, N.M., really happened, the Daily Mail and other news organizations report.
Chase Brandon, who worked 35 years with the CIA, said documents regarding the alleged landing of beings from outer space are locked up at the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Va.

"It was in a vaulted area - there was one box that really caught my eye," the Daily Mail quotes Brandon as saying. "It had one word on it: Roswell. I rummaged inside it, put the box on the shelf and said, 'My God, it really happened.' "

Brandon makes the comments during the 65th anniversary of the alleged incident, which military officials initially explained as the capture of "a disc," but later explained away as a weather balloon, according to the Daily Mail.

"It was not a weather balloon - it was what people first reported," the news organization quotes Brandon as saying.

The Huffington Post quotes Brandon as saying, "It was a craft that clearly did not come from this planet."
Brandon worked as an undercover, covert operations officer in the CIA's Clandestine Service, where he focused on missions on international terrorism, counterinsurgency, global narcotics and weapons smuggling, according to Huffington. He spent his final decade with the agency as liaison to the entertainment and publication industries, and it was during this time - in the mid 1990s - that he walked into the vaulted Historical Intelligence Collection area at CIA headquarters, according to the news organization.
Brandon said the box contained written material and photographs, according to Huffington.

"That's all I will ever say to anybody about the contents of that box," Huffington quoted Brandon as saying. "But it absolutely for me was the single validating moment that everything I had believed and knew that so many others believed had happened truly was what occurred."


First off a few things I verified, Mr Brandon was a CIA operative, and Mr Brandon is currently pushing a work of science fiction in which aliens figure prominently.  This is the kind of connection book publishers love.  Mr Brandon can not offer, or will not offer, any tangible proof of his claim and so we have to take his story on faith.  No wonder that authors of the New Testament feature the post Resurrection story of Doubting Thomas.  I personally would sure would like to put my own fingers on a piece of that metal that locals describe as kind of like tin foil.  A person could crumble it up and then tap it and it would go back to it's original shape.  If true, that kind of metal would not endear itself to the local auto collision repair shop. But I digress.

Roswell is like the Lourdes of UFO adherents, except it doesn't have anywhere near the same seriousness.  It does however have the same overwhelming number of souvenir hawkers and UFO paraphernalia sellers. Like Lourdes, Roswell embodies it's own little world for true believers complete with the hucksters who want to make buck off the true believers.  

When I was down in New Mexico, I was really surprised by the attitudes of some of the Natives I worked with in ceremonies.  There was no question for them that Roswell happened because they had story after story after story about their own alien encounters.  I found one very fascinating because there were photographs of the results of the encounter.  This story involved one particular area of the reservation where reported UFO activity was very high, and so were over flights of NSA or DOD helicopters trailing geo physics equipment.  I saw the choppers with my own eyes the year I heard this story, and yes they were black.  Anyway, the story goes that after a ceremony in the 80's a blinding beam of light was seen coming down from a very distant point of light in the sky.  Because of where the beam came down, it was way too dangerous for anyone to scale down an escarpment at night to see what happened at the terminal point.  The next morning when they looked over the escarpment there was a red car sitting in the middle of a desert valley in which there was no road access at all.  The elders stated the car sat there for six or seven years until it vanished as mysteriously as it showed up.  There were as many theories as to why it showed up as there were people around the campfire, but the photos of the car were interesting.  It was pretty difficult to see how anyone could have driven it to where it was photographed.  

When I asked if anyone ever explored the car, I was told not as far as they knew because it was considered bad medicine to disturb such a gift.  One elder started laughing and said it was a pretty useless gift since no one could actually use it unless they broke it down in pieces and hauled it out on horseback. And who wanted a red car anyway. I still don't know quite what to make of these stories, but by then I had enough of my own mind bending experiences in that geographical area to think anything was possible.

The general consensus was that Roswell probably involved a crash of a ship which could not find or could not get to one of the various energy portals in the New Mexico desertThese energy portals are places where the physics which keep this universe stable are not nearly as strong.  This becomes more plausible if one remembers New Mexico holds substantial uranium deposits.  The elders also laughingly pointed out that the US government, amongst others, has dozens of secret labs and projects going on in the New Mexico desert.  Los Alamos, although the most famous, is not necessarily the biggest, and then of course, there were all those black helicopters. Something had to be of interest to the government that went beyond testing drones and stuff.

What I found really interesting is how easily these elders incorporated the reality of aliens with in their traditional native beliefs. When they would speak about the Holy Ones, I wasn't sure just who that included, except to know it was very close to our concept of the Communion of Saints and Angels and did include alien ancestors.  The Holy Ones and ancestors lived in a multi verse of which our little reality was just one of many. Christians were far too provincial and far too limited in their understanding of the grandness and immensity of God's creation.  Jesus wasn't that way.  He was a Holy One. It was just his followers who didn't have a clue.  Just like those wingnuts traveling on pilgrimage to Roswell.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Legion of Christ: Elevating Denial To A Charism

The real charism of the Legion

Finally the Vatican admits the Legion of Christ needs a new identity.  One can only hope this new identity will involve more than just tweaking the packaging or changing the logo.  I have followed the Legion story since 1998 when Gerald Renner and Jason Berry first wrote about Marcial Maciel and the Legion in the Hartford Courant.  As the years have passed, I have watched the carefully constructed facade (product identity) of the Legion come crashing down. I also came to the conclusion the only charism the Legion had was not spiritual, it was psychological.  The Legion institutionalized the defense mechanism 'denial' and made practicing it part of their constitution.  The Vatican has been engaged in the same 'charism' about this group for decades.  JPII even went so far as to throw Maciel's personal secretary, Fr Raphael Moreno out of his office when the secretary wanted to spill his guts about Maciel.  JPII did not want to hear him and would not believe him. I guess one could define JPII's level of denial as infallibly wrong.  Anyway, the Vatican has now come to the conclusion that it might make more sense to rethink the Legion's reason for existence before it approves a new constitution written by the old leadership who surrounded Maciel.....and like good Legionnaires, 'knew nothing'.

Vatican says disgraced Legion of Christ needs a new identity

VATICAN CITY -- The disgraced Legion of Christ religious order needs to rethink its identity before going forward with its internal reform, the papal envoy in charge of the group's overhaul told priests and lay members in a letter published Wednesday.

Cardinal Velasio De Paolis was appointed in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI to oversee the order's reform after revelations that its founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, had lived a double life, abusing children and fathering a son. (He fathered more than one child and sexually abused his sons.)
Macial had enjoyed iconic status in the Legion, with strong suspicions that its leaders had been at least partly aware of his actions.
De Paolis writes that the troubled groups' various branches, which include priests, religious and laypeople, need "a common platform" to "regulate reciprocal relations ... according to the identity proper to each group."

This "joint reflection on the identity and mission" of the order, said Fr. Andreas Schoeggl, a Legion spokesman, needs to precede the final revision of the order's internal rules, which has been ongoing for the last two years and was the main goal of the pope's taking over of the order.

The papal delegate's letter sees the light after several observers have criticized the slow pace of reform inside the Legion. (Cardinal De Paolis has been dithering for two years, and more than 'several' observers think this is because of the Legion's finances, specifically the holding company known as Integer.)

On June 22, Fr. Thomas V. Berg, a former Legionary, wrote on the conservative blog First Things about "The Legion's Scandal of Stalled Reform." According to Berg, "the Legion's superiors ... have fostered a culture of institutional opposition to the radical reform that is truly required."
Schoeggl denied this, saying reform "proceeds with a constant pace" and that there is "absolutely no intention" of returning to the past.

Still, new scandals have buffeted the Legion in recent weeks. Its most famous priest, Fr. Thomas Williams, admitted fathering a child, while his superiors acknowledged covering up for him for years. And this week, dozens of women who attended a Legion high school in Wakefield, R.I., accused school officials of abuse and deception, according to a letter sent to the Vatican that was obtained by The Associated Press.
"For any errors made by our order in the past, we do apologize," Margarita Martinez, director of the Immaculate Conception Academy told the AP. "We are sorry these young women have suffered and been harmed in any way."


I keep wondering why Pope Benedict doesn't finish what he started and disband or suppress the Legion and Regnum Christi.  Is there some lesson here that we still haven't got and so the Legion hangs on and on and on in a perpetual state of limbo?  Is the plan to let the Legion die a slow death by attrition as Fr Thomas Berg writes in his blog piece for First Things.  The cynic in me thinks the reform of the Legion will drag on as long as wealthy donors in Mexico and elsewhere want their children in Legion schools.....wealthy donors like Carlos Slim.  I found it interesting that in Fr Berg's essay, he fails to mention the Legion money and donor list because while other congregations like the Franciscans minister to the poor, the new outfits like the Legion and Opus Dei minister to the wealthy.  It's beginning to look more and more like this group of Catholics is to be the bedrock of the remnant which will save Catholicism from the very vocal educated lay proletariat and those radical feminists in the LCWR.

Or perhaps the lesson still to be learned from the Legion debacle isn't one the Vatican needs, it's one the laity needs.  It could be the laity needs to understand putting their faith and trust in anyone or anything other than their own faith understanding is not just a recipe for personal disaster, it's being complicit in enabling those personal disasters. It's about being able to recognize a cult when one sees and experiences it. And last, but certainly not least, it's about learning how the defense mechanism denial works and why it is so powerful.  Jesus thought this lesson was so important he made a point to let Peter know before hand that Peter would deny Him not once, but three times.  Peter obliged and did deny Jesus three times.  He did it for the same reason we all do it, to save our lives whether that be our physical or psychological lives, or as in this particular case of the Legion, an institutional life.  In the long run denial never works.  Ask Penn State.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ohoh, not too sure about this

I was messing around tonight with the new Blogger format and somehow wound up with what you are seeing.  I kind of like it, but I'm not sure what happened to the right hand side of stuff and actually don't have any idea how to change back.  Maybe this is karmic, or maybe I'm just too tired to fix things back to the way the were.  Anyway, have patience with me because I think I like this format and I will like it better when I find out how to put the side bar info back in place.

Later in the dead of night, I finally figured things out.  Hope you like the new format, that was based on the very traditional old format which was not the original format at all.  Hope you like my version of the 'reform of the reform".   Now I get the karma thing.

What Is Really Behind The Firing Of Archbishop Bezak?

One can't help wonder why Archbishop Bezac was fired.  Could it be because he knows too much about his predecessor?

A story which has really intrigued me the last couple of weeks is the one concerning the removal of Archbishop Bezak from his Archdiocesan See of Trnava, Slovakia.  It is eerily reminiscent of the removal of Bishop Morris of Toowoomba, AU, and is causing a great deal of angst in the Archdiocese.  Although the Vatican process in both firings are identical, the reasons may not be at all identical.  In Morris's case the issues were all doctrinal, and involved deviations in his thinking on the nature of the priesthood, and deviations in practice with regards to the third rite of penance.  In the case of Bezak, the major issue is rumored to be his audacity in investigating the alleged criminal financial accounting practices of his reactionary predecessor, Archbishop SokolJust like with Bishop Morris, the Vatican came under a great deal of criticism for the way the firing of Arcbishop Bezak was handled...as in no explanation.  In response to the heat, the Vatican released the following statement as reported on Vatican Insider:

The Nunciature of the Holy See in Slovakia has sent a communiqué clarifying the phases which formally led the Holy See to remove the prelate from his post

Vatican Insider staff - Rome - 7/11/2012 After the numerous reports sent by priests and faithful to the Holy See regarding the pastoral situation in the Archdiocese of Trnava, the Vatican Secretary of State authorised the Congregation for the clergy to carry out an apostolic visit to the Church to verify the complaints,” the communiqué states. (Like with Bishop Morris the Vatican doesn't define the nature of the complaints, nor identify any accusers.)
The visit took place between 22 January and 1 February 2012, under the guidance of the Bishop of Litoměřice (Czech Republic), Mgr. Jan Baxant and the results sent to the Congregation for the clergy to be examined by the relevant authorities. The Congregation for Bishops then informed Mgr. Bezak of the main issues that brought to light in relation to him and his pastoral work. It also asked the bishop to look into what was said about him and explain his position. (Again, neither the original complaints nor complainants were ever made available to Archbishop Bezak. For all he knows, like in the Morris case this investigation may be nothing more than a charade designed to provide cover for a decision already taken.)
Upon careful reflection, the Holy Father decided to ask Bezak to resign from his post in the Archdiocese of Trnava. When the bishop refused to leave, the Holy Father dismissed him and published the decision on 2 July 2012. (This is precisely the Bishop Morris story.  No appeal, no process for defending himself, no real information given for his dismissal.)
The Holy See was “deeply saddened” by the fact that Mgr. Bezak spread the news prematurely, breaking “papal secrecy”. The Apostolic Nunciature invited faithful in Slovakia to “accept the Holy Father’s decision in good will and in the spirit of faith,” expressing the hope that “the unity of the Church in the country would be strengthened.”  (Once again we see the verbal inversion of the Holy See as the victim, not the dictatorial no defense allowed enforcer.  And once again papal secrecy is presented as a more important value than transparency.)


This story is important enough that John Allen felt compelled to use his column to add his own particular warning to the Vatican.  Here is the pertinent part of his piece:

Bezák was appointed in April 2009 to replace longtime Archbishop Ján Sokol, who had reigned in Trnava for 20 years. Sokol was a strong but controversial leader, known for his deeply traditional theological and political views. Among other things, Sokol was a vigorous defender of Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest and Slovakia's president during World War II, when the country was a satellite state of Nazi Germany. (Under the Soviets, Tiso was convicted of war crimes and executed.) (Tiso was actually executed by  Czechoslovakia under President Edvard Benes for state treason and collaboration with the Nazis.)

Friends of Bezák, who's generally seen as a more moderate figure, say Sokol continued to be a major presence in the archdiocese after his resignation, reportedly maintaining a residence in the archbishop's palace. They also say that when Bezák started going over the books from the Sokol era, he discovered serious financial irregularities.

On July 6, civil prosecutors announced an investigation into alleged misappropriation of church funds under Sokol. Media reports say that decision was based in part on Bezák's findings.
The suspicion among Bezák's allies is that Sokol wanted to shut down this review by undercutting his successor, and that Sokol successfully enlisted friends in the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops to get it done.

At a distance, I have no way of knowing how much merit there may be to those charges, though some veteran church observers seem to take them seriously.
Should this theory be confirmed, it would obviously be bad news for the Vatican under any circumstances. At the moment, however, the timing could scarcely be worse.

John Allen minimizes Archbishop Sokol's reactionary bent by calling him traditional in his theology and politics. Allen doesn't explain that traditional in this case is includes reactionary anti Semitic theology and fascist politics.  That makes me wonder if John is warning the Vatican that this mess in Slovakia could expose more about the motivations of some members of the Vatican curia, and that it has more to do with fascist politics than alleged criminal mismanagement of Archdiocesan funds.  (I am not leaving out the possibility the two are related.)

My intuition tells me the Bezak firing,  while appearing much the same as the Morris firing on the surface, is actually a horse of a very different color. This time the fired bishop didn't say the wrong thing, he found the wrong thing.  I really think when this story is all said and done it will be another sordid tale about the Vatican's need to play dirty politics in secular countries.  In that sense John Allen is correct.  This could be really damaging to the Vatican.  I also think Allen's warning is too late.  This may indeed turn out to be another flaming log on the Vatican's march to self immolation.