Sunday, May 31, 2009

When The Going Gets Tough The Poor Get Tossed

Tough times have hit Bishop Morlino and his diocese---well, not apparently for him.

Some Claim Bishop Affecting Donations To Madison Diocese
Diocese Announces Cuts, Closing Of Center
UPDATED: 8:17 am CDT May 29, 2009 WISCTV3000

MADISON, Wis. -- Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino has been a lightning rod in the Madison diocese over various issues, including his stance on banning gay marriage, but some parishoners said his controversial nature might be playing a role in some big budget cuts.

The diocese said the bad economy and reduced investment income are mostly to blame for staff cuts and the closing of its newly rebuilt outreach center on Madison's south side.

But at least some said they believe that Morlino himself might be affecting the bottom line and the services that get funded with it.

On Wednesday, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison that it will cut pay for some diocesan employees, reduce staff and close its Catholic Multicultural Center, which has been aiding the needy for more than 60 years.

Betsy Knight, a parish nurse from St. Mary's who works at the CMC on Beld Street several days a month, said she is worried about the people who are losing free health, food, employment and education services.

"I worry about what's going to happen to the people," Knight said, holding back tears.
For more than seven years, Knight has been treating low-income people at the center, checking for problems and catching life-threatening diseases.

Her colleagues said Knight has probably saved a half dozen lives.
"I've got one man who ended up having esophageal cancer, and they got it in time because he went to the doctor in a timely manner," Knight said.

Knight is among the numerous workers who said they are shocked that the diocese is completely shutting down the center on Friday.

But some others are not convinced that the budget cuts are just due to a bad economy.
Some, like lifelong Catholic John Yrios of Cross Plains, believe Morlino himself is affecting the bottom line.

"I did not give the diocesan allocation that was determined at the parish level. I didn't give it last year and I'm probably not going to give it this year, because of our bishop," Yrios said.

Yrios is one of more than 40 people who criticized Morlino's leadership and decision-making in an open letter newspaper ad to him last year.

But seven months later, he's still in charge of the diocese, and some like Yrios still aren't paying.
One person commenting online about the issue on the Capital Times said: "Because of the atrocious, nasty, dictatorial behavior of the leader of my Catholic diocese I am withholding my financial support until he is gone. Period."

Yrios said it's sad the have to choose between not helping people with services and not supporting a bishop he believes needs to change or step down. Yrios said he believes politics are at play.

"And that's also a power that Bishop Morlino would have over us by saying, 'Well, if you don't give, we're going to cut this or cut that, and it's a power struggle," Yrios said.

The Catholic Diocese of Madison didn't directly respond to the claim that donations are dropping because of the bishop. It said the response to a special Catholic appeal this year to fund social services will be "disclosed" this summer.

A diocese spokesman added that a "great many" responded "generously" and "preliminary numbers indicate the appeal will bring in more money than a mandatory 'parish tax' did last year." (Here is the answer in a nut shell. People responded generously to a specific appeal to fund social services. They did not respond as generously to a non specific diocesan tax. It would seem Bishop Morlino is negatively effecting donations.)


The staff of the Center was told Wednesday afternoon the Center was closing Friday. 48 hours in which to transition health and mental clients is not just flat absurd, it's professionally unethical.

According to the Capitol Times, Bishop Morlino was in Washington, DC for a Catholic symposium and was no where to be found when the axe fell. How utterly shocking. Can anyone say BPD?

The number of $350,000 keeps coming up for Bishop Morlino. This is the exact figure the diocese was sued for in their dispute with a fund raising company. Phoenix Fundraising maintained the Diocese wanted access to their confidential interviews and then reneged on payment. The details of the out of court settlement were never released.

I feel for the Catholics of Madison, I really do. There is nothing more to write about Bishop Morlino. His actions speak loud enough, and so does the drop in donations. Perhaps the forty people who paid for an ad to address his pastoral style can get together and find some way to keep the Multi Cultural Center open. Since most of them belong to Call To Action, this might be their call to action.

In the meantime, I seriously doubt Bishop Morlino has given up on his 70 million dollar Cathedral dream, but in these financially difficult times, he has seen fit to kill the dreams of those who saw the Catholic Multicultural Center as a sign of Christian hope. Maybe this Pentecost Sunday the Holy Spirit will clue him in on a few things.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Future Of The Celibacy Debate Lies In Africa, Not Miami

Archbishop Milingo is not the only African Bishop with a wife, he's just got the highest profile

Central African Republic: Church in Crisis as Two Catholic Bishops Quit

Bangui — The Catholic Church in the Central African Republic is grappling with a crisis brought by the resignation of two senior bishops and a strike by priests.

The Vatican on Tuesday announced the resignation of Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo of Bangui, 54, less than two weeks after the departure on May 16 of Bishop Francois-Xavier Yombanje of Bossangoa, president of the bishops' conference.

Media reports say the resignation of Archbishop Pomodimo followed an investigation into priests of Bangui who live more or less openly with women and had fathered children.

Catholic News Service reported that following Archbishop Pomodimo's exit, more than 40 priests launched a one-day strike to protest the appointment of a new apostolic administrator. The priests from the Archdiocese of Bangui resumed celebrating Mass on Thursday a.

The Bangui archdiocesan chancellor, Fr Brad Mazangue, told CNS that arrangements were being made for the new apostolic administrator, Fr Dieudonne Nzapa-La-Ayinga, to address the priests on the matter as soon as possible.

When announcing the resignation of Archbishop Pomodimo, the Vatican said the prelate quit under the terms of Canon 401.2 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that "a diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfil his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office."

Other reports quoted Passionist Fr Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, as saying that Archbishop Pomodimo resigned because of "insurmountable difficulties in running the diocese."

Fr Mathurin Paze Lekissan, a Bangui archdiocesan priest, told CNS by telephone that the Bangui clergy had invited priests in other dioceses to join them in protesting the resignation of the two bishops.

The news agency Africa News had reported Monday that Archbishop Pomodimo and several priests in his archdiocese would be sanctioned "for adopting a moral attitude which is not always in conformity with their commitments to follow Christ in chastity, poverty and obedience."

The agency said Guinean Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, had visited the Central African Republic and "concluded that many local priests have official homes, children and have accumulated private properties."

Archbishop Sarah told CNS on Tuesday that he had travelled to the Bangui Archdiocese, but could not comment further.

Africa News also reported that priests from nine of the country's dioceses accused the Vatican of being "discriminatory, partial and selective in the assessment of the situation since white priests and bishops are also guilty of the same practices."


This situation in the Central African Republic makes the Fr. Cutie story insignificant for a number of reasons. First is the fact it has forced the resignation of two bishops, the second is it precipitated a diocesan wide strike by it's priests, and third there is the accusation of a two tiered system of enforcement, one for whites and one for everyone else.

Global Catholicism is not having a good month on the clerical front.

The Vatican has been silent about the reasons for the resignations of the two bishops and the subsequent priest strike. In an article from Catholic Culture there was one quote from Cardinal Ivan Dias which probably best sums up the official attitude, and which interestingly enough, never refers to the irregular and rampant domestic situations which precipitated the current crisis:

"In an open letter to the nation’s clergy, Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said that “many bad things have been done to the Body of Christ through poor and scandalous comportments.” He added:

It is pointless to deny what everybody knows. There is no need judging the motives and circumstances of the evil that has been committed. Members of the national clergy, diocesan and religious, you are, in one way or the other, accomplices in the current situation, but each of you shall assume his own culpability proportionally to his own responsibility."

I wonder how long everyone has known about this scandalous evil brewing in Central Africa? My guess is decades. Has to be decades when bishops are freely raising families along with their diocesan priests. Celibacy and chastity have never been widely received amongst the male clerical population in Africa, at least with any kind of consistency. Some people maintain it never can be as long as the African culture places such an emphasis on maintaining intact ancestral connections via the male line. Creating the next family generation is not just a cultural push, it's seen as a spiritual necessity.

I can remember back a couple of years ago when Archbishop Milingo of Zambia was a big story. John Allen at the National Catholic Reporter has done a number of articles on Milingo. The Vatican fear with Milingo was that he would start his own break away African church offering a married priesthood and a more traditional African spiritual approach, backed by the money of the Rev. Moon. That never materialized, although Milingo did join a similar break away group in the US and still maintains contact with Moon. He has now been excommunicated. Given the apparently widespread celibacy scandal in the Central African Republic we may be hearing from Archbishop Milingo yet again.

I think the Vatican has a major problem in Africa and South America. For a Church which sees these two continents as it's future, the Vatican seems incapable of assessing the fact that celibacy is not endemic to these cultures and is in fact, ignored as a necessary or intrinsic component of the priestly role.

Celibacy and chastity are the appropriate requirements for unmarried or widowed/divorced women, not manly men. That's why I found a comment attributed to Fr. Cutie quite telling. He is reported to have said that under his cassock was a pair of trousers.

The notion that sexual purity is a womanly thing impacts more than just priestly celibacy. It implies that men have a God given right to express their sexuality as intrinsic to their maleness and women don't. Women have a God given mandate to birth children as a result of male sexuality. This is why Cardinal Canizares, Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship can state that abortion is far worse than any abuse scandal, even the one literally destroying the Church in Ireland. The fact the Church practiced a form of abortion on born children by choosing to deprive them of any reasonable form of childhood, essentially treating them worse than these orders treated their farm animals, is totally over looked.

I wrote last week that there is no magic bullet or one doctrinal change to fix what's wrong with this Church. The attitudes which permeate the official structure are too entrenched and too out of balance. Vatican II started out with a pretty good notion of the entire Church being the People of God and that the real life experiences of real people needed to be taken into account. Those good thoughts slammed into to older visions of just what it meant to be human and the entrenched clerical power those notions supported. With the exception of liturgical changes Vatican II came to a screeching halt.

The ban on birth control and the refusal to relax celibacy rules has resulted in far fewer priests and far fewer pew sitters. Africa is not going to comply with these two provisions any better than the west, and as far as clerical celibacy goes, there is far less support for it with in the African culture. The story of Fr. Cutie may be front and center in the American discussion of celibacy, but the real problem for it's long term prospects is in Africa and South America. The prospects don't look very good.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fr Cutie: In The End The Woman Wins---And The Episcopalian Church

Father Alberto Cutié's leap of faith: New church, a plan to marry

The Rev. Alberto Cutié, the celebrity priest photographed nuzzling a woman on a Florida beach, has left the Catholic Church to join the Episcopal Church and marry his girlfriend -- a move that attracted a strong rebuff from Roman Catholic leaders.

While the Catholic Church requires priests to hew to a vow of celibacy, the Episcopalians, who broke from Rome in the 16th century, have no such rules. Cutié was formally welcomed into the Episcopal Church in a small, private ceremony early Thursday afternoon at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, the church's South Florida headquarters in downtown Miami.

''I am continuing the call to spread God's love,'' Cutié said after the ceremony, adding that he has gone through a ``spiritual and deep ideological struggle.'' (I suspect that's very true.)

In attendance at Trinity was Cutié's girlfriend, Ruhama Buni Canellis, 35, a divorced mother living in Miami Beach. It was the first public sighting of the couple since compromising photos appeared in a Mexican magazine early this month that led the telegenic cleric to take leave from his South Beach parish.

Cutié sat smiling beside Canellis during the half-hour ceremony. Deacons and former Catholic priests now in the Episcopal Church were by his side -- many notably accompanied by their wives.

Bishop Leo Frade, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, officiated as Cutié and Canellis knelt in front of him to be received into the church.

''We recognize you as a member of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church; and we receive you into the fellowship of this communion. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless, preserve and keep you. Amen,'' Frade recited in Spanish.

At a news conference a few hours later, Archdiocese of Miami officials expressed disappointment in Cutié and had strong words for the Episcopal Church, especially Bishop Frade.
''This truly is a serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us,'' Archbishop John C. Favalora said. (How come it's not a serious setback to ecumenical relationships when it goes the other way?)

Favalora said he had not communicated with Frade about the transition and had not spoken with Cutié since May 5, adding that Cutié never told the archbishop he desired marriage.


''Father Cutié is removing himself from full communion with the Catholic Church and thereby forfeiting his rights as a cleric,'' Favalora said, later adding that Cutié is still ``still bound by his promise to live a celibate life, which he freely embraced at ordination. Only the Holy Father can release him from that obligation.'' (Dream on.)

Not so, Frade said Thursday afternoon. ''That promise is not recognized by our church. If you can find it in the Bible that priests should be celibate, that will be corrected,'' he said. ``The only thing we can say is that we pray for ecumenical relations. . . . I am sorry they are sorry, and we love them.''

Cutié, who gained media fame across the Spanish-speaking world doling out relationship advice on TV and radio and in print, had telegraphed his intentions for weeks in interviews, during which he spoke about his wish to marry and start a family.

After Thursday's ceremony, Canellis stood beside Cutié as he read a statement outlining his desire to continue serving God while enjoying the freedom to raise a family. Cutié took no questions, but referred to Canellis, a former parishioner whom he met in church, as his fiancée.

''With God's help, I hope to continue priestly ministry and service in my new spiritual home,'' Cutié said in a statement.

It will take Cutié at least a year to become a priest. But Bishop Frade made Cutié a lay minister, meaning he can preach in Episcopal churches but not celebrate the Eucharist, the sharing of the body and blood of Christ. Cutie will give his first sermon as an Episcopalian 10 a.m. Sunday at the Church of The Resurrection in Biscayne Park.


Cutié will play a key role in revitalizing struggling Episcopal churches, Frade said.
''He has a successful history of rebuilding churches'' said Frade, alluding to Cutié's success at turning around several troubled Catholic parishes, including his most recent church, St. Francis de Sales in Miami Beach. John Villafuerte, a member of that church, reacted with shock to the news about Cutié but said he was still behind the priest.

''I wish him the best. I will definitely miss him. A lot of us will miss him,'' said Villafuerte, 41.
Frade publicly invited Cutié to join the Episcopal church after scandal embroiled ''Padre Alberto'' -- as he is known to millions of Spanish-speaking followers -- for breaking his vow of celibacy. Frade said at the time that Episcopalians would have no problem with a single clergy member having a date on the beach.

The more-liberal Episcopal church considers itself the ''middle way'' between Protestantism and Catholicism. It ordains women and has an openly gay bishop.


I sort of suspected this is exactly the way this story would end: Love triumphs over the lack there of. I'm sure there will be some Catholics who might phrase that a little differently: Priest breaks solemn vows for lust and betrays the one true Church. It depends on whether one sees relationships such as Fr. Cutie's as a matter of love or sexual acts. If it was just a matter of sexual acts, Fr. Cutie would have done some penance and come crawling back to his Bishop. This must be love.

The thing about real love is it does change one's world view. It's supposed too. It's supposed to be an experience which takes you beyond the confines of a one person world view and opens you to the intimate experience of another person. When the very real physical immediacy of love crashes into the remoter esoteric experience of priesthood, something has to give. In this case it was the Roman Catholic priesthood of Fr. Cutie.

Like most of us, I doubt Fr. Cutie went out purposely seeking intimate relational love. It probably snuck up on him and before he knew it he was facing choices he never imagined he would have to make. Everything I've read about him says he was a dedicated priest. Exactly the kind of priest who would be blind sided by love. When he says experienced "a deep spiritual and ideological struggle", I don't think he's being dishonest. I think he's being truthful and that this struggle has been going on long time before the Paparazzi brought it to a head.

In the long run the outing will be good for his relationship. I can imagine he was doing a lot of fence sitting, unable to make a decision, caught in two worlds. Fritz Perls, the somewhat iconoclastic psychiatrist of the 60's and 70's coined a phrase for this: "It's when a person can't shit or get off the pot". Looks to me like Fr. Cutie has decided to do both.

I find the reaction of Bishop Favarola to be a little over the top. It must have something to do with Fr Cutie's high media profile. This particular defection hurts. It's one thing to suggest dissenting lay people find a more compatible self indulging church to belong to, it's a completely different thing when one of your best priests acts on that dismissive advice. In this case the Bishop must truly believe the Episcopalian gain is a Catholic loss. I suspect this is actually the truth and it may be that Fr. Cutie isn't going to be the only defector.

Maybe Fr. Cutie's story has a message in it. What if the Holy Spirit is saying that if your spiritual path dictates that obeying church authority, tradition, and literal sexual scriptural interpretation is your thing, go Catholic. That's your home. But if your spiritual path places a premium on experiential love and a less rigorous need for authority and dogmatic definition, go Episcopalian.

Should this prove to be true, there will be a lot of boats coming and going on the Tiber.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Enough Already!!!

Picture of a mindless tweeter

President Obama appointed theologian Miguel Diaz to be the US Ambassador to the Vatican two days after he appointed Sonia Sotomayor to be his Supreme Court Justice nominee. Diaz has a lot of theological experience, but no political or governmental experience. His nomination is something of a dark horse pick.

Diaz was described by the conservative Catholic News Agency as a Cuban liberation theologian. He is of Cuban descent and I'm not quite sure he qualifies as a liberation theologian, but we get the idea, he's definitely a traitorous left wing almost communist Catholic Obama supporter. This is proven by the fact he's a theological advisor to the heretical Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. CNA also questioned his pro life qualifications:

"Although he claims to be a “defender of life in all of it stages,” Diaz was among 26 Catholic leaders and scholars who signed a statement supporting the nomination of staunch pro abortion Catholic Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services Secretary."

Given time, I'm sure the attacks from the right will get more intense. They need a little more time to get their attacking points together. I say attacking points because the right no longer seems to use 'talking points'. A case in point are the righteous attacks on Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Pat Buchanan and Karl Rove flat out stated 'she isn't that intelligent'. Which is interesting given her academic background is outstanding. They were then out done by Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh who have all called her 'a reverse racist'. In a 2001 speech at Stanford she was explaining how a judge needs to be aware of when their own perspective is both a positive and a negative, depending on the case. Newt and company have taken a specific quote completely out of context.

Being aware of your personal perspective and how it might influence you is not a good thing for the Limbaugh's, Gingrich's and Cheney's of the world. They would prefer they influenced you, which is why appealing to fear is their favorite card. Now they want us to believe, especially white males, that Sotomayor is our worst nightmare: an unintelligent Latina racist about to be given power over us. Hence they harp on one decision involving the New Haven Fire Department.

In this decision Sotomayor sided with the city against 7 white fire fighters over a promotion test in which no minority candidate was able to qualify for promotion. The city thought there was something biased about the test and threw out the results. Sotomayor voted with the majority that the city was with in their rights. She would have voted in favor of the city if it involved 7 blacks. Just like the California Supreme Court voted in the majority to protect the California proposition process even if it meant that a simple majority can vote out a constitutional right for a minority. Different side of the same coin, but apparently our neo cons are incapable of seeing the similarity, or they don't want anyone to see the similarity.

Pro life groups instantly attacked her even though they really don't know her stand on abortion. In the one case Judge Sotomayor decided that was peripherally about abortion, she sided with the Bush White house on banning US funding for foreign NGO's with regards to abortion services. Never the less she is still an activist judge of the worst liberal bent and is horrific for the pro life movement.

Professor Diaz can look to Judge Sotomayor and discover exactly how he will be attacked, especially by the Catholic Republican right. The big fear operating in the theo cons is they are losing the Catholic vote to the Democratic party. They are beginning to see that pro life issues no longer play the way social justice issues do. They fear that President Obama is punching all the right buttons, especially Hispanic Catholic buttons. This must be stopped for the good of the Republican party.

They are attacking L'Osservatore Romano, which Deal Hudson did again today and Michael Novack did Tuesday. The hope is that the Pope will put abortion ahead of social justice on the American Catholic plate, bringing all those duped Notre Dame sympathizers back in line. There's a part in Novack's article where I wanted to puke. He fantasizes some poor pregnant Notre Dame Grad was convinced to have an abortion by Obama's eloquent rhetoric. It's far more likely a real Catholic would be convinced by Thomas Aquinas.

In the meantime their neo con buddies are viciously attacking a Supreme Court nominee on really ugly personal grounds that have no basis in fact. Professor Diaz should prepare himself for the same ugly treatment and from the same sources. I'm sure that two month Catholic wonder Newt Gingrich will feel compelled to toss in his two cents. Hopefully Deal Hudson will write those two cents for him before Newt gets on Twitter and embarrasses himself again.

The Pope has a little more on his agenda than the fortunes of a failed American political party. Catholic Ireland coming unglued comes to mind. Perhaps Benedict sees that these constant and numbing child abuse tragedies pretty much undermine all the Catholic rhetoric about the innocent unborn and their right to life. What's the point of a right to life if that life is treated like dirt with in the Church itself? It might be past time the Vatican actually stressed social justice issues since they have failed miserably at them in Ireland and a whole lot of other places. The Republican party might have to look elsewhere for support. The Vatican no longer has much credibility for most American Catholics and with good reason.

These repetitive knee jerk attacks on Obama appointees are getting uglier, and at the same time they are getting old. It's like watching a pack of 10 year old bullies. I've had enough of scandalous immature adult bullies and I wish this group would just shut up and grow up.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ted Olson Goes To Court For Gay Marriage--The Shot Heard Round The Neocon World

I don't normally post twice in a day, but this article is too good to pass up. The two attorneys on opposite sides of Gore v Bush have teamed up to argue against the constitutionality of Prop 8, and they will do it on the federal level:

Ted Olson goes to court on behalf of gay marriage
By: Byron YorkChief Political Correspondent05/26/09 9:59 PM EDT

Former Bush administration solicitor general Theodore Olson is part of a team that has filed suit in federal court in California seeking to overturn Proposition 8 and re-establish the right of same-sex couples to marry.
The suit argues that the state's marriage ban, upheld Tuesday by the California Supreme Court, violates the federal constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry. The complaint was filed Friday, and Olson and co-counsel David Boies -- who argued against Olson in the Bush v. Gore case -- will hold a news conference in Los Angeles Wednesday to explain the case. The conference will feature the two same-sex couples on whose behalf Olson filed suit.

The suit also asks the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to issue an injunction that would stop enforcement of Proposition 8 and allow same-sex couples to marry while the case is being decided.

"I personally think it is time that we as a nation get past distinguishing people on the basis of sexual orientation, and that a grave injustice is being done to people by making these distinctions," Olson told me Tuesday night. "I thought their cause was just."

I asked Olson about the objections of conservatives who will argue that he is asking a court to overturn the legitimately-expressed will of the people of California. "It is our position in this case that Proposition 8, as upheld by the California Supreme Court, denies federal constitutional rights under the equal protection and due process clauses of the constitution," Olson said. "The constitution protects individuals' basic rights that cannot be taken away by a vote. If the people of California had voted to ban interracial marriage, it would have been the responsibility of the courts to say that they cannot do that under the constitution. We believe that denying individuals in this category the right to lasting, loving relationships through marriage is a denial to them, on an impermissible basis, of the rights that the rest of us enjoy…I also personally believe that it is wrong for us to continue to deny rights to individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation."

Technically, the suit Olson has filed is against the governor, attorney general, and other officials of the state of California. Ultimately, Olson said, it's a question that will be decided in Washington, by the Supreme Court. "This is an issue that will get to the Supreme Court, and I think it could well be this case," he said.


I have to admit there's a certain irony in Ted Olson, the man who did more to give us eight years of Bush than any other conservative, arguing gay marriage rights. It is however, the logical conservative position, at least constitutionally. As he states, an individuals basic rights can not be taken away by vote. Prop 8 is not just a gay issue, it's an everybody issue, and as such should be struck down.

It should also be struck down because it effectively enacted a discriminatory state policy based solely in religious scruples which are not universal to all religious traditions, even with in Christianity, and certainly not universal to a pluralistic secular society. It's akin to banning the sale of any form of birth control just because California had enough Catholics to vote it into law. When it comes to core individual rights, the Constitution mandates the protection of minority rights from the tyranny of a temporary majority, precisely because the majority point of view tends to be temporary.

Ted Olson's repudiation of the gay marriage aspect of the culture wars is most likely not going to sit well with the religious right. Perhaps it's indicative of real Republican conservatives trying to take back their party before it's completely lost to the fringe. This would be a good thing. In the meantime, the silence from the Obama White House on Prop 8 is suspiciously deafening.

Some Billionaires Think The Economic Future Is In The Health And Wealth Of The Poor

Does this human resource hold the key to the future stability of the global economy?

America's richest people meet to discuss ways of tackling a 'disastrous' environmental, social and industrial threat.
The Sunday London Times, John Harlow, Los Angeles

SOME of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly to consider how their wealth could be used to slow the growth of the world’s population and speed up improvements in health and education.

The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change.

Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.
These members, along with Gates, have given away more than £45 billion since 1996 to causes ranging from health programmes in developing countries to ghetto schools nearer to home.

Climate change 'biggest threat to human health'
Bill Gates funds unorthodox research
They gathered at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel prize biochemist and president of the private Rockefeller University, in Manhattan on May 5. The informal afternoon session was so discreet that some of the billionaires’ aides were told they were at “security briefings”.
Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, said the summit was unprecedented. “We only learnt about it afterwards, by accident. Normally these people are happy to talk good causes, but this is different – maybe because they don’t want to be seen as a global cabal,” he said.
Some details were emerging this weekend, however. The billionaires were each given 15 minutes to present their favourite cause. Over dinner they discussed how they might settle on an “umbrella cause” that could harness their interests.

The issues debated included reforming the supervision of overseas aid spending to setting up rural schools and water systems in developing countries. Taking their cue from Gates they agreed that overpopulation was a priority.

This could result in a challenge to some Third World politicians who believe contraception and female education weaken traditional values. (I can think of at least two mega religions who see things the same way and are also addicted to traditional roles for women.)

Gates, 53, who is giving away most of his fortune, argued that healthier families, freed from malaria and extreme poverty, would change their habits and have fewer children within half a generation. (That does seem to be the message of the rise of the middle class in the West.)

At a conference in Long Beach, California, last February, he had made similar points. “Official projections say the world’s population will peak at 9.3 billion [up from 6.6 billion today] but with charitable initiatives, such as better reproductive healthcare, we think we can cap that at 8.3 billion,” Gates said then.

Patricia Stonesifer, former chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gives more than £2 billion a year to good causes, attended the Rockefeller summit. She said the billionaires met to “discuss how to increase giving” and they intended to “continue the dialogue” over the next few months.

Another guest said there was “nothing as crude as a vote” but a consensus emerged that they would back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat. (All three of which make overpopulation a very big international security threat.)

“This is something so nightmarish that everyone in this group agreed it needs big-brain answers,” said the guest. “They need to be independent of government agencies, which are unable to head off the disaster we all see looming.” (I suspect the level of political and governmental corruption has a lot to do with this attitude.)

Why all the secrecy? “They wanted to speak rich to rich without worrying anything they said would end up in the newspapers, painting them as an alternative world government,” he said. (I don't know this is an alternative world government, but it is an alternative to conventional NGO's and global religious charities.)


This was certainly a get together of some of America's most successful and wealthiest, but it wasn't a get together of politically congruent people. To me that's what makes this interesting, and it's interesting to note that Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch and Tom Monaghan weren't in attendance. I doubt their respective wealth or lack there of, was the issue.

One of the things I've always respected about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is that they don't throw money at something for the sake of throwing money. They demand transparency, accountability, and results. They are also never afraid to fund outside the box of conventional scientific thinking, giving grants to projects whose innovation makes them unappealing to the usual grant sources. This is especially true in their outlook on infectious diseases like HIV, malaria and polio.

The literature seems to back up Bill Gate's assertion that better health care, less poverty, and a higher level of education will by themselves naturally reduce the number of children couples will produce. That this is a natural phenomenon should not be over looked. It is not necessarily a product of contraception. When environmental stressors are reduced people do not reproduce at the previously higher rate. Partly because there is no perceived need to and partly because populations in the animal world tend to adjust their levels to environmental survival requirements. Nature not only abhors a vacuum but also prefers homeostatic balance.

It appears one of the mutual understandings that this group has come to is that it is well past time that corporate entities put value on the long term prospects of their human consumers. If corporations like Microsoft are to continue to generate income they need human consumers who can afford their products. Letting the entire African continent suffer from preventable or treatable diseases and endemic poverty is not a particularly bright strategy for the global future of companies like Microsoft. It is not a bright strategy for the future of any economic system, and it is certainly not a bright strategy for the long term security of the planet much less it's continued ecological existence.

I don't think that this particular group of billionaires is interested in becoming a 'New World Government'. I think they are interested in protecting the future of their business enterprises and have decided the best way to do that is to invest in the health and well being of global humanity. This is a very different approach from business interests who protected their futures by exploiting those parts of global humanity which didn't reflect their socioeconomic or racial backgrounds.

Investing in the people of the third world is a much better long term strategy for global stability than exploiting the material resources of the third world for the short term benefit of the first world. This is a strategy that seems to appeal to very politically diverse billionaires who are willing to put vast sums of their own money into this novel approach. That's not a bad thing, that's a good thing. The kind of thing which just might be discussed in Pope Benedict's upcoming encyclical on global social justice.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Susan Boyle and Sonia Sotomayor Are Moving On And Prop 8 Is Staying

Susan Boyle is not your average Diva.

Big news day today. The California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8 by a vote of 6-1, and they upheld the legality of the 18,000 marriages which were performed before Prop 8 went into effect. In a sense this is a mixed message, but not from the point of the view of the California Supreme Court. They upheld the marriages exactly as they had in their original decision to allow them in the first place and then judged the merits of Prop 8 on the constitutionality of the entire proposition process. According the California Supreme Court, California voters do have the ability to curtail the rights of fellow Californians through the proposition process. This is an interesting decision which could have all kinds of ramifications when the majority decides they don't like something else about another minority. That's not supposed to be a Catholic thing.

The other big news was the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as Justice Souter's replacement on the Supreme court. Americans United For Life have already dissed this nomination on the grounds she's an activist. Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic and third woman to serve on the court and would add one more Catholic to the Court bringing the total number of Catholics to six.

Sotomayor has already been through two senate confirmation hearings and was a Bush nominee to the Second District Court Of Appeals. The Republicans who choose to fight this nomination are probably just choosing to fight because they can, since she's already made it through their vetting twice. In the process they may upset the Hispanic community even more than they already have, so maybe wiser heads in the party will prevail. Not Governor Mike Huckabee however. Somehow he's decided she comes from the extreme left and will set the tone for the Extreme Court. Maybe it's her Catholic thing.

In good news though, Internet sensation Susan Boyle has advanced to the finals in Britain's Got Talent. The great thing about Susan is she is so not what one expects when she walks out on stage. There is almost a mental disconnect between the lack of audience expectation and the talent of her voice. She makes no apologies for who she is or how she comes across, she is there to sing--and she does it well. No false pride, no pretensions, just some good old fashioned joy in the moment. Maybe it's her Catholic thing.

Click here for video of her semi finals performance of 'Memories' from the Broadway musical 'Cats'. I'd have uploaded it, but Blogger was having issues.

Monday, May 25, 2009

More on BPD And The Institutional Church

In my last post I discussed aspects of Borderline Personality Disorder and how often the same kinds of defensive strategies used by adult borderlines are used by members of the Institutional Church. God is good, because today on clerical whispers I found another perfect example of denial, inventifacting, and bullying by an institutional figure.

0Tuesday, May 26, 2009

There was fresh controversy today over child sex abuse and the Catholic church when an archbishop's aide claimed the majority of paedophilia was being perpetrated by gay men.
Father John Owen, the communications officer for the archdiocese of Cardiff and a Catholic chaplain at Cardiff University, was a guest on BBC1's The Big Questions.

His remarks concerned last Wednesday's publication of the Ryan Inquiry, a 2,565-page report detailing the abuse and rape of children in Ireland's Catholic institutions, and came days after the newly-appointed archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, angered charities by saying it took courage for religious orders and clergy to confront the past.

Asked by the show's presenter, Nicky Campbell, whether the church cared more about its own reputation than the welfare of children, Owen replied: "These matters are so ghastly that people don't want to look at them, they can't believe these things are taking place within the orbit of a Christian church, perversion of Christianity. (Notice the triggering question-)

"Let me tell you of course before you go too far, most of the offences are being committed by homosexuals." (Then the answer, which comes after he makes an attempt to control the questioner, places the blame squarely on gay men, and ignores any institutional responsibility.)

Despite condemnation from the other panellists, two of whom were sexually abused, the churchman insisted he was stating the facts and told them to "be silent". (No one elses view of reality ever computes, the final strategy is always to silence the disputing voice.)

He said the "vast majority" of abuse cases in the UK affected teenage boys. "Now what does that tell you? Now that is a fact," he added. (It tells us the Church has problems with an all male clerical structure (kind of like prisons) and that most abusers found themselves frequently in the company of altar boys. Pedophiles in mixed school settings were equal opportunity predators. Oh well, what are facts, we're already supposed to know what this tells us. Fr. says so.)
A statement from the archdiocese distanced itself from Owen, saying "his comments seeming to link abuse and homosexuality" did not reflect the "consistent views" of the archdiocese of Cardiff. (Fr Owens comments seem to reflect Pope Benedict's views and the official church attitude. Why else the new seminary policy banning gays?)

Colm O'Gorman, author of Beyond Belief, a book about his own experience of clerical sexual abuse, and who was on the programme, described Owen's comments as "ill-informed, ignorant, corrupt and dishonest". (I'd say they were typically borderline.)

He said: "The church has created a link between homosexual sex and priests who rape and sodomise children. It scapegoats someone else and creates a side issue. It removes the criminal aspect and the rape becomes some sort of consensual adult behaviour." (It also attempts to leave the institution completely blameless and guilt free, the object of almost all borderline behavior.)

O'Gorman also expressed concern about the church's understanding of the significance of the issue, saying: "A child protection policy is only as good as the people implementing it." (Great point here, this is sort of expecting the Church to police itself, which is not likely to happen given the response of Fr. Owen.)


I hope everyone is having a great Memorial day weekend, and takes the time to remember those who gave their lives so that our freedoms can flourish. I especially want to remember those now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and sincerely pray they all make it back home safely.

Back to borderline stuff. I once attended a lecture given by a pharmaceutical rep who gave an intriguing metaphor for BPD. He was asked if there was anything in the pipeline to specifically deal with BPD. He said it was sort of an impossible task. They were able to target a medication for schizophrenia because they could target a specific chemical structure which effected a specific part of the brain. BPD wasn't specific. It was more like marbling in a piece of meat. The brain centers effected were everywhere and no where specific.

This same kind of energy signal is in the Institutional church as well. It's everywhere and no where specific, which means there is no 'magic bullet' that will fix this system. It needs to be reprogrammed, not rebooted. Or maybe, the Church needs to be re rooted. It needs to go back to what Jesus actually taught about love and service to the servants.

There are plenty of good seeds from which to start over and plenty of good men and women who have left us great insight into what this Jesus path is all about. It's time we planted and nurtured those seeds in new ground-- minus all the weeds which have choked off the basic message of Jesus. We could start by removing the weed known as 'creeping infallibility' and the one known as 'Jansenist's physicality'. Just those two alone would go along ways to removing a lot of the BPD marbling. The Church would then be leaner, at least in a marbling sense, and far less meaner. It's the healthy thing to do.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bill Donohue And Irish Abuse--It's All Hysteria

May 20, 2009--Catholic League

After nine years of investigation, Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse has published its findings. More than 30,000 children, most of them delinquents, passed through one or more of Ireland’s Catholic-run institutions from the 1920s through the 1980s. (This is absolutely untrue. The vast majority were not delinquents.)
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the report today:

Reuters is reporting that “Irish Priests Beat, Raped Children,” yet the report does not justify this wild and irresponsible claim. Four types of abuse are noted: physical, sexual, neglect and emotional. Physical abuse includes “being kicked”; neglect includes “inadequate heating”; and emotional abuse includes “lack of attachment and affection.” Not nice, to be sure, but hardly draconian, especially given the time line: fully 82 percent of the incidents took place before 1970. As the New York Times noted, “many of them [are] now more than 70 years old.” And quite frankly, corporal punishment was not exactly unknown in many homes during these times, and this is doubly true when dealing with miscreants. (Richard Sipe called Donohue a bozo for these statements. I have a different opinion. See below.)

Regarding sexual abuse, “kissing,” and “non-contact including voyeurism” (e.g., what it labels as “inappropriate sexual talk”) make the grade as constituting sexual abuse. Moreover, one-third of the cases involved “inappropriate fondling and contact.” None of this is defensible, but none of it qualifies as rape. Rape, on the other hand, constituted 12 percent of the cases. As for the charge that “Irish Priests” were responsible, some of the abuse was carried out by lay persons, much of it was done by Brothers, and about 12 percent of the abusers were priests (most of whom were not rapists). (The amount of projection Bill is engaging in is truly mind boggling.)

The Irish report suffers from conflating minor instances of abuse with serious ones, thus demeaning the latter. When most people hear of the term abuse, they do not think about being slapped, being chilly, being ignored or, for that matter, having someone stare at you in the shower. They think about rape. (Most people define abuse as getting viciously exploited, as you are doing here, once again, to the victims.)

By cheapening rape, the report demeans the big victims. But, of course, there is a huge market for such distortions, especially when the accused is the Catholic Church.


This is a classic piece of work. I strongly suspect that Mr. Donohue was himself a product of one of those households in which the rod wasn't spared, heat wasn't always available, and food was hit or miss. That he can pass over all that as 'insignificant' may say more about his childhood than it does the veracity of the Ryan report. There is a great deal of projection leading directly to out right lies in Mr. Donohue's assessment. I seriously doubt he's read anything other than the Times account of this report. I guess he doesn't need to in order to prop up his fantasy world about Catholicism.

On the other hand, I'm glad Mr. Donohue weighed in on the Ryan report the way he has, because I think it might demonstrate just what the fatal flaw is in Institutional Catholicism. It seriously suffers from a collective case of Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD is the result of abuse, neglect, repression, and abandonment at critical times in child development. This then seems to function as a retardant on personal emotional maturation. In the adult it really does manifest as a series of behaviors which are far more akin to those of a scared defensive child, than a rational adult. The adult then has an adult intellect coupled with the emotional maturity of a hurt and abandoned child. It can be really frustrating and confusing for a normal adult to attempt a relationship with a Borderline. For these Irish children it would be impossible.

In the article I've linked to the anonymous author, (who paints with a true brush) has this to say about relating with a Borderline:

When a BPD person is an adult (in age anyway) and engages in a serious relationship with someone, a relationship that should be based on mutual adult love and sharing, it isn't long before child-like relationship aspects arise and cause problems. The BPD person is only capable of limited love but needs endless love, the same as what a child expects with a parent. The significant other person in this relationship becomes the parent replacement; available on demand to meet all the personal, emotional, and circumstantial needs; but, gets very little deep mature love and consideration in return. What this person usually experiences in this relationship is what a parent does with a child/teenager; 1) sometimes genuine love; 2) sometimes casual indifference; 3) sometimes sarcasm, smart-ass attitude, picking, provoking, moodiness, and irritability; 4) sometimes withdrawal and depression. Part of this behavior comes from simple immaturity and part comes from the threat that the significant other person represents the capacity to hurt, betray, and leave.

The Ryan report graphically portrays what can happen when hurt and abandoned children are placed in the control of systematically enculturated borderline adults. You get horrific and systematic abuse. When the emotional retardation also involves purposeful sexual emotional retardation, you get systematic sexual abuse where the perpetrators rarely understand there is a difference between inappropriate sexual touching and outright rape. It all becomes the same and it's treated as if it was all the same. It's all covered up, unpunished, and the perpetrator becomes the victim.

Why is that? Again, here's a take from the linked article:

Children either can't accept responsibility/accountability for certain aspects of themselves, certain overwhelming experiences, or don't want to be punished for bad behavior (even internally by feeling guilty), so it's a convenience to displace responsibility and put the blame on someone else. This is very obvious behavior in a child but takes on a little more sophistication in an adult because the mature intellect becomes a factor which has a greater capacity to manipulate/rationalize circumstantial factors.

A child will deny bad behavior or transfer it to someone else, even if a parent/adult is completely aware or witnessed what actually happened. Nevertheless, a parent/adult usually dismisses the incident anyway as childish nonsense. However, it boggles the mind to witness an adult do the same thing; it isn't normal mature behavior. When an adult projects, what usually ensues is some kind of argument on what actually happened and who actually did what. The truly amazing part, though, is no matter how you confront the projecting adult, they will deny everything, the same as a child does. This truly is childish behavior - and it is one capacity of a child or a BPD adult. (This whole phenomenon is played out every time a bishop lays the entire blame for abusive clerics soly on the clerics, as if the bishops had nothing to do with it.)

If a BPD is emotionally stressed, they are automatically in the "trapped child" zone of their psyche. In this area, they can't see themselves as anything but a victim. Their behavior is always in response to an encounter, not the provocation. The other person is always the bad guy and is always at fault. (We have seen this scenario as the standard response from our bishops with nauseating regularity.)

I don't know how many times I've read something about one of our bishops or clerics and thought to myself, 'this is so childish.' This kind of behavior works when the laity is not well educated, not well rounded, or products of abusive families or cultures. That's not true in the West anymore, and this kind of mindless borderline behavior doesn't work anymore. It looks selfish, defensive, and childish. The problem is normal adults just can't believe borderline adult behavior. They don't know how to deal with it. Normal adults generally get fed up with the relationship and exit stage left. They give the borderline their biggest fear and abandon the relationship.

The state of the Church in the West can legitimately be seen as one of adults leaving a church whose hierarchy are functioning like adult borderlines. And just like borderlines, the hierarchy is blaming those who have left for leaving, and then pretending they haven't felt that rejection by clinging to a small loyal contingency as if that contingency represents the 'good' church.

This is all unhealthy behavior indicative of an unhealthy culture. The Ryan report just delineates and defines the devastating outcome when an unhealthy church was colluded by a nation/state raised in the same psychological dynamic. Bill Donohue's response delineates just how powerfully this dynamic still plays out in the righteous remnant and why they are so defensive for 'mother' church and her wayward 'fathers'.

As long as the hierarchy and houses of religious refuse to look at the psychological dynamics of their culture, there will be more Ryan reports and more abuse scandals and more adults will leave the Church. This is a fundamental rot out of sinc with what modern society understands about healthy human functioning. Instead of forcing humanity to conform to an outdated understanding of humanity and constantly condemning modern social movements, maybe it's time the Church at least stopped the condemnation long enough to listen to the voices of those they are condemning. Had they done so previously they might have avoided a huge amount of grief.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fr. Thomas Doyle Issues A Challenge

Father Tom Doyle's article is hard hitting, but it needs to be heard. Catholicism would be well served if more clergy would voice their true horror at what is and has been done to the People of God in order to protect the prestige and power of the clerical priesthood.

By Father Thomas Doyle as posted at The National Catholic Reporter

"Thus far the reaction to the publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse has been quite consistent. Most who have read news accounts of the 30 page executive summary have expressed shock, horror, disgust, anger and other like sentiments. Presuming that the executive summary is exactly that, a summary one can therefore presume that the full report is more of the same horror except in more detail.

This report was the end result of a long investigation conducted by a government agency and headed by Justice Sean Ryan. The report's credibility, indeed its very power lies with its source. The lengthy investigation was not a private endeavor and certainly not sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church. As if this report is not mind and soul blowing enough, it will be followed on later this summer by the report of the inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy of the Archdiocese of Dublin.

The Roman Catholic Church has been intimately enmeshed with every facet of life in the Republic of Ireland. The Church controlled the education, health care and welfare systems. Every one of the institutions probed by the Commission was run by a Catholic religious order, the two predominant ones being the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy. Both orders are headquartered in Rome and in Ireland, the activities of each has been subject to the oversight and authority of the Irish Bishops. The young children who are described in the report as the victims of all types of horrific abuse are members of what the Second Vatican Council referred to as the "People of God." (One of the anecdotes that really got to me, was survivors talking about one nun throwing the food scraps meant for the convent's pigs, to the children to supplement their meals. The survivors reflected on this as a genuine act of kindness.)

The vicious sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual devastation inflicted upon these children was not accidental. It was systemic. It was part of the everyday life and indeed deeply ingrained in the very culture of the childcare system in Catholic Ireland.

The intellects and emotions of decent people, of committed Christians and especially of devoted Catholics cannot truly process the unbelievable reality presented in this report. The sadistic world of these institutions is not that of some crazed secular dictatorship. It is not the world of an uncivilized tribal culture that ravaged the weak in ages long past. This report describes a world created and sustained by the Roman Catholic Church. The horrors inflicted on these helpless, trapped children -- rapes, beatings, molestation, starvation, isolation -- all were inflicted by men and women who had vowed themselves to the service of people in the name of Christ's love.

The report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is not unique though it may well be the most shocking example of the reality of such a culture of evil. In the past two decades over two dozen reports have described physical and sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults by Catholic clergy and religious. Among the more shocking have been a series of reports submitted to the Vatican between 1994 and 1998 revealing sexual exploitation of religious women in Africa by African priests. These reports remained largely unknown until they were brought to light by the National Catholic Reporter in 2001. Other reports have opened the doors to the secret world of clergy sexual abuse in the U.S. and elsewhere. The report of the Winter Commission about rampant sexual abuse at Mount Cashel, the Christian Brothers orphanage in Newfoundland and the report of the Philadelphia Grand Jury investigation stand out as examples not only of the depravity but of the institutionalized cover-up.

Revelations of various forms of abuse by Catholic religious and clerics all have common elements. Likewise, they evoke responses from the institutional leadership that are common to all examples of abuse and consistent in their nature. Most disturbing is the certain knowledge that the vicious abuse, in Ireland and elsewhere, is not accidental nor isolated and it is never unknown to Church authorities. The Church's authorities, from the pope himself down to the local bishops and religious superiors have known about this unbelievable culture of abuse and have done nothing.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan referred to the Church as a “Loving Mother” when he spoke at his installation Mass in New York. In light of the facts disclosed in the Irish report as well as the information revealed about countless other cases of abuse, such a description of the Church is not only absurd, but insulting to the countless people whose belief and trust in the hierarchy and clergy has been betrayed. (Destroyed might be the better word. It goes way beyond betrayal.)

The official reaction is predictable. Denial, minimization, blame shifting and finally limited acknowledgment followed by carefully nuanced “apologies” has been the standard fare. At no time has the leadership of any part of the institutional Church ever owned up to any systemic accountability. The standard responses are totally unacceptable because they are devious and irrelevant. Those who still hold to the institutional Church as their source of emotional security may well bray about anti-Catholicism, media sensationalism and exaggeration of what they claim to be an aberration. Such responses are mindless but far worse, they inflict even more pain on the thousands whose lives have been violated.

The Church cannot and will not fix itself. The very reality of the systemic abuse in the Irish institutions (and elsewhere as well) reveals a deep disdain for people by those charged with leading the Church. There has been an abandonment of the fundamental values that are supposed to vivify the Church if indeed these values were ever really internalized by many in positions of power. There is something radically wrong with the institutional Catholic Church. This is painfully obvious because it allows systemic abuse and radical dishonesty to coexist with its self-proclaimed identity as the Kingdom of God on earth.

The institutional Church is defensively changing its approach to the systematic abuse all too slowly and only because it is forced to do so by external forces it cannot control. The Irish government commission is one and the U.S. legal system is another. No amount of bureaucratic programs, pious apologies, rhetorical hand wringing and effusive promises of future change will make the difference. The problem is more than the widespread abuse itself. Punishing the perpetrators is completely missing the forest standing behind the trees. The clerical culture intertwined with the institution needs to be fearlessly examined and dismantled as we know it. It has wrought far too much destruction and murdered too many souls to be tolerated for another generation.

Catholics have a profound obligation in charity and justice to the countless victims of all forms of abuse. They have an obligation to believers of all kinds everywhere. They must ceaselessly do all that can be done to free the Christian/Catholic community from the toxic control of the clericalized institutional structure so that once more the Church will be identified not with an anachronistic and self-serving monarchy but with the Body of Christ.
There's not much more to add to what Father Doyle has written. The institution will not voluntarily change itself. I does look however, that it will voluntarily take itself down a spiritual toilet to total irrelevance.
This story may be coming out of Ireland, but the arrogant abusive attitude towards children and other powerless members of humanity, was and is universal. The clericalized institutional structure is surely one baby that should be thrown out with the bath water.

The Male Role And Some Thoughts On The New Star Trek Movie

Leaders, Protectors, Providers--complementary and together again

Ministry Points to Traditional Male Role
By Edward PentinVATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2009 (

As Western society continues to challenge men's traditional role in the world, so their mental and spiritual well-being is coming under threat, leading to a host of problems. So how should men respond?

Father Phillip Chavez, an American priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, has been concerned about this trend for some time, and is tackling it through the Amator Institute -- a popular ministry he founded, based in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. The Institute helps restore men's Christian identity, making them -- in words from its Web site -- "strong husbands, fathers, and leaders in society -- cultural champions of mature masculine character and courageous spirit." It may sound old fashioned to much of the secular world, yet his ministry has growing support among Christian men and women from all over the United States.

Last week, I caught up with Father Chavez in Rome after he'd been meeting officials at the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Part of the reason for the popularity of his ministry, he explained, is that men have "huge insecurities" in today's Western society, mainly because they are "influenced so much by an egalitarian model of femininity and masculinity." This means that although men may agree with the long-held understanding of a man's role as leader, protector and provider, "they don't think that way, nor do they operate that way," he said. But Father Chavez firmly believes that despite these challenges, every man can rediscover this role given to him by God once they reconfigure their minds to think in these terms. When they do, he said, they find answers in their lives. "Oftentimes, if I ask men what does the leader, protector and provider within you tell you to do in this case. They say: 'Oh, I get it Father, I understand, I think I know what I need to do,'" he explained. "It's really cool."

Father Chavez devised the "leader, protector, provider" model as it relates to the natural order, but is also grounded in the supernatural order -- that is, the supernatural summons to all Christians to share in the three-fold office of Christ as Priest, Prophet, and King in building up the Kingdom of God. Since it began, his ministry is not just proving useful to men. Father Chavez said women are also responding positively, mainly because they intuitively want men to lead, but in the Christian sense of leadership, as one "who lays it down, who sacrifices." Everyone knows, he said, that "a true leader is one who sacrifices, who dies to himself" rather than someone who bossily pushes his weight around. But he also believes that women, too, are victims of contemporary society in the sense that they're being wrongly trained to be leaders, protectors and providers -- to be independent and self-sufficient. That brings them inner tension and conflict, he said.

Father Chavez explained that as well as men not being properly mentored by other men, this feminist trend is also causing men to lack courage. "Everything in society is working against the man, so when we talk about men needing to man-up, well, I say at the same time the woman needs to woman-up," he said. "They need to become more receptive to a man's role to lead, protect and provide." In recent months, Father Chavez has been focusing on fatherhood and what he calls "the journey of sonship." Like Christ, he said, young men need to hear from their fathers that "you are my beloved and in you is my delight" if they are to become fully rounded men, capable of raising a family, and fulfilling their purpose in life. With that final thought, and as Father's Day approaches, many Dads would perhaps do well to take note.


I read the totality of Fr. Chavez's blog, in which he's meandering through his thoughts on 'sonship' as the basis for mature masculinity. He makes some valid points about how debilitating a dysfunctional father/son relationship can be, but he needs to get beyond psychology 101. He needs to address the reasons this core relationship can get so out of whack, and it isn't necessarily Western notions of gender egalitarianism. Fathers, sons, and brothers have had messed up relationships for forever. See Cain and Abel.

Fr. Chavez doesn't get into any of this because he conveniently places the truth of the father/son relationship solely in terms of Jesus's relationship with God the Father. There is no mention of Jesus's adopted human father or his human mother and Jesus is not recorded as having any biological siblings. Fr. Chavez deals strictly in the perfect spiritual relationship between Jesus and God the Father. Last I checked, most men I know have biological parents and siblings who tend to get in the way of developing this perfect spiritual relationship.

I've watched a lot of families crash and burn because of the competition between fathers with their sons, and brothers with brothers, over the rights of family 'leadership'. Jesus didn't have those competition problems, but his Apostles sure did. See Peter and Peter's mother. Male competition as a source of stress and confusion can not be left out of the equation, no matter how convenient it maybe to ignore it and I think Fr. Chavez is ignoring male generated problems in favor of straw men arguments and Spiritual idealism. Men will not stop competing with other men just because women return to their 'traditional' place of being led, protected, and fed.

I suspect men do have some angst with the influx of women in the work place, but not necessarily because women are usurping the traditional male role. I suspect it's because men don't want to compete with women as well as other men. I don't blame them. It's too bad the economic reality is now such that both sexes have to compete against each other for the same job. That means both sexes have to take on the protecting and leading and providing and nurturing and healing and loving and disciplining roles with in the family.

Why is this a bad thing? Jesus was all of those things. Real Christians are supposed to be all of those things. It doesn't mean we all have to be perfect in all of them, but it does mean we have no right to deny someones gift in one of these areas because they happen to belong to the less traditional gender.

My daughter and I saw the new Star Trek movie yesterday. This movie more or less revolves around the leadership styles of Kirk vs Spock. For those who don't know the story, it goes back to the time the original characters met each other. Spock is already a Star Fleet officer and Kirk is still in the academy. Anyway, Spock represents leadership by emotionless logic, and Kirk represents leadership by intuition and unstoppable brainless courage. (Kirk gets beat up a lot)

By the end of the movie, they both realize they need each other because their styles of leadership are incomplete without the other. Kirk maybe Captain, but Spock's authority and leadership have not been diminished because he's no longer captain. They both understand true complementarity and their Enterprise family is safer and better for it.

I think there's a lesson there. Oh yea, Spock wins the girl competition.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sad Days For The Irish Church

The Savage Reality of our Darkest Days
Irish Times--May 21, 2009

THE REPORT of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is the map of an Irish hell.

It defines the contours of a dark hinterland of the State, a parallel country whose existence we have long known but never fully acknowledged.It is a land of pain and shame, of savage cruelty and callous indifference.

The instinct to turn away from it, repelled by its profoundly unsettling ugliness, is almost irresistible. We owe it, though, to those who have suffered there to acknowledge from now on that it is an inescapable part of Irish reality.

We have to deal with the now-established fact that, alongside the warmth and intimacy, the kindness and generosity of Irish life, there was, for most of the history of the State, a deliberately maintained structure of vile and vicious abuse.

Mr Justice Ryan’s report does not suggest that this abuse was as bad as most of us suspected. It shows that it was worse.

It may indeed have been even worse than the report actually finds – there are indications that “the level of sexual abuse in boys’ institutions was much higher than was revealed by the records or could be discovered by this investigation”.

With a calm but relentless accumulation of facts, the report blows away all the denials and obfuscations, all the moral equivocations and evasions that we have heard from some of the religious orders and their apologists.

The sheer scale and longevity of the torment inflicted on defenceless children – over 800 known abusers in over 200 institutions during a period of 35 years – should alone make it clear that it was not accidental or opportunistic but systematic. (The 800 known abusers can probably be safely doubled, which is why this is systematic and not accidental.)

Violence and neglect were not the result of underfunding – the large institutions, where the worst abuse was inflicted, were “well-resourced”.

The failure of the religious orders to stop these crimes did not result from ignorance.
The recidivist nature of child sexual abusers was understood by the Brothers, who nonetheless continued deliberately to place known offenders in charge of children, both in industrial schools and in ordinary primary schools.

At best, this represented what the report calls “a callous disregard for the safety of children”.
At worst, it was an active protection of, and thus collusion with, the perpetrators of appalling crimes.

Nor did the abuse continue because of secrecy. Again, the very scale of the violence made it impossible to keep it sealed off from either officialdom or society at large.

Contemporary complaints were made to the Garda, to the Department of Education, to health boards, to priests and to members of the public.

The department, “deferential and submissive” to the religious congregations, did not shout stop. Neither did anyone else. (Why didn't anyone shout stop? Was this submissiveness so ingrained that the average lay person just couldn't call religious to any kind of accountability. It wasn't any better for children in the day school system, which shows that even children with parents who were supposed to protect them, weren't protected.)

Indeed, perhaps the most shocking finding of the commission is that industrial school inmates were often sexually exploited by those outside the closed world of the congregations, by “volunteer workers, visitors, work placement employees, foster parents” and by those who took them out for holidays or to work.

The key to understanding these attitudes is surely to realise that abuse was not a failure of the system.

It was the system.

Terror was both the point of these institutions and their standard operating procedure. Their function in Irish society was to impose social control, particularly on the poor, by acting as a threat. (How simply Christ-like this notion of control via terror.)
Without the horror of an institution like Letterfrack, it could not fulfil that function.
Within the institutions, terror was systematic and deliberate. It was a methodology handed down through “successive generations of Brothers, priests and nuns”. (It was also a theology and a vision of Catholicism that was inculcated in the laity.)

There is a nightmarish quality to this systemic malice, reminiscent of authoritarian regimes. We read of children “flogged, kicked . . . scalded, burned and held under water”.

We read of deliberate psychological torment inflicted through humiliation, expressions of contempt and the practice of incorrectly telling children that their parents were dead.
We read of returned absconders having their heads shaved and of “ritualised” floggings in one institution.

We have to call this kind of abuse by its proper name – torture. We must also call the organised exploitation of unpaid child labour – young girls placed in charge of babies “on a 24-hour basis” or working under conditions of “great suffering” in the rosary bead industry; young boys doing work that gave them no training but made money for the religious orders – by its proper name: slavery.

It demands a very painful adjustment of our notions of the nature of the State to accept that it helped to inflict torture and slavery on tens of thousands of children.
In the light of the commission’s report, however, we can no longer take comfort in evasions.
* * *
Almost unbearable though it may be, it is important that everyone who can do so should read and absorb this report. We owe that especially to those victims who first broke the silence on the RTÉ documentaries Dear Daughter and States of Fear and to those who came forward to tell their stories to the commission.

It is to be hoped that, in spite of the failure of the religious congregations to take full responsibility for what happened, those who have suffered have found some comfort in that process and in a report of such unflinching lucidity.

Most importantly, though, we owe it to all who are vulnerable in today’s Irish society. For their sakes, we need to know what happens when institutions acquire absolute power over defenceless people and when the State and society come to believe that it is better to collude in crimes than to challenge cherished beliefs.

Mr Justice Ryan suggests the erection of a monument to the victims of abuse with the words of
the State’s 1999 apology inscribed on it.

That should happen, but the real monument will be that we inscribe on our collective consciousness as a society the two words “Never again”.


As I was reading the extensive coverage of the Ryan report on Clerical Whispers, my mind kept drifting back to the US and Canada's residential school system for Native Americans. These school systems were mandated by the government and run by mainstream Christian religions, including Catholicism. The abuses within these schools mirror the Irish situation. Readers of this blog will remember that the Pope recently apologized for the same kinds of abuses in the Canadian residential system. There have been apologies issued to indigenous cultures in Australia and New Zealand as well.

What makes the Irish situation somewhat unique is these were white Irish children, not the children of indigenous racial cultures. The real commonalities are found in the creation a class of 'others' and religious institutions happily taking advantage of those 'others' under the guise of Christian charity. The horror stories from around the world about Catholic orphanages, residential schools, and reformatories are mind numbingly consistent. They all describe neglect, systematic physical abuse, slave labor practices, and rampant unchecked sexual abuse. In all cases government authorities turned a blind eye.

I see this global consistency as partly a reflection of the kind of systematic abusive formation many of the religious orders used on their own novitiates previous to Vatican II. It is learned behavior and it was learned within the orders themselves. No wonder the Christian Brothers are having a hard time owning up to the level of the abuse. It means they have to take a serious look at their own formation, and that means both the theology and the view of humanity on which it's based. We will mindlessly do unto others as it has been done unto us.

The collusion of governmental agencies seems to be both a product of lay submissiveness and a culture's instinctive need to wall off and shun the defined 'other'. The more powerless that 'other' can be made the better, because at it's core, shunning is the direct expression of fear. This societal fear must be placated by controlling that other. What better organizations to placate atavistic fear in a Christian society than Christian religious groups.

The facts from the Ryan report show that leaving problem children in the hands of religious orders is a very bad solution. The facts also seem to show that Ireland was either terrified of, or grossly indifferent to their own disenfranchised children, but that's hardly a situation unique to Ireland.

For too many societies stray kids seem to equate with stray dogs. Institutionalizing them doesn't touch the underlying problems, but it does remove the results of the problem from view. It deludes society into thinking someone is dealing with the problem in a mature and caring way. That delusion is being blown sky high in Ireland. Religious members who have been systematically infantilized, humiliated, and formed through abuse, are incapable of maturity or compassionate concern. They are however, perfectly capable of modeling their formation on defenseless and powerless children.

Those conservative Catholics who think returning to the pre Vatican II church and restoring convents and houses of religious formation to this period, is a good thing, should study the situation in Ireland. The abuses did not abate until after Vatican II reforms had been enacted in religious houses and Catholic parishes. This is not an aberration. It's a product of a different theology with a much more positive view of humanity.

Vatican II changed the Catholic view of the world in many different ways and a lot of it has born very positive fruit. But the one point on which the Church refused to change, that of sexual morality, has now become the rallying point for conservative elements who have taken it upon themselves to dictate sexual morality for the rest of us. This is no different than the previous Christian reformers who saw it as their duty to protect society from poor children, single mothers, and entire indigenous cultures.

When the State combined with the Church to 'reform' in those areas it led to manifest unfettered abuse of defenseless and powerless people. The exact same thing will happen again should the state and church combine in an effort to 'reform' sexual morality. We can see this happening right now in gender based school bullying and the elements lining up against any attempts to deal with it, including the Roman Catholic Church.

Let the Ryan report do more than scandalize us, let it shine some light on the present. Schools are still places of systematic terror for too many of our children, and society is still turning a purposeful blind eye.

This link will take you to the executive summary of the Ryan report, this one will take you to the table of contents for the entire report, and Clerical Whispers has excellent coverage from multiple sources. This link will take you to a Canadian website dealing with the First Nation's abusive residential schools.