Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Retake On Halloween Past

Pope Benedict in his Halloween hat, rakishly upturned on one side.  Ole'!

This is kind of a re post of the article I did last year on Halloween.  I'm doing it again because it's still quite timely and utterly deliciously paranoid.  Somehow it just seems so apropos as a description for where 'Roman' Catholicism insists on going.

Hallowe’en is the devil’s work, Catholic church warns parents
Graham Keeley in Madrid and Richard Owen in Rome - Times Online - 10/31/2009

When Victoria Romero, 6, dressed up as a witch for a Hallowe’en party this week she could hardly have imagined that she was provoking the wrath of God by attending a celebration akin to a Black Mass — at least in the eyes of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church in Spain.

Wearing skeleton suits, dressing up as vampires, witches or goblins or slapping on fake blood is not far removed from communing with the Devil, according to the country’s bishops.  (These are the thoughts of an very inexperienced and infantile understanding of spirituality.  The devil must surely be pleased with these Spanish bishops.)

However, the bishops, with Vatican backing, have reserved their venom for the millions of parents who allowed their children to celebrate this “pagan” festival.

Father Joan María Canals, the director of the Spanish Bishops Conference Committee on Liturgy, condemned parents for permitting their children to go to “un-Christian” parties when they should be focusing on All Saints Day today and All Souls Day on Monday.

His views were endorsed yesterday by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, which reported his views under the headline “Hallowe’en’s dangerous messages”.

It quoted him as saying: “Hallowe’en has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian.” Parents should “be aware of this and try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death”, he said.  (Maybe poor Fr. Canals never got to dress up for any Halloween party.)

L’Osservatore Romano praised a church at Alcalá de Henares, east of Madrid, that has decided to hold a prayer vigil tonight and the Paris archdiocese’s idea of having children play a lucky dip dubbed “Holywins” instead.  (Oh yes, promoting gambling is a much better idea.)

“Children dress as witches, vampires, ghosts, masks, corpses, skeletons, and parents favour this type of festivity which plays with elements of death,” Father Canals said. “But when a relative dies they prevent them from seeing the dead relative.”  (There is a difference between fantasy and reality.  Reality is, uhmmm, so much more real.)

José Sánchez González, the Bishop of Sigüenza-Guadalajara, in central Spain, went further, suggesting that Hallowe’en parties had a “background of the occult and anti-Christianity”. He said that he saw the dark influence of Hollywood playing with the young minds of Spanish children as they danced innocently around pumpkins, little realising that they were attending a pagan festival. (I'm surprised the good bishop didn't call it the dark influence of Hellywood.)

“Due to this influence, Hallowe’en started being celebrated several years ago and it is spreading more and more, without people knowing what it is that they are celebrating,” he said. (I think most parents understand Halloween is by far and away an invention of American commercialism.)

The popularity of Hallowe’en has grown in Spain in recent years as the country has gone from being a bastion of Roman Catholicism to a more secular society.....

The Vatican appeared previously to take a more lenient position. Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist, once said: “If English and American children like to dress up as witches and devils on one night of the year, that’s not a problem. If it is just a game, there is no harm.” (One would think the Vatican's chief exorcist would be the real professional voice on the subject---he certainly seems to be the only spiritually mature voice.)


I can remember reading this last year in the Times UK and my jaw dropping.  In view of all the problems the Vatican was experiencing back then, problems they still haven't addressed, they opt to focus on the evils and the anti Christianity of Halloween.  Obviously these men do not have kids, or were never kids themselves. They also seem to have completely forgotten that All Souls Day and All Saints Day were placed in the Liturgical Calendar on these two days precisely as part of the Church's own anti pagan crusade.  I guess this disproves the old pagan adage: "What's good for the goose is good for the gander".  This is not true when the gooses are pagan witches and the ganders are clerical males.

Turning back the clock to last year at this time, also meant reviewing the political battles surrounding last Novembers elections.  The big battle was gay marriage in Maine.  Twelve months makes a big difference--at least it has in the laity.  The fall out from the Maine campaign has had the exact opposite effect on Catholic laity that all that KofC, NOM, and diocesan money was supposed to have.  There is more sentiment for gay marriage now in Catholicism than ever before, and it's been a significant movement in some Catholic sub groups. If the idea was to promote traditional marriage and family life, it looks like all that money would have been better spent on social justice needs.  The more light the bishops turn on their own arguments, the more lay Catholics don't see things in the bishops 'right' light. 

There's a hypothesis about how requests and prayers get translated in the spiritual world.  This hypothesis says that these prayers should not be phrased in a negative sense.  In other words a person really shouldn't phrase a prayer like "Please God, don't let me get cancer like my mother did."  The reason for this part of the theory is because the right hemisphere of our brains, which is actively involved in deep prayer states, does not understand or use negatives.  It would not process the word 'don't' and translate the prayer as "Please God let me get cancer, like my mother did."  It may not be just a matter of being careful of what you ask for, but also how you ask for it. Under this theory a person is much better off to pray in thanksgiving for the gift of good health, rather than petition for a lack of good health.

What's happened with the USCCB's campaign to make an issue of gay marriage seems to prove this hypothesis.  They have been engaged in an expensive negative campaign which is generating the exact opposite results of what they want.  Personally I hope they keep it up, both the campaign and the spiritual immaturity it implies. It's very good for gay marriage.  In the meantime, I suspect Halloween in Spain will only get bigger and bigger.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Some Inspiration From A Creative Reformer Of The Past

Sometimes it's easy to get lost in the frustration, anger, and pain generated by some so called 'leaders' in Roman Catholicism.  A person can lose site of the real reason Catholicism even exists, which was not to control sexual behavior, but to inspire the spiritual search.  It seems when ever I am reaching my explode point I get sent a message to remind me what it's all about.

This morning I open my email to find that a friend had sent me this link for the Vatican's multi media presentation of the Sistine Chapel.  Hold down the left mouse button to change perspectives and get a virtual 360 degree tour.  In the bottom left hand corner is the enlarge function.  An a cappella choir sings in the background, so it's very easy to get mentally lost while perusing Michelangelo's monumental project.  All I can say is 'wow' and I hope you enjoy this as much as I have. It helped remind me that this current call for Vatican reform is not novel.  It's been going on for millenia and is very traditional.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Forget knowing us by our love, Jesus knows us by our sexual sins

Installation of Bishop Cantu as Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio, making him the youngest bishop in the US--in more ways than one.

San Antonio Archdiocese Says No More Gays at Mass
by Michael A. Jones - October 23, 2010

For 15 years, LGBT Catholics and allies were able to worship at St. Ann Catholic Church in San Antonio. On a weekly basis these folks would filter into the pews, and honor that age-old commandment to keep holy the Sabbath. Priests and other Catholics interested in building a better relationship between the Church and the LGBT community would attend, setting aside whatever divisions might exist the other six days of the week, and focus on reconciliation, forgiveness, and a little love between neighbors.

But in a memo released by their acting head bishop, the Archdiocese of San Antonio has said goodbye to reconciliation, forgiveness, and the whole 'love thy neighbor' mission, and instead are telling LGBT people in San Antonio that they're no longer welcome in Church. Well, that is, unless they want to change their sexual orientation.

Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú, the interim head of the San Antonio archdiocese, said that creating a safe space for LGBT Catholics (and their friends and families) to worship was contradictory to the tenets of Catholicism, and that simply allowing LGBT Catholics to worship as a group made Jesus weep, and could simply not be tolerated. His suggestion? That LGBT Catholics pledge celibacy if they really want to worship.

The sad part is that for 15 years this has been a non-issue, as leaders within the Archdiocese felt it more important to welcome all folks to the table, rather than exclude a heaping portion of the population. But as with many Catholic dioceses around the country, the politicization of the issue of homosexuality has taken center stage. Gone are the days where many churches can be counted on to focus on poverty, homelessness, hunger, education, and health care as their top social priorities. In are the days where church leaders want to denounce gay people, even if most folks in the pews have friends and family who identify as LGBT.  (My heart goes out to the parents of gay kids. They are faced with two brutal choices, condemning their kids or being more or less condemned by their Church.  It was very easy for me to see why Anne Rice finally took a hike.)

The actions of the Archdiocese, however, aren't going to keep LGBT Catholics from speaking out. Fred Anthony Garza, the President of a local chapter of Dignity, said that the definition of Church isn't a building, but rather a community of people. If the San Antonio Archdiocese won't let the LGBT community inside its doors without pre-conditions, then LGBT Catholics will just find another place to meet.
(As more Catholics come to this insight, more Catholics are going to find real and meaningful Catholic spirituality.)


Bishop Cantu really needs to take a look at his orthodoxy.  It's too luke warm. Why is it that only a Mass dedicated for gays and their supporters is contrary to Catholic tenets and makes Jesus weep?  I think this notion of the good Bishop needs to be taken much much further.  I would hope Cantu would also see a similar need to stop special Masses dedicated for those people who like Latin, or special Masses for the KofC, or any other 'special' group, like convents or monasteries,  whose need for 'special' treatment must also make Jesus weep.  Seriously, San Antonio should prohibit all special Masses for special groups. Jesus had no special people who needed special rituals or attention.  period.

Secondly if gay Catholics must be celibate and silent to step foot in a church to receive their baptismal rights, then all single heterosexuals should also pledge celibacy and all married people should pledge to be monogamous and free of birth control, and no one should step one foot inside a Catholic church if they can't make a pledge refraining from masturbation. If Cantu is going to enforce Catholic sexual morality for gays, it seems to me that Jesus must also be weeping over this special treatment.  I can easily imagine Jesus makes no distinctions when it comes to Catholic sexual sins.  Kick all the unpledged sinners out.  period.  Especially clerics. 

Granted this won't leave many Catholics in the pews, but the sacrifice would be worth it if it stopped Jesus's weeping.  Well, at least weeping in church.  He might weep a river of tears over all the people outside the church but it might be that following that river led all those people to found a new Catholic community.  A community in which they discovered that sexual sins aren't that important beside the great commandment to love one another.  It might be in this kind of community that they would be brought to understand that one of the greatest of sins is not about sex at all, but about denying any believer access to the gifts of His love that Jesus gave to all who profess faith in Him.  That's a big one and Cantu is guilty of committing it, and to make it even worse, he's blaming it on Jesus.  That won't cut it.  period. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

AB Chaput Talks A Catholic Version Of Spiritual Warfare At US Air Force Academy

This Air Force Unit Patch is no longer in service.  Note the cross in the upper right hand quadrant.

Archbishop Chaput recently gave an address to the Catholic cadets at the US Airforce Academy.  In the past I've written articles about the atmosphere of coercion instilled by Evangelical followers of dominionism and how that's been aimed at cadets who belong to other religions.  A recent posting from the Religious Freedom Foundation chronicles the fact that many cadets, Catholics included, feign conversion as a necessary component in protecting their careers.

The agenda of the New Apostolic Reformation is no secret.  The website talk2action chronicles this agenda in great detail.  What interests me is the influence the NAR seems to be have with conservative Catholic leaders like Chaput.  The NAR leadership is actively engaged in Spiritual Warfare against Catholicism, but has cleverly separated charismatic Catholics from their otherwise 'demonic Catholic' agenda.  Any time I read or hear a Catholic bishop use spiritual warfare terminology I hear NAR in the background. 

Another concept for the NAR military adherents is the notion of  being 'crusader's', and although they make it seem like it's all about chivalrous attitudes in the military, the NAR agenda is most definitely anti Islamic.  In the philosophy and theology of the NAR contains a pronounced eschatalogical bent which is centered on Armageddon occurring in Israel between the Israeli State and the Islamic hordes.  The NAR truly desires to bring on Armageddon in order to usher in the Second Coming.

Chaput seems to have decided that answer for Catholics exposed to this pressure at the Air Force Academy is to become a Catholic version of an NAR warrior.  The following is an excerpt of his sermon.  It is heavy on fear and heavy on the idea of becoming a crusader for Christ.

The world is full of talented failures -- people who either didn't live up to their abilities, or who did, but in a way that diminished their humanity and their character.

God made us to be better than that. And our nation and our Church need His people to be better than that. Scripture tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10). Wisdom -- not merely the knowledge of facts or a mastery of skills, but wisdom about ourselves, other people, and the terrain of human life -- this is the mark of a whole person. We already have too many clever leaders. We need wise leaders. And the wisest leaders ground themselves in humility before God and the demands of God's justice.  (Jesus was never about fear of God, which is why He taught His disciples to refer to God as Father. Jesus bent over backwards to teach the opposite of fear, which is love.  Truly wise leaders lead from a sense of empathy and compassion as well as a sense of responsibility for the advancement of their subordinates and accountability for their mission.)

People my age would do well to remember that. The reason is pretty simple: The older we get, the more clearly we see -- or think we see -- what's wrong with the world. It also gets harder to admit our own role in making it that way.

Over my lifetime, I've had the privilege of working with many good religious men and women, and many good lay Christian friends. Many of them have been heroic in their generosity, faith, and service. Many have helped to make our country a better place. And yet I think it's true -- I know it's true -- that my generation has, in some ways, been among the most foolish in American history. We've been absorbed in our appetites, naïve about the consequences of our actions, overconfident in our power, and unwilling to submit ourselves to the obligations that come with the greatest ideals of our own heritage......(I just laughed when I read this as I could hear the JPII generation in the background making infinite numbers of disparaging statements about aging hippie blue hairs---leaving out Chaput of course.)

After warning about the potential damage for Catholics in the secular assault on the separation of church and state, and a few words on the ignorance and anti religious agenda of the mainstream media, AB Chaput then goes on the describe the thinking of St Bernard of Clairvaux on the attributes of a Crusader and ends his sermon with the following:As St. Ignatius Loyola wrote in his "Spiritual Exercises" -- and remember that Ignatius himself was a former soldier -- each of us must choose between two battle standards: the standard of Jesus Christ, humanity's true King, or the standard of His impostor, the Prince of This World.

There is no neutral ground. C. S. Lewis once said that Christianity is a "fighting religion." He meant that Christian discipleship has always been -- and remains -- a struggle against the evil within and outside ourselves. This is why the early Church Fathers described Christian life as "spiritual combat." It's why they called faithful Christians the "Church Militant" and "soldiers of Christ" in the Sacrament of Confirmation. (I'm sure Constantine had just a bit to do with Early Church Fathers conceiving Christianity in more militant terms. Early Christians were not noted for voluntarily joining the Roman military.)

The Church needs men and women of courage and Godliness today more than at any time in her history. So does this extraordinary country we call home in this world; a nation that still has an immense reservoir of virtue, decency, and people of good will. This is why the Catholic ideal of knighthood, with its demands of radical discipleship, is still alive and still needed. The essence of Christian knighthood remains the same: sacrificial service rooted in a living Catholic faith. (That's supposed to describe the priesthood as well, but I don't notice Chaput selling his 'castle', or Burke his lace 'armor'.)

A new "spirit of knighthood" is what we need now -- unselfish, tireless, devoted disciples willing to face derision and persecution for Jesus Christ. We serve our nation best by serving God first, and by proving our faith with the example of our lives.  (Devoted disciples, but not apostles because that's Chaput's job.)


I find this stuff very very scary because these young men and women operate some of the most sophisticated and lethal military hardware on the planet.  I am very concerned as to whose orders our 'crusaders' will follow when push comes to shove.  Here's a quote from a talk given at a somewhat secretive gathering of Evangelical Baptists.  The speaker is an Air Force B2 bomber pilot:

"I'm going to have to separate myself from the service of this nation if it's required in order to propagate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm not going to disregard my responsibilities. But if there ever comes a time when there is a priority to be made, a decision to be made, it must always rest in the work of the Lord and the Lord's army. Because that commission is greater than the one I received from the United States Air Force Academy."

This is a treasonous statement.  It's also Christian heresy as Jesus was not a general, and did not call for the formation of any army under the banner of His cross. 

The leadership of the NAR calls themselves the New Apostles because they want their followers to take their messages as new teachings and directions from the Holy Spirit.  This then gives them the authority to change the Gospel message any way they see fit.  It convinces pilots of our B2 bombers that in conscience they have a commission greater than the one they received from the citizens of the United States.  The very citizens whose money paid for the construction of the bomber and the pay loads they fly.  This is a nice inexpensive way for the NAR's new jesus to equip his army.

I personally believe the most charismatic and convincing of these 'New Apostles' are nothing more than the equivalent of New Age channellers.  My question is who are they channelling?  It's not Jesus and it's not the Holy Spirit.  AB Chaput is making a huge mistake if he continues to align himself with this movement.  He can talk about wisdom all he wants, but when wisdom was given out, he wasn't in that line.  In the meantime one wonders if  the Air Force Academy is becoming a hot bed for a treasonous parallel Christian army.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Irish Bishops Ask For Laity To Continue Enabling Their Abuses As A Form Of 'Renewal'

Irish Bishops praying for the Holy Spirit to execute Vatican demands for the renewal of the Irish laity.

The Irish Bishops have been in Rome to consult with the Vatican concerning the devastation multiple government investigations into clerical child abuse have had on Irish Catholicism.  As far as any answer which might have had some credibility, the Irish Bishops might just as well have gone to Pluto.  The Bishops are towing the Vatican line and calling for the renewal of the laity, not the reform of the clergy.

In Wake of Scandal, Irish Bishops Call For Renewal
CNA/EWTN - 10/23/2010 - Rome, Italy 
The Irish bishops have announced plans for a year of prayer for renewal in the light of clergy sexual abuse scandals that have roiled the Church.

Using Pope Benedict XVI's guidance as the core of the initiative, the bishops hope to promote healing within the Church through reconciliation, adoration and Scripture reading. (What ever happened to reforming the clergy?)

At the conclusion of their annual meeting Oct. 19, the bishops indicated that their program would be based on suggestions made by Pope Benedict XVI in the pastoral letter he sent to Ireland’s Catholics in March.

Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 28, the Irish Church will begin a year of prayer, penance, and spiritual renewal.

In his March 19 letter, the Pope had invited Irish Catholics to devote their ordinary Friday penances to the intention of healing and “the long-term process of restoration.” He also encouraged them to fast, pray, read the Scriptures, and works of mercy "to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland."

He also encouraged them to go to confession more often and to spend more time in prayer before the Eucharist.  (Maybe Benedict has gotten confused about this whole abuse issue, he seems to think it was about Irish laity and their children raping priests. Why else could he ask for conversion of the laity and leave out reformation of clergy?)

The bishops said they will put these suggestions into action, recognizing the need for "profound renewal." They proposed that the "first step" in the process to be the observance of the Year of St. Matthew.

The renewal will follow the Church’s liturgical reading of the Gospel of Matthew in the Sunday Mass celebrations. This, the bishops explained, will be "an opportunity for all to avail of Scripture-based prayer to guide the renewal of the Church in Ireland at this time." In addition, the bishops will encourage Catholics to participate in Eucharistic adoration, confession and Friday penance. They will also pray the special prayer for the Church of Ireland included at the end of the Pope’s March letter. (And make no institutional changes at all?)

In a statement, the bishops said they welcomed the upcoming Vatican investigation of certain dioceses as well as seminaries and religious congregations in the country. They hoped that it "will assist in purifying and healing the Church in Ireland and will help to restore the trust and hope of the faithful in our country." (In the country?  What about restoring trust and hope in the Church and it's clergy?)


How do these men think they have anything to say to a post modern society like the Irish, when they refuse to comply with the minimal ethical standards of what the Vatican terms 'secular relativism'?  Minimal standards like accountability, transparency, and an attempt at some kind of integrity.  Asking your victims to renew their commitment to the unreformed institutional structure which victimized them is a very good definition of insanity.  Or abuse.  Or rubbing salt in wounds, or whatever.

This is not just a request for the laity to return to Catholic sacramentality as a cure for what ails the clergy, but it's a request to return to a 1950's sacramental theology which was all about the transcendent magic of the clerical caste and it's sacramental system.  This particular call for 'renewal' is truly an insult to thinking Irish Catholics.  Essentially it's a call to renew the very lay thinking and attitudes which enabled the massive abuse numbers and the decades long cover up.  It is not going to appeal to the large majority of Irish Catholics who have been legitimately offended and scandalized by the actions of the hierarchy.

I keep wondering why it is so difficult for these men to admit the system is rotten and abusive.  I can see why men like Raymond Burke refuse to see it.  It's taken him to the heights of his wildest personal fantasies, but there are others like Cardinal Schonborn and Archbishop Martin who see the truth.  And yet Benedict suggests they shut up, and they do.  Where is their integrity and what are they so afraid of?  Do they have nightmares about the demise of JPI and Oscar Romero?  Makes me wonder who is really calling the shots in the Vatican.  It sure doesn't seem like who ever it is has any connection with Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit. It doesn't seem like they give a damn about how many Catholics in the Western world leave, or why they do so.  It doesn't seem that anything other than money and access to power really matters.  (See Legionaries white wash.)

Given the apparent real agenda, money and power,  I guess it's not surprising that the Vatican is insisting laity pray for their own renewal in the system which generated all the Vatican wealth and power.  When I look at current trends though, I can see a scenario in which it all comes tumbling down. When it does it won't be pretty.  It won't be the lapsed Catholics, or the dissident Catholics, or the Recovering Catholics, or the Episcopalian Catholics whose faith is utterly devastated.  It will be the spiritually infantilized 'true Catholics' Benedict thinks of as 'the simple people'. 

The truth is that the Vatican knows they have lost the vast majority of the West.  They also know that unless there are radical changes in how the faith is formulated and presented, changes which directly impact how power and authority in the church is conceptualized and expressed, they can not recover the post modern Western mind. Instead they have turned their eyes to the South, where the fields appear greener.  They have not however, allowed for anything like equal power sharing with their non European clerical brothers.  Given the make up of Benedict's College of Cardinals, any real power sharing is not likely to happen in the near future.  Roman Catholicism will continue to be dominated by the wealth and political power of white conservative westerners well into the later stages of this century. 

And now for a jump shift.....My predictions only count if the Vatican survives in it's current manifestation and there are reasons to think a lot of our pet theological ideas and institutions won't survive in their current manifestations. In the last two weeks there has been more mainstream media UFO coverage than ever before. The linked website explores the idea  of exopolitics and credible UFO sitings.  That's a notion which calls for dealing with a much greater reality.  For what it's worth, I can verify from a personal conversation with a Malmstrom AFB Intelligence Officer that UFO's have made that particular SAC base and it's missile command centers a frequent stop, and that the shut down of the two missile command centers in 1967 really did occur. It has also happened in the Soviet Union.  I personally have seen the kind of flying lights mentioned in some of the articles.  That's not surprising since the family ranch is right in the middle of two missile flights.

We have been kept in the dark and lied to about this phenomenon since the late forties.  My guess is there are people in the Vatican who are well aware of the truth of this interaction and have been in the knowledge loop from the very beginning.  That's why we are now getting articles like this one.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

More 'Astonishment' From The Vatican And It's Bankers

If there is a Biblical precedent operating in this story,  St Peter's has one more 'astonished' denial left before the cock crows.

Once again the Vatican expresses it's "astonishment" that Italian banking officials could conceive of the Vatican Bank laundering money.  Maybe the Vatican thinks 'laundering' is a sacrilegious term for taking dirty money and seemingly making it holy and clean.  Perhaps they see the Vatican bank as a kind of 'confessional' for sinful Benjamins.  In any event, Italian officials don't have the same attitude.

Prosecutors: Vatican Bank Defying Laundering Laws
Rome:  Italian prosecutors contest claims by the Vatican bank that it is trying to comply with international rules to fight money laundering, saying an investigation that led to the seizure of euro23 million ($30 million) from a Vatican bank account shows "exactly the opposite," according to a court document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

An Italian court on Wednesday rejected a Vatican request to lift the seizure, leading the Vatican to express "astonishment" at the court's ruling and indicating the case will not be cleared up quickly, as the Vatican originally predicted. (More astonishment from the Vatican. Imagine that.)

Since the money was ordered seized last month, the Vatican and the bank's chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, have repeatedly said the allegations resulted from a "misunderstanding" and that the Vatican bank — officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion — has been working to comply with international rules to fight money-laundering.

The strongly worded document from the prosecutors' office said that while there is a "generic and stated will" to conform by the bank "there is no sign that the institutions of the Catholic church are moving in that direction." (All talk and no walk. Imagine that.)

It said the prosecutor's investigation had found "exactly the opposite."

The document was submitted to the court as part of the prosecutors' case against the bank.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a new statement Friday evening, saying Vatican bank officials "confirm their intent to follow the line of transparency" in all financial transactions and are confident in being able to provide as soon as possible all clarifications requested. (A person confirming their intent to kick a bad habit is not the same as following through on changing the behavior. Often times it's just a ploy to silence the people who desire that the behavior be changed.)

Under the investigation, financial police seized the money Sept. 21 from a Vatican bank account at the Rome branch of Credito Artigiano Spa, after the bank informed the Bank of Italy about possible violations of anti-money laundering norms.

The bulk of the money, euro20 million ($26 million), was destined for JP Morgan in Frankfurt, with the remainder going to Banca del Fucino.

The prosecutors' document suggests confirmation of Italian press reports that the probe was widening, looking into possible violations in earlier years linked to Italian corruption, in addition to the two most recent cases.

The document cites suspicious transactions involving checks drawn from a Vatican bank account at Unicredit bank in 2009, involving the use of a false name. (Imagine that, a false name.  Maciel knew how that worked.)

The prosecutors also cited a euro650,000 withdrawal from a Vatican bank account at Intesa San Paolo bank where the Vatican didn't specify the money's ultimate destination despite a specific request by the Italian bank.

The prosecutors called this "a deliberate failure to observe the anti-laundering laws with the aim of hiding the ownership, destination and origin of the capital." 
The Italian banks have declined comment.

The Vatican bank is required to provide such information because it is considered by Italy to be a foreign bank.

Gotti and his No. 2, Paolo Cipriani, have been placed under investigation by Italian authorities. They were questioned by Rome prosecutors on Sept. 30. They have not been charged with any crime.

Italian legal experts have said the case could end up being decided by Italy's highest court........

The article then continues to give a brief history of the Banco Ambrosio scandal.


I was going to write about this article on Catholic loyalists taking to the blogosphere to defend Church teachings.  I'm still going to do that, but from a different perspective.  How do these bloggers give the institutional structure, which is proving to be more and more corrupt and self serving, a free pass?  I just don't get that attitude at all.  Does Newt Gingrich have the truth of the matter, that conservatives are so immature and shallow that he doesn't have to walk their talk, he just has to talk it?  Is that all it takes to soothe the fears of the conservatives, the right talk around their wine and wheat?  Talk the talk and you can be as corrupt as you want as long as you are somewhat discrete?

That is the big message I'm getting from Loyalist Catholics.  We don't care how the hierarchy hurts, harms, denigrates, lives hypocritically, or spends our money as long as they talk our talk.  The kind of talk that puts a public spotlight on the sins of others, while ignoring the discrete sins of loyalists.  The kind of talk that essentially says to a priest, you can be sexually active as long as you attack abortion and gay marriage and make sure we don't have to LOOK at what you actually do with your own life.  The kind of talk that tells gays they can be gay as long as they don't claim to be gay.  The kind of talk that Sarah Palin gets away with about teen age virginity and a parent's duty to teach that while her own family demonstrates it doesn't work.

This is the same kind of posturing that dares to pay Maggie Gallagher of NOM to be the face of traditional marriage when her own sexual history is far from traditional. In fact for some reason she doesn't use her married name Srivastav, which I thought was the kind of thing upscale professional women's libbers from Yale did. Oh did I mention, she's a Yalie?

I've written before that I really don't have any trouble with conservative religious rituals.  If those kinds of practices stoke one's spiritual engines that's fine by me.  What I really have a problem with is when one's Eucharistic Adoration blinds them to the level of corruption in the Institution and makes them de facto enablers of that corruption.  I get really frustrated when loyalty to the theology of the Trenten church is used to excuse the fact the adherents of that theology don't walk their talk.  It makes for a very shallow hypocritical and magical approach to Catholicism that Jesus never taught.  Jesus was not impressed with those who knew the rules, but only applied them as full time exercises to others, while they themselves substituted occasional ritual practice as sufficient for their own walk.  He called them 'whitened sepulchres'.

I really wish 'Loyalist Catholic' bloggers would turn down some of their generous donations from Republican political operatives and get on board with the understanding that the bottom line for both conservative and progressive Catholics has to be the integrity of our teaching authority and governing instituion.  It does not reflect well on the mission of the Church, no matter how you define that mission, to have the Vatican Bank function as a money laundering center, have our bishops engaged in a criminal conspiracy to hide and protect clerical sexual abusers, or have our most visible representatives engaged in taking bribes from criminal enterprises or spending vast sums of money on themselves and their religious accoutrements. 

It is pointless for Catholics to argue over theological or moral ideation while the institution itself is mired in good old fashioned and very traditional secular corruption.  I urge traditionalist to take a real look at a consistent part of the tradition, and that's the institutionalized corruption.  The Latin and the rest of it can be debated later.

Friday, October 22, 2010

About Those Two New American Cardinals

Guess which new American Cardinal is in the center of all this lace.

It's funny how even though you know beyond a shadow of a doubt something is going to happen, it can still be so disappointing and generate so much internal anger.  So it was with me when the announcement that Donald Wuerl and Raymond Burke are the new US cardinal designates.  I will admit I have laughed out loud at commentary, such as this from John Allen, which describe Wuerl as centrist.  The truth is Wuerl has been what ever Wuerl has needed to be to get his red hat. Centrist? No, narcissist is closer.   Since I found myself surprisingly incapable of writing a coherent post about these latest 'jewels' in the crown of US Catholicism, I offer excerpts from the following reflection by Mary E. Hunt as posted on Religion Dispatches.  Mary writes about one of the common denominators which seems to assure a red hat for American prelates, and that's the capacity to publicly stick a Vatican knife in the back of another Catholic.

Vatican Pitbulls Make Cardinal
By Mary E. Hunt - Religion Dispatches - 10/21/2010

Pope Benedict XVI named 24 new cardinals, including two Americans, at the end of yesterday’s weekly Wednesday audience: Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington DC and Raymond L. Burke, formerly of St. Louis, and now Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Supreme Court of the Vatican. They are among 20 of the 24 who are young enough—i.e. under 80—to vote for the next Pope.

In a radio interview on the day of the announcement Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl was asked what one has to do to become a cardinal. He finessed the question by saying, with humility that would choke a horse, that the honor was really for the city of Washington DC, the nation’s capital, and not so much for him personally. Since the rest of us in DC won’t actually have any cause to run out and pick up a new red hat, I would have preferred that he answer the question honestly. The honest answer, to all appearances, is that to become a cardinal you have to do in at least one fellow Catholic, at the very least. I realize that sounds more like gaining membership in a gang or the mob than being named to a high-ranking religious post, but it’s the most apt analogy I can find for how the Roman Catholic system seems to work.

Cardinal-Designate Donald Wuerl

For all the good Wuerl may have done in his lifetime, it is hard to forget at this time when his power in the Roman Catholic Church has just increased geometrically (he will be one of the 120 or so electors of the next Pope) how he earned his spurs. Ordained in 1966 for the Diocese of Pittsburgh his lack of significant parish experience didn’t prevent him from being named secretary to the local bishop, John Wright. As secretary, he followed Wright to Rome when Wright became a cardinal and was appointed as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. When Wright died, Wuerl went back to his home diocese in Pittsburgh to head the local seminary in 1982. But by 1985 he was destined for a higher calling.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle was a popular and liberal cleric who ran afoul of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Much like the US nuns who are being investigated now, Hunthausen was the subject of an Apostolic Visitation because he was supportive of civil and religious rights for women and LGBTQ people. The result was that Wuerl was named as his auxiliary bishop with final decision-making power over liturgy, ministry to LGBTQ people, and health care—areas that Archbishop Hunthausen was seen by the Vatican to be soft on. This was a most unusual arrangement, simply not done in a system where each bishop handles his own geographic area. It was an obvious affront to Hunthausen, a kind of ecclesial punishment. (Archbishop Hunthausen had also run a foul of Ronnie Reagan and by this time the relationship between JPII and right wing money in the US was well established.  That money wanted no interference from Catholic bishops about Ronnie's weapons programs.)

Outcry from people in the Archdiocese of Seattle, including clergy and religious, was so fierce that the Vatican eventually backed down and sent Wuerl packing to Pittsburgh a short time later. But the damage was done. Hunthausen had been insulted and his power usurped. Wuerl was the one who did the Vatican’s bidding. The red hat took some years, but now he’s got it, ostensibly as a reward for showing loyalty at Hunthausen’s expense.....

Cardinal-Designate Raymond Burke

Raymond Burke’s track to the red hat includes a similar incident. When he wasn’t busy condemning President Obama and other pro-choice politicians, including the late-Senator Edward Kennedy to whom he would have denied a Catholic funeral, he was condemning progressive nuns. But perhaps it was the case of Sister of Charity Louise Lears that gave him the boost he needed.

Louise Lears, who has a Ph.D. in medical ethics, served on the pastoral team of Saint Cronan Parish and was an adjunct professor at St. Louis University. Her support for, and presence at, the ordination of two members of the Roman Catholic Women Priests group in 2007 that got Burke’s Irish up. The ceremony was held not in the local cathedral but in a synagogue whose rabbi was a strong supporter of her sisters’ ministry.

Archbishop Burke, with scant attention to dialogue and little regard for her well-being, placed Louise Lears under interdict, prohibiting her from working in diocesan venues or receiving the Catholic sacraments. In fact, he issued the decree the day before he left St. Louis for greener pastures in Rome. He now heads the court that would be one of the few ecclesial venues for appealing Sister Lears’ case. So much for due process.  (Burke also brought lots of right wing connections and money with him to the 'Emerald City'.)


Mary concludes her piece by noting another thing that irritated me.  The fact that two thirds of these designates are from Europe and North America while more than two thirds of Catholic laity are in the South.  In my view, Benedict's papacy has been far more about preserving the traditional European cultural flavor of the Roman Catholicism than it has anything else.  Why else keep promoting culturally conservative white men of European descent?  Because of their superior holiness I guess.......

Forty current Cardinals have the vast majority of their clerical experience working in the Vatican and one assumes ministering to the eight hundred citizens of Vatican City, most of whom (72%) are clergy.  There are 3000 Italian citizens who work in the Vatican City States giving a clergy to lay ratio of 6-1 and a Cardinal to lay ratio of about 80-1. The world wide Catholic ratio of laity to priests is slightly over 13,000 to one.  This describes an incredible level of centralization of authority which doesn't include women or their children.  It is it's own little reality and that's why having sole authority over these kinds of appointments results in the Wuerl's and Burke's of the Catholic world.

There was one other story that surfaced in the past week which clearly illustrates the dysfunction in the overly centralized authority of the Vatican.  It seems that the 2008 ICEL translation of the Roman Missal that was finally approved by all the English bishops conferences and approved by Benedict XVI has subsequently had an estimated 10, 000 corrections, additions, and deletions foisted on it by nameless Vatican bureaucrats.  Whatever missal Benedict was seen approving it's no longer what he or any national bishops conference approved.  So much for subsidiarity and the ecclesiastical authority of national bishops conferences. 

I have no sympathy what so ever for any current bishop. They have no one to blame but themselves for the Vatican penchant of trampling all over their canonical authority.  Donald Wuerl's appointment to Seattle should have raised major red flags  but it wasn't the USCCB who raised their voices about this blatant assault on Hunthausen's authority in his own diocese.  Fifteen years later Donald Wuerl is a cardinal and the USCCB has no authority.  Nice job boys.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fr. McBrien On JPII: The Pope Behind The Polarization In Catholicism

John Paul II: The real reason for church polarization

by Richard McBrien on Oct. 19, 2010 Essays in Theology - National Catholic Reporter

In mid-August a group of young theologians, all under the age of 40, teaching at Catholic colleges, universities, and seminaries met at Fordham University in New York City to discover ways to overcome the polarization they find in today’s Catholic Church.

Although the group did not draft a mission statement as such, it formulated a paragraph as a kind of self-description of their work on behalf of the Church:

“We are young Catholic theologians at colleges, universities or seminaries, who desire to shape our careers in ways that reduce polarization in the American Catholic church. Each of us came of age at some distance from the ideological debates of Vatican II and the immediate postconciliar era, and we believe that our Catholic generation has new opportunities to heal divisions in the body of Christ. We proceed with profound humility toward the previous generation’s tilling of common ground, even as we hope to plant new seeds of faith and charity in our church. As Christians committed to the unity of the Holy Spirit, we approach our task with intellectual solidarity toward one another.”

What does the Fordham group mean by the “ideological” character of the debates at Vatican II? Did those debates represent differences in theological and pastoral emphases, or were they reflective of radically different understandings of the nature, mission, and structural operations of the Church?

Were the debates, however characterized, carried on by two more or less evenly divided groups, or were we dealing instead with an overwhelming majority of bishops and theologians on the one hand and a relatively tiny minority of bishops and their theological allies on the other? (Right on Father McBrien. This idea that the discussions at VII were 'even' is one the greatest myths perpetrated by Conservative Catholic leadership.)

McBrien then goes on to describe the reaction of a student of his to the manufactured ND/Obama controversy.  In the student's observations one is again left with the idea that both sides were 'even' in this controversy.

The impression may have been left, however, that both sides were about equal in size. Such was not the case.

The overwhelming majority of graduates were in the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center. As soon as a few adults who had received entry tickets from anti-Obama students began to shout epithets at the President, the assembled student body -- spontaneously and without any prompt-ing -- began chanting “We are ND!” and continued doing so until the disrupters were removed from the building. (Unlike certain mass demonstrations in support of JPII orchestrated by the Neo Cats.)

To be sure, the alternative ceremony held elsewhere on campus was conducted peacefully and with dignity, but it never consisted of more than a tiny minority of graduates and their supporters from outside the university.

If the Fordham group of young Catholic theologians were guilty of anything -- beyond their evident good will -- it may have been naivete.

They implied that an older generation of Catholic theologians may have been somehow responsible for the polarization in the Catholic Church by fomenting the so-called culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s “through which much of the council and its aftermath were read.”

But the Fordham group’s sense of history seems truncated. Have they forgotten that after Pope Paul VI, the man elected to the papacy was John Paul I -- the Patriarch of Venice -- and that he died after only 33 days in office? (Great question.  How easy it is to forget JPI, who was a real pastoral example of the theology of VII.  Maybe because he somehow managed to die after only one month.)

Had John Paul I not died prematurely, we would never have had John Paul II, who came into office with a clearly conceived plan to re-make the face of the hierarchy -- a plan that involved the dismantling of much of what Paul VI tried to create, particularly a cadre of pastoral bishops committed to carrying out the reforms and renewal launched, under Paul VI’s direction, by Vatican II. (One can't help but wonder how Cardinals who elected JPI then turn around and elect Karol Wotyla--one of the driving forces for the minority report on birth control. Another mystery we will undoubtedly never have an answer for.)

Thus, if there is any single reason why polarization exists in the Catholic Church today it is because of the type of bishops whom John Paul II appointed and promoted within the hierarchy over the course of his 26 and a half years in office.

Any other explanation of the polarization that now afflicts the Church is simply naive.  (As I wrote yesterday, honest naivete seems to be the flavor of the favored in Benedict's Church.)

© 2010 Richard P. McBrien. All rights reserved

Two of those JPII bishops Fr. McBrien refers to are now cardinals---Raymond Burke and Donald Wuerl.  I remember Wuerl for a number of things, none of which would pad his resume for his red hat, but I guess all that was overlooked.  I'm sure there is very little rejoicing in Seattle over Wuerl's elevation to cardinal.  As for Burke, well lots of republican activists will be popping champagne.  That's about as generous a comment as I can muster.

Pope Benedict's other cardinal appointees are heavy on Italian and curial lifers.  Appointees from the South, where the vast majority of Catholics actually live, represented only 1/3 of his appointees.  Benedict's church may be overwhelmingly non white, but his administration is decidedly not.  We can expect more ranting from these cardinals on the low birthrate in white European and North American countries.  Sigh......

One other article of note which I think dovetails with McBrien's take on JPII is Pope Benedict's recent global letter to seminarians.  Benedict actually hints at problems in priestly formation having something to do with the abuse crisis:

"The priest must first and foremost be a “man of God,” who is willing to grow in self-knowledge and “humility” through prayer, the Pope said. He encouraged the seminarians to cultivate an “inner closeness” with Jesus through the sacraments, especially the sacrament of Penance.

This sacrament is vitally important to the spiritual formation of priests, he said.

“It teaches me to see myself as God sees me, and it forces me to be honest with myself …” the Pope said. “Moreover, by letting myself be forgiven, I learn to forgive others. In recognizing my own weakness, I grow more tolerant and understanding of the failings of my neighbor.”

The Pope also urged seminarians to foster “the right balance of heart and mind, reason and feeling, body and soul, and to be humanly integrated.”

“This also involves the integration of sexuality into the whole personality,” he said. “Sexuality is a gift of the Creator yet it is also a task which relates to a person’s growth towards human maturity. When it is not integrated within the person, sexuality becomes banal and destructive.”

“Recently we have seen with great dismay that some priests disfigured their ministry by sexually abusing children and young people,” the Pope added. “Instead of guiding people to greater human maturity and setting them an example, their abusive behavior caused great damage for which we feel profound shame and regret.”

“Yet even the most reprehensible abuse cannot discredit the priestly mission,” Pope Benedict stressed, “which remains great and pure.”

This last sentence once again is based in the idea of a perfect society for which no amount of dirt could ever effect the shine of it's underlying truth.  There will never be a re evaluation of the Catholic priesthood as long as this Pope lives and he is doing his utmost to stack the deck in favor of a like minded successor.  Hence the third world is totally under represented because a real push for rethinking the priesthood is coming from the South.

One last observation.  Benedict has been stressing the Sacrament of Penance lately, especially for the priesthood.  I've been struck in reading documentation in abuse cases,  by how often the notion of confession was misconstrued as therapy.  The black board of the soul was magically erased so abusive priests could then be reassigned without any attempt to understand the behavior was about far more than an inclination to sin.

When people have an understanding of the Sacrament of Penance as a form of chalk board eraser, and not as a call to repentance and conversion, they have no motivation to change.  They have motivation to find a compliant confessor.  Way too often that compliant confessor has had real motivation to forgive without insisting on much in the way of repentance and conversion. My mother used to call this notion the 'mafia death bed get out of hell free card'.  She thought VII's reforming of the sacrament of confession as something more meaningful than 'three our fathers, three hail mary's' was the one good thing accomplished by the 'whole mess'.  I do too, but I also think we're going to see the trend to return to the old 'three hail mary's, three our fathers' magic erase board mentality. That version doesn't take a real relationship between the penitent and the confessor to be 'effective'.  Which is why it worked so great for bishops and abusive priests. Bishops could keep their distance while soothing their consciences.  Kind of like JPII and Maciel.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Incredible Shrinking Church

I'm having trouble seeing all those hordes of JPII kids who are going to save Catholicism.  Maybe they are in the confessionals.

Peter Steinfels has a piece on Commonweal which is receiving a lot of interest.  He deals with the exodus of US Catholics from the pews and some of the reasons for it.  One of the points I was personally glad he made is the incredible disconnect between the reporting about the John Paul II generation of youth and that generation's real representation in the pews.  Which is about nil.  One of the major reasons for this, at least as found by current research, is the younger generations are turned off by the conservative politics of Church leadership.  This includes conservative political attitudes towards social justice and ecological issues as well sexual morality.  This is not just true for Catholic youth,  but plays across the whole spectrum of Christian denominations. 

From my perspective it seems Evangelical Protestants have a better grasp of this situation than our Catholic leadership--at least our most vocal Catholic leadership.  For instance,  there have been more pleas for real understanding of the gay bullying issue from Evangelicals while Catholic leadership has been stunningly silent.  Unfortunately this silence is the exact wrong strategy to use if the Church really gave a damn about the loss of it's youth.  These youth have gone way beyond concern about gay issues.  In their minds gay rights is a done deal.

In my own experience it is the description of the kind of God implied in conservative political ideology that is a major stumbling block for these younger generations.  So many of them have grown up in split families that the patriarchal God of the Old Testament doesn't have much resonance.  They haven't experienced the kind of family order that conservatives are trying to say is God's order.  When serial monogamists like Newt Gingrich give speeches about the divine nature of this family order, they smell hypocrisy and exit stage left. 
For a lot of them paternity is not about a benevolent male authority figure, it's about male abandoment.

I don't actually have any idea as to how the current version of Catholicism is going to successfully make any inroads with these younger generations.  I was really disappointed with the roll out of Benedict's new Vatican dicastery for the evangelization of the old Catholic strongholds.  Archbishop Reno Fisichella sounded as if he didn't have a clue as to what his assignment was about.  The best he could offer was he would get right on adding other languages (other than Italian and Latin) to the not yet fully constructed website for the not yet thought out plan by the not yet staffed dicastery.  Great.

Maybe this lack of foresite for Benedict's new initiative indicates the Vatican is aware of some hard facts.  Unless there is a massive change in the conceptualization of Catholic theology and a true reformation of how the Church does business it will not survive as a meaningful entity.  Benedict has decided that survival of the current model of the Church is worth any cost.  He is throwing verbal tokens in the direction of the lost sheep while spending the vast majority of his energy upholding the current clerical system and espousing the pre Vatican II Christology which is so necessary to that clerical system.  

This is a Church which is essentially preaching to the maturity and intellectual level of naive high schoolers.  Benedict's vision of the 'simple people' sometimes seems as if he sees his core audience as one big class of freshmen college students and his classroom is fully committed to the idea of 'en loco parentis'.  This most certainly seems to be what he is seeking in seminary candidates and episcopal appointments.  It is a recipe for virtually the total loss of the thinking West, but also most of the developing third world. 

Worse than this, it makes the statement loud and clear that caring for souls is not what he is about.  He is about saving the clerical Church.  Evangelization implies a moving out towards others.  Benedict's Church is telling Catholics it is our duty to move towards the stagnant center of Rome, not the Church's duty to reach out to the evolving margins.  This is matched by his idea of ecumenism in which he has reached out for the most reactionary components of historical Catholicism while silencing or condemning the progressive components.

If the question for Catholics is sacrificing emotional maturity and intellectual integrity for the sake of full communion in the Church, the numbers that Peter Steinfels laments are only going to get worse.  As long as the restorationist movement holds sway in Rome, the Roman Church will continue to shrink.  Maybe it's time disaffected Catholics started buying up some of the property the shrinking Roman Church is selling.  No reason their loss shouldn't be someone else's gain.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Archbishop Lucas Of Omaha Suppresses A Catholic Group Of Spiritual Warriors

Mother Nadine Brown is a mother no longer.

Here's something you don't see very often.  Archbishop Lucas of Omaha has suppressed the Hermit Association of the Intercessors of the Lamb founded by Mother Nadine Brown.  One of the charisms of this group was Spiritual Warfare.  The following statement is from the Archdiocesan Office of Communications as posted on Spirit Daily, an independent publication.
October 15, 2010 

Today, for grave reasons, I suppressed the Hermit Association of the Intercessors of the Lamb. The reasons for this suppression are noted in a separate news release, principally, the refusal of the lay civil board of the Intercessors of the Lamb, Inc., a Nebraska corporation, to acknowledge my authority in making much-needed reforms in the community. The way of life of some fifty vowed members was in peril due to actions of a handful of civil directors. The vows of the former members have ceased (c. 1194), and they are to set aside the habit and refrain from using the titles “Mother,” “Brother,” or “Sister.” They are no longer considered to be in consecrated life or assimilated to it in the Church. I am providing for the care of the former members in the short-term, and remain committed to helping them in any way I can in the future.

From this point forward, The Intercessors of the Lamb, Inc., is in no way associated with the Catholic Church. As Archbishop of Omaha, and in view of my authority to govern and guard the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church (c. 835 §1), I hereby decree that no liturgical or sacramental celebrations are to occur on any property owned by the Intercessors of the Lamb, Inc., within the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Priests, deacons, and lay ministers are to observe this prescription. The chapel formerly known as the Our Lady of Light Chapel on the Bellwether campus in Omaha is no longer a Catholic chapel. Catholic faithful worldwide should be aware that any alms given to the Intercessors of the Lamb, Inc., are not being given to a Catholic organization. Those who previously had scheduled retreats or other Catholic ministry opportunities there should look elsewhere.

Those who consider themselves “companions” or “associates” of the Intercessors, some of whom have even taken vows, are hereby informed that such vows were never canonically recognized in the Church. Even if such vows were binding in conscience, they too cease in view of the suppression of the Hermit Association of the Intercessors of the Lamb and c. 1194. Of course, Catholic faithful are always welcome, in virtue of their baptism, to associate together and to pray. I would encourage those companions and associates to continue to pray for the former vowed members of the Intercessor community, for the Church, and for the needs of the world.


In attempting to do some research on this group I found there was very little concrete information available.  The official website has been shut down and some of the religious publishing houses which carried Mother Nadine Brown's CD's and books, have stopped distribution and instead give a link to the above statement of Archbishop Lucas.  It's really difficult to find much more than is listed in a Wikipedia entry. 

Everything I was able to find on Nadine Brown indicates she is pretty much equivalent to a New Age Channeler.  More interesting is that aspects of her story are not all that different from Mother Angelica's except Angelica managed to amass great deal of wealth through a media empire and Nadine Brown managed to get her little empire suppressed.  I'm not sure what that says except maybe one Bishop's Mother Angelica is another Bishop's Nadine Brown.  It's interesting that in view of the dissent within Angelica's order, dissension that culminated in a break away group, that Angelica's order still enjoys canonical sanction.  I'd hate to think this had anything to do with the amount of money Angelica managed to get to back her. 

In any event both women claimed to be hearing directly from God or angels, both apparently ran the orders they founded like little dictators, and both strongly advocated and taught the concepts of Spiritual Warfare. In case one thinks these two women are aberrations, think again.  There are any number of these recently founded Catholic lay apostalates, usually founded by a woman channeler, who all advocate Spiritual Warfare of some sort.  Sometimes these groups will work together such as in the case Mother Angelica's community and the group Opus Angelorum.  OA was established in 1949 in Austria on the writings of another woman channeler Mother Gabrielle Bitterlich.  She too founded an order of nuns and an associated order of priests.  Opus Angelorum was later given the Canonical status of a Public Association of Christian Faithful, but at the price of the suppression of some of the private revelations and associated rituals revealed to Mother Bitterlich.

The Vatican and assorted bishops have always had problems with mystics and private revelation.  It doesn't seem to me that it's rocket science to look at this phenomenon and call it what it is, channeling.  It's actually a fairly well researched phenomenon in which psychics, mostly all New Age, have undergone various medical and laboratory testing. This kind of ability is not limited to Catholic middle aged women, New Apostolic Reformation leaders, practitioners of Scientology, or any other religious and spiritual group.  It's a product of human consciousness.  Handled poorly it can lead directly to psychosis and paranoid schizophrenic type symptomology, handled well and with some mature discernment, it can lead to healing and enlightenment.

These abilities which seem outside normal sensory parameters need to be looked at dispassionately and free from religious paradigms or medical assumptions about their psychopathology.  In the case of many channelers, especially female, there is very frequently a history of disassociation due to early trauma or abuse. One can also find the same mental states generated in meditation, centering prayer, from the use of certain drugs, and yes, the deeply focused repetitive prayer Catholics call the rosary.  People who learn to disassociate early in life have an easier time entering these specific states of brain wave activity. 

Some good research studies indicate this may have a lot to do with neurotransmitter Dimethyltryptamine, commonly referred to as DMT.  DMT is a member of the serotonin family and is common to the drugs used by Indigenous communities to facilitate hallucinogenic states of spiritual communication. Brain wave patterns do not directly correlate with any notions of holiness.  They just are. 

What does correlate highly with religious enculturation is what one experiences when generating these specific brain wave states.  This is a phenomenon I have written on before in which I used the analogy of the rolodex.  If your personal rolodex only includes angels and devils and a war between them, that is all you are going to see because your fear and ignorance level will not let you see anything else. People who can achieve these states absolutely need emotionally and intellectually mature spiritual advisers or they will experience some seriously 'bad trips'--trips they may never recover from.  Operative words in the previous sentence are emotionally and intellectually mature, not religiously orthodox. 

I agree with Archbishop Lucas's decision to suppress this group.  What he needs to do is find a Catholic who is trained in trans personal psychology to help with some of the wreckage amongst the members of this group---wreckage which is being hinted at in the blogosphere, but not specifically delineated. This is powerful stuff these kinds of groups are into, and maybe it's past time Catholicism looks at it seriously from a less religious point of view and a more rational point of view.  It's important to do so if only to understand why this whole concept of channeling and spiritual warfare is so useful to the dominionist agenda of the New Apostolic Reformation. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Please, Stop It With The Blame The Victim Defense

Some people are getting this message, but others seem incapable of giving up this pathetic strategy.

This article in America magazine is well worth reading because it includes a video of Fort Worth, Texas city councilman Joe Burns and his heart felt plea for gay teens to avoid the temptation of seeing suicide as a solution to the bullying they may experience in school.  Joe Burns is really painful to watch as he describes his own experience growing up gay in a Texas high school, knowing his parents, especially his dad, were not going to deal well with his truth.  He tells his audience that it got better and his dad came to understand loving his son was more important to him than whether or not his son was gay.  I have to admit I got a little choked up watching this very moving testimony, and then I made the mistake of reading the comments.  The following comment sent me through the roof. 

"Isn't there a lot of confusion surrounding this whole issue? The idea of drawing a straight line from, "religious intolerance" to blame religion for a tragic situation could just as well be turned around to show where the plea by an openly "gay" mayor to "gay" youths is exactly what continues to confuse and drive to despair the youth as they develop their bodies, minds, spirits and selves in the context of much sexual impacting upon these same youths. Look at some of the tv shows aimed at the youth and you will see blatant grooming and recruiting towards a homosexual life style; done, of course, in the guise of, "teaching" tolerance towards others. Not that tolerance of others isn't needed, but it is obvious that society and the, "gay party", if you will, has reached way beyond demanding tolerance. (No, what I see is tons and tons of blatant grooming of girls to accept the male heterosexual lifestyle with it's demand that a real girl succumbs to the 'charms' of male attention and does everything in her power to be a magnet for that male attention.)

My understanding is that sexuality develops slowly and in many persons fluctuating thoughts and feelings and desires and experimental actions lead to a natural sort of confusion. Isn't it also true that most young people learn about sexual matters and experience sexual things with the same sex. Young boys with young boys. Young girls with young girls. Cub Scouts with Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts with Girl Scouts. Think about this in regards to your own youth; what you saw, were told, experienced - where and when. (That is true and that is the real problem with chastity only education.  Getting your sexual knowledge from peers who know nothing valid about the consequences of sexual activity is insane.  It's the insane product of the insanity of having a sexual moral theology determined solely by men whose experience is 'officially' non existent.) 

The problem is, to then promote the idea that to have done/seen/felt/heard so makes one a, "gay", or a, "gay" youth, promotes this same confusion in the youth; for a mayor to address, "gay" youth, perpetuates this confusion that exactly does lead to despair. The fact that maybe not, "gayness", but confused/developing/immature sexual identity led to a tragic situation was pointed out earlier in this blog chain in a particular case where a youth had access to pornography which promoted a homosexual style and which in itself led to the tragic effect.  (This is just bizarre thinking. Is this kind of like all a lesbian needs to erase her sexual confusion is a good case of rape?) 

And, so regarding concern for youth, most of whom have not established their sexual identities but are under pressure to do so, there is a sort of bullying by those who pick up the phrase, "gay bullying" and try to cast blame upon others for what they themselves have perpetrated! Perhaps they truly have concern and compassion for youth, but their actions and words can lead to the effects they deplore. (Classic and unapologetic case of blame the victim.)


I am at a loss for words with the last paragraph other than to say it is truly Palinesque.  I wish there was some way I could get this man to understand what he deplores in so called 'gay lifestyle' is exactly what the 'heterosexual lifestyle' does with girls in the years in which they are 'establing their sexual identity'.  I suspect this particular man would have very little problem with the fact too many girls are literally bullied into their first sexual encounters.  There is very little in the 'heterosexual lifestyle' that bolsters female self esteem enough to assert her right to say 'no'. 

The 'heterosexual lifestyle' is designed to reward male self esteem which is why the stats show that those teen age boys with the highest self esteem have the most sexual encounters, and it's exactly the opposite with girls.  These statistics describe a situation ripe with opportunities for abuse and exploitation and there is plenty of it in our high schools and colleges.

If the 'heterosexual lifestyle' is designed to generate and reward male self esteem, it stands to reason that the 'homosexual lifestyle' will be seen as it's direct opposite.  Which it most certainly is and so we have NARTH listing sexually transmitted diseases as a fruit of this disordered lifestyle while completely leaving out that same and far more devastating aspect of the 'heterosexual lifestyle'.  NARTH will list suicide as a consequence of the 'homosexual lifestyle' while completely ignoring some similar effects of the 'heterosexual lifestyle' on girls, including the forced abortion of unwanted pregnancies.

I guess I shouldn't be totally surprised that a male true believer would write that kind of comment about the gay agenda being responsible for gay bullying.  Powerful men have historically blamed their victims for bringing on their own victimization.  It began way back when male leadership convinced women they were to blame for their status as property because of Eve's disobedience.  It was as if Adam had done nothing wrong and was there for still entitled to be considered the pinnacle of God's worldly creation. 

The same tripe is now being presented by right wing Catholics all over the blogosphere.  The "perfect society' of the Catholic Church is not responsible in any way shape or form for the fact these disordered inclined to evil youth opt to kill themselves rather than turn to the tender mercies of the love the sinner hate the sin Christian loving church folks.  This is kind of like expecting the French Roma to turn to President Sarkozy for help, or illegal immigrants to turn to Phoenix's Sherrif Arpaio. It's asking people to be pathological in their victimhood, or to come down with a serious case of Stockholm syndrome.  Hmmmm, maybe that explains the seminary system.

Friday, October 15, 2010

About Those Women Saints Of The Middle Ages Benedict Is Fond Of

Pope Benedict has been giving a series of Wednesday audiences on women mystics from the middle ages.  This Wednesday he chose Blessed Angela of Foligno who is pretty typical of the women has has presented.  God may have a thousand ways for making His presence felt, but the one described in the life of Blessed Angela is the Vatican's seemingly preferred path, but there is more to their path than Benedict wants to see.

Pope: We are all in danger of living as if God did not exist

CNA/INTL  10/15/2010

"We are all in danger of living as if God did not exist, but God has a thousand ways, for each one of us he has his own way to make his presence felt in our soul, to show us that he knows us and loves us and wants us to be attentive to those signs with which God touches us", this is what Blessed Angela of Foligno shows us.

On Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI, dedicated his catechesis to the mystic of the thirteenth century, a late convert to the faith who knew "the heights of experience of union with God", the latest in s series of lessons illustrating the great female figures of the medieval Church.

To 40 thousand people in St. Peter's Square, the Pope said that "usually people are fascinated by the heights of her experience of union with God, but few consider just the first part of life."

Angela was born in 1248 into a wealthy family in Foligno. Introduced in worldly circles, she met a man whom she married when she was 20 years old and had children.

At that time her life was “certainly not that of a fervent disciple of the Lord", so much so she despised so-called penitents, as were called those who out of devotion "sold their possessions and lived in prayer, fasting, charity and service to the Church". (Benedict will now go on to show us how she became that which she despised.)

Some events of 1279, such as a violent earthquake, a hurricane, war with Perugia and its dire consequences affect the life of Angela, who "becomes aware of her sins." The decisive moment came: in 1285 she invoked St Francis who appears and urges her to a general confession.

Three years later, there is also the "dissolution of emotional ties," her mother died followed a few months later by her husband and all her children".  (This is an interesting way of saying she lost her entire family--very intellectually and emotionally distant.)

Angela sold all her possessions and joined the Franciscan Third Order. She died in 1309.

"Conversion, penance, humility and tribulations" are collected by her brother confessor in the "Book" in which "Angela’s difficulty in expressing her mystical experience is met with the difficulty of her listeners in understanding her."  (Personal misery will now become the fuel for her mystical experiences.)

"This situation clearly shows how the one true Master, Jesus lives in the heart of every believer and wants to take full ownership of it."

It is a journey of conversion that takes the path of Angela’s fear of hell. "This fear of hell responds to the kind of faith that Angela had at the time of her conversion, a faith still lacking in charity, that love of God. Repentance, fear of hell, repentance open to Angela the prospect of painful way of the cross, from the eighth to the fifteenth station, it will then bring her to the path of love”.

Angela "feels she must give something to God to repair for her sins, but slowly realizes that she had nothing to give, moreover of being nothing before him, she understands that it is not her will that will give her the love of God, because this can only give her nothing, 'non love'. " "As she says: the only true and pure love that comes from God, is in the soul and it makes us recognize our faults and divine goodness”. (This is referencing her faults and God's divine goodness.  According to Benedict, Angela never gets to the point of recognizing anything worthwhile in herself.  Hmmm, this might be just a tad bit self serving.)

"However, Angela's heart always carries the wounds of sin, even after a good confession, she was forgiven and still distraught from sin, free and conditioned by the past, absolved but in need of repentance. The thoughts of hell also accompany her because the more the soul advances on the path of Christian perfection, the more it is convinced of not only of being unworthy, but of being worthy of hell". (This is the Good News we are being told God gave us? Where's the love? Angela found out.) 

Eventually, Angela understands what is the central reality. "What will save her from her unworthiness and being deserving of hell is not her union with God and his truth, but Jesus crucified, He was crucified for me, his love." (Imagine the impact this understanding would have on a woman in the middle ages--not the crucifixion part, but the fact Jesus loves her as an individual and deems her as an individual as worthy of His love.)

The passage from the mystical experience of conversion, "from what can be expressed to what can not be expressed, occurs through the Crucified." All her experience is "to tend to a perfect likeness to him, through purification and ever more profound and radical transformations. In this wonderful enterprise Angela puts her whole self, body and soul, without sparing herself in penance and tribulations from beginning to end, wanting to die with all the pains suffered by the crucified God-man to be transformed completely in Him”. (Angela was passionately in love with Jesus as one individual with another, so this is not surprising that she would want to share His suffering.)

From conversion to mystical union with Christ crucified. An elevated path- explained the Pope - the secret of which is constant prayer: "The more you pray - she says – the more you will be enlightened, the more you are enlightened, the more deeply and intensely you will see the Supreme Good, the supremely good Being, the more deeply and intensely you see Him, the more you love Him, the more you love Him, the more you delight, and the more you delight, the more you will understand and become more able to understand Him. Then you will come to the fullness of light, you will understand that you can not understand”.

I'm not surprised that Benedict emphasises sin, repentance, suffering, loss, and joining with Christ crucified or that Angela herself might have discussed her experiences in such terms.  Angela was a Franciscan tertiary and the founder of the Franciscans,  St Francis,  was a stigmatic who chose to leave his family and wealth.  Angela had begun to actively distance herself from her family three years prior to their deaths, after having a conversion experience which included a vision of St Francis.  At this point she began to divest of her wealth, and undertake Franciscan spiritual practices which apparently included the maintenance of a celibate marriage. The above articles gives a very different view of this period of her life. 

Angela herself was a stigmatic for a short period, and coupled with her vision of St Francis,  helped assure she would be taken seriously enough to attract a Franciscan spiritual advisor, Brother Arnoldo,  who is responsible for the written record we have of her visions.  Angela was unable to write so it is difficult for scholars of the writings attributed to her to determine what exactly is Angela's voice versus that of her scribe. This is a critical point in an era in which women had no official voice. 

It may be that last point that contributed mightily to the numbers of women mystics in the middle ages.  Mysticism was the one area in which women were allowed to have a voice and a true personal identity.  The kind of ego identity that men had as discrete individuals with rights and dignity.  Women on the other hand had no intrinsic rights, were given away as property,  and confined by role definition.  In mysticism they found a discrete personal identity that was theirs alone, and best yet,  confirmed by Jesus Himself.  It's no wonder they considered subsuming this identity with Christ to be the ultimate gift.  It was initially a mind altering, ego expanding precious discovery which made it's loss in the 'mystical death' and subsequent union with Christ so powerful an experience.  In their descriptions of their mystical marriages with Jesus, women like Angela found the only acceptable way to voice the passion and sensuousness of feminine love in a way which men would tolerate.  Any other avenue to express these kind of feelings would be understood as the voice of "Eve" and the abandonment of the female place in the order of things.

Only as a mystic could Angela's scribe pen these words describing Angela's thoughts on love:

In Instruction VI, Angela indicates three ways to reach true love:

The first sign of true love is that the lover submits his will to that of the Beloved. And this most spatial and singular love works in three ways.

First, if the loved one is poor, one strives to be­come poor, and if scorned, to be scorned.

Second, it makes one abandon all other friendship which could be contrary to this love, and leave behind father, mother, sister, brother, and all other affections contrary to the will of the Beloved.

Third, one can keep nothing hidden from the other.

It's not hard to see that these three ideas of love could be held in the mind of a woman who wound up in an arranged marriage under the thumb of her husband's family and attempted to live something of a lie rather than her truth.  I can't help but wonder if she would have written if the loved one is rich, one strives to become rich, and if exalted, to be exalted; if she truly had a passionate love relationship with her husband.

Blessed Angela is an important figure because she is a precursor for the next great female mystic, Catherine of Sienna.  St Catherine is unique because we have her actual writings, and not transcripts from male spiritual mentors.  St. Catherine is a true power house of a woman with real impact in both secular and clerical societies.  In Catherine we have the woman mystic who has taken the freedom and authority her mystical visions have given her to new heights of personal expression. She kept control of her own voice and she accepted no final authority outside her visions.  This stance gave her the freedom to interact with Europe's male movers and shakers.  She did pay a price for her unique role and status.  A therapist might say that price included death from anorexia since Catherine began her first fast in a bid to make herself unattractive to the man of her arranged marriage--a strategy also used by her older sister with this same man. It would seem neither sister was enthralled with repeating the example of their mother who had twenty five children.

This Wednesday was Benedict's final audience on the topic of women saints of the middle ages.  In all of his talks he used their lives to make his points about the spiritual path and union with Jesus.  He attempted to show their growth from fear of hell as an impetus for prayer to an understanding of true love in self abnegation, selfless devotion, charitable giving, and willing submission.  These are all traditional traits of the appropriate role of women in traditional Church teaching.  The irony is that some of Benedict's chosen examples went to great lengths to overcome their traditional gender role and in that process discovered their own self worth as unique human individuals.  It was in that discovery and the defense of it, that they found their voices and became the women western culture now venerates. 

Modern women owe much to these visionaries and their struggles both spiritual and cultural. They gave rise to the notion that women had something to offer society beyond that of wife and mother.  They did this through considering themselves married to Jesus and mothers to all, but this attitude ennobled all women.  It took women from merely Eve's untrustworthy descendants to Temples worthy of marital union with Jesus. That's a huge shift in the perception of the intrinsic worth and equality of women.  Eventually this understanding became universally operative in the secular democracies of the West, if not always in actual practice.  Well, except for one small theocratic monarchy--the Vatican City States.