Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cardinal George Gives Us The Battle Plan

In the final analysis, Cardinal George makes it quite evident the religious freedom crusade is all about the bishops and their authority

Cardinal George has written another of his--ahem-- pastoral letters.  This time no one is compared to the Ku Klux Clan, but there is a reference to the Soviet Union definition of religious liberty and the long long cold war necessary to bring that godless system down.  I guess this is the Barack as closet communist meme.  After reading the thing twice, I came to conclusion Cardinal George has been taking his talking points from Glen Beck.  Here's the Cardinal's take on the history of religious freedom:

So far in American history, our government has respected the freedom of individual conscience and of institutional integrity for all the many religious groups that shape our society. The government has not compelled them to perform or pay for what their faith tells them is immoral. That’s what we’ve meant by freedom of religion. That’s what we had believed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we were foolish to believe so.  

I think the Mormons and the Quakers and the Amish might differ with Cardinal George's view of history--and then there was that whole Native American religious persecution thing, but whatever.
Then Cardinal George gives us his take on the dismal future and he sounds perfectly apocalyptic.  Remember all this is threatened over insurance companies paying for birth control:

What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.

I'm thinking smart Catholic institutions will opt for the separation from the oversight of the local bishop before the local bishop gets all high and mighty and histrionic and executes their jobs by executing #4.

Further along he makes the case that the public is making this a discussion of the 'reproductive' issues and not religious freedom, and that is isolating the bishops from Catholic faithful.  This is news?   Well, whatever, he then gets in some more apocalyptic language and moves on to compare the morality of cheating on tests with birth control, overlooking the fact completely that Catholic laity do not consider the use of birth control immoral.  Which is of course, the heart of the personal conscience issue.  He then ends this section with the theoretical arguments against the bishop's position which he boils down to inadequacy in personal faith.

In the public discussion thus far, efforts have been made to isolate the bishops from the Catholic faithful by focusing attention exclusively on “reproductive” issues. But the acrimony could as easily focus next year or the year after on assisted suicide or any other moral issue that can be used to distract attention from the attack on religious liberty. Many will recognize in these moves a tactic now familiar in our public life: those who cannot be co-opted are isolated and then destroyed. The arguments used are both practical and theoretical.

Practically, we’re told that the majority of Catholics use artificial contraception. There are properly medical reasons, in some circumstances, for the use of contraceptive pills, as everyone knows. But even if contraceptives were used by a majority of couples only and exclusively to suppress a possible pregnancy, behavior doesn’t determine morality. If it can be shown that a majority of Catholic students cheat on their exams, it is still wrong to cheat on exams. Trimming morality to how we behave guts the Gospel call to conversion of life and rejection of sin.

Theoretically, it is argued that there are Catholic voices that disagree with the teaching of the church and therefore with the bishops. There have always been those whose personal faith is not adequate to the faith of the church. Perhaps this is the time for everyone to re-read the Acts of the Apostles. Bishops are the successors of the apostles; they collectively receive the authority to teach and govern that Christ bestowed upon the apostles. Bishops don’t claim to speak for every baptized Catholic. Bishops speak, rather, for the Catholic and apostolic faith. Those who hold that faith gather with them; others go their own way. They are and should be free to do so, but they deceive themselves and others in calling their organizations Catholic.

There is much more to this letter and I hope readers link to it and make what they can of it. It does get very apocalyptic and threatening at the endCheck this out:

If you haven’t already purchased the Archdiocesan Directory for 2012, I would suggest you get one as a souvenir. On page L-3, there is a complete list of Catholic hospitals and health care institutions in Cook and Lake counties. Each entry represents much sacrifice on the part of medical personnel, administrators and religious sponsors. Each name signifies the love of Christ to people of all classes and races and religions. Two Lents from now, unless something changes, that page will be blank.


At least Cardinal George has given his Catholic institutions two years or so to execute the 'separate themselves from his control' plan before he separates them from their jobs.  This is incomprehensible to me. The man is threatening the livelihoods of God knows how many people over his right to use his authority to mandate how their individual consciences will play out in their lives.  He's right about one thing, this is getting way beyond birth control.

No wonder the USCCB wants the Taco Bell manager to have the same rights because it masks what they themselves are now stating they will do to all their own employees on an individual diocesan basis.  It will not be the Roman Catholic institution closing down all those hospitals and charitable organizations in Lake and Cook counties, it will be one man--Cardinal George. 

This is getting into some very murky waters and I wish more of our Catholic opinion makers would make an effort to understand where the Cardinal George's of the Catholic world are willing to go with this trumped up crusade.  This letter of Cardinal George's makes it pretty plain it's not even about religious freedom, it's about unbridled power and the exercise there of in the bishops own episcopal kingdomsThere are no checks and balances on that individual power, which George is making perfectly clear.  They themselves can't lose because they can't be recalled or voted out or effectively silenced---unlike Barack Obama.  The only losers in their little war with the government are, as usual, lay Catholics.  This whole clerical system has got to go.

Monday, February 27, 2012

It's Rick Mania Time

Rick Santorum maybe about faith and family, but freedom? Certainly not for all Americans.

Rick Santorum has managed to make himself topic du jour in the blogosphere this Monday morning, which is something considering the Oscars were last night. I'll have to join the Rick mania since I have not heard of most of the Best Picture nominees, much less seen any of them.  It seems lately if a movie isn't on Turner Classic Movies or the International Film Channel, I haven't seen it.  Ergo I have to write about Rick Santorum.  Well, bummer.

What makes Rick the topic du jour is his statement to George Stephanopulous that JFK's 1960 Houston speech on religious freedom 'makes him want to throw up'.  OK Rick, but you might also mention that JFK's speech to that suspicious Evangelical Houston crowd, helped pave the way for you to be the front runner in the Republican party some sixty years later. You actually owe President Kennedy and the Democrats a thank you for where you are now.  Actually that last thought makes me want to throw up.

I admit I have a very difficult time understanding why Rick Santorum, who also seems very willing to throw up on the entire social justice teaching of the Catholic Church,  is receiving any support from our Catholic bishops.  Seriously, I have been giving a lot of thought to what the USCCB is really up to and why Ricki Sanctimonious is so important to their plans, and the plans of the Republican Party.  But God is good and He does provide, and in today's blogo mania about Rick there have been some real nuggets that have helped my understanding.  The first nugget was an article entitled "Why 2012 Is the Republicans Last Chance."  It's written by Jonathan Chait for New York Magazine.  It deals with demographics and how those demographics spell doom for the current Republican Party. The following excerpt is from the opening paragraphs:

......Rick Santorum warns his audiences, “We are reaching a tipping point, folks, when those who pay are the minority and those who receive are the majority.” Even such a sober figure as Mitt Romney regularly says things like “We are only inches away from no longer being a free economy,” and that this election “could be our last chance.”

The Republican Party is in the grips of many fever dreams. But this is not one of them. To be sure, the apocalyptic ideological analysis—that “freedom” is incompatible with Clinton-era tax rates and Massachusetts-style health care—is pure crazy. But the panicked strategic analysis, and the sense of urgency it gives rise to, is actually quite sound. The modern GOP—the party of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes—is staring down its own demographic extinction. Right-wing warnings of impending tyranny express, in hyperbolic form, well-grounded dread: that conservative America will soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democratic coalition hostile to its outlook and interests. And this impending doom has colored the party’s frantic, fearful response to the Obama presidency.

The GOP has reason to be scared. Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before by journalist John Judis and political scientist Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Despite the fact that George W. Bush then occupied the White House, Judis and Teixeira argued that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a ­natural-majority coalition for Democrats.

The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.” Meanwhile, the Democrats had ­increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. As a whole, Judis and Teixeira noted, the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP. And the trends were even more striking in some key swing states. Judis and Teixeira highlighted Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, with skyrocketing Latino populations, and Virginia and North Carolina, with their influx of college-educated whites, as the most fertile grounds for the expanding Democratic base.

 Obama’s victory carried out the blueprint. Campaign reporters cast the election as a triumph of Obama’s inspirational message and cutting-edge organization, but above all his sweeping win reflected simple demography. Every year, the nonwhite proportion of the electorate grows by about half a percentage point—meaning that in every presidential election, the minority share of the vote increases by 2 percent, a huge amount in a closely divided country. One measure of how thoroughly the electorate had changed by the time of Obama’s election was that, if college-­educated whites, working-class whites, and minorities had cast the same proportion of the votes in 1988 as they did in 2008, Michael Dukakis would have, just barely, won. By 2020—just eight years away—nonwhite voters should rise from a quarter of the 2008 electorate to one third. In 30 years, nonwhites will outnumber whites......

These numbers explain why the USCCB has become so important to the Republican party and why Ricki Sanctimonious is running on a platform of 'faith and family values'.  It's called the Hispanic vote.  It's the reason the New Apostolic Reformation is losing it's political ascendancy in the culture wars.  Hispanics are Catholic.  The Newt has been working for last six years on his cementing his 'Catholic' qualifications, which should have been a big tip off since Newt has always been about Newt's political ambitions.  Unfortunately for Newt, by the time he 'found' Catholicism, he had cycled through two wives and three adulterous relationships and somehow failed to engender any child units. Rick, on the other hand, has  had one wife and seven child units.  Hmmmm, apparently one can only take religious hypocrisy to a certain level--even in the Republican party.  Newt has suddenly found himself way behind Rick.

The USCCB gains by becoming thee voice in the culture wars.  This certainly helps undercut the global plans of the apocalyptic home of Sarah Palin, the  New Apostolic Reformation, and their not so secret plans for creating their Earthly Kingdom for Jesus before Jesus comes with His nuclear/biogenic angelic army. Since various and sundry units of the NAR are wreaking havoc amongst the Catholic population in South and Central America and Africa, the Vatican gains even more if the USCCB can cement itself as the loudest moral voice in the US, because the US is where most of the money fueling the NAR is coming from.  And one should never forget that Rick is not just closely connected to Opus Dei, he's also closely connected to The Family who is closely connected to the NAR. Hmmmm, kind of makes one wonder where Rick's godly allegiances really lay.  In any event, it's certainly not to the US Constitution and it's silly notions of the separation of Church and State.  That makes him 'throw up'.  Whether he's uber Catholic or some Evangelical hybrid mix, Rick is a Dominionist, and Dominionism is not Catholic, and that is not where this country or this world needs to go.  It's the longest running fear based human delusion of all time.

I encourage readers to ponder the entire linked article.  It's worth the read.  I also encourage readers to check this article by Frank Cocozzelli over at Open Tabernacle, and Bill Lyndsey's musings at Bilgrimage. Both articles have links worth chasing down.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

When Shepherds Hunt The Sheep To Silence All The Bleating

SNAP may have been too good at going after the wolves in sheep's clothing

One story I have been following with a great deal of interest (and anger)  is the one involving SNAP and their battle with the Archdiocese of St. Lois and the Diocese of Kansas City-St JosephIn both cases attorneys  have asked that SNAP directors, specifically David Clohessy and Barbara Dorris,  be deposed and internal SNAP correspondence be turned over to the court. The stated justification for this action centers on SNAP as a source of discovery for the defendants in civil trials in both dioceses.  There are an additional five cases where defense attorneys for priests in the Kansas City trial have filed a 'cross-notice' allowing these lawyers to also access SNAP files and depose David Clohessy.  The defense attorneys are diligently trying to make a case that SNAP has no rights to any claim for the legal confidentiality of their correspondence or contacts with abuse victims, that it is not in fact a rape crisis center, and so is not covered by Missouri's rape crisis center confidentiality protections.  It's important to remember that SNAP is not a party in any of these law suits.  The following excerpt is from an article by Joshua McElwee at the National Catholic Reporter.

.....Rebecca Randles, the attorney representing the plaintiff in the abuse case, said in a phone interview Thursday that she thought the motion's arguments that SNAP could not qualify as a rape crisis center were not "very weighty."

Referring to one of the arguments the motion makes against SNAP's qualifications to fit into that definition because Clohessy works out of his home, Randles said the determination for protections under Missouri law come from the substance of what an organization does, not where it is located.

"You have to look at the substance," Randles said. "The whole question really is: Do people go there because they're in crisis from sexual assault? And the answer is absolutely, yes they do."
"The vast bulk of what they do is support victims of rape and assault, so they have to be a rape crisis center," she said. (I suspect it's not the support issue that is really at stake here.  It is the advocacy issue, and specifically the advocacy done by David Clohessy.)

Following news of the subpoena requesting Clohessy's deposition in December, 10 victims' advocacy groups filed an amicus brief on behalf of SNAP to Missouri's Supreme Court, writing that Clohessy's testimony would amount to a "violation of the anonymity and confidentiality" of SNAP members and volunteers and is "plainly unconstitutional."

Included in that group of organizations were the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, the KidSafe Foundation and The National Child Protection Training Center.

Beyond claiming that SNAP should not be considered a rape crisis center under Missouri law, the motion also alleges that were the group to be considered such a center, its conversations with some survivors would not be covered by confidentiality privileges.
Noting that lawsuits filed on behalf of abuse victims regularly include language about how victims have suffered some sort of mental injury from their abuse, the motion alleges that SNAP is "not entitled to the protection of a privilege due to the alleged victims placing their emotional state and mental conditions at issue." (This is an interesting argument and a highly dangerous one for any organization that deals specifically with trauma and abuse.  People don't contact SNAP to discuss baseball scores.)

Specifically, the motion alleges that because several victims in the Kansas City cases claim their memories returned to them years after the abuse, the fact that Clohessy would not discuss the matter indicates they are "trying to shield the very information that would lead a jury to understand that person's medical history." (Of course the real story here is that these attorneys want to put the victim on trial, not their client.)

"The matter before this Court involves repressed memory, physical, emotional, and mental injuries," reads the motion. "The Plantiffs have placed their physical, emotional, and mental conditions at issue, and, therefore, the information possessed by SNAP on these issues is clearly relevant, and any privileges, if any, have been waived."....(This same criteria could be taken with AA or any other 12 step group with which any victim was associated--or for that matter, their favorite bar tender or hair dresser.)


One comment following this article, of which there are a lot, came from Jim Jenkins.  Jenkins was on the San Francisco diocesan review board when Cardinal Levada was head of the Archdiocese, and is intimately familiar with how our leadership does it's business.  Jim is responding to this comment from Bill Lyndsey

I concur completely.
Unfortunately, from my time as SF review board chair I know that the Catholic Church's strategy in court against survivors was always "search and destroy." What is being done to SNAP is consistent with the hierarchs' legal strategy over the last two decades: Defend the church's assets, and the bishops personally, at all costs no matter who gets destroyed in the process.

The hierarchy has adopted a fully offensive legal modality for confronting in court survivors and their advocates, public apologies by popes, cardinals and bishops to survivors not withstanding. The apologies are only for the media in order to blunt and contain the public revulsion at the hierarchs' complicity and corruption.
The hierarchs' chief American legal strategist, attorney Jeffery Lena, once very threateningly asked me, "Do you just want to surrender to them?" when I challenged his plans for the "Catholic Church" to attack the credibility and personal history of survivors of rape and sodomy by priests in court in order to intimidate them into not going forward with their suits to seek justice and redress for their assaults.

Is this the same church to which Jesus entrusted the commandment, "Love one another"??? (Nope.)

The hierarchs can get away with these sleazy legal tactics because they have unfettered and unaccountable access to literally $billions in their investment portfolios. What is spent on the hierarchs' legal defense will just be restored by the hierarchs diverting more money from the charitable donations of unquestioning and unaware pew Catholics. All the hierarchs have to do is sell off more parishes, close more schools, in order to maintain the phalanx of lawyers and media consultants necessary for them to hold onto political power. Or as in the case in Kansas City, stay out of jail!
This kind of support for the congenital narcissistic hierarchs by Catholics must end. It is long past time that we Catholics separate the MINISTRY from the MONEY.

Sleazy legal tactics is exactly right, but then this campaign to destroy SNAP hardly began with these legal motions.  SNAP has been the favorite punching bag of Bully Bill Donohue for seemingly ever. As I slogged through the comments after the article it was amazing how many of those supporting the bishops took their information directly from articles Donohue had written for the Catholic League.  As good an advocate as David Clohessy is, he missed his chance at the really big bucks.  He could have been the director of the Catholic League, quadrupled his salary, worked for an organization which would always have big bucks for lawyers, and he wouldn't have had to work out his home.  He could have worked in a DC office right there with the USCCB. But then Jesus didn't even have a home, or a salary, much less an office in the Jewish High Temple.

If SNAP has made an error, it's that it has become too good at the advocacy end of what it does.  Do they sometimes get over the top?  Well, if you read any of Donohue's attacks, SNAP gets over the top all the time, but if you compare SNAP to Randal Terry's pro life advocacy, SNAP isn't even close to being over the top. It's all in the eyes of the beholder.

As to the legal arguments, these cases represent a serious threat to journalism, advocacy work, and rape and abuse crisis centers, especially those that are staffed by volunteers.  Professional therapists and counseling centers have their own protections, but volunteer agencies are more legally nebulous.  The truth is many of these SNAP type organizations do more good and give more help than any more formal therapy precisely because the volunteers understand the issues from a personal rather than educational point of view.  It isn't all theory for these volunteers.  It's as real as real can get, and presumed confidentiality is a critical component of their effectiveness. That's why this story really angers me, because in this pissing match between the Roman Catholic Bishops and their self defined 'arch enemy' SNAP, a really really awful legal precedent could get set that would harm a lot more organizations than just SNAP.

One last thought, there were a lot of comments suggesting SNAP is experiencing a form of 'just karma'.  The idea being that SNAP's demands for transparency and accountability from Catholic bishops and dioceses is just coming back to bite them in the ass.  The problem with this simple logic is that Catholic bishops and dioceses were protecting the criminal predators, and SNAP is protecting the victims of those predators and their bishop enablers.  This isn't about karma at all.  This is about the shepherds deciding to hunt down some of their bleating sheep in order to silence them once and for all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Priests For Life On Life Support And Updates On Other Rock Star Priests

This is not Fr Pavone.  It's Tim Tebow the Evangelical superstar pro lifer.  He's much better looking than the Catholic versions.......And it is my blog.

Tom Gallagher has just posted an update on Priest's For Life, which is in serious financial straights.  It's really amazing how these organizations started by priests with more than a touch of narcissism, in this case Fr Frank Pavone, wind up in a pile of ashes.  Maciel's Legion of Christ is still trying to resurrect some five years after it went down in flames, and it has Vatican support.  Their latest crisis is the whole sale resignation of the leadership of it's women's branch, Regnum Christi. The problem with cults of personality is they tend to disintegrate once the personality has self destructed.  Like founder, like organization.  Here's part of the NCR article:

Priests for Life in $608,000 debt, faces financial peril

by Tom Gallagher - NCR -  Feb. 21, 2012
In another urgent fundraising letter dated February 2012, Priests for Life is seeking $608,000 "in the next two weeks in to pay bills that are now over 90 days old."

Fr. Frank Pavone, the embattled national director of Priests for Life, states that the "financial problem we're facing is the combination of two things, really; neither of which we had any control over."

In this missive, Pavone drops from his letterhead the role of national director of the Gospel of Life Ministries.
The two outside factors that have put Priests for Life in this critical situation are the economy and donors reneging on paying their pledges, he writes.

As for the economy, Pavone plays dithering economist and says the economy has been "in a rut for three years now. And I have no idea when it's going to get back on track. But the continued high unemployment and low consumer confidence is wreaking havoc with families ... including our Priest for Life family. A fairly large percentage of your fellow Priests for Life supporters have been forced to cut back on their gifts to us for the simple reason that they are having a tough time making ends meet in their own families."

By the end of 2011, more than $600,000 in promised gifts never arrived.

Ironically, Pavone claims he was actually acting "prudently" in spending more than $600,000 on the basis of prior donations materializing at the end of the year. "Instead our bills kept mounting and mounting."

In a surprise move, Priests for Life "even trimmed our staff a bit and cut back on several projects and mission trips." No details were provided. In prior fundraising letters, Pavone wrote with bravado that he was not going to make any cuts in staff or the budget, as everything was full-steam-ahead.

Now Priests for Life print vendors are no longer doing business with the organization because of non-payment of past invoices.

Not surprisingly, Pavone never accepts some or all of the responsibility for the desperate situation in which Priests for Life finds itself. Pavone never suggests that his dysfunctional behavior and relationship with his own bishop, Patrick Zurek of the Amarillo, Texas, diocese, in which Pavone is seeking an intervention by the Vatican, might be to blame for scaring off donors.  (Of course not, it's much easier to blame President Obama and the reneging laity for everything going south.)

In Pavone's world, the blame is always placed on someone else. Of course, Pavone rolls out the devil as the cause for Priests for Life's financial problems. (Ohh, I almost forgot. Pavone also claims to be an exorcist.)

Zurek seems prescient when he voiced deep concerns about Pavone's management and governance of Priests for Life many months ago.......

Tom Gallagher then goes on to outline how Priest's For Life could be saved by the USCCB and the Kof C.  He never addresses whether there is actually a need for Priest's For Life.  He finishes with his thoughts on what to do with Fr. Pavone.

What to do with Pavone?
It's hard to imagine that Pavone will receive from the Vatican a "get out of jail" card that would allow him to be largely free from the Amarillo diocese and Zurek. As part of the reorganization outlined above, Pavone could become "national director emeritus" and be allowed to offer speeches around the country, but have nothing to do with the governance or management of Priests for Life, and he would be based in the Amarillo diocese responsible to the bishop. Pavone could be allowed to continue his TV appearances with EWTN. In this way, Pavone can still have a coveted microphone in his hands, but not the checkbook and control.


The problem I have with Gallagher's solution is I seriously doubt Bishop Zurek wants Fr Pavone to have any more access to anymore microphones, and certainly not those of EWTN.  I think the whole idea was to get Pavone out of the spotlight, off the speaking circuit, and away from EWTN.  In the meantime Pavone is reduced to writing pathetically pleading letters to his various mailing lists for more donations.  Such is the life of a fallen prolife superstar priest.

Bishop Zurick might have had that other EWTN exorcist priest who crashed and burned, Fr Thomas Euteneuer, on his mind.  Which led me to wonder what had happened to these guys who made such news last year and when their egos were exposed as having surpassed their missions.  Fr Thomas Euteneuer has really gone underground as nothing has been heard from him for over a year. You may remember Euteneuer as the priest who headed Human Life International, also became an exorcist and was called back to his home diocese under allegations of sexual misconduct within his exorcism ministry.  I used to occasionally check out Euteneuer because of his affiliation with some serious right wing institutions.  Way back in 2008 he was describing a very specific agenda to go after Planned Parenthood and also spreading the word about forms of birth control as abortifacients.  I am hardly shocked that those PP attacks manifested in this election year, and all that misinformation about birth control is suddenly in our faces.  I still don't think we know half of what we need to know about Fr Thomas Euteneuer and his various agendas.  We probably never will.

Also going totally silent, is Fr John Corapi.  He took down his Black Sheepdog website sometime in the fall and closed his Facebook page. No one seems to have any idea what's up with that, but it may be innocent. He's certainly got enough money to retire and write his memoirs.  Or it maybe that Corapi is off to invent another personaIn any event, it appears no one will be hearing Corapi's baritone voice on EWTN, read his right wing propaganda on his website, or have to deal with his political candidacy--but one can still buy his multitude of CD's, just not any new ones.

I suspect Priests For Life will be taken over by the USCCB and saved by KofC money.  I also suspect we will not hear anything more from Fr Frank Pavone for quite some time.  After all Vatican wheels can turn exceedingly slow when it's convenient.  I do wonder though, whether the fall of three pro life superstar priests in the same year is just a coincidence.  It could also be the USCCB did not need the competition for attention given what they've unleashed on the American public.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Republicans, Bishops, And The Assault On Women

This is what the Commonwealth of Virginia would mandate for every woman who seeks an abortion--no matter when she seeks such treatment or for what reasons.

On my days off I catch up on a lot of reading.  This morning I came across comments to articles that my mind linked together.  The comments followed articles on the USCCB religious freedom crusade and for me took this crusade to a deeper level.  The first comment follows this article at Religion dispatches.  The article by Sarah Posner, looks at Republican Representative Issa's stacked deck of a congressional hearing on the HHS insurance mandate.  The committee testimony and participants were virtually all male and one and all against covering birth control.  Here's the comment from 'wanda':

I left the religious right and the GOP in 1976 because I heard their messages loud and clear! Those messages are: Helping people is hurting them. Hurting people is helping them. Women are baby killers. I've been amazed that middle class Americans haven't listened until now. The GOP hates women with a passion and women who vote for them or legislate for them must be out of their minds.

Keep the bold sentences in mind when reading the next two comments from this NCR article on Cardinal Dolan's response to President Obama's insurance compromise.  The article was written by Francis Rocca of Catholic News Services.  It generated a great deal of good comment, but these two were two of the best:

The state of Virginia has taken the issue even further with the passage of their
Personhood bill. A woman who is getting an abortion for whatever reason must now submit to an vaginal ultra-sound, which is an intrusion by the state into her body. By law the Doctor has to order this procedure and she must follow the law. This is to be signed into the law by Virginia's governor, who by the way has made no bones about being available as a VP candidate for the Republican nominee. Who are these people and what is going on? Talk about big government by the party that claims they are the party of small government. How in the world did we end up with this issue front and center when having a job and feeding their families is the concern of most people. Why this attack on women's health? Humanae Vitae allows artificial birth control for medical reasons.


It's called 'object rape' —

It's called 'object rape' — sexually penetrating a woman against her will with a foreign object — ostensibly to "educate" her.     It's actually an attempt to intimidate,   humiliate and punish her for seeking an abortion.     It's no different than the mindset of a common street rapist toward women.

In addition,   there is no exception in this object rape law for women or girls who are already victims of rape,  incest,   (not even for a female internally injured from the violence of rape whom they will happily violate again)   or for a woman or young girl who is seeking to terminate a pregnancy that is literally killing her.     Imagine a woman or young girl who has endured a law enforcement rape kit collection,   then having to be violated a second time with a foreign object before she can be given pills to prevent a possible pregnancy resulting from that rape.     That is now Virginia law which the uber-Catholic governor is eager to sign.
But the culture warriors believe that the end justifies the means in their unholy war — the worshipful "sacrifice" of denigrating and traumatizing the already born with state mandated rape is the end result of single-issue embryo-fetal idolatry.     This is the culture warriors' supposed "right to freedom of religion".


Aileen is one of my all time favorites at NCR and this might be the hardest hitting comment I've ever read from her.  However, the subject she's discussing, Virginia's Personhood bill, deserves this kind of hard hitting commentary.  And additionally it perfectly illustrates Wanda's point about our current Republican party. Their core platform does seem to have three foundational beams:  

Helping people is hurting them. Hurting people is helping them. Women are baby killers.

I would hope that US citizens see through the verbiage and get to the heart of the matter.  The culture wars are about returning to the days where a woman's contribution to the economy was the production of workers.  This message can be found all over the Catholic world, from Gotti Tedeschi's (Director of the Vatican Bank) stupid rant about the European need to out birth the Islamic world, to the bishops in the Philippines threatening to excommunicate legislators who vote for the reproductive rights bill, to the USCCB insistence on marriage as only between a man and a woman, at heart of all of this is an atavistic need to get European and Anglo Catholics to have more babies.  The only way that happens is to make sure women have no choice about it.

The world doesn't need more babies.  The world needs more adults willing to find long term solutions for the babies the world already has. Those solutions are not coming from our bishops or the Republican party--and having written that, I will also admit I have no real faith those solutions will come from another Obama administration.  My only hope is that with a second term and no possibility for a third term, President Obama will start acting like the man who promised us the hope for the entire world, but so far has delivered a couple of city blocks.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pope Tells Cardinals To Forget The Power And Glory: I Burst Into Laughter

Timothy Dolan gets ready to be installed in yet another level of power and glory.

John Allen posted about the homily Benedict XVI gave to his 22 new Cardinals. Seriously, I burst out laughing. Read the following and laugh---or weep.

Pope to new cardinals: ‘Forget power and glory’ 

John Allen - National Catholic Reporter - 2/18/2012
Pope Benedict XVI legendarily thinks in centuries, so it’s almost always a category mistake to read his public oratory as a commentary on current events. Yet it was hard to listen to him this morning without at least flashing on the recent Vatican leaks scandal, which has created widespread impressions of power struggles and senior churchmen stabbing one another in the back.

In comments today to 22 new cardinals taking part in Benedict’s fourth consistory, with most of the Vatican’s senior leadership looking on, the pope issued a strong plea for a spirit of service.

“Serving God and others, self-giving: this is the logic which authentic faith imparts and develops in our daily lives,” the pope said, “and which is not the type of power and glory which belongs to this world.”
Benedict noted that from the very beginning, not everyone in leadership positions among Christ’s followers has been up to that challenge. (And that holds even more true today.)

Reflecting on the New Testament story of James and John, two disciples who requested positions of honor when Christ returns, Benedict said “it is not easy to enter into the logic of the Gospel and to let go of power and glory.” (Allen then ends his article with more babble about Timmy Dolan being the first amongst his equals.)

The pope quoted two fathers of the church along the same lines.
“Saint John Chrysostom affirms that all of the apostles were imperfect, whether it was the two who wished to lift themselves above the other ten, or whether it was the ten who were jealous of them,” the pope said.
He then quoted St. Cyril of Alexandria: “The disciples had fallen into human weakness and were discussing among themselves which one would be the leader and superior to the others… This happened and is recounted for our advantage… What happened to the holy Apostles can be understood by us as an incentive to humility.” (Perhaps the reality is they were all jealous of Mary Magdalene.)

Benedict said the temptation to pursue self-interest and power is eternal.
“Dominion and service, egoism and altruism, possession and gift, self-interest and gratuitousness: these profoundly contrasting approaches confront each other in every age and place,” he said.
The Biblical reminders, the pope said, “represent an invitation and a reminder, a commission and an encouragement especially for you, dear and venerable brothers who are about to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals.”

Benedict created 22 new cardinals this morning, including Timothy Dolan and Edwin O’Brien of the United States. This afternoon, the new cardinals will hold receptions in various rooms of the Apostolic Palace, one of the few times it's open to the general public, and the Paul VI audience hall...... (Like there's no power and glory on display with these little shindigs.)


John Allen is probably right, and this homily from Benedict is gentle Vatican code for "stop the back stabbing and jockeying for position because I'm not dead yet and you all are becoming an embarrassment."  Cardinal Timmy Dolan is lucky then, that he has John Allen to pimp for him because then John Allen becomes the embarrassment.

Anyway, it's not quite so funny if Benedict didn't really intend to call his princes to some sort of real understanding of the relationship a Christian person is to have with wealth, power, and glory.  If Benedict's real message was all about how to proceed with more decorum in Vatican politics then I guess it's not surprising that these new Cardinals could go from this homily right to the Apostolic palace for caviar and fine wine.  

I'm getting the distinct message that Jesus's teachings weren't for the likes of Cardinal princes, Jesus's teachings were for the 'little people'.  The lives of Cardinal princes are just way too complicated for the simple teachings Jesus taught his followers. The Cardinal princes get installed to tell the little people how to live Jesus' simple teachings, not to actually live those teachings.  Those notions of humility, poverty, last shall be first, all are created equal, no slave or master, are for the simple people to give them some hope in their simple lives.  In the meantime, Cardinal princes are the first of the Catholic clergy, they live like it, they don't believe for one minute in the equality of the laity, and there for simple American Catholics can look forward to more of Timothy Dolan's leadership in the USCCB's faux religious freedom crusade.  After all Cardinal Princes need to do something to bolster their personal delusions about their own Christ like lives and cement their place idn Rome. 


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

About Visions That Might Be Related To Valentine's Day

This is a story of when I began to learn this truth--graphically.

There is a comment at the very end of the comments to an article John Allen wrote on the recently concluded Sexual Abuse Conference at the Gregorian in Rome that triggered this post.  John's article concentrated on the estimated financial and personal cost of the crisis in the US.  There are some interesting comments from some people with a particular ax to grind, but readers can read those for themselves.  I'm interested in commenting on this one comment, because well, just because"

"It is interesting how many comments and stories that surround this scandal never seem to address the real problem: the spiritual battle between God and His enemy (or have we forgotten who that is).

As believers, I believe we continue to fail to comprehend that as we have weakened the liturgy so have we weakened our spiritual armor. As we have weakened our belief in the assistance of Heaven, from the Virgin's protection to Angelic intercession, we have allowed the other side to have a field day with us. How often we hear that no one wants to believe in the prophecy given to Leo XIII, or those to St. Faustina as Jesus says to her:

‘I will allow convents and churches to be destroyed.’

St. Faustina answered, ‘Jesus, but there are so many souls praising You in convents.’
The Lord answered, ‘That praise wounds My Heart, because love has been banished from convents. Souls without love and without devotion, souls full of egoism and self-love, souls full of pride and arrogance, souls full of deceit and hypocrisy, lukewarm souls who have just enough warmth to keep them alive: My Heart cannot bear this!

‘All the graces that I pour out upon them flow off them as off the face of a rock. I cannot stand them, because they are neither good or bad. I called convents into being to sanctify the world through them. It is from them that a powerful flame of love and sacrifice should burst forth.

‘And if they do not repent and become enkindled by their first love, I will deliver them over to the fate of this world … .'

Until our bishops and priests and nuns and laity get this, we will not win this battle.
For the Lord has delivered them for their lukewarmness to the "fate of this world." Only He can bring them back, not more rules and regulations or psychiatric nonsense nor money nor endless statistics.

It is almost Lent. The Novena to the Holy Face of Jesus began Sunday. What will we do? What will we sacrifice to Him for Him to act to end this crime and scandal?


Since I am taking a real risk I will be accused of engaging in 'psychiatric nonsense' I have some thoughts about Sr. Faustina's alleged interaction with Jesus.  First off, I can't help but notice the voice of Jesus sounds suspiciously like he is espousing Faustina's opinion of her own experience and judgments relative to her own spiritual efforts and those of her fellow nuns.  I would call this a self fulfilling visionary state. How wonderful for Faustina that Jesus sees things just as she does, and if you read her diary to any length at all, Jesus is always on the same thought track as Sr Faustina.  I have not been so lucky or so connected to the Jesus wave length.

My first real encounter with other 'non organic sentient beings' was entirely different.  It happened when I was a senior in high school.  Our sociology class was on a three day field trip.  The first night we spent touring the college I eventually attended.  I had applied for admission to this school but had heard nothing from them and so was not expecting what happened.  The Admissions Department arranged a little ceremony at which I was singled out and given a full ride scholarship.  My head barely got in the bus the next morning as we left for the first real stop on our trip.  This was at the State School For The Mentally Retarded.  Back in the day things were not so PC as they are now.

This was also in the days before the warehouse style institutions were emptied.  There were 1200+ inmates housed here.  I use the term inmates because that's what they were.  None of us were remotely prepared for what we saw.  There were concrete rooms with no furniture that held upwards of 75 adult men, some of whom wore hockey helmets as the 'treatment' for their head banging.  We girls had the men all over us, picking at our hair and trying to fondle our breasts.  The boys got the same treatment in women's day areas, which were once again, large concrete rooms with no furniture.  The smell was overwhelming. After touring four or five of these areas, we were taken to Non Ambulatory ward where we saw the results of Mother Nature gone way wrong.  
There was the hydrocephalic, Sam,  who ran the institutions' primitive computer system and was a consultant for the State's much larger system.  His head was four times bigger than normal and had to be strapped to his wheel chair because his neck couldn't support the weight.  We talked with him for a good half hour as he couldn't believe that somehow this tour of high school kids from a small ranching community was allowed into the back wards.  It was for him, such an overwhelming gift he would have to stop himself from crying.  We also carried on a conversation with a three year old PKU baby who was as talkative as any three year old, but was 21 inches long and 8.5 pounds.  The ward nurse holding her began to cry as she admitted she had fallen in love with her and well, knew that someday soon she would be mourning that love.  Love is the operative word here.  On those backwards I saw first hand what love for the least of the least really meant.  I saw firsthand what lack of outside community interaction really meant. What being way out on the margins really meant.  I saw how I knew nothing about real life.
As we all got back on the bus, our tour guide admitted that she had never been given permission to take any one but the State Board of Visitors on that extensive of a tour.  We had seen everything there was to see.  Most tours lasted an hour, ours had lasted six and a half.  She hoped we got something out of it.
I can remember staring out the bus window, wiping off tears and listening to the sobs coming from the other kids.  Suddenly I saw a vision of what I recognized as the statistical drawing of a bell curve. I heard a voice ask me where my IQ fit on the curve.  I said,  "On the edge of the left hand side."  The voice then said that for every one of me, there was another human being in the backwards, non ambulatory, mute and completely dependent on the generosity, mercy, and love of their fellow humans. While I stared at that bell curve, letting this information sink in, the voice continued:  "God doesn't see any difference in the two data points.  Each of you is necessary for the bell curve to be drawn.  Neither is more important than the other.  Don't ever forget this or that God loves you just as God loves that precious PKU baby, or cherishes Sam for making the most he can of his particular situation.  You are not capable of judging, so don't, just learn to love."  End of vision.

The first thing that happened was my head deflated.  I'm sure my classmates found that a relief.  I have spent the rest of my life never forgetting the message of that first vision, continually drawing lessons, learning even more.  God does not condemn, threaten, or judge.  We do.  Our task is not to control others or preen over our particular position on the bell curve, it's to love and to care about the other data points around us because none of us is more important than the other, and all of us are equally necessary for the picture the curve draws--and God loves all of us. Period.  Happy Valentine's Day.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Archbishop Vigneron Attempts To Rebrand A Cancer Posing As Catholic--And It's Not A Left Leaning Enterprise

Archbishop Vigneron does not see Michael Voris as the savior of Roman Catholicism, no matter how big the sword he carries.

Here's an interesting article from the Detroit Free Press about the fight between the Archdiocese of Detroit and Real Catholic TV.  RCT is an inter net TV enterprise run by one Michael Voris.  RCT is most certainly to the right of EWTN.  I know, it's hard to believe that's possible, but it is true.  Read the following excerpt to get an idea why the conservative Archbishop Vigneron of the Archdiocese of Detroit wants to take the 'Catholic' out of Real Catholic TV.

 Views on provocative Real Catholic TV station anger Detroit archdiocese and others

By Niraj Warikoo- Detroit Free Press - 2/13/2012   
.....For much of his life, Michael Voris of Ferndale was a lukewarm Catholic, someone who usually just went through the motions at church.
But after the sudden death of his brother in 2003 from a heart attack and the death of his mother from stomach cancer the following year, the former TV reporter became a changed man.
"Her dying really kind of started to wake me up," Voris recalled. "You have to face mortality. And then the questions came pouring in: What is the meaning of life? Who are we as human beings? Is there life after death? Those are fundamental questions everyone has to look for."
Voris found those answers in the Catholic Church. In 2006, he formed St. Michael's Media, a Catholic TV production company and studio in Ferndale. And in 2008, he helped launch Real Catholic TV. Today, the never-married 50-year-old is consumed by his passion to promote what he considers the one true faith. Working up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, Voris is on a burning mission to save Catholicism and America by trying to warn the public about what he sees as a decline of morality in society.
But it's a vision that has rubbed some the wrong way. His critics said his remarks, at times, promote division and extremism. Catholic officials from Pennsylvania to Spain to Detroit have warned people that he doesn't speak for the Catholic Church. The Archdiocese of Detroit released two public statements on Voris, saying in December that the TV station was not permitted to have the word "Catholic" in its title. After receiving complaints from Voris' supporters, it sent out a second release last month reiterating its stance.

 "Chaos has run through the church for the last 40 to 50 years," Voris said. "For people who are faithful Catholics, it's a source of great sorrow. It's definitely broken."

The Catholic divide
The tension between the two sides reflects an intense debate among Catholics over how to stem the number of Catholics leaving the faith. Liberals argue that people are leaving because the church is too strict and outdated, but conservatives such as Voris say the opposite is true.

Voris said the church's liberal tilt in the years after the 1960s reforms of the Second Vatican led to declining mass attendance and the decline of morality in the West. In his videos -- which on YouTube have drawn more than 10 million views -- Voris criticizes everything from abortion (comparing it to a holocaust) to contraception to liberal Catholics who promote feminism and homosexuality. In one of his more controversial videos, Voris said:

"The only way to run a country is by benevolent dictatorship, a Catholic monarch who protects his people from themselves and bestows on them what they need, not necessarily what they want."
After an uproar, Voris apologized, saying that he misspoke but he stands by his larger point, which is that a society needs strong morals in order to survive. (No, the larger point is society needs a strong daddy to parcel out what he thinks mommy and the kids need.)

Defending the faith
Last April, the diocese in Scranton, Pa., banned him from speaking in its facilities after it received complaints about his comments on other faiths.
In response to the criticism, Voris told the Free Press:
"Current culture doesn't let things be said plainspokenly. It's ... political correctness. Anything somebody takes offense at, whether it's true or not, seems to be out of bounds." (OK, I'll be plain spoken: You are an idiot, living in a delusion which makes you believe you and your kind have replaced namby pambly Jesus as our savior.  There are good meds for this kind of thing.)

Despite the controversy, Voris travels the world to promote the Catholic faith. He has done shows in Nigeria, the Philippines, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and Germany and has upcoming trips to New Zealand and Australia.

Voris' efforts are financed by Marc Brammer, a business developer for Moody's who lives in South Bend, Ind., and is a member of Opus Dei, a somewhat controversial group known for its traditional views.
Voris started and owns a media company, St. Michael's Media, which Brammer contracts to produce Real Catholic TV. (OD is also known for it's elitism, secretiveness, and wealth.)

Like Voris, Brammer is concerned about what he feels is the liberal shift of the Catholic Church. They both criticize what they call "Americanism," a term they use to describe a post-1960s culture that they say has negatively influenced Catholics. (Actually, it's a series of heresies defined by Pope Leo XIII in his quest to remind American Catholics, but especially their bishops, that their real loyalties lay with obedience to Rome, not to any American ideals of individual freedom and/or it's democratic government.)

"Our Catholic Church is infected with Americanism that has gone wrong," said Brammer. "Not that America is wrong. But America's best days are not today; it was in the past, just like the Catholic Church."

While in Madrid, Voris bemoaned the American Catholics who attended, saying they were dressed immodestly.
"It made you downright cringe to see so many Americanized Catholics standing there at mass half-naked," he said in a video.

Voris and his backers are committed to forging ahead on a mission to save the Catholic Church and the U.S.
Many current church leaders are "namby-pamby," Voris said. "It's all about, 'Love your neighbor.'
What's needed instead, he said, is a muscular Catholicism that isn't afraid to encourage battle and sacrifice.

"Sometimes, you have to provocative," Brammer said.


I find it fascinating indeed, that Archbishop Vigneron and other conservative leaning bishops are slapping down Real Catholic TV at the exact same time the USCCB is attempting to put the Roman Catholic Church above and beyond American notions of individual conscience and the common good.  Just as our bishops are not exactly being 'namby pamby' with the Obama administration, Voris also finds himself at their mercy.  Perhaps Mr Morris's crusade not to be 'PC' is shining too much light on another explanation for what may be the real agenda of the USCCB. Quite frankly, I am not at all interested in having the clerical or secular version of 'muscular Catholic men' dictate the terms of how I live my life.  They can all go to the hell they need me to believe in,  in order to buy their elitist misogynist religious tripe. I'll stick with the non muscular namby pamby Jesus who told Peter to put up his sword, and then walked off to be crucified so He could then rise from the dead.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Men Dealing Badly With Women: The USCCB And Women's Reproductive Health

This graphic shows how little of a profile women actually have in discussing a subject that directly impacts only them.  This whole brouha ain't just a Catholic problem.  The USCCB is just the most 'in your face' picture of this paternalism.

When President Obama announced his compromise on birth control coverage in health insurance policies, I gave the USCCB about five seconds to announce their objections.  I suspected they would state they were very concerned it didn't go far enough in protecting religious freedom and individual conscience.  I was right, but it didn't take any ability as a prophet to call this one.  What surprised me is they have gone much further in their concerns than I expected.  Now it seems they are concerned about any one individual who works for or leads any business enterprise who might have objections to this that or the other thing and states their objections are on religious grounds.  But then they also added 'moral' grounds to religious grounds.  Maybe they are trying to respect the individual consciences of atheists with that addition, but I kind of doubt that.  I think they are trying to rewrite the Constitution so that they are an agency outside and above the Constitution and not answerable to any form of secular government.  

In the letter the fabulous five sent to their brother bishops they listed the following as their guiding principles:

Our brother bishops permit us to repeat the principles that are guiding us:

First, there is the respect for religious liberty. No government has the right to intrude into the affairs of the Church, much less coerce, the Church faithful individuals to engage in or cooperate in any way with immoral practices. (This sentence needs a corollary however, and the Fab Five aren't quite ready to state it--yet.  They also believe the Church has the right to intrude into the affairs of governments and individuals and should be both free to do so without impediment, and have their intrusion enforced by government mandate.)

Second, it is the place of the Church, not of government to define its religious identity and ministry.
(Actually, this should read it is the place of we bishops to define Catholic religious identity and ministry as we see it. The USCCB certainly isn't speaking for the vast majority of lay Catholics, and they don't speak for women at all.  They are speaking about themselves and their power and that has zero to do with us pew potatoes.  They are stating in no uncertain terms American Catholicism is their church... period.  The lay exist to pay for their Church.)

Third, we continue to oppose the underlying policy of a government mandate for purchase or promotion of contraception, sterilization or abortion inducing drugs.  (Their real truth is they oppose reproductive health care for women but attempt to obfuscate that truth by listing effects like contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs.  They won't state that their 'principles' reject the fundamental right of a woman to make decisions about her own life, and additionally go so far as to actually deny her any right to her own life in the reproductive process. That's too much truth to openly express and so it's spin, spin, spin.)


I am becoming more and more curious as to why President Obama pays this much attention to the Fab Five.  It's not like they speak for the majority of American Catholics.  Even if I credence that the centrist and progressive Catholic periodicals and writers sided with the Bishops on this issue--probably out of guilt, self preservation, or juvenile tribal identity issues, I am still befuddled as to why President Obama felt the need to attempt this compromise.  If he hasn't learned by now that there is no such thing as compromise with this kind of male mindset, then he has an awfully slow learning curve.  But being the eternal optimist I like to pretend I am, I think President Obama might actually be playing a sort of end around. Sometimes the only way to deal with bullies is to let them hang themselves by providing multiple opportunities for others to see just how immature, self centered, fearful, willfully ignorant, and relationally inept bullies actually are.  The idea is to let bullies make themselves their own worst enemy by giving them the attention they crave

Should President Obama accomplish this with the USCCB, by letting our erstwhile leaders think they can take this religious freedom issue to ridiculous ends, he would be doing a very great service for the American Catholic Church.  The bishops have already alienated a huge percentage of Catholic women, now it's only a matter of time before more Catholic men see this power play for what is--an assault on American democracy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prop 8 To The Supremes Plus Some Interesting Poll Data

This is a group photo of the USCCB hearing the recent news about where their lay flock stands on the issues they have been bleating about.

The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has voted by a 2-1 margin to strike down California's Prop 8, stating it violates the 14th amendment to the US constitution.  That's the troublesome one which guarantees equal protection for all.  The NOM crowd is not pleased, and will start petitioning for more funding to take this ruling to the Supreme Court.  While they are at it they should probably come up with some better arguments.  The ones they used in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals didn't impress the judges.  The following is taken from Catholic News Service:

"Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently," said the majority decision, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt. "There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted."

"Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California," it added.

All Proposition 8 did, the court said, was to strip same-sex couples of "the right to obtain and use the designation of 'marriage' to describe their relationships. Nothing more, nothing less. Proposition 8 therefore could not have been enacted to advance California's interests in childrearing or responsible procreation, for it had no effect on the rights of same-sex couples to raise children or on the procreative practices of other couples. Nor did Proposition 8 have any effect on religious freedom or on parents' rights to control their children's education."

Onward and upward as they say.  The CNS article also had the statistics from a just released Pew Forum Poll on the gay marriage issue.  Things have changed quite a bit in one year:

 A Pew Forum analysis on attitudes toward same-sex marriage by religion released Feb. 7 said Catholics supported same-sex marriage 52 percent to 37 percent, with 11 percent undecided as of an October 2011 survey. That is up from a 46 percent favorable opinion (42 percent unfavorable) in a survey conducted in August and September 2010.

Hispanic Catholics are split, 42 percent to 42 percent, on same-sex marriage, while white Catholics approve of same-sex marriage by a margin of 57 percent to 35 percent.

Overall, same-sex marriage was favored by Americans 46 percent to 44 percent in the 2011 poll; in the 2010 survey, it was opposed 48 percent to 42 percent. The only religious groups remaining opposed to same-sex marriage in the latest survey were white evangelicals, 74 percent to 19 percent, and black Protestants, 62 to 30. Protestants overall remain opposed to gay marriage, 58 to 34.

Those numbers represent a significant switch in just 12 months.  Given the reversal on the Komen decision and the release of two separate polls of American attitudes to the HHS religious freedom/birth control dust up--which also did not favor the USCCB position--this has not been a propitious week for the USCCB.  The Catholic sheople are not being very good sheople.  Maybe the lesson here is the more the shepherd sheople bleat the Vatican line, the less the lay sheople are inclined to follow.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cardinal Egan Demonstrates Cultic Catholic Clericalism In All It's Sickness

In this exalted clerical world of Cardinal Egan victims of clerical abuse just don't hit the radar screen.

Michael Sean Winters went on one of his rants today about an interview given by retired NY Archbishop Cardinal Egan to Connecticut Magazine.  I have my issues at times with MSW, but I have to admit this interview of Egan's is a doozey.  I have extracted some parts of the interview where Egan talks about his record on clerical sexual abuse, which was of course, flawless.  There are reasons for this unique view of his and so rather than rant about it, the latter part of this post deals with some real reasons for Egan's unique view.

EGAN: You know, I never had one of these sex abuse cases, either in Bridgeport or here (New York). Not one. The newspapers pretend as though what happened under Walter Curtis (Bishop of the Bridgeport diocese from 1961 to 1988) happened to me. Walter was a wonderful, wonderful, dear gentleman. He had gotten very old and they were sitting there. And I took care of them one by one. None of them did anything wrong. One of them spent four years in treatment at the Institute of Living in Hartford. I investigated this and at the end I put him in a convent as an assistant chaplain in Danbury.  Only once did I not use the Institute of the Living—I used Johns Hopkins because the man was in Baltimore.

CT Magazine: You mean Laurence Brett (a serial molester who was cycled through eight parishes in the diocese and a family of ten in California before relocating to Maryland, where he was accused of abusing more boys. He was still on the run from the FBI when he died in the Caribbean in 2010).

EGAN: Yep. I sent him to the most expensive place and I did exactly what we were told to do. And as a result, not one of them (the accused priests) did a thing out of line. Those whom I could prove, I got rid of; those whom I couldn’t prove, I didn’t. But I had them under control.
When I left Bridgeport—you can look it up—we had the most priests-to-people of any diocese in the country.  Our seminary was the biggest in the nation. I built new schools there. We had a Catholic Charities thing that we did. So we had a wonderful diocese with this terrible thing that was hovering over the entire nation.
 I’m not the slightest bit surprised that, of course, the scandal was going to be fun in the news—not fun, but the easiest thing to write about....

....CT Magazine:  I believe you are. What about Fr. Pzolka? (A Stamford priest accused of raping, sodomizing and beating dozens of children. He died in 2009).
EGAN: Of course, that was in the newspaper one thousand times. I arrived in Bridgeport and found out there was a guy that was accused of all this. He never did anything while I was there. I sent him to the Institute of Living. I kept him there and kept him there and he broke his way out and escaped. Could you do anything more for a person you’d never heard of?
I sound very defensive and I don’t want to because I’m very proud of how this thing was handled. I never heard of the man. The same thing with Laurence Brett. In the beginning….I hate to go over this—why are we going over all this again?

CT Magazine:  Because clearly this has been a key, a divisive, issue that has challenged the Church.
EGAN: Terrible. But are you surprised that any bishop who lived in that period and had any involvement with that stuff, by even inheriting it, that it wasn’t going to become the focus of the newspapers? I don’t think I should be upset about that, or you should be, or anybody else. The era was such that in every diocese, even someone that had no cases, was going to be beaten up with it.
I tell younger bishops, ‘Don’t let one overriding issue be the focus. Do your job, grow your diocese, strengthen your schools, build your charities, and even it does become an obsession with the media, that’s life.’
So I do think it’s time to get off this subject or at least say that this is a man who in 20 years heading great big dioceses never had a case. We had eight or nine or ten cases that I had to attend to from my predecessor, not from me. That’s never been printed. You couldn’t print that, nobody would ever dare print it, because it ruins the narrative. That is the truth. The narrative is what it’s got to be to sell newspapers.
 It just strikes me that you could go around and find out that there were some pretty good things that took place.

CT Magazine:  There is no doubt that you did many good things in Bridgeport. But one can not talk to a person in your position, from any diocese in the country, and not ask about this because it has so traumatized the faithful.
EGAN:  Well it would be easy to write about without anything else. I’m not the slightest bit surprised that of course the scandal was going to be fun in the news—not fun, but the easiest thing to write about.  If you have another bishop in the United States who has the record I have, I’d be happy to know who he is......

CT Magazine:  Do you mean ‘good’ in that positive changes came about as a result of the crisis? EGAN: Good that…the record, I think, is an excellent record. And the fact that sex abuse becomes overpowering in people’s eyes, that’s a part of life.

CT Magazine:
EGAN: First of all, I couldn’t apologize for something that happened when I wasn’t there. Furthermore, every one of those cases was in litigation before a court, or threatened to be, and every one was handled correctly. I had the first fellow dismissed and the Holy See didn’t allow us to do that anymore, right?, and I handled every case exactly the right, I never hesitated to have the very finest treatment, the very finest of everything. And not any of them did anything out of line. If I was sure, I couldn’t do anything, if I wasn’t sure, I controlled them. No one could have done any better and if there was any mistake in any of that—I’m sorry—but I don’t think there was any mistake at all.

CT Magazine:  In 2002, you wrote a letter to parishioners in which you said, “If in hindsight we discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”
EGAN: First of all, I should never have said that. I did say if we did anything wrong, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we did anything wrong. But I hate to go back over this. I think there’s more to life than that one issue, especially when I had no cases.


The above quotes are pretty classic clerical narcissism.  There is zero recognition of victims, unless one counts the predators like Fr Pzolka of whom Egan asks "Could you do anything more for a person you had never heard of?"  In the clerical world of Cardinal Egan, priests are persons for whom he did all that he could--even he ones he had never heard of--but the victims of the priests aren't even on his radar.  Hence he can describe his handling of the clerical abuse crisis as 'good' even though he never met with a victim; state "we never did anything wrong", and "I handled every case exactly right".  He can say all those things because the actual victims don't and never did exist for him.  How can this be,  a less exalted lay type person might think?

Here's a link to an article on Catholica Australia written by former priest Richard Boehrer, who is the author of the recently released fictional novel "The Purple Culture"  Boehrer earned a Phd in theology and rose to become a diocesan chancellor.  It was during this period of his life that his bishop made a comment that started Boehrer on a different relationship with the Church:  "You think it's more important to be a Christian, where as I think it's more important to be a Catholic."  That's actually a true statement for any bishop who reaches that rank in the Church.  At that point a man really can't be a Christian first and Catholic second, as Bishop William Morris found out.  In the Catholica article Boehrer explains the signature traits of the Catholic Episcopal culture as aristocratic by history and tradition, cultic in their need for total control of the information flow, addictive, and culturally narcissistic:

......Another component of the purple culture is narcissism. The DSM-IV [LINK], the diagnostic manual for psychotherapeutic professionals, lists nine diagnostic criteria for narcissism, any five of which are said to confirm the diagnosis. Eight of them express behavior flowing from unwarrantable self-exaltation.
Professionals tell us that a large group of people can be narcissistic. For example, an elite military force, indoctrinated as being special, praised for their specialness, wearing the insignia of specialness, considering themselves warriors without peer, and having a sense of invulnerability. When shown to be vulnerable they can react with violence even on innocent non-combatants or prisoners.

It is theorized that we all begin life as narcissists and lose that characteristic as we mature. Professionals point out, however, that narcissism can be re-acquired. People can reach a degree of other-centeredness and then re-cultured into a return to self-absorption. We hear bishops refer to their assembly as "the most exclusive club in the world", and their society containing those cultural behaviors as a "perfect" society. And then, there is their disdain for the laity's wisdom.....

......It is clear that bishops did not experience guilt in their abetment of and cover-up for priest sexual abusers. They did not experience guilt because their addiction to their purple culture blinded them to the devastation. They did not experience guilt because they were able, consciously or not, to give themselves a personal exemption from wrongdoing. They were acting for a higher cause, their divinely decreed culture. They did not experience guilt because it would question the perfection of their culture and themselves as reflections of that culture. They did not experience guilt because their eyes, ears, minds and hearts are turned in one direction, and it is not towards the laity. The laity are totally discounted. (With the possible exception today of attorneys)......

If one adds the fact Egan made it into the even more exclusive global club which wears red, his take on his performance in the abuse crisis should not be shocking at all.  None of which bodes well for what we can expect from the soon to be Cardinal Dolan.  All of this is why I too call myself a Christian first, and Catholic second.  It's why I have no delusions about whether or not the 'reform of the reform' is about anything other than keeping the Purple Culture exclusive, aristocratic, and perfectly in control of all things Catholic.