Showing posts with label Catholic Church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholic Church. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mea Culpa

I had a terrible shock last week.  I was thinking about a guy I had known in high school.  He was the nephew of our neighbor and I met him when I was 13.  Nice guy.  

I was wondering what he looked like now, so many years later, so I did a Google search to see if there was perhaps a photo of him on line.  I found one, but it was attached to a TV report of his having been accused of inappropriate conduct with one of his students and asking if others were also abused by this man they should contact the TV station.  The article was old, and I couldn't find a follow-up to discover whether he had been convicted or not, but it did say that he was forbidden to teach or have contact with children again.

I know that there are false reports, and witch hunts and that an accusation, true or false, can brand a person for life.  I hoped that this accusation was false.  I just couldn't picture him as being a child molester.

But then last night I watched an HBO special called Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa, about the sexual abuse scandals in the US and the coverup by the Catholic church.  It concerned especially one priest. Father Lawrence Murphy, who taught in a school for the deaf in Milwaukee, and his abuse of more than 200 boys over his time there, the attempts to have him defrocked, and the letter written by one of the boys, as an adult, which sparked the first known public protest against clerical sex abuse in the US, a case which ran for more than 30 years and even included a lawsuit against Pope Benedict XVI himself.

The director of this documentary, Alex Gibney, explains how he happened to become involved:  I had read a story in The New York Times about a particularly horrific abuse case involving some two hundred deaf boys who had been abused by a priest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What made the story stand out for me were the documents that were revealed as part of the investigation which led straight to the Vatican - not only to the Vatican, but to Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. That seemed to me a story that hadn't been told yet. And to understand the story and see its connections all the way to the top-that really intrigued me.

The other thing that intrigued me were the heroes at the center of the story, the deaf men. The film is called Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God. Obviously the silence refers to the silence of the church in the face of these crimes. But it also refers to the silence of these deaf men, these people who somehow managed to have their voices heard, even though they couldn't be understood by most hearing people. That seemed to me miraculous: amidst all of this darkness, there was a ray of light. Or better, in the midst of this ghastly clerical silence, there was a voice for justice.

Father Murphy had it great.  He was well liked by the parishioners of the local church, the parents of the boys under his care, and the nuns in the school.  He spoke American Sign Language fluently, which many of the parents did not, so he was the translator between the boys and their parents, which meant, of course, that there was no way the boys could communicate to their parents what was happening to them, even if they were brave enough to do so.  The few boys who did attempt to tell their parents were punished because "the good father wouldn't do such a thing."

He would go into the boys dormitory at night and choose a boy or two to molest.  Since everyone was deaf, nobody could hear him.  Some of the boys knew what was going on because they saw the light when the door opened.

Watching the grown men telling their stories (in sign language, with voice over) was very affecting.  The men must be in their 70s now and the pain of the memories lingers, the anger against the priest is still there.

The whole issue of sexual abuse of children by priests has been one that I have been passively following since the 1980s, when I first learned about special centers all over the world set up for priests who are known molesters.  You know--those centers where they go for a few weeks or months and then are let back into local parishes, without any warning whatsoever to the pastors, and put in charge of children, over and over again.  It infuriated me in the 1980s, and it infuriates me even more now, especially after watching this documentary.

There was a time when the Pope (I think it was John Paul at that time) said this was an American problem and that this sort of thing did not happen outside of the United States.  The pope lied.  At the time Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) had collected all reports of abuse by priests and consolidated them under his office, making him the most knowledgeable person in the world about the extent of priestly abuse...there are even reports going back to the 18th century. 

Mea Culpa follows the scandal in Ireland and follows the story of Marcial Maciel Delgollado, a prominent church fund raiser and good friend of John Paul who even admitted to molesting more than 100 children, but still remained JP's good buddy.

The things that were revealed during this documentary were sometimes jaw dropping, like transferring of funds from various dioceses in the U.S. to the Vatican, so the dioceses could declare bankruptcy and make payment when lawsuits were filed impossible.

One priest was tasked with doing investigation for the Vatican on reports of abuse.  This man seems to have been very dedicated, thinking that he would actually have the power to do something, but what the Vatican really wanted him to do was to take his $7 million budget and pay off the victims fr as little as he could negotiate.  Everyone had to sign a confidentiality agreement and if they violated the agreement and talked about their settlements it would result in an automatic excommunication from the church.  The priest was so shocked and discouraged by what he was being asked to do that he left the priesthood.

Gibney was asked how the church has changed since the scandal(s) came to life:  Judging from statements from the Vatican, it's as if there has barely been a sex abuse crisis. They really haven't reckoned with it. Even worse, they keep saying it's over, and then more dimensions of the cover-up are revealed.  I mean, Pope Benedict has apologized, but in a way that seems so vague and indistinct and  didn't at all reckon with the church's role in covering up these crimes. 

The documentary points out, several times, that when faced with having to acknowledge that abuse has occurred, the immediate church reaction is to minimize the involvement of the priests without saying one word about the effect on the victims of the abuse.

I will remind everyone that this is the church which is fighting tooth and nail to prevent two people who love each other to make a permanent commitment to each other, which has actively worked to end any outreach to the gay community, and who continues to throw around epithets like "perverted," "disordered" and "intrinsically evil" when speaking of gays and lesbians.

When Father Murphy died, after years and years and years of lawsuits being filed against him or against his superiors who covered up his actions, he was given a full Catholic burial, in his priestly garments.  The deaf man who was molested as a boy and who originated the first lawsuit was paid off with $500.

Hypocrites.  Hypocrites.  Hypocrites.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Friday

Bad person that I am, I don't usually think about Good Friday when it rolls around, since  I'm not aware of the passage of the church year, since I don't go to church.  Walt never comes home with palm fronds in his hands or ashes on his forehead, so I can't rely on him to give me clues.

But I was thinking about the Catholic church (again) today when I read this unbelievable headline:

Pope Says Couples Who Conceive Through In-Vitro Fertilization
Are Guilty Of Arrogance

The man who goes about in ruby slippers, a stylish big hat and dripping with gold and jewelry warns "against the 'easy income' that could be made from the 'fascination of the technology of artificial fertility.' Both scientists and the families who benefit from scientific advances in fertility treatment are guilty of 'the arrogance of taking the place of the creator,' Benedict said."

Now there is the pot calling the kettle black!  I can understand, though don't agree at all with the ban against any form of birth control, but now coming after infertile couples who are trying to have a baby...and especially calling them arrogant?

Does the pontiff mean to suggest that any manipulation of the world that God gave us is a bad thing? Is it a sin to use the intelligence that we were born with to make our world better?  Is it arrogant to even think of improving on God's creation?

God gave us wheat and he gave us grapes.  Are we arrogant for assuming that if we crush those things and mix them with other ingredients to get bread and wine we are arrogant for improving on the gifts that we were given?  Are we arrogant for adding sugar to rhubarb or lye to olives to make something edible out of something which is decidedly not edible to begin with?

Are milk chocolate bunnies evil because they come from processed cocoa beans.  And what about Peeps? How evil are Peeps??

In light of these statements, the Pro-Life Action League has staged a protest trying to block a fertility clinic in Naperville, IL and if they are not successful, they promise to "protest it just liked Planned Parenthood."
“There is no moral difference between those children and the children being killed down the road at Planned Parenthood,” [Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric] Scheidler said at the council meeting, “and justice is due to those children. If that justice is not done by this council today then you must know, that justice will be done through public protest at Dr. Morris’ facility.”
As the church rushes headlong into the 12th century, I am reminded of happier, more innocent days when I believed in this crazy religion, when Holy Week meant spending a lot of time in church, when Easter meant that my father could rush home from Mass to break his lenten fast of alcohol and fix himself a gin fizz.  The years when Good Friday meant keeping "the 3 hours," which meant that we kept silent and prayed for the thre hours that Jesus hung on the cross (making adjustments, of course, for the time zone between Jerusalem and California).

Now, when you are in grammar school, and you are pumped full of religious zeal and wanting to participate fully in the spirit of Good Friday you start out with all good intentions.  A couple of blocks from where I lived in those years was a hill where we used to play a lot.  I think we called it a mountain, but it was really just a big hill.  There is now a big apartment building on the land, but in those days, it was a fun hill to climb, and at this time of the year the grass was already dying off and so we were scampering among the dried weeds.

I remember the year when a group of us, our bibles in hand (or maybe it was prayer books, since Catholics, as a general rule, don't --or didn't in those years-- read the bible) headed for the hill.  Our own little Calvary.  We each camped out a spot on the hill, resting up against our own rock, and we settled in to study our prayer books for three hours.
I don't know if we lasted three minutes but it wasn't long before there where shouted whispers back and forth and I'm sure it was before the end of the first hour that we were not only finished with our prayers but also starving and ready to go and find a snack.
I'm sure Jesus forgave us.  He forgave the apostles for falling asleep while he prayed for strength in Gethsemane, for Pete's sake.  We were just little kids with good intentions and short attention spans.

I don't think we ever tried that again, but I do remember spending 3 hours in Church, with our class, where the teachers should shush us or click those ubiquitous little clickers to keep us in check.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pooh Bah and the Pill

In The Mikado, the character of PoohBah, in explaining how he came to be such a powerful politician says to Nanki Pooh, "When all the great officers of State resigned in a body because they were too proud to serve under an ex-tailor, did I not unhesitatingly accept all of their posts at once?"

Pooh Bah later talks with KoKo, the controversial new Lord High Executioner, about the arrangements for his upcoming nuptials.

Koko says, "I want to consult you about the amount I should spend on them."

Pooh Bah responds, "Certainly. In which of my capacities? As First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Chamberlain, Attorney-General, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Privy Purse or Private Secretary?"

As the conversation continues, KoKo learns that if he consults one of Pooh Bah's roles he might get a desirable result, but then there is another role which would deny him that result. "Speaking as your private secretary, I should say that as the city will have to pay for it, don't stint yourself, do it well.....Of course you will understand that, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am bound to see that due economy is observed." etc.

I thought about Pooh Bah's many roles when I was listening to the latest about the kerfuffle over birth control coverage for employees of Catholic institutions (medical, educational, etc.).

In its role as a religious institution, the church has every right to control its followers, those who are willing to be controlled, and to refuse to make something it considers sinful available to its followers.

BUT in its role as a business which employs not only Catholics, but also members of other religions, and even people who have no religious affiliation, is it right to act as a religious organization and impose its beliefs on non-believers?

Suppose you run a hospital. Your top surgeon is Jewish and your chief cardiologist is Buddhist and a nice Muslim runs the pharmacy. All of these MDs are women and all want to use birth control. Should the BUSINESS wing of this organization force its RELIGIOUS beliefs on these employees?

Seems to me there was a time in this country when everybody was up in arms, certain that a Catholic president would take orders from the Pope, and furious about how wrong that would be.

I had lunch today with a friend who heads up one arm of one of the Catholic businesses in the area. I asked her what was happening in her office after all this brouhaha erupted. She said essentially nothing. She said it's no big whoop. It just means that if they don't now offer a medical plan that includes birth control options they now need to offer one.

I don't know about you, but when I was working I had my opportunity each year to change my medical plan. We have always had Kaiser, but we also could have chosen a number of other plans, most of which offer coverage for birth control.

This is not a religious issue, it should be a labor issue.

Even local religious organizations here acknowledge that. But this is a great attack point (isn't everything?) against the Obama administration. This is going to be a big scary monster talking point in the coming campaign for the White House. Twenty-eight states now already require insurance coverage for birth control...but nobody thought to scream about it until now.

This is why I hate elections and their rhetoric and the made-up crises that want to strike fear and terror into the hearts of voters. And it ain't only the Republicans, I admit. But this particular issue is all anybody is talking about today.

Maybe someone should start interviewing the Groom of the Back Stairs for a change of pace.

* * *

Our lunch today was such fun. We discussed this birth control/religion issue at length along with lots of other things. We go our separate ways after our lunch and never call, write, or visit until another month has passed and we do it all over again. I so miss talking with people about current events, books, religion, work, and lots of other things. Today she called me "one of my intelligent friends," which tells you why I enjoy her company so much!

I am still without my own computer. I thought I would get it back today, but no. Maybe tomorrow morning. I am still limping along in HTML coding on Walt's computer, which I apparently screwed up (he can't find his home page any more because I checked my g-mail and now it thinks that he is me and has erased his home page), but my guru assures me I will have it back tomorrow...and I told him I would be trading my desktop for my laptop so he can fix THAT too.

So far my cell phone is still working!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Beyond Livid

I am beyond livid.

mcbride.jpg  (20972 bytes)Sister Margaret McBride, a Catholic nun in Phoenix has been excommunicated by the local bishop for being part of a hospital ethics panel which permitted the abortion of an 11 week fetus in order to save the life of the 27 year old mother of four.

The patient had "right heart failure" and her doctors felt that continuation of the pregnancy would have "a mortality rate of 100%."

The hospital had two choices: terminate the pregnancy and save the life of the mother, or don't terminate the pregnancy and allow the death of both the mother and the child. They chose to terminate the pregnancy.

Now Sister Margaret has been excommunicated because, according to the bishop, a good outcome cannot justify an evil act.

Well, isn't it nice that the Catholc Church has finally acted swiftly to enact punishment against someone perceived of doing wrong in the eyes of the church.

Too bad it's against a woman trying to save the life of a mother of four, not a priest trying to take the innocence and childhood of a child or several children. If it were a priest who had been molesting children for years, he'd just go to a halfway house and then after a period of time sent to another parish to work with more children. (Oh wait--that's what they do with pedophile priest.)

The gall of these stupid old men. The unmitigated gall!

This church which has protected pedophile priests for decades, and only now is being slightly more open about things because they got caught literally with their pants down, has the effrontery to excommunicate a woman placed in an impossible situation: Choose abortion, kill the baby. Choose NO abortion, kill the baby and the mother both.

According to a statement by the office of the Diocese of Phoenix, "Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life."

Oh well...if it's a crime against human life obviously vengeance must be swift and terrible.

Unlike pedopohilia, another crime against human life, which apparently can be shoved under the carpet until the police get wind of it.

When asked "what is the purpose of excommunication," the Bishop's office responded, "The purpose is to repair scandal, to restore justice and to reform the offender.

Anybody know how many of the hundreds of pedophile priests were excommunicated before being sent back out to work with children again...? According to the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer, no pedophile priests have been excommunicated.

Did you read that? NO PEDOPHILE PRIESTS have been excommunicated.

"When priests have been caught, Doyle says, their bishops have protected them, and it has taken years or decades to defrock them, if ever.

"Yet in this instance we have a sister who was trying to save the life of a woman, and what happens to her? The bishop swoops down [and] declares her excommunicated before he even looks at all the facts of the case," he says.

Oh yeah--the Bishop's office also requires that this member of a religious community be dismissed from religious life.

Anybody know how many of the hundreds of pedophile priests, or those complicit in their cover-up were actually defrocked (I'm sure there were some...but then Cardinal Law was elevated to a high position at the Vatican despite his complicity in the coverup in the Boston Archdiocese.)

But I suppose that the very best thing of all would have been to stand by and watch this mother of four die. Gather her husband and four children around her bed to say goodbye to Mommy.

What would Jesus have done?

I was so angry when I read this story that I was literally screaming in the kitchen this morning. The dogs and Walt went and hid.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

La Cage aux Fooles

I received a message from a former blogging buddy today. It read: "Not that I'm trying to ruin your day or anything, but are you going to write about this or should I? It may be the thing that brings me out of blog retirement. I have to calm down first, though."

The message referred to this video... which Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican's second highest authority, alleges a relationship between pedophelia and homosexuality. "That is the truth - I read it in a document written by psychologists, so that is the problem."

No, Your Emminence, the problem is a church which protects pedophiles and other sexual predators (you do remember the girls and women molested by priests, don't you? Or do crimes committed against female victims not count because they don't fit into your nice little "gay conspiracy" theme?) Hey--come have lunch with me and my friend and let her tell you about her experience with a pedophile priest.

I have long wondered where the police are in all of this world-wide scandal. We see articles all the time about this priest or that priest who molested hundreds of children yet was returned to parish work. Well...we now know about it. We know their names. We know where they work. We know their bosses. Why are so many of them still out of prison?

Why is there a guy in ruby slippers and a long white dress, dripping in gold jewelry, with fingers covered in rings, looking for all the world like Alban in La Cage aux Folles, a man who has been proven to have knowingly blocked the de-frocking of at least one pedophile priest and sent him back into parish work and into contact with children again, still the head of the Catholic church? Why isn't he behind bars for aiding and abetting many felonies?

The Vatican on Thursday defended its decision not to defrock a Wisconsin priest accused of sexually assaulting as many as 200 deaf boys from the 1950s to the 1970s and denounced what it called a "despicable" attempt to smear Pope Benedict XVI and his aides. - Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

The Milwaukee Archdiocese has testified against a Wisconsin bill that would make it easier for victims to sue their abusers for damages and open a three-year window in cases where the statute of limitations has lapsed.

A devout friend told me, in good faith (pun intended), that the problem with the worldwide sexual scandal was the "secret homosexual sex rings" within the church. People actually believe this crap.

What's worse, in an amazing bit of spin, the Catholic Church is taking on the role of the VICTIM in all of this because, oh golly gee whiz, the media is suddenly reporting about their role in it all. Bertone is calling for the "attack of the Catholic Church by the media to end." (Lotsa luck, Your Eminence...check with Tiger Woods about how effective that plea is going to be!)

It is beyond stupifying to believe the stuff that is coming out of the Vatican these days. It's OK for them to continue the attacks on gay people over and over and over again, for centuries, but if, God forbid, someone should call them on their lies and their coverups they whine that they are being picked on.

I'm going to do something which is extremely distasteful to me. I'm going to pretend, just for a moment, that I accept what Bertone is saying. That I accept that the whole problem is due to the homosexuals.

OK, Your Eminence. You guys in the pretty dresses and the nice hats and the shiny shoes have KNOWN ABOUT THIS FOR YEARS...DECADES. WHY HAVEN'T YOU DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT????

It was many, many years before any of this surfaced that I heard about a half-way house for priests who had been caught diddling with the little kids in the sacristy. The pedophile priests went there for "treatment" and then were sent back into parish work again. I thought then that this was criminal. That's like sending an alcoholic through rehab and then giving him a job as a bartender.

There are so many levels of victims in all of this. At the very top, of course, are the victims, the young children of both genders who were molested by pedophile priests and whose lives were forever ruined.

But we need also remember the millions of good, hard working priests who may be gay or may be straight, who respect the vow of chastity that they made, but who may now be suspect, or who may be moved out of parish work in some Catholic version of Don't Ask Don't Tell, which assumes that if they are discovered to have thoughts of men they are then, ipso facto, dangerous to small children.

The Catholic church itself, as an institution, is a victim because of the damage that has been done to it worldwide by the lying bastards who have let this all go on for decades. How many of us have walked away in disgust because of the attitude and actions of the church hierarchy?

But I don't have one eyeblink of sympathy for those in authority who are now whining that they are being persecuted. Good. Maybe they will learn something about humility in all of this.

Shut up and take your medicine, Your Eminence--you and all of the others who have been a part of this shameful chapter in the history of Catholicism.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Oh those wacky Catholics are at it again.

Washington, DC just approved same sex marriage and in response, the Catholic Diocese has announced it will no longer provide benefits to spouses of new employees of Catholic Charities.

Starting Tuesday, Catholic Charities will not offer benefits to spouses of new employees or to spouses of current employees who are not already enrolled in the plan. A letter describing the change in health benefits was e-mailed to employees Monday, two days before same-sex marriage will become legal in the District.

"We looked at all the options and implications," said the charity's president, Edward J. Orzechowski. "This allows us to continue providing services, comply with the city's new requirements and remain faithful to the church's teaching." ...

"For decades, the church has been at the forefront of worker benefits, so this move cuts against their understanding of social justice and health benefits to all possible," [Robert] Tuttle [a George Washington University law professor] said. "But obviously, you can see they felt there was a real conflict between those values. They feel they weren't left with much of a choice."

Staff members at the charity were not given advance notice of the new policy and will not be able to add a spouse now because the most recent open enrollment period ended in November.

--The Washington Post

In their zeal not to give benefits to gay spouses, they are willing to punish ALL spouses.

Swell. Very Christian attitude.

In Colorado, a preschool child was recently expelled from a Catholic school because his mothers are lesbians.

It is not about punishing the child for the sins of his or her parents. It is simply that the lesbian couple is saying that their relationship is a good one that should be accepted by everyone; and the Church cannot agree to that.

the school explained. The archdiocese added

students in Catholic schools are expected to have parents who abide by policies of the school and church. The Archdiocese said students with gay parents in Catholic schools would become "confused."

Once again, the church is being duplicitous and trying to find a reason to punish gay people. Unless, of course, we are going to see a country-wide expelling of kids with divorced parents, or kids whose parents are not Catholic, or kids whose fathers are caught at the store buying condoms, none of whom are "abiding by the policies of the school and church" either.

They had no problem "confusing" me in the 1950 by telling me that my wonderful non-Catholic mother could never get to heaven, while my emotionally abusive Catholic father could.

The Church is so hung-up on sex that you'd think its primary message was about sex, not love. You find all sorts of "proof" that homosexual love is an abomination and that sexual relations are reserved only for married couples, because the purpose of marriage is procreation, but if you have more children than you can handle and it has become a danger to your mental health to have another one, you are told that your only choice is to have no sex at all, because using artificial birth control is against the teaching of the church (some people would even argue that ending sexual relations is also against the teaching of the church).

Don't you just love it that all rules about who can have sex and when they can have sex and even how they can have sex are made by men who are supposedly celibate?

I have a friend who is zealous in her determination to bring me back into the folds of the Catholic Church. But there is no way to reconcile my disgust at the behavior of the church against homosexuals, and the way it whitewashed its own dirty laundry for so many years.

My mother is one who feels that the sacraments provide her with so much spiritual energy that she can pick and choose from among which teachings of the church she believes. I can't do that. If I'm going to be a practicing Catholic, that means that I accept all the teachings of the Catholic church, and there is absolutely no way that I do.

When I look at the teachings of Jesus, the people he associated with, his message of love and inclusion ... the fact that he said nothing about homosexuality, but only exorted us to "love one another as I have loved you," I have to ask myself what Jesus would do when faced with the notion of refusing the sacraments to gay people, taking away benefits from straight people to avoid having to give them to gay people, or telling a child that she cannot come to school because her mothers are gay.

Somehow I don't think that the Catholic Church is carrying out the strict letter of Jesus' intents when he baptized disciples and sent them out into bring his word of love to the masses.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Against the Natural Order

originalPope.jpg (21768 bytes)Pope Benedict XVI has condemned British equality legislation for running contrary to "natural law" as he confirmed his first visit to the UK later this year.

In a letter addressed to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, the pope praised Britain's "firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all".

However, he criticised UK legislation for creating "limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs". It is thought his comments relate to laws that came in last year preventing adoption agencies from discriminating against gay couples and also Harriet Harman's equality bill, currently going through parliament.

The pope, whose visit is expected in September, made the comments after hearing representations from English and Welsh bishops on their concerns about the place of religion in an increasingly secular society.

They told him sexual orientation legislation that came into effect on 1 January 2009 had forced the closure of half the Roman Catholic adoption agencies because the law making it illegal to discriminate against gay applicants went against their beliefs.

In his letter the pope said: "The effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed."

It is also thought the pope was referring to the equality bill, which narrows the special exemption enjoyed by churches allowing them to exclude people whose lifestyles do not fit in with the religious ethos of an organisation when hiring staff. The bishops cited it as another restriction of their freedom of religious belief.

The archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, who is in Rome, said: "It has been clear that he knows the situation and applied it to a move in legislation to look for equality."

The pope urged the bishops to make their voices heard and to defend the faith, saying Christian teaching did not undermine or restrict the freedom of others.

The National Secular Society has announced a large-scale campaign of protest against the state visit of the Pope to Britain in September.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “The taxpayer in this country is going to be faced with a bill of some £20 million for the visit of the Pope. A visit in which he has already indicated he will attack equal rights and promote discrimination.”

Mr Sanderson said that a coalition of groups that have suffered because of the Pope’s teachings will ensure that wherever he goes he will be aware that he has caused damage and hurt in the lives of real people. He said that he was seeking to bring together gay groups, feminist groups, family planning organisations, pro-choice groups, victim support groups and anyone who feels under siege from the Vatican’s current militancy. “We hope that the many people who are outraged at the Vatican’s apparent indifference to the abuse of children by its priests will turn out to make their feelings clear.”

Terry Sanderson said: “We have an online petition where people can make clear their opposition to the state funding of this visit. If the Catholic Church wishes its leader to come here, it should pay for the visit itself. I am sure many others feel the same resentment as we do at the NSS at funding the presence of someone who wishes to impose a reactionary agenda of social change on us.”

The Protest the Pope Coalition will officially launch later this week.

The NSS plans include a festival of films that show the wrong-doings of the Vatican, among them The Magdalene Sisters and The Boys of St Vincent’s – a film about the cover-up of sexual abuse at a Catholic orphanage in Canada.

Add your name to the Make the Pope Pay petition.

"Equality is contrary to natural law" but celibacy is not. And, as someone noted on my facebook page, "What does the pope know about natural law? After all, have you seen that dress he's wearing? Sheesh.".... say nothing of the ruby slippers

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Come Home"

The Catholic Church has started a campaign to get fallen away Catholics to return to the church. (I am assuming revenues are down in the wake of the pedophilia scandals.)

You may have seen the slick television ads that are running right now. Most of them depict someone who misses the church talking about why they left and then goes in to explain why that person should return.

The first one I saw made my blood boil. It was a woman who says, "I met a boy who wasn't a Catholic, so I left the church to be with him."

Pam.jpg (19128 bytes)

It took me back to the baptism preparation class I attended with the guy I was sponsoring, where the most fervent of our group was kicked out of class the day before everyone was supposed to be baptized because it was discovered that her husband (a non-Catholic) had been divorced. She was told she couldn't be baptized unless she left her husband.

I'm still furious about that situation and especially the priest's refusal to explain to the rest of the class (until after their baptism) exactly why she had been told she had to leave the class.

The chutzpah! The woman had been happily married for many years and now they were telling her that the only way she could join the church was to leave her husband. Now THERE's a good way to promote the sanctity of marriage.

This morning I saw an ad in which a father was saying that he and his wife had divorced and he had to leave the church and how difficult it had been for him to be a single father without the church in his life.

Scottcath.jpg (14855 bytes)

In truth, I don't think that just because a man was divorced he would have to leave the church, as long as he didn't remarry. But God help him if he should fall in love with another woman and want to marry her and have her help raise his children.

The other ad that just infuriated me shows a monk writing on parchment with the voice over saying "guided by the holy spirit, we compiled the Bible," as if only Catholics have claim to authorship of the Bible. (And if they are responsible, then they are also to blame for the choice of books to include and those to exclude!)

I will admit to some romanticism of my youth in the Catholic church. It's like a cult. You get drawn in by the trappings. All that incense goes to your head. But there came a day when I realized that every time I went to Mass, I had to recite a prayer in which I professed to believe in all the teachings of the Catholic church. I realized that every. single. time. I went to church, I lied. Because I don't believe in all its teachings and I don't support all its policies.

I don't think nuns should be turned out to pasture with no financial assistance from the church they have served all of their lives.

I don't think members of the religious community should be chastised and forbidden to minister to the gay community.

I don't agree with the Vatican spokesperson who recently said that it was a sin for gay people to enter a catholic church (I'm sure this would not be upheld by the Pope, but still...)

I abhor the policy of protecting pedophile priests and reassigning them to new churches with new youth organizations to lead.

I don't believe only Baptized people can enter the kingdom of heaven (if it exists).

I don't believe that homosexuality is an abomination any more than wearing polyester is an abomination (though I might be persuaded about the polyester).

I won't be going home to the Catholic church any time soon and I think about how much good all that money they are spending on TV spots and web sites could do for those in real need. Or at the very least, to pay some sort of restitution to those harmed by pedophile priests.

Friday, November 13, 2009


According to an article in The Washington Post,

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

These are the same guys who protected pedophile priests and transferred ownership of some properties in some dioceses to the Vatican to prevent the accused dioceses from having any financial holdings that victims of pedophile priests could sue for, right?

Those guys. The guys who established recovery centers for priests caught in pedophilia where they could be hidden away, treated, and then sent back out to work with children again, right?

Those guys.

Now if the District of Columbia extends equality to loving American citizens, the Catholic church will stop feeding homeless men, women and children. Maybe they could hold their breaths and stomp their feet as they turn blue too.

It's too bad you can't see the smoke pouring out my ears as I write this.

Council Member Mary Cheh called the action "childish" and asks "Are they really going to harm people because they have a philosophical disagreement with us on one issue? I hope, in the silver light of day, when this passes, because it will pass, they will not really act on this threat."

Cheh may be more optimistic than I am about the church's rigidity on this issue.

(But I'll betcha that there are still pedophile priests who have not yet been caught by the local authorities, who are out there working with kids...)

Just yesterday I read that the Vatican has taken a stance on gay tourism. Apparently it considers that when gay people visit a Catholic church, it is a form of "building abuse," according to Bishop Janusz Kaleta of the Holy See (the central government of the Catholic Church)

The church teachings are from the Bible. If we change this teaching, we will not be the Catholic Church. Don’t expect the Catholic church to change these issues, because it is our identity. I consider if someone is homosexual, it is abuse of our buildings and our religion. If you have different ideas, go to a different location.

(Child abuse = OK if you don't get caught; building abuse = Not OK)

So gay people should cross Rome off of their travel destinations because you will not be welcome in St. Peter's Basilica or any of the historic churches in that city -- or any other city, for that matter.

I wonder just how closely the good Bishop reads the Bible he is so fond of spouting.

I always loved the speech that President Jed Bartlet gave to the Dr. Laura-like character on The West Wing. It was based on a "Letter to Dr. Laura" that made the rounds of the internet some time ago and continues to pop up whenever someone new stumbles across it. Among the questions Bartlet asked the Dr. Laura-like character were the following:

I wanted to sell my youngest daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown Sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?

While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo McGary, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself? Or is it okay to call the police?

Here’s one that’s really important, because we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point?

Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side?

Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you?

It would be nice of the good Bishop would think about those questions too, before suggesting that it would be an abomination to allow gay people to visit Catholic churches.

It would also be nice for the archdiocese of the District of Columbia to think about those questions before it stops feeding hungry children because the government decided to grant equality to all people, not just to some people.

In situations like these, what do you really think Jesus would do? Take bread out of the mouths of hungry children to make a political statement? I don't think so.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Yes, Sister

1 October 2009

latenightcatechism.jpg (42299 bytes)The California Musical Theatre opened a new cabaret show a week ago. It's called "Late Night Catechism" and was created and performed by Chicago-born Maripat Donovan, who makes the perfect nun.

For those of us who were raised Catholic and especially those who attended Catholic schools, it's a very funny show. She had us all sitting up straight, answering with "Yes, Sister" and reciting long-forgotten questions from the Baltimore Catechism, word for word.

Ned's colleague Walter (whose last name I don't know) and his wife of 41 years were the stars of the show because Walter's wife correctly answered the question "What is a sacrament?" with the proper catechism answer "A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace." High fives all around. Amazing how it all comes back to you.

But for those with no Catholic experience, it can be deadly dull, as I found out from my colleague, who attended the show with us and who said the jokes went way over his head, confirmed by a Jewish man he spoke with at intermission who also wasn't getting it.

I enjoyed it more than I expected to, but gave it a luke warm review, mainly because of what seems to be a limited appeal to non-Catholics.

However, Donovan also uses this show as a fund-raiser. After all the laughs and the applause, she talks about how much money the show has raised for retired nuns. She brought out a fact I didn't know, that the Catholic church opted out of including nuns in the Social Security system and so when they retire, there is...nothing for them.

In my day, the day when I was going to be a nun myself, there were convents and nuns looked like "Sister" above. When my lifelong friend, Sister Anne, was dying of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, she went to the retirement home for the Daughters of Charity in Indiana, which is where she was cared for and where she died. Now many nuns don't wear habits, live in apartments by themselves, work in the community and receive a salary. But at the end of their career, there is nothing to support them.

I also didn't realize that the median age for nuns in this country is 73 (according to Donovan).

We were discussing this at Richard's house yesterday and Char talked about a nun who worked in her office. She was in her mid-70s and had been a teacher at a Catholic school in San Francisco, but was let go from that job and just left to her own devices--no support whatsoever from the Catholic church for her lifetime of service, no source of income and the church just expected that her family would care for her. They didn't, so at an age when the rest of us were looking at retirement, she had to get a job to support herself. As Char explained it, at the time that Char retired, the nun had long since ceased to be able to handle the job for which she was originally hired, but the office didn't want to fire her, as they would any other person, because she had nowhere to go and no way to support herself.

This is an outrage!!! How the Catholic church treats women is a sin. When I think of all the support given to pedophile priests vs. the disdain with which women are treated, it makes me realize even more why I consider myself a "recovering Catholic."

Mercy Sister Theresa Kane recently criticized the church hierarchy re its continuing treatment of women in general and women religious in particular in an article in the National Catholic Reporter.

"I think the male hierarchy is truly impotent, incapable of equality, co-responsibility in adult behavior,” she said, not mincing any words. “In the church today, we are experiencing a dictatorial mindset and spiritual violence," she says.

“Why do we hope and why do we endure?” she asked. “I have one chance, one life, and therefore I have a responsibility to criticize. Our hope comes from solidarity between women religious and laywomen.”

“If we do not get angry, we won’t make change,” she said. And change can come, she noted. Years back, she recalled, women were required to cover their heads when in church — “even using tissue paper, if necessary.” After a while women simply stopped the practice and the requirement ended. She called it a “silent revolution.”

Lord, I remember the "tissue paper" days, when if you forgot to bring something with which to cover your head, you took a bobbie pin and a Kleenex tissue and pinned it to your head in order to enter a Catholic church.

I also remember the days when I served as an "altar girl" at our high school chapel. But as a mere female, I was not permitted to actually go ON the altar. I had to kneel outside the alter, on the other side of the communion railing.

Sooner or later the Catholic church has to recognize that women have their place in the religion. I won't be there to see it, of course, but this inequality of women in the Catholic church is just ridiculous. I hope change comes in time for the older nuns struggling to make ends meet after being ignored by the church they served so loyally for so many years.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The World Keeps Spinning

It seems that while I've been off gallivanting hither and yon, "life" has kept moving forward. While I've been deprived of the nightly "pundit sitcoms" (as Walt calls shows like Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman), world news has gone on without me. While I've been wrapping baby gifts and not reading The Huffington Post, worrisome things have continued to be posted on the Internet.

Now that I'm back home again, and with a blissfully empty schedule for two whole weeks, it's time to pick up where I left off however many days/weeks ago that was, and express ire, frustration, and whatever other emotion seems to well up as I try to catch up.

It seems that while I've been in a news blackout, the Vatican has created new sins (kind of like Bill Mahr's "New Rules," without the laugh track). I don't think these are carved in stone the way the original ones are, or that there is some celestial Xerox machine which has whipped out several addenda that God didn't realize he would need until Man began screwing things up. On the whole, the "sins" (probably an irrelevant term anyway--do people still go to confession any more? Are there still mortal sins and venial sins?) make sense. Things like pollution -- "thou shalt not befoul the air I have given to thee" (or something like that) and I may have quarrel with the church's stand on genetic manipulation, stem cell research and that sort of thing, but I understand their stance against it.

However, I had to scoff at the emphasis on the sin of social injustice from the organization which is one of the biggest contributors to social injustice against gay people.

And then there's that old sex scandal stuff. Surely you remember it. It was in all the papers. But that is, apparently, the problem. Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, the spokesperson for Pope Benedict, acknowledged the “objective gravity” of the allegations, but contended that the heavy coverage by mass media of the scandals must also be denounced because it “discredits the church.”

Discredits the church? Well...duhhhh! Should the media have been part of the vast coverup? Apparently the media was guilty of the sin of...uh...honesty!

Back on this side of the Atlantic, the gas at the station near Alice Nan's house in Santa Barbara was charging $3.99 a gallon for regular (in fairness, it was the only station we saw charging that much. $3.79 seemed to be more common). Didja see Our Glorious Leader asked a question about $4 a gallon gasoline and saying he didn't know anything about that...only to say a few minutes later that he hadn't been informed about some other issue because he was too busy worrying about things like $4/gallon gas?

Has the man given up all pretense of being competent? I have the feeling he is just playing out the clock and trying not to put too many feet in his mouth--there are too many in there already. Or maybe Cheney has finally given him the key to the liquor cabinet, figuring that it can't really hurt anything any more.

I also see that we are now admitting that we have a torture policy, with his nibs vetoing legislation that would ban harsh techniques like waterboarding saying that to do so would "take away one of the most valuable tools in he war on terror."

After all this time of insisting that the United States does. not. torture, he now admits that we do and refuses to pass legislation that would ban it.

Yeah--nothing funnier than torture

But I guess--what can you expect from someone who thinks going to war is something "romantic."

It doesn't surprise me about Bush, but how badly do you want the presidency that you would sell your soul to get it. McCain, who was held and tortured for years, who has, in the past, been quite vocal in his objection to torture and stating his personal experience knowing that information extracted under torture is not reliable, also refused to support the bill which would ban torture.

Was it worth it, John? Is is really that important to you to be president?

What I want to know is...are these bozos really going to get away with all the shit they've been pulling for 8 years? I notice that the White House has blocked the EPA from releasing document to Henry Waxman's Government Oversight committee which would show why California's request for permission to regulate greenhouse emissions from cars and trucks. This just adds to the long list of other documents the White House has blocked from being examined. Whether there is any actual wrongdoing or not, the fact that the White House puts up such roadblocks, again thumbing its nose at congress and saying that they are above such petty rules and regulations, leads to the only logical conclusion--they are covering their own asses.

And if they continue to cover them until January, and if a Democratic president is elected (though Clinton and Obama seem to be working very hard to change public opinion about that, dammit), will all these investigations end? Will they all ride off into the sunset with one last smirk at us all and a wink for the good ol' boys? God, I hope not! Can you impeach a former president?

And there's an Oklahoma Congresscritter who thinks gays are worse than terrorists. (Ironically, in my journal entry one year ago, I mentioned that General Peter Pace likened gay men and women to adulterers. Wow...what's next??)

You know, it was kind of nice being on news hiatus. It was a lot less stressful. It's probably how Bush feels most of the time, without letting his mind be troubled by little things like war, the economy, or anything else of any import.