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U.N. Panel Questions Vatican Officials on Child Sex Abuse January 16, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Children, Criminal Justice, Religion.
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Roger’s note: This paragraph knocked me off my seat:

“Written answers from the Vatican emphasized the distinction between the Holy See and the Catholic Church and said that although it encouraged adherence to the principles of the convention globally, it was responsible only for implementing the convention in the territory of the Vatican City State.”

The Vatican, whose long vindictive arm reaches to the farthest corner of the glove to punish a priest or theologian who dares to advocate, for example, the ordination of women priests, this poor powerless Vatican, perhaps the most centralized authoritarian institution on the face of earth, this poor impotent Vatican finds that its hands are tied when it comes to enforcing the law that protects children from its abusive priests.  Five stars for chutzpah and hypocrisy.  But kudos to the Pope and his Cardinals for “encouraging” their priests to keep their hands (or worse) off children.  Not to mention protecting all those children running around the halls of the Vatican.

NICK CUMMING-BRUCEJAN. 16, 2014, New York Times

GENEVA — In an unusual appearance before a United Nations committee, Vatican officials faced questions on Thursday about the Holy See’s handling of sexual abuse of children by the clergy.

The officials, including Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, who served as the Vatican’s chief sex crimes prosecutor for a decade up to 2012, are appearing before the Committee on the Rights of the Child to show how the Vatican is implementing a legally binding convention promoting child rights, which it signed in 1990.

Human rights organizations and groups representing victims of clerical abuse welcomed the hearing as the first occasion the Vatican has had to publicly defend its record.

“It’s a moment that has given hope and encouragement to victims across the globe,” Barbara Blaine, president of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in Geneva ahead of the hearing.

Amid the shake-up launched by Pope Francis in the 10 months since he took office, rights groups also saw Thursday’s hearing as an occasion that could shed light on the pontiff’s approach to dealing with the clerical abuse scandal.

Pope Francis announced last month the creation of a new committee to tackle clerical abuse but has so far said little on the scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Church around the world.

In questions posed by the U.N. committee before the hearing, the Vatican was asked to provide details of cases of sexual abuse committed by clergy that were brought to its attention, to detail measures for ensuring clergy accused of sexual abuse did not remain in contact with children, and to explain what explicit instructions it had given to ensure compulsory reporting of sexual abuse to the competent national authorities together with the cases where instructions had been given not to report abuse.

Written answers from the Vatican emphasized the distinction between the Holy See and the Catholic Church and said that although it encouraged adherence to the principles of the convention globally, it was responsible only for implementing the convention in the territory of the Vatican City State.

“It was quite shocking. It was a pretty direct, pretty blunt effort to sidestep the questions,” Pam Spees, an attorney with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which is seeking to hold Vatican officials responsible for sexual abuse crimes, said in an interview.

 

A Rogue Power: Vatican May Shield Pope from Growing Prosecution Efforts February 20, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Religion.
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Roger’s note: Apparently it was Mussolini who made the Vatican into a sovereign state.  Somehow that seems appropriate.
02.19.13 – 12:30 PM, http://www.commondreams.org

by Abby Zimet

Amidst growing efforts by international law advocates to arrest and prosecute Pope Benedict for the Church’s cover-up of child sex crimes, Vatican officials have announced they will give the retiring Pontiff sanctuary, arguing that otherwise he would be “defenseless” – a feeling likely familiar to the Church’s many victims of sexual abuse. A week before his resignation, the Pope reportedly heard from an undisclosed European government that the International Tribunal into Crimes Against Church and State (ITCCS) had called on “all people of conscience” to “disestablish the Vatican,” and seek Benedict’s and others’ arrests for crimes against humanity. Their call comes as part of an upcoming Easter Reclamation Campaign that also seeks to seize the assets of the Church under international law. In addition, the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights has requested, on behalf of the Survivors’ Network, an international inquiry into the Church’s sheltering of pedophile priests. Pope Benedict is reportedly scheduled to meet next week with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to request immunity against  allegations of child rape. We don’t really wish him well; we simply wish him what he legally and morally deserves.

“We call upon all citizens and governments to assist our efforts to legally disestablish the Vatican, Inc. and arrest its chief officers and clergy who are complicit in crimes against humanity and the ongoing criminal conspiracy to aid and protect child torture and trafficking.”

U.S. nuns locked in battle with conservative Vatican leadership August 19, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Religion, Women.
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Roger’s note: it may be because of my own long discarded religious background that I bother to post an article about the Roman Catholic Church, which is today a bastion of misogynist patriarchal tyranny.  I often wonder why good people remain involved in and institution that is so fundamentally corrupt, but I suppose that I have no right to be judgmental, especially where good works are being done.  The nuns who are the subject of this article would do better, in my opinion, to be working outside their dinosaur of a Church; but then again, they have invested their lives within that organization, and it may not be fair to expect them to abandon it without a fight.  As the article suggests, excommunication could very well be the outcome for these socially progressive and feminist nuns.  Today’s incarnation of the Inquisition, known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is at the center of power within the RC Church, the current Pope Ratzinger being its former head and today’s champion.  This startling statistic tells the story about the out of touch nature of the male patriarchical hierarchy of the Church: “… more than two-thirds of Catholic women have practised officially prohibited contraception, and according to Gallup, 82 per cent find birth control morally acceptable.”

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Published on Sunday August 19, 2012

 
 

Farrell Deacon

Seth Perlman/ASSOCIATED PRESS Pat Farrell, left, outgoing president of The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, left, stands with president-elect Sister Florence Deacon, at St. Louis vigil Aug. 9.

 

Peter Sartain

Erika Schultz/ASSOCIATED PRESS Seattle Roman Catholic Archbishop J. Peter Sartain praised the nuns’ good works and promised to deal with their differences “in an atmosphere of prayer and respectful dialogue.”

 
Image

By Olivia WardForeign Affairs Reporter, Toronto Star
 
ST. LOUIS, MO.—In the packed ballroom of the Millennium Hotel, a serene-looking 65-year-old woman strides toward the podium. Alongside her, like disciples in an archaic temple, other women waft strips of flame-coloured gauze through the humid air, while a heavenly chorus floats above the crowd.

It’s no New Age drama revival, but a crisis meeting of more than 900 Catholic sisters of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, who represent some 80 per cent of America’s 57,000 nuns, a group attacked by the Vatican for harbouring “radical feminist ideas:” putting too much energy into social justice and too little into fighting abortion, contraception, gay rights and other traditional Catholic anathemas.

They have also dared to discuss women’s ordination, priestly marriage and hot-button political issues such as U.S. President Barack Obama’s health-care plan, to which the church is fiercely opposed.

When Pat Farrell, the group’s outgoing president, reaches the microphone, her message is loud and clear. Church criticism should not be met by “violence,” she tells the rapt female audience. But neither should it be accepted “with the passivity of the victim. It entails resisting rather than colluding with abusive power.”

Heads nod and smiles flash across tight-lipped faces in the crowd. “I believe the philosophical underpinnings of the way we’ve organized reality no longer hold,” Farrell continues, gaining momentum. “The human family is not served by individualism, patriarchy or competition . . . Breaking through in their place are equality, communion, collaboration, expansiveness . . . intuitive knowing and love.”

The words are like a splash of cold water in the face of the conservative church fathers. But the Aug. 7-10 gathering itself, with its free-form ceremonies and freethinking speakers, is also part of the problem, in the view of the Vatican’s watchdog Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In April, it issued a damning report, ordering the nuns’ leadership to correct its “serious doctrinal problems,” and submit to an overhaul under the direction of Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain. He is known, most recently, for opposing Washington state’s Marriage Equality Bill, on the grounds that same-sex couples, being “different” from male-female couples, do not deserve equal treatment in law.

Earlier this week, Sartain met with the nuns’ national board after praising their good works in “social, pastoral and spiritual ministries,” and promising to deal with their differences “in an atmosphere of prayer and respectful dialogue.” The sisters pledged the same. But the simmering anger beneath the nuns’ outwardly tranquil demeanour and the outpouring of support for them from Catholics across the country point to a confrontation that could rock the church for decades to come.

It’s a struggle that the Vatican may find hard to win.

While some American Catholics uphold the traditional views of the church and its ecclesiastical mission on earth, millions of others find its teachings less relevant and are privately going their own way.

Most tellingly, studies show that more than two-thirds of Catholic women have practised officially prohibited contraception, and according to Gallup, 82 per cent find birth control morally acceptable.

A recent University of Michigan survey said that by 2000, only 6 per cent of Catholics believed that divorce was never permissible, and 19 per cent that homosexuality was never justifiable. The book Just Love, on modern Catholic sexual ethics, became a runaway U.S. bestseller when the church campaigned against it.

As the ordination of women grows in other religions, the Vatican looks increasingly like King Canute trying to hold back the tide. Sexual abuse scandals have thrown the celibacy requirement for priests under a harsh spotlight, and allegations of Byzantine power struggles and corruption swirled after recent leaks of papal documents and arrest of the pope’s butler on theft charges. Some within the church say that 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI is out of touch and “isolated.”

Though the winds of change have raised scarcely a breeze behind Vatican walls, they have struck American nuns with cyclone force.

When 17-year-old Mary Ann Nestel left her middle-class home in Kansas City and entered a convent back in the 1950s, she took her parents’ names, draped herself in a standard-issue habit and became Sister Robert Catherine.

But with the meeting of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, convened by Pope John XXIII to review and renew the church, and inherited by his successor Pope Paul VI, the focus shifted from doctrine and tradition to community outreach. Priests and nuns were urged to stop setting themselves apart from contemporary life, and to wear clothing “suited to the circumstances of time and place” in which they worked.

“It was in the 1960s that I stopped wearing a habit,” recalls the ginger-haired, 72-year-old Nestel, sporting a scoop-necked t-shirt and comfortable flared skirt in the breathless summer heat. “At first we dressed very conservatively in navy or black. But our (leader) said we should look like the people of the day.”

Moving with the times was an act of obedience then, she says. But in the more reactionary era where nuns find themselves today, modernity has become defiance. It is this tension between an evolutionary church, and one that believes its teachings are immutable and eternal, that is at the heart of the sisters’ struggle.

“I think that the fundamental faith of the Catholic Church is that there are objective truths and teachings. . . that really do come from revelation and are interpreted authentically through the teaching of the church. . . and are expected to be believed with the obedience of faith,” said Bishop Leonard Blair, who took part in the doctrinal assessment of the sisters. “Those are things that are non-negotiable,” he told National Public Radio.

But to the greying generation who took “Vatican II” to heart, as well as younger progressive Catholics, it’s the church fathers who are on the wrong side of history.

A visit to the south St. Louis suburb of Carondelet is telling.

Here, Nestel is a local hero, sharing the struggles of the community and offering hands-on help.

She is executive director of the Community Betterment Foundation and Carondelet’s housing corporation. The former supplements the meager budgets of the working poor with a storehouse of food and children’s clothing, a free health clinic, seniors’ centre and literacy program. The latter has partnered with the city to change the character of the place, from a dilapidated, drug-ridden marginal community to one that is bringing back working- and middle-class people to affordable renovated homes, safe playgrounds and attractive and accessible shopping and recreational sites.

Over the desk of Nestel’s spotless, sparsely furnished office, a cross-shaped graphic rather than a traditional crucifix is on display. It reads: “We the People + The Body of Christ.” It was taken from Network, the group of Washington-based activist nuns who recently made a national bus tour to drum up opposition to legislation that would dramatically cut spending on social services.

Nestel takes the people-centred message seriously. When the food pantry was almost empty last week, she phoned the media and declared an emergency. Now she smiles broadly as she walks through the narrow basement shelves, replenished with tins, packages and boxes of food. People from every walk of life responded to the call, she says, and a local bar offered free beer to donors.

Nestel’s work goes beyond charitable services. A few blocks away, she congratulates a crew of renovators who drip with sweat as they put the finishing touches on a trim, brick three-bedroom house that was reclaimed from a drug gang and rebuilt by the housing corporation. It will be marketed for $160,000, (U.S.) sweetened by a 10-year tax holiday for the new owners.

On a nearby street, bright, artist-designed murals decorate walls that were once eyesores, another urban renewal project. Blooming gardens and a fenced playground might have sprung from the film Meet Me in St. Louis. People on the street may not recognize a visiting bishop, but they know Nestel on sight.

The corridors of the conference hotel are a poor woman’s tour of the world. They are lined with tables and posters advocating for social justice in Guatemala, in Africa, in South Sudan — and for causes closer to home. Many of the sisters present here have done service in the world’s roughest neighbourhoods, ministering to the hungry, homeless and oppressed.

Farrell, the leadership conference’s retiring president, worked with the non-violent resistance movement in Augusto Pinochet’s Chile, and on the front lines of El Salvador’s bloody civil war, where four female Catholic missionaries were tortured, raped and murdered. Others have worked in U.S. inner cities where the lines between war and peace are blurred.

But harsh conditions are nothing new to North American nuns, nor is the heavy hand of the male-dominated church.

“In the 19th century, Catholic nuns literally built the church in the American West,” wrote Utah State University historian Anne Butler in the New York Times. They braved “hardship and grueling circumstances to establish missions, set up classrooms and lead lives of calm in a chaotic world marked by corruption, criminality and illness. Their determination in the face of a male hierarchy that then, as now, frequently exploited and disdained them, was a demonstration of their resilient faith in a church struggling to adapt itself to change.”

Since the early 18th century, more than 200,000 Catholic sisters have pioneered the country. But now their numbers have shrunk to less than 60,000, and threaten to dwindle by thousands more in the next decade as the older ones die or retire from duty.

That makes the struggle between the nuns and the Vatican all the more urgent, as fewer young women are interested in enrolling in what they see as an institution that imposes archaic rules. Many serving today fear that if they cannot move with the times, the times will eventually pass them by and their orders become extinct.

“Today individuals have the right to decide how to live their lives and craft their own morality,” says Jamie Manson, a lay minister and graduate of Yale Divinity School. “They are not hard-wired to live in community.” But, she says, many young Catholic lay workers are still hungering for spiritual mentorship. Allowing them to live in religious communities that are devoted to public service, along with their partners, might rejuvenate dedicated religious life.

It’s one more challenge for the nuns as they continue their mano a mano confrontation with the bishops charged with bringing them into line.

At best, the church may drag out the talks to prevent a perilous split, although the Vatican’s current conservative leadership seems to make that less likely. But officials can also see warning signs of strains within the church: the powerful Conference of Catholic Bishops has joined the sisters in speaking out against government budget cuts that would slash food and nutrition programs for the poor. Meanwhile, highly vocal Catholic social conservatives back widening state crackdowns on abortion and defunding of contraception.

At worst, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and its members may find so little common ground with their critics that they opt to defy the church’s authority and form their own organization. Some have pondered the ultimate threat of excommunication.

Can those who have lived at the sharp end of the world’s harsh realities retreat to an obedient quiet?

“Many of the foundresses and founders of our congregations struggled long for canonical approval of our institutes,” Farrell tells the sisters. “Some were even silenced or excommunicated.” And she adds with a fleeting smile, “a few of them . . . were later canonized.”

Vatican hires Fox News reporter as communications adviser June 25, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Media, Religion, Right Wing.
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Roger’s note: Former Nazi youth Ratzinger’s Catholic Church, Fox News and the ultra-right Opus Dei, quite a trifecta of authoritarianism, elitism, racism, patriarchal sexism, and homophobia.  The Pope picked thee right (in all senses of the word) man for the job.

 

Published On Mon Jun 25 2012
 
Fox News journalist Greg Burke, poses in Rome on June 25. Burke, 52, will leave Fox to become a senior communications adviser in the Vatican's secretariat of state.Fox News journalist Greg Burke, poses in Rome on June 25. Burke, 52, will leave Fox to become a senior communications adviser in the Vatican’s secretariat of state.

ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Nicole Winfield and
Victor L. Simpson The Associated Press
 
VATICAN CITY—The Vatican has brought in the Fox News correspondent in Rome to help improve its communications strategy as it tries to cope with years of communications blunders and one of its most serious scandals in decades, officials said Saturday.

Greg Burke, 52, will leave Fox to become the senior communications adviser in the Vatican’s secretariat of state, the Vatican and Burke told The Associated Press.

“I’m a bit nervous but very excited. Let’s just say it’s a challenge,” Burke said in a phone interview.

He defined his job, which he said he had been offered twice before, as being along the lines of the White House senior communications adviser: “You’re shaping the message, you’re moulding the message, and you’re trying to make sure everyone remains on-message. And that’s tough.”

Burke, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, is a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement. Pope John Paul II’s longtime spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, was also a member of Opus Dei and was known for the papal access he enjoyed and his ability to craft the messages John Paul wanted to get out.

After Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, Navarro-Valls was replaced by the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Jesuit who had long headed Vatican Radio and still does, along with running the Vatican press office and Vatican television service.

Lombardi told the AP that Burke will help integrate communications issues within the Vatican’s top administrative office, the secretariat of state, and will help handle its relations with the Holy See press office and other Vatican communications offices. Burke will report to the Vatican undersecretary of state and the official who oversees Vatican communications in the secretariat.

Lombardi confirmed the news after the AP broke the story, several days before the Holy See had planned to announce it officially.

The Vatican has been bedevilled by communications blunders ever since Benedict’s 2005 election, and is currently dealing with a scandal over Vatican documents that were leaked to Italian journalists. While the scandal is serious — Benedict himself convened a special meeting of cardinals Saturday to try to cope with it — the Vatican’s communications problems long predate it.

Benedict’s now-infamous speech about Muslims and violence, his 2009 decision to rehabilitate a schismatic bishop who denied the Holocaust, and the Vatican’s response to the 2010 explosion of the sex abuse scandal are just a few of the blunders that have tarnished Benedict’s papacy.

Even the Vatican’s response to the leaks from within the Vatican of sensitive papal documents hasn’t involved a terribly sophisticated public relations strategy. Just last week the Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, blamed the media and the devil for fuelling the scandal and accused journalists of “pretending to be Dan Brown.”

Brown wrote “The Da Vinci Code,” the bestselling fictional account that portrayed Opus Dei — of which Bertone’s new communications adviser is a member — as being at the root of an international Catholic conspiracy.

Burke acknowledged the difficult task ahead but said that after turning down the Vatican twice before, he went with his gut and accepted the third time around. “This is an opportunity and challenge that I’m not going to get again,” he said.

He said he didn’t know what, if any, role his membership in Opus Dei played. Opus is greatly in favour in the Vatican these days, particularly as other new religious movements such as the Legion of Christ have lost credibility with their own problems. Currently, for example, the cardinal who is heading the Vatican’s internal investigation into the leaks of documents is the Opus Dei prelate, Cardinal Julian Herranz.

“I’m an old-fashioned Midwestern Catholic whose mother went to Mass every day,” Burke said. “Am I being hired because I’m in Opus Dei?” he asked. “It might come into play.” But he noted he was also in Opus when he was hired by Fox and Time magazine.

Burke has been a Fox correspondent since he joined the U.S. network in 2001. He was the Time magazine correspondent in Rome for a decade before that.

At Fox, he led the network’s coverage of the death of John Paul and election of Benedict in 2005, and has covered the papacy since then, travelling with the pope around the globe. But he has also used Rome as a base for non-Vatican reporting, including several stints in the Middle East during the last intifada, labour law protests in France and the terrorist attacks in London and Madrid.

He is a graduate of Columbia University’s School of Journalism

Pedophiles and Popes: Doing the Vatican Shuffle May 10, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Religion.
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Published on Monday, May 10, 2010 by CommonDreams.orgby Michael Parenti

When Pope John Paul II was still living in Poland as Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, he claimed that the security police would accuse priests of sexual abuse just to hassle and discredit them. (New York Times, 3/28/10). For Wojtyła, the Polish pedophilia problem was nothing more than a Communist plot to smear the church.

By the early 1980s, Wojtyła, now ensconced in Rome as Pope John Paul II, treated all stories about pedophile clergy with dismissive aplomb, as little more than slander directed against the church. That remained his stance for the next twenty years.

Today in post-communist Poland, clerical abuse cases have been slowly surfacing, very slowly. Writing in the leading daily Gazeta Wyborcza,  a middle-aged man reported having been sexually abused as a child by a priest. He acknowledged however that Poland was not prepared to deal with such transgressions. “It’s still too early. . . .  Can you imagine what life would look like if an inhabitant of a small town or village decided to talk?  I can already see the committees of defense for the accused priests.”

While church pedophiles may still enjoy a safe haven in Poland and other countries where the clergy are above challenge, things are breaking wide open elsewhere. Today we are awash in a sludge of revelations spanning whole countries and continents, going back decades—or as some historians say—going back centuries. Only in the last few weeks has the church shown signs of cooperating with civil authorities. Here is the story.

Protecting the Perpetrators. As everyone now knows, for decades church superiors repeatedly chose to ignore complaints about pedophile priests. In many instances, accused clerics were quietly bundled off to distant congregations where they could prey anew upon the children of unsuspecting parishioners. This practice of denial and concealment has been so consistently pursued in diocese after diocese, nation after nation, as to leave the impression of being a deliberate policy set by church authorities.

And indeed it has been. Instructions coming directly from Rome have required every bishop and cardinal to keep matters secret. These instructions were themselves kept secret; the cover-up was itself covered up. Then in 2002, John Paul put it in writing, specifically mandating that all charges against priests were to be reported secretly to the Vatican and hearings were to be held in camera, a procedure that directly defies state criminal codes.   Rather than being defrocked, many outed pedophile priests have been allowed to advance into well-positioned posts as administrators, vicars, and parochial school officials—repeatedly accused by their victims while repeatedly promoted by their superiors.

Church spokesmen employ a vocabulary of compassion and healing—not for the victims but for the victimizers. They treat the child rapist as a sinner who confesses his transgression and vows to mend his ways. Instead of incarceration, there is repentance and absolution.

While this forgiving approach might bring comfort to some malefactors, it proves to be of little therapeutic efficacy when dealing with the darker appetites of pedophiles. A far more effective deterrent is the danger of getting caught and sent to prison. Absent any threat of punishment, the perpetrator is restrained only by the limits of his own appetite and the availability of opportunities.

Forgiving No One Else

The tender tolerance displayed by the church hierarchy toward child rapists does not extend to other controversial clergy. Think of those radical priests who have challenged the hierarchy in the politico-economic struggle for liberation theology, or who advocate lifting the prohibitions against birth control and abortion, or who propose that clergy be allowed to marry, or who preside over same-sex weddings, or who themselves are openly gay, or who believe women should be ordained, or who bravely call for investigations of the pedophilia problem itself.

Such clergy often have their careers shut down. Some are subjected to hostile investigations by church superiors.

A Law Unto Itself

Church leaders seem to forget that pedophilia is a felony crime and that, as citizens of a secular state, priests are subject to its laws just like the rest of us. Clerical authorities repeatedly have made themselves accessories to the crime, playing an active role in obstructing justice,  arguing in court that criminal investigations of “church affairs” violated the free practice of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution–as if raping little children were a holy sacrament.

Church officials tell parishioners not to talk to state authorities. They offer no pastoral assistance to young victims and their shaken families. They do not investigate to see if other children have been victimized by the same priests. Some young plaintiffs have been threatened with excommunication or suspension from Catholic school. Church leaders impugn their credibility, even going after them with countersuits.

Responding to charges that one of his priests sexually assaulted a six-year-old boy, Cardinal Bernard Law asserted that “the boy and his parents contributed to the abuse by being negligent.” Law himself never went to prison for the hundreds of cover-ups he conducted.  In 2004, with things getting too hot for him in his Boston archdiocese, Law was rescued by Pope John Paul II to head one of Rome’s major basilicas, where he now lives with diplomatic immunity in palatial luxury on a generous stipend, supervised by no one but a permissive pontiff.

A judge of the Holy Roman Rota, the church’s highest court, wrote in a Vatican-approved article that bishops should not report sexual violations to civil authorities. And sure enough, for years bishops and cardinals have refrained from cooperating with law enforcement authorities, refusing to release abusers’ records, claiming that the confidentiality of their files came under the same legal protection as privileged communications in the confessional—a notion that has no basis in canon or secular law.

Bishop James Quinn of Cleveland even urged church officials to send incriminating files to the Vatican Embassy in Washington, DC, where diplomatic immunity would prevent the documents from being subpoenaed.

Just a Few Bad Apples

Years ago the Catholic hierarchy would insist that clerical pedophilia involved only a few bad apples and was being blown completely out of proportion. For the longest time John Paul scornfully denounced the media for “sensationalizing” the issue. He and his cardinals (Ratzinger included) directed more fire at news outlets for publicizing the crimes than at their own clergy for committing them.

Reports released by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (one of the more honest organizations in the Catholic Church) documented the abuse committed in the United States by 4,392 priests against thousands of children between 1950 and 2002. One of every ten priests ordained in 1970 was charged as a pedophile by 2002. Another survey commissioned by the US bishops found that among 5,450 complaints of sexual abuse there were charges against at least sixteen bishops. So much for a few bad apples.

Still, even as reports were flooding in from Ireland and other countries, John Paul dismissed the pedophilic epidemic as “an American problem,” as if American priests were not members of his clergy, or as if this made it a matter of no great moment. John Paul went to his grave in 2005 still refusing to meet with victims and never voicing any apologies or regrets regarding sex crimes and cover-ups.

With Ratzinger’s accession to the papal throne as Benedict XVI, the cover-ups continued. As recently as April 2010, at Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square, dean of the college of cardinals Angelo Sodano, assured Benedict that the faithful were unimpressed “by the gossip of the moment.” One would not know that “the gossip of the moment” included thousands of investigations, prosecutions, and accumulated charges extending back over decades.

During that same Easter weekend, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City, declared that the public uproar was an “overreaction” incited by the doings of “a few dishonest and criminal priests.” A  few? An overreaction? Of course, the picture now becomes clear: a few bad apples were inciting overreaction by engaging in the gossip of the moment.

The church seems determined to learn nothing from its transgressions, preoccupied as it is with avoiding lawsuits and bad publicity. Really Not All that Serious There are two ways we can think of child rape as being not a serious problem, and the Catholic hierarchy seems to have embraced both these positions. First, pedophilia is not that serious if it involves only a few isolated and passing incidents. Second, an even more creepy way of downplaying the problem: child molestation is not all that damaging or that important. At worst, it is regrettable and unfortunate; it might greatly upset the child, but it certainly is not significant enough to cause unnecessary scandal and ruin the career of an otherwise splendid padre. 

It is remarkable how thoroughly indifferent the church bigwigs have been toward the abused children. When one of the most persistent perpetrators, Rev. John Geoghan, was forced into retirement (not jail) after seventeen years and nearly 200 victims, Cardinal Law could still write him, “On behalf of those you have served well, in my own name, I would like to thank you. I understand yours is a painful situation.” It is evident that Law was more concerned about the “pain” endured by Geoghan than the misery he had inflicted upon minors.

In 2001, a French bishop was convicted in France for refusing to hand over to the police a priest who had raped children. It recently came to light that a former top Vatican cardinal,  Dario Castrillón, had written to the bishop, “I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil authorities. You have acted well, and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all the bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his ‘son’ and priest.” (The bishop actually got off with a suspended sentence.) Castrillón claimed that Pope John Paul II had authorized the letter years ago and had told him to send it to bishops around the world. (New York Times, 4/22/2010.)

There are many more like Cardinal Law and Cardinal Castrillón in the hierarchy, aging men who have no life experience with children and show not the slightest regard or empathy for them. They claim it their duty to protect the “unborn child” but offer no protection to the children in their schools and parishes.

They themselves are called “Father” but they father no one. They do not reside in households or families. They live in an old-boys network, jockeying for power and position, dedicated to the Holy Mother Church that feeds, houses, and adorns them throughout their lives. From their heady heights, popes and bishops cannot hear the cries of children. In any case, the church belongs not to little children but to the bedecked oligarchs.

The damage done to sexual victims continues to go unnoticed: the ensuing years of depression, drug addiction, alcoholism, panic attacks, sexual dysfunction, and even mental breakdown and suicide-all these terrible aftereffects of child rape seem to leave popes and bishops more or less unruffled.

Circling the Wagons

The Catholic hierarchy managed to convince itself that the prime victim in this dismal saga is the church itself. In 2010 it came to light that, while operating as John Paul’s über-hit man, Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) had provided cover and protection to several of the worst predator priests. The scandal was now at the pope’s door—exactly where it should have been many years earlier during John Paul’s reign.

The Vatican’s response was predictable. The hierarchy circled the wagons to defend pope and church from outside “enemies.” The cardinals and bishops railed furiously at critics who “assault” the church and, in the words of the archbishop of Paris, subject it to “a smear campaign.” Benedict himself blamed secularism and misguided applications of Vatican 2′s aggiornamento as contributing to the “context” of sexual abuse. Reform-minded liberalism made us do it, he seemed to be saying.

But this bristling Easter counterattack by the hierarchy did not play well. Church authorities came off looking like insular, arrogant elites who were unwilling to own up to a horrid situation largely of their own making. 

Meanwhile the revelations continued. A bishop in Ireland resigned admitting he had covered up child abuse cases. Bishops in Germany and Belgium stepped down after confessing to charges that they themselves had abused minors. And new allegations were arising in Chile, Norway, Brazil, Italy, France, and Mexico.

Then, a fortnight after Easter, the Vatican appeared to change course and for the first time issued a directive urging bishops to report abuse cases to civil authorities “if required by local law.” At the same time, Pope Benedict held brief meetings with survivor groups and issued sympathetic statements about their plight.

For many of the victims, the pontiff’s overtures and apologies were too little, too late. Their feeling was that if the Vatican really wanted to make amends, it should cooperate fully with law enforcement authorities and stop obstructing justice; it should ferret out abusive clergy and not wait until cases are publicized by others; and it should make public the church’s many thousands of still secret reports on priests and bishops.

In the midst of all this, some courageous clergy do speak out. At a Sunday mass in a Catholic church outside Springfield, Massachusetts, the Rev. James Scahill delivered a telling sermon to his congregation (New York Times, 4/12/10): “We must personally and collectively declare that we very much doubt the veracity of the pope and those of church authority who are defending him. It is beginning to become evident that for decades, if not centuries, church leadership covered up the abuse of children and minors to protect its institutional image and the image of priesthood”

The abusive priests, Scahill went on, were “felons.” He had “severe doubt” about the Vatican’s claims of innocent ignorance. “If by any slimmest of chance the pope and all his bishops didn’t know–they all should resign on the basis of sheer and complete ignorance, incompetence, and irresponsibility.”

How did Father Scahill’s suburban Catholic parishioners receive his scorching remarks? One or two walked out. The rest gave him a standing ovation.

Michael Parenti’s recent books include: Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (City Lights); Democracy for the Few, 8th ed. (Wadsworth); The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press), and God and His Demons (forthcoming).  For further information, visit his website: www.michaelparenti.org.

The Catholic Church and genocide April 7, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Genocide, Religion.
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April 7, 2010, http://humanprovince.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/the-catholic-church-and-genocide/

Alter in Nyamata church surrounded by victims’ clothes

Just in case you are inclined to sympathize with the Church’s recent offensive pity party, it’s probably a good thing to remember that the Church’s malfeasance goes much further than sexually abusing deaf children and then covering it up. The Church also has a shameful past in Africa, an in particular the Rwandan genocide:

If you are an Irish Catholic, and have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest, you were recently read a letter from Pope Benedict that tells you: “You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.”

For any practising Catholic in Rwanda, this letter must be unbearable. For it tells you how little you mean to the Vatican. Fifteen years ago, tens of thousands of Catholics were hacked to death inside churches. Sometimes priests and nuns led the slaughter. Sometimes they did nothing while it progressed. The incidents were not isolated. Nyamata, Ntarama, Nyarubuye, Cyahinda, Nyange, and Saint Famille were just a few of the churches that were sites of massacres.

To you, Catholic survivor of genocide in Rwanda, the Vatican says that those priests, those bishops, those nuns, those archbishops who planned and killed were not acting under the instruction of the church. But moral responsibility changes dramatically if you are a European or US Catholic. To the priests of the Irish church who abused children, the pope has this to say: “You must answer for it before almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres.”

The losses of Rwanda had received no such consideration. Some of the nuns and priests who have been convicted by Belgian courts and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, respectively, enjoyed refuge in Catholic churches in Europe while on the run from prosecutors. One such is Father Athanase Seromba, who led the Nyange parish massacre and was sentenced to 15 years in jail by the tribunal. In April 1994, Seromba helped lure over 2,000 desperate men, women and children to his church, where they expected safety. But their shepherd turned out to be their hunter.

One evening Seromba entered the church and carried away the chalices of communion and other clerical vestments. When a refugee begged that they be left the Eucharist to enable them to at least hold a (final) mass, the priest refused and told them that the building was no longer a church. A witness at the ICTR trial remembered an exchange in which the priest’s mindset was revealed.

One of the refugees asked: “Father, can’t you pray for us?” Seromba replied: “Is the God of the Tutsis still alive?” Later, he would order a bulldozer to push down the church walls on those inside and then urge militias to invade the building and finish off the survivors.

At his trial, Seromba said: “A priest I am and a priest I will remain.” This, apparently, is the truth, since the Vatican has never taken back its statements defending him before his conviction.

Benedict XVI on Aids and Condoms April 6, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Religion.
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Joseph S. O’Leary

http://josephsoleary.typepad.com, March 29, 2009

UPDATE: My thoughts are in The Irish Times April 1: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2009/0401/1224243794437.html

Hans Kung has spoken out strongly, claiming the John Paul II and Benedict XVI will be remembered as among the chief culprits for the spread of Aids: http://dieunousaimechretiensetgay.blogspirit.com/archive/2009/04/02/derives-et-esperance.html

(This article also notes how the Vatican is now packing the ranks of the hierarchy worldwide with extreme reactionaries. If there is to be a reform of the Church, it is more and more clear that an overturning of many of these appointments will be necessary. Perhaps concerned Catholics should start to draw up proscription lists of obstructionist Cardinals and Bishops — Caffarra, Bagnasco, Ruini, Castrillon Hoyos, Medina Estevez, Cañizares, Cardoso Sobrinho, Rouco Varela, Ranjith, Burke, Martino, DiNardo, Pell, Pujats, Grocholewski, Meisner, Haas, Okogie, … the list would be very long. The laity and clergy, who have been increasingly shut out of appointment processes, should be allowed to reclaim their voice by having a say in which hierarchs have to go. There are many calls for the resignation of Benedict XVI: http://www.golias-editions.fr/spip.php?article2749. He is apparently unpopular even with those who elected him, if this report has any credibility: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/damian_thompson/blog/2009/04/01/cardinals_and_bishops_have_run_away_from_the_pope_like_the_apostles_in_gethsemane_says_leading_catholic_magazine.)

A scapegoat must be found for recent Vatican debacles, and the lot has fallen on Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, the rather sympathetic press officer of the Pope. Prediction: His replacement will do a worse job of cushioning the Church against papal gaffes. For these gaffes are not gaffes at all; they represent the settled views and method of communication of Joseph Ratzinger for the last four decades. This will not change

http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2009/03/popes-press-spokesman-to-resign.html 

http://www.kreuz.net/article.8913.html

***

The ‘broken kettle’ argument is frequently referred to by psychoanalysts, and it goes something like this:

‘The kettle I lent you was broken when you gave it back.’ ‘No, it was in perfect condition when I returned it; you never lent me a kettle anyway; and it was already broken when you lent it to me.’

Reading Catholic defenses of the Vatican stance on condoms, I discern the same revealing paralogism:

‘Your teaching is causing mass deaths in Africa.’ ‘No, our teaching is the only teaching that is effective against Aids; even if condoms are more effective, they cannot be tolerated in any case because we see them as intrinsically evil; no one is dying because of our teaching, because it has no influence.’

One thing is clear, in any case. The famous words intrinsice inhonestum of Paul VI in Humanae Vitae are being applied with a vengeance to the use of condoms, even to the point of a quasi-Manichean view of these friendly implements as being the very embodiment of Evil.

The Vatican considers condoms to be so evil that they cannot be used even to save the millions of lives threatened by Aids. Moreover, the Vatican also claims that condoms are not effective against Aids but actually worsen the problem.

http://tv.repubblica.it/mondo/aids-preservativi-non-servono/30667?video

http://jp.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=100582

http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_df88ai.htm

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_20031201_family-values-safe-sex-trujillo_en.html

http://www.wf-f.org/Lopez-Trujillooncondoms.html

http://www.zenit.org/article-8666?l=english

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=6641

http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/topics/hivaids/bishopsopposecondoms.asp

There are, however, sane bishops who support the use of condoms:

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/georgetown/2009/03/pope_condoms_and_aids.html

http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/topics/hivaids/bishopssupportcondoms.asp

http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/2008/04/10/why-the-pope-is-wrong-about-condoms.html

http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2009/03/bishop-says-condoms-sometimes-needed.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29404-2005Jan22.html

http://enlightenedcatholicism-colkoch.blogspot.com/2009/03/this-is-not-bishop-who-says-condoms-are.html

http://thewildreed.blogspot.com/2009/03/in-this-example-of-dissent-i-find-hope.html

http://www.golias-editions.fr/spip.php?article2734

Deeply impressive is the humane and dialogal approach of the Archbishop of Canterbury:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?l=JP&hl=ja&v=lkIoGAKf0cg&eurl=http://fathertlistenstotheworld.blogspot.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMKHUSyyf94

Defenders of the intransigent Vatican stand cite the Philippines as a country where abstinence has worked in curbing Aids. But this Filipino voice suggests that this may be an ideological idealization:

http://filipinovoices.com/benedict-condemns-millions-to-die-of-hivaids

A petition may be sent to the Vatican: http://www.avaaz.org/en/pope_benedict_petition/98.php?cl_taf_sign=7141c1859f7afd4ccda82fa4a08f01be

Here are some other protests:

1. Popular:

http://www.derwesten.de/nachrichten/nachrichten/2009/3/18/news-114744837/detail.html

http://namitembo.blogspot.com/2009/03/popes-willful-cultural-deafness.html

http://links.org.au/node/521

http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2009/03/protests-in-paris-over-popes-condom.html

http://www.france24.com/en/20090322-youths-clash-notre-dame-condom-protest-pope-benedict-paris-protest

http://benoit-catho-homo.skynetblogs.be/post/6827485/ca-devait-arriver

http://jp.truveo.com/Pope%E2%80%99s-condom-stand-challenged/id/3481014947

http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2009/03/vatican-to-receive-condoms-by-post.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,615820,00.html

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5976192.ece

http://www.repubblica.it/2009/03/sezioni/esteri/benedetto-xvi-32/mappe-25mar/mappe-25mar.html

http://www.dignityusa.org/press/gay-catholic-groups-condemn-pope%E2%80%99s-statements-africa-condom-use

2. From Governments and Politicians:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/5015580/Vatican-in-new-row-over-attempts-to-alter-Pope-Benedict-XVIs-Aids-comments.html

http://www.la-croix.com/afp.static/pages/090326192208.y4trhl15.htm

http://www.la-croix.com/afp.static/pages/090329125553.b0srx1ye.htm

http://www.repubblica.it/2009/03/sezioni/esteri/benedetto-xvi-32/scontro-belgio/scontro-belgio.html

http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2009/04/belgium-to-lodge-condom-complaint.html

http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2009/03/18/pour-alain-juppe-le-pape-vit-dans-une-situation-d-autisme-total_1169447_3212.html

http://www.afriquemagazine.com/article/article.asp?id_article=1168340203125

http://www.lastampa.it/redazione/cmsSezioni/esteri/200903articoli/42029girata.asp

3. From Health Agencies:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2009/03/the_pope_and_condoms_1.html (an important critique of the much touted remarks of Edward C. Green — hat tip to Michael Bayly. I note that Green actually supports the distribution of condoms, though finding it unsuccessful in Africa because of specific, contingent features of African sexual culture. See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825.html; also: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=2989.)

http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2009/03/world-health-assembly-pope-benedict.html

http://data.unaids.org/pub/BaseDocument/2009/20090318_position_paper_condoms_en.pdf

http://www.thebody.com/content/art51035.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,613871,00.html

http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=19561

http://uk.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/idUKLR110752._CH_.2420

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/cameroon/5007124/Anger-as-Pope-Benedict-XVI-says-condoms-make-Aids-worse.html

http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/Pope39s-criticism-of-condoms-has.5097019.jp

http://www.golias-editions.fr/spip.php?article2739

http://www.derwesten.de/nachrichten/waz/2009/3/18/news-114788913/detail.html

4. From US Bloggers:

http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2009/03/follow-up-benedict-on-condoms-dreher-on.html

http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2009/03/shakin-rattlin-rollin-american-catholic.html

http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2009/03/condoms-cause-aids-cruel-twisted-logic.html

http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2009/03/benedict-bush-and-condoms-in-africa.html

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_03/017328.php

http://judiphilly.blogspot.com/2009/03/cartoon-of-day_19.html

http://thewildreed.blogspot.com/2009/03/popes-message-of-ignorance-in-africa.html

http://thewildreed.blogspot.com/2009/03/pope-accused-of-distorting-scientific.html

http://creativeadvance.blogspot.com/2009/03/popes-condom-quandary-facebook-groups.html

http://enlightenedcatholicism-colkoch.blogspot.com/2009/03/when-culture-of-life-is-really-culture.html

http://rogerhollander.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/condom-papa-the-pope-blinded-by-the-fantasy-of-abstinence/

http://ftmackinc.newsvine.com/_news/2009/03/20/2572762-the-pope-aids-the-common-american-religious-charlatan

http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=2975

http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=2928

http://blogs.nyu.edu/fas/dri/aidwatch/2009/03/whose_worse_the_pope_or_the_co.html

5. From Europe:

http://michael-in-norfolk.blogspot.com/2009/03/vatican-is-not-pro-life.

http://news.scotsman.com/opinion/Is-Pope39s-stance-on-condoms.5092167.jp

http://freeinternetpress.com/story.php?sid=20724

http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2009/03/bishop-claims-aids-virus-can-penetrate.html

http://www.golias-editions.fr/spip.php?article2740

http://dieunousaimechretiensetgay.blogspirit.com/archive/2009/03/30/offensive-contre-le-preservatif.html

http://dieunousaimechretiensetgay.blogspirit.com/archive/2009/03/26/rejet-du-realisme.html

http://dieunousaimechretiensetgay.blogspirit.com/archive/2009/03/24/agression-fasciste.html

http://dieunousaimechretiensetgay.blogspirit.com/archive/2009/03/21/eglise-africaine-criminelle.html

http://benoit-catho-homo.skynetblogs.be/post/6819176/agir-de-facon-responsable

http://donfrancobarbero.blogspot.com/2009/03/caro-papa.html

http://donfrancobarbero.blogspot.com/2009/03/caro-cardinal-bagnasco.html

http://www.notiziegay.com/?p=26235

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/437/462057/text/

A number of Catholic defenders of the Pope cite Uganda as an example of a successful condom-free policy: http://anneminard.com/2009/03/18/day-54-pope-benedict-xvi-condoms-and-aids/

http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/archives/2009/03/pope-still-cath.php

However, this cannot be right, since the famous ABC policy means “Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms.” See: http://www.thebody.com/content/art9249.html

Other defenders (or enablers):

http://www.journalducameroun.com/article.php?aid=1008

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MTNlNDc1MmMwNDM0OTEzMjQ4NDc0ZGUyOWYxNmEzN2E=

http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/benedict-cameroon-tale-two-trips

http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2009/04/african-cardinal-says-popes-remarks.html

http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2009/04/french-bishops-rally-to-popes-defence.html

http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20090325_1.htm

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20090329a2.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0325/1224243368629.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2009/0326/1224243450529.html

http://www.zenit.org/article-25430?l=english

http://www.zenit.org/article-25511?l=english

http://www.zenit.org/article-25485?l=english

http://www.zenit.org/article-25491?l=english

http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2009/03/is-the-pope-more-than-just-another-pretty-smart-theologian.html

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/william_rees_mogg/article5955647.ece

http://www.spectator.co.uk/faithbased/3466376/questioning-the-will-of-god.thtml

http://www.catholicpillowfight.com/blog759.html

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/george_pitcher/blog/2009/03/18/why_the_pope_is_right_about_condoms

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/damian_thompson/blog/2009/03/18/the_pope_condoms_and_the_aids_mafia

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/damian_thompson/blog/2009/03/20/the_popes_worst_enemies_are_catholics

http://www.repubblica.it/2009/03/sezioni/esteri/benedetto-xvi-32/risposta-avvenire/risposta-avvenire.html

http://hancaquam.blogspot.com/2009/03/stats-never-lie-media-usually-do.html

http://hancaquam.blogspot.com/2009/03/more-condom-lies.html

http://hancaquam.blogspot.com/2009/03/many-questions.html

http://www.repubblica.it/2009/03/sezioni/esteri/benedetto-xvi-32/risposta/risposta.html

http://lesalonbeige.blogs.com/my_weblog/2009/03/mgr-fort-soutient-benoit-xvi.html

http://www.golias-editions.fr/spip.php?article2738

http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1337637?eng=y

http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1337717?eng=y

http://e-deo.info/archives/7134

http://e-deo.info/archives/7197

http://e-deo.info/archives/7155

http://e-deo.info/archives/7144

http://e-deo.info/archives/7382

http://e-deo.info/archives/7489

http://e-deo.info/archives/7459

http://e-deo.info/archives/7445

http://eucharistiemisericor.free.fr/index.php?page=1903091_phrase

http://luigicrespi.clandestinoweb.com/2009/03/ratzingher-non-mi-piace-ma-sullafrica-ha-ragione/

http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2009/03/popes-message-is-not-problem.html

http://politischunpolitisches.blogspot.com/2009/03/der-gummi-papst.html

http://debatte.welt.de/kommentare/118555/das+lachen+des+papstes

http://derstandard.at/?url=/?id=1237227649921

http://www.benoitjaiconfianceentoi.org/Benoit-XVI-et-le-Sida-petit.html

http://www.imgpress.it/notizia.asp?idnotizia=41146&idsezione=4 From this piece one learns that writers in Avvenire, a review associated with the Italian bishops, sees the attacks on the Pope as due to a massive concerted plan in which “the little hand of international Freemasonry” is to be found. And this plot is directed not against the Pope’s views on condoms but against the teaching on social justice that he proclaimed in Africa. This comes from Massimo Introvigne, a controversial student of cults, who claims that modern scriptural exegesis is the work of Satan. So much wackiness among the Pope’s defenders..

http://paparatzinger2-blograffaella.blogspot.com/2009/03/e-tempo-che-la-santa-sede-richiami-il.html

http://www.kreuz.net/article.8919.html

http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2009/04/the-arrogant-gene-the-autobiography-of-richard-dawkins.html

Condom Papa: The Pope Blinded By The Fantasy of Abstinence March 18, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Religion.
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condom-papa-20090318-97

by Daniel Vojir   www.opednews.com, March 18, 2009

Late again. The Vatican always comments on things so late in the game that you wonder why it bothers at all. Any important statement by the Vatican on AIDS should have been made in 1982 or at the latest in 1984. Then again, what can you expect from a spiritual guide that apologizes to Galilleo for putting him under house arrest (because of his solar-centric theory) 400 years after the fact? The Vatican also dragged its heals during the Holocaust at the cost of a great many lives. When John XXIII, Paul VI and John-Paul I uttered words about change, all the prelates recoiled in horror! (Note: the death of John-Paul is still questioned to this day). Now it comments on something killing people by the millions trying to prove prevention techniques are not effective:
By The Associated Press
03.17.2009 12:33pm EDT

Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday that the distribution of condoms is not the answer in the fight against AIDS in Africa. Benedict has never before spoken explicitly on condom use although he has stressed that the Roman Catholic Church is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS. The Vatican encourages sexual abstinence to fight the spread of the disease. “You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,”- the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde, Cameroon. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.”-

Some priests and nuns working with victims of the AIDS pandemic ravaging Africa question the church’s opposition to condoms.

The pope also said that he intends to make an appeal for “international solidarity”- for Africa in the face of the global economic downturn.

Since Africa has lately become what the Americas were back in the 16th century, the Church espouses abstinence and “legitimacy” (Roman Catholic marriage) to burgeoning countries with big, healthy, Catholic convert populations. Might it be that Benedict wants to get a sizable share of the continent before Rick Warren goes for the gold (South Africa)? Maybe. So what if people die because their country’s prevention programs were not good. The moral righteousness of the Roman Catholic Church must be maintained. It’s picking itself up from child abuse scandals, dusting itself off, and standing proudly erect for morality. A rather warped morality, but a morality nonetheless.


This morality comes from an arch-conservative mind that started out in life as a Hitler Youth and wound up (before the papacy) becoming the prefect of The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition (wikipedia) Isn’t it ironic that a German Hitler Youth should become head of the Inquisition?

What theologian and scholar Hans Kung wrote about the papacy of John-Paul II would be doubly applicable to the current one:

A mediocre, rigid, and more conservative episcopate will be the lasting legacy of this papacy.

He could also have said avaricious, hidebound, narrow minded and fascist. Perhaps Kung’s most famous quote applies to Benedict as well:

“There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions.”

I seriously doubt that Benedict will initiate any serious dialogue with anyone who goes up against his stance on condoms and abstinence.  

Just a thought.

 

 

http://thedevilanddanvojir.blogspot.com

Dan Vojir is a San Francisco writer and raconteur. His latest attempt is “Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburger – How to becaome a lion and devour the Christian Right.”

Brazilian Abortion MD’s Excommunicated March 7, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Brazil, Criminal Justice, Health, Religion, Women.
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(Roger’s Note: Roman Catholic values: Step-father rapes 9 year old step-daughter, and that is “deplorable,” but not worthy of the ultimate Catholic sanction, i.e. excommunication.  That is reserved for the doctor who performend an abortion to save the girl’s life.)

Source: CBC News

Posted: 03/07/09 2:17PM

A Vatican cleric is defending a Brazilian archbishop’s decision to excommunicate several doctors who performed an abortion last week on a nine-year-old girl who became pregnant with twins after alleged sexual abuse by her step-father.

It is a sad case, but the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons, who had the right to live and could not be eliminated,” Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re told the Italian daily La Stampa.

“Life must always be protected. The attack on the Brazilian church is unjustified,” Re was quoted as saying. He also heads the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

The controversy erupted when media reported that a nine-year-old girl from the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco had had an abortion to remove twin fetuses. The girl and her family learned she was 15 weeks pregnant when she went to hospital complaining of pains.

The girl, who has not been identified, told authorities her step-father had sexually abused her since age six. The 23-year-old step-father is currently in police custody.

Doctors performed the abortion Wednesday, saying they feared the pregnancy could kill her because of her slim frame.

Upon learning of the abortion, the regional archbishop excommunicated the doctors, as well as the girl’s mother. He did not excommunicate the step-father, saying the crime he is alleged to have committed, although deplorable, was not as bad as ending a fetus’s life.

“The law of God is higher than any human laws,” Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho said in an interview on Globo television. “When a human law is against the law of God, that law has no value.”

Abortion is illegal in Brazil, which has more Catholics than any other country. However, it can be carried out before the 20th week of pregnancy if the mother’s life is deemed in danger or if the baby was conceived through rape.

The controversy has continued up the government and religious hierarchy, with Brazil’s president and his ministers coming out in support of the girl.

On Friday, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva denounced the church’s strict interpretation of the law.

“The doctors did what had to be done: save the life of a girl of nine years old,” Lula told news outlets.

That, in turn, brought out counter-condemnations from the Vatican.

“Excommunication for those who carried out the abortion is just,” Cardinal Re said.

With files from the Associated Press

Italy’s creeping fascism February 21, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Europe.
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The political use of a medical tragedy is the latest episode in Italy’s alarming regression, says Geoff Andrews.

 

The death of a young woman after seventeen years in a coma, following a decision by doctors on legal advice not to continue feeding her, is a public as well as a private event. In a mature democratic society, it would merit dignified ethical debate of a kind that might be expected to balance differing views and cut across party-political boundaries.

Italy, however, is different. The country is at present dominated by intolerant public discourses and veering towards authoritarian solutions; in this febrile atmosphere, such an event threatens to become a serious constitutional crisis. As the prime minister blames the president of the republic for the young woman’s death, and as leading politicians and Vatican representatives indulge in feverish rhetoric and stoke paranoia, what Pier Paolo Pasolini once called “clerical fascism” feels like apt social critique (see “The life and death of Pier Paolo Pasolini“, 1 November 2005).

Eluana Englaro was just 21 when she fell into a coma in January 1992 after a car accident. Her father and her friends always testified that her wish would have been to end her life rather than prolong it in a vegetative state. In November 2008, the court of cassation ruled that her feeding-tubes could be removed.  On 3 February 2009 she was transferred to a clinic in Udine, northeast Italy, where she died on 9 February. Her father, Beppino, who is also currently nursing his seriously ill wife, was relieved that this particular journey had come to an end; he asked to be left alone in his grief.

In contemporary Italy, this proved a vain hope. The prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is as populist and opportunist as ever; he has used the occasion to refuel his political ambitions, revealing in the process his contempt for the rule of law and constitutional processes. The Vatican has exploited the case to reinforce its conservative agenda, castigating the voices of liberal and secular opinion.

Berlusconi had attempted to pass an emergency decree instructing doctors to continue feeding Englaro. The president of the republic, Giorgio Napolitano, rejected this; he asked that the law be respected and that changes to the legal and constitutional process could not be amended in such an arbitrary way and needed full consideration and the consent of both chambers of parliament.

Berlusconi and his allies responded by turning their fire on Napolitano for the president’s “serious mistake”, as well as on the judges for their temerity in upholding and protecting constitutional procedures. The prime minister attempted to rush through a new law that could be used to keep Eluana Englaro alive, something rendered null by the young woman’s death. There followed uproar in the Italian parliament, with right-wing politicians shouting “murderers” at the opposition; Berlusconi fed the pack by accusing the president of responsibility for her death.

The pope’s battalion

Pope Benedict XVI also entered the fray. Since his election in 2005, the pope has advanced a very traditional Catholic doctrine, condemning many features of modern living; free unions and trial marriages were the result of “anarchic freedoms” and “moral relativism”, while homosexuality was “an intrinsic moral evil”. His time in office has been marked with a series of controversial acts that have alienated a host of constituencies – the lecture at Regensburg in September 2006; the planned speech at Rome’s La Sapienza University in January 2008, which was cancelled after protests over comments made in 1990 about the trial of Galileo in 1633; criticism of Barack Obama for his views on abortion; and most recently the astonishing rehabilitation of four ultra-conservative bishops, including a holocaust-denier (see Maurice Walsh, “The Vatican’s debacle“, 16 February 2009).

In the Englaro case, the Vatican has revealed its full force as an unrestrained power with little respect for constitutional procedures or individual liberty. The pope’s spokesmen whipped up such frenzy in the wake of Englaro’s death that her funeral shrine was turned into a site of moral outrage directed towards those who had followed Italian law and her father’s wishes. “May the Lord embrace and forgive those who brought her to this point”, as Javier Lozano Barragan, the Vatican’s equivalent of health minister, put it. 

Berlusconi had not previously shown much interest in defending Catholic morality, and indeed his multiple private interests have not always met with Vatican approval. However many believe his interventions reflect his ambition to assume the presidency at a later date. His hostility to Napolitano is not a surprise: he always opposed the latter’s election as head of state. But his rapprochement with the Vatican is a truly unholy alliance (see “Death in Udine“, Economist, 12 February 2009). 

A dark return

Indeed, the alliance between the Vatican and Silvio Berlusconi reveals an older, threatening undercurrent in Italian politics. This is characterised by the arrogance of power and an unyielding belief that there are higher values capable of rendering liberal constitutional norms and democratic procedures irrelevant (see Sarah Pozzoli, “Who rules Italy?” 23 June 2005).

In recent times there seems to be a growing convergence between Berlusconi’s attacks on legality and constitutionalism and the Vatican’s hostility to secular society. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s stark description of the way in which the Vatican provided the legitimacy for the Christian Democrats’ (DC) long and manipulative hold on power and repression of dissident voices has acquired fresh relevance, even if the DC is no more.

Both Berlusconi and the Vatican have significant interests to defend. For the Vatican it is a declining authority over its subjects – opinion polls show that even many lay Catholics regard the Englaro affair as a private family matter. The Vatican has in the past been prepared to make dubious compromises in order to preserve its interests and power; the 1929 concordat with fascism is an example.

For Berlusconi, it is a further opportunity to berate and subdue his critics. Martin Jacques has compared him to Benito Mussolini – both have displayed a similar contempt for democracy, used parliament to protect their own interests, manipulated laws and attacks on anyone who got in their way (see “New Labour must recognise that Berlusconi is the devil“, Guardian, 16 March 2006). In the recent controversy, the links with the Vatican has provided legitimacy for the shift towards authoritarianism and intolerance, further apparent in the increasing restrictions on immigration and the demand that doctors and other public-sector professionals report anyone they suspect is an illegal immigrant.

Against the tide

Italy’s creeping fascism has been aided by the opposition’s disarray. The new Democratic Party should be well placed to defend the integrity of the constitution, the supremacy of the rule of law and transparent democracy. Yet even the conviction on 17 February 2009 of the British tax lawyer David Mills for giving false evidence in return for a payment from Berlusconi seems to leave the prime minister himself untarnished, and the opposition unable to persuade the electorate of the dangers he poses – even if the fact that Berlusconi changed the law to avoid prosecution while he remains in office makes his opponents’ job harder.

The Democratic Party leader, Walter Veltroni, may have made constant favourable references to Barack Obama and aspired to create a modern European social-democratic movement. But the rhetoric cannot disguise the reality of a top-down party led by sectional interests, which is disabled by the contradiction between its Christian-democratic conservatism and its ambitions to escape from the old left. This “phantom opposition” has wasted the hopes it once raised, an outcome that has culminated in Veltroni’s announcement of his resignation on the evening of 17 February 2009 after an embarrassing election defeat in Sardinia. 

At least the “old left”, in the form of the Italian Communist Party, sustained a strong defence of Italy’s anti-fascist tradition embodied in the post-war constitution. It is a mark of Italy’s decline that in the current dispute it has been the “post-fascist” speaker of the Italian lower house, Gianfranco Fini, and the leader of the secessionist Northern League, Umberto Bossi, who have intervened to defend the “integrity” of the constitution. 

Those democratic parliamentarians able to offer a coherent and stringent defence of the Italian constitution have been reduced to a declining minority of dissenters. They include Italy’s former president, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro; Giorgio Napolitano himself, an aged dignitary who in his later years has assumed the role of a beleaguered representative of the anti-fascist constitution, and Antonio Di Pietro, the reforming judge whose earlier attempts to clean up Italian politics in the early 1990s have been largely forgotten by the Italian public and is generally regarded with disdain by Italy’s political class. But these in any case are marginalised voices in what is becoming a decayed and intolerant state.

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