Monday, May 17, 2010

Pope Cries Separation of Church and State to Avoid Getting Deposed in Kentucky

     After being adored by a crowd of 150,000 Catholics who claim the church is under an unjust attack by those who want accountability in the global sexual abuse scandal, Pope Benedict XVI is on the offensive.  He will not back down, because he has his god and his delusions on his side.

     CNN reports:
     The Vatican will embark on a sweeping new legal strategy Monday in responding to allegations of sex abuse in the United States, CNN has learned.
     Responding to a Louisville, Kentucky, lawsuit that seeks to depose top Vatican officials -- including Pope Benedict XVI -- the Holy See plans to file a motion Monday denying that the church issued a document mandating secrecy in the face of abuse allegations, as many victims allege, according to a Vatican attorney.
     The Vatican's motion also will argue that bishops are not employees of the Holy See, exempting the Vatican from legal culpability in cases of alleged abuse in the U.S., said Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican's U.S.-based attorney.
     Mr Lena said he would suggest to the court that it should avoid using the religious nature of the relationship between bishops and the pope as a basis for civil liability because it entangles the court in an analysis of religious doctrine that dates back to the apostles.  “Courts tend to avoid constructing civil relationships out of religious materials,” he said.
     First of all, the pope appoints all the bishops, they meet with him on a regular basis to kiss his ring, receive his guidance, and go through ceremonies in which the pope adorns them with a pallium.  Later if the pope so desires, he appoints them cardinals.  He releases letters that govern how they run their dioceses and seminaries and determines policies for who they are allowed to accept as priests.

     Secondly, it's the only pope and the Vatican that have the power to defrock a priest.  Individual bishops can't do this, because the pope is the ultimate authority. So much so, that a bishop can only retire if the pope gives him permission to do. We've seen this playing out in Ireland, where the pope dragged his ruby slippers in accepting the resignations of bishops guilty in the cover-up and enabling of child rape.  The pope is the ultimate "decider," judge, and boss in such situations.

     The Catholic Church is a bureaucracy with the Pope as its head.  To argue that Pope is not culpable, especially when his signature is on documents that tie him to the cover-up and mishandling of priest-perpetrators of child rape in the United States is a lie of hypocritical proportions.

     Mr. Lena's claim that the separation of church and state supports his argument is completely ridiculous, especially in the wake of the Catholic Church's assault on the liberties of American citizens, using tax-exempt church-raised money to fund ballot initiatives around the nation that limit and strip LGBT persons and women of their rights.  And what about the bishops that withhold communion from Democratic politicians in an attempt to force the Vatican's agenda through our secular government?

     Now that the wall of separation between church and state stands to benefit the church, they are hiding their pope behind it.  Hypocrites.
Pope Benedict appointing a cardinal, but he's not his boss.

Catholic Laity Flood the Vatican in Show of Support for Pope Benedict XVI, Enabling Abuse & Blaming the Victims

     Over the weekend, a number of Catholic lay organizations rallied at the Vatican to show their support of Pope Benedict XVI, who has been connected via his signature to cases of enabling child rape by his priests. Between 120,000 and 150,000 Catholic faithful attended.

Pope Benedict's Adoring Crowd
by CNS' Paul Haring
     Can you imagine if that many Catholics attended a Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) meeting to show their support of the persons whose lives were turned upside down by priests who raped them, while preaching their god's love and forgiveness to the adoring throngs?

      Can you imagine if that many Catholics filled the Vatican with signs demanding Benedict's resignation or gathered in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York to demand Archbishop Timothy Dolan's resignation, or in front of the Los Angeles cathedral to demand Cardinal Mahony's resignation?

     Can you imagine if lay Catholics banded together in the face of the mounting evidence against the pope and the bishops that shows they've continued to protect some abusive priests, since publicly proclaiming the Dallas Charter in 2004, which was supposed to have stopped this illegal practice?

     The Catholic News Service reports this choice comment by Andrea Olivero, speaking on behalf of an Italian Christian workers group at the rally:
     The abuse scandal, he said, "should be experienced as a cross by all of us. We cannot allow our pastors to be the only ones who live with this suffering, which is a suffering that affects the entire church."
Kevin Flannagan, 
     I would agree that the "abuse scandal" has affected all Catholics, but Olivero says the ones living with the suffering are the pastors.  He's concerned for the clergy.  This is the default Catholic response to sexual abuse claims.  In parishes where priests get accused, often the bulk of the parishioners side with the priest and against the victim.  Victims are cast out and ostracized, because the larger community is in denial and is complicit in a system that caters to abusive priests.  Trust me, the pastors are not living with the suffering in the same way as those who were raped and sodomized by priests.

     Here are a few more quotes from some Catholic laypersons at the "We Support Out Pope" rally, via the National Catholic Reporter (My comments are interspersed.):
     “We want Benedict XVI to hear our affection, after months of repeated attacks against him and the whole church,” said Gabriele Brunini, president of the National Confederation of Mercy, a Catholic charitable group in Italy.
     "Repeated attacks against the whole church"?  This is the mafia-like, group-think of the Catholic faithful.  An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.  No wonder that victims are afraid to come forward.  They have to experience the violence of their assault all over again by the Catholic "faithful" who stand by their pope, bishops, and priests no matter what. 
     “We can’t forget the people who’ve been victims of abuse,” Brunini said, “but to utilize the scandal of pedophile priests to strike at the pope and the church, trying to reduce them to silence, is something else entirely.”
Tom Cheemuk of Alaska, victim
     "To strike at the pope and the church, trying to reduce them to silence"?  No one is trying to reduce them to silence.  We want them to talk.  We want an admission and apology, not double-talk, excuses, and cover-up.  We want to see some accountability and action taken to ensure that future generations of children are protected.  

     Why is a movement to hold the pope accountable for his actions seen as a "strike" against the church?  Is the pope above the law?  It would seem that those supporting him believe so.  Would they support a superintendent of their public schools if the superintendent's signature was on numerous documents that delayed the removal of pedophile teachers?  No, they'd sue the bastard and scream for him to be jailed.
     Claudia Nodari, president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Italy, struck a similar note   “We’re with the pope,” she said, “against the effort to cancel out all the good the church and its ministers have done, and are doing, for the spiritual and material welfare of people all over the world.”
     This is the lie that Catholics in the pews tell themselves so that they can justify their support of a system that has protected pedophiles and shunned victims: those who challenge the church are trying to cancel the good that the church's priests have done.  This is just bullshit.  Victims want justice, accountability, and protection of future generations.
     Credibly accusing a priest or bishop of sexual abuse is not an effort to cancel out the good of the church, but an effort to stop a criminal.  The news reports that have exposed Pope Benedict as complicit in the cover-up for priest-perpetrators is not an effort to "cancel out all the good the church has done all over the world" but an attempt to ensure that innocent children are protected from rape in the name of god all over the world
     Guido Boldrin, a member of the “Communion and Liberation” movement who made the trip from Milan to Rome to take part in the rally along with his wife and four daughters, said he wanted to protest the “cynical and unjust” campaign against Benedict XVI on the part of the “national and international media.”
     Would Guido still be there if one of his four daughters or his wife had been raped by a priest?  Would he still think that credible news reports that have exposed Benedict are cynical an unjust?  Or would he throw out his abused child instead, calling her a whore, saying that she led the priest on, that she deserved it,or that priests are fragile celibates that the devil targets with temptation and that she let the devil use her?   

     I'm living proof of this ostracizing system that the Catholic church imposes on those who challenge it.  I was a priest who brought an accusation of sexual assault, exploitation and harassment against my college priest, Fr. Mustache, whom I went to for confession and spiritual counseling to work through my being sexually abused by a pediatrician during puberty.  The trusted and well-respected priest used me for his gratification, all under the guise of helping me discern the priesthood.  When I showed him that I'd been accepted by the diocese to go to seminary, Fr. Mustache blew me.  How's that for spiritual counsel?  

     In my seminary formation, I was told that what happened to me was my fault, it was my own sin.  I was told not to come forward with accusations because it would ruin my career, but Fr. Mustache continued his ministry on the college campus, where my old college friends called his new young male sidekicks "the new Tom."  

     When I returned to the diocese as a priest four years later, Fr. Mustache continued his former ways, surrounding himself with young boys, wrestling with them, giving them titty twisters, taking them to dinner, and entertaining them.  I told the bishop everything.  I was ordered to be silently obedient and to return to my post, because the church had "already seen enough scandal."

     I lost my career, my livelihood, my community, my vocation, and my friends because I came forward with an accusation against a priest.  I've been called Satan by old Catholic friends and told that I "betrayed" them.  Some of them continue to share meals with Fr. Mustache.  Some even trust their children with him, as does the bishop, if you count the thousands of college students that continue to receive their pastoral care from the abusive priest.  I've had family members tell me that I need to turn from my my sinful ways and return to the priesthood, because it's god's will for my salvation.  I've had others cut me off with no explanation.  I'm not alone in this.  This is the reality that faces many victims who come forward.

     These responses are typical of many Catholic laity.  They are the voices packing the Vatican in support of a pope that participated in the enabling of priest perpetrators.  A pope, who had he lived in the fourth century, would have ignored St. Basil of Caesarea's cries against monks screwing boys in their monasteries, or had he lived in the eleventh century would have ignored St. Peter Damian's demands to address the sexual molestation of minors by clergy in that time.  These are the Catholics that give their money to a system that protects abusive and exploitative priests.

     Victims come forward because they don't want others to experience the same horror and violation that they experienced.  Catholic laity, who continue to claim the church and pope are under attack, need to listen not to the legal defenses of the pope and bishops, but to the victims who lost more than their sexual, spiritual, and psychological health not only to an individual perpetrator, but to a community that prizes obedient communion above all else.