Sunday, May 30, 2010

President Obama Wants Pope Benedict Protected from Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

     So, while I was sick, I missed this story.  After reading it, I feel sick again.

     The Obama administration has made a rare foray into the Catholic sexual abuse crisis, backing the Vatican's claim it is immune to lawsuits in the U.S. because it is a sovereign nation.
     In a brief filed on Friday (May 21) before the Supreme Court, the acting solicitor general argued an appellate court erred in 2009 when it ruled the Vatican could be held liable for the alleged sexual abuse of a Seattle-area man in the 1960s.
     The Supreme Court is considering the Vatican's appeal of "Holy See v. John V. Doe." Lawyers from the Department of State and Department of Justice joined the acting solicitor general's brief, which asks the high court to send the case back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
     With the Supreme Court stacked with six Catholic justices its not hard to guess, which way that ruling will go.

     The report continues:
     "Improperly subjecting a foreign state to suit can in some circumstances raise foreign relations and reciprocity concerns," the Obama administration's brief argues.  In 2005, the Bush administration successfully urged a Texas court to dismiss a suit against Pope Benedict XVI because he enjoys immunity as the Holy See's head of state.
     Whether its invading Iraq under false pretenses or protecting clerics that enabled and covered-up the rapes of thousands of children, the leaders of our institutions are consistent.  

     They place the protection of the members of their own class and elite club of world rulers above that of faceless and voiceless children being killed by bombs and raped by priests.  May the Catholic god bless America.
Image Credit: Reuters

A Nun, a Dying Young Mother, a Life-Saving Abortion, an Excommunication, Pedophile Priests, and an Op-Ed


     Here are a few snippets from the Times op-ed:
     We finally have a case where the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is responding forcefully and speedily to allegations of wrongdoing.   But the target isn’t a pedophile priest. Rather, it’s a nun who helped save a woman’s life. Doctors describe her as saintly. The excommunication of Sister Margaret McBride in Phoenix underscores all that to me feels morally obtuse about the church hierarchy.
     “In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” the hospital said in a statement. “This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.”
     Sister Margaret was a member of that committee. She declined to discuss the episode with me, but the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, ruled that Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated” because she assented to an abortion.
     “The mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s,” the bishop’s communication office elaborated in a statement.
     Let us just note that the Roman Catholic hierarchy suspended priests who abused children and in some cases defrocked them but did not normally excommunicate them, so they remained able to take the sacrament.
     I heard about Sister Margaret from an acquaintance who is a doctor at the hospital. After what happened to Sister Margaret, he doesn’t dare be named, but he sent an e-mail to his friends lamenting the excommunication of “a saintly nun”: “True Christians, like Sister Margaret, understand that real life is full of difficult moral decisions and pray that they make the right decision in the context of Christ’s teachings. Only a group of detached, pampered men in gilded robes on a balcony high above the rest of us could deny these dilemmas.”
     The Roman Catholic hierarchy is entitled to its views. But the episode reinforces perceptions of church leaders as rigid, dogmatic, out of touch — and very suspicious of independent-minded American nuns.
     Sister Margaret made a difficult judgment in an emergency, saved a life and then was punished and humiliated by a lightning bolt from a bishop who spent 16 years living in Rome and who has devoted far less time to serving the downtrodden than Sister Margaret. Compare their two biographies, and Sister Margaret’s looks much more like Jesus’s than the bishop’s does.
     When a hierarchy of mostly aging men pounce on and excommunicate a revered nun who was merely trying to save a mother’s life, the church seems to me almost as out of touch as it was in the cruel and debauched days of the Borgias in the Renaissance.
     Once again, the absurd hypocrisy of Catholic teachings and bishops, who stress the letter over the spirit of the law, reveals that the Catholic Church is still operating under a medieval notion of science, politics, and morality, not a Christ-like system, but a system that led to widespread corruption and resulted in the Reformation.

     When the dwindling life of a terminal unborn fetus/child is placed above the life of a 27-year-old mother of four, the only winners are dogma and those who fear its collapse.  There is no grace.  There is no justice.  

     When children have to brought into the world at all costs, but then are subjected to rape by the church's priests and when victims of abuse speak out as adults and are threatened by the bishops and blindly faithful laity, what does that say about the "sanctity of life"?

     I don't believe in god, but from what I learned about Jesus of Nazareth, both the myth and the man, Sr. Margaret sacrificed herself to save the life of another and stood in the person of Jesus Christ in a more profound, real and true manner than Bishop Olmsted's promises of supposed celibacy and poverty ever have.

     And to think that many Catholics judge Christian Scientists as backwards for their beliefs to let their god's will/nature take its course in matters of illness and health.

     One issue lost in the reporting of this travesty is that anyone who participated in procuring the life-saving abortion was also excommunicated, including the mother and father of the now deceased fetus/child.  They are also cut off from the "graces" of Holy Mother Church, or one could say that they have been spiritually aborted by Mother Church.  I hope the parents are finding the support they need, as they mourn both the loss of their deceased child and their church community.

Gay Malawi Couple Is Pardoned by President, to be Released Tomorrow


     Here is some shocking good news!  Yesterday, President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi pardoned Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga.  He did so under pressure from UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon, who is visiting the nation, and Sir Elton John.


     Last week, the Malawi couple was sentenced to the maximum sentence of fourteen years in prison for their crime of having an engagement ceremony.  Hopefully, when they are released, they will be well protected.  They have been in custody since December.

     Mr Ban hailed the president's decision as "courageous." "This outdated penal code should be reformed wherever it may exist," he said. The BBC's Karen Allen, in Lilongwe, says Mr Ban is trying to put pressure on parliamentarians to reform anti-homosexuality laws that date back to colonial times.
     Correspondents say Malawi is a deeply conservative society where religious leaders equate same-sex liaisons with Satanism.
     Mr Mutharika, who has in the past dismissed homosexuality as alien, said he had set them free on humanitarian grounds. "In all aspects of reasoning, in all aspects of human understanding, these two gay boys were wrong - totally wrong," he said after meeting Mr Ban. "However, now that they have been sentenced, I as the president of this country have the powers to pronounce on them and therefore, I have decided that with effect from today, they are pardoned and they will be released."
     Translation: I think they are still satanic, but I didn't want to lose my funding.

     Still, we'll take it as a victory against the Gospel According to Hate.  Let's hope that this is a sign of much needed change in a part of the world, where so many nations still outlaw homosexuality.

(Image from JoeMyGod)