Showing posts with label Pope Benedict XVI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pope Benedict XVI. Show all posts

Friday, January 21, 2011

Catholic Church Unveils 12-Step Program for Homosexual Addiction and So Much More

     It was really only a matter of time.  When I was a priest/seminarian, I was formed to believe that my (homo)sexuality was an addiction and prescribed so many "more natural" ways to "deal with" my "depraved" nature that was a "gift" from a loving god.

     The Catholic Diocese in Colorado Springs has adopted a 12-step program that offers "support" for homosexuals.  Despite striking similarities to Alcoholics Anonymous's 12-step program for recovering addicts, proponents claim that the program is less about therapy than it is about support for people experiencing homosexual thoughts that they consider "a burden."
     Sure it is.  And it has nothing to do with a closeted clergy projecting their own crap onto the rest of the world.

     Here are the actual Twelve Steps as reported in The Huffington Post via The Gazette (and my comments):

      1. We admitted that we were powerless over homosexuality and our lives had become unmanageable.

     When I was parked at the edge of a frozen river with the plan of driving on the ice until it broke and I died, I admitted that I was powerless against Catholicism.

     2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

     So, I guess, those of us who are out of the closet are obviously insane.  

     3.  We made a decision to turn our will and our lives to the care of God as we understood Him.

    Clarification: as Holy Disfunctional Mother church taught us to understand "Him" [sic].

     4.  We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

     As a gay Catholic, my greatest was going to hell because god made me gay.  

     5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

     Exact nature?  According to Catholic teachings, their god makes people gay.  How can one's exact god-given nature be wrong?  Unless your god's a vindictive ass hole.

     6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of our character.


     7. We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

     Pray away the gay.  And you'll soon discover that nothing fails like prayer.

     8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make direct amends to them all.

     Someone, who claims to have been injured by someone else's homosexuality, is the person who needs to be making amends for their bigotry.

     9. We made the direct amends to such people whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

     I'm still waiting for Father Mustache and those who covered his tracks to apologize.  But maybe their apology would hurt me too much.

     10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

     Yes, just as Pope Benedict XVI, the Slapping Pope, has promptly admitted his wrongdoings in the sexual abuse scandals.

     11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of God's Will for us and the power to carry it out.

     "Conscious contact"?  I guess that is in opposition to the unconscious contact that being gay implies.  

     12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

     So I guess that makes Rev. Larry Brennan, diocesan director of priest formation, who defended this program to the paper a liar, for The Gazette quoted him: “It’s not about therapy and not about activism.”  Yes, and the Catholic money, DVDs, and pamphlets that support the suppression of gay rights is totally not about activism either.

     And for those of you who just can't stop harping about the penile focus of the Catholic Church , don't worry.  The Gazette reports:
     A 12-step program for lesbians may also be created if there is demand for it, Brennan said.
    Fight on, my feminist lesbian sisters! 

Pope Benedict XVI Blasts Italian Premier for Having Sex with 17-Year-Old Prostitute

     You've got to read this hypocrisy to believe it.  Or you could just have faith in the Pharisaism of the Unholy Father.

     Premier Silvio Berlusconi came under mounting criticism Friday from the Catholic Church over his dalliances with young women, with the pope saying public officials must set good moral examples and Italian bishops planning to discuss the sex scandal.  Pope Benedict XVI didn't mention the scandal or Berlusconi by name. But during an audience with Rome's police chief and police officers, he said public officials must "rediscover their spiritual and moral roots."  "The singular vocation that the city of Rome requires today of you, who are public officials, is to offer a good example of the positive and useful interaction between a healthy lay status and the Christian faith," Benedict said, echoing more direct comments about the scandal a day earlier by his No. 2.
     Prosecutors have placed Berlusconi and three associates under investigation, alleging he paid for sex with a 17-year-old girl nicknamed Ruby and used his office to cover it up. Prosecutors have said Berlusconi had sex with several prostitutes during parties at his Milan estate.
     Why a premier would need to pay for sex and with a seventeen-year-old girl is scandalous.  That said, the age of consent in Italy is fourteen (frighteningly low, by U.S. standards).  The age of consent rises to sixteen if the elder party is in a position of power over the minor (parent, teacher, priest--I'm not sure if premier is included, but it would make sense.).  However, the fact that Berlusconi used his office's power to cover it up is reprehensible and deserving of investigation and punishment if laws were broken.  But...

     When it comes to morally shaming the premier is Pope Benedict, who covered-up for priest-pedophiles and dragged his ruby slippers for years rather than remove the child molesters from positions of power, thus enabling them to rape and abuse uncounted children under their nations' various ages of consent, really the best moral judge?   Benedict's own Vatican was exposed for a prostitution sex scandal less than a year ago.   Of course, since they were renting out little boys, it was okay.

     Perhaps the true scandal is that that the media and Catholics throughout the world continue to give Pope Ben's words moral credence. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1997 Letter Exposes Vatican's Refusal to Report Pedophile-Priests to Irish Civil Authorities (and a Trip Down Memory Lane: Benedict XVI, the Slapping Pope)

     As Pope Benedict moves towards beatifying John Paul II, the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church continues to balloon.

     The latest news out of Ireland is that a 1997 letter from the Vatican reveals how the John Paul II/Ratzinger-led Vatican resisted the Irish bishops' adoption of mandatory reporting to civil authorities of pedophile-priests.


     A newly disclosed document reveals that Vatican officials told the bishops of Ireland in 1997 that they had serious reservations about the bishops’ policy of mandatory reporting of priests suspected of child abuse to the police or civil authorities.  The document appears to contradict Vatican claims that church leaders in Rome never sought to control the actions of local bishops in abuse cases, and that the Roman Catholic Church did not impede criminal investigations of child abuse suspects.
     A documentary to be aired tonight reveals the contents of the letter and also claims that, on at least two occasions, the Vatican stepped in and stopped attempts by Irish bishops to defrock abuser priests.
     Last month, details of one of those occasions was made public when a High Court order finally allowed the full publication of a previously censored chapter in the Murphy Report on the Dublin Archdiocese.  That revealed that when bishops made moves to dismiss paedophile priest Tony Walsh, the Vatican instead sought to send Walsh to serve 10 years in a monastery.
     Tonight’s RTÉ programme, Unspeakable Crimes, shows Walsh went on to abuse another child after a Church court recommended that he was laicised because Rome insisted on a long, drawn- out appeal of his case.
     Watch the documentary by clicking here and then clicking on RTÉ's January 17, 2011 episode of Would You Believe?  The revelation of the letter's content comes at 0:12:00.  The connection to Benedict XVI/Ratzinger comes around 0:23:00, when he refuses to defrock pedophile-priests in both Ireland and the U.S.A.  The documentary's lack of sensationalism is damning.

     "The letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican's intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere," said Colm O'Gorman, director of the Irish chapter of the human rights watchdog Amnesty International.
     The January 1997 letter is from papal nuncio Archbishop Luciano Storero to the Irish hierarchy. It states that the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy, which oversees policies for the more than 400,000 priests around the world, said the bishops' new policy of mandatory reporting of suspected sex crimes by priests to police "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature."
     Storero (who died in 2000) wrote that canon law, which governs abuses and legal matters within the church, "must be meticulously followed" and any bishop who took actions that did not follow canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of being overturned on appeal in Rome. Such a result would be "detrimental" to the bishop in question, the Vatican warned.
     The letter closes with a stern admonition to the bishops that Vatican policies must be "meticulously" adhered to.
     How the folks in the pew can continue to disassociate themselves from the overwhelming evidence of their "Holy Father's" collusion in such heinous crimes against children and humanity is beyond me.

Postscript:

     And, in case you forgot, here's a news report from last spring on Benedict XVI's and John Paul II's protection of Legionaries of  Christ founder and serial pedophile, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado.  (At 4:00, watch Ratzinger/Benedict slap the hand of the ABC reporter that questioned him about Maciel.  How's that for humbly turning the other cheek?)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hypocrisy Alert: Pope Benedict to Beatify John Paul II, Patron of World Youth Day

     Hypocrisy news from the Vatican: Pope John Paul II, who protected pedophile-priests at the expense of Catholic children, will one day be the Patron Saint of World Youth Day.

     The Boston Pilot reports:
     The future Blessed Pope John Paul II will be the official spiritual patron of World Youth Day 2011, which will be Aug. 16-21 in Madrid.  The Vatican announced Jan. 14 that Pope Benedict XVI would beatify his predecessor, the pope who founded World Youth Day and presided over many of its largest gatherings around the world.
     Big surprise: Pope Ben, protector of pedophiles, will beatify, John Paul II, the pope who taught him how to protect pedophiles.  Dog bless the Catholic hierarchy!  And suffer the little children.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Leering Pope Benedict Gives Half-Naked Male Acrobats a Standing Ovation--But He's Not Gay

     What would you do if you opened today's window on your iPad Roman Catholic Advent calendar and found this?
     What a great early Christmas present!


    Is this proper activity for the sanctuary?  I hope they removed the Blessed Sacrament.


   But remember: none of those smiling and/or fearful cardinals watching and applauding is gay.  And neither is the scrutinizing and standing-ovation-eager Pope Benedict.  


     Postscript:  Those towel-waving nuns are definitely straight.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Donatism Alert: Pope Benedict's Back on the Banning-Gay-Priests Bandwagon

     The big  news last week was that, in his new book, Pope Benedict said condom use to prevent HIV-infection is okay for male prostitutes.  The scientific world responded with a resounding, "It's about time.  But it's not enough."

     But there's much more to the book, in which Pope Ratzinger's bigotry shines through, like a sunbeam splitting the clouds and illuminating a dove flying over a pair of hands locked in prayer.   

     Once again, Ben's promoting his "theology" of celibacy and priesthood, which claims celibate gay men are so intrinsically disordered that they can't properly image Jesus and should therefore not be ordained.  

     What he is saying is that the priesthood must consist of men who have renounced the love of women, not those for whom it has never been a major temptation:
     "Sexuality has an intrinsic meaning and direction, which is not homosexual...The meaning and direction of sexuality is to bring about the union of man and woman.  And, in this way, to give humanity posterity, children, a future. This is the determination internal to the essence of sexuality. Everything else is against sexuality's intrinsic meaning and direction ... Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation.  Otherwise, celibacy itself would lose its meaning as a renunciation. It would be extremely dangerous if celibacy became a sort of pretext for bringing people into the priesthood who don't want to get married anyway."
     This is ironic in view of the widely held view that he himself is not a man for the ladies (as a gay catholic once said to me). It's also obviously unworkable. But his reasoning is interesting, for it shows that he understands one of the problems that compulsory celibacy has brought to the church in the West. As it became less and less common for men not to marry – and perhaps this was a result of increasing prosperity as much as anything else – the church was one of the few professions in which a gay man could remain "respectable", even to himself.
     Furthermore, Ben's viewpoint, if promulgated, will create a dilemma of Donatist proportions: Are gay priests who have already been ordained validly ordained?  If not, what does that mean about all the sacraments that they performed?  Does that mean my child wasn't really baptized?  Have I only been eating bread and wine all these years and not Jesus' body and blood?  Are my confessed sins really forgiven?  Is my marriage invalid?  Are my children bastards?  Am I going to hell?

     No need to worry, conservative Catholics.  That line of thinking is Donatism; a heresy. (Had you lived in the fourth century and believed that sinful priests' sacraments were invalid and did not confer your god's grace, you would have been excommunicated or put to death.)  

     A priest, who lives in a state of mortal sin, will someday leave the priesthood, or is later found to have an invalid or illicit ordination, still performs valid sacraments.  Why?  Because the Catholic god provides, where sinful gay priests (like me) failed.

     Confused?  I'll try to clarify Ben's anti-gay and anti-Donatist logic with a few "hypothetical" situations. 

     1.  A heterosexual priest hears the confessions of his nine-year-old students.  Unbeknownst to the children's parents and (maybe) teachers, the priest has been feeding the children more than Christ's body for the past two years.  Even though the priest is raping these children, the sacraments of Confession and Eucharist that he performs for the children still shower them with god's grace and love, because the priest, in spite of his moral failure to stop using the children for his sexual gratification, is still a vessel of god by virtue of his ordination.  To believe that that abusive priest's sacraments fail to confer grace upon the children he's raping is Donatism.

     2.  A gay priest, who has never had sex (this includes with children), retires at age 73 after forty-eight years of faithful ministry.  If Pope Benedict's anti-gay-ordination theology is promulgated, this closeted and celibate gay priest's ordination could be invalidated.  All of the sacraments performed by this gay priest would remain valid.  But, after a lifetime of sacrifice and service, this priest is thrown out, because being gay is just so evil.

     That's the logic of Pope Benedict.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pope Benedict Concedes Condom Use (for Male Prostitutes)

      There's big news coming from the Vatican.  


     The BBC reports  (My comments are interspersed.):
     The book - Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times - is based on a series of interview [sic] the Pope gave the German Catholic journalist, Peter Seewald, earlier this year.
     Note: what Pope Ben said in the interviews with Seewald are not official Catholic teachings.  If the pope's following comments are to be "official," an encyclical is in order.
     When asked whether the Catholic Church was not opposed in principle to the use of condoms, the Pope replied: "She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality."
     Click on the links on "different," "more human," and "living sexuality" to see how Pope Ben's celibate own have done such a fantastic job of living hypocritically.
     The Pope gives the example of the use of condoms by male prostitutes as "a first step towards moralisation", even though condoms are "not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection."
     This is a very good thing.  Now the Vatican's male prostitutes will no longer be infecting Catholic clerics, who are in town for "business" and/or "pilgrimage."  Perhaps the pope's decision was economic.  Has the global recession been that rough on Vatican tourism?
     He says that the "sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalisation of sexuality" where sexuality is no longer an expression of love, "but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves."
     As I've observed in my experience of priesthood, the drugs of choice for conservative Catholic clerics are ignorance and fear.  Now, Ben has one less fear: getting HIV from one of his choir boys.

     Ten years after the Kansas City Star exposed the death rate for Catholic priests dying from AIDS as four times higher than the U.S. population, nearly three decades after medical professionals began advocating condom usage to curb the spread of HIV, and after decades of the Vatican's stubborn ignorance and fear pushing against WHO's anti-HIV efforts around the world, maybe Pope Ben and the Catholic Church are finally going to enter the 1980s .

     But how many thousands have been unnecessarily infected in the meanwhile?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pope Benedict Laps up Conservative Anglican Converts Who Want to Keep Women from Ordination

     The Los Angeles Times reports:
     Five Anglican bishops announced Monday that they will accept an offer from Pope Benedict XVI to convert to Catholicism, primarily over their opposition to the Church of England's decision to ordain female bishops.
     The five bishops, in a joint statement, spoke of their distress caused by developments in the Anglican Church that they felt were "incompatible with the historic vocation of Anglicanism and the tradition of the church for nearly 2,000 years."
     Because when you're looking for an institution that maintains the "God[sic]-given" "historical vocation" to repress women, there's nothing like the Roman Catholic Church.  How's that for communion and a spirit of ecumenical dialog?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Spanish Gay Couples Stage Kiss-In in Protest of Pope Benedict's "Intrinsically Disordered" Anti-Gay Politics


     Pope Benedict XVI strongly defended traditional families and the rights of the unborn on Sunday, directly attacking Spanish laws that allow gay marriage, fast-track divorce and easier abortions as he dedicated Barcelona's iconic church, the Sagrada Familia.
     It was the second time in as many days that Benedict had criticized the policies of Spain's Socialist government and called for Europe as a whole to rediscover Christian teachings and apply them to everyday life.
     As he headed to the church named for the sacred family, about 200 gays and lesbians staged a “kiss-in” to protest his visit and church policies on homosexuals, condom use and a host of other issues. Church teaching holds that gays should be treated with dignity and respect but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”.
     So, according to the Catholic Church and Pope Ben, this is "intrinsically disordered":

     But this is okay:

And this is sweet:

And this is properly ordered:

And this is just politics:

And this is way normal (and good for digestion):
(He's kissing dirt.)

And this is so 100% normal:

And this is in every conceivable way 
intrinsically ordered.

     P.S.  Here's iol News' short description of part of Pope Ben's blessing ceremony at Sagrada Familia.  Notice the proper order of things:
     During the ritual-filled dedication ceremony, Benedict poured holy oil over the marble altar and spread it across all four corners with his hands, an apron protecting his vestments. He then lit a brass incense burner on the altar as Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia looked on.  Afterward, four nuns dressed in black mopped up the remaining oil from the altar and placed fresh linens on it.
Image Credits:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Same-Sex Couples to Kiss in Front of Pope: Facebook Censors Protest

     I have to go to Barcelona.  Good luck to the Queer Kissing Flashmob.

     SAME-SEX couples from all over the world have planned to snog each other in the Cathedral square in Barcelona in front of the Pope next month.
     A group on Facebook, Queer Kissing Flashmob, which managed to get 12,000 users to agree to go along on November 7 and display their love in public, has been shut down by Facebook, claim the organisers.  This has added more fuel to the fire, and one of the organisers, Marylène Carole, expressed her 'disbelief' that a couple kissing in public could be considered 'outrageous' in this day and age.
     “It's difficult to understand how the noble and loving act of kissing your partner can still be defined as 'revolutionary' in the 21st century,” she commented.  “It appears to be a form of censorship – and yet it was only started by a group of friends who have no connections to any political group or any kind of gay association.”
     Those who intend to go to Barcelona on November 7 say they will make a point of kissing their other halves in the Cathedral square just as Pope Benedict XVI walks out of the door.
     Spanish gays and lesbians have accused Facebook of censorship after an event being planned by the Queer Kissing Flashmob was removed from the social networking page.  The planned event is to get gay and lesbian couples to hold a ‘snog-in’ in front of the Pope during Benedict XVI’s visit to Barcelona Cathedral at 10am on November 7, as ‘a fight for sexual and affectionate rights, not from violence, but from passion, sensuality and love’.  The Facebook group had more than 1,500 people registered and 12,000 had been invited when the page was removed.
     The organisers, who are a group of friends who are not linked to any political group or organisation, have set up another Facebook page under the ‘Queer Kissing Flashmob’ name, which at the time of writing, remains in place.
     Here's the second Facebook group, which at this point has not been removed by Facebook.

     I agree with Ms. Carole that kissing is a form of protest.  I make a point of kissing SHE anytime anti-LGBT protesters cross our path. If they have the freedom to spout their hateful words at us, then I'm going to show them our love.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pope Benedict Named as Defendant in Minnesota Sexual Abuse Suit

     The Daily Mail reports:
     The Pope has been named as a defendant for the first time in a lawsuit over the child abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic church.  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as he was known then, is said to have failed to take action against an American priest who molested up to 200 boys at a deaf school.  Father Lawrence C Murphy abused the children in their dormitory beds in Wisconsin where he worked between 1950 and 1974.
     It became one of the most notorious cases to engulf the Catholic Church and was brought to the attention of The Pope whilst he was in charge of the body that dealt with serious sins.  The lawsuit is the first to name The Pontiff as an individual defendant, supposedly because culpability for the molestation went right to the top.  It raises the possibility that he could be called as a witness during court proceedings or faces the humiliation of being subpoenaed should he refuse to attend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pope Benedict, Nazism, Atheism, & What He Should Have Said in the United Kingdom


     Imagine the prophetic witness that could have been made were Pope Ben to have admitted his wrongs and said this instead:  

     "Yes, Hitler was a Catholic.  In him, we see the tragedy of how religion can be used as a weapon and justification for the most horrendous of crimes against humanity.  I witnessed this with my own eyes, when I, myself, was a member of the Nazi movement.  

     "There is blood on my hands.  I failed to stand up for what was right and just.  I saved myself rather than risking my own safety.  I was a coward.  The gravity of this sin, I carry to my grave.  But from my failure, I have learned this.  

     "What Hitler did, what the warrior popes did before him, what religious believers around the world, including Catholics, have been doing throughout history: killing in the names of their faiths, ideologies, and political affiliations is wrong.  The greater mysteries of the universe that some call God can never be used to justify the taking of another human life.  

     "As a former Nazi, I can never forget that Catholics cooperated in such sinful atrocities as the Holocaust.  As I greet the Queen of England, I can never forget that followers of the Church of England were killed in the name of Rome.   These historical realities inform my passion as I call on people of all faiths to stop killing in the name of God."

    But, Pope Ben didn't preach the truth.  Instead, he lied and blamed atheists for the evils of the world.  In the process, he remained the self-preserving coward that he was when he cooperated with the extermination of six million Jews.
Saint Benedict, the Coward
Image via The Post Online

Richard Dawkins Refutes Pope's Claim that Catholic Hitler Was an Atheist

     Last week during his first address in the United Kingdom, an address to the Queen at Edinburgh, Pope Benedict blamed the crimes of Hitler and the Nazi regime on atheism--this coming from a pope, who remained silent in the face of the Holocaust.  The pope again showed the world that he's a self-serving liar and a hypocrite.

     Rather than standing up for his allegedly anti-Nazi Catholic faith and risking martyrdom, young Ben saved his own ass by joining Hitler Youth and eventually fought the Nazi army.  Now that's character befitting of the centuries-long tradition of warrior popes that sought to convert the world's non-Catholics by the sword.  This is the Tradition to which Hitler turned for justification of the Holocaust.

     "The anti-Semitism of the new movement (Christian Social movement) was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge."  [Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]
     "I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work."  [Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936]
     "And the founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of his estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary, He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God."  [Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp.174]
     "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."  [Adolph Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941] 
     In the video below, Richard Dawkins speaks to protesters of the pope in London.  Dawkins refutes Pope Benedict's lies and unmasks the twisted logic and projection of a guilty church.  (The full text of Dawkin's speech is available here.)

     Here is one protester's video diary of the pope protest.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Pope Plot" Suspects Released Without Charges in United Kingdom

     It turns out that there wasn't a terror plot against Pope Ben in the United Kingdom after all.  

     Six men arrested by counter-terrorism police investigating a plot to attack the Pope have all been released without charge, Scotland Yard has confirmed. The men, all believed to be of North African origin, were arrested on Friday in London.
     A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Six men who were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000... were all released without charge late on Saturday night and early this morning."
     Police searched eight homes in north and east London and two business premises in central London, including a street cleaning depot as part of the investigation.  The Met said the searches of the premises had been completed and had not revealed any weapons or suspicious materials.
Ciao! 
 Image via Sky News

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pope's UK Visit Has Been One Long Non-Apology Apology for the Cover-Up and Sexual Abuse of Children

     The first three days of Pope Benedict's controversial £19 million+ visit to the United Kingdom are over.  The big question continues to be when and if he will apologize for his participation in the cover-up of sexual abuse committed by priests.  But sticking to the role of politician rather than shepherd, Ben continues walk the familiar path of the non-apology apology.

     On his flight to the UK, Ben dodged questions about child rape without giving an all-out apology.  Southern California Public Radio reports:
     Speaking in Italian to reporters on board a flight to Scotland, the pope acknowledged that the church failed to act decisively or quickly enough to deal with cases of child rape and molestation by priests that have spanned decades and involved tens of thousands of victims.
     Benedict, who led the Vatican office that investigated child abuse claims during Pope John Paul II's papacy, said he was shocked and saddened on learning of the scope of the abuse partly because priests take vows to be Christ's voice upon ordination.
     "It's difficult to understand how a man who has said this could then fall into this perversion. It's a great sadness," Benedict said. "It's also sad that the authority of the church wasn't sufficiently vigilant, and not sufficiently quick or decisive to take necessary measures" to stop it.
     But, he didn't say "I'm sorry. I was a part of this failure to protect and respect our most vulnerable and innocent children. I acted out of self-preservation, pride, and malice.  I take responsibility for the wrongs I committed." 

     Instead and once again, the spineless pontiff "acknowledged" a general failure of some amorphous "church," but failed himself to take personal responsibility for his actions in shuffling and protecting pedophile priests.  As I learned in seminary, if there is no contrition there can be neither absolution nor reconciliation.

Above photo of papal shoes via Gaurdian.
Below photo of Pope in a bulletproof bubble via Telegraph
     In regards to Ben's statement about the difficulty of understanding how priests could possibly become abusers, he's living in a bulletproof bubble.  It's not difficult to understand, unless of course you don't understand the psychology of sexual predators and if you've lived your entire life in an organization that views priests as stand-ins for one's god.  

     Priests are men first.  They are human.  They are just as corruptible as any other person.  It's that simple.  But dressing priests up as divine media and protecting them within an organization that is anti-science and anti-reason blinds those within the church, like Ben, from seeing simple reality.

     Using his strongest language so far when discussing the child abuse scandal the pope said: "I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes."
     But victims' representatives said his comments did not, in fact, add up to an apology.  Colm O'Gorman, from the Irish victim support group One in Four, said: "I feel deep sorrow about the suffering I see on the news, but there's an enormous difference between an expression of sorrow and an apology and acknowledgement of responsibility.  "The Vatican chooses its words very carefully and that so-called apology could have been written by lawyers. It has 'no liability' all over it."
     Peter Isely of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests asked: "Why, if the pope feels so much remorse, won't he take action? Showing remorse isn't leadership. Taking decisive action is leadership."
     Here's the homily from Ben's mass at Hyde Park today.  There is no mention of sexual abuse, the scandal, contrition, or responsibility for these acts.  There is only talk of how great and glorious the church is and the need for young people to dedicate their lives to serving the church's "culture of life."  As certain priests in my past use to rail on sinners: Out of sight, out of mind.

     Many gathered at Hyde Park in protest of Pope Ben and the Catholic Church's teachings that are supposed to promote "truth" and "life."  From the Guardian:
     Day three of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Britain and it was a day for protests and anti-papists under bright blue skies in central London. Around 10,000 people took to the capital's streets for a Protest the Pope rally and march against what the organisers called "papal intolerance" and to condemn the state funding of the visit.
     They came in red cardboard papal hats scrawled with the words "bigot" and "homophobe" and carrying placards, rainbow flags, pledges of atheism and balloons made of condoms. One giant banner showing the Pope carrying a swastika was later taken down after offending many of the protesters, who went as far as complaining to the police officers lining the route of the march to Downing Street.... [Wouldn't it be great if Americans were this intelligent in their protests?]
     The protest organiser Peter Tatchell told the Observer the event was held both to send a message to the Pope that child abusers had to be brought to account and to call on the British government not to tolerate the Pope's "harsh, intolerant views on women's rights, on gay equality and on the use of condoms which is so vital to stopping the spread of the HIV virus".
     If the pope's key message during his visit has been to warn against atheism and secularism, then this rally was the chance of those with those views to present their view of Benedict. "An enemy of humanity" was the unminced words of prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, who gave a strong speech to the rally on its arrival at Downing Street.
     Comedian Al Murray also figured among the crowd. He said: "Like a lot of people I am a perplexed that it is a state visit. The pope's opposition to condoms kills people. It is all very well him lecturing us on morals, but he should look at his own organisation's view."
     What will tomorrow's itinerary in Birmingham bring?  We can only assume more of the same.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Catholic Cardinal Kasper Makes Controversial Racist Comment on Eve of Pope's UK Visit

    Image from Guardian 
  The Guardian Reports:
     The pope's visit to the UK is mired in controversy after one of Benedict XVI's senior advisers dropped out after comparing an arrival in multicultural Britain to landing "in a third-world country".   Cardinal Walter Kasper – the Vatican's leading expert on relations with the Church of England – also accused the UK of discriminating against Christians.
     The pope's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said tonight that the cardinal "had no negative intention, nor [a] lesser appreciation for the United Kingdom", but had been referring to Britain's multi-ethnic composition.  
     So according to the pope's cardinal and spokesman: People of Color = Poverty.

     Ouch.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pope Makes Preemptive Attack on Marriage Equality before Trip to U.K.

     In a prelude to his trip to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict has once again condemned equal civil marriage rights for same sex couples.  (For those of you in the U.K., there are some protests of the Pope being planned.  Join up here.)

     Benedict, speaking before paying a historic visit to the U.K. later this week, said the Roman Catholic Church “cannot approve of legal initiatives that imply a re-evaluation of the life of the couple and the family.”  The pope, in a reference to legalized marriage among homosexuals, said such laws “contribute to the weakening of the principles of natural law” and to “confusion about society’s values.”  He made his remarks today while receiving Germany’s new envoy to the Holy See at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.
 Image from Mario Piperni

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Catholic Father Alejandro Flores, Ordination Class of 2009, Gets Four to Fifteen for Sexual Assault of a Child

     Pope Benedict XVI says repentance is more effective than structural change within the Church to counter sexual abuse by priests.  Using an indirect historical analogy, the pope on Wednesday recalled the words of XII century Saint Hildegard, according to whom "a true renewal of the ecclesiastic community is the result less of structural changes than of a sincere spirit of repentance and an active path towards conversion."  Saint Hildergard at the time was fighting the criticism by German sects "proposing a radical reform of the Church in order to fight abuses by clergy," Benedict told 7,000 pilgrims at his weekly general audience.  (The Sydney Morning Herald, September 8, 2010)
     The rhetoric coming from bishops, cardinals, and the pope about how the Catholic Church has repented, reformed itself and is no longer ordaining pedophile priests, all the claims that priest-perpetrated sexual abuse was a problem for elder generations of priests and that newly ordained undergo improved psychological procedures to weed out abusers, and all the reassurances that the church knows best how to reform itself have once again been proven false.

     On Wednesday, Father Alejandro Flores, 37, priest in the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, and a member of the ordination class of 2009, changed his previous plea of not-guilty to guilty.  His crime: sexually assaulting a boy  over the past five years, beginning when the boy was eight years old.  He also hit on the boy's older brother.  Which means, Flores was sexually assaulting his prepubescent child-victim, while Flores was in seminary and going through the church's rigorous "formation" that is supposed to weed out abusive candidates.

     Here's the kicker.  Five years ago, then-seminarian Flores was spotted engaging in what is known as grooming behavior by the the diocese's vocations director.  Twice, the diocese delayed Flores ordination, but in the end, he was ordained anyway.

     The Chicago Tribune reports (My comments are interspersed):
     Flores, 37, a native of Bolivia, started abusing the boy over a five-year period in 2005 after befriending members of his family, who were parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church in West Chicago. Flores was posted there as a seminarian and deacon while working toward ordination.  Assistant State's Attorney Deb Bree said Flores' crimes took place during the time church officials were deciding whether to elevate him to the priesthood.
     During an internship, Flores told his supervisor that as a child he had been the victim of sexual abuse at a Bolivian orphanage. That supervisor, the Rev. Burke Masters, vocational director for the Joliet Diocese, saw Flores alone in a car with the victim in 2005 and told him it was not appropriate to be alone with young boys, according to authorities.
      But he wasn't sent for counseling to deal with his inappropriate boundaries with children.  He was told it was "not appropriate."  Nor was he wasn't sent to counseling to better understand the dynamics of having been sexually abused as a child.  The counseling came when:
     Diocesan officials also later learned that Flores had viewed male pornography on a church-owned computer. The revelation again pushed back his ordination, Bree said, as Flores was sent for counseling.
     Doug Delany, a Joliet Diocese spokesman, said that with hindsight, Flores would not have been ordained. But he said the delays were part of what he called "extraordinary caution" exercised by Bishop J. Peter Sartain before deciding to elevate Flores.  "We were told he was ready for the priesthood," Delany said.
     Here again, the church passes the blame onto those who "told" the diocese that Flores was ready for the priesthood.  Still, it was Bishop Sartain who laid his hand on Flores at the ordination ceremony.
     Flores told the bishop that he had viewed pornography only once, Delany said. 
     That was probably the only time he masturbated, as well.
     And Flores' sexual abuse as a child did not necessarily indicate that he was a pedophile, the spokesman said.  Meanwhile, Flores maintained a relationship with the victim, now 13, and his older brother, now 18.
     Thankfully, someone other than the diocese's vocational director saw Flores alone in a car with a boy:
     Flores was ordained in June 2009 and remained at Holy Family, but his actions were drawing the attention of a man dating the victim's mother. The boyfriend said he saw Flores and the boy "in a suspicious position" in Flores' parked car, and in November the boyfriend found the boy and Flores in the bedroom of the boy's St. Charles home, Bree said.  In January, the victim's mother alerted Joliet Diocese officials to her suspicions.
     Once again, this story shows how the Catholic church is incapable of dealing with issues of sexual abuse.  Flores should have been investigated after being caught (by his superior) alone in a car with a possible victim.  But the church failed the victim and favored the seminarian.

     After the boy's mother came forward this January, the church did the right thing in handing Flores over the law, but that was after five years of abuse, during which time Flores was supposedly undergoing the best pyscho-spiritual counseling and formation that the church has to offer.

     Pope Ben, what good is your church's repentance, when the structures in place have consistently proven inefficient in preventing sexual abuse?

                   The Newly Ordained Priest                                       The Newly Convicted Pedophile