Showing posts with label Religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Catholic Bishop, Robert F. Finn, Found Guilty of Shielding a Pedophile Priest, But the True Winner in the Case Is the Catholic Church

Last week, a Catholic bishop was finally found guilty for covering-up sexual abuse. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City was found guilty of: 
failing to report a priest who had taken hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls. The counts each carried a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, but Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation. (New York Times)
It's about time that a criminal Catholic bishop was held accountable.  But in the long run, the Catholic Church won this case.

Win Number One.  The church's defense team avoided a long and drawn out, public trial by jury and its unrelenting media scrutiny.  NBCNews.com reports:
Lawyers for Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph released the following statement after the verdict:  "Bishop Finn is grateful that the court and prosecutor have allowed this matter to be resolved. This could have been a lengthy and emotionally difficult trial for all persons affected. The bench trial, with a stipulation of testimony, has avoided the need for live testimony from diocesan employees, parishioners and others. This process has also resulted in the charges against the Diocese being dismissed by the state. The diocesan process and procedures as previously existed failed to adequately identify the necessity to inform the Children's Division of Shawn Ratigan's behavior in a more timely manner. For this, the bishop is truly sorry."
Who wants to hear witnesses rehashing the dirty deeds of the bishop and diocese?  Who wants the media  printing testimony that details the process of how abuse allegations are covered-up, ignored, and kept from civil authorities?  The church can thank its god that the details of this case will now quickly sink into the Google Sea.

Win Number Two.  As indicated in the previous statement, the charges against the Diocese of Kansas City were dismissed.  How wonderful for the church.

Win Number Three.  The judge let Finn off easily; he should have given Finn the maximum penalty of one year in jail.  Finn protected a Father Shawn Ratigan for five months after learning Ratigan had taken pornographic pictures of hundreds of girls.  Finn didn't report the crime, even though he knew of previous accusations made against Ratigan.  Would not one month of jail time for each month that Finn kept information from civil authorities be justified?  The pedophile priest's crimes went unreported until church officials contacted civil authorities without Finn's permission.  How the judge didn't see this as grounds for a maximum sentence will remain on the judge's conscience.

Win Number Four.  The Catholic theology of forgiveness, confession, and a fresh start is strengthened.  Finn can now retreat to the confessional and release the guilt he carries for his actions, if he harbors any.  His courtroom apology indicates that he might not:  
Before being sentenced, Bishop Finn, 59, his jaw quivering, rose in court and said: “I am pleased and grateful that the prosecution and the courts have allowed this matter to be completed. The protection of children is paramount.” 
He added, “I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt that these events have caused.” (NYT)
According to Catholic theology, contrition is necessary for forgiveness to be granted during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Finn's "apology" is not sufficient for the sacrament, because Finn displayed no contrition for his part in the crime and resulting scandal.  Finn said he was sorry for the hurt caused by "these events," not, I'm sorry that I protected this pedophile from civil authorities and in doing so betrayed the children this priest abused, their families, the people I've sworn to shepherd, and the society in which I present myself as a law-abiding citizen.  No.  Bishop Finn took the easy way out.  

He admitted being "pleased and grateful" -- pleased that he's not going to jail and can get back to his phony, "paramount" "protection" of children.  For that is his immediate future, as The Washington Post reports:
But even as he became the first U.S. bishop ever convicted in criminal court for shielding an abusive priest, Finn’s standing inside the church appears uncertain, and the subject of intense debate.  Should he stay or should he go? Finn has indicated that he wants to tough it out.
“The Bishop looks forward to continuing to perform his duties, including carrying out the important obligations placed on him by the Court,” Finn’s spokesman, Jack Smith, said in a statement to Religion News Service on Friday.
Pope Benedict XVI is the only one with the authority to force a bishop from office, and the Vatican said nothing on Friday about Finn.
While waiting for the pope to act or commit yet another sin of omission, Catholics throughout the Diocese of Kansas City will continue to pray before the "Real Presence" of their savior Jesus Christ at every Mass in the Diocese of Kansas City, "for our bishop, Robert."  

In spite of the church's wins in the Finn case, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has once again shown that it's incapable of responsible leadership when confronting the institutionalized culture of covering-up sexual abuse.
The point man on the abuse crisis for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Ill., was circumspect about Finn’s conviction.  Conlon, who recently acknowledged that the hierarchy’s credibility on abuse was “shredded” in part because of cases like Finn’s, said that he did not know the details of the trial. (The Washington Post)
Bishop Conlon is the chair of the USCCB's Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.  One would think he has a responsibility to be familiar with the details of the first case involving one of his brother bishops being tried for covering up sexual abuse.  For the Catholic bishops ignorance continues to be bliss, and ecclesiastical justice for the victims of sexual abuse is again cast into the sea.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Response to Father Benedict Groeschel's Apology

     I have another piece on The Huffington Post:
The condemnations and apologies have been forthcoming since Father Benedict Groeschel, a founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, told the National Catholic Register that some teenage victims of sexual abuse seduce their priest perpetrators. He also referred to convicted sex felon Jerry Sandusky as "this poor guy" before implying that Sandusky's victims should have spoken out sooner.
The National Catholic Register removed the interview from its website and posted an apology explaining the publication of Groeschel's "comment was an editorial mistake." In addition, the Register "sought clarification from Father Benedict," as if Groeschel's 468 word "comment" wasn't clear enough.

     Read the rest on The Huffington Post by clicking here.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hate Crimes, Shootings, Guns, Domestic Terrorism, and the History of Ignorant Attacks on American Sikhs

The focus of this blog is most commonly the violence and hatred with which hypocritical religious individuals and institutions shower LGBT persons.  After last weekend's mass shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin, I am again made painfully aware of the violence and hatred that religious individuals and institutions are capable of hurling at those of other religions.  This shooting is another in an endless line of violence that results from the tragic combination of ignorance, hatred, religion, and weapons of mass destruction.  


Ignorance:  The Huffington Post article shares numerous quotes of those who perpetrated these crimes.  One murderer said: I'm a patriot and an American. I'm American. I'm a damn American," "I'm going to go out and shoot some towel-heads," "all Arabs should be shot," and his desire to "slit some Iranian throats."  There is a common pattern in the listed crimes: the Sikh victims were ignorantly assumed to be Muslims, specifically members of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda.  

Sikhs are not in any way Muslim, nor are they the members of al-Qaeda responsible for 9/11.  Neither are nearly 100% of the world's Muslims and/or Iranians.  Yet, innocent Americans of these backgrounds have now been the victims of eleven years of domestic terrorism perpetrated by self-proclaimed "real Americans."  Ignorance breeds hatred and violence.

Religion:  From what I've been able to research (I'm by no means an expert on Sikh beliefs.), the founders of the Sikh religion, the Sikh Gurus, did not believe in the exclusivity of their teachings or writings.  Contrast this with the founders of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Mormonism, who all believed that they had a divinely-inspired, exclusive claim to the one and ultimate truth.  In other words, our god is better than your god(s).  This is a recipe for violence in the name of one's supreme being.

Weapons of Mass Destruction:  Glock semiautomatic pistols and handguns have been usedin  the recent mass shootings in Oak Creek, Aurora, Tucson, and Blacksberg.  The high-capacity magazines that have been used with them have been created with one purpose only: shoot as many bullets in as few seconds as possible. The result is mass destruction, injury, death, and terror.

We live in a nation, where the right of a U.S. citizen to legally buy these weapons of mass destruction trumps the right of every other citizen to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  After last weekend's attack upon the Sikh gurdwara, we again see that the right to bear weapons of mass destruction also trumps the right to peacefully assemble and the right to worship or not worship as one sees fit.

We accept many limitations on our rights.  It's illegal to drive at unsafe speeds, because the result might be death.  It's illegal to smoke at many indoor establishments, because the result might be cases of lung cancer for those standing nearby.  It's illegal to self-prescribe medications, because one might do harm by means of an overdose or uninformed mixing of drugs.  It's illegal to drink and drive, because one might cause an accident killing others.  

If we accept these limits on our rights to perform these actions, because the result of these actions might be injury and death to others, why can we not accept limits upon the right of citizens to purchase and stockpile the semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines that have been the tools used to reap terror, destruction, hatred and death upon so many innocent Americans?

How many more times must the tragic confluence of ignorance, hatred, religion and weapons of mass destruction be allowed to occur before we legislate concrete, preventative measures to ensure the safety of all Americans? 

In the meanwhile, the ignorance of a few will continue to result in hate crimes perpetrated against the many.  



Here's what Lawrence O'Donnell had to say about the NRA after the tragedy in Aurora, CO:
Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Friday, June 22, 2012

On My Ten-Year Anniversary of Ordination to the Catholic Priesthood


On June 22, 2002, I was ordained a priest. 

Minutes before the ceremony, a squirrel met its demise at the intersection of a power line, junction box, and the cathedral’s roof.  The ensuing explosion left those in attendance in the dark.

Everything in the Catholic Church seemed dark in 2002.  Accounts of bishops concealing sexual abuse perpetrated by priests inundated the news.  Daily, revered clerics fell in shame.  Victims came forward, their long-suppressed pain and anger finally being given voice.  Those on the left blamed the pre-Vatican II, conservative and sex-suppressing seminary system that had formed the elder generations of priest-perpetrators; they blamed mandatory celibacy.  Those on the right made the post-Vatican-II progressives and their sex-embracing psychology their scapegoats; they blamed gay clergy.  Being both a victim and gay, I was angry, hurt, heartbroken, shamed, and frightened.  I'd wanted to run. 

But trusted others dissuaded me: "Don't make decisions in desolation." "The church and god have affirmed your vocation for eight years; you can't run from that now."  “Doubt is the vehicle to deeper faith and commitment.” "You don't need to come out of the closet; that's just pride tempting you." "It's not lying if those asking don't have a right to the information." "Your sexuality is a gift from god, in god's image, but if you act upon it’s 'disordered,' sinful." 

I dissuaded myself: "Jesus will work through my wounds, if I sacrifice everything."

During the ordination rite, an endless succession of priests passed on the priesthood by laying their hands upon my bowed head.  I knelt before them.  My kneecaps pressed through the thin cotton of my alb and ground against the hard floor.  After a few dozen hands had pressed upon my scalp, spasms began to shoot down my back.  I focused on the residual scent of incense in the air.  I breathed into the pain, the depression, for I deserved it.

Ruled by shame, I begged god for the strength to resist my "depraved" homosexual "urges."  Ruled by fear, I did nothing as the priest, who had assaulted me during confession and then sexuallyexploited me in college, placed his hands upon my head.   Ruled by redemptive suffering, I nailed my anger at him and all the corrupt priests and bishops to the cross.  There were no other options.  I accepted the only path prescribed to gay Catholic men: silent celibacy.


Thankfully, I no longer owe obedience to these clerics.  Ten years later, I am no longer a priest, no longer a Catholic.  The collective clerical closet in which I once lived is eight years abandoned. 

Others continue under that yoke.  I understand their plight, their fear.  It’s difficult to turn your back on the institution that “formed” you.  It’s terrifying to speak out against your superiors’ abuses.  It’s mindboggling to imagine a future beyond your career and community. It’s painful to witness cherished relationships end, as those, who cannot accept your truth, shun you. 

To those of you remaining, it is possible.  There is a life of health, peace, balance, joy, purpose, communion, love, and truth that exists beyond the Catholic church. 

Ten years after being ordained a priest, eight years after leaving the priesthood, and seven years after evicting the guilt imposed by my old religion, I can tell you that it does get better.  You can speak out about the abuse you endured.  You can build a new career.  You can make gather new friends and communities.  You can regain your mental health.  You can protest on the steps of your cathedrals.  You can find a creed or philosophy that brings you peace.  You can marry the man or woman that you love.  You can give of yourself to the world.

Not a day goes by that I regret leaving the priesthood and the church.  Ten years makes a difference indeed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Biblical Marriage & Traditional Christian Values

How can one argue with what's in the Babble?  

Come on, conservative Christians, let's stick up for "traditional" values and legislate these religious beliefs:
I came across this chart on Facebook.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dan Savage and Keith Olbermann Get to the Heart of the Hatred Involved in Religious Homophobia

     In the video below, Dan Savage and Keith Olbermann get to the heart of how religion conditions gay persons to hate themselves.  So much of what Savage says speaks true to my past experience of being trained to hate myself as "God created me." 

     An example of this is in an Advocate article by John Becker, a married gay man, who went undercover and experienced the "ex-gay therapy" offered at Michelle Bachmann's husband's "clinic."  So much of what they told Becker is what I was told in Catholic seminary "formation."  I'm so grateful that I escaped.

     Back to Savage and Olbermann.  Savage is brilliant at turning homophobic arguments on their heads.  (The first half of the interview is about the Tony-winning The Book Mormon and marriage equality in New York.)  Start the video at minute 11:00 to get the point about the homophobia preached by many religions, Christianity in particular.


Here's a little bonus video: "I Believe" from The Book of Mormon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Response to Archbishop Dolan's "Afterthoughts" and "Apology" Concerning the Same-Sex Marriage Battle in New York

Hello, readers.  I apologize for the long absence.  For my own well-being, I had to take a break from confronting the hatred out there.  That said, much has happened in New York where same-sex couples will now enjoy the state-level civil rights that opposite-sex couples enjoy.

Image Credit:   CBS News/Mike Segar
Archbishop Timothy Dolan just posted his "Afterthoughts" on his experience of being the mouthpiece for the anti-gay side of the New York marriage equality battle of the past few months.  In the response, which you can read in full here, he compares himself to John the Baptist and Thomas Moore, who were both beheaded.  He also "apologizes" to any gay persons who may have been offended by anything that he said.  (If you recall, he compared same-sex couples marrying to marrying his mother and that polygamy would follow gay rights.)

Here is my response.

Dear +Tim,

You are correct about one thing: "Finally, last point, for us in the Church, not much changes." Exactly, because in the U.S.A. there is a separation of church and state. You can discriminate as much as you want to in your churches and sacraments. That's what you purchase with your tax exemption. But know this: when you come after people's civil rights, you give up your claim to tax exemption. We will continue to fight you to retain our civil rights.

Those of us who are fighting for equal civil rights for LGBT persons are not "theophobic" or anti-religion; we're anti-theocracy. We don't care about your sacramental rights or rites.

I would think you would be anti-theocracy as well, since that's the real reason Thomas Moore was beheaded--he lived in a state where the King believed he was the hand of his god and not the pope's god. World history and your Old Testament show that there is a great danger marrying church and state; it always ends very bloody.

As for your "apology" to those of us who were "unintentionally" hurt by your "defense" of marriage, now you just dilute yourself. You said so many things that were based on unscientific, outdated and historically-abused stereotypes about homosexuals (i.e. the way you linked same-sex marriages to incest, polygamy, and such). You calculated your responses to hit below the belt and to stir the fears of your followers. You stoked hatred against LGBT persons who have been historically repressed and even tortured and murdered (see the Inquisition) in the name of your church.

Your "apology" is as hollow as the arguments you made against marriage equality. How do you look yourself in the mirror in the morning? How do you look gay priests and youth in the eyes? Do you have any idea how hurtful, demoralizing, and harmful your characterizations of homosexuals are? Your "apology" shows how out of touch you are with the virtue of compassion.

Yours outside of Christ,

Heretic Tom


Postscript: In case you forgot, +Tim, here's what the church did to gays in the Inquisition.
Source: Woodcut. Published in the 'Speculum in oculis Domini abominatium' by Franziscus Grotius, Leipzig,1474.  Reproduced in 'Inquisition torture instruments from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Age, "Qua d'Arno, Florence, 1985.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

For Harold Camping...



Postscript:

     The world didn't end and guess who's millions of tax-exempt dollars richer? 

     CNN reports:
     At the center of it all, Camping's organization, Family Radio, is perfectly happy to take your money -- and in fact, received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009. Camping founded Family Radio, a nonprofit Christian radio network based in Oakland, Calif. with about 65 stations across the country, in 1958.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Plural Marriage, Racism, Homophobia, and Armageddon for "Big Love"

     Tonight is the series finale of HBO's polygamist-family drama Big Love.

     Here's a clip in honor of Bill Henrickson and his "true" Mormons:


     Because the other "true" Church of Latter Day Saints knows about the sanctity of marriage:


      Some LDS claim plural marriage is an immutable pillar of their faith.  Others have spent millions of dollars on smear campaigns against same-sex couples in an attempt to prove the Mormon church believes marriage is, has been, and always will be, as their God commanded, between one man and one woman.  But they are hypocrites.  LDS teachings are mutable.   

     Or do they still believe the once-immutable teaching that African-Americans and other persons of color are the cursed descendants of Cain?  Polygamist Brigham Young did. Here's a Young quote from a Utah State University Secular Humanists, Atheists, and Free Thinkers article, entitled, "Why I Don’t Believe: Racism in Mormon History and Doctrine:"
     Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110)
     Tonight, as I say goodbye to the Henricksons, I can only hope that someday the Mormon church will say goodbye to its homophobia as it did to its racism.
Image via Entertainment Weekly

     PS.  If gays were as dominant in football as African-Americans, would the LDS drop its teachings condemning homosexuals to improve BYU's chances of winning a national championship?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lawrence O'Donnell Blasts FOX's Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck for Their "Concerns" about Japan

     Here's Lawrence O'Donnell's reaction to Bill O'Reilly's claims that the news media is falsely "hyping" the tragedy in Japan, while O'Reilly's FOX compatriot Glenn Beck invokes Revelation, "these days," and the end of the world as we know it.  Beck's god "may or may not be" punishing Japan with the earthquake/tsunami and "may or may not be" coming to eradicate the human race.  O'Donnell blasts Beck's fear-driven eschatology and hate-based theology.  How refreshing to see reason over religion on the news!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Non-Believers Giving Aid -- Disaster Relief Fund for Japanese Earthquake; Glenn Beck Attributes Disaster to His god

     If you would like to contribute to a relief fund for those devastated by the Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, but do not want to donate to a religious organization that might use this tragedy as an opportunity for proselytism, click here:  Non-Believers Giving Aid.   Why?  Because this is the only world and only life that we and those harmed in Japan have got.
     This is a link to the most overwhelming photos that reveal the level of total destruction that I have seen.  These folks need our help.

     Meanwhile, Glenn Beck continues to proudly display his ignorance and prejudice by attributing the tragedy to God and wielding fear to control and convert viewers to their versions of Christianity.  The Washington Post reports:
     Glenn Beck is already speculating on the disaster’s divine message:  “I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes,” the conservative pundit said on Monday’s show. But Beck added that he’s “not not saying that, either.” 
     “Whether you call it Gaia, or whether you call it Jesus, there’s a message being sent and that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well.’ Maybe we should stop doing some of it.”
     Beck later referenced the Ten Commandments, and sugested that following them is an antidote to global chaos.  “What do you say we start doing those things?” he asked. “Because the things we are doing really suck. And they’re not getting better.”
     I'm sure that Beck's god appreciates Beck's use of the work "suck" in his preaching.  

     As for the "I'm not saying but I'm not not saying double speak," Mr. Beck, I leave you with the words of your Jesus: "Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one." (The Sermon on the Mount, Mt 5:37).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wisconsin, Michigan, Washington, Public vs Private Sector, Salaries, Unions, Tax Cuts, Corporations, Greed, Religion, Hypocrisy, & the Republican Jesus Christ of the Upper Class: David Koch -- A Lament for Our Time

     Good Christian white rich men rejoice!  With heart and soul and voice!  If Calvin was right and the Prosperity Gospel is true, then you are on your way to heaven.  Only, you may not want to stay long as your Jesus will be hanging out with the poor people who's rights, benefits, and livelihoods you've crushed.  

     You say it's the middle class and public employees that are bankrupting America, especially those money-hoarding teachers, power-hungry nurses, and lazy road-construction workers.  You hypocrites!  You forget, that we are the poor souls are paying your salaries.


             So, why don't all of you Tea Party/Republican politicians put your money where your mouth is and lower your wages, benefits, and expense accounts to the average made by your fellow public workers?  In Wisconsin, you would drop to a salary of $50,774; in Michigan, $58,801; and in Washington, DC, $82,607 (which is only $457 more than DC's private sector workers.  Hmm.  I wonder if the immense cluster of elected public officials and their six-figure salaries have anything to do with DC leading the nation's average public-sector salary?).  Or better yet, you should all work for free.   When you each average nearly a million dollars in personal wealth, why should we be paying you?

             But the public money that the Scott Walkers and John Boeners of the world are being paid is peanuts compared to the billions their benevolent benefactors are making thanks to unprecedented tax cuts, courtesy of the political lobbying and campaign donations bought and paid for by multi-billionaire heir David Koch (Roman Catholic) and the like.  

             Mister Koch--Or shall we refer to you as "Master"?--you might want to catch up on the social ethics of your own precious Holy (Dysfunctional) Mother Church, who has supported the right of workers to join unions and collectively bargain, not to mention a just wages, universal healthcare, taxation of the rich, and service to the poor, alien, and ill.  Of course, Mother Church is still giving you and your Speaker Boehner communion, which makes her a hypocrite, as well.

             Oh, America, when did you become so ungrateful?  Oh, Middle Class, when did you become so ignorant, so easily duped?  When will you wake up and see that the problem is not that public workers are paid too much but that private workers, whose corporate overlords are stuffing their pockets via tax loopholes they've bought and secured with your votes, are paid too little!  You are fighting over the difference of a few thousand dollars, while the upper class of our nation, Wall Street thieves, and corporate hoarders are transferring wealth from the middle class to the upper 2% at unprecedented proportions.  The Forbes 400, the richest 400 individuals in the nation, have no amassed more wealth than a combined 155 million Americans.

             Yes, 0.0001% of the American public holds 50% of the nation's wealth.  Don't believe me, take it up with Forbes and simple math (although I had to get out my old scientific calculator to divide 400 by 310,964,000).  Trickle down economics--the warrior's cry of the Republican politicians of my youth--has shed it's grace on thee, upper 0.0001%.

             But still, the GOP wants to extend tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the poor and middle class.  This chart from the Center for American Progress says it all:

             If faced with such an immoral disparity, what would Jesus do?  

             Apparently, the Jesus of the United States of America would take back the loaves and fishes he'd given to the middle class of Wisconsin, shake the snow from his sandals, and walk across the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to Wichita so he could hand-feed David Koch.
             I've heard the middle and lower classes despairing on Facebook and in the streets, "What can we do?"  "We're helpless."  "We don't have the money to influence politicians like the corporations and billionaires do."  Well still have the votes, although the upper class is working pretty hard to take those away from us too.  We have the numbers.  It's time to STRIKE!  If every public employee in this nation stopped working for one or two days, the nation would come to a standstill.  And even David Koch couldn't save the upper class then.


             Postscript: In my years as a Catholic school student, seminarian, and priest, I never once heard a private sector/Catholic school teacher or parish employee, who was making between twenty and forty thousand dollars while trying to feed a natural-family-planning family of four or five children, ever say, "You know, I'm making just the right amount of money for what I do."  So, let's not blame the state for being too generous to school teachers, when it's the private sector who refuses pay its workers a just wage.

        Hug a teacher!

        Wednesday, March 9, 2011

        Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia Suspends 21 Priests for Sexual Abuse, Is It 2002 Again?

             Here's the NPR report from Philadelphia  (My comments are interspersed.):
             The archbishop of Philadelphia has suspended 21 priests connected to allegations of child sex abuse, the latest in a series of actions by the archdiocese to deal with findings in a disturbing grand jury report released last month. The grand jury report accused a monsignor, three priests and a parochial schoolteacher of abusing kids or failing to prevent abuse by others. It also said that as many as 37 priests remained in active ministry with allegations or reports of inappropriate behavior or sexual abuse of minors...    
             I'm  relieved that these 21 abusive priests in Philadelphia have been removed from ministry and will not have access to children.  But it's been over nine years since this iteration of the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church broke into national headlines from Boston.  What took Philadelphia so long to act?
        Cardinal Rigali, Serious about Pedophiles 
             Cardinal Justin Rigali said in a statement that he's sorry for the harm done to the victims of sexual abuse and is determined to work for a solution that deals effectively with the issue in the church.  Rigali added that he knows many people's trust in the church has been shaken, and that he prays that the efforts of the archdiocese to address these cases and re-evaluate how it handles such allegations will help rebuild that trust in truth and justice.
             It's been nine years since Boston and nearly 30 years since the media started widespread reporting of Catholic priests sexually abusing children in the early 1980s.  The church has had thirty years to, as Cardinal Rigali stated, "work for a solution that deals effectively with the issue in the church."  They have failed miserably.

             The Dallas Charter, which the US Catholic Conference of Bishops promulgated in June 2002, was touted as to be the church's greatest response to prevent sexual abuse, remove abusive clerics from ministry, and prove to the nation that they were trustworthy.  Since its implementation, this charter has been consistently ignored and violated by bishops throughout the nation.

             So today, when a story breaks that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has suspended 21 more priests due to allegations of child sexual abuse while leaving "as many as 37 priests with allegations" in active ministry, why anyone, Catholics included, would believe that the church is effectively protecting its children is beyond me.  

           Here's a bit more more the NPR article:
             The archdiocese's move is a "long overdue and welcomed step," says David Clohessy, the executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. But "it's only a very partial first step. It would be incredibly naive for anybody to think that a mere suspension of these men somehow signifies a new day in the archdiocese," Clohessy says. "Anytime a credibly accused child molester is publicly identified or suspended, kids are safer. However, it's crucial to remember that the grand jury found widespread fault and deceit and recklessness by church officials."
              But Patrick Wall, a former Roman Catholic priest who is now a canon lawyer in California, says the grand jury report and the moves by the archdiocese mark a historic moment. "This report takes it to another level because they go after the vicar for clergy — that person who has the authority of the Archbishop Justin Rigali to handle priest affairs and priest assignments, and that person now is being called to justice," says Wall, who has worked on priest sex abuse cases across the country.  He says the situation in Philadelphia could have ripple effects on litigation nationwide. "It really does change the face of things, because not only can we look to the bishop or the religious superior, but now we can specifically look at how different lower, midlevel managers could be charged with child endangerment," Wall says.
             We can only hope that some of the "princes of the Church" will finally face the criminal charges they deserve.

        Thursday, February 24, 2011

        "Highlights" for Adults: the Tea Partier and the Taliban

             Here's a simple exercise reminiscent of the ones I completed in Highlights as a child, but this one is for adults.  What happens when a tea partier and a Taliban run into each other?

             Via BuzzFeed:

        Saturday, February 19, 2011

        The GOP's War on Women's Rights and Poor Children; Democratic Representatives Moore & Speier Fight Back

             Do you remember October and November, when Republicans said that the election was about job creation?  Well, the past month has shown their true agenda.  One of the groups they are targeting is women.  How is this for the Gospel According to Hate?

             MoveOn.org compiled the following report:

        Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP's War on Women

        1) Republicans not only want to reduce women's access to abortion care, they're actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven't yet. Shocker.
        2) A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."
        3) In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that couldmake it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)
        4) Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids. 
        5) In Congress, Republicans have a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life. 
        6) Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said.Women should really be home with the kids, not out working. 
        7) And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.
        8) Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.
        9) Congress just voted for a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.
        10) And if that wasn't enough, Republicans are pushing toeliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can't make this stuff up).

        Sources: 

        1. "'Forcible Rape' Language Remains In Bill To Restrict Abortion Funding," The Huffington Post, February 9, 2011http://www.moveon.org/r?r=206084 
        "Extreme Abortion Coverage Ban Introduced," Center for American Progress, January 20, 2011http://www.moveon.org/r?r=205961 
        2. "Georgia State Lawmaker Seeks To Redefine Rape Victims As 'Accusers,'" The Huffington Post, February 4, 2011http://www.moveon.org/r?r=206007 
        3. "South Dakota bill would legalize killing abortion doctors," Salon, February 15, 2011http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2011/02/15/south_dakota_abortion_killing_bill 
        4. "House GOP Proposes Cuts to Scores of Sacred Cows," National Journal, February 9, 2011http://nationaljournal.com/house-gop-proposes-cuts-to-scores-of-sacred-cows-20110209 
        5. "New GOP Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Let Women Die Instead Of Having An Abortion," Talking Points Memo, February 4, 2011http://www.moveon.org/r?r=205974 
        6. "Republican Officials Cut Head Start Funding, Saying Women Should be Married and Home with Kids," Think Progress, February 16, 2011http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/16/gop-women-kids/ 
        7. "Bye Bye, Big Bird. Hello, E. Coli," The New Republic, Feburary 12, 2011http://www.tnr.com/blog/83387/house-republican-spending-cuts-pell-education-usda-pbs 
        8. "House GOP spending cuts will devastate women, families and economy," The Hill, February 16, 2011 http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/144585-house-gop-spending-cuts-will-devastate-women-families-and-economy- 
        9. "House passes measure stripping Planned Parenthood funding," MSNBC, February 18,2011 http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/18/6080756-house-passes-measure-stripping-planned-parenthood-funding
        "GOP Spending Plan: X-ing Out Title X Family Planning Funds," Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2011http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/02/09/gop-spending-plan-x-ing-out-title-x-family-planning-funds/ 
        10. Ibid. 
        "Birth Control for Horses, Not for Women," Blog for Choice, February 17, 2011http://www.blogforchoice.com/archives/2011/02/birth-control-f.html
            Here's Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) speaking out against #9 on the above list, from her own experience of becoming a teenage mother in poverty.  She calls the GOP out on their claim that they are helping black babies and both parties for the gutting of support programs for low income mothers.


             Here's Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives calling the Republicans out for their hypocrisy of speaking about job creation while attacking people's private medical decisions.

        Monday, February 14, 2011

        St. Valentine, Patron Saint of Gay Marriages

             Happy feast day of the god Lupercalia!  He's the reason for the season of love that we celebrate today.  Back in ancient Rome (before Christianity), February 13-15 were spent in festival, performing rites to purify the city for health, fertility and love.  In ancient Greece, Lupercalia was known as Pan.  Of course once, the Christians took over, this "pagan" feast was eventually syncretized into St. Valentine's Day.  And thank goodness, because flogging one's self bloody is not very romantic.

             As straight Christian couples around the world glorify their heterosexual love in name of St. Valentine's Day, homosexual couples continue to fight for their right to be civilly married.  The financial disclosure of political donations has shown that the vast majority of the funding for the campaigns to crush same-sex couple's civil rights comes from Catholics, Mormons, and Fundamentalist Christians.  What these "good" Christians don't realize is that they are repeating the history of their very own St. Valentine.  But now, they are the oppressive majority.

             Contemporary celebration of St. Valentine's Day is associated with the romantic legend of a third century Christian priest named Valentine, who broke the Roman marriage laws by performing banned marriages for young Christian men and women.  Yes, he was fighting for the the rights of his young flock to be married.  But don't blame the Roman majority.  Emperor Claudius II's Defense of Marriage Act was only trying to preserve the sacred and historically-founded unions of those who worshiped within the established Roman pantheon (and to keep those peace-loving Christians from dodging the draft).  

             Thus, when Christians gained control of the Roman Empire and usurped the right to marry, they changed what they now claim is the unchangeable institution of marriage.  [If you don't believe me or if you disagree, that's okay.  This is all according to Christian legend, and as I learned in my Catholic scripture classes, it doesn't matter if the scriptures are historically accurate, its the interpretation of the truth within the myth that matters.]

            For losing his life in the name of marriage equality and giving "straight" men everywhere an excuse to wear pink, St. Valentine should be the patron saint of marriage equality.  

        Plus, the name, Valentine, is so gay.

        Image Credits