Showing posts with label Theology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Theology. Show all posts

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jesus Was Just as Wrong about the Rapture as Quack Harold Camping

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

     Fundamentalist Christian and multi-millionaire Harold Camping's doomsday prophecy was wrong.  Again.

     We're still here. As if there was any doubt.

     Robert Fitzpatrick, a retired transportation agency worker in New York, said he had spent more than $140,000 (£86,000) of his savings on advertisements in the run-up to 21 May to publicise the prediction. After 1800 passed and nothing had happened, he said: "I do not understand why... I do not understand why nothing has happened. I can't tell you what I feel right now. Obviously, I haven't understood it correctly because we're still here." 
     "I had some scepticism but I was trying to push the scepticism away because I believe in God," said Keith Bauer, who travelled 4,830km (3,000 miles), from Maryland to California, where Mr Camping's Family Radio is based, for the Rapture. "I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this Earth," said Mr Bauer, a tractor-trailer driver, who took the week off work for the voyage. 
     Other followers said the delay was a further test from God to persevere in their faith. 
     [Camping] has predicted an apocalypse once before, in 1994, though followers now say that only referred to an intermediary stage.
     How did other "mainstream" Christians respond?  According to the BBC, "Many Christian groups however dismissed Mr Camping's ideas, with some describing him as a 'false prophet.'"

     Here's the thing.  The "god is testing our faith" and "false prophet" arguments have been used by Christians for two-thousand years to justify the delay of the parousia -- $140,000 word for "the rapture," ArmageddonApocalypse Now (and Later), Judgement Day, the end of the world, eschatology or whatever you want to call it. 

     Mainstream Christians--you know, like Catholics--much like some of Camping's followers, believe that the world is in an "intermediary" stage.  But the Catholic Church has a fancy two-thousand-year-old "Tradition" to pimp up its explanation with "accepted" and "scholarly" theology.  

     Catholics believe in an "already, not yet" realization of their god's "Kingdom" here on earth.  Let me dust off my Master of Divinity from the oldest Catholic seminary in the United States to explain this.

     Jesus, his disciples, and Paul believed that the end of the world was going to happen in their lifetimes.  They instructed people to leave their jobs and families, to stop marrying and having children, and to give away all possessions.  This is in the scriptures --"the Kingdom of God [sic] is at hand," "Anyone who does not leave father, mother, sister and brother behind has no place in my Kingdom," and so on.  Harold Camping's doomsday claims were a time-tested Christian incentive to trick vulnerable people into draining their bank accounts and children's college funds or to leave their fishing boats rotting on the shores.

     Early Christians believed that the world would end within a generation of Jesus' death.  But, when it didn't, they had to revamp their eschatology.  The shock and fear of this realization is evident in the New Testament, as "believers" struggle to understand and accept the not-so-immanent coming of the "Kingdom."  Over the centuries the Catholic Church developed it's "already, not yet" understanding of the coming of the "Kingdom." When Jesus died and "rose" from the dead, the "Kingdom" was made known in the world, but was not yet fully realized.  That will happen when Jesus "comes again" and the end of the world.  

     There will be "false prophets" who will predict the end of the world, but believers should not give into the temptation to believe them.  (It seems the Church learned from the mistakes of its founders.)  All of this is one big "god is testing our faith" argument.  

     But today's mainstream Christians call Camping crazy.  They are revolted by these modern day quacks who predict the end of the world.   They need to take the "Kingdom come" plank out of their own eyes and look at the failed predictions of their Jesus and saints.

     Christianity has been wrong for two millennia about the end of the world.  One reason that Harold Camping made headlines is to justify the denial that Christians have about the inconstancies, fallacies, and failure of their own scriptures and savior.  If Harold Camping is a quack, then so was Jesus of Nazareth.

     I feel sorry not for the adults that were scammed by Camping, but for their children.  Frightening your children into believing the world will end, now that's child abuse.


     Perhaps instead of Harold Camping and his saved followers disappearing, it's time that the world's many gods disappeared.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Dan Savage on Sex, Religion, Bullying & His Catholic Seminary Experience

     If you don't have time for the whole interview, the first four minutes covers Savage's Catholic seminary experience, his moving beyond the beliefs and shame of that faith, and an incredibly honest priest (there are some) that surprised him when he came out.  Also, around minute twenty the conversation again turns to religion, including biblical violence against homosexuals.

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:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mormons, Catholics, & Fundamentalist Christians in the Crowded Marriage Bed

     Mormons, Catholics, and Fundamentalist Christians continue their unholy alliance to block and/or strip same-sex couples of their civil marriage and/or domestic partnership rights.  Their cooperation continues to baffle me as for centuries these groups have disdained one another.  They have conflicting theologies that indicate they don't even believe that they're all going to the same place after they die.

     In the videos embedded below, the President of the Church of Latter Day Saints "spake" to the Mormon General Council about the "wickedness" and "Satan's [inaudible] substitute and counterfeits for marriage," meaning civil same-sex marriages.  He traces his authority from Jesus to St. Peter to Joseph Smith and then through an unbroken line Mormon male elders that have the "power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases" and to tell everyone else how to live their lives.   Mormons believe that the "priesthood keys of authority" were restored by Joseph Smith after nearly two millennia of Catholic and Protestant failure known as the "dark centuries of apostasy."  But when it comes to opposing civil same-sex marriage rights, those apostates make great bedfellows.

     One of those apostate bedfellows, the Catholic Church, has a different explanation for its divine authority.   The Catholic Church believes the myth that the authority/keys of Peter have been passed in an unbroken line from pope to pope and that the true church of Jesus Christ "subsists" in the Catholic Church.  Mormons are the apostates.

     The other bedfellow, the Fundamentalist Christians, think the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon and Mormons are morons.  For fundies, authority comes directly from Jesus to each individual believer through the Bible.  But, don't go getting ideas different from your fundamentalist preacher, or you'll be shunned as ignorant, willful, and heretical.  BTW, for these true Christians, the ones who historically have been hated the most are Jews, Catholics, Mormon, and Muslims.  Fundamentalist Christians used to denounce black Christians because they supposedly didn't have souls (Mormons also believed in the "Curse of Cain").  Today, homosexuals trump all these evil-other groups.  Fundamentalists are sleeping with anyone who will vote against the gays. 

     If Mormons, Catholics, and Fundamentalists Christians believe in the same concept of marriage, then surely they must believe in the same concept of becoming Christian.


     Most Catholics see Mormonism as an adolescent religion that is based on the psychotic breaks or drug-induced visions of young boy who believed special underwear would keep him safe from harm.  Mormons aren't Christians.  Ten years ago, when I was in Catholic seminary, one of the common slippery-slope arguments used against giving same-sex couples even domestic partnership rights was that then we'll have to give polygamist Mormons the same and before we know it the gays will have paved the way for the legaliszation of polygamy.  The Mormons were the enemy.

     Fundamentalist Christians think both Mormons and Catholics are full of sin and going to hell because they haven't "accepted Jesus as their personal savior."  They re-baptize Catholic and Mormon converts.  In some circumstances, they even re-baptize other Fundamentalist Christians from slightly different one-true-churches.  

     But they all agree on marriage.  Right?

     Not exactly.

     Mormons believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, unless you were Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, in whose case marriage is between one man and thirty three females, including girls as young as 14 and 15.  Mormon marriage was between one man and multiple women and girls until it was necessary to ban polygamy in 1890 so that Utah could become a state in 1896.  So for Mormons, marriage is a never-changing institution, unless throwing out the beliefs of your religion's founder favors the political relevance and aspirations of the current church leadership.

     Catholics believe that marriage is between one baptized Christian man and one baptized Christian woman, who may or may not have been previously married.  If they were previously married and their previous spouse(s) is not dead then they have to go through the annulment process, in which those previous marriages are declared invalid, meaning they never really took place even though there might have been hundreds of witnesses and a priest who signed off on the wedding.  But if the previous marriage(s) was in the Catholic Church, it took place after the couple swore that they were entering the marriage of their own free will and that they would have children and raise them Catholic, and they got married in a physical Catholic church/building, unless they got the proper dispensations.  Catholic marriage does not include marriage between one baptized Catholic and one non-Christian.  These marriages are allowed to take place with a dispensation by the local bishop, but they are not sacramental marriages, they are civil marriages.  Which is an interesting distinction that Catholics pretend doesn't exist when they are arguing against same-sex civil marriages.  And by the way, if you were married in the Catholic Church before 1983, when the Code of Canon Law was revised, you couldn't marry your second cousin, but today you can.  So much for the never-changing institution of marriage.

     For Christian Fundamentalists, there are no annulments.  So if your spouse beats, tortures, and rapes you, you are stuck, unless you can prove that your abusive spouse commit adultery.  If you get a non-adultery-induced divorce and get remarried to a really nice person, who doesn't beat/torture/rape you, then you are going to hell.  Of course, you also must marry within your own sub-denomination of Christianity; if you don't you are disfellowshiped (i.e. excommunicated--a value which all these churches share) and are shunned from the community and your family.  Oh, and all of this is determined by the whim of your local pastor, who may or may not answer to a higher human authority, but has a direct line to the mind of god.

     So, while all of these (pseudo-)Christians have different tenants for what defines a marriage, they agree that marriage is a never-changing, sacred/sacramental, infinite bond between just one man and one woman, unless any of the above exceptions apply.
     
     The Mormon, Catholic, Fundamentalist Christian theological orgy must be kept out of the civil marriage bed.  

     Postscript: 

     This is the "logic" undergirding Mormon opposition to civil same-sex marriage.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The BP Oil Spill, Religion, Blame, the Apocalypse, and the Will of the gods

     Whenever there is a major disaster, of either natural or human making, religious folks feel the need to use that disaster to promote their understanding of their individual gods' will.  The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is currently that rapturous religious appetite for blame. 

     Carl Gallups of the Hickory Hammock Baptist Church in Milton, Florida, thinks the oil spill is his Christian god's judgement on the United States because President Obama announced that the U.S.A. will no longer automatically support Israel in the United Nations. (Gallups also blamed hurricane Katrina on U.S.-Israli relations.)  Here's the video that explains how Gallups knows the mind of his god.


     Other Christian fundamentalists are blaming those with insufficient faith for the oil spill, which is the beginning of the apocalypse (Newsweek):
     Now blogs on the Christian fringe are abuzz with possibility that the oil spill is the realization of Revelation 8:8–11. “The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed … A third of the waters became wormwood, and many died from the water, because it was made bitter.” According to Revelation, in other words, something terrible happens to the world’s water, a punishment to those of insufficient faith.
     Lisa Miller of Newsweek blames the greed of Republican and the oil lobby:
     Yet through a biblical lens, it’s hard to see the oil spill as anything but God’s punishment for greed and a disrespect of Creation—and both of those sins fall mostly on the shoulders of the Republicans, who have been aggressively lobbying for more offshore drilling, without, obviously, ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place. (Remember “Drill, baby, drill”? According to OpenSecrets.org, Republicans in the last decade have far outstripped Democrats in donations from big oil, sometimes by a factor of four.) So the question for biblical literalists becomes one of political alliances. Does God wreak apocalyptic wrath on members of one’s own party—or only on the opposition?
     Yet, others, including President Obama in his address to the nation concerning the spill and Sarah Palin on Twitter, are turning to their gods for help, praying for an end the oil spill and help for those in its path.

     So whose god is in charge?

     Not the god of Pensacola's whitest beaches of the world.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pope Concludes Year for Priests by Demanding Forgiveness, Admitting No Personal Wrongdoing, and Focusing Inward

     The Catholic Church's "Year for Priests" came to close at a mass celebrated by Pope Benedict, the Enabler, earlier today at the Vatican. As anticipated, the pope mentioned "the abuse of little ones" and promised "to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again."

     However, he offered no plan other than more of the same:  prayers to his god and promises to weed abusers out of the seminaries (a.k.a. in Vatican-speak, get rid of the gays).

     He took no personal responsibility for his role in covering-up and mishandling abusive priests and bishops that enabled pedophile-priests to rape and assault children.

     Focusing on his own needs and the needs of the abusive clerics and bishops instead of the victims, benevolent Ben begged "the persons involved," meaning those raped, abused, and bullied by priests and bishops in their god's name, to forgive the church. 

     Because nothing says pastoral care like demanding the forgiveness of those who've been abused and raped.

     “We, too, insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again,” Benedict told thousands of priests and faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for celebrations marking the end of the Vatican’s Year of the Priest.
     The pope’s remarks did not substantively go beyond what he had already said in a letter to Irish Catholics in March and in a private meeting with victims of sex abuse on Malta in April, but it was the first time Benedict had mentioned the crisis from Saint Peter’s Basilica, the heart of the church itself, and on an occasion focused on priests.
     “In this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light — particularly the abuse of the little ones,” the pope said.
     He added, “In admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey, so that the Lord will protect them and watch over them in troubled situations and amid life’s dangers.” The pope did not mention any specific actions the church was planning to take to combat abuse, as some had hoped, and victims’ groups said Benedict’s remarks did not go far enough.

     My other favorite moments came when Ben used the biblical cliche of the priest being a shepherd and using his rod and staff to guide the vulnerable, stupid flock to their god (Psalm 23).  He mixes his psalms and then quotes Fr. Mustache's favorite, Psalm 139, speaking of "the 'darkest valley' through which the Lord leads" his followers. Who better to understand a priest's use of his rod and staff and Jesus' dark valley than those raped by priests? 

     Nothing says "god loves you and is always with you" like having a priest's rod ripping up one's childhood and adolescent "dark valley."  

     Ben returned to Psalm 23's rod/staff imagery, and speaks of the use of the rod to fight and punish heretics to lead them back to the correct path of the church. Yes, priests should use violence to keep their stupid flock in order. It worked for Georg

     It's a historical fact that shepherds used their rods to break the legs of their wandering sheep to prevent them from getting away. What a loving image and how respectful of free will! (I once had a classmate in seminary get scolded for talking about this violent image during a homily.  A shepherd breaking his lambs' legs to control them roving was off limits, but a father slaughtering his innocent son on tree was beautiful.)

     Continuing with the Psalm 23 imagery, Ben focused on the anointing of one's head with oil and relates it to the eating of Jesus body and blood at the Mass, in which the priest stands in the person of Jesus. What is more sexual than rubbing oil all over one's head and talking of eating someone's body?

     The conclusion of Ben's grand homily to close the Year for Priests and address the sexual abuse/rape scandal in the church was an inward focus on his own needs and the needs of his priests:
     Give us life, make us live from you as our source, and grant that we too may be sources, wellsprings capable of bestowing the water of life in our time. We thank you for the grace of the priestly ministry. Lord bless us, and bless all those who in our time are thirsty and continue to seek. Amen.
     It's all about Ben. It's all about the priests and their wellsprings.  I think they've sprayed enough.

     I'd like to declare this coming year "The Year for Those Fucked by the Church," but it seems that Pope Ben, self-serving bishops, and pedophile priests celebrate that one every year.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Catholic Gaydar, Weeding Gays Out of Seminary or Helping them through?


     During my last year of seminary, a professor informed my Theology of Ministry class that there was an ultra-conservative theology being floated around Rome by then-Ratzinger, now-Pope Benedict, that espoused the theological claim that homosexual men could not properly stand in person of Jesus and thus failed to imitate his celibate sacrifice.  Ratzinger claimed gay men were so intrinsically disordered and gay sex so depraved that giving up evil gay sex for good holy celibacy was not a sacrifice, but a necessity.  Therefore, gay men could not imitate Jesus' straight celibacy and gays could not be validly ordained priests in the Catholic Church.

     When my professor asked the nearly twenty of us what we thought of that train of thought, nobody answered.  Nobody moved.  Everyone sat frightened, worried that if he spoke, he would be labeled a depraved sodomite.

     A few months later in January 2002, the sexual abuse scandal in Boston hit the papers.  Again, gays were the scapegoats, constantly being equated with pedophiles and blamed for the evils of the church.

     A few months later, after I was ordained a priest, Ratzinger's gays-can't-be-validly-ordained-priests theology was floated around Rome in document form.  The U.S. bishops went nuts, frightened by the prospect of all their gay priests suddenly being removed from ministry.

     I got depressed, knowing that my days were numbered in the priesthood.  Any day the powers that be could throw me out on the street with nothing, because I was gay and my sacrifices, the love and intimacy that I had given up to serve the people of my parish, had been deemed worthless, meaningless.  I had offered up to god in sacrifice a possible relationship with a close friend that I'd fallen madly in love with.  My heart was broken and bleeding, and Cardinal Ratzinger's brood of homophobic ladder-climbers were saying that gays couldn't sacrifice.  They had no clue.

     The bishops managed to keep the document from being promulgated, but Months after Ratzinger's rise to the Papal throne in 2005, Pope Benedict released a document that barred gay men from being admitted to the seminary.  Thankfully, I had already left the priesthood, for matters of conscience, justice, truth, and dignity.

     Father Sweeney said the new rules were not the order of battle for a witch hunt. “We do not say that homosexuals are bad people,” he said. “And sure, homosexuals have been good priests.  But it has to do with our view of marriage,” he said. “A priest can only give his life to the church in the sense that a man gives his life to a female spouse. A homosexual man cannot have the same relationship. It’s not about condemning anybody. It’s about our world view.”
     The gays-can't-properly-image-Jesus theology of Ratzinger is now mainstream, which means those espousing it will claim that it was always part of church teaching.  Why aren't gay priests leaving in droves?

     Here are some of the priestly job interview questions:
     “When was the last time you had sex?” all candidates for the seminary are asked. (The preferred answer: not for three years or more.)  “What kind of sexual experiences have you had?” is another common question.
     I was asked these questions by my future director of seminarians, when I was alone in his rectory and after I'd been pumped full of liquor.  I was also asked, "The director of seminarians in Peoria sleeps with his seminarians, what do you think of that?"
     “Do you like pornography?”  Depending on the replies, and the results of standardized psychological tests, the interview may proceed into deeper waters: “Do you like children?” and “Do you like children more than you like people your own age?”
     Early on in my interactions with said director of seminarians, I was told that having been a victim of sexual abuse might disqualify my from becoming a priest.  In 1995, the church was still operating under the assumptions and myths that those abused would automatically become abusers and that gays were pedophiles.  What projection!
     It is part of a soul-baring obstacle course prospective seminarians are forced to run in the aftermath of a sexual abuse crisis that church leaders have decided to confront, in part, by scrubbing their academies of potential molesters, according to church officials and psychologists who screen candidates in New York and the rest of the country. 
     Of course, they are focusing on gays.
     But many of the questions are also aimed at another, equally sensitive mission: deciding whether gay applicants should be denied admission under complex recent guidelines from the Vatican that do not explicitly bar all gay candidates but would exclude most of them, even some who are celibate. 
     Scientific studies have found no link between sexual orientation and abuse, and the church is careful to describe its two initiatives as more or less separate. One top adviser to American seminaries characterized them as “two circles that might overlap here and there.”  
     That doesn't make any sense.  Any person who knows simple geometry knows that if two circles overlap, they overlap once.  They can't overlap "here and there."  It's called a Venn Diagram.  Not only does the church disregard science, but also grade school math.
     Still, since the abuse crisis erupted in 2002, curtailing the entry of gay men into the priesthood has become one the church’s highest priorities. [Right up there with saving souls.]
Venn Diagram via LiberatedMind.com 
     They will fail.  The church is a culture based upon secrecy.  From the confessional to the Vatican's secret "historical" archives, from the bishops' second set of (secret) files kept on each priest that were exposed in sexual abuse lawsuits, to spiritual direction, and from seminary formation to the oaths priests sign before ordination, the church's clerical operates on secrecy.

     Priests are adept at manipulating the system to keep things on the down low.  Whenever a conversation goes somewhere that a priest wants to keep confidential, the Sacrament of Reconciliation or spiritual direction is initiated.  Thus, the conversation becomes privileged and protected under the seal of the confessional.  In these privileged conversations, seasoned priests form naive priests and eager seminarians to manipulate the system.  I learned, by example, that this is best done when it's just the director of seminarians and a college boy, sitting in front of a fireplace, after-dinner liquors in hand, following two or three cocktails (Real priests drink scotch.), dinner, and a couple bottles of wine, with Father's bedroom door cracked open, just in case.

     This was how I was prepared for my interviews with psychologists and the seminary board before I was accepted by my diocese for seminary.  I was told by the director of seminarians, who was a canon lawyer, to flat out lie if asked directly about being gay.

     Truth is relative in Catholic clerical culture.  I was told it's only lying if the person asking for the information has a right to the information. We can all see how this seed of "wisdom" has played out in the sexual abuse/rape scandal.
     Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, a psychologist at Catholic University who has screened seminarians and once headed a treatment center for abusive priests, said the screening could be “very intrusive.” But he added, “We are looking for two basic qualities: the absence of pathology and the presence of health.”
     I'm not the "expert" that Rossetti is, but also having spent time in a treatment center for priests, nuns, religious, and ministers damaged by the church, I would venture to say this: the entire church system is ill and pathological.  It's based on fear, control, masks, and lies; not truth.  

Venn Diagram via HadNews.com
     Pathological people will seek out a pathological system.  Catholic gays are conditioned to believe they are pathological, so what better place to turn for redemption and acceptance than the celibate pathological priesthood?

     When I was ordained a Catholic priest in 2002, the vast majority of the guys in seminary were gay.  I estimate 80-85%.   The exact number is impossible to know, because no one could be publicly honest, even if he was celibate. Furthermore, the truth of one's orientation was "privileged" information that others had no right to, so lying about one's orientation was as automatic as one's gestures during Mass.

     Since coming out of the closet and leaving the priesthood, I've heard numerous accounts of others leaving because they are gay and stories about those who stay, slowly drinking themselves to death, or having sexual relations on the side, while publicly condemning gays. Combined, these stories number about 25 as confirmed gay, one confirmed bisexual, and only two confirmed straight guys (one who left to get married, one who's having an affair).  Any diocese that claims to have no gay priests or seminarians is lying.
     In the densely populated Diocese of Brooklyn, officials are confident of their results in one respect. “We have no gay men in our seminary at this time,” said Dr. Robert Palumbo, a psychologist who has screened seminary candidates at the diocese’s Cathedral Seminary Residence in Douglaston, Queens, for 10 years. “I’m pretty sure of it.” Whether that reflects rigorous vetting or the reluctance of gay men to apply, he could not say. “I’m just reporting what is,” he said.
     Sorry to break it to you "Doctor" Palumbo, but you're just reporting what they want you to see.  You've been punked.

     Pope Ratzinger's document barring gay men from seminary is a sham, a political distraction meant to take the heat off of the true sins of dysfunctional mother church.  Closeted priests (like Ratzinger) form seminarians to work the system and teach them how to answer questions about sexuality so that one passes as straight.  Ratzinger knows this happens.  The bishops know this happens. Those is power want gays to keep getting ordained, because manipulating the closet is a time-tested method of control.  Bully the fearful gays into obedience.  It's all part of the clerical caste system.

     Sadly, gay Catholics will continue entering the priesthood in droves, because when someone believes that their god is calling them to something holy, the rest is just detail.
Venn Diagram via me.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pope Benedict Failed to Take Action Against Pedophile Founder Of the Legionaries of Christ: New Revelations

It was better for eight innocent men to suffer than for millions to lose their faith.


     The men brought allegations to then-Cardinal Ratzinger (now-Pope Ben) in 1998, and guess what?  After they kissed Ratzinger's ring to show him respect, he buried the case for eight years, while Maciel remained in the company of innocent children.  In 2006, after Ratzinger became pope, he finally removed Maciel from his post, but never tried him for his crimes.

     Maciel's case reveals how the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict have handled sexual abuse allegations, sacrificing innocent children for the sake of preserving the larger church from scandal.  Here are a few highlights from the Times article.  My comments are interspersed.
     The Rev. Alberto Athié Gallo, a Mexican priest who in 1998 tried to bring allegations of sexual abuse by Father Maciel to the attention of Cardinal Ratzinger, said the Vatican allowed Father Maciel, who died in 2008, to lead a double life for decades.  “This was tolerated by the Holy See for years,” Father Athié said. “In this sense I think the Holy See cannot get to the bottom of this matter. It would have to criticize itself as an authority.”
     This is the heart of so many issues in the Catholic Church, an institution that claims god's will is revealed through both scripture and big-T Tradition (as opposed to dispensable little-t traditions, like ringing the bells during the elevation of the host at Mass).  Tradition (big-T) is that which is revealed through the ultimate authority of the church from via the pope and ecumenical councils (like Vatican II).  For the Catholic Church to criticize itself as an authority would undermine two thousands years of divine revelation by Tradition.  

     Perhaps, that's an overstatement, and, in fact, it is, because Vatican II made the distinction between a "sinful church" and "church of sinners," thus enabling the big-C Church to be sinless, while all the individuals, who make up the Church are that sinners that cause scandal, etc.  Even so, at the highest levels of the Vatican and the papacy, there is little distinction between church and Church in the popular theology of the church.  For the pope to be seen as colluding in sexual abuse would undermine the authority of the Church, at the risk of the lesser and weaker masses losing their faith.  Or so, that is the logic and fear of the clerics in power.

     Here is this "logic" at work in the mind and actions of Pope Benedict back in 1998 when the accusations against Maciel were brought forward:
     In an interview, Father Athié said Bishop Talavera — who has since died — told him that the cardinal had read the letter and decided not to proceed with the case. “Ratzinger said it could not be opened because he was a person very beloved by the pope,” referring to Father Maciel, “and had done a lot of good for the church. He [who is now Pope Benedict] said as well, ‘I am very sorry, but it isn’t prudent,’ ” Father Athié said.  Saúl Barrales, a schoolteacher who once worked as Father Maciel’s secretary and is a cousin of Bishop Talavera, said he had heard the same account of the conversation from the bishop.
     Prudent: marked by wisdom or judiciousness; shrewd in the management of practical affairs; marked by circumspection.

     For Ratzinger, who coveted the papacy himself, confronting a serial sexual abuser, who was tight with Pope John Paul II and brought in billions into the church coffers, definitely wasn't prudent.  

     As soon as a call to pedophile prudence rings, a pope from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith springs.
     Just before Christmas 1999, Ms. Wegan, the lawyer, wrote to Mr. Barba and Mr. Jurado to say she had “sad news.” She said that she had spoken twice to Father Girotti and that he had told her they had done some research into the matter, but had decided to close the inquiry “for now.”  Mr. Barba said that in a later phone conversation with Ms. Wegan, she told him it was better for eight innocent men to suffer than for millions to lose their faith.
     And, "the truth will set you free."

     Why does anyone still refer to Catholic clerics as "men of faith."  Men of fear would be more accurate.  Fear of "scandalizing the faithful" is beat into the mind of priests during seminary formation.  Always err on the side of sparing the vulnerable, malleable, and ignorant laity by doing what Father knows is best for them, even if this means withholding the truth, especially a truth that could harm Father's reputation and his chances of climbing the ecclesial ladder.
     Even so, Father Athié said Monsignor Scicluna told him during his inquiry in Mexico that there would be no formal trial. Upset, Father Athié said he asked, “What is the point of the investigation then?” He said Monsignor Scicluna responded: “ ‘Father, Father Maciel is already an old man. In what way can one punish a priest who is already so old?’ ”
      No need to punish him, because he's old?  Older than Moses was when god pushed him by not letting him enter the promised land because he tapped the rock twice?  Maciel tapped more than rocks and more than twice.  But he was too old.  That makes total sense, especially in light of Catholic belief, which is that one will live eternally in communion with god in heaven.  Therefore, Fr. Maciel was infinitesimally young at the time and deserved a spanking, no wait, that might have pleasured him.  He deserved a trial, public accountability for his sins against the youth of the church, and castration.

     Father Maciel was removed in May 2006, but it wasn't until two days ago that the Vatican officially spelled out why he'd been dismissed.
     Father Maciel’s “objectively immoral behavior” included criminal acts “and showed a life devoid of scruples and authentic religious feeling."
     But Pope Ben is still going to keep the religious order founded upon Maciel's immoral behavior, way of living that was devoid of scruples, and had no authentic religious feeling.  Of course he is.  It wouldn't be prudent to disband the Legionaries of Christ, worth an estimated $35 billion.

     Notice that in the condemnation of Father Maciel, there was no mention of sexual abuse of boys and girls, no mention of rape, and no mention of fathering children.  Later in the Holy See's statement, the whole of which can be read here, sexual abuse was mentioned:
     It will also mean dealing sincerely with all of those who, within and outside the Legion, were victims of sexual abuse and of the power system devised by the founder: They are in the Holy Father’s thoughts and prayers at this time, along with his gratitude to those of them who, even in the midst of great difficulties, had the courage and constancy to demand the truth.
     "Dealing" with victims of sexual abuse?  Sorry to inconvenience you, Ben.  

     "Power system devised by the founder"?  I don't think Maciel can take the blame for the power system of the Catholic Church that has enabled clergy all over the world to sexually abuse children for generations.

     How generous of you, Ben, to thank the victims, who came forward for over fifty years, while the Vatican (and you) allowed pedophile Maciel to remain in power (in the system "devised" by him).  How many lives were shattered and generations plagued while the church (and you) enabled this pedophile?  How many more were abused in the five years that you waited for prudence to arrive?

      Pope Benny and his entourage believe that he's divinely elected, that he is the Vicar of Christ; therefore, his excrement smells like incense.  There will be no resignation, because can do no wrong and because whatever transgression or acts of omission he may have committed in the past are forgiven.  If he resigns, then the domino of church authority will fall, starting a cascade that could scandalize a billion Catholics to challenge the big-T Tradition of the big-C Church.  But the dominoes have been falling for millennia, as the Christian history of schism, not communion, can attest.

     It's repulsive that a Father would abuse his own children, correct?

     When you worship a god who killed his innocent son for the sake of abusers like Maciel, there is no logic, no justice, and  no accountability.

     And besides, it's better that eight innocent men (and uncounted innocent children) suffer than for millions to lose their faith.
Image Credits:
Maciel at Mass, New York Times
Maciel and the Women, EXLCBlog
Maciel's Papal Blessing, Newsome/AP
Maciel Eying the Boys, Telegraph
Maciel Embracing Ordinandi, OurFatherWhoArtInBed
Maciel's Recruits, Quiron



Monday, April 26, 2010

Jennifer Knapp Comes Out, Challenges the Authority of Bob Botsford: Why Do Americans Check Their Brains at the Doors of their Churches?

     Christian Singer Jennifer Knapp, who just came out as a lesbian, was a guest on Larry King Live last week.  She took on ex-televangelist and sexual abuse/gay prostitute aficionado Ted Haggard, who claims  he is now cured of the gay, and Pastor Bob Botsford of Horizon Christian Fellowship, who's been very outspoken about his beliefs and preaching his version of the gospel that Knapp is a sinful homosexual.

     In the video embedded below Knapp puts it to Botsford saying:
     KNAPP:   If I am a sinner and homosexuality is a sin, let's just go on that premise for a moment. But what separates that particular sin out from the fact that I'm angry or mad at someone or that I cheat or maybe, you know -- what separates that out as so grievous to you that we have to sit here and have this type of conversation?
     BOTSFORD: Well, it's interesting. There's -- sin is sin. You're absolutely right. And we all have sin.
     KNAPP: So, why are we -- why am I -- why aren't you in this seat and I'm in the other seat condemning you on national television?
Later
     KNAPP:  I will say this to you again on air. I have spiritual leadership in my life.  The pastoral counsel of those who are dear to me, who understand the Scripture as sacred text. You are not that man in my life. Speak to your congregation --  You do not know me, and don't have the right to speak to me in the manner which you have publicly.
     Of course, in the video, Botsford interrupts her last statement about five times.  The full transcript is below.

     These Christians that preach their bigotry veiled by love are bullies.  They are disrespectful of the separation of church and state in this country and of the inalienable rights of each human being.

     They are also flawed in their logic. 

     If human being are so inherently sinful (original sin for Catholics, concupiscence for Protestants, etc.), so unable to know what is right and wrong, and so prone to sin and falling away from their god, then wouldn't it follow that any one sinful person's interpretation of their scriptures is just as flawed, sinful, and illegitimate as the next?

     The fact that demigod Christian leaders like Ted Haggard have sex with male prostitutes, the last two Catholic Popes have conspired to enable child rape, that some Muslim clerics are fighting for the right of husbands to rape their wives to death, that numerous Christian fundamentalist preachers are so blatantly racist, and that untold numbers of Christian politicians, pastors, and religious leaders commit adultery and get divorced, which are sins condemned more clearly and frequently in their scriptures, proves how sinfully flawed, depraved, addicted--whatever religious buzzword you want to insert--the leaders and members of these institutions are. 

     Therefore, it's likely that these leaders' interpretations of their scriptures are sinfully flawed, as much, if not even moreso than any lay person, who picks up a holy book.

     Most parents would quit going to a swimming pool if the lifeguards were having sex with children in the closets of the locker rooms.  Most women would quit going to a restaurant if they were told they had to sit in a separate section than their husbands.  Most LGBT persons would quit patronizing businesses that had posters on the walls saying "Gays are sinners."   And most people of color would walk out of a job interview if the interviewer told them that their bylaws justified slavery.

     But, when churches do these things, when churches subject people to discrimination, bigotry, sexism, racism, and homophobia, people keep sitting their butts in the pews and dropping their coins in the collection plate.

     Why is it that Americans check their brains (and their self-respect) at the door when they enter their churches?

     Here is the transcript from this section of the interview via CNN.com:

KING: Do you believe Jennifer is going to go to hell?

BOTSFORD: Larry, God is the judge. I'm just here to --

KING: You're judging her.

BOTSFORD: Well, am I?

KING: Sure.

BOTSFORD: I'm here out of love. I don't have a --

KING: You said she's a sinner.

(CROSSTALK)

KNAPP: If I am a sinner and homosexuality is a sin, let's just go on that premise for a moment. But what separates that particular sin out from the fact that I'm angry or mad at someone or that I cheat or maybe, you know -- what separates that out as so grievous to you that we have to sit here and have this type of conversation?

BOTSFORD: Well, it's interesting. There's -- sin is sin. You're absolutely right. And we all have sin.

KNAPP: So, why are we -- why am I -- why aren't you in this seat and I'm in the other seat condemning you on national television?

BOTSFORD: I'm not condemning you. Listen, I'm here because I love you. And I told you that off-air, I'll say it on air. I'm here because I'm concerned. I'm here as a family member.

KNAPP: You get my phone number.

BOTSFORD: You calling yourself a Christian still as part of the family of God saying, as I said in the blog, Jen, come home. Come back. Come out.

KNAPP: I will say this to you again on air. I have spiritual leadership in my life.

BOTSFORD: Yes.

KNAPP: The pastoral counsel of those who are dear to me, who understand the Scripture as sacred text. You know, also, want to --

BOTSFORD: I'm not sure they do, Jen.

KNAPP: Don't interrupt me. You are not that man in my life. Speak to your congregation --

BOTSFORD: I agree. I'm not saying that I'm you're spiritual authority.

KNAPP: You do not know me, and don't have the right to speak to me in the manner which you have publicly.

BOTSFORD: Well, I do have a role to stand up for truth.

KNAPP: In your congregation and your community.

BOTSFORD: I'm --

KNAPP: But do not -- I'm asking you not to do that. I ask you not say that you're doing that on my behalf.

BOTSFORD: I'm here as a representative of Jesus Christ.

KNAPP: That's good.

KING: But you are judging. You are judging.

Image Credit: BullyPulpit.com