Showing posts with label Truth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Truth. Show all posts

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.

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.

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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hypocrite Christine O'Donnell "Dabbled in Witchcraft," Doesn't Lie, and Promoted "Ex-Gay" Ministry

     Republican Senate Candidate Christine O'Donnell (Delaware) is a liar who claims she doesn't lie, which makes her a hypocrite.  She also has a video trail that is currently being mined.  Here are the latest highlights, which include her witchcraft and satanic days, her refusal to lie even to save an innocent life, and her history with "ex-gay" therapy.

     Back in the late 90s, O'Donnell admitted on national television that she "dabbled in witchcraft."  Here's Bill Maher on the witchcraft "dabbling."  Does this mean that after her dabbling days, she went through her church's ex-witch ministry?

     O'Donnell also claimed on national television that she never lies, and wouldn't lie, even to save a innocent person from being unjustly killed by someone like Hitler.  Was her grandfather Pope Pius XII?

     But when it comes to her political history, O'Donnell has no problem lying, claiming that she beat Vice President Joe Biden in two of Delaware's three counties in the last senatorial election. When confronted with her lie, O'Donnell backpedaled by substituting another lie.  (And no innocent lives were at stake.)  Christine, it's time to join Liars Anonymous.

     Here a former victim of O'Donnell's "ex-gay" ministry speaks out. Also, Rachel Maddow interviews the founder of Truth Wins Out, Wayne Besen, concerning O'Donnell's involvement in the "ex-gay therapy" scam. So if O'Donnell is elected, will she try to pass laws requiring all homosexual Americans to go through the SALT's de-gaying program?  After all, it worked so well for George Rekers.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Brazilian Archbishop Dadeus Grings Blames Sexual Abuse Scandal in Catholic Church on Society and Homosexuals

     Oh Brazil, largest Catholic nation in the world, home to priest-pedophile sex tapes, we thank you for  blessing us with yet another Catholic leader, Archbishop Dadeus Grings, who preaches ignorance in the face of sexual abuse, and in the process, exposes the attitudes that caused and continue to fuel the scandal in holy dysfunctional mother church.

     Some will say that Grings is just some lunatic local bishop, but he's the Archbishop of Porto Alegre, one of the largest dioceses in Brazil.   Also, he's just following the lead of the Vatican's #2, Cardinal Bertone, who blamed the gays a few weeks ago in Chile.

     The AP reports (my comments are interspersed):
     Archbishop Dadeus Grings — a conservative priest who has made controversial statements in the past — told the O Globo newspaper at a Brazilian bishops conference that society's woes are being reflected in the sex abuse scandal enveloping the Roman Catholic Church.
"Society today is pedophile, that is the problem. So, people easily fall into it. And the fact it is denounced is a good sign," Grings told O Globo.
     Society "is pedophile."  Does that mean that everyone is a pedophile?  I'm confused.  I thought only a very small percentage of people were pedophiles.  Using your logic, Archbishop, we could also say that society is religious violence, because a minority of the world's believers kill in the names of their gods.  We could even say venture to say that the Catholic Church is religious violence.
     Grings denounced the abuse within the church, but he said internal punishment of priests guilty of abuse was sufficient and that police should not be involved.  "For the church to go and accuse its own sons would be a little strange," he said.
     Finally, an admission of guilt from an archbishop that keeping cases of sexual abuse from the civil authorities is the way the Catholic Church operates!  

     Let me get this right then, Archbishop: if the church handing its pedophile-priests over to the civil authorities would be "a little strange," what does that say about the church continuing to enable priests to mouth-rape thirteen-year-old boys or to rape and impregnate little girls?
     The archbishop also said it was important to help children avoid homosexuality.  "We know that the adolescent is spontaneously homosexual. Boys play with boys, girls play with girls," he said. "If there is no proper guidance, this sticks. The question is — how are we going to educate our children to use a sexuality that is human and suitable?"
    Really?  I'd like to ask all the heterosexual readers out there if they played with kids of the same sex, before they were properly guided until their heterosexuality stuck.  

     And what does this say of all the gay priests in the church, who received the best Christian formation the church had to offer?  Were they not "properly guided" within this holy system?  

     Maybe Grings is trying to tell us all that he played with boys in the past.  The question is what age was the archbishop when "proper guidance" made him realize that sexually messing with boys was not proper?

     Grings also said the acceptance of homosexuality in society could pave the way for the acceptance of pedophilia.  "When sexuality is trivialized, it's clear that this is going to affect all cases. Homosexuality is such a case. Before, the homosexual wasn't spoken of.  He was discriminated against.  When we begin to say they have rights, rights to demonstrate publicly, pretty soon, we'll find the rights of pedophiles," he said.
     Again the outdated and scientifically disproved myth that homosexuality leads to/equals pedophilia.  These bishops really need to embrace the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution if they want to be credible in this dialog.  

     Grings has balls, in that he openly admits that the Church discriminates against homosexuals and  so should the state.  And, he's proud of it, unlike his spineless American counterparts, who keep whining, "We're not bigots, we're religious."
     In 2003, he argued that only 1 million Jews died in the Holocaust, though a few years later he recanted. Experts say 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.  Last year, he outraged Jewish groups in Brazil by telling a magazine that "more Catholics than Jews died in the Holocaust, but this isn't known because the Jews control the world's media."
     No wonder Pope Benedict likes this guy so much.

     Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Archbishop Grings: ignorant, homophobic, antisemitic, priest-perpetrator-protecting Catholic, who has been ordained to preserve the succession of Jesus' apostles.  Wouldn't that Jewish Jesus and his Jewish apostles be so proud?  

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tootsie Roll Pope: Benedict's Signature Delayed Defrocking of Convicted Pedophile-Priest in Oakland

     There are certain questions that seem unanswerable.  For example, "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?"  The old candy commercial claimed that no know could answer this question, because the patience required to lick one's way through the impenetrable, unrewarding shell of the lollipop was not enough to resist the urge to go for the rapid, crunchy chomp releasing the creamy chocolate center.

     How many pedophile-priests does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pope?

     For eight years of major litigation and news coverage of the clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, this has been the Holy Grail of questions.  No one answered this question, too distracted they were by the likes of Father James Porter and Father John Geoghan, but this past month that has changed. 

     Pope Benedict XVI and (future saint) Pope John Paul II have both been tied to the mishandling of sexual abuse cases, ignoring letters from bishops begging to defrock known pedophile priests (including Father Lawrence Murphy, who put Porter and Geoghan to shame, abusing 200 victims), and delaying, in some cases refusing, the defrocking of abusive priests.

     The Vatican has defended the pope, then-Archbishop and then-Cardinal Ratzinger, saying that the cover-up and mishandling was the fault of his underlings to whom he'd delegated his power.  Critics have responded saying there's no way this is possible, especially in the cases in Munich and Wisconsin.   Besides, you can delegate power, but not responsibility.

     There is no more mystery.  The popemobile of a Tootsie Roll Pop shell that has been protecting the pope for a decade has eroded away to nothing under the the persistent licking of news reporters, prosecution attorneys, and outraged victim-survivors. 

     There is only a signature.
     The caption of the New York Times article containing this photo by Kim Johnson of the Associated Press states:  "A 1985 letter, written in Latin, to the Diocese of Oakland signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.  The letter said that a California priest accused of mosteling children should not be defrocked without further study."

    The New York Times reports:
Bishop Cummins [of Oakland] had first petitioned the doctrinal office to defrock Mr. Kiesle in 1981. He also wrote directly to Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger requested more information, which officials in the Oakland Diocese supplied in February 1982. They did not hear back from Cardinal Ratzinger until 1985, when he sent the letter in Latin suggesting that his office needed more time to evaluate the case.
     The Rev. George Mockel, a diocesan official in Oakland, wrote in a memo to Bishop Cummins: “Basically they are going to sit on it until Steve gets quite a bit older. My own feeling is that this is unfortunate.”
     Mr. Kiesle was finally defrocked in 1987.   Mr. Kiesle was convicted for the first time of child molesting in 1978, just six years after he was ordained. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of lewd conduct while he was a pastor at Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City, Calif.
     If Kiesle was convicted in 1978 and  pleaded no contest, then why did he continue to work with children (after he chose to leave the priesthood and asked to be defrocked) in the Catholic Church for years to come by volunteering  in youth ministry at his previous parishes (even after he was finally defrocked)? 
     Maurine Behrend, a former employee in the diocese’s youth ministry office, recalled encountering Mr. Kiesle at a Youth Day in April 1988 and learning from another minister that Mr. Kiesle had been convicted of molestation. Ms. Behrend alerted the head of the youth ministry office and personally warned Bishop Cummins two weeks later.  In May 1988, she wrote an outraged letter to a church official, demanding to know why “a convicted child molester is currently the youth ministry coordinator at St. Joseph’s parish in Pinole.”
     As for Rev. Mockel's response that the Vatican would do nothing to defrock Kiesle until he was older, this is typical Vatican "reasoning" in the laicization of priests.  They don't want to laicize a young man, who then changes his mind and wants to come back to the priesthood, after his heart is broken by the Eve that lured him out of the priesthood with her apples.  Also, the Vatican waits until young ex-priests are in their forties and past what the celibate autocrats running the church deem to be child-bearing age, in order to punish them.  They can't be married in the church until they are laicized, and thus will be living in sin or married outside of the church to their hussy Eves and therefore cut off from the life giving bread and saving cup of the eucharistic table.  Shame!  Shame!  The problem is that neither of these two reasons makes sense when it comes to pedophile-priests, but who said the Vatican was logical?  Definitely not Galileo.

     Here is the outline of the paper trail unearthed by the Times, which shows numerous letters that were sent to the Vatican starting in 1981.  Father Kiesle was not defrocked until 1987.  Click here to read the documents in their entirety.
Documents detailing efforts begun in the early 1980s by officials of the Catholic Church in California to support the petition of a convicted sex offender, the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, to leave the priesthood.
April 25, 1981: The Rev. Louis Dabovich, pastor of a parish where Father Kiesle had worked as a deacon, writes the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith supporting Father Kiesle's petition to leave the priesthood.p. 1
May 8, 1981: Father Kiesle's pastor, The Rev. George E. Crespin, writes to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about Father Kiesle's case.p. 3
June 19, 1981: Bishop John S. Cummins petitioned Pope John Paul II to laicize Father Stephen Kiesle because of repeated sexual offenses and the priest's own request.p. 5
Nov. 17, 1981: Response to Bishop Cummins From the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (in Latin).p. 7
Feb. 1, 1982: Bishop Cummins writes to Cardinal Ratzinger, supplying additional information about Father Kiesle and telling the cardinal: "There might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the active ministry."p. 8
Sept. 24, 1982: The Rev. George E. Mockel of the Diocese of Oakland asks Cardinal Ratzinger about the status of Father Kiesle's petition.p. 9
Dec. 20, 1983: Father Mockel writes to Bishop John Cummins about the Vatican's curt reply to his inquiry, saying that Vatican officials never respond to " 'mere priests'!"p. 10
Jan. 17, 1984: Bishop John Cummins of the Oakland Diocese writes to Cardinal Ratzinger to inquire on the status of Father Kiesle's case and that of another priest.p. 11
Sept. 13, 1985: Bishop Cummins again follows up with Cardinal Ratzinger on the status of Father Kiesle's case.p. 12
Sept. 27, 1985: Father Mockel of the Oakland Diocese asks the apostolic delegate in Washington, D.C., to forward a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger regarding Father Kiesle's laicization case.p. 14
Expand Nov. 6, 1985: Cardinal Ratzinger responds to the Oakland Diocese's inquiries about Father Kiesle. (in Latin) p. 15
Translation of Cardinal Ratzinger's Letter p.15
Dec. 12, 1985: Father Mockel writes to Bishop Cummins, saying that his reading of Cardinal Ratzinger's reply to Father Keisle's case is that "they are going to sit on it until Steve gets quite a bit older."p. 16
Jan. 13, 1986: Father Mockel writes to Father Keisle, telling him that the Vatican is concerned that granting his request for laicization could "provoke some scandal among the faithful."p. 17
May 11, 1988: Maurine Behrend, in the Oakland Diocese's Youth Ministries Office, writes a letter expressing her frustration that "a convicted child molester is currently the youth ministry coordinator at St. Joseph's Parish." p. 18
     How many licks does it take to get to the center of a
Tootsie Roll Pope?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pope Resigns Himself to Name-Calling: His Reaction to Sexual Abuse Allegations, "Petty Gossip of Dominant Opinion"

     The pope resigned yesterday, Palm Sunday, Passion Sunday, the day that Christians around the world celebrate Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the back of an ass.  Well he's riding the back of a different ass now.  Denying his culpability in the sexual abuse scandal, Pope Benedict XVI resigned himself to forever be the ass of the mystical body of Jesus Christ.

     Yesterday, before thousands of people gathered at St. Peter's Square and billions of eyes watching from around the world, Pope Benedict squandered an opportunity to witness to Jesus of Nazareth's words, to admit his  failings to properly act in the face of clergy-perpetuated sexual abuse, to confess that he acted immorally and selfishly at the expense of innocent children he was sworn to protect, and to accept the burden of the cross of his church's failure to deal sufficiently with the sexual abuse of their precious children.  After all, Ben preaches a Jesus who said that the truth will set one free.     

     Instead, Pope Ben avoided any direct address of the sexual abuse scandal in which he's drowning, denying its reality.  He even invoked his god to justify his Christ-like actions.  The Guardian reports:
     The pope said that faith in God helped lead one "towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion".
     "The petty gossip of dominant opinion:" that is Hypocrite Benedict's response to the growing mountain of documents that have been uncovered in the past week that directly tie him to two failures to reprimand priest-pedophiles, one of whom Benedict allowed to return to ministry, where the priest continued to molest children.

     Catholics believe that Jesus sacrificed himself out of love for the forgiveness of sins of all sinners. What could be more fitting than the pope acting in his savior’s image and taking upon himself the sins of all the pedophile clerics and religious and of all the corrupt bishops who sacrificed the dignity and safety of children for to preserve the unblemished image of the church, under the guise of scandal control?

     Catholics believe that the church is the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that they are each a part of this body, and are a communal entity.  What could be more fitting than the pope, who is the earthly representative of Jesus Christ, the head of this mystical body, taking responsibility for his hands and penis that have been fondling and raping innocent children, while the head and nervous system cover it up?   Or, is the body divided against itself?  Do the children not count?  Benedict is the ultimate authority of the church.  He can delegate power, but not responsibility.  Is not the head not responsible for its parts?  

     Catholics believe that Jesus, when attacked, turned the other cheek.  How often do the people in the pews have this one preached at them?  Yet, instead of offering the other cheek, their beloved pope spits in the face of reality and the people who are calling him to atone for his sins.  Of course, looking at the various “woes” in the Sermon on the Mount and the flipping of tables in the Temple, Jesus didn't always turn the other cheek. But those actions were done in the face of confronting religious hypocrisy, and in Jesus’ mind justified.  So Benedict and the Vatican's brood probably feel justified when flipping over chairs in the news media.  

     Still, Benedict is the hypocrite here.  The news media is doing their job.  It's their job to seek the truth, to report the facts.  The pages uncovered by the New York Times last week show that Benedict is culpable.  In the face of Benedict's religious hypocrisy and his putting the needs of the Temple before the needs of the children, why aren’t Catholics flipping tables in the Vatican and their local churches?  Where is the outcry? 

     Instead, the faithful are applauding their leaders, like Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York who is praising Benedict for his great leadership, reform, and renewal. (See the embedded video below for Dolan's comments and the ascent of the people.)  Dolan is no fool.  If he wants to make Cardinal, he needs to stand by his man.  He's in this for himself.  If the pope doesn't retire, Dolan will be rewarded with a promotion.  If the pope does go down, the next guy to come in will know that Dolan is a company man, who does whatever it takes to support the institution, even if it means throwing sexual abuse victims and the truth under the Palm Sunday procession.

     Unlike Jesus, who according to Christian tradition is sinless, Pope Benedict is not without sin.  There is nothing in Catholic theology that would indicate that the pope is incapable of sin, even the doctrine of infallibility does not claim this.  So why are so many Catholics afraid of Benedict admitting his culpability in the scandal?  Why is Benedict slapping back, protecting his varicose-veined cheeks?   

     Catholics are guilty of what they call the sin of idolatry: their church and their pope have become idols.  If the pope takes the fall, many Catholics will be left without their faith in the papacy, the Vatican, and the church.  Catholics have so identified these exterior realities with the theological and mystical body of Jesus Christ that they no longer see a difference between the two.  They have come to believe that if the pope is sinful, if the church is flawed, then their faith will crumble.  There's too much at stake.  So, they applaud the pope and join in his chorus of No. 

     No, I will not apologize.  No, I did nothing wrong.  No, the world is trying to destroy us with its "petty gossip" and "popular opinion."  No, no, no, no!  

     If Benedict wants to save his beloved institution, if he want to return any credibility to the gospel that is founded upon the death of his innocent savior, and if he wants the vast majority of human beings in the world to view his church with any sort of seriousness, he must step down and take with him the other cardinals and archbishops, who have any ties to the sexual abuse scandal.  

     This sacrifice will no doubt be compared to Jesus' coming Good Friday sacrifice: the innocent lamb slain for the forgiveness of sinners.  Benedict's sacrifice will not be that of an innocent for the sake of the guilty, but of the guilty for the sake of the innocent children and adults who have been raped and pillaged in the name of the Catholic god and its idols.

     The truth is out.  Unless Benedict acts swiftly, transparently, and wholly, the truth will not set the Catholic church free.  

Friday, March 26, 2010

John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas, Our Founding Fathers

History Question of the Day

     Which of these writers influenced the political philosophy and origins of the founding documents of the United States of America:  President Thomas Jefferson, John Calvin, and/or Saint Thomas Aquinas?

     Easy, right?  The answer is President Thomas Jefferson.   You know, Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and one of the many founders who threw off the religious tyranny of then-England and safeguarded the separation of church and state in our government.

     WRONG!  If you are one of the 80% of  students in the U.S.A. who will be reading textbooks published in Texas, you wouldn't know that President Thomas Jefferson is a writer who influenced the intellectual origins of our nation.    Instead, you will be taught that Protestant "reformer" John Calvin  and medieval-minded, pre-rational-thinking Catholic Saint Thomas Aquinas are the true influences upon our nation's founding documents. 

     John Calvin founded a theocracy, with morality police to enforce his religion's moral code under the threat of punishment, including the death penalty.  In one of his most despicable acts, Calvin ordered the death (by slow burning) of his longtime pen-pal and humanist theologian Michael Servetus after assuring Serveus that he'd be safe in Geneva.  Why did Calvin kill him?  Because Servetus had issues with Calvin's version of church and state.  The theocracy of Calvin is what our nation's revolutionaries and founders fought against, so that we could have freedom of choice and speech concerning religion/no religion.   

     St. Thomas Aquinas stressed the importance of both divine revelation and human reason, but reason was trumped by revelation.  The channels for revelation include scripture and the Catholic Church's tradition (not Protestant, not Jewish, not Muslim, not anyone else).  Aquinas' pre-scientific-revolution teachings on natural law theory have governed Catholic moral theology and political policy since.  How the Catholic Church sees god in nature is how everyone else must also understand god's will for the universe.  This medieval teaching has resulted in countless anti-scientific and anti-rational Catholic teachings.  If you don't believe an apostate gay like me, then just ask Galileo.  The anti-rational and church-imposed teachings upon science and reason are what our nation's revolutionaries and founders fought against, so that we could have freedom of choice and speech concerning religion/no religion.

      Earlier this month, the Texas Board of Education voted to rewrite American history in textbooks published in Texas arguing that history has been skewed by the left.  The vote passed with ten Republican votes, to five dissenting votes.

     The New York Times reports some of the changes the board is making to American history:
     Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist. They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians.  They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.”
     The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum. To that end, they made dozens of minor changes aimed at calling into question, among other things, concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American Revolution. “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”  
     I guess for Bradley, Article 6 of the Constitution doesn't count, not to mention the First Amendment, and countless other affirmations of the separation between church and state in further Amendments.
     They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.” “Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Terri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’”
     Even the course on world history did not escape the board’s scalpel. Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)
     Also in the changes: Sen. Joe McCarthy's fall from power is redacted in tragic light, saying he was correct about Commie infiltrators and justified in his actions in his witch hunt hearings; the civil rights movement is taught stressing the "unintended consequences" of the movement; and many, many more Christian nips and tucks.

     Texas is a huge exporter of textbooks to other states, so don't be surprised when these books end up on your child's desk in Illinois, Washington, or California.

     Don't think that it's just Texas changing Jefferson's history.  Never once in the White House's online biography of Jefferson is his fervent support and defense of the separation of church and state mentioned.  Never once is it noted that Jefferson was for religious freedom, yes, but also for freedom from religion.  In fact, the White House misrepresents Jefferson's history with a quote from a "private letter" stating: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."  This is how the Jefferson bio begins, with a quote stated out of the context of his life as a deist, which in those pre-Darwinian days was someone who did not believe in a personal god as people today do.  Jefferson was not a religious man, and some argue that he was according to today's religious vocabulary, an atheist.  Of course, there will be no presentation of these arguments in the history books, thanks to the Republican, conservative Christian dominated Texas school board.

Postscript:

Click here to sign a letter to Texan publishers telling them not to rewrite history.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sinead O'Connor Calls Pope Benedict's Letter to the Irish Church "A Study on the Fine Art of Lying"

     My fellow heretic and survivor of sexual abuse, Sinead O'Connor and I agree about Pope Benedict's pastoral letter to the Irish bishops concerning the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and the cover-up that followed at the hands of the bishops.

    In response to a papal letter apologizing to Irish victims of sexual abuse by priests, O'Connor said in a statement that the Vatican's strategy "is to sell the bishops down the river . . . making it seem (and they will try this in every country) that the Irish hierarchy were acting independently of the Vatican. That is a lie. . . . Yesterday's letter is a study on the fine art of lying and betraying one's own people." Pope Benedict avoided any direct mention of the abuse scandal on Sunday, his first public address since releasing the letter.
     I couldn't agree with you more, Sinead: "Yesterday's letter is a study on the fine art of lying and betraying one's own people."  However, I have no doubt that, in his pure and sacred heart, Hypocrite Benedict XVI believes that he is not lying. 

     When I was in seminary, I was formed in a system where the priests in power told me that it's not lying if you believe that the people who seek the information (about which you are not telling the entire truth) have no right to that information.  For example, if someone has a gun to your head and will kill you if you tell them the truth, they don't have a right to the truth and your life is more important, so it's not a lie to withhold the truth. 

     Here's a more practical example.  If you are gay and you believe you are called to be a priest in the Catholic church, the seminary faculty and bishop think you're golden, and the Holy Spirit is working through your gifts to help so many people find peace, truth, and healing in Jesus, then it's not lying to mislead people about your sexual orientation making them believe you're straight.  Your being gay is privileged information of the "internal forum" that others have no right to, so misleading them is not lying.

     Benny Boy (lover) has a loaded gun to his Christi capitis right now, and he believes that his vulnerable flock would be scandalized by his telling the whole truth.  He's not going to tell them the entire truth, but half-truths, using projection and misdirection, anything to protect his holy dysfunctional mother church and his own hemrroidal hairy Auschwitz.  And the beautiful thing about lying like this is that, Bentadict can lie in a letter on Saturday morning, confess sins of omissionon on Saturday afternoon, and then chew up and swallow Jesus at Mass on Saturday night. 

Rip away!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Your Experiences of the Gospel According to Hate

     The Holy Blog had it's five month birthday on March 2nd.  I competely missed it, too busy writing, I guess.  

     When I started this blog, I was frightened that people would misunderstand my motives, that they would attack and reject me.  Some have, and for a while, I struggled to keep writing.  Part of me wanted to retreat back into that disfunctional closet that kept me captive for decades, but I resisted the old voices.  Who knew I could be so stubborn?

     In addition to the wrath letters, I've recently started receiving letters from people who have been touched by my sharing and honesty.  People have been telling me their stories, about the abuses they've endured at the hands of other's distorted gods and "loving" gospels.   These stories are painful and scandalous, attrocious and enraging, but they are also stories of healing, hope, and breaking free to live in the truth.

     In the comments below, I invite you to share your stories.  How have you survived The Gospel According to Hate

     (Please be respectful.  Don't forget the Holy Blog's Ten Commandments.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What if All the Gay Catholic Priests Came out of the Closet?

     When I was a priest, I fantasized about composing a manifesto and emailing it to every priest in the world.  Together, all of us gay priests would come out of the closet from the pulpit on Transfiguration Sunday.  I knew the numbers were on our side.  All we had to do was overcome the paralyzing power of fear and shame.  If we did, then we would have the power of the truth on our sides, and there would be no more manipulation by the ecclesial powers that be, who controlled us with our shame.

     I composed the email, but I never pushed the send button.

     Scraping through the memories of my seminary and priesthood years, it's obvious that the vast majority of priests and wannabes were gay.  The percentage of gay priests is impossible to calculate because nearly all were/are in the closet. 
     When I left the priesthood I was clinically depressed.  I checked myself into a care facility for priests, nuns, and ministers who'd been broken by their churches.  The best six months of my life, in terms of my personal growth, followed.  At the Southdown Institute, gay clerics were encouraged to be out of the closet, and something we couldn't foresee occurred.   For the first time in our lives, we started to develop and mature honestly, in the light.  Our gay adolescence bloomed, exhilarating, excruciating, and ex-foliating.
     Some would say that allowing seminarians and priests to be out of the closet is too dangerous, for they will have sex and fall in love.  But in the current system of sacred silence, priests already have sex.  They fall in love.  They also torture and harm themselves and others because they are developmentally stunted from being the closetSome also abuse, even the most venerated.

     Even if we could prove that all these things would continue were priests out of the closet and even if priests still did these things, at least they would be living honest lives and witnessing to the truth of their experience rather than cowering in the clerical closet, shamefully vulnerable to the clerics in power who know of their gay secret.

     Nearly all of the gay clerics with whom I did my six months of intensive group therapy returned to ministry, and they were healthier, more honest, and, for the first time in their lives, free of shame.  They were no longer suicidal, clinically depressed, and/or eating, drinking, sexing, or snorting their ways into silent submission. They were whole and at peace. 

     Isn't bringing peace what Christians preach their gospel is supposed to do?  Then why does the church continue to force its leaders into a closet of deceit and shame?

     As long as the church preaches a closet of shame and fear to LGBT persons, those faithful will never find the truth that is supposed to set them free.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Atheist's Guide to Lent: Part Two, Prayer

     Welcome back to An Atheist's Guide to Lent: How to Lose god and Find Peace in Forty Days or Less!

     Yesterday we focused on fasting and how you can give up fear, shame, pride, prayer, and your godly distortions for Lent.  We hope that's going well for you, and if you're struggling, don't worry.  It's normal to hear phantom devil cackles and the voices of old nuns and/or your former Sunday school teachers condemning you to hell for the first few days.  Don't stop.  Push through the fear, and with a few more doses of reality, the voices will soon fade away, forever and ever, and let the people say: Amen!

     Today, we focus on the Lenten practice of prayer.  If you've given up cosmic-candy-machine prayer, sports prayer, circular shame, and tell-me-what-I-need-to-do me-centered types prayer for Lent, you will discover that you have a fountain of guilt-free psychic, intellectual, and spiritual energy thirsting for the truth.  

     What is a budding post-theist to do?

     Here are a few "prayerful" practices for your Lenten journey away from god and into peace.

Prayer
  1. Exercise your brain.  Discuss the hard questions and your doubts about faith and religion with people who won't judge you for going there and won't project their own fears of challenging the faith establishment onto your honest quest.  
  2. Go read a difficult book that is intellectually sound and challenges the assumptions of religion, such as The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins or god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.  Learn what the human brain has to say about the universe and read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.  Check out the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Ex-Minister to see what some post-theists really believe.  Read or watch the extremely accessible and humorous Julia Sweeney's Letting Go of God or other very humble and honest struggles about people's journeys from faith into free thought.  Don't shy away from atheists and agnostics, because you've been conditioned into believing they are bad people. 
  3. Embrace the beauty and mystery of the random chance of the universe.  Reflect upon the frailty and fleeting reality of life.  Meditate on that reality and what it means for your life choices.  What are you going to do with this one and only life that you have to live?  Embrace the reality that everyone with whom you interact has only one life and that together we have only this one fragile planet on which we and future generations are are dependent to live.  Reflect upon these realities and see if you can find reasons to act kindly, justly, and humbly without god.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    An Atheist's Guide to Lent: Part One, Fasting

         The translucent skinned, crusty monsignor looked down his pepper-pitted, crimson, and drooping nose and sternly asked the meek seven-year-old, "And what are you giving up for Lent, my dear?"

         She looked up through the curls hanging like half-closed curtains around her heart-shaped face.  Her black licorice eyebrows squeezed together over her malted milk ball eyes that rose and accepted the monsignor's cloudy sapphire eye's dare.  

         "Mass, Father.  I'm giving up going to Mass."

         As a child in Catholic school, that was always the joke that my friends and I shared.  When Sr. Mary Something or Father Homily asked us what we were giving up for Lent, we always wanted to say Mass.  We dared one another to do it, but none of us ever had the guts.  

         Well, the days of living in fear of some fallible cleric are over.  The dare remains.  What are you faithful Christians giving up for Lent?  This atheist dares you to give up god for forty days and forty nights.  Try it out.  See what it's like.  Your faith will still be waiting there for you in the end, if you still want it.  You have nothing to lose but your chains.

         This is An Atheist's Guide to Lent: How to Lose god and Find Peace in Forty Days or Less.

         Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian season of penitence: Lent.  To kick off the festive season over the next three days, I will focus on a different tenant of Lent (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving) from an atheist's perspective.  

         During Lent, a penitent soul is supposed to commit to (1) exercising extra prayerful practices, (2) fasting/self-denial from something they enjoy, and (3) giving of their time or wealth to those in need.  This practice lasts for forty days and night, and on the other side of the Lenten desert one will find resurrection. 

         Today, we focus on:

         Fasting
    1. Start by giving up fear.  This is not a simple fear, such as being afraid to step in front of a moving bus, this is giving up those deep, darkest, soul-shaking fears, such as being afraid to ask the hard questions, to be honest about who you are and what your doubts and limitations are, to take risks to do with your life what you've always wanted to do, and to let go of things you are not sure you will be able to live without.  The key to finding your deepest fears is to follow your resistance. You have nothing to lose but your false faith, because real faith cannot be based on fear.  Fear is an animal instinct, simple fight or flight.  To believe in some god out of a simple animal fear is not a choice.  Faith must come from a higher human state than fear: awe or gratitude.  So, even if you believers are not going to take this atheist Lenten practice all the way, you can still purge yourself of your fear-based, automatic reaction to believe.
    2. Give up your distortions about god.  Reflect upon what you've been taught to be "true" about god: omnipotence, unconditionally loving, beneficent, forgiving, wants to be known, revelatory, male, three persons, etc. etc.  Honestly ask yourself the forbidden questions.  What if my god isn't the only god?  What if other religions are right?  What if we're all wrong?  Why does god have to be all-loving?  What if god doesn't love me?  What if god isn't all knowing?  What if god doesn't reveal itself to the world?  What if the scriptures were not inspired, but just people's projections of their personal fears and distortions of what they needed to believe for their own benefit?  What if there is no afterlife? What if there is no god?  And so on.  Pick one of these questions and try out the hard answer for a few days.  See how it feels.  Does it change the way you live?  Don't worry.  You can always go back to your beliefs.
    3. Fast from shame.  What if you don't need a savior?  What if you are fine just the way you are?  Are you are capable of doing good because it's the wise and peace-giving choice, not because of some divine prescription for avoiding eternal damnation?  Quit beating yourself down and actually love and accept yourself as someone who is capable of both great good and great harm.  Turn those self-centered, self-pitying shame and guilt energies outward, and do something productive with it.
    4. Fast from pride and the belief that your puny human brain has the ability to understand the greater mysteries of the universe.  Don't try to define the unknown.  Just let it be.
    5. Give up prayer.  Don't pray for forty days.  Try it.  Quit asking for the universe to bend to your will.  Quit looking for the deus ex machina in your life's struggles.  Quit projecting your own fears and needs onto god in your prayer.  (See tomorrow's post for the continuation of this point.)
         If any of your other free thinkers, post-theists, agnostics, and atheists have other prescriptions for these "Lenten" practices, please add them to the comments below.
         So, what do you believers have to lose?  You can always quit and return to your pre-Lenten ways at any time.  So, what's holding you back.  I dare you.   Give up god for Lent. 

         Tune in tomorrow for An Atheist's Guide to Lent: Part Two, Prayer.