Showing posts with label Roman Catholic Church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roman Catholic Church. Show all posts

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Several nights ago, I watched the film Spotlight, which was riveting and all around excellent.  The movie earned its well-deserved Academy awards in Best Picture and Best Screen Play categories.  Though I followed the story of child abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston in the newspaper from the beginning, the story as told from the point of view of the newspaper reporters and editors kept me in full suspense mode throughout.  I'd be hard put to single out particular actors for fine performances, because the principals were all outstanding.

The child abuse scandals in Louisiana broke earlier than the Boston scandal, but there was only spotty coverage by the national media.  South Louisiana is heavily Roman Catholic, and I now realize how courageous the reporters and editors in the local newspapers, the Daily Comet and the Houma Courier, were in publishing their stories.  No doubt, they took a great deal of heat from diocesan leaders and lawyers at the time.

The Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux is small, and I knew some of the people involved.  When I learned of the child abuse, the hush money paid to victims, and the attempts to cover up by supposedly moral and psychologically sound leaders, I left the church at age 60.  Though my alliance with the church had been uneasy for quite a while, my decision to completely break the ties was difficult.

Night before last, I watched Spotlight again before I sent the DVD back to Netflix. I wanted to enjoy the fine artistry on display in the film without being overwhelmed by suspense.  Upon seeing the movie the second time, I remembered the light-bulb moment when, after hearing the stories about more than one priest in more than one diocese in Louisiana, I concluded that the abusive priests didn't simply slip through the cracks, but that the actual policy of the church was to shift abusive priests from parish to parish, perhaps after a leave of absence, where the abusive behavior continued in their new placements.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


The other evening, I watched the film Calvary written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, starring Brendan Gleeson, as Fr James, a good Roman Catholic priest serving in a small church in the north of Ireland. Gleeson's performance is riveting, comparable to Mark Rylance's work in Wolf Hall. In Wolf Hall, it was Rylance's eyebrows and silences that so often communicated without words.  Gleeson, who is a large bear of a man, appears in nearly every scene in the film, and his rough, mobile facial features speak volumes without words.

McDonagh's script doesn't flinch as it takes us through the via dolorosa, which is Fr James' everyday life and most surely tests his faith to its limits. The good priest has the heart of a pastor and goes about his parish work shouldering the burden, as many priests do, of the aftermath of the child abuse scandal.   A dark comic thread runs through the movie but does little to relieve the sadness and gloomy portent that pervade the film.  Though I was completely caught up in the story throughout the course of the film, I found it difficult and disturbing to watch, but, at the same time, it was impossible for me to turn away. Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal came to mind.

The movie was filmed in and around County Sligo in the north of Ireland.  Though the beach scene settings and recurring views of the impressive Benbulbin rock formation are picturesque, I could not help but think of the town and the surroundings as relentlessly godforsaken places.

Writing about Calvary was probably the most difficult review of any I've ever done, because I admire the film greatly, and I wanted to get the words right.  Gleeson is magnificent in his role, and, though he dominates the film, the supporting cast of characters are intriguing and talented enough to hold their own.  In his script and direction, McDonagh resists any temptation to cater to the audience or take the easy way out in tackling difficult and controversial subjects in this splendid and powerful film.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Gay chef Tom Logan
In what his friends claim is a softening of his stance on Popes, 38-year-old gay chef Tom Logan claimed he was fine with them as long as they didn’t do any Pope stuff.
My friend Alison on Facebook made my day with the link above.
Pope Francis
Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, he [Pope Francis] reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church's position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not.

He was responding to questions about whether there was a "gay lobby" in the Vatican.

"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?"

But Pope Francis said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well," Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging 80-minute long interview with Vatican journalists.
I confess I am puzzled by the glee over Pope Francis' latest statement on gays, as I don't see the pope offering hope for any change in practice.  The pope's tone is more pastoral than previous popes, but that's about it.

From The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (My emphases)
Pope Francis states that the Catechism explains the RCC's stance on same-sexuality very well.  What then has changed?  When I see a RC bishop or priest come out as gay and remain is his position, I'll believe the church has changed its position.   When a candidate for ordination openly declares same-sex orientation and is allowed to continue the process to ordination, I will believe in change.  We shall see. 

Since I am no longer a member of the RCC, what the pope says doesn't matter very much to me one way or another. Still, I wonder because a good many gay friends of mine are pleased by the pope's words, and I do not understand the reasons for rejoicing 

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Why don't the leaders of the churches, and I don't refer only to the pope (I'm looking at you, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby), stand up for what is just and right for a change and not focus so on holding institutions together?  I'm too old and jaded to be fooled by mere soothing words that, in the end, only serve to prolong the agony of the wait for true acceptance. As My Fair Lady said, "Show me!"

UPDATE: Speaking of the Archbishop of Canterbury:
Speaking to more than 6,000 people at a conference, Archbishop Welby said the passing of the Same Sex Marriage Act had been “crushing” for the church, but was something it needed to listen and respond to.

"I spoke against it and voted against it but I listened and I heard the roar of revolution,” said the Archbishop, as he described listening to the debate on The Same Sex Marriage Act.

"It came not merely from those one would expect but from every side of the house, Conservatives, Liberals and Labour, of every age and sex.

"Those of us against the act were utterly crushed in the voting again, and again, and again.

 "There were more people who turned out to vote than the House of Lords than experienced in World War Two.

"But popular opinion is not a case for changing obedience to God...."
I'm tempted to despair.  Crushing for which church?  Certainly not for the Church of England.  With the opposition Justin saw in the House of Lords, how can he think he speaks for the church?  Does he speak for all bishops, priests, and laity in the church?  As my English Facebook friend said, "YOU are NOT God Archbishop! Surrender your arrogant ignorance now?"  I didn't say that.  I'm merely quoting my English friend. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Pope Francis is letting baptized Catholics join the new church structure created to receive Anglican converts.

The "ordinariate," which functions like a diocese, was initially designed to enable Anglicans upset over the liberalizing trends of their church to join the Catholic Church while retaining some of their Anglican heritage.
And why not?  For all the talk of Anglican heritage, the people in the ordinariates are Roman Catholic converts with an Anglican flavor.  The ordinariates were set up by Benedict to self-destruct and eventually merge into the main body of the church, but this move by Francis gives the ordinariates longer life.  Baptized, but not yet confirmed?  And must one have fallen away from the RCC to join the ordinariate?  The rules seem strange to me.  The whole concept of the ordinariates seems strange to me, but who am I to say?

More at The National Catholic Register.

Image from Wikipedia.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Óscar Romero

Yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of the assassination of Óscar Romero. To honor the occasion, I watched the film titled Romero, which is the story of the period in his life when he served as Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador.  The movie is available in it's entirety at YouTube.
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980), commonly known as Monseñor Romero, was a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador. He later became prelate archbishop of San Salvador. As an archbishop, he witnessed numerous violations of human rights and began a ministry speaking out on behalf of the poor and victims of the country's civil war. His brand of political activism was denounced by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and the government of El Salvador. In 1980, he was assassinated by gunshot while consecrating the Eucharist during mass. His death finally provoked international outcry for human rights reform in El Salvador.
From Wikipedia.
In the sermon just minutes before his death, Archbishop Romero reminded his congregation of the parable of the wheat. "Those who surrender to the service of the poor through love of Christ will live like the grains of wheat that dies. It only apparently dies. If it were not to die, it would remain a solitary grain. The harvest comes because of the grain that dies… We know that every effort to improve society, above all when society is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God blesses; that God wants; that God demands of us."
From Caritas Europa.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


...and asks forgiveness.
A Scottish cardinal on Sunday acknowledged having engaged in unspecified sexual misbehavior, apologized for his actions, and promised to stay out of the church's public life in a statement that comes at an awkward time for the Vatican.

O'Brien initially rejected the claims, saying he was resigning because he did not want to distract from the upcoming conclave of cardinals that is due to pick a successor to Benedict XVI, who resigned the papacy Thursday. O'Brien also became the first cardinal to recuse himself from the conclave because of personal scandal; other voting-age cardinals have in the past stayed home because of infirmity or because they were prevented by their governments from participating.

On Sunday, the Catholic church in Scotland issued a statement quoting O'Brien as saying that there had been times "that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."

"To those I have offended, I apologize and ask forgiveness," the statement continued. "To the Catholic church and people of Scotland, I also apologize. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic church in Scotland."
There will be no basilica in Rome for Cardinal O'Brien.  How fraught the conclave to elect the next pope will be with pressure to assure that whoever is elected will not be accused of misconduct in the near or far future.  I pray that those who have secrets in their pasts that could shock or embarrass the church further will be honest enough to take themselves out of the running.  I have good friends who are members of the Roman Catholic Church, and I care about them and wish for them better and more peaceful times.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Two leading Lutheran clerics have rejected suggestions from the Vatican that it could create a subdivision for converted Lutherans similar to its structures for Anglicans who join the Roman Catholic Church.

Bishop Friedrich Weber, the German Lutheran liaison with the Catholic Church, said the idea was unthinkable and amounted to "an unecumenical incitement to switch sides."

Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, head of the Vatican's powerful doctrinal office, was reported in Catholic media last week as saying Rome might envisage a special section for Lutherans.

[The Rev Martin] Junge said very few Lutherans wanted to switch to the Catholic Church and creating a special subgroup for them would complicate ties between the churches and confuse Lutherans who wanted to work in harmony with Catholics.
I can only conclude that the arrogance of the authorities in the Roman Catholic Church is without bounds.  Lutheran leaders told Rome what to do with their my-way-or-the-highway offer for Lutherans to have their own separate pen similar to those of the converts to the Anglican Ordinariates.  Lutheran Bishop Weber suggested that those members who want to be in full communion with Rome should simply join the Roman Catholic Church, which I think is very sensible.  The "Anglicans" in the ordinariates are, in fact, Roman Catholic converts.

Thanks to Ann V for the link.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Next week, a key player in the passage of Proposition 8 — a man who has decried the "contraceptive mentality" of modern life — will become the leader of the Catholic Church here in the city that thrust same-sex marriage onto the national stage, the birthplace of the Summer of Love.

But many gay and lesbian Catholics worry that they will be marginalized after [Salvatore] Cordileone's arrival. Oasis California, the Episcopal Church's gay ministry, convened a meeting recently at a Castro District bar to discuss how spiritual people should respond to the "architect of Prop. 8" coming to town.
One easily understands why LGTB Roman Catholics worry.
But in a recent interview at the headquarters of the Oakland diocese, where he has served as bishop for three years, Cordileone was more direct: Gays and lesbians who are in sexual relationships of any kind, he said, should not receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, the central ritual of Catholic life.

"If we misuse the gift of sexuality, we're going to suffer the consequences," he said, "and I firmly believe we are suffering the consequences."
What consequences?  Hurricanes?   No, I suppose not.  Earthquakes perhaps since he's in San Francisco.  Did the archbishop-designate take lessons from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (May God rest his soul!)?
And though he strives to deliver Catholicism's absolutes in as nuanced a fashion as possible, Cordileone said, people need to understand that "the church is not going to change its teaching. ... The solution isn't to say, 'Well, I'm just going to disagree and continue being a Catholic.' That's not how we arrive at holiness."
Nuance will not cut it for the archbishop-to-be.   Cordileone's message comes across loud and clear.  His message echos that of Pope Benedict:
Cordileone was appointed to head the high-profile Diocese of San Francisco by Benedict — who, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, drafted a key 1986 letter that outlined Catholic doctrine about homosexuality.

"Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin," Ratzinger wrote, "it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."

That teaching, Cordileone said, still holds.
If LGTB Roman Catholics in the archdiocese see Cordileone's appointment as a slap in the face, who can blame them?  And don't let the smile on Cordileone's face in the photo fool you.  Unless LGTB Catholics play by the church's rules, they are not welcome at the table of the the RC Church says.  You know what?  It's the Lord's table, not the table of the pope or any Roman Catholic prelate or clergy, and no human of whatever position or denomination has the right to withhold the sacrament of the Lord's body and blood from another human being.  Of course, that's just my opinion.

Photo from Wikipedia.

UPDATE: My Facebook friends reminded me that just last month Archbishop-elect Cordileone was arrested for DUI in San Diego after he failed a sobriety test.  He has issued an apology.    

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


The right wing of the Republican Party (increasingly all that exists of the Republican Party) has a general problem of starting with its platform and reasoning back from it to a premise from which it would follow, no matter how absurd and fantastical the premise.

So, the GOP knows it supports Big Oil. Since burning petroleum puts carbon dioxide in the air, which causes global climate change and potentially great harm, Republicans should rethink their partisanship for oil, coal and natural gas. Instead, they deny that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect and climate change.

Likewise, Akin started from a premise that a fertilized egg is a legal person, and that abortion is always forbidden. Presented with the conundrum of whether a woman should be made to bear the child of her rapist, he tried to deny that women can get pregnant from rape. Actually, on the order of 32,000 American women get pregnant that way every year. Akin’s position, and his reasoning, are common among Republican representatives and senators today.

Many politicized evangelicals in the United States have led a bizarre charge against Muslim law (sharia) being recognized by the courts here.

They are shameless, however, in wanting to impose on all Americans the Christian version of sharia. If they don’t believe in abortion, why don’t they just not have one? Why are they busybodies, wanting to make laws for the rest of us?
Excellent commentary from Juan Cole at Informed Sources.   The Republicans come together to decide on a desired conclusion and then offer twisted truth and outright lies as evidence for arriving at their conclusion.

Akin is not alone.
Rep. Steve King, one of the most staunchly conservative members of the House, was one of the few Republicans who did not strongly condemn Rep. Todd Akin Monday for his remarks regarding pregnancy and rape. King also signaled why — he might agree with parts of Akin’s assertion.

King told an Iowa reporter he’s never heard of a child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest.

“Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way,” King told KMEG- TV Monday, “and I’d be open to discussion about that subject matter.”
Someone needs to tell King the story which remains tattooed in my brain - that of the nine year old Brazilian girl who conceived twins as a result of being raped by her step-father.   Because of her size, her own life was at risk, and she could not have carried the twins to viability.  What would King recommend in such a situation?

Oh, and the girl's mother and the medical staff who performed the abortion were excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church.  The step-father was not, because repeatedly raping a nine year old girl is not an excommunicable offense. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Mitt Romney expects his running mate to help deliver the Catholic vote and smooth over any discomfort among Catholics about Mormonism. (This is the first major-party ticket to go Protestant-less.) Yet after Ryan claimed his budget was shaped by his faith, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops deemed it immoral.

“A just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons,” the bishops wrote in a letter to Congress.

The Jesuits were even more tart, with one group writing to Ryan that “Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” (My emphasis)

The nuns-on-the-bus also rapped the knuckles of the former altar boy who now takes his three kids to Mass. As Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the Catholic social justice group Network, told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, it’s sad that a Catholic doesn’t understand that “we need to have each other’s backs. Only wealthy people can ever begin to pretend that they can live in a gated community all by themselves.”

Even Ryan’s former parish priest in Janesville weighed in. Father Stephen Umhoefer told the Center for Media and Democracy, “You can’t tell somebody that in 10 years your economic situation is going to be just wonderful because meanwhile your kids may starve to death.”
Ouch!  So much for Ryan's adherence to the social justice teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.  Thanks to Maureen Dowd for putting it all together.  And do read the entire column.  There's other good stuff there like Ryan's votes in favor of Bush's break-the-bank budgets, including two off-budget wars.

Paul Ryan then:
"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said in a speech in 2005.

Paul Ryan now:
“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview."

Has the leopard changed his spots?  I report; you decide.  It's the budget, stupid.  Focus, focus, focus on the budget.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


From the ground up is how change will come.  The AP reports on a Holy Thursday sermon by Pope Benedict critical of a group of Austrian Roman Catholic priests who have taken a stand against celibacy for all RC priests and in favor of the ordination of women.  No steps beyond criticism have yet been taken to discipline the priests.  We shall see.

On the website of the group, the Pfarrer-Initiative is the following declaration.
The Roman refusal to take up long needed reforms and the inaction of the bishops, not only permits but demands that we follow our conscience and act independently:

We priests want to set a mark for the future:

1. WE WILL include a petition for church reform in every liturgy.

2. WE WILL not deny Communion to faithful of good will, especially remarried people, members of other Christian churches, and in some cases those who have officially left the Catholic Church.*

3. WE WILL avoid as much as possible celebrating multiple times on Sundays and feast days, and avoid scheduling priests travelling around or priests unknown to the community. A locally-planned Liturgy of the Word is preferable to providing guest performances.

4. WE WILL use the term “Priestless Eucharistic Celebration” for a Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Communion. This is how the Sunday Mass obligation is fulfilled when priests are in short supply.

5. WE WILL ignore the prohibition of preaching by competently trained laity, including female religion teachers. In difficult times, the Word of God must be proclaimed.

6. WE WILL advocate that every parish has a presiding leader – man or woman, married or unmarried, full-time or part time. Rather than consolidating parishes, We call for a new image of the priest.

7. WE WILL take every opportunity to speak up publicly for the admission of women and married people to the priesthood. These would be welcome colleagues in ministry.

We express solidarity with colleagues no longer permitted to exercise their ministry because we have married, and also with those in ministry who live in a permanent relationship. Both groups live in accordance with their conscience – as we do with our protest. We see in them as we do in our bishops and the pope our brothers. **

* Here we refer to those who officially leave the Church; some to avoid Church Tax as a means of protest

** This is a reference to the German Word "Mitbruder" instead of "Bruder" (=brother) which is sometimes used by clerics and excludes the laity.
Trinity Sunday, 19Th June, 2011
To expect the top levels of the Roman Catholic Church to implement change is unrealistic.  Change will come only from pressure from the folks on the ground, from the priests who serve in parish churches and church parishioners.  I'm pleased to learn of the brave stand by the Austrian priests, and I hope that the movement spreads to other countries.  The majority of the hierarchy seem out of touch with the operations of its parishes where the major work of the church is actually accomplished.

Note: Once you arrive at the website of the Pfarrer-Initiative, click on 'English', if you prefer to read the material in the English language, then scroll down and click on 'Appeal to Disobedience'.  The next link, 'A Plea For a Credible Church' is well worth reading, also.

H/T to Mark Harris at Preludium

Monday, March 12, 2012


...One reason: To minister to those who suffer grievous wounds inflicted by the likes of Roman Catholic Father Marcel Guarnizo:
Deep in grief, Barbara Johnson stood first in the line for Communion at her mother’s funeral Saturday morning. But the priest in front of her immediately made it clear that she would not receive the sacramental bread and wine.

Johnson, an art-studio owner from the District, had come to St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg with her lesbian partner. The Rev. Marcel Guarnizo had learned of their relationship just before the service.

“He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, ‘I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,’ ” she recalled Tuesday.

She reacted with stunned silence. Her anger and outrage have now led her and members of her family to demand that Guarnizo be removed from his ministry.

Family members said the priest left the altar while Johnson, 51, was delivering a eulogy and did not attend the burial or find another priest to be there.

John Shore interviewed Barbara Johnson
after her mother's funeral service.
Yes, Fr. Guarnizo denied Barbara communion. But almost immediately thereafter a layperson acting as the service’s Eucharistic Minister did lovingly serve Barbara communion.

Yes, Fr. Guarnizo essentially shunned Barbara. But directly following the service (and to a necessarily lesser degree during the service), Barbara was also surrounded and hugged by fellow Catholics who made a point of telling her that Fr. Marcel in no way represented the love of the Church.

Yes, Fr. Guarnizo shamelessly refused to go to the cemetery. But immediately thereupon the funeral director (“an angel,” says Barbara) comforted Barbara with assurances that he would quickly secure a priest to perform the burial. He then turned to Fr. Peter Sweeney, who wasted no time at all stepping right out of his retirement, and right into the Johnson funeral service.

“Father Sweeney was perfect,” says Barbara. “We couldn’t have asked for a kinder, more loving priest. Both Father Sweeney and the funeral director acted as soothing balms on our very scarred hearts.”
The story illustrates why I do not urge my Roman Catholic friends and acquaintances to follow my example and leave the RCC. Besides, the decision to stay or to go is the responsibility of each individual after prayerful reflection. The good people amongst the laity and the clergy in the church who live the Gospel of Christ, will yet be the salvation of their church. Not the pope, not the bishops: It will be the lowly folks who are the church, no less than the pope and the bishops, who will save the church and the hierarchy from themselves. I know Roman Catholic clergy and laity who live by the Two Great Commandments and the Golden Rule and serve God and God's people with love and compassion, sometimes in the face of obstructionist tactics by those in authority. Who will take their place if they leave?

Thanks to Paul (A.) who sent me the link to the post by Fred Clark at Slactivist, along with the note, "I had been familiar with the main story but not the followup as explained in Slacktivist." I knew the original story as well, but I did not know the tale of the Roman Catholics who stepped forward with words and deeds of love after Fr Guarnizo demonstrated a complete lack of compassion. Thanks be to God for the people who acted in a Christ-like manner!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


The Vatican

From the New York Times:
The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops have rejected a compromise on birth control coverage that President Obama offered on Friday and said they would continue to fight the president’s plan to find a way for employees of Catholic hospitals, universities and service agencies to receive free contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans, without direct involvement or financing from the institutions.
The Roman Catholic Church will take matters to the courts, and they will call upon Congress for relief from their oppression.
Already three lawsuits have been filed against the birth control mandate, two by religious colleges and one by a Catholic media outlet.

The bishops will also renew their call for lawmakers to pass the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” which would exempt both insurance providers and purchasers — and not just those who are religiously affiliated — from any mandate to cover items of services that is contrary to either’s “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
Whoa! Internal divisions are developing.
However, the bishops are now facing a potential rift with some of their allies who welcomed the compromise yesterday — including Catholic Charities, the Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic hospitals across the country and individual Catholic Democrats and liberals who had helped persuade the administration to make the change.

James Salt, executive director of Catholics United, a liberal advocacy group that is organizing support for the Obama administration, said, “The bishops’ blanket opposition appears to serve the interests of a political agenda, not the needs of the American people.”
It's about time!

Is it possible that President Obama will offer further concessions to bullying, celibate, old men, who experience nothing of the costs and difficulties of family life?

Friday, February 10, 2012


From the comments to an earlier post at Wounded Bird:

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...
I keep trying to remind these folks of their beloved Double Effect doctrine, but they clearly don't want that as a way out. The actual use of contraception in the cases in point are so far removed from their actual agency or action that it should not pose any moral qualm at all -- except for the reality that they don't want it no how, no way, by none!

church sponsors, supervises, etc. school > school provides health insurance > health insurer covers contraception > insured takes advantage of coverage and has contraceptive prescription > person fills prescription and > uses contraception. Only the last step is (under their concept) morally objectionable.
Sounds good to me. How about you, bishops?

Tobias Haller blogs at In a Godward Direction.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


The Vatican

I've spoken of the heavy-handed tactics of the Roman Catholic Church in which the leaders and their true-believer followers, including Rick Santorum and the converted Newt Gingrich, accuse the Obama administration of waging war on Roman Catholics. I've written about their practice of deception by omission in never mentioning that they already provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives in 28 states that mandate coverage. Whatever reasoning the bishops use to square the coverage with their consciences, I'd suggest that they apply that same reasoning to the remaining 22 states and stop crying, 'Persecution!' Enough already!

However, should the bishops continue to prefer deceptive, political power plays to telling the truth, I recommend that the prelates and their true-believer followers visit their fellow Christians in countries in the Middle East and Africa, where real persecution of Christians is happening. Perhaps then they'd stop their pathetic braying. The group generates more heat and noise than their true numbers warrant. What they do is shameful.

Remember that RC bishops stand in obedience to the pope, a foreign head of state. Why should a foreign head of state have such great influence in the processes of government in the US?

For more light on the subject, I refer you to IT's post at The Friends of Jake and Rmj's post at Adventus.

Picture from Wikipedia.

Monday, January 30, 2012


From Ross Douthat in the New York Times on the evils of the new rules of Obamacare:
But sometimes the state goes further. Not content with crowding out alternative forms of common effort, it presents its rivals an impossible choice: Play by our rules, even if it means violating the moral ideals that inspired your efforts in the first place, or get out of the community-building business entirely.

This is exactly the choice that the White House has decided to offer a host of religious institutions — hospitals, schools and charities — in the era of Obamacare. The new health care law requires that all employer-provided insurance plans cover contraception, sterilization and the morning-after (or week-after) pill known as ella, which can work as an abortifacient. A number of religious groups, led by the American Catholic bishops, had requested an exemption for plans purchased by their institutions. Instead, the White House has settled on an exemption that only covers religious institutions that primarily serve members of their own faith. A parish would be exempt from the mandate, in other words, but a Catholic hospital would not.

Ponder that for a moment. In effect, the Department of Health and Human Services is telling religious groups that if they don’t want to pay for practices they consider immoral, they should stick to serving their own co-religionists rather than the wider public. Sectarian self-segregation is O.K., but good Samaritanism is not. The rule suggests a preposterous scenario in which a Catholic hospital avoids paying for sterilizations and the morning-after pill by closing its doors to atheists and Muslims, and hanging out a sign saying “no Protestants need apply.”
Ross, I ponder that, and I am not at all disturbed that the Roman Catholic hospitals and universities will need to provide all types of health care to all of their employees. Not one bit. Have you pondered that some communities have only a Roman Catholic hospital to serve them and that not all of their employees are members of the RCC? Why should everyone who works in the community hospital have to play by Roman Catholic rules? What about the common good?

Furthermore, Ross, have you pondered the fact that Roman Catholic hospitals and universities already provide coverage for contraceptives in health care packages? See below from NPR. How does the church square the coverage that is already offered in some states with their consciences? Whatever the reasoning of the powers in the case of the states which mandate coverage for contraceptives, the same powers should apply that reasoning to the hospitals and universities in the rest of the country under the new rules for health care coverage.

From NPR:
But while some insist that the rules, which spring from last year's health law, break new ground, many states as well as federal civil rights law already require most religious employers to cover prescription contraceptives if they provide coverage of other prescription drugs.

While some religious employers take advantage of loopholes or religious exemptions, the fact remains that dozens of Catholic hospitals and universities currently offer contraceptive coverage as part of their health insurance packages.

"We've always had contraceptive birth control included in our health care benefits," said Michelle Michaud, a labor and delivery nurse at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, Calif. "It's something that we've come to expect for ourselves and our family."

Dominican is part of the Catholic Healthcare West System. A spokeswoman for the 40-hospital chain confirmed that it has offered the benefits since 1997.
Ross takes it further. The way of Obamacare is a slippery slope that leads to what? Armageddon? A dark future surely.
The White House attack on conscience is a vindication of health care reform’s critics, who saw exactly this kind of overreach coming. But it’s also an intimation of a darker American future, in which our voluntary communities wither away and government becomes the only word we have for the things we do together.
Ross, I doubt that. I doubt much of what you write.

That Douthat, along with David Brooks, writes for the Yew Nork Times, the newspaper of record, continues to amaze me. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but I believe the paper could hire better opinion writers from the freshman class of a school of journalism.

Friday, December 9, 2011


MURILLO, Bartolomé Esteban - Esquilache Immaculate Conception - 1645-55 (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg)

Yesterday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church. I looked for a picture that would illustrate the Immaculate Conception, but what I found were paintings that show Mary in glory like the Murillo above. Now that I think about it, there is really no way to illustrate the Immaculate Conception. What was I thinking?

Elizabeth Kaeton wrote a post at Telling Secrets titled Dirty Mary. Elizabeth's post was, in many ways, a trip down memory lane for me, although I am her elder by years. Back in her day and my day in our Roman Catholic schools, the practices did not change much from decade to decade, thus we share a good many experiences.

We learned early that the Immaculate Conception was definitely not to be identified with the Virgin Birth of Jesus, although, even today, many folks confuse the two. The Immaculate Conception meant Mary was conceived free of original sin, unlike the rest of us who are born prone to sin. Even as a child I thought it rather unfair of God to burden an innocent infant with original sin because of Adam's disobedience.

For several years of those teachings, I had no idea what conception meant, nor what virgin meant beyond, 'How can this be? I know not man.' We'd have had to have been taught a bit of sex education in a Roman Catholic elementary school to understand the words back in the 1940s. Imagine! I don't remember being particularly curious about what the words meant, which seems odd to me now, because I was a curious child. I learned the teachings by rote from the Q&A format in the Baltimore Catechism, and gave the answers back to the teachers on tests without much thought except to get the answers right.

For centuries, there was controversy about the concept of the Immaculate Conception. Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, and Bernard of Clairvaux all had difficulties with the doctrine.
Bernard would seem to have been speaking of conception in the active sense of the mother's cooperation, for in his argument he says: "How can there be absence of sin where there is concupiscence (libido)?" and stronger expressions follow, showing that he is speaking of the mother and not of the child....
Pope Pius IX defined the Immaculate Conception as a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church on December 8, 1854

Although I no longer celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception, I honor Mary as a strong and brave woman, a woman who is a model for us all of saying 'Yes' to God, even in the face of grave consequences. I continue to pray to Mary to intercede with her son on our behalf.
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

Luke 2:33-35
Image from the Web Gallery of Art.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


From Religion News Services via The Huffington Post:
RNS) The Vatican has summoned the head of a traditionalist group to Rome to assess the results of a two-year doctrinal dialogue between the schismatic group and the Holy See.

Monsignor Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), will meet on Sept. 14 with top officials who are trying to normalize relations, including American Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In June, Fellay said the church is "full of heresies," and the group ordained its own set of bishops in the United States, Switzerland and Germany without Vatican approval.
It appears that the powers in Rome are eager for reconciliation with SSPX, despite the fact that its superior general labels them as heretics.
Talks between the two sides began in 2009 after Pope Benedict XVI lifted the 1988 excommunications of four SSPX bishops, including Bishop Richard Williamson, who has denied that the Holocaust killed 6 million Jews.

According to Vatican Insider, a religion website of the Italian newspaper La Stampa, the Vatican intends to offer SSPX an special structure similar to the "ordinariate" created for Anglicans who want to join the Catholic Church. The deal would require SSPX to give "full recognition" to Vatican II reforms.

Like the structure created for the Anglicans, a special SSPX ordinariate would allow the group to keep some of its own traditions.
Inquiring minds want to know if the group would be able to continue to practice its anti-Semitic tradition in its own particular enclave.

In light of Monsignor Fellay's statement in June, I doubt that the time is ripe for SSPX to give "full recognition" to Vatican II reforms. In his view, Vatican II gave birth to the various "heresies" which he finds objectionable. However, since the Vatican seems to be stepping back from certain of the reforms of Vatican II, the two groups may eventually find a way to come together.

My prediction for the look of the new "ordinariate" or whatever it will be called, if it ever comes to be: An abundance of lace.

Thanks to Ann V. for the link.

Monday, June 6, 2011


From Maureen Dowd at the New York Times:
THE archbishop of Dublin was beginning to sniffle.

He could not get through a story about “a really nasty man” — an Irish priest who sexually abused, physically tortured and emotionally threatened vulnerable boys — without pulling out his handkerchief and wiping his nose.

“He built a swimming pool in his own garden, to which only boys of a certain age, of a certain appearance were allowed into it,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told me recently. “There were eight other priests in that parish, and not one of them seemed to think there was something strange about it.”

Two years after learning the extent of the depraved and Dickensian treatment of children in the care of the Irish Catholic Church — a fifth circle of hell hidden for decades by church and police officials — the Irish are still angry and appalled.

The only church leader who escapes their disgust is the no-nonsense, multilingual Martin. He was sent home to Dublin in 2003 after 27 years in the Vatican bureaucracy and diplomatic corps and found the Irish church in crisis, reeling from a cover-up that spanned the tenures of four past Dublin archbishops.

In February, Martin held an unprecedented “Liturgy of Lament and Repentance” at a Dublin cathedral, where he asked forgiveness from God and victims of abuse and praised the courage of those who had come forward.

Wearing a simple black cassock, he helped wash the feet of eight victims and conceded that the church “will always bear this wound within it.”

In return for doing the right thing, he has been ostracized by fellow bishops in Ireland and snubbed by the Holy See.

Yet Martin, famous protector of victims, is an outlier of the club, while Cardinal Bernard Law, notorious protector of pedophiles, has a cushy Vatican sanctuary. And Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was in league with the notorious abuser of seminarians and inseminator of women, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, is the dean of the College of Cardinals in Rome.

Garry O’Sullivan, the managing editor of The Irish Catholic in Dublin, told me that Martin “has had a prophetic role in the church.”

I really don't get it. Cardinals Law and Sodano are rewarded for their roles in covering up child abuse. Because of the decades long cover-up, I left the Roman Catholic Church in 1996. I knew that a portion of the tithe I gave to my parish church went to the diocese, a portion of which went to fund the cover-up of child abuse, and I could no longer write a check. I'm not saying all Roman Catholics should do what I did. I respect those who remain to fight the good fight.
When he [Archbishop Martin] was growing up, his mother always told him “go serve your Mass but don’t hang around with the priest.”

In his brusque way, he rejects the appellation of hero.

“Nobody could have read what I have read and not did what I did,” he said as he walked me out into the windy spring day. “If I didn’t react to the stories I heard, there would be something wrong.”
(My emphasis)

Yes indeed, there would be something wrong. There is still something very wrong when a prophet and a hero is "ostracized by fellow bishops in Ireland and snubbed by the Holy See", and others in high places who participated in the cover-up are rewarded.

Thank God for Archbishop Martin!

Thanks to Ann for the link.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Thomas Doyle provides excellent commentary on the recently released John Jay report on clerical child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. I suggest you read his entire critique, but below are excerpts from his fine essay.

Fr Doyle studied all the reports on clerical abuse, including information from more than 6000 victim's attorneys. Regarding the "Woodstock Defense" in the latest John Jay report, Fr Doyle says:
The victim support groups and plaintiffs' attorneys here and abroad are seeing a significant increase in victims who were violated in the fifties and even the forties. As one of my astute friends remarked, these are the victims from the Big Band era so what does that constitute, the "Benny Goodman" defense?
There you have it!

Those who see the main conclusions from the Executive Summary as support for the bishops' blame-shifting tactics are probably right. Yet these conclusions are only a part of the whole story and in some ways they are of minor relevance. The finding that the majority of cases occurred in the 1960s and 1970s can be quickly challenged. It is more accurate to say that the majority of cases reported in the post 2002 period involved abuse that took place in the period from the sixties to the eighties. Its way off base to assume that the majority of incidents of abuse happened during this period. Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald founded the Paraclete community in 1947 to provide help to priests with problems. From the beginning he was treating priests with psycho-sexual issues and in a letter to a bishop he said that 3 out of every 10 priests admitted were there because they had sexually molested minors. Fr. Gerald wrote that letter in 1964. Unfortunately it is difficult if not impossible to do a study of abuse victims between the 30's and the 50's but Fr. Gerald's information leaves no doubt that sexual abuse by priests was a significant phenomenon long before the free-wheeling 60's and 70's. The one constant that was present throughout the entire period from before the 60's to the turn of the millennium has been the cover-up by the bishops and the disgraceful treatment of victims. The John Jay researchers were commissioned by the bishops to look into the reasons why priests molested and violated minors. They were not asked to figure out why this molestation and violation was allowed to happen. That would have been deadly for the bishops and they knew it. (The author's emphasis)

Hallelujah! Fr Doyle emphasizes the distinction between when incidents are reported and when the incidents actually took place, which is a vital distinction to be made.

Fr Doyle adds that while the report was commissioned by Roman Catholic bishops in the US and, in some areas, the researchers give the bishops a pass when they should not get a pass, the report is, by no means, a whitewash. He lists sections of the report which are quite critical of the responses by bishops to the disclosures of clerical abuse. I ask again that you please read the critique in its entirety.

From the National Catholic Reporter:
Tom Doyle is a priest, canon lawyer, addictions therapist and long-time supporter of justice and compassion for clergy sex abuse victims.
The public disclosures of child abuse in my Roman Catholic Diocese of Houma/Thibodaux began to come to light in the latter part of the 1990s. The "boiling point", as Fr Doyle names it, was reached in the rest of the US in 2002. The national press paid scant attention to the scandal in south Louisiana dioceses at the time the "boiling point" was reached here. I suppose the media thought what was happening in our area was nothing more than an aberration in a swampy backwater.