Catholic Pedophile Protector Cardinal George Pell: Removed From Vatican Inner Circle


George Pell: Pope Francis removes Australian cardinal from inner circle

Restructure of Council of Cardinals comes as Pell faces prosecution in Australia for historical sexual offences

Pope Francis with Cardinal George Pell
Pope Francis (left) with Cardinal George Pell, who he has removed from the Council of Cardinals as part of a restructure. Photograph: AP

Pope Francis has removed Australia’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, from his inner circle in a restructure of his Council of Cardinals.

Pell’s position as the financial controller of the Vatican makes him the third most powerful person in the Vatican. He is facing prosecution in Australia for historical sexual offences and has taken leave from the position. Pell has strenuously denied the allegations.

The removal of Pell, 77, from the council does not necessarily affect his treasury position, which he technically still holds, and a Vatican spokesman would not comment further.

Two other council members – the newly retired archbishop Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, 79, and Chile’s Francisco Errázuriz Ossa, 85, who has been accused of concealing abuse while archbishop of Santiago – were also removed from the group of nine on the council, which is known as C-9.

A Vatican spokesman said Francis had written to the prelates “thanking them for the work they have done over these past five years”.

A key role of C-9, formed in 2013, has been to reform the bureaucracy of the Vatican and determine its policies and missions going forward.

But Francis has been under increasing pressure to restructure C-9 in the wake of growing concerns about child sexual abuse and other scandals in the church, with many angered that men accused of serious offences were determining the future direction of the church. The fact many of C-9’s members are elderly has also been a concern.

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Investigators Raid Offices of President of U.S. Catholic Bishops


Image: Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, left, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is also president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.CreditCreditPatrick Semansky/Associated Press

By Laurie Goodstein

 

Dozens of local and federal law enforcement officers conducted a surprise search of the offices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on Wednesday, looking for evidence in a clergy sexual abuse case that has ensnared the local archbishop, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, who also serves as president of the United States Catholic bishops’ conference.

The raid in Houston is the latest sign of crisis in the church, with prosecutors growing more aggressive in their search for cover-ups of abuse, and the bishops — led by Cardinal DiNardo — hamstrung by the Vatican in their efforts to carry out reforms.

The church is under a barrage of investigations around the country. Attorneys general in at least a dozen states have opened inquiries, and the Justice Department has told bishops not to destroy any documents that could relate to sex abuse cases. Last month, the attorney general in Michigan executed search warrants on all seven Catholic dioceses in that state.

The scene outside the archdiocesan offices in Houston on Wednesday morning was extraordinary, with police cars lined up on the street and about 50 uniformed officers headed inside, some carrying boxes to hold evidence.

As the public face of the American bishops, Cardinal DiNardo has encouraged full cooperation with law enforcement, and his archdiocese struck the same tone as its offices were being searched. The archdiocese said in a statement on Wednesday that “the information being sought was already being compiled,” and that characterizing the search as an involuntary “raid” was unjustified.

But the assistant district attorney in charge of the investigation said that a search of the church offices was necessary because the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston had turned over only a portion of the evidence.

“We anticipate there being a large volume of records,” said J. Tyler Dunman, an assistant district attorney and chief of the special crimes bureau for Montgomery County, who is in charge of the case. “What we’ve been provided is nowhere near what we expect to find.”

Investigators were searching primarily for records on the Rev. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, who was arrested in September on four felony counts of indecency with a child. “But if we come across additional documents or evidence of criminal conduct,” said Mr. Dunman, investigators would gather those up, too.

Father LaRosa-Lopez worked for the archdiocese for decades. Cardinal DiNardo had assigned him to work in a parish and appointed him as the vicar for Hispanics for the archdiocese, despite knowing that Father LaRosa-Lopez had been accused in 2001 of molesting a teenage girl.

Image: The Rev. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, who has been accused of abuse.Credit Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, via Associated Press

A lawyer for Father LaRosa-Lopez, Wendell Odom, said last month that his client “denies any improper touching that would be considered a criminal act.” But he said that Father LaRosa-Lopez may have committed a “boundary violation,” and had apologized years ago to the young woman.

The priest was arrested after a second alleged victim — a man — came forward to the archdiocese and to police this year. Investigators are now working with four alleged victims of Father LaRosa-Lopez, and are communicating with others who may have been abused by him, Mr. Dunman said in a telephone interview.

Cardinal DiNardo has found himself on the defensive over his handling of Father LaRosa-Lopez, just as he has been frustrated in his campaign to reassure the public that the bishops are being transparent. Last month, the cardinal presided over a deflating national meeting in Baltimore at which the American bishops were prevented by the Vatican from voting on a package of policies intended to hold bishops accountable.

In an op-ed published in The Houston Chronicle on Monday, Cardinal DiNardo said that he had removed Father LaRosa-Lopez from ministry immediately after the second alleged victim came forward. He appeared to blame Child Protective Services for failing to act on the teenage girl’s report of abuse, saying that in the future the archdiocese would report abuse cases to both Child Protective Services and law enforcement. He did not explain why he had kept Father LaRosa-Lopez in ministry or named him vicar for Hispanics.

He wrote, “The vile and horrid acts of a small minority has shaped the perception of the media and many in the public about all priests — and now, our bishops. While this is understandable, it is regrettable and it is only through actions based on faith and just principles that this evil that afflicts the Church will be eradicated.”

The law enforcement officers who searched the archdiocesan offices on Wednesday were from the Texas Rangers, the Conroe Police Department, the Montgomery County district attorney’s office and other federal agencies, Mr. Dunman said, though he declined to specify which agencies. They combed through the building searching for documents, electronic communications and other evidence.

The Justice Department declined to comment, and it is unclear whether any of its agents were involved in the search of the archdiocese in Houston. The investigation of Father LaRosa-Lopez was underway before the Justice Department warned American bishops not to destroy their files.

Over more than 15 years, other bishops have had their offices searched when law enforcement suspected they were withholding records.

“Files can be in quite a few different places, and there are different sets of files,” said Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org, a research and advocacy organization that documents the Catholic church’s abuse scandal.

Catholic dioceses keep personnel files as well as secret archives — confidential files that would contain any allegations of misconduct or details of treatment for problems such as addiction or pedophilia.

After Father LaRosa-Lopez was accused in 2001 of touching the teenager, he was sent to the Shalom Center, a treatment facility in Splendora, Tex. Law enforcement agents raided that center in September, as well as two parishes where Father LaRosa-Lopez had worked. He was released on bond in September, and is scheduled to appear in court in January.

Katie Benner contributed reporting from Washington.

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Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes denied visa to tour Australia with ‘The Deplorables’


Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes denied visa to tour Australia with ‘The Deplorables’
Photo: Gavin McInnes’s visa was denied on character grounds. (Reuters: Stephanie Keith)

Right-wing provocateur and founder of the Proud Boys group Gavin McInnes has had his visa application blocked by the Home Affairs Department, failing the character test to enter Australia.

Key points:

  • Mr McInnes was due in Australia for a speaking tour early next year
  • The Federal Government notified him earlier this month it was likely to deny him a visa
  • Immigration officials deemed he had failed a “character test” based on extreme views

Critics of Mr McInnes were urging the department and Immigration Minister David Coleman to ban him from travelling to Australia for a speaking tour next year, concerned about his extreme views and promotion of violence.

The ABC understands Mr McInnes was notified a few weeks ago that the department was likely to block his visa application because he was judged to be of bad character, and the formal window for him to appeal closed on Friday.

Mr McInnes cut ties with the Proud Boys group earlier this month. The group, which Mr McInnes has previously labelled a “gang”, describes itself as a men’s organisation, committed to upholding “Western chauvinist values”.

The FBI designated them as an extremist organisation.

On Thursday, a petition of 81,000 signatures was delivered to Federal Parliament calling on the Government to block Mr McInnes from entering the country.

Lawyer Nyadol Nyuon, who founded the petition, said the Government’s decision was a win for free speech.

“To have allowed him to come still I think would have made it seem as if the Government had given tacit approval at the very least to these calls for violence against people you don’t agree with as a legitimate form of free speech,” she said.

“It’s not and it should never be.”

Photo: Melbourne lawyer Nyadol Nyuon organised the petition to have Mr McInnes denied entry to Australia. (ABC News: Greg Nelson)

Ms Nyuon said Mr McInnes could not possibly have met the character test for entry to Australia.

“I’m happy that women, non-whites, certain members of the LGBTI communities don’t have to live in an atmosphere of fear after these individuals are allowed to come in, or from the fear of what that might suggest to them,” she said.

Mr McInnes was due to tour the country early next year, alongside UK far-right activist Tommy Robinson.

The ABC understands no visa application has been received for Mr Robinson.

Photo: Gavin McInnes and Tommy Robinson were due to tour Australia in February 2019. (Supplied: The Deplorables)

Their “The Deplorables” tour of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and the Gold Coast had already been delayed a number of months.

The Proud Boys list their values as including being against political correctness, racial guilt and racism, while promoting free speech and gun rights.

But they have been widely criticised as promoting violence against people who do not share their views.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Department of Home Affairs said all non-citizens entering Australia had to meet character requirements before a visa would be granted.

“For visitors who may hold controversial views, any risk they may pose will be balanced against Australia’s well-established freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs, amongst other relevant considerations,” she said.

Dvir Abramovich, chairman of Australia’s leading civil rights organisation, the Anti-Defamation Commission, issued a statement praising the Government’s decision to reject Mr McInnes’s application.

“I have no doubt that his visit would have cultivated a disruptive atmosphere of incitement as well as attracting hardcore extremists, and this explosive combination could have resulted in rioting and street fights,” Dr Abramovich said.

“This moral decision is a strong affirmation that the noxious rhetoric often spewed by Mr McInnes will never be tolerated in Australia.

“At a time when anti-Semitism and far-right activism in our nation are on the increase, we should not be providing such individuals with an opportunity to promote their divisive and dangerous agenda which runs counter to our core values.”

PHOTO: Video of Gavin McInnes as he inserts a butt plug inside his anus to ‘destroy lib’s’ taunts that he’s a homophobe and by said act apparently, “proving” he doesn’t hate homosexuals.

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The Right-Wing Intellectual Abyss


The Right-Wing Intellectual Abyss

by Adam Lee

How do you reach someone who’s cocooned themselves in a reality of their own making? That’s the dilemma raised by this Washington Post profile of Christopher Blair, a liberal writer from Maine, who runs a clickbait satire site called America’s Last Line of Defense that he dreamed up during the 2016 election:

In the last two years on his page, America’s Last Line of Defense, Blair had made up stories about California instituting sharia, former president Bill Clinton becoming a serial killer, undocumented immigrants defacing Mount Rushmore, and former president Barack Obama dodging the Vietnam draft when he was 9.

When Blair created the site, he intended it as a wakeup call for conservatives. His plan was to publish hoax stories that appealed to the right wing but were obviously false. When uncritical Republicans shared them without fact-checking, he’d reveal how he had deceived them, whereupon they’d be ashamed and learn to exercise critical thinking next time instead of blindly believing whatever they were told.

At least, that was the plan, but it didn’t work that way. Blair found, to his mounting amazement and horror, that he couldn’t invent a story so stupid that Republicans wouldn’t believe it. No matter how over-the-top ridiculous it was, no matter how riddled with basic factual errors (like identifying a photo of Hope Hicks as Hillary Clinton), even if it was covered with disclaimers that everything on the site was satire, they just kept mashing the like and share buttons. If it was in accord with what they wanted to be true, they believed it without question. Even when he posted prominent confessions that these stories were made up, the conservatives who believed them in the first place kept coming back. Often, they dismissed the retractions as liberal hoaxes.

“No matter how racist, how bigoted, how offensive, how obviously fake we get, people keep coming back,” Blair once wrote, on his own personal Facebook page. “Where is the edge? Is there ever a point where people realize they’re being fed garbage and decide to return to reality?”

It’s fair to say that Blair deserves some of the blame for America’s national crisis. He’s feeding the monster he fears! It’s possible that he started the site with noble intentions, but he’s well past the point where he should have realized it wasn’t going to achieve what he set out to achieve.

There doesn’t seem to be any reason to keep it running now, except money. The Post article mentioned that he can make $15,000 from advertising in a good month. As many grifters and con artists have discovered, the American right – rich, angry, and easily led by the nose – is fertile ground for exploitation. Once you’ve got that income streaming in, it’s tough to walk away. (America’s Last Line of Defense was blank when I checked while writing this post, so it’s possible that his conscience has gotten to him and he’s shuttered the site.)

However, for me personally, I find I can’t muster much anger. If he deserves any of the blame, it’s only a very small portion of it. Blair didn’t cause the right’s slide into the intellectual abyss; arguably, he didn’t even accelerate it. All he’s doing is capitalizing on a trend that’s been growing for generations. If someone is going to make money off conservative gullibility, I’d prefer it be liberals. Besides, America’s Last Line of Defense is indistinguishable from countless right-wing sites that spread the same misinformation and conspiracy theories in all sincerity. Even if it’s closed for good, others will move into the same niche. The real problem isn’t the scam artists who peddle lies and deceit, but the legions of conservatives who are eager to be deceived.

The conspiracies they’ve come up with on their own are far wilder than anything liberals could have invented: like the bizarre far-right fantasy QAnon, which claims that Robert Mueller is secretly working with Trump to reveal an international child-sex-trafficking ring that also stages mass shootings as false-flag attacks, and that all this is revealed to true believers through coded messages in tweets and anonymous posts on 4chan.

There’s also the Iraqi dinar scam, where true believers buy wads of the near-worthless currency in the belief that it will magically “revalue”, so an investment of thousands will become millions overnight. This scam has circulated for years, but it’s gained prominence under Trump as conservatives swap rumors that he’s invested in dinars himself or that he’s about to do something to make the revaluation happen.

Of course, many countries have redenominated their currency in response to high inflation, but that just means the central bank issues new bills that are officially worth several thousand or million of the old bills. It doesn’t change the value of the currency that already exists. The dinar scam isn’t just unsupported by evidence, it flies in the face of economic reality.

The question is what we, who acknowledge the value of reason and evidence, can do about this. As Thomas Paine said, to argue with a person who has renounced reason is like administering medicine to the dead. Is there any hope for America when half the country has abandoned facts and evidence and is hungry for any and all lies that justify their xenophobic rage?

I can think of one answer, admittedly Machiavellian: perhaps we can exploit the inherent unpredictability of conspiracy thinking to turn right-wingers against each other. If we can’t slow down their runaway train, maybe the best option is to stomp on the gas and accelerate until the machine redlines and shakes itself apart.

What if we had more conspiracy sites that accused prominent Republicans of being secret Muslims conspiring to impose sharia law, or secret atheists conspiring to ban Christianity, or secret Democrats conspiring to provide affordable health care? What if we wrote that the NRA had been infiltrated by gun-control advocates plotting mass firearm confiscation, or that the leadership of racist alt-right groups was secretly in cahoots with Black Lives Matter, or that George Soros had bought Fox News and was salting their broadcasts with misinformation? What if we asserted that the deep state had a pod-person duplicate of Donald Trump who was calling the shots in the White House, and the real Trump had been spirited away to a remote bunker where he was directing the resistance through coded random-number strings posted on obscure message boards?

These would all be easily disprovable absurdities with no basis in fact (and if I were writing a site like this, I’d be sure to include some egregious factual errors in every story as a tipoff for anyone who’s paying attention). It would never work on anyone who had even a modest capacity for critical thinking. But for the legions of Republicans who’ve deliberately blinded themselves to every way to tell truth apart from falsehood, it might work to confuse, demoralize and destabilize them. It would channel their rage into a self-consuming whirlpool, instead of a destructive current.

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