As the nation lurches closer towards being ruled by a tyrannical dictator with unwavering support from the Republican Party, the American people are ignoring an even greater threat to their waning secular democracy – rule by tyrannical theocrats.
The rise of theocrats in powerful positions of authority is particularly disconcerting because not only was America created as a secular nation with a secular Constitution, but because the theocrats running the federal government represent a very small minority of the population. And now Trump has given that vicious minority what they elected him to do in the first place; another radical Christian extremist, William Barr, in a powerful federal government position.
J. Beauregard Sessions was a legitimate threat to America’s secular government as Trump’s attorney general, but his theocratic aspirations paled in comparison to Trump’s latest theocratic cabinet member – a conservative Catholic malcontent who is unlikely to ever defend the U.S. Constitution because it is a secular document. It is noteworthy that Sessions only stated that, according to his mind, the separation of church and state in the Constitution is a concept that is unconstitutional. However, his replacement ardently believes that America’s government is duty-bound to enforce god’s laws because there is no place for secularism.
In a 1995 essay, Barr expressed the extremist Christian view that “American government should not be secular;” secularism is an abomination in Barr’s theocratic mind despite the law of the land is unmistakably secular. Furthermore, Barr contends America’s government is supposed to be imposing “a transcendent moral order with objective standards of right and wrong that flows from God’s eternal law;” eternal law best dictated by the Vatican and taught in public schools at taxpayer’s expense.
It is true that as attorney general William Barr will defend Trump’s criminality and corruption; it is one of the only reasons Trump nominated him. However, the real danger to the nation is Barr’s belief that the government’s primary function should be defending and enforcing his god’s moral edicts while ardently opposing any legislative branch effort to make secular laws according to the secular Constitution.
As noted by Michael Stone a couple of weeks ago, in addition to the racism and misogyny one expects from a radical conservative Christian, “Barr is also a bigot when it comes to non-religious people and others who respect the separation of church and state.”
Barr epitomizes the typical extremist religious fanatic by blaming everything from crime to divorce to sexually transmitted diseases on what he alleges is “the federal government’s non-stop attacks on traditional religious values.” In fact, he joins no small number of Republican evangelical extremists who demand that taxpayers fund religious instruction, specifically Catholic religious instruction, in public schools. Barr, as a matter of fact, has called for the United States government to subsidize Catholic education and categorically called for federal legislation to promote Vatican edicts to “restrain sexual immorality;” an explicit reference to his religion’s ban on homosexuality, extramarital sex, and “artificial” birth control. Don’t believe it?
In an address to “The Governor’s Conference on Juvenile Crime, Drugs and Gangs,” Barr condemned the idea of adhering to the U.S. Constitution’s mandated separation of church and state in the public education system. The theocrat said:
“This moral lobotomy of public schools has been based on extremist notions of separation of church and state or on theories of moral relativism which reject the notion that there are standards of rights or wrong to which the community can demand adherence.”
Barr also penned an article in The Catholic Lawyer where he complained vehemently about what he asserted was “the rise of secularism;” something he claims is anathema to a nation he believes should be ruled by theocrats. Barr attempted to give an answer to “the challenge of representing Catholic institutionsas authorities” on what is considered right and wrong, or morally acceptable in a secular nation. In discussing what Barr termed was “The Breakdown of Traditional Morality,” the new attorney general complained thus:
“We live in an increasingly militant, secular age… As part of this philosophy, we see a growing hostility toward religion, particularly Catholicism. This form of bigotry has always been fashionable in the United States. There are, today, even greater efforts to marginalize or ‘ghettoize’ orthodox religion…”
Barr is also a bigot when it comes to people who respect the Constitution’s separation of church and state in providing equal rights for all Americans whether theocrats agree or not. Barr’s belief that government is bound to enforce Vatican dictates is what drives his assertion that, for example, equal rights laws demanding that colleges treat homosexual groups like any other student group is inherently wrong.
He claims treating LGBTQ people like everyone else is detrimental because:
“[Equality] dissolves any form of moral consensus in society. There can be no consensus based on moral views in the country, only enforced neutrality.”
It is noteworthy that what Barr considers “enforced neutrality” is what most Americans understand is the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights for all Americans. If this country was not plagued with religious extremists, bigots, misogynists, and hate-driven conservatives there would never be a need to “enforce neutrality,” or protect all Americans’ equal rights guaranteed according to secular law. There is no such thing as equality in Barr’s theocratic mind and the idea of the government not enforcing the privilege and superiority the religious right has enjoyed for too long is abominable, and now he wields federal government authority to right that abomination.
It is too bad that Barr’s religious mind incites him to believe the federal government’s job is enforcing his religion’s concept of “morality,” and that the purposely-conceived “secular” law of the land is “militant” and “hostile toward religion, particularly Catholicism.” If any American believes Barr will defend the Constitution, or equal rights, or freedom from religious imposition, they are deluded beyond belief. As the religious right’s attorney general, Barr will be the de facto enforcement arm of the evangelical extremists and aid in implementing all of the horrors a theocratic dictatorship entails – beginning with an increased government assault on women.
For an idea of how an avowed anti-choice theocrat leading the Justice Department will be the enforcement arm of the evangelical extremist cult, consider Trump’s latest evangelical edict forbidding medical professionals from giving women medical options the religious right and Vatican oppose.
Trump and Pence issued a gag order banning the term “abortion” as a woman’s option to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. The order will certainly face lawsuits, but instead of defending a medical professional’s ability to practice medicine, or exercise their freedom of speech, the theocratic-led DOJ will defend the religious right’s assault on women and medical professionals’ free speech because such speech is opposed by evangelicals. Trump’s latest theocratic edict was, by the way, a direct result of the evangelical right’s strict adherence to Vatican dictates banning women’s bodily autonomy and self-determination regarding reproduction.
There is no good outcome going forward with an avowed theocrat serving as the nation’s top law enforcement official. This is particularly true since Barr has made no secret that he considers the secular government “militant” and “bigoted” for not promoting “god’s eternal laws” of right and wrong. The very inconvenient truth for Americans is that long after Trump and Barr are out of power, the theocratic authorities will continue unimpeded because Trump has dutifully created a hard-line conservative judiciary specifically to ensure that America as a secular nation is, for all intents and purposes, coming to an end after resisting theocracy for over two centuries.
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Investigators Raid Offices of President of U.S. Catholic Bishops
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 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.
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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In 1980, Federal Judge John Dooling, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, declared that the Hyde Amendment, which prevented Medicaid payment for abortion, was unconstitutional. (Copies of Judge Dooling’s 328-page decision in McRae vs. HEW are rare. During a recent conversation with the Brooklyn United States District Court, I was told that their copy had disappeared and, for this reason, they were not in a position to reproduce it.) Judge Dooling had spent a year gathering evidence and studying the anti-abortion movement, and his findings showed that the anti-abortion movement was essentially a Roman Catholic movement with a little non-Catholic window dressing. The amendment, says Dooling bluntly, was a ploy by anti-abortion congressmen frustrated in their attempt to pass a constitutional amendment that would override the Supreme Court’s 1973 pro-abortion decision; its purpose was quite simply to circumvent the Court’s ruling and prevent as many abortions as possible. Dooling, a practicing Catholic, makes short shrift of the anti-abortionists’ pretensions to be a spontaneous grass-roots movement that owes its political victories to sheer moral appeal. He confirms that the right-to-life’s main source of energy, organization, and direction has been the Catholic Church, and he describes in detail how the movement uses one-issue voting to put pressure on legislators, candidates, and the party organizations that nominate them—a tactic that gains influence far out of proportion to its numbers. Please see appendix one for excerpts from Judge Dooling’s decision in McRae vs. HEW.
What is most significant in this extract is Judge Dooling’s finding that the anti-abortion movement’s main source of energy, organization, and direction has been the Catholic Church. The bishops’ Pastoral Plan prompted the creation of the Moral Majority. Richard A. Viguerie, a Catholic, is the man most responsible for the development and success of the New Right, and he will be the first to claim that honor. He was also involved in the original discussions that led to the creation of the Moral Majority and, as its fundraiser, can be credited with its financial success. Paul Weyrich, a Catholic, claims credit for originating the idea for the group and the name itself. In their search for an attractive front man for the organization, they chose Jerry Falwell, who, according to intimates, has an insatiable lust for power—and, thus, Moral Majority, Inc., was born.
It is inconceivable that these Catholic laymen were not responding to the bishops’ Pastoral Plan. Much went into avoiding public disclosure of the role of the Catholic Church in the creation of the Moral Majority. Maxine Negri, in “A Well-Planned Conspiracy,” exposed involvement of the Catholic hierarchy in the Moral Majority. Then, the June 21, 1982, issue of U.S. News and World Report noted:
At the heart of Moral Majority is a direct-mail operation…. Membership claims … put the number of Moral Majority’s active supporters at roughly 4 million Roman Catholics, Protestant fundamentalists, and orthodox Jews. The organization says its “hardcore contributors,” numbered at more than 400,000, include a cadre of 80,000 priests, ministers, and rabbis organized into fifty autonomous chapters.
This claim of autonomy should not be taken seriously. What is described here is exactly the organization described in the Pastoral Plan of Action down to the details.
None of us who has ever worked extensively with fundamentalist churches or lived among fundamentalists ever took the claim that the Moral Majority was a fundamentalist organization seriously. One characteristic common among fundamentalists is a keen sense of individualism, and individualists are often fundamentalists because of this trait. There is self-selection. They strongly resist the “herding” that characterizes other major denominations such as the Catholic Church. It is very difficult to organize two or three local fundamentalist churches to carry out even a local short-term civic activity. Organizing much beyond this is inconceivable. In contrast, the Catholic Church, with its keen sense of organization acquired over a two-thousand-year history, found the “organization” of the fundamentalists a relatively simple task by providing with few exceptions the entire organization infrastructure, including the organization of the fifty autonomous state chapters and the organizations in the 435 congressional districts.
The far more experienced and autocratic Catholic Church found the fundamentalists easy prey. They created “leader” Jerry Falwell and they sought out for other visible positions others who also had an insatiable lust for power. These fundamentalists toe the line of the Catholic Church to maintain their newly acquired visibility and their sense of power. And, of course, the purse strings of the Moral Majority are controlled by those who collect the money—represented by Richard Viguerie. As the old adage goes, “he who controls the purse strings, controls the organization.”
The Family-Planning Movement
There is little doubt that virtually all opposition to the family-planning movement is Roman Catholic. The anti-family-planning movement’s main source of energy, organization, and direction clearly has been the Roman Catholic Church. Most people outside the family-planning field are not aware that this anti-family-planning movement continues to score major victories, such as preventing the U.S. sale of Depo-Provera, the birth-control injectable given every three months, a method which all available data indicate is safer than birth control pills. Depo-Provera is used by tens of millions of women around the world and is now approved by over one hundred countries, including most European countries, WHO, and other prestigious groups. Other victories include successfully laying roadblocks that prevent tens of thousands of women from receiving sterilization operations when they want them, roadblocks which result in thousands of unwanted births yearly. Far more important are the successes of the Church in minimizing U.S. assistance to family-planning efforts in developing countries.
Many of these victories for the Church come under the heading “Administrative Areas” in the bishops’ Pastoral Plan of Action. Two recent examples of Catholic Church activity are the mandatory notification of parents of teens who seek contraceptives at federally funded clinics and the banning of federal funds for family-planning clinics which provide abortion.
The ERA Movement
The Equal Rights Amendment died June 30, 1982. I am certain that its failure was the result of the success of the Catholic hierarchy’s bold efforts to defeat it. As with the anti-abortion movement, the main source of energy, organization, and direction of the anti-ERA movement is the Roman Catholic Church.
In June 1978, I received a Planned Parenthood Washington Memo which contained an article entitled “U.S. Bishops Block Pro-ERA Statement.” In part, it read:
The Roman Catholic hierarchy, in early May, refused to permit issuance of a subcommittee’s statement supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, indicating that the fight against legal abortion takes precedence as its preeminent concern.
The pro-ERA statement was supported by the bishops’ six-member Ad Hoc Committee on Women in the Church and Society, which took pains to separate support for ERA from any connotation of accepting abortion. Furthermore, they sought only to issue the statement in their own behalf and had reportedly consulted with the Family Life section of the bishops’ Department of Education, which apparently approved their conclusions “that the ERA will not threaten the stability of marriage in family life.”
According to a report of the National Catholic News Service, acceptance of the statement had been urged by ninety-four employees of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Catholic Conference, but advance disclosures about the issue also generated heavy mail from the “right to life” groups opposing the ERA. The NCCB’s forty-eight-member administrative board, which sets policy for the 345 U.S. Roman Catholic bishops, rejected the pro-ERA document during an early May meeting in Chicago, contending that it could hurt anti-abortion efforts.
It is now apparent that this move by the bishops was a brilliant ploy. The Church not only evaded taking a positive stand on an important social justice issue which threatens its power but it has worked diligently to defeat the ERA by using the very same political action organization used to combat abortion!
In my home state of North Carolina, one of the last hopes of the ERA movement, we saw statewide polls in May 1982 show that two-thirds of our citizens favored the amendment, and, in June 1982, we saw two-thirds of our lawmakers vote to defeat it. Clearly, a vast superior organization killed the ERA in North Carolina, a finely honed and skillful operation, one two thousand years in the making—the same one continuing to fight legalized abortions in our fair state.
Actions Taken by the Church
What actions has the hierarchy taken to counter the abortion, family-planning, and ERA movements?
In 1980, Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, a Canadian Roman Catholic professor of sociology at the University of Montreal, published a book entitled Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites. This is a study of the techniques intensively used by the Vatican in many countries to control Catholic laypersons in Italy over the past one hundred years. In 1875, the Vatican created a system of local parish committees of at least five members each, called Catholic Actions. These committees were created to organize laypersons to assist the Vatican in seizing control of local, state, and national political machinery. Over the years, the Church gained considerable experience in organizing these committees and in ensuring obedience and a very high degree of responsiveness to the chain of command by the committees. These committees and their more recent counterpart, civic committees, are highly effective in mobilizing Vatican efforts. Vaillancourt places the role of the committees in proper perspective by discussing
a famous open letter presented to the Pope in 1968 by dissatisfied Catholics from France and elsewhere. The letter severely criticized the Vatican’s excessive attachment to wealth and power, stressing the idea that Church authorities are too repressive and manipulative:
“The whole Church apparatus is organized for control: the Roman Curia controls the bishops, the bishops the clergy, the clergy controls the laity … and the lay Christians control (what an illusion!) mankind. Hence a multiplication of secretaries, commissions, structures, etc., with their programs and rules…. Underhand influences have suffocated the openness which had manifested itself at the lay conference in Rome, a congress which had very little communication with the bishops who were then meeting in a synod.”
After this attack on the abuses of social and legal power by church authorities, the letter goes on to describe three of the favorite techniques of control used by the Vatican: secrecy (there are secret files even against bishops), spying and informing, and repression (used even against some of the most respected theologians).
Secrecy can be classified as either a legal or a social method of control, depending on whether it is used as an administrative-legal procedure or as a simple social defense mechanism. Spying and informing would clearly be instances of social power, since they entail the use of social processes. Finally, repression, as discussed in the open letter, refers to a mixture of legal, coercive, and even remunerative power. Concretely, it includes the habitual recourse by Church officials to excommunications, censures, condemnations, demotions, and the removal or firing of offenders from their ecclesiastical jobs.
In researching Papal Power, Vaillancourt studied Vatican control over lay Catholic elites for years, spending a large part of his time at the Vatican. To effect this control, Vaillancourt has found that the Vatican exercises eight kinds of power—all of which have been used and have proved effective in opposing social issues in the United States.
ECOLOGICAL POWER, based on the physical control of material environmental conditions. An example of this is the use of territory, buildings, or real estate to control people through the domination of their environment.
REMUNERATIVE POWER, based on material or nonmaterial rewards or compensations. An example of this is the way the Pius XII Foundation uses its funds to support some lay activities and not others.
COERCIVE POWER, based on physical or psychic violence. Examples of this are burning at the stake, torture, imprisonment, banishment, blackmail, removal from office, denouncement.
SOCIAL POWER, based on the use of structural-organizational or psycho-sociological mechanisms such as Catholic Action congresses, peer-group pressures, rumors, co-optation, social ostracism, socialization, use of mass media, nepotism, and selective recruitment. An example of social power is “conditioning.” …
LEGAL POWER, juridically founded, or simply based on bureaucratic and administrative norms, procedures, and maneuvers. An example of this is the rule of secrecy which affects, under the pain of “grievous sin,” the affairs of the Secretariate of the Pope and the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church in their relations with Vatican diplomats and other high-ranking prelates. Another example is censorship, through the nihil obstat and imprimatur.
TRADITIONAL POWER, based on the use of traditional symbols, rituals, ideas, and sentiments. The cementing of loyalty through a mass of torch-lit procession during a congress would be an example of this kind of power. Appeals to practices (for example, speaking Latin) and documents popular or prevalent in previous times are also instances of the use of traditional power.
EXPERT POWER, based on professional, technical, or scientific or purely rational arguments. An example of this is the recourse to commissions of experts in theology or the social sciences to bolster one’s position. Pius XII’s speeches to numerous groups on a multitude of topics was also an effort to control through expert power.
CHARISMATIC POWER, based on exemplary or ethical prophecy. Examples of this are calls for social justice and equality (used extensively in recent years) or the giving away of some of the Church’s possessions for certain causes (for example, a ring in a Brazilian slum). In a less prophetic vein, the replacement of personal charisma of office and the routinization of charisma are other examples of the use of this kind of power.
The Vatican with one hundred years of experience in controlling nations through these lay Catholic organizations, has chosen to export this highly developed mechanism for control of lay Catholics and democratic processes to the United States. In 1975, the Church launched its Pastoral Plan of Action. The “committees” discussed in this plan are the same “committees” discussed by Vaillancourt that are used to control lay Catholics and to serve as political machinery. These “committees” which make up anti-abortion organizations are openly being used by the Vatican to manipulate the American democratic process. This includes the Moral Majority organization, as unsuspecting Protestants lend their support. For those who have figured out that they are being used, the lust for power or attention given them is enough to keep them in the fold.
The Pastoral Plan of Action was supposedly initiated by the Vatican because “the will of God and the law of reason” demanded an unrelenting fight against abortion. However, by 1978, it became apparent that the Vatican had simply seized upon a golden opportunity to mobilize Catholic America into a political party using its “right-to-life committees”—including the Moral Majority. Some observers began to recognize that these very same “committees” were being used to fight the other “enemies” of the Catholic Church: the ERA, family planning, the environmental movement, illegal immigration control, and support for the Global 2000 Report. I am now convinced that abortion was simply an excuse to politically mobilize the American Catholic Church and create, de facto, an American Catholic Political Party. The same techniques and tactics developed and used by the Church one hundred years ago to manipulate local, state, and national governments on other continents are exactly the same techniques and tactics seen in America today!
In 1977, victory for the ERA movement seemed almost certain. Few Americans realize the fantastic amount of organization and mobilization of human resources, funds, and commitment it took on the part of the Vatican to turn apparent victory for the ERA into defeat. Phyllis Schlafly, a Catholic, and the “organization” she headed, got more help from the Vatican and the American bishops than most Americans can possibly imagine. Judge Dooling found the anti-abortionists’ claim that they were a grass-roots movement to be spurious; the belief that the anti-ERA forces are also a grass-roots movement is ridiculous.
As serious observers study the opposition to the family-planning movement, the environmental movement, illegal immigration control, and the Global 2000 Report, they recognize just how sophisticated the opposition is—the amount of energy, organization, and direction each has—and that the opposition is all the same people, the same committees.
This is not an abstract theory. Such organization has been effective in Italy and other countries and was described by Vaillancourt before it got underway in earnest in the United States. Until those of us who are concerned about these social justice issues are willing to confront the Catholic hierarchy, there will be no significant advances in these areas of social justice. So long as the Church can act “undercover,” it will continue to be effective in thwarting significant advances. Our willingness to permit the Church to act in secrecy in America vastly enhances its power. It is absolutely essential that our silence be shattered. If not, then no matter which of these causes is “our cause” it’s a lost cause. Just as important, the strength of a threatening Vatican-controlled political party in America will continue to grow. American Catholics who are seriously concerned about social justice must take the pope and the Vatican at their word when they say that they do not intend to change their course. Catholics must be aware that the pope and the Vatican are choosing their social justice issues very selectively. In the 1970s, Cardinal Leo Suenens proposed that the position of pope and the Vatican, as we know it, be eliminated and that four “mini-pope” positions be created; this is consistent with Catholic teachings. He insisted that this is feasible. Perhaps it is time for socially responsible American Catholics to break the American Church away from the control of the Vatican. Otherwise, they as individuals stand to be accused of the same hypocrisy practiced by their Church hierarchy.
 D. J. Dooling, decision in McRae vs. HEW, New York: U.S. District Court. See, Appendix 1 for a more complete extract from Judge Dooling’s decision.
 P. D. Young, “Richard A. Viguerie: The New Right’s Secret Power Broker,” Penthouse (December 1982), p. 146.
 Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).
Dr. Stephen Mumford is the founder and President of the North Carolina-based Center for Research on Population and Security. He has his doctorate in Public Health. His principal research interest has been the relationship between world population growth and national and global security. He has been called to provide expert testimony before the U.S. Congress on the implications of world population growth.
Dr. Mumford has decades of international experience in fertility research where he is widely published, and has addressed conferences worldwide on new contraceptive technologies and the stresses to the security of families, societies and nations that are created by continued uncontrolled population growth. Using church policy documents and writings of the Vatican elite, he has introduced research showing the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church as the principal power behind efforts to block the availability of contraceptive services worldwide.
Professor Milton Siegel, who for 24 years was the Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization, speaks to Dr. Mumford in 1992 to reveal that although there was a consensus that overpopulation was a grave public health threat and would be a major cause of preventable death not too far in the future, the Vatican successfully fought off the incorporation of family planning and birth control into official WHO policy. This video is available for public viewing for the first time. Read the full transcript of the interview here.
Exorcism, The Vatican Death Cult and Mental Health
There has always been a stigma attached to mental illness and conditions such as epilepsy, which cause alarming seizures in otherwise healthy individuals. When society did not understand the cause of conditions that science has learned to identify and treat, people turned to religion to cope, and the results were at best scarring for the individual and at worst, deadly.
A young German woman that had suffered seizures all of her life was killed after ten months of exorcisms because her family believed that she was possessed by demons. Denied food and water, subjected to violent rituals, the 23 year old died horribly and needlessly at the hands of people blinded by their own ignorance.
Another epileptic in Pakistan was tortured by a witch doctor after his family asked that he be exorcised of his demons. He was attacked with iron rods and his fingernails pulled out all because he had suffered several seizures. By the time his family decided that he needed medical help, he succumbed to the injuries.
The two cases I’ve cited might easily have come from medieval texts or church records from another century, but they did not. The first case might be familiar to many, for it occurred in 1975. The victim’s name was Anneliese Michel and the movie “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” was based on her case. It was this tragedy that prompted the Roman Catholic Church to offer exorcists medical training in order to distinguish between a medical condition and a demonic possession.
The second case occurred in 2010, and the victim, Asif Qadri sparked a murder investigation, but it was too little too late for him. A father of two whose only crime was epilepsy died miserably because of religious superstition.
The sad fact is that people in the modern world are using exorcism as treatment for epilepsy, schizophrenia, and bi-polar disease. This is not happening in primitive villages in remote places. This is happening in modern Europe, Asia and North America. An east London exorcist told BBC Newsnight in 2012 that demons can “deceive doctors” into treating possession as mental illness.
See the backwards thinking here?
The Catholic Church, known for exorcisms, claims to perform the ritual only when the person in question has been cleared of any medical conditions. This is still not acceptable, because it is always a medical condition. The only evil possessing the victim of mental illness or epilepsy are those that deny a person proper medical care in order to partake in a superstitious ritual that has no place in modern society. Outside of Catholic clergy, the people performing exorcisms are being paid thousands in order to abuse a human being.
What does it say about our society when something like this is legal? Vatican approved or not, exorcism involves denying an epileptic medication that could prevent seizures. It involves terrifying a mentally ill person that may already dealing with something frightening within themselves and causing irreparable damage. It involves physical abuse, including beatings, asphyxiation, starvation and methods of torture last seen in Spanish dungeons during the Inquisition.
The moment a vulnerable person is subjected to this sort of cruelty is the moment that religious rights to mete it out should no longer apply. There is absolutely no justification for this sort of brutality. Until a better effort is made to educate people and it is made illegal, people will continue to suffer and die in the name of nonsense, and the unfair stigma attached to mental illness and other conditions people mistake for demonic possession will remain.
The Vatican said it would examine the report thoroughly and reiterated its commitment to defending and protecting child rights in accordance with the U.N. guidelines and “the moral and religious values offered by Catholic doctrine.”
The U.N.’s conclusions come after an unprecedented hearing in Geneva on Jan. 16 in which Vatican representatives were questioned by the U.N. committee.
Its recommendations are non-binding and the U.N. has given the Vatican until 2017 to report back. It criticized the institution for submitting its last report 14 years late.
“Well-known child sexual abusers have been transferred from parish to parish or to other countries in an attempt to cover-up such crimes,” the report said.
It later added: “Due to a code of silence imposed on all members of the clergy under penalty of excommunication, cases of child sexual abuse have hardly ever been reported to the law enforcement authorities in the countries where such crimes occurred.”
The U.N. report also denounced the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion.
The laughably prestigious University of Qassim in Saudi Arabia held one of the biggest women’s rights conferences in the Arab world last year. Ironically, the institution managed to hold the event without the advice or attendance of a single woman.
Themed around the topic of “Women in Society” the conference, held every year at the University, is supposed to set a benchmark for tolerance and progress in the region. Delegates and speakers from more than fifteen countries showed up.
As is to be expected from Saudi Arabia, a country firmly under the grip of Sharia Law, zero women attended the event. Perhaps more hypocritically, a single woman is yet to speak at a University of Qassim summit.
The picture below was published by an Arab newspaper, Okaz, last year and surfaced in the French-speaking press today.
Saudi Arabia is still ranked 127th out of 136 countries for gender parity.
Sr. Nzenzili Lucie Mboma: “It is painful to see the Vatican carrying on these kinds of things.” (Jason Berry)
Pope Benedict XVI greets U.S. Cardinal William Levada during the pontiff’s general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican in 2011. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Vatican CityEditor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles, a joint reporting project by NCR and GlobalPost.com, examining the background and the principal players in the Vatican’s investigations of U.S. women religious.
Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell and three other sisters crossed St. Peter’s Square through the fabled white columns, paused for a security check and entered the rust-colored Palace of the Holy Office.
It was April 18, 2012, and on entering the palazzo, they were aware of its history, that in this same building nearly 400 years earlier Galileo had been condemned as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition for arguing that the Earth orbits around the sun.
Today, the palazzo houses the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that enforces adherence to church teaching. As president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Farrell and her executive colleagues had an appointment with the prefect, Cardinal William Levada, about the congregation’s investigation of their group.
They were walking into what Fr. Hans Küng, the internationally renowned theologian who has had his own battles in the palazzo, calls “a new Inquisition.” (See related story.)
The sisters were accused of undermining church moral teaching by promoting “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” To many sisters, the congregation’s action is a turn toward the past, causing a climate of fear and a chill wind reaching into their lives.
The Vatican wants control of LCWR, an association of 1,500 superiors, representing 80 percent of American sisters, most long active in the front lines of social justice.
The main leadership council of American sisters embraced the Second Vatican Council’s social justice Gospel, which has taken sisters to some of the poorest corners of the world to work with politically oppressed people, particularly in Latin America. But a stark drama of attrition has unfolded as the Vatican II generation reaches an eclipse. Since 1965, the number of American sisters has dropped by more than two-thirds, from 181,241 to 54,000 today.
In contrast, the rate of women joining religious orders has surged in Korea, South Vietnam, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Caribbean. Nowhere has the increase been more pronounced than in India. Five of the 10 largest religious institutes of women have headquarters in India, where only 1.6 percent of the population is Catholic.
“While India has nearly 50 million fewer Catholics than the United States does, it has over 30,000 more women religious,” wrote Jeff Ziegler in Catholic World Report.
The Vatican crackdown of LCWR has exposed a schizophrenic church. Interviews with missionary sisters in Rome, from India and other countries, register a deep fault line between cardinals immune from punishment, and sisters who work in poor regions with some of the world’s most beleaguered people. Religious sisters from other parts of the world view LCWR’s conflict with foreboding. How far Pope Benedict XVI goes in imposing a disciplinary culture, policing obedience over sisters, is an urgent issue to many of these women — and one sure to color this pope’s place in history.
The doctrinal assessment delivered by Levada was an intervention plan; he appointed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to approve speakers for LCWR gatherings and overhaul its statutes. “You can impose silence, but that doesn’t change anyone’s thinking,” Farrell reflected several months later at the convent in Dubuque, Iowa, where she lives.
“This is about the Vatican II church, how we have come to live collegially with participatory decision-making,” Farrell said. “When I entered in 1965 we studied and prayed with [the Vatican II] documents, implementing new charters. … We’re in a line of continuity with the early history of our communities, assessing unmet needs, going to the margins to help the homeless, people with AIDS, victims of torture and sexual trafficking.”
“When Vatican II requested nuns to search their history, Rome believed in a mythology of plaster statue women,” said Syracuse University Professor Margaret Susan Thompson, a historian of women religious. “They found instead nuns who took the job literally, and became controversial for doing so.”
The leadership conference endorsed women’s ordination in 1977 — 17 years before Pope John Paul II reinforced the church’s ban on it with the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Farrell says LCWR has not campaigned for women’s ordination. Nor has it endorsed abortion. The doctrinal congregation’s demand that the leaders speak out against abortion and gay rights is a battle over conscience, forcing words into superiors’ mouths.
“These women are really rooted in Christ and committed to the poor,” said Sr. Nzenzili Lucie Mboma, executive director of Service of Documentation and Study on Global Mission in Rome. A Congolese member of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Mboma had two friends murdered in political violence in the 1960s, during her novice years. “It is painful to see the Vatican carrying on these kinds of things,” she said.
“In certain parts of the church we have an us-versus-them mentality,” said Fr. Míceál O’Neill, an Irish Carmelite prior in Rome with background as a missionary in Peru. ” ‘Us’ is religious, and ‘them’ is officers of the Holy See.”
“We have a church that is doctrinally conservative and pastorally liberal,” O’Neill said. “The Vatican is trying to assert control, ‘we are in charge.’ … Many people are saying the two churches are not coming together.”
“There is a fundamental problem of honesty.”
Farrell, 65, came of age in Iowa in the years of Vatican II. She joined the Franciscans at 18, and in her 30s worked with Mexicans in San Antonio. She moved to Chile in 1980 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Disappearances were common. “It was routine for police to torture people in the first 72 hours,” she said. Demonstrations were banned, yet protests were the only way to put a spotlight on abductions when lives were at stake.
She joined “lightning demonstrations,” unfurling banners of the anti-torture protest movement in congested traffic, spreading leaflets that gave people information on the missing, who were airbrushed out of news reports. At one point she was arrested, with 100 other people, but coverage in a growing clandestine media saw them released the same day.
In 1986, she moved to El Salvador with a handful of sisters to help people reeling from a civil war with U.S. military support of the Salvadoran government. Farrell spent her first weeks sleeping at night in a church sacristy, getting to know people, and eventually moving into a sprawling refugee camp, living with villagers displaced by military bombings. American sisters were a nonviolent presence, giving thin cover to locals.
“We learned never to leave the road because any area off defined footpaths could have land mines,” she explained. “I remember walking down one long hill with trembling knees to meet a group of soldiers who entered the camp. Part of our role as internationals in the camp was to keep the military out and I was on my way down to ask them to leave. That time they did, thank God.”
Religious processions common to Latin America took on heightened meaning. For a newly repopulated community to show up en masse, with banners of saints and the Virgin Mary, conveyed “a political statement,” Farrell said: “We are not afraid. We have a right to be here. Our faith continues to be a source of strength to us.”
In 2005, Farrell returned to her Dubuque convent. Elected to the LCWR board several years later, she was midway through her one-year term as president when LCWR leaders made their annual trip to Rome in 2012 to update church officials on their work. With Farrell were Dominican Sr. Mary Hughes, past president; president-elect Franciscan Sr. Florence Deacon, and Janet Mock, the executive director and a Sister of St. Joseph of Baden, Pa.
Before their appointment in the Palace of the Holy Office, they held an hour of silent prayer in a Carmelite center.
The sisters had met once with the doctrinal congregation’s investigator, Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio, but had not seen his report. The sisters were expecting some conclusion to Blair’s inquiry but had no indication about what it would entail. Blair was not in the meeting that day. They were to meet with Levada, who was about to turn 76 and retire to his native California.
After a cordial greeting, Levada read aloud an eight-page, single-spaced assessment that his office was just posting to the Internet. The assessment accused the sisters of “corporate dissent” on homosexuality and failure to speak out on abortion. The assessment also castigated LCWR for ties to NETWORK, a Washington-based Catholic lobbying group that supported the Affordable Care Act, and the Resource Center for Religious Institutes, a group in Silver Spring, Md., that gives religious orders canon law guidance on property issues.
Leaving the Holy Office, Farrell felt numb. “It was in the press before we had time to brief our members,” she recalled.
“The reaction of rank-and-file sisters was anger. Now there is a stage of deep sadness and concern for the climate in the church and the misrepresentation of religious life,” she said.
A darkly ironic twist involves the doctrinal congregation’s handling of the clerical sexual abuse crisis. The congregation has processed 3,000 cases of priests who have been laicized for abusing youngsters. Several hundred are reportedly pending.
Yet those procedures, which Benedict, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, put in place as prefect in 2001, have a large loophole. The office has not judged bishops and cardinals whose negligence in recycling abusers caused the crisis.
The most glaring example is Cardinal Bernard Law, whose soft-glove treatment of pedophiles ignited the Boston scandal. He resigned as archbishop in 2002 and in 2004 he was named pastor of a great Roman basilica, Santa Maria Maggiore, with a $10,000 per month salary and a highly influential role in choosing new American bishops.
Law was a driving force behind a preliminary investigation of all American religious orders of women, according to several sources interviewed here, and a May 15 report by Robert Mickens, the respected Vatican correspondent for the British Catholic weekly, The Tablet. Law, who has not spoken to the media in a decade, refused an interview request. But Cardinal Franc Rodé, 78, retired prefect of the congregation that oversees religious orders, confirmed Law’s role. In a wide-ranging interview at his residence in the Palace of the Holy Office, Rodé said, “It was the American milieu in the Roman Curia that suggested it.”
The “apostolic visitation” of all but the cloistered communities of U.S. women religious was the initial phase. The doctrinal congregation’s aggressive investigation of the main leadership group soon followed.
“Some people say this is an attempt to divert attention from the abuse crisis, like politicians do,” a missionary sister from a developing country with her order in Rome, said of the doctrinal congregation’s investigation. She asked that her name not be used because the order depends on donations from U.S. Catholics channeled through dioceses.
“The Vatican is trying to assert control, to say, ‘We are in charge,’ ” she continued. “This envisions a different church from Vatican II. Many people are saying that the two churches are not coming together.”
LCWR has indeed pushed the envelope by giving forums to theologians who have questioned celibacy and the evolution of religious life. As liberal theologians clamor for change, LCWR has collided with the doctrinal office over freedom of conscience, a core principle of Vatican II.
Rodé, as prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, ordered the 2009 visitation of American sister communities. He told Vatican Radio of his concern for “a certain secular mentality … in these religious families and perhaps also a certain ‘feminist’ spirit.”
Rodé was also prompted by a 2008 conference he attended on religious life at Stonehill College near Boston. Dominican Sr. Elizabeth McDonough, a canon lawyer, accused LCWR of creating “global-feminist-operated business corporations” and “controlling all structures and resources.”
“I’m unaware of any such facts that would back up that claim. It sounds like a sweeping indictment of the direction many orders have taken which the hierarchy found offensive or disloyal, summed up in the ‘radical feminism’ catch phrase,” said Kenneth A. Briggs, author of Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church’s Betrayal of American Nuns.
“Most orders were scrounging to come up with funds to support retired sisters, often selling off property that belonged to them to do so. It seems clear to me that the aim of the Stonehill meeting was to paint a picture of disobedience as a pretext for a crackdown,” Briggs said.
Rodé in an interview brushed off suggestions that the apostolic visitation was unfair.
Rodé had requested $1.3 million from religious communities and bishops to cover travel and other expenses for the visitation, which he appointed Mother Mary Clare Millea, superior general of Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to carry out.
The funding request raised eyebrows among many missionary orders.
“Why would you want to pay them to investigate you?” asked one of the missionary sisters in Rome.
The study by Millea has not been made public.
“Vatican II was the most important event that changed the Catholic church,” said Sr. Nzenzili Lucie Mboma. “Jesus was a carpenter. He didn’t build cells, but windows to see every culture.”
She paused. “Why is this investigation happening?”
Coming in this series: Next: The bishops and cardinals who are investigating the sisters have poor records on sex abuse cases.
[Jason Berry, author of Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, writes from New Orleans. Research for this series has been funded by a Knight Grant for Reporting on Religion and American Public Life at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; and the Fund for Investigative Journalism
The Church uses its resources to oppose social progress and positive change all over the world.
Photo Credit: AFP
Last month in Ireland, Savita Halappanavar died, and she shouldn’t have. Savita was a 31-year-old married woman, four months pregnant, who went to the hospital with a miscarriage in progress that developed into a blood infection. She could easily have been saved if the already doomed fetus was aborted. Instead, her doctors did nothing, explaining that “this is a Catholic country,” and left her to suffer in agony for days, only intervening once it was too late.
Savita’s death is just the latest in a long line of tragedies directly attributable to the doctrines and beliefs of the Roman Catholic church. I acknowledge that there are many good, progressive Catholics, but the problem is that the church isn’t a democracy, and those progressives have no voice or vote in its governance. The church is a petrified oligarchy, a dictatorship like the medieval monarchies it once existed alongside, and it’s run by a small circle of conservative, rigidly ideological old men who make all the decisions and choose their own successors.
This means that, whatever individual Catholics may do, the resources of the church as an institution are bent toward opposing social progress and positive change all over the world. Every dollar you put into the church collection plate, every Sunday service you attend, every hour of time and effort you put into volunteering or working for church organizations, is inevitably a show of support for the institutional church and its abhorrent mission. When you have no voice, there’s only one thing left to do: boycott. Stop supporting the church with your money and your time. For lifelong Catholics, it’s a drastic step, but it’s more than justified by the wealth of reasons showing that the church as an institution is beyond reform, and the only meaningful response is to part ways with it. Here are just a few of those reasons:
1. Throughout the world, Catholic bishops have engaged in a systematic, organized effort going back decades to cover up for priests who molest children, pressuring the victims to sign confidentiality agreements and quietly assigning the predators to new parishes where they could go on molesting. Tens of thousands of children have been raped and tortured as a result of this conspiracy of silence.
2. Strike one: “What did the pope know and when did he know it?” The current pope, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was personally implicated in a case from the 1970s in which at least three sets of parents reported that a priest in his diocese had sexually abused their children. In response, Ratzinger assigned the priest to therapy, without notifying law enforcement, and washed his hands of the matter. That priest was back on duty in just a few short days and went on to molest more children.
3. Strike two: In 1981, again when the current pope was Cardinal Ratzinger, he got a letter from the diocese of Oakland asking him to defrock a priest who had acknowledged molesting two children. Ratzinger ignored this letter, and several followup letters, for four years. Finally, in 1985, he wrote back saying that more time was needed, and that they had to proceed very slowly to safeguard “the good of the Universal Church” in light of “the young age of the petitioner” — by which he meant not the victimized children, but the pedophile priest. (By contrast, when a rogue archbishop ordained married men as priests, he was laicized six days later.)
4. Strike three: In 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter, De Delictis Gravioribus, to all Catholic bishops advising them how to handle accusations of sex crimes by priests. There was no recommendation to contact the police, but rather an instruction for them to report such cases only to the Vatican and tell no one else: “Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret.”
The Vatican Occupation of America – A Tragi-Comedy In Three Acts III The Vatican Numbers Game.
Priests give Hitler salute at a Catholic youth rally in the Berlin-Neukolln stadium in August 1933.
(SASKATCHEWAN) – Question: (From the inquisitive student in the back row) “How can the Vatican, which has no defense or military budget of $750 billion (as in the United States), with no army, navy or air force – except for a platoon or so of those Swiss guards carrying pike poles and those funny hats) manage to control, dictate to and obtain absolute fealty from (including the payment of enormous amounts of money under “concordats”) literally every legitimate (about 178 of them) “free world” government, not to mention 800 million people around the globe?”
Answer: “An excellent question, back-row student. The answer is by parading itself as the next thing to God. The American model is typical, and one of the most successful. Let us consider the American model. Watch closely.”
In our last class, entitled “Sex And The Single Church,” we were considering “Catholic Education,” which is held high as a beacon and often referred to in hushed tones by distinguished politicians, celebrities and talk-show hosts who are obviously graduands of an excellent Catholic educational institution, along with emotional nostalgia over Knute Rockne, the Gipper himself and the football supremacy of Notre Dame. As a result, the priestly control of education in Catholic America has a subliminal but huge implication for intellectual freedom, that handmaiden of “religious freedom.”
Consider the following catechism, offered up by Dr. Sydney Mumford, as far back as 1984:
The pope is the infallible leader of mankind, and, when he speaks for the Church in matters of faith and morals he, like Caesar’s wife, can neither be wrong nor above reproach.
The Virgin Mary returned to the earth six times in 1917 and told three peasant children of Fatima, Portugal, what the Western world should do to avoid destruction by Soviet Russia.
It is a grave sin for an American Catholic deliberately to join the Masons or Odd Fellows. (Contrary to popular belief, the Knights of Columbus are not Odd Fellows. They just look like it. – Ed.)
No good Catholic may positively and unconditionally approve of the principle of separation of church and state. (Rick Santorum is a good Catholic. -Ed)
Thomas Aquinas is the greatest philosopher of all time. (So is Phil Donahue. No relation to Bill Donahue, the soothsayer of the American Catholic League. -Ed.)
It is a sin to teach the evolution of man as a whole from animal life. (Although Archbishops may be referred to as “primates.” -Ed.)
In general, no Catholic has a moral right to secure a divorce and remarry even if married to a syphilitic, insane or adulterous murderer; and any Catholic who does remarry after such a divorce is guilty of adultery.
The Reformation was a backward step in human history, and many of the worst evils of fascism and communism flow from it.
It is a grave sin for a Catholic under ordinary circumstance knowingly to own or use a Protestant Bible.
The pope is the head of a sovereign temporal state which has coequal rights with that of the government of the United States.
The rights of the Church as educator are prior to and superior to the rights of the state as educator, and no government has the legal right to infringe upon this divine prerogative.
Since differences in schools, curriculum and teachers produce differences in behavior, there is a huge implication for science, the study of demographics and population growth and presidential elections. Catholic hospitals, for example, sharply restrict the delivery of family-planning services, to the dismay of any non-Catholic couples who are naïve enough to use these facilities for fertility related services.
With recent advances in medicine that have allowed embryo transfers, test-tube babies, and artificial insemination, the Church’s negative response runs counter to its pro-life position. The Church claims that such conceptions are against “natural” law, with elaborate theological reasoning, all of which is sheer lunacy.
Instead of armed forces, the Church uses psychic weapons, such as the threat of excommunication. Over the centuries, the Church devised an elaborate system of controls that rely upon what amounts to “psychic terrorism” applied to the faithful by celibate moral experts whose sole domain is the adjudication and wrestling to the ground of a Church invention known as “sin.” Sin differs from crime in that for the latter you go to jail, for the former you go to the confessional and donate a little something to the Church, concerning which, all monetary roads lead to Rome and the Vatican Bank.
The distinction between Catholic Church tyranny and that of other historical tyrants is that the former is a tyranny of virtue. Just as American advertising has established the principle that if you lie long and strongly enough, people will buy the lie, the Church line can counter the truth without producing the appearance of a lie. (On Madison Avenue, the message that “saving 15% on your car insurance,” bombarded by an insurance company ad nauseum convinces the buyer, although the fact is that the company has the most expensive premiums in the industry.)
“Goodness” has allowed the Vatican tyranny to flourish as Christian love for two thousand years. Oddly, today only 50 percent of all Catholic Americans polled believe in papal infallibility, but they buy the product anyway. This spread between belief and action has been the historical reason for the Church’s success as a basic profit center, but it also bears the seeds of its undoing.
In practice, American Catholics ignore the wishes of the hierarchy and produce family sizes identical to non-Catholics. They use the same contraceptive methods with the same frequency and are resorting to abortion at the same rate. Even as recently as 1960 Catholics had, on average, one more child than non-Catholics. No longer. Along with a gradual exodus from the Church by all concerned.
As a result, Catholic “religious freedom” must continue to fight a rear-guard action against the encroachment of a more enlightened generation and the advent of the worldwide web, social media and universal communication. Rearguard action has been attempted, such as attempting to encourage greater immigration of people from Catholic nations, such as Latin America, to replace the eroding American family constituency, but the handwriting is increasingly on the wall.
Church reactionaries to the demographic reality of the shrinking Catholic presence in America enlist the ancient cliche, “You should never criticize another man’s religion.” That innocent-sounding doctrine, born in a Protestant America before the arrival of a significant Vatican presence, is full of danger to U.S. security. It ignores the duty of every good citizen to stand for the truth in every field of thought, including the favorite of all righties, national security. It illuminates the central principle that a large part of what the Vatican calls religion is also politics and economics.
Which takes me back to my Dad and his injunction when I was a little boy that I apologize for bad-mouthing the Church. So here, in these three installments, albeit 75 years later, I come as close as I can, Dad, to an essay on tolerance.
“We will forgive you,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “if you will forgive us.”
Catholic clergy and Nazi officials, including Joseph Goebbels (far right) and Wilhelm Frick (second from right), give the Nazi salute. Germany, date uncertain. [Photo source, Holocaust Encyclopedia]
Except that in this instance, the “you” in the equation, despite all the Latin mumbling, hasn’t said mea culpa yet.
Bill Annett grew up a writing brat; his father, Ross Annett, at a time when Scott Fitzgerald and P.G. Wodehouse were regular contributors, wrote the longest series of short stories in the Saturday Evening Post’s history, with the sole exception of the unsinkable Tugboat Annie.
At 18, Bill’s first short story was included in the anthology “Canadian Short Stories.” Alarmed, his father enrolled Bill in law school in Manitoba to ensure his going straight. For a time, it worked, although Bill did an arabesque into an English major, followed, logically, by corporation finance, investment banking and business administration at NYU and the Wharton School. He added G.I. education in the Army’s CID at Fort Dix, New Jersey during the Korean altercation.
He also contributed to The American Banker and Venture in New York, INC. in Boston, the International Mining Journal in London, Hong Kong Business, Financial Times and Financial Post in Toronto.
Bill has written six books, including a page-turner on mutual funds, a send-up on the securities industry, three corporate histories and a novel, the latter no doubt inspired by his current occupation in Daytona Beach as a law-abiding beach comber.
Derivative Work. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI since 2005) on May 10, 2003, during the celebration of the 750th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Stanislaus in Szczepanów, Poland. Picture taken by Janusz Stachoń and released under CC-BY license by Szamil (www.szczepanow.pl). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Nazi Catholic Pope went to Mexico to meet victims of drug violence but I don’t recall him meeting with all those adults who were victimized by the Catholic pedophiles he sent out to do the Devil’s work back when the scandal broke in the Catholic church. OR SHOULD I WRITE, when victims began coming forward in droves and the police started listening to all of them. HUNDREDS of them.
So this Nazi Catholic Pope goes to Mexico and preaches against the evil in narcotics. Oh my! That must have been a short sermon for the old nazi unless he took his own pharmaceutics, he couldn’t have possibly said much to those poor people. Raped by their own people, by the Catholic Religion and the world. C’mon Americans have everything to do with these Mexican drug cartels in fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if our own Feds are involved up to their balls with these “drug dealers” in Mexico.
Let’s face it, human’s prey on other humans because, well, there are too many people alive today on this planet and we need to cut down the population. I got great ideas on how to do that but heyyy – I digress.
There has been an bizarre press release today from the Vatican … it is quite extraordinary in that is illustrates the astonishing degree of pure stupidity and complete detachment from reality. Here it is … with my comments in red …
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI told Vatican officials Monday that they must reflect on the church’s culpability in its child sex-abuse scandal, but he also blamed a secular society in which he said the mistreatment of children was frighteningly common.
[Does he truly not remember that when running the congregation for the doctrine of the faith before becoming Pope, he issued a directive in 1980 to all catholic Bishops worldwide to cover-up the abuse and keep it a secret and that failing to do so would result in their excommunication … that resulted in abusers being protected and allowed to continue the abuse, this had nothing to do with secular society]
In his traditional, end-of-the-year speech to Vatican cardinals and bishops, Benedict said revelations of abuse in 2010 reached “an unimaginable dimension” that required the church to accept the “humiliation” as a call for renewal.
[Thats code for, we got caught telling lies and covering up abuse]
“We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen,” the pope said.
[Seriously! … they truly don’t know … they honestly don’t yet appreciate that protecting folks who bugger little children is not a great idea, is their disconnect from reality that vast?]
Benedict also said, however, that the scandal must be seen in a broader social context, in which child pornography is seemingly considered normal by society and drug use and sexual tourism are on the rise.
[He actually thinks the society considers child pornography to be normal!! … can you, the reader, name one single individual who truly thinks like that … this is utterly bizarre … and exactly how does he know that drug use and sexual tourism are on the rise, he has no factual data to back that claim up … he is just making this up … but then he makes everything else up as well … and for that matter, what has any of this got to do with catholic priests abusing young children and the cover-up … unless perhaps he is suggesting that catholic priests are also drug users and sexual tourists ]
So how on earth can you ever respond to stuff like that, its such a gross denial of what is really happening. As you might imagine, representatives of abuse victims have a few words to say about this …
“He is trying to say that the modern world is corrupt and sexually rampant. It is blaming society for what is actually their responsibility,” Margaret Kennedy, founder of the U.K.-based Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors organization, told The Telegraph today. “No one in any age has ever thought that adults having sex with children is right.”
However, not everybody has lost all integrity, because tens of thousands of Germans have cancelled their church membership this year, according to new research by the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper and the DPA press agency, and that in the end is the very best way forward … walk away … simply vote with your feet.
The Vatican has a long and sordid history of putting religious ideology ahead of basic science — which is to say, ahead of reality. Nowhere is this most evident than perhaps in questions of biology and the latest expression of the Vatican’s hostility towards reality is their opposition to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine to Robert Edwards, the pioneer of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
After hearing the news of the Nobel award, Monsignor Ignacio Cartasco. the Vatican’s spokesman on bioethics, told Italy’s Ansa news agency on Tuesday that the decision to honour Edwards was “completely out of order”. He Is responsible for the 1arge number of freezers filled with embryos In the world”, of which most will probably “end up abandoned or dead”, Cartasco said.
Source: New Scientist, October 9, 2010
By this logic, I suppose the Vatican should condemn the factories which produce tissues and hand lotion — after all, consider all the poor sperm which have denied any sort of chance at fertilizing an egg because of the widespread, unrestricted availability of tissues and lotion to young males. It’s a holocaust that dwarfs all other holocausts and no one is protesting it!