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Cardinal: John Paul II Approved Secrecy for Molesters

Dario Castrillon Hoyos in 2002. (Associated Press)

Here’s a new, overlooked item in the ongoing soap opera of the Catholic Child Molesters’ League: a Spanish cardinal wrote to a French bishop in 2001, praising him for not reporting a serially abusive priest to the cops.

Now the cardinal says he showed his letter to Pope John Paul II, who approved of it and ordered him to send a copy to every bishop in the world.

William Wan of The Washington Post reports:

At the center of the debate is [Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos], the former head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, who made headlines last week when a 2001 letter he wrote to French Bishop Pierre Pican surfaced in the French press. In it, he praised Pican for not reporting the pedophile priest to police, despite being mandated to do so under French law.

“I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration,” Castrillón wrote, after Pican was convicted of failing to report sex crimes against children. “You have acted well, and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest.”

At the time the letter was written, the priest, the Rev. René Bissey, had been sentenced to 18 years in prison for repeatedly raping a boy and for sexually assaulting 10 other children.

On Saturday, Castrillón ignited another firestorm when he claimed that Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, not only approved of his letter but also instructed him to send copies to bishops worldwide.

I’ve taken this out of context slightly, in that The Post’s Wan is all a-flutter because Castrillon’s upcoming appearance at a long-scheduled Latin mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is being verbally protested by the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests. Wan seems to think this is an unfortunate coincidence, and that the museum-piece mass should go on as scheduled; it’s been three years in the planning and he’s sympathetic to the sponsors. Okay, fine, let them have their mass with someone else. But to explain why this Latin mass is now in doubt, he had to describe the controversy; thus my pulled quote above. Wan is not the only source of this information; it stands on its own, but his article is quotable. It doesn’t matter that he’s more sympathetic to the Paulus Institute, sponsors of the upcoming mass, than to SNAP; that’s his problem.

The story of Castrillon’s letter to the French bishop, who was himself convicted of failing to call the cops, and Castrillon’s claim that the late pope approved his letter and ordered it cc’d to every bishop in the world, is by far more important than one olde-tyme mass in D.C.

SNAP couldn’t be more right in this case. It clearly shows that the Catholic Church puts its own secrecy above protecting children, and that it does so as a matter of policy from the pope on down.

It also proves that the Church’s actions go way beyond “being tone-deaf” or “having a poor public relations response” to the crisis. Some commentators like to minimize the controversy with phrases like these.

The news about Bissey, Pican, Castrillon and John Paul II is totally outrageous. But my point goes beyond the usual anger, hurt and indignation; those responses are getting to be routine, the more the saga unfolds. I want to examine what Cardinal Castrillon was saying to Bishop Pican, and why he said it, to see if we can get beyond the outrage to understand why the Church has taken the position it has.

It goes beyond our usual high-pitched accusations—”the pope is a dictator, the Church is a criminal conspiracy”—to something else: this is a matter of theology, strange as that must seem.

The pope really is a dictator, and the Church really is a criminal conspiracy, but why? Because of their tragically flawed theology of the nature of the priesthood.

“I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration,” Castrillón wrote, after Pican was convicted of failing to report sex crimes against children. “You have acted well, and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest.”

That’s as opposite an apology as you’re ever going to see. Castrillon is claiming that Pican did the exact right thing according to God. John Paul II agreed with him.

in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world

Any idiot—any parent—can see the moral depravity of this. It’s breathtaking that the Church cannot. But let’s remember, this is not the first era, nor is child molesting the first type of crime, in which the Church has taken this position; it was precisely this same phenomenon which led to the Protestant Reformation. Back then the issue was priests who commit murder, as well as lesser corruptions like selling indulgences. For at least 500 years of history of the Church in England, the Church claimed a right to try clergy accused of crimes in its own Church courts, not in the government’s courts.

People rioted over this question; kings went to war over it. Archbishops were beheaded over it. Thomas Becket was killed at the altar in Canterbury Cathedral because of it; he insisted that the Church, not Henry II’s government, discipline his priests. Becket’s a saint because of this—even in the Church of England.

Becket murdered in the cathedral.

When Henry VIII finally got control of the English Church so he could marry Anne Boleyn and prevent another civil war over the royal succession, ecclesiastical vs. civil courts was one of the main issues he cited.

And however ridiculous it was that Henry’s sexual and romantic appetites were the immediate cause of the break with Rome, the English Church has been purified of this deadly theology of priesthood ever since. Anglicans worldwide thank God for it.

Henry and his many wenches.

So what’s the theology? Why did Cardinal Castrillon praise the French bishop for “preferring prison to denouncing his son and priest”? Why did John Paul II endorse Castrillon’s position and order it distributed to every bishop of the Church?

What is a priest? Here’s how Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, explains it on his website:

Every Catholic priest is an icon of Jesus Christ and acts in persona Christi (“in the person of Christ”). At every Mass, we not only remember the Last Supper and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we also live them again in the present, and God becomes flesh and blood in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. In other words, the Mass, through Jesus Christ who acts in his priest, is always much more than a ritualized memory of something that happened a long time ago. It’s a living sacrifice, a mystery and a sacrament – a sign of God’s continuing, tangible presence among us.

(This comes after Chaput’s patted Protestants on the head. The italics are his.)

Castrillon praised the French bishop (himself a convict, remember) for not turning in the serial molester-priest (who got 18 years in the slammer) because a priest is the very successor of Christ, and you wouldn’t turn in Jesus to the government of Pontius Pilate, would you?

When a priest celebrates mass, Catholics believe, not only is the crucifixion of Christ re-enacted, it takes place again at that very moment.

The sacrifice of Jesus is not only then, but now. Thus the sacrament of Holy Communion the priest celebrates turns the bread and wine into the Real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, to be reverently consumed as he ordered, “Do this.”

It’s not a huge leap of logic to go from there to “every priest is Jesus” or “every priest participates in Jesus.” (The rest is theological gloss, frankly.)

In ordination the priest was grafted into Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit, or so they believe.

Benedict 16 explained all this in 1990 when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, in a speech On the Nature of the Priesthood.

You wouldn’t turn Jesus over to Pilate, would you? That’s why the Vatican’s done everything it’s done.

The theology has a certain plausibility, a certain Scriptural grounding; it’s even perhaps revelatory of the loving nature of God. But look at the results: priests committing murder and getting shielded by the Church; priests molesting children and getting shielded by the Church.

We human beings, mere mortals, unwashed laypeople, cannot allow this to go on. We demand that government overrule the Church.

Jesus said, “By their fruits, ye shall know them.” You can tell who’s worth following, and who’s not, by the results of their behavior.

Matthew 7:16-30 (NRSV)

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit—but the Catholic Church bears bad fruit all over the place, and always has, because of this horrible error in its theology of priesthood, and its creation of ecclesiastical courts that set priests apart when they go bad.

The Church didn’t intend for any of this to happen, but it has.

Most priests bear great fruit, but the ones who don’t mess it up for everyone else—including kids.

Until Rome recognizes that its theology is wrong, nothing much is going to change. It will forever make excuses and coddle the priests who go bad, because it over-identifies its functionaries with the person of Jesus.

My mentor Howard Galley once said, “Heresy takes a truth and over-emphasizes it, so that the truth it upholds gets out of balance with other truths.”

That’s exactly what’s happened time and again in the Catholic Church—because of its polity, its decision-making process, which is always top-down, never bottom-up.

It’s true, I believe, that Jesus is really there in the Holy Communion. It’s true, I believe, that a priest acts and re-enacts the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross in the breaking of bread. It’s true that a priest is grafted onto and into the person of Christ in ordination. But that’s not the end of the story, it’s the beginning.

Societies have a right to protect themselves from noxious theologies, and parents have a right to protect their children from priests.

There’s something grievously wrong when the Church thinks its theology is more important than human beings. God doesn’t think so; God thinks the opposite.

God couldn’t care less whether you believe in the “immaculate conception of Mary,” for which there is zero Biblical evidence; that theology is pure extrapolation invented by overreaching systematizers trying to reconcile the contradictions of someone else’s theology. You can pray to God in Latin if you want to, or English or Chinese; what matters is that you pray.

Meanwhile the pope’s shit stinks; the priest’s shit stinks; and if you think Jesus pooped vanilla ice cream you’re denying that he was a man, which is grievous heresy.

But even heresy isn’t a crime; a man imposing himself on a child while claiming to act for God is the very definition of crime. Let’s have a toast to the French police.++

A Little Statement on Faith

Iceland volcano: thar she blows. (Icelandic Coast Guard/AP)

There was this scholar and atheist guy in Britain, see, who became a Deist in old age and has now died. I’ve never heard of him, but his death made the papers; you can read about him here in the Chicago Tribune.

This is the part that struck me:

The son of a Methodist minister, Flew abandoned belief as a teenager because of the problem of evil.

“It just seemed flatly inconsistent to say that the universe was created by an omnipotent and perfectly good being. Yet there were evils in abundance which could not be put down to a consequence of human sin,” he was quoted as saying in a 2004 interview with the Sunday Times.

In the last decade of his life, scientific discoveries about the complexity of DNA led him to believe there was an intelligent creator.

Flew’s belief was in deism, involving a remote creator who takes no interest in human affairs.

Flew said he was impressed by the work of Gerald Schroeder, a physicist and Jewish theologian who wrote “The Hidden Face of God,” published in 2001.

“He pointed out the improbable statistics involved and the pure chances that have to occur. It’s simply not on to think this could occur simply by chance,” the Sunday Times quoted Flew as saying.

What does this mean for ordinary people? This fella wasn’t the first to discover that there’s evil in the world, or to blame God for it.

God’s been getting blamed like this for centuries. Hurricane in New Orleans? Bad God—or Bad People, which is more or less the same thing. Nonsense.

Earthquakes in Chile and China? Hundreds of people innocently claimed by… who? what? Must be that nasty God fellow.

Poppycock. A volcano blows in Iceland? (Or right next to our friend Leonardo’s house?) Bad God.

The fact is that the possibility of all these disastrous things is built into this rock we live on. Tectonic plates have to shift, and they don’t do so according to your schedule. Volcanoes blow. Cancers grow.

We’ve all got to die, and that’s the real issue. Why does the one I love have to die?

Because out of death comes life. Take a look in your backyard compost heap; that stuff used to be cucumbers. (But you can use it to grow tomatoes!)

If people didn’t die this rock would be so crowded that it couldn’t support life. So we’d all die. That’s just a built-in fact, Papa-san.

I believe, in Dr. Flew’s words, that “the universe was created by an omnipotent and perfectly good being.” That’s exactly what I believe and know, that God is a perfectly good being.

Flew’s mistake is this: God isn’t a Topic to be Thought About, but a Person to be Experienced.

To really get to know God you have to be open to a relationship with God; and Flew never was.

A lot of people aren’t, which pains me to some extent, but it’s a fact, just like gravity. It isn’t worth arguing about, which is why I put atheists on Ignore, no matter how much they rant and rave these days.

Billions of people are open to a relationship with God; that’s why we believe, because we know in our own bodies and souls that God is immediately there.

Always; every time. A Being of incredible gentleness, love and power.

You can’t know that if you deny the possibility of it; the same as you can’t make a friend out of a stranger you don’t want to know or take the time to experience.

You’ve got to talk to that stranger, in other words. Why should she bother with you if you have no interest in her?

God’s the same way. She doesn’t go where she’s not wanted.

The Biblical term for this is that some people are “hard-hearted.” But a number of intellectuals are hard-headed.

Once Dr. Flew discovered — no, became convinced in his mind — that God exists and created this world so enormously full of life, Flew went to the fallback position: God is impersonal, never visits us, and doesn’t care.

God’s a creator only; but wouldn’t that get boring after awhile?

You set up a system, Big Bang or otherwise, a million years ago or 5000, then you sit around doing nothing all day?

Not even “Oprah”? Jeez. What would relieve the tedium?

God isn’t like that — which is why Dr. Flew’s father set his life on a different reality.

The creator of life is himself alive — which means he loves to stand and yak over the back fence.

I bet there’s a whole room in heaven just for gossip; souls sit in the TV lounge watching “Oprah” and saying, “Can you BELIEVE she just said that?”

I doubt it’s a very nice lounge, but the point is that God is alive, and of course takes a real interest in her friends.

She helps us when we need her; she desires nothing more than to be close to us.

When an earthquake ravages Haiti she just hates it; heaven’s in mourning for weeks.

But she doesn’t blame herself for it; earthquakes are part of the deal.

It’s a magnificent rock we’re living on, after all; have you seen a tulip today? My lilacs are almost out, and oh baby, they’re why I live in Indiana. Such a sweet smell, and the lilac bush came free with the house.

The onions are growing, the chives are gigantic, the rosemary’s coming back, the hostas are thriving, the azaleas, the peonies; every farmer for miles around is out right now planting corn. I heard some guy bragging he sowed 500 acres in one day!

Dr. Flew decided in his mind that Dr. Schroeder, the physicist and theologian, was right; there’s a vast Intelligence in this Design.

But Flew was too pissed off about earthquakes or somethin’: “Evils in abundance which could not be put down to a consequence of human sin.”

Yup, we die, buddy, and you just did. Welcome to the compost heap, which you will enrich.

Let me close with a little story about evils in abundance that have nothing to do with me. In my house we call ’em bugs.

I hate the little things, because I’m afraid of them. I kill every one I come across inside the house. Outside, I just scream and run.

No joke, I have a phobia. No matter how foolish this is, I’m convinced they’re all out to kill me.

I could spend my time railing against God, denouncing him for having created them, or I could calm down and try a little theological reasoning. God made our minds and that’s not to be disrespected.

“Why bugs, God? I know they do a lot of good, bees pollinate half the things we eat, but have you been stung by a bee lately? Those suckers hurt!”

I’m much calmer outdoors. Indoors if I see a bug, I’m Rambo, a killing machine. So I try to do my theological thinking outdoors by the lilac bush.

Bugs are part of the scheme somehow; they have to exist, even the freakin’ Japanese beetles (we call ’em ladybugs) that invade every house in Indiana all winter long, when “I thought winter was supposed to kill ’em! Why am I freezing my ass off if not to kill the damn bugs! Do you know what winter is like in Indiana, have you ever been here?”

God just laughs and ignores my buzzing. Some clerk in heaven jots down the code for “Anxiety attack with paranoid tendencies.”

Why are there bugs, bacteria and viruses, including the ones that cause AIDS and malaria? Didn’t God make a massive mistake?

No. We’ve got to have something that kills us, or every square inch of my yard would be full of screaming people trying to tear down my house.

If I think bugs are bad, try the humans.

They sin; that’s the Biblical term. They kill the people who are closest to God and claim they’ve done a good thing.

Reason is great, but there are some things we just can’t understand. Our brains aren’t big enough; we’re not God. So when we encounter a Topic to be Thought About that we can’t comprehend, we do well to use the rest of our human instrument, our bodies and souls, not just our cognitive organ. We may find information the brain can’t conquer.

That’s how it is for people of faith; what the brain can’t figure out, the “heart” comes to know. The heart’s learning is every bit as valid as the mind’s. People of faith respond to this extra information that comes from somewhere besides our headspace.

When we are open to this other source of learning, and don’t let the brain be a dictator but a tool, the outpouring of information is astonishing and lifelong.

I’m not just talking about mystical experience here; 99% of it’s down-to-earth and even common. That’s why we go to church, to be with people who go through the same thing. God is superlative, overwhelming, awesome, gorgeous. And more loving than anyone can imagine.

It’s personal, this love; it’s yours and mine and his and hers and everyone’s, if we’re open to it.

A lot of people aren’t, but a lot of people are. That’s our experience, our knowledge. A person can’t see what he never looked for, and Dr. Flew never looked.

All you have to do is look; you don’t have to be a smartypants to look. The parents of retarded children find God in them 80 times a day.

Flew never looked. It must have been hard on him, having that big brain and all, and never learning that the mind can be deceptive and tyrannical. You have to use the rest of your body to keep learning. Do that and God’s outpouring turns into a flood.

It is right for Christians to respect the experience of God that Hindus, Muslims, Bahai’s or Jews undergo, just as it is also right for Christians to say that Jesus is the penultimate of all; that’s our experience. Christians need deep respect and humility in meeting persons of other faiths. Dr. Schroeder, the Jewish physicist and theologian whom Flew found so convincing, had reasons outside his brain for publishing his findings. God will show himself to anyone if you ask.

As a Christian I believe that the overwhelming love embedded in the story and person of Jesus is God’s deepest, purest revelation of himself. Jesus is the transcendent figure of human history. But it doesn’t bother me a bit if other people find other paths to the Divine. We all look like bugs walking on this earth.

The one thing I must protest about is Flew’s assertion of a “a remote creator who takes no interest in human affairs.” That’s a damnable lie. Flew thought he was too good to look for God among the rocks, stars, tulips, lilacs and chives; the face of a child, the arms of a lover, the eyes of a dog.

Love is all around us; all we have to do is look for it. As Jesus said, “God is love.”++

Two little Valentines: San Francisco wedding, 2004. (Paul Chinn/San Francisco Chronicle)

AP Finds the Smoking Gun on Ratzinger

Ratzinger's signature, allowing a priest-abuser to go free.

Read it here.

Pray for the Church. For the children; for the safety of the faithful; for those whose faith is wounded or destroyed. Only Jesus can save us from the monstrous acts of men.++

UPDATE, 3:15 pm my time:

Of course, my declaring this AP report a “smoking gun” doesn’t make it so, but it’s been interesting to watch the story move up and up and up in prominence on the websites of major newspapers.

I first saw it in abbreviated form (5 paragraphs) on the website of my hometown daily in Lafayette, Indiana. Then a much bigger version appeared in the second spot up top in the Chicago Tribune.

The dateline says Los Angeles, but the last time I checked the L.A. Times hadn’t even posted it.

The New York Times first made it subsidiary to its original reporting that the pope is offering to meet with more abuse victims to repair the damage to the Church’s reputation. Meanwhile The Times, which prioritizes stories according to their professional judgment about what readers need to know (unlike my local paper), stuck with the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens as the most important news of the day.

But then this AP story got moved up on nytimes.com. An editor moved the AP report above the Vatican’s more conciliatory stance (“Pope offers to meet with more victims”) after a week of combat in which the Church claimed it was being victimized by all the crime reports. The AP exclusive is now the second lead in the middle, a more appropriate placement in my view.

I don’t see how the pope can survive this. The drums have started; he’s got to go.

Of course if anyone can survive a crisis it’s the head of the Catholic Church. But here we have evidence that Ratzinger himself put the Church’s reputation above the damage a priest caused to children.

Ratzinger’s signature is on the letter. He was worried that laypeople would complain if a “young” priest (age 38) were removed from the ministry.

The bishop in California said, “No, it’s not like that, this guy’s dangerous!” But Ratzinger sat on it for years and years.

The priest then went on to molest every child he could get his hands on. He lost count of how many kids he raped. “Tons,” he said in a jailhouse interview.

I would think the laypeople are going to have to take matters into their own hands. They’re not automatons or robots, no matter how much the Church tries to put them in that role. They’re thinking, feeling human beings — and many of them are parents.

If they believe the old cliché that “The hierarchy isn’t the Church, the People are the Church,” it’s time they started acting like it. Because the hierarchy is headed straight for the cliff.

I may yet be surprised by the resilience and tenacity of the Old Guard, which knows nothing if not How to Survive. But I don’t see how Ratzinger can survive this. His signature is at the bottom of the letter.

Written in Latin; isn’t that precious? May Peter himself strike him down!++

Vatican Blames Jews, Gays, Women for “Hate” Campaign

Riot police take aim in Kyrgyzstan.

The Catholic Church is looking a bit like Kyrgyzstan today — that former Soviet state where riot police are killing protesters, who now appear to have ousted the government.

It’s looking like Thailand, where protesters have forced government ministers to flee by Black Hawk helicopter.

It’s looking like Afghanistan, where corrupt President Karzai, who recently threatened to join the Taliban, is doing everything he can to hang onto power.

Just days after the pope’s personal preacher compared criticism of the hierarchy to anti-Semitism, on Good Friday no less, and the Vatican secretary of state interrupted Easter services (!) to deliver a ringing endorsement of Benedict, his boss, the Vatican has launched a new offensive, claiming that all-powerful lobbies for the pro-choice and same-sex marriage movements hate the Church and are trying to destroy it.

Funny, I thought it was pedophile priests and paranoid prelates who were trying to do that.

When they’re not blaming Jews at The New York Times.

AP reports:

By FRANCES D’EMILIO
The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 6, 2010; 5:57 PM

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican heatedly defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, claiming accusations that he helped cover up the actions of pedophile priests are part of an anti-Catholic “hate” campaign targeting the pope for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Vatican Radio broadcast comments by two senior cardinals explaining “the motive for these attacks” on the pope and the Vatican newspaper chipped in with spirited comments from another top cardinal.

“The pope defends life and the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, in a world in which powerful lobbies would like to impose a completely different” agenda, Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, head of the disciplinary commission for Holy See officials, said on the radio.

Herranz didn’t identify the lobbies but “defense of life” is Vatican shorthand for anti-abortion efforts.

I’m a former reporter on the Gay rights movement; I’ve seen it from the inside. I’ve covered feminist issues, Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women — and I have to laugh at the notion that these people could fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

LGBT and feminist leaders spend a lot more time arguing with each other than they ever do with their opponents. Who is it that gave the world “political correctness” but Gay people?

One incident captures this in a nutshell: the 1993 “March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation.” (Notice, no Trans.) I’ve still got the T-shirt, hokay?

A gaggle of progressive, non-Gay celebrities were there to support the cause — and were denied the platform to address half a million marchers because they weren’t queer. Jesse Jackson, Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas, Cesar Chavez, people of renown and accomplishment, were permitted to address 5000 early birds at a pre-march rally at the Washington Monument; while the big crowd that afternoon got lectured to by a disabled Lesbian from Fiji, who harangued everybody for not caring enough about… people like her.

I kid you not. The memory still makes me laugh. Lesbians and Gay men can’t coordinate a bowel movement, much less a human rights movement.

But the Vatican says… oh, brother.

At least they haven’t shot anybody like the riot police in Kyrgyzstan.

The New York Times, April 3:

Last week, the center-left daily newspaper La Republica wrote, without attribution, that certain Catholic circles believed the criticism of the church stemmed from a New York ‘Jewish Lobby.’

Without attribution. “Certain Catholic circles.” “New York Jewish lobby,” an apparent reference to The Times itself. It is in fact owned by a Jewish family, and it has been active in reporting about Catholic pedophilia scandals in Wisconsin, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ireland and elsewhere. The Church doesn’t like having its secrets exposed.

When the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury noted rather mildly that the Catholic Church in Ireland has “lost all credibility,” he was barraged by attacks from Irish Catholic archbishops, who suddenly pretended to be great friends with Anglicans who “betrayed” them, despite the pope’s efforts a few months ago to steal conservative Anglicans and make them Catholics.

I’ve written previously that the Vatican’s problems are structural and have nothing to do with the all-male priesthood, clerical “celibacy” or any other issue of sex and gender. The problems originate in trying to run a church as a dictatorship, where the Big Man gets to decide everything while claiming to be God’s human mouthpiece. It’s a massive error in governance, which is why hundreds of millions of non-Catholic Christians refuse to follow the man.

It doesn’t mean we hate him; it means the system he fronts is obviously and fatally corrupt.

God created all of us; no one is better than anyone else. If you don’t get that, you don’t get anything.

God touches the souls of janitors and scholars alike; if you want to find Christ, visit the homeless, the marginalized, the despised. Queers even, intrinsically disordered though we might be.

The Church’s current crisis, which finds the Vatican lashing out in every possible direction, has nothing to do with abortion, masturbation, contraception, same-sex marriage, the priesthood of “celibate” men or the dignity of women. It has to do with priests molesting children. Period.

What the Catholic Church has done is indefensible. It’s facilitated crime against the least powerful of God’s beloved people.

If the Pope had any brains, which he apparently does not, he would have appeared in St. Peter’s Square on Good Friday in sackcloth and ashes, begging the forgiveness of all humanity for the actions of his priests.

We’d have wept at such a sight; we’d have praised God for him.

Instead he listened to a sermon by his own official preacher, claiming that criticizing the pope was somehow equivalent to the Jew-hating that killed six million souls in concentration camps.

My father was a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany. He fought and nearly died to free people he didn’t know from the clutches of hatred.

It is profoundly disrespectful to millions who suffered like him to equate a public outcry against the pope and his minions with a campaign of “hate” by feminists, Jews and Gay people.

Stop crucifying children, Benedict; resign and never show your face again. In the Name of Jesus, do the right thing for once.++

Conservatism for Profit

UPDATE: The New York Times profiles Fox News’s Paranoid-in-Chief, Roger Ailes; click here.

Face it, folks, we’ve been Murdoched.

He told us he would do it, and he has.

Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch, now a naturalized U.S. citizen, has pulled off an incredibly daring stunt, highjacking democracy for the sake of his own fat wallet.

He figured out how to commercialize politics—to simply make money off it.

He’s done it here the same as he did in Australia and Britain. We knew in advance what his agenda was. He doesn’t have to win elections (indeed, he cozied up bigtime to Hillary Clinton in 2008, when he thought she might win the presidency—and she cozied up to him). Regardless of who wins elections, he makes billions of dollars by giving people what they want: the Old Regime. The Way Things Usedta Be.

What amazes me is the stupidity of American politicians and traditional news organizations, who cower before the Mighty Mouse.

Fox “News” sets the national agenda, by serving up a steady diet of outrages, lies and innuendoes. When the outrages (say, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s coddling AIG and Goldman Sachs) run thin, Murdoch’s minions simply invent more. “No global warming! Obama wasn’t born in Hawai’i! Death panels, socialized medicine, Hitler, Stalin!”

The politicians and media whores don’t know what hit them. Glenn Beck’s on the cover of Time magazine!

Tea parties, orchestrated by discredited Republicans like Dick Armey. Terrorism, thanks to a wannabe Muslim fanatic over Detroit! Obama isn’t protecting us, because he’s a foreign-born Muslim/Nazi/Commie who attended a madrassa in Indonesia!

This is Murdoch’s schtick. He doesn’t care about facts and neither do his followers. They gladly pay for their spoonfed phony “news.”

Sarah Palin is dumber than a bag of rocks, an ex-beauty queen who doesn’t even read the newspaper—but then, neither does anyone else, thanks to pay-TV and pay-Internet, “where everything is free.”

Go Google yourself. In the immortal words of Perry Mason, Sarah Palin is incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.

Yet the poor ink-stained wretches still don’t know what hit them. The New York Times recently admitted no one on the staff monitors Fox “News,” so it was constantly behind the curve in understanding what’s going on in the country.

In the runup to the illegal invasion of Iraq, NBC News execs told their reporters not to question the Bush Administration’s flimsy rationales (“weapons of mass destruction!”), and the dumbfucks did what they were told. Questioning the president was unpatriotic, ya see. Nine-eleven and all that.

No matter what happens in the world, good news or bad, Murdoch profits. He figured out long ago that facts don’t matter to people nearly as much as confirming their previous worldview. People will pay big money when you reinforce their prejudices.

He could have taken a liberal tack instead of a conservative one—when you’re commercializing ideology, the content of the ideology doesn’t matter that much—but conservatives are far more gullible. There isn’t anyone in Hawai’i who doesn’t believe Barack Obama was born there, but in the other 49 states, maybe he’s a foreigner!

As P.T. Barnum said, there’s a sucker born every minute. And Murdoch has simply exploited that.

What does he care if his lie-telling paralyzes democracy?

He doesn’t, which makes him the Worst Person in the World. Osama bin Laden is chump change by comparison. Bin Laden’s too damn dumb to realize that the way to bring down America isn’t to fly airplanes into skyscrapers, but to undermine it from within—to use its capitalist system for ultimate profit. Billions of dollars are a lot more satisfying than 72 mythical virgins in heaven, especially when you can get someone else to do your dirty work. Suicide bombers are cheap and easily amortized.

The British and Australian media told us exactly what would happen when Murdoch invaded America. Still, U.S. media and politicians are awestruck by the teabaggers, As Seen on TV. “But wait, there’s more!”

You can never go wrong underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

That’s the saddest aspect of this, but democracy exposes us to this very danger, Rule by the Stupid.

Beck’s got the ratings, while Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow do not. (Murdoch’s making a big mistake not giving Beck the prime-time slot of the eclipsed has-been Bill O’Reilly. Make money, Rupert, don’t be a loser.)

Maddow’s amazingly brilliant, a genius at what she does, an incredibly facile talker and analyst, easy on the eyes to boot. Why is she stuck on MSNBC?

Olbermann’s good too, though he does get overwrought at times. He writes well, but his delivery is over the top, even for liberals.

MSNBC, the not-Fox network, proves Murdoch’s thesis that there’s more money in right-wingnuttery than in left-wing. He’s just looking to make a buck, and he’s good at it.

Meanwhile we’re led by Barack Hussein Obama, the madrassa-trained Kenyan Black man born of a White mother in our distant-most state, where it’s still morning when the New York Stock Exchange shuts down for the day. He fancies himself a Lincoln, but hasn’t the courage of Honest Abe to tell the truth. He’s surrounded himself with toadies (Geithner, Rahm Emmanuel) who should be fired at once. Bring back Volcker, you idiot! He’s the one man who really understands this economy, where Wall Street robs every taxpayer.

Lincoln was cautious at times like Obama is; he kept bringing back McClellan, a failed general who trained incessantly but wouldn’t fight; three times Lincoln foisted McClellan on us and three times he fired him, until McClellan ran against him in the ultimate act of disloyalty, the presidential election of 1864. How many times do you gotta learn this, Abe?

How many times, Barack? When will you fight?

Meanwhile Fox “News” continues to lead the cable ratings, and Western democracy itself gets Murdoched. Brit Hume says Tiger Woods should convert to Christianity, and the Gay-haters at Stand Firm (another commercial enterprise) eat it up.

I believe in Jesus Christ, but I don’t believe in TV flacks pimping for him.

Consider the source; Murdoch made money the instant Hume opened his mouth.++

Uganda: Citizens Required to Inform on Gay Neighbors

Gay Uganda

What Gay Uganda looks like, when he's being himself.

A bill introduced last month in the Ugandan parliament would require citizens to turn in the names of suspected LGBT people so the government can put them to death. I kid you not.

Having Gay sex in Uganda is already a capital crime. I kid you not—the death penalty.

Ugandan LGBT activists have asked supporters in the international community to protest at Ugandan diplomatic missions around the world a week from today, Nov. 9.

I’ve been contacted about this by an activist-friend in Chicago. There are no definite plans at this time, nor any word on actions at the Ugandan embassy in Washington.

I have suggested to my friend the response I consider most appropriate. It’s in the pulled quote below.

Meanwhile I’m watching in amazed disbelief the reaction of The Episcopal Church to this news. They want Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to ride to the rescue of Ugandan Gay people.

Not a snowball’s chance in hell—no one would believe Rowan if he tried—but he’s not going to try.

Yet here are Episcopalians thinking he’s s’posedta Do Something.

How foolish can you get? How naive?

Uganda is one of the most Christian countries on earth (officially anyway). Some 40% of Ugandans are Catholic, 35% Anglican, 5% Muslim, and most of the rest follow native religions.

Considering that the pope is the world’s leading Gay-basher, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine has bankrolled that state’s referendum tomorrow for a “people’s veto” of the new Gay marriage law—a diocesan staffer is Yes on 1’s campaign manager, and parishes have actually passed the plate at Mass for donations to save Maine from queers—what do you suppose is the position of Ugandan Catholics on the bill to require every citizen of the country to turn informer?

The Anglicans are with them every step of the way to Stamp Out Homos Once and For All. (That’s where the Archbishop of Canterbury’s supposed to come in, to tell them not to—the same Archbishop who convened a thousand Anglican bishops last year for a theological tea party, except for the Gay bishop of New Hampshire, who wasn’t invited.)

Yet my church, the most progressive of American mainlines, actually thinks that writing e-mails to England is going to save Lesbos and queerboys in Uganda.

The blog Episcopal Café posted an item today about the proposed law, “The challenge Uganda is presenting to the (Anglican) Communion,” which has prompted 10 comments so far, all from opponents of the bill. A few people, some of the church’s better minds, are teeth-gnashing a bit over this extreme example of unchristian Christianity. But their proposed action, e-mails to Lambeth Palace in London, is like asking a slave-trader to weigh his conscience before proceeding. Slave-traders weighed their boats and totted up the profits.

It’s a pathetic display of gutless liberalism. Propose an action, as I did to my friend Brent in Chicago, that would actually get the attention of the Ugandan government, and the Episcopal conversation ceases.

No wonder we’re still apologizing for our complicity in slavery 150 years later. We didn’t lift a finger for the slaves way back when, and we’re not lifting a finger for black-skinned queers today.

Don’t take my word for it; go to the Gay Uganda blog. See for yourself.

Here’s what I wrote on Episcopal Café. It went over like a lead balloon.

Sexual Minorities Uganda, a GLBT activist group, has issued a call for international protests at Ugandan diplomatic missions a week from today, Nov. 9.

In response, some interest is stirring in Chicago, but Uganda doesn’t have a working consulate there. I don’t know if there is action planned in DC.

I think it’s foolish to expect anything out of Rowan. He lost his moral authority years ago. The last thing he’s going to do is to stir the Gay pot.

Ditto with TEC. A hundred bishops went to Lambeth, but the Gay one had cooties. This is a job for the laypeople.

+++

My suggestion: go to Starbucks or Whole Foods and dump Ugandan coffee for the cameras. THAT will get attention in Kampala like nothing else.

(Pay for what you dump, of course.)

Dumping Ugandan coffee would be, well, impolite. Un-Episcopalian. Civilly disobedient perhaps. Attention-getting. A bit gauche, actually. We like the nice people at Starbucks, you see, and Whole Foods too.

But boycott Ugandan coffee and the president will hear about it; that’s why I suggested that method.

Uganda is so poor economically (rich in other ways, and please bear that in mind) that the Kampala government is trying its damnedest to open the country to development, open up to tourism, and recover from Idi Ah-Mean. Uganda wants to sell product—if only so the profits can line the military’s pockets. Threaten their coffee crop and they’ll be on it like flies on poop.

Amidst a massive national paranoia about the dangers of queerdom (which, of course, diverts attention from what’s actually wrong with Uganda), the only way to hit these people is with dollars.

That’s what they expect wicked Americans to do, yet it’s never occured to them we might go after their coffee crop. It’s one of the few ways they make money.

But Episkies think that’s, like, rude or somethin’. Not the Middle Ground we think we’re famous for. (No one else thinks we’re famous for anything.) We must work through channels, you see; so let’s give Rowan what-for, as if he has any influence whatsoever on Uganda, and as if he would exercise it even if he did.

The esteemed Archbishop is under strict orders from the Crown: “Do not allow the Anglican Communion to break up while we are alive.”

I don’t blame the Queen at all for that. But I do blame Rowan. He is the Neville Chamberlain of church politics, an appeaser constantly outflanked by ruthless men.

Never, ever, ever appoint a theologian as Archbishop of Canterbury. Appoint a church politician who’s ready for the slings and arrows; get a professional. Rowan Williams is an amateur, cowardly, intimidated.

My message to Episcopalians: Never put your hopes in this guy, who’s stabbed you in the back repeatedly.

If the dialogue on Episcopal Café is any indication, “the most progressive mainline church” can’t even dump a cup of Ugandan coffee in protest.

What would it cost, two bucks?++

Episcopal Church Announces Special Outreach to Roman Catholics

Welcome

“All of the pageantry—none of the guilt!”
— Robin Williams

Dear Catholic Friends,

You may have heard recently that the Pope has announced a new “ordinariate” that allows Anglicans and Episcopalians to become Catholics while keeping their Prayer Books, hymns and married priests.

(Is there a special office at the Vatican that comes up with words like “ordinariate”? After all this time they still can’t speak English?)

We want you to know that the Episcopal Church has a much easier portal for Catholics to become Episcopalians: it’s called the front door. Just come on in!

The Episcopal Church receives more Catholic converts than it sends to Rome. Why?

• Mass on Sunday, same as always. Free bread and wine!

• We elect our priests and bishops. They serve us, we don’t serve them, except as fellow Christians deserving our love and support.

• The People govern the Church. We don’t do pronouncements from on high.

• Wonderful music—our congregations like to sing!

• No known pedophile problems. No $100 million victim settlements or diocesan bankruptcies.

• We have a culture of openness, not of secrecy. We expect money to be accounted for.

• You don’t check your brain at the door. We don’t tell you how to think or how to vote.

• Confession aims to be transformative, not legalistic.

• We believe God calls men and women equally. Men don’t tell women what to do.

• Plenty of opportunities for mission and service, peace and justice, caring for Creation.

• We don’t preach shame to anyone, including our Gay sons and daughters.

• We’re all about spiritual growth through the sacraments, prayer, meditation and work.

• Jesus was infallible. Mortals are not.

Come join us. Feel good about coming to church again!

For the nearest Episcopal Church by Zip Code, click here.++

ORDINATION_BISHOP_MICHEAL_EUCHARIST