Archive for May, 2013

St Patrick's Cathedral-Gothic Revival Style (East Side)The Australian state of Victoria has been investigating child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church there. As part of this investigation, Cardinal George Pell, current Archbishop of Sydney and former Archbishop of Melbourne, was questioned by the committee. As The Australian reports, he admitted at least some of what many of us had long suspected, but which most hierarchs had avoided saying (WebCite cached article):

Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric has taken the stage today as the final witness for the Victorian inquiry into how religious and non-government organisations have responded to sexual abuse claims.

Cardinal Pell said while he had personally never covered up offending, it had largely escaped the view of church officials who didn’t know what a “mess” they were presiding over.…

Cardinal Pell agreed under questioning that the fear of scandal led to a cover-up.

“The primary motivation would have been to respect the reputation of the church.

“There was a fear of scandal.”

About the victims, Pell made this excuse we’ve heard already from other hierarchs:

“Many in the church did not understand just what damage was being done to the victims. We understand that better now.”

The hierarchs who’ve said similar, if not identical, things are Rembert Weakland, former Arcbishop of Milwaukee, and Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archbishop of Los Angeles.

Interestingly, Pell further conceded that the practice of priest shuffling led to additional pedophilic crimes having been committed. But, I must also note that Pell engaged in a little excuse-making, as described in the Australian article:

“If we’d been gossips, which we weren’t … we would have realised earlier just how widespread this business was,” Cardinal Pell said.

This is, of course, nowhere near a valid excuse. If an allegation had been made against a priest that appears to have some weight, it wouldn’t be “gossip” to warn other bishops about him; rather, it’d be “prudent” to do so. I guess I’ll have to add “We’re not gossips!” to the long list of the Church’s sniveling excuses for why it chose not to deal with child abuse by its clergy.

At any rate, what Pell said to the Victoria inquiry is remarkable in its candor, even if he did punctuate it with an excuse or two. Would that more R.C. hierarchs had been as candid.

Hat tip: Red Prince at Pulling to the Left forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

A police officer helped an injured man. Gay rights marchers said priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church led the charge past police cordons. Reuters photo, via the New York Times.A couple of weeks ago, in Tbilisi, the capitol of the country of Georgia, a gay-rights rally was held. But it seems the Georgian Orthodox Church would have none of it. They’d prepared for it, and as the New York Times reports, launched a massive attack on it: (WebCite cached article):

A throng of thousands led by priests in black robes surged through police cordons in downtown Tbilisi, Georgia, on Friday and attacked a group of about 50 gay rights demonstrators.

Carrying banners reading “No to mental genocide” and “No to gays,” the masses of mostly young men began by hurling rocks and eggs at the gay rights demonstrators.

The police pushed most of the demonstrators onto yellow minibuses to evacuate them from the scene, but, the attackers swarmed the buses, trying to break the windows with metal gratings, trash cans, rocks and even fists.

Here’s the Youtube video that the Times linked to:

First, I have to make this observation: These Georgian Orthodox priests needed to gather up thousands of supporters, in order to take on some 50 gay-rights marchers!? Seriously? What sniveling little crybaby cowards they are!

Lest one think this is just a case of a handful of rogue priests operating outside the sanction of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the leader of that organization made his opinion of gays clear:

In a statement Wednesday, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, compared homosexuals to drug addicts and called the rally a “violation of the rights of the majority” of Georgians.

Hopefully I understand this correctly, Patriarch: It’s an unacceptable violation of your rights for a handful of gays to stage a march, but not a violation of their rights for your own priests to lead a mob to attack them? Did I get that right? I really want to be sure I understand this, because obviously it’s very important to you. So please, correct me if I haven’t gotten it right. Still … somehow, I think I’ve hit the nail on the head. Religionists typically see themselves as being the only ones with “rights,” and believe others have none at all. Even though this is a remarkably evil point of view, it’s actually very common.

Let’s also not assume the Georgian government didn’t play any part in this. The police who’d ostensibly been there to protect the gay-rights marchers, didn’t exactly do much to stop the priests and their mob, in the first place:

In a telephone interview, Mr. Vacharadze of Identoba said that priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church had led the charge that broke through a heavy police corridor.

“The priests entered, the priests broke the fences and the police didn’t stop them, because the priests are above the law in Georgia,” he said.

Sure, police did try to help the marchers … but they did so only after they’d been attacked. Even now, the Georgian government’s non-response is chilling, as the Times has reported since (cached):

Some of the priests leading the rock-throwing throngs who stormed past police cordons could be seen participating in the melee; one repeatedly slammed a stool into the windshield of one of several minibuses trying to carry the marchers to safety, while another punched marchers and tried to drag a driver out of a bus. Some gave their names in interviews.

But as of Sunday, the Georgian police have made no arrests, and there are few signs that the investigation is moving forward.

And Georgian Orthodox hierarchs are defending the assault:

Instead, a bishop who helped to organize the mass turnout — ostensibly a counterprotest — said from the pulpit that while the violence was “regrettable” and those who committed it should be punished, the Georgian Orthodox Church was obligated to protest the gay rights rally and would “not allow anyone to humiliate us.”

So in the name of not permitting the Georgian Orthodox Church to be “humiliated” at the hands of some 50 protesters, it was apparently necessary for tens of thousands of angry Georgians led by dozens of sanctimoniously-enraged priests to attempt to kill them.

I’ve previously blogged about the immature tendency of Muslims in certain parts of the world to riot, rage and even kill over things that bother them. Here, then, is an example of this happening, but among Christians instead. Georgia is, indeed, very Christian … that land was converted to the faith back in the 4th century, and it’s by far the dominant religion there. Here we have incontrovertible evidence that religiously-motivated violence is not solely triggered by Islam, and cultural immaturity isn’t limited solely to primarily-Muslim countries. Despite the fact that Christians market their religion as “the Religion of Love,” it’s clear that Christians limit their “love” only to those who think like themselves and are willing to strictly obey their dour doctrines.

Photo credit: Reuters, via the New York Times (cached).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Georgian Orthodox Priests Attack Gay-Rights Rally In Tbilisi

Church of the Gesù in Rome / By Maus-TraudenOnce again, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church must be dragged kicking and screaming (metaphorically, anyway) into admitting their complicity in the abuse of children by clergy working under them. The Chicago Tribune reports the Jesuits in that city finally owned up to having protected and aided an abusive priest, for several decades (WebCite cached article):

Internal church records released Tuesday show that Chicago Jesuits consciously concealed the crimes of convicted sex offender Donald McGuire for more than 40 years as the prominent Roman Catholic priest continued to sexually abuse dozens of children around the globe.…

The documents contributed to a $19.6 million settlement between the Jesuits and six men from four states announced Tuesday. With an average payout of $3 million per person, the amount per individual is the largest in the history of the U.S. Catholic sexual abuse crisis, the victims’ lawyers said. The settlement and the documents add one more chapter to the still unfolding story of sexual abuse in the church.

Although the Jesuits insisted they’d found out about McGuire only recently, this turns out to have been a lie. They’d been warned long ago, and had even corresponded between themselves about it:

A memo in February 1991 expressed concern about a boy from Anchorage, Alaska, who traveled with McGuire and slept in the same room during a retreat in California. “This travel business is at least very imprudent, perhaps much more serious,” wrote the Rev. Robert Wild. He could not be reached for comment.

Another memo, dated April 1993, documented a call from the Rev. Joe Fessio, reporting that McGuire had been accompanied by several young men in Russia, “one of whom he was taking showers with and reading hard pornography.” Fessio reportedly contacted the boy’s father and “asked him to keep this quiet until he could represent this to McGuire’s provincial.”

Fessio could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In 1995, the Rev. Francis Daly, then acting provincial, wrote to McGuire after a mother copied his superiors on a memo telling him to stay away from her son. Daly could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“Let us hope that no more alleged incidents come to light,” Daly wrote. “You must understand the complaints raised in these situations are serious. There must be no more. I am calling you to a prudence greater than that which you have shown in recent years.”

Now, I’m pretty sure Catholic apologists out there who agree with the hierarchs that the Church has done nothing wrong, and that the whole scandal was caused by outside forces trying to destroy their precious holy Church, will continue to deny these documents show any awareness of McGuire’s wrongdoing. But Daly’s letter to him does indicate McGuire had crossed the line before. “I am calling you to a prudence greater than that which you have shown” makes no sense except in light of such knowledge.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Chicago Jesuits Settle Up, Admit Protecting Abusive Priest For Decades

Picard Facepalm: Because expressing how dumb that was in words just doesnt workIn a country which is overwhelmingly religious, it’s not unreasonable to assume any given American is a believer. But that doesn’t mean everyone is a believer, so making this assumption all the time inevitably will cause one to stumble into an awkward moment. Precisely this happened to Wolf Blitzer of CNN, as CNN’s own Belief blog reports, when he interviewed a tornado survivor in Oklahoma (WebCite cached article):

Behind her were ruins, a tangled mess where structures once stood. Cradled in her arms, the mother’s 19-month-old son played with a snatched microphone, unfazed by the chaos swirling around him. And in front of Rebecca Vitsmun stood CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who — after asking her about the decision that saved her and her son’s lives — had one more question:

“I guess you got to thank the Lord, right?” he asked.…

“I, I, I,” the 30-year-old stay-at-home mom stammered before adding, “I’m actually an atheist.”

She laughed, Blitzer laughed, and the moment passed seamlessly on live TV. Except it also became a clip heard across the Internet and social media — one that pointed to a reality about faith in America that exists even where, and when, people might least expect it.

CNN provides video of this exchange:

I note that Ms Vitsmun had worked fairly hard to avoid having to address the matter initially, but Mr Blitzer kept trying to elicit a religious response from her, so finally she had no choice but to just admit she was an atheist. But even then, she only meekly — almost apologetically — admitted being an atheist.

The best thing for Blitzer to have done, of course, was not to have tried to get her to talk about religion or God in the first place and not to have pronounced her “blessed” before he’d even said anything else to her. If she’d chosen to bring up God or religion, that would have been fine. But for him to assume that she’d want to, and then to repeatedly try to get her talk about them … well, that was pretty stupid of him to do.

This Belief blog article itself also engaged in an invalid assumption: It pontificated about the growing influence of “the Nones,” as though atheism and “the Nones” are one and the same. But they aren’t. By the admission of the folks at ARIS, who originated this term, “only a small minority are atheists.” (And in turn, the folks at ARIS are themselves the originators of a misnomer: While they call “the Nones” a “no-religion population,” the truth is that most of “the Nones” are theists. That makes them decidedly “religious,” even if they don’t belong to a specific religious organization, sect, denomination, whatever.)

On the subject of thanking God for getting through disasters like this … can religionists please stop doing this already? People survived this tornado … and any number of other natural catastrophes … for any of a vast host of other reasons. A lot of those reasons depended on them; God, assuming he exists, had nothing to do with it. Let’s give people, not God, credit for their own resourcefulness and accomplishments. Taking the credit away from them, and handing it over to God, is quite simply wrong. It needs to fucking stop already.

Photo credit: Science After Sunclipse.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Note To Mass Media: Not Everyone Is A Theist

The Inauguration Mass For Pope FrancisPope Francis has bucked more than a few traditional Catholic trends since taking office a couple months ago. The most recent example of this is a dual one, and came in a homily he delivered today. The RNS reports via Hartford FAVS (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis is warning Catholics not to demonize those who are not members of the church, and he specifically defended atheists, saying that building walls against non-Catholics leads to “killing in the name of God.”

“(T)his ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God,” Francis said Wednesday (May 22) in remarks at the informal morning Mass that he celebrates in the chapel at the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.

“And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”

Francis explained that doing good is not a matter of faith: “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because he has made us in his image and likeness.”

To both atheists and believers, he said that “if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.”

Both of the pope’s concessions are remarkable: That non-Catholics — atheists even! — might be “redeemed” by virtue of their good works, is a departure from traditional Catholic teachings. It would seem to make the Catholic Church itself useless and irrelevant. As remarkable, too, is his admission that killing in God’s name is blasphemy. Since the time of St Augustine, the R.C. Church has used the principle of “just war” to do an awful lot of killing in the name of their God. For Francis to state categorically that killing in God’s name is blasphemy, flies in the fact of this long tradition.

I expect traditional Catholics will scream to high heaven about these remarks. Just as they did when he dared wash the feet of women during Holy Week. But then again, sanctimonious outrage isn’t new to them. They more or less live in a perpetual state of sanctimonious outrage, all the time; all that changes is what they claim drives their outrage.

Photo credit: Catholic Church (England & Wales), via Flickr.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 2 Comments »

DownView CathedralBasilicaSH / Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Interior), Newark, NJThis is a story which is a couple weeks old, but sadly, it might as well have been decades old. Why? Because it’s merely the latest example of a long-standing pattern of behavior which the Roman Catholic Church has engaged in around the world. Several years ago a priest in the Newark archdiocese admitted to having been a pedophile, and agreed to stay away from children thereafter. But as the (Newark, NJ) Star-Ledger reports, he failed to abide by that agreement, and did so — as a priest still in good standing! — under the noses of his bosses in the archdiocese (WebCite cached article):

Six years ago, to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy, the Rev. Michael Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest.

Fugee would not work in any position involving children, the agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office states. He would have no affiliation with youth groups. He would not attend youth retreats. He would not hear the confessions of minors.

But Fugee has openly done all of those things for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church, St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck, The Star-Ledger found.

The archdiocese can’t plead ignorance of Fugee’s agreement with prosecutors, because it was made with their knowledge and even their blessing:

In addition to Fugee and Prosecutor John Molinelli, the archdiocese’s vicar general signed the agreement on behalf of Myers, pledging to abide by the restrictions on Fugee’s ministry.

The document — which can be found on NJ.com, the online home of The Star-Ledger — states explicitly that Fugee may not have unsupervised contact with children, minister to children or work in any position in which children are involved.

“This includes, but is not limited to, presiding over a parish, involvement with a youth group, religious education/parochial school, CCD (or Sunday school), confessions of children, youth choir, youth retreats and day care,” the agreement says.

Amazingly, the archdiocese contends Fugee’s activities didn’t actually violate the agreement:

But [Archbishop Myers’s spokesman Jim] Goodness denied the agreement had been breached, saying the archdiocese has interpreted the document to mean Fugee could work with minors as long as he is under the supervision of priests or lay ministers who have knowledge of his past and of the conditions in the agreement.

“We believe that the archdiocese and Father Fugee have adhered to the stipulations in all of his activities, and will continue to do so,” Goodness said.

Even if Fugee heard private confessions from minors, those supervising Fugee were always nearby, Goodness said.

“The fact is, he has done nothing wrong,” the spokesman said. “Nobody has reported any activity that is inappropriate, and I think that’s important to know, especially given that he’s a figure whose name is public and whose past is public.”

It’s clear that Mr Goodness and the rest of the Newark archdiocese have parted ways with reality, if they think anyone is going to buy into this idiotic claim. I’m certainly not stupid enough to accept it.

In any event, a few days after this revelation, the Rev Fugee contradicted Mr Goodness by admitting his behavior was, in fact, a breach of his agreement, and attempted to deflect any blame for it from the archdiocese (cached):

Asserting his actions were “my fault alone,” the Roman Catholic priest who violated a court-sanctioned agreement to stay away from children wrote in his resignation letter that he attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors without the knowledge of his superiors in the Archdiocese of Newark. …

“In conscience, I feel it necessary to make clear to all that my actions described in recent news stories were outside of my assigned ministry within the archdiocese,” Fugee wrote. “… My failure to request the required permissions to engage in those ministry activities is my fault, my fault alone.”

This latter Star-Ledger article includes a revealing tidbit that bolsters what I’ve said, since this blog’s inception, about the worldwide Catholic child-abuse scandal:

For years, Myers has faced criticism for his handling of Fugee, whom he has characterized as a victim in the criminal case. In correspondence with priests of the archdiocese, he referred to the criminal case as an “acquittal” despite the fact Fugee entered a rehabilitation program and underwent counseling for sex offenders.

You see, the hierarchs who rule over the R.C. Church are largely convinced that abusive priestsnot the children they abusedare the real victims in this scandal. It sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely true. The abusive clergy and the Church sincerely and truly do not consider themselves responsible for any of the bad behavior uncovered by numerous investigations around the world; according to the Church, the scandal is anyone and everyone else’s fault.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Newark Archdiocese Allowed Admitted Pedophile Access To Children

Wrong Again! Three women and their families couldn't be happier! / PsiCop modification of original picture from Skeptic North (URL: http://www.skepticnorth.com/2010/01/2009-psychic-predictions-part-2-sylvia-browne/)The discovery of three kidnap victims in Cleveland, who’d been missing for 10 years or more, has made national news (WebCite cached article). This is fantastic news, although famed psychic Sylvia Browne … who’s claimed an accuracy rate of 87-90 percent … probably isn’t too happy about it. You see, as ABC News reports, back in 2004 she’d pronounced Amanda Berry dead, right to her mother’s face, on The Montel Williams Show (cached):

A year after Amanda Berry disappeared in Cleveland, her mother appeared on “The Montel Williams Show” to speak to a psychic about what happened to her daughter.

Psychic Sylvia Browne, who has made a career of televised psychic readings, told Louwanna Miller on a 2004 episode of the show that her daughter was dead, causing Miller to break down in tears on the show’s set.

“She’s not alive, honey,” Browne told Miller on the show, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”

Sadly, Miller died believing Browne’s declaration just a little while later:

Miller told the newspaper that she believed “98 percent” in what Browne told her. Miller died a year later from heart failure.

Predictably, Browne is now avoiding accountability for her failed declaration:

Browne did not return phone calls seeking comment today by ABC News. The Montel Williams show, through syndicator CBS, also did not return calls for comment. The show no longer airs new episodes.

Here’s ABC News’ video report on Browne’s catastrophically erroneous declaration:

That Browne was wrong … again … isn’t news to those capable of reviewing her vaunted accuracy. As I blogged some time ago, her accuracy rate is a big, fat, fucking goose-egg. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Zip. Not one of her predictions that could be verified, proved true. Not a single one.

The ABC News article goes on to chronicle other noted examples of Browne having been demonstrably wrong, and further, elaborates on how “psychics” prey on people who have missing relatives, and that their “tips” are unhelpful. I find this amazing, because the mass media typically are complicit with fraudsters like Sylvia. It’s rare for them to be so candid in calling out psychics, their lies, and other assorted games. It’s something that just doesn’t happen.

Photo credit: PsiCop modification of original on Skeptic North.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 6 Comments »