Posts Tagged “roman catholic”

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.

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Francis washed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention center in a Holy Thursday ritual that he celebrated for years as archbishop and is continuing now that he is pope. / AP photo, via (NY) Daily NewsAmong the various elements of Holy Week pageantry in the Roman Catholic Church, is the Pope washing people’s feet on Maundy Thursday. This rite, which began in the Middle Ages, emulates the tale of Jesus washing his apostles’ feet as related in John 13:1-17. Naturally, owing to Catholicism’s hangups about women, the Popes have washed only men’s feet. Newly-installed Pope Francis performed this medieval rite, but in the process, broke the “men-only” tradition; as the AP reports via the Washington Post, this has a lot of conservative Catholics up in arms over it (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis has won over many hearts and minds with his simple style and focus on serving the world’s poorest, but he has devastated traditionalist Catholics who adored his predecessor, Benedict XVI, for restoring much of the traditional pomp to the papacy.

Francis’ decision to disregard church law and wash the feet of two girls — a Serbian Muslim and an Italian Catholic — during a Holy Thursday ritual has become something of the final straw, evidence that Francis has little or no interest in one of the key priorities of Benedict’s papacy: reviving the pre-Vatican II traditions of the Catholic Church.

One of the most-read traditionalist blogs, “Rorate Caeli,” reacted to the foot-washing ceremony by declaring the death of Benedict’s eight-year project to correct what he considered the botched interpretations of the Second Vatican Council’s modernizing reforms.

“The official end of the reform of the reform — by example,” “Rorate Caeli” lamented in its report on Francis’ Holy Thursday ritual.…

Virtually everything he has done since being elected pope, every gesture, every decision, has rankled traditionalists in one way or another.

The article goes on to relate several outrages that have erupted as a result of various minor departures from papal tradition that Francis has done since taking office. That all of these alterations are cosmetic in nature, and quite trivial, doesn’t seem to make any difference to these sanctimoniously-outraged traditionalist Catholics. They truly are alarmed and angry that Pope Francis may well abort the efforts of his predecessors to roll back the Second Vatican Council reforms — even though those reforms weren’t nearly as drastic as is often thought. When you’re a fervent, perpetually-outraged religionist, little things like “facts” don’t really seem to matter very much.

Photo credit: AP via (NY) Daily News.

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Picard Facepalm: Because expressing how dumb that was in words just doesnt workOne would think Roman Catholic hierarchs would, by now, have learned to shut their faces when it comes to pedophilia. After all, it’s not as though they aren’t aware of the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal that’s torn through the Church globally for over 10 years now, and which continues to make sporadic headlines.

Yet, it seems they just can’t resist commenting on it, especially in ways that minimize the severity of the abuse and thus rationalize their unwillingness to deal with it in any way other than shuffling reported abusive clergy around. In an interview on BBC Radio, a South African cardinal has done precisely that (WebCite cached article):

The Catholic Archbishop of Durban, Wilfrid Fox Napier, has described paedophilia as a psychological “illness, not a criminal condition”.

The South African cardinal told the BBC that people who were themselves abused as children and then abused others needed to be examined by doctors.

He further explained why he thinks pedophilia is not criminal:

In an interview with the Stephen Nolan programme on BBC Radio 5 live, Cardinal Napier referred to paedophilia as “a psychological condition, a disorder”.

“What do you do with disorders? You’ve got to try and put them right.…

He said he knew at least two priests, who became paedophiles after themselves being abused as children.

“Now don’t tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged.”

There are a few problems with this position:

  1. Even if pedophilia is truly an “illness,” that doesn’t mean pedophilia can’t simultaneously also be criminal too, meaning pedophiles may still be criminally liable for their actions. It’s possible for someone both to have an illness, and yet still be aware of the fact that they have it and that indulging it is a crime.
  2. Napier assumes pedophilia has only one cause, that being psychological damage as children. That’s an assumption that may well not be borne out by the facts. Sure, Napier might personally know two pedophiles who fit that bill, but he’s leaping to conclusions about all pedophiles, based only on these two.
  3. The point of Napier’s remarks is that he has more sympathy for pedophiliac priests than he has for their victims. This is misplaced. If, as he assumes, pedophilia is truly a cyclical illness, transmitted from pedophile to victim through successive generations, the best thing for him to do when it happens, is to nip it in the bud: To take all such allegations seriously; see that victims are helped as soon as possible; and wall off the pedophiles from doing it again and thus spreading their “illness” any further.

Once again, we have here a Catholic hierarch whose priorities are completely out of whack, and whose thinking has no basis in reason or fact. The cold truth is that pedophiliac acts are criminal, in virtually every jurisdiction on the planet. Trying to justify or rationalize it, can never change that. But it seems they quite simply will not stop doing so. They can’t, because they view the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal as a vicious attack that comes from outside their own Church. In the hierarchs’ minds, no one within the Church — not the abusers, nor the bishops who protected them — have done anything wrong. They’re all totally innocent. And they absolutely, totally refuse to accept responsibility for it — ever.

Photo credit: Science After Sunclipse.

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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Vincenzo Pinto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via the New York TimesBy now most of my readers will already have heard the news: the College of Cardinals has elected a new pope. The New York Times reports on the cardinals’ choice (WebCite cached article):

With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, the first South American to lead the church.

The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io), will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years and the first member of the Jesuit order to lead the church.

A lot of folks will speculate as to what it means that a non-European was elected Pope, and that the new Pope named himself for St Francis of Assisi. It’s true that Francis is the first “New World” pope, and it’s also true that St Francis had — like Jesus himself — preached the virtue of poverty. But don’t be deceived. The Roman Catholic Church is a colossal juggernaut that works in its own way, moves at its own pace, and in many ways governs itself. It almost doesn’t matter who heads the Holy See. It’s the bishops who, collectively, run the Church, and they’ll continue to do so just as they always have. Even if he’d wanted to — and I’m positive he doesn’t — Pope Francis can’t “change” the Church in any meaningful way … because it can’t be changed.

Photo credit: Vincenzo Pinto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via the New York Times.

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Mother TeresaDuring the height of her popularity in the 1980s — in the wake of her having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 — Mother Teresa was arguably the most famous Roman Catholic on earth (rivalled only by Pope John Paul II). In 1995, when the late Christopher Hitchens penned a book critical of her called The Missionary Position, it seemed to have come out of nowhere.

In spite of some favorable literary reviews of his book, Hitchens was widely excoriated for having dared take on a poor, frail old woman who was viewed, by most people, as a living saint. The book was frequently dismissed as a product of Hitchens’s presumed irrational hatred of all things Catholic, and not as the product of research into what she’d actually been up to, backed up by primary-source material.

Well, nearly 2 decades later, it seems Hitchens hadn’t really been that far off target. The (UK) Independent reports that some academics have assessed Mother Teresa’s career, and agree she wasn’t much of a champion of the poor and the sick (WebCite cached article):

The late Mother Teresa’s saintly image has been called into question by researchers conducting an in-depth study of her life.

Mother Teresa may have spent the vast majority of her 87 years looking after the sick and poor, but researchers from Montreal and Ottawa universities have now raised questions over the ‘dubious’ nature of her care, as well querying her “questionable” political contacts.…

Writing in the Journal of Studies in Religion/Sciences after analysing around 300 documents surrounding Mother Teresa’s life, Dr Serge Larivie and Dr Genevieve Chenard say they have uncovered details that compromise the Albanian-born nun’s saintly image.

They claim that many of the ‘missions’ set up by Mother Teresa were unfit for their inhabitants, calling them ‘homes for the dying’ due to their poor hygiene and a shortage of food, care and medication.

The researchers believe a lack of money cannot be the reason for the poor conditions however, as Mother Teresa raised hundreds of millions of pounds during her lifetime, although much of that money apparently appears to have vanished into several ‘secret’ bank accounts reportedly kept by the nun.

The researchers also questioned why, despite openly offering prayers and medallions bearing depictions of the Virgin Mary, Mother Teresa provided no direct or monetary aid to victims of a number of natural disasters in India.

Dr Larivie says: “Given the parsimonious management of Mother Teresa’s works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?”

The researchers went on to query Mother Teresa’s politics and political contacts, accusing her of accepting a financial grant from the brutal Duvalier dictatorship, which is deemed responsible for the murders of over 30,000 Haitians between 1957 and 1986.

But Mother Teresa had more political allies other than brutish tyrants like François and “Baby Doc” Duvalier; infamous banking swindler Charles Keating was also among her associates. Yeah, those were the sorts of people she made time for, and counted as her friends and supporters. Yuck.

I suspect these findings won’t rehabilitate Hitchens in the eyes of those who despised him. I also suspect they won’t convince Mother Teresa’s devout Catholic admirers into rethinking their devotion to her. They will, instead, dismiss them as the product of the Evil Secularist Elite that supposedly infests higher education in North America. (As though there’s no such thing as a conservative or religionistic college anywhere to be found.) After all … why put up with inconvenient facts, when you can rationalize some way to ignore them?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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A photo of the Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien.I blogged a short while back about how Scotland’s Roman Catholic Cardinal, Keith O’Brien, had resigned his office in the wake of allegations made against him by four erstwhile seminarians, three of whom are currently priests in good standing. It turns out the allegations were substantial. The BBC reports O’Brien admitted wrongdoing and apologized for it (WebCite cached article):

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has admitted that his sexual conduct has at times “fallen beneath the standards expected of me”.

In a statement, he apologised and asked forgiveness from those he had “offended”.…

The statement issued through the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland read: “In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them.

“However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.

“To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise.

“I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.”

The cardinal — who initially said he was taking legal advice when the allegations against him were made public — had been due to retire later this month when he turned 75.

Note how O’Brien’s putative “apology” is, in reality, no such thing! It is, rather, an example of the “non-apology apology.”

Consider: He said he’d first disputed the allegations because they were “anonymous and non-specific,” and only acceded once he knew who was behind them and what their details were. Excuse me? Did his guilt somehow, magically, change once the names and details became known? Did he not recognize his own past behavior in the allegations, while they were anonymous? Was he unable to connect the dots between his assaults on seminarians and the merely anonymous and generalized initial reports?

I seriously doubt it worked that way. He had to have known where the allegations came from, and to which events they referred. He must have. Nothing else makes any sense.

Also, O’Brien did not apologize to the seminarians he’d assaulted. Rather, he apologized only “to those I have offended.” Excuse me? How, exactly, is assaulting people merely “offending” them? Why is he equating a physical attack with mere “offense,” such as insulting someone? Seriously, Cardinal … WTF?

Put these together and it’s apparent that O’Brien does not really understand what he did, what he was accused of, or the severity of it all. Despite the appearance of having apologized for it, he’s done no such thing, and I don’t see any evidence that he accepts the reality of what he did.

Which, of course, is typical of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. They accept responsibility for nothing, and never admit guilt. Anything and everything but them is responsible for everything the Church does wrong.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Pope Benedict XVI BlessingWith today being his last day in office as Pope, I thought I’d recap some of Benedict’s “greatest hits” since I’ve been blogging here. These are categorized and listed in blog order:

That about covers it, I think.

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