Posts Tagged “scandal”

Image from Franciscans (Friars Minor Conventual)A couple months ago I blogged about the claim made by the country’s Catholic bishops that the clerical child abuse scandal which has plagued the Church worldwide for some time now is a “historical” problem (i.e. it’s “history,” a mere relic of the past) and is now no longer an issue. The report, written by a cadre of academics — but commissioned and paid for by the bishops — said (WebCite cached article):

The “crisis” of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is a historical problem.

Of course, I didn’t believe the bishops academics when they said this, and — unfortunately — I’ve been proven right, by the arrest of a priest in Berlin, Connecticut. The New Britain Herald reports on this story (cached):

The same police officers who stood by [the Rev. Michael Miller’s] side while tending to the injured took him into custody Tuesday to charge the popular St. Paul Catholic Church priest with five counts of risk of injury to a minor and one count of attempted obscenity. …

In the wake of allegations of inappropriate contact with a minor, Miller was suspended from public ministry July 4, according to a news release issued Tuesday by the Franciscan Friars.

The archdiocese of Hartford is supposedly cooperating with police in this case, which has been investigated for about a month. And they’re offering to “help out,” as revealed in another article in the Herald (cached):

“Anyone who has experienced inappropriate contact and/or conduct by Fr. Michael Miller should contact the Berlin Police Department. They are also encouraged to contact Sister Mary Kelly at the Archdiocese of Hartford at 860-541-6491. She is the coordinator of the Victim Assistance Program and can offer some assistance.”

By making this offer, the archdiocese hopes to intercept any reports before they get to the police. Nice. Really nice.

Photo credit: From Friars Minor Conventual Web site (Wayback Machine cache).

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Watergate Complex from TR BridgePlease pardon another slightly off-topic post.

Over the years I’ve had correspondents accuse me of being a committed Leftist. It’s true I’m no fan of the Religious Right, but that hardly makes me part of the ideological Left, or a cog in the machine of the Democratic Party. For the record, I despise ideology in all its forms. Every single last one of them, wherever they are, and whoever belongs to them. All ideologies are arbitrary collections of notions, cherry-picked to work to the personal advantage of those who advance them, and detrimental to everyone else and to society as a whole.

If any of you really feel the need to label my political affiliation, I suppose the best one I could come up with, is “Cynicalist.” Basically I don’t trust any politician as far as I can throw him or her. It doesn’t matter what party he or she belongs to — I do not believe any of them! None are trustworthy, because — as Lord Acton once stated so truthfully — power corrupts. Even if an official isn’t corrupt before s/he is elected, s/he will become corrupted once in office. It’s inevitable, and as unavoidable as death and taxes.

How do I know this? If simple economics doesn’t make it clear, then examples from history should. And I can think of no better example of it — one that happened, as chance would have it, during my formative years — than the Watergate scandal. This was not really just a single scandal; it was a complex, multi-pronged affair, orchestrated by a lengthy cast of characters, all of whom were up to various forms of wrongdoing … some of them independent of each other. The entire convoluted debacle included burglary, espionage, extortion, perjury, obstruction of justice, campaign-finance hijinks, and more. It dragged on for years, and was extensive and significant enough to force Richard Nixon to resign as President … even though only about 4½ months into the scandal, he managed to be re-elected to his second term, and hung in until August of ’74.

The list of slippery characters whose names were trotted out each night on the evening news, almost every night as the scandal slowly unfolded, reached laughable proportions by the time Congressional hearings were held. The 18½ minute gap in the Oval Office tapes became legendary, and the words “not to the best of my recollection” — oft-spoken by White House staffers — a catch-phrase of the era. The whole thing, in fact, was almost surreal.

As the Watergate scandal was swirling around them, the Nixon White House — and while it still existed in 1972, his re-election committee — contrived other scandals in the lives and careers of other politicians. Nixon operative Donald Segretti famously referred to these dirty tricks as “ratfucking,” and he engaged in this practice with relish. For instance, he forged the so-called “Canuck letter” which ended the presidential candidacy of Sen. Ed Muskie of Maine. Since then, “ratfucking” has become a cottage industry in American politics, and has even gone beyond political campaigns; it’s now being done by bloggers and pundits (WebCite cached article).

So, how does one know a politician or pundit is lying? Whenever his/her lips are moving. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’m neither a Rightist nor a Leftist, but rather, a Cynicalist.

Update: As luck would have it, no sooner did I post this story, than the National Archives released the Pentagon Papers (WebCite cached article). The leak of this document to the New York Times in 1971 ended up being a precursor to the Watergate debacle. The Nixon White House — which had had nothing directly to do with creating this document, it had been finished just prior to Nixon taking office in 1969 — nevertheless (in its paranoia) launched a concerted effort to find the leaker (RAND Corporation analyst Daniel Ellsberg). Once they’d found out who he was, they further worked to harass and discredit him, by any means they could find. Quite unbelievably, this campaign included a break-in at the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, as they sought desperately to find whatever they could to use against him. This particular operation, which had been approved by White House staffer John Ehrlichman, had been orchestrated by E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy — the two men who would soon after also burglarize the DNC offices in the Watergate complex, and touch off the much-larger scandal.

Photo credit: dbking.

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Ihs-logoNews continues to trickle in concerning the worldwide clerical child-abuse scandal which has dogged the Roman Catholic Church for at least a decade. The latest news is that a chapter of the Jesuit order (aka the Society of Jesus) reached a settlement with clerical child-abuse victims in the northwestern US, as the AP reports via Google News (WebCite cached article):

In one of the largest settlements in the Catholic church’s sweeping sex abuse scandal, an order of priests agreed Friday to pay $166.1 million to hundreds of Native Americans and Alaska Natives who were abused at the order’s schools around the Pacific Northwest.

The Jesuit order, called the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, has been accused of using its schools in remote villages and on reservations as dumping grounds for problem priests. …

The settlement between the more than 450 victims and the province also calls for a written apology to the victims and disclosure of documents to them, including their medical records. …

The settlement is believed to be the Catholic Church’s third-largest in the sex abuse cases, behind the Los Angeles Diocese, which agreed to pay $660 million to 508 victims, and the San Diego Diocese, which agreed to pay $198 million to 144 victims, according to the website

I blogged late last year about a cache of documents that had been released as a result of the San Diego case. Those documents reveal that the Church made calculated decisions intended to keep abusive priests in the Church — and able to continue abusing children elsewhere. But worse, it also revealed that California officials colluded with them to allow this to happen.

It’s a fucking disgrace … but to date the R.C. Church has refused to handle it head-on. The Church still prefers to evade accountability. Instead, they remain convinced this scandal is a vile diabolical attack on God’s holy, perfect Church; the real victims here are not the abused children, but rather, the priests who’ve abused them. Those poor priests, you see, were forced by the Devil to abuse children in their care. The Devil worked through the children, you see … which implies the children were actually the perpetrators of these crimes, not the abusive priests.

Yes, folks, the Vatican has a horribly deviant worldview, a result of which is that it never concedes error since it never considers itself capable of doing wrong. Any wrongdoing can only be coerced out of it, by outside forces, such as the Devil, “masonic secularists,” “great foreign newspapers,” etc.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Image of a 1997 letter from the Vatican warning Irish bishops not to report suspected child-abuse cases to police.The Mafia-like philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy continues to be revealed as information emerges from the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal. The latest revelation comes in the form of a letter, originally written by Vatican officials to Ireland’s bishops in 1997, ordering them not to report child abuse to local authorities. The AP reports via Canada’s The Globe and Mail on this remarkable document (WebCite cached article):

A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police – a disclosure that victims groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the Vatican enforced a worldwide culture of coverup.

The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland’s first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.

What makes this a “smoking gun” is that it shows the Vatican to have lied about the scandal:

The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that the church in Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church’s right to handle all child-abuse allegations, and determine punishments, in house rather than hand that power to civil authorities.

The letter also shows the Vatican’s primary concern was to ensure that canon law — i.e. the Church’s own internal legal system — handled these cases and that secular courts would never see them. Once again we see that the Church views itself as being above the law of the countries in which it operates, and assumes itself answerable to no one and nothing else.

The Globe and Mail hosts a copy of the letter, just large enough to read if one works at it (WebCite cached version).

My guess is that Catholicism’s apologists will refuse to acknowledge the lie demonstrated in this letter and will refuse to accept any possibility of wrongdoing by Church hierarchs.

Hat tip: Repi at Atheist/Agnostic/Herding Cats on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: The AP, via The Globe and Mail.

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Spinello Aretino Exorcism of St BenedictFor most of the 20th century, the Roman Catholic Church downplayed the practice of exorcism. As an institution, it tended to shy away from the idea that people’s problems — particularly mental or neurological illnesses — were caused by demonic possession, and instead left it up to the practice of medicine. This was a positive development, and lent credence to the idea that these illnesses are not of metaphysical origin, but physiological in nature.

But the Church wants desperately to divert the attention of both Catholics and non-Catholics from the clerical child-abuse scandal which has plagued it around the world, for the last several years. Many of their tactics have been rhetorical and in direct response to the scandal, such as the claim that the scandal is merely a demonic attack upon God’s holy Church, in which the true victims are the abusive clergy, not the children they abused. Other, more indirect responses have been the Pope’s claims that “secularism” is the greatest evil in the world, the equivalent of Nazism … and worse, that the Nazis themselves had been wicked secularists.

Still other responses have been less rhetorical and more active, and even more indirect. The latest is a reversal of the Church’s former de-emphasis on exorcism, and a renewed embrace of that medieval practice, as reported by the UPI (WebCite cached article):

More than 100 Roman Catholic priests and bishops have gathered in Baltimore for a conference on exorcism.

The two-day conference, which is not open to the public or news media, was organized by Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., The New York Times reported Friday. Paprocki said the main goal of the conference is to help priests and bishops decide when exorcism is appropriate. …

R. Scott Appleby, a professor of church history at the University of Notre Dame, said reviving exorcism restores a sense of the church as an institution dealing with the supernatural: “It’s a strategy for saying: ‘We are not the Federal Reserve, and we are not the World Council of Churches. We deal with angels and demons.'”

That this is being done in the increasingly-religionistic United States cannot be a coincidence. It will inevitably appeal to a nation which tends toward metaphysical solutions to problems.

However, it’s not the only old Catholic practice which the Church is reviving. A couple of years ago, the Pope himself proposed that issuance of indulgences — in the form of paper documents — ought to be resumed, and bishops began following this suggestion, beginning early last year (cached article). Reforms begun early in the 20th century, culminating at the Second Vatican Council, had rendered indulgences-on-paper moot, since Catholicism now holds that, once someone has done something to earn an indulgence*, s/he has earned it; the document itself is unnecessary and superfluous (although there is no reason a Catholic could not still ask for one). This remains the case even now, however, the Church is pushing indulgences-on-paper, as a way of “connecting” Catholics back to the Church … or something.

My guess is that the Catholic Church might ingratiate itself to its laity more efficiently, by confessing its crimes and its sins directly and without excuse or caveat, and by handing over for prosecution all abusive clergy and the hierarchs who aided them. Of course, they will never do that, at least not voluntarily … so they keep looking for other ways to “connect” with the laity.

At any rate, the Church is rolling back the clock, as it were, to an older time when exorcisms were more frequent, in an effort to appear to be actively involved in the supernatural again. And they’re doing it in order to divert attention from the criminality of abusive clergy within its ranks and of the hierarchy that aided and protected them for decades. Nice.

While the sale of indulgences has been outlawed by the Church since the Council of Trent in the 6th century, their issuance never ended; Catholic doctrine holds that they can still be earned by certain activities, such as devotional prayers, saying of the Rosary, fasting, etc.

Photo credit: Spinello Aretino [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Bishop Eddie Long from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, GA declared the word of the Lord into our hearts and lives.Over the past few months I’ve blogged many times on the Roman Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal and that Church’s dismal failure to handle it in anything approaching a mature and morally-upright fashion. But no one should be fooled into thinking scandals of this sort are limited only to Catholicism. Evangelical Protestants such as Ted Haggard and George Alan Rekers have been caught up in sex scandals over the last few years (albeit with adults). And before them, of course, there were Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker.

More recently, yet another evangelical has found himself facing a sex scandal of his own, and this time the accusations involve somewhat younger victims. The CBS News Crimesider reports on the expanding case of Atlanta megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long (WebCite cached article):

New pictures [cached] have surfaced of Bishop Eddie Long, prominent pastor of a 25,000-member megachurch outside Atlanta, as a third man has come forward accusing the anti-gay advocate of coercing him into sex.

CBS News’ Erica Hill reports the pastor allegedly sent his accusers numerous photos [cached] of himself including at least several of him wearing spandex and workout clothes.

It’s not known precisely how the photos surfaced.

This scandal has been brewing for a week or so, and has reached the point where Long can no longer ignore it, even if — perhaps — he’d first thought he could deflect it:

Long canceled an interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show Thursday, opting instead to make his first public response to the sex allegations during a service at his Atlanta-area church on Sunday, according to his lawyer, who appeared on the nationally syndicated radio show in Long’s absence.

This article goes into some of the allegations, and also explains Long’s pedigree as a prominent evangelical:

In lawsuits filed this week, three men who were members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church claimed Long coerced them into sexual relations with gifts including cars, cash and travel when they were 17 or 18 years old. The sprawling church in Lithonia, Ga., about 18 miles outside of Atlanta, counts politicians, celebrities and the county sheriff among its members and hosted four U.S. presidents during the 2006 funeral of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, Coretta Scott King.

One of the claims in the lawsuits is that Long had sexual contact with the young men, who were enrolled in New Birth’s ministry for teen boys, during trips he took them on in the U.S. and abroad. Gillen said the travel was part of a mentoring program that other young men also participated in.

The problem for Long is not merely that he’s a pastor who knows better than to engage in such behavior, but that he’s an outright hypocrite, since he’s been something of an anti-gay crusader:

Long has called for a national ban on same-sex marriage and his church counsels gay members to become straight. In 2004, he led a march with Bernice King to her father’s Atlanta grave to support a national constitutional amendment to protect marriage “between one man and one woman.”

Bishop Long appears to have forgotten that his own Jesus explicitly, clearly, and unambiguously ordered his followers never, ever to be hypocritical.

It remains to be seen what he will say when he addresses his congregation on Sunday. Some news reports suggest he may be resigning pending the outcome of these cases, however, another CBS News Crimesider report shows some defiance on his part (cached):

Bishop Eddie Long spoke out for the first time Friday about allegations that he had sexual relationships with at least three teenage boys in his Atlanta-area church. …

Long said he was in the middle of a battle.

“We will arise through this situation, and go forward, and we are moving forward,” Long said.

That sounds like a guy who’s hired a batallion of attorneys to fight these lawsuits, not someone who’s preparing to give in and go away silently.

It should be no surprise to anyone that, in looking for reactions to this scandal, the mass media ran immediately, microphones extended, to the aforementioned shamed Ted Haggard, who is (likewise no surprise!) supporting his fellow scandal-plagued evangelical pastor, as AOL News reports (cached):

Disgraced pastor Ted Haggard cautions that no one should rush to judge Atlanta megachurch Bishop Eddie Long, who is accused of coercing three young men into sex.

“Nobody’s guilty until the court says he’s guilty,” Haggard, the former head of a 14,000-member congregation in Colorado, told AOL News in a phone interview Wednesday.

I don’t know what’s more pathetic … that the mass media thought that the shamed pastor had anything to say worth hearing, or that Haggard had the audacity to say that no one is permitted to think ill of Long until a court renders a verdict?

Photo credit: TBN Newsletter.

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CNN Insipid Beyond Belief blog!CNN has a relatively new religion blog. Maybe you’ve heard of it … but more likely, you haven’t. If not, don’t worry — you aren’t missing much. The kind of pablum this blog conveys is hardly worth your notice, and I mean that regardless of what your own religious viewpoint (if any) is. It’s just not that great.

An example of how deficient this blog is, is in its coverage of the once-disgraced but now proud-to-have-had-a-scandalous-past-because-it-makes-me-great evangelical preacher, Ted Haggard (a used-car-salesman-type creepy character I most recently blogged about here). In the space of just four days, this month, the CNN Belief blog has posted two stories on Ted Haggard: Haggard back in the pulpit (cached) and Status report: Ted Haggard’s new church (cached). This is after having posted some blathering tripe about him a month ago (Ted Haggard, Resurrected; cached) courtesy of Stephen Prothero, a religion professor.

What’s really amazing, if you pay close attention to these “reports” about the “resurrected Ted’s” incredible success, is that it’s all self-reported. That’s right. We only have Pastor Ted’s word on how great he’s doing and how great he is. There is no “investigation” here, none of the cutting-edge, incisive, insightful and analytical journalism one (presumably) expects of CNN.

Clearly CNN’s new “Belief Blog” is little more than a P.R. engine for Pastor Ted “I’m-not-gay-even-if-I-hired-gay-prostitutes-to-service-me” Haggard. Then again, CNN hooked up with Stephen Prothero, who’s on the record as demanding mandatory Bible classes in public schools.

Yeah. These are the kinds of people CNN is now carrying water for. An unrepentant cretin, and a militant Christian.

I guess we can chalk this one up as yet another journalism fail. Sigh.

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