Archive for the ‘catholic church’ category

Which Side Of History?

June 25, 2020

Terry Gonda, a music director at her parish near Detroit, was told she would be fired because she is married to a woman.  The marriage was not a recent event and Ms Gonda had been active in the church for several years.  Why now, and for what reason?

  • First and foremost, Ms Gonda was not fired for job performance reasons.  Hmmm.
  • Second, bureaucracies move slowly to be sure, so the Archdiocese of Detroit may simply have not gotten around to firing Ms Gonda until last Friday… or was the diocese quietly betting that the Supreme Court would hold that Title VII definition of “sex” did not include LGBTQ members… and just got it wrong.

The Catholic Church has encountered many conflicts with what the Church has defined as dogma and believes as undeniably “true”.  Disappointingly, the Catholic Church has been on the wrong side of history uncomfortably often.  Famously Galileo put forward the notion that planets, including the earth, traveled around the sun, and refuted the church’s notion that all bodies traveled around the earth. (Why would the church even hold such a view?)  But for Galileo,  the Catholic Church disagreed and convicted Galileo in a church trial.  

Being on the right side of history, especially when the reason to be on the wrong side is based upon “dogma” or “unfounded beliefs” begs clear thinking and courage.  Once history vindicates the agonizing choice, everything looks easy.  In the 21st century, with medical science providing plenty of evidence that sexual orientation has a huge body chemistry component, continuing to ostracize LGBTQ humans seems a bit anachronistic.  

Of course recognizing LGBTQ humans does represent a risk for any religious organization.  For years, the average religious participant has been force fed a diet that says the individual church member is “better” than “those people”.  Eternal salvation is there for the asking… of course, with a little donation of currency too.

Wouldn’t one think that in 2020 religions are better than the Detroit Archdiocese example?  

Speaking About Life

May 12, 2019

On Friday, another pro-life protest broke out in Philadelphia.  The site was the center city “Planned Parenthood” office and as has happened so often in the past, pro-life demonstrators were “praying” and then “calling out” (respectfully they say) to strangers who appeared about to enter the Planned Parenthood office.  A Philadelphia State Senator happened to be present and went into a tirade against a pro-life mother and daughter telling them this was none of their business.  Bad form to be sure and not very smart since his tirade got onto social media and you guessed it, more pro and against people arrived.

Seizing the opportunity the Catholic Archbishop (Chaput), called out for protecting the unborn.  I wonder whether the Bishop was aware of the irony of his words.  The Bishop is someone who has stonewalled the investigations into priest child abuse and yet he feels compelled to speak out on women’s rights.  Hmmm.

There is no question in my mind that many pro-life advocates genuinely feel that abortion is wrong.  To this group the fetus is life and is destine to live in suburbia, go to great schools, and when an adult, saves the world.  Unfortunately, life is not that way.  Planned Parenthood deals mostly with middle class to the very poor Americans who lack the means and knowledge to prevent unwanted pregnancies, or sadly learn that the fetus is defective or likely to be a risk to the mother herself.

The Catholic Church speaks of love yet until very recently shunned LGBTQ community members and still speaks of them in “defective” terms.  Wouldn’t it be far more loving for the Church to welcome pregnant women and if the pregnancy is unwanted, to provide options including moral and accepting ways to end the pregnancy?

There should be no concern that “well to do” women will need the service of Planned Parenthood.  Abortions for the well off are safe and widely available if you have the money.  It seems life of the unborn is only a problem for the poor.  

Papel Babel

February 26, 2019

Over the weekend, Pope Francis concluded a Vatican convocation of over 130 bishops from around the world.  The topic, abuse of minors by members of the clergy, and the cover up of these incidents by church leadership.  The conclusions, hmmm, headscratchingly not much.

On the other hand, the Pope’s laments might have spoken volumes about the church and where it stands in modern society.  In short, the Catholic Church is in danger of losing moral authority over its 1.4 billion members, and shockingly, resembles a failing business.  Accordingly, the Pope’s message failed to spell out what the future would look like for catholics nor any hints of how the church would get to that future state.

In the Pope’s defense, some pundits said the Pope’s meeting and concluding message were designed to make the world’s catholic bishops aware of the problem and the seriousness of the situation.  Under this perspective, one should expect the Pope to roll out in short order more directives and fundamental changes, for example how the clergy are selected and supervised.  Given how long the sex abuse situation has been known, this view of the Pope’s intentions is likely wishful thinking.

New York Times columnist, Frank Brunni, commented upon Frédéric Martel’s new book which reports that as much as 80% of catholic clergy were gay.  Brunni argued that there was no connection between being gay and being a pedophile.  Brunni worries that cliques within the Vatican will target those openly gay priest and drive them into silence.  Maybe, but doesn’t that miss the point?

The Catholic Church has spoken loudly about marriage (man and woman), sex only between married couples, and many other rules about regulating a woman’s life.  Where does the church get the moral authority to speak on such subjects?  How can a hierarchy composed mostly of homosexuals (and all males) speak knowingly about the real world?

Pedophilia is not a condition tied solely to homosexuals.  Sexual abuse is not limited solely to pedophilia either.  Sexual harassment and abuse are much more about power and how one handles power in relation to others.

The Catholic Church would do well to look how the leadership selects and supervises its clergy.  Why would there be such a high percentage of gay members?  What would cause Bishops and Cardinals to cover up abuse and harassment?

Why shouldn’t the priesthood look like the world around (a mix of race, gender, and gender orientation)?  The Church might benefit from far more listening and a lot less talking about suspect dogma.  Keeping bad news from the boss is not a characteristic inherent in homosexuality, but is rather a conditioned reflex learned by an organization from the behavior superiors display when confronted with bad news.

The Pope could have said so much more.

Astonishing News

December 22, 2018

The Vatican made the headlines again today.  Sources speaking on behalf of Pope Francis expressed his anguish over more revelation of Catholic Church hierarchy impeding investigations or covering up sexual harassment allegations.  The Pope reportedly called for civilian authorities to actively investigate and hold criminally responsible any priests credibly charged.  Sources claim the Pope’s new conviction stems from worrying that the revelations and the coverups are hurting church attendance.  Hmmm.

No Sh*t.

As a large and prosperous business, the Catholic Church has been showing all the signs of a once highly regarded institution imploding.  The all male organization has been peddling dogma which is out of touch with modern life, have been slow to recognize the emerging gay life styles as normal, and have cruelly insisted on “offering their way or the highway” with respect to women’s reproductive health.  But swamping these hypocrisies was the long standing preference for protecting priest pedophiles and sexual abusers.  And the underlying rationale for this protection was to protect and not sully the good name of the church.  What good name?

No Sh*t.

In the US, evangelical and fundamentalist christian churches have been unashamed supporters of the Ten Commandments, that is until it comes to President Trump. These so-called Christians denounced former President Obama and former Democrat Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over their positions on gay rights and women’s reproductive health.  I guess some of the Commandments are just more important than others.

I am wondering whether the “hypocrisy” problem lies not singularly with the Catholic Church, but rather with the “business of religion”?

Homosexuals, Pedophiles, And Abusers

December 3, 2018

Pope Francis had another bad day recently.  Speaking to the Spanish press, Pope Francis said he worried about homosexual priests.  The Pope thought it would be better for these priests to remain celebrate or they should leave the clergy.  Hmmm.

With estimates that between one third and one half of all priests are homosexuals, the Pope may not realize what he is hoping for.  In addition to closing churches due to low attendance, the church may face needing to close more simply because there are not enough priests to man the churches.

It is certainly ironic that homosexuals constitute such a large percentage of active priests given the long term unloving treatment church dogma has handed out freely to homosexuals.  Sad is the only word that can describe the church hierarchy who try to conflate the scandal involving sexual abuse doled out by priests with the possibility that the priests were gay.  Chances are high that gay priests make up only a small fraction of abusers.

Far more likely is the inclusion in the priest ranks of out and out pedophiles and those who exploit the special power priests hold over every day people.  

The Pope would do well to think more about those who take unfair advantage of others and weed them out of the priesthood.  Replacing these sorry excuses of men with married priests and women priests might yield surprisingly beneficial results.

Like The Baldwin Locomotive Company?

November 15, 2018

The Roman Catholic Church finds itself in the clutches of a series of potentially fatal management crisis.  Across Europe church attendance continues to decline and Catholic churches in the US are seeing a similar trend.  One could question why but strictly from a business perspective, declining attendance means less and less money for the church and its support of Rome.

If the Roman Catholic Church were a public business, investors would want to see, right now, the “turn around” plan.  Rome’s actions this past week, however, dispels any notions that Rome understands the magnitude of its problems or how to deal with them in the 21st century.

This evidence came out when the US Catholic Church’s Bishops met in Baltimore for the purpose of agreeing upon a common response to allegations of sexual harassment and abuse perpetrated by members of the clergy.  After years of cover ups and misdirection statements, US catholic Bishops were set to issue some new rules.  But wait, Rome step in and ordered the Bishops to issue no statements and make no agreements pending a meeting next February in Rome where a global representation of Bishops could meet.  Hmmm, do you detect a sense of urgency?

The US Bishops were debating new guidelines about how to involve civil authorities, how to act transparently about accusations being made, and how to stop “recycling” clergy who were accused of abusing others, especially children.  What should be so hard about that?

Some senior members of the Catholic Church blame the child abuse cases upon the sizable percent of gay priests.  For these conservative church leaders, “get rid of the gays” and the problems of pedophilia disappears too.  If life were that simple.

The Catholic Church has several problems, to be sure.  Declining attendance suggests the church is not meeting the needs of modern society at a minimum.  Along with declining attendance, there is an even larger decline in those who want to become priests.  In times of shortages, who is going to ask about sexual orientation? 

Relevance, that is the role the church undertakes with its followers, is the missing subject, and that is not going to be found by next February, if it is not known now. 

The wide spread disgrace of clergy grooming and then seducing young boys and girls, and subsequently the hierarchy covering up church members’ complaints teaches the parishioners in clear and unambiguous words, this man’s catholic church is not about administering to its followers, it is about the followers looking the other way while still sending money to Rome.

The church is quick to drag out all the old superstitions.  You know, like being prepared for life in the next world rather than cleaning up the act in this world.

The Baldwin Locomotive Company was famous for making great and powerful steam locomotives.  In the late 1940’s, Baldwin rolled out their largest and greatest steam locomotive yet.  Within a few years Baldwin was finished as a company.  The reason, Baldwin was in the steam locomotive business while the rest of the world was looking for efficient and speedy transportation.  First came diesel locomotives, then jet airplanes, and new, limited access roads where automobiles shined.

What business does the Catholic Church leaders think they are in?

Rome’s Queen Mary

September 13, 2016

Steady as she goes! Rome’s version of the Queen Mary is sailing by.

Vice President candidate Tim Kaine recently reiterated his support for gay issues including same sex marriage. Kaine said he remained strongly committed to his catholic faith. He reconciled his views and the Catholic Church’s because he believed the church would change its anti-gay marriage views some day. Hmmm.

Like the Queen Mary, its is tough to turn around.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this week that a 14 year old was denied enrollment to a Camden (NJ) Catholic high school even though the student had been accepted and had paid the necessary deposit. The reason for denying entry was that the 14 year old applied for admission as a female and over the summer decided to begin the transition to a man. Camden Catholic said that “Mason” did not meet our “Catholic Identity” according to the news report. Hmmm.

Pictures of Madelyn now Mason reveal a clean cut, normal 14 year old. The school’s decision and the diocese’s quick statement of support show once again that the Catholic Church is stuck in a strangulating conservative grip, apparently feeling that if it denies the reality before its eyes, in time the world will suddenly conform to catholic dogma. Hmmm.

IMO, it works the other way.

Homosexuality has existed as long as recorded history. In a room of 20 people, the odds are that at least one is gay (either publicly or privately). The American public has changed it views of homosexuality markedly over the past 20 years as more and more successful people have outed themselves. Most of the secular public now seems to be saying, live and let live. In fact same sex marriage is the “law of the land”, not by legislative mandate but by the Supreme Court reading the publics minds.

The reasons someone is gay or lesbian is not clear, they just are (they didn’t learn it). More recently the public has begun to be exposed to transgender preferences. In these situations, a person identifies with the gender opposite to their birth gender. The more people who announce their changed gender preference, the more Americans perception of what is normal is being challenged.

But not the Catholic Church. They are blessed with greater knowledge, apparently.

With a clergy that some estimate to contain a third to one half homosexuals, the irony should not be lost. For adults, a transition to the opposite gender is usually accompanied with extensive counseling. For children/young adults, there is just as much or more need for compassion and support.

What a way for the Catholic Church to lead by example.

Astonishing But Who Cares?

July 6, 2016

Archbishop Charles Chaput has issued a clarification (for the Philadelphia Diocese) intended to make clear what Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” actual means. The publication issued in April 2016 was intended to deal with how the church deals with divorced couples, GLBTs, and unwed cohabitants. “Amoris Laetitia” which means the Joys of Love in Latin was billed at the time as the Pope’s attempt to urge Church officials to find room to welcome those living in “non-traditional” relationships. Hmmm.

Chaput said, as if still thinking he can get the red hat with tough conservative language (which would have work well with Pope Francis’ two predecessors), in effect, “no way, no how”.

First, Chaput made clear that divorced couples, unmarried couples, and same sex couples are living in unnatural relationships. A nice way to welcome some who might otherwise believe. Second, Chaput said that these groups could only receive church blessings if they were now abstaining from sexual relations. Hmmm.

So, Chaput has said, these groups are somehow lesser persons but if they persist in wanting to practice Catholicism, there must be no sex. I wonder what part of sex the Archbishop doesn’t understand?

 

Disclaimer. The Catholic Church is a private institution and as such can have whatever discriminatory rules that it wishes, just like the Elks Club, private Golf Clubs or Professional Organizations. The only god in these matters is the “marketing god” which in time will measure whether parishioners still put enough money in the Church’s baskets. If they do, Chaput and people like him will keep their jobs if not thrive. If the money dries up, the Catholic Church will finally step back and look at what their “man-made laws” are really doing.

Feet talk on matters such as this. Shame on the Archbishop.

Ex Post Facto And Statutes Of Limitations

June 11, 2016

The Pennsylvania Legislature has taken up consideration of a change to its Statutes of Limitations laws as they relates to sexual abuse crimes. Under the proposed change, individuals could sue other individuals or organizations for alleged child sexual abuse crimes without limitations of time. Is this a wise change to the law?

The Catholic Church does not think it either wise or fair. According to news reports, Catholic Church representatives have been quietly lobbying legislators seeking to stop the law making process. I wonder whether that’s also “religious freedom”?

Sex abuse and in particular child sex abuse are abhorrent crimes. At one extreme sex abuse is about assault and at the other, sex abuse often involves the misuse of power or societal position where someone imposes their will on another. Either physically assaulting or inducing someone to do something against their will are despicable crimes. So shouldn’t the adoption of no statutes of limitations for these crimes be a “no brainer”?

Maybe, but I think one must consider the concept of “Ex Post Facto” before deciding.

Under this long tradition of US law, acts committed when no law prohibits them, cannot later be charged should a new law be enacted. This is an important protection of civil liberty and should not lightly be discarded.

The Catholic Church has been shown to have “institutionally” protected priest child molesters. There has not been any evidence that church authorities ever encouraged child abuse but when it occurred church officials did try to cover it up. Shame, shame, shame on the Catholic Church.

Removing the statutes of limitations was proposed as a remedy for this past individual and organization behavior.  On top of shame would be most likely costly trials and settlements.

As seemingly “the right thing to do” as allowing priests and the Catholic Church to be sued for any past child abuse incidents may be, this change runs right into the principle of ex post facto. IMO, legislators should confine their new laws to those which spell out requirements  church officials must follow when new allegation of sex abuse arise that involve church employees.

Allowing government enact laws and then go back in time to charge individuals is a bag of worms that won’t be pretty.

Bathrooms Please !

May 22, 2016

The recent North Carolina controversy about who can use which gender designated bathroom reminds me of children’s arguments about which toy they can play with next. It totally baffles me why a modern State like North Carolina would rush HB-2 through and even more baffling why a former mayor of the vibrant commercial city of Charlotte would sign the bill into law.

Politics, in the sense of there is no place too low to go if one wants to win, is the most likely explanation. But why show everyone how pedestrian State politicians might be?

The advocacy groups who support transgender people being able to use which ever bathroom the individual feels most comfortable with has been somewhat as inane as the politicians supporting HB 2. Imagine (this may be an extreme) someone with facial hair (mustache, beard) who truly feels they are on the journey to identifying as a woman walking into a ladies room. Most anyone would react with surprise followed by some degree of uneasiness.

HB-2 also gratuitously opens the door for discrimination against gays by negating any local ordinances which specifically include sexual orientation as a basis for discrimination.

So, why was this necessary?

HB-2 was code named the “bathroom” law. Supporters cited the risk of allowing trans persons from using a bathroom of their choice that sexual predators would use this as cover and also enter women’s bathrooms and molest young children. Hmmm.

First, there is nothing in the law that prevents this from happening and most tellingly, there is no epidemic of predators invading women’s bathrooms now.

Through the fog of nonsense, however, HB-2 answers the concerns and hurt feelings of religious groups who still claim the Bible tells them being gay (and OMG, same sex marriage) is flat out wrong. Politicians who generally wear religion on their sleeve more vividly than in their heart have seen HB-2 as a sure fire vote getter.

The bill doesn’t outrightly call out gays, lesbians, and bi-sexuals for new “anti” measures. HB-2 is much more sophisticated. Since current North Carolina State law provides no specific protections around sexual orientation, HB-2 cleverly says no North Carolina city could enacts its own sexual discrimination laws.

Transgenders are the least understood LGBT group but the idea that a male born, female oriented person could use a lady’s bathroom just could not be imagined by many North Carolinians.

Not so long ago, when the gays rights movement was springing to life, a majority of Americans considered being gay a learned or nurtured condition.  “Love thy neighbor as thy self” didn’t cut it among many religious groups nationally. Being gay was an undesirable condition.

But then something began to happen across American. Americans began to get to know someone who was gay and the condition became real. Suddenly, being gay was viewed as a result of nature, or in other words, being gay was a form of being normal.

While there are still religious groups which denounce homosexuality, most now make fools of themselves by claiming they respect a homosexual as a person but not the life style practices of homosexuals. Hmmm. Never the less,today, more than 50% of Americans support gay rights including same sex marriage.

North Carolina is not going to get this genie back in the bottle. Supreme Court rulings clearly prohibit sexual orientation as a valid basis for discrimination and have also approved same sex marriage as a right of gay couples. So there.

But what about these sexual predators?

Most people do not carry around their birth certificate so it is unreasonable to expect anyone to be able to prove what their sex at birth might have been. Male to female trans persons (assuming no beards) will use a stall in a lady’s room and no one will be the wiser anyways. Female to male trans would be expected to also select a stall when using a men’s room. So where will the provocation be?

Several times in my life time I have been in a restroom and someone from the opposite sex has come in. Usually it is with a young boy who doesn’t know (or want) to enter the room by himself. Other times it is a personal emergency such as a super long line to get in a lady’s room or some mechanical problem making the room unavailable. When nature calls, laws do not mean much.

The LGBT community is arguing HB-2 is about denying respect for transgender people. Maybe, but HB-2 more clearly reflects ignorance and foolishness on the part of State law makers. Transgender use of public bathrooms will in 99.9% of the cases not be recognized by anyone else (person with beard using a lady’s room excepted).

So why is this big deal?