Archive for the ‘catholic church’ category

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?

Pope Francis, Are You Listening?

February 28, 2016

This week Archbishop Robert J, Carlson came down hard on the Girl Scouts. Mostly 10 and under girls apparently represent a threat to Catholic dogma. According to archdiocese press releases, the girl scouts are following a policy of “inclusion”. Hmmm.

Why would the Catholic Church at this point in world knowledge and public opinion try to swim up stream? The veiled enemy Archbishop Carlson is worried about is the full acceptance of gay and transgender people. The Church apparently does not see gays and transgender people as a normal segment of the population, fully deserving of recognition and in no way the proper target of ridicule.

The Saint Louis Archdiocese like leaders of many other conservative US Catholic dioceses thinks the road to a red hat is still by being more Rome than Rome. Pope Francis, however, given his performance to date, would never pick a fight with young girls, nor most likely pick a fight with adults over an issue of supporting Girl Scouts. The Saint Louis diocese seems tone deaf.

Being a private organization, the Catholic Church is, of course, free to support Girl Scouts or not. But in a world where wholesome activities are hard to find for our young people, choosing to denounce Girl Scouting because their national leadership embraces all young girls regardless of their sexual orientation or that of their parents is very troubling.  Are these church officials still stuck in grove of “nurture or nature”?

I wonder whether Pope Francis is listening?

The Catholic Disease

February 15, 2016

Pope Francis is visiting Mexico and has taken the opportunity to speak out about the scourges of the Mexican drug cartels and the poverty brought on by Mexico’s income inequality. The Pope has clearly identified two great curses with which Mexico finds itself.  As usual, Pope Francis smiles and then speaks from his heart what everyone could see but acts if it were not there.

The Pope, however, did not speak out on the dangers of the Zika virus.

Speaking out on the latest world health threat, however, was Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner speaking in Brazil. The good Bishop reaffirmed the Catholic Church position on birth control, “no way, no how”. The Bishop recommended abstinence or the infamous “rhythm method” as the most appropriate methods to guard against transmitting Zika virus through sexual contact. Hmmm.

This advice is reminiscent of Pope Benedict’s advice to the faithful in AIDS infested central Africa, “condoms are against church teachings”. And the science (or even Biblical teachings) are what?

Unlike most religious teachings which impact only the faithful, the lack of safe sex and family planning advice endangers the lives of many more, especially those who can barely take care of themselves. The Catholic Church’s position on safe sex and family planning in the 21st century is nothing short of shameful.

Given Pope Francis’ public speeches one is left with the impression he clearly recognizes the hypocrisy and inherent danger surrounding the church’s condemnation of family planning and safe sex. One must assume Pope Francis has just been to busy to take on the Bishop Steiners of this world.

Hmmm.

Saying What You Mean

October 1, 2015

There is a familiar expression which goes, “Say what you mean, mean what you say”. Recent Washington events can put some dimensions around this saying. The events were the Pope’s visit, Representative Mike McCarthy’s comments on Benghazi, and the GOP’s perspective on the Russian entry into Syria.

1. The Pope’s visit was a smashing success for Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. The Pope’s use of symbolism to emphasize the importance of humility, tending to the poor, and acceptance of all people was moving. In carefully crafted language the Pope verbally communicated what he tried to symbolize, and, also carefully alluded to catholic dogma which most Americans find less acceptable.

Namely, the Pope gave no room for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church, nor did the Pope offer hope for a more sensible approach to family planning, and the Pope omitted any direct reference for an equal place in life for the GLBT community. The Pope said this by not saying anything to the contrary.

But wait, we now have heard that the Pope met privately with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for contempt for denying marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. In an eerily similar move to transferring a priest accused of child abuse or paying hush money to victims on the basis of them dropping criminal charges, the church once again tried to have it both ways.  The Pope kept speaking about the sanctity of all persons while his conservative handlers orchestrated a private meeting endorsing Davis’ actions.

Clearly child abuse is a human problem and not restricted to the celebrant church officials. Being opposed to birth control or abortion are matters of conscience and these beliefs can be widely held. The Catholic Church stepped out of bounds when it supported the suppression of information on criminal activity (presumably to not tarnish the church’s reputation) and now when it supports illegal actions (Davis refusal to issue licenses) to advance the church’s faith based beliefs.

Meeting openly with Kim Davis is one issue, not meeting with women’s groups or members of GLBT groups sends an equally clear message about the still broken planks in the church’s efforts to represent itself as a modern church.

2. Representative Mike McCarthy has declared his intentions to seek the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Speakers job goes to someone who is a GOP leader and well informed on GOP strategy.  In comments to Fox News, McCarthy committed an unforced error by speaking the truth. When asked to name some accomplishments of the GOP controlled House, McCarthy cited the Benghazi select committee. McCarthy attributed the drop in Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers as a direct consequent of the GOP lead investigation and proof of its accomplishment.

For anyone with a heart beat, the investigation’s purpose has been clear for a long time. For McCarthy to utter this confirmation is amazing (for telling the truth) and completely a political mistake for admitting what was patently obvious. It should be no wonder why public opinion polls of Congress register so low.

3. In the murky Syrian situation, so many Republican politicians and GOP Presidential hopefuls are weighing in on “President Obama’s failed policies”. Each one of these critics decry the President’s policies of limited involvement but also cling to the notion that troops on the ground are not necessary. “The US is not acting, Russia is”, they spout. “Our allies will begin to forsake the US and turn to Russia”, the political rhetoric goes. Hmmm.

There is no question that Syria has become a humanitarian tragedy. But if Iraq has taught anything, it is that American idealism is sorely misplaced as the foundation of a Middle East strategy. There is no Russian idealism and doing what is necessary to keep Assad in power is all that is necessary.  (Like with Afghanistan when Russia invaded and was eventually defeated, Syria is equally a bed Russia will not like to sleep in.)

If the GOP really is interested in ending the Syrian turmoil and defeating ISIS, there must be honesty about what it would take. Nothing less than another Iraq type invasion and occupation with most likely a subsequent redefinition of regional boundaries would be necessary. All of this would need to be supported by a US draft and imposition of war taxes. (I wonder whether Mike McCarthy would admit that too?)