Posted tagged ‘catholic church’

Death And Decay

June 25, 2019

The Catholic Church has had it share of “front page” problems over the past 20 years.  Those problems have their roots going back 100 or more years.  The Church discovered long ago that promising a much better life after death was a gold mine for gifts and weekly contributions.  By carefully grooming church members, the over all church (especially Rome) have become very wealthy.  With money, however, comes a class of clerics who saw their religious role to insure the church’s wealth remained intact and preferably grew in value.

The money “growers”, however, needed a parallel group of clerics who created and enforced a set of rules which balanced on the toughness required to lead a “good enough” life to quality for the hereafter with a doctrine that still provided a means to amend for shortcomings were a poor soul to wander off the path and need relief to “qualify” for the hereafter.  Dogma and doctrine, both man created and made, followed.

There have been reasoned outcries over the centuries calling out the Catholic Church for wandering from reason.  Galileo, Copernicus, and the Inquisitions are well known.  Hitler, Franco, and world war II’s atrocities also showed a dim view of the Pope’s “holiness”.  Today there rages in Rome a new war for the future control of the Catholic Church.  Liberals who want to base the church upon current secular understandings, and conservatives who wish to return to doctrine and dollars, even if it means a smaller overall church.  Hmmm.

The debate around child abuse by clerics sums up neatly the paradox the church finds itself in.  How can the church punish someone who has received “holy orders” and risk adversely influencing so many other church members that there is something wrong with church teachings?

Sexual orientation is another bag of worms for the Catholic Church.  Estimates range from 1/3rd to 2/3rds of all priests are homosexuals.  Yet, these same men must stand before their followers and preach that homosexuality is wrong and strictly outside church teachings.  How much more conflicted could someone get?

Two private catholic school near Indianapolis offers an example.  Two well respected teacher entered into same sex marriages and subsequently the school administration found out.  The schools initial decision was “no harm, no foul”.  When the diocese found out, the Archbishop (hopeful to become a Cardinal?) issued a statement saying “no way”.  Either the teachers are fired or the archdiocese would disown the school.  So far, one school has caved and one has not.  Hmmm.

The reason given was that same sex marriage is against catholic doctrine and the teacher is therefore not living a “catholic” life.  This inconsistency, the diocese says, demands termination of the teachers.  Hmmm.  I wonder whether there are any divorced and remarried teachers?

What a message to send to young minds.  Like marijuana, over the years generation after generation “experimented” and have found marijuana not to be what law enforcement and hypocritical politicians have said.  Similarly, homosexuality is natural, not learned (nurture) regardless of what the church has said.   The church is once more caught up in its “straight jacketed dogma”.

And, to add to the unspoken message, what does the Catholic Church’s behavior teach followers, for instance Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as a just arbiter for woman’s health or human rights for all Americans?   

Priest Child Abuse

August 15, 2018

Front pages are full today of reports on the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report summarizing the Catholic Church’s apparent stonewalling (cover up) of priest accused of child abuse and molestation.  News media (print, digital, and video) can’t get enough indignation into their stories.  Some even express surprise at the Grand Juries finding.  Under what rock have these members of the press been sleeping?

Understanding the Pennsylvania report requires only knowing about bureaucracies in general  (how each bureaucracy’s main purpose it protect itself) and celibacy (a totally abnormal act, accompanied with other anti-social behavior).  The Grand Jury report outlines over 70 years of Catholic priest abuse and molestation combined with a church hierarchy committed to protecting the church’s name and not the victims.

While the media is treating this as “news”, the only news is this report is about Pennsylvania and not Boston. Sixteen years ago, similar revelations were published by the Boston Globe (later made into the movie “Spotlight”).  The Globe reported that in ANY all male “celibate” population like catholic priest, fully 6% of the members will engage in some form of pedophilia, and Catholic Church leaders will tend to shun transparency and in the process cover up any priest transgressions under the guise that the church organization knows better.

Many are asking how abuses can be prevented? 

The honest answer may be “they cannot” be prevented 100%.  Most likely, pedophilia is a human condition and has some minimum occurrence in groups of sexually healthy people (like school teachers, office workers, sports figures).  If the Catholic Church wants to end the label of a champion of pedophilia, it needs to open “priesthood” to women and married couples, in other words simulate more closely other groups with less pedophilia.  Since there is no chance to attain zero incidents, the church needs also a true zero tolerance policy and notify police on each occurrence of alleged abuse or molestation.  Notifying law enforcement authorities alone will not be sufficient since the priesthood, as it is currently, is simply a breeding ground for the 6% (or more).   The church is acting as an enabler, so to speak, for these pedophiles to congregate, develop technique, and prey upon unsuspecting children.

Religious Freedom The Catholic Way

May 22, 2018

In Philadelphia, foster parents are selected by private social service agencies using criteria provided by the city of Philadelphia.  As part of the cities “non-discrimination” policy, all qualified applicants should be considered regardless of religion, color, ethnicity or gender orientation.  Non-Discrimination means just that no one is disqualified for reasons unrelated to whether the candidate is trustworthy with the economic and emotional means to become a foster parent.  Sounds pretty clear to me.

Hold on, says the Catholic Social Services Agency, what about our religious freedom. Hmmm. Consequently, the Philadelphia Catholic Services Agency filed a law suit in Federal Court claiming the City was not treating them fairly.  Hmmm.  

So to be clear, the issue does not involve fitness (economic or emotional) to be a foster parent.  Rather the suit is about a  which groups of people or more to the point which groups cannot be considered as foster parent candidates due to a religious intolerance directed towards gender orientation.  Like many other Catholic dogma views, Catholics are not content to practice their dogma by themselves.  For example, the Catholic Church is free to decide who can be members of its churches. 

If the Catholic Services Agency does not want to interview same sex couples for foster parents openings, then CSA should not seek business from Philadelphia which clearly states that all qualified (economic and emotional) residents should be considered.  The Philadelphia CSA apparently sees “hypocrisy” differently.

Sadly Philadelphia’s decision to honor its non-discriminatory policy will deprive the city of what otherwise was a very competent services provider.  For Catholic Services Agency, backed with money from someplace, there could be another chance to challenge in court for the right to discriminate in the name of religious freedom.


February 4, 2018

Pope Francis made the headlines recently for courageous but possibly (probably) making a dead wrong observations. The Pope responded to criticism of Bishop Juan Barros by accusing his accusers of speaking without proof.

The subject, not surprisingly, involved covering up priestly sex abuse. Why would the Pope do something like that?

Who knows for sure but the Pope had appointed Barros a Bishop and has drawn criticism for this from a number of voices within the church clergy, notably Cardinal O’Malley of Newark, NJ. Hmmm.

Covering up may seem different from complicity since the reason for covering up might be tied to protecting the church’s good name. Bishop Barros could feel justified by saying the alleged perpetrator had been removed from his post and no longer able to abuse. And Bishop Barros may have weighed the perpetrator’s good deeds with charges of alleged sexual abuse and felt pity for the perpetrator. Sound Christian like?

Complicity, however, does not exclude the possibility that covering up is a form of complicity. When someone “covers up” sexual abuse, this act empowers other abusers to abuse again. So what’s a Pope to do?

The Pope has claimed that he was unaware of any substantiated charges against Bishop Barros and therefore considered that his accusers were speaking with malice. On a pure logic basis, unsubstantiated charges amount to slander so right and wrong become difficult to separate. So, what’s a Pope to do?

There is probably no greater stain on the Catholic Church’s reputation than charges of pedophilia. No only have courts awarded huge sums of money to victims costing the church millions, but as an institution which claims to speak for god (or god’s words), are church members being asked to believe god is ok with abuse of children? Or, is god ok with abuse if the abuser raises lots of money for the church or by extension, a private citizen donates a lot of money to the church, does that person receive a “get out of jail” card?

There is no greater issue facing the Catholic Church’s relevance than clergy sex abuse. As the church’s head, Pope Francis needs to proactively lead the church towards  elimination (or at least the minimization) of occurrences. In the business world, CEO’s appoint senior executives, often called “compliance officer” to ensure a company complies with relevant laws or social norms.

At the very least, Pope Francis ought to have learned from this incident that his “organization” is, at best, half heartedly committed to ending pedophilia.

Today’s News

June 3, 2014

In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, there were two articles involving the Philadelphia Catholic Archdiocese. The front page carried the story detailing community concerns arising over the closure of a neighborhood church.

The Church is closing 16 churches, either outright or through merger with nearby churches. The closures reflect demographic shifts as well as a new era where growth is no longer where it was before. The old saying “it takes money to make money” seems to be playing out. Churches in less affluent neighborhoods are giving way to suburban mega centers (at least much larger).

The Archbishop has explained that the diocese’s serious financial condition makes it no longer feasible to keep open all the neighborhood churches. While available public information supports this position, there is a sensitive emotional reaction taking place just the same over each closure.

Each parish has members who have bonded to their particular church. These bonds have been formed over time and through life’s journey and personal commitment. In a much larger, ever changing world, the neighborhood church has offered some people solace. The church was in effect their club.

The second article was a brief one which noted that the Philadelphia Archdiocese had filed a lawsuit in Federal Court to enjoin the government from enforcing the Affordable Care Act. The Philadelphia Archdiocese has objected to the contraceptive requirements contained in ACA.

The decision over church closures can be understood in business terms. Displaced parishioners are encourage to find another still open church.

Denying contraceptive insurance coverage to those seeking such coverage the Church claims is based upon faith, religious freedom, so to speak.

Those who have had their church closed were already catholics. Those potentially being denied full ACA provisions may or may not be catholic. Hmmm.

Religious freedom certainly plays no role in church closures. Church affiliated businesses (like schools, hospitals, or charities), operate in the secular world where by definition (First Amendment) the government is restrained from establishing any religion.

How can Courts find in the Catholic Church’s attempt to impose its religious views on others, especial those with different religious traditions.  I wonder whether Justices will consider that over 90% of catholic women use contraceptives?

All male institution, hmmm.

It Really All About Money

May 13, 2014

Last Sunday, in his weekly op-ed column, Frank Brunni asked the question, “Would Pope Francis sign the contract?” Brunni was referring to the new contract the Cincinnati catholic diocese is demanding of its parochial teachers. In the column, Brunni highlighted the controversy that has struck a number of catholic school systems.

Teachers are being asked to sign a much more specific set of “do’s and don’ts” contracts. Spokespersons for the diocese claim the new language does not change any policy but simply makes them clearer. Hmmm.

At a time when Catholic Church leaders are in serious need of a mirror, some seem set like lemmings to plow ahead. In the way are homosexuals, gay marriage, family planning, and unwed cohabitation. Disappearing into the shadows are ministering to the poor, helping neighbors, and building a strong moral and ethical code necessary for the secular world.

But I am not going further with this line of thinking. Why? My view towards all religions is the same. Members are free to practice the religious message and the organized traditions are free to put forth their message providing they do not force their views on others or take money from my pocket to practice their beliefs.

With this in mind, the Catholic Church is free to self destruct if its leadership feels this course is wise. The new contract is a business relationship with teachers and as such is not being forced upon them.

It is interesting to note as did Brunni, that these new contract requirements fly in the face of what Pope Francis has said. The Pope spoke of some church leaders’ preoccupation with contraception and homosexuals… “whom am I to judge?”

I doubt very much there is any accident here. The US conservative church leaders know their business facts. Wealthy people give more to support the church than people with little or no wealth. Ministering to the poor may be what Jesus asked, but Jesus never ran a business.

When Pope John Paul took the reigns of the Catholic Church from Pope John XXIII, it did not take long to turn the keys back to the money makers. Why?

US lay Catholics who were in a position to financially support the church had, at least in their minds, followed the traditional church teachings during their lives. Now sex could be pursued without worry of unwanted pregnancies, embryos could be harvested safely for later use, and homosexuals were being recognized as a product of nature, not nurture.

For these traditional catholics, the world was unwinding. All the rules they tried to follow were being called into question. To the rescue came the all male catholic hierarchy. With Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict who followed, the message from the top and the necessary follow up preached the same about family planning and homosexuality.

The conservative, wealthy catholic lay group had the rules it could put its faith in again. The US church also made peace with the likely outcome of a smaller but wealthier church.

It should not be overlooked that the US catholic church faced very serious financial pressure with the litigations and settlements over priest child abuse. In some regards, church leaders probably saw this as a do or die situation. So when Pope Francis said, “whom am I to judge”, he once again woke up US church leaders. It appears, however, that the newly awakened hierarchy have arisen once again from the wrong side of the bed.

The apparent rebuke of the Pope is not personal, it is only about business.

A Strange World

May 4, 2014

At least 29 Muslims were killed this week in India’s northeast State of Assam. They were not members of the local tribe and the wrong religion to boot. How could there victims have picked the wrong God.

Thanks to todays New York Times, the following stories were made known.

In Indonesia, a local Muslim man spent almost two years in prison. Why? Because he professed to believe in no God. Hmmm. You are either with me or you are against me…

In Afghanistan, a young 18 year old woman who did not want to marry the person her parents had selected, was killed by her relatives. Her parents had video taped their permission for her to not marry the intended, but this did not seem to mean much.  Honor is something larger.

In the Vatican, a special commission is grappling with creating clear rules on how to deal with priest pedophiles. They were trying to make the rules on what to do when child abuse takes place. Hmmm. These church leaders were focusing on what happens after abuse, not how to prevent pedophiles from ever getting into the church priesthood in the first place.

The message in all these cases is alarmingly similar. In a large number of cases, religion has little or no relevance to how people lead their lives. An active supreme being, if that’s the god you choose. has ample opportunity to intervene yet seems to prefer not to. The watch maker god, on the other hand, if that’s your preference, has created some unfathomable behaviors to watch. Doesn’t seem like a wise watch maker.

Of course these incidents all involve human beings and display just a small scope of how inhumane man can be to fellow man. Some men choose to hide their aggression behind religion, other choose nationality or race, or tribal connection. When these terrible acts are called out, one is left being thankful there were no lions to feed or witches to burn, or any cannons that volley and thunder.