Pope Francis marked the first anniversary of his pontificate by stating he intended to continue unchanged the Church’s policies regarding ongoing child sex abuse, abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception and other issues. In yet another rebuttal of the wildly inaccurate reporting by the corporate media, Jorge Mario Bergoglio declared in an interview published Wednesday in Italy and Argentina that his pontificate would be business as usual. Continue reading
Because there should be consequences.
Mr. President, please stand with the hundreds of thousands of children who have been raped, sodomized and sexually assaulted, the children now being similarly tortured and the potentially thousands more to come because no world leader will hold the Catholic Church accountable.
Please inform the Vatican that you are canceling your March 27 meeting with the Pope due to his officials’ egregious response to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child report. The subject of the 15-page document is the Vatican’s failure to adequately address its “systematic” responsibility for worldwide child sex abuse.
The Vatican still places children “at high risk of sexual abuse, as dozens of child sexual offenders (who operate under the authority of the Holy See) are reported to still be in contact with children,” according to the report issued Feb. 5.
The Committee stated it is “gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.”
The Committee stated it was “particularly concerned” that in dealing with allegations of child sex abuse, “the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests, as observed by several national commissions of inquiry,” which included the Westchester Co., New York, grand jury report.
In their responses, no Church official “acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed,” expressed remorse, made an apology, committed to make amends or to do better. Rather, they tried to redirect scrutiny away from the Church’s horrendous crimes by politicizing the report, portraying the Church as a victim of ideological enemies which, by inference, includes your administration, Mr. President. Continue reading
“Worldwide banking and financial activities” is a Vatican industry as noted in the CIA Factbook. While the pope has announced one commission to study his Church’s global sex abuse of children, he has created four commissions, hired 6 internationally-renowned consulting firms, and appointed additional clerical allies to make sure that not only his treasure is suitably-managed and expertly-reported but also that every penny is under his control.
Unanimously termed as “cleaning up,” “cleaning house,” “reforming” Vatican finances by the corporate and Catholic media, none have reported whether any of the above has a track record ensuring moral or ethical business practices. Neither have they noted why the pope made changes nor what alternatives were available. Continue reading
Originally posted at Talk to Action.
Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, DC recently set off a firestorm by accepting a $1 million grant for its new School of Business and Economics from the Charles Koch Foundation. Progressive minded organizations such as Faith in Public Life called on CUA to return the money, noting how Charles Koch’s extreme libertarianism is far out of step with Catholic social teaching on economics.
Many on the Catholic Right responded by slamming Faith in Public Life for being funded in part by philanthropist George Soros, who they point out is an atheist. But if George Soros’ belief (or in his case, non-belief) is in play, why isn’t the same standard applied to Charles Koch?
Movement conservatives — especially those on the Religious Right, are often quick to point out that the famous philanthropist, George Soros, is an atheist. It is as if that automatically renders him evil or has anything much to do with his social and political views. Soros is not evangelical about his atheism. Indeed, he was active in supporting movements that brought down the Soviet Union’s Eastern European empire – which was founded upon an overt hostility toward religion. The goal of ending Soviet hegemony was one Soros shared with conservatives including the late Pope John Paul II. I suspect that there are reasons other than atheism why conservatives hate Soros (more on that later).
So when Faith in Public Life organized a protest letter signed by Catholic educators that eloquently pointed out the hypocrisy of the Catholic University of America taking money from the Charles Koch Foundation, supporters of the new School of Business and Economics immediately changed the subject to the atheism of George Soros.
Consider this Bill Donohue excerpt from a December 18, 2013 Catholic League press release:
George Soros is an atheist billionaire who is no friend of the Catholic community. In fact, he funds causes that the Catholic Church works hard to oppose: abortion, euthanasia, drug legalization, and many other radical initiatives.
Those who signed the letter against Catholic University of America are the ones who need to explain why they would align themselves with the likes of George Soros. And if they like what he funds, they should have the guts to say so.
Another conservative web site, The Blaze, was more direct, asking in its title story, “Why Is Atheist George Soros Giving Money to a Faith Group?”. And as if to top himself, in a letter to the website LifeNews, Donohue described Faith in Public Life as an organization “…that lives off the bounty of the left-wing atheist billionaire, Mr. Soros.”
But if the Catholic Right is going to use George Soros’ atheism – as well as some of the causes he funds — as the barometer of his morality then the very same standard needs to be applied to another politically active billionaire, Charles Koch.
A thorough search of Charles Koch fails to turn up anything clear about his religious beliefs. Indeed, there is no record of a religious affiliation or of him publicly discussing faith at all. For all we know, he too may be an atheist. More importantly, like Soros, his religious views do not necessarily determine his overall morality. And yet a double standard is in play.
Let’s begin with Bill Donohue’s complaint that Soros funds causes “the Catholic Church works hard to oppose,” such as drug legalization. A simple Google search reveals that when it comes to drug legalization Charles Koch and George Soros appear be on the same page. When it comes to same-sex marriage – vehemently opposed by the Catholic Right — the Koch-funded Cato Institute has openly supported the idea. (Charles Koch was a founder of Cato).
And yet there is not a peep of protest from Donohue or LifeNews; there is no one on the Right calling into question Koch’s religious beliefs, let alone his inconsistencies with conservative Catholic dogma.
But when it comes to business and economics it is clear that Soros is the one more in line with Catholic social teaching. Indeed, his views overlap with those of Pope Francis more than those of Andrew Abela, the dean of the CUA business school. Abela has ties to the very libertarian Acton Institute think tank. He is also a member of the Thomas Monaghan founded Legatus, an organization whose membership is limited to very conservative Catholic chief executives. It should be noted that Legatus lists five “non-negotiables” for voters; opposition to marriage equality was one of the five listed items.
So why is it that movement conservatives so dislike George Soros? I suspect it has less to do with religion and more with economics.
Soros is a proponent of regulating financial markets. He is also a Keynesian who has made lots of money using the British economist’s theories. His concept of Reflexivity draws much from Keynes’s belief that financial markets often act more irrationally than rationally. This is heresy to libertarians like Charles Koch and his acolytes.
It is libertarian gospel that markets are rational and efficient and that regulation is counterproductive. They devoutly believe this in spite of the fact that science is proving them wrong and Keynes (and by extension, Soros) was correct. Soros is living proof against their claim that Keynesian capitalism does not work. That, in their view makes him a traitor to his class.
I have long contended that what truly concerns many in the Catholic Right is not religious morality, per se. Instead, inconsistencies such as I have described above points in a different direction: how their own faith can be bent to better serve the laissez-faire principles of economics that lead to inequality.
Indeed, all of the noise about George Soros is really just a distraction.
Soros does not require his grantees to be or to become atheists. Nor is there any evidence that the good people from a variety of religious traditions who work at Faith in Public Life (including Catholics) would have accepted the funds if they came with that string attached. I’m sure the same is true of the recipients of grants from Charles Koch.
What is important here is that Faith in Public Life is encouraging the broad tradition of Catholic social teaching on economics that Charles Koch and apparently the business school at CUA oppose. If Donohue were a consistent defender of the Church he would join with Soros and Faith in Public Life, not denounce them.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, Andrew Abela, Catholic libertarians, Catholic Right, Catholic University of America, Charles Koch Foundation, distributive justice, George Soros, Keynesian capitalism, reflexivity, Robert Sirico | Leave a comment »
A Vatican delegation received what was widely reported as a “grilling” at a hearing conducted by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on Jan. 16. They feigned concern for victims of sexual abuse, evaded questions, hyped the Church’s continuous too-little-too-late response and gave assurances that Pope Francis will do better from now on. Like claims that the pope is “cleaning up” Vatican finances, examining his actions reveals attitudes 180 degrees different than his rhetoric.
Here’s what the corporate media reported:
AP and TIME:
The Vatican has acknowledged there can be “no excuse” for child abuse….Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative in Geneva, says “such crimes can never be justified” whether committed at home, school, sports activities or in religious organizations and structures….Tomasi told a U.N. committee Thursday the Holy See welcomes any suggestions that could help it in promoting and encouraging the respect of the rights of the child.
“The Holy See gets it,” Msgr. Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s former sex crimes prosecutor, told the committee. “Let’s not say too late or not. But there are certain things that need to be done differently.” …. “Abusers are found among members of the world’s most respected professions, most regrettably including members of the clergy and other church personnel,” Tomasi said.
[O]fficials conceded that more needs to be done and promised to build on progress already made to become a model for others, given the scale of the problem and the role the Holy See plays in the international community.
Scicluna stated in a followup interview:
[The hearing in Geneva] gave the Holy See an opportunity to respond to the Committee’s concerns regarding child abuse, to reaffirm its commitment to protect children and minors throughout the Catholic Church and all its institutions, and explain how it is doing so….And so I think it has been a very positive dialogue because the Holy See, as sovereign of Vatican City State and as central organ of government of the Catholic Church around the world, shares the high values of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Committee is very anxious to promote these values and we are on the same page. We had the opportunity, which was I think very important, to express our commitment with the teachings and the guidance of the recent Holy Fathers on the question of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. And we are also very grateful for the input of the Committee; that input will also help the setting up the working of the Commission for the Protection of Minors announced by the Holy Father at the beginning of December.
The foreign press were less deferential:
The Irish Times:
The Holy See appeared to emerge with a clean bill of health from a hearing of the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child in Geneva yesterday.
The 5½-hour session ended with a deal of mutual back slapping as one UN delegate expressed satisfaction about a “positive dialogue”, while another said that the Vatican’s presentation indicated that “new steps” were being taken, steps which represented a “new era, a new dawn for the Holy See.” That the spotlight never actually became uncomfortable was a tribute both to the skill of the Vatican delegation and to the UN Committee’s modus operandi.
Germany’s Deutsche Welle: Vatican response ‘fails smell test for ordinary people’
Venezuela’s El Nacional: The Vatican at the UN today dodged providing detailed information on issues relating to sexual abuse of minors by clergy in a rhetorical exercise in which it attempts to demonstrate determination to prevent new offenses. Venezuela
Spain’s El Pais: The Vatican still does not take responsibility for sexual abuse
The pope’s representatives made other assertions on Jan. 16, easier understood when the five members of the delegation are identified:
- Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the pope’s representative at the United Nations “where the Holy See has played serious hardball against women’s human rights for 50 years.”
- Auxiliary Bishop of Malta, Charles Sciluna, former prosecutor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith who decided cases involving laicization of priests. He was replaced in Dec. 2012 by Fr. Robert W. Oliver, an American who previously served as canon (Church law) lawyer in the Boston Archdiocese protecting the rights of priests accused of sexual abuse.
- Vincenzo Buonomo, Professor of International Law at the Pontifical Lateran University.
- Jane Adolphe, professor at Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida, an expert in international law assigned to the Vatican Secretariat of State. Tom Monaghan, business mogul and “national power broker for GOP Catholic candidates,” founded both the town of Ave Maria and the university to bring about “his vision for a new and righteous America founded upon strict Catholic values.” Adolphe wrote a paper classifying struggles in the U.N. for gay and women’s rights as “Gender Wars,” i.e. “lobbying efforts to promote a radical understanding of “gender. ”
- Greg Burke, former Fox News correspondent and Vatican senior communications advisor accompanied the group.
The only one with any experience on the subject of sex abuse was Scicluna and only from the Vatican’s point of view.
BishopAccountability.org, a group dedicated to documenting the sex abuse crisis, noted five significant moments of the hearing.
- For the first time, the Vatican had to admit publicly that it still does not require the reporting of child sex crimes to civil authorities. Nor does it take this step when priests are defrocked.
- The Holy See still has refused to provide the data requested. On July 1, the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sent a request to the pope for “detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers or nun” for the past fifteen years and set November 1 as a deadline for a reply.
- The Holy See appears to have no intention of extraditing Archbishop Józef Wesołowski to either the Dominican Republic or Poland, being accused of with sex abuse of minors in both countries. Wesoloski “liked to frequent the area of children working in the streets” and would pay to tape them with his cell phone. “We learned from the children that Wesolowski took pictures of them while they were masturbating. Oral sex was performed,” Nuria Piera, an investigative journalist in the Dominican Republic said. The pope whisked Wesolowski out of Dominican Republic this past August before the public or law enforcement officials became aware of his crimes and Wesolowski has been hiding in the Vatican City State where he is shielded by the country’s sovereign immunity. In hindsight, then, we can question the timing of Pope Francis’ adding the offense of sexual abuse of a minor to the Vatican’s penal code effective July 11. That law applies not only to residents of the Vatican City State but also to anyone on the payroll of the Holy See such as members of its diplomatic corps. The pope received official notification of Wesolowski’s crimes “sometime in July,” but it is not improbable that the Vatican was aware of the situation even earlier. The Vatican announced that Wesolowski, “was facing a criminal investigation by the Vatican’s own criminal court.” When the pope begins more formal proceedings against Wesolowski, the corporate media will again trumpet how he is “serious” about sex abuse.
- The Vatican believes that it is the obligation of the individual perpetrator, not the Church, to compensate victims.
- Religious orders, which comprise one third to one half of the world’s Catholic clerics, still are not being compelled by the Holy See to create abuse policies. (Pope Benedict XVI ordered the world’s bishops to do this in 2011. The order was widely ignored, even by the cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.)
Tomasi and Scicluna were questioned about “uncovering the whereabouts of the children born to young, unmarried women who were essentially enslaved in Ireland’s Magdalene Asylums or Laundries and forced to relinquish their babies to adoption, a situation brilliantly dramatized in the film Philomena.” Issues raised such as Church-supported abortion laws which force children to bear children, forced child relinquishment, abandonment of children by Catholic priests – as noted by Angela Bonavoglia at Religion Dispatches - received the same response as a host of other questions: not our problem.
Pope Francis is washing his hands of any responsibility for whatever happens outside his city state or those on his immediate payroll. “On the level of the Holy See, as the Sovereign of Vatican City State, the response to sexual abuse has been in accord with its direct responsibility over the territory of Vatican City State,” stated Tomasi. “Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican….They are citizens of their own state and fall under the jurisdiction of that state.” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said in a statement on Jan. 16. Questions posed by the U.N. committee and others “seem to presuppose that bishops and religious superiors act as representatives or delegates of the pope, something which is without foundation.”
Since every bishop is appointed (obviously some with the advice of others, but the pope chooses his advisors) and can be removed by the pope; religious superiors can be removed by the pope and every priest is approved by a bishop or religious superior, then papal authority and influence is direct. Yet the pope has never discouraged his bishops, their expensive attorneys and high-powered lobbying machines from battling against civil efforts to revise statutes-of-limitations which obstruct the “jurisdiction of the state” from bringing prelates, clerics and religious to justice. (Unlike other crimes, experts agree it takes children sometimes decades to come to terms with the results of their trauma.)
News of the questioning before the U.N. commission was followed the next day by the Associated Press reporting that 400 priests had been defrocked in the years 2011 and 2012. The information used by the AP “was prepared from data the Vatican had been collecting to help the Holy See defend itself before a U.N. committee this week in Geneva.”
The Vatican Insider website noted that of 259 cases in 2011, 135 were requests from priests for a “dispensation,” or voluntary removal, from the priesthood, and 124 were forcibly dismissed. In 2012, 418 cases of abuse of minors by priests had been reported to the Holy See. That same year, there were 67 requests for voluntary dispensation and 57 dismissals.
Reuters: Pope Francis will not show leniency towards pedophile priests as truth and justice are more important than protecting the Church, the Vatican’s former sex crimes prosecutor has pledged….Monsignor Charles Scicluna said on Saturday that the number of clerics defrocked by the Vatican was likely to have fallen to about 100 [voluntary and dismissals] in 2013 from about 125 in 2012 and a peak of 260 in 2011.
“Yes, these men were defrocked, but…they are out there. We don’t know who these men are, we don’t know what kinds of crimes they committed, we don’t know what countries they’re in, we don’t know anything about them. They’ve been kicked into society with no repercussions,” noted Joelle Casteix, member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) on the MSNBC.
“I’ve seen a reliable report that more than 700 cases have been sent [to the Vatican] by America alone,” said Nicholas Cafardi, a canon and civil lawyer at the Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh. “So 400, that’s not surprising.” “To put it in another perspective, there have been 276 priests accused of sexual abuse in the Boston archdiocese alone, according to BishopAccountability.org.”
In early 2012, “a senior Vatican cardinal revealed how more than 4,000 cases of sex abuse by priests on children have been investigated during the last ten years. The shock figure was announced by American cardinal Joseph William Levada as he opened a conference on the wide scale phenomenon which has rocked the Roman Catholic church with cases reported all over the world.
Described as a “Vatican summit,” two American experts told the same conference “that there may have been as many as 100,000 total victims of clerical sex abuse” in that country alone.
After missing the Nov. 1 deadline for responding to the request for information by the U.N. CRC, Pope Francis responded on Dec. 4 by stating that it was not the practice of his government to “disclose information on specific cases unless requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings” and “that the Vatican can provide information only about known and alleged child sex crimes that have happened on Vatican property,” generating the first negative publicity of his reign. Within two days, the pope announced that he would form a commission to study the problem of sex abuse. “A new Church panel is the last thing that kids need. Church officials have mountains of information about those who are concealing horrible child sex crimes and cover-ups. They just have to give that information to the police,” David Clohessy, executive director of the SNAP, said in a telephone interview.
In addition to the above-mentioned 2012 conference, those “mountains of information” include “a landmark unofficial report, the 1985 Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy, which emerged from the close involvement of the Holy See’s U.S. delegation and Archbishop Pio Laghi in abuse cases in the state of Louisiana. In 1997, the Holy See’s apostolic nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Luciano Storero, intervened to adjust reporting commitments approved by the Irish bishops’ conference. These are not isolated instances.”
After the sex abuse scandal made U.S. headlines in 2002, investigations were conducted by Boston, Manchester and Portland, Maine attorneys general and Philadelphia, Westchester and Suffolk Co. New York grand juries. Those were followed by Ireland’s Murphy, Ryan, Cloyne and Ferns Reports. This year, government inquiries are being conducted by the Australian federal government’s Royal Commission as well as the states of New South Wales and Victoria. Additionally there are reports compiled in Canada, Mexico, Britain and Spain.
The Center for Constitutional Rights and SNAP gave the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor at The Hague “more than 22,000 pages of supporting materials consisting of reports, policy papers, and evidence of the crimes by Catholic clergy committed against children and vulnerable adults” to support their request that Vatican officials, under the concept of superior responsibility, be investigated for crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, the court declined to take the case.
The reports, inquiries, investigations lead to the same conclusion: even Catholic bishops who were not themselves child abusers covered-up, enabled, aided and abetted the rape and sodomy of minors by vast numbers of priests, religious and lay employees. In addition to the indescribably horrific physical torture, victims and their families who dared report these crimes to the chanceries were threatened, maligned and persecuted.
The corporate media will laud the pope whenever he gets around to actually forming his commission while he and his churchmen continue to ignore the “mountains of information” already available.
Is it possible for a pope with Francis’ record, who has chosen other Church officials who have acted to conceal and promote pedophiles, to take the steps needed to end the horrific sexual torture of children?
The most shocking event on Jan. 16 happened not in Geneva but in Rome. While the rest of the world swoons over his pronouncements, the pope’s churchmen pay attention to his actions, appointments and promotions. At Mass that morning, while lamenting that “Scandals are the shame of the Church,” Pope Francis’ co-celebrant was Los Angeles Archbishop Emeritus, Cardinal Roger Mahony, who supervised more than 200 known pedophile priests with 500 known victims to whom the cardinal paid $720 million.
Mahony blogged that during his private meeting with the pope following Mass, the “topic of scandal never came up.” “To the Church’s walking wounded, for the pope to ‘honor’ such a man was painful and insulting,” noted SNAP founder Barbara Blaine.
As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the pope’s recent “advocacy for Father Julio César Grassi, a convicted sex offender, and his effort to discredit young victims raise fundamental questions” about the pope’s “current willingness to protect children, punish predators, and support victims who testify against their abusers.”
The first pontifical action Bergoglio took after his election was to form a group of eight cardinals to advise him. He named Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, as the group’s leader. Rodríguez Maradiaga is best known in Honduras because he “participated actively in the 2009 coup against the constitutional president, Manuel Zelaya.” He also “blamed the Jews for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners” comparing the “Jewish controlled media with Hitler” for its “persecution against the Church.”
Group member Cardinal George Pell received a scathing assessment on Nov. 13 from the Australian parliament’s inquiry into child sex abuse. A committee concluded that Pell’s response indicates the Church’s central aim was to safeguard its own interests. “It is noteworthy that this description of objectives contains no acknowledgement of the terrible suffering of victims,” the report said. Professor Patrick Parkinson of the University of Sydney provided compelling research that Catholic clergy in Australia are responsible for six times more child sexual abuse than all the other churches combined.
Another member, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, made headlines in Chile for protecting Fr. Fernando Karadima. In January 2011, a judge ordered that Karadima be interrogated about allegations he sexually abused children. According to court testimony, Church officials, including Errázuriz, tried to shame accusers into dropping claims, refused to meet with them or failed to carry out formal investigations for years. The first known reports of abuse by Karadima reached Errázuriz in mid-2003. In 2006, a priest appointed by Errázuriz to investigate the claims made his report to the cardinal, stating that he believed “the accusers to be credible.” Errázuriz wrote in a public letter that he did nothing because he thought the allegations were beyond the statute of limitations.
On September 21, 2013, Pope Francis approved Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the office of the Holy See that has dealt with all sexual abuse cases since Pope John Paul II consolidated its role on April 30, 2001. Fr. Peter Kramer had been convicted in 2000 of sexually abusing two boys, ages nine and twelve, while he was assigned to the Regensburg diocese in Germany. Kramer was sentenced to three years probation on condition that he not work with children. When Müller was appointed bishop of Regensburg in 2002, Kramer was already working with children in the parish of Riekhofen. In violation of the German bishops’ 2002 “binding” guidelines which forbid appointments to ministry of a priest who has been convicted of abusing a child, Müller promoted Kramer to pastor. Müller concealed Kramer’s conviction from his parishioners. When victims learned of Kramer’s new assignment, additional victims came forward and Kramer was convicted of additional child abuse.
While Bergoglio was pretty quick to remove German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg for an extravagant lifestyle, a contradiction of the “humble” image which the pope wishes the Church to project, he leaves such notorious guardians of criminal priests as Chicago Cardinal Francis George, Twin Cities Archbishop Nienstedt, Kansas City Bishop Finn and Newark Archbishop Myers untouched and unchastised.
Unanimously reported as “proof” that Pope Francis was ridding his Curia of “conservatives,” he replaced the flamboyant and exquisitely costumed Cardinal Raymond Burke with Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl to his committee which selects bishops. (In 2010, Wuerl’s “Catholic Charities – the archdiocese’s social service arm – said that it would end its 80-year-old foster care program rather than place children with same-sex couples.” Wuerl also told his employees that spousal health benefits would be denied to new employees and those who married in the future because he didn’t want to provide that benefit to same-sex couples.) The pope also reconfirmed American Cardinal William Levada to the same committee although Levada has one of the worst records among the U.S. episcopate for covering up for criminal clerics.
Bergoglio recently made his first selection of new cardinals. Missing was Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the only active prelate in the whole world widely recognized as being sympathetic to victims. But in addition to Müller, the pope included Santiago Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, another Chilean prelate who protected Karadima.
In the U.S., the pope promoted Green Bay’s Vicar General Fr. John Doerfler as the new bishop for the diocese of Marquette, Michigan. During the trial of a serial child molester, Doerfler admitted under oath that he had deliberately destroyed “nearly all records and documentation in the secret Church files of at least 51 reported to have sexually assaulted children after the Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruled that victims of childhood sexual abuse could file fraud suits against Catholic dioceses in the state for covering up for clerics….When specifically asked if it bothered him that clerics who abused children were being dumped into the community without public notice, Doerfler chillingly answered: “No”.
“Only willful blindness and pathological denial can allow one to overlook the reality that the symptom of clerical abuse reveals a Roman Catholic Church as dysfunctional and corrupt sexually and financially as during the time of the Protestant Reformation.” A. W. Richard Sipe, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, former Benedictine monk and priest, and recognized authority on celibacy and priest sex abuse. August 30, 2013.
p>On the 3-month anniversary of his election, June 13, it was reported that Pope Francis selected an official from McKinsey & Co. “to design that reform of the Curia (the Vatican bureaucracy) which everyone expects from Pope Francis.”
McKinsey is one of the market-leading ‘Big Three’ management consulting services to the Fortune 500 set, along with Bain & Company and The Boston Consulting Group…. In February 2011, McKinsey surveyed 1,300 US private-sector employers on their expected response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 30 percent of respondents said they anticipated they would probably or definitely stop offering employer sponsored health coverage after the ACA went into effect in 2014. These results, published in June 2011 in the McKinsey e-Quarterly, became “a useful tool for critics of the ACA and a deep annoyance for defenders of the law” according to an article in TIME Magazine. Supporters of healthcare reform argued the survey far surpassed estimates by the Congressional Budget Office [and] criticized the survey’s methodology, arguing it used slanted questions, cherry-picked information and had uninformed recipients.
A meeting was held on June 20 among a group of cardinals, the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs, with the heads of Vatican departments, dicasteries, congregations, tribunals, councils, “offices,” and foundations whose finances they supervise and control including the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA). APSA administers the Vatican’s property and investment portfolios as well as issuing the pay checks.
“Huge Eurobank, rated ‘Britain’s worst,’ now accused of gouging U.S. consumers” – The accusations are as outrageous as they are plentiful: Hundreds of “robocalls” – in one case, 800 to a single person – to collect auto loan debts; illegal repossession of cars from active duty military deployed overseas; late fees assessed three years after the fact and then compounded into $2,000 or $3,000 bills; harassing calls to friends, neighbors, co-workers – even children – on cell phones. And now, a flurry of lawsuits filed around the country, and lawyers fighting over potential clients.
The defendant in the lawsuits is Europe’s largest bank, Banco Santander S.A., which is preparing to make a big push into U.S. retail banking.
Having a global giant like Santander which bills itself as having “the largest network of international banking offices” to handle the Vatican’s banking needs while the Vatican Bank (or IOR for Istituto per le Opere di Religione) is still under investigation by Italian authorities would certainly be useful.
On June 26, Pope Francis established a Pontifical Commission to do “an in-depth inquiry into both the legal position and the activities” of the IOR. Francis chose Spanish Opus Dei Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, as the commission’s coordinator.
One of the five members is Mary Ann Glendon, appointed by Bush 43 as ambassador to the Holy See. Glendon has sat on the board of Bill Donohue’s Catholic League and several neocon “think tanks.”
Another American member is Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells, who was appointed last year to a Vatican media “crisis unit” along with Greg Burke, a member of Opus Dei and former Fox News reporter, to handle the VatiLeaks scandal. “Glendon and Wells have strong personal connections to fellow American Carl Anderson” a member of the IOR board of directors and Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, known for funding anti-gay and anti-choice campaigns.
(The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported over the weekend of June 15/16 that Italy’s financial authorities had asked the Vatican for information about Msgr. Nunzio Scarano’s IOR account. The announcement of the new commission was made on the same day prosecutors in Salerno placed Scarano, a Vatican accountant, under investigation for alleged money-laundering through his IOR account. Scarano was arrested on June 28 and the IOR’s director and deputy director, who are under investigation by Italian magistrates, resigned on July 1. Their decision came after the embarrassing revelation that Scarano’s illicit use of his IOR account was approved by the IOR’s directors.)
Pope Francis established another Pontifical Commission on July 18 “to reform the Vatican’s economic and administrative departments.” This eight-member commission is composed of lay persons, already “eminent consultants or reviewers for Vatican or ecclesiastical economic institutions,” although the secretary is the Spanish Opus Dei Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs. The commission “has the authority to intervene in the financial running of other Vatican institutions.” Members include:
Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui (Italy), public relations expert at Ernst & Young and a member of Opus Dei.
Jochen Messemer (Germany) and Joseph F.X. Zahra (Malta) are auditors for Prefecture for the Economic Affairs. Zahra, currently chairman of Middlesea Insurance Co Ltd will lead the group. MAPFRE, “the leading insurance company in Spain and the largest non-life insurance company in Latin America” owns a controlling interest in Middlesea and is referred to in the insurance market as a branch of Opus Dei.
(Sept 12: “[A]fter international banking giants JPMorgan Chase and HSBC closed the Vatican’s accounts around the world to reduce the risk of money laundering…Ugandan police received a message from Interpol regarding the unauthorized ‘transfer’ of about $800,000 from the Vatican Bank to four Ugandan banks….Ugandan citizen Esther Nobasa has appeared in the Mbarara District Court, near Kampala, after she allegedly received large sums of money from the Vatican Bank.” A Sunday Times report said “a branch of Malaysia’s Standard Chartered in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, has also been linked to the investigation.”)
Pope Francis appointed the Promontory Financial Group on Oct. 15 to investigate APSA following accusations of corruption made during the investigation of Msgr. Scarano by Italian financial authorities.
IOR president Ernst von Freyberg had already hired Promontory Financial Group, at “well above seven digits” to help him investigate account holders. “Promontory employees now comprise 25 percent of the IOR staff.” Rolando Marranci, one of Promontory’s Vatican consultants, former CFO for Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, BNP Paribas’s Italian subsidiary, and CFO of BNL’s London Branch is the new IOR director.
At a U.S. Federal Reserve foreclosure review meant to provide compensation to abused homeowners:
Whistleblowers from Bank of America came forward to provide compelling evidence that the bank and its independent consultant, Promontory Financial Group, attempted to suppress evidence that borrowers had been harmed by the false and deceptive practices of the mortgages lenders.
….Promontory’s activities focus heavily on the adept circumvention of regulations.
On Oct. 15, the pope appointed Irish “master of the universe” Peter Sutherland to head another “supervisory board” for APSA. International financier Bob McCann, chief executive of UBS America, is a member.
At a Vatican meeting with Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See in July, Sutherland outlined “the macro- economic situation and the investment policies” of APSA.
Sutherland is managing director and chairman of Goldman Sachs International, former chairman of BP Oil, European chairman of the Trilateral Commission and on the steering committee for this year’s Bilderberg Conference. While Sutherland hasn’t admitted Opus Dei membership, he served on the International Advisory Board of IESE, the graduate business school of Opus Dei’s flagship University of Navarra.
It was announced on Nov. 18 that Ernst & Young will do an audit of the internal finances of the Vatican City State. The government of the Vatican City State handles necessities like the utilities and maintenance for the territory and operates the Vatican museums, post office, convenience stores etc.
Ernst & Young has agreed to pay $99 million to former Lehman Brothers investors who have accused the auditor of helping Lehman misstate its financial records before the investment bank’s collapse triggered a financial crisis in 2008.
A month later, the Vatican said McKinsey and Co. would make recommendations on how to make communications “more functional, efficient and modern.” The Vatican has a press office, newspaper, radio and television broadcaster, website, Twitter account, Pontifical Council for Social Communications, a publishing house – all connected with one of the largest global media empires.
KPMG was hired to help “align the accounting procedures of all agencies of the Holy See with international standards.”
Auditors, such as KPMG International, enabled the [financial] crisis to metastasize at an accelerated rate. KPMG was the auditor for the key players in the mortgage crisis, including Fannie Mae, Countrywide Financial and New Century Mortgage.
Compare all this feverish activity to protect and prosper his assets with what Pope Francis has done to protect our children. On Dec. 4 he stonewalled a request from the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) for information on cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers or nuns and received the first negative publicity concerning his pontificate. Two days later, he said he was appointing a commission to study the problem although every group of survivors, their advocates, lawyers and law enforcement officials already know exactly what needs to be done. The commission still hasn’t happened.
Originally posted at Talk to Action.
William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, achieved the seemingly impossible in a recent interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo — a new low.
Like every other Catholic of any prominence, Donohue was asked about his views on the surprising comments by Pope Francis regarding LGTB Catholics. When the conversation turned to the ongoing priestly pedophilia scandal, he not only failed to embrace the new spirit emanating from the throne of St. Peter — he continued to attack gay people and as is his wont, he blamed the sex abuses committed by priests on the victims.
“I always tells the truth”, he declared, while badly mischaracterizing the findings of a recent study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (the 2004 report commissioned by The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; as for the press release put out by John Jay, it concluded, “that there was no single cause or predictor of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.”). Karen Terry, PhD., the principal investigator concluded that neither celibacy nor homosexuality were causes of abuse. But Donohue told Cuomo that because many of the victims involved were teenagers, “It’s not a pedophilia… most of the victims were post-pubescent… .” Apparently, Donohue thinks that the criminal sexual violation of teenagers is ok.
Cuomo, to his credit, did expose many of Donohue’s past hypocrisies. Unfortunately, they did not discuss Donohue’s role in the Ratigan-Finn debacle in the Diocese of Kansas City St. Joseph Missouri. Fr. Shawn Ratigan pleaded guilty in Federal Court to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of the attempted production of child pornography. His Bishop, Robert Finn, was convicted by a Jackson County court of a misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. But while Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in prison Finn (a darling of Opus Dei) still sits as bishop in the era of “zero tolerance.”
Donohue’s defense of these convicted criminals is a vile spectacle that has to be seen to be believed. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of Donohue’s more egregious howlers in this interview.
Donohue complains at the 2:58 minute mark, that the bishops mishandled the scandal by sending the sexual predators to see psychologists instead of throwing them in jail. What actually happened is that Donohue and the Catholic League sought to thwart the prosecution of Ratigan while running interference for his immediate superior, Bishop Finn. What’s more, one of the groups working in consort with the Catholic League was Opus Bono Sacerdotii (OBS), (an organization which has ties to Domino’s Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan) which had shuffled Ratigan off to see psychologists who declared that he was not a pedophile and that his pornography problem was a result of loneliness and depression. I pointed out at the time that Donohue is pictured on the OBS homepage next to a link to his piece, “Straight Talk about the Catholic Church and SNAP Exposed.”
But Donohue’s straight talk did not include seeking to get the truth about the Finn-Ratigan affair to the world. For example, Donohue issued a press release in September 2012 which stated, “The case did not involve child sexual abuse—no child was ever abused, or touched, in any way by Father Shawn Ratigan. Nor did this case involve child pornography.” However, as the New York Times reported at the time:
In May 2010, the principal of the Catholic elementary school where Father Ratigan was working sent a memo to the diocese raising alarm about the priest. The letter said that he had put a girl on his lap on a bus ride and encouraged children to reach into his pockets for candy, and that parents discovered girl’s underwear in a planter outside his house. Bishop Finn has said he did not read the letter until a year later.
The prosecutor said the photographs discovered on Father Ratigan’s laptop in December 2010 were “alarming photos,” among them a series taken on a playground in which the photographer moves in closer until the final shots show girls’ genitalia through their clothing. Confronted with the photographs, Father Ratigan tried to commit suicide, but survived and was briefly hospitalized.
This is what William Donohue has claimed “did not involve child sexual abuse” and did not “involve child pornography.”
While we await some actual straight talk from William Donohue, let’s be aware that one of his standard tactics is attempting to shift the focus of the problem. In effect, changing the subject. For example, in the Cuomo interview he claimed that “78% of the victims are post-pubescent” and “the word in the English language [describing this behavior] is not pedophilia, it’s called homosexuality.” Such a statement, however, is nothing more than a ruse. It is a transparent attempt to shift the blame from the offending priest to the victim by esoterically suggesting possible seduction on the latter’s part.
Not only did Donohue incorrectly equate sexual orientation with the legal age of sexual consent while simultaneously discounting the coercive power of a predatory adult, the John Jay Report does not show what he claims it shows. In fact, at page 10 it shows the opposite:
“Most sexual abuse victims of priests (51 percent) were between the ages of eleven and fourteen, while 27 percent were fourteen to seventeen, 16 percent were eight to ten, and nearly 6 percent were under age seven.”
Again, by Donohue’s definitions, apparently puberty is the line at which coercive sex by priests becomes consensual.
It is incomprehensible to me and to many other Catholics that this man leads any organization that calls itself Catholic. It is even more incomprehensible that he works closely with the American Catholic hierarchy — especially Cardinal Dolan of New York. This episode makes it clear that the most vulnerable among us are expendable if they get in the way of William Donohue and his cronies.
Donohue is the embodiment of the culture-war politics the new pope has disavowed. I recently wrote that Pope Francis must fire — and not only because he is the only one who can. I think it is essential for the credibility of his effort to reform the Church. But I’d like to amend my comments to say that just as the bishop who sat on evidence of child-abuse needs to go, those who sought to impede justice need to go as well. And that includes William Donohue.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Bishop Robert Finn, Catholic Right, Chris Cuomo, CNN, John Jay Report, LGBT bashing, pedophilia, Pope Francis, Shawn Ratigan, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, William Donohue | 2 Comments »
Originally posted at Talk to Action.
What measure of tolerance shall we say that the Pope is giving to Bishop Robert Finn, who was convicted over a year ago of failing to report suspected child abuse by a priest under his authority and still leads the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri? A federal judge deemed the child porn charges of which pedophile priest Fr. Shawn Ratigan was convicted to be so serious that he sentenced Ratigan to 50 years in prison.
I am one of those Catholics who has been cheered by the new pope’s refreshing tone and his embracing of tolerance and humility. Indeed, his recent comments about the Church’s recent obsession with culture war issues may have pulled the rug out from under the Republican Party Auxiliary we generally call the Catholic Right. His recent statements clearly indicate that he may lead the Church to an approach to economic and social justice that transcends Roman Catholicism and embraces the entire world.
But the longer he waits to act on the problem of sex abuse in the Church, the greater the risk that the good will he had earned, and the hope he has given to many millions of Catholics (and non-Catholics) will be lost.
Only the pope has the power to remove a Bishop. And the removal of Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri would be the perfect starting point to show the world that he will back up his words with deeds.
On its face, it ought to be a no-brainer. Let’s recall that the crimes of Bishop Finn resulted from his knowledge of the related crimes of Fr. Shawn Ratigan who pleaded guilty in Federal Court to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of attempted production of child pornography. As I reported here and here, Bishop Finn had constructive knowledge of Ratigan’s improper touching of young girls and possession of child pornography. Finn not only knew of or had good reason to suspect Ratigan’s crimes, but had he acted, he would have prevented other crimes against children under his pastoral care.
I’ve previously written that Bishop Finn — a darling of the American Catholic Right must go. But Finn has powerful friends. The American Catholic Right is led by prominent neoconservatives and members of the secretive Catholic order, Opus Dei — and Finn is one of their own. Finn is also revered as a culture warrior, par excellence — having called on the Church to be “the Church militant.”
No matter who Finn’s friends may be, Pope Francis — who has prominently claimed that he stands with the poor and the vulnerable — is faced with what may be the critical bellwether challenge and opportunity of his papacy.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Bishop Robert Finn, Catholic Right, child sex abuse, Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Fr. Shawn Ratigan, Missouri, neoconservatives, pedophilia, Pope Francis | 2 Comments »
Originally posted at Talk to Action.
This post constitutes my third and final reply to Thomas E. Woods, Jr.’s critique of my series on his neo-Confederate activities. In my first reply I explained why, his protestations not withstanding, he is indeed a neo-Confederate. My second reply focused on how Woods twists his opponents’ statements into self-serving red herring.
Now I get to what is as the heart of Woods’s neo-Confederate/libertarian agenda: defending the right to oppress; a critical component of which is the combination of nullification and secession.
“I am a libertarian” and “not a `neo-Confederate’” wrote Thomas E. Woods, Jr. in a verbal shell game he plays to mask the shared flaw of his chosen philosophies: the elevation of raw power over justice and equality before the law, cloaking oppression in the guise of freedom and liberty.
As I have previously noted, his advocacy of both secession and the unilateral nullification of Federal court decisions as well as Federal legislation appeals to many on the Catholic Right. What’s more, nullification is becoming a weapon in efforts to thwart the will of the American people as expressed by its elected representatives.
Some Neo-Confederates are also Libertarians
While not all libertarians are neo-Confederates, neo-Confederates of Woods’s ilk are certainly libertarians. This comes into focus when we consider the League of the South,a neo-Confederate organization with which Woods proudly identifies and whose core economic beliefs are of the aforementioned Austrian School of libertarian economics: opposition to fractional banking; a return to the gold standard; and a general distrust government regulation that often borders on anarchy. (Indeed, Woods himself is devotee of anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard). Woods’s strain of libertarianism argues that these are essential elements of freedom.
Austrian school libertarians even oppose the laissez-faire “Chicago school” economics of Milton Friedman — which at least considers using some government intervention in the economy through monetary policy. Austrian schoolers want government to play no role at all in the economy. After all, they steadfastly assure us, that economically speaking, everyone acts with reasonable self-interest.
Austrian schoolers also believe that the freedom to contract is absolute, regardless of the imbalance of power between parties, particularly when it comes to matters of employment. “Labor is appraised like a commodity not because the entrepreneurs and capitalists are hardhearted and callous,” Ludwig von Mises famously declared, “but because they are unconditionally subject to the supremacy of the pitiless consumers.” (Woods is a Senior Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama.) Every dollar is a ballot from their point of view; and the messy ethical considerations of government are replaced by the supposed efficiencies of the free market. Of course, if every dollar is a ballot, then those with more dollars have more ballots and the outcome of every election is predetermined.
Thus the question of freedom, is really a question of freedom for whom?
The above von Mises quote suggests that owners are free to abuse low wage workers while providing excessive executive compensation; unjustifiable stock dividend payouts; failing to invest in more efficient manufacturing equipment; and ineffective trades policies. And as the 2007 Wall Street meltdown has proven, many financial figures do not act solely out of “reasonable self-interest;” irrationality plays an outsized role along with, greed, ego and self-aggrandizement.
This gets us to the core of our dispute: That Woods’ neo-Confederate libertarianism distorts the meanings of freedom and liberty into a defense of the excesses of self-interest. He argues, referring to me:
And finally, my critic says I defend a “right to oppress.” This is preposterous, needless to say. … The point is that the federal government is far more likely to be a threat to our liberties, indeed to civilization itself, than the states — from which, in any case, exit is rather easier. There is absolutely nothing the states could do that would amount to a grain of sand on the beach compared to a new Middle Eastern war, but I am supposed to be super worried about what Montana might do next. Nice priorities.
He then added, “And of course, nothing centralized regimes do ever, ever, ever discredits centralization.”
This is typical Woods, vigorously assaulting a straw man of his own invention. (While I clearly believe that a sturdy federal government is far preferable to confederacy, nowhere have I claimed that it is a perfect; all forms of government are subject to abuse.) Quite tellingly though, Wood opposes the centralization of power in a democratically elected Federal government, but thinks the centralization of economic power in the hands of unaccountable private interests is just fine.
There is no shortage of examples to demonstrate that Woods’s definition of freedom includes the right to oppress. Woods goes so far as to oppose child labor laws. (He claims that passing laws against child labor is like passing laws against gravity.) He also opposes the recent efforts of fast food workers to achieve a living wage. “Instead of being amazed that they can earn anything at all with no skills to speak of,” says Woods, “they are enraged that they aren’t making a comfortable living performing a task as simple as fast-food preparation.”
Ignoring Facts and History
History teaches us a different lesson about child labor than the world according to Woods. Child labor in the past has been used to drive down wages by creating a surplus of workers. Beyond that, the law informs us that minors are generally considered to be legally incompetent to enter into most contracts. While Woods’s position may be honestly grounded in his libertarian philosophy it does not change the dynamics of highly unequal wage bargaining power — hence his embrace of a right to oppress children without interference from the government.
Progressive child labor laws have freed children from toiling long hours in mills full of dangerous machinery or having to dig for coal in poorly ventilated and unsafe mineshafts. At the same time, parents have received better wages because the size of the workforce was reduced. Children once unable to attend school, now have the opportunity, which in turn, creates a more sophisticated work force.
Likewise, increases in the minimum wage pegged to productivity have proven to be healthy for the overall economy – as well as being the right thing to do. Woods mischievously frames his argument against fast food workers seeking a raise, by suggesting that they want something exorbitant. It is not unreasonable for workers to seek wages that are at the very least, adjusted for inflation. Woods’ twisting of facts to fit his argument is characteristic of his method.
As if all this were not enough, there is one part of Woods’s critique of one of my pieces on nullification that I find astonishing. “There is absolutely nothing the states could do,” he claims, ” that would amount to a grain of sand on the beach compared to a new Middle Eastern war…” As someone who holds a Ph.D. in history from an Ivy League university he should know better. He must certainly be aware that his beloved (so-called) Confederate States of America’s dreams of a slave empire extending into the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. History teaches us that neither size nor form of government is a guarantee against Empire – let alone the desire to extinguish individual rights.
If the modern federal state is inherently such a tyrannical menace, why have Sweden’s armies not marched in conquest?
No Oppressor is an Island
Woods is also involved with organizations that are devoted to the right to oppress.
As I have previously documented, Woods is a founding member of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a hate group.
The League’s “Core Belief Statement” also suggests a religious supremacism of the sort that would clearly be a building block of theocracy. The League declares:
“The South still reveres the tenets of our historic Christian faith and acknowledges its supremacy over man-made laws and opinions…
If the southern Leaguers got their way in this regard, the prospects might be bleak for anyone other than officially approved Christians, and worse for minority religions and the non-religious. Freedom for religious supremacism means the right to oppress, whether at the state, local or federal level.
Woods, a convert to traditionalist Catholicism, is a regular contributor to the The Remnant . This traditionalist biweekly newspaper has been highly critical of anything Catholic since Vatican II, including Nostra Aetate, — the official Catholic statement repudiating the notion that the Jewish people are guilty of deicide. The Remnant has also been a vocal supporter of the schismatic – and anti-Semitic – priestly order of the Society of St. Pius X. For this and other examples of hostility to Judaism The Remnant has also earned a spot on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups.
The Remnant’s support for SSPX is a particular point of interest. SSPX has maintained ties to the Northern Italian secessionist political organization, Northern League – as does the League of the South.
Coming Full Circle
Of course, to this crowd, the main problem with a sturdy federal government is that it stands in the way of the neo-Confederate vision itself. Modern notions of civil rights as well as the legacy of New Deal economics exist to protect the rights of those who would suffer if the neo-Confederate libertarian dream were to come true.
What the agendas of secession and nullification are truly about is the frustration of various like-minded minority factions’ ambitions to oppress the majority. To that end, they want the federal government disassembled at least to the point where the religious and economic prejudices of the few are less likely to be checked by the democratically derived consensus of the many.
This happened in 1861 when proslavery forces lost their grip on the White House; and it is happening now with a small but effective gang of Christian Right activists that cannot find a constitutional avenue to impose their moral and economic views on the entire nation. It is why we see, paradoxically, the likes of the theocratic protestant Gary North (an Associated Scholar of the von Mises Institute) and Opus Dei priest C. John McCloskey embrace Woods’s brand of theocratic libertarianism. North and McCloskey are not opposed to theocracy, per se, they just want to localize it. Indeed, that is why Woods’s advocacy of secession and nullification is so appealing to them. If they cannot persuade the whole country to see things their way while playing by the rules, they will simply tear up the rulebook – as well as the nation.
This is libertarianism’s inherent fatal flaw: Its sole emphasis upon the liberty of the more powerful individual and its striking indifference to the rights of others. It fails to account for externalities — when a third person is affected by an occurrence or transaction to which he is not a party. It is a philosophy of governance that refuses to consider that the individual’s well-being is linked to the well-being of all within a given society.
I will assume that Thomas E. Woods, Jr. is sincere when he says he doesn’t personally believe in oppressing others who are different than him. But he defends a philosophy predicated upon a highly subjective definition of liberty attained at the expense of others. I would go so far as to say he also believes in maximizing the opportunities presented in such situations. Therefore, he resolutely believes in the right to oppress, and is conflating freedom with oppression.
But there is a different way of viewing freedom.
”One principle of liberty is for all to rule and be ruled in turn,” Aristotle once said, “and indeed democratic justice is the application of numerical not proportionate equality; whence it follows that the majority must be supreme, and that whatever the majority approve must be the end and the just.”
For related articles, click here.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Austrian economics, C. John McCloskey, Catholic Right, Gary North, League of the South, libertarianism, Ludwig von Mises Institute, neo-Confederate, nullification, oppression, secession, The Remnant, Thomas E. Woods Jr. | Leave a comment »