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    • Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand September 15, 2014
      Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand: A Vietnam Soldier's Story has just been released. The title comes from a stanza of the gospel traditional, Down by the Riverside, with its refrain--"Ain't gonna study war no more." Golden Sand is a bold, dark, and intense retelling of the Vietnam experience through the eyes of an army scout that is […]
      Obie Holmen
    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
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    • Where Are You? October 26, 2011
      Greetings to all others who grace these pages! Thank you for stopping by. If you still have a reader pointed here, this blog no longer publishes in this location, but can be found at this new link. Please subscribe to the new feed, get the new blog via email or read us by liking us on Facebook or by following me on Twitter.If you want more, please feel free […]
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    • Quote of the Day December 18, 2014
      I find [Eve Tushnet] to be a very credible spokesperson for celibacy because, while embracing the orthodox Catholic position for lesbian and gay people, she never insists that everyone embrace this option. She remains non-judgmental about lesbian and gay people who choose to be part of a committed sexual relationship. Her primary form of argument is to expla […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Sufism: A Tradition of Enlightenment, the Way of Love, and an Antidote to Fanaticism December 16, 2014
      In reviewing Idries Shah's The Sufis, recently republished in both the West and the Middle East, Jason Webster offers a helpful definition of Sufism. Before sharing this definition I'd first like to share a little about my interest in the mystic path known as the Sufi Way. Let me start by acknowledging that for many people Sufism is viewed as the […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
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    • Christmas and the Empty Crib: Recent Catholic Commentary on the Broken Church December 18, 2014
      What am I doing as Christmas approaches, besides baking cookies, fruitcakes, and cheese straws, you ask? And keeping the house running and in decent order as Steve and his brother hammer and nail at their building project (you don't want to put a hammer or a nail in my little bumbling hands). Thank you for asking.Lately, I've been thinking about th […]
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    • Hurrier I Go, Behinder I Get — Apologies re: Delays in Acknowledging Comments Here December 17, 2014
      As you all may have noticed, I'm yet again behind with acknowledging recent comments here, and I may, in fact, not find time in the next few days to get to that task. I do hope all of you know how very much I appreciate your many wonderful comments here. I read them faithfully, even when I don't have time to let you know I've done so. Right no […]
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      My current blog is called the way ahead.
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    • Barracuda - a Young Gay Teen Novel December 10, 2014
      A significant contribution to gay teen literature, but not without its exasperating flaws.I had to struggle to finish this book, but I persevered to the end because I respected the author's intentions and his deliberate efforts to integrate the gay sexuality of his central character into the narrative without making it a central issue. We are still in d […]
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    • Religion of the Gypsies December 7, 2014
      I am very pleased that my first book review at Crime Scene Reviews is the sweeping historical saga, Dosha, Flight of the Russian Gypsies, by Sonia Meyer (Author Interview here) which I’ve selected from Book Club Reading List. This deeply moving account of the tragic plight of Russian Romany gypsies is an appropriate choice for this site because it deals with […]
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    • Pope Francis’s China Problem December 18, 2014
      In the news, Tutu urges Pope to rethink decision not to meet Dalai Lama ...South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu Monday appealed to the Pope to reconsider his decision not to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit to Rome. "I am deeply saddened and distressed that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, should give in to these pressures and decline to meet t […]
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Media Still Withholds Critical Information About Pope Francis

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga was named by Pope Francis as head of a group of cardinals to help him govern the Church one month after the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope. “Vice pope” or the pope’s “right-hand man” is how Rodriguez Maradiaga is usually described in the press.

Australian Cardinal George Pell was appointed by the pope this past February as prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, giving him control of all Vatican finances and administration including hiring and salaries.

Yet the backgrounds of these now powerful men which demonstrate Pope Francis’ disdain for both the poor and the victims of clerical sex abuse remain unreported by the U.S. media. Continue reading

Pope Francis Met With the Head of the Family – the Secretive, Powerful Politicians Based in a Wash. DC Townhouse

On June 5, Pope Francis met in private with Doug Coe, one of the most influential evangelicals in the US and head of the Family, tea-party ally Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and former U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne who served under Bush 43 amid unprecedented scandal. Continue reading

Vatican Defrocks A Bishop Over Sexual Abuse – But Not Finn.

Originally posted at Talk to Action.
Pope Francis recently indicated he is serious about ending child sex abuse and cover-ups by Catholic prelates by defrocking a former apostolic nuncio (a nuncio is essentially a high level Vatican diplomat) for having sexual relations with young boys.

But while the Holy See should be applauded for this decisive action, there is unfinished business with the bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri. And the bishop in question is Robert Finn a darling of the American Catholic Right who have very little to say – at least now that he is a convicted criminal.

As the National Catholic Reporter described recent events:

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ordered the laicization of an archbishop-ambassador accused of paying for sex with minors.

Józef Wesołowski, former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic, will have two months to prepare an appeal to the ruling, which was announced in a brief statement from the Vatican on Friday.

The former nuncio, who the Vatican did not refer to as an archbishop in the statement, was removed from his post in August with little explanation. News accounts days afterward detailed allegations of paying for sex with minors and being connected to a Polish priest accused of sexually assaulting at least 14 underage boys.

But while Francis has acted on Wesołowski, he has yet to remove Robert Finn.

Let’s recall that the crimes of Bishop Finn resulted from his knowledge of the related crimes of a priest in his diocese 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 that priest’s improper touching of young girls and possession of child pornography. Finn knew or had good reason to suspect the priest‘s crimes. Had he acted, he would have prevented other crimes against children under his pastoral care. Indeed, in September 2012 Bishop Finn became the first American prelate convicted of failing to report a pedophile priest.

It is worth recalling that the beneficiary of the cover-up was Fr. Shawn Ratigan who was prosecuted and pleaded of his crimes in Federal Court.

As I reported here and here, Bishop Finn had constructive knowledge of Ratigan’s improper touching of young girls and possession of child pornography. I wrote here that Bishop Finn must go.

In March of this year I reported that a growing number Kansas City Catholics want Bishop Finn gone.

Pope Francis recently met with victims of Catholic clerical sex abuse. He used the occasion to publicly call for stricter, more decisive actions against Catholic clerics who either engage pedophilia or fail by negligence to prevent it. The Times reported:

In his homily, Francis also vowed “not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not,” and declared that bishops would be held accountable for protecting minors. He said the abuse scandals had had “a toxic effect on faith and hope in God.”

As a progressive Catholic I truly want Francis to succeed. Catholicism is wanting for the kind of reforms he seems to be all about. People recognize that he seems to be the breath of fresh air the Vatican so desperately needs. But with that said, in certain areas Francis is beginning to face a credibility problem. Soothing words are not enough. Credibility, especially with regards to the pedophilia issue, requires decisive action. And decisive action requires punishing negligent as well as abusive bishops.

And the perfect place to demonstrate decisive action is in Kansas City.

Bishop DiMarzio’s Stilted Hobby Lobby Analogy

Originally posted at Talk to Action

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the overseer of the Diocese of Brooklyn-Queens New York, recently weighed in on the recent US Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the case concerning the ability of certain closely held corporations to opt out of one of the preventive health care  provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that required that insurance packages provide free birth control for women. In praising the High Court’s decision he offered an analogy that was fractured and misses the point.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is not well-known beyond the metropolitan New York area.  He is often overshadowed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan the head of the much larger and neighboring Diocese of New York. Installed by Pope John Paul II in October 2003, DiMarzio does nevertheless exercise influence by the fact that he lead a diocese of almost 1 ½ million Catholics. Beyond that, is also a religious cultural warrior being both a member of Opus Dei and a signatory of the Manhattan Declaration; the controversial statement that proclaims that Christians should not only oppose marriage equality and reproductive freedom, but engage in civil disobedience in order to get their way.

Thus it is not surprising that the bishop weighed in on the recent US Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby case. He told the local CBS affiliate:

Religious liberty is at stake. Let me give you an example: if we were to tell Muslims and Jews that pork is good to eat, the government could decide you should eat pork because it’s good for your health. Could we force them to do something that is against their religious tenet? I don’t think so,

Forget for now the shoddiness of the decision. Also put aside that by voting with the majority Associate Justice Antonin Scalia contradicted himself from a decision he himself wrote 24 years earlier. What the Bishop does not seem to understand is that health insurance provided by an employer is part and parcel of a compensation package, akin to monetary salary. This is a critical distinction that illuminates why this is a false analogy.

What SCOTUS has essentially said is that an employer has to power to tell an employee what to do with her compensation. Because birth-control could now conceivably not be covered by insurance plans, it drives up the cost to the user. The reason for that is simple: instead of making a simple $20 or $35 co-payment, the employee is now possibly liable for the full payment. Which brings us back to the bishop’s analogy.

Bishop DiMarzio’s syllogism does not work because it makes no distinction between employer and employee.  As the result of the court’s ruling an employer may now dictate to an employee — especially one whose religious beliefs differ from that of an anti-birth-control employer – that she cannot take advantage of the purchasing power of an insurance plan to lower her costs. And beyond that, because before Hobby Lobby was decided, the birth-control coverage was purchased through a compensation plan it was truly the employee, not be employer, who was paying for birth control. While the bishop spins a scenario of the government telling a Muslim or Jewish citizen what type of meat he must eat, the reality was quite different; it would be as if an employee could legally impede that same Muslim or Jew from purchasing what type of meat he can eat. The bishop’s analogy would only make sense if the employee were required to use birth control in violation of her religious convictions

I do agree with Bishop DiMarzio in one respect: religious freedom is the issue. Unfortunately, it is the Supreme Court that is now ensuring that the religious freedom of millions of Americans will be violated in the wake of Hobby Lobby.

What Democrats Need to Learn from Pope Francis

Almost unknown outside of Argentina, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was named the fourth “Most Powerful Person in the World/People Who Rule the World” by Forbes seven months after his election as pope. Five months later, another business publication, Fortune, named him the “World’s Greatest Leader.”  Three of the four other top “rulers of the word” have already been to the Vatican to pay him homage: Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. Only Xi Jinping has not yet made the pilgrimage but literally dozens of other heads-of-state have done so and have strengthened their diplomatic ties to the Holy See.

This leap from obscurity to global power was accomplished by the same corporate media complicit in shifting the wealth of the world’s richest nation into the pockets of the 1%. They selectively reported when Bergoglio looked and talked like a moderate populist. They did not tell us about Bergoglio’s compliance with Argentina’s military junta, his disgraceful history on child sex abuse nor his advocacy of right-wing politics.  (Also here, here and here.) 

And even though progressives know that the Religious Right was created by the neocons to facilitate this takeover, that the Catholic episcopate is an enthusiastic adjunct of the plutocracy, and that the men who elected Bergoglio were appointed by the same popes as the Obama-bashing, misogynist and homophobic U.S. bishops, we were as taken in by the “incense-smoke and mirrors” as the rest of the populace. We not only accepted without question the corporate media’s careful reporting but also showed no interest in Bergoglio’s papal appointments of men with backgrounds and worldviews at polar opposites to his constructed image. (Also, here and here.) Continue reading

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