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      The Wild Reed's series on dance continues with a second excerpt from dancer, philosopher, and scholar of religion Kimerer LaMothe's fascinating book, Why We Dance: A Philosophy of Bodily Becoming. (To read the first excerpt, click here.)Oh, and it's probably helpful to know that for LaMothe, dancing is any bodily movement in which humans […]
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Pope Francis Granting Anti-Semitic Group Same Status as Opus Dei

In a March 3 homily, Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, confirmed that negotiations to reunite the SSPX with the Catholic Church were ongoing. “Full communion” would be “within a few months,” Vatican reporter, Andrea Tornielli, wrote the same day. Fellay “needs time to explain and to gain broad acceptance for the agreement among the Society,” he noted.

French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founded the traditionalist order of priests in 1970. He named them after Pope Pius X who, in 1907, described Modernism as “the synthesis of all heresies.”

The SSPX was declared “schismatic” in 1988 when Lefebvre ordained his own bishops without the approval of Pope John Paul II. All four of the new bishops incurred an “automatic” excommunication.

Anti-Semitism

The Simon Wiesenthal Center “condemned” Bishop Fellay for calling Jews “enemies of the Church” and asked the SSPX to renounce their anti-Semitic theology in January 2013.

Pope Francis was elected on March 13, 2013.

The Southern Poverty Law Center stated the SSPX “remains a font of anti-Semitic propaganda” in 2015. The SPLC had placed the SSPX on their “Hatewatch” list in 2009 because of the virulent anti-Semitism of its leaders.

Some of the Society’s members are “accused of anti-Semitism,” Germany’s international news, Deutsche Welle, noted in January 2016. Continue reading

List of Sexual Predators Protected by Pope Francis Grows and Grows

The Catholic Church has long been known for gut-wrenching sex abuse scandals. But this personal involvement by a pope is unprecedented.

____

Fr. Mauro Inzoli is now facing a second Vatican trial after new evidence emerged against him as reported on Feb. 25.

The Vatican found the Italian priest guilty in 2012 of sexually abusing young boys and he was defrocked. But Inzoli is friends with Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio who “intervened on behalf of Inzoli and Pope Francis returned him to the priestly state in 2014, inviting him to ‘a life of humility and prayer.’” Inzoli was later seen at a conference on the family.

In June 2016, a civil court convicted Inzoli of eight incidents of sexual violence between 2004 and 2008 against five children aged 12-16. Fifteen more crimes were barred by the statute of limitations. (Two out of three sexual assaults in the U.S. go unreported. An Australian report found a 33 year gap on average between the sexual abuse and the date reported.)

Inzoli was sentenced to four years and nine months. The Vatican had withheld information from their canonical trial from the civil prosecutors. “Of course, the pope could have allowed the Vatican to share this information with civil authorities if he so desired,” noted Michael Brendan Dougherty, senior correspondent at TheWeek.com.

The Inzoli case is one of several in which Francis overruled the advice of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and reduced a sentence that called for the priest to be laicized (defrocked). Instead, the priests were sentenced to penalties including a lifetime of penance and prayer and removal from public ministry. At the same time, Francis also ordered three longtime staffers at the CDF dismissed, two of whom worked for the discipline section that handles sex abuse cases.

Dougherty wrote:

Pope Francis and his cardinal allies have been known to interfere with CDF’s judgments on abuse cases. This intervention has become so endemic to the system that cases of priestly abuse in Rome are now known to have two sets of distinctions. The first is guilty or innocent. The second is “with cardinal friends” or “without cardinal friends.”

____ Continue reading

Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?

In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to economics, displays no interest in actual Catholic teachings on economics. Perhaps that his because his position is at odds with that of Pope Francis, and as recent news reports suggest, he may also have joined forces with Vatican opponents of the Pope’s emphasis on refugees, tolerance and spiritually.

On February 7, 2017 The New York Times published an article that suggests “Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub: The Vatican.” The story outlined how Bannon appears to be now engaging in a Fifth Column action within the Vatican in support of ultra-traditionalist forces who are unhappy with the Pope’s social justice message. These forces take issue with Francis’s more tolerant tone towards Syrian refugees, his call for economic fairness and his pro-environmental stances, particularly when it comes to climate change.

This reactionary “Shadow Church” features some familiar names. First and foremost is the former Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri, Cardinal Raymond Burke. And there is strong circumstantial evidence that the shadow church may include The Dignitatis Humanae Institute (Institute for Human Dignity); a Catholic lay organization led by Benjamin Harnwell, whom The Times describes as “a confidant of Cardinal Burke.” Indeed, it was Harnwell who introduced Bannon to Burke.

The Times reported that Harnwell invited Bannon to speak before the Institute’s summer 2014 conference on poverty. Bannon, then-the editor of Breitbart News (not long before he joined the Trump presidential campaign), used the occasion to launch into a rallying call to culture war replete with broad allusions to what he believed is a coming clash of civilizations between the Christian West and Islam:

And we’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.

Cardinal Burke is also on the record stating his belief that Christianity and Islam are incompatible.

I think that in order to understand what may going on here we need to be aware of the idea of Fourth Generational Warfare (4GW for short). It is a term and a set of ideas that are likely to start getting more attention. What may look like a reign of confusion emanating from Bannon’s perch in the White House is more likely a well-thought-out strategy. You might say there may be a method to the madness — designed to “overwhelm, disorient and disrupt” progressives, moderates and even some centrist conservatives. The more confusion that is sown, the better.

And it is not too difficult to understand why Pope Francis would be a target . It is all-too-common for Catholics such as Bannon who have no true grasp of Catholic social justice teachings to confuse Marxism with the Church’s economic teachings. As sociologist Dr. James Scaminaci noted:

A sub-component of 4GW is William Lind’s conspiracy theory of the internal war for supremacy between what he called “cultural Marxists” and their ideology of “Political Correctness” or “multiculturalism” and the “traditional American culture” or “Judeo-Christian culture.” Lind argued that “cultural Marxists” hate America’s “Judeo-Christian culture” and were seeking to destroy it. The losers were to be rich, white, conservative, Christian, heterosexual men.

Nevertheless, some have pooh-poohed the idea of a possible “rad-trad” alliance against Pope Francis. However, as one article from NPR has pointed out, Breitbart News has made it quite clear where they come down in the battle between Pope Francis and the clique of radical traditionalists:

A year ago, Francis criticized candidate Donald Trump for wanting to build a wall along the border with Mexico, saying, “A person who thinks only about building walls … and not building bridges is not Christian.”

But that’s not Bannon’s worldview. While most Breitbart reports on the pope have been neutral, headlines about the pope when Bannon was in charge included:

▪ “Seven Ways Pope Francis Slapped Conservatives in the United States”

▪ “A Vatican Expert: Pope Francis a ‘Friend of Islam'”

▪ “Pope Francis Slams Capitalism, Death Penalty, Immigration Law; No Real Mention of Abortion, Gay Marriage”

▪ “Pope Francis Threatens Legacy of Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan”

Perhaps Charles Pierce put it best. Writing in Esquire :

This isn’t just a matter of the cafeteria having a few new and unfamiliar faces in the buffet line. This is dragging elements of the Church into alliances with white supremacists all over the world, lining up parts of the Church with the likes of Marine Le Pen in France. This is entering into an alliance with forces so completely contrary to the Church’s stated mission that they might as well give Cardinal Burke an army and let him march against the Languedoc.

It may well turn out that Bannon is less of a racist at all — but something worse; a political opportunist. The presidential advisor is playing a dangerous game using previously marginalized political movements in order to advance his own agenda — with possibly unintended but entirely foreseeable consequences.

Cardinal Burke Frenzy – Another Failure of the U.S. Media

As most already know, preceding the national conventions, “a high volume” of “positive media coverage … propelled Trump to the top of the Republican poll.” After the nominations became official, “Clinton and Trump’s coverage was virtually identical in terms of its negative tone. ‘Were the allegations surrounding Clinton of the same order of magnitude as those surrounding Trump?’” asks Thomas E. Patterson in a report from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.

While there is enough blame regarding 2016 polling to go around, as regards the Catholic vote, the Washington Post led with “Donald Trump has a massive Catholic problem” followed by the New York Times “Clinton Challenges Trump for a Traditional Republican Bloc, White Catholics.”

Both inferred that Pope Francis had an effect on U.S. Catholics that was detrimental to Trump. Both ignored that the PRRI polls (here and here) upon which they based their reporting showed that although Clinton led, support for Trump by white Catholics exceeded both the total electorate and white voters in general. Other polls reported that nearly two-thirds of Catholic registered voters are white and that “the IBD-TIPP daily tracking poll  – rated by Nate Silver as the most accurate national poll of the last presidential cycle in 2012 – consistently pointed to a Trump win among Catholics.” Continue reading

Betsy DeVos’s Mudsill View of Public Education

My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman’s work in explaining Betsy DeVos’s long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If you haven’t I strongly urge you to read her work, here, here, and here. DeVos, President Trump’s choice for Secretary of the Department of Education, is not there to strengthen that governmental agency but essentially, to destroy it. Indeed, her motives have been clear for a long time. DeVos’s family related philanthropies are longtime funders of Christian Right projects, particularly in the area of school privatization. Politico reports that DeVos has said her work in education is intended to “advance God’s kingdom.”

DeVos’s approach is one of the contemporary mindset that mixes libertarianism with the Christian Right agenda that has become dogma for contemporary conservatism. To that end, they claim that their approach is “liberty.” But another great American had a different term for it: Mudsill.

In a stunningly awful performance at here confirmation hearing before a select U.S. Senate committee, DeVos displayed an incredible lack of familiarity with basic terminology of educational principles. As senator after senator cross-examined her she exposed herself as a person unfit for her position.

Normally, this would be grounds for a president to withdraw her nomination. But it may be that she may be precisely the type of department head desired by many modern conservatives. DeVos has no interest in strengthening public education but in eviscerating it.

As Rachel Tabachnick observed:

[Dick] DeVos and his wife Betsy had already spent millions promoting voucher initiatives that were soundly rejected by voters. Pro-privatization think tanks had concluded that vouchers were the most politically viable way to “dismantle” public schools; the DeVoses persevered. Dick DeVos introduced his 2002 Heritage Foundation audience to a covert strategy to provide “rewards or consequences” to state legislators, learning from the activities of the Great Lake Education Project (GLEP) initiated by Betsy DeVos. Vouchers should be promoted by local “grass roots” entities and could not be “viewed as only a conservative idea.” DeVos added, “This has got to be the battle. It will not be as visible.”

There may be more than just an outright hostility towards public education at play here. Indeed, this is nothing less than libertarianism on steroids. I would suggest that this belief in private education is part of a more hierarchical, oligarchic conservatism. Contrary to the popular notion that conservatism is about independence it is in actuality more about creating a less knowledgeable working class.

As I have written in an earlier post:

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a “mudsill” as 1. a supporting sill (as of a building or bridge) resting directly on a base and especially the earth; 2. a person of the lowest social level). The economic theory gets its name from an 1858 defense of slavery by South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond.

“In all societies that must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life,” Hammond declared. He further argued that this perennial underclass is necessary for the rest of society to move forward. He said that this class requires “a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites,” he said, “are vigor, docility, fidelity.” Hammond insisted that such a class is necessary to support “that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air, as to build either the one or the other, except on this mud-sill.”

This view of economics and government brings us back to the origins of the Mudsill theory, which was primarily a justification of slavery that, in turn, is the root of modern libertarianism. “Mudsillism” allows for the select few to use other human beings to generate wealth without providing just compensation. And although we don’t call it that, Mudsillism is resurgent in America as wages are stagnant or in decline despite the increases in worker productivity. Increasingly, average Americans work longer and harder while shareholders and executives are rewarded far beyond their contributions. And personal indebtedness to financial institutions replaces wages that, in turn, replaces liberty with dependence. Indeed, if libertarian economics were to prevail, the result would be local theocracies, restricted education, and the hierarchical economic castes.

And restricted education is a cornerstone element of Mudsillism. This is so self-evident that in a speech given in September 1859 Abraham Lincoln identified this threat. In that address Lincoln got right to the point:

By the “mud-sill” theory it is assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical combination of them impossible. According to that theory, a blind horse upon a treadmill, is a perfect illustration of what a laborer should be–all the better for being blind, that he could not kick understandingly. According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious and dangerous. In fact, it is, in some sort, deemed a misfortune that laborers should have heads at all. Those same heads are regarded as explosive materials, only to be safely kept in damp places, as far as possible from that peculiar sort of fire which ignites them. A Yankee who could invent strong handed man without a head would receive the everlasting gratitude of the “mud-sill” advocates.

Lincoln went on to attack Hammond’s Mudsill-based opposition to universal education. He observed, “According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious and dangerous.” But Lincoln did not fear an educated working class. Indeed, he boldly enunciated what would become a core belief of contemporary liberalism, stating, “In one word Free Labor insists on universal education.”

Lincoln knew that in the absence of universal education, access to better knowledge and skills is a privilege accorded to the few who can afford to buy it, and that the result was greater economic inequality. This means that a greater segment is suited to only the most menial tasks. Doing away with public education is one of the surest ways to ensure that most less-affluent Americans become that “blind horse upon a tread-mill.”

And indeed privatization does make for a more ignorant working class. It doles the ability to think critically and make complex decisions. As a recent post in Bob Somerby’s Daily Howler website indicated, DeVos’s methods have had catastrophic results. Her methods were applied in the state of Michigan. And since those methods were introduced in 2002 student performance results dropped like a rock.

Let us heed Lincoln’s warning. What Betsy DeVos advocates is neither liberty nor freedom. It is not even an improvement in delivering educational services. It is instead, Mudsill – a direct route to making the American worker be nothing more than “a blind horse upon a treadmill.” But more importantly, it is precisely why Betsy DeVos has no business being the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education.

How Much Does Trump Owe Pope Francis Now?

“Evangelicals helped Trump in states he was mostly going to win anyway. Catholics? Now we’re talking about Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. And that was the election.”

White Catholics voted 60% for Trump while he received only 46% of the national popular vote.

“Trump won the highest percentage of Catholic voters (52%) for a Republican candidate since 2004. White Catholics supported Trump by a wide, 23-point margin (60% to 37%). Both white and Latino Catholics cast more ballots for Trump than for Romney in 2012.”

Despite much inaccurate reporting, every poll that included the respondent’s religion conducted during the campaign showed Catholics choosing Trump at percentages higher than the general electorate. (See also here, here and here.)

Evangelicals “went overwhelmingly for Trump, but that was also true in 2012 when they weren’t even sure Romney was Christian. They aren’t the swing voters. Catholics, on the other hand, were plus-2 for Obama in 2012 and plus-7 for Trump this year.” Continue reading

Informed about sex abuse of disabled children, Pope Francis did nothing

At least 22 children were sexually abused by two priests at a school for youths with hearing disabilities in Argentina, an investigating prosecutor said Monday.

Police arrested 82-year old priest Nicola Corradi, 55-year-old priest Horacio Corbacho, and three other men last week. They are accused of sexual and physical child abuse at the Antonio Provolo Institute in northwestern Mendoza province ….

Corradi earlier had been accused in Italy of sexually abusing students at the Provolo Institute in Verona, a notorious school for the deaf where hundreds of children are believed to have been sexually assaulted over the years by two dozen priests and religious brothers ….

The association of Provolo victims in Italy wrote to Pope Francis on December 31, 2013, asking for assistance for the victims there, saying they still received no form of solidarity or support, even after the Vatican concluded they had been abused in 2012 ….

[I have deleted a sentence as it was later confirmed as inaccurate and the Washington Post article I cited has been removed. However, the rest of this article is accurate.] The Provolo group provided the AP with the letter from the Vatican dated February 5, 2016, in which the Vatican said it had forwarded the request to the Italian bishops’ conference, saying it was up to them to investigate.

“Words fail. It is appalling and heartbreaking that Corradi was not stopped by Pope Francis or by other Church authorities. Corradi’s presence at the school in Mendoza was no secret,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.

“Thanks to the Church’s inaction, Corradi appears to have been able to replicate exactly the grotesque situation he enjoyed in Verona – a ring of child molesters in charge of utterly defenseless children who could neither hear nor speak. If the allegations are true, the pope must accept responsibility for the unimaginable suffering of these new victims.”

 

(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America and “Duped by the Media on Pope Francis, Progressives Wonder How Republicans Get Elected.”)