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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! ]]
      Obie Holmen
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    • Prayer of the Week September 19, 2017
      Compassionate Creator,within and beyond all things,holy are your names.May your ways of wisdom and compassionbe known and embodied by all.Grant what we need each dayin bread and insight.Loose the cords of mistakes that bind usas we release the strands we hold of others' guilt.Do not let surface things delude usbut free us from all that holds us backfrom […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Return to Sydney September 10, 2017
      Although I'm back in Minnesota and starting in on my chaplain residency, I continue to share images and commentary on my recent Australian sojourn. Today's installment focuses on a quick trip I made from my parents' place in Guruk to Sydney on the weekend of August 12-13, 2017. I actually left Friday, August 11 and returned Sunday, August 13. […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
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    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
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    • Christmas at Litmanova December 29, 2016
      The Marian Shrine of Litmanova, Slovakia.Christmas 2017A forest chapel at the Slovakian Marian shrine of Litmanova.Stunning painting of the Sacred Heart inside the forest chapel.
      noreply@blogger.com (Richard Demma)
    • Not Our President November 16, 2016
      To hear the simplistic denial of those who scream out with naiveté “give Trump a chance” as they condemn others engaged in selfless protest against a certain political and social tsunami in the making, is to ignore his life-time public embrace of policies that tens of millions reject as not just destructive, but evil per se. They are not mistaken.Those in st […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Richard Demma)
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    • Another World is Neccessary: Anarchism, Christianity and the Race from the White House July 30, 2008
      I’ll be presenting at the upcoming Jesus Radicals conference in Columbus, Ohio. My session (on the relationship between Church and State) will be on Friday afternoon. If you’re in the area, drop by. I’d love to meet some of the folks who frequent this site. Here’s the info: August 15-16, 2008 St. John’s Episcopal 1003 W Town Columbus, OH [...]ShareThis […]
      Mark Van Steenwyk
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    • Throwback Thursday: Vatican City September 22, 2017
      Long, long ago in this galaxy :) my mother and sister and I went on our one trip to Europe. It was one of those whirlwind kind of tours in which you visited a new country every few days. One of the places we stopped was Rome/Vatican City. Here we see my mother and sister, with the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in the background ...And here is me in the V […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Vatican Diplomat Recalled for Child Porn. Usual Media Whitewash Ensues

Yesterday, the AP reported: “A high-ranking priest working in the Vatican’s embassy in Washington has been recalled after U.S. prosecutors asked for him to be charged there and face trial in a child pornography investigation, Vatican and U.S. officials said Friday.

“The Vatican declined to identify the priest, but said he was currently in Vatican City and that Vatican prosecutors had launched their own probe and sought evidence from the U.S. The State Department said it had asked the Vatican to lift the official’s diplomatic immunity on Aug. 21, and said the request was denied three days later. For the State Department to make such a request, its lawyers would have needed to be convinced that there was reasonable cause for criminal prosecution.”

All the reports that I’ve read got the above facts correct. But all the reports whitewashed the case of another Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, and Pope Francis’ lack of response to clerical sex abuse. Continue reading

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Pope Francis in Colombia But the Issue is Venezuela. He has Helped Neither.

Pope Francis will arrive in Bogota on Sept. 6 and return to Rome on Sept. 10. Except for the Prayer Meeting for National Reconciliation commemorating the end of Colombia’s 52-year civil war, the pope’s scheduled itinerary was pretty ordinary:  meetings with government and Church officials; with priests and seminarians; a couple of public Masses and a visit to a Catholic charity.

However, on Aug. 24, a Colombian bishop announced that Pope Francis will also meet with members of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference. “It is important…to review the situation of the Venezuelan people,” Bishop Rigoberto Corredor said.

Venezuelans have been suffering through years of severe food and medical shortages, extreme inflation, daily protests. A UN report dated Aug. 30 said “Venezuelan security forces and pro-government groups are believed to be responsible for the deaths of 73 people since April … More than 1,000 people were believed to remain in custody as of July 31, among more than 5,000 detained in street protests since April. Detainees are often subjected to ill-treatment, in some documented cases amounting to torture.”

When the Venezuelan bishops had asked for a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome on June 8, their spokesman told journalists, “The pope has the moral strength to speak to governments and peoples, and we trust that there is an international mission, a help … the Holy See can do much to make light of our situation.”

But up until now, the first pope from Latin America has refused to become personally engaged in peace negotiations or to condemn Pres. Nicolas Maduro. Continue reading

Spadaro-Figueroa Article and the Media: Ad Majorem Francis Gloriam

The phrase Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam – For the Greater Glory of God – is the motto of the Jesuits and their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola. The point of Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Presbyterian pastor Marcelo Figueroa’s July 13 article in the Jesuit weekly, La Civiltà Cattolica, is the greater glory of Pope Francis. He is the “courageous” pontiff opposed to the “ecumenism of hate” formed by American “Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists.”

Spadaro is an Italian theologian and editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, the content of which is approved by the Vatican Secretariat of State. Spadaro’s book, Cybertheology: Thinking Christianity in the Era of the Internet, was published in 2012. He built a website in the early ‘90s, then a blog, “was on Twitter in 2005 and Facebook pretty much as soon as it opened to the public,” he said in an interview.

Spadaro was contacted by Pope Francis shortly after his election. His  first interview with the pope eventually took place soon after “Who am I to judge,” taken out of context, made headlines and went viral. The comment by the pope in Spadaro’s interview that “It is not necessary to talk about abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods all the time,” extracted from a very lengthy interview,  also made headlines.

Spadaro did several more interviews with Pope Francis becoming his “mouthpiece” and one of his “trusted advisers.”

The Argentine Figueroa is a longtime friend of Pope Francis. The pope was not satisfied with the Spanish edition of the official Vatican newspaper,  L’Osservatore Romano, as directed by the Argentine Silvina Pérez, according to Vatican reporter, Sandro Magister. He wanted an edition just for Argentina to “promote direct access to [his] actions, gestures and texts,” wrote papal biographer, Austen Ivereigh.

In January, Pope Francis chose Figueroa, a radio-show host, to be director of the first national edition of the L’Osservatore Romano since it began publishing in 1861. As to contributors other than Pope Francis, “They don’t need to write solely on the pope’s thinking, but rather on themes related to his mission and which stem from his universal moral influence,” Figueroa said. Continue reading

Another Russian Connection: The Pope and Putin

The most powerful man in the Vatican after Pope Francis, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will make an “historic visit” to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of August “with the aim of improving Holy See relations both with the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church.” The trip “will also pave the way for a potential visit by Pope Francis which some believe could happen as early as next year,” according to Vatican reporter Edward Pentin.

Pope Francis has met Putin twice at the Vatican in November 2013 and June 2015.

In February 2016, the pope made a stop at the José Martí airport in Havana on his way to Mexico for a meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. That meeting would not have happened “without a green light from Putin.”

Pope Francis said that Metropolitan Archbishop Hilarion, foreign minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, “has come many times to speak with me.” Continue reading

“Libero Milone’s resignation indicates that there could be a Vatileaks III”

That was the assessment of “observers” according to Vatican reporter, Andrea Gagliarducci, in his July 3 column. Milone, appointed by Pope Francis in 2015 as the Vatican’s financial auditor general, had resigned by “mutual agreement” on June 20. No reason was given. Milone made no statement.

In May 2016, two lay members of the Board of Superintendence of the Vatican Bank resigned “in light of legitimate reflections and opinions concerning [the bank’s] management” the Vatican said. Carlo Salvatori, President of Lazard Italia and Allianz Italia, and Clemens Borsig, former Chairman of the Board of Management at Deutsche Bank, remain silent.

René Brülhart, an official of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority since 2012, seems to have one foot out the door. In a March interview, Brülhart spoke about his “new role at a Swiss mortgage lender,” his “return to Swiss banking,” and that, regardless of his years in the Vatican, “I still see myself as an adviser to the financial services industry.”

Do Milone, Salvatori, Borsig and Brülhart know something we don’t? Continue reading

Cardinals Pell, Müller and the Pope: A Reality Check

On June 29, Australian police charged Cardinal George Pell with multiple counts of historical sexual assault offences. The Vatican Press Office stated they learned this “with regret,” that Pell “chose to return to Australia in full respect for civil laws” and that Pope Francis has “appreciated” Pell’s “honesty,” “collaboration” and “energetic dedication to the reforms in the economic and administrative sector, as well as his active participation in the Council of Cardinals (C9).”

On July 1, the Vatican Press Office stated that Pope Francis “thanks Cardinal Müller at the end his quinquennial mandate as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” and “now calls the former Secretary [of the Congregation], Archbishop Ladaria, to take on this role.”

If not stating it outright, the U.S. media is inferring that the above is about the good “liberal” pope v. two bad “conservative” cardinals. That is grossly misinterpreting these events since the pope is not a liberal.

“Pope Francis referred to detractors of Bishop Juan Barros of the Chilean city of Osorno as ‘lefties’” after “more than 1,300 church members in Osorno, along with some 30 priests from the diocese and 51 of Chile’s 120 members of Parliament” sent letters in 2015 to the pope “urging him to rescind” his appointment. Barros was accused of “covering up dozens of sexual abuse cases.” Continue reading

U.S. Bishops Will ‘Stay the Course’ Against Children, Women and LGBTQ Persons

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) held their semi-annual meeting June 14-15 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Child Sex Abuse

They began with a Mass “held in response to a call from Pope Francis for all episcopal conferences across the world to have a Day of Prayer and Penance for victims of sexual abuse within the Church.”

In an excellent work of investigative journalism, Nicole Sotelo researched the location of 33 Chicago Archdiocese former priests accused of child sex abuse who are still alive. She was able to locate the whereabouts of 29. “At least 16 – approximately half – of the abusive former priests currently reside or have recently resided within close proximity of a school or child services facility, ranging from less than 500 feet to under 1,500 feet….Two are currently in state or federal mental health facilities. [O]nly one former priest is part of a sex offender registry.”  None are being monitored by the archdiocese.

“Church officials covered up crimes for so long that in many cases the statute of limitations for criminal charges expired. [I]t is a sobering reminder that if Church officials had not shielded these men from the law or fought to keep the statute of limitations, some of these men would be registered sex offenders and, thus, identifiable to concerned parents and teachers,” Sotelo noted.

Shortly before their meeting, the bishops released their 2016 Annual Report on clerical sex abuse in the U.S. For the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 combined, 1333 victims made “new credible allegations” against 799 clerics. Even a conservative extrapolation from Sotelo’s findings would be horrific.

In their report, the bishops do not give us the names of the credibly alleged predators, nor which ones are free men and where are they located, nor which ones – if any – they reported to the police. They do not act because Pope Francis protects sexual predators and so, will never hold them accountable for following his lead.

During the Mass, Archbishop Wilton Gregory said the U.S. bishops “can never say that we are sorry enough for the share that we have had in this tragedy of broken fidelity and trust – the clergy sex abuse crisis.” But he failed to commit to the above measures nor did he pledge that the bishops would stop obstructing statute of limitations reform for all American victims of sex abuse. Continue reading