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Vatican Corruption, Media Dysfunction, Pope Still the 4th Most Powerful Person in the World

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Fraud worth millions, machinations of the Vatican Bank, the true extent of the pope’s treasury” and “offerings of the faithful withheld from charity, theft and trade scams” during the reign of Pope Francis are the subjects of two recently published books. One includes tape recordings revealing the pontiff’s hands-on management of the smallest details of his fortune.

Yet the mainstream media reported that these books prove the pope desires a “Church of the poor” and is “reforming” the Vatican despite opposition from the “old guard” obstructing his “clean-up.”

Due to this type of deceptive reporting, Pope Francis is still the fourth most powerful person in the world behind only Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, and Barack Obama, but ahead of Xi Jinping. Continue reading

The Synod: More Egregiously False Reporting by the Media on Pope Francis

The following is a portion of the pope’s speech given yesterday at the close of the Vatican synod on the family:

[The synod] was about urging everyone to appreciate the importance of the institution of the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life. …
We have seen, also by the richness of our diversity, that the same challenge is ever before us: that of proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of today, and defending the family from all ideological and individualistic assaults.

[Pope Francis has called the movement in many countries to accept same-sex marriage as “ideological colonization that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family.” In his recent speech to the UN, the pope “reminded the UN of their duty to recognize ethical limits, … ‘for carrying out an ideological colonization by the imposition of anomalous models and lifestyles which are alien to people’s identity and, in the end, irresponsible.’”]

The above quote from yesterday’s speech was omitted by the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters and Religion News Service. As has been true for this pontificate, only the good stuff gets reported. Continue reading

Pope Francis Judges Gays to be Objectively Disordered, Transgender Rights as Dangerous

Today, Pope Francis heads to Philadelphia to lead the World Meeting of Families. Before leaving for this trip to Cuba and the US, he said, “The family, as God wants it, composed of a man and a woman for the good of the spouses … is deformed by powerful contrary projects.”

The Catechism states that homosexual acts are a “grave depravity.” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, later Pope Benedict XVI – added in 1997 that even the homosexual “inclination” is “objectively disordered.”

So Pope Francis can change this anytime he wants, but he won’t.

The pope said in February 2015, “Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings. Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory that does not recognize the order of creation.”

“The ‘gender theory’ Francis is denigrating is the medically and anthropologically supported concept that gender is a construct imposed by society. It is commonly cited in defense of transgender rights, since it shows gender can vary despite society’s expectations.” Continue reading

Pope Met with Bill Donohue, Nuns Fighting Obamacare. He Insulted Native Americans and Sex Abuse Survivors.

Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, who “demagogically conflates progressive and liberal dissent with hate,” met with Pope Francis yesterday following his prayer service with the US bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

Also not shown on his public schedule, the pope visited the Little Sisters of the Poor,

the religious order that is involved in a contentious legal battle with the Obama administration over the order’s refusal to comply with an accommodation to provide contraceptive coverage to its employees …
One, it showed that the pope is behind the bishops in their battle with the Obama administration, support which the pontiff signaled in his talk at the White House earlier that day. [“Pointedly, Francis turned and looked at Obama as he delivered the line” about religious liberty.]
And two, it demonstrated how the pope likes to address contentious topics in a low-key, behind-the-scenes way.

Yesterday, Pope Francis canonized Fr. Junipero Serra, “who has a large degree of responsibility for the death of approximately 100,000 California Indians and the complete extermination of many Native tribes, cultures and languages.”

In his sermon, the pope claimed that Serra “protected and defended Native Americans from mistreatment and abuse.” Jeb Bush was in attendance.

Two days ago, three former US ambassadors to the Vatican appointed by President George W. Bush endorsed Jeb Bush for president. Among them was Mary Ann Glendon who was appointed by Pope Francis to his board of the Vatican bank. Glendon also served on the board of several theocon “think tanks” and is probably most famous for refusing an honor from Notre Dame University because the school awarded President Obama an honorary degree. Glendon is just one of the many plutocrats appointed by this pope to a Vatican position.

“I like Jeb Bush a lot,” the prelate of Wall Street, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, said. “I especially appreciate the priority he gives to education and immigration.”

The most immediate danger from this pope is to children around the world. Yesterday, Pope Francis praised his bishops for their response to the clergy sex abuse crisis. He noted their courage in facing “difficult moments in the recent history of the Church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice.”

By failing to commit to any action to protect children, the pope put all prelates on notice that they can continue to leave them exposed to dangerous pedophiles as the pope himself did with his ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Archbishop Josef Wesolowski. The US bishops can continue their lobbying to allow all American child sexual predators to avoid apprehension and prosecution.

“His remarks today confirm what we’ve long said and suspected: this pope, like his predecessors, is doing and will do little if anything to bring real reform to this continuing crisis,” Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said. “Those who care about kids must focus on secular authorities, not Church figures (however popular they may be).”

“The hurt and desolation that this pope of mercy has heaped on the survivors in this one miscalculated section of an address is jaw-droppingly stunning [and] a slap in the face to all the victims,” said Barbara Dorris, victims outreach director of the SNAP.

“This tin ear towards the victims of sexual abuse is a resounding rebuke to survivors and its damage is heavy,” wrote Kristine Ward of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition.

Members of SNAP are holding a vigil in New York to remember the hundreds of victims who have committed suicide. They decried how the pope’s “callous defense of bishops opens new wounds [and] provokes pain in hundreds.”

A broader danger is to our democracy. Most progressives have relied solely on the very corporate media they claim to distrust for their papal information with no skepticism.

When the conservative Jeb Bush made a statement about the pope’s encyclical on the environment similar to JFK’s famous “I believe in an America … where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope” – Bush said, “I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope” – it was reported as further proof of the pope’s liberal credentials.

Right-wing bloviators are dismissed as “clowns” by the liberal press except when they criticize Pope Francis. Then they are relevant commentators.

Progressives don’t remember that two and half years ago they scorned Church leaders for “banning contraception and sterilization worldwide, criminalizing abortion globally, endangering women workers’ contraceptive coverage under Obamacare, barring LBGTQ rights and marriage equality, halting stem cell research, overriding the right to a death with dignity [and] protecting the Church over her victims” – all positions embraced by Pope Francis.

If those who consider themselves to be sophisticated and knowledgeable accept without question the mainstream media’s carefully constructed image of Pope Francis and have lost their historical memory, what can we expect of the general electorate in future elections?

(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009))

The Papal Visit Brings Forth Ugliness From the Right

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

In a recent press release, Catholic League president Bill Donohue warned, “Pope Visits To U.S. Occasion Ugliness.” Donohue then went on to describe the activities of several Catholic and non-Catholic Progressive leaning organizations during the last two papal visits. As is his wont, Donohue recklessly tarred dissent (by the Women’s Ordination Conference, for example) as anti-Catholic behavior. Donohue demagogically conflates progressive and liberal dissent with hate. There are important differences between hate and dissent, regardless of the source.

But with the ascendancy of the more open-minded Pope Francis, the Catholic League president all-too-conveniently overlooked much of the ugliness aimed at the pontiff from the Right.

On his upcoming visit to the United States Pope Francis will be addressing Congress. A significant portion of his message is expected to focus on the need to take action against Global Warming. This is not sitting well with many conservatives including conservative Catholics who would prefer that Francis talk about culture war memes such as abortion and the supposed war on Christianity.

One of these is Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — a Tea Partier and a vocal gun rights activist — who once described Native Americans as “wards of the federal government.” He has also signed a pledge to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes. It would be an understatement to say that he is at odds with Francis over economics and the environment.

So, to that end, on September 17, 2015 Representative Gosar published a piece on the conservative website Townhall.com entitled, “Why I Am Boycotting Pope Francis’ Address to Congress.” The statement is a long list of grievances against the successor to Saint Peter — and it is not short on hyperbole. Gosar complains, for example, that Francis may discuss climate change, but he…

…has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into “climate justice” and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies. If the Pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line. If the Pope spoke out with moral authority against violent Islam, I would be there cheering him on. If the Pope urged the Western nations to rescue persecuted Christians in the Middle East, I would back him wholeheartedly. But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.

It goes on like this.

If the Pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change then he can do so in his personal time. But to promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous.

Gosar claims:

I have both a moral obligation and leadership responsibility to call out leaders, regardless of their titles, who ignore Christian persecution and fail to embrace opportunities to advocate for religious freedom and the sanctity of human life. If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend. It is my hope that Pope Francis realizes his time is better spent focusing on matters like religious tolerance and the sanctity of all life. As the leader of the Catholic Church, and as a powerful voice for peace throughout the world, His Holiness has a real opportunity to change the climate of slaughter in the Middle East… not the fool’s errand of climate change.

“Socialist talking points?” “Leftist policies?” Really?

Gosar’s condescending screed is full of stuff like this: “…when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.” Such language is not civic in nature, but instead, full of hatred and hostility.

Unfortunately for Gosar, this partisan sniping reveals a breathtakingly bad understanding of Catholic social teaching (of which, both the “Option for the Poor” and “Stewardship of God’s Creation” are of great importance). He should know this since he boasts of his Jesuit education.

Then there is conservative writer Maureen Mullarkey who recently inked a poison pen piece entitled, “Francis and Political Illusion” in which she describes Francis as “an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist.” Mullarkey subsequently published a piece entitled, “Pope Francis Is A Leftist And Must Be Called Out”. In it, she complains that Francis is not being harsher on Islam “when innocents are slaughtered in Paris by the same forces that are shedding Christian blood in the Middle East… .”

Such ranting should be no surprise coming from Mullarkey who is a contributor to the journal First Things, the well-known outlet for Catholic and Evangelical neoconservatives.

None of this is new.

As I pointed out in 2013 when Rush Limbaugh, Jeb Bush and Bill Donohue himself engaged in some ugliness by mischaracterizing Pope Francis’s criticisms of libertarian economics as a call to Marxist revolution. This is far from the first or only time a Catholic has been called a Marxist or a Socialist for wanting to use the power of government to ensure that capitalism be fairer and less predatory.

While it is true that a lot of ugliness has been directed at Pope Francis: Bill Donohue just isn’t being straight with us about the direction from whence it mostly comes.


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