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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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    • Australian Sojourn – May 2016 September 28, 2016
      Part 11: Last Days in AustraliaAbove: A Poldark moment! . . . though in Australia not Cornwall,and minus the eighteenth-century attire.I find it hard to believe but it's been almost four months since I returned to the U.S. from my "Australian sojourn." High time, then, to wrap-up my series of posts documenting my time and experiences in the Gr […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • The Renegade Returns September 26, 2016
      The BBC series Poldark returned to U.S. television screens earlier this evening with PBS premiering the show's second season as part of its Masterpiece series. If you missed it and would like to see it, you can catch it this week when it's repeated on various regional PBS stations. For instance, here in Minnesota, TPT is re-broadcasting the premier […]
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      My current blog is called the way ahead.
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    • Off to Summer Camp July 1, 2016
      Leaving tomorrow for eight weeks of summer camp with Czech kids, first in the forests of Krivoklat, then the beautiful rolling hills of Moravia.I do have a week off, when I hope to head for the Tatras mountains in Slovakia, and a few days of retreat at the lovely Marian shrine of Litmanova, on the border with Poland.
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    • Orlando Update June 29, 2016
      Omar Mateen as seen in a documentary film.  Photo credit: James Varty / The Big Fix / YouTubeI will preface this brief update to my previous posting on the Orlando shooting with these wise words from Russ Baker of Who What Why. Org. Somewhere between the rush to judgment that is the neatly packaged mainstream version of events in Orlando, and the wilder meme […]
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Religious Liberty: It’s About Money

Tomorrow, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will complete their annual “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign, a call-to-arms in defense of their “freedom” to deny women and LGBT persons theirs.

As they so often do, the bishops tell us, “We are dedicated … to remain free to provide education, to care for the sick, the poor, and the migrant,” in a paid advertisement for this year’s campaign.  The USCCB is selling a four minute video “featuring stories of the importance of religious freedom for institutions that perform the works of mercy – educating children, feeding the hungry, and healing the sick.”

Their last meeting open to the press ended with USCCB president, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, “highlighting the bishops’ push for religious exemptions for charities, schools and individual for-profit business owners who oppose gay marriage and other laws and regulations.”

On Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced a new multimedia platform that “will reach Catholics and non-Catholics alike about the good works in the parishes, schools and ministries not only in the archdiocese, but around the world.”

The bishops would have us believe that Catholic charity has an enormous impact on the well-being of our society. While it’s true that many Catholics are generous with their time and money – as are many Americans – the funding coming from the bishops is very small in proportion to their wealth and minuscule in proportion to total U.S. charity. Continue reading

The Rise of Pope Francis

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In 1990, there were 877 priests in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires.

Typically, priests are selected for auxiliary bishop – the first rung up the hierarchical career ladder – from those who have distinguished themselves working for the (arch)diocese. For example, the new auxiliary bishop in Philadelphia had been coordinator and spiritual director of the archdiocesan seminary, an auditor and had served on three boards for the archdiocese in addition to heading five parishes

At the time he was chosen in 1992 as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio was assigned to the Jesuit Church in the city of Córdoba, 435 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, and had never held a position working for the archdiocese.

Additionally, like all Jesuits, Bergoglio had vowed to “never strive for or ambition any prelacy or dignity outside the Society.”  He would become the only Jesuit to head the Buenos Aires archdiocese in its 400 year history and the only Jesuit pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Continue reading

Confirmed: The Vatican Trial is Rigged

The three witnesses called by the defense who are all top officials appointed by, and close to, Pope Francis will not be testifying. In what is known as the “Vatileaks 2” trial, the judges stated last week that Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló, head of the commission which supervises the Vatican Bank, and Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, head of papal charity, were excused. Each is connected to an aspect of Vatican finance which, if given more publicity by their appearance and/or testimony, would be damaging to the pontiff.

The trial of five persons based on a law enacted by Pope Francis criminalizing leaks of Vatican information began on Nov. 24, 2015. Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, Francesca Chaouqui, a PR specialist, and Nicola Maio, Balda’s assistant, were charged with disclosing confidential financial information while they were members of COSEA (Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See), established by the pope  in 2013 and subsequently dissolved in 2014 with the completion of its mandate to recommend changes in the administration of Vatican finances.

Journalists Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi were indicted for “soliciting and exercising pressure” to obtain this information from the COSEA members and using the material in their books. “Fraud worth millions, the machinations of the Vatican Bank, the true extent of the pope’s treasury,” “offerings of the faithful withheld from charity,  theft and trade scams” in this pontificate were disclosed in Fittipaldi’s Avarice: Papers that Reveal Wealth, Scandals and Secrets in the Church of Francis.and Nuzzi’s Merchants in the Temple, both released last Nov. 5. Continue reading

Pope Francis: No “Joy of Love” for Abused Children, Women or LGBTQ People

The pope’s “apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (Latin for Joy of Love) On Love in the Family” was presented on Friday. The document is more than 60,000 words.   Jesus spoke 2026 words in Gospels and the four Gospels combined are 64,766 words.  The pontiff stated his own conclusions based on two synods (meetings) of bishops from around the world held in October 2014 and October 2015. Both were closed to the public and the press.

In his exhortation, Pope Francis urged that his prelates and priests be more “welcoming” to those who are in what the Church refers to as “irregular” unions – that is not married by a priest. He changed no doctrine. Due to the “invincible ambiguity that characterizes the pronouncements of Pope Francis … anyone will be able to dig out from among the 200 pages of the document the passage that he likes most, and act accordingly,” wrote veteran Vatican reporter, Sandro Magister.  Another Vatican insider: “the pope’s studied ambiguity [leads] each to find something in the pope’s text to back up his thesis.”  Another experienced Vatican reporter, John L. Allen Jr., stated the document “changes little on the ground.” Continue reading

Murdoch Broadcasts TV Bio of Pope Francis

“The Rebel Pope,” produced by FOX Telecolombia for National Geographic, was released on March 20. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation bought a controlling interest in FOX Telecolombia in 2007.  Murdoch bought the National Geographic’s media in September 2015.

The “Rebel Pope” will be broadcast internationally by the National Geographic Channel in 170 countries and 45 languages.

Additionally, Greg Burke, former US Fox News correspondent in Rome, was named vice director of the Vatican Press Office in December. He was identified as “Vatican spokesman” in March. Continue reading

In Cuba and Argentina: Pres. Obama 2, Pope Francis 0

President Barack Obama traveled to Cuba and Argentina last week.

In Cuba, Obama met with 13 Cuban dissidents at the US Embassy in Havana. They gave him the names of political prisoners the day after Cuban President Raul Castro said there were none in his island nation. Obama said the US continues to have “deep differences” with the Cuban government in the area of human rights and democracy. “My hope is that by listening and hearing from [the dissidents] that we can continue to refine our policy in such a way that ultimately the Cuban people are able to live freely and prosperously.”

In an earlier speech, Obama stated that equality under the law, the right to criticize the government, to protest peacefully, to practice faith peacefully and publicly, and to choose governments in free and democratic elections, are universal “rights of the American people, the Cuban people, and people around the world.”

(The rapprochement between Cuba and the US was initiated as soon as Obama became president. He began by easing some trade and travel restrictions in 2009. Negotiations between the two countries ensued. Both he and Raul Castro were wily enough to give Pope Francis some credit to blunt their domestic critics. However, even the pope said, “It happened by itself. It was not a mediation. It was the goodwill of the two countries, and the merit is theirs, the merit is theirs for doing this. We did hardly anything.”)

Pope Francis visited Cuba September 19-22, 2015. He refused to meet with dissidents and kept silent about political prisoners and other victims of the Castro regime. His only mention of “freedom” was in regards to that of his Church.

Obama honored the victims of the 1976-1983 Dirty War in Argentina on March 24, the 40th anniversary of the military coup.

Pope Francis has not returned to his native land although he has made four trips to Latin America. His two predecessors had quickly returned to Poland and Germany, respectively, to massive acclaim by their compatriots. But when asked by a reporter on Feb. 18, “Holy Father, when are you going to go to Argentina?” – Pope Francis avoided the subject. Continue reading

Can Pope Francis Keep Out Running His Sex Abuse Scandals?

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Fr. Alessandro De Rossi, 46, pastor of a parish in Rome, was arrested on Dec. 31, 2014, charged with aggravated sexual abuse. An Argentine judge had issued the international arrest warrant on December 26 and transmitted it to Interpol.

De Rossi, born in Rome and sent to Argentina by Church authorities, was accused specifically with corrupting and sexually abusing minors, and “causing also the practice of group sex,” while he was a missionary in the Province of Salta from 2008 to 2013 working with young drug addicts.

On Dec. 23 and 24, 2014,

Salta police officers carried out several raids to seize computers, photographs and some other information that could be used as evidence of the alleged ties between De Rossi and the sexual abuse cases that had been reported by minors.

Prosecutor Pablo Paz explained to local media that there was enough evidence to charge the priest. Paz explained that he did not only have the depositions from the victims but also e-mails that De Rossi sent to the young man who filed a complaint. According to the prosecutor, De Rossi has to face charges for aggravated sexual abuse.

The Buenos Aires Herald also reported that “Judge Diego Rodríguez Pipino of Salta did not just request that Interpol arrest De Rossi but he also requested the assistance of the Foreign Ministry, the Border Guard, the Federal Police and the Airport Security Police. The Foreign Ministry is expected to play an important role to seek the extradition of the priest.”

The article noted that Italy had recently rejected Argentina’s request for extradition of two men connected to the atrocities committed during that country’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship. One “was charged with the kidnapping and torture of more than 60 people.” He had fled to Italy “trying to take advantage of his dual nationality” and “had taken refuge in a chapel in Genoa.” The other “was said to have witnessed torture in a clandestine detention centre.”

In January 2013, De Rossi had been hospitalized after he said he was attacked by a young man who had asked him for money and food. “I will not return to Italy,” he told a provincial newspaper.

“The priest, who had returned to Rome in early 2013 for health reasons, after spending several years in the mission, was accompanied by a positive assessment by the local bishop. For this reason he had been entrusted the pastoral care of the parish of St. Aloysius Gonzaga in September 2013,” the Diocese of Rome stated after De Rossi’s arrest. The diocese had “full confidence in the Italian judiciary.”

Although one of the pope’s titles is Bishop of Rome, the diocese, or “vicariate,” is administered by a vicar-general appointed by the pope. Cardinal Agostino Vallini was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI and confirmed by Pope Francis.  Archbishop of Salta, Mario Antonio Cargnello, appointed in 1999 by Pope John Paul II, is the “local bishop” referred to in diocese’s statement.

De Rossi was put under house arrest by the Church for only six months after his arrest by civil authorities. Extradition to Argentina was denied on Oct. 11, 2015, by the Court of Appeal of Rome for “lack of serious evidence.” A prosecutor can decide to pursue the case further or close it.

Regardless, since October, De Rossi is a free man and under no ecclesial supervision.

After the priest’s arrest on Dec. 31, 2014, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federito Lombardi had stated, “I do not know anything … It’s something that does not start from the Vatican.”

But it does “start from the Vatican.” The failure of Cardinal Vallini and Archbishop Cargnello to protect children can be directly attributed to Pope Francis’ tolerance of such callousness.

For example, on Feb. 18, 2016, Pope Francis said that “a bishop who moves a priest to another parish when a case of pedophilia is discovered” should “present his resignation,” announcing to his hierarchs around the world that he will not hold them accountable for endangering children and only in this particular circumstance would they be expected to offer their resignation.

On March 14, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, quoted the pope’s words as justification for maintaining their policy that prelates are not required to report the sex abuse of minors to civil authorities.

Cardinal Paolo Romeo, archbishop of Palermo, Sicily, said it was “not my place”  to report Fr. Roberto Elice for abusing minors. Romeo “knew about the abuse against three children for three years.” On Feb. 2 Italian police arrested Elice who had left the parish “only a few weeks ago” where the abuse took place.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, France’s senior Catholic prelate and now the subject of a criminal investigation on charges of failing to report and endangering the lives of others about sexual abuse of minors as required by French law, stated he would not resign.

One of Barbarin’s priests, Fr. Bernard Preynat, was indicted on Jan. 27 for “sexual abuse of minors under 15 years by a person in authority.” In an interview published Feb. 10, Barbarin admitted “having learned the facts in 2007-2008” about Preynat, but promoted him anyway in 2007, keeping him in ministry and in contact with children until he removed him in August 2015.

Pope Francis’ “comment does not in any way target Cardinal Barbarin who quite rightly suspended Father Preynat after meeting a first victim and taking advice from Rome, and this, even before a first official complaint was made,” a source close to the cardinal said.

It was first reported on Feb. 12, “In the coming days, complaints will be filed against [Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon] for failure to report pedophilia.” Preynat’s attorney stated on Feb. 16 “the facts were known by the ecclesiastical authorities since 1991” that his client had sexually abused young scouts between 1986 and 1991.

On March 1, Pope Francis told a delegation Christian social activists, “I receive you because my friend Cardinal Barbarin asked me.”

On March 4, prosecutors announced that “senior Vatican figures” would also be in included in their investigation for “failure to report a crime.” “The Vatican had given Cardinal Barbarin its backing, saying it had confidence he would deal with the matter ‘with great responsibility’ … The implicit support for Barbarin suggests that even pretensions that bishops should follow the law has been abandoned.”

The case has become so notorious that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls urged Barbarin “to take responsibility for his actions” on March 15   Two days later, the French state secretary for victims issues, Juliette Meadel, called on Barbarin to resign.

Also on March 17, new accusations were made that Barbarin had also promoted a priest previously convicted for sexually abusing adults in a residential home. Church officials denied the priest had been promoted but admitted he was still employed by the Lyon diocese.

So far, Pope Francis has refused to meet with Preynat’s victims.

 The scandals accumulate around the world. In 2016 alone:

Australian Cardinal George Pell, chosen by Pope Francis as head of all Vatican finance, gave testimony before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for four days ending March 3. His testimony was videolinked from a hotel room in Rome because the cardinal claimed he was too ill to travel to Australia.

The subject was what he knew about clerical sex abuse in Ballarat. In Ballarat “we have the highest suicide rate  among men in Australia. We have some of the worst drinking and violence problems. And it all stems from that abuse,” said David Ridsdale, one of the victims. “This is not just a problem in Ballarat or in Australia,” he told the press. “This is a systemic problem throughout all the world.”

Australians were disgusted by Cardinal Pell’s testimony.

“Pell’s testimony was directly contradictory … The pattern in Australia was identical to that in Ireland, Canada and the United States: countries that have also been stunned by the extent of the Church’s crimes, the enthusiasm of the conspiracy to elude authorities and the comparative indifference to victims,” wrote one columnist.

“Cardinal George Pell is finished whatever way you look at it,” wrote a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald. “This royal commission is just one example of light currently being shone, globally, upon the horror.”

“What we now know – more recently through the painful and confronting accounts of victims of crimes and testimonies during the royal commission – is that the sickening crimes of several Catholic priests were ignored by the very establishment which preaches propriety. And what Pell showed this week, was that even after these crimes were exposed for public condemnation, accepting blame by the Church appears to be a very difficult concept,” wrote the political editor of Perth Now Sunday Times. “And yet, he told journalists this week: ‘I have the full backing of the pope.’”

Pope Francis refused to meet with victims who had flown to Rome to witness Pell’s testimony in person.

“The pedophile scandal erupted in Oaxaca shortly before the visit of Pope Francis to Mexico [Feb. 12-18] but the pope did not agree to meet with relatives of the victims in this case nor others that have occurred years ago.” While Pope Francis “blasted the ‘oppression, mistreatment and humiliation’ of indigenous peoples,” the archdiocese was accused of covering up sexual abuse of 100 indigenous children. “Civil organization and relatives of victims accused the archbishop of Oaxaca, Jose Luis Chavez, and the Vatican of concealing evidence of abuse of indigenous children and refusing to listen to the victims.”

Victims’ advocate and former priest, Alberto Athie, pointed out that while the pope chastises others for corruption, “clerical pedophilia should be viewed as systemic like organized crime which stops a criminal in isolation but does not affect the criminal structure.” Athié said that clerical pedophilia has left more than a thousand victims in Mexico and there are at least five archbishops responsible for covering up for pedophile priests: three of the Archdiocese of San Luis Potosi; Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City and some of his auxiliary bishops, and the Archdiocese of Oaxaca. Pope Francis is aware of several of these cases, Athie said.

Clerical pedophilia continues in the world with Francis,” said Athie. “The pope is very skilled with words and gestures, but changes of substance fail to happen.”

Fr. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul was charged in Minnesota with sexually abusing two teenage girls. He fled the US but was arrested by Interpol in 2012 and extradited back to the US where he was convicted last year. “Following a plea deal, Roseau County district court sentenced him to a year in jail but he was released and deported to India in June 2015 on account of time served while awaiting trial.”

In January, the Vatican lifted Jeyapaul’s suspension following a recommendation by an Indian bishop. “We have provided him accommodation but he will not have any active role in the Church,” a spokesman for Diocese of Ooty said. Essentially, Jeyapaul is a free man.

The attorney who represented the girls in Minnesota said, “The Vatican must be held accountable. … This is on the pope.”

Unfortunately for the thousands of future victims of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis can keep out running his scandals because the US media is the most influential in the world and they continue to lie.  No, the pope DID NOT fire his US ambassador as I will explain in a future report. (For one thing, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò passed the mandatory retirement age of hierarchs in January and is still in office. Second, the 3 Vatican reporters who broke the story never mentioned Kim Davis. Third, Vigano considered this post to be “punishment” for honestly reporting Vatican corruption and would be happy to leave.) In addition to his contempt for his Church’s victims of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis is a misogynist homophobe.

(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America.)

(Note to readers: No alternative reporter or blogger would have access to accurate information on the global clerical sex abuse crisis without the Abuse Tracker website, administered by the volunteer talent and hard work of Kathy Shaw. If you’d like to support independent journalism, please visit the website and follow the instructions to donate.)