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    • To my Republican Friends July 6, 2020
      You voted for Trump even though you didn't like him. Doubted his character. Questioned his fitness for the job. Yet, your aversion to Hillary was even greater The post To my Republican Friends first appeared on Spirit of a Liberal.
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    • Ruth Ben-Ghiat on the Return of Fascism in Italy September 29, 2022
      Perhaps like me you’ve been long aware of (and troubled by) the rise of authoritarian leaders and governments around the world.The most recent example of this is in Italy where, in the wake of recent elections, the country’s first far-right leader since Benito Mussolini, Giorgia Meloni, has declared victory, as the right-wing alliance led by her Brothers of […]
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    • Summer’s Parting Gift September 21, 2022
      See also the previous Wild Reed posts:• Summer’s End (2021)• Summer Vignettes• Photo of the Day – June 22, 2018• Nelson Mandela and the Rainbow Connection• Late Summer Blooms• My Rainbow Sash Experience• Photo of the Day – August 27, 2015• First Signs of “By Far the Most Paradoxical” SeasonImage: Michael J. Bayly.
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    • Ruth Krall, A Bilgrimage Bibliography April 2, 2021
       A Bilgrimage BiographyRuth Elizabeth Krall, MSN, PhDNote: Since 2015 my friend William D. Lindsey (Bill) has published my work on his blog Bilgrimage. At this time, the blog is inactive, so I have decided to pull together my various posts so that future researchers and academics can find them in one place.  I have arranged this bibliography so that more rec […]
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    • Ruth Krall, "Persephone’s Journey into the Underworld: Lessons for Our Time" February 3, 2021
      Ancient portrayal of Demeter and Persephone, Apulian red-figure loutrophoro, ca. 4th century BCE, from the J. Paul Getty Museum, at the Theoi Project websiteWhen I announced at the start of this year that I've decided no longer to maintain Bilgrimage, I also noted that if readers have something they'd like me to consider for posting here down the r […]
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    • A saint for the millenials: Carlo Acutis beatified today in Assisi. October 10, 2020
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    • Ronan Park and Jack Vidgen: The Travails of Gay Pop Stars October 28, 2019
      (Jack Vidgen)Quite by accident, through a comment from a performance arts colleague of mine, I stumbled across the recent bios of two boy teen singing sensations, both of whom made a big splash worldwide 8 years ago. The first, Jack Vidgen, won Australia's Got Talent Contest in 2011 at the age of 14, primarily for his powerful renditions of Whitney Hust […]
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    • Elendil October 6, 2022
      There's an interesting article about The Rings of Power in the Hollywood Reporter: ‘The Rings of Power’ Showrunners Break Silence on Backlash, Sauron and Season 2[...] The call from the lawyers came in to Amazon on a Friday in 2017: The Tolkien estate was going to entertain proposals for a Lord of the Rings show. Prime Video, along with every other ente […]
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Bishop Finn Found Guilty of Failure to Report Suspected Child Sex Abuse

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

On Thursday, September 6th, Robert Finn, the bishop who heads the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri was convicted by a Jackson County court of one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse.

There is no word yet on whether Bishop Finn will be deemed fit to continue to lead the Catholic Church in Kansas City.

Bishop Finn’s conviction stems from the  prosecution of Fr. Shawn Ratigan who has since 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 Ratigan’s improper touching of young girls and possession of child pornography.

The National Catholic Reporter broke down the conviction as follows:

Jackson County, Mo., Circuit Court Judge John Torrence gave Finn a two-year suspended sentence of probation with nine conditions, including mandating direct reporting of future suspicions of child abuse to prosecutors.

Prosecutors had separated the charges against Finn and the diocese into two timeframes: Dec. 16, 2010, to Feb. 10, 2011; and Feb. 11, 2011, to May 18, 2011.

Handing down his verdict less than an hour after the trial started, Torrence said he did not have enough evidence to convict Finn during the first timeframe, but evidence “exceeds that which would be necessary” to prove that the bishop “knowingly failed to report” possible abuse during the second.

On that charge, Torrence continued, “the defendant is guilty.”

Following Finn’s verdict, prosecutors asked Torrence to dismiss the charges against the diocese. While the prosecutors’ motion effectively means the charges have been dropped, Torrence said he would not be able to enter a judgment on the matter until Friday morning.

Finn avoided similar charges in nearby Clay County, Missouri by agreeing to government oversight of all pedophilia investigations for the next five years.

The Questions Now Raised

Throughout the proceedings the controversial Opus Dei prelate and Father Ratigan have been receiving legal help from the ultra-conservative, Opus Bono Sacerdotii (OBS), an organization with strong ties to Opus Dei member Thomas Monaghan, William Donohue and several prominent Catholic neocons.

As I have previously noted this conviction could remove a high-profile social conservative voice in a Mid-Western bastion of liberal thought. Will Finn, the first U.S. Catholic bishop presiding over a diocese convicted of a crime, be removed from office?  If so, will he also be defrocked?

And what of Cardinal Dolan, Bill Donohue and their band of Catholic Right culture warriors who used this case to discourage transparency and accountability waging a scorched earth strategy against SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests as well as against the victimized children?  Will they be disciplined by the Vatican for their behavior?

Incredibly — but not surprisingly — Donohue and the Catholic League have taken a defiant tone, one that resorts to a despicable distortion of the facts. Here is a sample from Donohue’s September 7, 2012 press release:

Let’s get rid of some myths. Bishop Finn was not found guilty of a felony: he was found guilty of one misdemeanor, and innocent of another. The case did not involve child sexual abuse-no child was ever abused, or touched, in any way by Father Shawn Ratigan. Nor did this case involve child pornography.

The only one spinning “myths” here is Donohue. While Donohue is correct that Finn was found guilty of a misdemeanor instead of a felony is of little consequence. Either way Finn’s criminality is only a matter of degree.  To attempt to diminish the harm Ratigan had on the children and their families is outrageous. And then to claim, “no child was ever abused” is false, and suggests that Donohue’s sympathies are entirely with the perpetrator and enabler of these crimes against children and that he has also forgotten the profound betrayal of their responsibilities as priests.

Donohue then shifts from his sympathy for the pedophiles to a preposterous condemnation of the prosecution of these crimes.

The Catholic League supports harsh penalties for child sexual abusers, and for those who cover it up. But it also supports equal justice for all, and given what we know of what is going on in many other communities, religious as well as secular, we find the chorus of condemnations targeting Bishop Finn to be as unfair as they are contrived.

Children’s private parts were targeted in Ratigan’s photographs and Donohue claims that Bishop Finn is the victim? Such a declaration cries out for the Church to censure this contemptible man who claims to speak for American Catholics. To understand just how off-base Donohue’s defense is, consider this description of Ratigan’s behavior by The New York Times:

In May 2010, the principal of the Catholic elementary school where Father Ratigan was working sent a memo to the diocese raising alarm about the priest. The letter said that he had put a girl on his lap on a bus ride and encouraged children to reach into his pockets for candy, and that parents discovered girl’s underwear in a planter outside his house. Bishop Finn has said he did not read the letter until a year later.
The prosecutor said the photographs discovered on Father Ratigan’s laptop in December 2010 were “alarming photos,” among them a series taken on a playground in which the photographer moves in closer until the final shots show girls’ genitalia through their clothing. Confronted with the photographs, Father Ratigan tried to commit suicide, but survived and was briefly hospitalized.

If Finn remains at the helm of Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese the Vatican will essentially be telling the faithful that they care far more about high profile reactionary leaders, and little to nothing about the rest of us.

Do Three GOP Presidential Contenders Embrace Anti-Catholicism?

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

PhotobucketOne wouldn’t think that seventy years after FDR declared his belief in freedom of conscience that three prospective candidates for president would openly associate with a religious movement that calls for their beliefs to be the supreme law of the land. But if one thought that, one would be wrong.

“Whoever seeks to set one religion against another,” FDR once keenly observed, “seeks to destroy all religion.” Such cynical actions stand in opposition to one of his “Four Freedoms” – “[The] …freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.” By extension (and as enumerated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedom to leave or discontinue membership in a religion or religious group).

Over the past few weeks Rachel Tabachnick has shown that NAR seeks to eradicate various Christian denominations while creating “a unified church that will be victorious against evil in the end times.” And as she more ominously notes, “…they teach that believers will defeat evil by taking dominion, or control, over all sectors of society and government, resulting in mass conversions to their brand of Charismatic evangelicalism and a Christian utopia or “Kingdom” on earth

Governor Rick Perry (R-TX), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin are each involved with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) — a charismatic evangelical movement several leaders of which have made expressed profound religious hostility towards, among others, Catholics, as we shall see below. This leads to two obvious questions: How deep do these associations run? And do these candidates for the nation’s highest office share any the anti-Catholic views of these NAR leaders?

Palin and Perry

The involvement of senior pols, like these, cause problems for advocacy groups. For example, during the 2008 presidential election the conservative Catholic group Fidelis pronounced Sarah Palin “a natural choice” for Catholic voters. But Palin maintained close ties to NAR Bishop Thomas Muthee, who anointed her in a now famous ceremony. I wrote at the time that Muthee also maintains a hostile view of Catholicism:

On one of these occasions, the anointing was conducted by none other than Thomas Muthee, the internationally known star of the Transformation I video and numerous books and other materials on the methods of spiritual warfare – which generally refers to the expulsion of “territorial demons and generational curses.” There are many published photos and videos of Palin that feature pastors and churches associated with the NAR. We can reasonably ask, whether Muthee’s anointing involved the transference of anti-demonic powers, and whether those powers might be seen as necessary to combat Catholicism.

One of the goals of the kind of spiritual warfare in which Muthee engages — is to de-Catholicize communities and nations (“Brazil is occupied by Catholics,” declared Muthee in a militant sermon he gave on March 14, 2004 at a United Kingdom church, “but people are being saved anyway!”). C. Peter Wagner, of Fuller Theological Seminary, the top figure in the movement, says that the Roman Catholic Church is under the sway of a great demon he calls the “Queen of Heaven.” Top NAR leaders go on spiritual warfare expeditions to try to decrease the power of this demon. For example, following a 1997 expedition to the Himalayas Prophetess Ana Mendez said that she believed that their efforts might have cause the death of Mother Theresa. In another case, NAR took credit for an earthquake that damaged the Basilica at St Francis’s hometown of Assisi, Italy.

Diane Buker is a member of Wagner’s International Board of Apostles and a Member of the Apostolic Board, U.S. Strategic Prayer Network, as well as a Florida state prayer network leader. She is also the proprietress or the Battle Axe Brigade web site which condemns the Catholic Church as a “corrupt religion”– along with at least Mormonism, Scientology and Freemasonry.

C. Peter Wagner and his beliefs should also be of concern considering his relationship to Texas governor Rick Perry. Fresh off of The Response, his August 6th prayer event at Houston’s Regent Stadium, Perry made no apologies for sharing the stage with Wagner. As Bruce Wilson observed about Wagner in 2008:

Although Wagner and the New Apostolics characterize traditional mainline Protestant denominations as archaic, hidebound holdouts of pro-forma faith and vilify mainline churches, still holding to their traditional forms of worship, as ‘dead churches’, the New Apostolics typically reserve their harshest criticisms, of traditional Christianity, for the Catholic Church.

In Freedom From The Religious Spirit, Wagner claims that the Catholic Church in Latin America has historically prevented the spread of the Gospel:

“The spirit of religion in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries linked with the political spirit in Latin America and effectively prevented the spread of the Gospel. Once this was broken, evangelical churches began to mushroom.” [Freedom From The Religious Spirit, Regal Books, page 22]

Also appearing at the event was Wagner’s associate Cindy Jacobs who like her boss, endorses the destruction of Catholic symbols and cities populated thereof.

The above-mentioned Catholic political group Fidelis, now called CatholicVote.org, is now sending positive signals about Texas Governor Rick Perry. But just a few months ago the group ran a piece entitled, “Rick Perry’s Catholic problem.”

Did CatholicVote.org raise concerns about the Texas governor’s NAR ties? Not even close. Their “problem” was that Perry signed an executive order requiring that all 6th grade girls in Texas receive the Gardasil vaccine (Gardasil prevents the human papillomavirus (HPV), a commonly transmitted sexual disease that can lead to cervical cancer). In fact, the piece even giddily hinted that a Perry candidacy would garner a Palin endorsement.

Bachmann

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s ties to NAR Dominionism have also been recently been documented by both Ryan Lizza and Michele Goldberg. And while there does not appear to be any direct links to the previously mentioned anti-Catholic preachers, she does credit Dominionist John Eidsmoe as influential in shaping her worldview.

Eidsmoe believes that secular law should be based upon his particular understanding of Biblical Law. Would Eidsmoe’s Christian Reconstructionist ideas influence a President Bachmann to act against what is some view as “Catholic idolatry”? If so, would it be seen as a capital crime?

Do these GOP hopefuls share or tolerate the religious bigotry held be several NAR leaders? Its a fair question, and the kind of question we are likely to hear more of, as Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times has proposed. He recently wrote that he wants to know:

“…if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as “the reality-based community.” I do care if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.

And I care a lot if a candidate is going to be a Trojan horse for a sect that believes it has divine instructions on how we should be governed

Indeed. Keller has hit the right note for Catholics and for all Americans. We need to know if any of these candidates were to attain the presidency if they would set one faith against another. As FDR understood, to impede an individual’s freedom of conscience is to impede that right for all of us.

U.S. Bishops’ Annual Audit Comes Out, and Bully Bill Goes on Warpath: One Day, Two News Items

Suppose you were head of a big corporation with shady ethical principles, or a paid spin-doctor for the shady, ethically dubious corporation, and a report was about ready to come out that revealed your corporation was as ethically dodgy as ever.  While it claimed to be something altogether different.  And while it was involved in a huge, multi-faceted, money-draining legal situation that began opening its internal files up for all the world to see the corruption. Continue reading

Catholic League President Bill Donohue AWOL on Anti-Catholicism — Again.

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Rachel Tabachnick’s recent discussion of conspiracy narratives in her two part series about God TV host Wendy Alec’s series of novels Chronicle of Brothers (Part One, Part Two raises issues of anti-Catholicism that have gone either undetected, or more likely ignored, by Bill Donohue’s Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Like the Left Behind series Chronicle of Brothers is set in the end times. Also like the Left Behind series and related video game (set in post-Rapture New York City, Roman Catholics are among those “left behind”), you don’t need to be Catholic to recognize the inherent anti-Catholicism: Chronicle of Brothers portrays the 9/11 terrorist attacks as having been coordinated by a council of Illuminati led by a Jesuit priest.

But first, what is God TV and who exactly is Wendy Alec? Rachel explains:

God TV was founded in the U.K. in 1995 by Rory and Wendy Alec, a couple from South Africa. The network is broadcast in North America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia, claiming a “divine mandate to win one billion souls.” Many Religious Right events are now broadcast on God TV including: Lou Engle’s The Call, an “Election Special” in 2008 which featured James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Pat Robertson, and John Hagee, along with Apostles Cindy Jacobs and Lou Engle, the May Day Prayer Rally, and more. Right Wing Watch has done an excellent job following these broadcasts, but unfortunately the video posted has been removed from YouTube at the request of God TV.

God TV network regularly features Dispensational evangelists and authors like John Hagee and Tim LaHaye who teach that believers will be Raptured or snatched from the earth before the horrors of the end times. However, God TV is the network of choice for the “apostles and prophets” who have rejected the pre-Tribulation Rapture of Dispensationalism and are training youth to be “end times warriors” with a mandate to purge the earth of evil themselves in preparation for Jesus’ return.

When Dan Brown’s books The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons were made into films, Bill Donohue attacked both films as anti-Catholic.

But when movement conservatives may be viewed as anti-Catholic Bill Donohue turns a blind eye. Which is what he did in response to the vile hatred of the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces. He also gave John Hagee a quick absolution after Hagee’s characterization of the Catholic Church as the “whore of Babylon” threatened to cause problems for 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

Donohue also defended New Apostolic Reformation Bishop Thomas Muthee for his 2005 blessing of Sarah Palin in which Muthee prayed that the future GOP veep nominee would be “…free from ‘every form of witchcraft.” In fact, NAR’s anti-Catholic demagoguery is open and notorious and Donohue remains silent.

Donohue’s silence about Chronicle of Brothers is but the latest instance in which the self-appointed defender of all things Catholic goes AWOL when anti-Catholicism comes from movement conservatives.

Bill Donohue’s Inexplicable Obsessions

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, is one of the loudest and brashest apologists for the uber-orthodox faction now in control of the Vatican. His abrasive style has been on vivid display in the wake of the recent revelations that Pope Benedict may have turned a blind eye to the problem of pedophile priests.

But whether he is attacking Catholics who only seek accountability or lashing out at the press for asking tough questions, Donohue constantly displays an obsession with homosexuality and anal sex.

One has to wonder why.

In the face of mounting evidence that the pontiff did not give the pedophilia crisis the same laser-like attention he has directed toward suppression of Catholic dissidents and reformers, Donohue and Church hierarchs have obfuscated. Instead of addressing the Church’s criminal shell game of moving abusive priests to other countries, often just ahead of the law, and taking forever to defrock pedophiles, they attack gay people by falsely equating homosexuality with pedophilia.

In one paritucularly eggregious episode, Donohue went so far as to blame the victims of pedophile priests. Badly mischaracterizing the John Jay College study on the subject claimed that “It’s not a pedophilia… most of the victims were post-pubescent…” adding that by post-pubescent he meant the victims were “…12, 13 years of age.” By Dononhue’s definition, that apparently makes sex abuse of children by priests alright.

Writing in the March 22, 2004 edition of the Jesuit journal, America, Thomas Reese, S.J., directly citing the report, debunks the talking points used by Donohue and other apologists for the hierarchy.

Myth: Most of the abuse occurred with older teenagers. Fact: Only 15 percent of the victims were 16 to 17 years of age; 51 percent were between the ages of 11 and 14.

Reese dismissed the causal equation of homosexuality with pedophilia, observing, “No one knows the exact percentage of priests who are homosexual. Estimates have ranged from 10 percent to 60 percent.” He concluded, “In any case, most homosexual priests were not involved in the sexual abuse of minors.”
Donohue has a long record of graphic, public hostility toward those he deems to be enemies of Catholicism — often invoking homosexuality in a pejorative fashion. In three episodes of MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, for example:

On the February 27, 2004 Donohue spoke of “the gay death style.”

On the December 4, 2004 he claimed that “…Hollywood likes anal sex.”

On the March 12, 2004, discussing Mel Gibson’s controversial film, Passion of the Christ, he said:

Well, first they said it was anti-Semitic. That didn’t work. Then they said it was too violent. That didn’t work. Then they said it was S & M. That didn’t work. Then they said it was pornography. That didn’t work. Now they’re saying it’s fascistic queer-bashing. That kind of language would ordinarily get somebody taken away in a straitjacket and — put you in the asylum. I don’t know what about — the queer-bashing is all about. I’m pretty good about picking out who queers are and I didn’t see any in the movie. I’m usually pretty good at that.

Donohue did not explain where he got his gaydar.

Over at Enlightened Catholicism Colleen Kochivar-Baker recently cited Andrew Sullivan in raising a good point:

Ask yourself: how many openly gay and adjusted priests have been found to have abused minors? Or ask yourself another question: if straight men were forbidden to marry women, had their sexual and emotional development truncated at the age of 13, and were forced into institutions where they were treated by teenage girls as gods, an given untrammeled private access to them, how much sexual abuse do you think would occur there? Please. This is not that hard to understand.

I think it’s compounded by the shame gay bishops feel about their own sexual orientation. They, like Bill Donohue, secretly associate their homosexuality with dysfunction, disorder, chaos, evil. So when they come across a fellow priest found to have molested teenage boys or children, they associate it with homosexuality – not pederasty – associate themselves with it, and try to cover it up – partly because they want to protect the church (which is their sole refuge) and partly because they want to protect those they wrongly associate with themselves. My own view is that Ratzinger fits almost perfectly into this paradigm, just as Weakland did. Which means there will be no change until this generation dies off. If Ratzinger were to face the truth on this, his world would collapse. He is not giving up on denial yet. He is a prime example of the walking wounded. Crippled, in fact, in the sole area he cannot be crippled: moral authority.

As for Bill Donohue’s obsessions, clearly he is not alone. He is just louder about it.

The Inquisitor Pope As the Agent of Apostasy

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Pope Benedict XVI has since 1968 transformed from being a proponent of Vatican II modernization of the Church to an historic leader of an inquisitional war in pursuit of his view of traditional doctrinal orthodoxy. His targets have been the perceived threats of moral relativism and nihilism both within and outside the Church.

But in so doing, he has allowed the pursuit of the so-called culture wars in alliance with U.S. and international elements of the Religious Right, to distract him from a far more profound threat to the Church – the cover-up of a decades-long pedophilia crisis; one that may now entangle the pontiff himself.

Pope Benedict XVI has several monikers. His more orthodox admirers sometimes call him “God’s Rottweiler” due to his ferocious attacks on liberal Catholic dissenters from his campaign to restore and buttress traditionalist dogmas.

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or CDF for short, (previously, and often infamously, known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition) from 1981 until his ascension to the papacy in 2005), Benedict sought to root out progressive dissent. He severely disciplined proponents of Liberation Theology Anthony de Mello and Leonardo Boff.

He also set his sites on more modest dissenters. In 1986 he had the theologian Rev. Charles E. Curran removed from his faculty position at the Catholic University of America for questioning Church teachings birth control, homosexuality, and the ordination of women. During his tenure at CDF he contributed articles on moral relativism to conservative journals. Through surrogates such as Archbisop Charles Chaput and Archbishop Raymond Burke he attempted to tacitly influence the 2004 U.S. Presidential and Congressional Elections. He did this by denying Holy Communion to pro-choice (and predominantly Democratic) candidates.

Upon his ascension to the papacy, he not only continued to suppress deviation from his views of orthodoxy, but sought to shore up support among traditionalists. In one major and controversial moves, he reached out to the The Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, (also known by the acronym, SSPX) known not only for their fondness of the Latin rite, but also for the French Far Right and for featuring in its leadership Holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson.

As we consider Benedict’s career, a picture emerges of a hierarch so consumed with theology that everything else paled in significance, even the pedophilia scandal that is now consuming the Church. The New York Times recently observed::

As archbishop, Benedict expended more energy pursuing theological dissidents than sexual predators. Already in the early 1980s, one could catch a glimpse of a future pope preoccupied with combating any movement away from church tradition. Vatican experts say there is little evidence that Benedict spent much time investigating more than 200 cases of “problem priests” in the diocese, with issues including alcohol abuse, adultery and, now under the microscope, pedophilia.

“His natural habitat was the faculty lounge, and he hadn’t even been a faculty chair,” said John L. Allen Jr. of The National Catholic Reporter. “He would be the first to concede he was much more interested in the life of the mind than the nuts and bolts of administrative work.”

Catholicism has paid a high price for this pontiff’s obsessive lifelong interest in “the life of the mind,” while two recent news stories suggest that at best, he neglected the problem of pedophilic priests: one while serving as the Archbishop of Munich and the other while, as Perfect of the CDF, not properly addressing the matter of Father Lawrence C. Murphy, a Wisconsin priest who molested over 200 deaf boys over a twenty-five year period.

The pope’s failures are even acknowledged by the socially conservative Catholic op-ed writer, Ross Douthat. Writing in the March 29, 2010 edition of The New York Times Douthat began by prefacing his more candid observations by first misplacing some of the blame for the clergy’s pedophilia scandals on the sexual revolution of the 1960s an 1970s:

This hasn’t prevented both sides in the Catholic culture war from claiming that the scandal vindicates their respective vision of the church. Liberal Catholics, echoed by the secular press, insist that the whole problem can be traced to clerical celibacy. Conservatives blame the moral relativism that swept the church in the upheavals of the 1970s, when the worst abuses and cover-ups took place.

In reality, the scandal implicates left and right alike. The permissive sexual culture that prevailed everywhere, seminaries included, during the silly season of the ’70s deserves a share of the blame, as does that era’s overemphasis on therapy. (Again and again, bishops relied on psychiatrists rather than common sense in deciding how to handle abusive clerics.)

This is just conservative window-dressing. As the recent Ryan Report on the sexual abuse of minors in Ireland, this has been a problem that has been hushed-up since the 1920s. But then acknowledged:

But it was the church’s conservative instincts – the insistence on institutional loyalty, obedience and the absolute authority of clerics – that allowed the abuse to spread unpunished.

What’s more, it was a conservative hierarchy’s bunker mentality that prevented the Vatican from reckoning with the scandal. In a characteristic moment in 2002, a prominent cardinal told a Spanish audience that “I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign … to discredit the church.”

And as in 2002 the hierarchy and its defenders have resorted to a bunker mentality. New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan bemoaned that the pope is “now suffering some of the same unjust accusations, shouts of the mob, and scourging at the pillar, as did Jesus.” Current CDF Prefect Cardinal William Levada attacked the messenger, complaining, the New York Times‘s coverage of he story was, “deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness.”

Catholic League President Bill Donohue distinguished himself by descending to what may be a new low: He blamed the victims — alleging that the crisis was not about pedophilia but homosexuality because “…most of the victims were post pubescent.”

Donohue conveniently glosses over the key component of any incident of sexual abuse: the leveraging of the abuser’s power over the victim. Donohue has a record of siding with the abuser over the victim. For example, when he defended fellow conservative Catholic activist Deal Hudson, a heterosexual with a predator past for which he lost his teaching post at Fordham University. (Donohue’s premise will be the subject of my next post.)

This sad episode in Catholicism underscores the need for greater transparency and accountability from the hierarchy. Power always seems to come before the personal well-being of the congregants. Accountability is avoided. In its place, members of the Church hierarchy brazenly seek to be exempted from the rules that apply to everyone else.

Astonishingly, in this dark hour for Catholicism, the hierarchy is actively opposing legislation now pending in the New York State assembly the Child Victims Act. The bill would temporarily lift the statute of limitations for lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of children. (No wonder why many on the Catholic Right rail at the notion of separation of church and state!)

But beyond the political aspects of this crisis is another question.

An uncle of mine asked what about the potential fallout from the Vatican’s intransigency on the abuse issue. I told him that that many rank-and-file Catholics would become estranged from the Church. These Catholics will either join other Christian denominations or perhaps, give up on faith all together. In either outcome, the pope who made a career in fighting apostasy by seeking to quell progressive dissent will have turned out to be the agent of apostasy itself.

Bill Donohue: Defender of Glenn Beck.

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Glenn Beck’s recent admonition that people who attend a church that teaches social justice should leave — was anti-Catholicism. This was obvious from a wide range of perspectives –from a Jesuit scholar to a liberal newspaper columnist and a neoconservative evangelical blogger.

Yet perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this tawdry episode was that stepping forward to defend Glenn Beck was none other than Bill Donohue leader of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

But before we get too deeply into the scandal, let’s recap: On the March 2, 2010 Fox News TV show that started it all, Glenn Beck said:

“I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”

James Martin, S.J., writing in the Jesuit journal America, observed:

“Of course this means that you would have to leave the Catholic Church, which has long championed that particular aspect of the Gospel.”

Martin elaborated on the thinly veiled anti-Catholic vitriol of Beck’s pronouncement:

The term “social justice” originated way back in the 1800s (and probably predates even that) and has been continually underlined by the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the church) and popes since Leo XIII, who began the modern tradition of Catholic social teaching with his encyclical on capital and labor, Rerum Novarum in 1891.  Subsequent popes have built on Leo’s work, continuing the church’s meditation on a variety of social justice issues, in such landmark documents as Pope Pius XI’s encyclical on “the reconstruction of the social order,” Quadregismo Anno (1931), Paul VI’s encyclical “on the development of peoples,” Populorum Progressio (1967), and John Paul II’s encyclical “on the social concerns of the church” Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987).  Social justice also undergirds much of Catholic social teaching on peace.  “If you want peace,” said Pope Paul VI, “work for justice.”

On his March 11, 2010 radio program, Beck went even lower, conflating real Catholic social justice with the bigoted Rev. Charles Coughlin, which was a thinly veiled effort to equate the social justice teaching of the Church with fascism.  But it as with most such coarse demagoguery, what is left out is as misleading as what is actually said.

Washington Post op-ed writer Harold Meyerson helped correct the historical record.

The most celebrated and notorious Catholic of the New Deal era was radio priest Charles Coughlin, the Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly of his day. On his weekly nationwide radio broadcast, the Detroit-based Coughlin was a staunch FDR supporter during the initial years of Roosevelt’s presidency. He approved of the first phase of the New Deal, the National Recovery Act, which rejected laissez-faire capitalism and endeavored to replace it with a managed economy that balanced opposing social interests — echoing Catholic economic doctrines propounded by Pope Leo XIII in his 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum and by Pius XI in his 1931 Quadragesimo Anno. By 1935, however, Coughlin had split with Roosevelt over the issue of America’s recognition of the World Court (the very kind of issue that today’s talk-show fascisti also love to demagogue). The cosmopolitanism of the New Deal and the new CIO was increasingly unbearable to the anti-Semitic Coughlin, and by 1936 he was attacking “Franklin Double-Crossing Roosevelt” in every broadcast.

Initially Roosevelt sought to keep Coughlin in the fold, sending such prominent New Deal Catholics as Joseph P. Kennedy and Frank Murphy, who’d recently been mayor of Detroit and was soon to become governor of Michigan, to try to rein him in. But Coughlin had made up his mind, and as the 1936 election drew near, he was calling FDR a “liar” and a “communist.”

Then Meyerson compared Coughlin with Monsignor John Ryan and other Catholic economic liberals:

But Roosevelt also had allies within the Catholic hierarchy, and he made sure to showcase them whenever possible. Foremost among these was Monsignor John A. Ryan, a professor of political science and moral theology at Catholic University and the longtime director of the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Council. Inspired by Rerum Novarum, Ryan helped create a distinctly Catholic brand of American economic progressivism. (His dissertation, completed in 1906, was titled “A Living Wage.”) In 1936, in an address he called “Roosevelt Safeguards America,” Ryan took to the airwaves to denounce Coughlin’s attacks on the president. Ryan also delivered the invocation at FDR’s 1937 and 1945 inaugurals.

Ryan’s labor Catholicism probably claimed the allegiance of several million adherents during the New Deal years. Among the most prominent were New York Senator Robert Wagner, who authored both the National Labor Relations Act and the Social Security Act, and Philip Murray, the first president of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) and the second president of the CIO.

Coughlin was a renegade who, like Beck has moved from any semblance of mainstream political philosophy, to embrace one that is increasingly conspiratorial and radical.

Also criticizing Beck was Baptist neocon Joe Carter. Writing in First Things the journal founded by John Richard Neuhaus  Carter asked: “Could Beck’s claim be construed as “anti-Catholic?” Yes and no. I think if anyone else had made the remark it would have been hard to dismiss the anti-Catholic undertones.”

Carter went on to say:

“But Beck is a special case: He is too prone to say any dumb thing that pops into his head and too ignorant about history and religion to truly understand the implications of his statement. This doesn’t excuse him, of course, but it certainly is reason not to be too shocked when a self-professed “rodeo clown” advises people to leave their churches over Catholic “code words” like social justice.”

Carter closed his piece by wondering, “Still, I’m curious to see how Beck’s loyal defenders will excuse his latest outrageous remarks.”

Joe Carter, say hello to Catholic League President Bill Donohue!

In a March 12, 2010 Catholic League press release Donohue declared:

Many are hammering Beck for saying, “Am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!” A closer read of what he said shows he followed that quip with, “If I am going to Jeremiah Wright’s church. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish.”

Beck didn’t say Christians should abandon their religion. He recommended shopping around to find a more conservative parish if one is dissatisfied with hearing left-wing sermons. Nothing new about that. In the Catholic Church, there are priests who are stridently left-wing and stridently right-wing; many parishioners shop accordingly. Protestants shop by leaving one denomination for another. And so on.

See? Glenn wasn’t trying to strip Catholicism of a central tenet; he just wants us to go shopping!

Then Donohue tried to deflect attention away from Beck’s anti-Catholicism. But nowhere does he make any effort to explain the meaning of Catholic notions of social justice:

Some of those who have criticized Beck have done so in a sincere way. Others are just phonies. Just yesterday, we dealt with an issue which is far more serious than a sarcastic remark-we called out a radical feminist leader for branding pro-life Catholic congressman Bart Stupak “un-American.” And the day before we protested news stories accusing the bishops of “polluting” the health care debate. But we heard nothing from the social justice crowd about these matters. Wonder why.

Donohue does not in any way rebuke Beck, let alone defend Catholoic notions of Social Justice or such leaders as  Monsignor Ryan, Robert Wagner, Sr. and Dorothy Day.

But this is nothing new.  I’ve written before that for Donohue, movement conservatism always takes precedence over addressing ant-Catholicism.  

Glenn Beck not only launched a frontal assault on Catholic theology, but provided an opportunity for Donohue’s Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights to carry out its stated mission.  That the League deflected for Beck rather than standing up for the social justice teaching of the Church ought to be a singularly illuminating moment for American Catholicism.