The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Church

I have to admit, this new pope is growing on me.

ROME (Reuters) – About two percent of Roman Catholic clerics are sexual abusers, an Italian newspaper on Sunday quoted Pope Francis as saying, adding that the pontiff considered the crime “a leprosy in our house”.


“This data should hearten me but I have to tell you that it does not hearten me at all. In fact, I think that it is very grave,” he was quoted as saying.

I am not sure where Pope Francis got this figure, as he was quoted to say that he was reassured of its accuracy from reliable statistics,but I applaud him for speaking up and admitting the problem. (Hmmm, Maybe the Catholic Church needs a 12-step program?)

The article in La Repubblica also quoted the pope as saying that there were cardinals amongst the abusers. While the role of cardinals in covering up abuse is still being uncovered, it has not been proven than any committed these horrific acts. Nonetheless, the law of averages would seem to dictate that these men are not immune from the disease. Of course, rationality is not a key characteristic of a Church which is based on transubstantiation and the infallibility of its human leader, and Vatican spokespeople are claiming that hey, His Holiness never said that!

While acknowledging that the conversation had taken place, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement saying that not all the phrases could be attributed “with certainty” to the pope.

Lombardi said that, in particular, a quote attributed to the pope saying cardinals were among the sex abusers was not accurate and accused the paper of trying to “manipulate naive readers”.

You know what’s manipulative? The way the Church has played on the faith of its members to marginalize and silence the victims of pedophiles in the clergy. And yes, I am quite f*cking sure that there are cardinals who have abused the children in their care. The Catholic Church is full of these cockroaches who scatter at the first hint of sunlight, and the culture for far too long has been not just tolerant of, but enabling towards, these abusers.

In my opinion, the Pope should share the statistics that he’s seen, Tell it like it is, Francis. Only then does the Catholic Church have a prayer of gaining back the credibility it has lost.

This is an open thread.

Hash (the edible kind)

Hash (the edible kind)

NOTE:  Pat has had the real world require her attentions so I’ll be taking the Saturday post for awhile

And that’s what the post will be today:  a hash of some of the current news that’s caught my eye.


Guam, it seems, has a problem with the brown tree snake. Quite a problem it seems.  The things got to Guam from their usual South Pacific locations to Guam most probably on cargo ships going back to WW II.  Due the snakes having very few, if any, natural predators on the island they have, shall we say, proliferated there.  The snake has been a disaster for the island’s wildlife and they have just about wiped out the island’s native birds.  They have climbed up on power lines brown tree snakeand short-circuited them causing power outages and have gotten into homes.  Although they have venom and bite, the bite is not fatal to adults but can be a problem to kids.  The problem this is most feared however, is that the damned critters might make it to Hawaii.  Think Snakes on a Plane.  That would be a financial disaster to Hawaii’s tourism so the government has come up with a great idea to get rid of, or at least cut down on the brown tree snake population on Guam:  they are going to feed them toxic, dead mice.  As the comedian says “I shit you not”.

The solution to this headache, fittingly enough, is acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol.

The strategy takes advantage of the snake’s two big weaknesses. Unlike most snakes, brown tree snakes are happy to eat prey they didn’t kill themselves, and they are highly vulnerable to acetaminophen, which is harmless to humans.

The mousies are going to be dropped on Guam from helicopters, one by one and will even have little parachute-type things so that they land in and stay in the trees where they snakes stay.  Apparently government scientists have been working on this for over a decade so let’s hope they’ve got the plan down pat.  When I first read this I thought of the CIA’s plan for the poisoned cigar for Fidel.  Let’s hope this one works better.


Most of the drones that have begun to appear in the skies above the U.S. homeland don’t resemble the Predators or Reapers flown by the U.S. military and CIA above Afghanistan and Pakistan. Instead, these smaller versions of flying, unmanned vehicles almost rival the animal kingdom in their diversity.

That’s right, the drones that will or already have been deployed over the U.S. will not look like the ones we’ve seen on the teevee from Afghanistan or Pakistan.  Nope, they are going to look more like something you might buy at Radio Shack or on Amazon.  The F.A.A. says it is not going to allow drones armed with weapons over the U.S.,  (yeah rite)  However are we going to know what every sheriff, police chief or whomever will do with their own little flying drone once they get their hands on them plus the o.k. to fly them?  The idea touted frequently is to use them for highway or traffic control.

They won’t all be cute little things that play the James Bond theme.


From gthe Irish Times comes the story, courtesy of the Italian daily La Repubblica, that Benedict’s decision to resign from the Papacy was partly due to a report he commissioned on leaks from the Vatican,  the so-called Vatileaks scandal.  There was a report prepared by three senior cardinals “alleging that various lobbies, including a gay lobby, exercise an “inappropriate influence” in internal Holy See affairs.”

The newspaper suggests that such was Benedict’s dismay when presented with the details of the report on December 17th that it hardened his long-meditated decision to resign. The internal report prepared by Cardinals Julian Herranz, Josef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi had been commissioned by Benedict himself.

He had ordered it in response to the so-called Vatileaks scandal which culminated with the arrest and subsequent conviction last autumn of the Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, found guilty of having stolen confidential documents from the papal apartment.

In the article, it is claimed that the cardinals reported that various lobbies within the Holy See were consistently breaking the sixth and seventh commandments, namely “thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not commit adultery”.

The “stealing” was in particular related to the Vatican Bank, IOR, whilst the sexual offences were related to the influence of an active gay lobby within the Vatican.

There’s more:

La Repubblica claims the cardinals’ 300 page report speaks of “Impropriam Influentiam” on the part of various lobbies, some of them of a “worldly nature”, reflecting an “outside influence”. The Rome daily recalls the figure of papal gentleman, Angelo Balducci, accused three years ago of being a member of a gay ring active within the Vatican and involving choristers and seminarians.

I can truly believe the widow Ratzinger was indeed so disgusted that he just had to resign the Papacy instead of trying to clean the mess up.  uh-huh yeah.  He must have really been given a case of the vapors by all of that “Influentiam” of a worldly nature.  😯

Now, we’ve all been told that a former convent (or one they maybe kicked the nuns out of?) is being readied for Benedict when he steps down and he will live in Vatican City.  That’s so sweet and nice because he’ll still be close by and will be able to maintain a religious life in the beautiful surroundings of the Vatican city-state.  But then, there’s also this reason:

After he resigns, Benedict will no longer be the sovereign monarch of the State of Vatican City, which is surrounded by Rome, but will retain Vatican citizenship and residency.

The reason that is important is because of the Lateran Pacts or Treaty of 1929 between Italy and the Vatican.

That would continue to provide him immunity under the provisions of the Lateran Pacts while he is in the Vatican and even if he makes jaunts into Italy as a Vatican citizen.

The 1929 Lateran Pacts between Italy and the Holy See, which established Vatican City as a sovereign state, said Vatican City would be “invariably and in every event considered as neutral and inviolable territory”.

As the church lady would say:

This is an open thread and what’s going on in your world today?

I am going to address the issue of religion and politics and this is not to be construed as an anti religious rant. Instead I would prefer that it be read as a testament to the meaning of the separation between church and state that allows us to embrace or reject whatever we have come to believe or deny.

Rick Perry is  claiming that his religious beliefs are under attack. What is under attack is his insistence on inserting those beliefs into the public realm.  A “Christian” pastor speaking on his behalf has deemed Mitt Romney’s faith a “cult”.  Herman Cain has accused gays of being “godless”. Michele Bachmann believes that we “can pray away the gay”.  Rick Santorum believes that abortion and gay rights are abominations. Sharron Angle believed that bearing a child conceived through rape or incest should be treated as a “blessing”.  What makes these people “experts”?

The GOP has created a platform that would extinguish the right to privacy. Where does this discrimination and bigotry spring from? Fundamental intolerant religious beliefs.   The suggestion that only a ‘Christian” has the right to the presidency is about as radical a belief as one can find.

Catholics stand by their belief that theirs is “the one true church”.  Jews refer to themselves as the “chosen people”. Evangelicals believe that the only way to be “saved” is accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior.  Muslims believe in the right to kill anyone considered an “infidel”.  Mormons believe in “prophecies” bestowed on their followers by a Heavenly Father.  Hindus believe the cow is “sacred”.  Scientologists believe in Xenu or something.  Jehovah Witnesses consider blood transfusions to be a sin.  Christian Scientists believe that only prayer will cure all ills.  In other words, no matter which religion you subscribe to, each has found “the answer” to the interpretation of “god’s will”.

Excommunication and the withholding of sacraments are used as instruments against those who are deemed “heretics”. It’s an either “with us or against us” rule that holds sway over the faithful whose greatest fear is finding themselves on the outside looking in. Or worse yet, finding themselves spending eternity in the bowels of Hell!

What one person believes as a matter of faith is that person’s business.  I respect the individual’s right to seek comfort and solace in whatever they deem right for themselves.  What I do object to is the suggestion that the inclusion of religious beliefs be shoved into the public sector and determined as “god’s will” that must never be challenged but “obeyed”.

I believe in the right to choose.  If that goes against your belief system than you are not compelled by any means to agree with me.  I loathe broccoli but I would not enforce a law that bans it from the market.  However, there are those who would do just that when it comes to “the right of privacy” that exists between a woman and her doctor.  Based exclusively on religious beliefs this is an imposition.  These people are insisting that we believe as they do.  People are now empowered to practice their religious beliefs in the workplace by the passage of ‘”conscience rules”.    

I also believe in gay rights. But there are those who believe that biology plays no role in determining sexuality. They would act to discriminate against this community by creating laws that would ban them from serving the public in all capacities. Referring to LBGT people as “godless abominations” that need to be “educated” is based on religious beliefs taken from the bible and accepted as the word of god.

Though this book contains plenty of contradictions the devout accept each and every word as coming directly “from the source”.  Though it encourages a “love for your fellow man”, there seems to be a lack of understanding of how to put this one into practice judging from the chaos that this book has been able to produce by those who claim title to its “interpretation”.

The political arena has been tainted by these so called interpretations. They must remain separate since faith, or the absence of faith, is a guarantee under the Constitution. No one should be forced in accepting a belief in the unknown since it is the unknown itself that remains a mystery.

I suspect any who claim to be in direct communication with the “will of god” and wish to enact this will upon the rest of us.  Religious institutions are “corporations” unto themselves if we were being honest with their motivations. Another business devoted to the bottom line.

When politicians wish to sway the public through religious rhetoric is when the pushback begins. The danger is there if not challenged. Looking no further than the events of 9/11, brought about in large measure by irrational religious beliefs, should be enough of a warning to understand the necessity of blending government with religion.

In order to achieve any sense of progress we must remain a secular society that respects all forms of beliefs without honoring one. It is our one guarantee against totalitarianism.  The right to think for ourselves.  

With all due respect, I am as offended by the need to force religious views down my throat as those who prefer to judge my viewpoint as anti religion.   It is not. 

Just a practical point of view that suggests that mixing politics with faith discourages both.

Happy Easter to all those who celebrated it yesterday! Here in Noo Yawk, it was 70 degrees and sunny – better weather than we’ve had in months. We felt the renewal and rebirth of Spring as the forsythia burst into riots of sun-colored blossoms in the Park, and the pitter-patter of little tourists’ feet was heard from the Cloisters to the Statue of Liberty.

Alas, for Catholics, this season is marred by yet another horrifying round of news about priests sexually abusing children. Pope Benedict XVI is having a “what did he know and when did he know it” problem, with accusations that he covered for an abusive priest in the 80’s coming from some quarters, and accusations of more recent coverups from others. And on April 1st, the Pope’s personal preacher broke Godwin’s Law into six million pieces when he compared the “attacks” the Catholic Church and the Pope are suffering to “collective violence” against the Jews.

The pope’s personal preacher, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, in a Friday sermon in St Peter’s Basilica, said attacks on the Catholic Church and the pope over a sexual abuse scandal were comparable to “collective violence” against Jews.

Jewish leaders around the world used words like repugnant, obscene and offensive to describe the sermon, particularly, as Di Segni noted, it came on the day that for centuries Christians prayed for the conversion of the Jews, who were held collectively responsible for Jesus’ death.

“How can you compare the collective guilt assigned to the Jews which caused the deaths of tens of millions of innocent people to perpetrators who abuse their faith and their calling by sexually abusing children?” demanded Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the international Jewish rights group.

Cantalamessa, speaking with the pope sitting nearby, said Jews throughout history had been the victims of “collective violence” and drew comparisons between Jewish suffering and attacks on the Church.

“The use of stereotypes, the shifting of personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism,” Cantalamessa quoted from the letter.


A Vatican spokesman said the comparison “is absolutely not the line of the Vatican and of the Catholic Church.”

Hey, of course it isn’t, Mr. Vatican spokesman dude! This was only the guy whom the Pope chose to preach to him, who made this outrageous statement with the Pope “sitting nearby.” I’m sure he and the Pope have totally different views on the matter. Nothing to see here, folks, move along!

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