…And the Lord seemed to sleep…

The dome of St. Peters strick by lightning on the night of the Papal resignation
The dome of St. Peters struck by lightning on the night of the Papal resignation

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI came as a shock to the Catholic Church and the world.  In the last month pundits have examined and speculated on the reasons for his sudden retirement and the tremor that went through the Catholic faithful in the aftermath of the announcement.

In what is being touted as his farewell speech, the Pontiff sited failing health and energy as the reason for his unconventional departure from the throne of Saint Peter.   Canon Law (Canon 332, No. 2) states “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.” In other words, he can leave and no one has the right to say “No you can’t go!”  It seems that the only restriction is that he can’t take his red shoes with him into retirement.

Catholics have an expectation the their Pope will die in office.  The departure of Benedict, without benefit of death, opens many wounds that should be addressed by the Conclave.  It should be noted that the last Pope to “retire”  St. Celestine V, was imprisoned by his successor and died in a papal prison.   Scholars believe that the line  “who made from cowardice the great refusal” in Dante’s  The Divine Comedy was a reference to Celestine V.

So here we are on the first night of the Conclave.  Ballot 1 resulted in black smoke.  Tomorrow we will see up to four more polls of the assembled Cardinals.  These men are as far removed from the teachings of their Lord as can be.  Take a look at the media coverage during the last month.  Think of the image that is being presented by the princes of the church in their blood-red, silk cassocks and hand tied fine lace.  Each in what seemed to be different patterns of finery.  Is this what the successor of Peter should look like?  Or are we seeing the excesses of royalty in a church wracked with scandal?  These men are addressed by grand titles such as “Your Eminence”.  Have they become the modern-day Pharisees, enamored of their titles?

These men are sweeping away the numerous scandals and crises in the church as they prepare to crown a new monarch.  They talk of looking to the future (why look at the carnage in their wake?).  They ignore the sex abuse crisis that has seen children and vulnerable adults preyed upon by sexual predators.  The church continues to protect these monsters.  As much as Cardinals would like the “scandal” to be over, new stories come forward every day detailing the loss of innocence, faith and trust.

The Vatican Bank has been a scandal for decades.  Can you believe that the bank run by the Vatican is considered to be one of the most corrupt in the world?  It has consistently failed to be in compliance with international standards.  The Pope’s bank has been involved in laundering money for years!  Can someone tell me why the Vatican needs to be running a bank?  Are there no Italian Banks that can serve the needs of the Curia, while adhering to Italian law and international banking practices?

The fact that the Vatican is a sovereign nation unto itself also makes me wonder what these men in red silk are up to.  Although, most of these men are citizens of other countries, they are voting for the head of state of another nation.  Should Cardinal Dolan’s American citizenship be revoked because he is an official of a foreign government?

It seems that the men in red silk are a little taken with themselves.  They parade around in their finery, vote under the watchful eye of Renaissance masters and try to look like humble servants of the church.  I wonder if Jesus was alive today if he would be throwing these pretenders to the throne of Peter out of the temple, exposing them as the frauds that they really are.

Benedict spoke of his concern that the “Lord seemed to sleep”.   I would theorize that it is  Catholics who are sleeping.  They allow crisis after crisis, scandal after to scandal to go unabated.  There are no consequences for the princes of the church. Perhaps the forces at work in the Vatican are not those of light and salvation.

Benedict XVI should be wary in his retirement. He did not have the good sense to die.  Celestine V was imprisoned by his successor,  Pope Boniface VIII. He was seen as a threat that could be used to destabilize the Holy See.  He would die in his prison cell, some scholars think he was murdered by order of Boniface.

In the meantime, the world is glued to their smart phones, computers, iPads, tablets and televisions waiting for white smoke to rise from the makeshift chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.   I guess we will know who will be wearing red shoes soon enough.

The RCC Hierarchy Playbook, Part I

While glancing at my WordPress.com dashboard I noticed that this will be my 200th post on this blog.   I am amazed I have stuck to it this long, although my posts have been less frequent as events in my personal life demand my attention.  For this post I am beginning a series on the Catholic playbook.  These are the strategies that the Church and its apologists use to downplay the sex crisis that continues to play out around the world.   I have been keeping notes over the last five years on reactions to media stories, blogs similar to mine and message boards.   There are too many to do in one sitting so I will try to do them in installments.  I think you can safely say that these strategies are employed by any organization that takes a risk management approach of covering up and denying instead of being proactive and forthright.   The RCC has been using these tactics for centuries.  (That’s right, this sex crisis is not the result of Vatican II as the very conservative zealots will have you believe).

Here is installment 1 of the RCC Hierarchy Playbook:

It is in use again.  The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) hierarchy is pulling out their playbook on how to spin their position on the myriad of crises in which the church is embroiled.  The good old boy network has been fostering corruption, scandal and criminal activity for centuries.  Why would it be any different in the 21st century.

In the wake of the conviction of Monsignor Lynn in Philadelphia, the hierarchy’s public relations goon squads are trying to minimize damage in the media, isolate other potential “crisis hotspots”, and brainwash “the faithful” that all is well and that the one holy catholic and apostolic church is on solid footing, just as St. Peter placed it.  You can keep coming to church and filling the collection plates.

The playbook is predictable and  predatory.   It can be broken down into several broad categories.  We start with: ( I shouldn’t have to say this but…  sarcasm runs amock in this post).  (If you are a Diocesan Spokesperson, try to keep up, I try use a lot of one syllable words, if you get confused you can use the google machine.)

Paint the Victim as a Predator

1. Victims are only looking for money!   Greed is one of the deadly sins.   The hierarchy of the church must have people believe that the victim of sexual crimes committed by priests, nuns or lay representatives are only out for a quick, large payday.   Gloss over the damage done by the predators who enjoy the top cover of the church while targeting victims for their own pleasure, that is not relevant!  Father “Fill in the Blank” is not called to account for his actions, crimes and deceptions.  No, we can’t have that.   Let’s go after the victim who has carried his/her great terrible secret of violation for years or decades.  We lurk in the shadows for years for the opportunity to litigate and force the church to pay for sins it did not commit.    The victim is the bad guy in his/her search for justice.

2. Victims will bankrupt us.  Ignore the palaces, art work,massive princely mansions, the expensive cars, summer retreat spots, first class flights to Italy and land used to hide pedophiles in Catholic minimum security facilities.   Ignore the vast resources of the Catholic Church worldwide.    Wealth that is beyond the comprehension of most mortals is not to be considered.   Cardinals and bishops have had the audacity to claim poverty in the face of claims that substantiate their complicity it protecting pedophiles in their attempt to protect the church from scandal.  Dioceses have attempted to use this tactic in court but have failed.   They will cry out that they have to close schools and parishes to pay for settlements and awards to victims of predators that they have shielded.  Funny, it would seem that the best way to avoid scandal is to not create one!   But I digress.  Has it ever occurred to anyone in the hierarchy of the church that predator priests, by their actions and in total disregard for the good of the church, continue to prey on children and vulnerable adults and open that organization to scrutiny, penalty and sanction?   Can I have a big “DUH” from the congregations?

3. Victims of sexual abuse are likely to be abuser as well.  Make me the new monster!  There is no proof of this, but the church and their apologists take this out for a spin on a regular basis.  Paint me as the new threat to children and vulnerable adults!   Once again the church needs you to suspend belief in the overwhelming evidence of institutional cover ups and re-victimization.  Never mind that priests, nuns and lay members of the church have abused their positions of power and were given refuge, financial support and the institutional blessing of the church while victims were ostracized and painted as monsters.    Urges, surely the victims have them and seek the same carnal pleasures that they were forced to comply with.   Really?!  Again, the church is lying to protect its treasure.  It relies on the blind stupidity of the parishioners who believe everything they are told.

AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE:

4. The Priest is only guilty of being seduced.  No kidding!  You would be amazed at the number of times this has been thrown at me by “Good Catholics” and  priests.  It was my fault that he raped me.  I tempted him, I led him down the path to this.  Let’s for a moment suspend belief in reality that sexual activity with a minor under the age of consent is, at a minimum, statutory rape.  Let’s for a moment suspend the logical notion that children who have not gone through puberty are generally not sexual creatures.  Let’s suspend belief that an adult man is unable to distinguish between right and wrong.   These acts, in my specific case, were not tender, passionate acts.  They were brutal, criminal acts that resulted in injuries to my person, my well-being, my psyche.  They stole my innocence, my faith, my trust and my ability to deal with the everyday world around me.   At age 13, I assure you, I did not seduce a priest.  He raped me, repeatedly.  They were acts of violence.  Acts of intimidation, dominance and depravity.  Anyone who can embrace the idea of a child seducing an adult in this manner has, in my opinion, a seriously flawed thought process.

The next installment will be: “There is nothing we can do about it”

If you want to add to the discussion, feel free to comment…

William Donohue, Catholic Hater in Chief!

The bar must be open!
The always coy Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League.

I am just amazed at the antics of the President of the Catholic League, Mr. William Donohue.  The more I read and watch the more I am convinced that the Catholic Court Jester has hijacked the press podium for the Catholic Church in the United States.  In addition to his latest rants on Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and the all-out assault on Nuns who made the mistake of thinking and seeing the world through a lens not necessarily endorsed by a bunch of old men at the Vatican,  this guy seems to be declaring war on the survivor community at large (Remember, we are not all card-carrying members of SNAP).

I am sure he is going to say that I am a godless, liberal, money seeking, “alleged” victim.  He is a bully, and that is what bullies do.  But for the record, I generally a  conservative who was brought up in an Irish Catholic family in New York and Pennsylvania. The difference, well one of many, between Billy and me is that I don’t blindly support the Catholic Hierarchy.  I also don’t make a living kissing the ass of the Archbishop of New York, amongst others.

Bill has a habit of running his mouth without verifying content beforehand. His rant on the front page of the Catholic League (which, surprisingly, not the governing body for Diocesan secondary school athletic teams) about SNAP is an excellent point in case. The YouTube Video and the accompanying “paper” on his undercover expose of the SNAP convention last year struck me.

If you read his epistle, you will notice this article lacks any definitive substance to back up his assertions.  He relies on character assassination and belittling individuals instead of engaging in thoughtful discourse. All his attacks are meant to divert attention from silly little annoyances like nuns with brains, trials in Philadelphia, Bishops who lie and protect predators, vast numbers of Catholics leaving the church.

Why don’t we take a stroll through the epistle of St. Billy to the world concerning the SNAP Convention.  It is about 9 pages of ranting and raving, but I recommend you take a look to get a glimpse into this guy’s mind.  In a nutshell, everyone is at war with the Catholic Church.  EVERYONE!   My contention, based on my 16 years of Catholic confinement education, is that the war is not being waged on the Catholic Church, it is being waged on the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  You know, the people who have been covering up and deflecting attention away from the sexual abuse crisis that has been going on for decades, centuries even!

Bill sent undercover Catholic League operatives to the convention to infiltrate the organization.  He did so because there is “nothing so salient than the precarious state of the due process for priests.” He calls these undercover operatives who have impeccable credentials who were there.  Who were they?  He can’t reveal his sources, just wink and go along with their “impeccable credentials.”

Bill then delves into the meat of his “treatise,” character assassination.   Since Bill’s arguments tend to be emotional and unsubstantiated, he resorts to the tactic in the debate that is a clear indication of a weak position argument, attack the individual.  (I was Jesuit trained, that is what I was taught).

His targets were William Spade, a former District attorney from Philadelphia.  He dismisses Mr. Spade because he has an “eclectic” relationship with the Catholic Church.  Let’s not discuss the ongoing criminal case, and Grand Jury reports about organized Roman Collar Crime and the cover-up of criminal activity in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Let’s not confuse evidence of criminal activity and conspiracy because the person speaking has an “eclectic” relationship with the Catholic church.  Despite the veracity of the message, the person delivering it is just not to Bill’s tastes.

His next target is Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota attorney who has been involved in litigation on behalf of victims. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I am not a client of Mr. Anderson.)  He was raised a Lutheran!   MY GOD!  He became a Catholic!  SAY IT AIN’T SO! Then he became an atheist! (Seems like a natural progression to me.)  Bill then goes on to call Mr. Anderson a “Hippie” (page 3) and makes a comment about his “diminutive 5’4″ ” stature.  BILL DONOHUE HATES SHORT PEOPLE!  Bill also makes mention that Mr. Anderson is a recovering alcoholic.  BILL DONOHUE HATES RECOVERING ALCOHOLICS!   So what we have learned here is that short recovering alcoholics are not to be believed. Of course, Mr. Anderson is only in this racket for the money.  I understand completely.  Just like the law firms and public relations firms on retainer with American Dioceses who have made billions defending the indefensible on behalf of the Catholic Hierarchy.  Ask your Diocese about the amount of your donations that goes to lawyers, public relations firms and mouthpieces to attack, humiliate and demean victims of predator priests.  (I will wait while you email your Bishop, Chancellor, Diocesian Comptroller…)

You can also take a moment here and understand his underlying theme that all victims of sexual assault at the hands of Catholic religious are out for only one thing… a big fat payday! (time to reach for the sarcasm meter key, it is right next to the “any” key on your keyboard) Yes, I plan on getting rich off of the fact that a Catholic Priest took a shine to my hot 13-year-old ass.  As he was slapping me around, threatening me, telling me the lie that my mother approved of my “visits” and that God thought this activity was alright, I was thinking that 40 years down the line I would be getting a big ass payday!  Keep drinking Bill, you may actually see this post as proof of concept.

Bill Donohue is the face of the Catholic laity.  If you are a Catholic and you are not screaming for this moron’s head, you are allowing the rest of the world to believe that zealots and clowns are protecting the faith.  Good men and women must be in short supply in the pews (oh, I forgot, Catholics are fleeing the church in droves) or they have stupidly clung to the lies of the Bishops that “all is well.”  Bill Donohue is the personification of the Catholic faithful, whether they like it or not.  This guy is proof to the world that Catholics are asleep at the switch.

If you want to have a conversation Bill, give me a call.  I doubt your style of personal attack would survive very long against a Jesuit trained survivor.   Bring it on Billy!  Bring your buddy Dolan along.  Leave the nuns alone, they are way out of your league (Catholic or otherwise).   It will be a battle of the wits, and I will be fighting a half armed man.

You know what they say about grumpy Irish men who rant on and on about how horribly they or their causes are being treated!   Oops, there I go rereading the Catholic League playbook.