Sunday, March 27, 2016

Pope in Acapulco

This is the cross I must bear this Easter as an ex-Catholic who can't see his way past centuries of child sexual abuse and cover-up that have destroyed any notion of moral credibility coming from those quarters. 

Oh, how I yearn for the ignorant bliss of innocence of years past.

Gotta make a quick stop in Cuba first:

"Pope meets Russian Orthodox leader in Cuba" by Nicole Winfield Associated Press  February 12, 2016

HAVANA — The meeting with Patriarch Kirill and the signing of a joint declaration was decades in the making and cemented Pope Francis’ reputation as a risk-taking statesman who values dialogue, bridge-building, and rapprochement at almost any cost.

Still, although the meeting has been hailed by many as an important ecumenical breakthrough, Francis has also come under criticism for essentially allowing himself to be used by a Russia eager to assert itself among Orthodox Christians and on the world stage at a time when the country is increasingly isolated from the West.

The joint declaration is expected to touch on the single most important issue of shared concern between the Catholic and Orthodox churches today: the plight of Christians in Iraq and Syria who are being killed and driven from their homes by the Islamic State.

The Vatican is hoping the meeting will improve relations with other Orthodox churches and spur progress in dialogue over theological differences that have divided East from West ever since the Great Schism of 1054 split Christianity.

But Orthodox observers say Kirill’s willingness to finally meet with a pope has less to do with any new ecumenical impulse than with grandstanding within the West and the Orthodox Church at a time when Russia is increasingly under fire from the West over its military actions in Syria and Ukraine. Kirill, a spiritual adviser to President Vladimir Putin of Russia, leads the most powerful of the 14 independent Orthodox churches that will meet this summer in Greece in the first such pan-Orthodox synod in centuries.

‘‘This isn’t benevolence. It’s not a newfound desire for Christian unity,’’ said George Demacopoulos, the Greek-Orthodox chairman of Orthodox Christian studies at Fordham University in New York. ‘‘It is almost entirely about [Kirill] posturing and trying to present himself as the leader of Orthodoxy.’’

Francis was greeted at Mexico City’s airport Friday night with a rock concert-like show with blue floodlights illuminating a stage and bandstands and crowds waving yellow handkerchiefs.

Some are saying it was just a photo-op, nothing more.




"Francis was already planning to travel to Mexico next Friday for a six-day visit. The Great Schism of 1054, which formally divided the eastern and western churches, has seemingly been the product of a territorial dispute. Francis is proving to be an ambitious, diplomatic player. He helped broker the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba."

They have buried the hatchet, so to speak.

"52 dead after brutal fight between rival factions at Mexico prison" Associated Press  February 11, 2016

MONTERREY, Mexico — A brawl between rival drug gangs at an overcrowded penitentiary in northern Mexico turned into a riot Thursday, leaving 52 inmates dead and 12 injured in the country’s deadliest prison melee in years.

No escapes were reported in the clash at the Topo Chico prison in Monterrey, said Nuevo Leo state Gov. Jaime Rodriguez. The riot took place on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in Mexico.

Rodriguez said the clash was between two factions led by a member of the infamous Zetas drug cartel, Juan Pedro Zaldivar Farias, also known as ‘‘Z-27,’’ and Jorge Ivan Hernandez Cantu, who has been identified by Mexican media as a Gulf cartel figure.

Who are they again?

A turf war between the gangs bloodied Nuevo Leon state and neighboring Tamaulipas between 2010 and 2012. The Zetas once nearly controlled the area around Monterrey.

Zaldivar Farias was a suspect in the 2010 killing of American David Hartley on Falcon Lake, which makes up part of the border between Mexico and Texas. Hartley was reportedly gunned down while touring the reservoir with his wife on jet skis. 

Wasn't he a missionary?

crowd of people bundled against the cold gathered at the prison gates, demanding to be let in to learn the fate of their relatives. Some kicked and shook the gates as riot police with plastic shields kept the crowd out.

‘‘They haven’t told us anything,’’ said Ernestina, who identified herself as the mother of an inmate but declined to give her full name for fear of reprisal. ‘‘They said that until there is order, they won’t let us in. Everything is in disorder, and nobody is telling us anything.’’

Authorities were reinforcing security at other prisons and had transferred some inmates out of Topo Chico, Rodriguez said in an interview with Milenio Television.

The deadliest prison riot in recent memory also occurred in Nuevo Leon, in February 2012, when Zetas gangsters killed 44 Gulf cartel members at the overcrowded Apodaca federal lockup.

A month earlier, 31 died in a Tamaulipas prison where inmates set upon each other with makeshift knives, clubs and stones.

According to a 2014 report by the National Human Rights Commission, Topo Chico was designed to house 3,635 prisoners but actually held about 4,585 that year. Inmates there used violence as a way of exerting control in the prison, it added. 

I'm sorry, how is that different from authority? 

Why do you think there are wars?

Another report by the commission in 2013 highlighted violence and inmate control in many of Mexico’s prisons, symptoms of corruption and lack of resources.

The report, based on visits and interviews at 101 of the most populated facilities, found that 65 of them were run by inmates, not authorities.

Leslie Solis, a security and justice researcher at the public-policy think tank Mexico Evalua, said the commission’s most recent rating of Topo Chico indicated that ‘‘we had it coming’’ and ‘‘all the conditions were in place for this’’ — too few guards, poor training and the entry of illicit objects and substances. 

Where did all the money go?

Constitutional reforms in 2008 and 2011 tried to reorient Mexico’s prison system toward respect for human rights and preparing convicts to reintegrate into society, but in most of the country that has not occurred, Solis added. Some parts are so under the thumb of organized crime that authorities do not have the resources to confront it.

Potential solutions include more judicious use of prison sentences for nonviolent crimes, and locking up fewer people who are still waiting for Mexico’s plodding judicial system to handle their cases. At Topo Chico, for example, 26 percent of prisoners were still awaiting a sentence.

‘‘This clash ... has to serve as an alarm or a call to authorities to take responsibility and not permit this to happen again,’’ Solis said.


At least Ford is bringing good American jobs to Mexico. 

"Francis issued a sweeping apology last year for the Catholic Church’s Colonial-era crimes against America’s indigenous. He revisited the issue Monday, denouncing how, ‘‘in a systematic and organized way,’’ indigenous people have been misunderstood and excluded from society over the course of history. ‘‘Some have considered your values, culture, and traditions to be inferior,’’ he said. ‘‘Others, intoxicated by power, money, and market trends, have stolen your lands or contaminated them.’’ He called for a collective ‘‘Forgive me.’’ ‘‘Today’s world, ravaged as it is by a throwaway culture, needs you!’’ The pope has frequently expressed admiration for indigenous peoples, particularly their sense of being custodians of the environment." 

That stuff used to get me pumped and behind Popes before I knew it was agenda-pushing BS.

In Mexico, Pope Francis will pay tribute to the Virgin of Guadalupe

No Zika worries?

"Pope gives tough love to Mexico’s political, church elite" by Nicole Winfield Associated Press  February 13, 2016

Sends chills up the spine.

MEXICO CITY — The pope’s grueling schedule appeared to be taking a toll: By Saturday evening, Francis seemed tired and winded. He appeared to doze off during Mass in Mexico City and lost his balance and fell into a chair set up for him to pray before the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. 

Oh, he was tired and cranky when he offered the tough love. He didn't mean 'em.

The 79-year-old Francis has had an exhausting two days, with back-to-back public events, dozens of miles spent standing in his popemobile and a seven-hour time zone difference. In addition, Mexico City’s altitude of more than 7,000 feet provides a challenge to anyone not acclimatized, perhaps more for Francis who lost part of one lung as a young man.

Look, he didn't have to hustle on over and belch the greenhouse gases to begin with.

Francis’ entire five-day trip to Mexico is shining an uncomfortable spotlight on the church’s shortcomings and the government’s failure to solve entrenched social ills that plague many parts of Mexico — poverty, rampant drug-inspired gangland killings, extortion, disappearances of women, corrupt police, and failed public services.

Over the coming days, Francis will travel to the crime-ridden Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec, preach to Indians in poverty-stricken Chiapas, offer solidarity to victims of drug violence in Morelia, and, finally, pay respects to migrants who have died trying to reach the United States, with a cross-border Mass scheduled in Ciudad Juarez.

Francis began his first full day in the country with a winding ride into the capital’s historic center to the delight of tens of thousands of Mexicans greeting history’s first Latin-American pope.

Despite an exhausting Friday that involved a historic embrace with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Francis obliged their demands and stopped to hand out rosaries to the elderly, sick, and disabled.

In more ways than one, cough.

The mileage that Francis is clocking standing up in his open-air popemobile is a testament to his appreciation of Mexicans’ need to see him up close: After a 14-mile nighttime ride in from the airport and the 9 miles logged Saturday morning, Francis still has about 93 miles more to go before his trip ends Wednesday.

Francis began Saturday by meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto at the presidential palace. He told the president and other members of government that public officials responsible for the common good must be honest and upright and not be seduced by privilege or corruption.

Like the Church he heads?

Corruption permeates many aspects of Mexican society, from traffic cops and restaurant inspectors who routinely shake down citizens for bribes, to politicians and police commanders who are sometimes on the payroll of drug cartels. Even Pena Nieto's administration has been tainted by what critics call fishy real estate dealings by people close to him, including the first lady, with companies that were awarded lucrative state contracts.

What is he trying to do, destroy the economy?


RelatedIn Mexico, Pope Francis condemns drug lords

He better be careful, I don't care how well intended he is.

"Pope Francis urges Mexican priests to fight injustice" by Jacobo Garcia, Nicole Winfield and Peter Orsi Associated Press  February 16, 2016

MORELIA, Mexico — Pope Francis urged Mexico’s priests on Tuesday to fight injustice and not resign themselves to the drug-fueled violence and corruption around them, issuing a set of marching orders to shake up a Mexican church known for its cozy ties to the rich and powerful.

Almost as if it were a.... gulp.... crusade.

Francis traveled to a hotbed of Mexico’s drug trade for a Mass with the country’s priests and nuns.

Ummm, can we please keep the priests out of the bed. Nuns not so much (how often do you hear about nun abuse? Maybe if they ran the thing....)

"Nuns who serve homeless and impoverished people are in danger of getting kicked out of their San Francisco home after a rent hike of more than 50 percent. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the sisters of the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen can’t afford the rent increase from $3,465 to $5,500 a month as of Jan. 15. Their lawyer says the owner has served a notice on the nuns asking them to pay the higher rate or leave. An attorney for the landlord, Nick Patel, says his client is in India and has put everything on hold and will assess the situation when he returns. The soup kitchen is in one of San Francisco’s poorest neighborhoods and feeds hundreds every week."

Brothers got what they wanted.

Francis’ visit was also a symbolic vote of confidence for the city’s archbishop, Alberto Suarez Inda. Like Francis, Suarez Inda has called for Mexican bishops to be closer to their people and not act like bureaucrats or princes.

In his homily, Francis admonished the priests and nuns to not become resigned to the problems around them or give in to paralysis, which he called the devil’s ‘‘favorite weapon. I think we can sum it up in one word: resignation.’’

We didn't need a scolding and, the devil's favorite weapon could be seen in so many ways. 

I think of the poor altar boys who might have seen the pitched tent as a.... (shudder).

As for that last word, all depends how it is used. If some war-criminal scum says I've resigned, that's good! 

It was a clear reference to the situation in Michoacan, a major methamphetamine production hub, as well as the nation at large, where gangs and drug lords have thrived thanks in part to the complicity of police and other public authorities.

Yeah, I keep wondering who brought that here.

That corruption came to light most recently in the case of drug lord Joaquin ‘‘El Chapo’’ Guzman, who escaped for a second time from a maximum security prison in July, and was recaptured after an October meeting with actor Sean Penn.

More on them below.

"Another Guzman attorney, Jose Refugio Rodriguez, says that the drug lord wants to be sent to the United States quickly and negotiate a guilty plea in exchange for a ‘‘reasonable’’ sentence in a medium-security prison in the United States. The PR campaign has featured Guzman’s common-law wife, a former beauty queen, giving her first-ever public interview in February. The drug lord’s lawyers have filed several requests for injunctions in Mexican courts to stop his extradition. Rodriguez said Wednesday they won’t drop those efforts until they get an agreement with US prosecutors, an unlikely prospect."

I'm told Mexico is tired of having him around.

Rather than give up in the face of such corruption, Francis urged the clerics to look to the model of Vasco de Quiroga, a 16th-century Spanish bishop who came to New Spain and founded Utopian-style indigenous communities where agriculture and handicrafts were taught.


Francis said that when Vasco de Quiroga saw Indians being ‘‘sold, humiliated and homeless in marketplaces’’ due to colonial exploitation, he did not resign himself to inaction but rather was inspired to fight injustice.

Since beginning his Mexico trip Friday night, Francis has repeatedly taken to task the Mexican church leadership, many of whom are closely linked to Mexico’s political and financial elite and are loath to speak out on behalf of the poor and victims of social injustice.

‘‘Sometimes the violence has made us give up, either out of discouragement, habit or fear,’’ said Fausto Mendez, a 23-year-old seminarian who attended Tuesday’s Mass. ‘‘That’s why the pope comes to tell us not to be afraid to do the right thing.’’

On Saturday in Mexico City, Francis scolded what he called gossiping, career-minded and aloof clerics, and admonished them to stand by their flock and offer ‘‘prophetic courage’’ in facing down the drug trade. 

Easy for him to say (as the Vatican bank launders drug money and has its walls to protect it).

Print ended there.

Much of Michoacan is part of a region called Tierra Caliente, or the Hot Lands, known for both its blistering temperatures and brutal tactics by gangsters eager to control lucrative drug-production territory and smuggling routes. 

The CIA is the biggest.

By 2013, the pseudo-religious, evangelical-inspired Knights Templar cartel was widely kidnapping and extorting money and dominating the state’s economic and political scene, so much so that local farmers took up arms against them. But the uprising by the vigilante-style ‘‘self-defense’’ forces brought little peace to the state, with the groups fighting among themselves even as new criminal gangs sprang up or tried to muscle their way into Michoacan.

What, are we getting into conspiracy stuff here?

‘‘I’m excited about the pope’s visit, but the reality is that people are afraid. Right now there is a festive atmosphere and a lot of police, but in the day-to-day it’s not that calm. Crime has risen,’’ said Yulisa Duran, an 18-year-old nursing student sitting with her boyfriend in Morelia’s main square.

‘‘I lived in a tiny town that was very gentle, and then the (cartel) came in,’’ Duran added.

Francis wraps up his five-day visit on Wednesday by traveling to Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, for a cross-border Mass expected to focus heavily on the plight of migrants.


That's where he's headed:

"Pope’s Mexico trip ends with plea to ‘open hearts’ to migrants" by Nicole Winfield and Christopher Sherman Associated Press  February 18, 2016

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — In a moment filled with powerful political symbolism, Pope Francis prayed Wednesday at Mexico’s dusty northern border for the thousands of migrants who have died trying to reach the United States and appealed for governments to open their hearts, if not their borders, to the ‘‘human tragedy that is forced migration.’’

It was the most poignant moment of Francis’ five-day trip to Mexico and one of the most powerful images in recent times: History’s first Latin American pope, who has demanded countries welcome people fleeing persecution, war and poverty, praying at the border between Mexico and El Paso, Texas at a time of soaring anti-immigrant rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign.

That's one way of hearing it.

Francis stopped short of calling for the U.S. to open its borders during a Mass just 800 meters (yards) from the frontier. But in his homily beamed live into the Sun Bowl stadium on the El Paso side, Francis called for ‘‘open hearts’’ and recognition that the thousands of Central and South Americans who are fleeing gangland executions and extortion in their homelands are victims of the worst forms of exploitation.

‘‘We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis which in recent years has meant the migration of thousands of people, whether by train or highway or on foot, crossing hundreds of kilometers through mountains, deserts and inhospitable zones,’’ he said. ‘‘They are our brothers and sisters, who are being expelled by poverty and violence, drug trafficking and organized crime.’’

Remember back a few years ago when they told us the reason you couldn't find a job was because the economy was so bad even illegals were heading back home?

And then, in a pointed message, Francis added a politically charged greeting to the 30,000 people gathered in the Sun Bowl to watch the simulcast on giant TV screens.

‘‘Thanks to the help of technology, we can pray, sing and celebrate together this merciful love which the Lord gives us, and which no frontier can prevent us from sharing,’’ Francis said in Spanish.

Francis, a son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, had wanted to cross the border in solidarity with other migrants when he visited the U.S. last fall. That wasn’t possible for logistical reasons, so he did the next best thing on Wednesday by coming within a stone’s throw of the fence and laying a bouquet of flowers next to a large crucifix that is to remain at the site as a monument to his visit.

The border Mass marked the climactic end of Francis’ five-day swing through some of Mexico’s poorest and most marginal states, where drug-fueled violence has soared thanks to the complicity of police and other public institutions. Francis took both church and state to task for failing their people and urged the next generations to resist the lure of the drug trade.

In a speech Wednesday to workers and employers, Francis warned that without job opportunities, Mexico’s youth risk being seduced into the drug trade. He urged employers to think instead of the Mexico they want to leave for their children.

‘‘Do you want to leave them the memory of exploitation, of insufficient pay, of workplace harassment?’’ he asked. ‘‘What air will they breathe? An air tainted by corruption, violence, insecurity and suspicion or, on the contrary, an air capable of generating alternatives, renewal and change?’’

Francis began his final day at Prison No. 3 in Ciudad Juarez, a city that was once considered the murder capital of the world. As a prison band serenaded him with their own mariachi compositions, Francis greeted a few dozen inmates clad in matching gray sweatsuits and white sneakers in a prison courtyard.

Francis told the 700 or so inmates gathered outside the prison’s new chapel that they cannot undo the past. But he said they must believe that things can change, and that they have the possibility of ‘‘writing a new story and moving forward.’’

They had been selected because of their good behavior. Looking on from the barred window of the lockup, a small cluster of guards could be seen watching Francis’ encounter as the smell of fresh paint and new tree saplings indicated a last-minute spruce-up for the occasion.

Francis’ message of hope came just days after a deadly riot at Monterrey’s Topo Chico prison, where rival gang factions last week bloodied one another with hammers, cudgels and makeshift knives. Eight more inmates were injured Tuesday in a brawl at another prison.

Not long ago Juarez was wracked by violence as cartel-backed gang warfare fed homicide rates that hit 230 per 100,000 residents in 2010. A rash of killings of women, many of them poor factory workers who just disappeared, attracted international attention.

Times have changed, though. Last year, the city’s homicide rate was about 20 per 100,000 people, roughly on par with Mexico’s nationwide average of 14 per 100,000 — and well below what is being seen in current hotspots of drug violence, such as the Pacific resort city of Acapulco and surrounding Guerrero state.

Many businesses that closed during Juarez’s darkest years have reopened. Tourists are again crossing over from the United States to shop and dine. People say they no longer have to leave parties early to avoid being on the streets after dark.

‘‘At least now we can go out. We go to the parks. We can walk around a little more at that time of night,’’ said resident Lorena Diaz, standing under a huge banner of Francis hanging from her second-story balcony.

Diaz, who along with about 30 family members secured tickets for Wednesday’s Mass, has followed news of Francis’ tour and welcomed his calls for Mexicans not to tolerate corruption and violence....

I'm sorry; I often dozed off during Sunday Morning Mass.


Turns out it all backfired on him as the airplane taxied down the runway, began to accelerate, and lifted off for home:

"Pope Francis says any bishop who moves a suspected pedophile priest from parish to parish should resign" Feb. 18, 2016 by NICOLE WINFIELD

That's a bad use of the word.

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis spoke about the church's handling of sex abuse cases while flying home Wednesday from Mexico, where victims of that country's most notorious pedophile, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, are still coping with the trauma of his abuse.

"It's a monstrosity," Francis said of clerical abuse.

The role of bishops in the abuse scandal made headlines again recently after a French priest told a Vatican course for new bishops that they don't have to report suspected abuse to police. His comments drew a swift correction from Francis' top adviser, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who said bishops have an "ethical and moral" obligation to report suspected pedophiles to civil authorities.

Francis also reaffirmed the Vatican's oversight of Maciel's Legion of Christ, saying it is continuing to help the scandal-plagued religious order reform and praising his predecessor for bringing the truth of Maciel's misdeeds to light.

Maciel founded the Legion in Mexico in the 1940s, and it became one of the wealthiest and fastest-growing orders in the world. It is, however, emblematic of the Mexican church that Francis so acutely criticized during his trip, with close ties to Mexico's rich and powerful who by and large send their children to Legion-run schools.

The Vatican in 2010 took the order over after the Legion admitted, after decades of denial, that Maciel had sexually molested his seminarians and fathered at least three children.

That's why celibacy requirements were put in place centuries ago; illegitimate kids in the community were costing the Church too much money. 

That's what led to the even more serious violations later.

"Also during the flight, Francis suggested women threatened with the Zika virus could use artificial contraception. The pope unequivocally rejected abortion as a response to the crisis Francis was responding to a reporter's question about whether abortion or birth control could be considered a "lesser evil" when confronting the Zika crisis in Brazil, where there has been a spike in babies born with abnormally small heads to Zika-infected mothers. 

The spike came in areas where they gave some vaccine, but that's all been covered over by GMO mosquitoes and now these further population control debates.

The World Health Organization has declared a worldwide health emergency over the Zika virus and its suspected link to birth defects. On Thursday, the U.N. agency advised the sexual partners of pregnant women to use condoms or abstain from sex if they live in or have visited Zika-affected areas, echoing a recommendation made by U.S. health officials. The virus has been reported in at least 34 countries, most of them in overwhelmingly Catholic Latin America and the Caribbean, where access to birth control is often limited and abortion is heavily restricted.

Abortion "is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil at its root, no? It's a human evil," Francis told reporters. "On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one (Zika), such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. Taking one life to save another, that's what the Mafia does. It's a crime. It's an absolute evil." 

So is pulling up the robe, bending the boy over, and then putting the robe back over it for centuries. 

I flog the point because there is not a shred of moral credibility in the Church.

The Rev. James Bretzke, a moral theologian at Boston College, said. "His comments [were in] perfect consistency with the traditional moral teaching of the Catholic Church.""

Who the hell is he, and the traditional moral teaching of consistency evokes a yelp of a laugh.


Oh, yeah, don't get pregnant, either.

"Pope’s sex abuse panel tells survivor to take a leave" by Nicole Winfield Associated Press  February 06, 2016

VATICAN CITY —Peter Saunders, a British advocate for victims, had been highly critical of the Vatican’s slow progress in taking measures to protect children and punish bishops who covered up for pedophile priests. He also wanted the commission to intervene immediately in individual cases, rather than just craft long-term policies to fight abuse.

During a commission meeting Saturday, ‘‘it was decided that Mr. Peter Saunders would take a leave of absence from his membership to consider how he might best support the commission’s work,’’ the Vatican said.

Decided by who?

The decision is a blow to Francis’ efforts to show that he is tough on abuse, since the presence of Saunders and another abuse survivor, Marie Collins, had given the commission credibility.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Saunders said commission members, with one abstention, asked had him to step aside after concluding they could no longer trust him to work within the scope of the commission’s mandate.

Saunders said he was surprised by the Vatican’s statement and denied he had agreed to take a leave of absence. He said he remained a member of the commission and was considering his options.

But he said the Vatican’s inaction in the face of continuing cases of children being raped and molested ‘‘made me lose faith in the process and lose faith in Pope Francis.’’

And he's up for a Nobel!


Also see:

Abusive priest’s suspension lifted

What new Catholic bishops are, and aren’t, being told on sex abuse

I don't want to know.

Letters detail friendship between St. John Paul, Vt. philosopher

I'll give you one guess what they found.

Anti-Christian attacks continue

Zionism, Christian history, and the pope

Sorry to be indifferent to that version.

Turns out their greatest threat is not me:

"Archdiocese advises giving up Girl Scout cookies, and not just for Lent" by Christine Hauser New York Times  February 25, 2016

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is encouraging Roman Catholics to scale back ties with the Girl Scouts, advising church members to think twice about membership and even about buying their cookies.

The warnings came in a letter from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson and in a statement on the archdiocese’s website about how the church is distancing itself from the Girl Scouts, which it says supports transgender rights, homosexuality and other stances at odds with Catholic values.

Not like I'm a big defender of the other groups, but what values would those be exactly? 

I'm thinking the transgenders and homosexuals would rather stay away from the Catholic Church anyway -- just to be on the safe side.

The archdiocese highlighted the cookies because it said a percentage of local sales could go to the national parent organization, the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Carlson criticized the Girl Scouts of the USA for its ties to Amnesty International, the Coalition for Adolescent Girls, Oxfam and other groups because of their support for sex education and reproductive rights. He said the organization’s promotion of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan as role models was “in conflict with Christian values.”

Look, I'm not a fan of her either.

The archdiocese objected specifically to a “statement of inclusivity” from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri that explained how to welcome a transgender child into the group.

This also happens to be the time of the year when the Scouts fund their operations with cookie sales. The sales are a familiar icon of Americana: uniformed girls going door to door selling boxes of Thin Mints and Samoas, with help from parents who press co-workers and fellow churchgoers to sign up for orders at $4 per box.

But the cookies have also occasionally attracted controversy, blamed for contributing to obesity, for breaking zoning laws, or for harboring unhealthy trans fats....

Yeah, when I first saw the headline I thought it was a health thing.


Also open: Girl Scout Snack


Leaves a bad taste in the mouth:

"Catholic Church official testifies during Australian abuse inquiry" Associated Press  February 28, 2016

ROME — Australians who were raped and molested by Catholic priests when they were children heard a top Vatican cardinal describe what he knew about their attackers when he testified Sunday before an investigative commission in Rome.

‘‘I’m not here to defend the indefensible,’’ Cardinal George Pell said at the start of his testimony. “The church has made enormous mistakes and is working to remedy those.’’

Two dozen Australian sex abuse survivors and their companions traveled to be on hand when Pell testified via video link before Australia’s Royal Commission.

It was the third time that the Australian cardinal, Pope Francis’ top financial adviser, has testified about the sex abuse scandal, but the current round has generated intense international attention because it is taking place a short walk from the Vatican.

The commission, which is more than halfway through a $300 million government-authorized inquiry into how all Australian institutions dealt with abuse, agreed to let Pell testify from Rome because he was too ill to travel home. Two weeks ago, it also agreed to let victims be on hand to recreate the type of public hearing that Pell would be facing in Australia.

In a statement Sunday, Pell repeated his support for the Royal Commission’s work, vowed to meet individually with victims who had traveled to Rome, and said he hoped the coming days ‘‘will eventually lead to healing for everyone.’’

David Ridsdale, an abuse victim, said he was grateful that the horror of what transpired in Ballarat was finally getting known outside of Australia. 

I would like to think I helped in a small way here.

A huge number of abuse victims are from the deeply Catholic town in Australia’s Victoria state, and scores of them have killed themselves in a cluster of abuse-related suicides.

Ridsdale said survivors wanted Pell to ‘‘stand up and take responsibility on behalf of the church’’ for what transpired in Pell’s own hometown. 

He did.

The commission’s current hearings relate to Ballarat and how the Melbourne archdiocese responded to allegations of abuse, including when Pell served as a Melbourne auxiliary bishop.

Pell, who was born and raised in Ballarat, was ordained a priest there in 1966 and was a consultant to Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns.

During the opening address at a Royal Commission hearing in Ballarat last week, the lawyer assisting the commissioner said that as a consultant, Pell would have been responsible for giving advice to the bishop on the appointments of priests to parishes.

Pell has defended his response to the abuse scandal while a bishop and later the archbishop of Melbourne, though he has expressed regret over encounters with victims seeking compensation, saying he and others in the church failed in their moral and pastoral responsibilities to them.


The handling was ‘scandalous’, but let's wait until after the pizza arrives.

"One of France’s best-known cardinals must defend charges that he failed to denounce a priest allowed to keep his job despite admitting to acts of pedophilia. The Conference of Bishops of France said on Saturday that there would be ‘‘complete cooperation’’ by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. Barbarin has said he was convinced the priest had reformed in 2007-08, when they met, and allowed him to stay on. The priest was removed last year after victims stepped forward (AP)."

And a bit closer to home:

"Pa. bishops hid sex abuse of hundreds of children, grand jury says" by Joe Mandak Associated Press  March 01, 2016

ALTOONA, Pa. — Two Catholic bishops who led a small Pennsylvania diocese helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 priests and other religious leaders over a 40-year period, according to a grand jury report that portrays the church as holding such sway over law enforcement that it helped select a police chief.

The 147-page report issued Tuesday on sexual abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, home to nearly 100,000 Roman Catholics, was based partly on evidence from a secret diocesan archive opened through a search warrant over the summer.

In announcing the findings, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said the diocese’s two previous bishops ‘‘placed their desire to avoid public scandal over the well-being of children.’’

No wonder she is under attack.

No criminal charges are being filed in the case because some abusers have died, the statute of limitations has expired, or victims are too traumatized to testify, she said. 

It may very well be justice knowing where they are now (clue: it's allegedly hot and fiery).

Of the victims, Kane said: ‘‘Their souls were killed as children. They weren’t out playing baseball; they were trying to avoid priests.’’

The report was especially critical of Bishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec. Hogan, who headed the diocese from 1966 to 1986, died in 2005. Adamec, who succeeded him, retired in 2011.

Adamec cited possible self-incrimination in refusing to testify before the grand jury. But in a court filing, his attorney said the accusations against the 80-year-old Adamec are unfounded. He required 14 priests accused under his watch to undergo psychiatric evaluation, the filing said. Nine of them were suspended or removed from ministry, and the five who were reinstated never re-offended, his attorney wrote.

‘‘Bishop Adamec’s handling of abuse allegations has no similarity to other clergy abuse scandals,’’ his attorney wrote.

The current bishop, Mark Bartchak, is not accused of any wrongdoing. He recently suspended a few priests named as alleged abusers in the report, though the grand jury said it remains ‘‘concerned the purge of predators is taking too long.’’

In a statement, Bartchak said: ‘‘I deeply regret any harm that has come to children.’’

The clergy sex abuse crisis erupted in 2002, when The Boston Globe reported that the Boston Archdiocese had transferred child-molesting priests from parish to parish to protect them.

Ummm, yeah:

"Open Road Films, the studio that distributed the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight,” issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging that dialogue attributed in the movie to Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn was fictional. When “Spotlight” was released last fall, Dunn expressed outrage, saying that he was depicted as someone who downplayed the suffering of people who were sexually abused by priests. He enlisted a lawyer to contact Open Road and demand the removal of a scene in the movie in which his character discusses whether previous administrators at Boston College High School were aware of sexual abuse there. At that time, Open Road refused and defended the portrayal of Dunn, saying the film merely shows him to be “a trained public-relations professional” and not someone who had conspired with the Catholic Church to cover up abuse. On Tuesday, the studio softened its stance. “As is the case with most movies based on historical events, ‘Spotlight’ contains fictionalized dialogue that was attributed to Mr. Dunn for dramatic effect,” it said in a statement." 

Also seeO’Malley praises ‘Spotlight,’ media’s role in abuse crisis

And now they are making the true story of the Marathon Bombings.

Similar scandals involving hundreds of offenders and victims have since erupted across the U.S. and beyond.

Unfortunately, these are all too real.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops estimates that American dioceses have paid nearly $4 billion since 1950 to settle claims with victims.

The Altoona-Johnstown report said that the abuse was committed in such places as campsites, confessionals, an orphanage and the cathedral, and that Hogan covered up allegations by transferring offending priests, including one who was sent to a school for boys.

A cover up in so many ways.

One diocesan official under Hogan, Monsignor Philip Saylor, told the grand jury that church officials held such clout in the eight-county diocese that ‘‘the police and civil authorities would often defer to the diocese’’ when priests were accused of abuse, the report said. Saylor told the grand jury that the mayors of Altoona and Johnstown even consulted him on their choices for police chief in the 1980s.

‘‘Politicians of Blair County were afraid of Monsignor Saylor, and he apparently persuaded the mayor to appoint me as the chief of police,’’ former Altoona Police Chief Peter Starr testified.

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a Catholic canon lawyer turned advocate for victims, said it was common for law enforcement in heavily Catholic areas to defer to the church in handling accusations against priests.

He said the number of victims and accused priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, which ranks in the bottom half of the list of the nearly 200 U.S. dioceses by Catholic population, did not surprise him: ‘‘I’ve seen dioceses the same size or smaller where you have significant numbers of perpetrators and victims.’’

The report said Adamec or his staff threatened some alleged victims with excommunication and generally worked harder to hide or settle allegations of abuse than to discipline the priests accused.

I'm glad I excommunicated myself. This is the plan the Lord has for me.

‘‘The diocese will not apologize or take responsibility for its dark history,’’ the report said.

In a practice seen in other dioceses, the bishop created a ‘‘payout chart’’ to help guide how much victims would receive from the church, the report said. Victims fondled over their clothes were to be paid $10,000 to $25,000; fondled under their clothes or subjected to masturbation, $15,000 to $40,000; subjected to forced oral sex, $25,000 to $75,000; subjected to forced sodomy or intercourse, $50,000 to $175,000.

How can you put a price on any of that?

Clergy abuse scandals are not new to the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.

The latest investigation began when Kane’s office was asked to review the handling of abuse allegations at Bishop McCort Catholic High School against an athletic trainer, Franciscan Brother Stephen Baker, who worked there from 1992 to 2001. Baker killed himself in 2013 after abuse settlements with an Ohio diocese where he formerly worked were publicized.

Eighty-eight former McCort students settled claims against the diocese for $8 million in 2014, said Richard Serbin, an Altoona attorney whose been battling the diocese for decades.

A molestation lawsuit against since-defrocked priest Francis Luddy that went to trial in 1994 also exposed many of the problems outlined in the grand jury report. The case led to a verdict of more than $2 million in damages and an appeals court finding that Hogan’s oversight of pedophile priests had been ‘‘outrageous.’’

‘‘Hundreds of children probably could have been saved from a life of misery had they done something back then and, more importantly, a lot of these child predators could have been criminally prosecuted,’’ Serbin said.


Related3 Franciscan ex-leaders charged in Pennsylvania abuse case

I don't know if state care would have been any better:

"Justice in ethics case over salacious emails wants hearing" Associated Press  March 08, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice facing possible removal from the bench over his role in trading salacious and objectionable emails asked a state judicial ethics court Tuesday to consider a deal that could resolve his case.

Lawyers for Justice Michael Eakin asked for a hearing by the full six-judge Court of Judicial Discipline on a proposed agreement reached with the lawyers prosecuting his case.

A three-judge panel of the court refused last month to even allow lawyers to lay out details of the proposal, which have not been made public.

Eakin lawyer Bill Costopoulos declined to disclose the details Tuesday. He said in a phone interview that he wanted to present the terms first to the court.

Judicial Conduct Board attorney Frank Puskas, one of three lawyers prosecuting the ethics case against Eakin, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Eakin has been on the state’s highest court since 2002. He is accused of acting in ways that brought disrepute upon the judicial system by sending or responding to emails that included photos of naked women, sexually suggestive themes, gender and socio-economic stereotypes, and anti-gay content, and violence toward women. He also emailed a group of friends, including a deputy attorney general at his work email address, about plans to visit a strip club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The charges against him are part of a Pennsylvania government email scandal that has already led one fellow justice to abruptly retire and caused dozens of people within the state attorney general’s office to be disciplined, quit or be fired. 

There are a lot of those these days.

Eakin, who has apologized for the email exchanges, was put on paid suspension in December, pending a March 29 trial.

Oh, well, then....

During a hearing in Pittsburgh last month, the judges in Eakin’s ethics case told lawyers with both sides not to tell them about the tentative deal.

Costopoulos said the court could reject the deal if it sees fit.

‘‘We know it going in — that after we disclose it to the full court, the court can reject it and we can’t cry foul,’’ Costopoulos said.

During tearful testimony at a December preliminary hearing, Eakin apologized for what he said he ‘‘allowed to happen,’’ blamed news accounts for sensationalism and argued his job performance had not been affected. 

Some apology.

‘‘Perhaps my demeanor is one of the boys,’’ Eakin said at the hearing. ‘‘But what I sent was to people who were also one of the boys. It was in the locker room. I allowed, I created something that could be released. Shame on me and it won’t happen again.’’

Eakin, 67, is a Republican and former Cumberland County district attorney.


At least he didn't kill anyone, I suppose.

"Ex-priest arrested in 1960 killing of Texas schoolteacher" AP  February 11, 2016

MCALLEN, Texas — A former priest has been arrested in Arizona in the 1960 slaying of a 25-year-old Texas schoolteacher and beauty queen.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department arrested 83-year-old John Feit on Tuesday. Feit faces a murder charge in the death of Irene Garza in McAllen, Texas, and is awaiting extradition to that state.

Authorities say Garza visited Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where Feit was a priest, on April 16, 1960. Garza, who was Miss All South Texas Sweetheart 1958, had planned to go to confession that evening but never returned home. Her body was found days later in an irrigation canal.

According to an autopsy, Garza died from a head injury.

But they didn't do one on Scalia.

Feit was a suspect in the killing. The case was reopened in 2004 but a grand jury did not indict the former priest. He was never arrested or charged in the case....


Also see
At three-year mark, Francis a ‘both/and’ pope in an ‘either/or’ world

Same thing with him, and was it just me or is Francis a fascist there?

Popes Benedict and Francis aren’t Coke v. Pepsi, but Rolls and Royce

Pope washes feet of Muslim migrants, says ‘We are brothers’

That seems to be the only religion not abusing their young people or engaging in financial fraud. No wonder they are under attack from certain chosen intere$ts.

Time to say grace and get ready for Easter Dinner.


Norwood parish urges mercy after Mary statue vandalized

University of California leader to monitor campus anti-harassment efforts

Remember her?

Obama, family attend Easter service at historic Va. church

Forget him.

Ireland recalls 1916 Easter Rising against British rule

The Pope called it what it was.

"A video posted online shows a chaotic scene at the Newport Centre in Jersey City."