Archive for December 2006

Bad theology begets bad practice

December 31, 2006

Religions commit suicide when they find their inspiration in dogmas.
Alfred North Whitehead

Recently I was in Oakland,California visiting a good friend, a gay man who is responsible for adult education in his parish. I mention his sexual orientation since it is irrelevant and known to his pastor, who appears to be in the 21st century. While there we went to a huge Oakland parish for an evening with Gary Wills, the noted Catholic author of several books on the church, the foremost being Papal Sin. The place was packed and I met the affable pastor who by all accounts should have been the bishop of his home town but in today’s’ church such an appointment is not possible. It makes too much sense. A local product, personally engaging and highly pastoral, theologically well read and committed to dialogue, he was not one of those John Paul ll clones obsessed with “Catholic identity” , doctrinal rigorism and pelvic orthodoxy. The new bishop was found tucked away in a Detroit seminary, a total stranger to the Bay area.But boy was he orthodox.

Now it would be my assumption that all bishops know the Catholic story and are orthodox but few appear to be about the kingdom of God. Few inspire any evangelical enthusiasm for peace and justice, the authentic signs of the reign. Most get their signals from Rome and are depressingly monochromatic.

The last pontificate and the present one do not compare favorably with that of Leo Xlll’s(1878-1903) who said that he “was never afraid to appoint somebody who disagreed with me.” Variety at one time was the spice of life. Not in today’s Catholic church. One hymn book is manufactured in Rome, distributed around the world and everybody is expected to sing from it. It is called Cookie Cutter theology. There is but one truth, one way of expressing it. Well, the soup is getting tasteless and the salt is losing its flavour. Nobody is heading for the life-giving gallows without which there is no resurrection. Few have the capacity to energize the faithful.The reason is simple: bad theology begets bad practice and a Church which puts the institution over the reign of God has it backwards. As Paul Vl said in his 1975 encyclical Evangelium Nuntiandi, only the kingdom is ultimate, everything else is in addition-priesthood, sacraments, liturgy etc.Too often the Spirit is blowing outside the Church, often as a gale force (eg the environmental movement) but appears MIA inside the walls.

Can this be biblical faith? Hardly .

The great rabbi Abraham Heschel phrased it in this way: “It would be honest to to blame religion for its own defeats.Religion declined not because it was refuted but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendour of the past, when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain, when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion, its message becomes meaningless.”

Ridiculous Religion

December 28, 2006

“Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid.” wrote Rabbi Abraham Heschel decades ago.Today he would surely add the word stupid and anti-intellectual.In Pope John Paul ll’s encyclical Fides et Ratio and Benedict XV’s clumsy attempt to chide Islam about its putative disconnect between faith and reason, both of these smart popes made valiant attempts to link faith and reason.Neither can come close to John Spong when it comes to speaking plainly about the absolute bizarre and grave damage fundamentalism is doing to Christianity today. This is Spong’s latest and as we used to say in Latin ad rem (“right to the point”)

“Anderson Cooper of CNN was hosting a series of telecasts on the subject, “What is a Christian?” Evangelical clergy were interviewed who believed that the Book of Revelation both predicted and justified the war in the Middle East. They read this late 1st century book as their guide to contemporary history. They also stated that the Bible was quite clear in its condemnation of homosexuality. These were men, well dressed, apparently well educated, not confined to a mental hospital, being interviewed on national television by a mainstream network. Viewers were presumably accepting these comments as rational, even worthy of serious attention. There was something about these two scenes: President Bush talking about the war and these preachers talking about the Bible that seemed to be eerily reminiscent of each other. Both cited their authority in such a way as to imply that it was not capable of being challenged. The President followed his own intuition, informed by his interpretation of God’s will. These clergy followed their own intuitions, informed by their interpretation of the Bible as an expression of God’s will. Perhaps 500 years ago these attitudes would not have seemed strange, but in a post-Freudian world, people do not dismiss the inability to make different decisions on the basis of new data as “stubbornness,” they recognize it as delusional. In a world where critical biblical scholarship is more than 200 years old, no rational person would treat a book written between 1000 BCE and 135 CE by a wide variety of individuals as if it contained the secrets of the end of the world, a blueprint for the human disaster that is called the Iraq War and no one, except a mad man, would accept the idea that this ancient book, devoid of the medical and scientific data developed in the past hundred years, actually prescribed divine rejection of homosexuality.

Because someone perfumes both ignorance and prejudice in religious jargon does not make it less ignorant or less prejudicial. To claim authority for either a failed war or an oppressive religion is a sign of serious mental illness. To have minds closed to any possibilities save those within the comfort zone of a certainty-creating religious or political wisdom is to be incapable of living in the real world. “

‘What Would Happen If the Virgin Mary Came to Bethlehem Today?’

December 26, 2006

The plight of pregnant women in the West Bank

by Johann Hari

A third of humanity gathered to celebrate the birth pains of a Palestinian refugee in Bethlehem – but two millennia later, another mother in another glorified stable in this rubble-strewn, locked-down town is trying not to howl.

Fadia Jemal is a gap-toothed 27-year-old with a weary, watery smile. “What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today? She would endure what I have endured,” she says.

Fadia clutches a set of keys tightly, digging hard into her skin as she describes in broken, jagged sentences what happened. “It was 5pm when I started to feel the contractions coming on,” she says. She was already nervous about the birth – her first, and twins – so she told her husband to grab her hospital bag and get her straight into the car.

They stopped to collect her sister and mother and set out for the Hussein Hospital, 20 minutes away. But the road had been blocked by Israeli soldiers, who said nobody was allowed to pass until morning. “Obviously, we told them we couldn’t wait until the morning. I was bleeding very heavily on the back seat. One of the soldiers looked down at the blood and laughed. I still wake up in the night hearing that laugh. It was such a shock to me. I couldn’t understand.”

Her family begged the soldiers to let them through, but they would not relent. So at 1am, on the back seat next to a chilly checkpoint with no doctors and no nurses, Fadia delivered a tiny boy called Mahmoud and a tiny girl called Mariam. “I don’t remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital,” she says now. For two days, her family hid it from her that Mahmoud had died, and doctors said they could “certainly” have saved his life by getting him to an incubator.

“Now Mariam is at an age when she asks me where her brother is,” Fadia says. “She wants to know what happened to him. But how do I explain it?” She looks down. “Sometimes at night I scream and scream.” In the years since, she has been pregnant four times, but she keeps miscarrying. “I couldn’t bear to make another baby. I was convinced the same thing would happen to me again,” she explains. “When I see the [Israeli] soldiers I keep thinking – what did my baby do to Israel?”

Since Fadia’s delivery, in 2002, the United Nations confirms that a total of 36 babies have died because their mothers were detained during labour at Israeli checkpoints. All across Bethlehem – all across the West Bank – there are women whose pregnancies are being disturbed, or worse, by the military occupation of their land.

Christmas 2006

December 22, 2006

All this was a long time ago, I remember
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death?

T.S. Eliot Journey of the Magi

Birth and death.
December chill brings Pinochet’s death
the sycophantic thug, another free market criminal
good friend to the Chicago Boys.
He turned Chile into a torture centre,
stashed $20 mill in foreign banks,
still a hero to Thatcher and market fundamentalists,
and Kissinger, Charlie McCarthy to Edgar Bergen’s Nixon,
took his orders – made Chile scream.
The pyromaniacs set fire to Chile’s democracy
Latin America’s 9/11, this time 1973 and the Kiss said:
“I don’t see why we need to stand idly by and watch a country
go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”
In 1998 human rights activists finally caught him in London,
detained him, sent the bum home where he feigned
ill health. Now his dancing partner Kissinger can’t travel
anywhere.

December’s chill also brings the death of the American frat boy’s
imperial nightmare: Mission accomplished!
A lie can not last forever and the neo con game is once again
laid bare built on a farrago of lies and the blood of too many
innocents.

Augusto and W, both agents of Pharaoh, Herod’s henchmen.

Ah, but the birth in the stable reminds us of another kingdom
where the lowly are exalted, the earth is venerated
and the fresh air inhaled in the Palestinian night comes
as sweet, sweet grace.
The cry of the newborn Christ child echoes through
the centuries: liberty for all, bread for all, shelter for all.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

December 20, 2006

FRANCIS BOYLE

It was December of 1991 and I was serving as Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations in Washington DC. The Israelis were stalling, not even negotiating in bad faith, and the Americans were doing nothing to get the negotiations underway. This had been going on for three weeks and Christmas was fast approaching.

Those of us on the Palestinian Team who were Christian were wondering if we were going to be able to get home for Christmas–many Palestinians are Christian, the original Christians, going back to Jesus Christ and the Apostles themselves.

I would periodically check in with my wife and two sons at the time–little boys. My poor, sweet wife had to do all the Christmas preparations by herself without me. So the weekend before Christmas I called her up to say I still did not know if or when I would be coming home. My oldest son who had just turned 5 talked to me on the phone: Daddy why aren’t you home for Christmas? Well son, I’m trying to help the Palestinians. Daddy, why are you doing that?

Hard to explain the entire Middle East conflict to a five-year old, so I put it into terms he could understand: Son, you know that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem don’t you? Yes Daddy. Well I am here with the Mayor of Bethlehem and some other Palestinian leaders. They are my friends and I am their lawyer. I am working with the Mayor of Bethlehem to help all the Palestinian Children have a merry Christmas. Ok Daddy.

We got the word we could go home for Christmas on December 23 and I got on the first flight out of DC getting home just on time for Christmas Eve with my Family.

Yesterday I attended UCC Church Services here with my Family. When it came time for prayers from the congregation, I got up and asked everyone to help the Palestinians along the following lines: Bethlehem is cut-off and surrounded by the Israeli army–the Church of the Nativity too. The Israelis are inflicting ethnic cleansing upon all the Palestinian, both Muslims and Christians. They are also pursuing a policy of deliberately forcing Palestinian Christians out of Palestine as part of a perverse strategy to turn a war of national liberation into a religious crusade, figuring it would play better in the United States.

And these are the original Christians, going back to Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Meanwhile, the United States government is financing it all to the tune of $5 billion per year. Everyone in this Congregation has gifts given to them by God. So go out and do something to help the Palestinians!

Francis A. Boyle, Professor of Law, University of Illinois, is author of Foundations of World Order, Duke University Press, The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, and Palestine, Palestinians and International Law, by Clarity Press.

Gunslinger in the Vatican?

December 18, 2006

According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa,(Nov.4,2006) Pope Benedict XVI has invited Henry Kissinger the 83-year-old former adviser to Richard Nixon to be a political consultant and Kissinger has accepted. Can this horror scenario possibly be true?According to the far-right Catholic paper National Catholic Register which carried the story at the end of November with nary a negative caveat, the Nobel laureate and war criminal is to form part of a papal “advisory board” on foreign and political affairs.

The question remains: Can this pope be that stupid and insensitive?

The answer is yes. The recent gaffe vis a vis Islam indicates that this scholarly cleric does not get out much into the real world or he would not have made such an extraordinary boner. To hire Kissinger would be a mistake of even greater magnitude than his Islamic misadventure. But then you can see how such mistakes are made—particularly if you take advice from the Michael Novaks and John Neuhauses of the world. You may remember this pair, along with George Weigel tried to convince John Paul ll to park his visceral anti Iraq war war stance. They are all Republican neocons and if they have had any shame about Iraq, I have not yet heard of it.

Let’s outline in the briefest terms the sordid career of this venal man, Kissinger. And since Pinochet has gone to his reward, heavenly or otherwise, let’s begin with Chile and his role in orchestrating the murder, first of René Schneider, the head of the Chilean military who would not play hard ball and trash the constitional role of the army. Then segue to the subversion of the Allende government, and the subsequent killing of over 3,000 Chileans and the fall of democracy there. Following the 1998 arrest of Augusto Pinochet, in England at the request of Spanish judge Balthazar Garzon, Kissinger is no longer apt to be shielded behind sovereign immunity.

Let’s then go back to Vietnam and read Seymour Hersh’s (The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House 1983) account of the cynical prolongation of the war which claimed over one million Vietnamese civilian lives, not to mention 58,000 American soldiers. Four more years of death because he was able to convince the Vietnamese that they would get a better deal from Nixon than either Johnson or Humphrey; then we have the illegal bombing of Laos and Cambodia (Only 500,000 app. killed). We are talking literally thousands of deaths because of this man’s geopolitical pawn games. Investigative reporter John Prados gives us a good flavour of the man’s absolute amorality. He quotes from a secret 1975 meeting when Gerald Ford was president. “It is an act of insanity and national humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering assassination.” Maybe that’s where Israel learned about extra-judicial asassinations. So much for the rule of law and the high moral ground.Then we could cite the go ahead he gave to Suharto’s invasion of East Timor in that dark period of Indonesian and East Timorese history.Bishop Carlos Belo might have something to tell Benedict about this.

Enough. Gore Vidal’s witty remark suffices. Watching Kissinger contemplating the famous Last Judgment scene on the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, the former cracked, “Look Henry’s apartment hunting.”

Benedict XVl needs to get real if there is a scintilla of truth about hiring Kissinger. What’ll he advise Benny to do? Proscribe all Catholics who think differently? Stage a coup, hire informers and replace any bishop who has an independent thought? Hell, that’s all been done. Simply stated, there’s just too much blood on Kissinger’s hands for employment in the Vatican. Benedict has already alienated the Muslim world. Expect another uproar among serious Christians and folks of conscience if this nightmare scenario proves to be true.

John Foster Dulles,the grim Christian

December 16, 2006

There is a marvelous saying by whom I do not know. It pertains to blind eyed fanatics for whom the truth is incidental. They come in all shapes, religions, in every epoch and in every country where patriotism is suborned by nationalism. The classic true believer is Dostoyevski’s Grand Inquisitor, a dunce so obtuse that he had no hint that he has long fled the authentic companionship of Jesus. The saying goes,and I paraphrase, “I’d rather face 10,000 fanatics on horseback than one Presbyterian who is convinced he’s right.” With ecumenical apologies to Presbyterians who of course have no monopoly on grim certitude, I present to you John Foster Dulles (b.1888).

Dulles was Eisenhower’s Secretary of State from 1953-1958.This was a period of intense flux in the world—the breaking of colonial empires and the deep freeze of the Cold War. It was also a time of tremendous religious conformity. Dulles grandfather had been a Presbyterian missionary in India and his father a pastor in Waterdown, New York. He came to his deep religiosity as a matter of habit-three services on Sunday and several others during the week.His father had him memorize biblical passages and he was well on his way to the ministry, following in his father’s footsteps,until he hit Princeton University.It was there that he discovered that he might indeed be granted a bigger pulpit in the service of his country and humanity. He then set his eyes on the job of Secretary of State. This bully pulpit was to be his when his friend New York governor Thomas Dewey was set to become president in 1948. After Truman’s stunning upset, Dulles had to wait until Eisenhower’s victory in 1952 to assume the job.

By then 65 years of age,Dulles indeed had imbibed the toxic American brew which has haunted the United States since its inception. It is called American exceptionalism, the idea that somehow America has been destined to be “the shining city on a hill”, an absolutely unique nation, endowed with unquestioned virtue, in the words of novelist Herman Melville, ”the Israel of our times.” This is an idea so deeply ingrained in the American psyche that it is virtually unassailable and self evident. 9/11 hit Americans like a shattering explosion. “Why do they hate us?” was the cry of incomprehension. There was no collective understanding that so many nations did not share Americans high opinions of themselves, and their undisputed global altruism.

The staggering hubris of the incurious George W Bush that Americans had the right to wage war irrespective of domestic criticism or universal condemnation is a classic example of this exceptionalism. “We are trying to lead the world,” was W’s lame excuse. And like many of his presidential predecessors from McKinley to Clinton, it was always for the good of the world—never about markets and doing the bidding of corporations. Yet it was not always like this. George Washington, the great hero of their own colonial war against Great Britain, had warned his own people not to export what was beyond their own interest. Washington was a Deist not a hard core Christian like Dulles and as we have discovered, there is no motivation which drives people like that of religion, the idea that the Creator has willed it so and you are but His obedient servant.

Dulles, as noted had been raised in a strict Presbyterian household on his father’s side but on his mother’s side he grew up mid extraordinary affluence and privilege, spending much time with his maternal grandfather Foster who had been Secretary of State in the Harrison administration. Foster also was on many powerful boards and included among his clients and friends the Carnegies and Bernard Baruch.

Dulles became a lawyer then a partner in Sullivan and Cromwell, a firm that dutifully served the most powerful corporations in America and the biggest cartels which supported the rise of Hitler.In 1954, now Secretary of State, Dulles engineered the coup which destroyed democracy in Guatemala.For him it was simple.He had been on the board oft he United Fruit Company whose unused lands the popular president Arbenz wished to nationalize. Guatemala’s effrontery clashed with Dulles’ twin principles: a hatred of Communism and loyal service to corporations. The problem was (and this would consistently hobble the US, Guatemala was not communist.) The Cold War had radically skewed American perceptions of the nascent reformist nationalism sweeping the world.

John Foster Dulles was a political and moral disaster, one of the mid-century architects of imperial America. Universally described as cold, aloof, calculating and absolutely sure of himself. he was betrayed by the suffocating narrowness of his patrician history, and his sheltered and privileged life. All of this was tragically overlayed by his misplaced arrogant piety, the staggering conviction the God of peace and justice had somehow blessed him in his Macchiavellian endeavours. Unwittingly he caused untold havoc to both his country and the global community. One of his biographers, Leonard Mosley said that Dulles’s brother Allan (who headed the CIA) and sister Eleanor, “sensed in their brother a chilling capacity to be completely dispassionate, to reduce even the most anguishing problem to a question of expediency.” This hardly describes the authentic religious sensibility.

Dulles had absolutely no interest or respect for the countries he was subverting (Iran was another, as was Vietnam). This narrow minded Christian was absolutely convinced of his own righteousness which coincided naturally with America’s exceptional mission as God’s surrogate . Humility did not appear to be his long suit. in this way he helped pave the way to the present American disaster in Iraq, one which the late Arkansas senator William Fullbright would have called, “the arrogance of empire.”

Overthrow: the Chilean disaster

December 14, 2006

Tis the season, if you can’t be jolly, try a little truth-telling.And that’s exactly what Stephen Kinzer has done in his elegantly written popular history Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change. The veteran New York Times reporter, a former Bureau chief in Turkey Guatemala and Berlin prepares us for what lies ahead:

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not an isolated episode. It was the culmination of a 110-year period during which Americans overthrew fourteen governments that displeased them for various ideological, political, and economic reasons.

Though the book has been out since April, I just got around to it now and avidly promote it as a nice gift for American friends and relatives for whom much of this will, lamentabile dictu, be surprising news. This is not recently declassified material but it is simply written and timely, coming as it does after the catastrophic debacle of GW Bush’s folly in Iraq. Kinzer deals with this in his last chapters. It is however his work in the four classic coups-Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam and Chile which makes this book a first rate primer on the follies and arrogance of empire. Kinzer has produced two fuller length books on Iran and Guatemala, so what you have here is the best Vietnam and Chile for Dummies that you are likely to find.

This is not to say that his earliest chapters when the empire was just warming up in Hawaii, Porto Rico and Cuba are not interesting. They are, as are the minor take downs of Grenada and Panama. A pathetic case of Ronald Reagan making America feel good about itself after the slaughter of 252 marines in Lebanon. A hammer swatting mosquitoes but it sure makes us feel good.Undoubtedly, the heart of this book is the beautifully concise evisceration of American stupidity and stunning exceptionalism which the latest debacle is finally forcing the empire to come to terms with.

The recent death of the arch thug and sycophant, Pinochet directs us to Kinzer’s excellent summary of the U S. involvement in the destruction of Chilean democracy. Again it is the brain child of another war wimp, Richard Nixon who attended the Quaker college Whittier. As some wag said years ago about one of the most reviled (pre Bush) presidents in U.S. history,”If only he had made the football team.”

Salvador Allende, A socialist had won the presidency of Chile on September 4,1970. Agustin Edwards one of Chile’s richest men and owner of the largest paper El Mercurio, could not stomach the possibility and went directly to Edward Korry the US ambassador to ask for his help. Korry told him the US would do nothing. Edwards would not take no for an answer and flew to New York to go over Korry’s head. Edwards went to Donald Kendall the head of Pepsi Cola and told Kendal Chile was about to fall under communist rule.Richard Nixon had prior to the Oval Office, been a lawyer for Kendal.On September 14, Kendal met Nixon and Chile’s fate was sealed.Richard Helms the head of the CIA at that time took notes of that meeting and one command of Nixon’s stood out: “Make Chile’s economy scream.”

Prior to this destabilization campaign, from 1950-1969 4,000 Chilean officers had already been schooled at the notorious School of the Americas, then located in the Panama Canal zone. This is the same school which largely catholic activists have been trying to close for years because of its nefarious role in teaching counterinsurgency t and torture techniques to its many graduates, one of whom was Augusto Pinochet. This rabid anticommunist and anti-Marxist indoctrination was aimed at domestic control of local populations who might be so stupid as to vote for the eradication of poverty and more social justice in their countries.

Nixon had made a stark choice.Instead of building up Latin America’s democratic left as both Johnson and Kennedy had opted for, he cast his lot with the business elite and the military because of his close corporate connections. After all as one former president so honestly said, “the business of America is business.”

It was here that the oleagenous Henry Kissinger, a man bereft of any scruples, truly made his Machiavellian mark. As one of his longtime associates Lawrence Eagleburger said about him,”Americans tend to want to pursue a set of moral principles. Henry does not have an intrinsic feel for the American political system and he does not start with the same values.”

Nixon’s orders were to the point.To the US ambassador Korry Nixon raged, “That son of a bitch,Allende.We’re going to smash him.” Economic levers were primed-the cutting of loans and credit; opposition parties funded;ITT,Kennecott and Anaconda (Copper was Chile’s number one export),Firestone,Pfizer and a host of others radically slowed the economy down.On July 11,1971 the Chilean Congress authorized the nationalization of Kennecott and Anaconda, both of whom were accused by Allende of making immorally high profits.He paid them 12% per year and to Allende’s reckoning they had made $774 million in excess profits.On the other side, radical supporters of Allende pressured the president to move even faster. And then there was Kissinger’s famous quip” “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.”

Nixon and Kissinger found their traitor Augusto Pinochet and Chile descended into a country ruled by fear; over 3,000 were killed, thousands tortured and economic ruin, the failed nostrums of the Chicago Boys, Milton Friedman’s disciples descended on what had been a model democracy. When Pinochet seized the government, Chile’s unemployment rate was 4.3%. after ten years of free-market castor oil, unemployment reached 22%. In 1970, 20% of Chile’s population lived in poverty. By 1990 when Pinochet left office, the number of poor had doubled to 40%.

Now the survivors of the nightmare have been denied their day of court. An old Latin expression says, De mortuis, nisi bonum.(About the dead, say nothing but good.”) A more fitting aphorism might be that of the Bard’s: “ The evil which men do lives after them ; The good is oft interred with their bones.”

Kinzer’s book is an excellent primer about the ongoing hubris of empire, an evil ripping apart the lives of Iraqis and the American cannon fodder so cruelly plucked from poverty and ignorance to further the delusional dream of the underdeveloped frat boy and his cynical advisors.

Cardinal Hummes eats Vatican crow

December 8, 2006

Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the 72 year old Brazilian cardinal is merely the latest Catholic church man to state the obvious that “celibacy is not a dogma”. On December 2 he told a Brazilian newspaper that the Vatican “may revise the question” and that “most of the disciples were married.” Immediately the word travelled around the world and poor Cardinal Hummes had to eat some Vatican crow, offering all kinds of caveats which amounted to “Don’t get your hopes up any too soon.”

Hummes has lived in the real world and has had much experience with the poor of Brazil especially in the area of workers’ rights. At present he is watching as Latin America is rapidly abandoning the Catholic Church in favour of Protestant sects. There are simply not enough priests to stem the leakage.

A leading papal candidate, Hummes, possibly to to prove his bona fides, made the shocking statement that, loosening the centuries-old rule would not help boost the number of clergy. Every study has indicated otherwise.Most suggest it would quadruple the number of priests.

The plain fact is that the Church is fishing in an overfished pool. If it were to cast its net in other pools of the faithful, the fish woud come leaping out. A healthier church would begin to take shape.

The hypocrisy however will continue.Hummes well knows that concubinage is rampant in Latin America and Africa;North American and European Catholics shake their heads as married priests coming over from other Christian communions are welcomed into the thinning ranks of priesthood while married Catholics with a greater feel for Catholic culture and history are rejected.When married priests join the Catholic church they take an oath to be quiet about their shift and not give “undue publicity”. As well they must agree to “secondary celibacy”.Should the spouse die, they must swear that they will not remarry.That old devil sex rears its head again.

Meanwhile the hierarchical Church in its desperation to keep the system functioning squirms as it knows that the priesthood is becoming known as a gay occupation. One of the tragic causes of the pedophile crisis was the terrible pressure bishops felt keeping
churches open-even with criminals abusing children. Instead of demanding Rome wake up to the whole crisis and start doing the obvious—ordain healthy heterosexuals, male and female, they turned these monsters loose on our children.

Too bad Cardinal Hummes did not stay the course and start pushing for the obvious solution.

Advent

December 3, 2006

By Daniel Berrigan

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss –
This is true: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, 
that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, 
hunger and poverty, death and destruction –
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, 
and that war and destruction rule forever –

This is true: For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given, 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world –
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, 
and lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,
who are the prophets of the Church, before we can be peacemakers.
This is true: I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your young shall see visions,
and your old shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for the liberation of humanity, for justice, human dignity, and
peace are not meant for this earth and for this history –

This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that true worshippers
shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope.
Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.
Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage:
Jesus Christ — the Life of the world.

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