Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

News which made me laugh

November 24, 2014


A first, on Bill Maher’s HBO show which runs of Friday nights.

Maher is a funny smart guy, an English grad from Cornell who actually reads books and follows the news.His whole show and the bright guests he brings on, comment on the events of the day.Maher’s wit provides the laughs.He always has some Tea Party type on,  usually a guy who makes you wonder about democracy.There’s always a lead off interview with newsmaker-Maher plays it straight and  is a good interviewer.Last week he had Naomi Klein on.

Now nobody’s perfect and Maher has real blind spots about religion.He even made a bad movie about “believers called Religulosus or something like that, a cringe inducing types cheap shot at the most embarrassing types of Christians..An ex-Catholic he prides himself on his atheism.He loves Dawkins and Sam Harris. He will never have a sharp Jesuit on who might disrupt Bill’s cardboard versions of Christianity.

Last week Andrew Sullivan appeared, a frequent guest, thoughtful gay Catholic who blogs for the Atlantic. They both gushed over the authentic Catholicism of Francis and his canning of one of the worst “serf decorator” Cardinals we’ve seen in a long time.Cardinal Burke.

Then they got to the nub.The very difficult job of a a pope who has totally embraced Vatican ll taking on the sad Yes men  JP ll and Ratzinger inflicted on Catholicism, widely considered a buch of croppers whose main talent was to obsess over pelvic orthodoxy, men who answered only to the constituency of one—Rome and totally ignored the best educated generation of Catholics in history.These bishops ( Canada is full  share)of are like deer caught in the headlights,so out of touch with the authentic evangelical thrust of Francis that they do appear like cardboard dummies.They just wished he’d go away. an interest discussion

Funny it happened on a comedian’s show and not on the CBC or CTV.

Pope Francis obviously a commie

October 30, 2014


Pope Francis said Catholic social teaching defines “land, shelter and work” as “sacred rights,” yet “if I speak of this some people conclude that the pope is a communist.”

Francis is riffing the great bishop of Recife,Brazil, Dom Helder Camara who used the line 40 years ago. John Paul ll fixed him and replaced him with an Opus Dei bishop who never had the smell of the sheep on him.

He urged an international gathering of grassroots social activists to struggle against the “structural causes” of poverty and inequality, with a “revolutionary” program drawn from the Gospels.

“The poor no longer wait, they seek to be protagonists, they organize, study, work, demand and, above all, practice that special solidarity that exists among those who suffer, among the poor,” the pope said Oct. 28, to a Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Popular Movements.


Most of the JP ll bishops would never go near such a meeting.They don’t go where they can not control the agenda.And poor people.Forget it.


The pope said solidarity entails struggling “against the structural causes of poverty, inequality, the lack of work, land and shelter, the denial of social and labor rights,” and confronting what he called the “empire of money.”

“Today I want to join my voice to yours and accompany you in your struggle.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if Canadain bishops showed such solidarity with working people?

Pope Francis said Catholic social teaching defines “land, shelter and work” as “sacred rights,” yet “if I speak of this some people conclude that the pope is a communist.”

Deploring the displacement of his “brother peasants” from their “native soil,” the pope warned that traditional rural life is at “risk of extinction.” He also said “financial speculation” on food prices was to blame for the starvation of millions around the world.

“I’ve said and I repeat: a home for every family,” Pope Francis said. “Family and shelter go hand in hand.”

Obviously a commie or a fellow traveller.

Torah not the uniting factor?

September 30, 2014



That wonderful reporter from the NY Times Laurie Goodstein was at her best when she sussed out reactions which are simmering in the rabbinate over the stunning disproportionate response in the latest Gaza slaughter(515 Palestinian kids killed.


The usual childish responses were in evidence: I quit the synagogue because you criticized israel.(she didn’t but prayed for those dead kids and Israeli soldiers).3 left the synagogue. One said she was spreading Hamas propaganda. What planet are these so called religious on?
Goodstein reported that that many rabbis say it is impossible to have a civil conversation about Israel in their synagogues. Just too hot to touch. And the High Holy days are here!


The big problem is that young Jews raised in the USA have an inherent appreciation of human rights and can’t stomach Netanyahu and his coterie of warriors. They have exited the synagogue.

On the other hand the Alte kockers, the old folks mit the geld (no translation necessary) are more attached to israel as are the volunteers.
An interesting comment, candid to be sure was from Montreal rabbi Ron Aigen
It used to be that Israel was always the uniting factor in the Jewish world,said the reb who has served Congregation Dorshei Emet in Montreal for 39 years. “But it’s become contentious and sadly, I think it is driving people away from the organized Jewish community. Even trying to be centrist and balanced and present two sides of the issue, it is fraught with danger.”
The worst part of Goodstein’s article was this comment:
Israel is still, without a doubt, the spiritual center and the fondest cause of global Jewry.
The kindest thing you can say about this if its true: this is idolatry, making a state not the God of justice your god.

For young teachers: read the signs

September 22, 2014


What we saw in New York City  on Sunday and in several other global cities is called “a sign of the times.” During the Second Vatican Council the Church said in Gaudium et Spes (1965): To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.”

The “signs of the times” was a direct quote from Matthew’s Gospel. He has Jesus saying:
When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 16:3

In other words,  you are pretty good at reading nature’s clues  such as the colour of the sky means fair weather but are clueless at discerning the finger of God in history.

Where is the Divine calling us? What is the holy voice of God saying to us at this moment in time?  What message is he addressing to me while I am on my smart phone, cruising the mall as a fashionista etc

Since the end of the Council 50 years ago there have been many “signs’ or distinctive  messages which are indisputably of God. To name a few: The cry of the poor (as evidence in Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement, the growing awareness from new media sources that our human family, largely in the south needs dramatic help while the top 1% are living like gilded royalty; the cry of peace and latterly the  desperate cry of the earth—the tidal waves, the bizarre weather patterns, the melting icebergs etc

As teachers  the above sign is speaking directly to you.
What do students at any level see as they look at you?


Are you a mere technician passing on information or are you a committed campaigner for God’s reign on earth (the kingdom)?


Are you another adult whose actions do not match the gospel call for transformation?


Are you one more reason why the Church  has so little credibility today?
Just what kind of a role model are you?
Rabbi Heschel tells us


Everything depends on the person who stands
in front of the classroom. The teacher is either a witness
or a stranger. To guide a pupil into the promised land,
the teacher must have been there themselves.
When asking themselves: Do I stand for what I teach?,
Do I believe what I say?, the teacher must be able to
answer in the affirmative. What we need more than
anything else is not textbooks, but text people.


The promised land is not only in the classroom but in the streets.

Climate Justice

September 18, 2014



I have set before you life and death. choose life that you and your descendants may live.
Deuteronomy 30:19

Fundamentally the task is not to articulate not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—embedded in interdependence rather than hyperindividualism…
Naomi Klein This Changes Everything

On the climate issue, the world’s biggest corporate polluters and pushers of unsustainable rates of consumption are hell bent on maintaining ‘business as usual’ and are working alone and in groups [and at the UN] to ensure that climate policies will not interfere with the profitability of their operations.
Polaris Institute.


The marvelous pastor and founder of Sojourners Magazine in Washington Jim Wallis struck a deep chord when he said about meetings in parishes: If they are not connected to a movement outside they are wasting their time. It’s like navel gazing. This would describe most of the parishes in Toronto’s GTA and I imagine most cities. There seems to be little awareness that the gospel mandate is to transform cultures and worlds. and this can only be done by movements, and joining with others. Think the abolitionist Movement and Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement. Pictures of those latter years saw nuns, priests and rabbis marching with Dr. King. Nowadays if Catholics aren’t leading the parade they are not in it. Control is the name of the game.

Many years ago a great friend of mine took over a parish and immediately handed the basement over to the Peace movement. He was a sophisticated prelate who understood the above insight. It’s about being the leaven in the loaf, the powerful gospel values of shalom, peace and sustainable creation. Most parishes have no clue. More are depending on foreign clergy who have no sense of Canadian Social Teaching. They tend in varying ways to a sacramental model of church offering religious services but never engaging in a socially prophetic solidarity praxis with other groups. Certainly some good things go on but they offer no challenge to the broader culture and in terms of climate justice, they are ignoring the greatest sacrament of all, planet earth and the damage being done to it.

Can they be this obtuse to the ravaging of the climate? Are they not aware that that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased last year at the fastest rate in 30 years, in Naomi Klein’s words “gases that will trap heat for generations to come, creating a world that is hotter, colder,wetter. thirstier, hungrier, angrier.”. Do they watch the news? Are the signs of the times that hidden? Do they really believe that band aids like recycling, changing light bulbs and re-using are the answer? Talk about a parallel universe!

This weekend in New York City the biggest climate justice march in history is taking place in New York City. over 1000 groups are backing the march. It would be interesting to see how many parishes are joining in. Why was I not surprised when I found out the Jesuit parish St Francis Xavier was big on promoting the march. In the bulletin I read the following

Join Us for the People’s Climate March – Sep. 21st
Let’s participate as a parish to let the world know that we are concerned about climate change as a moral and social justice issue, that we care about creation, and we care about protecting the most vulnerable from extreme weather events and other catastrophes caused by climate change.
This is a model for what all parishes should be doing. Hats off to the Jesuits and also to Pax Christi USA.

Certainly in Toronto there is absolutely no episcopal leadership in dealing with the greatest moral issue extant today.  If my friend were alive today he would have a Serra Club or Friends of the Earth club in his basement. He would be connecting with others bringing the gospel mandate of care for creation into the larger stream.



The brilliant secular Jew Naomi Klein in her latest prophetic tome This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate uses language which is deeply religious and which mirrors the fire that the mad followers of the Galilean carpenter exhibited and which inspires engaged Catholics today: the power of ferocious love. It is this power which is beginning to mobilize against the rape of the earth and the depredations of the turbocapitalism we see today. It is this economic model so beloved by our Prime Minister Stephen Harper which is waging war against the common good and against all kinds of life on earth.


May the four days of protest in New York keep the fire going

The smell of formaldehyde permeates the institution

September 17, 2014


To destroy other species carelessly is not only to violate the sacramental nature of creation; it is also to turn away from the promise embedded in all of creation….When we fail to protect our planet, when we hasten the demise of species, we erase testimony to divine goodness in the world.
Sr. Elizabeth Johnson

The ecological crisis is a moral issue
Pope John Paul ll


Often when you go into a Catholic church today, the smell that hits you is formaldehyde. Many of these edifices in the Toronto area are falling down and the poor pastors are on the nut for the necessary repairs.

But I am thinking of deeper repairs as in St. Francis admonition, “Repair my church.” Jelly Roll Morton the great New Orleans composer wrote,”open the windows and let the bad air out.” As a matter of fact this was one of the reigning metaphors when Vatican ll started—open the windows and as the great pope John XXlll said “Surely it is high time, and surely it would be to everyone’s advantage to ‘shake off the dust of the Empire that has gathered since Constantine’s day on the throne of St. Peter”.

Well the stale air has slowly crept back into the institution as the Vatican ll priests are departing and lay people have moved on into kingdom-like movements. Many of course remain hoping that a Vatican ll pope can create some hope at the base. But this is a long term project as reactionary bishops appointed by the previous two popes are running major dioceses.

Many faithful people have departed the institution as more and more it appears that it is either living in a parallel universe wholly disconnected from the great movements of history or it continues to be buried under mounds of earth, the dust of empire. It is   a model of church which has become almost totally irrelevant. These Catholics are indeed responding to the omnipresent and often stark “signs of the time” the rallying cry of the great Council. We were told to pay attention to the outbreak of the divine in history holy sparks and divine shafts of light. They are Spirit moments of the reign of God. We have had some dramatic ones since the early 60s: the cry of women, the cry of the poor and now the dramatic cry of the earth: climate justice.



I look around these churches, read the bulletins and again the smell of formaldehyde. They seem to be in a parallel universe, totally out of touch with “the signs ‘of the times’. They continue to believe that the Holy Roman Church owns the Spirit but John’s gospel warned us that “the Spirit blows where it wills” and today a holy gale force win=d is howling in pain as Mother Earth is being desecrated.



John Paul ll came late to this party but woke in 1990:a new ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS is beginning to emerge which, rather than being downplayed, ought to be encouraged to develop into concrete programs and initiatives. The pope flagged poverty, war and consumerist lifestyle as constitutive parts of the ecological problem. At the conclusion of his prophetic message the pope addressed the Catholic faithful:I should like to address directly my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church, in order to remind them of their serious obligation to care for all creation.



Alas the formaldehyde parishes continue on almost totally ignoring this invitation. It’s business as usual at the local, a massive disconnect from the cry of the earth. We baptize and confirm outside of history As Sr. Elizabeth Johnson says, It’s as though the planet were undergoing its agony in the garden, and we, the disciples of Jesus, are curled up fast asleep. Waking up to our own role in this crisis will require a dramatic course correction, a reorienting of our ethical compass away from ourselves alone and toward all creation. In a word, ecological conversion requires profound humility.

Nietzsche maintained that the churches were the graves of God. more and more that’s how the young are perceiving them. Not that some good band aid charity work goes on but the deep call of justice is not heard. So the young move on.


This weekend 200,000 are gathering in New York City to channel the cry of the earth. The international climate justice movement has stated correctly I believe that the march in New York and mobilizations worldwide will be historic, but that these events are just the beginning

You can bet there will be many Catholics there but not their institutional leaders.

More tomorrow,

South African churches get it

July 29, 2014



In June 2014 the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to divest from three companies doing business with Israel:in the Occupied Territories. Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard. The story  hardly covered in our newspapers is a virtual primer on the role of the Christian church under advanced capitalism.

In 2003 a young solidarity worker from The United States Rachel Corrie  was crushed to death in Gaza as she tried to prevent the razing of a Palestinian home The spotlight  was directed to the manufacturer of the Israeli bulldozer that killed her. Israel had been buying and “weaponising” Caterpillar bulldozers then using them to demolish Palestinian homes, build settlements and the separation wall, clear land to build Jewish-only roads, uproot olive and fruit trees, and carry out military operations.

This gave impetus to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement(BDS) which helped to bring down the quintessential apartheid state South Africa. It is a tried nonviolent measure to help bring countries to their senses. South Africa sensing that it had become a universal pariah for its racist segregationist policies finally capitulated.

Nobody hated the country but disliked its awful policies. Remember at the time the Dutch Reformed Church was the voice of the the establishment.  For decades it justified the unjustifiable. Once again bad theology produced bad practice. Many great Christians like Desmond Tutu, Beyers Naudé and the Catholic archbishop of Durban Denis Hurley distinguished themselves in this struggle.

The contemporary South African Catholic Church apparently gets it and supports the present BDS Movement. They have the lived experience to fall back on. They supported BDS when it happened. They see a striking parallel, not an exact replica for sure but the same demonic features in Israel:L dispossession, racism marginalization and humiliation. True biblical discipleship demands solidarity not weak-kneed sympathy. It demands pastoral planning and calls to action. Both are missing in Toronto and New York inter alios.

The Roman Catholic Church in North America is still too compromised, too timorous, too afraid of Jewish reaction to speak the prophetic word. Notice in the following statement supported by the Roman Catholic Church in South Africa the note of lamentation in the backing away from social justice. There are several reasons for this which I will address in future  posts



Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Challenging injustice through the courage of faith

The South African Christian community through the South African Council of Churches (SACC), South African Conference of Bishops of the Catholic Churches (SACBC) and other several ecumenical agencies join the other parts of the Church in the world to remember the Israeli/Palestinian people in their celebration of the 8th International Israeli Apartheid Week starting from the 5 -11 March.

Our participation in this Week is influenced highly by our own history of struggle and suffering in South Africa for over many decades when the values of justice, peace and love were suppressed in the interest of apartheid, division, exclusion and conflict. We found through the teachings of the Gospel how these values formed the core of Christ’s ministry.

It is only regrettable that the voice of the Church against injustice in our society is highly weakened today. It is an observation that South Africans have made with a desire now rekindled to resuscitate the voice of prophesy.

As this reflection is made on the life of our own nation in South Africa, many of you will remember that Israel remained the single supporter of apartheid when the rest of the world implemented economic sanctions, boycotts and divestments to force change in South Africa

Our brothers and sisters in Palestine have made a call in this regard, that we should question what kind of regime Israel is. And to this, after many debates and exchanges, the answer is that it shared and continues to share a similarity with the old South Africa in implementing apartheid where all non-Jews of Palestine are discriminated against, displaced of their land and homes, and subjected to refugee camps and a permanent state of violent military rule.

Today the Palestinians cry out to the world and to God, saying:

How long, O God, will they steal our livelihood? Oppress, imprison and humiliate our people? Deprive our children of their childhood? Indeed how long, God, will the multitudes of Christians of the world ignore the anguish of our Palestinian sisters and brothers and all of the oppressed?
From South Africa we are called to repent of this ignorance and oblivion we have shown. We are called to return to the way of truth, community in humanity and speak out from the podiums to the mountain tops. We are called to tell the truth and join in prayer, in the pursuit for justice, peace and love in their land.
In their Kairos Document, similar to the one South Africans put to the world in the 1980s, Palestinians say:

Our question to our brothers and sisters in the Churches today is: Are you able to help us get our freedom back, for this is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace, security and love?

Israeli Apartheid Week

We urge all South Africans and the Church in South Africa to join in the Awareness Campaign that over 100 Universities in the world including those in our country are engaging in during what is called Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW)

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, film screenings and multimedia displays) held -by ordinary people- in cities, communities, churches and campuses across the globe.
IAW seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and to mobilize support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Last year IAW was incredibly successful with over 90 cities worldwide, and 9 universities in South Africa, participating in the week’s events.  We now urge churches in South Africa to join in collective intercession for Freedom in Palestine before the Israel Apartheid Week takes place in different parts of the World. On the 4th of March we will join in collective prayer to bring Palestine to God our Father.

Poor judgement: “Radiant holiness.”

May 14, 2014



Catholics wonder how a palpable fraud and sycophant like Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the disgraced founder of the reactionary religious order the Legionnaires could pull the wool over so many eyes in the Catholic church. When the serial priest pedophile and father of children was finally cast aside by Cardinal Ratzinger and described by the future pope as living “a wasted, twisted life”. He had done much damage to the John Paul ll papacy. The latter’s promotion of Macial as “an efficacious leader of youth” called into question the pope’s suspect judgment and gave a necessary rethink to his papacy, As if the shocking canonization of Josemaria Escriva didn’t. another papal sycophant who poured money into Rome and got a free get out jail card from Pope JP ll who made Opus dei a personal prelature.
The Polish pope had a narrow vision. He should have copied leo xll who when they asked him about his successful term as pope (1878-1903) replied that he was never afraid to promote those who disagreed with him. The Woytyla record proved just the opposite and stopped reform dead in its tracks. The Catholic Church is still suffering from too many lame appointments.
JP ll was a sharp guy but like all of us circumscribed by his environment, in his case a narrow Polish background. He failed to reform the church in this image, particularly in the more educated countries where Catholics had grown immeasurably in their theological sophistication. The real heroes of this period were those brave theologians and lay people who resisted his attempts to do an end run around Vatican ll.25 lost years. a massive failure of nerve.
The pope did find many idolators who cast their sails to his narrow vision. Many of these were promoted and in diocese after diocese, new papal automata cropped up in parishes and in the media. Like W.H. Auden’s Average Man , “When there was peace they were for peace and when there was war they went.” The same ones now are thrown into confusion as a new wind blows from Rome
It is hilarious to watch the right wingers like George Weigel try to skirt their previous endorsement of arch fraud Fr Marcial. In 2002 Weigel wrote
I have been deeply impressed by the work of the Legionaries of Christ in the United States, in Mexico, and in Rome.If Father Maciel and his charism as a founder are to be judged by the fruits of his work, those fruits are most impressive indeed.”
What were the fruits? Huge amounts of money which rolled into the Vatican, pay offs to cardinals who should have known better, a far right wing order which turned its back on the thrust of the Council and genuflected to anything to come out of Rome.
Jason Berry the great New Orleans journalist assiduously tracked the promoters of Marcial and his order. He wrote:
The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon, and CNN political analyst Bill Bennett were among them. Glendon, now a Harvard law professor, scoffed at “old slanders”.
Boy was she wrong.
To say that Weigel, Glendon and Neuhaus — who asserted Maciel’s innocence as “a moral certainty” — were duped is to overstate the obvious. Clearly, they were influenced by John Paul’s own personal support for Maciel. Neuhaus even stated that there was no doubt about Marcial’s innocence. It was “a moral certainty.”
Weigel as Berry pointed out consistently whitewashed JP ll’s blindness in the pedophilia crisis. His 992 page tome on Pope Woytyla totally avoided the issue.
Berry again:
The book ignores widely reported clergy abuse cases that rocked America and Ireland in the 1990s: the charges that brought down Covenant House founder Fr. Bruce Ritter; the resignation of Archbishop Robert Sanchez of Santa Fe, N.M., amid allegations from young women; the $119 million jury verdict against the Dallas diocese in 1997 that was a subject of great conversation in the Congregation for the Clergy, according to former priest Christopher Kunze, who worked there at the time. Were these not issues for the pope?

The former ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon was similarly duped:
The recent revival of long discredited allegations against Father Maciel would come as a surprise were it not for the fact that the U.S. is currently experiencing a resurgence of anti-Catholicism. One would have thought that Father Neuhaus’s meticulous analysis of the evidence in First Things had put the matter to rest once and for all. As one who sat near Father Maciel for several weeks during the Synod for America, I simply cannot reconcile those old stories with the man’s radiant holiness.”

Radiant holiness.


Maureen Dowd on papal blindness

May 4, 2014



Saint John Paul ll according to the papal diktat  has entered the realm of those specially favoured by God. He was accompanied by the roly poly peasant pope, the man who turned the triumphalist Catholic church upside down Giovanni Roncalli. this  apparently pleased both wings of a highly polarized church.

We should understand that saints are humans, like all of us, have their flaws and that  is perfectly fine. Saint John Paul ll was no exception. A towering figure on the global stage, he was less  than inspirational in his own Catholic church. He was a man who constantly counseled  his co-believers to “be not afraid” yet he inspired much fear in those employed in the institutional church. He arbitrarily attempted to impose his view on the whole church. It was an anti-democratic, imperious view which constantly ignored collegial input from  fellow bishops and, as for the laity, he never considered  their views particularly if they did not buy his brand of restorationist policies.

One of his most obvious failings was his poor judge of character. He constantly promoted anti-intellectual and rigid dogmatists to vacant sees. These men were largely considered by church watchers more notable for their slavish adherence to everything which came out of Rome. They were never interested in the sensus fidelium of the people they were sworn to serve . They acted as branch plant managers of the unipolar line emanating from Rome. So many bishops had poor listening skills and were tone deaf to the signs of the times, the Spirit wisdom bubbling up in history—the cry of women, the voice of the people of God, the cry of the anguished  heart, the cry for ecumenical relations.


These men were part of the lost years, the ice age of Catholicism. The JP ll appointees in the end were idolaters of hard line papal edicts. In diocese after diocese the great men of Vatican ll were replaced by the grey men of John Paul ll.  Paralyzed by their dedication to an institution, they circled the wagons  and ignored Christ among  the vulnerable and broken lives of the sexually abused and their  shattered loved ones.

Two Catholics in the public eye, reacted to JP ll s elevation to sainthood. One at a time.

First, the lay voice of Catholic columnist Maureen Dowd of the New York Times. Dowd began her article by reminiscing about her own baptism as she attended mass at Nativity her childhood church. She then launched into a barely controlled tirade against the canonization of JP ll.


John Paul was a charmer, and a great man in many ways. But given that he presided over the Catholic Church during nearly three decades of a gruesome pedophilia scandal and grotesque cover-up, he ain’t no saint.

Dowd acknowledged the many talents of the late pope already acknowledged here, but then she quoted Ken Briggs, the well known religion writer:

This is a political balancing act, Unfortunately, the comparisons are invidious. John opened up the church to the world and J.P. II began to close it down again, make it into a more restricted community, putting boundaries up. He has a cloud hanging over his papacy.”



Then Dowd moved into high gear, opinions widely shared by many Catholics:

One of John Paul’s great shames was giving Vatican sanctuary to Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, a horrendous enabler of child abuse who resigned in disgrace in 2002 as archbishop of Boston. Another unforgivable breach was the pope’s stubborn defense of the dastardly Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado, a pedophile, womanizer, embezzler and drug addict.

Again we have here a stunning lack of papal judgment on the character of people whose greatest talents were fund raising and flattery.

Maciel according to his journalistic exposer Jason Berry was “the greatest fund-raiser for the postwar Catholic Church and equally its greatest criminal.”


Dowd again:

His order, the Legionaries of Christ, which he ran like a cult and ATM for himself and the Vatican for 65 years, denounced him posthumously in February for his “reprehensible and object. The statement followed a United Nations report upbraiding the church for turning a blind eye to child abuse by priests and the sins of Father Maciel, who had serially abused adolescent seminarians, some as young as 12, and had several children with at least two women. His sons also claimed he abused them..

Dowd went on to criticize JP ll for his woeful inaction in this area. Many Catholics agree with her. Saints like all of us have blind spots. Dowd is no less a Catholic for pointing this out.

Given the searing damage the scandal has done to so many lives and to the church, that rationalization that pope was kept in the dark doesn’t have a prayer. that the accusations were phony one He needed to recognize the scope of the misconduct and do something, not play the globe-trotting ostrich.




The tin ear bishops

April 13, 2014



Wilton Gregory the Atlanta bishop was shamed into selling his mansion after Germany’s Bishop of Bling was outed in Germany “We are disturbed and disappointed to see our church leaders not setting the example of a simple life as Pope Francis calls for” a parishioner wrote. Gregory who seems like a decent guy ate humble pie. Decent, yes but totally out of touch

“As the shepherd of this local church, a responsibility I hold more dear than any other, certainly more than any configuration of brick and mortar, I am disappointed that, while my advisers and I were able to justify this project fiscally, logistically and practically, I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility with the people of God of north and central Georgia,” he wrote in The Georgia Bulletin.

Now there’s an understatement..

You wonder just what guys like this are thinking—particularly given the still ghetto conditions in Georgia. And Gregory is a black man.

Well, privilege and isolation are no respecters of color. The celibate life too often isolates people from the harsh realities of this world. Too often there has been little accountability. Many never answer to the people they are sworn to serve.
One wonders if these people ever internalized the gospel. As one critic of Gregory sputtered, “Jesus was born in a stable.”



Now Pope Francis humble life style is starting to shame a whole class of bishops.
But New Jersey, Newark Archbishop John Myers still resists he is spending $500,000 to add a three-story, 3,000-square-foot addition to his already spacious retirement home. The new wing will include an indoor exercise pool, a hot tub, three fireplaces, a library and an elevator.

And this is Newark,an almost bombed out city.

Camden, New Jersey is worse,an almost wholly derelict city but that has not stopped Bishop Dennis Sullivan for spending $500,000 to buy a historic 7,000-square-foot mansion with eight bedrooms, six bathrooms, three fireplaces, a library, a five-car garage and an in-ground pool. The diocese said Sullivan needs the space to entertain dignitaries and donors.Sorry, Sully it doesn’t wash.


Pope Francis  has set a high bar for “the princes.”


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