Archbishop John Nienstedt quits after archdiocese charged with cover-up


Pope Francis has started making good on his promise to not let even the most senior churchmen get away with sex abuse or cover-up.

On Monday, he accepted the resignation of the embattled archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and his deputy bishop after prosecutors there charged the archdiocese with having failed to protect children from unspeakable harm from a pedophile priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys.

Separately, the Vatican indicted its own former ambassador to the Dominican Republic with sexually abusing minors in the Caribbean country — the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to stand trial for a sex crime.

The developments came days after Francis approved the creation of a new tribunal inside the Vatican to specifically hear cases of bishops accused of failing to protect minors, answering years of criticism that top-ranked churchmen have long been immune to punishment for ignoring or covering up for priests who rape and molest children

Earlier this month, prosecutors charged the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as a corporation of having “turned a blind eye” to repeated reports of inappropriate behavior by a priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys. No individual was named in the complaint.

The charges came two years after diocesan canon lawyer-turned-whistleblower Jennifer Haselberger alleged widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the archdiocese, saying archbishops and their top staff lied to the public and ignored the U.S. bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse…

With Monday’s resignations, there have been 18 bishops who have resigned after being publicly criticized for covering up for abusers, according to Anne Barrett Doyle of the online resource…

The criminal charges against the archdiocese stem from its handling of Curtis Wehmeyer, a former priest at Church of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for molesting two boys and faces prosecution involving a third boy in Wisconsin.

Prosecutors say church leaders failed to respond to “numerous and repeated reports of troubling conduct” by Wehmeyer from the time he entered seminary until he was removed from the priesthood in 2015. The criminal complaint says many people — including parishioners, fellow priests and parish staff — reported issues with Wehmeyer, and many of those claims were discounted.

Another one bites the dust.

When the dust settles will the Roman Catholic Church have become a force for good, seeking progress and a better life for all their flock? Or does the opportunity still exist among reactionaries, the self-concerned still in hierarchal positions of trust and power, to outlast the term of this Pope and resume “business as usual”?

Church of England refuses to allow female bishops – again!

The Church of England’s governing body blocked a move…to permit women to serve as bishops in a vote so close it failed to settle the question of female leadership and likely condemned the institution to years more debate on the issue.

The General Synod’s daylong debate ended with the rejection of a compromise that was intended to unify the faithful despite differing views on whether women should be allowed in the hierarchy. But backers failed to gain the necessary majority by six votes.

“There is no victory in the coming days,” said Rev. Angus MacLeay. “It is a train crash.”

The defeat was a setback for Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who retires at the end of December, and his successor, Bishop Justin Welby. Both had strongly endorsed a proposed compromise that would have respected the decision of those who objected to the ordination of women bishops.

Instead of ending decades of debate on the issue in the church, the narrow defeat opens the church, which has around 80 million members worldwide, to further years of internal discussions. It also forms an uncomfortable backdrop to the start of Welby’s leadership. He is due to be enthroned in March.

Read ’em and weep – if you believe in saving organized religion.

Here we have an official state religion in the industrial, educated, enlightened West – and they can’t find it in their hearts to move to equal rights in governance and leadership for women and men.


Former papal candidate: Catholic church is “200 years out of date”

The former archbishop of Milan and papal candidate Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said the Catholic church was “200 years out of date” in his final interview before his death.

Martini, once favoured by Vatican progressives to succeed Pope John Paul II and a prominent voice in the church until his death on Friday at the age of 85, gave a scathing account of a pompous and bureaucratic organisation failing to move with the times.

“Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,” Martini said in the interview published in Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

“The church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops. The paedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation,” he said in the interview, published on Saturday…

Martini, famous for saying that the use of condoms could be acceptable in some cases, told interviewers the church should open up to new kinds of families or risk losing its flock.

“A woman is abandoned by her husband and finds a new companion to look after her and her children. A second love succeeds. If this family is discriminated against, not just the mother will be cut off but also her children,” he said.

In this way “the church loses the future generation”, Martini said in the interview, carried out a fortnight before he died. The Vatican opposes divorce and forbids contraception in favour of fidelity within marriage and abstinence without…

Martini’s final message to Pope Benedict was to begin a shakeup of the Catholic church without delay. “The church is 200 years out of date. Why don’t we rouse ourselves? Are we afraid?

Thousands came to Milan to pay their respects on Saturday. I imagine the Rottweiler of Rome is glad to see him gone.

Catholic church continues marching backwards — Archbishop calls for blasphemy law in Germany

A Catholic bishop has called for a blasphemy law in Germany, saying all religions deserved legal protection from attack in order to preserve human dignity…

“Those who injure the souls of believers with scorn and derision must be put in their place and in some cases also punished,” said Bamberg Archbishop Ludwig Schick…

He said there should be a “Law against the derision of religious values and feelings,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Satire magazine Titanic raised the topic of blasphemy and respect for religion last month after publishing an image of Pope Benedict with a yellow stain on his cassock in reference to the Vatican leaks scandal.

The Pope took legal action which succeeded in banning further printing of the image, although copies of the magazine already published were not removed from sale. Yet his legal argument was based on his personal rights rather than any protection of religion…

…The idea of a blasphemy law was slammed by the Green Party, whose parliamentary leader Volker Beck said satire and irony could not be banned…He said that ironic or satirical statements might not be popular among those targeted, but they could not be forbidden.

“Believers do not need any greater criminal legal protection against defamation, slander and attack than other social groups,” he said.

Sharia law has no credibility in a modern educated society. I don’t care whether the theocrats are Catholic or Southern Baptist, Orthodox Jews or Muslims, providing justice by religious ideology should remain catalogued in history books as an aberration leftover from the Dark Ages.

Catholic convention pisses off Archbishop – and probably the Pope

Praying together at the Council

In sharp words, a wide range of Catholics blasted their church’s leadership…at the opening of a three-day conference in Detroit that seeks to reform what they said is an outdated and secretive club of men out of touch with reality.

“They are like the Kremlin in the last decades” of communist rule in the Soviet Union, said the Rev. Hans Kung, a priest from Switzerland, in a taped address to about 2,000 people at Cobo Hall. “This system has no future.”

Kung, a widely known theologian among Catholics, took aim at the current and previous popes, calling the late Pope John Paul II “a catastrophe” whose tenure involved covering up the sexual scandals of child abuse, which he said continues today with Pope Benedict XVI.

Kung, who could not attend in person because of health reasons, was applauded by the audience, a mostly elderly crowd disappointed at what they see as the church’s rightward turn.

But they hope this conference, led by the American Catholic Council – an umbrella group of about 30 Catholic reform organizations – can impress upon Catholic leadership to change. The conference comes at a time when many are leaving the church in the U.S. and Europe.

We cannot go on like this, ” said Kung, whom the Vatican has ruled can no longer teach theology. “It’s a Potemkin church. You have thousands of parishes without priests anymore.”

In another keynote address, Jeanette Rodriguez, a theology professor from Seattle University, praised Latin American liberation theology – which has been criticized by the Vatican – and said the church must side with the poor and oppressed.

In a statement before the conference, the Archdiocese of Detroit slammed Rodriguez, Kung, and others, saying: “All of the invited keynote speakers have manifested dissent from Catholic teachings or support for dissenters.”

Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron has asked Catholics to stay away from the conference and said priests and deacons could be defrocked if they attend a Sunday mass at Cobo. But that didn’t deter local Catholics.

Will the Pope start kicking folks out of the flock – and defrocking priests and deacons as the Archbishop threatened? Or will the Vatican listen to the swelling throng of faithful seeking freedom and modernization?

Yeah, I think I know the answer to those questions – but, you may think differently?

Belgian Catholic Church faces new confrontation with injustice

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Belgium’s Roman Catholic Church, already reeling from allegations of sexual abuse, faced a new scandal Friday after its primate wrote that AIDS was “a sort of inherent justice.”

Many lawmakers condemned Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, the head of the Belgian church, for the remarks in a new book and Belgium’s center for equal opportunities received a series of complaints, including one by a lawyer who said his comments were incitement to hatred.

The Church is struggling to recover from the resignation of the Bishop of Bruges in April after he admitted sexually abusing a nephew.

In his book “Monseigneur Leonard – Conversations,” the archbishop referred to a remark by the late Pope John Paul II who said, when asked whether AIDS was a punishment from God, that it was difficult to judge God’s will.

“I would not at all think in such terms. I do not see this illness as a punishment, at most a sort of inherent justice, a bit like how we are presented with the bill for what we do to the environment,” Leonard said…

Leonard told a news conference Friday he felt he had been misunderstood as regarding AIDS in all forms as a punishment. He said his words referred to promiscuous sex…

He also said he was targeting “certain practices” and not HIV positive people or those with AIDS, who should not be discriminated against.

Sometimes it’s laughable to watch some pompous ignoranus try to wiggle their way out of public stupidity. Sarah Palin’s “refudiate” moment comes to mind.

But, echoing the bigotry of religious fundamentalists, the criminal rationale used so often to condemn humans to second-class citizenship and third-rate medical care – ain’t ever funny. It’s as worthy of contempt as any other criminal ideology.

Archbishop says Brits should pick up the tab for Pope’s visit

“Cripes! Pat him on the head gently to wake him up – last time, he farted!”
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

UK taxpayers should help pay for the Pope’s trip to Britain, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has said.

Critics are angry that up to £12m is to come from the public purse. But Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols told the BBC it would be a “sad day” when the UK “closes its doors and says we can’t afford state visits”.

He also hinted the Pope may meet victims of the Catholic abuse scandal during this month’s four-day visit…

All he has to do is drop in at pretty much any Catholic Church and ask around.

This trip, which will also include events in London and Birmingham, will be the first ever official state visit to Britain by a serving Pontiff…

But Archbishop Nichols told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme it was right the taxpayer and the Church shared the bill because the Pope was coming at the invitation of the government.

Amazing piece of reasoning. Explained, I guess, by all the other rules of logic ignored or abused by Christian theologists.

This is the leader of probably the oldest international institution, that serves humanity in a tremendous way right around the globe…”

Earlier this week, an aide to Archbishop Nichols, Edmund Adamus, told Catholic news agency Zenit that Britain had become a “selfish, hedonistic wasteland”.

Maybe that’s why the Pope is coming to town? To get in on the hedonism.

Those who helped child rape victim – will be excommunicated

Brazilian archbishop says all those who helped a child rape victim secure an abortion are to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

The girl, aged nine, who lives in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco, became pregnant with twins. It is alleged that she had been sexually assaulted over a number of years by her stepfather.

The excommunication applies to the child’s mother and the doctors involved in the procedure. The pregnancy was terminated on Wednesday.

Police believe that the girl at the centre of the case had been sexually abused by her step-father since she was six years old. Her stepfather was arrested last week, allegedly as he tried to escape to another region of the country…

A Church spokesman says all those involved, including the child’s mother and the doctors, are to be excommunicated. The Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, told Brazil’s TV Globo that the law of God was above any human law.

They should have the Archbishop share a cell with the girl’s stepfather. They deserve each other.