Pope apologizes for many religious crimes…excepting abusive church-run schools in Canada

Few leaders have embraced the power of an apology for historical wrongs quite as enthusiastically as Pope Francis and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The former has apologized for the “grave sins” of colonialism in Bolivia, the persecution of Italian Pentecostals and the church’s “failings” during the Rwandan genocide. The latter has said sorry for the execution of six indigenous chiefs by the colonial government of British Columbia, as well as decades of government-sanctioned discrimination against Canada’s LGBT civil servants.

But now, the two are at odds over an apology — or, rather, the lack of one…

“Hearing an apology directly from Pope Francis would have a profound impact for many of our people and would be an important act of healing and reconciliation, much like the apology delivered to the indigenous peoples of the Americas in 2015,” said Perry Bellegarde, the current national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Want to wear that silly little hat…you have to talk the talk and own up for the past.

Judge orders parishioners to vacate church they’ve occupied for 11 years

Mary Fernandes inside Mother Cabrini church
Click to enlargeDina Rudick/Boston GLOBE Staff

Mary Fernandes, parishioners, continue to occupy their church

A Massachusetts judge ordered St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church be vacated as parishioners continue to keep an around-the-clock vigil in the shuttered church that has lasted more than a decade.

Judge Edward P. Leibensperger ordered parishioners out of the Roman Catholic church that was closed by the Archdiocese of Boston in 2004 as part of a downsizing plan. But church members, calling themselves The Friends of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, said they have no plans to end their 11-year occupation, instead opting to appeal Leibensperger’s ruling.

Jon Rogers, a leader and founder of the nonprofit group, said the archdiocese’s decision to close the church was solely based on money. The church needs money to pay off clergy sex abuse scandals, he said. The church sits on 30 acres of ocean-view land worth some $4 million.

“Here’s the crux of the matter — we are sitting on one of the most valuable of pieces of property in Boston. And they need the money,” he said. “You don’t get to hurt children and then steal our church to pay off your crimes…”

The occupation has been ongoing, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since the church closed. Parishoners have been working in shifts, sleeping on floors and pews and holding Sunday services with consecrated bread and wine for the Eucharist secretly provided by area priests.

Anyone see anything about this courageous act on national TV? Any family values hustlers helping out?

Philippine top court defies Catholic Church – Backs birth control

The Supreme Court in the Philippines has approved a birth control law, in a defeat for the Catholic Church…The law requires government health centres to distribute free condoms and contraceptive pills.

The court had deferred implementation after the law’s passage in December 2012 after church groups questioned its constitutionality.

Supporters of the law cheered as the court found that most of the provisions were constitutional.

The government of President Benigno Aquino defied years of church pressure by passing the bill…It says the law will help the poor, who often cannot afford birth control, and combat the country’s high rates of maternal mortality.

The provisions will make virtually all forms of contraception freely available at public health clinics…Sex education will also be compulsory in schools and public health workers will be required to receive family planning training…There will also be medical care for women who have had illegal abortions.

The Philippines is about 80% Catholic, and with a population approaching 100 million, has one of the highest birth rates in Asia.

The church fought fiercely against the bill, denouncing it as evil and a threat to life. It denounced politicians who supported it, including President Aquino.

While most of the world’s candyass media keeps the focus of their attention on the nice guy with the big ring in Rome – throughout the rest of the world, especially developing nations, the Catholic Church continues with the iron fist in the velvet glove. Fully committed to the suppression of women and reproductive freedom, the church is satisfied with tying society to the ignorance of 14th Century minds.

Relics from a shrinking religion warehoused in Staten Island

NY Archdiocese jumble shop

There will soon be a rooftop swimming pool where the copper-domed bell towers of Mary Help of Christians once rose.

Formerly a hub of the East Village’s Italian-American community, the site of the Roman Catholic church is now slated for a 158-unit rental building, complete with basement gym and rooftop gardens…much of what was precious inside it — and other now-closed Catholic churches — sits in a Staten Island warehouse…

Some items ended up at the warehouse after the 2007 decision of the Archdiocese of New York to close or shrink 21 parishes. Others came because of renovations. Much more will be coming; the archdiocese plans to announce another round of parish closings in 2014.

The archdiocese has not always had an organized system for dealing with vestments, patens, candle drip guards and myriad other ritual objects when they are no longer needed. Before 2004, some ended up in antique stores or trash cans, while others went to parishioners or other churches.

Then there was realization that “these things, even if they don’t have great financial value, have historical value, or liturgical value, and we should preserve them,” said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese…

In 2007, the archdiocese said it would not sell closing churches to developers, but that turned out not to be the case. Mary Help of Christians was sold in December 2012 to Steiner NYC for $41 million. Near the Holland Tunnel, Our Lady of Vilnius, a former Lithuanian Church, was put on the market by the diocese for $13 million. It sold in October to the Extell Development Company, which is flipping the property and asking $19 million for it. A brochure suggests 22 stories of apartments could be built there…

I presume the usual practice in the United States of allowing tax-free profits will remain in place. Why use profits to aid people who really could use help, eh?

Kevin Shaughnessy, the facilities manager believes most of the decorative effluvia won’t be going anywhere. He said of one favorite, a representation of pregnant Mary, “Chances are, when all of us die and go to heaven, that will still be sitting there.”

The Church – and the public – would be better served by periodic rummage sales.

Pope blames church corruption on the Vatican’s Gay Lobby

Pope Francis lamented that a “gay lobby” was at work at the Vatican in private remarks to the leadership of a key Latin American church group — a stunning acknowledgment that appears to confirm earlier reports about corruption and dysfunction in the Holy See…

The group, known by its Spanish acronym CLAR, said it was greatly distressed that the document had been published and apologized to the pope.

In the document, Francis is quoted as saying that while there were many holy people in the Vatican, there was also corruption: “The `gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there … We need to see what we can do …” the synthesis reads…

In the days leading up to Pope Benedict XVI’s Feb. 28 resignation, Italian media were rife with reports of a “gay lobby” influencing papal decision-making and Vatican policy through blackmail, and suggestions that the scandal had led in part to Benedict’s decision to resign…

The unsourced reports, in the Rome daily La Repubblica and the news magazine Panorama, said details of the scandal were laid out in the secret dossier prepared for Benedict by three trusted cardinals who investigated the leaks of papal documents last year.

Benedict left the dossier for Francis

Sounds like the history of corruption among our own fascist-minded from Joe McCarthy to Ted Cruz: “I have this list in my hand of communist agents in the State Department/Harvard Law School/Occupy Texas” – just cross out the targets that don’t fit the day’s slander.

In the synthesis, Francis was quoted as being remarkably forthcoming about his administrative shortcomings, saying he was relying on the group of eight cardinals he appointed to lead a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy.

The document quoted him as saying: “I am very disorganized, I have never been good at this. But the cardinals of the commission will move it forward.”

Cripes, he even has his own Gang of Eight. No doubt as unlikely to place civil rights and civil liberties ahead of personal gain than the average Congress-thug. Meanwhile, the Vatican’s tradition of gay-bashing is dragged-out once again as a weapon of self-defense by a tottering group of old men centuries beyond their sell-by date.

Threats aside, Catholic Church admits to already paying for contraception coverage for employees

As the nation’s leading Roman Catholic bishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has been spearheading the fight against a provision of the new health care law that requires employers, including some that are religiously affiliated, to cover birth control in employee health plans.

But even as Cardinal Dolan insists that requiring some religiously affiliated employers to pay for contraception services would be an unprecedented, and intolerable, government intrusion on religious liberty, the archdiocese he heads has quietly been paying for such coverage, albeit reluctantly and indirectly, for thousands of its unionized employees for over a decade.

The Archdiocese of New York has previously acknowledged that some local Catholic institutions offer health insurance plans that include contraceptive drugs to comply with state law; now, it is also acknowledging that the archdiocese’s own money is used to pay for a union health plan that covers contraception and even abortion for workers at its affiliated nursing homes and clinics…

The archdiocese agreed to cover its own health workers long before Cardinal Dolan became archbishop of New York, and even today insists that it has no choice. As a result, about 3,000 full-time workers at ArchCare, also known as the Catholic Health Care System, receive coverage for contraception and voluntary pregnancy termination through their membership in 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a powerful health care workers union, according to Dave Bates, a spokesman for the union.

ArchCare, which operates seven nursing homes and a variety of other health facilities, gives its 1199 union employees the same coverage they would get at over 100 other nonprofit hospitals or nursing homes in the New York area, because ArchCare voluntarily belongs to the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes, a multi-employer organization that negotiates with the union every few years for a joint labor contract.

Bruce McIver, the president of the league since 1991, said…“Eventually, the Catholics just said, you know, we are going to ignore the issue and pay into the fund and people are going to make their own choices about contraception and so forth,” Mr. McIver said.

During union negotiations, “I don’t remember it coming up in the last dozen years or so, ever,” he said. “In a place like New York, their employees, not all of whom are Catholic, would react pretty badly…”

The root of all modern hypocrisy owes so much to the history of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

Catholic Church castrated boys to “rid them of homosexuality”

Henk Heithuis – 2nd from left

At least 10 teenage boys or young men under the age of 21 were surgically castrated “to get rid of homosexuality” while in the care of the Dutch Roman Catholic Church in the 1950s.

Evidence of the castrations has emerged amid controversy that it was not included in the findings of an official investigation into sexual abuse within the church last year. The NRC Handelsblad newspaper identified Henk Heithuis who was castrated in 1956, while a minor, after reporting priests to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home.

Joep Dohmen, the investigative journalist who uncovered the Heithuis case, also found evidence of at least nine other castrations. “These cases are anonymous and can no longer be traced,” he said. “There will be many more. But the question is whether those boys, now old men, will want to tell their story.”

Mr Heithuis died in a car crash in 1958, two years after being castrated at the age of 20, while under the age of majority, which was then 21. In 1956 he had accused Catholic clergy of sexually abusing him in his Church run care home.

Two clergymen were convicted of abuse but Mr Heithuis, a victim, was nonetheless transferred by police to a Catholic psychiatric hospital before being admitted to the St. Joseph Hospital in Veghel later that year.

There, court papers confirm, he was castrated “at his own request”, despite no submission of his written consent. Sources told Mr Dohmen that the surgical removal of testicles was regarded as a treatment for homosexuality and also as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse

Evidence emerged on Monday that government inspectors were aware that minors were being castrated while in Catholic-run psychiatric institutions. Minutes of meetings held in the 1950s show that inspectors were present when castrations were discussed. The documents also reveal that the Catholic staff did not think parents needed to be involved…

Dutch MPs will today call for a parliamentary investigation into the allegations.

The question is put by Khadija Arib, a Labour MP…”We must find out how many cases there were, who knew about it and why the government did not act.”

Good thing the Catholic Church doesn’t support cruelty like this anymore. Oh.

Mexico City considers renewable marriage licenses

The Roman Catholic Church reacted harshly [predictably]… to a bill proposed by Mexico City legislators that would require all couples to sign a prenuptial agreement specifying how to handle child custody and other issues in case of divorce — and estimating how long the marriage is expected to last.

Sponsors of the bill submitted this week in the city council say the proposal aims to cut down on the lengthy, nasty divorce proceedings choking the capital district’s courts, by making potential couples decide about monetary and custody issues by mutual agreement before they get married.

But the bill also says “the duration of the marriage will be bound by the terms that the couple negotiate in the familial agreement, which shall not be less than two years…”

“People can specify terms of 99 years, or ’til death do us part,’ if they think the marriage, or their lives, are going to last that long,” Carlos Torres said.

Catholic leaders don’t see it that way…

“This is a proposal made by people who do not understand the nature of marriage,” Valdemar said. “It is not a commercial contract; it is a contract between two people for a life project, and the creation of a family.”

“This denigrates the concept of the family … and makes it more like a pact between friends,” he said…

Equal friends at that. Interested in running their own lives as they see fit – instead of leaving everything in the hands of a sectarian rulebook from the 14th Century.

We are looking for solutions to problems that are seen every day in family courts … in which there is emotional blackmail, or the children are used as pawns,” Torres said. “This would cut down of the torturous proceedings at the time of a divorce.”

The bill is meant to solve a big problem in the city of 8.9 million people, where divorce proceedings are so costly, painful and time consuming that many people just skip them and start a new family.

The Roman Catholic church has always opposed democracy and the freedom of individuals to order their own lives. The obvious decline of their power and profits speaks volumes of how that opposition has failed.

That the proposed legislation also allows for parents to agree beforehand on what religious education – if any – their children might endure is another challenge to the church’s political power. As it should.


E’ già da un mese che il tema della tassazione del patrimonio della Chiesa in Italia ha l’onore della cronaca e di qualche prima pagina. Poche in verità, ma in confronto all’ omertà dei grandi giornali e dei partiti politici, direi che se ne comincia a parlare. Grande, d’altronde, è l’ignoranza circa le esenzioni di cui gode la Chiesa nelle più disparate forme e consuetudini. La maggioranza degli italiani quando si parla del tema nomina immediatamente l’8×1000. Ma lì si ferma!

I’m offering this link to a blog post by one of our regular readers – whose English is so much better than my Italian – on a topic important to many nations. That topic is the tax-free status of many religions. State religions. State religion wannabes.

GOOGLE translate helps if you don’t speak Italian.

Bishop says abusing boys doesn’t make him a pedophile!

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

A year after his resignation plunged Belgium’s Roman Catholic Church into a crisis, the former bishop of Bruges provoked almost universal condemnation on Friday, this time by admitting that he had abused a second nephew – and insisting that he was not a pedophile.

In a television interview late Thursday that reopened deep wounds, the bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, 74, recounted with apparent lack of contrition events leading up to his resignation as bishop of Bruges last year, when it emerged that nearly 25 years ago he had abused a boy who was later revealed to be one of his nephews.

Those revelations prompted hundreds of people to come forward, claiming that they, too, had been victims of priests, and forced Belgium’s Roman Catholic Church into its deepest crisis of recent times.

In a broadcast from a location in France, Bishop Vangheluwe, dressed in an open-neck shirt, suggested that the 13-year relationship revealed last year had not been opposed by his nephew, and, in an unexpected new twist, he admitted having abused a second nephew for a much shorter period…

Bishop Vangheluwe is not facing criminal charges because of Belgium’s 10-year statute of limitations, and the Vatican says he is receiving “spiritual and psychological treatment” outside Belgium…

During the interview, to which Bishop Vangheluwe had agreed only on the condition that it would be broadcast live, he denied that he had been driven by sexual motives…the abuse had been restricted to the touching of genitals…

Um, the Pope said – well, the Pope said nothing. When the abuse became public he condemned the police for searching church property and took the Bishop’s fate into his own hands. Since then – well, the Pope said nothing.