Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I have to say that Halloween is one of my favorite "holidays". It is so much fun to dress up and pretend and hand out candy. I recall when I was little I went trick-or-treating and saw a sign on someone's house that stated that they didn't "believe" in Halloween, that it was evil and that they do not partake, so don't bother knocking on their door. I have to chuckle. Of all the things there are to boycott based on screwed up man-made doctrine, why would it be costumes, candy or ghost stories. Evil? Hardly.

I love costumes as they allow one to be creative, to nurture their inner-child and have fun. They bind us in parties and bond us in the fellowship of sharing an event with friends and family and community. There is nothing in the Bible that says one should not have fun - particularly just dressing up.

I love candy - we are truly blessed to live in a "land flowing with milk and honey" and so we should enjoy those sweet blessings in moderation. God blessed us with taste buds that allow our brains to go "YUM!"...if He didn't intend for us to enjoy the taste of 'sweet' we would not be designed with such taste buds.

I love ghost stories (they remind me that there's more after this life) - to stimulate our sense of wonder and sometimes fear is not a bad thing. How can we be comforted by the idea of life unless we take a moment to grasp the idea of death?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Risk Reward Ratio

I have replaced the quote in my blog title with a more subject-appropriate passage from Isaiah. The previous quote was one likely used in speeches and homilies bearing a message that is likely lost on most people. The quote is this:

A woman saw an angel rushing towards her carrying a torch and a bucket of water. "Where are you going with that torch and that water," she asked, "what will you do with them?"

"With the water," the angel answered, "I will put out the fires of hell, and with the torch I will burn down the mansions of heaven; then we will see who really loves God."

Take away the reward and the punishment and who will love God for God-so-loved-the world's sake? You hear about damnation and salvation but let's call a spade a spade: the fear of hell and the (dare I say selfish) quest for eternal bliss. People use these as either reasons to believe or as tools to scare a person into belief. The misconception is that the Kingdom of God is a magical land of gold buildings and all-you-can-eat chocolate buffets and that hell is a sea of fire with winged red devils with horns and pitchforks flying around and cackling.

I think that those who love without incentive of risk or reward truly have the ability to touch upon the Kingdom of God. Everyone who cannot do this has an agenda. If it happens that Heaven is a place where all one's wildest dreams come true, well, that should just be the cherry on the cake, not the cake itself.

(Pharisees are asking when the Kingdom of God will come..) "Neither shall they say, lo here or lo there for, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you."
--Luke 17:21

Friday, October 26, 2007

< Jesus | Christians >

I've written about this before - fundamentalist fools (see article below) - and all I can say is good for Albert Snyder for trying to sue them. I hope, somehow, good sense will trump the rigidity of the First Amendment and he will be awarded a settlement by the courts to help retain the dignity of something as personal and important as the burial of a loved one.

Jesus would not be a Christian as defined by such a church who would defile a burial of a human being --someone's son-- like they so viciously did. A public display of JUDGMENT. The same people with The Good News Bible in their hand scream that God Hates You with their mouths - and their hearts overflow with bitter hypocrisy. Jesus expressed his LOVE for the world by dying on the cross. When Jesus died, he died for ALL. He didn't die for Christians. He didn't die for caucasians or the lower class or those with 20/20 vision. He died for ALL. ALL includes gays, it includes sinners and it even includes non-believers. Therefore, God does not hate. He Loves and Loves and Loves. How could such a basic truth escape this church group? These blind fools advertise their utter confusion on picket signs at such inappropriate times.

I repeat, 'Satan' infiltrates from the inside. This type of 'Christianity' is a great petrie dish for spiritual cancer to grow and spread. Where is the mercy, compassion and attempt at understanding? I'll tell you where it wasn't - it wasn't protesting this soldier's funeral.

To preach bigotry,hate and damnation is in direct disobedience to the command Jesus gave: Love others as you would yourself.

Kansas church sued after cheering Marine's death
Members say God is punishing U.S. over gays

By MELODY SIMMONS - New York Times News Service - Published on: 10/25/07

Baltimore — Before the March 2006 funeral for Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, a Marine who was killed in Iraq, protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church, a tiny fundamentalist splinter group, picketed the service with signs that read, "God Hates You" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." Albert Snyder, the father of Snyder, sued the church in U.S. district court here, claiming invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Westboro protesters, whose church is in Topeka, Kan., frequently picket the funerals of military officials and soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan because church leaders assert that God is killing soldiers to punish America for condoning homosexuality. The lawsuit, which is being tried in Baltimore, is believed to be the first against the church by the family of a fallen serviceman. Snyder, who said Westboro members turned his son's funeral in Westminster, Md., into a "media circus," is seeking unspecified damages in the jury trial, which is expected to end next week. In opening statements, his lawyer said church members had shown no regret for the protest, which he said had left Snyder with depression and health complications from diabetes. "They wanted their message heard, and they didn't care who they stepped over," Snyder testified on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. "My son should have been buried with dignity, not with a bunch of clowns outside." Experts say the case is a test of the limits of free speech. Similar demonstrations by Westboro Baptist Church members have prompted several states, including Maryland, to establish limits on funeral protests. Ronald K.L. Collins, a scholar at the First Amendment Center in Washington, said such restrictions pose certain dangers, however. "The dangerous principle here is runaway liability in a way that would put the First Amendment in serious jeopardy," Collins said. "I dread to think what it would do to political protests in this country if it were allowed the win." Judge Richard D. Bennett, who is hearing the case, told the nine jurors that there are limits on free speech protection, listing categories that include vulgar, offensive and shocking statements and instructed jurors to decide "whether the defendant's actions would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, whether they were extreme and outrageous and whether these actions were so offensive and shocking as to not be entitled to First Amendment protection," according to the AP. The church has about 60 members, most of them related to its founder, the Rev. Fred Phelps. One of Phelps' 13 children, Shirley Phelps-Roper, a defendant in the case who was one of the protesters at Snyder's funeral, testified on Thursday that she had never met Cpl. Snyder and that she would not apologize for the demonstration. "We preach to the living to connect the dots to the parents of the dead child," Phelps-Roper testified. "He's fighting for a nation who has made God a No. 1 enemy."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Loss For Words

My younger sister and I were talking one night recently and she told me she was at an utter loss for words when it comes to being in awe of life and all God has made - all things - the forest, the earth, water, her infant son - and the tears were just falling from her eyes because, overwhelmed with emotion, she didn't feel she could convey even an inkling of her gratitude to God and I know exactly where she is coming from. I sent the following beautiful passage to her regarding this subject because I thought it eloquently translates into our discussion.

“I understand now why mystic minds use myth and metaphor, stories and comparisons to tell us What they’ve seen. The best that they can do is just suggest the Fact of It. They want to share an experience that lies beyond our words, and so they create tales to talk about a God they cannot talk about. Words break down in realms like this, but inside of them there runs a happy smile that takes our breath away each time “God” comes into view: an instant’s opening of the curtain, a nanosecond’s glimpse of an iridescent hummingbird toying with the sun just outside the window of a dark and stuffy room.”

-- George Fowler, Dance of a Fallen Monk

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just Bricks In The Wall

Semi-recently I was listening to a radio program via Podcast that airs out of California called Catholic Answers Live. In this episode one of the guest priests speaking said that his diocese makes it a point to hand out pamphlets on "How Catholics Should Vote" prior to elections. The pamphlet does not specify names or parties, but rather tells the parishioner how they should vote on issues as a compliant Catholic ought to.

The church does not want parishioners to think for themselves. Like little kids given instructions on how to brush their teeth, Catholics will never gain the position of trust to allow their consciences to guide them. They will never graduate to that level. They will always be told to put their trust in a church "higher-up" ...and that higher-up is not God.

[Vote this way and God will put a gold star next to your name, vote the other way and you risk eternal torment!]

How blurred the political line becomes and with it comes such a disturbing ease with which the Church applies propaganda to cookie cut people's thoughts in order to manipulate government in their favor. Individuality does not exist in this dojo. It makes me think of that one assembly line scene out of Pink Floyd's The Wall. Scary. How is it that so many people turn into droids and surrender all their rights of free thought to a villainous institution.

The following article details how one Chicago area priest abused several boys in the span of his entire unholy career. Many pedophile priests will attempt to justify sex with boys as not breaking their vow of celibacy because the technical definition of sex is vaginal intercourse with a woman, not sodomy with a boy-child. What makes this so bad is that children of the parish are the most vulnerable, are still mentally forming and turn to clergy as a source even more trustworthy than their parents, because a child confesses those things to a priest that s/he is unlikely to tell their parents.

So sick how the numbers keep growing...and it makes you wonder how many MORE incidents in parishes all over the world are being covered up - until they are outted and then the parishioners foot the bill for lawsuits to defend these priests. One is spiritually better off giving their money to food pantries and women's shelters.

New sex-abuse allegations against convicted priest
2 brothers allege abuse in lawsuit

By Manya A. Brachear - Tribune religion reporter - October 24, 2007

A renowned Jesuit priest convicted in 2006 in Wisconsin of molesting two Loyola Academy students during the 1960s was accused Tuesday of abusing two brothers as recently as 2002. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County, a 20-year-old college student and his 28-year-old brother, originally from Arizona, contend Rev. Donald McGuire molested them between 1988 and 2002 when the priest appeared at retreats in Arizona organized by the boys' father and during a trip to Chicago. This year McGuire, 77, was allowed to return to Illinois pending an appeal of his conviction because the authorities did not consider him a risk to children. He has been living on probation and celebrating mass in a private home in Oak Lawn. A judge declined to revoke the probation after another lawsuit was filed in August alleging further abuse had occurred in recent years. The parents of the plaintiffs in the latest suit met the priest in 1983 on a spiritual pilgrimage to shrines in Europe. In Lourdes, France, McGuire inspired the mother to convert to Catholicism and asked the father to organize spiritual retreats in Arizona, the plaintiffs' father said during a news conference Tuesday. McGuire allegedly abused the older brother, John Doe 117, inside the confessional during those retreats. McGuire later baptized the younger brother, named in the suit as John Doe 118, and presided over the marriage ceremony of John Doe 117. He allegedly abused John Doe 118 at a fundraiser thrown by the family the same weekend as his older brother's wedding. Accusations against McGuire date to the 1960s, when he taught at Loyola Academy in Wilmette. In 1969, a 16-year-old reported McGuire had physically and sexually abused him repeatedly at school and on field trips beginning his freshman year. After a meeting with three school administrators, the accuser, now a 53-year-old Arizona man, said the school forced him to transfer. McGuire remained at Loyola Academy until 1970, then traveled the world as the spiritual director for Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity. The Arizona man and another plaintiff, Victor Bender, sued in 2003 and notified civil authorities. Though McGuire allegedly molested them in Wilmette, those allegations fell outside Illinois' criminal statute of limitations, which runs out 20 years after a victim of child sex abuse turns 18. The Wisconsin statute of limitations does not apply to out-of-state residents, and McGuire was prosecuted and convicted in that state of molesting the students during several trips to the resort area near Lake Geneva between 1966 and 1968. He was sentenced to two concurrent seven-year prison terms and three concurrent 20-year probation terms. The prison sentence was postponed pending his appeal but probation started immediately. Prosecutors in Maricopa County, Ariz., and Cook County have been notified of the allegations in Tuesday's lawsuit.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Penis, No Piety

The Roman Boy's Club has recently elevated several more aging men as cardinals. I am surprised (and not surprised at the same time) that more women in the church have not expressed their outrage at the unapologetic tradition of the papacy keeping women in this second-class rut. Religious and spiritual women have so much to offer but because 1) the church is not willing to listen and 2) women are told not to question the church or their male 'superiors' - they are doomed to be kept "under the habit". It is such a travesty to have so much knowledge and inspiration wasted for the sake of quiet obedience. It is in this so-called silent piety that the women who God blessed with such light, such gifts waste them into subservient ashes at the whim of these men, and risk excommunication if they deviate from the norm, by say, offering mass or giving a homily. Rubbish!

Matthew 5:15 "No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house."

Pope to elevate 23 new cardinals
(Sorry, I forgot to cite the source of this article)

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed 23 new cardinals, 18 of whom will fill vacancies in the ranks of churchmen who will one day elect his successor. Five of the new cardinals will not be eligible to enter the elite conclave which votes in the next Pope because they are over 80 years of age. The new nominations bring the total number of so-called electors to 121. The pontiff made the announcement during his weekly audience in St Peter's Square, Rome. He said he would elevate the prelates at a Vatican ceremony on 24 November. The cardinal electors come from Italy, Argentina, the United States, Germany, Poland, Spain, Ireland, France, Senegal, India, Mexico, Brazil and Kenya. It was the second time since his election in April 2005 that the Pope named new cardinals. The first was in March last year when he installed 15.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Its Funny Because Its True

Special thanks to Colleen for sending this to me. There are several more "episodes" of Christian vs. Christ-Follower on YouTube. This one, however, is directly relevant to my Abercrombie & Hellfire post. I retro-attach it to that post : )

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CDC (Catholic Disease Campaign)


No, I'm not done bitching yet. I have put a lot of time into a church / religion that all along was depriving me of true closeness with God. An institution that willfully ignores the spiritual nourishment people need. I will certainly be posting more positive and transcendental observations in the future, but for now...I'm still grinding my axe.


Spiritual cancer symptoms: intolerance, conspiracy theory, militancy, absolutism, narrow thinking and fundamentalism. To discard facts and evidence of facts is a damn foolish thing to do. Here's a fact: people like to have sex. They are hard-wired to do this. Another fact: most people have sex before marriage. The nature that God has instilled in people trumps most efforts of the strict Catholic rule "abstinence until marriage". Sex is but a step amongst the stairs, it is not the entire staircase. When two people love each other (yes, I know that people who don't love each other also have sex, but I'm only covering the former) they are drawn to physically express those feelings. And, hopefully, they are responsible in doing so. This means that precautions are taken to ensure 1) pregnancy does not result when the two people are not yet ready to be parents and 2) any existing STDs are kept from spreading.

The Catholic church is against all forms of birth control, including the use of condoms. Even in Africa where HIV / AIDS runs rampant. It is unreasonable for the church to continue their failing demotion of condoms and their failing promotion of abstinence, especially in 3rd world countries where sex education is desperately needed. Education should be the emphasis, not dogmatic rule. It is just not practical. In the article below, the head of the Catholic church in Mozambique exhibits the spiritual cancer symptom of conspiracy without scientific evidence - an important little detail. I think the Archbishop's claim is just a ploy to scare Africans from using condoms (there's that control-tool of fear again), where, in their fear he will promote abstinence, and they will fail at abstinence (fact of human nature) and put themselves at risk to contract and spread HIV / AIDS. Just who does he think is trying to wipe out Africans again?

Shock at archbishop condom claim
Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2007/09/26 14:50:13 GMT

The head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique has told the BBC he believes some European-made condoms are infected with HIV deliberately. Maputo Archbishop Francisco Chimoio claimed some anti-retroviral drugs were also infected "in order to finish quickly the African people". The Catholic Church formally opposes any use of condoms, advising fidelity within marriage or sexual abstinence. Aids activists have been angered by the remarks, one calling them "nonsense". "We've been using condoms for years now, and we still find them safe," prominent Mozambican Aids activist Marcella Mahanjane told the BBC. The UN says anti-retrovirals (ARVs) have proved very effective for treating people with Aids. The drugs are not a cure, but attack the virus on several fronts at once. The BBC's Jose Tembe in the capital, Maputo, says it is estimated that 16.2% of Mozambique's 19m inhabitants are HIV positive. About 500 people are infected every day. Archbishop Chimoio told our reporter that abstention, not condoms, was the best way to fight HIV/Aids. "Condoms are not sure because I know that there are two countries in Europe, they are making condoms with the virus on purpose," he alleged, refusing to name the countries. "They want to finish with the African people. This is the programme. They want to colonise until up to now. If we are not careful we will finish in one century's time." Aids activists in the country have been shocked by the archbishop's comments. "Condoms are one of the best ways of getting protection against catching Aids," said Gabe Judas, who runs Tchivirika (Hard Work) - an theatre group that promotes HIV/Aids awareness. "People must use condoms as it's a safe way of having sex without catching Aids," he told the BBC. Archbishop Chimoio, who made the remarks at celebrations to mark 33 years of independence, said that fighting the disease was a serious matter. "If we are joking with this sickness we will be finished as soon as possible."If we want to change the situation to face HIV/Aids it's necessary to have a new mentality, if we don't change mentality we'll be finished quickly," he said. "It means marriage, people being faithful to their wives...(and) young people must be abstaining from sexual relations." Our correspondent says the archbishop is well respected in the country and the Catholic Church played a leading role in sponsoring the 1992 peace deal that ended a 16-year civil war. Some 17.5% of Mozambicans are Catholic.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Abercrombie & Hellfire

Up until now I have railed on the backwards-ness of the Catholic Church as it applies to the teachings of Christ. Today I rail on Protestants, specifically, Fundamental Evangelical Pentecostals. I have read books with regards to their characteristics, "possessions", charismatic events as well as seen such documentaries as Jesus Camp and there is a distinct manipulative en masse psychology to their screaming and crying "snake handling" revival events. When God is a merchandising opportunity for megachurches, I take issue. T-shirts, bracelets, hats, earrings, metal Jesus fish, etc. all of this STUFF is just falsified testimony - it doesn't say to me: I believe in says I'm hip in my church - see -look - I have a t-shirt that says so...I'm accepted and belong. For these people God is a brand like Pantene or Tommy Hilfiger. Not mentioning the hypocrisy of the charismatic preachers like Ted Haggard, who was the leader of the biggest evangelical megachurch in the U.S. - he spoke bigotry and hate towards homosexuals and then gets busted buying meth off the gay male transvestite he's been screwing. Nice. Real nice.

The revival events Pentecostals have are more in line with a circus act. The leader gets up in front of a group of people who are prone to emotional manipulation and they scream and yell about hellfire and judgement and then talk out of the other side of their mouths about how great and loving God is - except that's all they can say, they can't scratch the surface except to say over and over how God is great, God is if by repeating it over and over they will actually believe it. They never get specific or go further to keep looking for themselves. They take the words of evangelical preachers as The Word and never look further. Void of logic, they unsuccessfully and embarrassingly try and argue against evolution and global warming. Evangelical Protestants view God like He's a genie: asking him to bless the PowerPoint presentation and the PC it runs on that it won't crash, asking Him to help get a strike when bowling, asking Him to bring the elevator here quickly. Useless, self-serving prayer. God has more to be concerned about than the temperature of your non-fat latte. The living Jesus is not a brand or a label or a scheme or concerned with powercords and microphones.

At these revivals, people start putting their hands in the sky (as if God is in the air above their heads) and they get each other all worked up (herd mentality) and they cry and talk in jib-jab (claiming they are speaking 'in tongues' which anyone can do if they try) and it is really one big sham. One big show without spiritual substance.

Matthew 6: 1-8 1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."

I attended a wedding at a local megachurch and it had a bookstore, a coffee shop, a school and a huge auditorium equipped with state-of-the-art audio visual equipment, spotlights and tropical plants and velvet curtains and a stage for the preacher. The seats were movie theatre seats. The place just screamed "entertainment". There were no Bibles or stained glass windows or crosses or anything that I was used to seeing. Whereas Catholics kicked the True Christ out of church, Evangelicals go one step further and take the traditional church out of church and make their bipolar version of Jesus "hip" and "cool" and marketable in their glorified social club. Ugh. How is it that all these so-called Christians are so drastically missing the point.

They say that the devil is in the details and what better way for evil to subtley manifest itself than by walking amongst the congregation. You want to destroy something? Then you do it from the inside out. That is what seems to be happening in these churches, Catholic and Protestant alike. Spiritual cancer.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Go$pel According to Rome

The article below poses the question about who is financially responsible for paying settlements of abuse by priests in the Catholic Church, but is it really the Vatican who ends up paying? Each week, parishioners fill the baskets of the Church with money -- the proper Catholic would tithe 10% of their income -- and the money is funnelled and filtered and makes its way to the top through each diocese. Think of it like the mob, when someone gets in on a deal, the Don at the top always gets a cut. And when the underdogs gets pinched -- they have to pay, but the money is really the money of the masses. Parishioners pay the settlements that occur when parishioners get abused.

Jesus Christ travelled in poverty, relying on God's grace to help him. He catered to those who were poor, downtrodden, in need of help and spiritual uplifting. He didn't go around with a basket asking for proceeds before he performed his miracles. He was the one who chased the moneychangers out of the temple. I believe he would be of the mind to sell the spoils in order to help the poor. People don't need to be inspired by the sight of shiny, fancy things to think of God; wealth that will crumble fails to do this. People are inspired by selfless actions - adopting babies, serving the poor, Peace Corps work, charitable works, works of mercy, etc. God is not boxed in Churches. And I doubt he dwells in the Vatican. He dwells among the least of us.

Some pictures of the spoils of Rome. A veritable city made of Gold.

In the Gospel of Thomas (one of the Gospels that never made it into the Bible because a council of men didn't want people to think that God was anywhere BUT in their churches) Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."

God cannot be found in mansions of gold with curators hellbent on increasing their bottom line.

What is especially disturbing is the political bullshit with Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, who hid behind the long robe of the Vatican when several attempts to remove him were made. The Vatican "Boys Club" set him to dwell among the palaces of Rome instead of investigating and scrutinizing his situation in the States. This is an exhalted Syndicate.

Should the Vatican Pay for Abuse?
By Jeff Israely/Rome / / Wednesday, Jul. 18, 2007

Depending on the subject at hand, the day-to-day running of the worldwide Catholic Church can resemble either a sort of centralized sacred politburo or a loose confederation of autonomous dioceses. If you prefer a business model, it's top-down management vs. franchising. Though imperfect, these analogies can help address a lingering question in the wake of the Los Angeles archdiocese's record $660 million settlement with victims of clergy sex abuse: What is the Vatican's responsibility?

In Los Angeles, as in previous cases in the U.S. and elsewhere, the local diocese has essentially shouldered all of the administrative blame — and taken the financial hit — for the priest perpetrators and the bishops who failed to prevent their crimes, with no reference or responsibility assigned to the hierarchy in Rome. Still, victims' lawsuits frequently cite the Holy See, the Vatican-based juridical headquarters of the 1.1 billion-strong Catholic Church, and the Pope himself.

Since the issue exploded in 2002 with the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston, it has been difficult to force the Vatican to respond directly to the innumerable court cases that have arisen, since, according to the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, the Holy See is outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. But two recent cases, in Oregon and Kentucky, have cracked open the door for the first time to the possibility that the Vatican could one day be held financially responsible and officials in Rome could be forced to testify. Lawyers are trying to prove in both cases that the abusive priests can be considered employees of the Holy See. A final decision on whether the Vatican is liable for any monetary damages is probably years away. However, victims' advocates are encouraged that judges in both the Portland and Louisville lawsuits have not tossed out the cases on immunity grounds as had happened in the past.

The question of responsibility extends beyond dollars and cents. Many Catholics believe that officials in Rome bear a significant moral and administrative burden as the leaders of a hierarchy that allowed these predator priests to inflict such damage. They point out that when the Pope wants to impose new rules for the liturgy, rein in theologians or tighten entrance into seminaries, Rome expects those edicts to be fully applied at the local level. And so, they ask, where was the strong hand from above when it came to protecting the most innocent parishioners? If the burden is on the individual bishops, shouldn't some blame extend to the Pope, past or present, who hired each of them for the job?

Going back in time — and indeed some of the cases cited in the Los Angeles archdiocese go back to the first half of the 20th century — it would seem the Vatican does share some responsibility for the way that its clergy are trained, hired and transferred, as well as for the climate of secrecy that allowed many of these criminals to linger. At the same time, individual dioceses do in fact have wide latitude in the daily management of their affairs, with Rome rarely intervening on administrative, financial or pastoral matters.

In more recent times, Rome has had a mixed record in responding to the crisis. Pope John Paul II called an unprecedented meeting in Rome of all the American Cardinals in April 2002 to address the abuse scandal, but was believed to have been largely shielded in his later years from the worst details. His successor has taken a tougher line, and indeed just months before he was elected to be Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote of the "filth" of the Church in apparent reference to the sex scandals. Among the boldest administrative moves of Benedict since his 2005 election was the disciplining last year of Mexico's Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the 86-year-old founder of the conservative Legionaries of Christ, who had long been accused of past sexual abuse.

In some way, the failings of Rome on this front continue to be personified by former Boston Archbishop Cardinal Bernard Law, 75, who was largely seen as the symbol of the entire American scandal. After repeated calls to Rome to remove him were ignored, Law was finally eased out of the Boston job in December 2002, only to resurface the following year with a prestigious posting in Rome as the archpriest of the historic church of Santa Maria Maggiore. He was last spotted this month at the Fourth of July reception at the palatial Rome residence of Francis Rooney, the American ambassador to the Holy See. The new symbol of the crisis is undoubtedly the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, whose agreement to the enormous settlement saves him from testifying in court. An Archdiocese lawyer told reporters that Mahony had made several trips to Rome in recent weeks to get the Vatican's support for the deal. The L.A. archdiocese will sell off some of its prized real estate and take out loans to help pay the settlement.

In financial terms, however, headquarters in Rome points out the relative modesty of its resources. According to the Vatican's recently released 2006 budget, annual expenses and revenues are just over $300 million, which includes operations of Vatican City and of the Church's diplomatic corps. The income comes both from individual donations directly to the Pope, called Peter's Pence, which nearly doubled to $102 million last year, and from contributions from dioceses around the world, which take in the vast majority of donated funds from parishioners. Ultimately though, the actual net worth of the worldwide Church, over which the Pope always holds the last word, is indeed vastly greater than the Vatican operating budget would indicate. Indeed, simply weighing the value of certain works of art inside St. Peter's brings estimates to the word "priceless." Another reason, perhaps, why Church officials in Rome don't want to face the potential economic risks of these lawsuits.

Also, if you want to see where more revenue is generated - visit the Vatican Museums...

Entrance fee: 12 euros per person (adults); 8 euros for children. Wheelchairs can be reserved in advance. Audio guides are available for 5.50 euros. A Vatican tour guide can be reserved in advance for an additional 80 euros for a two-hour tour. To contact the Museums please call (39) 06698-81349.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Slaughter of the Innocents

Planned Parenthood is a resource for women that provides, not just abortions, but NECESSARY, NECESSARY, NECESSARY birth control means, which can otherwise prevent abortions. I am personally grateful for Planned Parenthood as it allowed me anonymity, medical screening and an array of options in the way of birth control when I was 18. It helped me be responsible as a woman by offering me options in a dignified way. I don't feel abortion should be used as birth control, but if a woman is raped or has special circumstances, she should have a LEGAL option. Women need to have options - all options - and it is up to them to make correct decisions. Take away the options and problems will occur. It will not end abortions. It will simply increase botched abortions that harm or kill the woman or increase severe injuries women would take into their own hands to conduct, say, with coathangers.

According to a study done by Gilda Sedgh of the Guttmacher Institute in the US and colleagues from the World Health Organization, "Abortion accounts for 13% of maternal mortality worldwide. About 70,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions. An additional 5 million women suffer permanent or temporary injury."

A Planned Parenthood facility recently opened in Aurora, Illinois, outside of Chicago. There was much ado: local officials tried to gain conservative votes by trying to create legal red tape with regards to permits, etc. in order to prohibit the facility from opening. Thankfully, they failed and it opened. Prior, however, protestors from both sides of the fence showed up to make their voices heard. My friend took her son to a rally in support of the facility. People looked at her sideways. She said that Planned Parenthood allowed her options so that when she had properly prepared a loving home for a child that she could choose when to have a baby once she was GOOD AND READY. Some protestors were aghast - why, they never thought about it like that - they just thought it was an abortion factory, killing babies everyday. Ignorance knows no bounds.

The Church's pro-life stance is that it is so "pick and choose": it picks on clinics and chooses to ignore dire HERE AND NOW pro-life problems like the war in Iraq, which, I would think would be a most pressing matter. Perhaps the Church is silent here because the slaughter of the innocents in Iraq occurs where the "heathens" live and not in the U.S. where 'good Christian people' live. Who cares if EXISTING Muslim / Sunni / Shiite babies and children in another country are blown to bits, right? Politics have never stopped the Church from raising its hands to make a statement, but when it comes to voicing concern for Iraqi babies and children, you can hear the crickets chirping. Maybe if it were a "Catholic" nation, with Catholic babies and children getting killed by stray bullets and car bombs, they would raise their voices to protect the progeny of their Church. How obvious is their bigotry in such times as these. When they say "Life is Precious", they obviously mean only American / Christian lives. They are hung up on the potential, and ignoring the kinetic. Honestly, Christ would never promote such a stance.

This devastating photo shows just one of the casualties of the Iraqi war, which the Church chooses to ignore. They adamantly slam their fists for the rights of all the unborn -- no matter what the circumstances, rape, incest, doesn't matter --and then look away as live babies and children with actual feelings and hopes who happen to live in a country in turmoil are discarded to the wayside. I guess the Church thinks that once you are born, your life is less worth fighting for, eh? How can any Catholic proclaim themselves Pro-Life and then turn around and support war, an inevitable theater of the slaughter of innocents, without putting up a loud and visible fight for the lives of babies and children in the midst of those battles, too?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Come for the Church, Stay for the Guilt

Our bodies were designed by The Creator with all physical deliberate working parts. We do not carry around superfluous parts (even the appendix has a purpose). So, how can it be that we were all born with the unavoidable flawed red mark of what the Church teaches is Original Sin on our blank slate? This is an insult to God and a dangerously spiked thread spun 'round and 'round parishioners like a spider's web. (A snippet of this farce can be read below.)

The concept of Original Sin was a fairy tale dreamt up by a man whose conscience got the better of him. A man who projected his insecurities onto the world by conjuring up the idea of Original Sin. You see, Augustine felt such guilt about the way that he lived that he arrogantly assumed that what is good for the goose is good for the whole damn flock. If he was going to punish himself by labeling his feelings as sins, then everyone else had to be labeled as well. He tried to make himself feel better by bringing everyone "down to his level". It is textbook psychology and an easily deconstructable piece of nonsense the Church passes off as The Word.

In talking about such defined sins, the Church also introduced the so-called "7 Deadly Sins" (wrath, sloth, lust, greed, envy, pride and gluttony). They preach that the sin is not just in the action, but in the feeling prior to the action. One can feel and fight acting on those bad feelings, but, alas, the damage has been done and the sin has already been logged in the book. Forget about the fact that one triumphed, overcoming their feelings and gained control of themselves so as to not act on their bad feelings. Sorry, you get no credit for that. The Church would say "not good enough - you shouldn't have felt the sin to start with". The Church has designed this game so that you cannot win...requiring the Catholic to put on the cloak of And, of course, guilt will always bring you back to church. Guilt is a handy tool of control and the Church wields it like no other weapon imaginable.

On a natural biological level, one needs to feel anger for fight or flight, one needs to feel lust for reproducing, etc. These are aspects of survival and God designed us as a species to survive...which is why we were equipped with such feelings. Superfluous and sinful? I think more utilitarian and necessary in God's plan. So, in essence, to the Church, being human is ONE BIG SIN in itself if you go by these standards. Because, after all, what does it mean to be human? It means that you will feel all of these "sins", along with many other feelings less definable ALL THE TIME. Take away the feelings in a human and all you have is a meaningless shell. This is what the Church wants: An easily programmable ask-no-questions shell. A mechanical and unfeeling function of duty to serve the Church. I say the "Church", because Jesus Christ issued no decree on Original Sin or The 7 Deadly Sins. Why, even Jesus Christ himself exhibited one of their ridiculously termed "7 Deadly Sins" -- anger -- in the temple -- toward the moneychangers. Jesus was also tempted by Satan in the desert. The Bible does not state that he felt absolutely no temptation whatsoever, it states that he was tempted (a sin?) but he fought the bad feelings and won. If this is the end-all-be-all stance of the Church's view of sin, then they successfully labeled their God a sinner. Blasphemy!

St. Augustine & Original Sin

As a youth Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time and, in Carthage, he developed a relationship with a young woman who would be his concubine for over fifteen years. During this period he had a son, Adeodatus, with the young woman. During the years 373 and 374, Augustine taught grammar at Tagaste. The following year, he moved to Carthage to conduct a school of rhetoric there, and would remain there for the next nine years. Disturbed by the unruly behaviour of the students in Carthage, in 383 he moved to Rome to establish a school there, where he believed the best and brightest rhetoricians practiced. However, Augustine was disappointed with the Roman schools, which he found apathetic. Once the time came for his students to pay their fees they simply fled. Manichaean friends introduced him to the prefect of the City of Rome, Symmachus, who had been asked to provide a professor of rhetoric for the imperial court at Milan.

At Milan, his mother Monica pressured him to become a Catholic. Augustine's own studies in Neoplatonism were also leading him in this direction, and his friend Simplicianus urged him that way as well. But it was the bishop of Milan, Ambrose, who had most influence over Augustine. Ambrose was a master of rhetoric like Augustine himself, but older and more experienced. Augustine's mother had followed him to Milan and he allowed her to arrange a society marriage, for which he abandoned his concubine (however he had to wait two years until his fiancée came of age; he promptly took up in the meantime with another woman). It was during this period that he uttered his famous prayer, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet" [da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo] (Conf., VIII. vii (17)).

In the summer of 386, after having read an account of the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert which greatly inspired him, Augustine underwent a profound personal crisis and decided to convert to Catholic Christianity, abandon his career in rhetoric, quit his teaching position in Milan, give up any ideas of marriage, and devote himself entirely to serving God and the practices of priesthood, which included celibacy. Key to this conversion was the voice of an unseen child he heard while in his garden in Milan telling him in a sing-song voice to "tolle lege" ("take up and read") the Bible, at which point he opened the Bible at random and fell upon the Epistle to the Romans 13:13, which reads: "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying" (KJV). He would detail his spiritual journey in his famous Confessions, which became a classic of both Christian theology and world literature. Ambrose baptized Augustine, along with his son, Adeodatus, on Easter Vigil in 387 in Milan, and soon thereafter in 388 he returned to Africa. On his way back to Africa his mother died, as did his son soon after, leaving him alone in the world without family.

Augustine struggled with lust throughout his life. He associated sexual desire with the sin of Adam, and believed that it was still sinful, even though the Fall has made it part of human nature. In the Confessions, Augustine describes his personal struggle in vivid terms: "But I, wretched, most wretched, in the very commencement of my early youth, had begged chastity of Thee, and said, 'Give me chastity and incontinence, only not yet.'" At sixteen Augustine moved to Carthage where again he was plagued by this "wretched sin": There seethed all around me a cauldron of lawless loves. I loved not yet, yet I loved to love, and out of a deep-seated want, I hated myself for wanting not. I sought what I might love, in love with loving, and I hated safety... To love then, and to be beloved, was sweet to me; but more, when I obtained to enjoy the person I loved. I defiled, therefore, the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence, and I beclouded its brightness with the hell of lustfulness.

For Augustine, the evil was not in the sexual act itself, but rather in the emotions that typically accompany it. To the pious virgins raped during the sack of Rome, he writes, "Truth, another's lust cannot pollute thee." Chastity is "a virtue of the mind, and is not lost by rape, but is lost by the intention of sin, even if unperformed." In short, Augustine's life experience led him to consider lust to be one of the most grievous sins, and a serious obstacle to the virtuous life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I have an aunt who is a full-blown Catholic Churchian - she can tell you all about the Popes and councils and doctrines and dogma and the rituals and ceremonies and the Latin vs. non-Latin mass and how the eucharist actually turns to flesh (yeah, I know) and she knows all the saints and martyrs and prays to the Virgin Mary day and night.

But, I doubt she could talk much about Christ. At least I have never heard her talk about Jesus or God. People like this seem to be "all church" and Godless at the same time. As Tori Amos put it in her song Crucify, "You're just an empty cage, girl, if you kill the bird."

Here are some statements worth quoting. I couldn't have put it better myself and it is refreshing to know that I am not the only one who feels the distinction between Christianity and Churchianity.

"For one thing, I suggested the need for a critical reassessment of the role of churches themselves. I told students --and openly stated in sermons when asked to preach to the University Methodist Temple congregation—that churches are like schools and are supposed to provide people with basic religious insights on metaphysical, ethical, and moral questions and principles, and the encouragement to go out and make spiritually aware decisions and exercise spiritually aware leadership in applying what they’ve learned. Churches are intended, I suggested, to possess and share an appreciation for the history of all humanity’s reach toward the Eternal, not just that for their little roped-off portion of the Christian West. This perspective would deliver both people and institutions, I promised, from the parochialism, bigotry, and chauvinism of a thousand varieties that have led to centuries of religious infighting and attack on those of other understandings. Churches, like schools, are not ends in themselves. If the principal of a prestigious high school is so impressed with his school’s reputation and traditions and with how safely it keeps its students off the streets that he won’t permit them to graduate, that principal has forgotten his school’s sole purpose. Either his priorities must be corrected or his school abandoned.”

-- George Fowler, author of Dance of the Fallen Monk

Vast multitudes cling to some Church establishment as a drowning man would cling to a life-boat. They bow obsequiously to her priestly and official mandates, and imagine that the blind servility which they tender to the Church will be accounted acceptable service offered to Christ. The simplicity of the Gospel is lost in the imposing forms and glittering accompaniments of modern churchism. Splendid church edifices attract the eye. Splendid music charms the ear. Splendid prayers are addressed to the CONGREGATION. Splendid sermons please the fancy, and leave deluded sinners to slumber on. Church rivalry has achieved a glorious success, if success thundering organs, ostentatious dressing, theatrical singing, pointless praying, rhetorical preaching, careless hearing, and unscriptural practicing! Much of the current worship is done by proxy. Lazy religionists surrender their sacred rights to others. They take it for granted that the preacher is on the right track, and readily swallow whatever may be doled out from the pulpit, without using their own brains in searching for the hidden treasures of truth. Thus religious ideas are transmitted from generation to generation, until tradition exerts a more powerful influence than the Bible in molding the sentiments of men. There comes to be a fashionable faith, as well as a fashionable dress. To embrace a certain stereotyped circle of doctrinal views entitles a man to the claim of "orthodoxy"; but let him not venture one step out of the beaten track, if he would not be denounced as a deluded heretic! But few have the moral courage to question the decisions of the Church, much less to discard what she has labeled as "orthodox". The verdict of a few leading denominations has thus grown up into a threatening tyranny; and the multitude cannot think of stemming the mighty tide. So they bow down in their narrow enslavement and worship this curiously- fashioned but pious-looking idol - the Church! Since all idolatry is an abomination to God, we have no more right to worship a church than we have to worship a golden calf! We rob the Lord of His rightful honor, and ourselves of the highest bliss of Christianity, by looking to the Church too much, and "looking unto Jesus" too little. What can be done to deal a staggering blow to this cruel church- worship of the day, and at the same time give us more exalted and ravishing views of Jesus Christ? There is a grand failure to carry out the ultimate design, when the appliances of the Gospel result only in the production of Churchianity. Our perception, our prayers, our faith and our adoration must overleap the narrow precincts of the outward Church, and rise up to the eternal throne! "Worship God!"

From ZWT Reprints, page 533, September, 1883, by A. A. Phelps.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Female Victims...Last On The List

While it is good that the Church reversed its original decision not to provide women with proper post-rape options at Catholic hospitals, the Church fought for so long to prevent these options from being available, which is detestable. defines the word"selfish" as 'characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself'. Now, let's focus for a moment on the first two sentences of this article:

"Roman Catholic bishops have agreed to let hospital personnel give emergency contraception to all rape victims, reversing their decision days before a new state law requires it. The church had fought the state law by arguing it would force Catholic medical personnel to perform chemical abortions because they may be providing emergency contraception to women who are ovulating."

Who is really, let's be honest, placed in order of importance in this statement:

1) Roman Catholic bishops
2) Catholic medical personnel
3) Rape victims

Who should be the ones whose well-being (physical, emotion, and psychological) is of utmost importance in terms of being served at a hospital following an absolutely violating, non-voluntary and horrifyingly devastating event? Well, if I were to decide, I would say the rape victims! VICTIMS should have choices, because they were put into a situation that provided them no choice. Perhaps it is because these are female victims that the choice would have been so limited had it been up to the Church to implement its original decision.

I think Jesus would have set aside the politics and male bureaucratic, dogmatic guilt-bestowing bullshit in this situation, have put His arms around the sobbing rape victim and said that you will be fine, my lamb, we will try and get your life back to normal as much as possible. This injustice that was done unto you won't result in you having no choices or options. We will focus on you and getting YOU any kind of help you require. Because I love you, I will not put limitations on any medical assistance you may need. Your body houses your soul and we need to make sure your body is taken care of and healed of this injustice. You should not pay a lifetime for a horror that was done unto you.

Catholic hospitals to follow Plan B law
AP via Yahoo on Sept. 27, 2007

HARTFORD, Conn. - Roman Catholic bishops have agreed to let hospital personnel give emergency contraception to all rape victims, reversing their decision days before a new state law requires it. The church had fought the state law by arguing it would force Catholic medical personnel to perform chemical abortions because they may be providing emergency contraception to women who are ovulating. The Catholic hospitals wanted to first perform ovulation tests, but lawmakers did not include such tests in the legislation. The bishops now say that administering the drug, sold as Plan B, cannot be judged as an abortion. Plan B is a high dose of a drug found in many regular birth-control pills. Its maker, Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., got approval last year to sell the drug over-the-counter. Plan B can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The drug works by stopping ovulation and has no effect on an existing pregnancy. Several states have enacted laws to improve rape survivors' access to the medication in hospital emergency rooms; some states also have laws that protect pharmacy employees who refuse to sell the contraceptive for reasons of conscience.

Monday, October 8, 2007

You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling

It is ironic that this piece came out in the Sun Times last week because in talking to my Church-going parents, they (and the rest of the congregation) also had an unfortunate "priest experience" last Saturday evening at mass. The priest allegedly stood up at the beginning of mass and told everyone how glad he was that the church was so full of attendees (it was a festival weekend in town, so there were many guests from out of town). However, after the recitation of the Prayer of the Faithful, the priest stopped the service abruptly and loudly and harshly scolded the entire congregation for not saying the prayer with more "feeling". He told them that if he said the prayer in the monotone way they did, that he'd have had to retire a long time ago. I guess a gasp went through the congregation as heads turned to look at each other in utter dismay. My mother was so fired up that she, being on the Parish Council, took the issue to a meeting to complain. I was also told that a male parishioner approached the offending priest immediately after mass and the priest loudly denied that he said anything wrong.

Nothing makes a guest or native parishioner feel more unwelcome and unfocused on prayer than getting their asses reamed for not saying a prayer "correctly".

The story below, however, is far worse than just a pissy priest. The priest took what should have been a privately held discussion and turned it into a public effigy. What a joke. I don't blame the parishioner a bit for his reaction. Some frustrated priests, rather than being able to make love to a woman (or man), make love to corrupt power. There is just too much they are denied on such a human level and that very-natural-human-need void gets filled one way or another, whether it is through the Nazi-like management of a church, or booze, or golf, or verbal abuse, etc. Being celibate is supposed to bring one closer to God, if I am not mistaken, but instead it seems to cause much more long-lasting frustration and destruction (molestation, anger, abuse) than visible and lasting results of a sexless life. I don't hear priests standing up and declaring how glad they are that they do not have a sexual partner, because, man, it makes life and all layers of life all the more better. A priest who has never married has no right on God's green earth to counsel married couples. There are too many nuances about married life that the priest cannot even begin to understand or speak about, but I digress....

Critical mass - Priest's alleged response to criticism of his homily leaves parishioner so angry he's suing the church and diocese
Chicago Sun Times, October 3, 2007

Angel Llavona considered his priest open to honest criticism. And so after one Sunday mass last year, Llavona telephoned the Crystal Lake priest and left a message that The Rev. Luis Alfredo Rios, a priest at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, then did something equally brazen, Llavona claims. He played the private phone message during Sunday mass and asked his flock, "What should we do? Should we send him to hell or to another parish?" Now Llavona, who was sitting in church when his message was played, is suing Rios and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockford. Llavona claims in the lawsuit filed this week in McHenry County that he was defamed and suffered "immediate emotional distress, embarrassment and humiliation." Llavona says the humiliation forced him to change parishes. He is seeking a minimum of $50,000 in damages. Llavona, a teacher at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, served as a volunteer with the parish's religious education program from September of 2005 to April of 2006. "Disharmony or disagreement between a priest and his parishioners is always unfortunate," said diocese spokeswoman Penny Wiegert, reading from a statement Tuesday. "We hope that a peaceful solution at St. Thomas the Apostle can be established outside the court." Rios could not be reached for comment and Llavona, raking leaves outside his Algonquin home, didn't want to discuss the case. In his lawsuit, Llavona claims he left a phone message on Rios' private parish line one day after the September 24, 2006, mass. At the time, Rios was new to the Crystal Lake Church. The message: "Father Rios, this is Angel Llavona. I attended mass on Sunday and I have seen poor homilies, but yesterday broke all records."then says in his lawsuit that he tried to arrange a meeting with Rios, but the priest refused. Then, Llavona claims, Rios played the phone message on Oct. 1, 2006, during two Sunday mass services. According to Llavona, Rios told the congregation, "This is the person in charge of religious education here last year. That's why it is no surprise to me [that] we had the kind of religious education we had. That's why we didn't get altar boys. What should we do? Should we send him to hell or to another parish?"One parishioner interviewed this week said she was in church when Rios played Llavona's phone message. She said she had a hard time hearing the message but had only praise for Rios and his abilities as a priest. "Oh, I love it," Guadalupe Zambrano, 40, said of Rios' preaching. "He always talk strong, like he wants to tell everybody how to love God."Zambrano said Rios is the kind of priest who encourages parents to take part in their children's religious education and says it's clear that Rios prepares diligently for his sermons. "Everything he says in the homily . . . you get it right away," Zambrano said.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Jesus Is Not A Fan

Here's another laughable business arrangement made by the Vatican. Football. Because the world's problems of poverty, AIDS, war, child slavery, etc. have all been solved! Vatican money can now go toward saving goals, rather than saving souls! My favorite line of this article is this one: "We want to bring some ethics back into the game, which has been undergoing a grave crisis in terms of sportsmanship." Grave crisis? The friggin' Catholic Church is in a grave crisis. Crisis is seeing Catholicism as a religion die out before ordaining women to be priests. Crisis is stopping the pedophile priests from abusing little parishioners. Football holds no "crises". A "crisis" in football might be about as worrisome as a cloudy day. I can convey nothing less than disgust at this ridiculous sham. Bring some ethics back to humanity before focusing on extracurricular activities that don't football. Get your priorities straight, oh most wise and holy Vatican. Before you know it, the priests stoles and robes will be replaced with jerseys covered with Coca-Cola and Tide logos. It is this type of severe lapse in judgement on the part of the Vatican that makes me sigh in relief that I am no longer affiliated with the Church. For shame!

Here is the article:

God squad buys club to tackle 'crisis' in football

Thursday October 04 2007 – The Daily Telegraph©

The Vatican has pledged to clean up Italian football after buying its own club. The Italian Bishop's Conference now has a controlling stake in AC Ancona, currently top of Italy's third division, after money was provided by a group of Catholic businessmen. Edoardo Menichelli, the Archbishop of Ancona, said the move would help bring more morality into football. "We want to bring some ethics back into the game, which has been undergoing a grave crisis in terms of sportsmanship,'' he said. The Vatican aims to introduce an ethical code which will punish Ancona's players for any foul play. Under the new owners, tickets for Ancona's home matches will drop in price, and all profits will go to projects in the Third World. Fans will be forbidden from taunting and insulting the opposition, and from unfurling offensive banners and flags. Ancona played in Italy's top division only four years ago, but were relegated after winning just 13 points. The club also reached the final of the Italian Cup in 2004, but lost to Sampdoria. However, it was deeply involved in the Calciopoli bribes scandal of two seasons ago. Its former president, Ermanno Pieroni, was sentenced to 53 days in jail. The team will have an audience with Pope Benedict XVI after the final deal is signed on October 10. Andrea Staffolani, a 24-year-old striker, said: "We have not been told all the details about the new ethical code, but we like what we have read so far. "For example, the idea that if we get sent off we have to do voluntary work. "We've been talking about it in the dressing room, and we are ready to do it. "The team has played well and fairly on the pitch until now anyway, and we hope to keep it that way. "We cannot wait to meet the Pope. All of us are delighted, believers and non-believers.'' Eighty per cent of the club will be controlled by the bishops, leaving 20pc to the former president Sergio Schiavoni. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, is a fanatical football fan and has openly spoken about his ambition to create a football team of priests.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Saints: Stories of Crime And Fiction

Check out this article of Isabella of Spain being on the path toward sainthood. Wow. She is actually #8 on an unofficial Top 10 Most Evil Women List, which I found. Even in 1974, the Pope did not recognize the evils of the Spanish Inquisition and those who ruled with absolute bigoted intolerance. Isabella I – political player in one of the biggest crimes against humanity in history? Murderess? -- What an example of piety for potential sainthood, right?

Source: ListVerse -

Isabella I of Spain and her husband, Ferdinand II of Aragon, laid the foundation for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Carlos I of Spain (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor). She is well known as the patron of Christopher Columbus. At her request, Tomás de Torquemada became the first Inquisitor General of the Spanish Inquisition and began a policy of religious cleansing. On March 31, 1492, the Alhambra Decree for the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims was issued. Approximately 200,000 people left Spain. Others converted, often only to be persecuted further by the Inquisition investigating Judaizing conversos. In 1974, Pope Paul VI opened her cause for beatification. This places her on the path toward possible sainthood. In the Catholic Church, she is thus titled Servant of God.

And, just when you thought it was safe to assume that people on the waiting list to sainthood actually have the elusive Juan Diego.

The Church will go to great lengths to investigate genuine phenomena like miracles or demonic possession, but when it comes to proving a saint out of someone who may not have even been real, well, that's where it seems they drop the ball. This preoccupation with saints and martyrs and holy people. While we are not fit to judge people as being evil, I have to play devil's advocate (forgive the term) and ask how people can be truly judged as being good? A "good" enough to warrant sainthood as an example of a quality life for the masses? Sounds all too political. People are wanting the former pope John Paul to be a saint? Saints are tied to miracles - miracles are presumed to be magical unexplained experiences. I think miracles are more or less an occurrence or a tidal wave of overwhelming good that can happen in everyday life -- like the story of the multiplying loaves, whereas 1000 people sit down and share and share and share to the point where there are leftovers. I don't exactly take literally Jesus as the magician pulling-the-rabbit-from-the-hat trick of making 3 loaves into 300 at the snap of a finger. I think miracles are very real, and, while I do believe all is possible with God, I feel that they are more within our grasp than we think. You get 1000 people together, sitting together on a lawn today and see if they are all overwhelmed with love to the point of sharing their meals with the others on the lawn and see if that happens. Now, tell me that wasn't a miracle that they all cooperated like they did. We think miracles are out of this world and untouchable. Not so....but I digress. Here is an article about a potentially fictional character being lauded as a factual potential for sainthood.

Juan DiegoThe Saint That Never Was
By Mario Mendez Acosta, from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2.

"The saint that never was” may sound like the title of a cheap thriller of the forties, something from the pen of Leslie Charteris or G.K Chesterton. But it’s more like a modern-day melodrama. It’s the story of how the Catholic Church, just to test its strength, tried to show the world that it had the power to change reality by canonizing a man whom everyone in its inner circle knew never existed. I refer to Juan Diego, the Aztec Indian who supposedly witnessed the apparition of the Virgin Mary as the Virgin of Guadalupe. Back in the sixteenth century, the very name “Juan Diego” meant something like “John Doe” in modern-day America: a man whose name and identity are not only unknown, but really don’t matter. Over the centuries the church has launched several inquests into the reality of Juan Diego. It’s an important problem, given that the Virgin of Guadalupe—in whose form the Virgin Mary assumed the physiognomy of an American Indian woman—is so central to Catholic devotion throughout Latin America. In the nineteenth century, Bishop Labastida of Mexico City held an inquest headed by the historian Joaquin Garcia Icazbalceta, a devout Catholic. Icazbalceta wrote a confidential report to the bishop that clearly disputed the existence of Juan Diego. Real or not, Juan Diego was made a saint last July. In the wake of that event, clergyman Miguel Olimon—a historian of the Pontifical University of Mexico, a very prestigious official Catholic institution—launched another inquest. This inquiry, too, found clearly against the existence of Juan Diego. Olimon was censored and threatened by the apparitionist hierarchy. One bishop actually lamented in public that there was no more Inquisition to silence troublemakers like Olimon. But this historian decided to publish his work anyway. A Spanish publisher, Plaza & Janes, accepted the manuscript and published it this year under the title La Búsqueda de Juan Diego (The Search for Juan Diego). Certainly Diego’s first appearances in the historical record do little to inspire confidence. As David Brading of Cambridge University points out, the image of the virgin was supposedly miraculously imprinted on Juan Diego’s cape in 1531, yet the first recorded reference to the image of the virgin dates from 1555 or 1556. Another priest-historian, Stafford Poole of Los Angeles, points out that Juan Diego himself doesn’t appear in any record until 1648, when Miguel Sanchez, a theological writer based in New Spain (later Mexico), mentioned him in his book The Apparitions of the Virgin Mary. The following year, the Juan Diego story resurfaces in another book titled Nican Mopohua, written in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs by a criollo1 priest, Luis Lasso de la Vega. Nican Mopohua’s plot is simple, based on several more ancient legends including that of Moses on Mount Sinai. The book claims that, in 1531, just ten years after the Spaniards led by Hernan Cortez conquered the Aztec empire, a Christian Indian named Juan Diego walked up the hill of Tepeyac just north of Mexico City. On the hilltop the Virgin appeared to him and asked him to build a temple at that place. Juan Diego told Bishop Juan de Zumarraga what he had heard. The bishop demanded some kind of proof. After several encounters with the Virgin, Juan Diego was instructed by her to pick some wild roses and carry them in his cape so the bishop could see them. When Juan Diego returned to the bishop’s quarters in downtown Mexico City, he opened his cape and the roses fell to the ground. On the cloth had appeared the image of the Virgin, supposedly the same image now on exhibit at the Basilica of Guadalupe. This story has several holes. First of all, Bishop Zumarraga wasn’t yet a bishop. He wasn’t consecrated until 1534. Second, up to his death in 1548 Zumarraga never mentioned anything concerning this matter. Finally, in a catechism he wrote the year before his death he clearly stated: “The Redeemer of the world doesn’t want any more miracles, because they are no longer necessary.” This bishop’s silence—more, his hostility toward latter-day miracles—is eloquent. No one would write about the supposed apparitions for more than a hundred years. The cult of the virgin on the hill of Tepeyac starts around 1550. The first temple was built a couple of years later, under Zumarraga’s successor Alonso de Montufar. Bishop Montufar is known to have commissioned the now-sacred image from Marcos Cipac de Aquino, an Indian painter famous throughout the regions north of the city. The painter based his initial sketch on a previously existing image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, already revered as the patroness of Extremadura, a province of Spain. As early as September 1556, Francisco de Bustamante, provincial head of Mexico’s Franciscans, read a memorable sermon in which he clearly dismissed the whole myth: “The devotion that has been growing in a chapel dedicated to Our Lady, called of Guadalupe, in this city is greatly harmful for the natives, because it makes them believe that the image painted by Marcos the Indian is in any way miraculous.”In 1569, Martin Enriquez de Almanza, fourth viceroy of Mexico, denounced the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe as a harmful imposture, indeed as disguised worship of the Aztec goddess Tonantzin.Olimon’s book also surveys the studies made upon the so-called miraculous cloth itself. In 1982, Guillermo Schulenburg, Abbot of the Basilica of Guadalupe, had the image examined by an expert art restorer. Jose Sol Rosales determined that the picture was executed using different variations of the technique now known as template painting. The pigments are a mixture of caccus cacti extract, calcium sulphate, and soot commonly used in the sixteenth century. (In 1996, Schulenburg would be forced to resign of after publicly stating that Juan Diego was a mythical figure.) Those religious scholars, clergymen themselves, who have challenged the historicity of Juan Diego have been made the object of a veritable lynching in the media. There are few modern examples of so much hatred being vented from within the Church against those who differ from the prevailing “official truth.” The canonization of Juan Diego clearly paints the modern Roman Catholic Church in all its historic intolerance and irrationality. This comes as no surprise to many Mexicans who never really accepted the Church’s new face of pretended tolerance and moderation.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Simony Says

I expressed how I felt about the Vatican Air earlier. Here is another tidbit in the news as of late. I feel it is borderline heretical. Why do people of alleged faith put their trust and faith into items, stuff, things, shit, tangibles, objects.? How can non-living items like a piece of cloth "augment prayer"? And why the hell is the late Pope always seemingly venerated above Jesus Christ himself? Why do people focus on the messenger of the Word and not the Word itself? People can't see what is right in front of their faces. And again, is this a tax-exempt sale? Should we look for pieces of the pope's underwear on eBay next? PayPal can't get you into Heaven, folks.

Pope's robe cut up for 100,000 'holy relics'

September 25, 2007 Source: The Times Online

Fragments of a cassock worn by Pope John Paul II are being offered for sale to the faithful, causing concern in the Vatican over the resurgence in the veneration of relics. Devotees of John Paul can apply via e-mail, fax or post for fragments of a white cassock to augment their prayers. A cassock worn by John Paul has reportedly been cut into 100,000 pieces to satisfy demand. The scheme is run by the Vicariate of Rome, which is promoting sainthood for John Paul. The faithful also receive a “holy card” with a prayer to “obtain graces through the intercession of John Paul II”. The Vicariate said that it has been overwhelmed by requests for the relics, with priority now being given to those who were praying for the sick or were themselves seriously ill. But the scheme has caused disquiet in the Vatican, which is anxious to discourage the veneration of relics, seen as a medieval practice with no place in the modern church. “Wars were fought over the hunt for relics in the Middle Ages,” said Bishop Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican’s top judicial body. Condemnation of the sale of relics – or simony – was one of the causes of the Reformation in the 16th century, together with usury and the sale of indulgences. All were later banned under Catholic canon law. “No-one can say whether venerating relics aids prayer, it depends on the faith of the believer”, Bishop De Paolis told La Stampa. The Vicariate solicits donations from those who apply for its fragments, risking further criticism from the Vatican which forbids the sale of relics. The Vicariate claims the donations are needed to cover costs, with any surplus going towards the costs of John Paul’s “cause for sainthood”. “This is not a commercial operation,” said Father Marco Fibbi, spokesman for the Vicariate. Fragments would be sent to those who did not make a payment as well as to those who did. The relics on offer are known as ex indumentis, meaning cloth that the late Pope touched. The Vicariate said it had been overwhelmed by requests for the relics, and donations to the beatification website had increased to 1,200 a day from 300 a day when it was launched four months after John Paul’s death. Thousands continue to file every day past the late Pope’s tomb in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica. Pope Benedict XVI has put his predecessor on a fast track to beatification. At John Paul’s funeral two years ago mourners chanted Santo subito! – Sainthood now! To be beatified a candidate must be held by the Vatican to be responsible for a miraculous cure after death, a condition apparently met in the case of John Paul by a French nun who was cured of Parkinson’s disease after praying to him. Donations to the website can be made by credit card or bank transfer. However, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the Polish priest in charge of John Paul’s cause, warned devotees of the dangers of imitation websites offering false relics. Last year a religious souvenir shop near the Vatican withdrew supposed relics of John Paul from sale after admitting that the specks of cloth were “third-class relics” – pieces of cloth that had been laid on Pope John Paul’s tomb, rather than fragments of the Pope’s own clothing.