Tag Archives: religion

Sister Margaret Farley censured by Vatican for thought crimes. Still no censure for child-raping priests.

What continues to amaze me about the Church’s focus on this nun is the length to which they will go to punish the words and thoughts of religious women, while utterly failing to punish the significantly more harmful actions of religious men.  If you’re a wrong-thinking nun, the Catholic Church will censure you.  If you’re a priest who rapes children, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will reward you with $20,000.

Sister Margaret Farley Denounced by Vatican – NYTimes.com.

Sister Farley has clearly stated that her book is not intended to be read as a statement of Catholic doctrine.  From the article:

Sister Farley, a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and an award-winning scholar, responded in a statement: “I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether.”

The book, she said, offers “contemporary interpretations” of justice and fairness in human sexual relations, moving away from a “taboo morality” and drawing on “present-day scientific, philosophical, theological, and biblical resources.”

On the plus side, because the Catholic hierarchy is totally ignorant of the Streisand effect, their official censure of Sister Farley’s book has catapulted it into the Amazon best sellers list.

 


Is Pleasure a Sin? – Thoughts on Maureen Dowd’s NYTimes column

Columnist Maureen Dowd addresses a question that has been on my mind a lot recently.  The headline is a little misleading, and I think that she doesn’t give the real question enough time, but the facts that she points out are illustrative.

Is Pleasure a Sin? – NYTimes.com.

From the column:

“Just Love: a Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” by Sister Margaret Farley — a 77-year-old professor emeritus at Yale’s Divinity School, a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and an award-winning scholar — came out in 2006.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which seems as hostile to women as the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, spent years pondering it, then censured it on March 30 but didn’t publicly release the statement until Monday.

The denunciation of Sister Farley’s book is based on the fact that she deals with the modern world as it is. She refuses to fall in line with a Vatican rigidly clinging to an inbred, illusory world where men rule with no backtalk from women, gays are deviants, the divorced can’t remarry, men and women can’t use contraception, masturbation is a grave disorder and celibacy is enshrined, even as a global pedophilia scandal rages.

Dowd then contrasts the focus of Sister Farley’s book, and the hierarchy’s response to it, with this:

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York blasted The New York Times after Laurie Goodstein wrote that, as the archbishop of Milwaukee in 2003, he authorized payments of up to $20,000 to sexually abusive priests “as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood.”

Cardinal Dolan insisted through a spokesman that it was “charity,” not “payoffs.” But if you were the parent of a boy abused by a priest who went away with 20,000 bucks, maybe “charity” is not the word that would come to mind.

Its crisis has made the church cruel. The hierarchy should read Sister Farley’s opprobrium against adults harming vulnerable children and adolescents by sexually exploiting them; respect for the individual and requirement of free consent, she says, mean that rape, violence and pedophilia against unwilling victims are never justified.

Dowd’s ultimate point is that the Catholic Church has lost track of right and wrong, which is obviously true.  However, what she misses is that in terms of personal relationships and human sexuality, the Catholic Church has never been concerned with questions of right and wrong.  They are now, and always have been, concerned with the question of personal hierarchies; that is, which persons are not permitted to have agency or control over themselves.

In Sister Farley’s world, we are all agents of our own lives.  In the Catholic Church’s world we are not, women and children especially.  It isn’t difficult to see why the Church is prioritizing the punishment of uppity nuns over the punishment of child raping priests.  Men, and priests in particular, are allowed to make such errors.  Priests raping children does not upset the Catholic hierarchy’s view of the world.  It is the place of women and children to accept the dominion of these men over them, and to do so without complaining or requiring recognition as being fully human also.  To the Church, these personal hierarchies are an unchangeable truth.  Uppity nuns, on the other hand, threaten these systems of domination in a way that threatens the church.  If enough Catholics truly believed that we are all agents of our own lives, the systems that support Catholic authority would be decimated, and the Church would eventually disappear.

This is what the Catholic Church is, and what it always will be.


Catholic Church not OK with paying for contraception, but A-OK with paying for priests who rape children

Honestly, when can we all just admit that the Catholic hierarchy has absolutely no grounds to claim moral authority on any topic at all, but particularly on the topic of human sexuality.  Seen on CNN:  Top U.S. archbishop linked to abusive priest payout plan.

According to this story, Archbishop Timothy Dolan was perfectly willing to hand out $20,000 a pop to his priests who he knew were raping kids.  On the other hand, Dolan is really, really, really against any church affiliated organization, such as a Catholic hospital, having to include contraception in their insurance plans for their non-Catholic employees.

If I really thought there was a hell, I can say with absolute certainty that these assholes will be rotting there.

 


I don’t particularly care one way or another whether Jesus is an actual historical figure, but the arguments are interesting. Happy recycled pagan myth day!


John Boehner and NOM

In an editorial today, the New York Times takes note of the horrific contents of unsealed National Organization for Marriage (NOM) memos, pointing out that the contents of the memos clearly identify NOM as a purely political organization, despite its claim to be a social welfare organization.

Among the highlights are the following:

The documents brag about its “crucial” role in passage of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage that was overturned by a federal appeals court. They describe the group’s use of “robo-calls” to scare residents in different states away from supporting marriage equality. They talk of a plan to “expose Obama as a social radical,” but the most appalling portions deal with the group’s racially and ethnically divisive strategies.

“The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies,” says one memo.

Another stated aim is to manipulate Hispanic voters by making the exclusion of gay people from marriage “a key badge of Latino identity.”

Although I am sure that the evidence, as usual, will fail to convince those who need convincing, it should be painfully obvious that NOM consists of horrible, hateful people whose entire existence revolves around constant attempts to insure that other people are miserable and oppressed.

However, I took special note of the paragraph following the above, in which the NYT noted that House Speaker John Boehner recently appointed NOM’s co-founder, Robert George, to a U.S. commission “focused on addressing religious intolerance and extremism around the globe.”  This is the same Speaker Boehner who is wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to defend the indefensible DOMA in court.

Aside from the obvious prejudice and desire to oppress and marginalize, I do wonder what’s the connection between Boehner and NOM?


Catholics rally to continue taking public tax money while imposing medieval religious values on non-Catholics

Today I am (relatively) hard at work at my desk.  The weather here in Chicago has taken a turn from the sunny, late spring-like days of the past week to rainy and chilly.  So I am surprised to hear chanting and screaming coming in through the thick glass of my 20th floor window.

Oh.  It’s the local “pro-lifers,” egged on by our home-grown Pro-Life Action League, rallying for the freedom to continue sucking at the public teat while denying access to contraception through their insurance coverage to their non-Catholic employees.  Hilariously and ironically, one of their loudest chants is the word “freedom.”  Today’s ridiculous, riddled-with-irony rally has provoked irritation, contempt, frustration, and a certain sense of “how can this be a real thing in the world” bemusement.

It is a fact that no actual churches will be required to provide contraception coverage through their insurance programs.  It is also a fact that there is no government mandate that Catholics actually avail themselves of contraception.

On the other hand, institutions such as hospitals, which are publicly funded to a substantial degree, and which provide services to the general public are and should be required to follow the same standards as every other large employer.

You know what?  If the Catholic church wants the right to impose its asinine religious values on all of its employees, it needs to wean itself off public money.  Until then, they can really go fuck themselves.  The Catholic hierarchy is a deeply morally troubled institution, and their continued insistence that they have any sort of moral authority is just fucking laughable.  The idea that any Catholic employer’s minimal contributions to its employees’ health insurance programs violates the institution’s conscience is so fucking ridiculous that I find it difficult to believe that anyone, anywhere is falling for it.  It’s insurance coverage.  It’s a benefit of employment.  If we accept this brain-damaged argument that the employer’s portion of health insurance premium contributions violates religious principles, then surely the paychecks that go to employees who might use contraception is an even more egregious violation.  After all, there isn’t even the middle man of the insurance company standing between the flow of money from the institution to the employee.

We live in a bizarre, bizarre universe.


More details emerge on Dutch Catholic Church child rape and castration scandal

Via the Daily Beast, journalist Robert Chesal describes how this story developed.  It’s hard to express how vomit-inducing this sordid tale is.  I find it difficult to believe than anyone on this planet can still look to the Catholic Church as a source of moral authority.

The article provides the following details of the sad story of Henk Heithuis, which were preserved in letters by Dutch sculptor, Cornelius Rogge, who met Heithuis after he had fallen ill as a result of his castration at the hands of doctors in a Roman Catholic institution, and at the instruction of Catholic authorities:

Rogge…had met Henk Heithuis when the young man arrived, extremely ill, at his mother Thea’s home in Amsterdam in 1957. He’d never forgotten the stories Henk told of sexual abuse he suffered in the care facilities where he grew up. Especially the story about abuse by a monk named Gregorius, the brother superior at Harreveld, the Roman Catholic boarding school where Henk lived from 1950 to 1953.

Henk said the monks there preyed on the boys,” Rogge told Dohmen. “When he was seventeen he became the brother superior’s plaything. Henk compared the place to a bordello. We could hardly believe our ears.”

In 1956, Henk, then 20-years-old and legally a minor, reported the clerical abuse to the police. Hearing about the abuse, the police treated him as if he were insane, bringing him to a Roman Catholic psychiatric hospital where he was involuntarily committed. People there told detectives Henk was “a homosexual, untrustworthy, a liar and mentally disturbed.”

One month later, at St. Josephs hospital in the southern Dutch town of Veghel, Henk was surgically castrated or “eugenized,” as the hospital records put it, using a term previously attributed to the Nazi program of systematically sterilizing the mentally and physically handicapped.

In one of his letters, Henk wrote about how he was “maimed.” The surgeon, he told Rogge, played records to calm the other boys who were in the hallway, waiting to undergo the same procedure.

“I didn’t believe him,” Rogge said. But when Henk took off his pants to show him, he was shocked to see the truth. “When he undressed I saw that, indeed, there was nothing left there where his testicles used be. It blew us away to see that this was not a joke. He was mutilated.”

And, as was typical for the Catholic Church in responding to allegations of child rape, they disappeared the perpetrator, likely foisting him off on another unsuspecting parish.

A few weeks after Henk reported brother superior Gregorius to the police, Gregorius was spirited out of Harreveld boarding school. Records in the Dutch state attorney’s office reveal that he was never prosecuted, for “lack of evidence.” His congregation quickly moved him to New Glasgow, in Nova Scotia, where he helped set up a home for the mentally handicapped and worked for many years, according to a Dutch newspaper.

Gregorious, whose given name was Gregory van Buuren, died in 1993 of natural causes, at the retirement home of his congregation in the Netherlands.

As for Henk himself?  He suffered immensely, due to hormonal imbalances caused by the castration.  He did not die quietly, cared for by the church that had brought so much unforgivable harm on him.  He died in a car accident in 1958, and by the time Rogge got to Henk’s apartment, the police had already cleared out all of his personal effects, including all his documentation of the castration.

What makes this story even worse, if such a thing is possible, is that all of this information was there and available to the commission that the Catholic Church had authorized to investigate allegations of sexual abuse in the Netherlands.  But, while the commission did report that there may be as many as ten times the 1000 complaints received, the commission reported not a word of the castrations that were carried out on innocent boys.

 


Dutch Catholic Church Accused of Castrating Up to 10 Young Men

It’s hard to know what to say or think about this article, other than if this is true, it’s horrifying.  On the one hand, the evidence described is limited.  On the other hand, the Catholic Church has been implicated in so many sex crimes that it is very easy to believe that this happened.

The gist of the article is that during the 1950’s, after being sexually abused in the Roman Catholic institution in which he was raised, the victim, Hank Heithuis, went to the police.  As a result, he was punished by being admitted to a Roman Catholic hospital, and was castrated.  The article states that there may have been as many as ten victims who were castrated.

Other details are that an actual Catholic Church commissioned inquiry into approximately 2000 complaints of sexual abuse by priests in the Netherlands revealed that there may be as many as ten times that number of victims.

Dutch Church Accused of Castrating Up to 10 Young Men – NYTimes.com.

 

 


Are your insurance premiums helping pay for the Catholic Church’s sex crimes?

I assume that everyone who has a television or even just glances at the news online every now and again is aware of the current temper tantrum being thrown by newly elevated Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over whether the employees (non-Catholic and Catholic alike) of their publicly funded institutions (such as hospitals) are entitled to insurance coverage for contraception.  The USCCB’s bullshit argument is that the minuscule amount that the Catholic Church contributes to the payment of the insurance premiums is enough to violate their religious principles that women should be nothing more than meat envelopes, suitable for the temporary storage of either penises or fetuses.

I also assume that the same group of “everyone” is more than vaguely aware that the Catholic Church has been aiding and abetting its priests in the rape of children for the past several decades, and has been subject to a barrage of litigation because of it.

One thing that I will not assume that “everyone” knows is that the Catholic Church’s insurers, who have issued liability policies to the Church over the past many decades, are the source of a major portion of the funding that goes towards defending and settling these lawsuits.  Who are those insurers?  Basically every major property and casualty insurer in the market.  We are talking about decades of insurance coverage.  Although the actual priest/rapists themselves are not eligible for insurance coverage, due to the fact that insurance does not cover intentional acts, the Church itself is eligible.  This is because the plaintiffs also include causes of action against the Church for negligent hiring and negligent supervision.  Negligent acts are eligible for coverage, intentional acts are not.  That’s not really here nor there, though.

My point is that if we accept the bullshit argument being put forward by the USCCB that its small contribution towards payment of insurance premiums is enough to violate the conscience of the Church, then we should also accept that any premium dollars paid by anyone to an insurance company that does or has covered the Catholic Church for its liabilities violate the consciences of people who are opposed to child rape.

I don’t know about you, but I’m opposed to child rape, and I am opposed to my premium dollars contributing to the Catholic Church’s decades of sex crimes.


Dear Kirk Cameron and Not-Joe the Not-Plumber, tolerance doesn’t mean I have to agree with you.

Nor does “tolerance” mean that you get the right to spout your noxious, vile opinions, and everyone else has to shut up and listen.

So, Kirk Cameron appears on Piers Morgan for an interview.  For those of you who do not know, Kirk Cameron has developed into a radical fundamentalist Christianist, who denies evolution, and is virulently anti-gay.  Why did he get an interview slot on Piers Morgan?  Who the fuck knows.

Anyway, Piers asks Kirk several questions about his radical anti-gay views.  Kirk responds by saying that he believes that homosexuality is sinful, unnatural, and “ultimately destructive” to civilization.  He is thereafter criticized, heavily, for that statement.

In response to the criticism, Kirk says this:

I should be able to express moral views on social issues, especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years — without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach ‘tolerance’ that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square. I believe we need to learn how to debate these things with greater love and respect. I’ve been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally).

Similarly Samuel Wurzelbacher, otherwise known as Joe the Plumber, which is weird, because his name is not Joe, and he is not a plumber, appeared recently on CNN.  Having just won a Republican primary in Ohio, there was at least a legitimate reason for him to appear on CNN, I suppose.  Anyway, he is also asked about his publicly expressed, radical anti-gay views, including a prior statement that he wouldn’t let any gay people near his children.  Samuel gets all testy about the line of questioning, referring to them as “gotcha” questions, and finally saying the following:

I’m allowed to have my opinions as an American, but it seems the left becomes very intolerant when you have an opinion other than what they state.

Kirk, Sam, I hate to break it to you, but “intolerance” does not mean what you think it means.  Yes, you are allowed to have your opinions.  CLEARLY, you are allowed to have and express your ignorant, hateful, vile, prejudiced, small-minded, mouth-breathing opinions.  If you were not, you would not be invited on nationally broadcast television programs.

However, the right to have and express your opinions does not include the right to be immune from criticism.  Nor does it include the right to prevent me from having and expressing my opinion, which is that your opinions are utter shit.


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