Both parties have respect

Fabulous. The Republicans are having New York’s archbishop Timothy Dolan saying a goodbye prayer at their convention, so now the Democrats are having him too, so that everyone will know that both parties suck up to the Catholic church because hey, votes.

The fact that Dolan will be speaking at both conventions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, shows the measure of respect both parties have for “ou[r] new cardinal.”

Yes exactly, and why the hell should they do that?

Mind you, the rest of what Bloomberg said sounded a tad perfunctory, or even contemptuous.

“It’s very flattering, I think, to him,” Bloomberg said. “He’s a very good speaker, and I’m sure he’ll give a very nice invocation, blessing or whatever he chooses to call it.”


But seriously. Timothy Dolan is the guy who pitched a huge fit at the New York Times for reporting on priestly child rape because other people do it too. He’s not someone both parties should respect. He’s a moral imbecile.

The cardinal snubs the government

BBC headline: Cardinal Keith O’Brien snubs gay marriage talks with Scottish government.

Snubs? The cardinal snubs? Talks on same-sex marriage with the government? Is Scotland a theocracy? Why was the Scottish government inviting the cardinal to discuss legislation in the first place?

Scotland’s Roman Catholic leader – Cardinal Keith O’Brien – has suspended direct communication with the Scottish government on gay marriage. [Read more…]

The sacred and the profane

The Catholic church in the UK is finding itself having to answer to the law. What an indignity! What presumption! Mere secular humans with secular training in secular law daring to meddle with sanctified Standers-in For Jesus. The church is god’s telephone line! Don’t these presumptuous mundane unholy law-botherers realize that? How dare they haul a bunch of priests to court?

A landmark hearing at the Supreme Court in London on Monday will consider who is responsible for compensating victims of child abuse by Catholic priests.

The case is being brought by 170 men who allege that they were sexually and physically abused at a Roman Catholic children’s home. [Read more…]

Bishops marked tardy

A dog ate the bishops’ homework.

Most of the bishops’ conferences around the world have missed a Vatican deadline on drawing up anti-abuse guidelines, it emerged yesterday.

But Mgr Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s top investigator of clerical sex abuse, said that without counting Africa “more than half of the conferences responded” to the May deadline.

Or even better, you just decide not to count any of the late ones, and that way you can say all the conferences responded to the deadline. Dropping all of Africa just to get to more than half seems inefficient.

More than 4,000 cases of sexual abuse have been reported to the doctrinal office over the past decade, the office reported earlier this year. Cardinal William Levada, former prefect of the CDF, said those cases revealed that an exclusively canonical response to the crisis had been inadequate and that a multifaceted and more pro-active approach by all bishops and religious orders was needed.

Ahhh that’s a tactful way of putting it. A less tactful way of putting it would be to say that trying to deal with child rape by hiding it from the police was both criminal and immoral. (I love the idea that actually informing the police of the rape of children by employees is a “multifaceted and more pro-active approach” – it makes it sound like a motivational meeting, or a retreat to a spirit lodge with sauna attached.)

Bishops’ conferences have been encouraged to develop “effective, quick, articulated, complete and decisive plans for the protection of children”, bringing perpetrators to justice and assisting victims, “including in countries where the problem has not manifested itself in as dramatic a way as in others”, the Vatican said in November 2010.

Bishops’ conferences have been encouraged to do what they should have been doing all along and treat crimes as crimes, assault as assault, child rape as child rape. Golly gosh gee wow, how impressive.


A custody fight

NPR’s god-besotted religious affairs reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty shyly points out that bears shit in the woods and the Catholic church is not the most liberal institution in the world. She’s very careful about it but even she can’t hide the scary.

Perceiving its core beliefs to be under threat from popular culture, the White House and even Catholics themselves, the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are pushing back.

She sure does give it her best shot, though. Here, Vatican, take this handy excuse with you before we spell out how you are “pushing back”: you are doing it all because you perceive your core beliefs to be under threat from popular culture, the White House and even Catholics themselves. No one can blame you for pushing back under those circumstances. [Read more…]

Radical cooties

Lisa Miller in the Washington Post takes a look at the Vatican’s way of using the epithet “radical feminist.”

Members of the Vatican hierarchy are using the word “feminist” and even “radical feminist” the way third-graders use the word “cooties.” In April, the Vatican accused the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 57,000 nuns nationwide, of allowing “radical feminist” ideas to flow unchecked in their communities. In 2008, after launching an investigation against American nuns (the results of which have not yet been released), Cardinal Franc Rode told a radio interviewer that the nuns are suspected of “certain irregularities,” a “secular mentality” and “perhaps also a certain feminist spirit.” [Read more…]

Go, and report child rape no more

Good to see the Catholic church learning (however slowly) from its mistakes.

The Italian Bishop’s Conference (CIE) has issued guidelines on child  protection that inform its bishops that they are ‘not obliged to report illicit  facts’ of child abuse to the police.

In their new five page document which advised Italian Bishops on how to deal  with paedophilia they failed to focus on one of the most important and obvious  means of combating the crime – informing police authorities.

Instead the document read: “Under Italian law, the bishop, given that he  holds no public office nor is he a public servant, is not obliged to report  illicit facts of the type covered by this document to the relevant state  judicial authorities.”

Not learning from their mistakes after all, then.

Publishing the norms

For a comic interlude (with uncomic implications and underpinnings, but never mind that for now) – the Vatican goes public with its formerly sekrit and super-technical Roolz for authenticating authentic sightings (or apparitions, as it helpfully calls them) of “the Virgin” Mary.

The “Norms Regarding the Manner of Proceeding in the Discernment of Presumed Apparitions or Revelations” have been in use since 1978, but until now had been available only in Latin, never officially published and only circulated among bishops and specialists.

Ya specialists, who have had like years and years of specialist training in how to tell the real apparitions from the fake ones.

The Vatican document has now been translated into English and other languages to aid bishops in the “difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or … extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin,” Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Vatican doctrinal office, wrote in a companion letter last December that was published only recently on the Vatican website.

Kind of mean not to help the poor bishops until now. Poor guys, sitting in their studies, taking a break from excommunicating nuns who fail to prevent abortions to save the life of the pregnant woman and telling secular legislators what to do  – taking a break, I say, to sift through the stack of tortillas and pieces of toast and open jars of Marmite on their desks to figure out which twin has the Toni, and not having a Vatican document in their own language to assist. It’s sad.

The norms mandate that the local bishop must conduct a “serious investigation” to ascertain, with “at least great probability,” whether the Marian apparition effectively took place.

The rules also require an evaluation of the “personal qualities” of the alleged seer, including his or her “psychological equilibrium,” “rectitude of moral life” and “docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority.” The contents of the “revelation” must be “immune” from theological error, and the apparition must bear “abundant… spiritual fruit,” such as conversions.

The contents of the revelation must be immune from theological error? How do they arrange for that to be the case? Show your work.

You need to have leaders who have learned the hard way

Cardinal Brady is still at the same old stand – saying he won’t resign despite new disclosures of his failure to pass on names and addresses of children being abused by Brendan Smyth.

The Catholic primate of all-Ireland has said that he will not resign as Church leader despite revelations in the BBC’s This World programme.

It found Cardinal Sean Brady had names and addresses of those being abused by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.

However, he did not pass on those details to police or parents. [Read more…]