30 March 2010

Their Worm Never Dies


Top Vatican officials, including the future Pope Benedict XVI, did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the Church, according to Church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit. The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope, shows that while Church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the Church from scandal. The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.
-Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, 24 March 2010

People are talking about a new YouTube video that satirizes the Catholic church's sex abuse scandal. In it, parents treat their children with a canned spray product called Priest-Off, designed to repel pedophile priests. A split screen comparison shows what happens when a child isn’t treated (he is cornered by a group of lustful clergymen) to what happens when he is (perv priests back off, like vampires fleeing from a crucifix). Thanks to Priest-Off, Catholic families live happily ever after . . . The End.

The video is super campy, which means Gay web surfers are a sizable portion of its target audience. "LOL! Funniest thing I ever saw!" is a typical response to this dubious attempt at humor. Sorry, but I don't get the joke! Child predators are not pests; they're monsters! Priest-Off? How about Priest-In-Custody? The topics of pedophilia and pederasty don't tickle my funny bone, and they never will! Mothers who discover that their sons have been sexually abused do not smile, as the actress does in this video. I found the scene where pedophile priests pounce on the “untreated” boy especially disturbing. What profound moral deterioration our society suffers from, to ever consider child victimization a legitimate source of giggles and guffaws!

I was equally disturbed by a telecast of "Larry King Live" last night that featured a panel discussion on the scandal. As often is the case, King overloaded a too-short segment with guests, effectively reducing the conversation to a series of sound bites. His panelists included several male abuse victims, two priests, and for that all-important celebrity appeal, Irish Catholic singer Sinéad O'Connor. Also on hand was an apologist named William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. If you want to see the ugly face of Catholicism, look no farther than this reactionary bully!

To a man, the abuse victims all called for the Pope's resignation; they believed that, in his previous job of Doctrinal Prefect, he had failed to adequately discipline pedophile priests. The consensus was that there may have been a cover-up on Joseph Ratzinger's part. Some years ago, Sinéad O'Connor sharply criticized the Pope during a notorious “Saturday Night Live” guest spot, but here she adopted a disappointing, overly conciliatory position. She seemed to buy into the idea that there was a conspiracy to smear the Pope, and naïvely recommended that all abusers come forward and turn themselves in. The priests also struck a conciliatory tone, suggesting that a Papal apology should suffice to diffuse the uproar. As if!

Then it was Mr. Donohue's turn to speak. Almost shouting at the top of his lungs, he bellowed the Pope is being slandered several times. He defended the Vatican’s actions, denied that there had ever been a cover-up, implied that the victims were exaggerating, and scapegoated Gay priests for the scandal. He also claimed that the issue at hand was "homosexuality", not pedophilia, since most of the boys molested by priests had been "post-pubescent". Talk about splitting hairs! I was beside myself with fury when he told Larry King that raping youngsters was merely "what Gay men do." This vicious lie has long been a Vatican talking point, but Mr. Donohue added insult to injury with his insolent phrasing!

When King inquired why he wasn't angry about the children who'd been preyed upon, Donohue snarled that he would beat up a pedophile if he ever came in contact with one. Would he, now? Such exemplary Christian behavior! It was all a carefully rehearsed act on his part, a diversionary ploy designed to intimidate Vatican critics and shift the focus of conversation away from child sexual abuse. It worked! By the end of the segment, concern about these crimes had been superseded by concern for the Church, and some of the guests pledged their allegiance to Pope Ratzinger. It was a nauseating spectacle, but for me, not a surprise.

I'm not Catholic. I never have been, but I've worked with Catholics at various times in my life. My observation is that they have better obedience training than most dogs! To be sure, I've met Catholics who dissent from orthodox teachings, but they've been few and far-between. Most that I've known have toed a strict Vatican line. Jesus Christ called his flock "sheep", but I don't think he ever wanted the faithful to be as sheepish as lay Catholics are! One minute they're outraged about clergy victimizing children, and the next minute they're fretting over having possibly offended the Church hierarchy. No wonder so many children were afraid to tell their parents about sexual abuse! With Catholic clergy held in such blinding awe, there was no guarantee of a compassionate reaction.

MATTHEW 18: 10-14
(Jesus Christ said) "Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you, in Heaven their angels continuously see the face of My Father . . . it is not the will of your Father in Heaven that one of these little ones should be lost."

MATTHEW 25: 40
(Jesus Christ said) "And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of My family, you did it to Me.'"

Mainstream Catholicism turns the Savior's teaching about caring for the least among us on its head! Instead, the welfare of the rich and powerful Vatican is prioritized. Its reputation must be protected before any other concerns are addressed! Reverence for the Holy See is mandatory for believers. The Pope is infallible, even divine, a supreme authority who must never be doubted or questioned. Lay Catholics have internalized these unwritten rules, and they habitually fall in line like (dare I say it?) docile children. Their behavior is obsequious in the extreme! Whenever I see it, I have to ask myself: Who are they really worshiping? The Pope, or God? Can they not distinguish between the two?

EXODUS 20: 1-5
Then God spoke all these words: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is on the Earth beneath, or that is in the water under the Earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them . . ."

I've also had contact with Catholic priests now and then. Sometimes, that has not been a pleasant experience. Once, years ago, I did a poetry reading at a local Gay bookstore. I must have been in my early 30s then, but I've always looked young for my age. In the audience was an elderly priest sporting his clerical collar. After the reading, he came up and put his hands on me in an unseemly manner. Pulling me close, he began caressing my face, head and neck.

I’d have objected to anyone taking such liberties, but a clergyman? It was shocking. My obvious discomfort seemed to panic him, and he left the bookstore very quickly after that. Some other members of the audience witnessed what had happened, and I recall them crowding around, asking if I was all right. I was all right, but what if I'd been one of his parishioners? How much further would he have tried to go with me then? And how much further had he gone with others?

What is it about the Catholic church that sexual harassers (of both children and adults) find so attractive? I think it's the unquestioned authority. If you love to dominate other people, Catholicism is the religion that will support you in doing it! It's very much a top-down faith. The hierarchy demands slavish devotion, best exemplified by the requirement to kneel down and kiss the Pope’s ring. Up until recently, cardinals and priests were also revered in this pompous way. Watching that ritual has always made me flinch; I’ve never seen a more explicit expression of idolatry!

I used to work for Catholic Charities as an administrative assistant. I could tell you stories about that agency fit to make your hair stand on end, but I'll limit myself to this one memory: I'll never forget how priests would storm into the office, ordering everybody around and demanding to be the center of attention! It was typical of what I’ve observed over the years. The Pope and all too many cardinals, bishops, priests and nuns relish lording it over their flock. Their attitude seems to be: I am the equivalent of God, and Catholic converts are my subjects. They must do my bidding! I can even use them as my playthings if I so desire. Add sexual perversion and sexual hypocrisy to these delusions of grandeur, place them in a culture of secrecy, mix well, and you’ve got all the necessary ingredients for a predatory atmosphere!

Many times over the past fifty years, we know that the hands which placed Holy Wafers on the tongues of Church members were the same hands that molested innocent children. I’m surprised the touch of those wafers didn’t singe those wicked hands! As if they were playing a game of musical chairs, bishops bounced these monsters from parish to parish where, more often than not, they polished their rape technique! What utter depravity! The Savior teaches forgiveness, but how is it possible to forgive such a hideous thing? How can anyone even think about holding membership in an institution that would commit such horrors? How dare anyone value the Pope's reputation over the safety of a child? What kind of systematic brainwashing gives birth to such a twisted mentality?

MARK 9: 43-48
(Jesus Christ said) "If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off! It is better for you to enter Life maimed than to have two hands and to go to Hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off! It is better for you to enter Life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into Hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into Hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched."

I'm sending out an urgent message to all Catholics, but especially to Gay priests: Cut off that offensive appendage! Run away from the Church of Babylon! Run for your spiritual lives! Take your precious faith elsewhere before it drowns in a sea of manipulation, cynicism and corruption. For as long as you remain in the rectory, you will be tainted by the pedophilia scandal. It won't be a guilt-by-association thing, either! The Vatican will actively scapegoat you, just like William Donohue did on "Larry King Live", and when your true identity is discovered, you'll be cruelly drummed out of your beloved profession!

Take my advice and quit before that happens! You've been living in sin anyway, hiding your born eunuch status (see Part Two of my essay titled "Life During Wartime") in order to keep your job. Even if colleagues in your immediate circle know that you're Gay, you're still hiding from higher-ups, and living on borrowed time. Repent of this mendacity! Don't our Commandments forbid the bearing of false witness? Come fully out of the closet, and come fully out of that wicked Church! Nothing better could happen to you. Consider becoming a Reform Catholic. Stop idolizing the Vatican and start serving the one true Lord and Savior! It's not just your livelihood you're risking, it's your immortal soul!

I'm sure by now I'm perceived as thoroughly anti-Catholic! That's a reasonable deduction to make, but it's not just mainstream Catholicism that I disapprove of. Anybody who reads this blog regularly knows I feel the same way about other denominations. Flip back through some of my past posts, like "Satan In The Pulpit", “March Down Babylon”, “Spiritual Sadism”, “Anytime You’re Ready”, “You Can’t Go Halfway”, “Loved In The Worst Way”, and  “The Miseducation of Donnie McClurkin”. You'll see that Protestants probably get the lion’s share of my scorn!

But the Church of Babylon knows no denomination: It can be Catholic or Protestant, Baptist, Mormon, COGIC, Methodist, Presbyterian, Jehovah's Witness, Scientologist, even Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist. It could be a church that worships Groucho Marx . . . whatever! Any church that demonizes God's LGBT children and/or campaigns against their Civil Rights is Babylonian in orientation!

However, the Catholic church deserves special condemnation! It doesn't demonize Gay people to affirm its doctrines, but rather to divert attention from its historical coddling of sex criminals! Beware, Vatican hypocrites! The worm that never dies is hungry for you! Slandering of the Pope is really of little consequence. Slandering of Jesus Christ is what you should be worried about!

God is watching the Vatican. He sees the transgressions that have been committed behind its pious façade! Growing numbers of lay Catholics are starting to see past the deception, too. The Savior never spoke truer than when he prophesied: Nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known (Luke 8:17). The truth will always come out! Sooner or later, everybody's going to realize that just as you can't draw pure water from a filthy, rusted water pipe, you can't draw pure Christian doctrine from the filthy Church of Babylon! This realization can't happen fast enough for millions of Catholic children.

MATTHEW 23: 23-28
(Jesus Christ said) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: Justice, and mercy, and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others . . . woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may also become clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

For more revelations about Catholic church complicity in child sexual abuse, follow this link.

21 March 2010

It's All About Veronica

It's All About Veronica

I am a Left-leaning Independent voter, but I have little respect for the political Left. Strange as it may sound, I feel a stronger connection with the rural Conservative voter who predominates in my home state of Missouri. Mind you, I don't share his narrow-minded views, and I harbor no illusions about him: This voter can be extremely xenophobic, sexist, heterosexist, even racist, and he falls for just about any candidate who comes along waving a flag and brandishing a Bible!

Yet, he is truly passionate about his moral values and the issues that affirm them: Small government, strong national defense, gun rights, frequent tax cuts, and blending of church and state, which dictates his feelings about Gay Rights and abortion. For sure, he's a stone reactionary, but he's for real! Politics is serious business for him. Seldom is he swayed by a photogenic face or a list of made-to-order promises. His loyalty is triggered by slavish fidelity to his core issues, and he’ll kick to the curb any Republican politician who doesn't honor them. He will make a litmus test of a candidate's voting record in order to justify or deny him support at the polls. Presidential nominee John McCain failed to pass the test, and as a result, he never secured the Republican base. The rural Conservative brings a passionate commitment to voting his beliefs! He has unquestionably changed the face of American government, and for that I respect him.

By contrast, the urban Progressive voter (who lives in the suburbs as often as not) isn't terribly passionate about anything! He can make you believe otherwise, though, by the fired-up way he talks (Liberals love to give and listen to stirring speeches; that's one of the main reasons they supported Barack Obama). Yes, there are issues that he somewhat cares about: Unjust war, the environment, corporate greed, immigration reform, minority rights, women's rights, jobs, health care . . . but he will readily brush them all aside so that the "right" candidate can be elected. What makes a candidate the right one for an urban Liberal isn't his position on issues, but merely his opposition to whoever is on the Republican ticket! Often, the Democrat will be almost as Conservative as the Republican! Party affiliation matters most in the end, not ideology.

It's almost a snob thing. My observation has been that urban Progressives look down their noses at Conservative politics; they think of the constituency as "dumbasses", while they dismiss the candidates as "idiots". Never mind that these idiots won the balance of national elections during the last century; the means used to get them elected, like concentration on a single issue, religion-based campaign appeals and unabashed patriotism, are too crude for a Progressive to even consider emulating. Liberals pride themselves on being politically sophisticated. Yes, indeedy! Wanna know just how sophisticated they are? They'll justify returning an ineffective or double-crossing politician to office over and over again by arguing "he's the lesser of two evils" and/or "sometimes, you just have to hold your nose and do what's practical".

Political sophistication notwithstanding, urban Progressive voters are far more gullible than their Conservative counterparts are. Their elected officials hardly need to ply them with jingoistic rhetoric before sneaking off with a corporate lobbyist. Truth be told, they don't have to sneak! Democrat politicians cuckold their constituents fairly openly, confident that their incumbency is secure no matter how often they bed down with Right Wing special interests.

When urban Progressives learn about these illicit affairs, they predictably throw a hissy fit. They bitch and whine for a little while, but eventually they throw hands up in the air and say: "What other choice do we have?" Then they go to the polls, obediently pull the Democrat lever as always, and get far less than what they claim to have wanted . . . as always! With rural Conservative voters, it's a different story. Lobbyist hanky panky doesn't faze them much, but if a Republican incumbent strays from their reactionary platform, they drop him like a hot potato and flock to the local Tea Party! They will cede both local and national races to Democrats rather than elect an unreliable Conservative. Ideological infidelity simply isn’t tolerated among that crowd!

Left Wing voters are doormats. Suckers! They don't care if their candidates' love is untrue. They're like the late Tammy Wynette singing "Stand By Your Man", blindly hanging on to a cheating, contemptuous lover. They're like Hillary Clinton, enduring marriage to a philanderer husband who subjects her to the worst kind of public humiliation. They're like Betty Cooper, a hapless comic book character I've cited before on this blog: Betty pursues Archie Andrews even though he jilts her repeatedly and flirts shamelessly with Veronica Lodge in front of everyone!

Nothing better illustrates the Liberal voter's blind allegiance to Democrats than his unqualified support for President Obama’s idea of health care reform. First, Liberals said they had to have single payer coverage, but that turned out to be a lie. Then they wanted Medicare for all, but they quickly abandoned that goal, too. Finally, all hope for a "public option" evaporated. Even with no public financing option to make the legislation affordable, urban Progressives fell head-over-heels for Democrat Party sweet talk: We'll close the prescription drug "doughnut hole", we'll mandate coverage for pre-existing conditions, we'll get young adults coverage under their parents’ health plans, smack, smooch, slurp!

Drunk with partisan love, Progressives toed the party line and shouted down every cautionary voice, insisting that "it's better for Congress to pass something than nothing at all." (You know, like when you kiss a horny toad instead of that elusive Prince Charming, and you can hardly tell the difference?) They seemed almost eager to have their attention diverted from a most ominous fact: That the Obama plan legally mandates Americans to buy insurance from the private sector, with negligible cost controls!

Ignoring a troublesome truth like that takes some doing! It's quite remarkable, how determined Progressives were this time to once again see a stark naked Emperor sporting fine clothes. On a recent edition of the PBS series "Bill Moyers Journal", Harvard Medical School professor Marcia Angell lay the ugly truth on Moyers' overwhelmingly Liberal audience, and she didn't mince words:

MARCIA ANGELL: What this bill does is not only permit the commercial insurance industry to remain in place, but it actually expands and cements their position as the lynchpin of health care reform. And these companies, they profit by denying health care, not providing health care. And they will be able to charge whatever they like! So if they're regulated in some way, and it cuts into their profits, all they have to do is just raise their premiums, and they'll do that. Not only does (the Obama bill) keep them in place, but it pours about 500 billion dollars of public money into these companies over 10 years. And it mandates that people buy these companies' products for whatever they charge! Now, that's a recipe for the growth in health care costs, not only to continue, but to skyrocket, to grow even faster!

Holy second Wall Street bailout, Batman!

BILL MOYERS: But given that, why have the insurance companies, health insurance companies, been fighting reform so hard?

MARCIA ANGELL: Oh, they haven't fought it very hard, Bill! They really haven't fought it very hard. What they're fighting for is the individual mandate. And if they get that mandate, if everyone does have to buy their commercial products, then they're going to be extremely happy with it.

BILL MOYERS: But this is all about politics now. It's not about pure health care reform. So, given that reality, what would you have the President do?

MARCIA ANGELL: Well, I think you really do have to separate the policy analysis from the political analysis, and I'm looking at it as policy. And it fails as policy . . . there are a lot of people who say, "Look, it's a terrible bill! Even a step in the wrong direction, as policy goes. But we need to get Obama elected again, and we need to continue with the Democratic majority in Congress. And so we need to give Obama and the Democrats a win. If we don't, the Republicans will come in and take over Congress in the fall, and then the White House in 2012.” But the problem with a political analysis is, sometimes you're right and sometimes you're wrong! And Democrats, and particularly Liberals, have a history of outsmarting themselves . . . I'm not so sure that if this bill goes down, it's going to make it any harder for them politically. (There will be) difficult times for the President and for the Democrats, (but) the issue is: Will this bill make (the coverage problem) better or worse? And I believe it will make it worse . . . it will take money out of Medicare and put it into the private sector. Medicare is the source for a lot of the funds that (will) subsidize the private health insurance industry. So that's the first thing, (and) as far as cost-cutting (goes), there are, sort of, promissory notes: “We'll get a committee to look at the cost of effectiveness, of various medical procedures.” (The Congressional Budget Office) has to build in assumptions, (but) those assumptions are arguable, to put it mildly.

Holy Medicare fund raid, Batman!

BILL MOYERS: Well, you remind me 45,000 people . . . die every year for lack of health insurance.

MARCIA ANGELL: It's not lack of health insurance. It's lack of health care! There is a difference between health insurance and health care. You can have insurance offered that is too expensive to buy or too expensive to use. What good does it do? And what happens when this occurs, is that . . . instead of improvements, look at my state of Massachusetts . . . you see (coverage) shredded even further. You see more people denied access anyway. Now (there are) over 60,000 people in my state who are exempted from the (mandatory Massachusetts health) plan for financial hardship, and this is also in the Obama plan. If you're really poor, you don't have to participate, and these are the very people who should be in a plan . . .

BILL MOYERS: But, the very poor do get Medicaid.

MARCIA ANGELL: Yes, yes. And one of the things about the Obama plan that I do like is that it expands Medicaid up to 133% of the Federal poverty level, and that's fine. The problem is that (it) could have been a stand-alone measure. You didn't need to have it incorporated in this massive Rube Goldberg apparatus . . . the bill as a whole, the more I look at it, the worse it gets. It's going to increase (consumer) costs, not decrease them.

Also, read these assessments of President Obama's health care legislation from Huffington Post contributor Taylor Marsh and Jane Hamsher of firedoglake.com.

As Dr. Angell indicated, Democrats have promised to iron the "bugs" out of this bill later on, after it's been signed into law. We've heard that kind of promise before! Remember NAFTA? Even with Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, the job-destroying directives of that disastrous "free trade" agreement appear to be set in stone. So much for fixing flawed legislation later; politicians sure don’t have a good record on that score!

I have never bought into the fiction that what’s good for the Democrat or Republican parties is always good for the nation. The urban Progressive voter's blind loyalty to Democrats is an abusive and unfaithful relationship that's going nowhere fast. That's why millions of former Democrats like myself now identify as Independent. We don't want any more Democrat Party kisses because we know where that donkey's puckered lips have been: Planted on the talcum-powdered backsides of Wall Street banksters and rich Conservative campaign donors! Lips that kiss corporate ass will never touch ours again! Sloppy seconds may be good enough for Betty Cooper, but the American people deserve better.

American government deserves better, too! When a billion-dollar Wall Street bailout zooms though Congress like greased lightning, but health care reform stalls for years and can't pass until after it's been gutted by the insurance industry, how much more obvious can infidelity be? Where’s the logic in hanging on to a boyfriend (or an elected representative) once you know he's fallen for a spoiled rich girl? If it's all about Veronica, nothing’s left for Betty that's worth having! Cynical, sellout career politicians will destroy our democracy sooner than any terrorist bomb!

If they're really serious about their core issues (and frankly, I've yet to be convinced that they are), Progressive voters had better put that long-suffering lover act to bed! They need to stop being so damn sophisticated and try being more passionate, like those "dumbass" Right Wingers. When we demand reform of health care, military policy, financial regulations, etcetera, we've got to back up those demands in the voting booth! If we fail to do so, we get exactly the kind of impotent public policy we deserve. Fidelity to issues must determine what we do at the polls, not smug political gamesmanship! Love is not a game, and neither is good government. The American voter should develop a healthy aversion to cuckolding, regardless of party affiliation!

In closing this essay, let me turn the podium over to Dr. Marcia Angell once more. She states her case so articulately, it’s a pleasure to do so. The following quote comes from a 2000 PBS television special titled “Health Care Crisis: Who’s At Risk?”

Our health care system is based on the premise that health care is a commodity like VCRs or computers, and that it should be distributed according to the ability to pay in the same way that consumer goods are. That's not what health care should be! Health care is a need; it's not a commodity, and it should be distributed according to need. If you're very sick, you should have a lot of it. If you're not sick, you shouldn't have a lot of it. But this should be seen as a personal, individual need, not as a commodity to be distributed like other marketplace commodities. That is a fundamental mistake in the way this country, and only this country, looks at health care. And that market ideology is what has made the health care system so dreadful, so bad at what it does.

Preach, doctor, preach! Thanks for indulging me with this one last bit of political punditry.