Posts Tagged ‘justice’
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN, Published: July 28, 2012, New York TimesAmerican nuns are preparing to assemble in St. Louis next week for a pivotal meeting at which they will try to decide how to respond to a scathing critique of their doctrinal loyalty issued this spring by the Vatican — a report that has prompted Roman Catholics across the country to rally to the nuns’ defense.
The nuns will be weighing whether to cooperate with the three bishops appointed by the Vatican to supervise the overhaul of their organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of women’s Catholic religious orders in the United States.
The Leadership Conference says it is considering at least six options that range from submitting graciously to the takeover to forming a new organization independent of Vatican control, as well other possible courses of action that lie between those poles.
What is in essence a power struggle between the nuns and the church’s hierarchy had been building for decades, church scholars say. At issue are questions of obedience and autonomy, what it means to be a faithful Catholic and different understandings of the Second Vatican Council.
Sister Pat Farrell, the president of the Leadership Conference, said in an interview that the Vatican seems to regard questioning as defiance, while the sisters see it as a form of faithfulness.
“We have a differing perspective on obedience,” Sister Farrell said. “Our understanding is that we need to continue to respond to the signs of the times, and the new questions and issues that arise in the complexities of modern life are not something we see as a threat.”
These same conflicts are gripping the Catholic Church at large. Nearly 50 years after the start of Vatican II, which was intended to open the church to the modern world and respond to the “signs of the times,” the church is gravely polarized between a progressive wing still eager for change and reform and a traditionalist flank focused on returning to what it sees as doctrinal fundamentals.
The sisters have been caught in the riptide. Most of them have spent their lives serving the sick, the poor, children and immigrants — and not engaged in battles over theology. But when some sisters after Vatican II began to question church prohibitions on women serving as priests, artificial birth control or the acceptance of same-sex relationships, their religious orders did not shut down such discussion or treat it as apostasy. In fact, they have continued to insist on their right to debate and challenge church teaching, which has resulted in the Vatican’s reproof.
The former head of the church’s doctrinal office, Cardinal William J. Levada, said after his last meeting with the nuns’ leaders in June, just before he retired, that they should regard his office’s harsh assessment as “an invitation to obedience.”
“I admire religious men and women,” Cardinal Levada said in an interview with The National Catholic Reporter. “But if they aren’t people who believe and express the faith of the church, the doctrines of the church, then I think they’re misrepresenting who they are and who they ought to be.”
By JON HURDLE and ERIK ECKHOLM, July 24, 2012, The New York TimesPHILADELPHIA — Msgr. William J. Lynn, the first Roman Catholic Church official in the United States to be convicted of covering up sexual abuses by priests under his supervision, was sentenced Tuesday to three to six years in prison.
“You knew full well what was right, Monsignor Lynn, but you chose wrong,” Judge M. Teresa Sarmina of Common Pleas Court said as she imposed the sentence, which was just short of the maximum of three and a half to seven years. Monsignor Lynn must serve at least three years before he is eligible for parole.
Monsignor Lynn, 61, was found guilty on June 22 of child endangerment after a three-month trial that revealed efforts over decades by the Philadelphia archdiocese to play down accusations of child sexual abuse and avoid scandal. He was acquitted of conspiracy and a second child endangerment charge.
Monsignor Lynn served as secretary for clergy for the 1.5 million-member archdiocese from 1992 to 2004, recommending priest assignments and investigating abuse complaints. During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that he had shielded predatory priests, sometimes transferring them to unwary parishes, and lied to the public to avoid bad publicity and lawsuits.
The conviction of a senior official, followed by a prison sentence, has reverberated among Catholic officials around the country, church experts said.
“I think this is going to send a very strong signal to every bishop and everybody who worked for a bishop that if they don’t do the right thing, they may go to jail,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. “They can’t just say ‘the bishop made me do it.’ That’s not going to be an excuse that holds up in court.”
July 24, 2012 by Common DreamsA wave of US based religious rightwing groups working in several African countries are expanding their drive to promote both homophobia and anti-abortion stereotypes and governmental policies, according to a new study by Boston-based Political Research Associates (PRA).
The report, Colonizing African Values: How the US Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa, claims that far right groups such as the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson, the Catholic group Human Life International and the Mormon group Family Watch International, work with local people and governments to rally against LGBTI rights and craft anti-LGBTI legislation.
The report traces the “cultural colonization” of Africa. Over the the past five years, “[the groups] have launched or expanded Africa-based offices dedicated to promoting their Christian right worldview,” the report states.
“A loose network of rightwing charismatic Christians called the transformation movement joins them in fanning the flames of the culture wars over homosexuality and abortion by backing prominent African campaigners and political leaders.”
The ACLJ have opened offices in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Uganda in which they train lawyers to work on constitutions that reflect “Christian values” and include phrases such as “life begins at conception,” the Guardian reports.
For instance, a law instituting the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” in Uganda was created and introduced by a far right christian group in 2009. The bill was thought to have been defeated after PRA exposed the instigators, but has since been reintroduced in Uganda’s Parliament. Similar anti-gay laws passed in Burundi in 2009, Malawi in 2010 and Nigeria in 2011.
Church could see women ordained as bishops by 2014, but critics warn draft legislation contains a compromise too far
Lizzy Davies, The Guardian, 6 July 2012The Venerable Rachel Treweek, archdeacon of Hackney, will leave east London for York tomorrow with mixed feelings and a heavy heart. This weekend’s gathering of the General Synod was supposed to be historic: the moment at which the Church of England would finally, after decades of struggle and division, pass legislation that permitted women to become bishops.
Instead of rejoicing, however, Treweek and many other supporters of the cause now find themselves in a very peculiar position. The legislation they fought so hard for is due to be presented for final approval and, if it is passed, the church could see women consecrated to the episcopate by 2014.
But Treweek is hoping for an adjournment and is dreading the possibility that the final vote will be held. Because, if it comes down to it, she will vote against.
“I cannot tell you – even sitting here now, I can feel it – how painful that feels,” she says, in the low-lit quiet of St Anne’s church in Hoxton. “I feel I have to hold the line of my integrity. It would be very easy to say: ‘Oh, let’s all just vote in favour and get this through.’… But I think it’s very unlikely that I would press the yes button because of that place of integrity.”
Until May, the draft legislation on female bishops met with the approval of people such as Treweek. A two-clause measure that sought to open the episcopate to women at the same time as providing for those who remain adamantly opposed to the idea, it had been approved by 42 of 44 dioceses (although not, to her chagrin, Treweek’s own: the diocese of London voted against).
Although a compromise, it was viewed by many to be the least bad one in a church where fudges are a standard vehicle for change.
Then it all started to unravel. In May, the House of Bishops made two amendments to the legislation, one of which supporters say would enshrine discrimination against women in law. It is this clause – the now infamous 5(1)c – which prompted a group of senior female clergy to write to members of the General Synod expressing their “deep dismay” and hope that an adjournment would be reached that would allow for the offending passage to be looked at again.
“I’ve spent quite a long time trying to make myself feel it was voteable for so that we could just get on with things,” said the Rev Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, chaplain at University College, Durham, of 5(1)c. “For the last few weeks, I’ve been really very upset – prone to bursting into tears.
“But I feel a bit calmer now. I’ve realised I just can’t do that; I haven’t got that dilemma any more. It’s just completely unacceptable to institutionalise discrimination against women in that way.”
CAMPBELL CLARK, The Globe and Mail, Jul. 04 2012A group of nine senators has warned the United Church of Canada that it could spark a rift with the Jewish community if it approves the boycott of goods from Israeli settlements in occupied lands.
The senators, all United Church members and from both the Conservative and Liberal parties, have waded publicly into a controversial issue before it comes to a vote in mid-August.
It’s a debate in which the lines between church and state have already been crossed several times as the United Church considers a new foray into the electrified world of Mideast politics.
A working group established by the church has issued a report that proposes a boycott of all products from Jewish settlements in occupied lands, arguing the settlements are illegally eating away Palestinian lands and the hope for a two-state solution. But it also rejects a wholesale boycott of all Israeli goods.
The nine senators have warned in a letter to United Church moderator Mardi Tindal that the distinction drawn with the narrower boycott will “be lost upon” Israelis and Canada’s Jewish community.
“What will be made clear to them is that the United Church has chosen sides, declaring Israel guilty and the Palestinians the only injured party,” the senators wrote.
Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth noted that she has no objection to the church wading into weighty international politics, but fears that members of the Jewish community will see itself as being singled out by an anti-Israel-sentiment.
“I’d say it’s a matter of diplomacy,” she said. “I don’t think it will be helpful for Jewish-Christian relations.
The church’s working group said it struggled with that issue. But its report maintained that arguments about the complexity of affairs in the Middle East are not an excuse for silence.
Timothy Dolan, cardinal of New York and head of the Catholic Conference of Bishops, had his prime-time career launched by the pedophile priest scandal. Now, despite efforts to distance himself, his role in pedophile protection may come back to bite him. Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee admitted that, during Dolan’s tenure, pedophiles were paid to simply disappear.
In June of 2002, Dolan was appointed archbishop of Milwaukee after his predecessor, Rembert G. Weakland, admitted a confidential settlement of $450,000 to a man who accused Weakland of sexually assaulting him in 1979. In contrast to Weakland, Dolan was a known theological conservative with the trust of the Vatican and, despite questionable management of sexual abuse scandals in his previous position in Saint Louis, he was tasked with cleaning up the mess.
From the start, Dolan positioned himself as a victim’s advocate: “… [i]t is impossible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation, and the suffering that victims feel, because I’ve spent the last four months being with them, crying with them, having them express their anger to me.” His response to those tears and anger, however, foreshadowed events of this winter, when Dolan had consistently argued that the church is above the law.
In the case of the pedophile priests, Dolan almost immediately set about exploring financial incentives that would encourage them to step down and fade away into the community. He emphatically denied in 2006 that this was the case. But during subsequent bankruptcy proceedings for the Milwaukee archdiocese, public documents showed that Dolan had discussed payout options with his finance committee as early as 2003. Now email from Julie Wolf, communications director for the archdiocese, confirms that pedophiles were paid up to $20,000 apiece in exchange for quietly relinquishing their positions in the church.
The YouTube video of 12-year-old Victoria Grant speaking at the Public Banking in America conference last month has gone viral, topping a million views on various web sites.
Monetary reform – the contention that governments, not banks, should create and lend a nation’s money – has rarely even made the news, so this is a first. Either the times they are a-changin’, or Victoria managed to frame the message in a way that was so simple and clear that even a child could understand it.
Basically, her message was that banks create money “out of thin air” and lend it to people and governments at interest. If governments borrowed from their own banks, they could keep the interest and save a lot of money for the taxpayers.
She said her own country of Canada actually did this, from 1939 to 1974. During that time, the government’s debt was low and sustainable and it funded all sorts of remarkable things. Only when the government switched to borrowing privately did it acquire a crippling national debt.
Borrowing privately means selling bonds at market rates of interest (which in Canada quickly shot up to 22 percent), and the money for these bonds is ultimately created by private banks. For the latter point, Victoria quoted Graham Towers, head of the Bank of Canada for the first twenty years of its history. He said:
Each and every time a bank makes a loan, new bank credit is created – new deposits – brand new money. Broadly speaking, all new money comes out of a Bank in the form of loans. As loans are debts, then under the present system all money is debt.
Towers was asked, “Will you tell me why a government with power to create money, should give that power away to a private monopoly and then borrow that which Parliament can create itself, back at interest, to the point of national bankruptcy?” He replied, “If Parliament wants to change the form of operating the banking system, then certainly that is within the power of Parliament.”
In other words, said Victoria, “If the Canadian government needs money, they can borrow it directly from the Bank of Canada.
By DOUGLAS DALBY, Published: May 3, 2012, New York TimesDUBLIN — Pressure is building on the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, to resign in the wake of damaging accusations made against him in a BBC television documentary about his role in a secret inquiry into clerical sexual abuse.
Abuse survivors, senior government ministers, serving priests, canon lawyers, newspaper editorials, police officials, human rights groups and the head of the country’s biggest children’s charity were among those calling on the cardinal to step down Thursday over his failure 37 years ago to report damning evidence against the Rev. Brendan Smyth. That failure allowed Father Smyth to continue abusing children for at least 13 more years.
Father Smyth, who died in prison at age 70, was convicted in the 1990s and admitted to molesting and raping about 100 children in Ireland and the United States.
Speaking in Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore on Thursday described the disclosures in the BBC program as “another horrific episode of failure by senior members of the Catholic Church to protect children” and said the cardinal should resign for failing to report the accusations.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who delivered a landmark speech last year denouncing Vatican interference in investigations into clerical sexual abuse, said the office he held precluded him from calling for the cardinal’s resignation, but on Wednesday he said the primate should “reflect” on the contents of the BBC program.
Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, a Catholic, said the cardinal’s decision to stay on would “leave many Catholics wondering whether anything is to be done by the leadership of the Catholic Church to ring the changes which many believe are required at such a sad time for all.”
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN | Published: April 18, 2012 | The New York TimesThe Vatican has appointed an American bishop to rein in the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States, saying that an investigation found that the group had “serious doctrinal problems.”
The Vatican’s assessment, issued on Wednesday, said that members of the group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, had challenged church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
The sisters were also reprimanded for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference, signed a statement supporting it — support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care.
The conference is an umbrella organization of women’s religious communities, and claims 1,500 members who represent 80 percent of the Catholic sisters in the United States. It was formed in 1956 at the Vatican’s request, and answers to the Vatican, said Sister Annmarie Sanders, the group’s communications director.
Word of the Vatican’s action took the group completely by surprise, Sister Sanders said. She said that the group’s leaders were in Rome on Wednesday for what they thought was a routine annual visit to the Vatican when they were informed of the outcome of the investigation, which began in 2008.
“I’m stunned,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby founded by sisters. Her group was also cited in the Vatican document, along with the Leadership Conference, for focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage.
By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine, 13 March 2012
I honestly don’t believe that anyone knows anymore what in hell we’re supposed to be doing over there.This weekend, everything about the United States policy in Afghanistan stopped making whatever sense it ever made in the first place.
An American soldier, Christ alone knows why, committed an act of terrorism against the Afghan people. According to reports, the soldier wandered off the base and into an Afghan village, where he systematically went door to door and murdered 16 people, including nine children. There are now the low, mumbling noises of regret from the U.S. government, and the general tone of the commentary in this country is to ponder deeply how this might affect the American “mission” in Afghanistan.
(Also, if I see one more headline calling this thing a “spree,” I may be forced to regret my own career choice. A spree is when some drunken frat-boy shoots out the streetlights on campus. This was mass murder, no different from the mass murders committed by Richard Speck or Jeffrey Dahmer or William Calley. If the American press tries to soften the edges of what happened with euphemism, which is what I suspect is already underway, the American press is guilty of one more crime against truth.)
I honestly don’t believe that anyone knows anymore what in hell we’re supposed to be doing over there. The main stated goal of our military operations – the destruction of the Afghan-based al Qaeda, including the killing of Osama bin Laden – has been accomplished. You hear a lot of vague talk about making Afghanistan “safe” for the Afghan people, and about how we have to be sure that Hamid Karzai’s government is secure, and about how we’re training the Afghan military to perform that task because we can’t allow the Taliban “to make a comeback.” Even if you accept them as legitimate, and, in poll after poll, the American people keep saying they don’t, how do the events of just the past two months render those goals anything but obviously futile? Our soldiers shoot up civilians. Afghan men in police and army uniforms shoot up our soldiers. After almost 11 years of our occupying a Muslim country, somebody in our military still is stupid enough to burn Korans in a garbage pit, or get photographed urinating on dead Afghans. More violence ensues. You’ll pardon me if I start to believe that the whole place is simply turning from a war into a madhouse. Better empires than ours have gone crazy in Afghanistan. Now, apparently, it’s our turn.