NY’s Cardinal Dolan, Survivors, Criminals, Parish Closings & Hypocrisy — What’s Up, Pope Francis?
By Jerry Slevin
May 9, 2015
It surely is a hectic time for NY’s Cardinal Dolan. Although demoted as a “power player”, in effect, by Pope Francis, he seems busy still. The lawyers defending his “burial” of the Milwaukee archdiocese’s excess cash in a cemetery trust appear to be seeking to terrorize further the desperate priest sexual abuse survivors there seeking some minimal justice. And Dolan’s former criminal subordinate from St. Louis, Bishop Robert Finn, has now been sacked by the pope.
Dolan is also busy pleasing his “low tax” billionaire donors by boosting the right wing US Republican election campaign’s push for another Middle East military invasion, advocated also by Pope Francis, to “protect Christians”. This includes Dolan’s hyping of convicted felon and Iraq War booster, Scooter Libby’s Hudson Institute’s latest seeming warmongering presentation. And busy Dolan has also recently confirmed his NY parish closing “cost cutting” plans, as he simultaneously spends almost $200 million on refurbishing his NY mansion and cathedral. He recently confirmed that his NY archdiocese’s parish closing program will shrink the number of NY parishes by over 20 % to 296 parishes from 368 recently. At the same time, NY Jesuit college students are protesting strongly Dolan’s plans to speak at their upcoming graduation, although he is welcomed to speak to cheering investment bankers at Goldman Sachs. What is wrong with this picture in the name of God?
Is Pope Francis watching this? Does he even care? Apparently not! Please see my pertinent remarks, “What Do We Now Know About The Real Goal Of Pope Francis?”. See also Betty Clermont’s important and relevant new remarks at, here, “The Pope’s Treasure“.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis will soon visit NY to bless Dolan’s “hardly Christian” efforts before moving on to the Philadelphia Archdiocese, evidently the USA’s Priest Pedophile Paradise, to bless Archbishop Chaput’s and Cardinal Rigali’s misdeeds there. Francis has also just signaled he will not wait for the Final Synod in October to reject changes in the Catholic Church’s unbiblical, unwarranted and harmful approach to women’s reproductive options. He will instead designate some priests to offer women forgiveness for daring to sin by trying to regulate the number of children the pope so often encourages them to breed. Thanks for nothing, Pope Francis! Keep up the guilt generation and control of poor women and couples, and watch another 30 million + US Catholics leave the Church, no?
Dolan and Pope Francis are not fooling everyone. Dolan is now facing his own coming USA revolt — just when the pope is getting ready for his visit to the USA in September. This USA revolt has already begun with brave Jesuit students, many opposed to priest child abuse and bishops’ cover-ups and homophobic crusades, at a New York Jesuit university, Le Moyne, with their petition here on Change.org (SIGN IT NOW PLEASE), and related anticipated civil disobedience seeking to reject prominent New York’s Cardinal Dolan as their graduation speaker, in light of his evident child protection and homophobic failures, see here, Catholics Revolt: Jesuit Grads Shun Dolan As Goldman Sachs Bankers Woo Him .
Lawyers representing Dolan’s former Milwaukee archdiocese in bankruptcy proceedings indicated that they will continue to play hardball to protect some or all of more than $55 million that the archdiocese under Dolan “buried in a trust fund” for the care of nine cemeteries it operates. Francis LoCoco, the lead lawyer for the archdiocese, reportedly indicated during a recent bankruptcy court hearing that if the bankruptcy judge decides against leaving the cash in the cemetery trust, as LoCoco indicated the abuse survivors want, the subsequent litigation could be even more protracted, and therefore even more expensive.
“Let’s spend the money,” LoCoco reportedly insensitively said. “Let’s litigate the cemetery trust [issue] completely. Candidly, at that point it becomes cheaper, more efficient and easier to us to litigate every abuse survivor claim. … [Do] they want us to start sending dozens and dozens of notices to every single abuse survivor and their family members and their doctors?”
In March, a federal appellate court ruled that the cemetery trust fund was not protected by the First Amendment or the US federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The archdiocese’s federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed nearly four and a half years ago and has accrued at least $16 million and perhaps more than $20 million in legal fees. A dozen lawyers representing the archdiocese, several insurance companies, the cemetery trust and the current archbishop were in court for the 5/6/15 hearing; nine other out-of-state lawyers joined via telephone conference call. What a travesty of justice and unchristian performance!
Dolan also recently very publicly attended a presentation at the Hudson Institute, where Scooter Libby reportedly is in charge of national security issues. Libby, a former top aide to US Vice President, Dick Cheney, had been convicted by a federal jury of obstruction of justice and perjury in his grand jury testimony and making false statements to federal investigators in a case related to George W. Bush’s rush to invade Iraq. Libby is also close to Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the disastrous Iraq War strategy and reportedly an adviser now to Jeb Bush, apparently Pope Francis’ preference to be elected US president next year. The presentation topic was “The Islamic State’s Religious Cleansing and the Urgency of a Strategic Response.” Libby, reportedly as Senior Vice President of Hudson Institute, guides the Institute’s program on national security and defense issues, devoting particular attention to U.S. national security strategy, strategic planning, the Middle East, and the war against Islamic radicalism. George W. Bush’s “War Against Terror” is now apparently being “repackaged” for his brother Jeb as a “War Against Islamic Radicalism”. Whatever it takes to protect Big Oil’s Middle East interests, it appears. And what about the 1,000,000+ dead, and $4 trillion plus directly and indirectly wasted, so far as a result the ongoing and unnecessary Iraq War debacle?
It is increasingly evident, in my view as an experienced international lawyer, that the Vatican is pervasively obsessed with secrecy and spin that is often tolerated by a mostly captive media that appears to be dependent on Vatican sources for “news crumbs” and invitations to ride on the papal plane during exotic and unnecessary papal trips. This then requires Catholics seeking the full truth to try at times themselves to draw the most plausible inferences from known “unspun” facts. Put simply, official Vatican explanations, and some media apologists “analysis” of them, are often misleading or incomplete.
Once again, this Vatican’s media manipulation tactics were just confirmed, this time by longtime “Vatican insider journalist”, Robert Mickens, in his recent Letter from Rome. As Mickens indicates, the pope avoided photo ops with the world’s leading female archbishop. She is also Sweden’s Primate, a former Chicago theology professor, a grandmother, a Christian advocate for effective contraception access and acceptance of same sex marriage, and a top expert on the moral implications of climate change. Yet the pope craftily exploits photo ops daily with the likes of the Harlem Globetrotters and other sports and Hollywood celebrities.
Why this misogynistic papal discrimination? See my pertinent remarks, “What Do We Now Know About The Real Goal Of Pope Francis?”.
Why did Pope Francis really sack Kansas City USA Bishop Robert Finn in the manner and at the time the pope did?
It is becoming clearer now that the pope’s priorities were mainly (1) to protect himself from the expanding revolt over his own blunder with Chilean Bishop Barros that was seized upon by at least four lay members of the pope’s “go slow’ abuse commission, and (2) to avoid undermining the pope’s strong push to help elect next year a “Vatican friendlier” US president, preferably another Bush and certainly not another Clinton!
Francis evidently was not made pope by frightened cardinals to protect “expendable bishops” like Finn. But “who is to judge” which bishops or even cardinals are expendable? For important background on the pope’s urgent and volatile Chilean bishop mess and his ties to the broader Chilean priest sexual abuse situation, as well as his Chilean cardinal connections, please see intrepid Jason Berry’s comprehensive description, “Chilean cardinals close to pope stained by abuse cover-ups“, here, National Catholic Reporter .
Finn was a “somebody” among the US Catholic hierarchy. He had longtime key backers, thought once to be powerful in Rome, including his former St. Louis USA bosses, Cardinals Justin Rigali, Timothy Dolan and Raymond Burke. He also had his Opus Dei connections. That’s history now. Indeed, Rigali’s former top Philadelphia aide, Monsignor Lynn, is back in jail.
Despite originally indicating reportedly that the lay abuse commission members would have unfettered access to the pope, the pope has apparently reversed himself after the Barros blunder. He has, in effect, “jammed” his lay members with his new “statutes” for his “go slow” advisory abuse commission headed by a weak Cardinal O’Malley, and infamous Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyer, Fr. Robert Oliver.
Importantly, the abuse commission’s new statutes (two years’ late incidentally) specify: “§ 3. Proposals submitted to the Holy Father by the Commission must be approved by a majority of two-thirds of the Members.” (emphasis mine). The commission’s clerical members, subservient to the pope, can now block, by a “one third plus one” vote, lay members’ access to the pope. Of course, the lay members can, and likely will, go public to the media as they think necessary in good conscience, as they already have, notwithstanding the pope’s protective statutes. The commission’s “statutes” seem more to preserve the continued “protection of bishops” than for the “protection of minors”! Predictable, no? We waited two years for this? Shameful! See here the full Statutes of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Finn generally played by the Vatican’s often unstated, but well understood and mandatory, rules, which for centuries had been that bishops, as their top priorities, were expected (1) to cover up priest child abuse (“avoid scandal”) and (2) to protect themselves and Church financial assets and needed priest fundraisers.
Many US prelates, including Cardinals like Bernard Law, Roger Mahony, Rigali and Dolan, had by reported indications much worse records than Finn on failing to protect children from priest sexual predators. “We all know there are other U.S. bishops wondering ‘who is the next?’ “, reportedly tweeted informed Catholic Church historian, Massimo Faggioli, after Finn’s sacking. Yes, who is next? Perhaps no one, unless the spreading Catholic revolts and papal US political objectives provoke more sudden US bishop sackings by the pope! How well are many US bishops sleeping these days? If they are not worried, they should call their lawyers and find out why they should be worried, really worried!
For four years, Finn showed he was going to hang tough in the hopes his crime would be forgotten eventually. He must have known from BishopAccountability.org and internal Church sources that many other US bishops had protected prolific priest child abusers much more than he did. But now he, Finn, is ruined, shamed and disgraced for life, even among his comparably guilty fellow bishops.
What message has the pope sent and why did he send this message now in the sudden manner he did? And which bishops or cardinals will be the next to go? Do they know? Can they prevent their removal? Is Pope Francis really cleaning up the priest child abuse mess or did he sack Finn for other less noble reasons? We cannot know for sure, but the known facts indicate that Pope Francis’ self preservation was a significant factor in his sacking Finn after the pope’s own Chilean Bishop Barros’ blunder. Will the pope now offer up other US bishops to preserve his papacy, to protect his Latino cardinal allies and/or to please his right wing US “low tax” billionaire donors?
Pope Francis dumped Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn so suddenly on April 21, 2015 that the pope’s US nuncio reportedly had to backtrack quickly to permit Finn to ordain in a few weeks seminarians Finn had personally formed over several years. This indicates clearly that Finn’s earlier St. Louis hierarchical protectors, Cardinals Rigali, Burke and Dolan, are now even weaker at the Vatican under Francis — that is clear. See generally my Finn’s Law: Police Must Now Handle Crimes Says Pope
Finn was sacked suddenly almost (A) four years after Finn’s criminal misconduct was first publicly disclosed (see his prosecutor’s Letter), (B) eight months after the pope initiated an investigation into Finn’s performance as bishop by a Canadian archbishop, and (C) six months after Cardinal Sean O’Malley indicated in a worldwide CBS broadcast that Finn must go. Why the sudden rush then on April 21?
Yes, why did Pope Francis really remove KC USA Bishop Robert Finn in the manner and at the time he sacked him? The mystical smokescreen is now clearing. The best inference is that Bishop Finn had to go to allow the pope to “change the subject” and contain the revolt over the pope’s disastrous appointment of Chile’s Bishop Barros. Almost half the lay members of the pope’s “go slow” abuse commission expressed strong objections to the Barros appointment, some even indicating possibly resigning publicly. These brave members demanded and got a Vatican meeting on April 12 to discuss bishop accountability, shortly before Finn was suddenly sacked.
If the pope, instead, were to have removed Barros then, he would have thereby admitted a major papal error of judgment (undesirable for a purportedly “infallible” pope) and an acceptance of accountability to lay Catholics’ oversight (anathema at the modern Vatican). These are major “no no’s” for modern popes. Finn and the pope’s inaction had also become a political liability in next year’s all important US presidential election — important to protect US bishops from legal risks, as well as for the pope’s “low tax-less regulation-least safety net” US billionaire donors that appear to be depending on papal support considerably. So “unlucky Finn” had to go to protect the pope! See my Chile to Philly – Marie Collins vs. Pope/Jeb Bush?
It is important to keep in mind that the reported records on child protection of the pope and his “child protection czar”, Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley, are hardly better than Finn’s. Please see “Vatican Defends the Chilean Appointment” here, BishopAccountability.org . See also BishopAccountability.org’s report on the pope’s response to the abuse crisis as archbishop; Victims ignored by Cardinal Bergoglio; Bergoglio’s statement that he never dealt with a guilty priest; Summary of case of convicted Argentine priest Julio César Grassi, including Cardinal Bergoglio’s effort to exonerate him. And see also the reported weak child protection record of O’Malley, head of the pope’s new “go slow” advisory abuse commission , “Six Ways Cardinal Sean O’Malley Has Mishandled the Abuse Crisis” here, http://www.bishop-accountability.org/OMalley_Fact_Sheet.htm
Following Finn’s removal, it became even clearer he had to go, see the Letter from Jean Peters Baker, one of Finn’s prosecutors, and the disclosures by truth tellers on bishop cover-up schemes, like courageous Fr. Tom Doyle in his recent “Bishop Robert Finn: the rest of the story” here, National Catholic Reporter .
Speaking to CBS News’ 60 Minutes as early as November 14, 2014, as shown in a preview here of his interview, O’Malley had agreed that under the Catholic Church’s zero-tolerance policy, he wouldn’t let Finn even teach Sunday school in Boston, let alone head a diocese. O’Malley added on CBS “It’s a question the Holy See needs to address urgently …. There’s a recognition of that from Pope Francis, …”. Francis did not address Finn urgently for sure! Indeed, he appears to have acted mainly and precipitously primarily to distract from the pope’s own Bishop Barros blunder.
This raises related questions like why have no bishops in the world so far been convicted and imprisoned for covering up child abuse? Are they all innocent? What do you think? Indeed, some US conservative Catholics have suggested recently that the “resigned” Bishop Robert Finn had been ideologically singled out, noting that Bishop Finn was removed from his diocese and is now being almost universally reviled as a “criminal” and a shielder of sex-abuse. These special pleaders, shamefully, point out that Finn never covered up physical molestation of young people by a priest, and has never been charged with that, they point out, as other bishops have been. One has to wonder whether these Finn apologists have children?
At the same time, one conservative fairly noted, that Belgium Cardinal Godfried Danneels, after being shown to have personally covered up for a bishop who for years had sexually assaulted his own nephew, has been allowed to retire honorably at the normal retirement age, from his position as the enormously powerful head of the archdiocese of Brussels, Belgium. Moreover, last year, Danneels was personally invited by Pope Francis to consult at the initial Synod of Bishops on the Family.
To put it bluntly, according to this conservative Catholic’s claims, Finn never shielded a priest-abuser; Danneels did, for years. But Finn’s out and Danneels is invited to important conferences by the pope. A fair point, even if the conservative commentator seriously underplays Finn’s crime!
Philip Lawler, an editor at the conservative Catholic website, CatholicCulture.org, has strongly supported Finn’s resignation, but he reportedly raises the obvious question, “Why Finn and no one else?” The “truly remarkable thing” about the Finn case, he reportedly says, is not that Finn was forced out, but that, in over a decade of egregious scandals around the world, he has been the only one. Another fair question!
Of course, as indicated above, Finn was pushed out shortly after members of the pope’s “go slow” abuse commission publicly nearly threatened to resign over the pope’s disastrous appointment of Bishop Barros in Chile. Finn appears to have been sacrificed to save Latino Barros and take some heat off the pope, no?
“Dozens of other bishops were as negligent, or worse [than Finn]. But they remained in office for years as the Church hierarchy came, ever so slowly, to the conclusion that even prelates must be held accountable,” Lawler reportedly said.
The pope has dragged his feet on holding bishops accountable for too long, over two years now. And is there one criminal law for childless bishops and another for lesser Catholic Church officials and non-clerics who endanger or harm innocent children? Two different standards appear to be the case so far.
An Australian Archbishop pleads not guilty to criminally concealing a predatory priest’s child abuse. A Belgian Archbishop is civilly determined to have behaved similarly with a predatory priest he supervised. He may retire. A KC USA bishop, in effect, pleads guilty to similar charges and resigns after four years.
A defrocked 66 year old Polish Archbishop, who has been found, it appears, by the Vatican to have sexually abused minors in the Dominican Republic, may die of old age in a comfortable Vatican residence before the Vatican even begins his secretive trial.
Why are any of these bishop misdeeds tried in biased church courts? Why are bishops not being convicted and imprisoned for misdeeds that lesser officials and ordinary citizens are imprisoned for? How could an estimated hundreds of thousands of children worldwide have been abused by priests, yet no bishop is really being held accountable to the full extent of the law? Why has Pope Francis for two years failed to “clean house”? Crimes without criminals — a real “miracle”, no?
In Philadelphia, where Pope Francis will soon honor the local Catholic hierarchy with a visit, Msgr. William Lynn, who had overseen more than 800 priests as former top priest personnel aide for a dozen years to the Philly Archdiocese’s Cardinals Justin Rigali and Anthony Bevilacqua and the first Catholic Church non-bishop senior official convicted in the clergy sex-abuse scandal, was recently order returned to prison, following a higher court ruling, by Teresa Sarmina, a judge educated at the Jesuit’s Georgetown Law and at Notre Dame’s St. Mary’s.
“Well, I think things are back where they were when I sentenced Msgr. Lynn,” Sarmina said. “The same reasons I stated then exist.” “Somebody call for a sheriff,” the judge added, before leaving the bench. She had lectured Lynn earlier on his failure to stand up to his cardinal bosses, who got off with impunity and Vatican honors, as did shamed Boston Cardinal Bernard Law before them.
Too bad no one earlier called the sheriff on Lynn’s cardinal bosses. Both cardinals managed to avoid prosecution for their aide’s misdeeds done apparently on their behalf. Bevilacqua died soon after giving a two day video deposition (that is still being kept secret, it appears) in the Lynn criminal case, and Rigali left town in a hurry, by “retiring” after Lynn’s indictment.
Rigali may now be seen in good form with Pope Francis attending Vatican ceremonies along with his former pal, the infamous Cardinal Law. The pope likely knew Bevilacqua from their Vatican committee work and appears to be personally acquainted with Rigali. Apparently failing to supervise priest predators of children is not an impediment to being honored at the Vatican.
The issues raised in Lynn’s case have entangled prosecutors, defense lawyers and at least 10 Pennsylvania judges since 2005, when the city’s top prosecutor blasted the Philadelphia Archdiocese after a Philly grand jury investigation into 63 accused priests, but concluded the law applied only to parents and caregivers. Apparently, hierarchical shepherds have no legal responsibility for protecting their docile sheep, even lambs.
A new Philly prosecutor concluded differently and in 2011 brought charges against Lynn, but not against longtime Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who died in 2012, or against Cardinal Justin Rigali, who promptly retired and left Philly when Lynn was indicted. Lynn was convicted following a landmark 13-week trial in 2012 over his failed role in supervising priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Lynn’s massive cover-up of pedophile priests hardly seemed in doubt. The legal battles turned mostly on Lynn’s technical status as a supervisor under an amended statute and over statutes of limitation implications of Lynn’s pervasive alleged cover-up.
By my rough estimate, almost 25% of then active Philly priests had had sexual abuse issues in their files that were reportedly secretly maintained by Lynn for his two cardinals — that is until some of Lynn’s reports were shredded, it appears. Portions of these files were also reportedly kept from the Archdiocese’s child protection committee. Rigali reportedly got good grades from the Church’s child protection auditors, another ongoing element of the cover-up farce of Catholic bishops. Of course, when bishops “cherry pick” what files auditors review, how could the bishops not get good grades?
Why have no bishops so far been convicted and imprisoned for covering up child abuse? Are they all innocent? What do you think?
Indeed, some US conservative Catholics are suggesting recently “resigned” Kansas City (USA) Bishop Robert Finn has been ideologically singled out, noting that Bishop Finn was removed from his diocese and is now being almost universally reviled as a “criminal” and a shielder of sex-abuse. But he never covered up molestation of young people by a priest, and has never been charged with that, they point out, as other bishops have been.
At the same time, one conservative fairly noted, Belgium Cardinal Godfried Danneels, after being shown to have personally covered for a man who for years had sexually assaulted his own nephew, has been allowed to retire honorably at the normal retirement age, from his position as the enormously powerful head of the archdiocese of Brussels, Belgium. Moreover, last year, Danneels was personally invited by Pope Francis to consult at the initial Synod of Bishops on the Family.
To put it bluntly, according to this conservative, Finn never shielded a priest-abuser; Danneels did, for years. But Finn’s out and Danneels is invited to important conferences by the pope. A fair point!
Philip Lawler, an editor of the conservative website CatholicCulture.org, has strongly supported Finn’s resignation, but he raises the burning question, “Why Finn and no one else?” The “truly remarkable thing” about the case, he says, is not that Finn was forced out, but that, in over a decade of egregious scandals around the world, he has been the only one.
Of course, Finn was pushed out shortly after members of the pope’s “go slow” abuse commission publicly nearly threatened to resign over the pope’s disastrous appointment of Bishop Barros in Chile. Finn appears to have been sacrificed to save Barros and take some heat off the pope, no?
“Dozens of other bishops were as negligent, or worse. But they remained in office for years as the Church hierarchy came, ever so slowly, to the conclusion that even prelates must be held accountable,” Lawler said.
The pope has dragged his feet on holding bishops accountable for too long and is now facing related revolts in Germany, Chile and the USA. German Catholic bishops, clearly concerned about protecting their $7+ billion annual governmental subsidies, have apparently seen enough from Pope Francis and his flawed “fatherless and motherless” Family Synod farce. The current German subsidies are the largest guaranteed revenue stream worldwide for the Catholic Church, with some roots in Pope Pius XII’s 1933 “evil bargain” that helped make Hitler.
The German bishops appear unwilling to wait passively for the final Family Synod in October to reform their rules on same sex marriages and divorced and remarried Catholics. See “German Bishops Extend LGBT Welcome to Church Workers in New Policy“, here,
Who knows? German bishops, under considerable pressures from competitive Evangelical Lutherans and from governmental child protection officials, may soon reverse the papal contraception ban and even (God willing!) hold German bishops really accountable for covering up priest child predators, as apparently even the ex-pope did as Munich archbishop and his brother did as Regensburg choirmaster.
Of course, the German bishops have to be well aware that they have an especially dark historical record to vindicate. This is currently increasingly awkward for the German bishops, since the pope is pushing the Turkish Muslim atrocities in World War I at the same time he continues, evidently with German bishops’ acquiescence, if not worse, to keep secret relevant Nazi Holocaust records in the Vatican’s Secret Archives. See the recent “Why did the German bishops fail to raise their voice against the Nazis? ” , here,
As reported by veteran Vatican journalist, Sandro Magister, ” … Not only do the German bishops approve of giving absolution and communion to the divorced and remarried, but they also express the hope that civil second marriages be blessed in church, that Eucharistic communion also be given to non-Catholic spouses, that the goodness of homosexual relationships and same-sex unions be recognized. …”, see here, Chiesa .
The German bishops face Vatican opposition, including from the German ex-pope’s German protege, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, who claims the need for his Vatican doctrinal congregation to “theologically structure” the papacy.
And then there is the continuing heated debate between Mueller and the president of the German bishops’ conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Marx, who is known to be close to the pope, believes that local episcopal conferences bear responsibility for making culturally sensitive pastoral decisions. He told reporters in late February that the German bishops want to publish their own pastoral document on marriage and the family after the synod.
“We are not just a subsidiary of Rome,” Marx reportedly said. “Each episcopal conference is responsible for the pastoral care in their culture and has to proclaim the Gospel in its own unique way. We cannot wait until a synod states something, as we have to carry out marriage and family ministry here.”
This view was roundly criticized by Mueller, who called it an “anti-Catholic idea” and made this rather patronizing comment: “The president of an episcopal conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and he does not have any particular magisterial authority due to this title.”
At one end, we find Mueller (and a vocal minority) who want to keep doing what modern popes have done (and, by the way, let’s make sure Mueller’s doctrinal congregation runs the papacy). At the other end, we find Marx (and many others) who believe that church practice can change and develop over time.
The German bishops appear to be on a Synod collision course with the pope and the Vatican over, among other matters, sexual morality issues, see Yale educated prophetic theologian, Jamie Manson’s insightful and informative “To have a truly just church, Pope Francis must move beyond complementarity” here, National Catholic Reporter.
The collision is being accelerated, for example, by a new letter from Bishop Robert Finn’s prosecutor, see Letter from Jean Peters Baker, prosecutor, and by truth tellers on bishop cover-up schemes, like courageous Fr. Tom Doyle in his recent “Bishop Robert Finn: the rest of the story” here, National Catholic Reporter .
Pope Francis’ failed “change the subject and stall” Synod strategy has for two years sought, and still seeks mainly:
To protect cardinals and bishops from governmental investigators and criminal prosecutors
To protect Church leaders’ assets from criminal corruption and from lawyers for priest sex abuse survivors
To protect unaccountable bishops’ local monopolies over their dioceses and top down control of local Catholic faithful
To protect bishops’ key salesmen — their captive celibate priests who collect the bishops’ money and who depend on bishops’ funds to survive, especially in retirement
To create an illusion, through public image making and misleading promises, that the Vatican is changing its unchristian ways, as well as its warped sexual teachings that are designed mainly to preserve and protect the Church leaders’ power and wealth.
The German bishops, it appears, see and understand well the future implications of the Catholic revolt in Chile and the likely coming USA revolt when the pope visits the USA in September. The USA revolt has already begun with brave Jesuit students, many opposed to priest child abuse and bishops’ cover-ups and homophobic crusades, at a New York university, with their petition here on Change.org (SIGN IT NOW PLEASE), and related anticipated civil disobedience seeking to reject prominent New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan as graduation speaker, in light of his evident child protection and homophobic failures, see here, Catholics Revolt: Jesuit Grads Shun Dolan As Goldman Sachs Bankers Woo Him .
The pope’s Synod smokescreen has failed already. Child abuse and financial scandal revelations keep generating more bad press and intrusive investigations faster than the pope’s spinners can find more diversionary foreign trips to take and babies for him to kiss. See my Pope’s Last Mess: Chaos or Council: Laity vs. Cardinals .
The pope recently tried to head off Lutheran Christian challenges to papal dogmatism when he met (with no pictures or English translation available apparently – why?) with Lady Antje Jackelen, a German by birth who is Archbishop and Primate of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden. The associated Evangelical/Lutheran Church in Germany is the Catholic Church’s main religious and financial competitor in that lucrative religious market. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s father was a priest pastor in the Evangelical/Lutheran Church, see my Merkel Has Long Talk With Pope – About What ?
Merkel’s likely concerns on the Vatican’s unnecessary and even harmful sexual morality positions, and dangerous comments about a new Middle East invasion, had been signaled earlier by one of her key international political advisers. German UN Ambassador Harald Braun had “unofficially” earlier indicated in pertinent part (in italics):
“Hardly a day goes by without reports in the media criticizing the internal state of the Roman Catholic Church. Every month another topic hits the headlines: sexual abuse in schools, hospitals’ refusal to treat rape victims, discrimination against homosexuals and divorced members of staff at Catholic institutions … ”
“Let’s take a look at the world as a whole: the fact that Islam is on the advance worldwide is not in itself a worrying phenomenon. That this advance sometimes involves violence, terrorism and the persecution of members of other faiths (all too often Christians), however, is extremely worrying. At a time like this, what Christians actually need is a high degree of global cross-denominational unity. And our Churches need to be close to the faithful in the practical basic questions of life; they should be a source of strength in dealing with the challenges of today and tomorrow, and provide guidance on day-to-day “moral” issues. People are demanding common solutions to the global problems and challenges. Unfortunately, ecumenism is not fashionable at the moment; the renewed rejection of full communion between Catholics and Protestants at the end of the twentieth century leaves many members of both denominations speechless. …”
“Christians around the world are in competition with the phenomenon of moderate, popular Islam. A comparable readiness to engage with ordinary people and their day-to-day lives is painfully lacking in many of our churches today. Both our everyday concerns and the global challenges are crying out for leadership and guidance from the main Christian denominations and their institutions and leaders. Some of what we have been hearing from the Vatican or from the pulpit, however, has absolutely nothing to do with real life … “.
Chancellor Merkel traveled recently to Rome exclusively to meet the pope. She also met with Vatican Secretary of State (and likely Francis’ successor), Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Richard Gallagher, and with German ambassador to the Holy See, Annette Schavan, German Undersecretary of State, Steffen Seibert, and foreign policy adviser, Christoph Heusgen and eleven more German officials. A big meeting, no?
Schavan, a former German education minister, was considered one of Merkel’s close confidantes before she resigned from her post amid a plagiarism scandal in 2013.
Gallagher had recently “exited” his papal ambassadorship position in Australia, reportedly after refusing to turn over to the Royal Commission there, some Vatican records relating to protecting specified priest child sexual abusers. Like Cardinal George Pell, Gallagher also seemingly got a “reward promotion” after resisting the Royal Commission’s legal pressure.
Of course, the German bishops must have taken note of the ongoing Catholic revolt in Chile. Click here to see a BBC video of what is fairly described as a “near riot” — the unprecedented Chileans’ angry protest recently against Pope Francis’ choice of Bishop Barros, alleged to have silently witnessed sexual abuse of young men by his mentor, famous Chilean priest, Fernando Karadima. Francis named Barros to head a small diocese that is close to Argentina and to an active volcano. Francis misjudged. The sex abuse volcano has erupted. See the extraordinary pictures here, Pubimetro , and also the shocking second video of everyday Catholics protesting here, YouTube .
Meanwhile, the US Republican Congress majority that the pope and his US bishops helped elect last November have taken their axes out to cut help for the poor with a new budget resolution. So much for the papal pleas for the poor! Their USA budget blueprint would slash spending on the social safety net, education, infrastructure and other domestic programs by $5.3 trillion over 10 years with no tax increases. At the same time, it boosts defense spending next year by adding about $38 billion to an off-budget war operations account. Please see my Pope “Winks & Nods” On Poor, Children, Women & Real Reforms .
Germany still has a religiously divided Christianity (mainly Catholic and Lutheran/Evangelical), as it paradoxically prepares to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s “revolt” in less than two years. As the pope, who studied in Germany, and the Evangelical raised Chancellor Merkel, both must know well, many of the Vatican’s sins that Luther challenged are still pervasive in Rome. These “sins” are funded now by direct German subsidies, rather than through sales of indulgences . Moreover, but for Luther’s revolt, Merkel’s father likely would never have been able to have been a married cleric.
The pope must know by now that his only real choice is either to move now to begin, by means of a general ecumenical council, the return of power to the Catholic 99% by making all bishops accountable to them again, or Pope Francis will fail to save the Catholic Church. He has bought the frightened Vatican Cardinals who elected him a two year delay on reforms, but his lack of real reform action can no more be hidden behind the babies he so often hugs. The curtain has been raised, after two years of talk without action, on the Papal Wizard, no?
Pope Francis seems to prefer discussing sexual morality secretively with 200 subservient celibate male bishops at “Family Synods” than to discussing this hot topic with, for example, a grandmother Swedish Lutheran archbishop and national primate. This seems to be especially the case when the woman appears to have better theological training and more relevant personal experience than the pope and many of his celibate bishops have, especially on matters like sexual morality and the related climate change implications of uncontrolled population growth.
The pope recently met (with no pictures or English translation available apparently – why?) with Lady Antje Jackelen, a German by birth who is Archbishop and Primate of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden. As mentioned above, the associated Lutheran/Evangelical Churches in Germany are the Catholic Church’s main religious and financial competition in that lucrative religious market. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s father was a priest pastor in the Evangelical/Lutheran Church, see my Merkel Has Long Talk With Pope – About What ?
The pope noted, in his meeting with the Lutheran Archbishop grandmother, the upcoming 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s revolt. In Italian, the occasionally direct pope then, in effect, admonished the woman archbishop that it would be a sin ( “un peccato”) if improving Catholic-Lutheran relations had to be set back by their differing views on topics like “… the question of the dignity of human life, always to be respected, as well as the issues that are related to the family, marriage and sexuality … “. The pope ominously and almost rudely added then, “It would be a sin (un pecatto”) if these important matters were consolidated into new confessional differences”. Pretty heavy handed treatment of a guest, even for an ex-bouncer, no? Does a Lutheran archbishop and Swedish Primate, who studied at Tuebingen and taught graduate courses in theology in Chicago for years, really need a Jesuit Catholic pope to lecture her on what is a sin?
Please see the pope’s remarks to the woman bishop whom he addressed as “dear sister” (“cara sorella”), here, Vatican web site .
Almost 500 years after Luther’s revolt began at a German cathedral, the Vatican still seems intent on dictating to Protestants, without the stake burnings, of course. Perhaps, Pope Francis had in mind the continuing and spreading Catholic revolt in a Chilean cathedral over his misguided appointment of Bishop Barros.
The woman archbishop will also be meeting with the head of the Anglican church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a married father and former oil company executive, who sees more matters her way, e.g., on papal authority, sexual morality, women’s equality, bishop accountability to non-clerical church members, et al., than the pope and his pre-Reformation era unaccountable bureaucracy do, from most indications.
It appears the pope, who seemingly spends more time meeting with US right wing fundamentalist leaders and international soccer stars than he spent with this informed archbishop and her group, was not in the mood to listen to a woman bishop or be photographed with her. I wonder why? Of course, she must know the pope is in “a box”. He cannot rationally advocate seriously for reducing greenhouse gases at the same time he pushes for more population growth with his irrational ban on contraception.
Of course, the woman archbishop, unlike the pope and his celibate male bishops, may well have a firsthand awareness of the essential and beneficial role for most couples and their families of effective contraception availability and of the serious financial and psychological risks of trying to raise too many children.
The Vatican visit by this Lutheran archbishop, and a German at that, presents more problems for the pope. A synthesis of responses from Catholics in Germany to the the pope’s continuing farcical “family-less” Family Synod deliberations was recently released by Germany’s bishops conference. The 17-page document, provided in an English translation, summarizes the responses, which filled some 1,000 pages, with the largest part of comments focused on making changes in the sexual morality area. The pope is facing a real “mess” at his upcoming “family-less” “Family Synod” in October and seemingly wants to avoid having an informed and articulate woman, like this archbishop, showing him up. The pope has stalled long enough and will soon be forced to act, and not just spin.
The Swedish archbishop, a grandmother, apparently supports respecting women’s reproductive rights, as well as same sex marriage. She studied theology at Tuebingen (when Hans Kung taught there) and also taught graduate theology courses in Chicago (USA) from 2001 to 2007. This female Archbishop is also an expert on the theological implications of climate change. Together with the Swedish bishops’ conference, she has already addressed climate change in a national bishops’ policy letter, calling for her church members and the Swedish state to set goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to enter into related binding international agreements on the issue.
On Monday, May 4, 2015, this woman archbishop and Swedish primate had an official audience with Pope Francis. Their two Christian churches, while having some differences (their stances on papal authority, the state of ordination and women clergy and Marian beliefs, and their stances on sexual morality, for example), did publish a document on the push toward theological dialogue and communion regarding the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in less than two years. The archbishop has several key points of agreement with the Catholic Church, notably on the need for dialogue between science and religion, and the need to care for the poor.
Please see also my relevant remarks, “What Do We Now Know About The Real Goal Of Pope Francis?” and “A Pope, A New US War, Jeb Bush Neocons & Big Oil ” .
Please also see the woman bishop’s picture in full bishop garb, from Vatican Insider, here,
The pope still has a major problem taking women seriously, it appears. The pope’s new media public relations commission (all male and mostly clerics) most get the pope to act, not just talk, about the plight of his silenced and oft forgotten Catholics — poor children and women. Any chance? Is Pope Francis unaware of the plight of many millions of women and children, often desperate as a consequence of his continuing self interested papal ideology of hierarchical male oppression? The pope often seems to be unaware in practice of their plight, despite his occasional crafted public relations pronouncements and staged photo ops. Pope Francis should either get some better script writers, preferably some mothers, or get used to being described as insincere, if not hypocritical.
In his recent Wednesday talk to tourists, Francis spoke about the “radical equality” that Christianity proposes. AP reported he asked “Why is it a given that women must earn less than men? No! They have the same rights. The disparity is pure scandal.” Really, same rights? Not at the Vatican or in any worldwide bishops’ offices from most indications. (emphasis mine)
Francis has paid lip service to women’s equality many times, calling for women to take on greater decision-making roles in the Catholic Church, though he has , in effect, in practice needlessly ruled out women’s ordination, women cardinals or having women head Vatican departments. Only about 18 percent of Vatican employees are women, up from 17 percent four years ago. Currently, only two women hold the rank of undersecretary in a Vatican department. Indeed, it took the pope over two years to get the successor “doctrinal German Shepherd” (that he appointed a cardinal) to release his arrogant fangs that had been clamped on American nuns.
Please see ”Vatican Hits Sour Note With Women, but Progress May Come” at ABC News and also my related remarks, “The Crisis Pope Francis Faces“, “Two Cardinals’ Aide’s Crime Upheld Yet Philly Visit Is Still On?” , “What Do We Now Know About The Real Goal Of Pope Francis?” , “Francis’ Breeding Policy Fails Kids, Women & Gay Folks“, “Pope’s “Messes”: Philly, Climate, Kids & Now Hillary“, “Pope’s Fix For Street Child Woes: More Babies ?“, “Childless Pope Faces Man-Made “Mess”: Children & Climate Change” , “Vatican Revolt Negates Synod & Sex Commission” , “Hillary Clinton vs. Pope Francis in 2015 USA Politics“, “A Pope, A New US War, Jeb Bush Neocons & Big Oil” , and “Finn’s Law: Police Must Now Handle Crimes Says Pope“.
While speaking out about the need for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church, the pope has made repeatedly seemingly tone-deaf comments. He referred to women as “Adam’s ribs”. He has said Europe in many places resembles an “infertile” grandmother. He has urged nuns not to be “old maids.” And he once welcomed some conservative new female members of the Catholic Church’s most prestigious theological commissions as “strawberries on the cake.”
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 222 million women in developing countries do not want to have children now, but lack the means to ensure that they do not conceive. Providing them with access to contraception would help them plan their lives as they wish, weaken demand for abortion, reduce maternal deaths, give children a better start in life, and contribute to slowing population growth and greenhouse-gas emissions, thus benefiting us all.
The reason many of these poor women cannot get access to contraception is often the political lobbying of the Vatican against effective contraception access since at least as early as Hillary Clinton’s classic “duel” with the Vatican’s Mary Ann Glendon at the 1995 Beijing UN population conference. The pope continues to push for more Catholic babies, e.g., his regular remarks that big families (at least three children!) are better, that having no children is “selfish”, etc. Are these infallible pronouncements from a 78 year old celibate bachelor? What arrogant and uninformed nonsense, no?
If any “Catholic baby” does not survive or thrive, it is not the pope’s and his hierarchy’s problem in the final analysis. It is the child’s problem, and sometimes the parents’ as well, but ultimately never the hierarchy’s problem. Indeed, we read too often of stories of Catholic priests, protected fiercely by their bishops, who sexually prey with impunity on vulnerable children in dismal and “overpopulated” family situations, as with Polish Archbishop Wesolowski and Fr. Gil in the Dominican Republic and reportedly many in Los Angeles, California.
In “dreaming” about the pope’s encounter in the Philippines a few months ago with the young “street child” on the eve of Martin Luther King’s US holiday, I had a dream! The dream is especially relevant now as the pope is about to visit Martin Luther King’s birthplace. I dreamed that the pope told the young former street girl what the Vatican’s real strategy was. If he told her, I dreamed that Pope Francis, if he were truthful, would have had to tell the girl something like this:
(1) I was elected by frightened cardinals to keep them out of jail for crimes related to child abuse cover-ups and financial and tax evasion corruption;
(2) My top priority is protecting bishops, all 5,000 of them, while maximizing their wealth in their unaccountable lifetime positions;
(3) I need to preserve the Vatican’s “richest markets” , especially in the USA and Germany, and among the billionaires of the USA, Australia, the UK, the Philippines, South Korea, Mexico, et al. In the USA, I need by next year to get a friendly Republican, like the Bushes were, in the White House (God forbid Hillary Clinton gets elected!), now that low tax/low regulatory Republicans control the US Congress and, in effect, the US Supreme Court. Our US billionaire donors would like that;
(4) In the USA, I must also appeal to fundamentalist evangelical and Latino voters with a muddled mix of anti-contraception/abortion and anti-gay marriage crusades, and frequent appeals to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Junipero Serra and Oscar Romero, and of course, constant references to the devil;
(5) In Germany, I must protect and help maximize the bishops $6 billion plus annual governmental per capita subsidy, including by getting divorced and remarried Catholics, currently denied communion, to stop taking their families and pro rata subsidies out of the Church;
(6) I must push with my contraception ban to pump up the Catholic birth rate everywhere, especially in light of the high birth rate among our Muslim competitors in Africa and elsewhere; and
(7) If after taking care of my subordinate bishops, subservient priests, opportunistic politicians, “scholars” and media supporters and, of course, our 24/7 insatiable civil, criminal and and bankruptcy lawyers, the rest of the Church’s donations and subsidies, if any remains, may “trickle down ” to the poor, and to a few of those priest abuse survivors who keep silent.
And then I awoke from my dream. And yes, when I awakened, Pope Francis, as expected, continued to push the papal “Rabbit Rule” (Breed & Breed More!) of Popes Pius XI (1930) and Paul VI (1968), and all popes thereafter. This is tied to protecting the papal “power of infallibility” and appears still to be the cornerstone of the Vatican’s key moral “doctrine of procreative sex, ONLY”.
Corollaries of this Rule include:(1) Catholic “opposite sex couples” must “shoot” for pregnancy in each intimate encounter; and (2) Catholic “same sex couples”, who cannot “shoot” for pregnancy, cannot be intimate ever; otherwise heterosexual couples will also demand “unfruitful non-procreative sex”— God forbid!
The continuing Vatican setbacks, involving child abuse cover-up and financial corruption and other scandals, appear to make it strategically paramount in recent popes’ view for the Vatican to generate more Catholic babies, at least to replace millions of younger, and even older, Catholics, who leave the Church increasingly after finding that the Vatican’s Church is neither loving nor infallible.
The Philippines, for example, “exports” millions of its Catholic workers, including many priests and nurses, to Western countries to fill some of the shortages there, including in Catholic parishes and hospitals.
Meanwhile, the Vatican’s main worldwide religious competitor, Muslims, keep producing more babies, at a higher rate than Catholics now do, putting more pressure on the Vatican’s escalating “Baby Boom Crusade”.
Pregnant Catholics are always a “win-win” situation for the Catholic hierarchy. If the baby survives and thrives, the “new Catholic” can be expected, after the customary indoctrination that begins at First Confession no later than 7 years old, to donate meekly and often to bishops, and even often when voting for their political leadership to follow obediently Vatican “political instructions”, a key source of the Vatican’s power and wealth.