The UN and the Vatican: Politicizing Torture to Defend Abortion

 

The Vatican went before the UN Convention on Torture to answer questions about the clergy child abuse scandal and Church teachings on abortion and homosexuality, not as a church, but as a government.

In addition to raising the preposterous idea that Church teaching on abortion is torture of women, the Convention also raised the issue of the practice of transferring child abusing priests from one parish to another.

I am guessing that the Convention’s position on the Vatican and child sexual abuse is based on the contention that sexual child abuse, when it is allowed by a governmental body, is a form of government-sanctioned torture. I may be giving them more credit than they deserve, but that’s the only hook I can see on which they could hang these charges.

I don’t know how they get to their other positions that the Church should change its teachings abortion and homosexuality because they are torture. There is no basis for such claims. I think that these idiotic charges reveal the real motivations behind this line of attack against the Catholic Church.

The Vatican’s position regarding the charges concerning the child sexual abuse scandal is that it did not, as a city state, have governing control of the child-abusing priests around the world who perpetrated these crimes. The Vatican says that the abusers were under the laws and governance of the countries in which they resided.

This is true in a legal sense; in a moral sense, not so much.

The Vatican itself is a city state, and as such can be called to account as a government. However, the Catholic Church, whose head resides in the Vatican, is a church and not a government. That’s a complicated situation which can — and obviously does — lead to all sorts of political gamesmanship.

As a Catholic, I do not think of myself as a citizen of the Vatican. I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church, with the emphasis on Church. 

The Roman Catholic Church is called to a much higher purpose, and is required to behave in an entirely different manner, than any government. It makes claims for itself that go far beyond governance. The leaders of our Church ask for a level of compliance and respect from the laity that good governmental leaders do not ask and bad governmental leaders cannot get.

To be blunt about it, if you are going to go around saying that you speak for Christ, you have a responsibility to not behave like the sons of Satan.

I think that trying to claim that the Church committed torture in the sexual abuse scandal as defined by the Convention on Torture is a callous political ruse. The fact that the Convention added the additional charge that the Church’s teachings on abortion and homosexuality are a form of torture makes that clear.

I think this ruse is designed to lessen the Church’s moral teaching authority on issues such as the sanctity of human life and marriage.

As a tactical action in the culture wars, it is a strong move. The Church’s power, such as it is, comes directly from its moral and prophetic voice.

The clergy sexual abuse of children scandal degrades that moral and prophetic voice in a way that the Church’s enemies, with all their attacks and criticisms, never could. It is a forceful weapon in the hands of those who want to destroy the persuasive power of the Catholic Church’s moral voice. That is why people who hate the Church’s teachings in certain areas seem to delight in talking about the scandal.

They constantly seek new ways to raise that clear failure of Christian discipleship on the part of so many Church leaders and keep it before the public eye because it damages the Church’s claim to holiness.

The sexual abuse of children by predatory adults is widespread in this world. There appears to be certain industries and organizations which routinely cover up for abusers. For instance, the entertainment industry deserves a good looking over in this regard.

Focusing on the Catholic Church to the exclusion of other offenders is not only dishonest, it enables these other predators to continue harming children.

Limiting public outrage about the sexual abuse of children to anger at the Catholic Church does not serve children well. It allows abusers in every other walk of life to keep on abusing. But, even though it does not serve children well, it does serve a political purpose. The purpose is to provide a platform for taking aim at the Church’s teachings that the attackers disagree with.

By using a Convention against torture that the Vatican signed to attack the Church, the enemies of the Church’s teachings in areas such as abortion, gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research and questions of economic exploitation weaken the Church’s voice against those things.

I think that is what this whole line of attack is about. In truth, torture is a narrow word that does not lend itself to this kind of politicized use. That is why the word has such historic power. The Convention is broadening the definition of torture beyond its original meaning to raise these charges.

By doing that, it cheapens the moral prohibitions against torture. By callously using torture as a misplaced and politicized gotcha attack instrument, the Convention weakens the very thing it is designed to strengthen, which is the international effort to end the use of torture.

I have strong feelings about the use of torture, based on actual knowledge of torture and contact with victims of torture. I have equally strong feelings about diluting the meaning of the word torture so that it becomes useless. I think this kind of political gamesmanship — which is really about abortion, gay marriage, economic exploitation, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, etc — enables torturers and lets them continue.

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Never Before: Two Popes Living. Two Popes Canonized.

It promises to be the day of the popes, both living and canonized.

Never before have two living popes been present at the canonization of two other popes. But if Pope Emeritus Benedict feels up to it, that is what will happen at the Vatican this Sunday. Pope Emeritus Benedict says he will attend the upcoming canonization of Popes John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Pope Francis, who is our sitting pope, will preside.

From Catholic News Service:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Retired Pope Benedict XVI is expected to attend the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II April 27, said Msgr. Liberio Andreatta, head of the Vatican-related pilgrim agency, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi.

“Never before have there been two popes canonized and two popes living,” he said at a news conference in Rome April 23 to discuss final plans and preparations for pilgrims. “You can imagine their emotions!”

However, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, continued to caution journalists, saying that while the retired pope certainly had been invited to the Mass, “we’ll have to wait and see” if, at 87 years old, he feels up to attending.

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Benedict XVI: I knew during his life that Pope John Paul II was a saint.

 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave a rare interview this week in which he discussed the upcoming canonization of Blessed Pope John Paul II.

“In the years i which I collaborated with him, it was ever clearer to me that John Paul II was a saint,” he said.

“John Paul II did not ask for applause nor did he look around worried about how his decisions were going to be received. He acted based on his faith and his convictions, and he was also wiling to take hits. The courage for truth is, in my view, a primary measure of holiness.

“My memory of John Paul II is filled with gratitude. I couldn’t and shouldn’t try to imitate him, but I have tried to carry forward his legacy and his work the best that I could,” the Pope Emeritus said.

Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII will be canonized this Sunday.

From Catholic New Agency:

Rome, Italy, Apr 23, 2014 / 12:47 pm (CNA).- In a rare interview, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recalled his close friendship with Blessed John Paul II, saying that the pontiff’s sanctity and deep spirituality were apparent during his life.

“In the years in which I collaborated with him, it was ever clearer to me that John Paul II was a saint,” said Benedict XVI during an interview with Polish journalist Wlodzimierz Redzioch, which was published April 20 in the Spanish newspaper “La Razon.”

“Naturally, his intense relationship with God, being immersed in communion with the Lord, needs to be taken into account above all,” the former Pope said of his predecessor.

Benedict XVI, who served under Pope John Paul II as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the Polish pontiff courageously “embraced his task in a truly difficult time.”

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At Gethsemane

2011 Apr 24 UT  Carl Bloch Gethsemane

Gethsemane is far more than the physical garden where Jesus prayed the night He was taken.

Gethsemane is a place in the human heart, a destination we all reach. Some of us will go there many times in our lives.

Gethsemane is what I call The Alone. It is that stripped-bare moment when the pretenses and self lies that sustain us in our illusion of invincibility and significance are taken from us. Gethsemane is the realization that we are alone in a way that the glad-handing niceties of human interaction hide from us.

Emotions such as loneliness and even despair are trivialities when contrasted with the stark solitary helplessness of The Alone. It is a stunning thing to look into the eyes of another human being and see satan looking back at you. It is a soul-scouring reality to face the insignificance we really are to other people.

That is Gethsemane, and it is what Jesus faced for you. And for me.

“Can you not wait with me one hour?” He asked the disciples, and the question vibrates with the isolating aloneness that prompted it. He had to face the awfulness of what was coming without human succor or understanding. When they came, when Judas struck Him to the heart with a kiss of betrayal, when He looked into the pitiless eyes of Satan, staring at him from another human face, He was alone.

That was Christ’s Gethsemane. Our Gethsemane, even though it will differ, is in some ways like it.

My friend Linda Caswell is director of All Things New, a ministry that shelters and redeems women who have been trafficked and prostituted. These women know The Alone not as an event or passage, but as the whole of their lives. They have inhabited The Alone the way you and I inhabit our jobs, families and lives, because it has been their lives.

Most of these women have had very few positive contacts with people of faith. They avoid churches because the men who have bought them are also in the churches. Their only safety is in Jesus, but they do not understand that at first.

When Linda shows them the movie that Mel Gibson made, The Passion of the Christ, it inevitably breaks through the hard shell of their self-defenses. Women who do not understand the Gospels as anything but a lie told by lying liars who buy and sell them break down and sob uncontrollably when they see Jesus humiliated, beaten, tortured and disregarded.

This Jesus, the One who prayed “let this cup pass” in Gethsemane, they understand. And by the miracle of the grace of the cross, they believe that this Jesus understands them.

Their lives, which have been an unending Gethsemane, open to this brother God who was beaten, tortured, humiliated and disregarded as they have been.

Because He understands. Because He does not disregard them. Because He is the only One who can go with them into The Alone of their personal Gethsemanes.

Jesus Christ suffered for us to redeem us from our sins, from the things we’ve done. He also suffered to redeem us from the things that have been done to us. In this cruel world where the biggest and the meanest usually make all the rules, the things that are done to us can cut deeper and leave us less able to see the Divine than our sins.

We put people outside the bright circles of acceptability that we draw around ourselves and those we deem worthy. We cast them into the hell of unending Gethsemane where no one keeps vigil with them and no one cares that they are alone.

Only Jesus, Who has been there, can penetrate The Alone of our lives. He is the One, the only One, who can draw people back from the man-made abyss of life lived in The Alone where we cast so many of the people that He died to save.

It is important to remember this at all times, but especially today when we re-enact the Last Supper. Jesus was becoming Christ on this night when He gave us the Eucharist and the servant priesthood. He was teaching us how to love with a love that passes all human understanding and how to live the life of the Kingdom in this world. He was showing us that even in our Gethsemane, even in the deepest pit of The Alone, we are never alone, for He is always there.

And he will keep watch with us, not just for an hour, but for the whole of this life and into the one beyond.

 

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Pope to Priests: If You Don’t Go Out From Yourselves, (Your) Anointing Cannot Be Fruitful.

Pope Francis gave priests a homily at today’s Chrism Mass that could only come from a fellow pastor of souls who is also a pope.

The Chrism Mass is the annual mass at which the holy oils are blessed. These oils are used to anoint priests when they take their vows, as well as the laity during several sacraments.

Pastoring God’s people is a difficult task. Ministry to people of any sort is always difficult, because it requires the minster to empty themselves and to go beyond themselves into the other person’s needs. Every mother knows this to her core.

The priesthood is, in this way, a kind of parenthood, and like all parenthood, it is the end of me first and the beginning of living for God by living for and loving others.

A good priest is God’s instrument. God can and does reach right through him and into the hearts of His people. This is an awesome responsibility, to speak for God to hurting people.

Priests need our prayers, and sometimes, they need our forgiveness, as well.

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Martyred Priest: I Can’t Leave My People


The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.
Jesus Christ

Father Frans van der Lugt, SJ refused to abandon his parish and people in the face of danger. He was the only priest who stayed when the area in Syria where he lived was overrun during the Syrian civil war.

“I can’t leave my people,” he said, “I can’t leave my church. I am director of this church, how can I leave them?”

Days before Father Lugt’s 76th birthday, an unknown gunman entered his church, beat him and shot him in the head.

From Catholic News Agency:

Days after Dutch priest Fr. Frans van der Lugt S.J. was murdered in Syria, a close young friend recalled his saintly life, noting both his personal holiness and extraordinary advances in Christian-Muslim relations.Wael Salibi, 26, recalled how when the Christian area in Homs was taken over by rebels, 66,000 of the faithful “left their home, and just few of them stayed there. He was the only priest, he stayed in his church.”

“Just months before he died, he said ‘I can’t leave my people, I can’t leave my church, I am director of this church, how can I leave them?’” Salibi told CNA on April 11.Salibi, who hails from the now-ravished city of Homs, grew up as a close friend and pupil of Fr. Frans, who was brutally killed on April 7.  Days before his 76th birthday, an unknown gunman entered his church, beat him and shot him in the head.For the past three years Syria has been embroiled in conflict which sprang up after citizens protested the rule of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president and leader the country’s Ba’ath Party
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We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bus

The chickens are coming flapping home.

 

And it turns out that these chickens walk on two legs and have roosting habits that are nothing more than mob action.

 

Catholic education’s easy bargain of don’t ask, don’t tell concerning dissent against Church teachings and morality has coalesced into “outrage” from parents and students when high schools try to teach and enforce Church teachings. Consider this, this and this.

Bishops, when faced with these angry mobs have turned to the time-honored bureaucratic practice of court-martial-the-private/fire-the-secretary/shoot-the-messenger. Sister Mary Tracy resigned in Seattle. Sister Jane Dominic Laurel took a sabbatical in North Carolina. Father Rocky Hoffman hasn’t been cashiered the way the nuns were, but he has been properly apologized for to the mob.

The response to angry mobs demanding that Catholic schools not teach Catholic teaching has been to wave the white flag and toss the hapless offender who committed the crime of doing what the Church says we should all do under the bus.

It appears that our Catholic schools have become something other than what we thought they were. I keep wondering, are they nothing except a place for well-to-do people to send their kids in order to avoid the public schools? Is there no moral component to Catholic education these days?

And what about these bishops? Are any of them capable of being stand up guys? I don’t have any sympathy with the bishops about this court-martial/fire/shoot and then-cut-and-run routine they’re doing. If the bishop runs away, the people will be lost.

If every Catholic who believes what the Church teaches gets thrown under the bus for being politically incorrect enough to say so in public, we’re going to need a lot bigger bus.

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Pope Francis Asks for Forgiveness for Priest Sexual Abuse of Children


Pope Francis asked for forgiveness this morning for the sexual abuse of children by some of our priests.

In a touching comment, the Holy Father said that he felt “called to personally take on the evil which some priests … have done.”

Although this is not as widely reported, Pope Francis also said that every child has a right to grow up in a family with “a mother and a father,” and called for protections for the right of parents “to decide the moral religious education of their children,” and for an end to “educational experimentation with children and young people,” pushing “a dictatorship of one form of thinking” on them “in the name of a pretended “modernity.”

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From Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio) “I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children.

The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children”.This was Pope Francis’ clear message to members of BICE [International Catholic Child Bureau] whom he received Friday in audience at the Vatican. Emer McCarthy reports Listen: RealAudioMP3 

BICE is a Catholic NGO that works to protect the rights and dignity of the child worldwide. Speaking to them, Pope Francis also spoke about the need to reaffirm the rights of parents to decide “the moral and religious education of their children” and reject all forms of “educational experimentation with children and young people”.

He said that it is every child’s right to grow up in a family “with a father and a mother” capable of creating “a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity”. The Pope also called for an end to what he termed as “educational experiments” with children and young people, pushing a “dictatorship of one form of thinking” on them in the name of a pretended “modernity”.

The Pope noted that the “horrors of the manipulation of education that we experienced in the great genocidal dictatorships of the twentieth century have not disappeared; they have retained a current relevance under various guises and proposals”.

To counter this he urged the BICE members to foster a true anthropological formation of the child respectful of the reality of the person, to enable children and young people to respond to the problems and challenges posed by contemporary culture and widespread mentality propagated by the mass media.

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Maybe the Only Honorable Place for a Catholic to be is Under the Bus

 

Fear God, and you will have no need of being afraid of mortal man. What can anyone do against you by his words and injuries? He rather hurts himself than you, nor can he escape the judgement of God, whoever he be. Keep God before your eyes. Thomas a Kempis

It’s getting crowded under the bus.

I would imagine that it’s also lonely and a bit shattering for the people who are under there.

First, we’ve got Mozilla, throwing their founder and the inventor of JavaScript under that old bus because he made a political donation six years ago in favor of Prop 8, or, to put it more simply, in support of traditional marriage.

Next, we’ve got Sister Jane Dominic Laurel who committed the “crime” of using sociological studies that the gay marriage/gay rights people claim are bogus in a presentation to high school students. Evidently, she said nothing, nothing, that was against Church teaching. The only half-way legitimate criticism that anyone can dig up is that parents  weren’t “informed” of the talk beforehand. Informing the parents beforehand sounds to me like the administrative responsibility of the school, not Sister Jane.

I’ll toss in one more. Father Marcel Guarnizo says he was removed from ministry for refusing communion to a woman who had informed him she was living in a sexual relationship with another woman.

Meanwhile, this priest (who is a Jesuit, so has different superiors, but the principle is the same) is supporting open defiance against Church teachings and writing about it in national Catholic magazines.

I wonder how many others are out there lying under buses for standing for what the Church has taught us we should stand for?

The forced resignation of Brandon Eich from Mozilla is different because the people who abandoned him were not bishops of the Church. I am not in any way abrogating their responsibility for acceding to an egregious and unconscionable attack on the principles of civil liberties which have allowed us to all live together in peace in this country for over 200 years.

I am saying that when a bishop of the Church throws people under the bus for following Church teaching, it … well … it gets too ripe to breathe.

When the zeitgeist turns, it sometimes turns ugly. You can get ugly mobs at your Catholic high schools, demanding the head of a nun. Situations like that are the ones that let true leaders shine. They are also the situations that lead the weak links to tarnish themselves and shame the rest of us.

A bishop who is a good leader must be a great follower. He must be a follower of Christ before anything else. A bishop who follows Jesus and lets the Holy Spirit work through him, will be able to deal with mobs without running away and abandoning his people. But bishops who decide that being a bishop is all about them, will not stand in the tough times.

Such is our fallen state. Jesus Himself told us that the tares would grow up alongside the wheat and not be separated out until Judgement Day. We, meaning you and I, have the task of remaining faithful to Our Lord, even if we have to do it alone, even if our priests and bishops abandon us, even if it makes social martyrs of us.

Make no mistake about it, those who destroy people’s careers and push them to the sidelines for supporting traditional marriage are making martyrs of them. I include bishops who do not stand by them among the martyr-makers.

The suffering of a Brandon Eich who had the corporation he founded and his life’s work stolen from him in what can only be described as an act of malice and spite, must be exquisite. Imagine what it is like to be Sister Jane or Father Guarnizo, who have given their lives to the Church, to have that Church cashier them as a matter of convenience for a bishop who won’t make a stand? Meanwhile those who ignore the Church’s teachings, or even deride them, are riding high.

So long as individual Catholics, ranging from priests, to nuns, to laity, can not rely on their bishops to stand by them when the angry mobs of the zeitgeist come at them for standing for Christ, the only honorable and faithful place for Jesus loving, Jesus following Catholics may very well be under the bus.

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Bishop Jugis Issues Long-Delayed Statement About Sister Jane. Says Nothing. Sister Still Under the Bus.

 

Bishop Peter Jugis has finally issued his long-awaited statement concerning the trashing of Sister Jane Dominic Laurel at a meeting held in one of the Catholic schools in his diocese over a week ago.

I’m not sure why it took the bishop so long to issue this statement, since it says nothing. Here’s the gist of it:

The bishop is “shocked” at the “lack of charity and respect” at the meeting.

The bishop calls for “healing.”

The bishop assures us that Catholic schools will teach the Catholic faith “in its fullness and integrity,” and that the catechism is “accessible to all.”

The bishop stands by his priest.

The bishop leaves Sister Jane under the bus.

In a statement published in the local Charlotte press and then put on the diocesan news page, the author of the petition against Sister Jane announced that the petition was being shut down, adding:

“Thank you to everyone in the CCHS community who supported my petition. I have now removed it from change.org because I feel that its goal has been accomplished. I wanted to call attention to something I felt was wrong so that something similar would not happen in the future. Certainly enough attention has been brought to the issue, and I believe that our school system is working towards a meaningful change. The petition has served its purpose and can now be put to rest.

Indeed.

I appears that the petition was 100% successful. Hard to argue with that. In fact, it looks like the petitioners are running things.

I’m going to have to think about this for a little bit. But I do know that, so far as I’m concerned, everything I said in this post still stands. I am not surprised that Bishop Jugis punted. After a week of silence, any other course of action would have been a surprise.

Maybe we should follow the bishop’s advice and go buy copies of the catechism and be our own bishops to ourselves. Then, if anyone disagrees with us, we can start a petition, form an angry mob and take over.

I am afraid for our Church in these perilous times if this is our leadership.

Bishop Jugis’ statement:

Bishop Jugis’ full statement, issued April 9, follows:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The past few weeks have been very difficult for Charlotte Catholic High School. We have all experienced a great deal of pain. During this difficult time I want to express my support and encouragement for all the parents, students, staff and faculty at the high school. We must move forward toward healing with charity, the hallmark of our Christian life.

Different viewpoints regarding Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel’s presentation to students on March 21, 2014, have been discussed in a variety of venues.

At the parent meeting on April 2, 2014, many expressed concern about the lack of advanced communication with parents regarding the subject matter of the assembly. Apologies were made at the meeting for that lack of advanced communication.

The content of the Church’s moral teaching was not raised as a matter of contention at the parent meeting. All of our Catholic schools are committed to hold and teach the Catholic faith in its fullness and with integrity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains an explanation of our faith and is accessible to all.

During this difficult time I support the continued work of Fr. Matthew Kauth, the chaplain; Mrs. Angela Montague and Mr. Steve Carpenter, the assistant principals; and Mr. Randy Belk, the dean of students; and all they are doing for our Charlotte Catholic High School students. All of us are indebted to them.

I am shocked to hear the disturbing reports of a lack of charity and respect at the parents’ meeting, and outside the meeting in conversations and in social media. There simply is no room in the Catholic Church for such displays of uncharitableness and disrespect. If we have failed in this regard let us make amends to God and neighbor. Even when we disagree, that disagreement should be expressed respectfully in love.

We ask the Lord Jesus Christ for His mercy and His healing as we approach the celebrations of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection. Please be assured of our continued dedication to the mission to teach and live the truth of the Catholic faith at our Charlotte Catholic High School.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis

Bishop of Charlotte

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