The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, which probably explains why I like him so much!
According to documents released today, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, moved nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund in 2007 specifically to shield it from lawsuits by victims of clergy sexual abuse. The New York Times has the scoop:
[T]he files released Monday contain a letter [Dolan] wrote to the Vatican in 2007, in which he explained that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.”
The Vatican moved swiftly to approve the request, the files show, even though it often took years to remove known abusers from the priesthood.
The files also reveal graphic details of the alleged abuse, including new revelations about its magnitude:
Archbishop Listecki released a letter last week warning Catholics in his archdiocese that the documents could shake their faith and trying to explain the actions of church leaders while offering apologies to victims.
“Prepare to be shocked,” he wrote. “There are some graphic descriptions about the behavior of some of these priest offenders.”
This week, the new Pope Francis raised quite a ruckus when he said:
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”
Francis continued, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Was he really saying that atheists are not necessarily doomed to eternal hellfire? That would be … quite a change.
Or is this just a misunderstanding of the Roman Catholic terms of service?
On Thursday, the Vatican issued an “explanatory note on the meaning to ‘salvation.’”
The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who aware of the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”
At the same time, Rosica writes, “every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin.”
Rosica also said that Francis had “no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation,” during his homily on Wednesday.
Although the pope’s comments about salvation surprised some, bishops and experts in Catholicism say Francis was expressing a core tenant of the faith.
“Francis was clear that whatever graces are offered to atheists (such that they may be saved) are from Christ,” the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a conservative Catholic priest, wrote on his blog.
“He was clear that salvation is only through Christ’s Sacrifice. In other words, he is not suggesting - and I think some are taking it this way - that you can be saved, get to heaven, without Christ.”
Chad Pecknold, an assistant professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, agreed with Zuhlsdorf, pointing out that the pope’s comments came on the Feast of Saint Rita, the Catholic patron saint of impossible things.
See? That’s why you always need to read the fine print.
Would you be surprised to learn that the new Pope has the same old problems that have now become almost daily news about the Catholic Church? While there’s no evidence (yet) that he actively covered up the crimes of pedophile priests, while archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio often took no action to protect children or act swiftly against the criminal clergy: Pope Francis Was Often Quiet on Argentine Sex Abuse Cases as Archbishop.
HURLINGHAM, Argentina — Father Julio Cesar Grassi was a celebrity in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. The young, dynamic, media-savvy priest networked with wealthy Argentines to fund an array of schools, orphanages and job training programs for poor and abandoned youths, winning praise from Argentine politicians and his superior, Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Grassi called his foundation Felices los Niños, “Happy Children.”
Today, Grassi is a convicted sex offender who remains free on a conditional release after being sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2009 for molesting a prepubescent boy in his care.
Yet in the years after Grassi’s conviction, Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — has declined to meet with the victim of the priest’s crimes or the victims of other predations by clergy under his leadership. He did not offer personal apologies or financial restitution, even in cases in which the crimes were denounced by other members of the church and the offending priests were sent to jail.
…During most of the 14 years that Bergoglio served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, rights advocates say, he did not take decisive action to protect children or act swiftly when molestation charges surfaced; nor did he extend apologies to the victims of abusive priests after their misconduct came to light.
“He has been totally silent,” said Ernesto Moreau, a member of Argentina’s U.N.-affiliated Permanent Assembly for Human Rights and a lawyer who has represented victims in a clergy sexual-abuse case. Victims asked to meet with Bergoglio but were turned down, Moreau said. “In that regard, Bergoglio was no different from most of the other bishops in Argentina, or the Vatican itself.”
The Catholic Church has paid out at least $2 billion in the United States alone to settle abuse claims, according to monitoring groups. In many Latin American countries, though, the scope of crimes has only begun to surface, and in Argentina, no victims have received restitution in public settlements, rights groups and lawyers said.
The new Pope is a 76-year old cardinal from Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and he has chosen the name Francis.
And the official Pontifex Twitter account has been reactivated:
HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM
St. Thomas More Hospital, operated by Catholic Health Initiatives, argues its way out of a wrongful death lawsuit by claiming that fetuses are not people. The case is heading to the Colorado Supreme Court.
The lead defendant in the case is Catholic Health Initiatives, the Englewood-based nonprofit that runs St. Thomas More Hospital as well as roughly 170 other health facilities in 17 states. Last year, the hospital chain reported national assets of $15 billion. The organization’s mission, according to its promotional literature, is to ‘nurture the healing ministry of the Church’ and to be guided by ‘fidelity to the Gospel.’ Toward those ends, Catholic Health facilities seek to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Those rules have stirred controversy for decades, mainly for forbidding non-natural birth control and abortions. ‘Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death,” the directives state. ‘The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.’
The directives can complicate business deals for Catholic Health, as they can for other Catholic health care providers, partly by spurring political resistance. In 2011, the Kentucky attorney general and governor nixed a plan in which Catholic Health sought to merge with and ultimately gain control of publicly funded hospitals in Louisville. The officials were reacting to citizen concerns that access to reproductive and end-of-life services would be curtailed. According to The Denver Post, similar fears slowed the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth’s plan over the last few years to buy out Exempla Lutheran Medical Center and Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in the Denver metro area.
But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect ‘unborn persons,’ and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.
And lest we think that this is merely some legal trick conjured by the lawyers, the client had to approve this defense from the outset.
There are other potential methods of defending a malpractice suit in this case, but the hospital chain, and the Church official at the hospital chain who were involved in the decision, agreed that they would go against the stated church doctrine on abortion and treating a fetus as a person.
In this case, it was the monetary interests of defending the hospital against a malpractice suit to bring out the hypocrisy of the church on this matter. It also presents a test case to show the limits of church doctrine as it relates to health policy, abortion, and the treatment of pregnant women.
The Vatican is cracking down on American nuns who aren’t opposed to women’s rights and gay rights, which should surprise no one who’s been following the Catholic Church’s swing to the right.
WASHINGTON — The Vatican has launched a crackdown on the umbrella group that represents most of America’s 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination.
Rome also chided the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
Prepare to be even more appalled by the Catholic Church’s abuse of children than you may already be: Catholic Church Abuse: At Least One Youth Castrated for ‘Homosexuality’.
At least one boy under the age of 16 was castrated to ‘help’ his homosexual feelings while in Catholic church care in the 1950s, the NRC reported on Saturday.
But there are indications at least 10 other boys were also castrated, the paper said. The claims were not included in the Deetman report on sexual abuse within the Catholic church published at the end of last year.
The paper says the one confirmed case concerned a boy - Henk Heithuis - who reported being sexually abused by priests to the police in 1956. After giving evidence, he was placed in a Catholic-run psychiatric institution where he was then castrated because of his ‘homosexual behaviour’.
There are no words.
As a practicing Roman Catholic and Sunday school teacher, Stephen Colbert is especially well-suited to this ruthlessly funny deconstruction of the birth control controversy.
Unless I passed out under an enchanted tree and have been sleeping for decades without knowing, this is the year 2012, right? AD?
So why are we still fighting over contraception?
The controversy over the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision to eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood—and subsequent reversal— continues. Catholic leaders are blasting the health reform requirement that insurance plans to cover contraceptives. Commentator Mark Shields joined other liberals in blasting the provision, saying it could have “cataclysmic” fallout for President Obama come November.
Numerous pundits have predicted that the requirement —and its narrow exemption for churches — will be a political liability for Obama. But where Shields sees “cataclysmic” fallout, the White House sees something quite different: a chance to widen the reproductive health debate beyond abortion to issues like contraceptives, winning over key demographics of independent voters in the process.
And that could explain why the White House, alongside the Obama campaign, has engaged eagerly on the issues. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in USA Today earlier this week, praising the new provision. The Obama campaign meanwhile hasn’t been shy either, drawing up an infographic praising the new regulation. While there are some signs of a potential compromise for religious groups, the White House has made it pretty clear it plans to stand firm behind the current regulation.
But while Catholic leadership has blasted the new regulation, polls show that a majority of Catholics are actually more supportive of the provision than the rest of the country. A poll out Tuesday from the Public Religion Research Institute finds 52 percent of Catholic voters agreed with the statement, “employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost.” That’s pretty much in line with overall support for the provision, which hovers at 55 percent - likely because Catholics use contraceptives at rates similar to the rest of Americans.