Pope Francis – How To Suck At Damage Control


Pope Francis entered the Vatican with assurances of zero tolerance for sexual abuse within the Catholic church. Last month Francis realized a unsettling truth – talk is cheap, without tangible action blind faith has limits. When all the starch in a Pope’s hat isn’t enough to deflect sexual abuse scandal, the church is forced to react. In this case – 80 Chilean priests credibly accused or convicted of sex crimes, found Francis on a damage control flight to Santiago.

Pope Francis sucks at damage control. Oblivious to disgust simmering in bellies of Chilean faithful, Francis punctuated sympathy for abuse victims with praise for stoic clergy. In a display of hubris akin to Trump Tweets, Francis expressed –

“Pain too for the suffering of ecclesial communities, and pain for you brothers and sisters, who after working so hard, have seen the harm that has led to suspicion and questioning; in some or many of you this has been a source of doubt, fear or lack of confidence.” He said at times, some had even been insulted in the metro and that by wearing clerical attire they had “paid a heavy price.”

“Even been insulted in the metro” Francis? Did you just preface insult with even? Even, as in oh the unfathomable horror? Even, as in how dare anyone bruise egos of pious clergy? Even as outrageous reason to dispatch empathy for the “heavy price” Vatican soldiers “paid”? Even is not effective damage control. By the end of his first day in Chile, public disgust for all things Holy culminated in three Catholic churches torched and burned to the ground.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate mass at O'Higgins Park in Santiago on Tuesday. Three churches were set on fire during the first full day of the pontiff's historic visit.

Gag worthy disgust over “even been insulted in the metro” becomes clear once I explain what drives good Catholics to burn churches. Ponder Rev. Fernando Karadima, notorious Santiago sexual predator “forced” to retire in 2011 then sanctioned by the Vatican to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for sexual molestation of children. Wealthy, connected, elderly Karadima slithered away, his victims did not.

Enter Juan Barros, appointed Bishop of Osorno, Chile by Pope Francis in January 2015 despite considerable objection from local priests and leading Chilean Bishops. April 2015, members of the Pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors dispatched a delegation to Rome – purpose, to hand deliver a letter to Francis, an eight page victim impact statement written by Juan Carlos Cruz detailing abuse by Karadima. Abuse Cruz said Karadima protege Barros witnessed and condoned.

The delegation met Francis’ top advisor Cardinal Sean O’Malley, placed the letter in O’Malley’s hand on the promise O’Malley would personally deliver it to Pope Frances. “And at a later date, he assured us that that had been done.” – then commission member Marie Collins.Later in 2015 Frances visited Philadelphia, coincidentally home of abuse victim Cruz. Cardinal O’Malley contacted Cruz shortly after the Popemobile left Philly, O’Malley assured Cruz his letter was delivered to Francis.

From a Time article written by Nicole Winfield and Eva Vergara / AP – a good read at http://time.com/5133127/pope-francis-chile-sexual-abuse-coverup/

“Holy Father, I write you this letter because I’m tired of fighting, of crying and suffering,” Cruz wrote in Francis’ native Spanish. “Our story is well known and there’s no need to repeat it, except to tell you of the horror of having lived this abuse and how I wanted to kill myself.”

Cruz and other survivors had for years denounced the cover-up of Karadima’s crimes, but were dismissed as liars by the Chilean church hierarchy and the Vatican’s own ambassador in Santiago, who refused their repeated requests to meet before and after Barros was appointed.

After Francis’ comments backing the Chilean hierarchy caused such an outcry in Chile, he was forced last week to do an about-face: The Vatican announced it was sending in its most respected sex-crimes investigator to take testimony from Cruz and others about Barros.

In the letter to the pope, Cruz begs for Francis to listen to him and make good on his pledge of “zero tolerance.”

“Holy Father, it’s bad enough that we suffered such tremendous pain and anguish from the sexual and psychological abuse, but the terrible mistreatment we received from our pastors is almost worse,” he wrote.

Cruz goes on to detail in explicit terms the homo-eroticized nature of the circle of priests and young boys around Karadima, the charismatic preacher whose El Bosque community in the well-to-do Santiago neighborhood of Providencia produced dozens of priestly vocations and five bishops, including Barros.

He described how Karadima would kiss Barros and fondle his genitals, and do the same with younger priests and teens, and how young priests and seminarians would fight to sit next to Karadima at the table to receive his affections.

“More difficult and tough was when we were in Karadima’s room and Juan Barros — if he wasn’t kissing Karadima — would watch when Karadima would touch us — the minors — and make us kiss him, saying: ‘Put your mouth near mine and stick out your tongue.’ He would stick his out and kiss us with his tongue,” Cruz told the pope. “Juan Barros was a witness to all this innumerable times, not just with me but with others as well.”

“Juan Barros covered up everything that I have told you,” he added.

Chile Pope

From a balcony, protesters dressed as clerics gesture and display a banner saying: ‘I love pedophilia.’ (Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press)

Escalating protest in Chile didn’t stop Francis from feigning zero sex abuse tolerance, it didn’t occur to Francis steadfast defense of Barros presented a problem. Surely the pope knew abuse victim Cruz wasn’t content to suffer in silence, that 2 years past hand delivered Vatican mail Cruz shared his letter with many eyes. All Francis had to do was defrock Barros. Toss the faithful a bone, make a gesture, how hard is that?

Unwavering Francis left Chile without apology for calling accusations against Barros slander. On the plane home, confronted by reporters, the pope said: “You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward.” Excuse me Francis, are you playing the plausible deniability card? What fresh hell is this. Pardon me, I need time to recover from a laughing fit.

 

Advertisements

The Pope Is Fuming


The Catholic Church rarely crosses my mind, there are vastly more important issues to dwell on, but every so often a Vatican news ticker begs pondering. The headline tonight on Vice read “”Police Broke Up A Drug Fueled Vatican Priest Orgy”. Do tell .

I was hooked at “Monsignor The Pope is reportedly “fuming” after cops allegedly busted up a Vatican based, drug fueled, gay sex orgy in the apartment of a high-ranking priest.”

According to Vice, Italian media site Il Fanto Quotidiano was first to detail shenanigans at an apartment owned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A apartment inhabited by one of the Pope’s key advisors, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio. The apartment, also known as Palace of the Holy Office was reportedly raided following complaints by neighbors of odd behavior and “comings and goings” of visitors.

Police arrested Luigi Capozzi, an aide to Cardinal Coccopalmerio and reported party planner. Although arrested, Monsignor Capozzi hasn’t been charged. Vice did claim Capozzi was taken to hospital until such time as he could detox from drugs consumed at the soiree, it’s unclear if charges will ever be filed or if Rome will make it all go away. Il Fatto Quotidiano suggests Cardinal Coccopalmerio will likely face accelerated retirement in the wake of Capozzi’s arrest. Either way, the Pope is pissed.

Can’t you hear the “how could you be so careless” papal admonishments? The Pope has every right to fume. Long gone are glory days of do as I say, not as I do. Who do these sexually frustrated pedophiles think they are? Calling bullshit on numskulls doesn’t get much easier than this.

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/ywgpa5/police-broke-up-a-drug-fueled-vatican-priest-orgy

Pondering Pope Francis in Bolivia


Politely tuning out news from the Vatican serves as a proven method for avoiding ponders I might regret the next morning. Writing about the Catholic church is like beating a dead horse, it serves no purpose. Best intentions aside, every so often the Pope makes me queasy.

Nothing is simple, or as it seems in the halls of political and religious power.

Former ambassador Otto Reich, President George W. Bush’s Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, says Pope Francis’ economic and political agenda in his trip to Latin America has gone too far. “This pope grew up in a third world country that frankly is an example of what happens when you don’t have capitalism and democracy,” Reich says. “I was very optimistic when he was named and I have been extremely disappointed in the political and economic aspects of his papacy. … He’s a victim of third world education, and Argentina is a particularly sad example.”

http://time.com/3953802/pope-francis-bolivia/

Otto Reich is referring to the pontiff’s outspoken words over the last few days of his South American trip. Pope Francis doesn’t deserve an “Otto Reiching” yet he certainly has been busy. Apologizing to indigenous people –

“I would also say, and here I wish to be quite clear, as was Saint John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America”

Condemning economic and environmental exploitation –

“Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money,” he said. “Let us say no to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth.”

“Time, my brothers and sisters, seems to be running out; we are not yet tearing one another apart, but we are tearing apart our common home. Today, the scientific community realizes what the poor have long told us: harm, perhaps irreversible harm is being done to the ecosystem. The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pains, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called ‘the dung of evil.’ An unfettered pursuit of money rules.”

All this while strategically poking fires under the nose of Bolivian President Morales, who declared Bolivia a secular state in 2006, removing bibles and crosses from government buildings in an attempt to limit church power.

Bolivian President Evo Morales presents Pope Francis with a gift of a crucifix carved into a wooden hammer and sickle, the Communist symbol uniting labor and peasants in La Paz, Bolivia, on July 8.

Pope Francis receiving a hammer and sickle crucifix from Bolivian President Morales.

This all sounds great but we’ve heard it before. Pope John Paul II apologized to indigenous people in 1992. Correct me if I’m wrong but so what? Talk is cheap, did I miss action somewhere along the line? Obviously apology means something, someone needs to champion the poor and safeguard our environment. Queasy happens when that someone is arguably the most powerful religious leader in the world. Exasperating as the slickest politician,  able to raise hopes, command attention and walk away without lifting a finger.

 

 

 

Pope Spanky


Today Pope Francis solidified the Vatican stance on corporal punishment – smack your children, just don’t hit them in the face. Oh yeah – make sure your kids maintain “dignity”. The topic of his weekly general audience was “the role of fathers in the family”. Apparently a good father forgives but is able to “correct with firmness” – a really good father does so without “discouraging” the child.

“One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them,'” Francis said.

“How beautiful!” Francis remarked. “He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”

Never mind the Vatican’s signature on a United Nations human rights agreement protecting the rights of a child – a treaty that explicitly requires signatories to “take all measures, including legislative and educational, to protect children from all forms of physical or mental violence – including while in the care of parents.”

Vatican guidelines on hitting children remind me of Islamic instruction on how to beat your wife. Under Sharia Law, beatings are a sign of love, not hatred. As with the Vatican, men are not to hit wives in the face – apparently religion frowns on blackening eyes of women and children. (Linked below – Sharia does, and wife beating don’t s.)

http://thequrandilemma.com/uncategorized/women-under-sharia-law-the-dilemma-of-wife-beating-protocol

Pope Francis directed his comments at fathers – maybe Catholics know their place but I’m confused. Are mothers allowed to hit their kids, or is that role reserved for “father of the year”? How come men, regardless of fundamentalist faith get to beat women and children? What is it with these archaic imbeciles? Why do these men agree physical violence is warranted and justified, provided bruises are concealed and assailants convince themselves their victim maintained dignity?

I’ve had my fill of religious instruction on physical abuse. Pope Francis is delusional if he thinks the Vatican can play nice with the UN, then instruct “good fathers” to forgive children by hitting them with “dignity” anywhere but the face. Good fathers lead by example – praising a father for “forgiving” his child after a smacking, is pure unadulterated bat shit.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/02/05/world/europe/ap-eu-rel-vatican-spanking-kids.html?_r=0

Man of the Year


While at work the other night, a friend sent a text – in hind sight a rather mischievous one, as he knew I would drop my jaw. Time announcing Pope Francis as the 2013 man of the year didn’t sit well.

“For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs, and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is Time’s 2013 Person of the Year” 

Time’s reasoning alone makes me bristle. Their statement declares – plain as day – that the Catholic church has until now has been sitting in an ivory palace. You don’t say? To continue; Pope Francis is being honored for “balancing judgement and mercy” – holy crap, am I the only one throwing up in my mouth?

Truth be told – this ponderer was prepared to cut new Pope some slack. As self appointed masters of morality go, Francis presented himself as a whiff of fresh air. Silly me – his announcement of a committee to address issues of abuse; more accurately “education and counselling” for clergy incapable of keeping their hands off the choir boys – provided Bishops didn’t have to answer to anyone, made me gag. Way to man up Francis; that should be enough to stifle anguished children.

In fairness to Francis – he didn’t ask for Time’s decision.

President Obama, NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Syria President Bashar Assad, Iran President Hassan Rouhani, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gay rights activist Edith Windsor and Miley Cyrus were the other finalists. Taking some solace in rising above Ted Cruz and Miley Cyrus does little to settle me down; despite picking up the pieces of my blown mind that Cruz or Cyrus were considered even for a second.

Reminding myself Time is a media giant, one that prospers based on advertising worries me. Time executives deemed Francis the best cover story in terms of sales and ad dollars. Pondering what that tells us about society, look no farther than possible candidates Cruz, Cyrus, or Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – a close minded right wing fanatic, a vacant little twerker, and founder of a billion dollar empire – what’s so great about any one of them? In my wildest dreams, it eludes me how any of them made a lick of difference in the world – Pope Francis has millions upon millions of twitter followers; are “likes” and “followers” the new measure of a man?

Looking at the list since Time started featuring a “person” of the year in 1927, I find a few odd choices. Controversial at the time, but not – in my pondering opinion – as blatantly absurd. Adolf Hitler in 1938, Ayatullah Khomeini in 1979 – strange choices, chosen by Time for their “news worthiness”, good or bad. Fair enough Time if that’s how you gauge your picks, and explain yourselves for doing so.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Person_of_the_Year

I’m irked about Pope Francis because Time failed to make this distinction. On the heels of the Vatican’s recent announcement to create a committee for purposes of educating the clergy as to why sexually abusing children isn’t a good thing – an Inuit priest was under investigation for 80 counts of sexual offences involving children.

Time – give credit if and when it’s due – otherwise, explain yourselves accordingly. Who knows, maybe Francis is the Pope to purge the church of pedophiles; he has his work cut out, and global job fair to organize once parishes are swept clean. A Pope who managed  publicly to de-frock sexual criminals would indeed be a worthy person of the year. Until then – Time’s choice strikes me as plain silly. Silly, as in a desperate attempt to appeal to fundamentalist hogwash.

Pontiff Forms Commission on Sex Abuse


The Vatican has announced formation of a commission to protect young people from Catholic priests. To be fair; not all priests, just those with a fondness for “choir boys”. Spokesman, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston broke the news today; reportably a recommendation coming out of the Council of Cardinals meeting in Rome this week. Pope Francis, acting on the advice of his advisory council, gave the green light to “draft guidelines for prevention of abuse, developing training programs, advising on co-operation with law enforcement officials, and promoting care of victims of abuse”.

The as yet to be appointed commission members will be experts on sexual abuse and prevention. Up until now, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have been handling discipline for naughty priests. Cardinal O’Malley didn’t know if the commission would have authority over Bishops who cover up allegations of abuse by priests. The announcement comes on the heels of the church refusing  a United Nations request to provide information on how it dealt with abusive clergy.

Call me cynical but something smells fishy. I’ve pondered Pope Francis long and hard – my conclusion being, he might be a man willing to make some changes. On the surface this announcement reads like a step in the right direction. Peel back a few layers and I’m still astounded. The very fact that a commission needs to be formed in order to “educate” and “counsel” clergy leaves me speechless.

I have a novel idea – how about a zero tolerance policy? If the church truly wanted to send a message, wouldn’t it make sense to say “oh hell no” –  fiddle with children and you’re history. When a teacher interferes with a student they lose their job and face prosecution. If a coach, doctor or anyone in position of trust diddled about they would be slapped so fast their head would spin. Why do we allow the church to form commissions in order to educate their paedophiles – let them find counselling in jail.

Paedophiles are an insidious bunch – for starters they believe their actions are sincere and harmless. They’re beyond “education and counselling” – I would laugh if it wasn’t so tragic. How can intelligent people sit back and watch as the church throws out another bone? The only way to put an end to this epidemic is to squelch it at the source; society has no obligation to let the church clean it’s own house. At some point we have to say “enough”, you had your chance and blew it big time – now the law will see to it that young lives aren’t shattered.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/pope-francis-forms-commission-to-advise-on-sex-abuse-1.2452054

Pope Francis is assembling a panel of experts to advise him on sex abuse in the clergy.

Pope Francis is assembling a panel of experts to advise him on sex abuse in the clergy. (Max Rossi/Reuters)