The Watering Hole, Monday, February 18th, 2013: Pope-Pourri

Separated At Birth?

Separated At Birth?

On February 11th, Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger, aka Emperor Palpatine, announced that he was leaving the sinking ship giving up the leadership of the “Worldwide Catholic Church” (or NAMBLA), effective on February 28th, 2013. A papal conclave will soon be convened by the College of Cardinals to determine the next Pope, possibly by the end of March.

The New Yorker provides a few-holds-barred critique in John Cassidy’s blogpost “The Disastrous Influence of Pope Benedict XVI“, an interesting read which succinctly summarizes the regressive Papal policies of both Pope John Paul II (with then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s aid) and Pope Benedict XVI. I really recommend this article, as it clearly outlines the conflicting forces within the Church, which currently favor the conservative side.

I wholeheartedly agree with E.J. Dionne’s opinion piece from February 15th in the Washington Post, as he discusses why “The Best Choice for Pope?” is “A Nun.” As a veteran of 13 years of Catholic schooling, I can confirm that the nuns were more responsible for educating us in school subjects as well as religious subjects than any of the priests or the Monsignor of our parish. The nuns also set much better examples of Christ-like ideals and actions, as we all now know.

Yesterday, I signed a petition from Catholics United, urging Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the former Archbishop of Los Angeles, not to participate in the upcoming papal conclave.

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

From a Catholics-United Press Release on February 14th:

“WASHINGTON – After the stunning news that Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down effective Feb. 28, Catholics in Los Angeles are urging Cardinal Roger Mahony to stay home instead of participating in the election to determine the next pope. Mahony was recently stripped of his public duties for his part in a sex abuse cover-up while he led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Andrea León-Grossman, a Los Angeles member of Catholics United. “In the interests of the children who were raped in his diocese, he needs to keep out of the public eye. He has already been stripped of his ministry. If he’s truly sorry for what has happened, he would show some humility and opt to stay home.”

The Washington Post Editorial Board published a scathing piece on February 13th entitled “The Sins of Cardinal Mahony”; here’s a few excerpts:

“Eleven Americans will be among the 117 cardinals of the Catholic Church heading soon to Rome to select the next pope. One of them, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony…is lucky not to be in prison, for there is no dispute that he orchestrated what amounted to a cover-up of clerical sexual abuse in Los Angeles…the scale of the misdeeds in Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States, counts as a particular disgrace. And it is Cardinal Mahony, who resigned as archbishop two years ago, who oversaw the whole dirty business. For that he has been publicly censured by his successor.”

In response to his public rebuke, Cardinal Mahony, who has a master’s degree in social work, wrote that nothing in his training had alerted him to the risks involved in the sexual abuse of minors. How about common sense, respect for the law and a basic understanding of human beings?”

And, for the last word on this issue (for today’s thread, anyway), here’s Andy Borowitz.

This is our Open Thread. Your thoughts?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 13th, 2012: From Pipeline News to Politics in the Pews

Back in August of 2011, I wrote a piece here about the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and its possible deleterious effect on various ecosystems and landowners in its path.

Yesterday’s Washington Post contains several updates and stories of what has been going on more recently regarding the pipeline, both good and bad, under the overall title “Keystone: Down The Line.” The WaPo article includes several separate pieces (all of the individual stories can be accessed from the main WaPo link), including: the most recent re-routing of the Nebraska section of the pipeline–which will STILL cross the Ogallala aquifer; an ‘eminent domain’ ruling in Texas; protesters in Livingston, Texas; various stories about local residents who would be affected by the Pipeline; and Mitt Romney’s support of the Pipeline. The Romney article clearly demonstrates Mitt’s ignorance about how the oil market works, and the blatant misinformation with which he would try to ‘sell’ it to American voters.

In other news, Catholics United (a ‘liberal’ group of Catholics who seem to be much closer to ‘true Christians’ than the Teavangelists and other faux-Christians), in conjunction with another group called “Faithful Americans”, is circulating a petition which you may be interested in signing. Apparently, “A parish priest in the Archdiocese of New York publicly endorsed Mitt Romney for President by including pro-Romney partisan literature in his Sunday bulletin.” Part of this literature included the line, “”We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.” The petition is to be delivered to New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. While Cardinal Dolan “delivered the benediction at the Democratic and Republican conventions, he told reporters that he was there only to pray, not to endorse a candidate.” Cardinal Dolan needs to remind his parish priests that they are not allowed to endorse a candidate, and they are certainly not allowed to coerce their parishioners into voting for a particular candidate. The Separation of Church and State goes both ways: keep politics out of religion, and keep religion out of politics.

This is our open thread — what do you have to say for yourselves?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, June 14th, 2012: GOD WARS

The topic of Monday’s post was the the appearance that a local Baptist pastor had an active political agenda.

Now it’s the Catholics‘ turn.

I received this through an email from Catholics United:

Dear Jane,
I have been an active member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Washington, D.C., for more than 31 years. My faith is my bedrock; my parish is my home.That is why I am worried and deeply saddened to see partisan politics increasingly creeping into our faith community. A few months ago, I attended a meeting at our church when a fellow parishioner publicly expressed outrage that there were cars in the church parking lot that had “Obama bumper stickers.” The intensity of his tone and the fact that I had such a decal made me so uncomfortable that I left the meeting.

In this highly charged election season, the political attacks will only intensify. The “Fortnight for Freedom”* being organized by the Bishops because of their disagreements with the Obama administration should not be brought into our sacred space. They are asking pastors to preach about “religious liberty” and to distribute political statements inside our bulletins. ["...The Fortnight for Freedom campaign runs from June 21 to July 4. It features a variety of events designed to appeal to Catholics of all ages, from a Twitter campaign to a music festival at a winery to traditional Masses to the distribution of 10,000 car magnets promoting religious freedom. Two Kansas bishops have organized rallies in front of government buildings in Topeka and Wichita. Other dioceses are sponsoring conferences and public prayer. Bishops are also encouraging Catholics to pray briefly for religious liberty each day at 3 p.m. in a campaign they dub "A Minute to Win It!"]

But there’s hope. A group of parishioners at my church recently spoke to our pastor about our concerns and he is listening. Click here to find out what we’re doing.

We wrote our pastor a letter and asked him to reconsider our parish’s participation in the “Fortnight for Freedom”. We met with him and expressed our concern that this type of political activity was inappropriate and would cause divisiveness in our community. Our parish had always been a welcoming place where people of all different opinions joined together in worship, heard the Gospel message of Christ and found a source of spiritual strength. We are grateful that our pastor listened and feel that he has taken our concerns seriously.
As the mother of five, and the grandmother of nine, I worry whether these future generations will see the Church as a place that proclaims the expansive message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a place where they will find the abundance of God that will inspire them to go out and serve others in God’s name.
Faithfully,

Eileen Zogby
Parishioner
Blessed Sacrament Parish
Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB, “or NAMBLA”) are still getting their knickers in a twist about the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement; actually, they’re getting even more twisted. Not content with lobbying Congress, they are now marshalling their armies of pedophiles priests and their parishioners across the land. The more liberal (and Christian) folks at Catholics United believe that the bishops are wrong. But the USCCB is digging in its collective heels, just like the GOP, unless they get everything they want from The President of The United States of America.

What, the USCCB should compromise with the President of the United States of America?! “HELL, NO!”

Tax-Exempt Status?! FUCK, NO!

This is our daily open thread — comment on anything you want!

Oh, and Happy Flag Day.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 11th, 2012: Which Christ is more “Christian”?

I’d like to expand a little on a comment posted yesterday by Briseadh na Faire:

Many of the basic tenents of liberalism are summed up thusly:

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:35-36. But we refuse to give credit to the man who said those things, hence lose the “Christians”.

Give credit where credit is due – own up to following Christ’s teachings, whether or not one proclaims one’s self to be a Christian…

In other words, Liberals, who follow the teachings of Christ, need to take the evangelicals on, on their own ground. It is, after all, who we really are.

After reading this, I could not help but think of the contrast between what the pastor of a local church espouses, and what a particular Catholic organization espouses.

The pastor of the local Patterson, NY, Baptist Church, a Dr. Larry A. Maxwell, is the founder of an organization called Brighter_Future.us. In the “About Us” section on his website, Dr. Maxwell states that, under his ministry, the local Habitat for Humanity for Putnam County was established. Okay, that’s nice. On the other hand,

“Dr. Maxwell is one of the few men ordained to the ministry by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, Pastor of Thomas Rd. Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA. Dr. Falwell, was the founder of Liberty University and Moral Majority. Dr. Maxwell graduated from Liberty University in 1975 and was active in Moral Majority, one of the organizations that helped Ronald Reagan become President.”….”The Governor of Kentucky bestowed the title of Colonel upon Dr. Maxwell for his outstanding service.”

Check out what Dr. Maxwell lists as “5 Areas of Influence That Shape Our Society” – why, as a pastor, does Dr. Maxwell list “Government” first and “Religion” fourth? Note that, under #3, “Media“, Dr. Maxwell says: “Media has perhaps the greatest influence on all of us. We Need To: Encourage & Endorse media which presents fair & balanced news and avoid those which do not. Hmmm, I wonder whom he’s talking about? What’s also scary is that, while Dr. Maxwell is the head of the “Living History Guild” and is the official Town Historian for Patterson, NY, under #4, “Religion“, he claims that “Religion once provided a moral compass for our society. The overwhelming majority of our Founding Fathers were men of faith committed to Biblical moral principles.” Also note in #5, “Family“, “We Need To: Recognize marriage consists only as a union between a man & woman who make a lifelong commitment to each other before God & man.”

Dr. Maxwell’s list of “Necessary Qualities for Leaders” contains some pretty scary crap, too:

2. Belief & Dependence on the Divine God

Leaders must recognize the fallen state of man and his imperfections and the necessity of help from the Divine God for man to reach his full potential.

3. Love for Our Country

Leaders need a Commitment to the original intent of Our Founding Fathers & the documents they drafted such as; The Mayflower Compact, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. They must believe the best government is Limited Government, answerable to the people at all levels. Leaders must honor our history as it happened, not rewrite or redefine it.

4. Commitment to Family Values

Good leaders must recognize, embrace and encourage traditional family values.

6. Belief in Free Enterprise & Property Rights

Leaders must understand Free Enterprise & Property Rights are two important foundations. Government must encourage, not interfere with, nor over regulate, free enterprise & property rights.

And if any doubt was left that Dr. Maxwell and his group are dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, the list in the “Contacts and Links” section reads as a veritable who’s who of conservative/right-wing organizations, including The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, etc.

By contrast, take a look at the issues with which Catholics United concerns itself:

- trying to restore funding, denied by the US Catholics Bishops, to an immigrants’ rights group called Campaneros, which doesn’t discriminate against gays.

- speaking out against the U.S. Catholic Bishops and Catholic institutions who continue to fight the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act, despite the exemptions therein.

- Organizing against Paul Ryan’s budget because it does nothing to help the poor.

- Organizing alternative charitable organizations to counter the stripping of funding by U.S. Catholic Bishops.

It certainly seems to me that it is the people at Catholics United who are following the teachings of Christ (which all of us liberals follow in one way or another), rather than the pastor of the Patterson Baptist church. It makes one wonder if there is a different Christ within each human-authored version of the bible.

This is our daily open thread — comment on anything you want!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, April 19th, 2012: Good News/Bad News?

A few days ago I received an excited missive from James Salt at Catholics United. (I still don’t know why I’m on their email list.) The email read, in part:

We’ve got our party hats on at Catholics United HQ. Why?

Our organizing efforts are working. The Catholic bishops are beginning to speak out against Paul Ryan’s devastating budget cuts! Click here to read more.

To say the least, this is fantastic news!

If you are as surprised and as happy as we are, will you take a moment to call Cardinal Dolan’s office in New York City? Call him now at 212-371-1000. Here’s what we recommend you say:

First, thank the bishops for speaking out against Paul Ryan’s budget.

Then ask that they continue to fight on behalf of the poor and less fortunate.

It may have taken almost a month, but it’s great the bishops are finally standing up against the immorality of punishing the poor. Paul Ryan and his far-right cohorts need to understand that when they attack the poor, Catholics cannot–must not–remain silent.

At first I thought, “okay, that’s good news.” Then I read The Hill article to which the email had linked, and the second paragraph gave me pause:

In a letter sent to the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, the bishops say the budget fails to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.”

While the fact that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are speaking out against the Ryan budget IS a good thing, the fact that the USCCB has ‘certain “moral criteria”‘ by which it judges, and apparently influences, legislation, is NOT. Just look at the recent brouhaha over contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act, demonstrating the amount of power the USCCB can wield.

On the other hand, though, maybe it really IS more good than bad news. In defending his budget, Ryan reiterated and expanded on the reasoning behind it. From The Hill:

Ryan made the moral case for his budget in an interview last week with the Christian Broadcasting Network. He said government shouldn’t be responsible for lifting its citizens out of poverty — rather, that it’s the obligation of the citizens themselves to be society’s caretakers.

“A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,” Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in the interview. “So to me, using my Catholic faith, we call it the social magisterium, which is how do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person?

“Those principles are very, very important,” Ryan said. “And the preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life, help people get out of poverty, out into a life of independence.”

As an ex-Catholic, I have never heard of this “Social Magisterium” idea before. And, after reading up on it a little, I find the idea more than a little disquieting:

“The inviolability of human life in all stages of its development from conception to natural death, and in every condition of health and well-being, is primary because it reflects the life of God who is the source of human rights….The Church never yields to the violations of the right to life which continue to occur.

Society reveals its whole truth as a community of persons….The lay faithful’s apostolic duty in the temporal order is to be understood as service to persons, first expressed in marriage and family life. This duty to society can be fulfilled only with the conviction of the family’s unique and irreplaceable value in social and ecclesial development. As the basic cell of society, the family must receive primary concern in a time when egoism and its derivatives threaten to dry up the springs of life, and when ideologically inspired social systems try to usurp the family’s role in education….A vast cultural, economic, and legislative effort is needed in order to safeguard the family’s role in humanizing persons and society. This duty falls above all on lay people, who must obtain from public authority the respect and support family rights need in fulfilling that role. Saving the family will save society itself.”

According to another source,

“THE MISSION OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL MAGISTERIUM The Church’s mission belongs to the supernatural order…it does not interfere with legitimate temporal options nor support specific political programs…Nevertheless, the Church has a strict right–also a duty–to teach the moral aspects of the secular order, whether this be in politics, economics. or social matters…”

So, Paul Ryan believes that his Catholic faith and this “social magisterium” not only inform, but dictate, his legislative policies.

But the USCCB disagrees with Ryan’s interpretation of Catholic faith.

And Catholics-United.org, while they agree with the USCCB in this instance, has also called the bishops out on their focus on wedge issues at the expense of focusing on (what C-U believes are) the more essential and traditional aspects of Christ’s teachings.

I’m confused: how many versions of the Catholic church ARE there? And how much influence should any version have?

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind today?