Friday, January 6, 2012

My Take on the News: Sex; SNAP; and Slurs

A Los Angeles Bishop who fathered two children is in the news again. So is the 'pedophile priests' story. Closer to home, a judge in Minnesota is dealing with a memo that 'exposes' the Catholic Church as the force behind the slave trade, WWII, and the sinking of the Titanic.

No kidding.
  1. Los Angeles Bishop: Bad Behavior; Bad Example
  2. Different Rules for Special People?
  3. Catholics Sank the Titanic?
My faith isn't shattered by a misbehaving bishop, or accusations of skullduggery, malfeasance, and conspiracy. I became a Catholic when I learned that it's the outfit my Lord founded. I'm not likely to quit because some priests and bishops demonstrated that humans are able to sin.

1. Los Angeles Bishop: Bad Behavior; Bad Example

"Pope accepts resignation of LA bishop who fathered two children"
Marianne Medlin, CNA (Catholic Network Agency) (January 4, 2012)

"Pope Benedict publicly accepted the resignation of Los Angeles auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala on Jan. 4, after the bishop admitted to fathering two children.

"Archbishop Jose H. Gomez called the news 'sad and difficult' in a Jan. 4 letter to the faithful, explaining that Bishop Zavala informed him in early December that he is of the father of two teenage minor children who live in another state with their mother.

"Since 60-year-old Bishop Zavala submitted his resignation to the Pope, he 'has not been in ministry and will be living privately,' Archbishop Gomez said. Bishop Zavala oversaw the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, which is one of five in the archdiocese...."
The Vatican's reputation as a house of ill repute seems to come from some historical incidents - and America's solidly anti-Catholic cultural heritage. There really were stories about Popes who behaved badly. Some of them were true. Considering that we've had 266 Popes so far, that shouldn't be surprising. All priests and bishops are human beings; we're a fallen race, dealing with original sin; and that's another topic.

Here's some background:
"...[people born out of wedlock] were then, sometimes, debarred from ordination, but only because of a real or supposed depravity of life. Pope Urban II (1088-99) prohibited the ordination of the illegitimate offspring of clerics, unless they became members of approved religious orders. The Council of Poitiers, under Paschal II (1099-1118), extended this prohibition to all persons of illegitimate birth. These regulations were later approved by other popes and councils...."

"...the Council of Trent (Sess. 25, c. 15 de ref.) Decreed that the illegitimate children of clerics should be incapacitated from obtaining any kind of a benefice in the Church where their fathers held one; from rendering any service in said church; and from receiving any pensions on the revenues of the paternal benefice. This law is not established and laid down as a punishment for the person to whom it is applied. It safeguards the honour and dignity of Holy orders...."
("The Defect of Birth (illegitimacy)," The Catholic Encyclopedia, via (1907))
Maybe those decrees by the Council of Trent (December 3, 1545 - December 4, 1563) decrees about children of priests and bishops seems harsh. As the Catholic Encyclopedia article points out, it's not a punishment for someone born out of wedlock. On strictly practical grounds, it prohibited priests and bishops from starting a sort of personal dynasty within the Church. Another point: that "defect of birth" is, if anything, a criticism of the unmarried parents. And that's yet another topic.

Popes with one or more illegitimate children:
  • Pius II
    (Pope 1458-64)
    • Two
    • Before receiving Holy Orders
  • Innocent VIII
    (Pope 1484-92)
    • Two
    • During a "a licentious youth"
    • Before receiving Holy Orders
  • Alexander VI
    (Pope 1492-1503)
    • At least one
    • Before becoming Pope
    • Married his illegitimate daughter to Alfonso I d'Este
That's right: the Lucrezia Borgia. Alexander VI was Rodrigo Borgia before he became Pope, and "...Alexander continued as Pope the manner of life that had disgraced his cardinalate (Pastor, op. cit., III, 449 152)...." (Catholic Encyclopedia)
  • Did I miss some of the misbehaving Popes?
    • Quite possibly
  • Is their misbehavior okay?
    • No
  • Does it shake my faith?
    • No
As I've said before, considering the sort of miserable leadership we've had occasionally over the last two millennia, it's a wonder that the Catholic Church is still here. Applying Occam's Razor, I think the simplest explanation is what the Church says: the Holy Spirit is holding us up. And that's yet again another topic.

Do the actions of the Borgia Pope and a bishop in Los Angeles mean that the Catholic Church is always doing bad things? I don't think so, but not everybody shares my view:

2. Different Rules for Special People?

Yes, I know about the pedophile priests. Here's more of the same:
"SNAP refuses to obey court order for abuse documents"
Michelle Bauman, CNA (Catholic Network Agency) (January 4, 2012)

"A group claiming to advocate for clergy sex abuse victims says it will not comply with a court order asking it to turn over documents, amid concerns that it had received information in violation of a judge's gag order.

"The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, has said that it will refuse to submit to a judge's request for information involving allegations of sexual abuse against a Missouri priest.

"SNAP director David Clohessy told CNA on Jan. 3 that his organization should be held to a 'different standard' of transparency than Church leaders and dioceses, which he described as 'organizations that enable and conceal thousands of pedophiles to rape tens of thousands of kids.'..."
And there you have it: Catholic dioceses are "organizations that enable and conceal thousands of pedophiles to rape tens of thousands of kids."

Since SNAP are the 'good guys' and the Catholic Church are the 'bad guys' - from SNAP's point of view - it makes sense that 'good guys' shouldn't have to follow the rules. Again, from SNAP's point of view.

Moving on.

3. Catholics Sank the Titanic?

I am not making this up. According to a memo being processed by Minnesota courts, the Catholic Church was behind:
  • The slave trade
  • The sinking of the Titanic
  • World War II
  • The Holocaust
  • U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam
I don't take that seriously, but then: I'm a Catholic. And, if this outfit's beliefs run along the same lines as others, I'm either a dupe or part of the vast conspiracy.

Maybe that's part of the appeal of conspiracy theories: lack of evidence is 'proof' that the conspiracy exists, since 'they' must have destroyed the evidence. You can't argue with logic like that.

I suppose it's no surprise that a "Catholic Knight Witch Hunter" ordered the arrest of one of the attorneys involved:
"Judge orders Minnesota attorney arrested for slurs"
Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, via Chicago Tribune (January 4, 2011)

"A judge ordered the arrest of a Minnesota attorney with a small Wisconsin-based religious group who repeatedly made anti-Catholic slurs in court filings and failed to show up for a Wednesday hearing on whether she should be sanctioned for her statements.

"U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Nancy Dreher held Naomi Isaacson in contempt for her absence. Isaacson was already in contempt for failing to turn over documents in a long-running bankruptcy case involving a subsidiary of the Shawano, Wis.-based group, the Dr. R.C. Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology. Dreher said Isaacson will remain jailed until she produces the documents or gets someone else to do it...."
Bankruptcy, or anything to do with failing finances, is likely to be stressful for those involved. I've posted about emotions, reason, and how our brains are wired before:

Bankruptcy, Bias, and - Conspiracy?

Bottom line, emotions and reason don't play well together. That's why I think the judge's decision to wait until folks cooled down was reasonable. But I'm getting ahead of the story:
"...Dreher had ordered them to appear Wednesday to show cause why she should not sanction them for a memo they filed in November that the judge said was 'replete with unsupported and outrageous allegations of bigotry, deceit, conspiracy and scandalous statements against this court ... and bankruptcy courts in general.'

"The memo repeatedly referred to 'Nancy Dreher, the Catholic judge' and called her a 'black-robed bigot' and 'a Catholic Knight Witch Hunter.' It also called one trustee in the bankruptcy case a 'Jesuitess' and another trustee a 'priest's boy' and accused them of conspiring against the group, known as SIST.

"Ex-members describe the group, which is led by an Indian immigrant who goes by the name Avraham Cohen, as a cult. Its bankrupt subsidiary, Yehud-Monosson USA Inc., used to own gas stations and convenience stores...."
(Chicago Tribune)
I think it's possible for a judge, or anyone else, to be biased against some ethnic or religious group. But that doesn't mean that every judge trying a case involving someone from another ethnic group is a bigot. I've posted about over-generalization before.

"Catholic Beasts," "the Sword of the Church," and 'the Good Old Days'

In a way, the memo in question reminds me of 'the good old days' of anti-communist goofiness, and the radio preachers of my youth:
"...'Across the country the court systems and particularly the Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota, are composed of a bunch of ignoramus, bigoted Catholic beasts that carry the sword of the church,' the memo said.

"Dreher was indignant as she read aloud from that document and from the replies Isaacson and Nett filed last month in response to her threat of sanctions.

"Isaacson, who identifies herself as chief executive of SIST and president of Yehud-Monosson, wrote that the attorneys weren't calling Dreher a member of the Roman Catholic Church when they called her a Catholic judge.

" 'It is referring to a mentality and an adherence to a universal creed of White Supremacy,' she wrote...."
(Chicago Tribune)
"White Supremacy?" Given what these folks believe, that actually makes sense:
"...The response from Nett, who represents Yehud-Monosson, took a similar tone, alleging that Catholics and the Jesuit order were behind the slave trade, the sinking of the Titanic, World War II, the Holocaust and U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam...."
(Chicago Tribune)

'I am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been, a Catholic?'

I remember the 'good old days' when America was flushing McCarthyism out of its system. The often-spoofed "I am not now, nor have I ever been - - - " is an echo of a Congressional committee's all-too-familiar question: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?"

That's one reason I'm glad 'the good old days' aren't coming back, and that's almost another topic. On the other hand, swap out some other term for "communist party," and this response looks rather familiar:
"...[judge] Dreher wrote in an order last month that she has never been Catholic and is 'not of any particular faith.' She said Wednesday in court that her religious views are not relevant to the case.

"The judge did not order Nett jailed, though she said Nett had made no effort to determine whether any of the accusations made against her or other court officials were accurate. And she pointedly noted that Nett had not apologized in writing or during her oral remarks in court.

" 'Sometimes that is really important,' Dreher said.

"Nett told her the November document was an 'emotional outburst' written by Isaacson and she 'wasn't trying to condone that' when she filed it on behalf of the company. She argued against disciplinary action, saying sanctions are meant to prevent a repeat of similar actions in the future.

" 'This is a one-of-a-kind case, and I don't see this happening again ever,' she said...."
(Chicago Tribune)
I think Nett may be overly-optimistic about this being "a one-of-a-kind case."

"Army of Oppression" and All That

The notion that the Catholic Church runs governments or industries, and is responsible for all that is icky, is fairly common. Take the crackpot-Protestant elements out, and you've got something that's pretty close to political correctness. I've been over this before:

Conspiracy Theories and the Archivum Secretum Vaticanum - Online

Sincere, intense, anti-Catholic views are part of American culture. I suspect that as long as human beings are the way we are now, some folks will probably believe that 'Jesuit Ruling Priests of Baal,' or some other 'conspiracy,' are behind whatever they don't like.

I think today's information technology, and so many folks having access to so much information, makes it harder to paint the Catholic Church as some mysterious menace.

Between the Vatican's Archivum Secretum Vaticanum (Secret Archives) having its own website (, broadcasts in Radio Vaticana's 38 languages, and folks having direct access to many Catholic documents online - someone who is seriously curious about the Church can learn quite a great deal.

Granted, not all documents archived at the Vatican are in a searchable database: yet. We've been around for about two millennia, with a written tradition that goes back to around the time writing was invented: and the Internet is no more than a few decades old.

Give us time, though - - - and that's still more topics.

Fulton Sheen, on Hating the Catholic Church

"There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church - which is, of course, quite a different thing."
(Bishop Fulton Sheen, Foreword to Radio Replies Vol. 1, (1938) page ix, via Wikiquote)
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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.