Friday, April 29, 2005

What An Idiot!!

When the going gets tough, George W. Bush gets moronic. From his prime time press conference performance last night, the White House puppet apparently believes his downward spiraling numbers will be reversed if he goes on television and claims with smiles and smirks that he's upbeat and that he's been right about all the issues he's been wrong about. I stopped counting when his mispronouncing nuclear hit five times. This particular word has become an act of defiance for him. It's his private little show of contempt for intelligence and education. It's his way to prove he will never ever admit he's wrong. He will never ever modify any behavior or any idea. He can't. We have a president who has anointed himself infallible. Once again, news outlets will report today that GWB's approval rating has slipped, that most people think his plan for social security is stupid and that the situation in Iraq has gone from being a quagmire to being a morass. But the big news will be that GWB is upbeat and that, as of last night, he is still convinced he's been right about everything. At least he let us know once for all that the last thing he desires is for Social Security to become solvent. He hates everything about FDR's Social Secuity plan. He has always hated Social Security. For years he's claimed it's going broke. And for the past year his mantra has been that Social Security will be broke by 2041. Which is a transparent lie. But last night, Bush finally gave voice to his irrational hatred of Social Security. He was asked if a plan were put forward that would make Social Security solvent, would he support it? He said, No, he would not support any plan unless it incorporated private accounts. GWB doesn't give a damn about making Social Security solvent. He wants to dismantle it and replace it with his own cockamamie program for people to invest in private accounts--a plan that would mainly benefit people who have plenty of money to invest. Just ask the people in Chile where privatizing social security is now in effect. Only those who have been able to invest mega-amounts of dough have realized the benefits that were so highly touted when Chile began its privatizing plan for retirees. The poor are up the creek. Of course, in the US, our Congress could always commit the country to bailing out people if private accounts don't work for the poor. But that would put our deficit spending even more in the red than it is today. And it also would be an admission by the GOP that privatizing Social Security is a red-hot idea only for the rich. Last night, in addition to the smirking and the drooping left side of his face, the Prez added a couple new quirks to his public persona. He's talking fast and seems hyper. Does the President know he's on speed? Or are they telling him the new pills are vitamins?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pope Says He Didn't Want the Job

Yesterday, the head of the Roman Catholic Church addressed disciples from Germany in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican and said that when the trend of the balloting during the recent election showed “in a manner of speaking, the guillotine would fall on me”, he started to feel dizzy at the thought. "I told the Lord with deep conviction, 'Don't do this to me. You have younger, better candidates with more elan and strength.'” Disingenuous as this admission was from a man who has known for five years he would be the next Pope and who actively sought the role, at least he didn't use Jesus' words, “Father, let this cup pass from me.” He also promised he would take steps to unite Christendom. Which must be one of those things mere mortals can't understand and that the RCC calls a “mystery”. Because Ratz has always claimed that churches that do not have “a valid Episcopate [bishops] and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery are not Churches in the proper sense." It's just one more instance of the RCC and the GOP being mirror images of each other. They both say to their flocks, “Listen to what I say, pay no attention to what I do.” Yesterday Pope Ratz sounded like George W. Bush when the Prez talks about freedom and peace in the Middle East. Ratz also seems to say, If you want to be saved, shut your eyes, turn off your brain and listen to me. And they both obliviously sail on, despite the negative consensus from the people. Speaking of that, this morning's WaPo/ABC News poll indicates that the majority of the 1007 people surveyed think the White House is doing a crappy job: By a 2 to 1 ratio, the public rejected easing Senate rules on filibuster. 64 percent disapproved of the job Bush is doing on Social Security. Nearly two in three said DeLay should step down. GWB's job approval rating is 47 percent. Two-thirds disapproved of the GOP energy policy. 58 percent said the United States has gotten bogged down in Iraq. Only 12 percent cited terrorism as the top issue. But Bush remains upbeat. Only those who are mentally impaired and dependent on mood-elevators can remain upbeat when the ship is sinking.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Oh looky here: Associated Press says, “President Bush is seeking relief from record-high gas prices and support for Middle East peace as he opens his Texas ranch to Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer.“ Remember Crown Prince Abdullah? He is the half-brother of Saudi Arabia’s incapacitated King Fahd who had a major stroke in 1996. Prince Abdullah is the defacto leader of Saudi Arabia. Remember King Fahd? He had 100 wives and god knows how many sons. Remember Crown Prince Bandar? Bandar’s father is Prince Sultan, half-brother of Crown Prince Abdullah. Bandar’s mom was a servant and Prince Sultan didn’t recognize him as kin until he was a teenager. But never mind, Bandar had his own agenda, which was to become as Western as possible and to ingratiate himself with the Bush family. Which, the little Arab bastard did to a fare-thee-well. As a regular overnight guest in both the White House and the Bush residences in Crawford and Kennebunkport, Prince Bandar became “family” to the Bushes. And he became Georgie Bush’s rich fun-loving best friend and advisor about petroleum profits. Remember this news story from Reuters? It appeared April 18th, last year. "Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, promised President Bush the Saudis would cut oil prices before November to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day, journalist Bob Woodward said in a television interview Sunday." Prince Bandar was supposed to keep oil prices at $40 a barrel. Today, the projection for the rest of 2005 and 2006 is $50 a barrel. No matter. Bandar was only supposed to talk gibberish up to the election. Everyone knew he had no actual power. So now Georgie Bush is going to kiss a little Number-One-Son ass. The good-time-Charlie GWB saw as his opposite number in the Arab world isn’t useful anymore. And Abdullah doesn’t have to actually lower oil prices either. This show of down-home hospitality in Crawford, TX is just that. A show. Oh…and what was that other thing? Bush wants Prince Abdullah to know that GWB supports peace in the Middle East. Remember the Middle East? What with all the pageantry and lies coming out of the Vatican, that peace and freedom in the Middle East crap has gotten short shrift. So how’s peace and freedom working out? As of yesterday, 1571 American soldiers have been killed. The insurgency has not been stopped. The White House (Rove), which promised to keep its controlling global interventionist mitts off Iraq, gave VP Cheney and Secretary of State Rice new Iraq orders. And they did what they were told to do. They phoned Iraq's new president, Jalal Talabani, and ordered him in no uncertain terms to get a move on and get his new government formed and up and running ASAP. So much for letting them rule themselves. Apparently, the GOP is so transfixed with googling at its own reflection that it hasn’t noticed the latest trend. Most people in the USA are so disgusted with the religious right, with Senate Majority Leader William Frist and with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay that elections in 2006 and a chance to get rid of these clowns can’t come soon enough.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Pope Pledges Openness

Translation: Pope Benedict XVI will be just as hard line, stubborn and bigoted as he was when he was Cardinal “God's Rottweiler” Ratz. But now he will use more florid weasel words. The old Ratz wrote a letter to US bishops in June 2004. He said that strong and open supporters of abortion should be denied communion because they were guilty of “a grave sin.” He said, “an unambiguously pro-abortion" politician "is not fit" to receive communion”. The letter went on to elaborate that a priest must refuse to distribute communion “in the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia law.” (He meant John Kerry and the world knew he meant John Kerry.) He also said that if a voter voted for a candidate because the candidate was pro-abortion, the voter "would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy communion.” Please note: the word pro-abortion is Ratz's word. No politician and no thinking person is pro-abortion. However, believing that the choice must be available is an issue that politicians and thinking persons can rally behind. Using the word pro-abortion is inflammatory and inaccurate. On September 6, 2000 the old Ratz said that Protestant churches must not be referred to as “sister churches”. They should be called ”ecumenical communities”. His reason, he said, was because churches that do not have a "valid Episcopate [bishops] and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery are not Churches in the proper sense." This is a core Ratzinger belief. How can he say he is going to reach out to unify all Christians when he believes that non-Catholic Christian churches have no validity? In 2001, the old Ratz said the Church is waiting for the moment when Jews will “say yes to Christ.” When asked if Jews should acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, Ratzinger said, “We believe that. The fact remains, however, that our Christian conviction is that Christ is also the Messiah of Israel.” In the eyes of the RCC, Judaism has been kaput and invalid for 2000 years. Ratz's note to self: Scratch non-Catholic churches and Judaism for the reaching-out thing. More Cardinal Ratz Quotes: “It is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.'' Translation: If you're lucky and if you mind your P's and Q's, God may grant you grace. But the only sure way to avoid going to hell where you will roast for all eternity is to be in God's religion, Roman Catholicism. “That the Jews are connected with God in a special way and that God does not allow that bond to fail is entirely obvious. We wait for the instant in which Israel will say yes to Christ, but we know that it has a special mission in history now ... which is significant for the world.'' Translation: God hasn't stamped out the Jews yet, which proves he's very forgiving, but God revealed to me he wants them to convert. They are safe for now, but God and I cannot guarantee they will be safe for long. “In the Church, priests also are sinners. But I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower.” Translation: Americans have made up lies about pedophile priests. If there are any pedophile priests in the RCC, which there probably are not, the Vatican supports them and we have decided there are fewer of them than statistics prove there are, if there are any, which there probably are not. “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.'' Translation: This statement is almost impossible to translate or to cast in words that make any sense whatsoever. However, Ratz seems to be saying that homosexuals are in error and aren't thinking correctly. And while they are living the homosexual life they are morally evil. When they change, and they can change by thinking correctly, the RCC will accept them. Then, the RCC will tell God it's okay for him to accept them too. Twenty years ago, Ratz said, referring to homosexuals, “Above all, we must have great respect for these people who also suffer and who want to find their own way of correct living. On the other hand, to create a legal form of a kind of homosexual marriage, in reality, does not help these people.'' Translation: Gays hate themselves almost as much as we hate them. All gays want to be straight. Therefore, giving them equal status with straight people would not help these sociopaths who God and I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot shepherd's hook and surgical gloves anyway. Ratzinger's words will become increasingly more confusing, obtuse and hard to parse as time goes by. But the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI will not move a micrometer from the teaching of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

Friday, April 22, 2005

New Pope Lies From the Getgo

On April 20th, the day after Joseph Ratzinger became the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church, he said he would work to unify all Christians and reach out to other religions. No he won’t. He can’t. Papa Ratzi (as a Brit rag called him) is more conservative than JPII. JPII made Ratz the prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith because he knew he would safeguard and promote JPII’s policies. Ratz does not intend to change any of the ideologies of the RCC that rankle churchgoers in other religions. He’s not going to say the Jews are right that the Messiah has not yet come. He’s not going to tell Protestants they are right that pro-choice is a righteous concept. He’s not going to tell Muslims that believing in the words in the Koran is just as good as believing in the Bible. Ratz will only give lip service to unifying Christians and reaching out to other religions. He will spend his time in popedom trying to convince all Christians and those in other religions that they are sinning and should convert and that only Jesus Christ can save a sinner from hell. This is what he has to teach. This is what being Pope entails. What act would the Vatican allow Ratz to carry out that would unify all faiths? Nothing. He can DO nothing. He can only talk about it. He can’t take any action. He can't produce any encyclical or enact any canon law that would actually have the effect of unifying all religions. And that is because the Roman Catholic Church has a core belief that all religions other than Roman Catholicism are in error. You may hear some lofty and high-flown ideas from Papa Ratzi, but you won’t get any substantive actions to back it up. This is what Benedict XVI won’t do: He won’t say that the world has become overpopulated and it’s a good thing to use contraceptives. He won’t say that the RCC must try to alleviate suffering in the world and that it will use its considerable resources and money to get behind any and all efforts to counteract starvation, genocide, and the spread of disease. He won’t say that the ongoing sexual excesses of priests in the RCC has been aided and abetted by the Vatican and it has to stop. He won’t say that your belief in God is more important than man-made rules about God. And he surely won’t say that a Pope is only a man whom God loves as he loves any other human being, but no more than any other human. He won’t say that all religious leaders HOPE for the guidance of God but no religious leader can know for sure he has gotten God’s message. He won’t say God loves and respects all religions equally. The new Pope will do nothing to unify all Christians and all religions because Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church won’t allow it.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

David Brooks Is Talking Out His Ass (Again)

This morning, in his NYT Op/Ed piece, David Brooks says Harry Blackmun did us all irreparable harm when he wrote the US Supreme Court's majority opinion that a woman's decision to have an abortion was a matter between her and her doctor and not a matter for state courts to decide. To recap who was on the Supreme Court in January 1973 and who voted for what regarding Roe v. Wade: It was a seven-to-two decision. Those who were for it were Harry Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Chief Justice Warren Burger, William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Lewis Powell and Potter Stewart. Those who were against were William Rehnquist and Byron White. Six Justices wrote opinions on that historic decision: Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Justice Potter Stewart, Justice William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Justice William O. Douglas, Justice Byron R. White. According to David Brooks, the Supreme Court should have refused to hear the case. And the decision on whether a woman could have a legal abortion or not should have been left up to the legislators of 50 separate states. And, according to David Brooks, if each of our 50 states had the power to decide whether a woman owned her body or the state legislature owned her body, then we would have no divisive political uproar about abortion, and everything would be ducky. So in Texas, if a woman had an illegal abortion and the right-to-lifers wanted to jail her and sentence her to death, that would be fine, right Mr. Brooks? And in any pro-Bush, anti-abortion state, if a 12-year-old girl is raped by her father and gets pregnant, according to Brooks rules, she would have to carry the baby to term, just like the Roman Catholic Church says. But if she lived in a pro-choice state, she could get a morning-after pill immediately and not wait to find out if she was pregnant. Just the breaks of where you live, right, Mr. Brooks? Oh well. You can't talk sense to idiots. It's only a matter of time until it comes out that a high-profile anti-abortion loudmouth's daughter got an abortion because the loudmouth was faced with the reality of an unwanted pregnancy in a teen-ager. Wait for it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Joey Ratz: The Pope the RCC So Richly Deserves

I wish I'd thought up Joey Ratz, but it's Jon Stewart's. It's so Italian, though, don't you think? Hard to believe Joey Ratz is German. Joseph Ratzinger, um…Benedict XVI, is the first German Pope since…well, no one is really clear about that. There was Hadrian VI (1522-23) but the Vatican says he was actually a Dutchman. And there was Stephen IX (1057-58) but he came from Lorraine, and France and Germany changed hands so often that who knows who was German and who was French back then? But then there was Victor II, a nobleman (Gebhard of Dollnstein-hirschberg) who was pope for only two years--1055-1057. And Gebhard was a real German. He was a native of the Black Forest. Within two months of putting on his pope hat and taking the name Victor II, he condemned clerical marriages. That may come as a surprise to anyone thinking the RCC has always made celibacy a requirement. But from 313 AD-- the official start of the Christian religion--until clerical marriage was declared invalid in 1139, the marriage of priests was not forbidden. We can thank the last German Pope, Victor II, for starting the ball rolling. So. The man they called Pope John Paul II's “rottweiler” is now Pope himself. At least there won't be any surprises. Joey Ratz has been running the Vatican ever since John Paul II admitted he had Parkinson's back in 2001. This morning, I heard an idiot on the radio intone that “a new era for the Catholic church” has begun with the election of Benedict XVI. What new era? Even though today the newspapers are full of descriptions of Joey Ratz as being kind, shy, soft of voice, a great thinker, a great humanitarian…fuhgeddaboudit. Unless Benedict XVI says condoms should be used to fight the scourge of AIDS in the third world, unless he says our overpopulation is causing death and misery in the world and must be slowed down, unless he says women own their own bodies and the Vatican needs to butt out, unless he says popes are far from infallible, unless he says the RCC has been woefully remiss about condemning pedophile priests, and unless he says the RCC henceforth will not insinuate itself into politics, then we know it will be business as usual at the Vatican. If you think the Vatican was rigid, uncompromising, smug, unmoved by world suffering and power-mad under John Paul II, just wait til Joey Ratz clarifies his vision for the Roman Catholic Church.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The RCC and GOP Have to Muck Out Their Own Stables

It doesn't much matter what opponents to rigidity in the Vatican and corruption in the Republican Party say. Both institutions have to reform themselves. If that happens, there is hope for the Roman Catholic Church and the Republican Party. If it doesn't happen, both have been so weakened by their greed for power that they will collapse. One of the peculiarities of our world is that both the RCC and the GOP use the sophistry of dictators: Power equals moral superiority. Nothing equals moral superiority except being morally superior. And both the RCC and GOP are immoral. Whether you believe in a personal God that issues demerits for wrongdoing, or you believe that cooperating with positive energies makes life easier, there are universal concepts of immoral behavior, which cannot be denied: Lying is wrong. Deceiving is wrong. Cheating is wrong. Molesting children is wrong. Claiming that man-made rules are God-made is wrong. Protecting the rich and violating the poor is wrong. Unfunded mandates are wrong. Taking advantage of the elderly is wrong. Denouncing sinners while one is sinning is wrong. Claiming God supports any group is wrong. Claiming to speak for God is wrong. And the end never justifies the means. That concept is always wrong.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Last-Gasp Frenzy

Whenever the leaders of religious or political movements feel threatened, they become extreme, support wild rhetoric, and formulate positions that are oppressive and totalitarian: Stalin, Hitler, Calvin, Joe McCarthy, Jerry Falwell, Gov. George Wallace, David Koresh and James Jones, to mention a few. To that list we can add The Roman Catholic Church and the Republican Party. Despite demands from their constituents for moderation, both the RCC and the GOP are forging ahead with policies that the majority of Catholics and American voters are against. A recent Gallup poll shows that 78 percent of American Catholics want the next pope to allow Catholics to use birth control, 63 percent say he should let priests marry, 59 percent believe he should have a less strict policy on stem cell research, and 55 percent think the next pope should allow women to become priests. And in Europe the way Europeans view the Vatican is no better. This morning in the WaPo, George F. Will said, “Vatican City is 109 acres of faith in a European sea of unbelief.” A Gallup poll on April 1 showed that 48 percent disapproved of the way George Bush is handling his job as President, 54 percent disapproved of the way he's handling the situation in Iraq, 55 percent disapproved of the way he's handling the economy, 57 percent disapproved of the way he's handling Social Security, and 53 percent disapproved of the way he handled the Schiavo case. And yet, next weekend in an excess of error in judging support for both religious fanaticism and White House policies, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), will engage in a telecast sponsored by the Family Research Council to rally the far-right to “rein in our out-of-control courts.” Frist says Bush's judicial nominees are being blocked “because they are people of faith and moral conviction…we must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith." The RCC and the GOP justify being out of touch with mainstream thinking because they are in a position of power and they can do whatever they want. So, what're ya gonna do about it? The folks have already done what they're gonna do. They've turned their backs on Catholicism and are worshipping in other churches. And voters have turned away from the GOP in disgust and embarrassment. When will the RCC and GOP realize their pews are empty? When only the people on their payroll bother to show up.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Turns Out, the Pope Is Infallible Only Sometimes

The trick is to know when those times are. And the Roman Catholic Church is the arbiter of infallibility. Avery Dulles, the major pope-dogma expert says the pope is infallible only when he's teaching “faith and morals” ex cathedra (from the chair). That is, when the Pope is speaking for God as head of the church, then he's infallible because he has “divine assistance”. When the pope is making pronouncements on things that don't pertain to faith and morals, he's as apt to talk out his ass as the rest of us. Trouble is, there's no playbook to tell us how to know when he's not teaching faith and morals. And the RCC has typically covered its ass by saying, ”…if anyone presumes to contradict this definition of Ours (on infallibility), which may God forbid: let him be anathema (excommunicated)”. But the RCC has made it clear that infallibility is irrevocable--a pope can't undo previous infallible statements from infallible popes. And canonization is infallible and irrevocable. That's why a dispatch from Vatican City in 1947 and a news flash from the Vatican in 1969 caught the faithful unawares. On January 18, 1947, a Vatican City dispatch said, "...the Vatican's new official directory has dropped six popes from its old list. It placed two others in doubt, as possible anti-popes and listed as a true pope one who had not been included until now... Information was changed on 74 popes. The changes ranged from corrections in the dates of their pontificate to the assertion that one of them, Pope Dono II, who was listed as pontiff for three months in the year 973, never really existed..." In 1969, Pope Paul VI revised the canon of saints and dropped 200 from the liturgical calendar. Saints Philomena, George, Christopher, Nicholas, Ursula and Valentine were among those “dropped”. Now that doesn't mean they were cast out. It just means they were discredited. The RCC says that some of their saints never existed, but you can go ahead and pray to them. Being dropped means you're put on a “local” and therefore less important list. The same RCC that says a zygote is a baby says that a saint who was never born can be venerated like a saint who lived. Whether you can be kicked out of sainthood or not is a matter of semantics in the RCC. If you were actually canonized, then you can't be kicked out…remember, the RCC is never wrong. So a canonized saint who never actually existed is taken off the official liturgical calendar but is still considered worthy of respect. Felix II, who was listed as a saint and as a pope from 363 to 365 wasn't actually removed from the Pope list, he got an asterisk--which is worse--he's an anti-pope (read, he became pope by illegitimate means). The thing you must never forget about the Roman Catholic Church is that the truth is unimportant and has no meaning. An encyclical trumps the truth because in the language of the Vatican, an encyclical makes a lie the truth.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

St. Veronica Didn’t Exist--RCC Displays Her Hanky Anyway

Okay. It isn’t actually a hanky, it’s a veil. The Veronica who didn’t exist is the one in the Roman Catholic Church-sponsored legend who wiped the sweat from Jesus’ brow with her veil as he toiled along the streets of Jerusalem carrying his cross to Calvary. The veil was said to have retained the image of Jesus’ face and Veronica later cured emperor Tiberius (14-37 AD) from something unspecified with a touch of the veil. The legend says Veronica left the veil in the keeping of Clement I (fourth Pope-88-97) and it’s been in the Vatican’s vault ever since. There is no mention of Veronica in the Bible. She is a figment of the RCC’s fertile imagination. However, the legend is commemorated in the RCC Stations of the Cross. She was made a Saint. And her veil is kept in a vault in the Vatican where it’s trotted out once a year for pilgrims to view and venerate. The non-existent Veronica’s feast day is July 12. Now here’s where the story gets really bizarre. The veil of a woman who never was, disappeared from the Vatican in 1608. No problem. The ever-creative RCC substituted a fake veil for the fake real veil of a fake saint so as not to disappoint the faithful. But the fake real veil of this non-existent woman has recently reappeared. Since the razzmatazz about The Shroud of Turin caused no end of agida to religious historians, the story of the reappearance of Veronica’s veil is getting the hairy eyeball. And now we’re hearing that the veil is real and that the legend of Veronica (the name means “true image”) was invented to explain the existence of the veil. Uh-huh, uh-huh. Well…that surely explains everything except the RCC’s wildass lies invented to bamboozle the gullible faithful. As they say in Latin: Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. One more thing. There is another Saint Veronica. She is Saint Veronica of Binasco who died in 1494. Her feast day is January 13.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Doctrine of Apostolic Succession: More RC Hokum

In Roman Catholic and Orthodox theology, the Doctrine of Apostolic Succession is based on the premise that Jesus promised to be with the apostles “always until the end of the age”. The unbrokenness of the apostolic succession is important. If there were any disruption it would mean Jesus' promise had not been kept. The Apostolic Succession Doctrine maintains that the authority of the church went directly from Jesus to Peter who, it is said, became the Bishop of Rome, and then to every Bishop of Rome (Pope) for the last 2000 years. However, if just one of those links in the glory chain from Jesus is not legitimate, if only one of those popes between Peter and the late John Paul II became pope by false means, then the whole doctrine of apostolic succession is thrown into a cocked hat. What are we to make, then, of the grisly facts about the following 9th and 10th century popes? John VIII (872-82) was bludgeoned to death by his own entourage, Stephen VI (896-7) was strangled, Leo V (903) was murdered by his successor Sergius III (904-11), John X (914-28) was suffocated, Stephen VIII (939-42) was tortured and mutilated. Powerful Italian families--the Theophylacts, the Crescentii, the Tusculani, put most of these men in power. John X was deposed and then murdered by the Theophylacts, who had appointed him in the first place. The head of the Theophylact clan, Marozia, was the one who appointed John X to Pope and eventually had him deposed. In addition, she appointed Leo VI (928) and Stephen VII (928-31) to Pope. She was the mistress of Pope Sergius III and she appointed her illegitimate son by Sergius III to pope. He became John XI (931-6). Like Leo VI, Stephen VII was elected while Pope John X was still alive and in prison. John's appointment and removal from office by Marozia was not valid. Neither the election of Leo nor of Stephen was valid which meant they weren't genuine popes. Plus, the appointment of a pope's son to the office of pope by his mother makes the word invalid something of an understatement. If the Roman Catholic Church wants to make the preposterous claim that from St. Peter to John Paul II the popes are an unbroken line of holy men passing the true word of God from one to the next, then the RCC must expect historians to reveal that the claim is a lie. To amuse ourselves while we wait for the election of the next pope, what RCC fairy tale do you want to hear tomorrow? I like the one about Jesus' mother's mother and father. The RCC says that Mary's mother and father were named Ann and Joachim. And that Mary was conceived in the normal way, but at the moment of conception God infused into Mary's soul so that Mary would not experience the slightest stain of Original Sin and would be a pure vessel to conceive Jesus. I emailed the catholicplanet.com, which answers all questions about RCC dogma. I asked where I might find mention of Joachim and Ann in the Bible. I received this answer: “Joachim is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, under his other name, Heli (Luke 3:23). Ann is not mentioned by name. However, both Joachim and Ann are mentioned in the tradition of the Church. They are also mentioned in non-canonical writings of the early Church.” Translation: The backstory about Mary's parents, Ann and Joachim, and the rationale about Mary's Immaculate Conception were made up out of whole cloth by the RCC. Then after inventing names and legends about Mary's parents, the RCC made them Saints. Nota Bene: Original sin isn't mentioned in the Bible either. It was invented by Saint Augustine in the fourth century. With all this creative writing going on in the Roman Catholic Church, can anything the Vatican says be believed? The short answer: No.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Vatican Concern for Life is Life at the Vatican

The RC Church can’t change its position on birth control because that would mean the Church had been wrong and the Church can’t be wrong. In 1870 Pope Pius IX decreed that popes are infallible. Also in 1870 the Roman Catholic Church lost its Papal States. The Papal States was an independent territory of about 16,000 square miles in central Italy. These lands were owned personally and ruled over by the popes. Pepin the Short, King of the Franks gave land to Pope Stephen II in 756, which eventually became the Papal States. In 1870, Victor Emmanuel captured Rome. He asked Roman citizens if they wanted the city to become the political capital of a united Italy. They voted for unification and that ended papal rule over the Papal States. The land owned by the Vatican now is only about 0.17 square miles. Pope Pius IX protested the loss of his Papal States by shutting himself up in the Vatican and calling himself a prisoner. The papacy was in danger of going down the tubes. But Pius IX had Plan B. As Stephen D. Mumford, Phd, noted in 1999 in his treatise for the Center for Research on Population and Security: “For more than a millennium, the Vatican had possessed temporal power which ensured its survival. With the loss of the Papal States in 1870, it appeared all but certain that a strong Papacy would simply disappear. The Vatican urgently needed a new source of power. “A group of conservative and influential leaders, including Pope Pius IX, came up with a brilliant idea for a new source; an infallible pope. What is infallibility? According to Catholic dogma, the pope is God's representative on earth and God guides him as he cares for his flock. When the pope formulates a doctrine, he is simply transmitting this dogma on God's behalf. Therefore, the teaching cannot possibly be in error. Thus, the pope's teachings are infallible.” Mumford says that the concept of papal infallibility was a brilliant strategy and it worked for a century, “But,” he says, “at its introduction in 1870, the Catholic intelligentsia, among them theologians, historians and bishops, recognized that at some point in the future, this principle would lead to self-destruction of the institution. Times were certain to change and in unpredictable ways.” “This decision (papal infallibility) would lock the Church into an inexorable course—teachings that could not be changed without destroying the principle of infallibility itself,” Mumford said. The RC Church had painted itself into a corner. It was just a matter of time before the house of cards collapsed. Interestingly, a minority report on papal infallibility was prepared and co-authored in 1966 by John Paul II. JPII stated in the report: “If it should be declared that contraception is not evil in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit had been on the side of the Protestant churches in 1930 (when the encyclical Casti Connubii was promulgated), in 1951 (Pius XII's address to the midwives), and in 1958 (the address delivered before the Society of Hematologists in the year the pope died). It should likewise have to be admitted that for a half century the Spirit failed to protect Pius XI, Pius XII, and a large part of the Catholic hierarchy from a very serious error.” Translation: The Church had declared itself infallible because the Church claimed God told it what to do. Therefore to reverse any position the Church had ever held would mean that the Church believed God was in error. We are left with only one conclusion about the “culture of life” bullshit and the ranting about abortion and contraception being a sin. The Vatican’s show of outrage is not because the Vatican believes life is sacred. It’s because the Vatican believes the Vatican is sacred. Ordinary folks voted against papal rule over their land in 1870. In 2005, ordinary folks have seen through the false piety of the papacy to its true intention. The self-destruction of the Roman Catholic Church is inevitable.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

What're the Odds?

Four of the 115 Cardinals who will attend the Pope run-off in Rome on April 18 have emerged as frontrunners. There are 117 Cardinals but two are sick and won't go to the big doings. This morning, online bookmaker PaddyPower.com offers Francis Arinze (Nigeria) at 11-4; Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italy) at 7-2; Joseph Ratzinger (Germany) at 7-1; Claudio Hummes (Brazil) at 9-1. There are also odds on what name the new pope will take. Valentine has long odds at 50-1. Sixtus is an even more distant possibility at 66-1. But both John Paul and Benedict look good at 3-1. Here's what the guys in-the-know (as in, bookies) say: John Paul II promoted Tettamanzi from Cardinal of Genoa to Archbishop of Milan and that's the main reason he's viewed as a frontrunner. Under Tettamanzi the Roman Catholic Church would not veer an inch from the conservative direction of John Paul ii. Francis Arinze would be the first African Pope since fifth century Pope Gelasius I. He's another conservative with the same views on abortion, contraception and homosexuality as John Paul II. The bookie pope-poop is that he wants to improve inter-faith relations. German Cardinal Ratzinger led the late Pope's congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was a pope-in-training all during John Paul's reign. When John Paul suggested he might resign (which was baloney as we know) he asked Ratzinger to stick around…as a sort of vice-pope for five more years. Archbishop of Sao Paulo, Claudio Hummes is from the powerful South American group that now makes up almost one fifth of the electors. I have placed a bet with a relative that the next Pope will be Ratzinger. My relative is leaning toward Tettamanzi. I personally despise Ratzinger, but the name is irresistible. It's a shame he would not be known as Pope Ratz but he would adopt an alias. I'm liking Felix (at 50-1) or Blessed Innocent (at 40-1) which would be properly ironic. An article by Laurie Goodstein and Daniel J. Wakin in today's NYT (“Cardinals Hint at Profile of New Pope: Presence Preferred”) has the following example of Vatican compassion and logic from one of the princes of the church: “A reporter asked Cardinal Francis George of Chicago in a news conference last week whether the church would consider approving the use of condoms to prevent AIDS in places like Africa. "Your solution is to exterminate the poor?" he said, referring to the births that contraception would prevent. "The doctrine of the church isn't going to change, and so you work with it as best as you can." What are the odds that all those people who spent millions of dollars to crowd into Rome to revere their idol John Paul II were well heeled and well fed? What are the odds they didn't come from parts of the world ravaged by hunger, AIDS and all kinds of disease? What are the odds the poor actually want poverty to be exterminated? What are the odds the poor do not want to have children they can't feed? What are the odds the poor want to eliminate the possibility of contracting AIDS in addition to not having babies that may starve to death? What are the odds the Roman Catholic Church will continue to be motivated by power and control rather than by the precepts of Jesus?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Saint John Paul II? You Gotta Be Kidding

The late Pope favored protecting pedophile priests over protecting little children from pedophile priests. He condemned the use of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa. Rather than emulating Christ who sought to feed the poor and give aid to the oppressed, Pope John Paul II said a priest's main concern was to save souls. He vigorously opposed “liberation theology” in Latin America where priests became involved in social issues. And he refused to give his support to political activism in the Third World. However, he did find it in his heart to support political opposition in communist Poland, his homeland. If a 12-year-old girl is raped by her father and gets pregnant, according to Pope John Paul II, she must carry the baby to term and give birth or burn in everlasting hell. Pope John Paul II condemned the use of “the morning-after pill” in Kosovo for women who had been raped. But he never said a word of condemnation about the rapers, torturers and ethnic cleansers in Kosovo. The Vatican's position on contraception comes from the phrase in Genesis that the Lord said mankind should be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. God also said that because Adam and Eve disobeyed him in the Garden of Eden men would henceforward till the soil with difficulty and women would be condemned to pain during childbirth. The Vatican arbitrarily decided that being fruitful and multiplying is an immutable law of God. But it hasn't opposed the use of machines to till the soil and women can use drugs to alleviate pain during childbirth. Why is that? That's because the Vatican's birth control/abortion issue is really about control and power and it's bullshit. And the late Pope was simply the CEO of a mega-corporation and under no circumstances was he ever saintly. But ever since John Paul II insisted on canonizing the corrupt and invidious founder of Opus Dei, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the concept of sainthood has forever been tarnished. In that light, John Paul II belongs in the everlasting company of an evil man like Escriva.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Why Do Americans Hate Themselves?

1) The Republicans have spit on us. They have given help and succor to the rich while screwing-over the elderly and the poor. Every hour of every day the Republicans seize on new opportunities to trample the rights of all Americans. And yet, the poorest among us, the most downtrodden, and most disadvantaged continue to rise up to defend the bastards anyway. Why? 2) Whose sons and daughters are being killed in Iraq? Whose mothers and fathers are not being allowed to see the caskets of their children (and face it…many of those who have been murdered in Iraq are barely out of their teens)? It's surely not the children of rich and powerful Republicans. And yet, even now, blue-collar, salt-of-the earth moms and dads loudly support the fascists in the White House and their illegal war. Why? 3) The late Pope and the Vatican despise everything the United States stands for. They have proven over and over that they have only disdain for American Roman Catholics. And yet, Americans are flooding into Italy to honor men who think US Catholics are beneath contempt. Why? Americans were so horrified at Cardinal Bernard Law for protecting pedophile priests that two years ago he was forced to resign in disgrace as archbishop of Boston. But we read in this morning's New York Times that the Vatican named Cardinal Law today as one of nine favorites who will preside over funeral Masses for Pope John Paul II. The Vatican has never taken the pedophile-priests issue seriously. At the time the story broke two years ago, the Vatican downplayed it and said it was an American problem. As Laurie Goodstein's NYT article states, "the cardinals have reminded American Catholics that their most painful recent chapter barely registered in the Vatican”. Not only did the Vatican not care that children were being abused by priests, after Law stepped down, the Vatican rewarded him for his bad behavior by giving him a large apartment in Rome and an honorary position as archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. And now Cardinal Law is the man who will deliver Monday's homily for the late Pope. Cardinal Law has just as much clout in Rome now as he did before his scandalous actions in Boston. He is so powerful that, according to Goodstein, his sermon will be analyzed by Vatican-watchers for clues as to who the next pope will be. My list of entities that actually run the world keeps getting longer. It started with Rupert Murdoch and The Carlyle Group. Reverend Moon was added and put at the top, and now the Vatican joins the list. You will note that the White House is not included. That is because the White House simply does the bidding of the top dogs. I must shout out and underline one important point. Two of the three entities purport to be religious organizations: Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church (Moonies) and the Vatican. Neither of these religious organizations has the slightest interest in religion. The focus of both is to influence politics throughout the world, which dictates the world's economy, which translates into power. What major world power will the Unification Church and the Vatican support in order to solidify their own global power? A clue will be whom the Vatican names as the next Pope. As to why do Americans hate themselves? America is a nation of Christians and it has been useful to Christianity to teach that self-hatred is a virtue. When people hate themselves they are easier to control.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Dear Nicholas Kristof: Take Off Your Blinders

This morning, Nicholas Kristof's Op/Ed column in the New York Times is headlined “The Pope and Hypocrisy”. I thought, Aha! Someone finally is going to address the fact that the people who are eulogizing Pope John Paul II are hypocrites. Or, at the very least, that the Pope with his pious words about “culture of life” is a hypocrite. But no. Kristof says, “The message of the pope's ministry was about standing up to evil, not about holding grand funerals.” Kristof went on to write about a 16-year-old girl in the Sudan who was raped by three men, then kicked out of her home and rejected by her fiancĂ© because she had been “disgraced and spoilt”. When she was eight months pregnant from this rape, the police came to her home, took her to the police station, beat her and jailed her for the crime of having been raped. Kristof says, “John Paul wanted world leaders to show compassion for suffering people like these girls….” What a load of crap. I don't know what Kristof means when he says, “show compassion”. I don't think he knows what he means. The Pope was great at giving lip service to the concept of compassion. But what action did he ever take to right the wrongs caused by bigotry and religious zealots? What did he do or cause to be done about the genocide in Sudan? Say the girl in Sudan was a girl in the USA. Say a 16-year-old girl was raped by three hoods in Houston, TX and she became pregnant from the rape. Say she and her boyfriend had intended to get married after graduating from high school. What would the Pope's stance on this situation have been? The teenaged girl would have to carry the rape-pregnancy to term. She could put the baby up for adoption or she could raise the baby herself. That's it. That's the Pope showing compassion. I have never understood how the Roman Catholic Church aims for the world to deal with every woman on this planet having a baby every year of her childbearing life. The RC's happy-face vision of womankind is that she is celibate until she marries at the age of 22. If she's fully menopausal at the age of 50, she could produce 28 blessed events during her life…oh happy, happy days. But for the sake of argument, let's say she has 20 babies. What about educating and feeding these children? I have not heard that the Vatican has issued an encyclical detailing how to educate and feed the 20 babies that every woman on earth will bear when the RC Church runs the world. However, the Church does have an answer when a woman says she doesn't want to have a baby every year. The RC gives her three choices: 1) Have a baby every year because the Pope says so. 2) Cease having marital relations a) Not a realistic option because a woman has the wifely duty to engage in sexual relations. b) Oral sex is not a realistic option because it's okay only if it leads to “regular intercourse”. 3) Use the RC-sanctioned rhythm method of birth control which doesn't work All options lead to Rome: Have a baby every year. The Pope said that giving condoms to Africans as a means of stopping the scourge of AIDS would be morally wrong. And, according to the Pope, the only way homosexuals can be welcomed into the arms of Jesus and the Catholic Church is for them to be celibate. During his Popedom, when priests molested little children, John Paul II sanctioned the protecting of pedophile priests rather than protecting little children from these psychopathic criminals. If there is any compassion in the Pope's culture of life, I fail to see it.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Pope John Paul II, Opus Dei and the Odious “Saint” Escriva

On May 17, 1992, Pope John Paul II beatified the founder of Opus Dei, Msgr. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, in St. Peter's Square in Rome. The Pope said, "With supernatural intuition Blessed Josemaria untiringly preached the universal call to holiness and apostolate." Ten years later, on October 6, 2002, John Paul II canonized Msgr. Escriva, saying, “St. JosemarĂ­a was chosen by the Lord to proclaim the universal call to holiness and to indicate that everyday life, its customary activities, are a path towards holiness. It could be said that he was the saint of the ordinary.” The Beatification and eventual Canonization of this thoroughly unsaintly and flawed man generated a lot of controversy and protest at the time. But the Pope listened to no one and pronounced one of mankind's worst examples of mankind a Saint. On December 1, 1993, I published an article in an alternative newspaper (“The Welcomat” in Philadelphia, PA), which summarized the findings of Michael Walsh in his book, “Opus Dei”. I am reprinting that article (in four parts) here in Ratfuck Diary…because if ever the Vatican ratfucked the world, it was when Pope John Paul II Canonized Josemaria Escriva Balaguer. Part I-God's Work, God's Cult? The Welcomat-December 1, 1993 By Joy Tomme Unless the process is somehow short-circuited, Escriva de Balaguer will be made a Saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Many Roman Catholic priests--including two of the nine Vatican theologians who passed judgment on Escriva's suitability for beatification--are against this canonization. But most lay Catholics don't know enough about the man to have an opinion one way or the other. A new book by Michael Walsh (Opus Dei, US publication, 1992) is a fascinating account of Escriva and his shenanigans. Jose Maria Escriba de Balaguer was born in 1902 and died in 1975. He changed the spelling of his name to the more distinguished "Josemaria Escriva" while still a schoolboy. However, he never lost his desire to seem more impressive than his provincial background warranted. In 1968 he petitioned for, and was granted, the title "Marques de Peralta"-a curiously worldly aspiration for a 66-year old priest who had once been called "domestic prelate to the Pope." But, like less virtuous souls, Escriva found behavior acceptable in himself which he discouraged in others. He wrote a treatise with 999 prescriptions for holiness called Camino. Maxim No. 677 states: "Honors, distinctions, titles, things of air, puffs of pride, lies, nothingness." Escriva's claim to fame and sainthood reposes mainly in his having founded a religious organization in Spain in 1928 called Opus Dei. Opus Dei, (God's Work, or more commonly called The Work) was his lifelong obsession. He had envisioned a holy organization for all sorts--men, women, married, single, lay and clerical. In Escriva's ideal religious society, everyone would be as fully involved in doing God's work as nuns and monks, but they would live their lives in the world as professional people also. They would commit themselves to God by taking a sacred vow of poverty, chastity and obedience. Their allegiance to Escriva and Opus Dei would be total. And, of course, they would turn over all their salaries and personal monies to the organization. Implementation of this holy vision called for a high degree of cunning. Escriva had to let the Roman Catholic powers-that-were think they had ultimate authority (as they do in other Roman Catholic organizations) while, in fact, only Escriva had final say-so on any matter, large or small. In order to effect this managerial sleight-of-hand--creation of a completely closed entity which could thumb its nose at the Vatican--Escriva needed special rules and designations. And amazingly, all the Popes acquiesced. From Pius XII right through to today's John Paul II, they bowed to Opus Dei's demands in lesser or greater degrees. The final coup was when Escrlva's successor wrested Personal Prelature status for Opus Dei from John Paul II. Paul VI had refused. There are those who say John Paul II could hardly have said No, since it is widely believed Opus pumped mega-bucks Into Solidarity in Poland. Part II- God's Work, God's Cult? Originally. Personal Prelature was conceived by church worthies as a means "for the appropriate distribution of priests." Giving a quasi-religious entity complete and final authority over its members above and beyond the powers of Bishops and Pope was hardly in the game plan. Opus Dei is like no other Personal Prelature known in the church. It is clerical, but it isn't. It is lay, but it isn't. It has absolute power wherever it exists. According to Michael Walsh, members are told to play kissy-face with all Bishops, but in fact, Bishops have no authority whatsoever in Opus Dei matters. Opus is ultra-conservative, very right-wing and it conducts its business and religious activities as though it was 1950 and Pope John XXIII and Vatican II never existed. While Escriva was alive, he required all members to call him Father. It was his practice to refer to his followers as children and to ceaselessly remind them they were too innocent and ignorant to think for themselves. Father knew best. After Escrlva died, the reins were taken over by Alvaro del Portillo. Portillo encourages members to substitute the idea 0f Escrlva for God when they pray "Our Father who art in heaven". One 0f the kinder descriptions of the organization is "a Church within the Church". The Vatican's position seems to be that it has no choice but to let Opus Dei run amok, flouting Canon Law and ethical spiritual laws, like a bratty child who has never been civilized. Though Vatican watchers say the Pope's tolerance of Opus Dei has "peaked". An outsider looks at the Escriva/Opus history and wonders why the Vatican didn't squash this power-mad upstart in the beginning. But there are always mitigating factors and wheels within wheels in the question of why a dangerous, megalomaniac, borderline-nutcase wasn't chastised and removed before he became an uncontrollable power. Historically, Spain was in turmoil when Escriva founded Opus Dei. In 1931, a Republic was declared and agnostic socialism reigned. Monasteries and churches were burned, the Jesuit Society of Jesus expelled and crosses removed from schools. Education was completely secularized and ecclesiastical property appropriated by the state. Even divorce was permitted. At a time such as this, the rationale behind founding a secret society in which lay members would receive secular and religious instruction in a closed and authoritarian environment is easy to understand. But the accusations that Opus Dei always has supported and still supports military regimes will not go away. 5uch allegations are disquieting in the context of a holy organization backed to the hilt by the Roman Catholic Church. It is also disquieting that Opus Dei's allegiance always falls on the side of money and power. Opus does not initiate or support programs to feed the hungry or help the poor. It is strongly opposed to Liberation Theology-that movement within the Catholic Church in Latin America, which holds that alleviating hunger and deprivation are pursuits as holy as celebrating mass. Escriva had more than a few bizarre and archaic personal fetishes. All of which he passed on to members of Opus Dei as requirements for holiness. A small brown bag enclosing "instruments of mortification" is given to all members, even youngsters as young as 15. A spiked chain called a cilice is to be worn "around the thigh two hours a day, a rope whip is to be applied to the buttocks once a week. Hair shirts are worn. Members sleep on hard little mats, kiss the floor immediately upon arising and take cold showers. Part III- God's Work, God's Cult? "The Circle" is a particularly nasty little manipulation of power, which Escriva found to be indispensable and effective. Members sit around a circle and tell intimate details of their lives, concentrating on flawed behavior and sexual problems. All the areas which are found to be wanting are picked at and dissected. Members chastise themselves bitterly, and in turn are chastised by their superior and each other. Opus members are instructed to uncover defects in each other and to bring them to the attention of the director. When members have not "fished" for the requisite number of new apostles they are soundly reprimanded during the weekly circle. Church Canon Law banned this kind of “confidences” in 1980. But not by Escriva's law. Canon Law also states that Catholics may go to any priest they choose as long as he is approved the by the Bishop. This is given lip service in Opus, but in practice, going to a non-Opus priest is strictly forbidden and punished. Walsh, a former Jesuit, takes a dim view of Escriva and his organization. He is not alone. He noted in his "Afterward" that God-business journalist Kenneth Woodward (Newsweek) claimed at a press conference on April 20, 1992 that Escriva's beatification (which took place May 17, 1992) was too hasty and the ratio of two out of nine Vatican arbiters against beatification was very high. Vladimir Felzmann, who joined Opus in 1959, became a priest in 1969, and left Opus in 1982, has charged that Escriva was sympathetic to Hitler and was so distressed by changes fostered by Pope John XXIII and Vatican II that he considered defecting to the Greek Orthodox Church. Plus, Felzmann said, Escriva had a far from saintly bad temper. My own personal favorites about Escriva, which seem offensive enough to exclude him from polite company, let alone sainthood are: 1. He habitually whipped himself with a cat-o-nine tails to which he had attached bits of metal and pieces of razor blades; men who have seen his bathroom reported all walls were stained with blood. 2. In 1974, while visiting Sao Paolo in Brazil, he told the women, "When your husband comes back from work, from his job, from his professional tasks, don't let him find you in a temper. Do yourself up, look pretty, and, as the years go by, decorate the facade even more, as they do with old buildings. He'll be so grateful to you," Until Walsh's book was published, an interested church-watcher was hard put to find any facts about Opus, though the members have always loudly asserted information is readily available. Let's put it this way: the data cranked out by Opus members and spin-doctors is so washed and deodorized as to be no information at all. Even so, the small collection of writings released by Opus apologists prior to Walsh's book, sent up warning flares. A little volume by Paul Thierry (“Opus Dei”, 1975) recounts, in page after page, all the allegations, which Thierry swears, are not true about Opus Dei, making the reader absolutely positive they are true as sin. Thierry writes, "Our Lord gave rise to Opus Dei in 1928...the members are ordinary people...there is nothing false or artificial in their behavior...Opus Dei never had activity in political or economic matters...the University of Navarro in Pamplona, Spain was not founded in opposition to the official university...Opus Dei does not run profit-making enterprises...members manage their companies according to their own ideas without receiving the slightest guidance from directors of The Work." And Balaguer himself said, "Any attempt to picture Opus Dei as a source of temporal or economic directives is completely unfounded." Part IV- God's Work, God's Cult? The examples of Escriva's Maxims given by Michael Walsh show them to be a marvel of cultish wisdom. Maxim No. 457: "Who are you to pass judgment on the decisions of a superior? Don't you see that he is better fitted to judge than you? He has more experience...and above all, he has more grace." No. 946: "Women needn't be scholars. It's enough that they are prudent." No. 339, "Don't buy books without advice from a Catholic who is learned or prudent. It is easy to buy something useless or harmful...and it turns out to be garbage." Remember, these Aphorisms are taught today, and it's a very long time since the Vatican gave up its lists of censored movies and books. How about No, 563? "Win over the guardian angel of that person whom you wish to draw to draw to your apostolate. He is always a great 'accomplice'." Hello? Nos. 639 through 656 are about keeping Opus and its doings secret, Father Andrew Byrne, an Opus priest, wrote in a letter in the "Daily Mail", January 14, 1981, "In some cases when a youngster says he wants to join we do advise them not to tell their parents. This is because the parents do not understand us." The last Opus membership figures available are from 1982, when there were 70,000 worldwide members, only 2,500 0f whom were in the US. Full members (numeraries): 21,000. Oblates (similar to numeraries but living outside Opus residences): 14,000. Supernumeraries (governed by Opus Constitution, but more loose affiliates, like married people--who, by the way, are expected to be celibate): 35,000. It's interesting that the higher ranks (predominately men) can purchase their clothing from top-drawer shops. But lower ranks, like women auxiliaries, have to purchase clothing from cheap chain stores. Is Opus Dei a cult? Michael Walsh quotes Carol Coulter (“Are Religious Cults Dangerous?”, 1984). "The suspicion must remain that the Catholic Church has its own cult, protected up to now by the highest levels in the Church itself." Clinical psychologist and Jesuit priest, Father Brendan Callaghan, said he is particularly alarmed by the contrived confusion in Opus documents and teaching between "our Father" meaning God and "our Father" meaning Escriva. Maria del Carmen Tapia, who was head of the female section of Opus in Venezuela for ten years, reported that she was forced to resign from Opus for committing "crimes" against the organization. She had allowed women to go to priests of their own choice for confession. She was summoned to Rome where she was "put under virtual house arrest for eight months" with no outside communication. And she was told that no matter how much penance she did for her crimes, it was unlikely she would be saved. It's easy for someone outside the Opus discipline to say this is crazy. But look at the Branch Davidians in Waco. They also truly believed everything their leader said. However, David Koresh was not about to be made a Saint. As Tapia says, "In a hundred or in fifty years the Church is going to say that we were wrong to approve Opus Dei.”

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Newspapers Candid About Pope John Paul II

It's interesting that the MSM…at least the print MSM, has gotten it right about Pope John Paul II. Analysts in the NYT and WaPo say the late pope was authoritarian and rigid and the next pope will do well to appease the growing numbers of liberal Catholics. It's the TV coverage that has been drowning in sentimental, mawkish goo. There are a billion Roman Catholics in the world. A world that bears little resemblance to the one that Karol Wojtyla of Poland inherited when he became Pope John Paul II in 1978. Under the leadership of the late pope, the Catholic Church has become as out-of-touch with its parishioners throughout the world as the Republican party in the US has become out of touch with its constituents. The election of the new pope will reveal whether the Vatican intends for the church to minister to its congregations as a vibrant religious organization of the twenty-first century, or will continue its backtrack to the Middle Ages. It is required that the College of Cardinals meet within 15 days (not longer than 20 days) after a pope dies to elect a new pope. A Cardinal can't be over 80 to get into this elite group. On the day that John Paul II died there were 117 Cardinals under 80 and 66 Cardinals over 80 representing every corner of the world. John Paul II made a few changes in the election rules in the Apostolic Constitution. A significant change makes it impossible for this conclave to be endlessly long as they have been in the past. The new rule states that if a two-thirds majority has elected no one during the first 12 days of the conclave, then the cardinals may elect a pope by a simple majority. At this point in the proceedings, all but the two cardinals receiving the most votes can be eliminated from the roster. There is one Cardinal who was appointed by John Paul II “in pectore” (literally, in the breast). It was a secret appointment and was not revealed before the Pope died. Historically, this secret appointment is made when an open appointment might cause a problem to the appointee--such as, someone who lives in a troubled part of the world. If the in pectore appointment is revealed before a Pope dies, the appointee joins the rest of those who were named Cardinal. If the Pope dies before the name is revealed, the honor passes from the appointee As it turns out, the Vatican is even more secretive, paranoid and cloak-and-dagger than the fascists in the White House. The College of Cardinals will be in a locked room until they elect a new pope. Small wonder murder has been resorted to in the past to correct mistakes made by a group of desperate men in a locked room. Until a man from Poland was elected pope, it was unthinkable the pope not be Italian. Now, one of the front-runners on the short list is a black Cardinal from Nigeria. It remains to be seen if the College of Cardinals will ignore the discontented rumblings of a billion Catholics who want to see reforms in the church. If this conclave elects another rigid conservative who continues to oversee the return of the Catholic Church to Medieval repression, then Catholicism will finally collapse under its own weight and become totally irrelevant in today's world.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

No Free Ride for Pope John Paul II

Everyone seems to be in a lock-step zombie state. Shhhh…do not say anything against Pope John Paul II…don't offend the 25% of Americans who have convinced themselves he was decent and good in spite of evidence to the contrary. Hey! Wake up! Democrats gave George W. Bush a free ride about Iraq in order not to offend Republicans. When it was deemed the period of mourning had passed regarding the WTC bombing and therefore it was okay to oppose the GOP war strategies, it was too late. The GOP got a free ride on the Schiavo case because it seemed inappropriate to trample on a family's grief. The GOP chose to exploit the Schiavo family's dilemma into a full-blown media blitz in order to advance the far-right-religious opposition to pro-choice views. No more free rides. Let's get this straight. Pope John XXIII was decent and good. But Pope John Paul II has set the Roman Catholic Church back a hundred years. He made the decision himself to act in the capacity of a world politician rather than as a holy man. And his troglodyte policy against the use of condoms to fight AIDS condemned millions of Africans to death. Denying millions of people a simple means for avoiding a deadly disease was immoral. The antediluvian stance of Pope John Paul II on stem cell research, on gays, on women in the church, on a woman's right to her own body have made many Roman Catholics leave the church. He promoted these issues on the world stage of politics. He chose to be a political force rather than a voice of religious compassion. Pope John Paul II had to be dragged into making a statement about the irrefutable evidence of pedophilia among priests. At first he said it was an American problem, which he obviously didn't want to touch with a verger's pole. Finally he said that pedophilia was a societal problem and that priests were no more prone to it than the society as a whole. In other words, if the Catholic Church had enabled priests to bugger little kids, it had nothing to do with the Papacy. Pope John Paul II was a stubborn, intransigent politician. He maintained that all people in a persistent vegetative state should be kept alive by artificial means. But he didn't commit the Roman Catholic Church to paying the hospital bills for these heroic measures. That amounts to an unfunded mandate and unfunded mandates are immoral. Pope Pius IX slipped one over everyone in the world when he convened Vatican I and in 1870 had popes declared infallible. And why are they infallible? Because everything done in the Vatican has God's seal of approval. No matter what it is, the Cardinals and the Pope are who they are which means God has ratified whatever they do and say. In essence, they are saying, We say God speaks through us...what're you gonna do about it? Tell the truth, that's what. Starting now. Today. No Free Rides. The next Pope is going to be a clone of Pope John Paul II because that's how he set it up. But that doesn't mean we need to make life easy for him.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Another Deathwatch Orgy

There are 293 million people in the USA. Of those 293 million, 66 million are of the Roman Catholic persuasion. The Pope is the spiritual leader for 66 million Roman Catholics…for the rest of us…he is only one more head of one more religion. And yet…there is not one news station or newspaper that is not in a frenzied game of deathwatch excess over the Pope's last moments. And everyone is praying. Even our born-again Prez and Mrs. Prez are praying for the Pope, Why, I am not sure. If you believe in the folk-myth that St. Peter stands at the gates of heaven to admit or turn aside all recently dead Christians. And if you believe all Popes are the successors to the first rock upon which Jesus founded his church--Peter-- then Peter is not about to turn a Pope aside, is he? Although, considering some of the shenanigans in the Roman Catholic Church, it's just as well that security is tight at the gates of heaven. If you asked George W. Bush why he's praying for the Pope, what would he say? That he's asking his best-buddy God to restore the Pope to health? Would he say that the Vatican is committing murder by letting nature take its course? Would he say all Christians must plea to his friend God to keep the Vatican from murdering the Pope? The New Advent newsletter has this headline: Let us pray for our Sovereign Pontiff John Paul, the Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. Amen. What does that mean? Who knows? God-biz language doesn't have to make sense. Yesterday a few Italian newspapers said the Pope had flatlined. The Vatican says the Pope is in and out. The AP says he's not dead yet. I'm betting he's dead. I'm betting the Vatican didn't want to vie with Terri Schiavo for column-one. Since the Pope went into a decline on Friday, and since Jesus was crucified on Friday and arose on Sunday, I'm betting the Vatican will announce on Sunday that the Pope has shuffled off his mortal coil. And then, brothers and sisters, after another three days of not being able to turn on your TV because it's been taken hostage by Pope canonizers, Pope storytellers and Pope groupies of all sorts and shapes. After being up to your eyeballs in false piety, false grief and pretense, then brothers and sisters, some of the nastiest pushing and shoving and politicking the world has ever seen will take place as the College of Cardinals in the Roman Curia decides who the next Pope will be. The Vatican has admitted to a few murders having taken place over electing a Pope. But the Vatican has always denied the murder of little Pope John Paul I (Albino Luciani) who lived only 33 days of his Popedom in 1978 before his untimely demise. It was then that the present Pope, Pope John Paul II was elected. I confess right here and now. I absolutely believe John Paul I was murdered. Read up on it…it's a fascinating story. So…once the mourning is over…things may become very interesting over there in the Vatican, the seat of the Holy Roman Empire.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Three Expert Opinions

1) One of the guests on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight newscast last night was the Reverend John Paris, professor of bioethics at Boston College. Dobbs asked Father Paris for his take on the ethics involved in the Schiavo case. Father Paris said the American public had shown they could cut through the media hype and understand several things: “That we are mortal, that an end time comes for us all. And when that time comes, we can learn to accept it.“ He went on to say, “We also learned that modern medical technology can prolong that process for an incredibly long time. Some people might elect to have it, others might decide they wouldn't want their lives prolonged, either in the dying process or in an irreversible comatose situation. And it's perfectly legitimate to say I wouldn't want it, and to please stop it. And I think that when we see the polls indicating 80 percent or so would accept it--the American public understanding it.” Dobbs mentioned a recent Vatican statement that stated that Terri Schiavo's death “was arbitrarily hastened, because feeding a person can never be considered excessive therapy." He asked Father Paris for his reaction. Father Paris said, “Well, it's very difficult to understand that situation --- statement rather, because the official statement of the American Catholic bishops--the National Conference of Catholic Bishops--says the following in their directives to Catholic hospitals -- there should be, of course a presumption in favor of nutrition and hydration, including those who require artificial nutrition and hydration, as long as there is sufficient benefit to outweigh the burdens involved to the patient…The Vatican's official declaration in 1980 on euthanasia says, of course, you can remove treatments that are excessively burdensome, and that's not suicide, but the acceptance of the human condition. And somehow in this politicization of this case, the longstanding Catholic tradition is being overshadowed and outshouted.” 2) Judge Stanley Birch of the Circuit Court of Appeals denied a rehearing of the Schiavo case last week. Judge Birch is considered to be a “conservative” judge. In his ruling, he said: “In resolving the Schiavo controversy it is my judgment that, despite sincere and altruistic motivation, the legislative and executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people - our Constitution. Since I have sworn, as have they, to uphold and defend that Covenant, I must respectfully concur in the denial of the request for rehearing en banc. I conclude that Pub. L.109-3 (“the Act”) is unconstitutional and, therefore, this court and the district court are without jurisdiction in this case under that 1 special Act and should refuse to exercise any jurisdiction that we may otherwise have in this case.” 3) Cornell's Law library obtained the copyright to a rare 1943 document by Dr. Henry A. Murray. Murray was a pre-World War II director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic. During the war he served in the Office of Strategic Services. He wrote a psychological profile of Adolf Hitler and predicted that Hitler would commit suicide. Folowing are ten of Hitler's attributes as outlined by Dr. Murray. They remind me of someone…hmmm…who could that be? Hitler believed he was doing the Lord's work. Revenge and resentment were his prime motivations. He had delusions of omnipotence. He had frequent emotional collapses in which he yelled and wept. He was a sexual masochist. He had a classic Oedipus complex--loved his mother, hated his father. He condemned in others his own personality traits: lying, treachery, corruption and war-mongering. He had all the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. He reacted to opposition with a period of emotional outbursts, inertia, exhaustion and dejection, which was followed by a period of confidence and resolute decision. He was a nonentity with nothing to lose who chose a path of fanaticism.