Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The True Story of Today in America (The SCOTUS and Marriage Equality)

BY: Rev John Pavlovitz

We all have stories we like to tell ourselves; narratives we create to frame the world around us.
Those stories often help cushion the blows and soften the impact when things around us are too frightening, too disorienting, too difficult for our minds to deal with.
These stories are often largely well-crafted fiction, born out of fear and desperation, and the sense of something slipping quickly through fingers: control.
Many scared Christians were telling stories today.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Marriage Equality, the spin began simultaneously. As explosive, jubilant waves of long-delayed celebration broke out across the country and the world, the storytellers went to work hastily drafting sensational, concise headlines that might reconcile the unthinkable in front of them:
The Devil is celebrating the death of Marriage.
Christianity is fully under attack.
Gay people have tainted our Christian Nation.
God is preparing His wrath for America.
These stories are a frantic, last gasp, Hail-Mary attempt at avoiding the inevitable—but they are not the real story.
Today wasn’t about the LGBT Community defeating Christianity. Many of them have a vibrant, deep spiritual life (or not unlike most straight Christians, at least a nominal one). The LGBT population is a spiritually diverse cross-section of society. There is no party line consensus on faith there. Today in no way prevents Christians or churches from living, preaching, and practicing their religious convictions with regard to Marriage.
It wasn’t about the LGBT Community defeating Marriage either. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens were fighting to be allowed access to that monogamy, commitment, and devotion in equal measure to everyone else. They weren’t seeking to desecrate Marriage but to participate fully in it; to take their rightful place as members of our shared civic community.
In fact, the story of today was not of defeat at all. It was simply that of Equality winning.
This was about America; the very best of her, asserting herself after being sequestered and silenced for far too long in the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Today was about that gorgeous, fundamental, brilliant “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness” aspiration taking the reins and riding tall and proud again.
Today was about the dignity and humanity of all people, getting a louder voice than a small Christian minority used to getting their own way and having all the power and running the whole show. It was a historically favored religious entity being told clearly that their faith convictions and our American ideals are not interchangeable.
Today our government reminded all of its people that you can’t legislate morality, but you must legislate equality; that no one’s theology (not even a passionate, deeply devout Christian’s) gets to trump the inherent value of all people who call our land home. This should be welcome news for all of us, regardless of our faith tradition.
This was America being the very best of herself.
As a follower of Jesus, I felt a profound sadness today watching so many of my Christian brothers and sisters, who when witnessing the flood of tears and the stunned joy from gays and lesbians and those who love and support them; could only manufacture more vitriol, more loaded rhetoric, more sky-is-falling gnashing of teeth, more spiteful insults, more seething damnation.
It was a terrible testimony.
They were too invested in their self-preserving, fear-filled story to see what was actually happening today. By choosing a death narrative of only their Christianity’s loss, they had rendered themselves unable to see what so many of us could see:
This was a really good day for Humanity.
All of us who live in the United States, regardless of our religious beliefs, race, color, gender, sexual orientation, or any other distinction we can name, need to know that we all matter equally in the eyes of the Law, because we will all find ourselves in a time or place when we will be the minority; when we will be the marginalized or invisible or abused—and we will want America to come through for us.
Today She finally came through for LGBT people, who now can have full access to loving lifetime relationships, called legitimate in the eyes of its government and protected as such. 
That is the story today.
It is not of Christianity’s defeat or of Marriage’s destruction or of America’s moral decay, but of Equality’s glorious revival in a country built upon the intrinsic value of all people.
Whether we claim faith or not, may this be the story we write together from here.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Rev John Pavlovitz is a father of two, (Noah and Selah), and husband of one (Jennifer); a 17-year ministry veteran, specializing in trying to live-out the red letters of Jesus. 

He enjoys songwriting, exercising, cooking, hiking, and eating emotionally.In his Blog he says stuff that he thinks needs to be said. He proudly serve at North Raleigh Community Church.
I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.
Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.
For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…

1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it.
My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret.
I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most LGBT kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues.
If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family.
2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them.
I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that quite likely is their normal.
I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them; from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are. I’ll pray that He shields them from those who will despise them and wish them harm; who will curse them to Hell and put them through Hell, without ever knowing them at all. I’ll pray that they enjoy life; that they laugh, and dream, and feel, and forgive, and that they love God and all people.
Above all, I’ll pray to God that my children won’t allow the unGodly treatment they might receive from some of His misguided children, to keep them from pursuing Him.
3) If I have gay children, I’ll love them.
I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing them in the school cafeteria, kissing them in public, kind of love.
I won’t love them despite their sexuality, and I won’t love them because of it. I will love them for the same reasons I already do; simply because they’re sweet, and funny, and caring, and smart, and kind, and stubborn, and flawed, and original, and beautiful… and mine.
If my kids are gay, they may doubt a million things about themselves and about this world, but they’ll never doubt for a second whether or not their Daddy is over-the-moon crazy about them.
4) If I have gay children, most likely; I have gay children.
If my kids are going to be gay, well they pretty much already are.
God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. Psalm 139 says that He, “stitched them together in their mother’s womb”. The incredibly intricate stuff that makes them uniquely them; once-in-History souls, has already been uploaded into their very cells.
Because of that, there isn’t a coming deadline on their sexuality that their mother and I are working feverishly toward. I don’t believe there’s some magical expiration date approaching, by which time she and I need to somehow do, or say, or pray just the right things to get them to “turn straight”, or forever lose them to the other side.
They are today, simply a younger version of who they will be; and today they’re pretty darn great.

Many of you may be offended by all of this, I fully realize. I know this may be especially true if you are a religious person with a particular theological stance. Perhaps you find the whole topic unsettling.
As you’ve been reading, you may have been rolling your eyes, clicking the roof of your mouth, or drafting familiar Scriptures to send to me. You may be praying for me to repent, or preparing to Unfriend me, or writing me off as a sinful, evil, Hell-bound heretic… but with as much gentleness and understanding as I can muster; I really couldn’t care less.
This isn’t about you. This is a whole lot bigger than you.
You’re not the one I waited on breathlessly for nine months.
You’re not the one I wept with joy for when you were born.
You’re not the one I bathed, and fed, and rocked to sleep through a hundred intimate, midnight snuggle sessions.
You’re not the one I taught to ride a bike, and whose scraped knee I kissed, and whose tiny, trembling hand I held, while getting stitches.
You’re not the one whose head I love to smell, and whose face lights-up when I come home at night, and whose laughter is like music to my weary soul.
You’re not the one who gives my days meaning and purpose, and who I adore more than I ever thought I could adore anything.
And you’re not the one who I’ll hopefully be with, when I take my last precious breaths on this planet; gratefully looking back on a lifetime of shared treasures, and resting in the knowledge that I loved you well.
If you’re a parent, I don’t know how you’ll respond if you find out your children are gay, but I pray you consider it.
One day, despite your perceptions of your kids or how you’ve parented, you may need to respond in real-time, to a frightened, frantic, hurting child; one whose sense of peace, and identity, and acceptance; whose heart and very life, may be placed in your hands in a way you never imagined… and you’ll need to respond.
If that day should ever come for me; if my children should ever come out to me, this is the Dad I hope I’ll be to them.

* Note: The word “gay” in this post, is used as an umbrella term, and refers to anyone who identifies themselves as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning) . Though I certainly realize and respect the distinctions and differences, it was simply the word that would quickly and easily communicate within the context of the piece. It was the clearest and best way to address non-hetereosexual individuals in the post, by using a common term that would resonate with the average reader. Hopefully my heart for the entire diverse LGBTQ community is still clear in the writing.

Saturday, 27 June 2015


Roger Childs said religious leaders are broadly supportive of having a reflective space
Roger Childs said religious leaders are broadly supportive of having a reflective space
The head of religious programmes at RTÉ has said the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has ruled it is totally defensible to retain the 18 peals of the Angelus bell during the "moment of reflection", as well as continuing to call it the Angelus.
Roger Childs told RTÉ's News At One he has not consulted other religious denominations in drawing up the organisation's plans to revamp the Angelus, except in an anecdotal way.
He said religious leaders are broadly supportive of having a reflective space.
Mr Childs said he has asked the creative community to come up with forms of films that would be accessible to people of all faiths and none.
He acknowledged that the chimes are the Angelus chimes, but said they are part of the landscape of Irish society and he does not feel that they are coercive or intrusive. 
In a statement RTÉ said “the daily ‘Angelus’ broadcast on RTÉ One is by far RTÉ's longest-running and most watched religious programme”.
It also acknowledged: “It is also, possibly, the most controversial. For some, the reflective slot, which airs for just one minute in every 1440 per day and on only one RTÉ television channel, is as much part of Ireland's unique cultural identity as the harp on your passport.
“For others, it is an anachronism - a reminder of more homogenously and observantly Christian times.”
Atheist Ireland believes RTÉ should change the name of the Angelus
In a statement the organisation’s chairperson Michael Nugent said: “We believe that changing the title would be an important first step to creating a genuinely inclusive and religiously neutral moment of reflection.”
Atheist Ireland received a letter from RTÉ in which the broadcaster stated: "We have given careful consideration to your argument about the term ‘Angelus’ and will take further soundings to determine whether that title remains the best one for today's Ireland."
Mr Nugent said “changing the title should be the first of several changes to make the moment inclusive.”
“We remain concerned about other aspects of the Angelus, and of RTÉ's response to our complaints,” he added.
Ireland should be, in every respect, a modern, secular and plural European democracy.
In Ireland people should be free to hold religious views and practice their religion freely - unless those views and practices are in any way illegal.
However the State - or any of its agencies - of which RTE is one - should not, in any way promote one religion over another.
The Angelus is a Roman Catholic prayer and devotion.
Let Roman Catholic churches by all means ring out the Angelus bell at 12 noon and at 6 pm.
But this devotion SHOULD NOT be broadcast on the national media twice a day.
I say this as someone who likes the Angelus and who prays it both at home and when I am travelling in my car.

I do not need, want or appreciate the State telling me when, how and what to pray.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015



A.W.Richard Sipe

A.W. RICHARD SIPE is a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor who earlier spent 18 years as a Benedictine monk and priest. He was trained specifically to deal with the mental health problems of Roman Catholic Priests. In the process of training and therapy, he conducted a 25-year ethnographic study of the celibate/sexual behavior of that population. His study, published in 1990, is now considered a classic. Sipe is known internationally and has participated in 12 documentaries on celibacy and priest sexual abuse aired by HBO, BBC, and other networks in the United States, United Kingdom, and France. He has been widely interviewed by media including CNN, ABC, NBC, CNBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, People magazine, Newsweek and USA Today.  Sipe lives with his wife in La Jolla, CA.

This is one of the saddest essays I have ever committed to paper. It may be called my last Roman Catholic will and testament. Most of the time we concede authority to a church to declare what teaching is heretical because it deviates from established norms. Over the centuries that judgment has been the basis for dissident churches to form and incorporate their own institutional system of faith and morals. Some reform movements remain within the institution, challenging established custom or practice they deem deviate from earliest Christian ideals. The history of Christianity is the history of “heresy”. 

The criterion has been the deviation or conformity with Roman Catholic orthodoxy and authority: Montanist , Donatist, Albigenses, Anabaptist, Quietism, and Protestantism, etc. have all waged doctrinal war against issues of Catholic faith and morals and consolidated their adherents into rival sects or religious faith. (*Ronald Knox) 

What if the church that one believes in is teaching false or aberrant doctrine or morals, but there is no real impetus to establish a new institution or church? What if one lacks motivation, energy or desires to reform the institution? Currently that is the Catholic Situation. Abandonment of practice or affiliation is the most common solution of U.S. Catholics to their faith dilemma. Men and women brought up and even well educated in Catholic doctrine and practice have simply walked away from affiliation One-third of Roman Catholics in the U.S. consider themselves “ex Catholics”. (*Pew 2015) Disaffection with mainline Christian faiths and Evangelicals is also recorded. Reasons for disillusion among all Christians may share elements in common, but RC interests need to take a look at the beam in its eye. 


One major reason for this Catholic Situation concerns sex and the false, unbelievable teaching about human sexuality that church authority insists is official. FALSE TEACHING RC moral doctrine teaches masturbation is intrinsically evil. This position is indefensible. Despite the pastoral rationales employed to make discussions seem reasonable the basic stance of church teaching is based on an erroneous understanding of Natural Law. Wasting the seed was the argument against, self abuse or pollution as masturbation was labeled and condemned. Some of the rulings from Vatican offices about masturbation are comic and ridiculous. For instance, their logic of its inherent evil forbids masturbation even in obtaining a specimen for medical reasons. Their solution: a man must have intercourse with his wife wearing a condom that is perforated with a pinhole. Thus he can collect his semen for study and preserve the integrity of sex. A physician can perform a prostatic manipulation to obtain a specimen from the single man. According to this logic rape is a more moral—natural—act than masturbation. 


The church uses this same mistaken understanding of natural law as a basis to claim that artificial birth control (pills, IUD, or 10 other options) is also intrinsically evil. This prohibition includes any use of a condom—even to protect from the possibility of the spread of HIV infection. 

Any and all sexual activity outside of a valid marriage is also ruled a grave sin. This extends to serious occasions of sin. Courtship and preparation for marriage become a moral farce under such strictures. The same prohibition applies to widowed or divorced men and women. 3 Roman Catholic teaching about sex is dominated and obsessed with concern over sexual pleasure. While in seminary training there were unending discussions about nocturnal emissions. Was it a grave sin if one awoke enough during the event to enjoy it? Parallel endless questions about the gravity of “French kissing” and “how far” an unmarried couple could go without committing a mortal sin dominated RC sex education talks. Priests teach sin resides in pleasure. Orgasms have to be controlled at all costs, even at the sacrifice of reason, justice and honesty.

Who is in control of sin and forgiveness? Clergy, of course, in the eyes of the Church. The reality and quality of human relationships are discounted or diminished. Homosexual sex and love fall under the same church interdict of intrinsic evil—an “inclination to an intrinsic evil”. That stance renders the homosexually or lesbian oriented person more defective than other humans saddled merely with original sin. Certainly there is a long tradition of naming homosexuality “against nature”. 

We now know enough now about human sexual nature that for some men and women same-sex love, association, and sexual exchange is natural and should be judged and governed by the same social and responsible behavior as men and woman who have a heterosexual orientation and relationship. The hypocrisy of Vatican teaching about homosexual orientation and behavior is so blatant that any thinking and informed person knows of its existence and its frequent occurrence and preponderance among the hierarchy of the RC Church. A concomitant psychological problem among the RC hierarchy (based in hypocrisy) is their sociopathy. The institution supports, advances, rewards and protects leaders who blatantly and/or secretly act out their characterological pathology with men, women, money or power. 

4 A well-regarded priest suggested that one solution would be for 100 celibately observant homosexual priests to identify themselves publically. (Fr. Thomas Resse, S.J. at Santa Clara U., 2012) He is correct. It will take public declarations to save and reform the Catholic priesthood and to insure its integrity. Freud’s (1935 letter) mature view of homosexuality is far more reliable than any scriptural arguments used as a basis for disdain or persecution: “May I question you why you avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function.…Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them. (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc). It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime–and a cruelty, too.” I add from my study of history and psychology that some of the most notable saints—women and men—in the Catholic Church roster were either homosexual or bisexual in orientation. 

Even if at their time they could not name that entity they were unstintingly honest with themselves. Saints are not hypocrites. The patent hypocrisy of clerical sexual practice and behavior in contrast to the teaching and control church authority impose on other members of the Christian community is unsustainable to hordes of Catholic people. 

The situation is evidence based. CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS The well-publicized reality that RC clergy in significant numbers sexually abuse minors is one social factor emerging in the U.S. as the poster child for Catholics’ sea change in devotion. Many use this reality to justify their disaffiliation and exodus from affiliation and practice. The sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy is neither an unknown phenomenon nor new problem in the church. (Cf. Doyle, Sipe & Wall, 2006) 

5 Church sponsored efforts to study and control the problem of child abuse and to prevent it have all failed and will continue to fail because the hierarchy refuses to acknowledge that the causes are in the system they control—and in themselves. The RC hierarchy has relinquished moral authority. It does not teach the truth about human sexuality. It fails to practice the most basic truth it does stand for—truth, justice and charity. 

Statistics, even from church sponsored studies, if understood, demonstrate that between six-and-one-half (6 1/2 %) and nine (9%) percent of Catholic clergy in the U.S. involve themselves sexually with minors. This is a conservative estimated baseline. Those who have studied the incidence in other countries estimate that the proportion is higher. (P. Rodriguez in Spain places the figure at 22%.) 

The Church (and churches) refuses to face the truth. They continue to deny, minimize, rationalize or project the problem of abuse to causes and contexts outside themselves and the culture they treasure and preserve. Clergy abuse of minors is not a passing phenomenon. It is a perpetual feature of the Roman Catholic clerical training and structure. In short, the culture produces, encourages, fosters and protects a certain element among its membership who abuse—often with impunity and rationalized as no real offence or a minor sin at most. “Father is only human” or “Everyone sins” are commonly heard excuses in clerical circles. 

Well-publicized efforts at preventing clergy abuse and protecting children—even the current Vatican Commission—will inevitably come to nothing if the structure and function of clerical culture remain unchanged—unreformed. Highly touted efforts by U.S. bishops to protect minors from abuse by clergy so far are essentially window dressings rather than reforms. 

 6 CELIBATE VIOLATION There has been ratification by Vatican officials that at any one time no more than fifty-percent (50%) of priests are practicing celibacy. (Cardinal Jose Sanchez, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery of Clergy said before BBC cameras in May 1993, “I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of those figures.”) [c.f. Sipe 1990] 

There is a time, place and persons for religiously motivated celibacy. I have studied and written what celibacy is and is not. (Living the Celibate Life, 2004) Few men who have made the promise of celibacy understand its real meaning and definition. RC clergy are the chief antagonists to an honest consideration of celibacy and its practice. Requiring mandated celibacy, as a requirement for ordination to the RC priesthood is a pretense and sham. It serves primarily power and institutional control, not people. Most Catholic religious institutions are corrupt. 

Yes, many have some good, kind and serving men and women, but only a small number—only enough to keep that service viable to a minimal degree. This is true even of the most observant societies, and religious communities. Reform is a necessity not optional for survival. Many years ago a major religious superior who had just retuned from his required visit to Rome said: “The organization to which I belong is corrupt from the top down.”It has taken me a long time, much study and devotion to submit to his judgment. 

DENIGRATION OF WOMEN is an antique attitude and a current reality in the culture and operation of the RC Church. Nuns even when I was a boy were treated like slave labor. Their compensation was minimal. When I was a boy their full time teaching (and labor like scrubbing the church floor on their hands and knees) received $25.00 a month. It might be argued that their station has improved over the decades, but the evidence that religious women lack a status equal to men is so obvious it needs no argument. Until women have a status, respect 7 and authority equal to men within the institution the RC church will not be the Church of Jesus Christ where “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise” Those who use Scripture to justify teaching on the “inherent” connection between sex and sin should remember that there is more scriptural justification for slavery and stoning of adulterous women (not men) than onanism and sodomy. 

I do not leave the Catholic Church. Were I Jewish I could not leave my birth right. But I cannot embrace or propagate the moral tenets its authority insists are essential for membership. I join St. Paul and all of Christ’s followers who are free of the laws of the modern Scribes and Pharisees. I reject the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual heresies. I love my brothers and sisters who are still bound to the institutions that are shackled to that authority, but are internally conscience-free for their particular reasons and circumstance. 

I am one with those who are part of a Church but state: Here I stand, I can no other.

June 15, 2015

Tuesday, 23 June 2015



Sean Brady
Brendan Smyth abused children for over nearly 50 years beginning in Rome in the late 1940's.

Many in the Roman Catholic Church covered up for Smyth - his superiors in his own religious order, Cardinal Sean Brady in the 1970s and Cardinal Cahal Daly in the 1980s.

HIA inquiry to examine Father Brendan Smyth crimes
Serial child abuser Brendan Smyth was convicted of dozens of offences
The crimes of the notorious paedophile priest, Fr Brendan Smyth, will be examined at a public inquiry later.

Brendan Smyth

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) is looking at abuse allegations across a range of church, state and voluntary institutions.
The inquiry decided to investigate the late priest's activities following allegations made by numerous witnesses who have already given evidence.
They were residents at a number of former institutions being investigated.
These institutions include Rubane House Boys Home, run by the De La Salle Order in Kircubbin, County Down, and two Sisters of Nazareth-run homes on the Ormeau and Ravenhill roads in Belfast.
Later this week, the inquiry will hear from a number of prominent members of the Catholic Church, including its former leader in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady.
Smyth died of a heart attack in prison in August 1997
Smyth was at the centre of one of the first paedophile priest scandals to rock the Catholic Church on both sides of the Irish border.
The Northern Ireland-born cleric was eventually convicted of more than 140 offences against children over a 40-year period.
Although allegations about him were investigated by church officials, including Cardinal Brady, as far back as 1975, it was almost 20 years before the priest was jailed.
Instead the cleric, a member of the Norbertine order, was moved between parishes, dioceses and even countries where he preyed on victims who were as young as eight.
As a priest in the Falls Road area of Belfast, he targeted four children from the same family. It was their courage in reporting the abuse to the police that led to his first conviction.

Cahal Daly

In 1991, Smyth was arrested and released on bail, before spending the next three years out of the reach of police in Northern Ireland, when he stayed at his order's Kilnacrott Abbey in County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland.
His case led to the collapse of the Republic of Ireland's Labour/Fianna Fáil coalition government in 1994, when it emerged there were serious delays in his extradition to Northern Ireland.
When the priest finally appeared before a Belfast court, he was convicted of 43 charges of sexually assaulting children in Northern Ireland and was sentenced to four years in prison.
He was later found guilty of another 26 charges and given a three-year sentence to run concurrently.
Upon his release from prison, Smyth was immediately arrested and extradited to the Republic of Ireland.
In 1997, the convicted paedophile again appeared before a judge - this time in Dublin - where he admitted to 74 charges of child sexual abuse over a 35-year period.
He had assaulted children in a hotel, a cinema, a convent and other venues across nine different counties.
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry is taking place at Banbridge courthouse
Smyth died of a heart attack in prison in August 1997, just a month into his 12-year prison sentence.
The 70-year-old was buried in private in a pre-dawn ceremony at Kilnacrott Abbey.
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was set up in 2013 to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period, up to 1995.
It recently added three more institutions to its list of investigation, as well as one individual - Smyth. This brings the total number of homes and matters to be investigated to 18.
The inquiry is required to complete its hearings and all investigative work by mid-summer 2016, and has to submit its report to the Northern Ireland Executive by 17 January 2017.
Among its recommendations could be compensation for victims who have alleged they were abused.

Sunday, 21 June 2015



The pope says that he is the Vicar of Christ!

If Christ was homeless how can his vicar live in a palace?
If Christ was poor how can his vicar live in unrivalled wealth?
If Christ travelled by donkey how can his vicar travel by helicopter?
If Christ wore one seamless garment how can his vicar wear silk?
If Christ cooked for his disciples how can his vicar have servants?
If Christ worked with his hands how can his vicar live on offerings?
If Christ distinguished between God and Caesar how can his vicar be a head of state?
If Christ was buried in a borrowed grave how can his vicar be buried in a marble vault?
If Christ came to set free how can his vicar bind?
If Christ chose married disciples how can his vicar choose celibate ones?
If Christ wrote on sand how can his vicar write on vellum?
If Christ fed the five thousand how can his vicar store up his wealth?
If Christ was baptised in a river how can his vicar baptise in a basilica?
If Christ preached TWO commandments how can his vicar preach THOUSANDS?
If Christ challenged the old Pharisees how can his vicar be a new Pharisee?
If Christ never mentioned sex how can his vicar be sex obsessed?
If Christ revered children how can his vicar ignore child abuse?
If Christ was anti-establishment how can his vicar be the establishment?
If Christ revered women how can his vicar be anti-women?
If the world hated Christ why does the world love his vicar?
If Christ had a pauper's funeral why does his vicar have an international funeral?
If Christ had a handful of followers how does his vicar have a billion?
If Christ lived among the lower classes how does his vicar live with the powerful?
If Christ was called Jesus why is his vicar called Your Holiness?

Why is Christ everything that his vicar is not?

Why is Christ's vicar everything that Christ was not?

Saturday, 20 June 2015


More smoke and mirrors from the Vatican on child sexual abuse

Kieran Tapsell  

Kieran Tapsell

Cardinal Desmond Connell, the former archbishop of Dublin, told the Murphy commission in Ireland that mental reservation was deceiving someone without telling a lie. He said it is permissible to use "an ambiguous expression realising that the person who you are talking to will accept an untrue version of whatever it may be."

Connell and lies

There is an exquisite piece of mental reservation in a recent announcement from the Vatican.According to Vatican Radio, "The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors presented a five point plan to the Pope and his closest advisors at this week's meeting, including the establishment of a 'new judicial section' to examine all cases of bishops accused of abusing their office and failing to report crimes committed by priests in their care."

The ambiguous expression in this case is "failing to report crimes" because it does not say to whom the bishops should have reported. Nearly everyone would understand the expression to mean reporting to the police. That is not what the Vatican means. It means reporting to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in every case and only sometimes to the police.
As the Holy See told the Irish foreign minister in 2011, bishops are the governors of their own diocese, and so far as the church is concerned, the only restraint on them is canon law. Bishops can only be put on trial before this new tribunal for breaching canon law. A bishop who fails to report credible allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is in breach of canon law because that obligation is set out in the decree Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.

Likewise, canon law in the United States since 2002, and for the rest of the world since 2010, requires bishops to comply with domestic civil reporting laws. A failure to do so constitutes a breach of canon law. The recently resigned bishops -- Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché of St. Paul-Minneapolis and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., who was convicted by a Missouri court of failing to report a priest's possession of child pornography -- could be brought before the new tribunal for failing to comply with civil laws on reporting as required by the norms approved in December 2002 by the Holy See for the United States.
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Very few jurisdictions in the world have comprehensive reporting laws. Most have reporting laws for children at risk, that is, where they are under the age of 18, but very few have reporting laws that apply to historical abuse, that is, where the abused person is now an adult. In the United States, half the states have such laws and half do not. The United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Canada do not have them. In 2014 and 2015, the Italian and Polish Catholic bishops' conferences announced that they would not be reporting child sex abuse offenses by clergy to the police because their civil laws did not require it. Their stance is consistent with canon law.
In Australia, only two out of the eight states and territories require the reporting of historical abuse. Figures produced at the Victorian parliamentary inquiry in Australia suggest that historical abuse amounts to more than 99 percent of all complaints. The same inquiry found that of the 611 complaints of child sexual abuse in the four Victorian dioceses between 1996 and 2012, not one of them had been reported by the church to the civil authorities.

This was understandable because prior to 2014, there was no requirement under Victorian law to report any abuse, whether of children at risk or historical abuse. And the bishops on ordination had sworn an oath to obey all ecclesiastical laws, which in this case meant not reporting these crimes to the police in accordance with the pontifical secret imposed by Pope Paul VI's Secreta Continere and Pope John Paul II's Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.

In those jurisdictions without such reporting laws, unless a bishop walks into a priest's bedroom and finds him in flagrante delicto with a minor, the pontifical secret prevents him from reporting any knowledge of or allegations about such crimes to the police. If he reports the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he has complied with canon law and cannot be charged with "abuse of office," despite the fact that he has covered up these crimes by not reporting them to the police.

On two occasions now, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee against Torture demanded that the Holy See abolish the pontifical secret for child sexual abuse and order mandatory reporting under canon law, irrespective of whether there are civil reporting laws or not. On Sept. 26, 2014, the Holy See rejected the request.

Many media reports describe the setting up of this tribunal as a breakthrough. There is no breakthrough. The announcement does not do away with the pontifical secret and does not extend reporting requirements to the civil authorities. In many cases of cover-up by bishops, there will be no abuse of office because the cover-up has been required by canon law, as the announcements by the Italian and Polish bishops attest.
The pope has always had jurisdiction to dismiss or punish bishops like Nienstedt, Piché and Finn, who have breached canon law. He even has jurisdiction to dismiss them even where they have not breached canon law, as the case of the Australian Bishop William Morris shows.

This announcement is being dressed up as a measure to protect children when all it is doing is setting up a tribunal that would ensure that bishops accused of breaching canon law have the right to be heard. It is another example of clericalism creating smoke and mirrors to give the impression that better protections are being provided for children when the people being looked after are the bishops. The real breakthrough will happen when the Holy See complies with the demands of the United Nations.