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March 26, 2010


Beth, thanks for writing about this, and for linking to Sinhead O'Connor's letter. It is a far more important issue than many people think.


Thanks for the comment, Teresa. I agree with you. People who aren't practicing Catholics may feel removed from this issue, but it actually has (and has had) far-reaching ramifications - plus, all of us would do well to think more about the influence of religion, both on government and private lives. As a person who does still attend church (Anglican/Episcopal), I find I can only justify it because my denomination is liberal and, at its best, working toward social justice in a positive way. But I still have big problems with the institution as well as with Christianity or any religion, for that matter, that makes claims of exclusivity. If it weren't for my lifelong involvement in liturgical music and working on social justice issues where being part of the church at times gave my efforts more visibility and clout, I'm not sure I'd still be attending. But as I think O'Connor points out very well, for many of us it's not a simple matter of being "in" or "out."

As someone who went to Catholic school until grade 7 and went to Mass until... well, I don't remember when exactly I stopped, this continuing news makes me very sad about the whole institution. But it's not surprising I guess when you have a secretive institution that holds itself above the law and is more interested in protecting its power than protecting children.

Of course beyond Catholicism, I continued to be appalled by the so-called Christians in the US who somehow missed the whole part about taking care of those less fortunate. Never mind that subset who spew hatred and intolerance.

Anyway, thanks - good letter from Sinhead O'Connor.

It sometimes seems to me, as an outsider, that the Catholic Church has a death wish, as if it had simply tired of its mission and wanted to call it quits.

I realize that this is a blinkered view from the First World -- the Church in the Third World is far from dying out -- but many of the Vatican's actions seem almost calculated to drive the likes of O'Connor out of the fold, as if they woke up in Rome and their first thought of every day was, "what can we do to alienate the Europeans and (Non-Latin-) Americans today?"

O'Connor's letter, I'm sure, would touch many an American Catholic raised in the Church who has since turned away from the institution. I miss the Church a lot, the ceremony, the tradition, the community, but there is nothing for me there anymore. I wonder how different things would be had there been no rule of priestly celibacy and room in the Church for women beyond being just maidservants.

Yes, non-Catholics may well feel themselves to be removed from these hideous reports and their ramifications. And, indeed, there will be felt a good deal of schadenfreude on the part of those belonging to denominations who perceive Rome as a long way from Nazareth. But as a non-believer I find myself in the unusual position of feeling real sympathy for those beleaguered Catholics who are having difficulty making sense of these monstrous revelations. With the buck stopping hard and fast at the office of the Pope himself, this is a crisis whose dimensions have yet to be fully sounded.

Is it conceivable that Benedict may yet have to resign - the first pope to have done so since 1296? In that event surely the effects of the shock waves wouldn't be confined to the Catholic Church. With these sickening crimes conceived, committed and subsequently concealed within the ritual and hierarchy of ecclesiastical structure, isn't the very nature of priestly authority going to be questioned?

Such a shame for this to happen and the cover up is even worse.
I am appalled at the whole situation, but really not surprised given the secrecy/silence/wealth surrounding institutionalized religion and the high stakes.

But... the man is accused not convicted. yet you write "Wisconsin priest who abused over 200 boys". I am in no way defending his actions but "innocent until proven guilty" is a concept that seems to be forgotten more and more in media and then among us all. I hesitate to write this as it can so easily be misunderstood. Yet one day any one of us may be accused and we will be grateful for getting fair treatment, not a lynch mob, regardless of what someone says we have done.

Or is this case so horrid that we collectively are willing to condemn the man unheard and untried?

I've been reading the news with a sense of shock, horror and disgust.
As someone who cannot support organised religion, with all of it's rules and paraphanelia,the actions of these so-called Men Of God adds fuel to the fire of my scepticism.
But that the pope, the pope of all people should have collaborated in a cover-up...
But why should I be so shocked? The pope is just a man elected by other men

You know, ej, I am always grateful for your comments that call me on such things. You're right. I haven't read the news closely enough and repeated it the way I read it second-hand; that's inexcusable for someone who believes in innocent-until-proven-guilty as much as I do.

Abuse is abuse; why should priests should be protected by their office from the same penalties as a secular pedophile? For the Church to cover this up, year after year, decade upon decade, is horrific. But I think the Church also bears responsibility for what its policies of celibacy have done to centuries of men. It's unnatural and cruel to expect any human being to deny his or her sexuality for an entire lifetime; how can anyone be surprised at what happens within such a culture of shame and secrecy? That's the root of the problem, and it comes both from institutional inflexibility and warped theology that associates sin with the body. Women have paid a more "open" price for this through the centuries, and patriarchy isn't over yet.

O'Connor's letter was in our paper this morning, but I had to leave before I finished it. Thanks for the timely reminder to do so. Fascinating and truly sad what is happening. She does a good job defining the line between faith in God and religion, which often goes so wrong.

I had not been to mass in awhile. But my wife and I went on Palm Sunday. We almost did not go. I had to work in the morning. Then one of my daughters came over for pan dulce, empanadas de queso and lots of talk. The 10:30 mass then the noon mass went by without us going. So did the 2 pm mass. At 10 before 5 we decided to go to the last chance mass. We just made it. Everbody was outside listening to the Bishop. We walked in with the crowd. It was English mass so it seemed a little strange at first. We usually go to the Spanish mass. My wife made a nice cross from the palm fronds. I spaced out during the homily. I finally felt better after eating the host. I am glad that I went. People are hurting, the church is full of hypocrites and is not living up to its mission. But is that something new? Am I not also a hypocrite and am not also failing in my mission?

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.