Tag Archives: catholic church

In the News

27 Apr
Blue Sky Optimism

Blue Sky Optimism by ardvorak79

A few things worth reading in the Buffalo News:

Colin Dabkowski has quickly become a must-read every Sunday. His columns are direct, pithy, and insightful. This week, he weighs in on the city’s revival of its public arts program.

Although I’m not a huge fan of nostalgia, I think that Bruce Andriatch’s look back at his time at a defunct Olean-area restaurant and hotel is poignant and interesting.

The News’ endorsements for the upcoming school board election are notable for being exclusively Caucasian in a predominately African-American district. It would seem that there will be a lot of whitesplaining going on over the next year. But understand that when Paladino’s agenda is unsuccessful, he’s going to have to own that and he won’t have any “sisterhood” to blame anymore.

Buffalo’s own news historian guru, Steve Cichon, has begun curating the “BN Chronicles”, highlighting interesting stories from the News’ archives. Nestled between stories detailing America’s intervention in the Mexican Revolution, there’s this 1969 story about moving the Williamsville toll back past the Transit exit (never happened, we’re still arguing about it), a Buffalo Bill selling cars during the off-season, a story about fledgling gay rights in 1984, and a 1969 piece about “high speed rail”.

Sacred Heart Academy refused to print an alumna’s same-sex marriage announcement in its alumni periodical. The woman in charge of the magazine expressed that she was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“I’m very sorry that we can’t publish your pictures and your good news in the Cordecho,” Sister Edith Wyss wrote. “We had a similar request several years ago and we did publish that announcement of the marriage of an alum to her partner. We did expect some negative response and we got some.

“However some readers of the Cordecho also contacted the Diocese of Buffalo. The bishop sent a diocesan official to meet with us at SHA to make sure that we understood what we had done,” Wyss wrote. “In their view, we were publicly supporting same-sex marriage. In our view, we were supporting our alumnae.”

The bottom line, according to Wyss, was that the Cordecho – published three times a year in winter, spring and fall – could not again print news or photos related to same-sex marriage.

One person posted a comment on my Facebook wall, indicating that Nardin has no problem announcing alums’ same-sex marriages, so all of this is a bit odd. But then, read what Buffalo’s bishop has to say:

“I am grateful that the leadership of Sacred Heart Academy has done the right thing and has not compromised its Catholic mission and values. While Sacred Heart is not a diocesan school, it is a Catholic school within the diocese, and I have responsibility for Catholic identity there and in every Catholic school, diocesan or not.”

Yet Pope Francis famously said, “[i]f someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” While not a full-throated endorsement of same-sex marriage, it’s certainly more loving and tolerant than what Buffalo’s bishop has to say. 

Sacred Heart Academy reportedly has no problem cashing homosexual students’ and alumnae’s checks.

#Sloppery

6 Feb

1. The problems with the Sochi Olympics are myriad and sundry, but most of the mockery has been centered on the general shoddiness and unpreparedness of it all. Not to mention safety concerns. What people don’t get is that Russia is not a functioning nation-state, and doesn’t have anything in its long history that comes within miles of the “customer service” concept. Indeed, Russia’s only functioning economic sectors are “corruption” and “graft”, with “gangsterism” close behind. Putin’s portrait on the front desk of one of the unready local hotels speaks volumes. 

It has forever been a feudal kingdom run first by imperial gentry, then by communist nomenklatura, and now by a hybrid kleptocracy/autocracy with a fierce nationalist streak that is joined at the hip with its secret police service. The notion that this Russia could get it together to throw together an Olympic games in its current political and economic climate was always absurd. Perhaps a future Russia will do better. 

2. A United Nations human rights panel sharply criticized the Vatican for: 

…systematically adopting policies that permitted priests to sexually abuse tens of thousands of children globally over the last several decades.

The United Nations committee faulted the church for failing to take effective measures to reveal the breadth of clergy sexual abuse in the past, and for not adopting measures to sufficiently protect Catholic children in the future.

“The committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse,” the report said.

The report also criticized the church’s culture of secrecy and longstanding practice of silencing abuse victims in order to protect the reputation of priests and the church’s moral authority worldwide, asserting that the church had systematically placed preservation of the reputation of the church and the alleged offender over the protection of child victims.

This is quite possibly the sharpest and strongest criticism yet of what really amounts to a worldwide criminal conspiracy to protect and cover-up sexual assault perpetrated against children by people in a position of trust and authority who donned a mantle of sanctity and holiness. It is nothing short of sickening. 

3. Much of the criticism of the ECC North STEM expansion is emotional rather than factual. The downtown campus isn’t so much a campus as it is a building, and my curiosity is piqued by the interesting group of people who are most vocal about it, and I’d love to know more about who’s funding these efforts. The fact of the matter is that the health-related expansion is taking place at North campus to (a) effectively compete with NCCC and ensure that students and their money don’t end up in another county; and (b) North has the capacity to most inexpensively support the building. It would seem to me that complaints about the commute to Main & Youngs could be alleviated by an improved, more frequent shuttle bus service between downtown, the medical campus, and ECC North, with longer hours and an app to track bus location, departure, and arrival times. If, as the expansion opponents argue, the real issue is student convenience it would seem as if cheaper, more immediate solutions are at hand. A lawsuit to block the ECC North expansion is great for lawyers, bad for students. 

4. Yesterday, bigshots were in town to announce the creation of 43North, a huge business plan competition that will award $5 million in prizes to the best business plans, with the top idea getting $1 million to get started. The competition is open to anyone in the world over the age of 18.  Winning companies will be required to locate in Buffalo for one year, and will receive not only the cash prizes, but free space. Got an idea? Apply here.  

5. You know how people like Chris Collins are salivating over a CBO report that supposedly concluded that Obamacare will cost 2 million jobs? Chris Collins is one of those plutocrats who think that America only exists to comfort the comfortable and further afflict the afflicted. When Paul Ryan is busy fact-checking your clumsy ass, you’ve really gone down a weird rabbit hole. Next time you see Chris Collins in person (that’s a laugh), ask him why he doesn’t think you and your family deserve health insurance. The CBO didn’t say it would cost 2 million jobs – it said that Americans with newly acquired health insurance coverage would be more free

Obamacare would lead to a decrease in the number of hours worked by up to 2 percent in 2024. Most of that drop, the CBO said, would be the result of Americans choosing not to work, for various reasons, but not because employers would want to hire fewer workers on account of the law. Translate those lost hours into full-time employment and it equals up to 2.5 million jobs by 2024. But that’s not the same as jobs being cut.

6. Speaking of our plutocracy, if you want to see the Koch Brothers’ sausage-making recipe, you’re going to want to click here. What people like the Kochs and other billionaires are plotting is to effectively turn the United States into two distinct countries, divided by class.  Succinctly put, they want to effectively end America as we know it and replace our bourgeois revolution of the late 18th century – a product of the Enlightenment – with some restoration of feudalism. The people on the list that Mother Jones obtained would be the lords and you and I would be, at best, mere vassals. The problem is that they’ve got a compliant media, a wholly owned political party, and a poorly informed tea party army to help move the fight along. 

You know, when the rich unionize to halt taxation and further concentrate their wealth and power, doesn’t that prove the fallacy of supply-side, trickle-down economics which has enthralled and destroyed the country since the early 1980s? 

The Morning Grumpy – 6/13/12

13 Jun

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

Good morning, Bad Luck Brian! Got a good one for us today?

1. Vatican to American nuns, knock it off with the social justice shit already.

The sisters and church officials met to discuss a doctrinal assessment finding the influential group of American nuns had strayed too far from the church’s teachings.

The report also alleged sins of omission, saying the nuns were focused too heavily on social justice and not enough on opposing abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.

It’s not news that the Catholic Church is in serious trouble in America. Membership has declined, the church is leaving thousands of urban houses of worship behind to rot, and the Church is still settling million dollar legal cases related to decades of sexual abuse of children by thousands of priests. To come down on these women, who are leaders in faith for millions, is absolutely bizarre. As Richard Dawkins pointed out recently, Catholicism is more of a cultural relationship today than a spiritual one.

People who describe themselves as Catholic but do not accept the church’s key teachings should be “honest” and admit they no longer belong to the faith, atheist author and scientist Prof Richard Dawkins has told a Dublin audience.

He said he was intrigued by this week’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll showing almost two thirds (62 per cent) of Catholics believed the bread and wine which was blessed during Mass “only represents the body and blood” of Christ.

Just 26 per cent said they believed the bread and wine transformed into Christ’s body and blood in accordance with the doctrine of transubstantiation.

“If they don’t believe in transubstantiation then they are not Roman Catholics,” Prof Dawkins said. “If they are honest they should say they are no longer Roman Catholics.”

While the poll Dawkins references is of Irish Catholics, similar results are found in American polls. If the relationship people have with the Catholic faith is more cultural than spiritually literal, the Church needs to support the social justice mission of the the American Church or risk losing their audience at a far greater rate than they are today.

2. This article illustrates why “Canalside” is a bad idea, whether it’s planned by Larry Quinn, Jordan Levy, state agencies, city planners, or Mark Goldman’s ambiguously employed and bearded jugband.

“A district inherently becomes a single-use idea,” says Kennedy. “Everything has to be ‘art.’ You end up with a bunch of performing arts spaces and when they’re not in use it becomes a vacuum.” This vacuum has made the district itself a museum of sorts, something impressive to observe but strangely inert.

…themed venues catering to neatly delineated tastes, Epcot-style.

The model suggests that city life is nothing more than a selection of personal consumption experiences. But at times, the district feels more like a very enthusiastic ghost town

Pave/cobble the streets, plant grass, run the utilities, zone the land, put it up for sale, and let “Canalside” develop organically. If Mark Goldman wants a solar powered ferris wheel or a historically themed tchotchke/bauble emporium with culturally sensitive puppet shows, it can happen on its own. If Cabelas or Trader Joe’s (or whatever retail destination we desire) opens, it will be because it’s an attractive opportunity. It will also then look like Buffalo, not some pre-planned consensus driven compromise of a waterfront.

3. Bruce Bartlett (senior economic adviser in the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations) tallies up President George W. Bush’s financial legacy, and it’s pretty ugly.

Putting all the numbers in the C.B.O. report together, we see that continuation of tax and budget policies and economic conditions in place at the end of the Clinton administration would have led to a cumulative budget surplus of $5.6 trillion through 2011 – enough to pay off the $5.6 trillion national debt at the end of 2000.

Tax cuts and slower-than-expected growth reduced revenues by $6.1 trillion and spending was $5.6 trillion higher, a turnaround of $11.7 trillion. Of this total, the C.B.O. attributes 72 percent to legislated tax cuts and spending increases, 27 percent to economic and technical factors. Of the latter, 56 percent occurred from 2009 to 2011.

As Andrew Sullivan noted in his column on the subject,

I’m tired of being told we cannot blame Bush for our current predicament. We can and should blame him for most of it – and remind people that Romney’s policies: more tax cuts, more defense spending are identical.

President Obama needs to get off the defensive and make this election about Romney’s desire to return to the economic policies of Bush administration. Remind America how bad it was and how bad it can be again.

4. The capital it takes to get to the Capitol. Who can afford to go to Congress? And how independent can they be once they’ve arrived?

Click here for a full size version of the graphic.

As Rootstrikers writes in their story about this infographic,

The first infographic is dedicated to our least favorite government institution: Congress. Who can afford the high price tag of our government? Unfortunately, only the privileged few. Until it makes sense for politicians to opt into a system where they are not dependent upon the 0.26% of Americans wealthy enough to pay for their time, we will not have a government by the people, for the people.

We’re asking all those who agree that the corruption has to stop add their name to The Anti-Corruption Pledge. Our goal: find and connect one million citizens who are willing to strike at the root of corruption in this country.

I’ve signed and I support Rootstrikers with my money and time. I think you should consider doing so as well.

5. Rolling Stone debunks the idea that voter fraud is actually a problem, suggesting that Republican efforts to prevent it are simply a means to restrict ballot access for Democratic constituencies.

Not only is voter fraud not rampant – it’s virtually nonexistent. The iron-clad word on the subject comes from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, whose 2007 report, ‘The Truth About Voter Fraud,’ sorts through thousands of allegations going back to the 1990s in the most in-depth voter fraud study ever undertaken. The bottom line, confirmed by all subsequent research: “Usually, only a tiny portion of the claimed illegality is substantiated — and most of the remainder is either nothing more than speculation or has been conclusively debunked.” In fact, “one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud.”

If you can’t win on ideas, might as well change the rules of the game to benefit your team. GOP2012!

Fact Of The Day: Following the 2010 BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 50 percent of shrimp were found lacking eyes and eye sockets in Barataria Bay, LA, one of the most heavily oiled areas.

Quote Of The Day: “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” – AKA The Republican 2012 Strategy – Bertrand Russell

Video Of The Day: How It’s Made, Hot Dogs

Song Of The Day: “Prisecolinensinenciousol” – Adriano Celentano

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com

Hate Teach-in

5 Apr

An assembly was held at a Minneapolis area Catholic School recently – it was mandatory for seniors and was on the subject of marriage.  It started out well, but suddenly veered into ugly territory

“The first three-quarters of the presentation were really good,” said Bliss. “They talked about what is marriage and how marriage helps us as a society. Then it started going downhill when they started talking about single parents and adopted kids. They didn’t directly say it, but they implied that kids who are adopted or live with single parents are less than kids with two parents of the opposite sex. They implied that a ‘normal’ family is the best family.”

“When they finally got to gay marriage, [students] were really upset,” said Bliss. “You could look around the room and feel the anger. My friend who is a lesbian started crying, and people were crying in the bathroom.”

The diocese won’t talk, and the school won’t say who gave the speech. The kids – to their credit – challenged the speaker on these points, as well as his opinions on same sex marriage

The kicker is that Minnesota will be holding a referendum on same-sex marriage, and these high school seniors will be eligible to vote right around the time it’s held. This was an attempt by the diocese – which is obviously vehemently opposed to the measure – to persuade or intimidate a captive audience into backing its political agenda. 

A priest and a volunteer couple presented the information. When someone asked a question about two men being able to have a quality, committed relationship, the couple compared their love to bestiality, Bliss said.

“Most people got really upset,” said Bliss. “And comments about adopted kids, I found those to be really offensive. There were at least four kids there who are adopted.”

Hannah, who is adopted, said one of the presenters said that adopted kids were “sociologically unstable.” She called the comments “hurtful” and comparisons between gay love and bestiality upsetting.

“My friend said, ‘You didn’t just compare people to animals, did you?'” said Hannah. “I think everyone has a right to their opinion, and I don’t judge them on it. But we don’t force people to sit down so we can tell them their opinion is wrong.”

Bestiality?!

It’s an interesting conundrum – the Church opposes contraception, opposes abortion, and – evidently – has some problems with adoption, as well. That sort of narrows a couple’s options, doesn’t it? The school should be ashamed of permitting this hate speech to be presented by clergy to a captive audience.

The diocese – well, with the Church’s permissive nature ranging to the downright enabling of child abuse by a multitude of priests throughout the world, I’m not surprised by its chutzpah or hubris at trying to persuade young minds to become hateful. 

I generally don’t take advice from people who have no experience in the matter being advised. I also think that it runs counter to Jesus’ teachings to preach hatred – to compare loving couples who aren’t bothering anyone to animals, or to suggest that adopted children are socially defective. 

You don’t have to support same sex marriage or adoption, you don’t even have to like it or tolerate it. What you shouldn’t do is go in front of a group of young adults – some of whom are gay and adopted – and tell them that they’re less than human; that they are broken or need fixing. 

That sort of thinking and dogma never, ever ends well. 

We Get Mail (UPDATED)

9 Feb
I received the following from the Erie County Republican Party. Apparently, there isn’t a culture war the Republicans don’t like losing. Again and again. (UPDATE: A New York State mandate dating to 2002 already requires the Catholic Church to provide contraception services to their employees. The Church sued to be exempted from that mandate, and lost.)
 
Local Catholic Republicans Call Upon Hochul and Higgins to
Oppose Obama’s Big- Government Policies That Violate Religious Liberties
 

Buffalo, NY – Several Catholic Erie County Republicans Leaders have called upon the local Congressional delegation to oppose the Obama Administrations decision to require all employers, including the Catholic Church, to provide health insurance coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. By choosing not to comply with this decision that interferes with their beliefs, the move would shut off millions of dollars in funding for Catholic charitable organizations that provide help to struggling families, the sick and elderly and other needy Americans who benefit from their good works.

There’s a poignant irony at play when the Republican Party – which has for the last 20+ years aligned itself and promoted in its platform the inclusion of religion in government and civic life – complains that the government is interfering with religion. (Something about having cake & eating it, too.) A requirement that a business and employer – such as the Catholic Church – must provide the same health insurance as any other employer is not infringing on religious freedoms. After all, assuming the Catholic Church is immune from anti-discrimination statutes and only employs members of the Catholic Church (an untrue assumption), the question of whether contraception or abortion services will be used by those employees is completely moot. Right? Because we all know that Catholics don’t use birth control, don’t have abortions, don’t get divorced, and faithfully obey all of the Church’s rules.  
 

Everyone loves to be lectured by Nancy Naples!

While this topic has forced President Obama and his political machine into damage control, several local leaders have noted the silence of Congressman Brian Higgins and Congresswoman Kathy Hochul.  We have already seen Democrats who were defeated because of their government healthcare takeover vote come out and say that they “ Wouldn’t have voted for ObamaCare had I known Obama Administration to force Catholic hospitals and Catholic Colleges and Universities to pay for contraception…”
Interesting, since Hochul wasn’t around to vote for Obamacare.  Certainly the line between civil government and religious faith is a difficult one to walk, especially in a predominately Catholic place like Buffalo. The fundamental question, though, comes down to whether the electorate thinks that women should have access to contraception or not. This is a battle that has long been won on the side of women and I’m tickled to see the Republicans using it as so blatant a political football.
 
Remember that this regulation doesn’t force the Catholic Church, which has a longstanding and principled anti-choice stance on abortion, to do anything with respect to abortion. But if you want to make sure society has more abortions, more often, then start taking away women’s birth control. The government is not, e.g., forcing Catholic Health to perform abortions or give out the pill. It’s not compelling the Church to do anything but provide its female employees with the ability to obtain copay-free contraception, if they so desire
 
I mean, thank God we have prominent Catholic females like Emilio Colaicovo and Dennis Vacco standing up for equal rights, right?  Because this isn’t about whether Obamacare is forcing the church to hand out the pill during Communion, as this GOP release would have you think.  This is about a longstanding Republican war on female sexuality, and on sex itself – one that they lost long ago, and have now found a faith-based ally to help them try and score political points in the era of the reactionary so-called “tea party.”
 
The argument they’re trying to frame is a Constitutional one based in the freedom to practice religion freely, but there’s also a Constitutional provision called the “Equal Protection Clause” within the 14th Amendment, as well a long-established right to personal privacy in matters relating to sexuality.  A rule requiring the Catholic Church to provide health coverage for its female employees that includes contraceptive and other sex-related services doesn’t prohibit the Church from continuing its longstanding prohibition on all non-procreative sex. 
 
The truth, of course, is that Catholic institutions don’t exclusively employ Catholics. Catholic Universities, for instance, hire loads of people from all faiths and backgrounds. Why should, for instance, a Jewish female professor at Canisius be forced by her employer to have no free access to reproductive medical services and medications? Does Canisius have the right to hover over their employees and ensure that they spend their paychecks only on Church-approved items? 
 
The Erie County GOP isn’t concerned about that, though. They’re not interested in a compromise, such as the one the Obama Administration is attempting to reach with these Churches (a simple way out of this would be to give individual employees the right to opt-in for reproductive services on their own initiative – that it would be available to them, but not by default). 
“While Mrs. Hochul and Mr. Higgins can be found often in front of any camera, why haven’t we heard from them on this issue?  Why do they refuse to stand on the side of decency and our faith,” questioned Emilio Colaiacovo, Counsel to the Erie County Republican Committee.  “It would appear that Congressman Higgins and Congresswoman Hochul stand with Nancy Pelosi who favors abortion on demand and other policies that violate the conscience of Catholics across the country,” added Colaiacovo.
Well, yeah. Duh. Higgins and Hochul are pro-choice. They’re also pro-contraception. Hell, Higgins voted to expand stem cell research to cure disease.  This is a surprise requiring a quote from the Republican Party’s local lawyer? What does abortion have to do with this? What does Nancy Pelosi have to do with this (apart from the fact that, as a female Californian with an ethnic name, they misogynistically demonize her even when completely beside any reasonable point.)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after first promising not to do so, have mislead  American Catholics by requiring the Church, and its institutions, to provide services that violate the conscience and the teachings of the Church.  And this is just the beginning. What’s next? What else didn’t the President and Congress tell us was in this bill?
Did you not read it? Do you need it read to you, like a very long but slightly less boring version of “Goodnight Moon”?
“This is a serious violation of the most fundamental of all rights – the freedom of religious liberty,” said Dennis Vacco, the former New York State Attorney General.  “I urge Kathy and Brian to stand with Church leaders and parishioners who find this to be an unconscionable intrusion on our first Amendment liberties,” concluded Vacco.
Not really, Mr. Vacco. The law doesn’t compel the Church to hand out the pill. It merely requires you to make contraception available to your employees through your health insurance plan.  And 98% of American women have used contraception at least once. Including Catholic women
Congressman Higgins and Congresswoman Hochul are both seeking re-election in districts that are heavily Catholic.
Yes, they are. (Hey, wasn’t the GOP all upset about how, e.g., the #Occupy movement was dividing Americans? Proposing the legislative division of Americans based on their faith would to me seem even more unfair, if not downright unconstitutional). 
“The Catholic Church provides, through its own generosity, food and shelter for the poor, medicine for the sick, education for our children, and other services for the families of our community.  It is unthinkable that Congressman Higgins and Congresswoman Hochul are more interested in party politics instead of standing up for their own faith and what is just and right,”  stated Nancy Naples, former Erie County Comptroller.  “We deserve to hear from our local Congressional delegation whether they stand with our faith community or with President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Washington interests that have ignored Western New York for far too long,” concluded Naples.
What is unconscionable and unthinkable is that Nancy Naples, who as County Comptroller presided over an epic fiscal meltdown of County Finances less than a decade ago isn’t ashamed and embarrassed to poke her head up and bluster about anything at all, but especially to politicize faith and birth control.  This isn’t about Washington interests – this isn’t about whether Nancy Pelosi gets access to the pill. This is about the interests of women
Local Catholic Republicans will continue to raise this issue until Congressman Higgins and Congresswoman Hochul advise local Catholics whether they stand with them or with Washington.
That’s incorrectly written. It should read: 
 
Local Catholic women will continue to raise this issue until Congressman Higgins and Congresswoman Hochul advise local Catholics whether they stand with a Church patriarchy or with women

Breaking Lives with Impunity

16 Mar

Catholic politicians who are politically pro-choice (regardless of what their personal belief is) are routinely denied holy communion.

OTOH, Catholic clergy who molest children are protected, and are permitted to continue to celebrate mass. Meanwhile, the childrens’ abuse is compounded by requiring them to sign oaths of silence.

Quite clearly, there is no excuse for the crime of sexual molestation, but frankly there’s also no excuse to beat a chorister, either.

Because the Church injects itself into political matters, it cannot remain above scrutiny or criticism for its obvious double-standard and rank hypocrisy.