Our Common Good

Much has already been made of Rep. Paul Ryan’s libertarian pretensions and his failure to live up to them from across the ideological spectrum (here, here, here). Yet there’s a more disturbing inconsistency that deserves more scrutiny regardless of where you find yourself on the ideological or theological spectrum. The newly christened vice-presidential nominee holds two deeply contradictory and inimical materialist and spiritual worldviews represented by the objectivist philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand and the Catholic Church.

This naturally begs the question of how a devout Catholic can follow the social justice theology of the church yet also idolize an atheist that preached the “virtue of selfishness.” Somehow in Paul Ryan’s mind, Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand are complementary figures, not warring factions in defining how an individual should lead a moral life.


Ana Kasparian tells Cenk about a “Los Angeles Times” analysis of secret “perversion file” kept by the Boy Scouts of America, intended to track pedophile volunteers or staff — and also, it seems, keep the abuse quiet. Cenk says, “It’s the same thing as the Catholic Church: They don’t fix anything until they get sued.” Kasparian adds, “Judging other people’s lifestyles that are natural, that are normal — and in the meantime within your organization, you are covering up for these hideous people… It’s horrible.”

When Rita Poley created the “Stop the Abington Hospital Merger” Facebook page, she had no idea what would happen next.

For the 69-year-old Elkins Park, Pa. resident, it was a way to connect with other Montgomery County community members outraged by the abruptly announced partnership between the secular Abington Health (AH) and the Catholic-affiliated Holy Redeemer (HR), both located in the metro Philadelphia area. The Facebook page, created July 3—a week after the merger was revealed—was a means to initiate debate about “the horrible situation that was now present in our community.”

That horrible situation? The creation of a new regional health system formed between Holy Redeemer and Abington Health (which encompasses its flagship hospital, Abington Memorial Health (AMH) and Lansdale Hospital in Hatfield Township, as well as two area outpatient facilities), would mean total elimination from the hospital system of abortion care, even as Abington Health still claimed to remain a secular institution. Abington Health doctors and community members claim they were not consulted about this decision—or the partnership—before it was announced.

This is a bit of a longish read, but well worth the time - especially if you are in a community where such a merger is being considered.  Citizens, with doctors and non-Catholic religious leaders fought back - and won.  Defeating the merger and thus protecting women’s reproductive health. 

When Abington decided to merge with Catholic hospital Holy Redeemer, there is little doubt that they expected the uproar that ensued over their announced plan to stop offering abortions.  The outcry has moved far beyond just the residents who use the hospital, and now is coming from a large portion of the doctors on staff, too.

"During the year of negotiations behind closed doors, no staff or community members were involved in the decision-making process," wrote the 20 residents in Abington’s ob-gyn program, in a letter they released after the meeting. "There is strong opposition to having our medical practice dictated by Catholic doctrine rather than our patients’ best interests and standard of care."


According to the site, 150 physicians met to condemn the merger of abortion services that would not be offered as a result. Modern Healthcare magazine report lists physician opposition as the second biggest factor for mergers failing to go through. Although the hospital performs few abortions yearly, they are often performed for fetal anomalies or when a woman’s health is at risk. One example given by the Montgomery News involved a woman who went to another hospital’s emergency room after her water broke at 19 weeks, and she and the fetus developed an infection. She was then transferred to Abington to have an abortion to save her life and future fertility.

The original emergency room was at Holy Redeemer. When they won’t perform abortions to save women, those women have traditionally been sent to Abington, which, based on this agreement would now have to turn them away as well.

Watch The Silence on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

The Silence: the legacy of abuse by a number of men who worked for the Catholic Church along Alaska’s far west coast in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They would leave behind a trail of hundreds of claims of abuse, making this one of the hardest hit regions in the country.

(via PBS Video)

The Catholic bishops’ call for civil disobedience surrounding health care reform doesn’t kick off until Thursday, June 21 but already there are signs that the flock is not as enthusiastic about the bishops’ positions.

Catholic communities across the country have told the bishops via a letter campaign that they will be withholding contributions to the Bishops’ Catholic Communications Campaign as a result of their attacks on health care reform and that they strongly disagree with the direction the leadership is taking the church.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee.

Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a “payoff” to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was “false, preposterous and unjust.”

But a document unearthed during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and made public by victims’ advocates reveals that the archdiocese did make such payments to multiple accused priests to encourage them to seek dismissal, thereby allowing the church to remove them from the payroll.

A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed on Wednesday that payments of as much as $20,000 were made to “a handful” of accused priests “as a motivation” not to contest being defrocked. The process, known as “laicization,” is a formal church juridical procedure that requires Vatican approval, and can take far longer if the priest objects.

“It was a way to provide an incentive to go the voluntary route and make it happen quickly, and ultimately cost less,” said Jerry Topczewski, the spokesman for the archdiocese. “Their cooperation made the process a lot more expeditious.”

Cardinal Dolan, who is president of the national bishops’ conference and fast becoming the nation’s most high-profile Roman Catholic cleric, did not respond to several requests for comment.

A victims advocacy group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, sent a letter of protest to the current archbishop of Milwaukee on Wednesday asking, “In what other occupation, especially one working with families and operating schools and youth programs, is an employee given a cash bonus for raping and sexually assaulting children?”

The New York Times, “In Milwaukee Post, Cardinal Authorized Paying Abusers.”

Jesus fucking Christ.

(via inothernews)

Yet Dolan is so worried about Catholic institutions being forced to allow their health insurance carriers to provide birth control.  Seems he has a lot more he should be worried about.

Declaring that “life must always be protected”, a senior Vatican cleric has defended the Catholic Church’s decision to excommunicate the mother and doctors of a nine-year-old rape victim who had a life-saving abortion in Brazil… The unnamed girl’s mother and doctors were excommunicated for agreeing to Wednesday’s emergency abortion yet the Church has not taken formal steps against the stepfather, who is in custody. Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, the conservative regional archbishop for Pernambuco where the girl was rushed to hospital, has said that the man would not be thrown out of the Church, because although he had allegedly committed “a heinous crime”, the Church took the view that “the abortion, the elimination of an innocent life, was more serious”.

Brazil Rocked by Abortion for 9-Year-Old Rape Victim: Church excommunicates mother and doctors—but not accused rapist (via cocknbull)

Step-father that may have raped a nine year old: NOT excommunicated

Mother of nine year old girl and the doctor that preformed the abortion on the nine year old girl: excommunicated

those are some fucked up spiritual priorities

(via freesamuel)

Church. Y u fear vagina? Isn’t that where Jesus came from? (via generalbriefing)

Totally fucked up.  The news today is really depressing.

[The Catholic Church] barely protested when the last president authorized torture, but the Catholic hierarchy is now determined to use what’s left of its authority to organize protests this summer against their right to deny insured contraception to Catholic and non-Catholic employees in schools and hospitals. This will be their cause - not saving universal healthcare from repeal, not bringing illegal immigrants out of the shadows, not protecting the poor, but affirming that religious liberty is at stake if they cannot keep the pill from their female employees’ insurance, 98 percent of whom use it at some point in their lives anyway.


For the past week I have been reading how in his “homily” last week, Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky went on a tirade against President Obama, comparing him with Hitler and Stalin; describing him in terms of supporting “intrinsic evil.”  Rather than describe what he said, I’ll quote it:

You know, it has never been easy to be a Christian and it’s not supposed to be easy! The world, the flesh, and the devil will always love their own, and will always hate us. As Jesus once predicted, they hated me, they will certainly hate you.

But our Faith, when it is fully lived, is a fighting faith and a fearless faith. Grounded in the power of the resurrection, there is nothing in this world, and nothing in hell, that can ultimately defeat God’s one, true, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

For 2,000 years the enemies of Christ have certainly tried their best. But think about it. The Church survived and even flourished during centuries of terrible persecution, during the days of the Roman Empire.

The Church survived barbarian invasions. The Church survived wave after wave of Jihads. The Church survived the age of revolution. The Church survived Nazism and Communism.

And in the power of the resurrection, the Church will survive the hatred of Hollywood, the malice of the media, and the mendacious wickedness of the abortion industry.

The Church will survive the entrenched corruption and sheer incompetence of our Illinois state government, and even the calculated disdain of the President of the United States, his appointed bureaucrats in HHS, and of the current majority of the federal Senate.

May God have mercy on the souls of those politicians who pretend to be Catholic in church, but in their public lives, rather like Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus Christ by how they vote and how they willingly cooperate with intrinsic evil.

As Christians we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but as Christians we must also stand up for what we believe and always be ready to fight for the Faith. The days in which we live now require heroic Catholicism, not casual Catholicism. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction.

In our own families, in our parishes, where we live and where we work – like that very first apostolic generation – we must be bold witnesses to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We must be a fearless army of Catholic men, ready to give everything we have for the Lord, who gave everything for our salvation.

Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room.

In the late 19th century, Bismark waged his “Kultur Kamp,” a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.

Clemenceau, nicknamed “the priest eater,” tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century.

Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.

In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.

Now things have come to such a pass in America that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgement seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.

This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries — only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the instrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.

No Catholic ministry – and yes, Mr. President, for Catholics our schools and hospitals are ministries – can remain faithful to the Lordship of the Risen Christ and to his glorious Gospel of Life if they are forced to pay for abortions.

I could criticize this on numerous levels, but this blog will focus on one issue.   The Roman Catholic Church is a tax-exempt organization.  As such, while it can take positions on public policy issues - and can voice its opposition to abortion — it can not, under Federal law — take positions on elections.   It can not endorse or reject candidates; it can not tell its members how to vote.  In return for that, it gets tax exemption.  It does not have to pay property taxes on its facilities.  Properties worth millions of dollars.   

Yet, when the Bishop describes the President, in an election year, as embodying intrinsic evil;  when the Bishop compares him with two of the individuals who most reflect global condemnation in terms of evil; when the Bishop tells the faithful that THEY must vote this fall; as the entire fate of the Church is at stake; when he does these things, he is unequivocally making it crystal clear that they should NOT vote for President Obama.  

It is therefore altogether appropriate that Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the IRS for the Diocese’ violation of its non-profit status.  But it is not just the Diocese, at least one parish in the diocese — Epiphany Roman Catholic Church of Normal (perhaps the most reactionary conservative Catholic church I have ever encountered) — has the full text of the homily on the front page of its website; it has it reproduced in this Sunday’s bulletin.   The Church is drawing a battle line.   And in doing so, it has crossed the line of violating federal law.   

The Roman Catholic Church, through its hierarchy (and really not through most of its members) has become a reactionary force of conservatism.   That is its choice.  But when it violates Federal laws; and when it tells its faithful how to vote; it has joined the Religious Right — and it can not be allowed to continue to benefit from one of the benefits that society vests upon non-profit organizations — tax exemptions.  

This Bishop has been engaged in similar tactics for a long time; and when the Bishop uses vile rhetoric as he has, he is no different than the Rev. Fred Phelps, of the infamous Westborough “God Hate Fags” Baptist church.  

Yesterday, the Diocese claimed that the Bishop’s homily was taken out of context; but I say re-read what I posted above. — There is nothing taken out of context.  It is crystal clear.   He has crossed a line; and must be made accountable.   That might come from the government (I doubt it); it may more likely come from Catholics who speak with their wallets.   I’d urge any Catholic in the Diocese of Peoria to put in a note in the collection basket saying “Bishop Jenky must apologize” instead of a check.   

And in the meantime, maybe the Bishop should spend some time with the Bible.  I’d suggest he start with John 13:34. “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  

Even among the virulently homophobic American bishops, Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt stands out. More than perhaps any other prelate in the country (with possible competition from New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan), Nienstedt has turned the fight against marriage equality into an all-out crusade. He’s inserted a prayer for marriage discrimination into the Catholic Mass, turned that church’s holiest sacrament into a weapon against LGBT people, ordered his priests to organize grassroots political committees in their parishes — at parish expense — for the express purpose of drumming up support for Minnesota’s proposed constitutional marriage discrimination amendment, and essentially told those same priests that if they opposed the Minnesota Catholic Church’s war on LGBT people, couples, and families, they had damn well better keep their traps shut about it. (And incidentally, Nienstedt’s spiritual bullying was recently endorsed by none other than the Pope himself.)


The students had ample reason to be angry. According to Hannah, she and her fellow DeLaSalle students were suspicious when they found out that only current seniors would be required to sit through the marriage lecture. She said, ”We put two and two together — all of us will be able to vote next fall [on the constitutional amendment that limits marriage to same-sex couples].” These suspicions were confirmed when the presenters directly addressed the proposed amendment, albeit briefly due to the angry reaction it elicited from the students.

The priest-couple team didn’t stop there, though. Bliss told Tevlin that when someone in the audience stated that two men, for example, were perfectly capable of enjoying a loving, committed, stable relationship, the diocesan couple onstage equated that loving same-sex relationship with bestiality. Hannah was shocked by these comments, and she was equally shocked to hear one of the presenters characterize adopted children as “sociologically unstable.” Hannah herself is adopted.

A judge ruled Friday that the Catholic church can’t impose restrictions on abortion and contraception services for human trafficking victims served with taxpayer dollars.


Dutch journalist Joep Dohmen, reporting for the NRC Handelsblad uncovered ten cases of the castrations, one of which was suffered by Henk Heithuis, who was castrated as a minor for reporting to police sexual abuse by a priest that he endured while in the boarding home.
Although the priests were convicted of the abuses, Heithuis was still transported to a Catholic hospital, and underwent a surgical castration as a treatment for homosexuality and, according to the report, a punishment for tattling on the clergy.

This was in the 1950’s, not the Middle Ages…..  geez…

Turning the tables on an advocacy group that has long supported victims of pedophile priests, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church and priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel the group to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists.

The group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the litigation. But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis, and its national director, David Clohessy, was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year. A judge in Kansas City ruled that the network must comply because it “almost certainly” had information relevant to the case.

The network and its allies say the legal action is part of a campaign by the church to cripple an organization that has been the most visible defender of victims, and a relentless adversary, for more than two decades. “If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced,” said Marci A. Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University and an advocate for victims of clergy sex crimes, “it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.”

Lawyers for the church and priests say they cannot comment because of a judge’s order. But William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a church advocacy group in New York, said targeting the network was justified because “SNAP is a menace to the Catholic Church.”

Mr. Donohue said leading bishops he knew had resolved to fight back more aggressively against the group: “The bishops have come together collectively. I can’t give you the names, but there’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don’t need altar boys.”

The New York Times, “Church Puts Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group.”

William Donohue, that fucking attack dog and pig incarnate, speaks his defense of the Catholic Church with no irony whatsoever.  What a vile dirtbag, just as vile as priests who sexually assault children.

(via inothernews)

He said that Catholic bishops should “toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough” in the fight against victims of sex abuse. “We don’t need altar boys.”

Currently Donohue is backing the efforts of lawyers defending two Missouri priests accused of multiple counts of child molestation. Attorneys for the priests have issued subpoenas to the victims’ advocacy group the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), seeking “more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists,” according to the New York Times article.

SNAP is not involved in the Missouri case, but Donohue believes that the attacks are warranted because, in his words, “SNAP is a menace to the Catholic chruch.” The subpoenas, thanks to their exhaustiveness, are calculated to distract, bankrupt and embarrass the organization.

What a sick fuck.