Rainbow Sash Movement Takes On Bishop William Lori’s Homophobia

That the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is on the warpath over LGBT rights, and are even going so far as to claim that any rights given to LGBT people limit the rights of Catholics is not even sitting well now with the Catholic laity. The Rainbow Sash Movement is opposed to the way that the Catholic hierarchy portrays the LGBT Community and they are now speaking out agaisnt the ad hoc committees that the US Council of Catholic Bishops is putting into place. Here is their press release:

All Saints” aka Halloween, is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Roman Catholic Church. The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, (also known by its opening words Homosexualitatis problema or, disparagingly, as “the Halloween Letter”) is a letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church written in 1985 and delivered in Rome on 1 October 1986 by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ( Pope Benedict XVI) and Archbishop Alberto Bovone. The letter gave instructions on how the Clergy should deal with and respond to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Pope John Paul II approved the letter and ordered its publication.

What does this letter have in common with the recent testimony of Bishop William Lori, head of the newly created ad hoc committee on religious liberty at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), who recently testified before Congress? According to Bishop Lori the Catholic vision of Religious Freedom should be paramount and associated with the Vatican’s perceived threats to religious liberty. Further that action in support of any legislation that promotes equality for Lesbian/Gay People would be an attack a Catholics right to practice his/hers religion. The Rainbow Sash Movement response to such a view is that it is totally unreasonable, un-democratic and homophobic.

Like the 1986 Halloween Letter Bishop Lori promotes the idea that propagation of religious belief as a justification for discrimination against Gay people should be lawful. Both continue to promote the Catholic Church’s condemnation of homosexuality under the guise “Religious Freedom”. This will only result in the corresponding denial of “Religious Freedom” to Gay people as is exampled by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Halloween letter did not remove violence against gay people if they try to legalize our rights.

The US Council of Catholic Bishops imperial religious behavior in respect to Gay Marriage has only sought to deny equality and fairness by promoting individual attacks on the rights of gay people generally, on Gay Catholics and their allies specifically. The Bishops seek to promote through the prism of “Religious Freedom” an atmosphere where promoting individual rights of conscience and equal rights for Gay People are somehow at odds with “Religious Freedom” which is a total fabrication of reasonable thought.

Both the Halloween Letter anniversary and Bishop Lori testimony only show how out of touch the bishops are when it comes to the lives of real people. Clearly the Bishops can no longer speak for the Catholic voter on these issues as poll after poll has shown.

Complete Article HERE!

Is there a link between homosexuality and clergy sex abuse?

Editor’s Note: Dr. James Cantor is a professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and has been conducting research on the causes of pedophilia for the past 10 years. He is the Head of the Law & Mental Health Research Section of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH; Toronto) and the Editor-in-Chief of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment.

(CNN) — The on-going reports about child molestation in the Catholic church have led the public and the media to ask what causes someone to be sexually attracted to children. Scientists use the word pedophilia to refer to the sexual preference for children before puberty (usually, before age 11), and the word hebephilia, to refer to the sexual preference for children at puberty (usually, ages 11 to 14).

Although there have been claims that child molestation is a result of homosexuality (or of celibacy), there is absolutely no basis in science for either conclusion. The scientific evidence instead suggests that pedophilia and hebephilia are caused by atypical brain development occurring near or before birth.

MRI research has found very large differences in brain structure between men who have a sexual preference for children and those who have a sexual preference for adults. These differences were detected as regions of low density in brain tissue called white matter. White matter is what connects the various parts of the brain, enabling it to function as a whole. The white matter that is affected in pedophilia and hebephilia is the white matter that connects the parts of the brain that respond to sexual images. (Specifically, these regions were the superior occipitofrontal fasciculus and the arcuate fasciculus.)

There does not exist any evidence that gay men share this feature of decreased white matter. In fact, there is some evidence that gay men have areas of more white matter than straight men, in at least some parts of the brain (called the corpus callosum).

Also demonstrating that gay men have no more of a sexual interest in children than do straight men are studies that have measured sexual responses directly: There exists a test, called a phallometric test, in which a man is shown images of adults and children, both male and female, while he wears a device on his penis to detect even very small changes in blood volume. The procedure is routinely used with sexual offenders, and research has repeatedly shown phallometric testing to be one of the most — if not the single most — accurate predictor of who is the most likely to commit future sexual offenses. When regular gay men and regular straight men (not offenders) are tested, gay men respond to images of children in exactly the same way that straight men do: very little.

Out of typical men, approximately two to three percent have a sexual preference for men rather than women, and out of pedophilic/hebephilic men, approximately 20 to 30 percent have a sexual preference for boys rather than girls. It is an error, however, to conclude from this that the two to three percent who prefer men are more likely than the others to break out of their preferences to contact a child sexually. That is, the offenses against boys are being committed by the 20 to 30 percent of pedophiles who prefer boys, not by the two to three percent of otherwise typical men who prefer men.

The misconception that gay men pose a disproportionate risk to children comes from a misunderstanding of men’s sexual preferences: Pedophilia is the genuine sexual preference for children. The evidence suggests that these are innate and immutable characteristics. Pedophilia/hebephilia is not a temporary state from which those who prefer boys can become typical gay men, nor from which those who prefer girls can become typical straight men. Nor is there any known route by which someone with a genuine sexual preference for adults can develop a genuine sexual preference for children, either girls or boys.

Although it is reasonable to question why the Catholic priesthood appears to include so many pedophilic or hebephilic men, there is no scientific evidence that homosexuality is the answer, nor that fostering discrimination against gay men could be a solution.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dr. James Cantor. Click here more information and updates on his research.

Complete Article HERE!

Law expert: U.S. bishops should persuade Finn to resign

The U.S. bishops should quietly persuade Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., to resign in the wake of his Oct. 14 criminal indictment for failure to report a priest for sexual abuse of minors, said Nicholas P. Cafardi, an expert in civil and church law.

Calls for Finn to resign in the public arena don’t “really accomplish much,” Cafardi said. Instead, the U.S. bishops should call upon Kansas City’s bishop to resign “in the spirit of fraternal correction.”
Finn’s indictment comes amid controversy of his handling of a priest arrested for child pornography.

Cafardi suggested the bishops tell Finn that his continued presence as a bishop “is causing the faithful to question our commitment to the safety of their children” and that he should consider stepping down.

Cafardi, a professor of civil and canon (church) law at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, is one of the original members and later chairman of the all-lay National Review Board established by the U.S. bishops in 2002 to oversee the bishops’ implementation of their new Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

With the criminal indictment of a bishop by a U.S. prosecutor, “a taboo has been broken,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, a director and spokeswoman for bishopaccountability.org, a website that tracks how Catholic bishops have responded or failed to respond to sexual abuse of minors by their clergy.

In the past, bishops have been given undue deference by civil authorities, and “I think it’s long overdue that prosecutors treat Catholic bishops like other American citizens and hold them equally accountable under the law” when there is substantive evidence that they have committed a crime, she said.

“The whole point of [state child sex abuse] reporting statutes is to make sure that the child abuser is stopped before having additional victims,” Cafardi said, “and my understanding is that between the time that Bishop Finn found out about the child pornography on Fr. [Shawn] Ratigan’s computer and the time he — or the diocese — did report him, there were additional victims, or at least one additional victim. … That, to me, is the horrendous part of this.”

In a telephone interview with NCR, Cafardi said, “It would appear, from what we now know about Philadelphia and what we now know about Kansas City, that at least some bishops — and I have reason to believe that it’s very few bishops — have given themselves a pass on the [2002] Dallas Charter.”

Cafardi’s comment on Philadelphia referred to last February’s decision by prosecutors to bring charges against Msgr. William Lynn, former director of the archdiocesan Office for Clergy, for endangering minors by reassigning at least two priests known to have sexually abused minors to posts where they could come into contact with minors.

The grand jury investigation that led to the indictment said it was clear Lynn was acting in accord with policies established by now-retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, then-archbishop of Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia grand jury investigation that led to Lynn’s indictment, which included substantial allegations of continued protection of abusive priests by Bevilacqua’s successor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, is widely believed to have triggered Rigali’s resignation just five months later as archbishop of Philadelphia.

“I think that when the church doesn’t police itself … we have to expect that civil society will police us instead,” Cafardi said. “Would we rather our bishops follow the Dallas norms and charter, or would we rather see them indicted?”

“If [Finn] had kept the Dallas norms, he would have been in compliance with the state law as well,” he added.

“There is no real [binding bishops’ conference] compliance mechanism with the Dallas norms” apart from an audit and declaration that a diocese is not in compliance, he said. “But with civil society, when you break a law — especially if it’s a criminal statute — you can expect to be indicted and tried.”
Referring to a June editorial in The Kansas City Star calling on Finn to resign, NCR asked Cafardi if he agreed that Finn should resign as bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

“I think that the people to ask for his resignation are his fellow bishops,” Cafardi said.

“I think they need to do that in a spirit of fraternal correction,” he added, referring to a classical theological principle in the church of offering positive moral guidance to someone who has departed from the appropriate path of Christian discipleship.
“Also, I think they need to do that in private — but I do think that they need to do it,” he said. “I think he’s let down his brother bishops. From the facts, it would appear — he’s not been found guilty yet, but from the facts it would appear — that he’s really let down his fellow bishops, and they should be the ones who are talking to him.
“I’m not sure public calls for a bishop to resign really accomplish much,” he said.

Cafardi said that on one hand, Finn might use a promise to resign as a bargaining chip in the civil criminal proceedings — as often occurs when politicians or other civil officials face criminal charges — and that might be a reason not to resign before his criminal case is resolved.

“But then the flip side of that,” he said, “is what does his staying in office say about the seriousness of the bishops in following the Dallas Charter and norms? I mean, that cuts both ways.”

“I can’t read his conscience,” Cafardi said. “I think if a resignation comes, it really is best brought about by the fraternal correction of his brother bishops. I would like to see that, and it may be happening. But when it does happen, it is never in public.”

NCR’s efforts to interview Deacon Bernard Nojadera, new director of the U.S. bishops’ conference’s secretariat for child and youth protection, about the Finn indictment were redirected to the conference’s office for media relations. Mercy Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, the bishops’ media spokeswoman, said the conference had no comment on the Finn case.

Bishop Robert Finn
Doyle, of bishopaccountability.org, said despite numerous reports of bishops who have protected sexually abusive priests and failed to report them to civil authoritie,s “not one bishop … has yet gone to jail” for violating civil laws on mandatory reporting of sex crimes against minors.

“The Kansas City prosecutor showed a lot of courage” in bringing an indictment against Finn, she said, and that action, along with the recent indictment of Lynn in Philadelphia, “is a very encouraging development.”

“It’s absolutely deplorable that in 2011 a bishop is still failing to report an abuser, but it’s very encouraging that prosecutors have finally stopped their deference to church officials … and are beginning to treat church officials like ordinary citizens,” she said.

Doyle noted that though the charter to protect young people passed by the U.S. bishops in 2002 calls for bishops to report all credible allegations of abuse to civil authorities, the legally binding essential norms for all bishops that were approved by the Vatican do not make that a requirement.

She said she thinks many bishops interpreted the Vatican rejection of a blanket reporting requirement as a church law, in favor of a more modest requirement that all bishops follow local laws on the subject, as a signal from Rome that the Vatican prefers non-reporting whenever legally possible.

While many church officials since 2002 have publicly interpreted the charter as requiring them to hand over all reasonable abuse allegations to civil authorities even when civil law does not mandate it, Doyle said she thinks there is a fairly large number of U.S. bishops who have interpreted the charter’s reporting guidelines more narrowly — in contrast to Cafardi’s belief that “very few” bishops have adopted such a narrow interpretation.

As to the overall fallout of the recent Kansas City events, Cafardi said: “How many Philadelphias, how many Kansas Cities does it take before the bishops realize that the steps they took in 2002 protect our kids, they protect our church, and they should be followed without question?”

Complete Article HERE!

Catholics react to Archdiocese push for constitutional same-sex marriage ban

Catholics from both sides of the issue are weighing in on the plan by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to create ad hoc committees in every Catholic church in Minnesota to push the state’s constitutional same-sex marriage ban.

One lay Catholic who works for a church-affiliated organization, who asked not to be identified for fear of losing their job, told the Minnesota Independent that the organized campaign in support of the marriage amendment was “offensive, divisive and against the image of Christ we see in the Gospels.”

“But honestly after the sex abuse scandal and the cover-ups made by the hierarchy, nothing they do shocks me anymore,” the source said. ”After watching the Catholic Church use funds to pay for their lawyers, pay off victims and now shove through this amendment, I’ve decided to withhold my tithe from the church. I do not want to provide them more money to defend themselves or lobby against me and those I love. Instead, I will give that money directly to services in Minnesota that provide food and housing for the poorest among us.”

The move by Archbishop John Nienstedt is out of touch with many lay Catholics, according to a large survey of Catholics released on Monday that showed only 35 percent of Catholics oppose same-sex marriage.

The decision has riled some Catholics who oppose the religion’s opposition to same-sex marriage rights.

“Minnesota bishops have just taken the unusual step of urging parish priests across the state to form committees to help pass the proposed anti-marriage amendment in 2012,” wrote Freedom to Marry, a national group that supports marriage rights for same-sex couples. The group recently registered with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board to work on the campaign to defeat the amendment.

The group continued with an appeal for money: “This isn’t the first time we’ve faced a multi-million dollar campaign funded by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to ban the freedom to marry. With your help, this time we will be prepared.”

The Rainbow Sash Movement, a national group working to protest the church’s policies on LGBT people, called Nienstedt’s plans an “abuse of authority.”

“Above and beyond all this, Archbishop Nienstedt appears not to have any concern about the unity of the Archdiocese in his drive to stigmatize the gay marriage as threat to society. He is naive if he thinks that Catholics will buckle under his political direction in this,” wrote Bill O’Connor, spokesperson of the Rainbow Sash Movement. “If anything has damaged marriage in our society, one only has to look to divorce. Perhaps this where the Archbishop should put his energies rather than trying impose an interpretation of marriage that is not grounded [in] today’s reality, by making gay people scapegoats.”

Scott Alessi, writing for U.S. Catholic, which is published by a Roman-Catholic community of priests and brothers called the Claretian Missionaries, said Niensted’s decision was “unusual.”

“Nienstedt has made clear that for priests in his archdiocese, fighting to ensure that the state defines marriage in the same way as the church is today’s top priority,” Alessi wrote.

Alessi wondered if anti-gay marriage amendment was the most appropriate use of resources: ”If an archbishop can call upon all his pastors to form grassroots committees, appoint parish leaders, and organize a large-scale effort, is this the issue on which to do it? What if every parish developed an unemployment committee dedicated to helping out of work people in the parish community find jobs?”

Complete Article HERE!

Exodus as pope’s Legion reform lags

When Pope Benedict XVI took over the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order last year, expectations were high that heads would roll over one of the greatest scandals of the 20th century Roman Catholic Church.

One year later, none of the Legion’s superiors has been held to account for facilitating the crimes of late founder Rev. Marciel Maciel, a drug addict who sexually abused his seminarians, fathered three children and created a cult-like movement within the church that damaged some of its members spiritually and emotionally.

An Associated Press tally shows that disillusioned members are leaving the movement in droves as they lose faith that the Vatican will push through the changes needed. The collapse of the order, once one of the most influential in the church, has broader implications for Catholicism, which is shedding members in some places because the hierarchy covered up widespread sexual abuse by priests.

In an exclusive interview, the man tapped by Benedict to turn the Legion around insisted that the pope tasked him only with guiding the Legion and helping rewrite its norms – not “decapitating” its leadership or avenging wrongdoing.

Cardinal Velasio De Paolis ruled out any further investigation into the crimes of Maciel, who as a favorite of Pope John Paul II had been held up as a living saint despite well-founded allegations – later proven – that he was a pedophile.

“I don’t see what good would be served” by further inquiry into a coverup, the Italian cardinal said. “Rather, we would run the risk of finding ourselves in an intrigue with no end. Because these are things that are too private for me to go investigating.”

The Holy See knew of the pedophile accusations, yet for years ignored his victims – as well as complaints about his cult-like sect – because he attracted men and money to the priesthood. As it is, John Paul’s legacy was marred by his close association with Maciel; Benedict’s legacy, already tarnished by the sex abuse scandal, may well rest in part on how he cleans up Maciel’s mess.

Critics, including some Vatican officials, contend De Paolis has an obligation to uncover the truth and take more radical action, given that the Vatican itself found Maciel created a twisted, abusive order to cater to his double life.

The Vatican also determined that for the Legion to survive it must be “purified” of the influence of Maciel, who died in 2008, since its very structure and culture had been so contaminated by his obsession with obedience and secrecy. Members were forbidden from criticizing their superiors, were isolated from their families, and told how to do everything from praying to eating an orange.

In the absence of radical change, the movement has seen a dramatic decline in membership since the scandal was revealed in 2009.

An estimated 70 of the 890 Legion priests and upwards of a third of the movement’s 900 consecrated women have left or are taking time away to ponder their future. Seminarians have fled – 232 last year alone, an unusually high 16 percent dropout rate for one year. New recruits are expected to number fewer than 100 this year, half what they averaged before the scandal.

The AP compiled the figures based on interviews with more than a dozen current and former members, who outlined inconsistencies in partial statistics provided by the Legion.

In August, about 20 current and former Legion priests met secretly for a week in Cordoba, Spain, to discuss forming an association to support Legion priests who leave the order, participants told the AP. The move could well encourage more to leave.

And earlier this month, the six editors of the Legion-affiliated Catholic news agency Zenit quit en masse, following the resignation of Zenit’s founder. He had cited differences in editorial vision and a loss of trust with the Legion’s superiors over the way they covered up Maciel’s crimes.

The Rev. Richard Gill, a prominent U.S. Legion priest until he left the congregation in 2010 after 29 years, has openly criticized De Paolis’ efforts, particularly his refusal to remove compromised superiors, saying “dismissals will be needed to restore some measure of confidence in the Legion.”

He called for an investigation into the origins of the scandal and noted that for most of the 70-odd priests who have left, “loss of trust in the leadership has been the primary reason.”

Claudia Madero left the movement in August after living like a nun for 35 years, citing the refusal of her Mexican superiors and De Paolis to embrace change.

“It’s true there have been some changes, but these are incidental, not essential,” she wrote in her resignation letter.

Benedict, however, gave De Paolis an unofficial vote of confidence last month when he kept him on as his Legion envoy while letting the 76-year-old Italian retire as head of the Vatican’s economics office.

Benedict’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, declined to say if the pope thought De Paolis’ mandate should be changed given the exodus, saying the cardinal speaks for himself.

Legion spokesman the Rev. Andreas Schoeggl, meanwhile, gave De Paolis a thumbs up, saying his work had been “great,” with all Legion priests helping rewrite the order’s constitutions – a shift from the past when decisions were made only at the top.

Yet if the current membership trends continue, the Legion may simply wither away as fewer people join a scandal-tainted congregation that the Vatican itself said has no clearly defined “charism” – a church term for the essential spirit that inspires a religious order and makes it unique.

After all, what would happen to the Franciscans if St. Francis were discredited? The Missionaries of Charity if Mother Teresa were found to be a fraud?

De Paolis paused when asked to define the Legion’s charism. “Bella domanda,” he said – “good question.” Noting that it was a work in progress, De Paolis cited the Legion’s evangelical zeal and insisted that even without a clearly defined charism, the vast majority of Legion members are happy, doing good work and serving the church.

But three current members of the movement say the reality is more complex: Some are thinking of leaving but haven’t taken the leap, some are in denial of the extent of the scandals, while others are actively working toward reform.

Members have coined the terms “awake” and “asleep” to describe where colleagues are in discovering the abuses of the Legion system, a process that is complicated by the Legion’s restrictions on use of the Internet and email.

And despite some changes, abuses continue: “Dissidents” are transferred away from their communities and subject to emotional harassment to test their resolve, three current members said on condition of anonymity because of fear of punishment.

De Paolis defended his commitment and approach to the reform, saying said he had “inserted” himself into the Legion’s administration, expanded the Legion’s governing council and shuffled some superiors around. He said he hasn’t dismissed any superiors outright because he needs them to learn the complex details of the order’s structure, culture and finances.

“How can I, someone who doesn’t know the Legion, who knows only a bit of Spanish, enter saying I’m in charge?” he asked. “If they (the superiors) wanted to sabotage me, it would have been so easy. If I had made myself the superior, they wouldn’t give me information, they would have hidden it from me.” He said his priority was to persuade the Legion’s leaders to sow change from within.

Maciel founded the Legion in Mexico in 1941 and it became one of the fastest-growing religious orders in the world, praised by Vatican officials who routinely celebrated Masses for the Legion and in Maciel’s honor.

Victims began to go public in the mid-1990s with allegations that Maciel had sexually abused them as seminarians, but the Vatican shut down a church trial, only to resurrect it years later. Maciel was sentenced in 2006 to a lifetime of penance and prayer – an inglorious end for a man who had enjoyed unparalleled access to the pope.

In his interview with the AP, De Paolis revealed for the first time that the Legion had reached financial settlements with “four or five” people who said they were sexually abused by Maciel, paying a relatively modest $21,000 to $28,000 (euro15,000-euro20,000) apiece. Negotiations, however, stalled with one victim who demanded millions, he said.

No one has publicly accused top Legion superiors of sexual abuse. But few believe Maciel’s closest aides were ignorant of his double life, given that he would disappear for weeks on end with thousands of dollars to visit his family and, by the end of his life, was openly living with his girlfriend.

Monsignor Rino Fisichella, who heads the Vatican’s evangelization office, said last year that the Vatican would be wise to look at who covered up for Maciel inside the Legion – “those who took his appointments, those who kept his agenda, those who drove him around.”

Yet some suggest De Paolis’ reluctance to investigate the coverup is based on fears the revelations could point to complicity by Vatican officials, who defended Maciel even after the sex abuse allegations were established.

“With the Legion I believe there were some who knew, but very few,” De Paolis said of Holy See officials. “The others saw that this group was blossoming, that it brought fruits, it offered a service to the church.”

De Paolis says he wants to save the fruits, the good that remains in the Legion. But those who have been harmed insist the Vatican must assign blame where it’s due and fix the wrongs, or lose all credibility.

“We’re angry at the church for allowing this,” said Peter Kingsland, a Catholic from Surrey, British Columbia, whose daughter was consecrated in 1992. “They could have claimed ignorance before, but they’re no longer ignorant – and now they’re a party to it.”

Complete Article HERE!