Groups concerned about Walgreens’ ties to Catholic hospital


Nineteen groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter Monday to drug store chain Walgreens expressing concerns about the company’s plans for a Catholic hospital to run its in-store health clinics in Washington state and Oregon.

In the letter, the organizations asked if the clinics would allow access to contraception, abortion drugs and prescriptions to help terminally ill patients end their own lives, which is legal in both states.

The groups note that other health organizations have stopped providing abortions after partnering with Providence Health, the Catholic hospital.

“In our states, we have consistently seen that when secular entities join with religious health systems, the services, information, or referrals provided at the secular entity become limited by religious doctrine,” the letter said.

When Swedish Medical Center in Seattle partnered with Providence Health in 2012, it stopped offering elective abortion services, the groups say. When Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, Washington, affiliated with a religious health system in 2013, its doctors stopped prescribing aid-in-dying medications.

Highline Medical Center in Burien, Washington, also agreed to comply with Catholic ethical guidelines when it partnered with a religious health system in 2013.

Organizations including NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Compassion & Choices and several gay-rights organizations signed the letter.

It also asked whether Walgreens would continue to serve all customers equally, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It questioned whether transgender men or women will be able to receive a prescription for hormone therapy at one of the clinics.

“Can Walgreens offer assurances that its LGBTQ customers and LGBTQ patients at the clinics will be treated with dignity and respect and will receive the same medical standard of care as any other customer?” the letter said.

Walgreens has announced that Providence Health will be opening 25 health clinics within its stores.

Jim Cohn, a spokesman for the Deerfield, Illinois-based drug store company, said he could not immediately comment on the letter.

The Catholic hospital did not immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment.

Complete Article HERE!

Priest paid his male ‘sex master’ from collection plate: lawsuit

By Julia Marsh

Rev. Peter Miqueli​​ (right) and his “master” Keith Crist.

A Catholic priest swiped collection-plate donations to pay for drug-fueled sex romps with a heavily muscled S&M “master,” a new lawsuit charges.

Parishioners claim the Rev. Peter Miqueli has stolen at least $1 million since 2003 while leading churches on Roosevelt Island and in The Bronx, where he is currently pastor of St. Frances de Chantal in Throggs Neck.

Peter Miqueli
Rev. Peter Miqueli in 2003.

Their suit alleges he used the money to act out unholy fantasies as a sexual “slave,” blowing $1,000 at a time on bondage-and-discipline sessions where a “homosexual sex ‘master’ ” — identified in court papers as Keith Crist — “would force Father Miqueli to drink Keith Crist’s urine.”

Miqueli also spent $60,000 in 2012 alone for “illicit and prescription drugs” he used with Crist, bought a $264,000 home in Brick, NJ, and paid $1,075.50 a month for his master’s East Harlem apartment, court papers say.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael G. Dowd also said that Miqueli at one point had Crist living in the rectory at St. Frances de Chantal but that Crist had since been kicked out.

The suit, which was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Thursday, also charges that the Archdiocese of New York and Timothy Cardinal Dolan knew about Miqueli’s “illegal scheme” and did nothing to keep it from growing into “the monster it is today.”

“This lawsuit seeks to finally put an end to this truly sinful conduct so that St. Frances de Chantal parish can regain the strength, spirituality and faith it once had before Father Miqueli arrived,” the court papers say.

St. Frances de Chantal
St. Frances de Chantal Roman Catholic Church in the Bronx.

The suit says that during the summer of 2014, maintenance workers at St. Frances de Chantal saw “several unstacked piles of cash, each approximately one foot high, scattered throughout Father Miqueli’s rectory residence.”

In addition to skimming $20 bills from the collection plate there, Miqueli ripped off money raised to buy a new pipe organ at his former church, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini on Roosevelt Island, according to the suit.

He also put Crist in charge of the Cabrini thrift shop, where Miqueli “misappropriated and diverted money . . . for his own personal use” and destroyed financial records to cover up the theft, the suit says.

An on-and-off girlfriend of Crist’s, Tatyana Gudin, told The Post that the hulking bodybuilder once hurt his knees while having sex with Miqueli in a bathtub.

The suit seeks unspecified damages from Miqueli, Crist, Dolan and the archdiocese on grounds that include negligent supervision, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and unjust enrichment.Crist

Dowd said, “I feel really bad for the parishioners,” and he estimated that Migueli “had to have taken $1 million from each parish.”

“We’ve done a lot of homework. This is a bad guy,” Dowd said.

He added, “The thing that’s really amazing to me is: How could this guy be acting this way for nine years or so and the archdiocese does nothing?”

A spokesman for the archdiocese said it “has . . . taken these allegations seriously and has been investigating them.”

Crist hung up on a reporter, and Miqueli declined to answer a call through a church receptionist.

Complete Article HERE!

Minnesota diocese files for bankruptcy after sex abuse award


Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary
This photo shows the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth, Minn., Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. The Diocese of Duluth, a sprawling but sparsely populated Roman Catholic diocese in northeastern Minnesota, filed an emergency petition for federal bankruptcy protection Monday after a jury found it partially responsible for millions of dollars awarded in a clergy sex abuse case last month.

The Diocese of Duluth, a sprawling but sparsely populated Roman Catholic diocese in northeastern Minnesota, filed an emergency petition for federal bankruptcy protection Monday after a jury found it partially responsible for millions of dollars awarded in a clergy sex abuse case last month.

The diocese said the move for Chapter 11 reorganization was necessary after efforts to reach a resolution with all abuse victims were unsuccessful. The diocese is the 15th U.S. diocese or religious order to seek bankruptcy protection in the face of sex abuse claims.

“There is sadness in having to proceed in this fashion,” the diocese’s vicar general, the Rev. James Bissonette, said in a statement on the diocese’s website. He said given the “magnitude of the verdict, the Diocese was left with no choice but to file for reorganization.”

In November, a Ramsey County jury awarded $8.1 million to a man who says he was molested by a priest in northern Minnesota more than 35 years ago when he was a boy. The diocese was held responsible for $4.8 million.

Bissonette said the bankruptcy filing safeguards the diocese’s limited assets while allowing the church’s day-to-day operations to continue. The diocese has more than 56,000 Catholics in 10 counties of northeastern Minnesota, extending south to Pine City, north to the Canadian border and west to Cass Lake.

The diocese’s operating budget for the last fiscal year was nearly $3.3 million. Even with insurance coverage and some available savings, the diocese said it could not cover the verdict, and no money would be available for remaining abuse victims who have brought claims.

William Weis alleged he was sexually abused by the Rev. James Fitzgerald at St. Catherine’s parish in Squaw Lake in 1978. The lawsuit centered on whether the Diocese of Duluth was negligent in how it supervised Fitzgerald, who died in 2009.

Weis was identified as Doe 30 in his lawsuit. The Associated Press normally does not identify possible victims of sex crimes, but one of Weis’ attorneys, Mike Finnegan, said Weis agreed to the use of his name.

The jury found the diocese was 60 percent at fault. Fitzgerald’s order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, based in St. Paul, was found to be 40 percent at fault.

Finnegan said Monday the bankruptcy filing delays attempts to force the release of church documents on clergy sex abuse that Weis has sought to make public. A hearing on the issue had been set for Dec. 17.

For Weis, releasing the documents “was the primary thing he wanted then and still wants now,” Finnegan said.

But Susan Gaertner, an attorney for the Duluth diocese, said the bankruptcy filing will not interfere with the diocese’s efforts “to be transparent and foster healing.”

She said the diocese faces six lawsuits, including Weis’, as well as 12 additional notices of claims. Attorneys said Weis’ lawsuit was the first lawsuit to go to trial under Minnesota’s Child Victims Act, passed in 2013, that opened a three-year window to file claims for older incidents of abuse. That window closes in May 2016.

Complete Article HERE!

Dominican cardinal calls gay US official a ‘wife’ in spat


A Dominican cardinal upset over comments that the U.S. ambassador made about corruption in his country has said the openly gay diplomat should focus on homemaking.

Cardinal-Nicolas-De-Jesus-Lopez-RodríguezCardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez spoke out against U.S. ambassador James “Wally” Brewster in a meeting with reporters late Tuesday following a Mass.

“That man needs to go back to his embassy,” he said. “Let him focus on housework, since he’s the wife to a man.”

Lopez also accused Brewster of promoting a gay rights agenda on Dominican soil.

The U.S. Embassy declined comment, but said Brewster would appear on a local TV news program on Thursday. Brewster became the seventh U.S. ambassador in history to be openly gay when appointed two years ago.

Lopez’s comments come about a week after Brewster criticized corruption in the Dominican Republic and accused police officers of threatening and assaulting several U.S. investors who were attending conference organized by the local government.

“Imagine the horror I felt when I got a call from one of them, telling me they had been stopped by a uniformed police officer, that they had a weapon pointed at them and that they were forced to turn over their wallets,” Brewster said last week.

Lopez also criticized Brewster for saying that those who feel the U.S. embassy is too involved in Dominican affairs should return their U.S. visa. He said he would be honored and satisfied to do so.

“I couldn’t care less,” Lopez said. “I’m not interested in traveling.”

My Emancipation From American Christianity

By John Pavlovitz



I used to think that it was just me, that it was my problem, my deficiency, my moral defect.

It had to be.

All those times when I felt like an outsider in this American Jesus thing; the ever-more frequent moments when my throat constricted and my heart raced and my stomach turned.

Maybe it came in the middle of a crowded worship service or during a small group conversation. Maybe while watching the news or when scanning a blog post, or while resting in a silent, solitary moment of prayer. Maybe it was all of these times and more, when something rose up from the deepest places within me and shouted, “I can’t do this anymore! I can’t be part of this!”

These moments once overwhelmed me with panic and filled me with guilt, but lately I am stepping mercifully clear of such things.

What I’ve come to realize is that it certainly is me, but not in the way I used to believe.

I am not losing my mind.
I’m not losing my faith.
I’m not failing or falling or backsliding.
I have simply outgrown American Christianity.

I’ve outgrown the furrowed-browed warnings of a sky that is perpetually falling.
I’ve outgrown the snarling brimstone preaching that brokers in damnation.
I’ve outgrown the vile war rhetoric that continually demands an encroaching enemy.
I’ve outgrown the expectation that my faith is the sole property of a political party.
I’ve outgrown violent bigotry and xenophobia disguised as Biblical obedience.
I’ve outgrown God wrapped in a flag and soaked in rabid nationalism.
I’ve outgrown the incessant attacks on the Gay, Muslim, and Atheist communities.
I’ve outgrown theology as a hammer always looking for a nail.
I’ve outgrown the cramped, creaky, rusting box that God never belonged in anyway.

Most of all though, I’ve outgrown something that simply no longer feels like love, something I no longer see much of Jesus in.

If religion it is to be worth holding on to, it should be the place were the marginalized feel the most visible, where the hurting receive the most tender care, where the outsiders find the safest refuge.

It should be the place where diversity is fiercely pursued and equality loudly championed; where all of humanity finds a permanent home and where justice runs the show.

That is not what this thing is. This is FoxNews and red cup protests and persecution complexes. It’s opulent, big box megachurches and coddled, untouchable celebrity pastors. It’s pop culture boycotts and manufactured outrage. It’s just wars and justified shootings. It’s all manner of bullying and intolerance in the name of Jesus.

Feeling estrangement from these things is a good thing.

For the past two decades I’ve lived within the tension of trying to be in the thing and not be altered by the thing, but that tension has become too great. Ultimately it’s a spiritual compatibility issue.

It’s getting harder and harder to love all people and still fit into what has become American Christianity, so rather than becoming less loving and staying—I’m leaving.

I’m breaking free from religion for the sake of my soul.

I’m not sure practically what that looks like, but I can feel myself consciously and forcefully pulling away; creating distance between me and a system that can no longer accommodate the scale of my God and the scope of my aspirations.

Jesus said that the Spirit moves where it pleases, and with it go those in its glorious grip. In my heart and in the hearts of so many like me, that Spirit is boldly declaring its emancipation from the small, heavily guarded space that wants to contain it, and taking us out into the wide, breathtaking expanses of unfettered faith.

Every day people tell me that this great releasing is happening within them too; that they are finding freedom beyond the building and the box, and rediscovering a God right sized.

I am a Christian and an American, but I refuse to settle for this American Christianity any longer or be defined by it.

I know that there is something much greater beyond it worth heading toward; something that looks more like God and feels more like love.

Maybe you see it in the distance too. Maybe we can go there together.

Fear is in the rear view, freedom in the windshield.

Complete Article HERE!