Demonisation of LGBT people in state-funded Catholic schools is unlawful hypocrisy

Southwark Diocese recently cancelled a school visit from an author because he is gay

It is hard to know anymore how one should react to yet more pontification from the Catholic church regarding homosexuality.

Contemptuous silence? Outrage? A snort of derisory laughter because, after all, there is something almost comical about a bunch of lace-by-day-and-leather-by-night men, clutching their Grecian 2000 and swishing their surplices indignantly, while denouncing gay people from deep inside their clerical closets. More of which later.

This time, it’s Southwark Diocese, where John Fisher boys school is located. The headteacher and board of governors arranged a visit from author Simon James Green.

Green is gay and, as if that’s not enough to make him burn, has a book for young people with – Les Dawson whisper – an actual gay character in it and some sensitive handling of LGBT issues. The Diocese cancelled the visit, sacked some governors, promised retribution against the disobedient in the coming weeks, then claimed to be taking “a stand against tyranny”, which is a bit like Putin claiming to be on a peacekeeping mission.

The tyranny of what? The existence of gay people? The existence of equality legislation?

But the real dark humour behind all this is Southwark Diocese’s own past. Their seminarians attend St John’s, a troubled joint if ever there was one, according to students who have contacted me over the years.

The problem is hypocrisy, not homosexuality

In the 1990s, St John’s had a moral theologian who became quite renowned. He wrote philosophy books, had a liking for scarves by the luxury Italian designer Ferragamo, and was a fan of the singer Cher. (There’s a clue right there, dear reader.)

In 1998, he was a keynote speaker for the Catholic church at an event on human sexuality but, after that, you don’t find too many references to him. Maybe because he subsequently left and lived as a woman. And we wouldn’t want to talk about that, would we?

Good luck to her. The problem here is not homosexuality or transgender choices. It’s hypocrisy.

Photo of wooden pews
Richard Sipe estimated that 50% of priests were sexually active, and 30% or more were gay

The late Richard Sipe, an American ex-priest who spent years researching priestly celibacy globally, estimated that 50% of priests were sexually active at any one time, 6% were paedophiles, and up to half were gay. “A conservative estimate of gay Catholic clergy is 30%,” he wrote in an article in 2012, “[But] many Vatican insiders speculate that the accurate figure is closer to 50%.”

God loves you, brothers and sisters. You are made in His likeness. Unless you are gay, in which case he thinks you are intrinsically disordered. Hard to know why so many clergy parrot that line, given how many of them are homosexual.

What does banning a gay author achieve?

As a journalist, priests have told me about rent boys, sex in parks, gay saunas in Paris and “insider” gay parties attended by even senior clerics with trusted friends. Love and commitment were off limits, but stranger-danger thrills could be followed by confession and some pompous public pronouncements to cover the tracks.

Having attended a convent school, it’s the teenage boys at John Fisher School that I feel sorry for; those who struggle with shame and guilt and depression because they are told – even from those hiding in clergy closets – that they are sick and shameful.

What did they think Green would do in his book-related visit? Issue a gay sex manual?

As for Simon James Green, he didn’t even rate a mention in the church’s published comments. He was nothing, cancelled out of existence, ostracised like some biblical leper.

What did they think Green would do in his book-related visit? Issue a gay sex manual? And what would they achieve by banning him? The eradication of homosexuality? “Expecto patronum!” As Harry Potter would say. That should do it.

Breaching equality legislation

You might expect a little more Christ-like kindness. You would certainly expect more humility from a church riddled with sex scandals. Cardinal Keith O’Brien. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Countless paedophile scandals in every country where Catholicism exists.

But, no sooner are they knocked off their public soapboxes than they jump right back on again as if nothing has happened, trying to seize the old moral high ground while the trickles fall from their bloodied noses.

Photo of cardinal in church
Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigned after multiple allegations of inappropriate and predatory sexual conduct

The church has nurtured a sense of being “other”, both legally and morally. The Vatican is legally an independent state, with its own leader. It has its own – corrupt – banking system, implicated in fraud yet again recently in the Swiss banking scandal. Even its own diplomatic corps.

But John Fisher is a voluntary-aided faith school: the state pays its running costs. If the church wants to ignore equality legislation, perhaps the appropriate reaction is to make clear that the state will no longer pay to allow a scandal-ridden organisation to breach its equality laws on the grounds of “faith”.

Complete Article HERE!

‘Sex abuse victims still facing pushback and resistance from church’, warns priest

Fr Tom Doyle was one of the first people to highlight the sexual abuse of children by priests in the 1980s

Fr Tom Doyle said the church was run by a ‘tiny aristocracy’

By Sarah Mac Donald

A priest who has campaigned on behalf of clerical sexual abuse victims for more than three decades has criticised the Catholic Church’s “toxic and erroneous teaching” on human sexuality.

Canon lawyer Fr Tom Doyle linked the crisis over the church’s mishandling of allegations of abuse to “a misconception of the clergy and bishops as the essence of the church” who are “essential for salvation”.

He warned there is “still plenty of pushback and resistance in the church” toward abuse victims, adding: “The good of the Church really means the good of the ecclesiastical aristocracy.”

Speaking at a webinar ‘Stolen Lives: Abuse & Corruption in the Catholic Church’, which was hosted by the lay reform group, Root & Branch Reform, he said: “It is not a few bad apples in the barrel that is the problem, it is the barrel.”

In his view, “the violation of the most innocent in the church is a scourge that neutralises everything that is Christian about Catholicism”.

Fr Doyle, who served as a pilot in the US air force and was one of the first people to highlight the sexual abuse of children by priests in the 1980s, hit out at the “unrealistic idea that priests and bishops are exalted sacred beings” which he said still exists in the church and paralyses a lot of people from speaking out.

The priest said this belief, which had created “a clerical aristocracy” in the church, had to be changed.

“We all know what clericalism is. It is a disease. It is a virus the Catholic Church has, which means the clergy and the clerical way of life and its values come before anything. It is total nonsense,” he said.

Appealing to lay people to “stop tolerating a clericalised church”, he said they had to challenge the hierarchy when they saw evidence of clericalism which “fuelled the constant, systemic, nightmare of child and adult sexual violation by clerics and non-ordained religious”.

The abuse crisis also stemmed from an emphasis on the protection of the prestige, power, and the economic resources of the hierarchical system of the church, he said.

Fr Doyle said at the top of the hierarchy was “a tiny aristocracy running the whole show while the rest of us are down at the bottom”.

“If you look at the positions of power, the men who actually call the shots, about 3,000 men run the Catholic Church,” he said.

“They are all bishops. None of them have been married, presumably.

“Certainly, none of them have been parents presumably, because if they had been parents, they would have understood clearly the horror of what was happening to children.”

On the issue of mandatory celibacy, he told the webinar: “It seems to me that in some ways you have got to be more Christ-like to be a husband or a wife or a parent than you do to be a priest because you need to learn what it means to be unselfish.

“You have to constantly get up in the middle of the night to take care of sick kids, you put up with your kids when they make mistakes, you bail them out of jail, you do all of these things.”

He warned the majority of abuse victims are still suffering in “cocoons of guilt, shame, fear and silence” because studies showed only 37pc of those who were violated ever came forward.

Complete Article HERE!

Providence Priest Arrested for Child Porn by RI State Police

By GoLocalProv New Team

Father James Jackson of St. Mary’s Church at 538 Broadway in Providence was arrested by the Rhode Island State Police’s Police/Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force for Possession of Child Pornography, Transfer of Child Pornography, and Child Erotica Prohibited.

The Diocese of Providence has not made a comment or issued a statement.

Jackson was arrested on Saturday and the State Police announced the charges on Sunday.

ICAC Task Force members recently initiated an investigation regarding an individual sharing child pornography over the Internet. The Internet connection at St. Mary’s Church, 538 Broadway, Providence, Rhode Island was identified as allegedly connected to the sharing of the child pornography. On Saturday, ICAC Task Force members executed a court-authorized search warrant at St. Mary’s Church and rectory. Father Jackson was identified as the owner of digital media allegedly involved in the possession and transfer of child pornography and child erotica.

Father Jackson was arraigned by Justice of the Peace Steven Crawford and held on $5,000 surety bail. Father Jackson was assigned a future 6th District Court date and ordered the following additional special bail conditions which include no contact with children under 16 and restricted access to the Internet. Father Jackson was unable to post bail and was transported to the ACI Intake facility.

Father Jackson’s most recent sermon posted on the St. Mary’s Church’s website was on humiliation, “Every single human being that has ever lived on this earth, and who ever will live, shall find himself sooner or later in the midst of humiliation. The humiliation that St. David was experiencing when he wrote the 118th Psalm was a terrible and grievous civil war. There was no good news for him, there was no refuge but to flee and hide in caves; everything seemed lost. But he was given hope, and that comforted or strengthened him in his humiliation.”

Father Jackson was arraigned by Justice of the Peace Steven Crawford and held on $5,000 surety bail. Father Jackson was assigned a future 6th District Court date and ordered the following additional special bail conditions which include no contact with children under 16 and restricted access to the Internet. Father Jackson was unable to post bail and was transported to the ACI Intake facility.”

A person found guilty of Possession of Child Pornography may be subject to a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisoned not more than five (5) years, or both. A person found guilty of Transfer of Child Pornography may be subject to a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisoned not more than fifteen (15) years, or both. A person found guilty of Possession of Child Erotica may be subject to a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or imprisoned not more than one (1) year, or both.

The Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force actively engages in investigative efforts to identify subjects involved in child exploitation-related activities. The Rhode Island ICAC Task Force Program is administered by the Rhode Island State Police and supports a national network of multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task forces engaged in investigations, forensic examinations, and prosecutions related to Internet crimes against children and technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation. The Rhode Island ICAC Task Force is comprised of members of the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit along with detectives from the Warwick Police Department, East Providence Police Department, North Kingstown Police Department, Portsmouth Police Department, Cranston Police Department, Bristol Police Department, and special agents from Homeland Security Investigations and United States Postal Inspection Services.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic clergy in France likely abused more than 200,000 minors, independent commission estimates

Commission president Jean-Marc Sauvé at the release of a report by an independent commission on sexual abuse by church officials, in Paris on Oct. 5.

By Rick Noack, Chico Harlan

A major report released Tuesday said French Catholic clerics had abused more than 200,000 minors over the past 70 years, a systemic trauma that the inquiry’s leader described as deep and “cruel.”

The report’s findings could trigger a public reckoning in a country where church officials long stalled efforts to investigate complicity. The findings also add to the picture of country-by-country trauma within a religion that has tended to find abuse on a stunning scale anywhere it has looked.

The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis had been informed of the report during a recent visit by French bishops. “His thoughts turn first to the victims, with immense sorrow for their injuries and gratitude for their courage to speak out,” the statement said, adding that Francis hopes the French church can follow a path of “redemption” after becoming aware of this “appalling reality.”

The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church, set up more than two years ago with the approval of French church officials, examined decades of accusations in much the manner of other landmark reports — whether from Ireland, Germany, Poland, Australia or the United States.

Commission leader Jean-Marc Sauvé said his team had identified only a small percentage of victims, but academic research and other sources meant that the real number is likely around 216,000, or even around 330,000 if one includes sexual abuse by lay members. The vast majority of the victims were male, according to the report. The authors cautioned that the margin of error could be several tens of thousands.

The numbers, said Sauvé, are “overwhelming and cannot remain without consequences.”

“The church failed to see, it failed to hear, and failed to pick up on the weak signals,” he said. “It failed to take the rigorous measures that were needed.”

Several cases have been forwarded to law enforcement officials, or — in cases where the window of prosecution had passed — to church officials. Overall, the report estimates the number of perpetrators to be at least around 3,000, with most of them being priests or clerics.

The commission’s conclusions are partially based on more than 6,000 testimonies, including from victims and witnesses.

“You’re coming back from hell,” victims’ representative François Devaux told commission members during a presentation of the report on Tuesday.

Then, appearing to address church representatives, he said: “You have to pay for all those crimes.”

“You are a disgrace to our humanity,” he added.

Earlier this year, commission leader Sauvé put the possible number of child victims at more than 10,000, but cautioned at the time that the estimate could rise.

“The big question for us is: How many victims came forward? Is it 25 percent? Ten percent, 5 percent or less?” Sauvé told journalists at the time. “Their stories are a true memorial of pain. Entire lives have been devastated,” he said.

Across the church, decades of abuse revelations — about the crimes of both parish priests and high-ranking cardinals — have gradually eroded trust in the religion while causing an ongoing crisis for the Vatican and the pope.

As part of dealing with the scourge, Francis has written letters of apology, gathered bishops at the Vatican, and drawn up new rules for responding to accusations. But the church has also, at times, been left scrambling — as the consequences of the abuse crisis ripple beyond the Vatican’s control.

Anger in the aftermath of Germany’s 2018 abuse inquiry, for instance, has set off an extraordinary reckoning. Bishops, in meetings in the wake of the abuse report, have opened tensions with the Vatican by signaling their willingness to reexamine some of the church’s central stances on priestly celibacy and sexuality. German bishops days ago called for the church to bless same-sex marriage — a call that flies in the face of a Vatican ban.

Bishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, the head of the French Catholic bishops’ conference, described feeling overwhelmed by the number of victims, and called the scale of the abuse “staggering.”

“I express my shame, my fear, my determination to act,” the bishop said.

About 60 percent of French adults identify as Catholic, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted from 2015 to 2017. But the exact number of practicing Catholics remains difficult to ascertain because of France’s strict limits on collecting ethnic or religious data.

The same limitations make it hard to track the impact of abuse scandals on church attendance in France. Some other European countries have experienced dramatic drops in membership.

The report released Tuesday identified several possible measures to address the church’s institutional failures, including increased supervision of priests and clerics and compensation for the victims.

“Compensation is not a gift, it’s something that is owed,” Sauvé said Tuesday.

Victims in France have complained about a lack of action to prosecute abuse by priests — a problem they say has only begun to improve in recent years. Sauvé said Tuesday that 2015 and 2016 marked a change in attitudes in the French Catholic Church

In response to the scandals, the Catholic Church pledged more transparency. The Vatican also last year published new guidelines for bishops, directing them not to dismiss accusations even if they appear vague or initially dubious. Victims’ organizations have argued that those changes are not far-ranging enough.

Complete Article HERE!

How personal is politics?

Irish Americans expose allegedly gay priest

By

How much do you really want to know about your parish priest?

Well, that depends on a number of factors. It might depend on who you voted for in the 2020 election.

It also might depend on whether or not you can get your hands on his cell phone. Or his cell phone records.

Such is the debate scorching up religious and tech circles these days. It was initiated by two Irish American lawyers-turned-crusaders (if you will), which sounds like nice work if you can get it.

Unless that work prompts one of the most respected voices in Catholic American circles to say, “What comes next? Spying on Catholic school teachers? Spying on parishioners? And where does it end — when we have a church where no one has ever sinned? The church will be empty.”

That’s James Martin, the best-selling Irish American author and commentator, and regular guest on Stephen Colbert’s show.

Martin, quoted in The Washington Post, was responding to the work of Ed Condon and JD Flynn, the ex-lawyers who now run The Pillar, which is billed as a Catholic “newsletter.”

Well, boys, you wanted attention. You got attention!

This all began earlier this month with a special “Pillar Investigation.” For the sake of fairness — or decency, or karma — we’re going to explain this story but leave out the name of the priest at its center, even though it is very much out there.

“According to commercially available records of app signal data obtained by The Pillar, a mobile device correlated to (the priest) emitted app data signals from the location-based hookup app Grindr on a near-daily basis during parts of 2018, 2019, and 2020,” the investigation notes.

It adds: “An analysis of app data signals correlated to (the priest’s) mobile device shows the priest also visited gay bars and private residences while using (the) location-based hookup app in numerous cities from 2018 to 2020, even while traveling on assignment…”

Where to begin?

As you can imagine, this has elicited a broad range of angry responses, and not only because of the personal behavior of this priest who is not a mere parish priest, but also a rather big big-wig.

There is also the issue of these two Irish Catholics, who both attended very respectable schools and have held lucrative jobs, essentially crawling through the 21st century equivalent of a stinky trash can to dig up secrets about a prominent American religion official.

Who, by the way, resigned his various positions in recent days.

“The case of the high-ranking Catholic cleric who resigned after allegedly being tracked on the gay dating app Grindr quickly became a Rorschach test Wednesday for Catholics already mired in tension over politics, theology and culture,” The Washington Post noted.

Since Flynn and Condon are loud and proud church “traditionalists,” their cheering section has pointed to these findings and declared that gay priests and other post-1960s dogma-ignorers are ruining the U.S. Catholic Church.

But those on another side see little more than “a witch hunt aimed at gay Catholic priests,” in the words of America Magazine national correspondent Michael O’Loughlin.

If it smells like and looks like a burning-stake, well, that’s probably what it is.

It seems appropriate, though, that I confess something else here.

It took me a few minutes to make heads or tails of this story. For a moment I thought perhaps that the priest was actually being pressured, in the name of social justice, to proudly proclaim and embrace the private details of his romantic life.

There have, after all, been many times so-called progressives felt it was entirely appropriate to expose the private lives of culture-war opponents. Or divulge personal details to turn enemies into “allies.”

We are approaching the end game of the oft-chanted belief that the “personal is political.” That what you wear and drink, share and think, either saves or ruins the planet.

What you do when you take off your clothes is the inevitable next skirmish.

Complete Article HERE!