The Church hates the gays more than it loves its own.

File under the category: The Church hates the gays more than it loves its own. Churches are closing, schools are closing, food banks are underfunded, and shelters for homeless people are shuttered. More and more people are living on the edge of financial collapse…


Catholic Church Ponied Up More Than $1 Million To Fight Marriage Equality

Forget that vow of poverty: The Roman Catholic Church has shelled out more than $1 million to fight various marriage-equality initiatives, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign.

The study shows that the millennia-old institution has donated more than $1.1 million to anti-equality initiatives, including ones fighting gay-marriage measures in Washington, Maryland and Maine—and one supporting a gay-marriage ban in Minnesota, where it has given more than $608,000 to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. (That’s more than half the campaign’s budget.)

Today, the Church is now the top religious donor for anti-equality efforts, with more than $640,000 coming from the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus.

Fortunately it looks like gay-rights advocates have been able to raise considerably more funds overall than anti-equality cronies. (HRC has contributed $7.3 million to marriage-equality campaigns in the past 12 months.).

Given that a majority of everyday Catholics actually support gay marriage, HRC president Chad Griffin says “The Church hierarchy owes the laity an explanation as to why they are spending this much money on discrimination, and at what cost to other crucial Church programs.”

In a statement, Jason Adkins of the Minnesota Catholic Conference replied, “Our marriage amendment activities, like our other activities, are aimed at fostering the common good.”
Thanks but no thanks, pal.

Complete Article HERE!

Whiff of scandal clouds Pope ceremony in Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI will place red hats on the heads of 22 new cardinals on Saturday amid an atmosphere of scandal-mongering, rumour and media leaks from inside the Vatican.

The leaks concern alleged internal divisions and even malpractice among the senior bishops and cardinals at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church.

Most of the new cardinals will be granted the right to take part in the election of Pope Benedict’s successor.

It is the fourth Vatican Consistory since Benedict was elected Pope seven years ago, and is being held to bring the College of Cardinals to its full electoral quorum of 120, after deaths and age disqualifications depleted its numbers.

It must be the world’s oldest exclusively male club – the average age of members is 78.

The Italian contingent will grow to almost a quarter of the total – more than that of any other country and making it more likely that the next pope will be Italian, after the choice of a Pole and Benedict – a German – in recent decades.

The Pope’s Italian aide, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has been instrumental in pushing Italians for promotion.

Key appointments among the new cardinals are the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, and the Bishop of Hong Kong, John Tong Hon.

During Saturday’s ceremony Pope Benedict is due to announce the date for the canonisation of the first Native American saint, a Mohawk girl called Kateri Tekakwitha who lived in the 17th Century.

Corruption allegations
In the run-up to this Consistory it emerged that the Pope’s current ambassador (nuncio) to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, had written to the Pope confidentially last March, alleging corruption, nepotism and cronyism inside the office where he worked.

Elderly men dominate the College of Cardinals
Nepotism is a word charged with heavy meaning inside the Vatican. For centuries popes were accustomed to appoint their own nephews as cardinals, sometimes when they were only in their teens.

Archbishop Vigano’s letter was leaked by an Italian investigative journalist during a TV transmission on the independent Italian Channel La Sette. The Vatican has not contested that the letter is genuine.

Another leak concerns attempts by the Holy See to combat suspicions of money-laundering by the Vatican Bank.

Published by the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, which has consistently reported on alleged suspicious transactions at the bank, the document bears the signature of Cardinal Attilio Nicora. He heads a new internal committee tasked by the Pope with helping the Holy See comply with international banking regulations, aimed at combating international financial crime.

The letter suggests serious divisions of opinion inside the Vatican over how best to prevent it becoming a fiscal paradise, a tax haven for dodgy commercial operations run by nominees who have no right to hold accounts at the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).

Whistleblowers criticised
During the 1980s the IOR – the formal name of the Vatican Bank – was at the centre of a major international financial scandal which resulted in a loss for the Vatican of $250m (£158m). Vatican Bank accounts are supposed to be held only by religious orders and members of the clergy.

The Vatican’s own daily newspaper Osservatore Romano wrote in a recent editorial that officials who revealed sensitive internal documents were “wolves” and that Pope Benedict was ready to stand up to their “irresponsible and undignified behaviour”.

The Pope’s spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, compared the leaks to America’s Wikileaks scandal and said they were intended to show the Vatican and its central government in a bad light.

The Pope himself appeared to refer to the poisonous atmosphere prevailing inside the frescoed halls of the Vatican this winter, when he told local Rome seminarians training to become priests: “There is a lot of talk about the Church, a lot of things being said. Let us hope there is also talk about our faith!”

Money clearly preoccupies the men currently running the Catholic Church.

A closed-door meeting of an internal Vatican watchdog finance committee this week formally expressed concern at the prevailing crisis, “which has not spared even the general economic system of the Vatican”.

While promising to “improve the administration of the goods and resources of the Holy See” the committee called upon the world’s 1.3 billion Catholic faithful to dig deeper into their pockets to continue funding the Vatican.

Complete Article HERE!

Cardinal Pell under attack from within over bishops’ grand house in Rome

A LEADING Catholic priest has criticised Cardinal George Pell for reserving a “grand apartment” for himself at the Australian church’s new guest house in Rome, saying “the ethics of our secular state are higher than those of our church”.

Father Eric Hodgens, of Melbourne, an elder statesman among the clergy, also savaged Australia’s Catholic bishops for what he regards as an abject performance during their five-yearly visit to Rome last month, particularly in failing to stand up for Bill Morris, sacked earlier this year as bishop of Toowoomba.

“They eat their own when fingered by Rome,” Father Hodgens wrote of the bishops in The Swag, the national journal of Catholic priests. “How can you trust them?

”They are reckless with our patrimony. They seem incapable of protecting their own rights, let alone ours, in a system which is corrupt by today’s secular standards. No wonder the attitude of so many priests and observant laity is moving from disappointment to disgust,” he wrote.

Father Hodgens said the Domus Australia guest house in Rome – a beautifully refurbished old religious house with 33 rooms for paying visitors, a richly restored grand chapel and organ and a 150-seat auditorium opened by Pope Benedict XVI last month – cost between $30 million and $85 million, according to different estimates.

He said Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, had hoped all Australian dioceses would pay for it, but only Melbourne, Perth and Lismore had made contributions and the Sydney Archdiocese had paid the bulk.

He said Catholics of the four dioceses were not consulted, there was no prospect of a reasonable financial return and no accountability. “What does it say of us who trust bishops?
The ethics of our secular state are higher than those of our church.”

Secrecy also surrounded the sacking of Bishop Morris, who never saw the charges against him or the report by an “inquisitorial visitor”, Archbishop Charles Chaput, then of Denver, he said.

“And the Australian bishops simply rolled over … . they thanked their humiliators for being generous with their time,” Father Hodgens wrote.

“Thank God we live in a secular state and not in a Catholic theocracy,” he said.

Cardinal Pell is overseas but a Sydney Archdiocese spokeswoman said the total cost to develop the Australian pilgrim centre in Rome was similar to that of a new parish or school, ”not the excessive amounts quoted by some ill-informed sources”, and the investment was expected to pay its way.

”Domus Australia was funded by the transfer of an underutilised property investment to this purpose and by borrowings and donations,” she said.

”No money raised through parish collections has been used in this initiative.”

Complete Article HERE!

For U.S. bishops, economic justice isn’t on the agenda

Catholic leaders, meeting in Baltimore this week, fail to put society’s main problems front and center

At a time of staggering poverty, rampant unemployment and growing income inequality, Catholic bishops will gather for a national meeting in Baltimore today and remain largely silent about these profound moral issues. A recent Catholic News Service headline about the meeting — “Bishops’ agenda more devoted to internal matters than societal ills” — is a disappointing snapshot for a church that has long been a powerful voice for economic justice.

The U.S. bishops’ relative silence contrasts with a recent Vatican document that urges stronger regulation of the financial sector and a more just distribution of wealth. Urging reforms to the left of even the most liberal Democrat in Congress, the Vatican spoke in stark terms about a global financial system that is unhinged from moral values. It’s a thoughtful critique of free-market fundamentalism, in keeping with centuries of Catholic teaching as articulated by several popes. A Vatican cardinal even acknowledged that the “basic sentiment” behind the Occupy Wall Street movement aligns with Catholic values on the need for ethical corporate practices and humane financial systems.

Twenty-five years ago this month, Catholic bishops were anything but quiet. They helped drive attention to poor and working families with a landmark pastoral letter, “Economic Justice for All,” that offered a subtle but sober critique of the Reagan administration’s embrace of tax cuts for the rich and draconian cuts to government protections for the poor. The bishops spoke not as policymakers but as moral leaders in touch with the needs of the unemployed and concerned about conservative political leaders’ efforts to strip workers of basic union rights. As a longtime staff member at the U.S. bishops’ conference, I was so proud of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago and his colleagues, who insisted that a Catholic vision for human dignity did not stop with concern for the unborn but must include a commitment to economic fairness, peace, care for the environment and opposition to the death penalty.

Where are the bishops’ priorities today? In recent years, church leaders have opposed historic health care reform, lashed out at the University of Notre Dame for inviting President Barack Obama to give a commencement address, and publicly chastised pro-choice Catholic politicians even as they give a pass to Catholic lawmakers who push economic policies antithetical to Catholic teaching about the common good. The bishops’ decades of advocacy for comprehensive health care took a detour last year when they opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because of concerns it would provide taxpayer funding of abortion — a flawed policy analysis, according to independent experts, some pro-life lawmakers and even the Catholic Health Association.

In recent weeks, the bishops have augmented their campaign against same-sex marriage, appointing a “defense of marriage specialist” to a top position at the U.S. bishops’ conference, and challenged the Obama administration to create a stronger exemption for Catholic organizations that oppose insurance coverage of contraception.

These are important issues, properly addressed by the bishops. However, at a time of economic crisis and growing anti-government ideology embodied by the tea party, Catholic bishops would do well to once again offer a compelling moral response to radical individualism and unbridled capitalism.

Most Americans probably don’t know that Catholic bishops helped lay the groundwork for the New Deal as far back as 1919, when they advocated for a minimum wage and insurance for the elderly, disabled and unemployed. Much of this proud legacy is under threat today from lawmakers, including prominent Catholics like House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan, who think tax breaks for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans are more important than funding nutrition programs for low-income women and children.

The U.S. bishops deserve credit for their participation in an interfaith coalition defending government safety-net programs that save lives and provide a measure of dignity to the most vulnerable. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the bishops’ conference, was right to recently urge pastors to address poverty from the pulpit. And the bishops’ national anti-poverty initiative, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, is a vital resource that helps community-based organizations empower those living on the margins of society. But I fear the church’s revered social justice witness is being crowded out by divisive culture-war battles at a time when Americans need a stronger moral message about the dignity of work and economic justice for all.

A new generation of bishops must find their voice.

Complete Article HERE!