I did not sleep well last night, and did not nap well today either. My brain is spinning 100 km/hr and I am not sure what to do now. I spent the morning with my spiritual adviser, Rev Joyce. We talked and that was about it. Then we prayed and I set off for the Dept.
There was nobody in the office when I got there and so I just came home. I did get my other two grades. I got an (A-) in Hermeneutics and a (B-) in Samuel – Old Testament studies.
My MA adviser did not write me back. And I don’t know how to read his silence on my request from the other night. Are they going to help me stay on or are they going to toss me out???
I don’t know.
That’s all for now. What should I do now???
My spirits are sinking fast. I don’t know where I stand at the moment academically. The warning signs are there, but no contact has been made in the form of punishment, but I don’t think it will be very long before it happens. Maybe someone in the department will step up and lobby for me to continue. But I am not going to lobby, it just doesn’t seem right to do that. Seeing that I rewrote those two papers on a lark and ended up with C grades…
I had complained to one of my spiritual advisers that I was not enjoying what I was doing, and the more I pray and think about it I am coming to the conclusion that a change may be in the works like the inevitable.
I’ve sent a couple of emails to several ministers in the city to sit down and talk with them about what I should do next and to see if they can help me reorient my life in another direction and put to use the 2 degrees I already have in some pastoral ministry capacity.
I am going to be canvasing the AIDS groups here in the city, I also thought about going to Toronto to see if I could find a job there, which would mean a dual household, not sure if that is feasible at the moment, but an English province is better suited to me than a bilingual province that demands bilingualism …
I also am going to check with the hospitals in the area to see if I can find a position in the pastoral ministry field at these locations. Lots to think about and ponder over the next few days.
Summer classes start on Monday and I am not sure I should show up and face someone telling me that I am no longer welcome. So there are still two days this week for news so we shall see what happens.
I know that there are jobs waiting for me in other provinces, but I can’t ask hubby to uproot when he just got accepted into the MA in Sociology for the fall. That would not be fair. But maybe I can find a good job that pays the bucks we need to be able to work where ever I want to work.
Any of you with suggestions would greatly be appreciated.
More to come, stay tuned…
Graduate students who receive more than one C grade during the course of their studies will be withdrawn from the program unless continuation in the program is requested by the student’s program or Faculty and approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies. Course-based programs in the John Molson School of Business apply a term-by-term GPA requirement. Students should refer to the section on Academic Standing in their program’s calendar entry. Students who have been withdrawn may apply for re-admission (see Re-Admission of Withdrawn Students in Graduate Registration section). Students who receive another C after re-admission will be withdrawn from the program and will not be considered for re-admission. Individual programs may have more stringent regulations; students should check their program’s entry or with the Graduate Program Director.
Re-Admission of Withdrawn Students
Students who have been withdrawn from a graduate program may wish to be considered for re-admission into the program. Normally, students must have been withdrawn from the program for a minimum of five terms in order to be reconsidered. If recommended by the program, these students will then be considered as a new admission, i.e., new application, transcripts etc.
Reinstatement of Withdrawn Students
Students who have been withdrawn from a graduate program may wish to submit a Student Request form requesting reinstatement to the program. This request is to be submitted for consideration during the same term in which the student was withdrawn.
The weather right now is frightful. The snow began early this morning, on Tuesday. And at 10 p.m. this night, it is still snowing. It is cold, windy, rainy and snowy all at the same time. Just miserable. This is the kind of weather that keeps people from coming out to a meeting.
You really get to see who the dedicated people are on days like today. And just as I suspected my 10 core members of our Tuesday Beginners meeting people showed up for the early meeting. I can always count on them to come. As I was chair for the month of April. But at the business meeting tonight, things are not so rosy. Our numbers that have been down have taken a chunk of money from the kitty. We just barely made rent this month, in collection terms. We still have 3 months prudent reserve with about $100.00 extra in the bank, so we are good with that. But if our numbers don’t pick up in the coming weeks things may get dicey.
My topic for the night was “Act as if …” I had forgotten my beginners book on my way out tonight, so I went with what was in my head at the moment. So that’s what we talked about. Faking it until you make it.
I’ve been living on Acting as If for the last week. I am not a scholar, by any stretch of the imagination. I am not a writer of stellar papers, and I knew going into this last week, that my MA career was on the edge of being ended. My two grades came in that I was waiting on. The last one came in tonight. I made 2 C’s. That is not good news because I need to maintain a GPA of 3.0 to stay good in the program. I am hoping that the 2 grades for Hermeneutics and my OT class are above board. With this I am confident, because I have done well all semester so I should bump up my GPA with those 2 grades.
At least I know I passed, to a degree. Now I have to face my MA adviser and be told that I need to do better. I know what I have to do, if I want to succeed. I think I want to stay in school for the time being. I can’t afford to quit now. I am not fluent enough in French to get a job in this city. If I am truly honest, there are plenty of other cities I could move to tomorrow and get a job doing what I want to do with a career based on the two degrees I have at the moment.
We had a good speaker at the 8 o’clock meeting from the West Island. It was good to hear the message tonight. We had a good group of people show up, but the weather did not help matters tonight. My friend Dave was up from the States for the meeting tonight. It is always nice to see him. We get the odd “out of towner” now and then, more during the summer usually.
Other than than, there’s not much else to report.
More to come, stay tuned …
By The Associated Press
BEIJING, China – China says it has lifted a 20-year travel ban that barred people with HIV and AIDS from entering the country.
China’s Cabinet, the State Council, said in a statement posted to its website late Tuesday that the government passed the new amendment to the Border Quarantine Law on April 19.
The revised law comes just days ahead of the opening of the Shanghai Expo, which expects to see millions of visitors from overseas.
It was a productive day today. I went to turn in my paper this morning, and returned all my library books. I am now free until the 3rd of May. One of my grades that I was waiting on came back. I got a (C) on my Origen paper. It’s not good, but it is passing. I imagine that I will be lectured by my MA adviser I haven’t been booted yet, and I am not going to stir the pot. I still need my other IP grade and then my two grades from this term.
I think it will be ok.
How do you like this new theme? It’s called 2010. Word Press rolled out this new theme today, and I kind of liked it. It took me a little time to figure out how to work the widgets, thank GOD I didn’t have to re-size all my images, that would have been a nightmare, because they are scattered all over the place. It was a simple switch from one theme to another. My widgets got saved and all I had to do was replace them where I wanted them to go. It’s all good.
Hubby is out at a party with his classmates and I still need to cook dinner. I was too wrapped up in fixing this new theme, so I am going to go eat now.
More to come, stay tuned…
Another productive day was had by all. Hubby is well on his way to completing his next task for his classes. And tonight I finished my last paper for my OT class on Samuel. It wasn’t as difficult as I had first thought. I had all my books and notes written down and all my citations listed. It went pretty easily.
Tomorrow I turn in my paper and return the stack of books that have been sitting on my dining room table for weeks. And the wait continues to see whether or not I make it to the next semester. Let us Pray …
The next set of classes begins on the 3rd of May. I am registered for two classes, one is a graduate course and the other is not. It’s all good.
More tomorrow, stay tuned…
So it’s late. I should be in bed reading and listening to the radio. In a few minutes. It has been a quiet weekend for us. We did a little supermarket safari today and hubby cooked us a nice dinner.
The day was spent lazing around the apartment. I have been working on my final paper for Samuel, which is due on Monday. It is coming along nicely. I’ve got 9 pages typed up at this hour. My notes translated really well, from my in class presentation, it’s a good thing I noted where my citations came from. Tomorrow will be another writing day and I should finish it up by tomorrow night some time. I am riding a wave of inspiration for this paper, I am hoping to carry my gpa further in this class. I just need to stay focused and not ramble or make any stupid mistakes.
That’s about it for the moment. I think I should get to bed.
More tomorrow. stay tuned…
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Twenty years ago this month, you died of AIDS. I would gladly give my fame and fortune if only I could have one more conversation with you, the friend who changed my life as well as the lives of millions living with HIV. Instead, I have written you this letter.
I remember so well when we first met. A young boy with a terrible disease, you were the epitome of grace. You never blamed anyone for the illness that ravaged your body or the torment and stigma you endured.
When students, parents and teachers in your community shunned you, threatened you and expelled you from school, you responded not with words of hate but with understanding beyond your years. You said they were simply afraid of what they did not know.
When the media heralded you as an “innocent victim” because you had contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion, you rejected that label and stood in solidarity with thousands of HIV-positive women and men. You reminded America that all victims of AIDS are innocent.
When you became a celebrity, you embraced the opportunity to educate the nation about the AIDS epidemic, even though your only wish was to live an ordinary life.
Ryan, I wish you could know how much the world has changed since 1990, and how much you changed it.
Young boys and girls with HIV attend school and take medicine that allows them to lead normal lives. Children in America are seldom born with the virus, and they no longer contract it through transfusions. The insults and injustices you suffered are not tolerated by society.
Most important, Ryan, you inspired awareness, which helped lead to lifesaving treatments. In 1990, four months after you died, Congress passed the Ryan White Care Act, which now provides more than $2 billion each year for AIDS medicine and treatment for half a million Americans. Today, countless people with HIV live long, productive lives.
It breaks my heart that you are not one of them. You were 18 when you died, and you would be 38 this year, if only the current treatments existed when you were sick. I think about this every day, because America needs your message of compassion as never before.
Ryan, when you were alive, your story sparked a national conversation about AIDS. But despite all the progress in the past 20 years, the dialogue has waned. I know you would be trying to revive it if you were here today, when the epidemic continues to strike nearly every demographic group, with more than 50,000 new infections in the United States each year. I know you would be loudly calling for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy that was promised by President Obama but has not yet been delivered. I know you would reach out to young people. I know you would work tirelessly to help everyone suffering from HIV, including those who live on the margins of society.
It would sadden you that today, in certain parts of the United States, some poor people with AIDS are still placed on waiting lists to receive treatment. It would anger you that your government is still not doing enough to help vulnerable people with HIV and populations that are at high risk of contracting the virus, including sexually active teenagers. It would upset you that AIDS is a leading cause of death among African Americans.
It would frustrate you that even though hundreds of thousands of HIV-positive Americans are receiving treatment in your name, more than 200,000 don’t know their HIV-positive status, largely because of a lingering stigma surrounding the disease that prevents them from being tested. It would disappoint you that many teenagers do not have access to science-based HIV-prevention programs in school, at a time when half of new infections are believed to be among people under 25.
I miss you so very much, Ryan. I was by your side when you died at Riley Hospital. You’ve been with me every day since. You inspired me to change my life and carry on your work. Because of you, I’m still in the struggle against AIDS, 20 years later. I pledge to not rest until we achieve the compassion for which you so bravely and beautifully fought.
Sir Elton John, a Grammy- and Academy Award-winning artist, is the founder and chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Continuing from Vincent’s post [Here]. Here is a screen grab of my farm. I currently own the largest farm in the market, a 24 x 24 farm called a MIGHTY PLANTATION.
The property is ringed with assorted trees and barns, (which you can’t see in this pic) My farm is so big that you can’t see it all in the screen at the same time.
It’s just a game… but it is an addictive game, nonetheless.
I have on the farm:
- 4 Dairy Farms (with 20 count cows, and bulls)
- a 60 count chicken coop
- a 20 count horse stable
- a 20 count baby nursery
- an assortment of animals: pigs, goats, ducks, geese, reindeer (a hold over from Christmas), cats, rabbits, sheep, seagulls
Most recently Farmville introduced the baby barns, which I purchased all of my items to build it, and also the new dogs, you can barely see it sitting near my avatar. Bonkers is 15 days old and should grow up tonight.
I’ve been at this for a long time. It is an investment of time and sometimes a little cash to buy farm cash. I have a stash of farm cash to buy dog treats now, and we can gift them to each other now.
I am at level ( 37 – 109,878 )
I have in the bank 1,889,868 coins …
It costs coins to plow and plant, according to the price of the seed. Each seed harvests in a certain amount of time and each pays out when harvested. Some crops are more financially better to grow because they give you lots of coin.
I have a little town on my farm, with a farmhouse, some cottages, a green house, a red school house and a library, a general store and a Post Office.
Like I said you can’t see the other corner but there are 4 red barns, 3 tool sheds, a harvester, plow and seeder. I have 12 neighbors at the moment. Some of them are slackers, and there are 2 neighbors ahead of me in the game.
There are several kinds of trees on the farm:
- Cherry Trees
- Durian Trees
- Breadfruit Trees
- Olive trees
- Passion Fruit
- Gulmohar Trees
- Maple Trees
- Mandarin Trees
- Cashew, Walnut and Almond Trees
- Apple Trees
- Magnolia Trees
So that is my obsession right now.
So after the day has come and gone, I had a long chat with hubby. My future is in the hands of the professors now grading my papers. I either make the cut or I don’t. So we both decided that we would act as if. So tomorrow I am going to Financial Aide to work out my tuition deferral so I can register for Summer classes. I have emailed the department secretary with my class schedule, because she has to put it into the system for me.
If all goes to plan and I make the cut then I will be taking the following classes:
Theo 639 – Augustine’s Confessions – We touched on this in Hermeneutics
Mon – Wed from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. With Pamela Bright
May 3 – 16 June Session 1
Theo 202 Introduction to Biblical Studies -
Mon – Wed from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. with Matthew Anderson
June 28 – Aug 9 Session 2
I need another course to fill out my credit requirements for Quebec Aide.
All I can do is wait, and Pray …
Act as if … a very sober lesson.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Goodnight from Montreal.
Thank God I am sober. That’s all I have to say.
Tuesday has come and gone. And it was a good day, for the most part. Hubby got up earlier than me and was going to campus for some work and offered to take my other paper to the Theology department for me so I could sleep in longer, which was nice of him.
I got up early in any case and did my usual ritual day things. I made a call to Louise to check on her healing progress and we joked and laughed about her lack of boobs and the fact that her drains are a pain in the ass. Tomorrow she has an appointment with immigration to get her visa extended because we Canadians can only stay 180 days less one day in the U.S. on a regular stay. Ms. Louise is well over her stay limit and has to take her doctors letter to get sorted out. And she joked that if they gave her any shit that she would just drip boob blood on their desk and see how they like it. That was worth a giggle.
I got ready and set off for the meeting, making several stops on the way to get supplies, it is such a pain in the ass. You get sugar packets at the IGA because they are cheaper than Provigo. You get coffee at Zellers because only they carry the super duper plastic cans of both regular and decaf coffee and it is only $9.00 a can. At Provigo they only carry large cans of regular coffee at $13.00 a can, and small decafs for the same price, it is a huge rip off. So I spent $22.00 for the month.
This was our topic:
Beginners Book – Getting and staying Sober in AA, Stories from the Grapevine.
From Circles of Sobriety: January 2006…
I am allergic to alcohol and must not put it into my digestive system. If I protect my thinking, I am able to stay dry. If I consistently think grateful, logical, rational, positive thoughts, then my emotions, which stem in part from my thinking, will reflect those thoughts.
It’s important to monitor my thinking, to be conscious of what thoughts I’m hugging to my heart, inviting to stay in my mind, encouraging to hang around my head.
Tough, Yes, but not being aware of what I’m thinking can allow my thinking to run the whole show: emotions, decisions, and actions. Dry drunk, here I come.
Serenity protects my thinking, and everyone’s recipe for serenity is different. It’s like vegetable soup – nobody makes it quite the same. It can even vary from day to day, depending on what’s left over in the fridge. For me, serenity means getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, and staying out of other folks’ business. Everyone has her or his own formula.
Easy? Absolutely not, but far more worth the expenditure of energy than what went into recovering from hangovers.
Francis G., Chestertown, New York
So my topic from this reading became “What is your recipe for Serenity?”
We had 10 people at the meeting. But the discussion was great. Those who showed up are never shy to speak their minds, from the newcomers to the old timers. A good time was had by all.
At the speaker meeting we had one of the vanguards of Montreal Sobriety. I always love seeing Marie from the South shore. Everybody knows her in the community and the people showed up tonight to hear her speak, and I got to thank her, which was a privilege.
So here is where filthy comes to bear …
We live in a high rise apartment that is not new. We have lived here for almost ten years now. Things break. Drains need to be unstopped. Our toilet seat has been busted for more than a week now. There is a 12 inch in diameter hole in our bathroom ceiling from water damage from the upstairs tenant above us.
Hubby went and talked to the manager the other day, and on my way out this afternoon, I went by the office to check on why they haven’t done anything and wasn’t I colored surprised when the girl said to me that our apartment has been deemed “Filthy” and that either they would come clean it and charge us for the effort because they won’t do repairs in a dirty apartment.
So I took that little comment to the meeting with me. It sat in my chest for the whole time. On the way home Rick dropped me off at the grocery store where I spent $25.00 on cleaning supplies and came home. It was after 9 p.m.
I told hubby what the management said to me and the rest of the night was a blur. I took the bathroom, hubby took the kitchen. 2 and a half hours later and a lot of sweat and stress, you can eat off the bathroom floor. We cleaned the apartment from top to bottom. A COMPREHENSIVE scrubbing down.
Thank God I am sober and I can deal with things as they come up, because you never know when something is going to come out of left field and you have to take care of something right here and now. So that’s what we did tonight. I still haven’t eaten dinner and it’s 12:17 a.m. I am trying to catch up on what I usually do after coming home from my meeting. Check mail, read my favorite blogs, face book a little, and then sit down and blog, as I am doing now.
God grant me Serenity …
So now I need to go eat and clean myself up.
More to come, stay tuned …
Photo Courtesy: Asian Guys Blog (in the sidebar).
Another productive day was had by all. Now we start praying for good grades. I turned in the 2 papers that were due this afternoon. I think they are both good papers, I was up until the sun came up this morning working on them, which means I did not get much sleep today. I napped during the afternoon to be ready for class tonight.
O M G … I just looked at my synchronic paper for Samuel. I got a B+
I got a B on my annotated bibliography as well. This bodes well for me going into the final diachronic paper. This is very good news. Success this semester will help me along the path. Seeing that I did poorly last semester. I have been fearful of my progress all term. I have that one paper for Hermeneutics that I turned in today, I hope that she likes what I wrote.
Tomorrow I turn in my Origen paper. I sat down with hubby and I worked on it for three hours after class. It rounds out to 13 pages. Again I have an issue with quotations and being able to sort them out in my own words, which is my I had to rewrite papers for last term. Origen was a difficult task trying to put into my own words all the text I quoted. In the end hubby checked it over and said it looked good. Let’s hope that my prof sees it the same way.
Tomorrow is Tuesday. I have to turn in the paper, go to the store to get coffee and sugar and hit the meeting.
Please keep me in your prayers. Until tomorrow …
More to come, stay tuned …
It is 4:00 a.m. and Facebook was running SOOOO slow it took me half an hour to visit all my friends farms like I do every night after feeding my pup.
The weather has not been pretty, cold and rainy, although there was a rumor that we would have snow, but it is too warm for that. Thank God.
It was a productive day today. Paper wise. I finished writing my 10 page analysis paper for Hermeneutics. Pamela told us on the last class that after the productive class we had that the spirit moved everyone so much that all she said was that we would know what to do. So I went over my notes. I reread my journal entries, I surveyed the book a bit, and sat down and wrote. It took me a few sits to finish it, I hope I nailed the assignment. In the end I wrote what was on my heart about ecclesial discourse and with what’s going on in the church I spoke my peace, and for good measure I attached the open letter from Hans Kung to the bishops of the world. Let Us Pray …
I also finished working on Sophia. It is a much slimmer paper. I gambled on this project seeing that I was set on the Apocryphon of John. I didn’t find many sources that I had not already cited, so I got rid of the excess wording, I wrote a new introduction and added to the analysis portion and rechecked it for readability. It seemed to flow alright. It is 13 pages verses the 20 that it was when it was returned for a rewrite. Better to be safe than sorry was my logic behind it. I really hated this class and I don’t know how it will go over, if I fail, I fail. It would hasten the end of my MA career if it did.
Tomorrow I turn in these two papers.
I have to finish the rework on Origen tomorrow for a Tuesday deadline. Hubby is going to assist me in this endeavor. Once again, the sources that I used for the first paper came directly from a private library of the Origen Master at the Theology department. The library does not carry the books in community so I did not get to resource my citations. Another gamble. Once again, if I fail, I fail. The decision to continue in the MA program would be made for me, I would not have to ponder the thought any more.
But, you never know, I may make it through. I haven’t registered for the summer yet. There is only 1 course on tap that I could take on Augustine with Pamela Bright. If I pass then I will register, if I fail, then we will have to sort out plan B. And right now there isn’t a plan B on the table.I may need a job if I fail. Because we won’t be able to live here if I don’t bring in money via financial aide. So I am either going to get one huge gift or I am going to get royally FUCKED !!!
I am taking a huge gamble. Let Us Pray …
That is all, time for bed.
More to come, stay tuned …
Pope Benedict has made worse just about everything that is wrong with the Roman Catholic Church and is directly responsible for engineering the global cover-up of child rape perpetrated by priests, according to this open letter to all Catholic bishops
Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and I were the youngest theologians at the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. Now we are the oldest and the only ones still fully active. I have always understood my theological work as a service to the Roman Catholic Church. For this reason, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I am making this appeal to you in an open letter. In doing so, I am motivated by my profound concern for our church, which now finds itself in the worst credibility crisis since the Reformation. Please excuse the form of an open letter; unfortunately, I have no other way of reaching you.
I deeply appreciated that the pope invited me, his outspoken critic, to meet for a friendly, four-hour-long conversation shortly after he took office. This awakened in me the hope that my former colleague at Tubingen University might find his way to promote an ongoing renewal of the church and an ecumenical rapprochement in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
Unfortunately, my hopes and those of so many engaged Catholic men and women have not been fulfilled. And in my subsequent correspondence with the pope, I have pointed this out to him many times. Without a doubt, he conscientiously performs his everyday duties as pope, and he has given us three helpful encyclicals on faith, hope and charity. But when it comes to facing the major challenges of our times, his pontificate has increasingly passed up more opportunities than it has taken:
Missed is the opportunity for rapprochement with the Protestant churches: Instead, they have been denied the status of churches in the proper sense of the term and, for that reason, their ministries are not recognized and intercommunion is not possible.
Missed is the opportunity for the long-term reconciliation with the Jews: Instead the pope has reintroduced into the liturgy a preconciliar prayer for the enlightenment of the Jews, he has taken notoriously anti-Semitic and schismatic bishops back into communion with the church, and he is actively promoting the beatification of Pope Pius XII, who has been accused of not offering sufficient protections to Jews in Nazi Germany.
The fact is, Benedict sees in Judaism only the historic root of Christianity; he does not take it seriously as an ongoing religious community offering its own path to salvation. The recent comparison of the current criticism faced by the pope with anti-Semitic hate campaigns – made by Rev Raniero Cantalamessa during an official Good Friday service at the Vatican – has stirred up a storm of indignation among Jews around the world.
Missed is the opportunity for a dialogue with Muslims in an atmosphere of mutual trust: Instead, in his ill-advised but symptomatic 2006 Regensburg lecture, Benedict caricatured Islam as a religion of violence and inhumanity and thus evoked enduring Muslim mistrust.
Missed is the opportunity for reconciliation with the colonised indigenous peoples of Latin America: Instead, the pope asserted in all seriousness that they had been “longing” for the religion of their European conquerors.
Missed is the opportunity to help the people of Africa by allowing the use of birth control to fight overpopulation and condoms to fight the spread of HIV.
Missed is the opportunity to make peace with modern science by clearly affirming the theory of evolution and accepting stem-cell research.
Missed is the opportunity to make the spirit of the Second Vatican Council the compass for the whole Catholic Church, including the Vatican itself, and thus to promote the needed reforms in the church.
This last point, respected bishops, is the most serious of all. Time and again, this pope has added qualifications to the conciliar texts and interpreted them against the spirit of the council fathers. Time and again, he has taken an express stand against the Ecumenical Council, which according to canon law represents the highest authority in the Catholic Church:
He has taken the bishops of the traditionalist Pius X Society back into the church without any preconditions – bishops who were illegally consecrated outside the Catholic Church and who reject central points of the Second Vatican Council (including liturgical reform, freedom of religion and the rapprochement with Judaism).
He promotes the medieval Tridentine Mass by all possible means and occasionally celebrates the Eucharist in Latin with his back to the congregation.
He refuses to put into effect the rapprochement with the Anglican Church, which was laid out in official ecumenical documents by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and has attempted instead to lure married Anglican clergy into the Roman Catholic Church by freeing them from the very rule of celibacy that has forced tens of thousands of Roman Catholic priests out of office.
He has actively reinforced the anti-conciliar forces in the church by appointing reactionary officials to key offices in the Curia (including the secretariat of state, and positions in the liturgical commission) while appointing reactionary bishops around the world.
Pope Benedict XVI seems to be increasingly cut off from the vast majority of church members who pay less and less heed to Rome and, at best, identify themselves only with their local parish and bishop.
I know that many of you are pained by this situation. In his anti-conciliar policy, the pope receives the full support of the Roman Curia. The Curia does its best to stifle criticism in the episcopate and in the church as a whole and to discredit critics with all the means at its disposal. With a return to pomp and spectacle catching the attention of the media, the reactionary forces in Rome have attempted to present us with a strong church fronted by an absolutistic “Vicar of Christ” who combines the church’s legislative, executive and judicial powers in his hands alone. But Benedict’s policy of restoration has failed. All of his spectacular appearances, demonstrative journeys and public statements have failed to influence the opinions of most Catholics on controversial issues. This is especially true regarding matters of sexual morality. Even the papal youth meetings, attended above all by conservative-charismatic groups, have failed to hold back the steady drain of those leaving the church or to attract more vocations to the priesthood.
You in particular, as bishops, have reason for deep sorrow: Tens of thousands of priests have resigned their office since the Second Vatican Council, for the most part because of the celibacy rule. Vocations to the priesthood, but also to religious orders, sisterhoods and lay brotherhoods are down – not just quantitatively but qualitatively. Resignation and frustration are spreading rapidly among both the clergy and the active laity. Many feel that they have been left in the lurch with their personal needs, and many are in deep distress over the state of the church. In many of your dioceses, it is the same story: increasingly empty churches, empty seminaries and empty rectories. In many countries, due to the lack of priests, more and more parishes are being merged, often against the will of their members, into ever larger “pastoral units,” in which the few surviving pastors are completely overtaxed. This is church reform in pretense rather than fact!
And now, on top of these many crises comes a scandal crying out to heaven – the revelation of the clerical abuse of thousands of children and adolescents, first in the United States, then in Ireland and now in Germany and other countries. And to make matters worse, the handling of these cases has given rise to an unprecedented leadership crisis and a collapse of trust in church leadership.
There is no denying the fact that the worldwide system of covering up cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger (1981-2005). During the reign of Pope John Paul II, that congregation had already taken charge of all such cases under oath of strictest silence. Ratzinger himself, on May 18th, 2001, sent a solemn document to all the bishops dealing with severe crimes ( “epistula de delictis gravioribus” ), in which cases of abuse were sealed under the “secretum pontificium” , the violation of which could entail grave ecclesiastical penalties. With good reason, therefore, many people have expected a personal mea culpa on the part of the former prefect and current pope. Instead, the pope passed up the opportunity afforded by Holy Week: On Easter Sunday, he had his innocence proclaimed “urbi et orbi” by the dean of the College of Cardinals.
The consequences of all these scandals for the reputation of the Catholic Church are disastrous. Important church leaders have already admitted this. Numerous innocent and committed pastors and educators are suffering under the stigma of suspicion now blanketing the church. You, reverend bishops, must face up to the question: What will happen to our church and to your diocese in the future? It is not my intention to sketch out a new program of church reform. That I have done often enough both before and after the council. Instead, I want only to lay before you six proposals that I am convinced are supported by millions of Catholics who have no voice in the current situation.
1. Do not keep silent: By keeping silent in the face of so many serious grievances, you taint yourselves with guilt. When you feel that certain laws, directives and measures are counterproductive, you should say this in public. Send Rome not professions of your devotion, but rather calls for reform!
2. Set about reform: Too many in the church and in the episcopate complain about Rome, but do nothing themselves. When people no longer attend church in a diocese, when the ministry bears little fruit, when the public is kept in ignorance about the needs of the world, when ecumenical co-operation is reduced to a minimum, then the blame cannot simply be shoved off on Rome. Whether bishop, priest, layman or laywoman – everyone can do something for the renewal of the church within his own sphere of influence, be it large or small. Many of the great achievements that have occurred in the individual parishes and in the church at large owe their origin to the initiative of an individual or a small group. As bishops, you should support such initiatives and, especially given the present situation, you should respond to the just complaints of the faithful.
3. Act in a collegial way: After heated debate and against the persistent opposition of the Curia, the Second Vatican Council decreed the collegiality of the pope and the bishops. It did so in the sense of the Acts of the Apostles, in which Peter did not act alone without the college of the apostles. In the post-conciliar era, however, the pope and the Curia have ignored this decree. Just two years after the council, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical defending the controversial celibacy law without the slightest consultation of the bishops. Since then, papal politics and the papal magisterium have continued to act in the old, uncollegial fashion. Even in liturgical matters, the pope rules as an autocrat over and against the bishops. He is happy to surround himself with them as long as they are nothing more than stage extras with neither voices nor voting rights. This is why, venerable bishops, you should not act for yourselves alone, but rather in the community of the other bishops, of the priests and of the men and women who make up the church.
4. Unconditional obedience is owed to God alone: Although at your episcopal consecration you had to take an oath of unconditional obedience to the pope, you know that unconditional obedience can never be paid to any human authority; it is due to God alone. For this reason, you should not feel impeded by your oath to speak the truth about the current crisis facing the church, your diocese and your country. Your model should be the apostle Paul, who dared to oppose Peter “to his face since he was manifestly in the wrong”! ( Galatians 2:11 ). Pressuring the Roman authorities in the spirit of Christian fraternity can be permissible and even necessary when they fail to live up to the spirit of the Gospel and its mission. The use of the vernacular in the liturgy, the changes in the regulations governing mixed marriages, the affirmation of tolerance, democracy and human rights, the opening up of an ecumenical approach, and the many other reforms of Vatican II were only achieved because of tenacious pressure from below.
5. Work for regional solutions: The Vatican has frequently turned a deaf ear to the well-founded demands of the episcopate, the priests and the laity. This is all the more reason for seeking wise regional solutions. As you are well aware, the rule of celibacy, which was inherited from the Middle Ages, represents a particularly delicate problem. In the context of today’s clerical abuse scandal, the practice has been increasingly called into question. Against the expressed will of Rome, a change would appear hardly possible; yet this is no reason for passive resignation. When a priest, after mature consideration, wishes to marry, there is no reason why he must automatically resign his office when his bishop and his parish choose to stand behind him. Individual episcopal conferences could take the lead with regional solutions. It would be better, however, to seek a solution for the whole church, therefore:
6. Call for a council: Just as the achievement of liturgical reform, religious freedom, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue required an ecumenical council, so now a council is needed to solve the dramatically escalating problems calling for reform. In the century before the Reformation, the Council of Constance decreed that councils should be held every five years. Yet the Roman Curia successfully managed to circumvent this ruling. There is no question that the Curia, fearing a limitation of its power, would do everything in its power to prevent a council coming together in the present situation. Thus it is up to you to push through the calling of a council or at least a representative assembly of bishops.
With the church in deep crisis, this is my appeal to you, venerable bishops: Put to use the episcopal authority that was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council. In this urgent situation, the eyes of the world turn to you. Innumerable people have lost their trust in the Catholic Church. Only by openly and honestly reckoning with these problems and resolutely carrying out needed reforms can their trust be regained. With all due respect, I beg you to do your part – together with your fellow bishops as far as possible, but also alone if necessary – in apostolic “fearlessness” ( Acts 4:29, 31 ). Give your faithful signs of hope and encouragement and give our church a perspective for the future.
With warm greetings in the community of the Christian faith,
Yours, Hans Küng – (New York Times Syndicate) © Hans Küng
By The Canadian Press – Report Here
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the other three federal party leaders will fly together to Poland for the state funeral of President Lech Kaczynski and his wife.
Harper invited Liberal Michael Ignatieff, New Democrat Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe to accompany him to the Sunday funeral, and all accepted, said a release from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Kaczynski and a cross-section of Poland’s senior political and military figures were killed last Saturday in a plane crash.
The president was flying to services marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre.
The tragedy was deepened because he had invited so many senior figures to accompany him, including the president of the national bank, the deputy foreign affairs minister, a senior military officer, a deputy parliamentary speaker and several lawmakers.
U.S. President Barack Obama and dozens of other world leaders are to attend the Kaczynski funeral.
What Is the Truth Behind Any Association of Pedophilia and Homosexuality
The sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church took yet another turn this week when statements by the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, second only to Pope Benedict, linked pedophilia to homosexuality.
Bertone said: “Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relationship between celibacy and pedophilia, but many others have demonstrated that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia.”
France, where an estimated 60 percent of the population is Catholic, became the first country to officially dismiss the remarks when foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters, “This is unacceptable linkage and we condemn this. France is firmly engaged in the struggle against discrimination and prejudice linked to sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Other church and lay leaders similarly have called the remarks outrageous and ill-informed. While en route to the United States in 2008, Pope Benedict said he considered homosexuality and pedophilia to be separate matters. So why would Cardinal Bertone make his statements? And what is the real truth behind any association of pedophilia and homosexuality?
Medical professionals agree that the majority of known pedophiles are heterosexual. Although statistics vary slightly, according to Thomas Plante of the department of psychology at Santa Clara University in California, most professionals agree that between 4 percent and 7 percent of people are pedophiles and that statistics in the priesthood roughly correspond to those findings.
It is also statistically verifiable that 80 percent of victims of sexual abuse are abused by a family member. The father of a family is 36 times more likely to abuse a child than a priest is, according to the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Of about 3,000 reported cases of sexual misconduct among priests committed in the past 50 years, only 300, or 10 percent, of those cases involved true pedophiles. Pedophilia is psychologically classified as sexual attraction to prepubescent children, younger than 13. Ninety percent of the reported abuse cases involved Roman Catholic priests classified as ephebophiles, those attracted to teens between 13 and 19. Of those reported cases, 60 percent were homosexual abuse and 30 percent heterosexual abuse, according to the 2004 John Jay Report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Irresponsible to Link Homosexuality, Pedophilia
The statistics are helpful in distilling the underlying questions and concerns that arise. Certainly, no abuse of any kind is acceptable for a member of the clergy. As is church policy, there is zero tolerance for anyone accused and convicted of the abuse of a minor.
Although it was not always the case in the past, church guidelines require that internal and legal action in reported abuse be swift and just, with utmost concern for the victim involved. But why are sexual abusers present at all in ordained ministry, and what are the most effective means to prevent further abuse? This is where the issue of gay priests and the comments of Cardinal Bertone become germane.
To link homosexuality and pedophilia (or ephebophilia) is obviously erroneous, uninformed and irresponsible. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation. Pedophilia and ephebophilia are sexual disorders that afflict both heterosexuals and homosexuals, and mostly heterosexuals.
The problem of sexual abuse is rooted not in orientation but rather in pathology caused by the environmental, behavioral, biological and societal conditions of the abuser. Trauma from early childhood (ages 2-5), including sexual abuse and arrested sexual development are the most common factors cited by those who diagnose sexual abusers.
Yes, there are gay priests.
Some anecdotal statistics suggest as many as 40 percent of priests may be gay, according to James Wolf’s book “Gay Priests,” although this is not verifiable because many remain silent for fear of ecclesiastical and societal repercussions.
And, yes, a small minority of gay priests who were sexually arrested and maladjusted abused boys. But the majority of gay priests are celibate and living dedicated lives of service and commitment to their communities. And most have no attraction whatsoever to adolescents.
Child abusers are not interested in or capable of mature, adult relationships. They are stuck at the same psychosexual age as their victims. They have no capacity for authentic relationships. This is certainly not the case for the majority of gay — or straight — priests.
Strengthen Entrance Requirements
To conflate pedophilia with homosexuality does nothing to help ameliorate the crisis in the Catholic Church. The real need is for seminaries and formation programs to strengthen their entrance requirements, thus ensuring that no sexual deviant is admitted to the priesthood. This can be done by more extensive psychological testing as well as by ensuring honest dialogue and education within priestly formation programs with regard to human sexuality.
Candidates must be encouraged to talk freely about sexuality and to explore the wide gamut of human relationships and accompanying intimacy. This is certainly an argument against accepting candidates who are too young or obviously immature. High school and college seminary programs should be especially cautious in this regard.
If a candidate is discovered to be a pedophile or ephebophile, it should be immediate grounds for dismissal because these conditions are not curable. One such afflicted cannot find peace in the priesthood with these recurrent urges, especially when he will be in close proximity to adolescents of all ages. By the way, this would be true even if celibacy were not a required discipline in the priesthood.
Like homosexuality, celibacy is not a pertinent issue because child abusers are not interested in or capable of adult relationships. Married people, single people, straight people and gay people all can be — and are — abusers. Celibacy in and of itself does nothing to promote abuse. It may however be attractive to those who are sexually immature or conflicted, thus the need for more stringent screening of candidates.
Human sexuality is surely a complex enterprise and inconsistencies in behavior are sure to abound. Love, attraction and human intimacy sometimes follow their own set of rules. But certain rules, even within the purview of fluctuating sexuality, are immutable and must be guarded with vigilance. Surely the rules that dictate mature, adult and responsible sexual behavior among adults, which always excludes minors, are among those non-negotiables.
God Help the Abusers
Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” meaning allow them to come to me because they are witnesses to the simplicity and beauty of the kingdom of God. God help those who instead cause the little children to suffer. And God help, too, those who try to shift the blame for that suffering to those who bear no responsibility for the crisis that the church has yet to address in a coherent and forceful enough way.
Father Edward L. Beck, C.P., is a Roman Catholic priest of the Passionist Community. He is the author of three books, “God Underneath,” “Unlikely Ways Home” and “Soul Provider,” all published by Doubleday. In addition to conducting retreats and workshops on spirituality nationally and internationally, Father Beck is a religion contributor for ABC News. He hosts a weekly TV and Internet show for ABC called “Focus on Faith” with Chris Cuomo of “Good Morning America” and is also a commentator on religious and faith issues for various other media outlets including CNN and Fox Television. Father Beck is the executive producer and host of “The Sunday Mass,” which airs nationally each week.
I bought a puppy in Farmville and his feeding time is 3:35 a.m. every morning. I have read through the Farmville forums and found that you can’t change a feeding time. So I am stuck having to sit and wait for 3:35 to come every morning to feed him (Bonkers).
I got a good portion of reading done tonight. I went to the library earlier on Wednesday to photocopy some chapters from a couple of books. I mean, really, what else can you say about Sophia from the Apocryphon of John. Everyone says the same thing. She was, she wanted to create like God, she didn’t get approval, so she did it anyway, it was an abortion, and was pushed out of the pleroma, she repented and was reinstated. that’s about it.
I am working on my 10 page paper for Hermeneutics, that should be coming along nicely in the next couple of days. I need to go back over some of the reading. She taught us the fine art of academic reading, so that will help.
That old song, “Should I stay or should I go” is playing in my head. I’ve been pondering a lot of thought these past few weeks. I haven’t made a decision yet on this front yet. People read this blog, so I can’t give it away just yet.
I’m getting comments from old friends lately and I am grateful to them for stopping by. I updated my links on the blog so they are all active links.
I think I am going to go to bed now.
More to come, stay tuned …
“When I was a newcomer I was one of those whom others “viewed with alarm” and so was my group. I was very young, female, dually addicted, and very socially unacceptable. And my group included every type of alcoholic that old timers feared most: young people, addicts, people with mental illnesses, minority races, those with various belief structures or no belief at all, bikers, convicts, gays and lesbians. The amazing thing is that most of us stayed sober, despite all the dire predictions. Why? Because the two things we had in common were more important than all our differences. We were alcoholics and we believed in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Beginners Book, Getting and staying sober in AA… Stories from the Grapevine.
It was a beautiful day today. The sun was shining, it was neither hot nor cold, but a comfy in the middle kind of day. The kind of day that makes you wanna fuck off the whole day and go hang out in Old Montreal. The Old Port is a great place to hang out and do nothing. Sit by the water, watch the boats go by, walk around the old part of the city and window shop. There are some really great shops in Old Montreal. You gotta live here to get it though. These are the days when people start coming out of their winter hibernation holes and they come out to sit on the grass at the old port and people watch. Maybe this weekend.
I spoke to Louise this afternoon. She told me about her surgery and that after it was all over with, she didn’t remember it happening. Thank God for good drugs. The nurse comes every day to change the dressings and the drainage ports are working correctly. She is in good spirits and was very happy on the phone which was a good thing. One day at a time…
I got the the church with plenty of time to set up. It was a Madonna day today. I’ve been watching a lot of Madonna in Buenos Aires on the computer. I don’t know if I like Hard Candy better than the Confessions Tour. They are both good shows.
We had a good showing for the early meeting. Courage to change was my topic for the meeting. It went over well, people enjoyed the topic, we have a good group of regular folk who aren’t afraid to share what is on their minds.
We had a small group for the 8 o’clock meeting. The message was short and sweet and to the point. And Rick and I broke down and got out on time. It has only been us two for the last few weeks to break down. None of the other members hang around for the second meeting to help us. Although the attendees do help us stacking chairs and storing the tables.
I have 6 days to finish all my course work, hubby is helping me polish one of my papers, I am working on a second and my Hermeneutics essay is due on the 19th as well. Lots to do in the next few days.
If you are a reader of the blog and you Face Book, look me up.
That’s all for tonight. Time to go harvest…
More to come, stay tuned …
This article is making the rounds, Found on JOE MY GOD …
The Pope’s number two man, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, whose home archdiocese has recently imprisoned priests for molesting young girls, is blaming the Catholic Church’s problem with child fuckers on gay men.
The Vatican’s second-highest authority says the sex scandals haunting the Roman Catholic Church are linked to homosexuality and not celibacy among priests. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, made the comments during a news conference Monday in Chile, where one of the church’s highest-profile pedophile cases involves a priest having sex with young girls. “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true,” said Bertone. “That is the problem.” His comments drew angry reactions from Chile’s gay rights advocates.
“Neither Bertone nor the Vatican has the moral authority to give lessons on sexuality,” said Rolando Jimenez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in Chile. Jimenez also said no reputable study exists to support the cardinal’s claims. “This is a perverse strategy by the Vatican to shirk its own ethical and legal responsibility by making a spurious and disgusting connection,” he said. At least one of the highest-profile pedophiles in the Chilean church victimized young girls, including a teenager who became pregnant. At the time, the archbishop of the capital, Santiago, received multiple complaints about Father Jose Andres Aguirre from families concerned for their daughters. But the priest — known to his parishioners as Father Tato — continued serving at a number of Catholic girls schools in the city. Later the church sent Aguirre out of Chile twice amid abuse allegations. He was eventually sentenced to 12 years in prison for abusing 10 teenage girls.
The guilty dog barks the loudest, Cardinal Bertone. What are YOU hiding?
Second of Two Parts – By Jason Berry – National Catholic Reporter
Rome in 1946, following World War II, was in an economic shambles when an obscure young priest with deep pockets arrived seeking meetings with Vatican officials. The scion of a provincial Mexican aristocracy, Marcial Maciel Degollado had been a priest only two years, yet when a cameraman filmed his ordination he was already leading his own religious order, the Legion of Christ.
Maciel had gone to Rome by way of Madrid, Spain, where he sought scholarships the Franco government had offered for Latin American seminarians to study in Spain. The Spanish foreign minister, Alberto Martín Artajo, told him he needed Vatican approval for the “apostolic schoolboys” back home to qualify.
With funds from several of Mexico’s wealthiest families and its president, Miguel Alemán Valdés, he wrangled a meeting with Clemente Micara, a newly named cardinal and veteran papal diplomat. Micara, 67, was obsessed with rebuilding Rome. Maciel, tall and lean with fair brown hair and searchlight eyes, spoke no Italian, but Micara spoke Spanish. Maciel gave Micara $10,000, “a huge sum in a city reeling from the war,” said a knowledgeable priest.
The Legion of Christ: A History, dictated by Maciel and published by a Legion imprint in 2004, doesn’t mention the payment to Micara, but the book says that Maciel traveled with “a confidential document and a sum of money” from Mexico’s papal nuncio for delivery to Cardinal Nicola Canali, the governor of the Vatican city-state. The two cardinals helped Maciel gain an audience with Pope Pius XII, who proved sympathetic. Maciel went back to Madrid with letters of approval. In August 1946, Maciel and 34 apostolic schoolboys from Mexico sailed to Spain.
Why would the Holy See, with established channels to transmit documents, entrust sensitive material to a priest without diplomatic passport? The other part of the story — “a sum of money” — was the shape of things to come.
Maciel forced all Legionaries to take private vows, never to speak ill of Maciel or any superiors, and to report to their superiors anyone who did. The vows ensured his cult of personality. Juan Vaca and seven other early victims of Maciel who first spoke publicly, in the 1997 Hartford Courant report by Gerald Renner and this writer, gave graphic accounts of how, in Spain and Rome in the 1950s, they watched Maciel inject himself with a morphine painkiller called dolantin, as the drug was called at the time. In 1956, a strung-out Maciel entered Salvator Mundi Hospital in Rome. Cardinal Valerio Valeri, a reed-like former diplomat and prefect for Congregation of Religious, was furious over letters from an older seminarian in Mexico City who had seen Maciel self-inject and worried about his overly affectionate behavior with boys. The priest who ran the Legion high school was also concerned about Maciel’s drug use and advances on youths. Valeri suspended Maciel and arranged for Carmelite priests to assume control of the Legion house. They began questioning the boys, who admitted years later how they lied to protect him, and themselves. “We didn’t know what to do,” Vaca, now a psychology professor in New York, reflected. “Our lives would have ended.” They feared the investigating priests would deem them sinners.
Valeri did not publicize Maciel’s suspension. Maciel traveled between Spain and Latin America, raising money for a big project underway in Rome: Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica. Maciel got his break in 1959 when Pius XII died. Micara, by then the vicar of Rome, signed an order reinstating Maciel — something for which, in the interregnum between popes, he had no authority to do. Canon law puts official duties in abeyance in the interim. What were Valeri and other officials who were offended by Maciel to do? Expend what capital they had with the new pontiff, challenging Micara over a druggy priest with a vice for boys but cash lines to build a basilica? Maciel was redeemed by an illegitimate order from a cardinal to whom he had given $10,000 13 years before, according to a priest with access to Legion files. Micara, who had blessed the cornerstone, wanted infrastructure. Maciel had the money.
Like the captured U.S. soldiers brainwashed by Chinese communists in “The Manchurian Candidate,” a Cold War film, the seminarians from Mexico carried traumatic scars of Maciel’s psychological tyranny for decades. Unlike the movie characters, Maciel’s victims never forgot. In 1998, José Barba, a Mexico City college professor and former Legion seminarian with Vaca, went to Rome with another of the original victims and filed a canon law appeal in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, requesting a Vatican prosecution of Maciel.
Targeting women of wealth
Maciel’s financial strategy targeted the wives of wealthy men. A crucial supporter was Flora Barragán, the widow of an industrialist in Mexico’s steel-producing city of Monterrey. After Barragán’s death, her daughter told Barba that she had donated $50 million to the Legion. Barba, who teaches at the Autonomous Technical Institute of Mexico, said that he cannot verify the $50 million figure but said “Flora’s support was substantial.”
Barba entered the Legion in 1948, at 11, and left in 1962. He earned a doctorate at Harvard in Latin American literature.
“Maciel was in the habit of buying things in cash,” Barba told NCR during a March 4 interview in Mexico City.
Barba continued: “Maciel was 27 when he purchased the [first seminary] estate. In 1950 he began construction on the Instituto Cumbres, the first prep school, in Mexico City, the land for which Flora provided. That summer he also inaugurated Collegio Massimo in Rome. He was 30. In 1953 he tried to start construction of a college in Salamanca. I was there,” said Barba. “The bishop was sick; he failed to lay the cornerstone. He began the work in 1954 and completed it five years later. It was also in 1954 that he [Maciel] purchased the old spa in Ontenada, Spain, which had its own lake, for another seminary. Again, he paid cash. Fr. Gregorio López, a Legion priest, told me he delivered the money, wrapped in thin paper, to Leopoldo Corinez,” who represented the family that owned the property. “I do not know the exact amount.”
In 1958 he built a seminary in Salamanca, Spain, thanks to the largesse of Josefita Pérez Jiménez, the daughter of a former Venezuelan dictator.
Maciel reaped lasting dividends in Monterrey with the Garza-Sada families. The dynasty dates to 1890, when Isaac Garza and his brother-in-law, Francisco Sada, opened a brewery. Isaac’s sons, Eugenio and Roberto Garza Sada, both graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, built a bottling factory in 1943. As they branched into other industries, the Garza brothers founded a university, TEC — the Technical Institute of Superior Studies in Monterrey.
Maciel launched private schools in Monterrey, one for boys, one for girls. He exported to America a model for prep schools to attract well-heeled families who would join Regnum Christi, which organized study groups to discuss Maciel’s letters. Lay celibates, the highest level of Regnum Christi members, live in communities and work relentlessly on fundraising. The Web site www.Life-after-rc.com, run by a former Regnum Christi leader, documents the cult-like dynamics with messages of people who have lost loved ones to “the Movement.”
Monterrey was Maciel’s financial springboard. After Dionisio Garza Garza died in 1991, his wife and several of his children donated to the Legion. Media reports have likened the Garza family wealth to that of the Rockefellers.
“One of my aunts gave Maciel a house,” said Roberta Garza, 44, the youngest of the eight siblings, and editor of Milenio newspaper’s magazine in Mexico City. In a March 2 interview in Mexico, she described her late father as “a conservative Victorian gentleman, incredibly well loved. Our family rarely watched TV. We came together after dinner and we talked.”
After the patriarch’s death, Maciel courted the widow for support. “My mother gave him jewels and a lot of money,” said Roberta Garza. Her mother, now quite aged, “never learned about his kids. He targeted women in Mexico of a certain class who were not allowed to work. I had to fight to go to college. For cultured women who were bored, Maciel offered a sense of purpose.”
Roberta Garza studied as a boarder at Catholic schools in France and Germany, reading voraciously, “developing a critical mind that got me into trouble back in Monterrey.” She returned in 1980 for a Legion high school but found it “rigid, highly traditional, and not analytical. One of my in-laws had a daughter who was not learning English. She complained to the Legionary priest. He actually told her: ‘The final judgment will not be in English.’
“They were grooming us for Regnum Christi — the Movement. If your family had money, power, influence, they wanted you. They kept telling me, ‘God gave you everything, you must give back by fighting the forces of evil.’ … Their whole discourse was this paradise of moral rectitude. After France, where I could think freely, I was crying every night, thinking this is my family, my home, I don’t want to be here. I almost cracked up.”
Two of her siblings joined the Movement. Paulina, now in her 50s, is a Regnum Christi consecrated woman in Rome. A brother, Fr. Luis Garza Medina, graduated from Stanford University in California in 1978 with a degree in industrial engineering and entered the Legion. At 32 he became vicar general, the second highest position. Through the two siblings, Maciel secured a continuing flow of money from the family. Fr. Garza donated $3 million of his inheritance to the Legion, according to a colleague at the time. In an e-mail exchange, Fr. Garza would neither confirm nor deny the amount or the donation.
Today, the Garza family is splintered. “One of my brothers hates the Legion more than I do,” said Roberta Garza, who abandoned religion after college.
The eldest sibling, Dionisio Garza Medina — paternal namesake and CEO of Alfa, the multinational founded by the grandfather — told The Wall Street Journal: “The Legion is the only Mexican multinational in the world of religion.”
When the Garza siblings gather as a family, they use good manners to avoid discussing the Legion. At Christmas 2009, she said, Luis hung his head, and to Roberta seemed deeply depressed.
In an exchange of several e-mails, Fr. Garza refused to answer questions.
Flashpoint of the scandal
Mexico City has become the flashpoint in the deepening Legion scandal. The catalyst in both the media coverage and the legal saga is attorney José Bonilla.
The revolution in his life began in 2006 when he sued the Legion for the sexual abuse of his 5-year-old son by a lay teacher at the Legion’s Oxford School in Mexico City. The boy told his mother that a male teacher had bitten his penis. After getting the child medical care, Bonilla and his wife, Lisset Aldrete, also a lawyer, met with the principal. He said the principal took no action. They filed criminal charges against the teacher, Joaquín Francisco Mondragón Rebollo, who disappeared and is a fugitive from justice. The family has won initial rounds in a civil case against the Legion school, said Bonilla.
Bonilla, 50, earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the Jesuit-run Ibero-American University in Mexico City. Sitting in a sun-dappled parlor, he spoke tenderly of his child (the youngest of five). Bonilla’s blog — conlajusticia.wordpress.com — is a moral excavation of the Legion. “The blog,” he said, “is how Raúl found me.”
Raúl — José Raúl González Lara, 29, the Maciel middle son — asked Bonilla for legal help against the Legion. After his father’s death, priests at Anáhuac, the Legion’s flagship university in Mexico City, guided Raúl to a trust account Maciel supposedly established for the family, but it was empty, said Bonilla.
“The Legion gave Raúl a copy of a trust they told him was taken away from Norma [the daughter in Spain],” said Bonilla. He believes the Legion officials in Mexico were trying to make the half-siblings get into a legal conflict over Maciel’s estate. Raúl’s efforts for a family settlement failed.
On March 3, the family did a one-hour interview on MVS Radio with Carmen Aristegui, who also hosts a CNN Mexico newsmaker show. Aristegui won a Columbia University 2008 Maria Moors Cabot Prize. (Disclosure: Aristegui did the Spanish narration for my film “Vows of Silence.”) The radio program, simulcast on video and posted on YouTube, made international news. Raúl; his mother, Blanca Lara Gutiérrez; and his brother, Omar, 33, spoke traumatically of life with Maciel.
Bonilla’s interview adds additional details of the family history.
In 1977, Blanca, 19, was working in Tijuana as a domestic when she met “Raúl Rivas,” 57, a self-described widower and international detective for oil companies. Despite his travels, he wooed her by buying a house in Cuernavaca, a colonial town outside Mexico City. Though they didn’t marry, he became adoptive father of her 3-year-old son, Omar, from a previous relationship. Bonilla said that the adoption paper and the birth certificates for their natural sons, Raúl, and Christian, now 17, are “legally a mess. Maciel made up his name and gave it to the younger boys.” He was away long stretches as the boys grew. But Blanca Gutiérrez, who grew up poor, had a house and income. “I loved him very much,” she told Aristegui. “I never suspected.”
On the program, Raúl bristled: “When I was 7 years old, I was lying down with him like any boy, any son with his father. He pulled down my pants and tried to rape me.”
Self-effacing in Cuernavaca, careful to not be photographed, “Rivas” began taking Omar and Raúl on trips to Europe, molesting them between the ages of 8 and 14. “As teenagers they began pushing him off,” said Bonilla.
A few years after buying the house for Blanca, Maciel met Norma Hilda Baños, in Acapulco. In 1987, age 26, she had his child, also named Norma Hilda. What little is known of them comes from Spanish reporters Idoia Sota and José M. Vidal, who located them in an upscale Madrid apartment building, eliciting brief comments for an article last year in El Mundo. “When I met this man I was underaged,” the mother, Norma Hilda Baños, identified as 48, is quoted. “Neither my daughter nor I knew who this man really was until the very end.” The daughter “was abused by her father, Maciel,” the mother is quoted in El Mundo. “She suffers from severe trauma from her childhood and I don’t believe she is ever going to get over it.”
The article said that Maciel left Baños “two homes in her name in the exclusive Madrid building where she lives and three [other] places, all valued at about 2 million euros.”
According to the Spanish reporters, Maciel also had three children with another Mexican woman, who now lives in Switzerland, which would make six natural children by three women, and the adoptive Omar as a seventh.
When Raúl was 6, Maciel sent him to boarding school in Ireland for several years. In 1991, when Raúl was 10 and Norma 4, Maciel took them to the Vatican; they received Communion from Pope John Paul II, according to Bonilla. His Web site has a photograph of the two children holding hands with a Swiss Guard. Many priests and bishops have taken children to meet the pope. More interesting is how Maciel got them to receive Communion. Presenting his children to John Paul suggests a reckless cynicism in Maciel’s behavior, gambling with his public image as a priest by showcasing the progeny of his private life, putting both of his lives on simultaneous display.
In America the major media ignored the Feb. 23, 1997, Courant investigation until the 2002 Boston scandal. But in Mexico, a daily paper ran a series and a cable TV station did a documentary. In spring 1997, Maciel called Raúl, 16, and told him to buy up all available copies of Contenido magazine and get rid of them. On the cover, Raúl saw his father in a Roman collar with a different name. The older boys refused to let Christian, 4, be alone with their father. As Maciel became more distant, he still supported them financially, said Bonilla.
About that time, Maciel moved Norma and 10-year-old Normita to Spain. Within a year or so, he sent Raúl to live with them for several months as the teenage boy saw a pyschotherapist for issues caused by incest and discovery of his father-as-Father.
Both families had to keep the secrets for financial survival.
Several years ago, said attorney Bonilla, Normita, the daughter, studied at Anáhuac University in Mexico City. “The Legion knew who she was,” insisted Bonilla.
“I don’t know whether that’s true or not,” said Legion spokesman Jim Fair. “We wouldn’t comment on former students, if they were former students. You’d have to get that from her.”
The day after the Rivas family’s radio interview, the Legion released a Jan. 5 letter that rebuffed Raúl’s demand for $26 million, for which he had reputedly promised silence in return. Bonilla withdrew as legal counsel, citing professional ethics over a client bargaining silence for money. He has 70 other clients who were abused or have children who were abused, not just by religious figures. As the Legion engages in a financial chess game with Raúl, his demand for the family’s compensation has become a Vatican issue.
In November, Bonilla and the family met with Bishop Ricardo Watty, the Mexican visitator in the Legion investigation. “I have met with Watty twice,” Bonilla told NCR. “He was very concerned about the children not having support. He tried to bring the parties together to resolve this. I saw him as having instructions from the pope or [Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio] Bertone to solve the problem.”
Sodano, the patron in Rome
The centerpiece of Maciel’s plan to secure his legacy in Rome was the Legion’s university, Regina Apostolorum, where Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, taught courses. She has been an advisor to the Legion, which has expanded in America with the University of Sacramento in California.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state from 1990 to 2006, was a pivotal figure in the university’s growth in Rome.
Maciel and Sodano forged a friendship in Chile in the 1980s during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. The Legion needed Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez’s permission to function. Haunted by the regime’s torturing and abducting of people, Silva had a tense relationship with Sodano, who as papal nuncio appeared on TV in support of Pinochet. Several Chilean bishops implored Silva not to admit Maciel’s group, which had a tainted reputation as “millonarios de Cristo” for their obsessions with fundraising. “In a society as polarized as Chile,” Andrea Insunza and Javier Ortega wrote in a book on the Legion in Chile, “the Legionaries found a key ally: the apostolic nuncio, Angelo Sodano.” Silva approved the Legionaries’ presence in Chile.
Back to Rome in 1989, Sodano, in preparing to become secretary of state, took English lessons at a Legion center in Dublin, Ireland. He vacationed at a Legion villa in Southern Italy. An honored guest at Legion dinners and banquets, Sodano became Maciel’s biggest supporter. Glenn Favreau, a Washington, D.C., attorney and former Legionary in Rome, said: “Sodano intervened with Italian officials to get zoning variances to build the university” on a wooded plateau of western Rome. Maciel hired Sodano’s nephew, Andrea Sodano, as a building consultant. Pontificial Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum is the name of the complex.
But Legionaries overseeing the project complained to Maciel that Andrea Sodano’s work was late and poorly done; they were reluctant to pay his invoices. To them, Maciel yelled: “Pay him! You pay him!”
Andrea Sodano was paid.
In 2008, a flashy Italian businessman, Raffaello Follieri, was indicted in New York on fraud and money-laundering charges for his business that bought shuttered church properties and parishes for commercial resale. Andrea Sodano was Follieri Group’s vice president. Cardinal Sodano attended the company’s 2004 launch party in New York, accorded to press reports. As NCR reported March 3, 2006, the firm’s literature trumpeted its “deep commitment to the Catholic church and its long-standing relationship with senior members of the Vatican hierarchy.”
After the company secured major backing from billionaire Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa development company, Follieri spent wildly on his jet-set romance with movie star Anne Hathaway. As the Follieri-Yucaipa partnership found properties, Follieri sent payments to Andrea Sodano’s office in Italy by bank wire transfer.
Documents obtained by the FBI show that Follieri fabricated backdated invoices from Sodano to justify a two-month flurry of payments in 2005 that Follieri had already obtained from the investors. These included: $75,000 on Aug. 22, for “Engineering Services”; a Sept. 12 invoice for $15,000 for work in Atlantic City, N.J., and $80,000 in Orland Park in the Chicago archdiocese; Oct. 21, for $70,000 in Canyon City (no state given in the invoice); another $50,000 for Orland Park; and $75,000 for unspecified “Engineering Services,” making a tidy $225,000 net on that single day. None of the single-page invoices has a paragraph on work done.
In the weekly conference calls with Burkle’s company, Follieri escalated his request for funds to pay Sodano, stressing that the Vatican needed the engineering reports in order to grant approval for the sales of church property. Yucaipa paid $800,000 to that end, with Follieri providing fabricated, backdated invoices to document payments purportedly made to Andrea Sodano.
On March 8, 2006 — two months before Maciel was banished from the priesthood — Cardinal Sodano sent a letter of complaint to Follieri. “I feel it is my duty to tell you how perturbed I am,” he wrote, “to hear that your company continues to present itself as having ties to ‘the Vatican,’ due to the fact that my nephew, Andrea, has agreed on some occasion to provide you with professional consulting services. I do not know how this distressing misunderstanding could have occurred, but it is necessary now to avoid such confusion in the future. I do, therefore, appeal to your sensibility to be careful with respect to this matter. I shall accordingly inform my nephew Andrea as well as anyone else who has asked me for information regarding your firm. I take this opportunity to send you my regards.”
The letter came just after NCR‘s report by Joe Feuerherd that quoted an unnamed religious order official on Follieri Group saying, “This thing smells.”
As Andrea Sodano was promoting the business, Cardinal Sodano — having lent his sacred office to handshakes and chatting up potential backers at the Follieri Group’s launch — began backpedaling. Follieri had begun bragging to potential investors that he was the chief financial officer of the Vatican. Nevertheless, four months after the cardinal’s letter, Raffaello and Andrea Sodano flew to Latin America on a property-scouting trip. Follieri handed a check for $25,000 to one archbishop and a check for $85,000 to another archbishop. “The recipients of these donations did not know that Follieri had stolen the money to give to them,” states an FBI sentencing memorandum on the Follieri case.
In spring of 2007, Burkle wanted to see the engineering reports. Follieri made a secretary stay up all night writing the reports, which he backdated and disgorged to Burkle’s people.
“The reports were in Italian,” explains FBI agent Theodore Cacioppi. “Each one was about two to five pages long. None of them contained any schematics, technical drawings, diagrams, or anything that appeared to relate to engineering.” The reports “were almost worthless, did not reflect any engineering work, and were certainly not worth over $800,000.”
Burkle’s Yucaipo Companies had its own investors, notably the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the California Teachers’ Retirement Fund and California Public Employees’ Retirement Fund. Yucaipo sued Follieri for $1.3 million. Follieri scrambled to repay the partnership, but was indicted.
On Oct. 23, 2008, he pleaded guilty to 14 counts of wire fraud, money-laundering and conspiracy, and is now serving 54 months in a federal prison.
“We believe Studio Sodano [Andrea's corporate name] took in fraudulently earned money,” stated Cacioppi. “We considered these people unindicted co-conspirators.”
Cacioppi continued, “We did not need to put those people on the stand. We did get intimations from the State Department that they were not inclined to talk with us. As a matter of resource allocation it was not worth trying to get them.”
Andrea Sodano was safely back in Italy at the time of Follieri’s arrest. The government document that accuses him of receiving payments also says that the Vatican itself received “donations” from Follieri’s scam, an assertion that raises a question about Cardinal Sodano’s judgment. What explains his trust in a flimflam man like Follieri?
The government sentencing memorandum on Follieri by the U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York, further explained: “Follieri created the false impressions that he had ties to the Vatican, which enabled him to obtain church properties at below-market values, through his relationship with Andrea Sodano, the nephew (“Nephew”) of the then-Secretary of State of the Vatican Cardinal Angelo Sodano … and making unauthorized donations to the Vatican with investor money. Follieri misused investor funds to pay the Nephew for ‘engineering’ services that the Nephew never performed so that the Nephew could travel with Follieri when visiting church officials and help Follieri obtain access to the grounds of the Vatican. It was through this connection that Follieri was able to attend one of the Pope’s services and, along with many others, get his picture taken with the Pope … show the private gardens of the Vatican to Follieri’s friends and associates, and arrange for guided tours of a museum at the Vatican.”
The sentencing memorandum continues: “Follieri also falsely represented that he needed over $800,000 to pay for the engineering reports prepared by the Nephew. Follieri claimed that the Vatican needed to review these engineering reports before Vatican could make any decision about whether to sell the properties to Follieri.”
While Follieri found a friend in Andrea Sodano, Maciel had found one in Andrea’s uncle, the cardinal. But Maciel’s resource allocation ran into problems with the building of the university, Regina Apostolorum. He was hungry for Vatican approval for the highest level of recognition as a full pontifical academy, to put the freshly minted university on equal footing with the much older Lateran and Gregorian universities in Rome. To secure that standing, sources told NCR, the Legion in 1999 offered a Mercedes Benz to the late Cardinal Pio Laghi, who was prefect of Congregation for Catholic Education (and former papal ambassador to the United States). Appalled, Laghi rejected the offer, according to a priest who witnessed the exchange.
Laghi’s successor, Polish Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, refused the authorization too. Cardinal Sodano secured a status below the prestigious level Maciel and the Legion had sought.
Maciel died in a surreal drama where his life pieces converged with shuddering fall. In late January 2008, he was in a hospital in Miami, according to a Jan. 31, 2010 report by reporters Sota and Vidal of El Mundo. Although the article (available in English on exlcblog.com) is layered in opinion about Maciel’s character, it provides a detailed look at the crisis he created for his followers. In the hospital gathered Alvaro Corcuera, Maciel’s successor as director general; the Legion’s general secretary, Evarista Sada; and numerous other associates. Maciel reportedly refused to make a confession, stirring such concerns that someone summoned an exorcist, though the article does not describe a ritual. The men around Maciel were jarred when two women appeared: Norma the mother, and Normita, 23. At that point, Maciel reportedly said of the Normas: “I want to stay with them.”
The El Mundo article continues:
After the priests got Maciel to a Legion house in Jacksonville, Fla., he reportedly grew belligerent when Corcuero tried to anoint him, yelling, “I said no!” The article says Maciel refused to make a final confession, and states flatly that he “did not believe in God’s pardon.”
That is an opinion that Maciel’s sordid life might well support, but for which, in fact, we have no proof. In announcing his ascent to heaven, immediately following Maciel’s 2008 death, the Legion high command took propaganda to a level beyond category.
Luis Garza, in a March 15, 2010, e-mail response to an NCR request for comment on the El Mundo article, replied as follows: “I understand that you have many questions. But as I said in my earlier mail, at this point in time with the situation as it is, there really isn’t more I can provide. I am sorry.
“I will continue to pray for all who suffered from Fr. Maciel’s actions. And I hope you and your readers will keep us in their prayers. I pray for you and your mission as a journalist.”
[Jason Berry is author of Lead Us Not into Temptation and other books. His film Vows of Silence explores the Vatican investigation of Maciel. An investigative grant from The Nation Institute supported research for this article. http://www.VowsofSilenceFilm.com.
What did you do today to remember ???
It kind of slipped my mind, the day and all. I spent the last 2 days typing out my Old Testament Samuel Diachronic Presentation into my computer 32 slides in all and I finished it earlier tonight. Now I can get to bed at a nominal hour and listen to my over night radio show.
I have three papers to write in the next seven days. In order not to be tossed from the M.A. program. The fourth paper isn’t due until the 29th and that should not be a problem. I have to get Sophia and Origen written by next Tuesday. God give me strength…
I spoke to my friend down in Florida, the lady keeping an eye on Louise. She is home now, and was sleeping when I called earlier today. Things must be going very well that they discharged her so soon after surgery.
That’s all I have for you at the moment. So from Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz, I remember …
“You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter
Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.”
Yesterday (Friday) my best friend Louise had radical double mastectomy surgery, due to Breast Cancer. I called midway during surgery and I was told that everything was going well. I will call down later today to check on her. If you are the praying type, I would ask you to remember her in your prayers for the next few days as she begins the long healing process.
We are coming to the end of term and the crunch has begun to complete all the assignments by their due dates. It will be a complex next two weeks for me. I have been working feverishly on my papers due by the 20th of this month, my OT Samuel presentation is due on Monday for class, the final paper isn’t due until the 29th, seeing we have an extra week of class because of Easter Monday.
Just a short entry for now. More to come later today.