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Sex Scandals

Second Highest Vatican Official Blames Pedophilia Scandal On Gay Men

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?


Money paved way for Maciel's influence in the Vatican

This from the National Catholic Reporter: Online Report here

Apr. 06, 2010

By Jason Berry

First of Two Parts

In his time, the late Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado was the greatest fundraiser of the modern Roman Catholic church. He was also a magnetic figure in recruiting young men to religious life in an era when vocations were plummeting. Behind that exalted façade, however, Maciel was a notorious pedophile, and a man who fathered several children by different women. His life was arguably the darkest chapter in the clergy abuse crisis that continues to plague the church.

The saga of the disgraced founder of the Legion of Christ, a secretive, cult-like religious order now under Vatican investigation, opens into a deeper story of how one man’s lies and betrayal dazzled key figures in the Roman curia and how Maciel’s money and success helped him find protection and influence. For years, the heads of Vatican congregations and the pope himself ignored persistent warnings that something was rotten in the community where Legionaries called their leader Nuestro Padre , “Our Father,” and considered him a living saint.

The charismatic Mexican, who founded the Legion of Christ in 1941, sent streams of money to Roman curia officials with a calculated end, according to many sources interviewed by NCR: Maciel was buying support for his group and defense for himself, should his astounding secret life become known.

This much is well established from previous reporting: Maciel was a morphine addict who sexually abused at least 20 Legion seminarians from the 1940s to the ’60s. Bishop John McGann of Rockville Centre, N.Y., sent a letter by a former Legion priest with detailed allegations to the Vatican in 1976, 1978 and 1989 through official channels. Nothing happened. Maciel began fathering children in the early 1980s — three of them by two Mexican women, with reports of a third family with three children in Switzerland, according to El Mundo in Madrid, Spain. Concealing his web of relations, Maciel raised a fortune from wealthy backers, and ingratiated himself with church officials in Rome.

“What I can say about Fr. Maciel is that he was a consummate con artist,” Fr. Stephen Fichter, a sociologist and former Legion official, told NCR. “He would use any means to achieve his end, even if that meant lying to the pope, or any of the cardinals in Rome.”

When Maciel died on Jan. 30, 2008, the Legion leadership announced that the 87-year-old founder had gone to heaven. While God alone knows Maciel’s fate, the Legion’s statement stands in hindsight as one final act of deception by a figure whose legacy is still wreaking havoc from the grave. In February 2009, the Legionaries revealed that Maciel had a daughter. Late last month, the Legionaries issued a vaguely worded statement of regret to unnamed victims of Maciel — four years after Pope Benedict XVI banished him from active ministry to “a life of prayer and repentance” for abusing seminarians.

Maciel left a trail of wreckage among his followers. Moreover, in a gilded irony for Benedict — who prosecuted him despite pressure from Maciel’s chief supporter, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state from 1990 to 2006 — Maciel left an ecclesiastical empire with which the church must now contend. The Italian newsweekly L’espresso estimates the Legion’s assets at 25 billion euros, with a $650 million annual budget, according to The Wall Street Journal .The order numbered 700 priests and 1,300 seminarians in 2008. On March 15 of this year, five bishops, called visitators, from as many countries, delivered their reports to the pope after a seven-month investigation. A final report is expected by the end of April.

Not in centuries has a scandal in the church had such complexity as this one. A huge financial operation is in the hands of a religious order many critics have likened to a cult, a group whose leadership is suspected of hiding its superior’s corrupt life. As the Vatican grapples with the Legion — and thorny legal questions as to whether the Holy See can intervene in the Legion’s far-flung financial operations — three of Maciel’s sons and their mother in Mexico demand compensation, claiming they were cut off by the Legion when Maciel died.

Besides the complex questions of whether to dismantle or “reform” the Legion, Benedict is under pressure from a resurgent sex abuse scandal in Ireland, and cases from years back in Germany, Wisconsin and Arizona, in which he reportedly failed to discipline abusive priests.

The Legion scandal stands out for another reason: The Maciel case and the trail of money he reportedly gave cardinals raises profound ethical questions about how money circulates in the Vatican.

In an NCR investigation that began last July, encompassing dozens of interviews in Rome, Mexico City and several U.S. cities, what emerges is the saga of a man who ingratiated himself with Vatican officials, including some of those in charge of offices that should have investigated him, as he dispensed thousands of dollars in cash and largesse.

Maciel built his base by cultivating wealthy patrons, particularly widows, starting in his native Mexico in the 1940s. Even as he was trailed by pedophilia accusations, Maciel attracted large numbers of seminarians in an era of dwindling vocations. In 1994 Pope John Paul II heralded him as “an efficacious guide to youth.” John Paul continued praising Maciel after a 1997 Hartford Courant investigation by Gerald Renner and this writer exposed Maciel’s drug habits and abuse of seminarians. In 1998, eight ex-Legionaries filed a canon law case to prosecute him in then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s tribunal. For the next six years, Maciel had the staunch support of three pivotal figures: Sodano; Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; and Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish secretary of John Paul. During those years, Sodano pressured Ratzinger not to prosecute Maciel, as NCR previously reported. Ratzinger told a Mexican bishop that the Maciel case was a “delicate” matter and questioned whether it would be “prudent” to prosecute at that time.

In 2004, John Paul — ignoring the canon law charges against Maciel — honored him in a Vatican ceremony in which he entrusted the Legion with the administration of Jerusalem’s Notre Dame Center, an education and conference facility. The following week, Ratzinger took it on himself to authorize an investigation of Maciel.

John Paul’s support gave Maciel credibility as he moved with seamless ease among the ultra-wealthy. At a 2004 fundraiser in New York, a video cameraman filmed him running his fingers down the tuxedo lapel of the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, a major Legion supporter. Besides donations, Legion schools in Mexico with high tuitions and low salaries subsidized the operations in Rome, say men familiar with the order’s finances.

As questions swirl about how Maciel misled so many people, his ability to attract the powerful and influential is beyond dispute. Legion supporters ranged from Steve McEveety, producer of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (Legion priests advised on the film), to Thomas Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and Ave Maria University in Florida. Others who supported the Legion include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who spoke at Legion conferences; Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo, who performed at a fundraiser; and the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, who wrote that he believed with “moral certainty” that the charges against Maciel were “false and malicious.”

Harvard Law Professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon taught at Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum, the Legion’s university in Rome, and advised in the planning that led to the order’s first university in America, University of Sacramento, Calif. In a 2002 letter for the Legion Web site she scoffed at the allegations against him and praised Maciel’s “radiant holiness” and “the success of Regnum Christi [the order's lay wing] and the Legionaries of Christ in advancing the New Evangelization.”

Author and conservative activist George Weigel also endorsed the Legion in 2002 on its Web site: “If Fr. Maciel and his charism as a founder are to be judged by the fruits of this work, those fruits are most impressive indeed.” Weigel has since called on the Vatican to investigate the order.

CNN commentator William Bennett spoke at Legion gatherings and also said: “I am fortunate enough to know and trust the priests of the Legionaries of Christ. … The flourishing of the Legionaries is a cause for hope in a time of much darkness.” Former CNN religion correspondent Delia Gallagher spoke at a Legion fundraiser, and William Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, defended Maciel in a letter to the Hartford Courant , after a 1997 article that exposed Maciel’s history of pedophilia.

Two Legion priests are TV news celebrities: Jonathan Morris on FOX, and Tom Williams, a theology professor at the Legion university in Rome, for NBC during Katie Couric’s coverage of the 2005 conclave and again with Couric at CBS.

Consequences came late

In April 2005, Ratzinger was elected pope. In 2006, as Benedict, he banished Maciel from ministry to a “life of prayer and penitence.” Maciel left Rome in disgrace, though the Legionaries mounted a defense of his innocence.

In the last week of January 2008, Maciel’s 21-year-old daughter and her mother reportedly traveled from Spain to the Miami hospital where he lay dying. That pleased him, while jarring several Legionaries; but the women did not go on to Mexico for the funeral. His three sons and their mother in Mexico avoided the funeral too. His chosen Legion successors gathered in his remote hometown, Cotija de la Paz, for burial at a family crypt, far from his previously designated tomb at Rome’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica, which he built in the 1950s.

Besides Fichter, who has a parish in New Jersey, two priests still serving the church who left the Legion several years ago drew on detailed knowledge of Maciel’s financial practices in lengthy interviews, answering questions in continuing telephone calls and e-mails. These priests — and two priests in Rome who are members of the Legion — spoke on background, fearing repercussions to their careers were they to be identified.

This story also relies on international press accounts, works by Spanish and Mexican researchers, and attorneys who are piecing together information on Maciel’s financial strategy and his families.

NCR made repeated efforts to seek comment from the three cardinals who allegedly received substantial payments under Maciel’s auspices, by speaking with Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi on the telephone and via follow-up e-mails. Besides calls to the residences of the two cardinals in Rome, the paper made an extensive effort to contact now-Cardinal Dziwisz, in Krakow, Poland. Iowana Hoffman, a Polish journalist in New York, translated a letter with questions for the cardinal, faxed it to Dziwisz’s press secretary, but was told that the cardinal “does not have time for an interview.”

Sodano, the former secretary of state and now dean of the College of Cardinals, and Martínez Somalo, former papal chamberlain, did not respond to messages left with Lombardi. A receptionist who answered Sodano’s residential number said to call the Vatican. The woman answering Martínez Somalo’s phone, when asked in Spanish if he would speak with a journalist, said emphatically, ” No entrevista! ” — “No interview.”

Had Sodano, Martínez Somalo and Dziwisz responded, the cardinals might have answered one question that hovers over this baroque financial drama: How do Vatican officials decide what to report, and to whom, if they are given large sums of money? The Vatican has no constitution or statutes that would make such transactions illegal. But those familiar with the strategy say it was Maciel’s goal to insulate himself from the Vatican’s archaic system of secret tribunals by making friends with men in power.

For most of his life, it worked.

Making friends in the right places

The Vatican office with the greatest potential to derail Maciel’s career before 2001 — the year that Ratzinger persuaded John Paul to consolidate authority of abuse investigations in his office – was the Congregation for Religious, which oversaw religious orders such as the Dominicans, Franciscans and Legionaries, among many others.

According to two former Legionaries who spent years in Rome, Maciel paid for the renovation of the residence in Rome for the Argentine cardinal who was prefect of religious from 1976 to 1983, the late Eduardo Francisco Pironio. “That’s a pretty big resource,” explains one priest, who said the Legion’s work on the residence was expensive, and widely known at upper levels of the order. “Pironio got his arm twisted to sign the Legion constitution.”

The Legion constitution included the highly controversial Private Vows, by which each Legionary swore never to speak ill of Maciel, or the superiors, and to report to them anyone who uttered criticism. The vows basically rewarded spying as an expression of faith, and cemented the Legionaries’ lockstep obedience to the founder. The vows were Maciel’s way of deflecting scrutiny as a pedophile. But cardinals on the consultors’ board at Congregation for Religious balked on granting approval.

“Therefore, Maciel went to the pope through Msgr. Dziwisz,” said the priest. “Two weeks later Pironio signed it.”

Dziwisz was John Paul’s closest confidante, a Pole who had a bedroom in the private quarters of the Apostolic Palace. Maciel spent years cultivating Dziwisz’s support. Under Maciel, the Legion steered streams of money to Dziwisz in his function as gatekeeper for the pope’s private Masses in the Apostolic Palace. Attending Mass in the small chapel was a rare privilege for the occasional head of state, like British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his family. “Mass would start at 7 a.m., and there was always someone in attendance: laypeople, or priests, or groups of bishops,” Dziwisz wrote in a 2008 memoir, A Life With Karol: My Forty-Year Friendship With the Man Who Became Pope.

“When the guests came in (there were never more than 50),” Dziwisz wrote, “they often found the pope kneeling in prayer with his eyes closed, in a state of total abandonment, almost of ecstasy, completely unaware of who was entering the chapel. … For the laypeople, it was a great spiritual experience. The Holy Father attached extreme importance to the presence of the lay faithful.”

One of the ex-Legionaries in Rome told NCR that a Mexican family in 1997 gave Dziwisz $50,000 upon attending Mass. “We arranged things like that,” he said of his role as go-between. Did John Paul know about the funds? Only Dziwisz would know. Given the pope’s ascetic lifestyle and accounts of his charitable giving, the funds could have gone to a deserving cause. Dziwisz’s book says nothing of donations and contains no mention of Maciel or the Legion. The priest who arranged for the Mexican family to attend Mass worried, in hindsight, about the frequency with which Legionaries facilitated funds to Dziwisz.

“This happened all the time with Dziwisz,” said a second ex-Legionary, who was informed of the transactions.

Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, who would succeed Maciel as director general in 2004, and one or two other Legionaries “would go up to see Dziwisz on the third floor. They were welcomed. They were known within the household.”

Struggling to give context to the donations, this cleric continued: “You’re saying these laypeople are good and fervent, it’s good for them to meet the pope. The expression is opera carita – ‘We’re making an offering for your works of charity.’ That’s the way it’s done. In fact you don’t know where the money’s going.” He paused. “It’s an elegant way of giving a bribe.”

Recalling those events, he spoke of what made him leave the Legion. “I woke up and asked: Am I giving my life to serve God, or one man who had his problems? It was not worth consecrating myself to Maciel.”

What’s a bribe?

In terms of legal reality, does “an elegant way of giving a bribe” add up to bribery? The money from Maciel was given to heads of congregations in the early 1990s and the newspaper exposure of Maciel did not occur until 1997, and the canon law case in 1998.

Further, such exchanges are not considered bribes in the view of Nicholas Cafardi, a prominent canon lawyer and the dean emeritus of Duquesne University Law School in Pittsburgh. Cafardi, who has done work as a legal consultant for many bishops, responded to a general question about large donations to priests or church officials in the Vatican.

Under church law (canon 1302), a large financial gift to an official in Rome “would qualify as a pious cause,” explains Cafardi. He spoke in broad terms, saying that such funds should be reported to the cardinal-vicar for Rome. An expensive gift, like a car, need not be reported.

“That’s how I read the law. I know of no exceptions. Cardinals do have to report gifts for pious causes. If funds are given for the official’s personal charity, that is not a pious cause and need not be reported.”

Because the cardinals did not respond to interview requests, NCR has been unable to determine whether they reported to Vatican officials the money they allegedly received from the Legion.

“Maciel wanted to buy power,” said the priest who facilitated the Mexican family’s opera carita to Dziwisz. He did not use the word bribery, but in explaining why he left the Legion, morality was at issue. “It got to a breaking point for me [over] a culture of lying [within the order]. The superiors know they’re lying and they know that you know,” he said. “They lie about money, where it comes from, where it goes, how it’s given.”

When Martínez Somalo, a Spaniard, became head of the congregation overseeing religious in 1994, Maciel dispatched this priest to Martínez Somalo’s home. The young priest carried an envelope thick with cash. “I didn’t bat an eye,” he recalled. “I went up to his apartment, handed him the envelope, said goodbye. … It was a way of making friends, insuring certain help if it were needed, oiling the cogs.”

Martínez Somalo did not respond to NCR interview requests.

Glenn Favreau, a Legionary in Rome from 1990 to 1997, and today an attorney in Washington, D.C., recalled: “Martínez Somalo was talked about a lot in the Legion, always in the context of ‘our superior’ because he was our friend. Un amigo de Legion.” Favreau, who knew nothing of the donation to Martínez Somalo, continued: “There were cardinals who weren’t amigos. They wouldn’t call them enemies, but everyone knew who they were. Pio Laghi did not like the Legion.” Cardinal Laghi, former papal nuncio to the United States, was then prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

Martínez Somalo’s office took a new name: Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. But the job description stayed the same. From 1994 to 2004, the Spanish cardinal’s duties included investigating any complaints about religious orders or their leaders.

In the files of that congregation, according to several former Legionaries, sat letters that dated back many years, accusing Maciel of abusing seminarians. When the wrenching accounts of nine seminary-victims of Maciel made news in the 1997 Hartford Courant, Martínez Somalo did nothing. That was the reaction throughout the Roman curia.

John Paul named Martínez Somalo to the post of carmelango, or chamberlain, the official in charge of the conclave when a pope is elected.

Today, the cardinal in charge of the congregation that oversees religious orders is Franc Rodé. He lavished praise on Maciel, the Legion and its lay wing, Regnum Christi, for years.

One cardinal who rebuffed a Legion financial gift was Joseph Ratzinger.

In 1997 he gave a lecture on theology to Legionaries. When a Legionary handed him an envelope, saying it was for his charitable use, Ratzinger refused. “He was tough as nails in a very cordial way,” a witness said.

Maciel’s modus operandi

Maciel traveled incessantly, drawing funds from Legion centers in Mexico, Rome and the United States. Certain ex-Legionaries with knowledge of the order’s finances believe that Maciel constantly drew from Legion coffers to subsidize his families.

For years Maciel had Legion priests dole out envelopes with cash and donate gifts to officials in the curia. In the days leading up to Christmas, Legion seminarians spent hours packaging the baskets with expensive bottles of wine, rare brandy, and cured Spanish hams that alone cost upward of $1,000 each. Priests involved in the gifts and larger cash exchanges say that in hindsight they view Maciel’s strategy as akin to an insurance policy, to protect himself should he be exposed and to position the Legion as an elite presence in the workings of the Vatican.

Fichter, the former Legion member, is today pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Haworth, N.J. He has been a diocesan priest for a decade, and serves in the Newark archdiocese. He coordinated the Legion’s administrative office in Rome from February 1998 until October 2000.

“When Fr. Maciel would leave Rome it was my duty to supply him with $10,000 in cash — $5,000 in American dollars, and the other half in the currency of the country to which he was traveling,” explained Fichter. “I would be informed by one of his assistants that he was leaving and I would have to prepare the funds for him. I never questioned that he was not using it for good and noble purposes. It was a routine part of my job. He was so totally above reproach that I felt honored to have that role. He did not submit any receipts and I would have not dared to ask him for a receipt.”

Fichter was reluctant to be interviewed, expressing concern that his views be fully reflected. “As Legionaries our norms concerning the use of money were very restricted,” he began. “If I went on an outing I was given $20 and if I had a pizza I’d return the $15 to my superior with a receipt. The sad thing is that we were so naive. We were scrupulously trying to live our vow of poverty and yet never questioned [Maciel's] own fidelity to the same.

“So many of my old classmates are still in the Legion and I feel that they are going through such a hard time right now. I don’t want to have my words misconstrued. … Maciel hoodwinked everyone. In hindsight I regret that I and so many others were so gullible. Thankfully, for me that was many years ago.”

Since earning his doctorate in sociology from Rutgers University, Fichter has worked as a research associate for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University in Washington.

“I am very happy as a pastor and in the research work I am doing for the good of the church. At this stage of my life, having collaborated with the Vatican investigation of the Legion, I pray each day for those who are still Legionaries. If I can help them in any way I will.”

Justice delayed

After the ex-Legion victims filed a canonical case in 1998 against Maciel in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Sodano as secretary of state — essentially, the Vatican prime minister — pressured Ratzinger, as the congregation’s prefect, to halt the proceeding. As NCR reported in 2001, José Barba, a college professor in Mexico City and ex-Legionary who filed the 1998 case in Ratzinger’s office, learned from the canonist handling the case, Martha Wegan in Rome, of Sodano’s role.

“Sodano came over with his entire family, 200 of them, for a big meal when he was named cardinal,” recalled Favreau. “And we fed them all. When he became secretary of state there was another celebration. He’d come over for special events, like the groundbreaking with a golden shovel for the House of Higher Studies. And a dinner after that.”

The intervention of a high Vatican official in a tribunal case illustrates the fragile nature of the system, and in the Maciel case, how a guilty man escaped punishment for years.

“Cardinal Sodano was the cheerleader for the Legion,” said one of the ex-Legionaries. “He’d come give a talk at Christmas and they’d give him $10,000.” Another priest recalled a $5,000 donation to Sodano.

But in December 2004, with John Paul’s health deteriorating by the day, Ratzinger broke with Sodano and ordered a canon lawyer on his staff, Msgr. Charles Scicluna, to investigate. Two years later, as Benedict, he approved the order that Maciel abandon ministry for a “life of penitence and prayer.” Maciel had “more than 20 but less than 100 victims,” an unnamed Vatican official told NCR‘s John Allen at the time.

The congregation cited Maciel’s age in opting against a full trial.

An influential Vatican official told NCR that Sodano insisted on softening the language of the Vatican communiqué — to praise the Legion and its 60,000-member lay wing, Regnum Christi — despite the order’s nine-year Web site campaign denouncing the seminary victims. The Legion’s damage control rolled into a new phase with its statement that compared Maciel to Christ for refusing to defend himself, and accepting his “new cross” with “tranquility of conscience.”

Maciel left Rome, the scandal seemingly over. Internally, the Legion insisted to its members and followers that Maciel was innocent.

In 2009, a year after Maciel’s death, the Legion disclosed its surprise on discovering that he had a daughter. The news jolted the order and its lay arm, Regnum Christi. Yet in an organization built on a cult of personality, the long praise from John Paul suggested a legacy of virtue in Maciel. Legion officials scrambled to suppress skepticism.

Two Legion priests told NCR in July that seminarians in Rome were still being taught about Maciel’s virtuous life. “They are being brainwashed, as if nothing happened,” said a Legionary, sitting on a bench near Rome’s Tiber River.

Thanks to Sodano’s intervention, the order clung to a shaky defense in arguing that the Vatican never specifically said that Maciel abused anyone.

How much Legion officials knew about Maciel’s other life — the daughter with her mother in Madrid and three sons with their mother in Mexico — is a pivotal issue in the Vatican inquiry underway.

How much money did Maciel use to support his families? How much did he siphon off for other purposes behind the guise of a religious charity?

Behind these questions loom others about money in the Vatican. Are envelopes with thousands of dollars in cash given to cardinals when they say Mass, give talks or have dinner in a religious house mere donations? The Legion of Christ raises money as a charity. How does it record such outlays? Does anyone in the Vatican have access to Legion financial records?

When Dziwisz became a bishop in 1998, the Legion covered the costs of his reception at its complex in Rome. “Dziwisz helped the Legion in many ways,” said a priest who facilitated payments. “He convinced the pope to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Legion.”

In a book on Maciel published in Spain, journalist Alfonso Torres Robles calls an event on Jan. 3, 1991, “one of the most powerful demonstrations of strength by the Legion … at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, when John Paul II ordained 60 Legionaries into the priesthood, in the presence of 7,000 Regnum Christi members from different countries, 15 cardinals, 52 bishops and many millionaire benefactors.”

Maciel had the event filmed and a sequence used in a video the Legion sold until 2006. John Paul was a strategic image in Legion mass mailings and the video shown to potential donors when seminarians accompanied priests to their homes. The Legion no longer circulates the video.

The Legion has a presence in 23 countries, with dozens of elite prep schools, religious formation houses, and several universities.

Maciel’s strategy of buying influence unrolled over five decades.

Next: How the empire was built.

[NCR contributor Jason Berry is the author of Lead Us Not into Temptation and coauthor, with the late Gerald Renner, of Vows of Silence . Berry's film documentary "Vows of Silence" explores the saga of the Vatican and Maciel. A grant from the Investigative Fund from The Nation Institute supported research for this article. http://www.JasonBerryAuthor.com


Cardinal Mahony under federal investigation over abusive priests, sources say

cardinal-mahony

By Scott Glover and Jack Leonard
January 29, 2009

The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has launched a federal grand jury investigation into Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in connection with his response to the molestation of children by priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the case.

The probe, in which U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien is personally involved, is aimed at determining whether Mahony, and possibly other church leaders, committed fraud by failing to adequately deal with priests accused of sexually abusing children, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

Authorities are applying a legal theory in an apparently novel way. One federal law enforcement source said prosecutors are seeking to use a federal statute that makes it illegal to “scheme . . . to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.”

In this case, the victims would be parishioners who relied on Mahony and other church leaders to keep their children safe from predatory priests, the source said.

To gain a conviction on such a charge, prosecutors would have to prove that Mahony used the U.S. mail or some form of electronic communication in committing the alleged fraud, the source said.

The inquiry has been underway since at least late last year, the source added.

O’Brien declined to comment, refusing to even confirm the existence of the investigation.

J. Michael Hennigan, who represents Mahony and the archdiocese, confirmed that federal prosecutors had contacted the archdiocese and requested “information about a number of individual priests, at least two of whom are deceased.”

He said he was also aware that some witnesses had testified before the panel.

But Hennigan said he has been informed that Mahony is not a target of the inquiry.

“We have been and will continue to be fully cooperative with the investigation,” Hennigan said.

Mahony has repeatedly apologized for the church’s sex scandal and asked for forgiveness for not acting sooner to remove priests who abused minors. He has declared that the archdiocese handles abuse allegations seriously, notifying police when complaints are made and removing priests from active ministry when allegations are deemed credible.

As the Catholic Church’s highest-ranking official in Southern California, Mahony has been dogged for years by allegations of covering up the sexual misconduct of priests.

The cardinal was accused of transferring priests who molested children to other parishes rather than removing them from the priesthood and alerting authorities.

One priest, Michael Stephen Baker, told Mahony in 1986 that he had molested children, but he was allowed to remain in active ministry. Mahony sent Baker to a treatment center in New Mexico and later reassigned him to other parishes, where he allegedly victimized children.

Prosecutors later filed criminal charges against Baker. He pleaded guilty to molesting two boys and was sentenced in 2007 to more than 10 years in prison.

Mahony also came under fire for vigorously fighting attempts by prosecutors, victims and the victims’ attorneys to gain access to the church’s personnel files, which tracked the problems of accused priests and the church hierarchy’s reaction to them.

Mahony argued that the records should remain confidential, but Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley accused the archdiocese of engaging in a “pattern of obstruction.” Mahony was eventually ordered by the courts to turn the files over to prosecutors.

The district attorney’s office launched a grand jury investigation into the archdiocese several years ago, but no charges were filed. District attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said Wednesday that prosecutors are continuing to look at documents from the archdiocese for evidence of molestation by priests and former priests but that charges against Mahony are “highly doubtful.”

Two years ago, the archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to 508 people who accused priests of sexual abuse. The payout was the largest settlement in a scandal that has involved an estimated 5,000 priests nationwide and cost the Roman Catholic Church more than $2 billion to resolve cases in this country alone.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he had not heard about the latest investigation but welcomed the new scrutiny of Mahony.

“It is long, long overdue,” Clohessy said. “It is just crucial that the hierarchy face criminal charges, because almost every other conceivable means have been tried to bring reform.”

Legal experts said the theory that prosecutors are pursuing is usually reserved for cases against public officials, such as politicians and law enforcement officers, and corporate executives accused of wrongdoing.

In Mahony’s case, prosecutors would have the difficult task of defining the “honest services” expected from a Catholic cardinal, said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor and former federal prosecutor. Then they would have to persuade jurors that criminal charges were not a stretch.

“I’d put it in the category of creative lawyering,” she said. “It doesn’t mean it’s bad. But it will be challenging to not only get charges on these grounds but, if they get charges, to win a conviction.”

Rebecca Lonergan, a professor of law at USC and a former federal prosecutor, said she was unaware of the law’s ever being used to charge a member of the clergy.

“They would have to show some intentional wrongdoing rather than just after-the-fact cover-up,” she said. “I think it would be a creative, new and different way of using the statute.”


Ted Haggard Had A Boyfriend

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“Oh God I want it, Oh God I need it, Oh God give it to me…”

Courtesy of : JOE MY GOD

Immediately after the Mike Jones scandal broke in 2006, officials at Ted Haggard’s New Life Church learned that Haggard had also had a longtime relationship with a young man at the church. The church paid for the young man’s silence with college tuition, but with suspicious timing, he has now come forward as the HBO documentary about Haggard is about to debut.

Brady Boyd, who succeeded Haggard as senior pastor of the 10,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, told the Associated Press that the man came forward to church officials in late 2006 shortly after a Denver male prostitute claimed to have had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard.

Boyd said an “overwhelming pool of evidence” pointed to an “inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship” that “went on for a long period of time … it wasn’t a one-time act.” Boyd said the man was in his early 20s at the time. He said he was certain the man was of legal age when it began.

Reached Friday night, Haggard declined to comment and said all interviews would have to be arranged through a publicist for HBO, which is airing a documentary about him this month. Boyd said the church reached a legal settlement to pay the man for counseling and college tuition, with one condition being that none of the parties involved discuss the matter publicly. Boyd said a Colorado Springs TV station reached him Thursday to say the young man was planning to provide a detailed report of his relationship with Haggard to the station. Boyd said the church preferred to keep the matter private, but it was the man’s decision to go public.

New Life Church says they will not pursue legal action against Haggard’s boyfriend for violating their agreement. Earlier this month, Haggard said that his sexuality doesn’t fit into “stereotypical boxes” and that he never claimed that he was heterosexual. He also expressed support for marriage equality, although an HBO spokesperson immediately retracted that statement. The documentary, The Trials Of Ted Haggard, debuts Thursday at 8pm. Mighty convenient, publicity-wise, eh???

Comment:

If he did it once, he did it twice, and if he did it twice, he did it a third time. I knew this story wasn’t finished. Sex, Money and Power. Three dynamic forces that perpetuate a lot of energy over time. I am sure there are boys lined up to tell their stories. The Saintly Pastor and all his little secrets…

Imagine when He had the gaul to sit with Barbara Walters and speak about God, Spirituality and the sin that was homosexuality… All that pent up internalized Homophobia and the vitriol he spewed at LGBTQ people over the years.

I always say, “The Dog that barks the loudest, has the MOST to hide…”


Thirty One …

 

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Let us enter the sanctuary and praise God for all that is good in this world. And we spend a moment in quiet contemplation of gifts unknown and people still to meet, and blessed be the God who brings strangers from afar to minister to us on common themes and spiritual practices.

I walked out the front of the building and down the street towards the Monday night, Came to Believe meeting and there was a bunch of bikers standing on the sidewalk in front of the Oxford Inn, I quietly made my way around them because they were gathered there in great numbers. Harley’s, leather, all those profane things that excite my innards in ways that no mortal human being can understand.

I settled into my seat as usual, against the wall by the fireplace and I waited. You never know what is going to happen in that small little meeting space, and for weeks now I’ve been telling you about wondrous people,  and stories that I have had the opportunity to listen to. Tonight was no different…

It just so happened that all those bikers were coming to the meeting. A rag tag bunch of sober bikers from far and wide, all over Canada, Europe and the United States. The A.R.M. Association of Recovering Motorcyclists. Needless to say our regular meeting folk were  surprised to see them at the meeting. I heard someone say “oh, another biker gang!” I just rolled my eyes.

Owen, the bright eyed young man who shared last week about his gratitude for being in the room, it was great to see him again, only tonight he was chair. We got to hear a first time share tonight which is really a gift. The first time one gets up and shares about what it was like, what happened and what it is like now is cathartic to say the least, because one is reminded of the first time we did it too. And for one person, maybe, the person sharing will speak of commonality with someone in the room and may help them stick and stay.

The room was PACKED, every chair was used and it was standing room only for the second speakers. Bikers from all over the place came to hear this woman share – our second speaker. Her name escapes me, although I did thank her in the end. She has been sober thirty one years. And she spoke about steps One, Two and Three…

  • The admission of our powerlessness over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • Came to believe that a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to Sanity
  • Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

She hared about the two God’s the Catholic God on one side and a Higher Power on the other side, she wasn’t sure that they have met each other, so she believes in both, coming from a serious Catholic background [nuns and all] and then coming to the rooms and having learned over a great deal of time who the God of her understanding was. And then she joked that when she dies that she reaches the pearly gates and knocks and God answers and says, “see if that Higher Power of yours can get you in!”

I laughed out loud…

I have to say that nobody moved, nobody said a word the entire time she was speaking, it was like being in church and having being blessed that God was walking around the room, it just felt so holy and blessed. You could have heard a pin drop for the better part of an hour. It was incredible.

The question she had for the room when she got sober, “What do you want me to do now? What am I supposed to do now that I am here, and finally the answer came to her, in this form “What are you going to do with what we have to offer you?” She spoke of changing our “will,” which for mortals is “how we think.” In sobriety we are constantly asked to change the way we think, because sobriety is a continual process of evolution, personally, emotionally and spiritually.

I am not perfect and I surely am not God by any stretch of the imagination. But I am also teachable. And I take my sobriety very seriously, and I apply all the principles to my life, even if that means cutting people loose because they are unhealthy and I practice what I preach. I can’t help you – If you don’t want to help you. There are plenty of other people who want the help and are willing to go to any length to get that help. We must dispense with enabling and allowing people to run us ragged.

She then told a story about her home group, like Tuesday’s Beginners they share their sobriety date as the discussion moved around the room. She would write down sober members names and dates in her 24 hour book – and there were a a good number of members in that group,  each week they would meet and share their dates. One man named Joe would share his date and another man would say, “my name is Steve and I’ve been sober for 35 years and some son of a bitch is lying about his sobriety date.”

Now we are not supposed to take anyone else’s inventory at a meeting, but Steve persisted in sharing that someone in the group was lying about their sobriety date. Eventually some weeks later Joe spoke up one night and said, “my name is Joe and I am the son of a bitch that has been lying about his sobriety date.”

Steve died a sober member of AA, Joe did not.

Which brings up a bitter pill for me because at my home group meeting, we have a member who is not sober, yet he shares his sobriety date with us, as August 96′ and I know for a fact, any by his own admission over the years, that he still drinks. This is the man that I pray for more than the rest, because he does this week in and week out, year in and year out.

And I laughed at this story because I have more than once wanted to get up and say, “my name is Jeremy and I am an alcoholic and an addict, my sobriety date is December the 9th 2001, and some son of a bitch here is lying about his sobriety date!!”

I sat there transfixed on the speaker, from Wisconsin. What a blessing to have such an amazing speaker come to us to share tonight. We were truly blessed. You never know who is going to show up at that Monday meeting, or from whom the message is going to come from, but I suit up and I show up and I do what I can for the groups I support, just by my showing up every week. At the end of the meeting, Owen thanked our speakers and this woman closed the meeting.

“We stand here together, holding each others hands. We stand her united, not alone any more. We stand here and we pray for those sick and still suffering members out there who have not yet come in here. Take a look to your left and your right and hold tight to the hand you are holding, because you might be saved by them or them by you one day down the road. Maybe you have already saved them and maybe not, but right now you are standing here with them. She was two over from my left, Rob was holding my left hand, he was the first speaker, Dawn was standing to my right, she is a member of my home group at Tuesday’s Beginners, and we prayed:

Our father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those
Who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory
Forever and ever, AMEN. 

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Elton John and Ronan Keating

Elton John & Ronan Keating – Your song

Originally found on: Steve’s Blog


Earl Spencer's Euolgy – Diana Princess of Wales

Princess Diana’s Funeral Part 17: Earl Spencer’s Eulogy


Diana …

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“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”


(Ephesians 3:14-21).

 

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I remember that night. It was a Sunday (August 31st 1997). I mean, it was late Saturday night going into Sunday morning, if memory serves. I was home, sitting in front of the television watching the late news when the report came across. I was stunned to say the least. For me, during those years, Diana was my champion, someone who knew me, who understood me, someone who would speak kindly of me, and those like me.

 

I got dressed and walked up to “Cheers” which was a bar around the corner from home that I used to party at over the years. I got into the DJ booth and we turned the SAT tv on to World News, the music stopped, drinks were dropped and everyone in the bar stood there watching the news as it came across live from World News Outlets like CNN and the BBC. The night never recovered.

 

My friend Annie, an ex-pat from the UK lived two doors down from me and we sat up all night watching the news. I had an outdoor area in front of my apartment where I set up a shrine to Diana – and everyone in my building stopped by the leave flowers and a candle.

 

 

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

Thaxted
Gustav Holst (1874-1934) – Cecil Spring-Rice (1859-1918)

 

We rose early on the morning of the funeral for Diana Princess of Wales. We wept and we sang sitting there in my apartment that morning. Diana, the People’s Princess will never be forgotten.

 


Prince Harry leads Diana tributes

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Prince Harry called Diana “our guardian, friend and protector”


Harry’s tribute

BBC News Online

Prince Harry has told a service to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, that she was “the best mother in the world”.

Family and friends joined Princes William and Harry for the service at Guards’ Chapel near Buckingham Palace.

Harry told the congregation, which included the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles: “She made us and so many other people happy.”

The Bishop of London said it was now time to “let Diana rest in peace”.

The Right Reverend Dr Richard Chartres, said the princess’s memory should no longer be used to score points, and urged: “Let it end here.”

‘Love and gratitude’

Harry, who was 12 when his mother was killed, said her death was “indescribably shocking and sad”, and changed his life and that of his brother forever.

He added: “When she was alive we completely took for granted her unrivalled love of life, laughter, fun and folly.

“We both think of her every day. We speak about her and laugh together at all the memories.”

Prince William, who was 15 when Diana died, gave a reading from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians which asked for inner strength.

The Queen

The Royal Family were cheered as they arrived at the chapel

In full: Harry’s tribute

In full: Bishop’s address

Send us your comments

Diana’s sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, also gave a reading.

The service included Diana’s favourite classical music by composers Rachmaninov and Mozart and four hymns, concluding with Diana’s favourite, I Vow To Thee, My Country.

The service also included two prayers written by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessors Tony Blair and John Major were accompanied by their wives to the service.

The Duchess of Cornwall was invited to the hour-long memorial but decided not to attend, saying her presence would be a distraction.

Former members of the princess’s staff, all of the bridesmaids and page boys from her 1981 wedding, and over 110 representatives of charities and organisations with which she was associated were also on the guest list.

ORDER OF SERVICES

1100 – two-minute silence at Harrods

1200 – main memorial service at Guards’ Chapel, Wellington Barracks, London; service at the Kirk of St Nicholas Uniting, Aberdeen

1630 – memorial at Manchester cathedral

1715 – choral evensong at Bristol cathedral

1800 – prayers at Llandaff cathedral, Cardiff

The Order of Service in full [35.0 KB]

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Download the reader here

Earlier, Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died in the crash alongside the princess, laid flowers at a shrine he has built at the London store and held a two-minute silence.

Other memorial services for the princess are being held at venues across the UK, including Manchester, Bristol, Aberdeen and Cardiff.

Hundreds of people attended the Manchester service, which began at 1630 BST. It included readings, a blessing, and music played at the princess’s funeral.

Admirers of the late princess have tied flowers and cards to the gates of Kensington Palace – her former London residence – as they did in 1997 after her death.

Members of the public have also left bouquets and gifts at Althorp, where Diana is buried, at the gate of Sandringham estate in Norfolk where she was born.

It was the first time Althorp had been opened on an anniversary of her death.

Althorp is the home of Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer.

He invited charity workers, members of organisations supported by Diana and limited numbers of members of the public into the estate.

Princess Diana

When she was alive we completely took for granted her unrivalled love of life, laughter, fun and folly

Prince Harry

In pictures: Diana memorial

Palace vigil for supporters

Harrods silent for tribute

Earl Spencer said: “This year, though, I wanted to invite, as my family’s guests, representatives of those charities and groups particularly associated with Diana.

“It seems a fitting way to remember her invaluable association with so many fine organisations.”

Several visitors had applied for tickets offered in a local newspaper.

Betty Clarke, 80, of Northampton, said: “She’s an icon and will never be forgotten. I was really glad to come and pay my respects.”

A service will be held at the nearby St Mary’s Church, in Great Brington, on Friday night to give members of the local community and staff at the Althorp estate a chance to reflect on Diana’s life.

Tributes to the late princess have also been left near the Eternal Flame monument by the tunnel in Paris where she was killed.

Princess Diana died, aged 36, along with her companion Dodi Al Fayed, 42, and chauffeur Henri Paul, when the Mercedes they were in crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel on 31 August 1997.

The princess’s death provoked an unprecedented outpouring of national grief, with hundreds of thousands gathering to mourn outside Kensington Palace, where they left a sea of floral tributes.


France mourns former archbishop

BBC News Online

 

Funeral of Cardinal Lustiger at Notre Dame, Paris

President Sarkozy flew home especially for the funeral

A funeral service including Jewish prayers has been held at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris for Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger. The former Archbishop of Paris, who died on Sunday aged 80, was born Aaron Lustiger to Polish Jews who had settled in France before World War I.

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, interrupted his summer holiday in the United States to attend the funeral.

Cardinal Lustiger became a Catholic at the start of World War II.

The ceremonies at Notre Dame began with a reading of a Jewish psalm, followed by the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger

Cardinal Lustiger worked to improve Catholic-Jewish relations

Arno Lustiger, a cousin and 83-year-old Auschwitz death camp survivor, read the Kaddish before a crowd of some 5,000 mourners.

President Sarkozy described Cardinal Lustiger as “a great man, a man who was important to the French, believers and non-believers alike, a man of peace, unity and reconciliation”.

Cardinal Lustiger was an outspoken opponent of racism and anti-Semitism, who appeared frequently on television as a commentator on current issues.

He was buried in the cathedral’s crypt, like most former archbishops of Paris since the 17th Century.

His successor, Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois, praised the late cardinal’s role in “the development of relations between Jews and Christians, with the encouragement and support of [former Pope] John Paul II”.

Cardinal Lustiger died on Sunday in a clinic in Paris, where he was admitted in April.

The cleric was archbishop of Paris for 24 years before stepping down in 2005 at the age of 78. He was made a cardinal in 1983.

His mother Gisele was deported and killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz during the war.


Just beneath the Surface …

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Do you see it?
Can you feel it?
Do you ever think about it?

M O R T A L I T Y !!!!

I started my day in a church. Do you know why I did that? Why it was important for me to receive the sacraments today? To have a minister pray with me and for me, to bless me and absolve me,

Almighty God,
to you all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from you no secrets are hidden,
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The older I get, the more serious is my thought about Mortality. We all will face it one day, but I can’t help but ponder this subject in greater detail, because unlike many of you, life could take a turn very quickly and I could die, the last time this happened was in 2006 when I was testing new medications, and I got severely ill and I remember saying to myself one particular night that “I thought I would die.”

On my birthday I was sitting in the room at the meeting, the church above us I spoke about the fact that none of us know when that appointed day will come, but for me I have been waiting on it for some time. I fancy God sitting up in his heaven, with a sly look on his face, holding strong to one corner of the carpet that I am standing on and he yanks it up and I fall, the end comes crashing down around me.

Nobody wants to say the words, but I know that many of my friends are wary of mentioning the word “death” so they speak in hushed tones using words like “I’m so proud of you”, and “that I am a miracle” and “that God has blessed me with long life,” to date. The best line is this one “He looks so good, that unless you knew or asked – you’d never know he had AIDS!”

I work very hard at avoiding or talking about the obvious strain on my mental health, yet I do not dwell on death, but I have a healthy fear of it for sure. You’d never know I was even gay, from the outside. You’d never know that there was an ember burning quietly and strongly beneath the surface. That person sitting in the same place as you had a date with death several times in his life, and he avoided the reaper.

I remarked to a friend that I was afraid of what was ahead of me after the meeting, and for some they cannot fathom this fact, but my friends did. Some of the men told me that I should go on with my life and not think about it, but how can I Not think about it?

I just wanted to remind you that Mortality is an issue that I deal with every day now. Each day that passes – I thank God for life – which is why I went to mass and I think in retrospect, that is why the Reverend Canon laid hands on me and asked God to bless me and keep me healthy. I heard the urgency in her voice – the necessity that God grant that prayer – right then and there. To guarantee me a place “in community” for as long as God would permit.

I do not know how long my body will continue to take the pills I push upon it daily, or how long these new medications will continue to work – we are only a few months in and things look very good on paper, my body seems to like these mew medications and I haven’t had any great bodily changes. The look of death has not come over me – that gaunt AIDS look that most men get at some point in their journey, those you know are marked for death.

I remember my spirit and I pray daily and I attend mass when I can, and I spend time helping others because as long as I keep the focus off of me and on someone else, I can avoid having to look at the cold hard truth for very long. But I must tell you that I have had that “conversation with God” this week, and I made a deal. I think he agreed on the deal, as long as I served Him – and did my best every day – and I stayed in my day and not expected to die – that I would live a long life.

Religion, what is it? Is it a comfort to help us on the way to our graves? To give us something to focus on in death? A loving God, a forgiving Christ and a Spirit that loves us to fill the soul of man with hope that on that appointed day we would stand with our maker and be granted eternal life!

Is religion a cop out? The easy path?

I don’t know what to think – but I do believe – and for me that simple kernel of faith saves me. I know that nobody wants to think about it, so I write and remind you of the ever present fact that we all will face our mortality, some sooner than others. I’ve studied death and dying in my undergraduate career.

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For many years I held on to the visual of Monica, the Angel from “Touched by an Angel” who said those simple words “I’m an angel sent by God, to tell you that God Loves You.”

I have seen every episode and I have a collection of hundreds of episodes here at home. During those years that I was so sick and I needed something to hold onto this little television show was my salvation, a second helping of God every Sunday after returning home from an evening mass. I kind of fancy that Andrew would stand here with me on that final moment to carry me to God in heaven.

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It was easy to let go and let God, because of my faith in God and this little show that confirmed to me in visual form that there were angels and that I wasn’t alone, sitting in my apartment, sick as a dog. They even touched on the “aids” stories and the fact that even people with AIDS had angels. I believed that and I still do. Now in syndication, on Vision TV I can watch TBAA at night here in Montreal. And at Christmas I can watch the special shows that were created over the years while the show was running.

I find it funny the lengths I went to to maintain my spiritual beliefs when everyone around me was worrying that I was going to die, I was worried about that and the fact that I had no idea how I was going to survive another year. These memories are found back in 1998 and 1999.

When Christians were condemning us, my family included there, the angels were there to tell us that God loved us and still loves us today. That faith worked, because I lived another ten years and now we start another decade with stronger faith and a few angels here and there…

I’m fully aware of my mortality and that scares me.


My Birthday – What a Day it Was!!!

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I got up this morning and My desktop had been changed to say Happy Birthday and that’s how it started. I showered and went to the Cathedral for Shirley’s memorial mass, which I asked to have said today. Louise showed up for mass today which was a treat and the Reverend Canon Joyce said mass. I thought that it would be good to honor God and Shirley, so I started this birthday with Mass and Prayer. To thank God for life and air and family and friends. This is the Cathedral by day!! Beautiful isn’t it!!

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When it came time for the Eucharist, I went up to the dais and knelt and Rev. Joyce laid her hand on my head, she blessed me and prayed over me, as well she traced the sign of the cross on my forehead as she was praying. I almost fainted.

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After the mass I went to the Diocesan bookstore to find something to honor my spirit. And I found this icon of the “Annunciation.” It is one of the most beautiful Marian Icons I have ever seen. So this was my spiritual gift to myself. I bought a book as well called “Discernment – Acquiring the Heart of God.”

I got home and I got the best gift in the world. Jacob had called me and so I called him back and he wished me happy birthday and he then told me that they were giving me the digital camera that Angela had loaned me to do some photography with Jacob. Now, I was like “Seriously? Seriously?” and he said “Seriously!!” I was totally overjoyed. It is a finepix S5200 Fuji film 5.1 mega pixel digital camera! O M G !!!

I had to call back and make sure I heard them right!

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am today!

So I set off for coffee with Ms. Nikki and we had fun as usual. We went to set up the room for the meeting and we had a Birthday Party in the space, it was FUN!! Louise brought me the most beautiful Apple and Caramel cake drizzled with caramel, honey and chocolate. YUM!!! I got a book from Louise called “Discover Your Destiny with the Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma.

I got cards and gifts from friends. Ms. Nikki gave me a $100.00 gift certificate to Indigo Booksellers and other sundry items, like chocolate and grocery gift certificates. My friends are too generous. And I am totally grateful for the gifts. I did not expect such an amazing day that today turned out to be.

I came home after the meeting and now I am writing this. I have one more gift to open, so I am gonna go do that and get back to finish this. So Peter got me Dan Millman’s No Ordinary Moments and The Calendar Girls on DVD! Sweet!!

I have more to say – but not in the same post as this one. My head has been all over the place today and there are a hundred thoughts running through my head right now. So I will write more later on tonight.

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This is the Ceiling over the Main Altar of the Church


Thoughts on the Night – Quiet Time

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Mark Brian has just had his vicarage rebuilt by the community he serves, the little church of St. George in Kingcome. I just love this little story because it is one that keeps me grounded and reminds me why I am in this business called faith.

I had the afternoon to myself. And I usually sit here and write but I waited until the evening to write because of the upcoming event. I have been collecting music off the net and when I am alone I usually blast music for the entire time. I did not disappoint my neighbors. People come and go at odd hours, and they come home well after 3 a.m. sometimes. None of my neighbors say hello or even nod when we occupy the same elevator.

They are going to freak out whence Christmas comes. Because I go trey gay decorate the door Blinky freakish. Anyways, I digress…

We live in a very transient building. People are always coming and going, they don’t stay for more than a year. There is only one other tenant on this floor who has been here as long as we have, seven years. There are eight apartments on this floor. I think I am being way too observant of my neighbors. The quiet is sometimes unnerving, that’s why I like to blast some music now and then.

I was going to church by myself tonight because hubby was not going to “sit and sweat” like he did last year, he tells me. And he wasn’t back from the gym when I left. So I was ok to go it alone. Faith is my department, the gym and vanity are my husbands. I do the praying and sobriety for both of us, yes I know I can only get sober for myself. I just had to say that!

I set off on the metro and got there early, as is always my case. I will be early for my funeral, just wait and see. The church was still dark and the choir was in the loft and I headed into the vestry to find Rev. Joyce. She screamed when I got to her office and hugged me wildly. We are a team, Rev. Joyce and I. She is also a spiritual adviser for one of my best friends and one I have had since I got sober. She is also one of my spiritual advisers. We were really hoping to hear something good from the bishop. We were not disappointed, with her remark “I think we are in the clear!”

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Prayer…

Live the Word – Breathe Prayer

I did pray today. I prayed while sitting in the church listening to the choir warm up. They sing so beautifully, and I have to say, that when properly warm myself, I keep a pretty good pitch and tone myself. I was keeping right up there with the tenors, I happen to be a tenor, thank you very much. I love to sing in church, I don’t know if I could occupy a seat in the choir. The Anglican mass gives new meaning to “singing in Church.” A beautiful space, wonderful people and a Bishop who is supportive, that means a lot to my Christian sensibilities. I know accepting Catholic priests in the city, but as a rule, politically, I can’t worship where I am not really welcome, yet some will allow me the ability to go to mass and nobody is none the wiser. I really want to find “Home” and I think I’ve found it.

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One cannot live in the past, nor dwell on the past. What’s done is DONE. What’s said has been SAID. My father is apt to say … “Once you speak the words, you can’t take them back!” Well my parents sure said their words, and no they can’t take them back. But case in point: People change and People grow. Time heals all wounds if YOU are ready to face the future with a clean slate, because that is what God gives on a daily basis. Spiritual cleansing, just for the asking…

 

Almighty God,
to you all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from you no secrets are hidden.
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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So I had brought Mark Brian with me to mass, along with my beads, which I always carry in my pocket. And a few minutes before mass I settled down with my beads and I started the ritual. I usually follow the prescribed prayers for my Anglican Beads, like a rosary but a little different route. They are pictured above – rose colored beads with black cruciform beads with a Celtic Cross to balance the energy. They are truly beautiful. They can be found at the Solitaries of DeKoven, A Vigeat Radix Hermitage in Texas. They are hand made and the prayers of the one who made the beads sends them with their prayers. In turn, the owner of the beads offers a prayer each day for the person who made them in return.

Tonight I was praying for specific people and I knew at one point that there was someone else sitting in the pew with me at one point. I felt it, it made me stop singing and I wept. There were people sitting a few rows behind me from London Ontario – that wasn’t a coincidence. The woman who was sitting with her husband, they were both Anglican clerics, were singing louder than I was, and i was trying to keep up with them.

I was winded by the end of mass, I thought…”Jesus, I feel like I just ran an Anglican marathon!” What with all the singing the entire hymn – stanza after stanza !! OY!! Have you ever sat through a high Anglican mass??? Oh My Goodness. The music, the responsorials and the song after song!! I was exhausted !! But in a good way. Nothing like good honest worship of God with prayer and song, not to mention the Eucharist.

It’s 3:21 in the morning and I am still here editing and adding to this post. My nightly prayer time to think and write. I think it is important that I take this time each night to offer my thoughts and prayers for the day – gratitude for a wonderful day and night, prayers for my friends and family, and most important prayers for you my readers. I got a wonderful comment tonight, on this post on its first incarnation:

“In a sea of phobic madness claiming to be Christianity, it is fab to read your blog – thanks, and God Bless” from Kristin… Thank you so much… I hope she comes back to read. She is also a “member!” woo hoo!!!

My prayer candle is lit and I offer my gratitude to the fire that my prayers would rise with the smoke to the heavens above, that God might hear them and grant them as He sees fit to grant them unto me. I miss school. I wish Summer was over, so I could get back to doing what I love, studying!! I’m tired of vacation. I have work to keep me busy and a ministry to run as well, so it’s not like I am bored or anything of the sort. Getting an appointment with me is wonderful – and I would love to see everyone and I will this week.

Please pray for our Ministry – we call it “The Common Ground.” I haven’t heard from my girls at all this week, which is strange. Everyone is busy with work and summer school. I finished first session long ago. And I missed my friends at mass tonight, some of them did not make it, they must be out of town.

If you like what you read, please, by all means let us know. It is always nice to hear from my readers. I am not your “run of the mill” Christian, but quite the opposite.

I just do what I am called to do

I help where I am directed to

and I love because I am commanded to

And from the Old Testament I remind of these most important words:

“The most vital commandment in the Old Testament is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deut. 6:5…


Little Blessings

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There is a young man I know, from far far away, I’ve never met, but he is part of my life, nonetheless. This is some of his photography. Beautiful isn’t it. He’s come a long way in the last year, you should go visit him at RobertWesley.com 

Maybe he will stop by again. My young friend, I have mentioned your name to God in my daily prayers. There are a number of Canadian Bloggers over on the Blog list. Go Read…


Quiet Time

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A candle is lit, Quiet time commences. We reflect on the Psalmist’s words:

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart: I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult you; I will sing praise to your name, O most high.” Ps. 9

Tuesdays are always a challenge because I never know what is going to appear before me or who will show up at the table of gratitude. My day to replenish the stores after a week of work is always good – that is why Tuesday has been reserved for me for now over five years. I haven’t been very vigilant about my mornings – and that has to change.

I heard wisdom spoken today at a meeting: “That upon waking before we have that first conscious thought, we should fall to our knees and greet the creator and start with gratitude on our lips and praise for our God.” Truer words were never spoken.

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The single candle burns – my thoughts and prayers rise to the heavens as I remember my friends and fellows in prayer. The meeting today was packed – 50 chairs set out, almost none of them empty. A soul for each chair. We spoke of the third Step, I was right in line, I was ready to preach from my seat. Many people come and go, and if you don’t get a word in at the right time – you might miss an opportunity to minister to someone who might need it.

“God, I offer myself to Thee–to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always…

I got up and grabbed a 12 and 12 to read from – Ah, Willingness. I spoke of willingness and how difficult willingness was to me in the beginning. It took me a year to learn how to be willing, to release my will and Let go and Let God. To stay in my day and keep it simple. Some people just roll their eyes – they are not ready for the message, but my “people” were there. The ones I have not seen in over a fortnight. I was pleased and overjoyed.

 

I grabbed my Big Book and paged to the Third Step – on page 63 of the Big Book and I raised my hand because second shares are frowned upon. I spoke up anyways. Never stop a member from sharing something pertinent or when in difficulty. So I stood up and grabbed my Big Book, as if it were my bible and I read the prayer – in the basement of St. Leon’s I said the Third Step Prayer for me, for them, for whomever was listening. At that point everyone was grabbing for change for the basket. but we try at least to send them home with something to hang on to.

 

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I took the long way home after walking Louise home on the way, and fingered my rosary the rest of the way. I carry it with me when I leave the house, and at any time I can reach into my pocket and connect with my God. I guess my prayers came at a time of need.

 

The phone was flashing when I came in so I changed out and sat down to listen to the message, which was from one of my “people” announcing glad tidings that the Kahuna man was hired at the University. And I was the first person she called with the news. I am blessed to have such friends in my life. There is not enough gratitude in my heart ot express it. We have been to hell and back, and today we rejoiced. Which leads back to the Psalm at the top of the page:

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart”

I made a phone call to connect and had glad conversation. And as soon as it was over, the circus started.

 

“Email and Ebay, Big Brother OH MY…. Email and Ebay, Big Brother Oh MY!!!”

 

Can I tell you how much I HATE Big Brother!! Thank God I am a silent husband and do the bidding of my mate and tape such crap and insanity. Have you ever seen a bunch of eighth graders fight in a school yard? Can you think back that far and remember how stupid it was? That just set me off on a tone that took me straight to hell!! Insanity I tell you. Utter Insanity! Then to have to sit through it again, when he got home from school!

 

Oh, God
Please help me!!

 

Being overwhelmed at any point of the day for a person in recovery at any stage of the game is not good. I went into my head, which is a “place that angels fear to tread!” I forgot the silence and I entertained insanity for a few hours. Woe is me. After a round of angry bitch writing the phone rang at 11 p.m. There are angels in Montreal I believe that.

 

The soothing and calming voice of my ministry partner calling to take me to task, asking her questions yet, searching for the answers – forgive me for being an ass I asked her!! We talked for an hour about Common Ground, and decided that it was better not to act until we had an act. Keep it simple stupid… I should have known better. It is good for someone to keep us honest and help to to remember our accountability and our spirit.

 

That’s why at the end of the day – when all is said and done I can come to the silence and the lit candle and I can ask the Lord most high to forgive me, and He does.

 

“At the end of the day when we fall to our knees to make an accounting of our day, it remains us and the Most high and no one else. As it will be on the last day – God and they who stand before him.”

 

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Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.
Amen.

V. Panem de coelo praestitisti eis.
R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem.

Oremus: Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuae memoriamreliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacramysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus.Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.

R. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 


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