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Politics

Why Wouldn’t I ???

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Courtesy: Heath (Iheefz) Chicago Photography

It rained … all . day . long …

Enough rain to warrant carrying an umbrella. And Lawd knows how I hate carrying my huge umbrella anywhere. But this morning it was necessary because we had to travel in . the  . rain.

A few days ago, hubby mentioned his graduation ceremony was coming up but he wasn’t expecting me to attend because it was, in his words, “long and boring!” The topic came back up the other night and he once again intoned that he wasn’t expecting me to go … and I replied “Why Wouldn’t I??? ”

Two years work. Watching him toil night and day pounding out his thesis and defense for his M.A. I went to his defense. We were all so proud of him. And so today was the culmination of all that work, a 15 second walk across a stage in front of his peers to get his M.A. Diploma.

The program opened with bagpipes, piping in the graduates, then the faculty.

And One very special man – LtGen. The Honorable Romeo A. Dallaire (Ret’d), O.C. ,CMM,GOQ, MSC,CD, B.ES., LLD , Senator.

He was presented with an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters.

And he gave a short speech for the graduates and encouraged them to step up and be change in Canada. Because in politics and government, he spoke, they have not risen to their ultimate abilities.

2017, is a special date and there are a confluence of dates and events, anniversaries and commemorations that will come during 2017, and Canada does not have a plan to mark the occasions.

Offering questions in the Senate and to the M.P’s in Parliament, what is the plan and what are we going to do ? the answer was – We Don’t Know !!!

This is our time to rise. To become active in the affairs of the nation be it in your community, your home, your job or your country, He encouraged us all to become change.

He spoke a bit about the children in Rwanda and the deaths and situations he witnessed. He spoke of a young boy, sitting in the road there in Rwanda distended, poor and in need (in a bad way), looked in those boys eyes, and the vision of his sons eyes came to mind.

He encouraged us to go abroad and work in developing countries. To see, witness, feel and participate in the lives of those who need more than they have today. They have very little, compared to the have’s and the have not’s in the developed world.

It was a tall request. But not out of reach. If you know where to look.

I know of people in Europe and the U.K. who actually go to Africa and other trouble spots in the developing world to work for charities helping those who need it most.

It is part of Gap Year work, Charity work, and just a great character building exercise to spend time in a place that will change the person you are, just by your presence.

We don’t often think about traveling so far away – it isn’t a North America thought, just because it is “over there” out of sight, out of mind.

But numbers of Canadians do great work in Africa and areas beyond.

If I could do it, I would. But the time needs to be right.

*** *** *** ***

Once hubby did his walk across the stage, he was in the first two rows of graduates, he texted me. I was sitting about ten rows behind him on the aisle so we could make a quick getaway. The ceremony started at 3 p.m. and I needed to be at the church at 5, so we made our way out shortly after the B.A.’s started their march to the stage.

We took some photos with his cape and gown and degree for his parents, turned in his robes, and we came home. We got back around 4:30. And I was back out the door at quarter to Five.

And . It . Rained …

I arrived at the church, a little damp and the hall was a bit damp and cold. I cranked out chairs and tables. My sponsor showed up a few minutes after I arrived to make coffee and help with set up.

Little gift …

At the roundup a couple of weeks ago, all the shares were taped for mass consumption and sold on site. For quite a chunk of money. So a few folks bought a master copy of all the shares. And now they have been duplicated and are being shared amongst us.

I had mentioned that I wanted a copy of them, and one of our sober women did the duplicates and brought them to the meeting tonight. But there were a few women who have not heard them, like we got to hear them live, so I told her to give them to someone who hasn’t heard them yet before I get them.

I was sitting in my chair waiting for folks to show up and one of my friends came up and handed me a cd, with all the shares and more on it. Just because !

Then I was standing near our literature table talking to some folks, and my sponsor walked up and had a gift for me. He was given a cache of Big Books and other texts we use regularly. And from a private collection, he has already given me a copy of the original manuscript of the Big Book. Tonight he had another book for me … A Second Edition of the Big Book.

Which has an extra large collection of stories in the back of the book.

There are four editions of the Big Book in circulation. First editions are rare and cost a pretty penny. Seconds and Thirds are in circulation. But for the most part, unless you need a 2 or 3, Inter-group sells Fourth Editions, solely.

The Book, Experience, Strength and Hope is a collection of stories from Editions 1 , 2 and 3. We read that book on Sunday Nights some time ago.

But now I get to read all the stories from the book in the Second Edition.

The meeting was packed. Which was good. Lots of newcomers. And great opportunities for our girls to get out there and pound the pavement.

We read from Living Sober, page 10 – Live and Let Live …

A good topic. Lots of good shares. Many people all over the place on the slogans.

Live and Let Live
Easy Does It
But for the Grace of God
Think, Think, Think
First things First

You see them posted at every meeting we go to in the city. Keeping our side of the street clean. Not getting into other folks drama. What people think of me is none of my business. I am powerless over people, places and things.

I can’t change you – I can only change me.

And people are struggling with this slogan. On a daily basis.

It was a good night. Fun was had. I walked home.

A good day over all Me thinks.

More to come, stay tuned…


Kathleen Wynne declared Ontario Liberal leader, province’s next premier

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The New First Female Premier of Ontario is also the first LGBT Premier making her a very important and one of the most powerful Lesbians in the world…

*** *** *** ***

By | Canada Politics

Kathleen Wynne has been declared the winner of the Ontario Liberal leadership convention Saturday evening and will now become Ontario’s first female premier.

Wynne rallied support from party faithfuls through the day after entering the convention in second place. She pulled within two votes of the lead on the first ballot, behind only former provincial representative Sandra Pupatello.

The 10-year Member of Provincial Parliament, who held several cabinet positions during Dalton McGuinty’s time in power, celebrated diversity and inclusivity during her leadership campaign. She worked to position herself as a Liberal leader, and premier, who could take on Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives and NDP in the next general election.

“This is going to be a great government and we are going to build on the legacy of Dalton. We are going to build on the work that Dalton McGuinty has done over the last nine years,” Wynne said after being declared the next party leader.

Wynne was always at or near the front of the pack during the leadership race. Early numbers placed her among the leaders of a crowded list of candidates and she picked up the support of exiting Glen Murray at what seemed to be a pivotal moment.

The balance tilted further in her favour when Dr. Eric Hoskins, the first candidate removed from the ballot, threw his support in her direction. By the time the first round of voting was counted on Saturday, Wynne had caught up and sat in a virtual tie for lead, with just two votes separating her from Pupatello.

Still, Pupatello picked up an early endorsement from resigning candidate Harinder Takhar. She extended her lead in the second round of voting. But the surge was short lived.

Remaining candidates Charles Sousa and Gerard Kennedy pulled out of the contest and endorsed Wynne. A final woman-against-woman vote was held, but the writing was already on the wall.

Kathleen Wynne was declared Ontario Liberal Party leader after beating Pupatello 1150 delegate votes to 866 votes on the final, third, ballot. She will be sworn in as premier at a later date.

“Ms. Wynne has the best chance of being able to renew the party the way it has to be done,” Kennedy told Yahoo! Canada News. “I am hopeful she will make the changes that will get Ontarians interested, and eventually really enthusiastic about a new Liberal approach.

“She is a premier people will relate to in the sense of someone who pays very close attention to people. She respects and loves working with people, and she is going to be able to put together a different kind of agenda.”


Trudeau enters Liberal leadership race

Justin Trudeau made his bid for the federal Liberal leadership official Tuesday evening, confirming weeks of speculation and taking the next step along a path set by his father some 44 years ago.

The 40-year-old Montreal MP broke the announcement in a YouTube video posted to his website, and then minutes later at a rally in his Papineau riding, after his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, introduced him to the crowd.

“I love this great country; I want to spend my life serving it,” Trudeau said.

“This is why tonight I am offering myself for the leadership of the Liberal party of Canada.”

Trudeau said the road to success will be “one long, Canadian highway.”

“We will have ups and downs, breathtaking vistas and a few boring stretches. And with winter coming, icy patches. But we will match the size of this challenge with hard, honest work.”

He said he decided to announce his leadership candidacy on Tuesday because that would have been his late brother Michel’s 37th birthday. Michel was killed in an avalanche in 1998 while skiing in British Columbia.

Trudeau, the eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, has shown a knack for capturing the excitement surrounding his father’s legacy and mixing it with his own telegenic charm.

The idea of Trudeau following his father’s footsteps into 21 Sussex Drive has been around nearly his entire life. But Trudeau’s famous surname was noticeably absent at Tuesday night’s rally – the red background behind him was emblazoned only with his first name.

Trudeau said he wants to reconnect the Liberal Party with ordinary people across Canada, especially the middle class.

“A thriving middle class provides realistic hope and a ladder of opportunity for the less fortunate — a robust market for our businesses, and a sense of common interest for all,” he said.

He added that the Conservatives and the New Democrats have not responded well to Canadians’ economic struggles over the last few years.

“What’s the response from the NDP? To sow regional resentment and blame the successful. The Conservative answer? Privilege one sector over others and promise that wealth will trickle down, eventually,” Trudeau said.

“Both are tidy ideological answers to complex and difficult questions. The only thing they have in common is that they are both, equally, wrong.”

At a brief news conference after his announcement, Trudeau said he’s running for Liberal leadership “because I believe in an option that is not polarized around the edges, that is not bound to an ideology but is looking for the best possible ways…to serve all Canadians.”

Trudeau was born on Christmas Day in 1971, while his father was in the early years of his time as prime minister.

He became a high school teacher before running for parliament in 2008. He elected to run in the hotly-contested riding of Papineau, rather than the Montreal riding of Outremont, at the time considered a Liberal safety net.

Trudeau then survived the NDP wave that swept across Quebec in the 2011 election, increasing his margin of victory.

Trudeau, a father of two small children, is one of the Liberal Party’s brightest stars, drawing crowds to fundraisers, as well as participating in a charity boxing match earlier this year, at which he beat Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau.

For all his success, however, criticism remains that Trudeau has not been challenged on his vision or position on key issues.

Many critics say that no one even knows what Trudeau’s views are on major economic and foreign policy matters.

But his campaign adviser, Desiree McGraw, said Trudeau will be an effective, “pragmatic” leader who can engage Canadians of all generations, especially the youth.

“There is no part of this country that is off limits,” she said of Trudeau’s reach on CTV’s Power Play Tuesday night.

As for the Trudeau legacy, “Justin is his own man,” McGraw said. “He has proven that.”

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae has already said he will not be vying for the party’s top job.

So far, constitutional lawyer Deborah Coyne — who is the mother of Justin Trudeau’s half-sister Sarah — has announced she is running for the leadership position.

Manitoba paramedic Shane Geschiere and economist Jonathon Mousley have also gone public with their intentions to seek the top job.

Liberal MP Dominic Leblanc was also reportedly interested in leading the party, but sources have told CTV’s Roger Smith that Leblanc will likely support Trudeau instead.

Among those who are said to be considering throwing their hats in the ring are MP and former astronaut Marc Garneau, Vancouver MP Joyce Murray and former leadership candidate Martha Hall Findlay.

The Liberal leadership campaign officially gets underway in mid-November.

Trudeau is expected to make appearances in Calgary, Richmond, B.C., and the Toronto area in the coming days.

With files from The Canadian Press


Holiness and the Myth of Gay Marriage.

A Fascinating read from: Don’t Eat Trash

Ok time for my two cents I suppose.

I have been discussing a few things with people for the last few days because of some decision in a state of a country that i don’t live in. Makes me laugh a little. Because a couple of days ago, it wasn’t really being spoken about. But the issue still existed.

I want to illustrate two things and see where that gets me.

Number one – democracy is not Gods best.

No where in the bible do you find the blue print of democracy. The trinity isn’t a democracy. Its holy. It is perfectly relational? Do I tongue in cheek think that the three members of the trinity discuss things and disagree on certain designs? Maybe. But are they relational perfect anyway? YES. More then our peon brains understand.

Democracy is a stunted version of what God envisioned for government. A very stunted version. And although most of the conservative right of the western world has convinced themselves and the rest of humanity that capitalism is Gods best, that is also a fallacy. Capitalism works in a supply and demand language, collecting as much as one can. Gods kingdom works on a giving and receiving mentality. Balance. Not consumptive excess.

So when one argues that God wants us to uprise and call on our governments to outlaw gay marriage, it makes me laugh. Because it makes Jesus look bad. When we call on our governments to give more in international aid, it makes me die a little inside, as we facebook our friends sitting next to us, buy our retardedly expensive cars that drive on a fuel that will cease to exist in 40 years and think ‘i have no money to help’.

Christ attacked

– The spiritual elite – the hypocrites.
– The pagans that got in the way of the gentiles having access to God in the courts.
– and Peter.
– aaaaaand technically Satan by destroying the enemies power at the cross.

Why do we think we can attack sinners when Jesus called for no rocks to be thrown, no judgements to be made, and no stumbling blocks put in their way.

Where would one find a bigger stumbling block then presenting a Jesus that hates people and protests friendship even going as far as picketing funerals with signs that speak of God hating fags. Does God really hate fags?

Back to the point. Taking Australia for example, through wise choices and intelligent living we could each afford to personally send financial support to the developing world, making sure everyone can eat. Aid money accounted for. If the body of Christ took to loving and servant-hearted community, we would fully exemplify the freedom of Gods love, as opposed to carbon copying the world in our day to day lives and saving Jesus for the church service. We are a tribal people of significant influence over life and love. We need not mere nation state puppet governments, who can neither legislate morality or stop love from changing the world.

Point 2
If Jesus was invited to a gay wedding, would he go?

As he walks in he begins to teach people how to live abundantly. He dances hard, he drinks wisely, he has crazy conversations, he’s honest and real and affirms people deeply. he becomes the king of the party because he is the best partyer. and people are drawn to his freedom-from-fear-of man. He walks out of that wedding with more people following him then if he stayed at home angry that gay people get to marry.

Secondly, if God calls us to not judge people outside of the ‘church’ could it be because he wants us soft hearted so that the holy spirit can move? But if we are elitist, judgmental – we toe the line of broken-relationship or ‘sin’. Let God do what he does best – healing the broken, freeing the captive. Hes much better at it then our sinful hearts, hands and feet.

The last few days i’ve heard scripture quoted as the reason we should out law ‘the gays’ as if a law would stop people falling in love. Does the fact that divorces happen stop you from being in a committed loving marriage? Does the law that permits tobacco being sold to people mean you have to be addicted to it or smoke at all? The law means crud-all when you are a free man. The law is for the guilty. But so is human non law.

If pedophilia wasn’t against the law does that mean we let people abuse our kids? FRAG NO.

And no i am not making a correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia. They are two completely different things. Pedophilia just seems to be the universal moral absolute. #pointmade

Lastly, to those who are already formulating comments to do with ‘But God says homosexuality is wrong, we must stamp it out’ God’s perfection speaks of everything less then holiness is wrong. We were designed for relational perfection. Pointing fingers is the echo from the garden of eden when Adam first felt uncomfortable being naked of Gods holiness. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil means we compare, judge, become prideful and faux humble.

God wants YOU, reader, to be able to love uncomfortably, and unceasingly.

Can you?


Fallout …

Courtesy: Suitep

What an incredible few days it has been, on many fronts. What a weekend it was for Mr. President. A very gutsy man with balls of steel and a resolve just the same. Who knew from Adam what was going on in his head over the weekend seeing him traveling in the U.S. and yukking it up at the Correspondents dinner on Saturday night.

And who knew what Sunday would bring … I just cannot imagine.

I am sure that Mr. Obama’s stock has risen over the past few days. This kill shot was something that I think will translate into better numbers and even help him in the long run for re-election. At least I hope that is what happens. That’s all we need is for some jamokey republican asshole to win an election, God forbid.

At this point I think the White House is channeling some Ricky Ricardo when he says to Lucy “You got some ‘splainin to do!” Pakistan is not going to skate away with this gigantic intelligence flub. Someone was protecting Osama. Someone must have known he was there, I mean it’s pretty clear from all the information that has been released about this event.

*** *** *** ***

We have had a Royal Wedding, The beatification of John Paul II in Rome, the killing of Osama bin Laden and an election here in Canada. The fallout from the election is huge. The Orange wave came to Quebec and took the province by storm. There were incredible losses for the Bloq. The Bloq leader lost his seat in an upset, and in the end resigned from his position as party leader, not to mention the Bloq lost party status in the House of Parliament. You must have at least 12 seats to be afforded party status, and the Bloq lost in a bloodbath last night. So the Bloq is all but kaput. So much for that referendum.

Mr. Layton won a huge number of ridings here in Quebec. Many freshman young M.P’s are going to Ottawa, and we are so proud of the huge wins by the NDP. Not to mention with 102 seats won, for the first time in history the NDP wins the coveted title of Official Opposition Party in the commons. I mean the room went nuts when Jack Layton walked out to greet the party. My vote made a difference.

The Conservatives won a majority. As I have read on other blogs tonight, the earth did not shift on its axis, we will all survive this. And in the end we hope the government does what it said it will do. Canada needs to work to protect the people of Canada, we need more jobs, a secure financial sector and we need to solidify our place in the worlds eyes.

I questioned the ability of Mr. Ignatieff to win anything that’s why a lot of voters went with Jack. The Liberal party was decimated last night. The leader of the party as well, lost his seat and resigned from the party this morning. A leadership convention is coming. There is rumbling about Justin Trudeau, can he step up, if he is tapped as the heir apparent? Can the magic happen? Justin won’t say what he is going to do to that end just yet. At least he won his riding for the Liberal party, beating out the Bloq incumbent.

We saw history happen last night. The total collapse of the Bloq and the Liberal party. I heard it mentioned on the news coverage about Canada moving towards a two party system in Parliament. It seems the voters were over all the drama and political bullshit and we all voted for change and hope. The voters have spoken. Now the parties MUST rise to the occasion and do what they have been mandated to do.

A good chunk of Quebec went orange, with hints of red and blue here and there. Mr. Layton’s crop of young bloods have got some serious shoes to fill.

So much to look forwards to in the coming months.

*** *** *** ***

Here on the home front we are in the final weeks of classes. I have class tomorrow night and then a final and essay due on Thursday night, which I still have to write yet, then my final interview to come next week on the 9th.

It rained today. But numbers were nominal for the meeting. Lots of new faces and the conversation was nice and lively. We are pleased with what we have for today.

*** *** *** ***

So what do we know ???

  1. The Princess got her man
  2. Obama got Osama
  3. The NDP won big in Canada

Life goes on and we will all survive. The world is a safer place because the face and person of evil is dead and is floating at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, Thanks be to God.

The era of Osama is over.

Well Done Mr. President. We are so very proud of you…


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]


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]


Liberals officially name Ignatieff party leader

450_cp_ignatieff_090502

He is well spoken, fluent in both languages, He is focused and his acceptance speech was really well done. The crowd was wild and enthusiastic, 3000 liberals in one room was quite incredible to the new leader.

CTV.ca News Staff

Michael Ignatieff officially became the leader of the Liberal party Saturday, five months after he took over the post from Stephane Dion.

“You’ve given me a great responsibility and will try to be worthy of your trust and I will give this job everything I got,” he told Liberals in Vancouver.

The new Liberal leader was quick to take direct aim at man whose job he’s after — Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“For three years you have played province against province, group against group, region against region, individual against individual,” he said. “When your power was threatened last November you unleashed a national unity crisis and you saved yourself only by sending Parliament home.

“Mr. Harper, you have failed us. If you can’t unite Canadians, if you can’t appeal to the best in us, we can. We Liberals can build a federalism based on co-operation, not on confrontation.”

While certainly different in delivery, Ignatieff’s self-written speech echoed many of the themes that U.S. President Barack Obama used on the campaign trail.

Ignatieff spoke about hope and “change” for Canada, even borrowing Obama “Yes, we can” slogan at one point.

He said he believes Canadians will vote the Grits into office in the next election, and said his government’s main goal would be “to unite our people again.”

“The way out of this slump is hard, but the direction is clear,” he said, calling for a “far-sighted government.”

He also took pointed shots at the Conservative government, declaring the importance of science and research for future Canadian success.

The Harvard and Oxford-educated Ignatieff spent much of the early parts of his speech focusing on the importance of education and knowledge to the Canadian economy.

Ignatieff won 97 per cent of the votes of the 2000-odd delegates at the party’s three-day convention.

Former leadership rivals Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc formally nominated Ignatieff in speeches Saturday, continuing the Liberals’ “unity” theme at the convention.

“What an incredible team we are going to offer the country,” Ignatieff said, thanking his former rivals.

Despite impassioned speeches by former prime ministers Paul Martin and Jean Chretien, and a warm tribute to Dion, Ignatieff’s acclamation has left this year’s convention short on drama.

LeBlanc, who dropped out of the race to replace Dion when it appeared that Ignatieff had shored up party support, said Ignatieff’s leadership has united the Liberals.

“If we’d had a big, contested convention with a tight result and a lot of tension, then everybody would have said the Liberal party is divided, it’s going to be hard to unite the party, we’ll never be ready for an election,” LeBlanc told CTV’s Tom Clark Saturday during an interview on Newsnet.

“So you have a leader who is selected unanimously and who was — if we’re honest — the overwhelming choice of the grassroots of our party. That was clear in December.”

Before Ignatieff’s confirmation as leader, delegates passed a number of party initiatives, including a one-member, one-vote policy allowing party members to directly choose future leaders.

The new policy will allow members to cast a vote in their home province, essentially doing away with delegated leadership conventions.

“If (members) can vote directly for the leader in their riding or in regional meetings, I think it offers a much greater degree of participatory democracy,” LeBlanc said.

While Ignatieff will need to introduce a policy platform in advance of an election in order to shore up support among Canadian voters, he is already presiding over improving party fortunes.

Since Ignatieff took helm of the party last December, the Liberals have risen steadily in the polls.

A Strategic Counsel poll conducted in early April found the Liberals and Conservatives in a virtual tie for voter support, with the Grits at 34 per cent and the Conservatives at 32 per cent.

The findings marked a 10 percentage-point jump for the Liberals since Ignatieff took control of the reins.

And in Quebec, the Grits have pulled ahead of the Bloc Quebecois in the province for the first time in five years, with 37 per cent support, compared to 31 per cent for the Bloc.

The Conservatives, who were at 22 per cent support after last fall’s election, are well back at 15 per cent.

Despite the strong poll numbers, it’s too soon to tell if Ignatieff will use any forthcoming non-confidence votes in the House of Commons to bring down the Conservative minority government and force an election, said Liberal MP Bob Rae.

“You need three parties to defeat a government in this situation, so we’ll just have to see what happens,” Rae told Newsnet Saturday from Vancouver. “But the decision for the Liberals will not be made by anybody except our leader and he’ll be giving us that direction when the time comes.”

On Friday, the party paid tribute to Dion, setting aside the criticism often levied against him for failing to unite the party and instead focusing on his passion for the environment.

In a speech to delegates, Dion said he hoped the tribute could inspire the party to win the next election under Ignatieff.


Cataclysm…

If you listen to late night radio, like I do, tonight would have been important to listen because of what was shared on air. There is a court case going before the United States Supreme Court tomorrow about Philip J. Berg who has filed this law suit in the courts to force Barack Obama to produce his birth certificate and or naturalization papers prior to the election that is to take place on Tuesday. If he does not and the court let’s the case stand – we could see Barack removed from the ticket in worst case scenario.

This man has brought forth this lawsuit because of the U.S. Constitution. He has seen fit to take Barack to task for his birthplace and he questions his U.S. Birthright. A requirement for high public office is a constitutional rule that says any person who attempts office should prove their citizenship of the United States. A reason that Arnold Schwartzenegger cannot run for the Presidency, unless that law is changed…. There is a slight chance that the court could rule in Berg’s favor and remove Barack from the ticket. God Help us All.

There is a chance that the High Court will deny this law suit from moving forward with a denial from the court to force Barack Obama to prove any paperwork.

The stakes could not be higher tonight. The world is on the brink of a cataclysm. Whoever wins this election on Tuesday is going to have a lot of work to do. There is so much at stake that every person who is of age and can ably VOTE should get up from their sofas and go VOTE. I think that employers should enable all of their employees to vote, no matter how long that takes. Advance polling stations are reporting lines of up to six hours wait time for people to vote.

The shift of power is coming to pass. The energy that is about to be released is enormous. Shit is going to happen over the next few days. If this election goes off without a hitch and Obama wins the White House we will see history made. Let us pray that Americans will vote rightly and for the right reasons for the right candidate. The world is about to shift on its axis. Will you be prepared?

In less than 48 hours Bush will be relieved of his office, because the transition will begin. 77 days from beginning to end. And both candidates have run this exercise. May the best man win.

And may that man be Barack Obama…


Obama, McCain plot transition of power

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Months before Tuesday’s election, John McCain and Barack Obama were secretly planning for a job only one of them will face — transitioning their political campaigns into a governing machine.

The new president will have a transition of just 77 days from his election to his inuguration to slow the ship of state, replace thousands of government officials and chart a new course.

Since the first transition, in 1797, from president George Washington to John Adams, the peaceful handover of power has become ever more choreographed with each successive administration, especially since World War II.

But the 2009 cycle, from President George W. Bush to his successor will be more fraught than usual, with the United States mired in a financial crisis and with more than 150,000 soliders in combat abroad.

“You have to go back to 1933 to find a transition as equally challenging as this one,” said Darrell West, director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, citing the transfer of power to Franklin D. Roosevelt during a banking crisis.

“We have a bad economy, we have two wars, basically there is no money for the new president to address the major problems.”

Unlike nations which have a permanent civil service, many top positions in the US government are political appointments, meaning that whole ranks of staff are flushed out by an incoming president.

Tales are legion of aides showing up to work at the White House after the inuguration to find computers stripped of hard discs, offices with no files and no idea how to do their jobs.

President Harry Truman famously knew nothing about the nascent US atomic weapons program when he assumed power after the death of Roosevelt in 1945.

Whoever wins in Tuesday’s election will move quickly to put the key elements of their governing team in place.

“Right after the election, you would expect, particularly if it is Barack Obama, a decision making team in place,” said Martha Kumar, a political science professor at Towson University, who has studied presidential transitions.

That would include a White House chief of staff, personnel director, a presidential legal counsel, a press team, national security advisors, National Economic Council officials and a budget director, she said.

It is thought likely that Obama would also act quickly to appoint a Secretary of DefenseBush’s Pentagon chief Robert Gates has been mentioned as a candidate — and Treasury Secretary.

Given the financial turmoil McCain would also be expected to put together an economic team quickly to calm roiled stockmarkets.

In all, president-elects have the power to appoint around 7,000 people to serve in their administration — but tend to concentrate at first on just a few hundred crucial posts.

If Obama wins, he is likely to find it easier to get key officials quickly cleared through Senate confirmation, with Democrats in control on Capitol Hill than McCain who could see key personel challenged by the rival party.

Such is the complicated nature of presidential transitions that both candidates have been preparing for months — though in secrecy so as not to appear to be prejudging the election.

John Podesta, once White House chief of staff for president Bill Clinton heads the Obama transition team, sketching transition plans and vetting potential candidates for top government jobs.

Democrats have bad memories of the chaotic Clinton transition in 1992-93, which left the administration floundering in its first few months in office.

McCain’s transition pointman is former Reagan administration Navy secretary, John Lehman, who may seek to emulate the highly efficient Bush effort during the 2000-2001 transition which was truncated by the Florida recount debacle.

US government departments have also been getting ready for months — for the first wartime change of presidents for 40 years, which has sparked fears that US enemies might try to exploit the situation.

Gates has spoken of the need for a smooth handover, and to find a way to get top national security nominees security clearances as quickly as possible.

Bush requested 8.5 million dollars in funding from his 2009 budget for the transition, which will see the president elect’s team given office space in Washington DC.

Soon after election day, the White House will offer briefings and other help to the top aides of the president-elect and members of the winner’s press operation have been invited to shadow members of Bush’s spokespeople.


OBAMA – YES WE CAN !!!

I got this image of Barack Obama from a friend who lives in San Francisco.

If you don’t VOTE on Tuesday, then you can’t participate in your Democratic right to be heard. Please, for the Love of God and the hope of the United States of America, GO VOTE …

VOTE !!!

VOTE for BARACK OBAMA …


FEDERAL ELECTION REMINDER

Tomorrow – Tuesday October 14th, CANADA VOTES.

It is time to stop the Conservative Party from gaining another government.

Every Canadian MUST vote if they can.


WWJD???

This is a reprint in whole of an article I posted a few days ago.
I found this text on Bear’s Blog.

As most of you know, I was appointed pastor here at the Newman Center on April 15th of this year. When I arrived, I set out to address a series of various projects to repair our facilities. To date, most of these deferred maintenance items have been addressed. In the middle of dealing with contractors, the parish finance committee, the building department of the diocese, neighbors, etc., I received a FAX from the bishop’s office on the 30th of June. It was the bishop’s pastoral letter for the month of July.

This single FAX threw my whole summer, and in fact, my whole life into a turmoil. Recently, I was speaking with some of our parishioners who advocate for the ordination of women. In the course of our conversation, a question arose which has haunted me: “At what point do you cease to be an agent for healing and growth and become an accomplice of injustice?” By asking all of the pastors of the Diocese of Fresno to promote Catholics to vote “Yes” on Proposition 8, the bishop has placed me in a moral predicament.

In his “Pastoral,” the bishop states: “Marriage is much more than simply two persons loving each other. Marriage is naturally, socially, and biologically, directed to bringing forth life.”

Actually, there are TWO ends to marriage: 1) Unitive and 2) Procreative. The unitive end of marriage is simply a union of love and life. The Procreative end is, of course, to create new life. It is important to understand that the unitive end of marriage is sufficient for a valid marriage. The Church sanctions, and considers a sacrament, the marriage of elderly heterosexual couples who are biologically incapable of reproduction. So, if two people of different genders who are incapable of reproduction can enter into a valid marriage, then why is that two people of the same gender, who are incapable of reproduction, cannot enter into a valid marriage.

The objections which are raised at this point are taken from Sacred Scripture. Scripture scholars reveal the problematic nature of attempting to use passages from the Hebrew Scriptures as an argument against same gender relationships. Essentially, these scriptures are addressing the cultic practices in which sex with temple prostitutes was part of an act of worshiping Pagan gods. With regard to the Pauline epistles, John J. McNeill, in his book: “The Church and the Homosexual,” makes the following point: “The persons referred to in Romans 1:26 are probably not homosexuals that is, those who are psychologically inclined toward their own sex—since they are portrayed as ‘abandoning their natural customs.’” The Pauline epistles do not explicitly treat the question of homosexual activity between two persons who share a homosexual orientation, and as such cannot be read as explicitly condemning such behavior. Therefore, same gender sex by two individuals with same sex orientation is not “abandoning their natural custom.”

In 1973, as a result of a greater understanding of human psychology, the American Psychological Association declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. In 1975, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Church’s watchdog for orthodoxy) produced a document entitled: “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics.” In this document, they made the most remarkable statement. They stated that there are “homosexuals who are such because of some kind of innate instinct.” While these statements are hardly glowing affirmations of gay and lesbian persons, they represent a watershed in human perception and understanding of gay and lesbian people.

These new insights have occurred as a result of the birth and development of the science of psychology and understanding of brain development in the 19th and 20th centuries. The California Supreme Court cited and quoted an amicus brief filed by the APA in the Court’s opinion issued on May 15, 2008 that struck down California’s ban on same sex marriage. Specifically, the court relied on the APA’s brief in concluding that the very nature of sexual orientation is related to the gender of partners to whom one is attracted, so that prohibiting same sex marriage discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, rather than just imposing disparate burdens on gay people.

In directing the faithful to vote “Yes” on Proposition 8, the California Bishops are not merely entering the political arena, they are ignoring the advances and insights of neurology, psychology and the very statements made by the Church itself that homosexuality is innate (i.e. orientation). In doing this, they are making a statement which has a direct, and damaging, effect on some of the people who may be sitting in the pews next to you today. The statement made by the bishop reaffirms the feelings of exclusion and alienation that are suffered by individuals and their loved ones who have left the Church over this very issue. Imagine what hearing such damaging words at Mass does to an adolescent who has just discovered that he/she is gay/lesbian? What is the hierarchy saying to him/her? What are they demanding from that individual? What would it have meant to you personally to hear from the pulpit at church that you could never date? Never fall in love, never kiss or hold hands with another person? Never be able to marry? How would you view yourself? How would others hearing those same words be directed to view you? How would you view your life and your future? How would you feel when you saw a car with a “Yes on 8” bumper sticker? When you overheard someone in a public place use the word “faggot?”

I remember the first time I heard that word, faggot, I was hanging out with my cousins. They all played on the football team of the Catholic high school in our town. One of them spat out the word in the form of a curse. I was just a kid in the 5th grade, I’d never heard the word before, and so I asked: “What’s a faggot?” A faggot is a guy who likes other guys, was the curt reply. Now pause. Think. What would those words mean to someone in junior high school who discovers that he/she is attracted to people of their same gender? The greatest fear that he/she would have is that they would be rejected by the people they love the most—their family. So, their solution is to try to pass as straight, deceive, and in effect—lie. Of course, this leads ultimately to self loathing. It should come as little surprise that gay teenagers have elevated suicide rates. According to the Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (1999), 33% of gay youth will attempt suicide.

The bishop states: “The Church has spoken out constantly that those with a homosexual orientation must be respected with the dignity of every child of God. Every individual is created in the image and likeness of God and should never be subjected to prejudice or hatred.” A pious thought uttered by a cleric, robbed of any substantive meaning, as the executioner begins his work. Only a few select people actually read those documents. What most Catholics hear about being gay or lesbian at their parish church is–silence. A numbing silence, which slowly and insidiously tells them, “You don’t belong here, this is not for you, and you are not welcome.” It is not the crude overt vulgarity of some churches. But rather, it is the coldness of a maitre d’ who simply won’t seat you, or the club which has put you on a waiting list with no intention of allowing you to join. And simply asks you to wait in polite almost, apologetic tones.

In effect, the bishops are asking gay and lesbian people to live their lives alone. Why? Who does this benefit? How exactly is society helped by singling out a minority and excluding them from the union of love and life, which is marriage? How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives? What is accomplished by this? Worse still, is to intimidate a gay or lesbian person into a heterosexual marriage, which is doomed from its inception, and makes two victims instead of one by this hurtful “theology.” This “theology,” which is parroted by clerics in polished tones from pulpits, produces the very prejudice and hatred in our society which they claim to abhor.

When the hierarchy prohibited artificial birth control, most of the faithful in the United States, Canada and Europe scratched their heads in wonderment and proceeded to ignore them. There is an expression in theology: “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” If your son or daughter is gay/lesbian let them know that you love them unconditionally. Let them know that you are not ashamed or embarrassed by them. Guide them as you would your other children to finding true and abiding love. Let them know that marriage is a union of love and life and is possible for them too.

I do not presume to tell you how to vote but I do ask that you pray to the Creator of us all. Think and consider the effects of your vote on others, especially minorities in our society who are sitting next to you in church, and at work. The act of casting a vote takes you a few minutes but it can cause other human beings untold happiness or sorrow for a lifetime. It can grant them hope and acceptance, or it can cause them to lose civil rights. It can be a rebuff to bigotry and hatred, or it can encourage bigotry and hatred. Personally, I am morally compelled to vote “NO” on Proposition 8. It is my hope that the people of California will join with those others around the world such as Canada, Europe and South Africa who welcome their gay and lesbian family members fully into society by granting them the civil right to marry.

I know these words of truth will cost me dearly. But to withhold them, would be far more costly and I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” He didn’t promise that it would be easy or without personal cost to speak that truth.

cut and pasted from http://worldojeff.blogspot.com/2008/10/in-his-own-words.html


NO on Prop 8.Org

Don’t undo

Say NO to Prop 8!!!


It's an Election…

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament this morning. So Canada is now in election mode, the vote takes place on October 14th. Here in Canada we have a multiple party system with Stephen Harper leading the Conservative Party, Jack Layton leading the NDP, Stephane Dion leading the Liberal Party and Gilles Duceppe leading the Bloq Quebecois and Elizabeth May leading the Green Party. This post was over at Echo Mouse, I think she captures the news today well:

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper breaks his own law and rides in a 4 car cavalcade to the Governer General’s mansion across the street from his house to ask her to dissolve parliament.

Quick, nickname needed for Harper……wait, his surname fits perfectly!

Okay so The Harper has called an election. You know what irks me, more than all this political bullshit? The bastard did this shortly after 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning! This is what we’re in for people. Re-elect this conning harper and we’re not going to see sleep again for a very long time!

After he does his bit, we hear from all the opposition party leaders – Stephane Dion (Liberals), Gilles Duceppe (Bloc Quebecois) and now, Jack Layton (NDP). I’m not even awake yet. Who can parse this rhetoric this early in the morning? On a sunday no less!?

Some brave soul working for Macleans Magazine (Canadian mag) has actually live-blogged Conning Harper’s morning speech. – Live from Rideau Hall -It’s pretty good. Not as raucous as Jezebel and Gawker but good.

The scariest thing in Canadian politics the last few years has been the balls out repetition in style with the USA politicians. For example…..

Harper wouldn’t name his opponents. Just like the Republicans, seems the opposition loses their names during a campaign. That’s just tacky. And passive aggressive.

Extra scary note is the “Stand Up For” bit. Harper did it two years ago, with his “Stand UP for Canada” bit. Which, by the way, he’s completely against. He’s systematically trying to dissolve Canada and merge us with the USA. Want proof? What was McCain saying at the RNC? “Stand up for the USA”. Uh huh. And now, Harper is saying it again. Creeepayyyy! Harper wants this over before the Americans finish their election. We’re way too closely linked, our governments and countries. It’s freaking me the hell out.

Harper stood in front of a podium positioned in front of a rose garden. Now if he’d had Canadian flags on either side of him I’d have thrown up. Somebody needs to tell him, the proper position in Canada is in front of a parliament building, on a stage indoors, OR in front of TREES! Not a freaking rose garden. This is not the USA! Gahhhhh!!!

Harper accuses the other parties of name calling and vicious campaigning. Uh, Harper, that’s what YOU did and always do. Pot meet kettle, as they say. Plus, he’s full of shit. But that’s just me…nobody has to agree. The guy has Hitler’s birthday for heaven’s sake. Fine, so does my older brother, but still.

(Quick Edit to add…) Jesus Christ! Elizabeth May of the Green Party just SCREAMED from my tv and nearly deafened me. I swear, it was SHRILL! Yes, I’m saying it because it WAS. That woman needs to lower her pitch and STOP SCREAMING. Holy hell, I wouldn’t vote for her for that alone. Americans think Pitbull Sarah is shrill? Oh trust me, she has NOTHING on Elizabeth May. Good God.

So much doublespeak flying out of all their asses, I can’t keep up. That’s why I turn to Canadian bloggers for all parties. Okay, I mostly read Liberal bloggers because the rest are too full of crap. But I do try to be non-partisan when deciding. Currently, I’m making it my personal mission to leave comments blasting their lack of focus on healthcare. It must be working because all of a sudden, they’re all mentioning healthcare!

I am not sure which way I am voting just yet. I haven’t decided. You can read the rest of the post over at Echo Mouse at the link listed above.