Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Puppet Masters of Attack on American Nuns Revealed: No Surprises, Continuing Deep Corruption in Catholic Leadership

2007 Knights of Columbus Annual Convention: Supreme Knight Anderson Gives Gaudium et Spes Award to Cardinal Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, with Bishop William Lori, KC Chaplain

I'm quite a ways behind with preparing postings these days (and with reading material about which to blog with any coherence or intelligence).  Still immersed in footnote-checking for my book, and discovering--a disconcerting discovery--that one after another reference cited by other texts I'm using turns out to be wrong, when I head to the original source.  

(I spent part of last week digging up and verifying information in 19th-century articles in publications as diverse as New York TimesZion's Ensign [Independence, Missouri], and the Omaha Daily Bee about Coggia's comet, meteor showers, obscure Mormon revivals in Tennessee, and steamboat explosions.  Not to mention a fascinating wedding announcement noting the marriage of my ancestor Elizabeth Gainer Cherry to Edward Byrd, he 82 and she 71, both having survived their previous spouses, with the editor of the Raleigh Register observing that while the wedding reminded him of the hoary proverb, "Old rats love cheese," it really made him think that the proverb should be changed to "Old birds love cherries when fully ripe.")

And so I'm behind with blogging, as I say.  And out of steam to blog.  And the enervation isn't helped by a bit of travel displacement and weariness as we return home from a little trip on which I spent my days happily if boringly immured in the LDS library in Salt Lake City correcting my manuscript.  Nor is it helped by the downright ugliness of much that I've been reading lately, beyond my work on the manuscript.

So ugly, in fact, that I don't even know how to blog about some of the sordid stuff.  There's the revelation, for instance, of the identities of the puppet masters pulling the strings in the case of the investigation of American nuns.  Robert Mickens at the British Catholic paper The Tablet deserves the lion's share of credit for breaking this story, and for the digging that brought the identities of the puppet masters to light.  I'd link to his story, but it's behind a paywall.

After Mickens published his piece, Fr. James Martin posted a valuable excerpt of it at America's "In All Things" blog.  Grant Gallicho followed with an equally valuable posting at the Commonweal blog site.  The story is now receiving even wider coverage outside the Catholic media, too.  Michael Rezendes summarized it for the Boston Globe early this week, and Sarah Posner wrote about it at Religion Dispatches yesterday.  As several of these sources also note, both Sandro Magister and John Allen have now written about this story, as well.

The puppet masters: the "disgraced" Cardinal Bernard Law who is now living in "punishment" in Rome; the politically powerful head of the U.S. Catholic bishops' manufactured religious liberty crusade Bishop William Lori; and the Knights of Columbus, led by the politically powerful Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, a former legislative assistant to Senator Jesse Helms (R, NC) and a former member of the Reagan administration's team.

And what to say about any of this except that the revelations about who's driving the attack on American nuns proves 1) how deeply the Catholic church continues to need reform from the top down, 2) how little has changed at the top levels of the Catholic church despite all we've learned since 2002 about the abuse situation, 3) how deeply political the attack on American women religious is, and 4) the extent to which an unholy alliance with the 1% now drives everything the top leaders of the Catholic church think and do.

How can one read these stories without remembering all we learned about Law from the legal discovery process in the Boston abuse cases in 2002?  How can we read these stories without remembering the big shindig Law threw for himself last fall when he "retired"?  Mountains of prosciutto!  Hand-twirling princes of the church!  Mariachi bands belting out "Cielito Lindo"!

May we all be cursed with such disgrace and such punishment.  And such disempowerment in our well-earned disgrace.

And how can one read about the puppet masters now beating up on religious women and not remember the atrocious way in which Lori and his crony Chaput, then living in Denver, beat up on two gay legislators in Connecticut a while back, when they sought to pin blame for a drive to assure fiscal accountability on the part of Catholic dioceses on those two gay men?  Who endured death threats after Lori and Chaput attacked them?

Or how can one read this story of big men with big Roman connections beating up on American religious women and not remember Lori sitting up before God and everyone else at that table in the Congressional hearing in D.C. this past winter, demanding along with other big men the right to manage the reproductive lives of women?  Not one of whom (a woman, that is) was represented at the table of power at which the rights of the disempowered were decided on and divvied up?

And when one reads about Supreme Knight Anderson's involvement in this story, how can one not remember the cool $1,425,000 the Knights dropped in California in 2008 to help pass proposition 8, yanking the right of civil marriage from gay citizens of that state?  Or the $50,000 they poured into the coffers of the Catholic-led groups in Maine who did the same thing in that state?  Or the $4.7 million they gave to anti-gay causes in 2009, when people are hungry, without work, in need of medical care, etc.?  Or their extensive funding of the National Organization of Marriage, with its heinous tactics of race-baiting, lying, and hate-mongering in the name of Christ?  Or their role (along with NOM) in helping prepare and disseminate an overtly political video about gay marriage sent by the Catholic bishops of Minnesota to every household in that state on the even of the 2010 elections?

And we're expected to believe that the attack on American religious women is not political?  My eye and Betty Martin it's not!

As I say, the disclosures about who's spearheading the current drive to attack American nuns demonstrates the extent to which an unholy political alliance between right-wing political groups and big money now drives what's taking place in the Catholic church from the top down, and how direly in need of reformation the church stands.  And in the middle of all of this, what does Benedict choose to focus on, instead?  He chooses to mandate the use of the pro multis formulation by German Catholic churches.

As if that is the most burning issue around for the Catholic church to consider these days.  And as if issuing a papal mandate stipulating the words a national Catholic church must use in its liturgy is a sign of the health of the church and not an indicator of how seriously it has careened off its foundations, when popes involve themselves in issuing decrees telling local churches--against their will and that of their bishops--what words they may or may not use in addressing God.

And in the midst of all this corruption, we're still being told by the Catholic centrists that the big problem is the sassy anti-Catholic ire of women's groups and the left, who are in "high dudgeon" about ultrasound laws in Virginia, contraception and the HHS guidelines, and Planned Parenthood.  While the "cooler heads" of the objective Catholic centrists understand matters better and know that the magisterium only and always has the needs of the poor and marginal first and foremost in its consciousness.  And since women's groups and leftists and supporters of either can't, of course, be real Catholics. 

In the midst of the extensive corruption in the Catholic church today, in short, the "cool-headed" and objective centrists aren't critiquing or challenging the hierarchy from which the corruption stems.  Instead, they're assisting the hierarchy in weeding out of the Catholic community vast numbers of Catholics, by defining those Catholics as "leftists" who have departed from Catholic orthodoxy.

So that as Marian Ronan incisively notes at Religion Dispatches today, 60,000,000 American Catholics no longer count.

While the Vatican, Law, Lori, the Supreme Knight, and the 1% whom they serve play solely to the 5,000,000 who alone any longer count--the "real" pro multis of today's Catholic church.  As (and this is typical throughout history) the mealymouthed liberal powerbrokers who occupy cushy positions in the media and academic power centers, and who have every reason to know and to do better, continue to play to, protect, and defend indefensible power structures playing indefensible games that result in massive suffering for many people.

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