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You win battles by knowing the enemy's timing, and using a timing which the enemy does not expect. Miyamoto Musashi

The news these last few weeks has been dominated by examples of timing.

The Pope, the Pope, our only hope...

The Pope resigns—If Monty Python was right, and "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition", then we have the same feeling about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Aside from the fact that he is old and getting feeble, he resigned in such a way that the Conclave to choose his successor either has to be held very quickly, or dragged out until after Easter. He'll helicopter off to Castel Gandolfo on Thursday evening, and a few moments after he touches down, he'll no longer be Pope. We don't know what he'll be called yet. We do know that he'll be sticking close to his successor, living in a converted convent in the Vatican. There have been intimations that the result of an investigation into Vatican scandals, delivered earlier this month, provoked his resignation a day later. I think this is unlikely—the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt Rev'd Lord Williams of Oystermouth, knew about the Pope's plan for resignation last December. But it's all a matter of timing.

Cardinal O'Brien resigns—The Cardinal Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, resigned after three priests and a former priest accused him of inappropriate behaviour toward them in the 1980's. He was scheduled to retire at the end of next month, but today the Pope accepted his resignation, effective today. He won't be attending the Conclave (even though he is still entitled to do so), and he is contesting the accusation vigourously, "taking legal advice", they say.

It's quite interesting that these accusations have lain hidden for 30 years, but come out just before O'Brien was ready to depart for Rome. Timing is everything.

O'Brien has been quite strident about abortion, gay marriage, and in vitro fertilisation.

He went on to argue that same-sex marriage is a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human rights(sic)," a stance that prompted angry rebukes from gay rights groups.

And from the link above, we have:

Church teaching holds that gays should be treated with dignity and respect but that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered." The church has opposed same-sex marriage unions because it believes marriage is a sacred union between man and woman.

I apologise for citing Fox News.

I am presuming that if "inappropriate behaviour" includes man-on-man sex, then Cardinal O'Brien is "intrinsically disordered".

Former LibDem official is accused of sexual harassment—I must here declare an interest; I am a member of the Liberal Democrats.

Lord Rennard was a very powerful Liberal Democrat official a few years ago, and was credited with ensuring that Nick Clegg won the leadership of the party and that many of the current MPs from the party were selected to stand for office.

However, he is now accused of sexual harassment of women who were either putting themselves forward for selection as prospective MPs or who worked at the central office of the party. He denies it. The current leadership claims that they never heard of specific accusations against him. The unspecific rumours they heard were left to a staffer to investigate, and nothing came of it.

So why are the accusations coming out now? Another LibDem Parliamentary miscreant, Chris Huhne, pled guilty to perverting the course of justice through getting his then-wife to take speeding points on her driving license. Her trial ended in a mistrial last week when the jury couldn't agree on a verdict and asked the judge some questions that were clearly legal nonsense. He resigned from Parliament, and this Thursday is the by-election to fill the seat. The timing of these accusations is interesting. The current leadership is quite embarrassed about all this, and the question of whether there was some sort of cover-up is still in the air.

So timing is behind three of the major stories this week.
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Thanks to Whispers in the Loggia, I have just read a grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. (.pdf file). One would have thought that after the problems in Boston, New York, Milwaukee, and elsewhere the American Catholic hierarchy would have pulled up their purple or red socks and tried to put things right. This report seems to demonstrate that, in Philadelphia at least, priests were continually reassigned after credible accusations of child sexual abuse and the victims were ignored or prevented from reporting their abuse to the authorities.

A first for the US, I believe, is that the Grand Jury recommended that the clergyman responsible for assignment of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese also be charged with endangering the welfare of minors, through his policy of moving those accused priests around. While the Grand jury would have liked to have charged the retired Archbishop of Philadelphia on the same grounds, Cardinal Bevilaqua, in his late 80's, is now said by his doctors to be quite ill and suffering with dementia. The Grand Jury "reluctantly" did not recommend that he be charged.

What can be learned from this sad sorry tale?

First, any organisation which has charge of children or vulnerable adults and finds that an adult responsible for the welfare of the children or vulnerable adults has been accused of abuse of any kind must immediately suspend that adult and report the allegations to the authorities.

Second, support of the victim must be independent of the organisation and must trump any other considerations.

Third, ensure that all previous cases of abuse are fully investigated, reported to the authorities, and the victims listened to and action taken.
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I have just read the text of the Wikileaked cable from the US Ambassador to the Vatican, where the British Ambassador to the Vatican seems to cast doubt on the Anglican Ordinariate and predicts some violent backlashes from enraged Protestants in England and a chilly reception from the Royal Family of the Pope during his recent visit to the UK. It made the morning news on Radio 4's Today program this morning, and all I could think of was, "It must be a slow news day."

First, the cable displays a profound ignorance of the facts on the ground and the back story to the Ordinariate. As I have posited previously, the Ordinariate is not a vehicle for the Vatican to welcome disaffected Anglicans with open arms into the bosom of Holy Mother the Church. It is, in fact, a quarantine camp or, more bluntly, a leper colony into which those disaffected Anglicans can be placed so as to cause minimum damage to the Roman Catholic Church. The cable does admit that the number of Anglicans going over is likely to be a trickle rather than a flood, but there are no startling insights available from the text as given.

Second, the cable documents the dismay of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at not being consulted over the Ordinariate. This is undoubtedly true (as I have seen in other fora and heard from people who might actually know something of the subject), but was widely known beforehand. What the cable didn't say, but what is undoubtedly the case, is that Williams is relieved that the malcontents are swimming the Tiber and only annoyed at the fact that more of them won't be going. Rome's centralised power structure means that they can control the Ordinariate more closely than Williams could ever control or even mildly influence the malcontents.

What concerns me is that our representative at the Vatican (and probably the US's as well) is so uninformed about religious matters that they could write this stuff. "Tell us something we don't know or can't deduce from afar!" we cry. One would expect that the British Ambassador to the Vatican would be better informed about the state of Vatican-Anglican relations and more able to make predictions and sense trends in them.

This perhaps means that instead of posting Catholic laypeople to the Vatican as representatives, the UK ought to send people there who are clued in about Anglican affairs as well, regardless of the altar rail at which they receive Communion on a Sunday.
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There is no doubt that in-vitro fertilisation has made many millions of couples into happy parents over the last 32 years, ever since the birth of Louise Brown in 1978, sometimes referred to as the world's first test tube baby. Professor Robert Edwards, now 85 years old, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for this feat; his co-researcher, unfortunately, died before the prize could be awarded and Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously.

When I heard this news I thought to myself, "I'll bet the Vatican isn't very happy about this." and was rewarded by reports that the spokesperson had said that this award was "out of order"—a very English phrase. Well, the National Catholic Reporter has the entire story of the Vatican's complex response, and it's the best example of sour grapes I can think of. When you are trying to pour cold water on a development which has brought joy to so many people who thought they were condemned to childlessness, this response compares with taking candy away from babies. The English refer to it as "po-faced".

I would not expect the Vatican to welcome this prize with rapturous joy. However, this implicit rebuke to the Nobel committee and the medical community at large is likely to fall on deaf ears and mark the Vatican as, yet again, seriously out of touch with scientific progress.
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The National Catholic Reporter, a generally liberal Roman Catholic newspaper published in the US but with a worldwide circulation via the Internet, published a column today by a professor named Eugene Cullen Kennedy. The column deals with the meeting between Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Benedict XVI. In this column was the paragraph:

For the queen, who once publicly admitted to having an anus horribilis -- a really bad year -- has seen the traditions of the royal family disrupted by more problems with love, estrangement, and loss than Shakespeare ever piled into a play. It is difficult for the queen to be a symbol of stability when she knows that her ‘sceptred isle’ may on any given day ripple with the aftershocks of royal misbehavior.

The bolded words, of course, would indicate perhaps that Her Majesty had difficulty in sitting down for a year; one is much much too refained to actually translate what the column says. However, confusion between anus and annus in Latin and their equivalents in some modern Romance languages is a genuine source of amusement for many and of embarrassment for a few.

I do hope that the column is corrected soon, as one would expect that a column written by a Roman Catholic in a Roman Catholic publication would ensure that Latin quotations were correct.
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His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury has called the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin to apologise for the words he spoke at the recording of Start the Week—that the Church in Ireland had lost credibility. The Archbishop of Dublin pointedly did not mention the ABC when thanking people for their support and kind words.

Oh, what fun! See how they love each other!


Apr. 3rd, 2010 01:55 pm
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I awoke this morning to BBC Radio 4's Today program and the news bulletin at 7am. Surprisingly, two religious stories topped the news. His Grace, the Most Rev'd and Rt. Hon Rowan Douglas Williams, by the Grace of God Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England, Instrument of Unity in the Anglican Communion, Twit Extraordinaire (I made that last one up) has said on a show to be broadcast on Monday that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has "lost all credibility" as a result of the sexual abuse scandal.

I see.

The second story concerned the Vatican's response to the scandal.

I would not be so crafty as to observe that, after the Pope's sticking two fingers up at the Anglican Communion and Church of England by announcing that disaffected Anglicans (the woman-haters, closeted gay clergy, sanctuary rats, and all) would be allowed to become Roman Catholics under an Anglican Ordinariate, His Grace is ramming his crozier where the Pope's sun doesn't shine. However, while there is merit in what Williams says, there is also merit in letting the Romans stew in their own juices rather than lighting a warmer fire under the pot.

First, the Anglican Communion and its constituent provinces are not blameless in the matter of child sexual abuse. One diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada was forced to dissolve in the face of the financial burden laid upon it by abuse meted out in schools for First Nations children. The national financial settlement that stems from those schools has bitten off a large part of the finances of Canada's Anglicans. In England, the abusive clerical headmaster of old is hardly blameless in these matters. Every C of E diocese has its cases in the past. The Episcopal Church also has cases of the same kind, and a currently-serving bishop is appealing a sentence of deposition for covering up abuse committed years ago by his brother, also a cleric. None of this excuses any abuse: whether it be Anglican, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Evangelical (all those American televangelists caught with their pants down), Jewish, Moslem, or atheist abuse, all denominations have past and future responsibility for these actions and for any subsequent cover-up.

Second, outside of the matter of sexual abuse, Williams has lost a lot of his own credibility lately for many reasons. He warned the Episcopal Church against electing a lesbian or gay bishop. When the Rev'd Canon Mary Glasspool, an out lesbian, was elected Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles, Williams warned the Episcopal Church not to go against the bonds of "gracious restraint" and confirm her election. When the Episcopal Church confirmed her election, he shook his head sadly and said in effect "No good shall come of this." The Episcopal Church, for one, has found that Williams may huff and puff, but he is unable to blow their Church down. The proposed Anglican Covenant is now dead, mainly through the actions of the Episcopal Church in this matter. Even the Church of England General Synod is unlikely to ratify the Covenant, as much as Williams will push for it. Without the participation of the Anglican Communion's wealthiest member, the Episcopal Church, the Covenant is lost.

Williams is an opaque speaker and thinker. He has found the time to write several books during his time as Archbishop, and often pronounces on issues of the day. His pronouncements, however, are couched in theological God-speak that is impenetrable by the person on the Clapham omnibus (ie, Everyperson). He has taken positions on social issues such as same-sex civil partnerships that are at odds with even those taken by the Conservative Party (which used to be the C of E at prayer). People perceive Williams and the Church of England in general as out-of-touch and remote from the opinions of the mainstream of society.

And so it goes. Credibility is the loser in all this. The only good that has come out of this whole sad story of abuse by clerics and church workers of any denomination is that cases that occur now are meant to promptly be handed over to the civil arm for justice and the offender barred from ministry or church work.

Oh, and as for celibacy (or, more accurately, chastity within the unmarried state) causing such abuse or attracting abusers as a cover for their activities, don't believe it. Non-celibate clergy and layworkers commit abuse too. I do not believe that celibacy is required for priesthood, of course, but marriage would not have stopped a lot of this abuse by Roman Catholic priests, nuns, and brothers. The causes lie much deeper than just the desire for sex and allowing marriage for RC priests would not have obviated most of those causes in these people.
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LAMBETH PALACE, Wednesday, October 21, 2009. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, held a second joint press conference this morning. Dr. Williams announced that, with immediate effect, the Church of England would permit parish churches to establish a "Vatican Use" liturgy to allow disaffected Roman Catholics to find a church home more to their liking.

The Roman Catholic Church has for centuries refused to ordain women, refused to allow priests and bishops to be married, and demanded that its followers acknowledge that the Bishop of Rome is unable to err in matters of defined faith and doctrine. In addition, the celibate hierarchy of the Roman communion forbids Roman Catholics from using artificial means of birth control or using condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV.

"The establishment of 'Vatican Use' in the Church of England will allow those who, in conscience, cannot accept all of the doctrinal and ecclesiological positions of the Pope of Rome to move to the Anglican communion, where you are not required to check your conscience and reason at the door of the church." said Dr. Williams, while Archbishop Nichols looked on from the side. "We in Anglicanism have a tradition of accepting people of rational faith from whatever background. We are especially welcoming to Roman Catholic priests who have been forced out of the active priesthood because they wish to be married, or just have a girlfriend like that priest in Miami. Keeping the 'Vatican Use' will allow like-minded refugees from Rome who have swum the Thames to be in community with others who have made that same journey."

Dr. Williams continued, "As we have also been in the forefront of ordaining women to the historic priesthood and, in many provinces, the episcopate, we welcome those Roman Catholic women who feel that God is calling them to a vocation as priests and bishops in the Church of God. We feel that the Roman Catholic Church would welcome this reshuffling of people from each side, from Anglicanism to the new Personal Prelature and from Romanism to the welcoming folds of the Anglican Communion."

Archbishop Nichols said, "We believe that the presence of former priests who are married in the Roman Catholic church is detrimental to the future development of Holy Mother the Church. In addition, allowing women who feel called to a vocation as priests or bishops to remain Roman Catholic means that a dangerous third-column of dissenters would exist in each parish and diocese across the land, distracting us from our mission to build up the Church of God that Jesus intended, with a male priesthood and episcopate as well as fecund parishioners who raise up large families of children and encourage them to enter the priesthood or the convent as appropriate."

He continued, "We welcome this historic realignment of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches into two distinct confessions, allowing people to make a clear choice between the two. The Holy Father has sent his personal blessings on the 'Vatican Use' to his Grace the Archbishop and expressed his hope that this initiative will be duplicated throughout the world."

Archbishop Williams thanked Archbishop Nichols for the kind words and blessings on 'Vatican Use' Anglicanism, and concluded with a request that other provinces of the Anglican communion share in 'Vatican Use' and give Roman Catholics in their provinces the opportunity to share in this historic initiative.

Their Graces then repaired to the Library at Lambeth Palace for a lunch of humble pie washed down with Bishop's Finger.

© Christian P. Hansen, all rights reserved

Afternote: This has been republished at Episcopal Café. As there is a link from there to here, I'm screening all comments in case unfortunates end up here and want to vent.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I read the "Family" section of the Guardian each week. As it deals with parents, children, and grandchildren mostly, you wouldn't think that it would be of much interest to a gay man. However, I suppose that I am a son and brother (not an uncle, unfortunately), so I find it very interesting and a compelling read.

This week there is an article about Philomena Lee and her search for her son, adopted out against her will when she gave birth "out of wedlock" in an Irish convent.

I don't know whether you will, but I know that I did shed a tear upon reading it. The Irish Roman Catholic church has many things to answer for: the Magdalen Laundries are but one example of the cruelties that were visited upon Irish Catholics by the priests, brothers, and nuns in the name of religion.

Oh, and there is a gay angle to it. Read it and find out.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I don't know about you, but this story sounds like the SWB is up to her old tricks again—transferring clergy who stray.
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In Catalonian creches, there is normally a figure in the corner quietly making a deposit. Go figure, I don't know why--the figure is called a "caganer". However, this year's must-have Christmas gift is a very unique caganer, which will bring joy to the hearts of all those who, like me, are refugees from the SWB.

P.S. You don't actually think that I could refrain from buying one, did you?
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I see from [ profile] whispersloggia that Fr. Andrew Greeley, the towering figure in American Catholicism of the latter half of the 20th Century, has been gravely injured in an accident. His activities as an opinion researcher, novelist, and writer on social trends in American Roman Catholicism made him a burr under the saddles of American Roman Catholic bishops, which can only be thought of as a Good Thing. Prayers for his speedy recovery are winging their way from the Elephant and Castle.
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It seems as though the story was halfway true. What the court required the Church to do was to record next to the baptizand's name the fact that he had left the Church. They did not require the church to remove his baptismal record entirely.

So that's all right then!
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I googled for a link, but English link there were none (i'm in a rush, so I didn't go through the entire listing)

Thanks to MadPriest, we have:


A Spanish court has ordered Catholic officials in Valencia to remove a man’s name from Church baptismal records. Manuel Blat Gonzalez, a homosexual man who objected to the Church’s campaign against same-sex marriage, had demanded that the Church erase the record of his baptism 40 years ago. The Valencia archdiocese refused, explaining that baptism cannot be reversed and the record is a historical document.

The Data Protection Agency, a government body charged with preserving individual privacy, took up the Blat case and won a court ruling that required the Church to discard sacramental records of those who made the request. The Valencia archdiocese appealed, but the appeal has now been rejected.

I have always wanted a formal excommunication letter from the Romans. Perhaps I should request one.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
...comes to us from the Southwest, where a bishop in Gallup, New Mexico is a bit confused, perhaps.
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One doesn't normally want to make excessive fun of those who believe odd things, but the followers of Pope Pius XIII (yes, that's XIII, not XII) are convinced that only he is the true Pontiff, bringing the Roman Catholic Church back to the true Catholic path.

I recently came across his site again, and His Holiness is now busily upgrading his residence in Washington State with a library.

Here is a picture of HH assisting in the work (don't forget to read the caption), and you may, once you see this picture, wish to trawl through the rest of the site, starting with the home page.

Another interesting photo of a very versatile Pontiff is here.

HH seems to have gone through several cardinals (he only has six, and four of them are cardinals in petto), but they all know who they are so that when the next conclave happens (His Holiness is 89 years old, so it won't be long delayed) they'll be able to get together and vote.

I am presuming that it won't be in the Sistine Chapel.
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George Rosenkranz, who was a curate at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Marblehead when I was a teenager, and who spread a trail of molested boys throughout the Archdiocese of Boston, has finally been laicised by the Vatican. Sean Cardinal O'Malley's statement is here.

I always felt he was kind of slimy, and now it's been confirmed. He's 70 years old now, and the Archdiocese has withdrawn his salary (although it doesn't say anything about his pension).

A very sad end.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
It seems that at least one member of the clergy in Scotland has a bit of a side business. When I took Canon Law years ago, in the seminary, one of the things we learned is that priests were forbidden to own a saloon. But it seems that one priest has a bit of a business on the side...
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I left the seminary because I didn't see myself as celibate. This gentleman, from Africa, seems to have had no such qualms.

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