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It isn’t easy being Catholic right now. There are attacks on Rome everywhere.  You cannot defend the Church; what happened is indefensible. No Catholic I know is not enraged by the systemic abuse and cover ups.

Now, before I go on, spare me the vitriol you might have for apologists for the Church. I have issues a mile long, and I went to Kennedy Catholic when Frank Stinner was head of the religion department and coached JV soccer. We knew he was a sicko. The hierarchy knew he was a pederast. I was in one class of his and went to confession with him twice. He tried to be my back-slapping pal. I avoided him because he made my skin crawl after one soccer practice.

There is no defending the Church. There is defending the Truth. And the low punches about things completely unrelated to the scandals reveal some unflattering things about too many people out there.

  • Papal infallibility does not mean the Pope can say 2+2=5. It means he is the highest authority on Catholic theological matters. Period.
  • The Church is not the cause of AIDS in Africa simply because they preach against artificial contraception (i.e., sex with a condom). As much as I dislike that teaching, by the way, the point is that priests in Africa are not telling men to raw dog it all over the place, they are preaching abstention and marital monogamy, both of which are pretty well more effective than sex with a condom with anyone. It isn’t sex with a condom vs sex without. It is sex with a condom vs no sex or sex with your wife only.
  • The Inquisition ended almost 300 years ago. Get over it.
  • Pope Pius XII didn’t stand up to Hitler, huh. Neither did entire nations.

I have often described myself as a heretical Catholic. I see clerical celibacy as stupid and unneeded. I am for gay marriage. I have no issue with female ordination or contraception (and we have 4 children). Maybe I’m a “cafeteria Catholic.” Perhaps. That’s between me and other Catholics and maybe me and God. But it is the only faith I have, such as it is, and human beings, especially haters and some evil bishops and priests won’t take it away from me. I know too many good Catholics to have that happen.

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It is fiction. Get over it.

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Father Stinner

I attended John F Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, NY. I am a 1985 graduate. While there, I was, like many of my classmates, encouraged to receive the Sacraments. Mass was held daily; attendance was optional due to the long commute for most of the students in the 20-odd school districts the school served. Confession was available, and I went occasionally. I still do. One of the priests, Rev Francis Stinner, was a peculiar man. I went to confession once with him, and afterward he told me that he admired my scrappiness for the wrestling team and he encouraged me to try out for JV soccer, which he coached. So, sophomore year, I attended the first JV soccer practice. Father Stinner WATCHED us shower afterward, talking us through the damn thing in a Vince Lombardi tone.

Thus endeth my soccer career for the JFK Gaels. I stuck with wrestling and remained on the varsity for all 4 years. The coach my last three years was a guy named Bill Carney, one of the janitors working his way through college, and I and my teammates respect Bill to this day. He was a tremendous guy, and he wrote a letter of recommendation for me to Villanova that went above and beyond. He did nothing halfway.

Back to Stinner: He was defrocked for abuse recently. As this post in the local paper’s discussion forum indicates, he has never served a day in jail. Nothing in the post, a blistering condemnation, surprises me. The man made me uncomfortable but it would have been too easy to label him as an abuser-I just thought he was weird. If you asked my classmates who would be voted "Most Likely to be a Pederast," it would be Father Stinner. They would have been right all along. I wonder, of all the guys who were MIA from the last reunion (and of those who attended), who was a victim of monsters like Stinner. He remains in Westchester County, living with his mother.

It is more than a little disconcerting, especially knowing how vulnerable I and the other guys were at ages 14-17, to know that leaders of the Church shielded this man from the law and put kids in harm’s way.  We were in the presence & care of a spiritual Jack the Ripper, and he was running the religion department.

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Happy St Joseph Day

I suppose if you were a part Sicilian husband, father, and real estate broker whose first name is Joseph you’d see some significance to March 19 yourself. Today is the feast of Jesus’ foster father, St Joseph. He is the patron saint of, among other things,  Sicily, fathers, expectant mothers, families, unborn babies, workers, and house hunters. I can relate.

Joseph3

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I have blogged previously that I rather enjoyed the ABC Dramedy "Boston Legal" in spite of its increasing tendency to make dumb political statements. I no longer enjoy it, and will cease watching it after tonight’s Tivo. I have a feeling I’m not alone. The latest episode was not the first to put a big bulls eye on the back of the Catholic Church; previously, they had an absurd storyline on how a corrupt priest refused to aid in the rescue of a kidnapped child, citing the Canon Law forbidding him to divulge anything spoken in the confessional. Not only is it inane to use such arcane minutiae to make the Church look bad, the premise was false. Confession doesn’t end in the church. To make the confession valid, the person would have to do penance, and there isn’t a priest with a pulse who wouldn’t make the penance be THE SAFE RETURN OF THE CHILD.
Tonight, the producers of the show again decided to urinate on the Church again, this time with a storyline on how a Catholic hospital refused to give a rape victim "emergency contraception" (that is, perform an abortion via the morning after pill). There were two Big Lies asserted in the patronizing dialog, which came out with all the aplomb of an after school special. Lie #1 is that the morning after pill prevents pregnancy the way contraception does, which is false. It prevents a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterine wall, killing the embryo. Lie #2 is that abortion foes are more concerned with power and the subjugation of women than  they are with saving lives. How utterly repugnant.
So, tonight I am calling anti-Catholic shenanigans on producer David E Kelley, who seems to have never met an anti-Catholic storyline he didn’t like. Mr. Kelley, you sir, are a bigot and I will no longer watch your crap. I don’t care if people aren’t Catholic or think Catholicism is mystic mumbo jumbo. Fine by me. But if you are going to contrive dull witted and inaccurately premised story lines to grind your theological ax, don’t expect me to tune in.

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Catholic Schools Week

A quick tip of the hat to the Sisters of the Divine Compassion and the Augustinian Fathers for all they did for me in high school and college.

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On Vatican Copyrighting

I dislike the notion of the Vatican’s new copyright policy. Perhaps I am being an unpragmatic idealist, but isn’t the realm of religion where one is expected to be so? I certainly want the Church to be able to pay the Vatican electric bill, but copyrighting papal writings? Look, I know that my years in Catholic school required tuition, and that they aren’t giving bibles out on street corners. But did they charge admission to the Sermon on the Mount? Do they really want to treat encyclicals as intellectual property and not something that should be public domain and easy to access? All this will do is make some short term money and give anti-Catholics a huge opportunity to bring up the selling of indulgences and funding sexual abuse settlements.
Now I know that the little guy may not be "billed." But if they charge publishers for this, costs get will get passed on. If this is so important, let God invoice us. 
Update: Looks like this may be much ado about nothing, but will they report it? From the Catholic World News:

Some English-language reports on the dispute in Italy have suggested– inaccurately– that the Vatican would forbid quotations from the encyclical, or charge fees to journals that reproduced passages from the work.

Vatican officials explain that their goal is not to limit access to the Pope’s words, but to prevent "premature" publication of leaked documents, and to guard against exploitation of the Pope’s name.

We’ll see how this plays out. I remain skeptical.

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