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Informational Deep Into Christianity

Indie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Jesus and the Christian Response to Islam - Nabeel Qureshi, PhD

 
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  • Indie

    Well-Known Member
    Staff member
    This man takes things I've thought about and pushes them to an astounding level.

     

    Indie

    Well-Known Member
    Staff member
    Someone posted Kesha's new song, Prayers, on Facebook today. While this is not the genre of music I listen to, I was surprised to see that Christian symbols and values (such as praying for your enemies) were represented in the song and video.

    The backstory is that, in real life, Kesha went through a very difficult time with a very abusive work partner. But she was forced to keep working with him until her contract ended.

    It seems the painful episode gave her a spiritual awakening. It is impressive that she chose this response, rather than the faux-bravado or petty clichés you'd expect from a pop star.

    It is also brave of her to embrace her faith openly and to represent it faithfully, in an age when it is "un-cool" to do so.

    We are far from Madonna's exploitation of Christian symbolism.

     

    Indie

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    Staff member
    Bishop Barron on Pride, Humility, and Social Media

     

    SeaAb

    Well-Known Member
    Staff member
    what do you think of that personally? :)
    I've always believed that the majority of the clergy are hypocrites and untrustworthy. The beautiful message preached is no where to be found in real life and this social experiment among other things proves it. With that said, I can't ignore the beautiful priest who bought the kid a sweater - true hero in my eyes.
     

    Dark Angel

    Legendary Member
    I've always believed that the majority of the clergy are hypocrites and untrustworthy. The beautiful message preached is no where to be found in real life and this social experiment among other things proves it. With that said, I can't ignore the beautiful priest who bought the kid a sweater - true hero in my eyes.
    there is nothing heroic about what the father did. this is the least he could have done. there is something quite troublesome in the person who supposedly has devoted his or her life to Christ and then come about to treat others as such. i have encountered several people as such throughout my life. during the heaviest periods of the Lebanese war, once during the war at my own school which had its own well and endless supply of water a nun wanted to prevent the neighbors from getting any water to drink after they all ran out.

    it is a well known fact that l' habit ne fait pas le moine. but that said, it is quite wrong to project this image as the norm, and claim the majority of the clergy are hypocrites with a minority or an exception of good people that you have referred to as heroes; when the reality is the other way around.

    more to it, the clergy are far from being perfect. they have their own issues and their majority they are normal folks who struggle with the same aspects of life as we do.

    there are two important points though that should be made. this is the first time mbc did not remove a Christian symbol or even the name of Jesus from a show, previously it has always been censored. the only exception that was made was to showcase this outrageous nun.

    the second point has more to do with the psychology of the masses, not many people focused on the priest, and most attempted to showcase the nun. which also points out why many people might wrongly share your perception and identify the majority of the clergy identify with this one nun but not with that priest.
     

    Indie

    Well-Known Member
    Staff member
    Jordan Peterson - Preparing For Your World to Come to an End (What the story of Noah is about)

     

    kmarthe

    Legendary Member
    Staff member
    Turin Shroud is stained with the blood of a torture victim, new research reveals

    New research claims the Shroud of Turin is stained with the blood of a torture victim, supporting the theory that it was used to bury Jesus.

    The Shroud of Turin in a linen cloth, three meters in length, that bears an image of a man some believe to be Jesus Christ. The cloth is thought by many to have been used to wrap Christ’s body after his crucifixion.

    The new research, carried out by various institutions under Italy’s National Research Council and published in the US scientific journal Plos One, contradicts the theory that Jesus’ face was painted onto the cloth by forgers in medieval times.

    Elvio Carlino, who led the research at the Institute of Crystallography in Bari, Italy, says the cloth contains nanoparticles of creatinine bounded with small nanoparticles of iron oxide, which indicate severe trauma rather than paint.

    The victim wrapped in the funeral cloth likely underwent “great suffering” before his death, said Carlino speaking to Italian newspaper La Stampa.

    Professor Giulio Fanti from the University of Padua agreed the blood contained high levels of creatinine and ferritin, usually found in victims who suffer trauma or torture.

    “Hence, the presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments point to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin Shroud,” said Fanti.

    This study marks the first time “the nanoscale properties of a pristine fiber taken from the Turin Shroud” were analysed using “methods recently developed in the field of electron microscopy,” according to Carlino.

    Turin Shroud is stained with the blood of a torture victim, new research reveals — RT Viral
     

    Indie

    Well-Known Member
    Staff member
    THE MYTH OF ROMANTIC LOVE

    by Michael Novak



    A young Catholic today inherits a long, long tradition of reflection on love that is unmatched in any other culture in the world, beginning with the sublime “Song of Songs” of the Jewish Testament, and the many sections of the Christian Testament dedicated to the theme. In more recent times, if I may include that great writer in the English Catholic tradition, The Allegory of Love(1936) by C.S. Lewis. In that dazzling history Lewis traces the invention of the story of romantic love—now the most standard of all loves recognized in the Western world. Romantic love is a Western invention, a near-obsession, supposedly the key to all happiness. For Lewis, the invention of romantic love in the age of the troubadours (the age of the Crusades) was far more momentous for the development of the West, and far more broadly influential than, say, the Protestant Reformation. Lewis compares the Reformation to a ripple on the vast ocean of romantic love.

    As a result of this invention, we Westerners have come to think that the central fire of human happiness is romantic love, love forever and ever (love “happily ever after”). Imagination ends with the romantic couple walking hand in hand across the fields toward the sunlight. Many people spend their entire lives looking for such love, wanting to feel such love, wondering, when they are first attracted to another, if that’s what they’re now feeling. Above all, most people love being in love, love the feeling of loving, love even the mad passion of being in love.

    Denis de Rougemont’s Love in the Western World (1940) first opened my eyes to the phenomenon of romantic love. In pointing out several features of romantic love he offered a useful vocabulary for analyzing the meaning most often attached to the term “love” in literature, theatre, and cinema today. Central among these is the fact that it consists in falling in love with love, not with a concrete person. In its pure form it scorns mere bodily, erotic, sexual love. It prides itself on being “above” the biological love that is satisfied by pornography or by groping interaction with another human being. This ill-starred higher love entails a factor having the power to make instinct turn away from its natural goal and to transform desire into limitless aspiration, into something, that is to say, which does not serve, and indeed operates against, biological ends.

    Romantic love loves the higher passion, the spiritual ecstasy of love, not the body. A woman in romantic love loves being swept off her feet, longing for more, to the point of death. “I would rather die” than lose the feeling of loving him and being loved by him.

    Passion means suffering, something undergone, the mastery of fate over a free and responsible person. To love love more than the object of love, to love passion for its own sake, has been to love to suffer and to court suffering, all the way from Augustine’s amabam amare down to modern romanticism.

    To feel the ecstasy of passion, romantic love entails a boundless desire, a longing for the infinite, a longing to “slip the surly bonds of Time,” to escape from bodily limitations into the realm of the forever and the infinite. De Rougemont describes it as “complete Desire, luminous Aspiration, the primitive religious soaring carried to its loftiest perch . . . . a desire that never relapses, that nothing can satisfy, that even rejects and flees the temptation to obtain its fulfillment in the world.” It is a revolt against mere flesh, against the limits of the human condition. The body, it finds gross. What it loves is the rarefied spiritual passion that only romantic lovers know. It loves feeling lifted “above the herd,” into a higher sphere. Romantic love is “a transfiguring force, something beyond delight and pain, an ardent beatitude,” purer, more spiritual, more uplifting than physical “hooking up.” It is not a sated appetite, but in fact quite the opposite. It loves the feeling of never being satisfied, of being always caught up in the longing, of dwelling in the sweetness of desire. It feels a kind of murderous hostility toward rude awakenings.

    This is why romantic love desperately needs obstacles. If romantic love were to lead too quickly to physical consummation, it would cease being romantic. For then it would require dealing with clothing in disarray, a mess to clean up, bad breath, and hair all disheveled. Then there would be a meal to fix, and—bump!—romance has fallen back to the lumpen earth. No, for the sake of romantic love, it is much better for fulfillment to be delayed, for obstacles to be put up, for a sword to be laid down between the longing couple, or a curtain drawn between them. For their romantic passion to persist, lovers must be kept away from one another. De Rougemont comments on romantic lovers: “Their need of one another is in order to be aflame, and they do not need one another as they are. What they need is not one another’s presence, but one another’s absence.” This is the story of love perennially facing obstacles, never having to get down to the nitty-gritty of daily life.

    If and when eros does vanquish all obstacles, it ceases to be romantic love. It now must choose between commitment to a concrete other with all the limitations of that other, or a once-and-for-all break-up. For with consummation, illusion is shattered. Flesh meets flesh. The reality of the human condition sets in. As a result, the most satisfactory ending for the tale of romantic love is not , as one would think, physical consummation or even “growing old together.” It is, actually, death, while longing still pierces the heart. For then the living member of the couple can go on loving infinitely, forever, above the ordinariness of mere earth. Or else, if that empty fate is simply unbearable, the remaining beloved can also meet a tragic death. Now that is really satisfying: when a man and a woman continue in romantic love eternally, by means of the untimely death of both. That is real tragedy, a real arrow of love to the heart, the best of all Western tales.

    Do not too many of the young persons you know believethat true happiness is to be found in true romantic love? (They may not know how to distinguish true romantic love, but they seek desperately to try it out, so that at last they can become “happy.” For so many, “happiness” means romantic love.) Do not many long to be “swept off their feet”? Be honest, you almost certainly remember this wistfulness in yourself, long ago. Perhaps, still, even at your present age, you tend to think that romantic love, a true passion as the French used to call it, was once, or still is, the highest, sweetest peak in your life. We all know people who refuse to be bound by an earthly commitment to any one concrete, imperfect human being. Instead, they fall in love with love, over and over again. Until death brings them rest.

    Romantic love is to be contrasted with the Christian vision of human love. Unlike romantic love, it is plain from scripture that God expected—nay, commanded—his followers to consummate their relationships: “Increase and multiply and fill the earth.” Sexuality is a crucial part of human life, both for deeply personal growth and, second, for the continuance and prospering of the human community as a whole. The Christian (and emphatically the Catholic) view of the human being is that sex is a natural expression, not only of the body, but of the soul. In fact, the Christian faith does not hold to the view that the body is separate from the soul. On the contrary, in the Christian view, the human person is one, not two: an embodied spirit, a spirited body—one. The notion that there is an errant body (like a wild steed) to be disciplined by a superior soul (the charioteer) is from Plato, not from Judaism and Christianity.

    A very good recent study of love in all its many different varieties has been bequeathed to us by Dietrich von Hildebrand’s The Nature of Love. Von Hildebrand sees all the many varieties of human love—he distinguishes eight or nine different loves, each with its own proper name—as designed to fold into each other, all converging upwards into a rich, symphonic unity. This unity culminates in that greatest of all gifts, the caritas which is proper only and solely to the Persons of the Trinity for one another. The caritas that makes them one. This caritas is also the force which impels the Lord to overflow his identity, diffusing caritas throughout the human race, inspiriting the race, raising its sights and aspirations, transforming the world like yeast in dough, or the heat of white-hot ingots glowing in the night.

    Von Hildebrand’s distinctions between agape and caritasare especially brilliant. His vision of the love of a man and woman bounded in matrimony is both very high and beautiful, and quite down to earth. Married love is not that of angels. It is that of sweating bodies, disheveled sheets, unruly hair, bad breath, scraggly beards, dirty diapers, and, outside the door, clamoring little ones hollering for their breakfast. Christian love is this worldly and realistic. Resistant to romantic illusions, feet-on-the-ground. Realism supreme. Reality is always better than illusion. And in regard to marriage, especially so.

    But the love of man and wife is also very high and beautiful, precisely insofar as it may be penetrated by supernatural caritas. As Von Hildebrand writes: “It is caritasthat empowers those who are animated by it to enter the kingdom of holy goodness, and it is caritas that brings about the dominion of the humble, reverent, and loving center in them over the center of pride and concupiscence.” Not a bad statement of the fulfillment of spousal love.

    The Myth of Romantic Love | Michael Novak | First Things
     

    Indie

    Well-Known Member
    Staff member
    DACHAU GOLGOTHA

    by Filip Mazurczak



    Misconceptions abound on the relationship of Nazism and Christianity.

    “We are the joyous Hitler Youth. We need no stinkin’ Christian virtue. Our Führer is our savior and future. The Pope and Rabbi shall be gone. We wish to be pagans once again.” It’s a safe bet that few have heard this line from the Hitler Youth’s anthem; far more have heard that Pope Pius XII was callously indifferent to the victims of Nazi Germany. Indeed, the Third Reich’s persecution of the Catholic Church is one of the most overlooked threads in the otherwise widely documented history of Nazism. It is to be hoped that French journalist Guillaume Zeller’s The Priest Barracks, now available in English, will increase awareness of Hitler’s hatred of the Catholic faith.

    A decade ago, “new atheists” like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens topped the bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic, with their accounts of the evils of religion. Among Christianity’s numerous sins, they listed its alleged collusion with Nazi Germany. Dawkins frequently noted that Hitler was a baptized Catholic, and in The God Delusion he condemned “Pope Pius XII’s persistent refusal to take a stand against the Nazis—a subject of considerable embarrassment to the modern Church.”

    The historical record, however, is more complex. Hitler was a lapsed Catholic and had only a civil wedding with Eva Braun. In fact, the Nazi leadership was more inspired by pagan Germanic mythology and the traditional religions of the Far East (the swastika, after all, is a Sanskrit symbol). And though Pius XII’s record was far from perfect, he personally hid thousands of Jews in the Vatican and in the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, and he appealed to convents across Italy to hide Jews during the deportations.

    Then there was the Nazi campaign against the Church. This topic has not been sufficiently studied, but Zeller provides much important material. Avoiding simplistic apologetics, he acknowledges that not all Catholic clerics acted decently (for instance, Cardinal Theodore Innitzer of Vienna supported Hitler publicly and enthusiastically after the Anschluss, though he retracted his support later). Zeller also describes the Reich’s brutal suppression of all Catholic public activity: newspapers, civic organizations, youth movements, and so on.

    Against this backdrop, Zeller introduces the priest barracks at Dachau. He provides a helpful overview of the camp’s history. Opened in 1933 outside Munich as the first Nazi concentration camp, Dachau was the site of the murder of at least 32,000 prisoners. Dachau’s purpose was to isolate and kill the Reich’s political opponents; a crematorium sped up the disposal of dead bodies.

    Dachau’s prisoners included 2,720 priests from across Europe, more than a third (1,034) of whom perished. Many were Poles, victims of Hitler’s brutal anti-Polish campaign; others were guilty of helping Jews or supporting the anti-Nazi resistance in their respective countries. Two or three blocks for clergy operated at a given time. Zeller notes that though Protestant and Orthodox priests were among the inmates (as were two Albanian imams), 95 percent of clergy in the barracks were Catholic priests.

    Zeller graphically details the horrors these priests underwent. Like Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, and Natzwiller, Dachau was among the Nazi concentration camps where prisoners were subject to often deadly medical experiments. These human guinea pigs included many priests. Others died of typhus or dysentery, from overwork or starvation, or from beatings by camp guards and kapos (prisoners who oversaw their fellow inmates’ labor).

    Yet despite these grim conditions in the camp and the anti-Catholic taunts of the guards and kapos, Dachau’s priest-inmates clung to their faith. Vatican diplomats negotiated the establishment of a chapel in the camp. The priests’ devotion to the Eucharist was truly inspiring; with just a few exceptions, they maintained their sense of solidarity with their fellow prisoners in spite of the demoralizing conditions. One is reminded of Christians today in the Middle East and Africa, who refuse to abandon their faith despite the prospect of being beheaded or shot by ISIS or Boko Haram.

    Equally relevant is Zeller’s description of the close relationships Dachau’s Catholic priests forged with their Orthodox and Protestant clergy inmates. Their solidarity evokes Pope Francis’s frequent talk of an “ecumenism of the blood,” occurring today in the Middle East.

    Zeller’s book also sheds light on another overlooked aspect of Nazi terror: that of the Third Reich’s campaign against the Polish nation. Poles made up 65 percent of priests interred at Dachau and almost 84 percent of those killed. The death rates for other nationalities were lower. Zeller provides an overview of Nazi Germany’s campaign against the Polish nation, especially in the Warthegau, the areas of Western Poland directly annexed and colonized by Germany. Poles were expelled from the Warthegau en masse, and it became the site of Kulmhof, the first extermination camp in which gas fumes were used to kill Jews. Most priests in the Warthegau were murdered, and Church property was confiscated. Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer who coined the term “genocide,” considered the Nazi campaign against the Polish Church an example of “religious genocide.” Though Jews and non-Jewish Poles were unequal victims of Nazi Germany—the former were slated for extermination, whereas the latter were marked for extermination or slave labor—the tragic murder of 2-3 million Polish Gentiles by the Third Reich is insufficiently known outside of Poland. Zeller deserves praise for shedding light on it.

    The twentieth century saw the greatest persecutions of Christians since Nero. The horrors inflicted upon Christians by communists across the world and by Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War are widely known. Other episodes, such as the Mexican Cristeros or Nazi Germany’s war against the Catholic Church, are still relatively obscure. Zeller has written a short yet comprehensive, depressing yet readable account of the Dachau Golgotha. We may hope that it will clear up misconceptions about the relationship between Nazism and Christianity.

    Dachau Golgotha | Filip Mazurczak | First Things
     

    Picasso

    Well-Known Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    Vatican Cardinal Pell faces court on sex charges


    MELBOURNE, Australia: Silent but defiant, Cardinal George Pell made his first court appearance in Australia Wednesday on charges of sexual abuse, vowing through his lawyer to fight the allegations that have rocked Rome and threatened the pope’s image as a crusader against abusive clergy.

    Pell, Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic and Pope Francis’ top financial adviser, is accused of sexually abusing multiple people years ago in his Australian home state of Victoria, making him the most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis. Details of the charges have yet to be released to the public, though police have described them as “historical” sexual assault offenses – meaning crimes that occurred years ago.

    Pell has not yet entered a plea. But Wednesday, his lawyer told the court that the 76-year-old cardinal plans to formally plead not guilty at a future court date.

    “For the avoidance of doubt and because of the interest, I might indicate that Cardinal Pell pleads not guilty to all charges and will maintain the presumed innocence that he has,” lawyer Robert Richter told the court.

    Pell entered the small courtroom dressed in a black suit, face devoid of expression as he took a seat behind his legal team. He said nothing during the hearing, or to the hordes of journalists who swarmed around him as he left the courthouse.

    The hearing itself lasted just minutes and was remarkably routine. Yet the image of one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church standing before a cramped courtroom overflowing with reporters and spectators was anything but.

    With its pedestrian setting of bland white-and-wood-paneled walls and gray carpet, the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court could scarcely have been further in both geography and atmosphere from the ornate and hallowed halls of the Vatican. Though many clerics have faced allegations of sex abuse in recent years, Pell is by far the highest-ranking church official ever charged, and his case has shaken the Vatican.

    After years of alleged cover-ups and silence from the church over its pedophilia scandal, abuse survivors and their advocates hailed the prosecution of Pell as a monumental shift in the way society is responding to the crisis.

    Pell was flanked by Victoria state police officers as he entered the courthouse, where he received a smattering of applause from several local parishioners who attended the hearing to support the cardinal. To them, Pell has been unfairly condemned before the facts of the case are known.

    “We’re coming here open-minded – we’d like to hear the facts,” said Trevor Atkinson, who has met Pell previously. “It’s really a matter of giving him a fair go.”

    To others, the appearance in court of one of the church’s most esteemed officials was a long overdue acknowledgement of the suffering felt by so many victims of clergy abuse.

    Julie Cameron of Melbourne stood outside the courthouse holding a painting of Mary cradling an infant Jesus – an image she said was symbolic of the church’s duty to protect children.

    “This is where the actual Catholic Church has to go through renewal,” Cameron said. “It has to acknowledge the crimes that were committed on children.”

    The case places both the cardinal and the pope in potentially perilous territory. For Pell, the charges are a threat to his freedom, his reputation and his career. For Francis, they are a threat to his credibility, given he famously promised a “zero tolerance” policy for sex abuse in the church. Advocates for abuse victims have long railed against Francis’ decision to appoint Pell to the high-ranking position in the first place; at the time of his promotion in 2014, Pell was already facing allegations that he had mishandled cases of clergy abuse during his time as archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney.

    So far, Francis has withheld judgment of Pell, saying he wants to wait for Australian justice to run its course. And he did not force the cardinal to resign, though Pell took an immediate leave of absence so he could return to Australia to fight the charges. Pell said he intends to continue his work as a prefect of the church’s economy ministry once the case is resolved.

    In recent years, Pell’s actions as archbishop came under particular scrutiny by a government-authorized investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to child sex abuse. Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – the nation’s highest form of inquiry – revealed earlier this year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children in Australia over the past several decades.

    In testimony to the commission last year, Pell conceded that he had made mistakes by often believing priests over those who said they had been abused. And he vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued abuse victims in his hometown of Ballarat.

    The cardinal is next expected in court on Oct. 6.

    Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org, an archive of clerical sex abuse documents, said in a statement that while Wednesday’s hearing was procedural, its impact would be felt across the world.

    “Whatever the outcome of the case against Pell, his presence today in a secular courtroom marks the victory of transparency over secrecy, and of the rule of law over the Vatican’s failed strategy of containment,” she said.

    Source

     

    Indie

    Well-Known Member
    Staff member
    Vatican Cardinal Pell faces court on sex charges


    MELBOURNE, Australia: Silent but defiant, Cardinal George Pell made his first court appearance in Australia Wednesday on charges of sexual abuse, vowing through his lawyer to fight the allegations that have rocked Rome and threatened the pope’s image as a crusader against abusive clergy.

    Pell, Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic and Pope Francis’ top financial adviser, is accused of sexually abusing multiple people years ago in his Australian home state of Victoria, making him the most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis. Details of the charges have yet to be released to the public, though police have described them as “historical” sexual assault offenses – meaning crimes that occurred years ago.

    Pell has not yet entered a plea. But Wednesday, his lawyer told the court that the 76-year-old cardinal plans to formally plead not guilty at a future court date.

    “For the avoidance of doubt and because of the interest, I might indicate that Cardinal Pell pleads not guilty to all charges and will maintain the presumed innocence that he has,” lawyer Robert Richter told the court.

    Pell entered the small courtroom dressed in a black suit, face devoid of expression as he took a seat behind his legal team. He said nothing during the hearing, or to the hordes of journalists who swarmed around him as he left the courthouse.

    The hearing itself lasted just minutes and was remarkably routine. Yet the image of one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church standing before a cramped courtroom overflowing with reporters and spectators was anything but.

    With its pedestrian setting of bland white-and-wood-paneled walls and gray carpet, the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court could scarcely have been further in both geography and atmosphere from the ornate and hallowed halls of the Vatican. Though many clerics have faced allegations of sex abuse in recent years, Pell is by far the highest-ranking church official ever charged, and his case has shaken the Vatican.

    After years of alleged cover-ups and silence from the church over its pedophilia scandal, abuse survivors and their advocates hailed the prosecution of Pell as a monumental shift in the way society is responding to the crisis.

    Pell was flanked by Victoria state police officers as he entered the courthouse, where he received a smattering of applause from several local parishioners who attended the hearing to support the cardinal. To them, Pell has been unfairly condemned before the facts of the case are known.

    “We’re coming here open-minded – we’d like to hear the facts,” said Trevor Atkinson, who has met Pell previously. “It’s really a matter of giving him a fair go.”

    To others, the appearance in court of one of the church’s most esteemed officials was a long overdue acknowledgement of the suffering felt by so many victims of clergy abuse.

    Julie Cameron of Melbourne stood outside the courthouse holding a painting of Mary cradling an infant Jesus – an image she said was symbolic of the church’s duty to protect children.

    “This is where the actual Catholic Church has to go through renewal,” Cameron said. “It has to acknowledge the crimes that were committed on children.”

    The case places both the cardinal and the pope in potentially perilous territory. For Pell, the charges are a threat to his freedom, his reputation and his career. For Francis, they are a threat to his credibility, given he famously promised a “zero tolerance” policy for sex abuse in the church. Advocates for abuse victims have long railed against Francis’ decision to appoint Pell to the high-ranking position in the first place; at the time of his promotion in 2014, Pell was already facing allegations that he had mishandled cases of clergy abuse during his time as archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney.

    So far, Francis has withheld judgment of Pell, saying he wants to wait for Australian justice to run its course. And he did not force the cardinal to resign, though Pell took an immediate leave of absence so he could return to Australia to fight the charges. Pell said he intends to continue his work as a prefect of the church’s economy ministry once the case is resolved.

    In recent years, Pell’s actions as archbishop came under particular scrutiny by a government-authorized investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to child sex abuse. Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – the nation’s highest form of inquiry – revealed earlier this year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children in Australia over the past several decades.

    In testimony to the commission last year, Pell conceded that he had made mistakes by often believing priests over those who said they had been abused. And he vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued abuse victims in his hometown of Ballarat.

    The cardinal is next expected in court on Oct. 6.

    Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org, an archive of clerical sex abuse documents, said in a statement that while Wednesday’s hearing was procedural, its impact would be felt across the world.

    “Whatever the outcome of the case against Pell, his presence today in a secular courtroom marks the victory of transparency over secrecy, and of the rule of law over the Vatican’s failed strategy of containment,” she said.

    Source
    I see that your hatred of Christianity, Catholicism in particular, is still alive and well; and, that you have already condemned the man in your mind, before the trial evan began (as have most haters of the Church).

    While some cases of abuse within the Church are, no doubt, legitimate, this one reminds me of the following:

    [article]I don’t “believe the victims”.

    I was in Boston in the Spring of 2002 reporting on the priest scandal, and because I know some of what is untrue, I don’t believe the personal injury lawyers or the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team or the Catholic “faithful” who became harpies outside Boston churches, carrying signs with images of Satan, hurling invective at congregants who’d just attended Mass, and at least once – this in my presence – spitting in the face of a person who dared dispute them.

    I don’t believe the prosecutors who pursued tainted cases or the therapists who revived junk science or the juries that sided with them or the judges who failed to act justly or the people who made money off any of this.

    And I am astonished (though I suppose I shouldn’t be) that, across the past few months, ever since Spotlight hit theaters, otherwise serious left-of-center people have peppered their party conversation with effusions that the film reflects a heroic journalism, the kind we all need more of.

    I don’t believe the claims of all who say they are victims – or who prefer the more tough-minded label ‘survivor’ – because ready belief is not part of a journalist’s mental kit, but also because what happened in 2002 makes it difficult to distinguish real claims from fraudulent or opportunistic ones without independent research. What editor Marty Baron and the Globe sparked with their 600 stories and their confidential tip line for grievances was not laudatory journalism but a moral panic, and unfortunately for those who are telling the truth, truth was its casualty.

    By their nature, moral panics are hysterical. They jettison reason for emotion, transform accusation into proof, spur more accusation and create a climate that demands not deliberation or evidence or resistance to prejudice but mindless faith.

    They are the enemy of skepticism, which those on the left and near-left, liberals, progressives, regard as the sword and shield of journalism when it’s convenient or ideologically appealing. The Globe did not so much practice journalism as it constructed a courtroom of panic, one that reversed the presumption of innocence and spilled over into real courtrooms where real defendants didn’t stand a chance.

    In 2002 I investigated only one case, but it was a doozy: that of Father Paul Shanley, who figures in Spotlight and who was declared a “depraved priest” by the Globe’s editorial page of April 9, 2002, the day after a PowerPoint show put on for the press by personal injury lawyer Eric MacLeish. Shanley is now imprisoned for crimes that are heinous in description and absolutely unsupported by evidence.

    Since then I have followed the case of another priest: Father Gordon MacRae of New Hampshire, who does not figure in the film. He was accused, tried and convicted in 1994, a time when Spotlight would have you believe that every sexual accusation against a priest either fell on deaf ears or was handled in a hush-hush settlement, and every playground, church and rectory was a hunting ground for the great Whore of Babylon. MacRae remains imprisoned for crimes that are only slightly less heinous in description and absolutely unsupported by evidence.

    Both men were called monsters. Both men were offered plea deals by their respective prosecutors that, had they actually committed the crimes, would be an affront to justice and proportion. Shanley was offered time served – the seven months he’d been jailed while awaiting trial – plus two and a half years’ house arrest if only he’d say he was guilty of raping a child on Sunday mornings between Masses. MacRae was offered three years in prison, later reduced to two, if only he’d say he was guilty of cruelly molesting a teenager. Both men refused and went to their fates abandoned by church hierarchy.

    “Can you imagine”, Shanley said to me after his conviction in 2005, “here I am, the worst monster, a danger to children everywhere, and they offer me time served? … But for refusing to lie, I got twelve to fifteen years.”


    Shanley did lie about his sexuality. As a young man he’d had sex with teenagers and grown men. He had a boyfriend. He himself was probably not the best boyfriend. He was politically radical. During the AIDS crisis, with a fellow priest he had run a motel in California for a mostly gay clientele. In the 1960s he opposed the war on Vietnam. With a nun he had started a mobile health unit to serve street people in Boston. He was on the action phone tree of Gay Community News. He spoke a lot, for mercy and love and against the church’s condemnations of homosexuality, divorce, contraception, sex. He spoke of social sin: racism, exploitation, police stings, violence. He made enemies. He made mistakes. He was a good man, a bad man, a sinner. He had a sign on his desk that read, “How Dare You Assume I’m Heterosexual” when he ran a counseling service that advertised, “Gay, Bi, Confused – Want to talk about it?” He didn’t always only talk, and some men who saw him were liberated and some were more confused, and some were not able to navigate the difference easily and later found in him a simple explanation for everything that went wrong. He was not brave enough, honest enough, in an institution that could be neither; in a straight world that required bravery to be honest. The “Spotlight” team got almost everything wrong. The movie doesn’t even try to be right.

    MacRae is politically conservative. He writes blogs in prison about God’s mercy, God’s love and the meaning of Lent. He was not a critic of the church, but the church left him to his own defense anyway, meaning public defense, which in his case was enough to make a deal but not enough for trial. MacRae got sixty-seven years for refusing to lie. Let that sink in.

    The multiple affronts to justice in MacRae’s case and the gross unreliability of his accuser have been amply documented by Dorothy Rabinowitz in The Wall Street Journal, by the National Center for Reason and Justice and by Ryan MacDonald, summarizing recent legal papers in the case on MacRae’s website, thesestonewalls.com. Last year a federal district court judge rejected MacRae’s appeal for habeas corpus, refusing to allow a hearing on the merits, or new witness testimony, or a statement from MacRae himself. “Rot behind bars”, the judge essentially said.

    That injury – despite the priest’s position outside the direct glare of the Globe’s “Spotlight” – is the legacy of the courtroom of panic that made “the pedophile priest” a cultural bogeyman, a devil, who need not be real but only named to light the fires of wrath. This is what the scribblers and the swells in Hollywood celebrated on Oscar night.

    Here is what else they celebrated: the bunk of recovered memory; the Globe reporters’ failure to challenge any charlatan who embraces it; and the lure of money.

    It’s unseemly to mention money. We are asked to believe that the ATM that is the Catholic Church, password VICTIM, could not possibly be an inducement to any of the thousands of accusers who have lined up since the “Spotlight” team’s first breathy reports – as if the usual reflexes of American money-grubbing are inoperative in this one area of life, and the people who, for instance, clambered for cash to ease the pain and suffering of having seen a priest naked in the YMCA really are salt of the earth.

    The church was known to have begun making settlements with accusers by the early 1990s. Some, perhaps many, were legitimate, but as a closet culture, an institution scandalized by scandal, the church is also particularly vulnerable to extortion. Spotlight does not reflect that reality, just as the Globe did not seriously explore it. Every financial settlement in the film is proof of beastliness.

    (The rock certainty from which Spotlight proceeds on this point leads to its most stunning, bite-the-hand-that-feeds misrepresentation: in which Eric MacLeish, played by Billy Crudup, is a smooth hack whom the noble actor-reporters disdain for getting rich from settlements rather than trust as a source, which MacLeish was to them in real life, a vital link between the press, private interests and state prosecutors. More on that later.)

    The church settled four claims against Shanley that emerged in the early 1990s but concerned events said to have occurred twenty years earlier. Spotlight and “Spotlight” and millions of repetitive words spilled on the subject claim Shanley’s diocesan file is stuffed with allegations of sexual abuse from the 1960s and 70s which the church ignored. That is false. There was one hearsay allegation from 1967, which Shanley vehemently denied and church superiors did not pursue further. Of those claims settled in the 1990s one was brought by relatives of a dead man; another by a blackmailer who was making harassing phone calls to church workers. Once the settlement business got rolling in the 90s, and galloped at full speed post-2002, accusations and payouts multiplied. How many are valid? Having read a number of post-2002 affidavits, some of which are incredible, some of which describe willing sexual behavior, some of which seem to follow a script, I won’t hazard a guess. The point is they were not sitting in Shanley’s file for thirty years ignored.

    It was in the early 1990s also that a drug addict and criminal named Thomas Grover said he had been molested as a 15-year-old by MacRae. The first assault, he said, occurred during a counseling session in the early 1980s. He returned for counseling three more times because, he said, after each bout with the priest he suffered total amnesia, his memory erased until one day years later he remembered all. Grover eventually collected $200,000 from the church.

    Under pressure from the Globe, MacLeish and others, the church paid Shanley’s accuser, a military malcontent named Paul Busa, $500,000; it defrocked Shanley, presumed guilty on every front, and it did all of this before the trial had even begun. Let that sink in, too.

    Busa claimed he was raped every Sunday or every other Sunday after being plucked from catechism classes. He said this began when he was 6, and each time he too suffered total amnesia, thus going like a lamb to the slaughter, unknowing, again and again for three years, on the busiest day, in a busy church, where children were in the care of several adults, none of whom could corroborate anything.

    Busa made up his memories – literally, he started sketching them out in journal entries dated before his claimed epiphany of remembering – and those newly minted memories degenerated before and during the trial. Thus the jury heard of only a few instances of molestation, thin on detail, vague as to time and less baroque than initially stated. On the witness stand Busa substituted tears and shouting for recall. Some jurors later said they considered tears and shouting evidence. Although he had sworn in depositions that the priest had forced him to perform fellatio, on the witness stand Busa couldn’t recall. The judge just dropped that count from the charges, and the prosecutor argued that the accuser’s shifting stories, which in another context might be called perjury or at least backpedalling, evasion, unreliability, actually proved his veracity. If Busa had wanted to lie, she said, “it could have been a better lie”.

    Claims of sexual abuse based on recovered memory – or repressed memory of trauma, dissociative amnesia, the names are many – were not uncommon in 1994, when MacRae faced trial, but they had been virtually eliminated in courts by 2005, when Shanley was at the bar. Research psychologists had produced a formidable and damning body of literature on the subject. Therapists who once rode high on the spurious diagnosis had been disgraced, stripped of their licenses and revealed as dangerous frauds in successful malpractice suits. And scientific-legal teams had established precedent that this was “junk science”, hence inadmissible in prosecutions. (Anyone interested in the record of reason can start with the work of Harrison G. Pope, Jr. et al., Richard McNally et al., and with the court rulings in State of Rhode Island v. Quattrocchi [1999] and Barrett v. Hyldburg [1998].)

    These legal challenges were complicated and expensive, beyond the capacity of MacRae’s public defender. Shanley’s defense should have been better equipped, but it was not. More important here, neither was the Globe’s “Spotlight” team. Its reporters treated Busa’s ravings with utmost respect, as it had the ravings of Busa’s friend Gregory Ford, who provided the template for Busa and two other men, who also claimed serial rape on Sundays in the same church followed by total amnesia.

    Gregory Ford had been Boston’s favorite victim, the ultimate proof of Shanley’s monstrosity, from the time MacLeish introduced him to the world during that PowerPoint presentation in April of 2002. I won’t relate the young man’s sad and tortured tale here except to say that his claim of recovered memory (which Busa copied in all important respects) did not ring alarm bells with those noble reporters or their editors. When it was pointed out that Ford’s own mother was the catechism teacher at the time he claimed his agony of weekly rape began, the family, the lawyers, the press, the prosecution, simply amended the start date. When the prosecution dropped Ford from its child rape case against Shanley because at various times Ford had also said he was raped by his father, a neighbor, a relative, our noble reporters did not review their past unskeptical reports and say, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” Likewise when the two other men were dropped from the case, and Busa was left standing alone, the press, like the prosecution, pretended it didn’t matter. Against the advice of its legal counsel, the church had settled the civil suit MacLeish had brought on behalf of all four men. Ford faded away, with a check for more than $1.4 million. At the time of Shanley’s trial, broadcast live on TV and covered by media across the country, it was as if Ford had never existed, but he and the others are counted among Shanley’s victims.

    The prosecution’s expert witness in the trial, Dr. James Chu, came from the freak fringe of clinical psychology that treats stories of recovered memory as sacred text. The Globe, whose Pulitzer for public interest reporting was by then catching dust, apparently did not think that here was an occasion for public vigilance, since in the not so distant past plain people, not priests, not those pre-emptively branded ‘sicko’ or ‘depraved’ or ‘scum’ but parents, teachers, had been threatened with the loss of everything by someone, anyone, who claimed they suddenly remembered something horrible.

    The paper’s reporters did not inform readers that there is no scientific evidence to support the type of “massive amnesia” that Busa and the prosecution were claiming. They did not point out that the notion defies fifty years of research on memory and trauma, involving 120 studies and more than 14,000 persons with documented experiences of rape, sexual abuse, torture, death camps, war or other horrors. They didn’t even offer the colorful aside that Chu’s mentor had promoted belief in Satanic ritual abuse, as well as in a cult involving the KKK, the US military, the Mafia and FTD Florists, until his career ended in a lawsuit brought by a patient who had come to believe under his ministrations that she was a Satanic priestess. The closest the corporate press came was to say that this thoroughly discredited nonsense was controversial. Years later the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts heard a compelling appeal from Shanley on the junk science at the heart of his prosecution, but the justices ruled that the weight of research and law wasn’t compelling enough in his case. “We’re not willing to be the ones to let the pervert go”, they essentially said.

    “But wait!” it will be argued. “None of that is in Spotlight! It’s just a good old movie about the press versus the big bad power structure.”

    This is exactly the film’s toxicity, and the Globe’s: what they obscure.

    I have focused here on Shanley because I researched his history, read his files, spoke to some of his accusers, interviewed his friends, family and detractors, followed his trial. The numerous and unattended complexities of his case, as well as those of some other priests’ accusers whom I interviewed at length, make me doubt the neat story line that “Spotlight” and Spotlight present for every other case. I speak of MacRae because, apart from the injustice against him, it should be understood that the concept Accusation = Guilt has a long and persistent reach. Although it became the “Spotlight” team’s hallmark, even if the word ‘alleged’ provided occasional perfunctory cover, it predated the Globe’s work, provided a spectacular theorem to which its reporters conformed, and has been hardened by their courtroom of panic – influencing appeals prospects, influencing culture, shaping “the story we all know” whether in fact we know anything at all.

    The film’s advertisement for SNAP, the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, faithfully represents the Globe’s affiliation. It elides SNAP’s belief that wrongful prosecutions are a minor price to pay in pursuit of its larger mission, something the newspaper didn’t much concern itself with either as it collected its Pulitzer for service in the public interest; something even the Center for Constitutional Rights disregarded in 2011 when it joined with SNAP to file a grotesque brief to the International Criminal Court demanding “investigation and prosecution” of the Vatican for crimes against humanity.

    Liberals who cheer this sort of thing ought to ponder whether they have any principles at all, or whether those are contingent, jelly-like and poisoned by prejudice. The CCR brief failed, but its unchallenged acceptance of accusations, anonymous complaints, prosecution arguments, grand jury reports, commission findings with no benefit of cross examination and no recognized rights of the accused is breathtaking, especially when one considers that CCR was simultaneously and courageously arguing on behalf of Guantanamo detainees whose designation as ‘terrorists’ was made in a similar amoeba-like medium of hysteria and accusation. To CCR’s shame, Father MacRae is specifically mentioned in that brief, with respect to allegations of videotape (that is, child porn), which prosecutors threw in at sentencing but for which there is no evidence, according to the lead detective in the case cited by Rabinowitz.

    Besides normalizing the presumption of guilt, the Globe’s courtroom of panic made a high and punishing principle out of cheap popular opinion: Well, maybe he didn’t do this, but he had to have done something! Where there’s smoke, there’s fire! Where the victim has to be believed, it doesn’t much matter if one person is telling the truth and one person is a money-grubber (or, to put the kindest interpretation on it, just looking for a simple explanation for all the troubles of his or her life). It doesn’t much matter who is in the dock or behind bars for what because, after all, statutes of limitations are limiting, and the notion that guilt might go unpunished is intolerable. Someone must pay. The church must pay. Priests must pay, because even if they didn’t do something, they said something; or they said nothing but they should have spoken; they knew nothing but they should have known; they should have acted. We “thought they were God”, and we must have our pound of flesh.

    In the film an actor-victim says something to the effect of “I thought he was God” regarding a priest. It is a phrase I heard many times in 2002, a phrase quoted at the time in the Globe, in Vanity Fair and elsewhere. I was struck that the reporters never paused to consider this, but simply reported it as if it were a reasonable conclusion for a Catholic child, as if its alarming deference to authority were not a fundamental problem, with or without sexual abuse. It occurred to me hearing it again, unexamined, in Spotlight that this probably was not an oversight, not a problem the reporters couldn’t plumb because they were on deadline or had space constraints or didn’t know quite how to approach it. It occurred to me that their aim, conscious or not, was not to strengthen children or to encourage independence or self-possession, but simply to replace one deference for another, one authority for another. The Globe became authority, and so too all its imitators, all its accuser-sources and their attorneys, SNAP and state prosecutors and all those people outside churches spewing venom and chanting, “Believe the Victims” – unanswerable, undoubted and now joined by Hollywood.

    Here, finally, we come to why Spotlight is so unfair to Eric MacLeish. I am no fan of MacLeish. I interviewed him back in 2002, and it did not go well. I began by trying to be cool, a mere sponge to take in his views. He, I quickly realized, was being who he was, the authoritative source who shaped the way reporters saw the Shanley case, or at least how they reported it down to minor detail. There was an 800-page personnel file; I had read every page. MacLeish was citing discrete passages as evidence of the priest’s depravity. They were the same passages I had already seen quoted in the Globe and The New York Times and any other paper whose reporters had spoken to the lawyer, each one identical, with the same interpretation, MacLeish’s interpretation. He said something to the effect that no decent person could think that this man Shanley was anything but a monster. I objected, he objected, I strenuously objected, and soon the interview was over: “Of course now I’m not going to let you speak to my client”, he said in parting; that was Gregory Ford, with whose family I’d had an appointment scheduled for the next day.

    To suggest, as the movie does, that MacLeish was not passionate about his clients is outrageous. To suggest, ditto, that Mitchell Garabedian, another prominent personal injury lawyer, played by Stanley Tucci in the film, was a selfless worker among the downtrodden, wanting nothing beyond justice and the thin gruel of his lonely lunch, is more outrageous. Both men thundered about morality, both got richer in the process, and the only journalist I’m aware of to have investigated the lucrative legal business of the church scandal was Daniel Lyons, whose revealing articles appeared in Forbes in 2003.

    But there is something more, because MacLeish was particularly interested in prosecutions. As a condition of his settlements, at least by 2002, he made his clients vow that they would cooperate in any state criminal action that might arise as a result of his civil actions. This made MacLeish not just an authority but a conduit for state authority, and his active relationship with the press meant that he was organizing it, too, into an arm of the prosecution, an arm of the state.

    By the time jury selection occurred in the child rape case against Shanley, every prospective juror said he or she knew something about the defendant; most commonly, what they knew was that he had been involved with the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA. This was not true, as I had learned from individuals who were present at the founding meeting that Shanley supposedly attended. But MacLeish had made the insinuation at the aforementioned PowerPoint presentation based upon a selective passage from a newspaper article in Shanley’s file, whereupon reporters, willingly led, printed the priest’s membership as fact, which was then repeated endlessly.

    I had not been in Boston for that presentation, but the CD of the files I received from MacLeish’s office thoughtfully included the extracts he had highlighted for a hungry press. Every gross misrepresentation of Shanley’s personnel file I read from then on – and there are many – issued from those extracts. As a propagandist for his cause, MacLeish was masterful. The PowerPoint show was the highlight of a press conference called to release 800 pages of documents. It occurred in the afternoon, ran two and a half hours long, featured the emotional declamations of accusers, and ended just in time for reporters to hurry back to their desks to file before the afternoon deadline. Their stories would be used as source material by fact checkers and other writers, bloggers, soapbox orators, everyday people, and would fold into the common trade of fable. If any of the scribes who took up the anti-Shanley cudgel actually read the whole file after writing their stories, they left no trace.

    Robin Washington, who was with the Boston Herald at the time, told me later that during the press conference some of the assembled reporters wept. Their tears, too, no doubt helped lubricate the wheels of prosecution. After Shanley was found guilty, Washington wrote in the Duluth News Tribune that Shanley’s real trial had been MacLeish’s press conference, the “lawyer playing judge, jury and executioner”, presenting the priest as “the devil incarnate”.

    The reporters, though, were MacLeish’s agents, and not just his, and not just with respect to Shanley. What Spotlight, for all its tedium, captures so precisely is the free-floating suspicion, the eerie sense of collective menace and the urge to punish that the Globe and its “Spotlight” team fanned in their certainty as public servants, under running heads in every day’s paper, right next to reports from the war on terror. That’s a hell of a thing to celebrate.

    Oscar Hangover Special: Why “Spotlight” Is a Terrible Film
    [/article]

    Like the accused in the article above, Cardinal Pell is not pleading guilty and going for a plea deal (which would be much better for him if he was actually guilty). He still maintains his innocence.

    [article]The DPP (Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions) has issued a notice to all major Victorian media outlets, warning them that as the case is now sub judice, all reporting must be fair and impartial. That this notice had to be issued at all is a telling indication of just how angry and distorted public commentary on the Pell case has become. Things were different fifteen years ago, the first time Pell was accused of sexual offenses. He stood aside as archbishop of Sydney, was investigated, and was exonerated. His vindication was greeted even in the mainstream media with a sense of relief. Today, the public mood is such that it seems almost impossible for Pell to obtain a fair trial.

    Pell’s response to the charges has unsettled those in the blogosphere who—having no idea of Pell’s character—had predicted his seeking sanctuary in the Vatican, and having to be brought back to Australia by extraordinary means to stand trial (Australia currently has no extradition agreement with the Vatican). Pell was unable for health reasons to travel back to Australia some eighteen months ago during the hearings of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into child sexual abuse. This fact was greeted with outrage: Australian avant-garde performer Tim Minchin immediately recorded and released “Come Home (Cardinal Pell),” a song consisting mostly of personal abuse, which has enjoyed significant sales.

    Yet Pell has refused to take refuge in the nearest crypt—to the bewilderment of those who believe the Church is run along Dan Brown lines. Instead, he immediately responded publicly and personally to the charges, and has said he is looking forward to his day in court. The pope has given him leave from his current role to fight the case, and Pell is seeking medical clearance to fly back to Australia to face the charges in person in mid-July.

    How are his fellow bishops handling the news? Pell is known for his conservative theological views, which have not always endeared him to the local bishops’ conference. Back in 2015, when Pell was summoned to appear before the Royal Commission, five archbishops and two bishops wrote an open letter supporting him. Of those seven, at the time of this writing only two—Archbishops Anthony Fisher, O.P. of Sydney and Julian Porteous of Hobart—have renewed that support. Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Pell’s successor and the man closest to the pointy end of this case, has also issued a statement. All these men have known Pell for years; none of them believes he is guilty of these offenses.

    A Tragedy Either Way | Philippa Martyr | First Things
    [/article]

    The hysteria around the clergy sexual abuse scandal is such that it is no longer possible to trust anyone on the matter, including the alleged victims. So those who are helping spread the hysteria (such as you @Picasso ) are actually doing real victims a huge disservice.
     

    Indie

    Well-Known Member
    Staff member
    FIFTY YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP WITH CARDINAL PELL

    by George Weigel



    Msgr. Thomas A. Whelan, my pastor when I was growing up in Baltimore, was a striking character: Princeton friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald; former Wall Street broker; high-ranking Army chaplain in World War II; world traveler; founding rector of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. The latter two roles led to some creative thinking about arranging “coverage” at the cathedral during the summer, when he could be found abroad: One by one and year by year, Msgr. Whelan brought to Baltimore newly ordained Australian priests who had studied in Rome, wanted to visit the U.S., and could use some money.

    And so, precisely fifty years ago this month, a tall, gangly Aussie named George Pell entered my life. By the end of August 1967, he had become a fast friend of my family. Little did we know that the next half-century would lead us into the same foxholes in various ecclesiastical battles; or to a shared friendship with a Polish priest, pope, and saint; or into synods, consistories, papal elections, and other adventures. We’re both a little slower and a little heavier than we were in the summer of ’67, when, if memory serves, I helped introduce the future cardinal to frisbee at the beach. But the friendship is even closer and it is one of the great blessings of my life.

    That summer, Father Pell was heading for doctoral studies in history at Oxford after ordination in Rome from the Pontifical Urban University (horsemeat was a staple on the menu in his day). His intellectual gifts might have marked him out for a scholarly career. But providence (and John Paul II) had other plans, and rather than teaching history full-time, George Pell made history, becoming the defining figure of twenty-first-century Catholicism in Australia.

    Had Pell not become archbishop of Melbourne, and later cardinal-archbishop of Sydney, it’s a reasonable bet that Australian Catholicism today would resemble the Irish Church from which the Church Down Under largely descends: scandal-ridden, demoralized, intellectually shoddy, and somewhere out on the far periphery of the New Evangelization. Thanks to Pell’s courage in facing down the Australian forces of Catholic Lite, the Church in Oz today has a fighting chance.

    Cardinal Pell’s accomplishment has not been cost-free. Australia is a contact-sport country, and that national tendency to hit hard extends to both the Aussie media and to intra-ecclesiastical life. George Pell’s enemies, and their media lapdogs, have not scrupled to lie about him for decades. Perhaps the most absurd charge was that this man, whose sartorial style rings up “Salvation Army Thrift Shop,” kept a house full of Church finery to satisfy his vanity. As it happens (and as I wrote at the time), I had just stayed in the cardinal’s house when this nonsense appeared; I hadn’t seen a vestment anywhere, but had noted thousands of books and the current issues of every major opinion journal in the English-speaking world.

    More recently, the calumnies have become much darker, as the man who designed and implemented the Australian Church’s first vigorous response to the sexual abuse of the young has been charged with being an abuser. His friends are confident that the charges, like other fanciful allegations the cardinal has consistently denied and of which he has been exonerated, will be shown to be gross falsehoods—not least because we believe Pell is telling the truth when he flatly and forcefully denies the current accusations.

    There is a new twist to this dirty business, however. Since 2014, Cardinal Pell has been responsible for draining the Vatican financial swamp of corruptions that had become epidemic, ingrained, and virtually institutionalized. Given the stakes and the sleaziness involved, it would not be surprising to learn that some who would be most adversely effected by Pell’s success in Vatican financial reform may have been generating false accusations now in play in the Australian judicial system. Australia, it seems, is not the only place where hardball is played, and in very unsavory forms.

    Cardinal George Pell is a big man in every sense of the word and his stamina under assault is entirely admirable. Its deepest root, however, is not his native combativeness but Pell’s faith. Its solidity, and the courage to which that rock-solid faith gives rise, may be what aggravates his foes the most.

    It’s also what inspires his legion of friends, among whom I am honored to number myself—for fifty years and counting.

    George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

    Fifty Years of Friendship with Cardinal Pell | George Weigel | First Things