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Informational Deep Into Christianity


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I'm neither particularly religious nor spiritual, but I found this address really beautiful. This pope is a very thoughtful communicator. The highlighted parts in particular remind me of the social justice and social solidarity messaging of the Latin American Catholic priests (Oscar Romero, Jesuits, etc) during the dictatorships.

Read: Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi address on coronavirus and Jesus calming the storm

Pope Francis gives his extraordinary blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) in an empty St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 27, 2020. The blessing was livestreamed because of the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS photo/Guglielmo Mangiapane, pool via Reuters)

Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ address during the extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing he delivered while praying for an end of the coronavirus.
“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35).

The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.

It is easy to recognize ourselves in this story. What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude. While his disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, he stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first. And what does he do? In spite of the tempest, he sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping. When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (v. 40).

Let us try to understand. In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38). Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them. One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?” It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement.
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The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.

Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.
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“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us. In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves. In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side. The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.

Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).


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وَاحَبيبِي واحبيبِي سُلِّمَ الْمَوْتُ إِلَيْك فَتَسَلَّمْنَا حَياةً مِنْ جِرَاحَاتِ يَدَيْك
كُلُّ مَيْتٍ عَادَ حَيّا وَالْتَقَى الْكُلُّ لَدَيْك يَوْمَ أَبْطَلْتَ الْمَنايا بِمَواعِيدِ الْحَياةْ

أَيُّ حُبٍّ قَدْ تَفَانَى مِثْلُ هَذَا فِي حَبيبْ أَيُّ رَبٍّ قَدْ تَجَلَّى مَجْدُهُ فَوْقَ الصَليبْ
دَهْشَةً بَيْنَ الْبَرايَا عَجَبًا عِنْدَ الشُّعوبْ وَهْوَ فِي الْبيعَةِ حَقٌّ وَسَلامٌ وَلِقَاءْ

قَادَكَ الْحُبُّ إِلَيَّ فَتَقَلَّدْتَ الصَّليبْ وَتَحَمَّلْتَ لأَجْلِي غَصَّةَ الْمَوْتِ الرَّهيبْ
لَيْتَنِي أَقْضِي حَياتِي أَهْرُقُ الْعُمْرَ سَكِيبْ فِي وَصَايَاكَ وَأَحْيَا بَيْنَ أَسْرَارِ الْفِدَاءْ​


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Why do born again Christians become so crazy?



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I hereby call on Christ to end this pandemic and lay rest to Corona. Otherwise, he's an evil monster who takes pleasure out of the suffering of his children.

Or maybe, the pleasures and the sinful generation , God took His grace in order to come back to Him.

You chose evil, you take him


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Update: The highest court in Australia aquitted Cardinal Pell in April 2020.

Just to provide the other side of the story on Cardinal Pell, something obsessed anti-Catholics would rather leave out...

Many people believe he is innocent, including one of the two alleged victims, who has since passed away; but, who maintained, until his death, that the Cardinal never abused him (as was claimed by the second alleged victim).

The unfair, anti-Catholic conviction of Cardinal George Pell
By George Weigel

December 31, 2018 | 7:57pm

Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George PellAFP/Getty Images

No one with a sense of justice can fail to be outraged when, in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a jury in Maycomb, Ala., bows to social pressure and convicts an innocent man of a crime he couldn’t have committed.

Something similar took place last month in real-world Melbourne, Australia, where Cardinal George Pell was falsely and perversely convicted on charges of “historic sexual abuse” dating to the 1990s.

The facts of the case have been hard to come by, owing to a media gag order issued by the trial judge. A journalistic feeding frenzy has long surrounded Pell, the former Catholic archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney and later the Vatican’s chief financial officer.

The trial judge was rightly concerned that opening the proceedings would make it impossible for Pell to get a fair trial on charges he forcefully denies. That order has left Australians largely in the dark. But certain facts are known, and others can be reasonably inferred.

The cardinal’s first trial ended in a hung jury, with 10 of 12 jurors in favor of acquittal.

In the retrial, the defense again demonstrated that it was physically impossible for the alleged abuse of two choirboys (one now deceased) to have occurred, given the layout and security arrangements of Melbourne’s Catholic cathedral and the fact that the choir and Pell were in two different places when the abuse was alleged to have occurred.

Pell, moreover, was always surrounded by others at the cathedral that day in 1996. Why the Melbourne police never took the trouble to investigate these exculpatory facts is one of several mysteries in this sordid affair.

The retrial jury took days to reach a verdict, during which the jurors asked the trial judge for instructions on how evidence should be considered. That an overwhelming vote for acquittal at the first trial was then flipped to a unanimous verdict for conviction invites the inference that the jury chose to ignore evidence that the alleged crimes couldn’t have happened.

Legal authorities can debate some of the curiosities of the criminal justice system in Melbourne. Why, for example, can’t a defendant request a bench trial by a judge alone, when a prejudicial public atmosphere makes the selection of an impartial jury virtually impossible?

How can a crime alleged to have been committed 22 years ago be prosecuted without any corroborating evidence that it occurred?

How can charges be brought when the public authorities could have easily determined that the alleged abuse couldn’t have happened, because the victims and the alleged perpetrator were never in close proximity, much less by themselves without witnesses?

Any judgment on the Pell verdict must also take full account of the atmosphere in which the cardinal’s case was heard. Anti-Catholicism has been a staple of Australia’s culture for decades. Local media long misrepresented Pell, a Church reformer, as a power-hungry ecclesiastical politician, and that caricature made him a convenient scapegoat for the grave crimes of other priests and bishops.

Yet as archbishop of Melbourne, Pell set up Australia’s first process for investigating and compensating claims of clerical sexual abuse. And as archbishop of Sydney, he applied strict protocols to himself, stepping aside until previous spurious abuse charges against him were thoroughly investigated — and dismissed — by a former Australian supreme court justice.

For partisans of various sorts, however, none of George Pell’s effective work in cleansing the Church of the horror of sexual abuse counted.

Aggressive secularists couldn’t forgive him for his robust Catholicism. Most Catholic progressives couldn’t abide his orthodoxy. Some of Pell’s enemies had the integrity to dismiss the charges against him as ludicrous, and a few said afterward that his conviction was a travesty. But the foul atmosphere in Melbourne was reminiscent of rural Alabama in the 1930s.

One other facet of this miscarriage of justice deserves investigation by enterprising reporters. Pell was brought to Rome by Pope Francis to clean up Vatican finance, a Herculean task in which he was making progress. Then, just as he was getting down to the really serious corruption, which involves hundreds of millions of euros and the shadow worlds of global finance, these abuse charges were laid, and Pell had to return to Australia to defend himself.

Was that timing sheer accident? Rome-based supporters of Pell’s reforming efforts with whom I’ve spoken think not. Just as in Harper Lee’s Maycomb, something is rotten in this business. And it isn’t the character of Cardinal George Pell.

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

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

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.

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
From what I remember, Cardinal Pell voluntarily travelled to Australia for this case, while maintaining his innocence. Many people wrote articles supporting him and saying that the allegations against him are not true. These same people were not defending other clergymen accused of abuse, so it's not like they're biased, or deny that abuse happens. But, for some reason, they seemed convinced that Cardinal Pell is innocent.

There is no way for us to know the truth in all certainty, but let's not forget that many people have spent decades in prison, or even executed, for crimes they were later exonerated from. There are priests in the U.S. who were offered plea bargains if they admitted being guilty of abuse. They refused, knowing that they would end up in prison for up to fifteen years. But it was more important for them to maintain their innocence.

What's "interesting" is the media's obsession with this topic, knowing that the percentage of sexual abusers in the Catholic clergy is lesser than that in the general population, and that 90% of the victims are not children but adolescent boys or young seminarians, which points to homosexual abuse and behaviour. Yet, the mainstream media never mention these facts.

And the mainstream public never questions themselves as to why the mainstream media never mentions these facts. Instead they go along and spread the media's propaganda.

But you know all this @SeaAb . We have told you before, on many occasions. But, for some reason, it goes through one ear and out the other.


Legendary Member

Santa Helena and the Cross.

This woman saint is one holy mother who gave much of Christian history.

She should be given much respect