Friday, April 16, 2010

Beware of Wolves in Sheep's Clothing - SHAME!

The Lord Jesus Christ warned His followers, "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matt. 7:15).
  • The Wall Street Journal

The great second wave of church scandals appears this week to be settling down. In the Vatican they're likely thinking "the worst is over" and "we've weathered the storm." Is that good? Not to this Catholic. The more relaxed the institution, the less likely it will reform.

Let's look at the first wave. Eight years ago, on April 19, 2002, I wrote in these pages of the American church scandal, calling it calamitous, a threat to the standing and reputation of the entire church. Sexual abuse by priests "was the heart of the scandal, but at the same time only the start of the scandal": the rest was what might be called the racketeering dimension. Lawsuits had been brought charging that the church as an institution acted to cover up criminal behavior by misleading, lying and withholding facts. The most celebrated cases in 2002 were in Boston, where a judge had forced the release of 11,000 pages of church documents showing the abusive actions of priests and detailing then-Archbishop Bernard F. Law's attempts to hide the crimes. The Boston scandal generated hundreds of lawsuits, cost hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and judgments, and included famous and blood-chilling cases—the repeat sexual abuser Father John Geoghan, who molested scores of boys and girls and was repeatedly transferred, was assigned to a parish in Waltham where he became too familiar with children in a public pool; Cardinal Law claimed he was probably "proselytizing."

Ravenous Wolves Dressed As Sheep Associated Press

In the piece I criticized Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then archbishop of Washington, who had suggested to the Washington Post that the scandal was media-driven, that journalists are having "a heyday." Then came the it-wasn't-so-bad defense: The bishop of Joliet, Ill., Joseph Imesch, said that while priests who sexually abuse children should lose their jobs, priests who sexually abuse adolescents and teenagers have a "quirk" and can be treated and continue as priests.

Really, he called it a quirk.

Does any of this, the finger-pointing and blame-gaming, sound familiar? Isn't it what we've been hearing the past few weeks?

At the end of the piece I called on the pope, John Paul II, to begin to show the seriousness of the church's efforts to admit, heal and repair by taking the miter from Cardinal Law's head and the ring from his finger and retiring him: "Send a message to those in the church who need to hear it, that covering up, going along, and paying off victims is over. That careerism is over, and Christianity is back."

The piece didn't go over well in the American church, or the Vatican. One interesting response came from Cardinal Law himself, whom I ran into a year later in Rome. "We don't need friends of the church turning on the church at such a difficult time," he said. "We need loyalty when the church is going through a tough time."

I'd suggested in the piece that the rarefied lives cardinals led had contributed to an inability to understand the struggles of others and the pain of those abused, and soon Cardinal Law and I were talking about his mansion outside Boston. He asked me how it would look if he'd refused to live there. I told him it would look good, but more to the point, the church was going to lose the cardinal's mansion to trial lawyers, and it should sell it first and put the money in schools.

Soon enough the mansion was gone, sold to pay the plaintiffs. Cardinal Law's successor, Archbishop Sean O'Malley, lives in an apartment in Boston's South End.

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter once called Cardinal Law "the poster boy" of the American scandal. He has also became the poster boy for the church's problems in handling the scandal. And that has to do with its old-boy network, with the continued dominance of those who grew up in the old way.

In December 2002, Cardinal Law left Boston just hours before state troopers arrived with subpoenas seeking his grand jury testimony in what the state's attorney general, Thomas Reilly, called a massive coverup of child abuse. The cardinal made his way to Rome, where he resigned, and where he stayed with Archbishop James Harvey, a close friend and, as head of the pontifical household, the most powerful American in the Vatican. Within a year Archbishop Harvey, too, was implicated in the scandal: The Dallas Morning News reported the Vatican had promoted a priest through its diplomatic corps even though it had received persistent, high-level warnings that he had sexually abused a young girl. The warnings had gone to Archbishop Harvey.

Cardinal Law received one of the best sinecures in Rome, as head of the Basilica of Saint Maria Maggiore and a member of the Vatican office tasked with appointing new bishops and correcting misconduct.

These stories are common in the church. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a former Vatican secretary of state and now dean of the College of Cardinals, was a primary protector of the now disgraced Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, described by a heroic uncoverer of the scandals, Jason Berry, in the National Catholic Reporter, as "a morphine addict who sexually abused at least twenty . . . seminarians."

I know this from having seen it: Many—not all, but many—of the men who staff the highest levels of the Vatican have been part of the very scandal they are now charged with repairing. They are defensive and they are angry, and they will not turn the church around on their own.

In a way, the Vatican lives outside time and space. The verities it speaks of and stands for are timeless and transcendent. For those who work there, bishops and cardinals, it can become its own reality. And when those inside fight for what they think is the life of the institution, they feel fully justified in fighting any way they please. They can do this because, as they rationalize it, they are not fighting only for themselves—it's not selfish, their fight—but to protect the greatest institution in the history of the world.

But in the past few decades, they not only fought persons—"If you were loyal you'd be silent"—they fought information.

What they don't fully understand right now—what they can't fully wrap their heads around—is that the information won.

The information came in through the cracks, it came in waves, in newspaper front pages, in books, in news beamed to every satellite dish in Europe and America. The information could not be controlled or stopped. The information was that something very sick was going on in the heart of the church.

Once, leaders of the Vatican felt that silence would protect the church. But now anyone who cares about it must come to understand that only speaking, revealing, admitting and changing will save the church.

The old Vatican needs new blood.

They need to let younger generations of priests and nuns rise to positions of authority within a new church. Most especially and most immediately, they need to elevate women. As a nun said to me this week, if a woman had been sitting beside a bishop transferring a priest with a history of abuse, she would have said: "Hey, wait a minute!"

If the media and the victims don't keep the pressure on, the old ways will continue. As for Cardinal Law, he should not be where he is, nor mitred nor ringed.


parrot cartoons, parrot cartoon, parrot picture, parrot pictures, parrot image, parrot images, parrot illustration, parrot illustrations

While twits humorlessly tweet, are ideas requiring an excess of 164 characters relegated to Esperanto* on the Sesame Street?

Has curious died? What is Esperanto* anyway? Who cares....?

Skribsimbolo de Twitter

Twitter estas socia-reta kaj blogadeta servo aŭ blogetilo, kiu ebligas al uzantoj sendi ĝisdatigojn (aŭ tweets – "pepaĵoj" – tekst-mesaĝoj, kiuj enhavas 140 signojn maksimume) al la Twitter-retejo, per servo de mallongaj mesaĝoj (ekz. per poŝtelefono), tujmesaĝilo aŭ alia programo kiaj TwitterrificFacebook.

Hasta la vista Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire. Hello Twitter.

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

"... and had you not lost all your sheep, which you brought from the good country of El Dorado, you would not have been here to eat preserved citrons and pistachio nuts."


A final word from Sesame Street:

Ĝis revido.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Silly Swiss Spaghetti Harvest and San Serriffe, an island nation

Happy All Fools Day: SECOND HAND HOAXES ON "MEMORY LANE" EMAILS. This April 1st I decided to perpetrate some used* hoaxes for a change and sent them out under two "Memory Lane" email guises. I chose them for their high degree of silliness and historic success in deception. My previous April 1st best effort involved an inter-office memo which was taken as gospel by many, asking employees to, as an economy measure, restrict toilet paper usage to two sheets per sitting.
OK, Sports Fans, early email results from "Memory Lane" absurd hoaxes are in from two persons thus far. One may have believed my '57 Ford was pretty "cool", or perhaps it was the photo of Elvis or Lawrence Welk with his shovel that was "cool". He may have "overlooked" the main point: The Great Swiss Spaghetti Harvest video. So much for speed-reading with comprehension. The other reply had my asinine "Memory Lane" return heading but didn't even mention my very fabulous, beautiful Ford, much less any early April Swiss spaghetti harvests. On April 1, 1957 the British news TV show Panorama broadcast a three-minute segment about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. The segment was linked in the first "Memory Lane" email and posting here. April 1, 1977: The British newspaper The Guardian published a special seven-page supplement devoted to San Serriffe, a small republic said to consist of several semi-colon-shaped islands located in the Indian Ocean. This hoax was also distributed, in the second "Memory Lane" email. I'll update the results by email and here before Easter. I'm interested to see if either of the two fatuous emails were read by anyone, or if anyone managed a stretched of attention spans or interest, much less outwitted the gullibility thing. FINAL UPDATE. Well, it is official. Only one person that I'm aware of could be bothered to read a short passage in order to grasp that an April Fool hoax was being played. A couple of well intentioned people responded, in their narrow awareness they believed that I was actually lost in a dementia induced reverie about Lawrence Welk and his shovel and about Elvis and an old car. No wonder April fools are such easy prey. One just has to allow for very short attention spans and lack of interest. I forgot to make those allowances. The Sesame Street generation is upon us! (this simple "Sesame Street" comment may be waaay to big a stretch for some - so don't worry about it) Being of a dry wit and old, and clearly VERY boring (if one isn't listening well enough to comprehend a simple message, of course nonsensical understanding is boring), I should not have expected anyone to be listening with more than one ear, if at all.. Perhaps at the Senior Center there are a few sentient creatures of wit who have learned well to listen and speak thoughtfully? Have a nice life. April 1, 2001 photo, in Denmark, regarding Copenhagen's new metro. April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day is a day celebrated in various countries on April 1. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, enemies, and neighbors, or sending them on a fool's errand, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible. Traditionally, in some countries, such as the UK, Canada, Australia, and South Africa the jokes only last until noon, and someone who plays a trick after noon is called an "April Fool".[1] Elsewhere, such as in France, Ireland, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Russia, The Netherlands, Brazil, and the U.S., the jokes last all day. The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1392). *Used Hoaxes. See stolen, appropriated, plagiarised, misappropriated foolish intellectual properties.

Down Memory Lane Part Deux

Further to "The Great Swiss Harvest" posting I remember this widely publicized vacation spot........

San Serriffe is an island nation in the southern oceans. Owing to a peculiarity of ocean currents and erosion, its exact position varies. A recent report locating it in the Bering Sea was presumably an error. On April 1, 2006 The Guardian reported that San Serriffe was then just off New Zealand's South Island, but if the rate of movement really is 1.4 km per year as published, San Serriffe should stay in the Indian Ocean for several millennia.


San Serriffe is an archipelago consisting of two main islands and a number of smaller ones. Of the larger islands, the more northerly (the Caissa Superiore or Upper Caisse) is roughly round and the more southerly (the Caissa Inferiore or Lower Caisse) round but with a promontory extending south-westwards from the south-east, at Thirty Point. The two major islands are separated by the Shoals of Adze, dominated by Cap Em. A major inland feature is a swamp, the Woj of Type.


Railways of San Serriffe (as surveyed, 1977)
Head station
Bodoni Central
Track turning from left Junction to right
Straight track Station on track Airport
Bodoni International Airport
Transverse terminus from left Unknown route-map component "ABZrd" Straight track
Straight track Straight track
Track turning left Junction from right
Station on track
Perpetua Jnct.
Straight track
Pier Transverse terminus from left Junction to right
Adze (ferry to Cap Em, Caisse Inferiore)
Straight track
Station on track Pier
Port Clarendon
Non-passenger station on track
Phosphate mining and processing
End station Pier
Port Elrod

The capital, Bodoni, is in the centre of the Caissa Superiore, and is served by an international airport. It is linked by fast highways to the major ports, including Port Clarendon and Port Elrod, which both provide ample commercial shipping facilities.

Upper Caisse in particular is well served by a network of railway lines serving Bodoni, the airport and the major coastal towns, including the phosphate mining and processing region in the north east. The main line, built by the Great North Bodoni Railway Company, had its own golf club, at Port Baskerville.

A ferry connects Adze on the south coast of the northern island to Cap Em on the north coast of the southern island and there were plans to build a west coastal line as far as Gill Cameo, but it is not known if this line was completed.


Possibly because of its reportedly remote and shifting location, the full history of San Serriffe has never been adequately told, but these basic details are known.

  • 1421. "Discovered by adventurers recruited by John Street, an English admirer of Henry the Navigator. The crew made their historic landfall in the Shoals of Adze." (Guardian, April 1, 1977)
  • 1432–1439. Colonized by the Spanish and Portuguese.
  • 1659. Annexed by Great Britain.
  • 1815. Ceded to Portugal.
  • 1824–1836. The condominium (a term of uncertain meaning).
  • April 1, 1967. Independence; a social democratic government takes control.
  • June 1967. Colonel Hispalis seizes control.
  • August 1969. General Minion seizes control.
  • May 11, 1971. General M.-J. Pica assumes responsibility for the government, and institutes martial law and assumes full dictatorial powers in response to "foreign terrorist infiltration." This leads to nationwide protests, escalating into civil war and 23 years of chaos and anarchy.
  • May 12 1997. First general election. Antonio Bourgeois swept to power.

Ethnic groups

The native people of San Serriffe are known as the Flong. However, the dominant group are of European stock, the descendants of colonists, known as colons. There is also a large mixed-race group, known as semi-colons. In the last available census (1973), as reported in the April 1, 1977 Guardian, the population was 1,782,724, with approximately 640,000 colons and semi-colons; 574,000 Flongs; 271,000 Creoles; 117,000 Malaysians; 92,000 Arabs; and 88,000 persons of other ethnic groups.


For many years following independence in 1967, San Serriffe had an autocratic form of government under military strongman General Pica. Democratic elections were held in 1997, and the winner was the charismatic Antonio Bourgeois.


Among the cultural highlights are:

The relaxation of the islands' strict anti-pornography laws under the Bourgeois government has led to the publication of a series of risqué novels by Serriffean journalists, collectively referred to as the "Times Nude Romances".


The bitter-sweet swarfega is prepared in various ways to create unique Serriffean dishes. Because of this, the local cuisine lacks the oily character of some related styles.

National bird

The national bird of San Serriffe is the kwote, a member of the guillemot (guillemets) family.


San Serriffe has made little impression on the international sporting world, apart from their epic defeat of England at football in 1999. The application of the national Rugby Union team, the Kwotes, to participate in the Rugby Union World Cup 1991 was rejected by a Twickenham official on the grounds that "we don't have any four-figure scoreboards, old boy." However the islands' annual endurance challenge race, involving running, mountain biking and windsurfing from Cap Em to the German immigrant village of Ems in the Caissa Inferiore (popularly known as the Two Em Dash), now attracts international participants, and it has been some years since it was won by a Serriffean athlete.

National Bank

In October 2008 Donald Knuth established the Bank of San Serriffe (in Thirty Point, Caissa Inferiore, San Serriffe),[2] which is an offshore institution that has branches in Blefuscu and Elbonia on the planet Pincus.[3] He opened an account for anyone who received a cheque from him as a reward for discovering errors in his books.