Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Funny quote by cardinal to Napolean...

In a column by Ross Douthat in the New York Times, March 29, there's a great anecdote on the failures of the Roman Catholic clergy.

See it at

Napolean threatens to destroy the church.

The cardinal responds, "Your majesty, we, the Catholic clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last 1,800 years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you."

Maureen Dowd and Sinead O'Connor on the Pope

"Holy Thursday and Good Friday are now becoming Cover-Up Thursday and Blame-Others Friday," writes Maureen Dowd in today's New York Times.

She notes the ad in the Times on Monday by the Catholic League calling the situation not a pedophilia crisis but a "homosexual crisis" because some of the victims were 12 or 13 and had reached puberty.

Right, if the kid has reached puberty, he and the priest are just homosexuals, not predator and victim.

Sinead O'Connor also made this point last night on CNN's Larry King Show, challenging a defender of the Pope to define the word "post-pubescent" in the ad.

Her compassion and willingness to listen to the Pope's defenders was remarkable. She quoted President Obama's speech in Cairo last year, saying, "We'll give you our hand if you'll unclench your fist."

See the Larry King Show website:

She takes her faith very seriously and was ordained a priest in the late 1990s by Bishop Michael Cox of an independent branch of Catholicism, the Irish Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church.

On Sunday she published an account in the Washington Post discussing the Pope's stance on child abuse in Ireland.

She challenged Benedict XVI to order any cleric who committed pedophilia and any who knew about such a crime and covered it up (was an accessory) to "go to police tomorrow and turn himself in."

Holy Week is the time for repentance, she and Maureen Dowd noted.

Tim Rutten on hypocrisy in the Catholic Church

Tim Rutten, my favorite columnist in the LA Times, speaks today on hypocrisy among conservative Catholics, especially the Legionaries of Christ, who concealed the pedophilia of their founder Marcial Maciel for years.

"...a list of Maciel's most vociferous defenders reads like a who's who of the conservative Catholic intellectuals who, in recent years, have insisted that Catholicism and membership in the Democratic Party are all but incompatible," he writes.

And of course, the Democratic Party's greatest sins in their eyes are supporting legal abortion, sex education, and access to contraception.

The furor in the Roman Catholic Church this week really comes down to gender politics: the hypocrisy of limiting reproductive choice and forbidding women priests while enabling and concealing pedophiles and other sexual sins through the old boys' network.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Unholy Holy Week

Go to to see my commentary on the crisis over child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church. Or click on the title above, "An Unholy Holy Week."

It begins:

This week is unprecedented in the two-thousand-year history of the Christian church: instead of focusing on the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ, Christians are listening to horrific accounts of priestly sexual abuse of children and wondering whether Pope Benedict XVI will take decisive action to cleanse the church.

Probably he will not. After 83 years of living and working in an all-male club, he just doesn’t get it. His focus has been purity of doctrine, not the purity of those who say Mass and administer the church....

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Maureen Dowd: "A Nun for Pope"

We need a nun for Pope, writes Maureen Dowd in today's New York Times.

She targets the hypocrisy of not allowing women to be priests and forbidding priests to marry, thus prolonging "the sordid culture of men protecting men who attack children."

"The nuns have historically cleaned up the messes of priests," she says. "And this is a historic mess."

Monday, March 22, 2010

How the Bill Was Won

The bill was passed because of this Executive Order...

Let's be grateful--not vindictive like those who opposed health care reform.

N.O.W. Is Nuts

National Organization for Women declares it's "incensed"
by Obama decision to issue an executive order upholding
no federal funding for abortion.

NOW says Obama campaigned as "pro-choice,"
but his actions today "suggest his commitment shaky at best."

Give me a break!

President Obama and Nancy Pelosi just knocked
themselves out to open health care to 32 million
Americans, and NOW is complaining about an executive
order that doesn't change anything?

Without the votes of Stupak and his buddies,
the health care bill wouldn't have passed.

I support abortion rights as much as the next person--
I took the time to gather women's abortion stories for a
book supporting the pro-choice position.

It's childish to be incensed about the executive order.

The President's commitment has not wavered one bit.

Both he and Pelosi are experienced in the art of
horse trading to get legislation passed.

They sold Stupak on the opportunity to buy a horse
he already owned.

Through this deal, Stupak saved face.

Go the the Planned Parenthood website to see a more
mature perspective on the Executive Order.

Hooray for Health Care!

It takes a nation! From Nancy Pelosi to President Obama to Bart Stupak and everyone else who sent an email or made a phone call, we did it!

The health care bill passed yesterday by the House of Representatives is "the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century," said Majority Whip James Clyburn.

It has been a wild ride in the last six months as hope flared and ebbed. I felt so helpless last week when it was clear that I could do nothing. I had to place my trust in Nancy Pelosi and President Obama to make it happen--and they did!

I'm also grateful to Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and his allies for making a last-minute compromise, after working the situation to shine the spotlight on their anti-abortion cause.

"Babykiller!" a fellow representative shouted at Rep. Stupak as he spoke before the House explaining his change of position to vote yes.

How precarious the position of everyone who claims to be "pro-life"! One minute you can be a hero, but the next, if you move one-eightieth of an inch toward compromise, you can be vilified as the worst of the worst, one who wants to "kill babies."

Never mind how many babies' lives will be saved by access to medical care as infants and toddlers--and how many adults' lives will be eased and saved by preventive care instead of emergency room care.

Never mind how many mothers' and babies' lives will be saved by good access to prenatal care.

Never mind how many pregnancies will be prevented by access to contraceptive resources--thus preventing thousands of abortions.

The only thing that matters to these extremists is that some girl who was raped or sexually abused by a family member or whose life is endangered by carrying a baby to full term--some girl may now have access to medical care and end a pregnancy.

Or some woman who wants full reproductive care may write her separate check for this service with money that she wouldn't have had if this bill had not passed.

For these reasons, they now regard Rep. Stupak as a babykiller. He will have to work hard to regain their respect, if that is even possible.

But he has gained my respect.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pink Glove Dancers

Thank you to Sharon Billings for sending me the link to this You Tube video... all the employees of Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland dancing to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Sharon's friend Bev works at the hospital.

Hilarious and uplifting!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


We saw Avatar tonight because NPR said it's a cultural event that people will look back on in the development of film.

Yes, a thought-provoking experience.

It was as if one introduced Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, Thumbelina, Pocahontas, and Little Mermaid to transformer toys, 2001, Dances With Wolves, Beowulf and the Iraq war.

Or perhaps put them all in a test tube and shook.

I liked the "Great Mother" spirituality. Her name was EHWA, which is like Yahweh. Also cool is that the name was just four letters, like YHWH.

The decision on whether to return to human life was interesting, like the Little Mermaid wanting to join the human race. Of course, one wanted Jake Sully to go native, but the reality of Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves was more likely.

I was challenged because I see few science fiction films and few war films. As I watched, I didn't know what genre this film would turn out to be: fantasy or grim reality? Happy ending or cynicism?

The views of moons circling a large planet like Jupiter gave me the pleasure of suspending disbelief and imagining life elsewhere. But each form of life was patterned on something on earth: horses, dogs, humans, pterodactyls, etc.--that was a bit tiresome. The flying dragons were great.

One sad reference to earth: "There's no green on their planet. They killed it."

All in all, yes, probably something to watch, despite the cliches. For example, how could the script writers allow the phrase "shock and awe"?

Because of its clear references to the war in Iraq and to Wall Street investors as the ones who call for exploitation of the environment and native peoples, it's a film that screams, "Made in 2009."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Krista Tippet & Einstein

What wonderful work Krista Tippet is doing!

Speaking of Faith showcased her forthcoming book, Einstein's God this weekend.

Listen to the NPR show at

Somewhere in the bits of truth found in physics, mathematics, astronomy, Judaism, Christianity, and ecumenical thought, there is a larger truth emerging today.

And Einstein was ahead of his time, of course.