Doesn't anyone at the Vatican know the first thing about crisis management?
Take responsibility, be honest, promise change, execute a well-publicized plan, and show results. Fast.
Instead, the Vatican keeps shoveling out more denial, playing the victim, blaming the media. The homily I heard this Easter Sunday in downtown NYC made me cringe at its false claims: the Church is "under attack" and the Pope needs our unqualified support and prayers. Jesus was a warrior, and Easter was a "battle victory."
At the Vatican that same day, Cardinal Sardano turned the Easter Mass into a pep rally for Pope Benedict. Sardano claimed that pedophilia cover-up claims were nothing but "petty gossip."
This is insane, it is not strategic, and it is not in keeping with Catholic teaching. We Catholics do not believe that the Pope is perfect, or "infallible," most of the time. Our Pope is a man and a sinner, not a king. He messed up. He needs to show empathy with the victims.
While he was still Cardinal in Germany, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict-to-be) signed off on an "untreatable" pedophile, Father Peter Hullerman, and let him return to work with kids from 1979 to 2010. That's 31 years of child sexual abuse from one guy. How many more Hullermans were there?
The more I learn about Pope Benedict, the more I realize that the Church needs a revolutionary period of deep renewal. Amidst the darkness of this damaging scandal, the light of the "Vatican III" Conference had better be around the corner.
I've been reading Betty Clermont's new book, The Neo Catholics a devastating history of the rise of the NeoCon Right. Turns out that rise paralleled that of a swing to the right inside the Vatican, as Reagan built up US-Vatican ties.
From age 14 to 16, Ratzinger was a Nazi in the Hitler Youth. So the Vatican's claim last week that their plight was akin to that of the Jews in the Holocaust was just ... weird. What a tasteless lack of empathy with the Jews. As reported by an Italian newspaper, "certain Catholic circles" in Rome blame the entire outcry on "a New York Jewish lobby" out to get the Pope.
In five short years, Pope Benedict reversed much of the interfaith work of Pope John Paul II. He brought back ornate, gilded ceremonial robes with 20-foot trains and decorated with the coat of arms of the House of Medici -- the wealthy Italian banking family that got four of its own elected pope over the course of four centuries. They presided over the peak in the Church's power, from the Dark Ages to the Counter-Reformation to Church's resistance to the Enlightenment.
I was raised a Catholic and got 12 years of Catholic education. I broke with the Church and was an atheist for the first 10 years of my adulthood. Glad I did it, too; I learned a lot about God that way. I came back into the Church out of a need for truth, for God, and for community. But I am not a slave to those needs, and there are many ways to fulfill them. Something has to change for me to stay in this Catholic Church.
Christianity is supposed to be about empathy with the victims of evil. Instead, we have a parish priest who denounces yoga and Feng Shui.
The thing for Pope Benedict to do now is to redeem his sins. Turn back and fight the evil in our society. And here's a way how: there are underground pedophilia cults operating today in America. Exposing them is an object lesson in American power.
Author Nick Bryant's new book, The Franklin Scandal, sheds light on a specific abusive cult with links to the GOP, the CIA, the Catholic Church, and various DC politicians. The scandal reared its ugly demonic head in 1989, when it was splashed across the pages of the Washington Times. According to the documentary Conspiracy of Silence, the story involved a Nebraska Catholic orphanage called Boys Town, which acted as a source of boys for a pedophile network.
Lawrence E. King, director of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union and a rising black star in the GOP, was in business in the late 80s with Craig Spence, the "pimp" of the operation. Spence and his boy-toys took midnight tours of the White House, thanks to military, intelligence, and Bush White House ties. Spence died a mysterious death in a hotel room just 10 weeks after the first story broke in the Washington Times. Conspiracy of Silence was later pulled from the Discovery Channel, and the Washington Post went out of its way to attack the Washington Times for covering the story. Two Grand Jury investigations in Nebraska convicted no perpetrators, and instead indicted two victims for "perjury," one of whom received the exorbitant sentence of 9 to 15 years.
Instead of Catholic services on Good Friday, I spent time with Nick Bryant. Writing The Franklin Scandal, Bryant endured police searches, harassment, a death threat, and a media blackout. But last week, the sunshine was pure and life-giving as we met up in Washington Square Park. With cool breezes, people's laughter, and live bluegrass in the air, it became easier to talk about darkest evil. I asked Nick if he saw similarities between the Vatican's current cover-up and what happened with Franklin.
"It's exactly the same," he said. "Their M.O. is deny, deny, deny. If any victims come forward, slam them. That formula has been used forever."
What about Father Gabriele Amorth, the chief exorcist at the Vatican? Amorth made headlines in the UK press with his revelation that the Devil was running amok inside the Vatican. The problem is serious -- there are "cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon."
Nick was unfazed: "I would agree with him, but I don't want to come off as anti-Catholic. Some of the most spiritually developed people I know are Catholic. I've had to enlarge my spiritual life to do this story, because it's drenched in so much evil." Nick is a practicing Quaker.
Nick managed to acquire the sealed documentation of one of the grand juries that covered up the "Franklin" child-trafficking network. The documents included nearly two hundred flight logs, with the majority of the flights destined for Washington, DC. There, Craig Spence's house was wired for audio-visual blackmail. Top politicians would be compromised, and then controlled. Nick describes Craig Spence as a "self-confessed CIA asset" and has other sources to back up Spence's claims. Welcome to the underbelly of US power, another dance with the devil.
"The Justice Department, FBI, and Secret Service went into a full court press to vaporize this scandal, so the American people wouldn't get wind that such malevolent corruption existed in their government," says Nick.
Another thing that Nick pointed out on Friday is that Martin Luther was personally revolted by the pedophilia, incompetence, and commercialism of Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici, a.k.a. Pope Leo X. Instead of reflecting on any of the "95 Theses" Luther included in his critique, Pope Leo X attacked Luther as a "drunken German." What followed was five hundred years of warfare between Christians.
That's the end result of playing with the black magic of worldly power. You end up destroying the unity of the church of life and light. Forsake the Kingdom of God, and you naturally create rebels. If you claim the authority of God, but don't do what God would do, then what do you turn into? You are like a dog asleep in a manger, not eating the food of life, and blocking others as you sleep.
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