Monday, January 19, 2015
There is a theater company in Berlin, MA – that wants us to think. They say that “too many risky and complex theatrical productions are kept from the public”. They want audiences to analyze, question, and discuss the messages and meanings of their plays. The Flyleaf Theater Company chose the play “Doubt, A Parable”, by John Patrick Shanley. The play won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play and became the 2008 film “Doubt” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep.
This production of the play, directed by Mariagrazia LaFauci, takes a hard look at the complex, dark, and troubling moral dilemmas faced by the people of the fictional St. Nicholas Elementary School in the Bronx in 1964. Sister Aloysius, the school principal, suspects the parish priest, Father Flynn of sexually molesting the school’s only African-American student, Donald Muller. Is the priest guilty without a doubt? The play makes us think and examine our own beliefs about the conduct of clergy who are trusted with the lives of children.
What makes this Flyleaf production unique is that they invited members of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), including me, and other survivors who were sexually abused by priests to come and talk to the actors. They wanted to understand the reality of how it feels to be abused by those who vowed to protect us. They helped us by caring and we believe the insight they gained will make their production of Doubt a better play.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
youngsters, who can be kept in the centers for months, are exposed to abuse and
exploitation by older children and adults|
|Angel, a 13 year old little girl clad only in a flimsy dress, was chained to a post in the detention center and left there crying|
When the pope and other heads of state visit other countries what is the purpose of their visits? Do they just want publicity for themselves? Do they want to make speeches and hear crowds cheering for them? Do they actually help the countries they visit? Not economically: For the pope’s visit to the Philippines that started today, the expenses are tremendous: Over 25,000 police and thousands of soldiers must provide security. Helicopter gunships circle overhead. Streets must be cleaned – of dirt and of children who live under the road bridges where the Pope will travel.
Hundreds of boys and girls in Manila -- Street children as young as five are caged in detention centers with adult criminals who sexually abuse them according to an investigation by MailOnline, a British news service. Some have been starved and chained to pillars in the centers. A senior official admitted there had been an intensive round-up by police and government workers to make sure the children are not seen by Pope Francis.
The pope is going to visit with young people – but not the children locked up in cells. He can wash the feet of inmates as a photo op, but does he really care? These practices of locking up children have gone on for a long time in Manila – there are 17 detention centers across the city, where an estimated 20,000 children a year are detained for no obvious reason other than begging for food. The same thing was done when Obama visited. According to Rosalinda Orobia, head of Social Welfare Department in Manila, 'It happened before President Obama's visit to the Philippines in April last year. When we tried to have them released we were told they couldn't come out until after Obama had gone.” So this is not a new practice, it hurts thousands of children and it is unlikely that heads of state have no knowledge of it.
Pope Francis said that a priority of his visit would be to send a message to the poor who face "social, spiritual and existential" injustices. What good is a message? Does it help the poor? The Filipino President Aquino also wants to eradicate poverty: he would like to see fewer children born into poverty but the local Roman Catholic Church is fighting to overturn a 2012 reproductive health law that promotes artificial birth control. The church is not taking care of these children, the government allows such practices to continue – the children are invisible. So these children will continue to live in the streets while popes and presidents parade by waving and smiling – bread and circuses but not for these children.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
What is Pope Francis doing meddling in U.S.-Cuban relationships? I can see why the U.S. wants to re-open interactions with Cuba – so it can sell them U.S. goods and open banks and businesses there. Maybe Obama would like a more friendly neighbor 90 miles away from Florida.
What’s in it for the pope? Francis is so “happy to see two peoples take a step to move closer after being distant for so many years”. About half of Cuban citizens are catholic – so does he want to convert the other half? Does Francis want more access to the pockets of the faithful in Cuba? Even though most Cubans are poor, the church will take their money. The catholic church has been trying to regain a foothold in Cuba for many years – the two previous popes were working at it.
Some people think that Francis is just looking for more headlines. One ex-political prisoner from Cuba, Arturo Suarez-Ramos, a 50-year-old Miami waiter who was jailed in Cuba for 27 years said, “He's trying to get a legacy at any price.”
Francis has changed his attitude about Cuba – most likely to fit a new agenda. Now that he sees that the U.S. can help him get his foot in the door, he has nothing but praises for Cuba. In 1998 Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) wrote a booklet on his views on Cuban society. Bergoglio harshly criticized socialism (communism) and Castro's atheist revolution.
Conservative journalists from The American Spectator say happy communists are calling the alliance “a new holy trinity: Fidel Castro, Barack Obama, and Pope Francis.” Paul Kengor, Spectator journalist says, “When communists are celebrating America’s position on Cuba… that is not comforting.” So the American communists like Obama and they like the pope. Both Obama and Castro thanked the Pope for his help in promoting this (un)holy alliance. The only thing that might derail this three way alliance is the fact that the new Republican-controlled U.S. Congress takes office in January. They will try to reverse or block diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American said Cuban democracy activists "feel betrayed" by Obama. "He completely ignored them and threw them to the side in this whole process," Rubio said. "My opposition to what the President has done is it won't do anything to further that cause (of democratization), Rubio said on NBC's "Meet the Press." So many Cuban Americans don’t want the U.S. to be friendly with the Castro regime – that’s why they left Cuba – to get away from communism. Does the pope care about them or is he just looking out for church interests as usual?
This topic, gets Francis into the spotlight and catches the attention of the news media and the public. It distracts everyone from the most important issue: Why isn’t Francis devoting any time to fixing the damage the church has already done to millions of children? In his Christmas message we hear him talk about child abuse and trafficking going on in other countries now – but nothing about what the church did to children for the last 2,000 years – nothing about helping the millions of victims suffering every day. Of course the criminal catholic church does not want to acknowledge the rampant child abuse and cover-up of rapist priests – practices that still go on. Catholics confess their sins. Where is your confession Pope Francis? Are you following your own agenda and not acting like a true catholic? What do you want with Cuba? Do you want access to Cuban children? Given his track record* and that of the catholic church if I was a Cuban I would shut the door in his face.
*Conveniently for the U.S. Government and for the catholic church, no one talks about Operation Peter Pan run by a Miami priest, Bryan O. Walsh. In 1960-62 over 14,000 Cuban children were taken from their parents and sent alone to the United States. More than half of them never again saw their families. This was part of a U.S. propaganda plan to frighten Cuban parents by saying that Fidel Castro would send them to Russia. A film was even made, approved by then attorney general Robert F. Kennedy as part of this U.S. anti-communist campaign.
According to María de los Ángeles Torres, a professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, one of the many children (known as Pedro Pans) who were exiled to the U.S., the Catholic church helped convince the parents to give up their children. Some of the children went to catholic orphanages where they suffered indescribable abuse. Others were given up for adoption with U.S. families.
One displaced Cuban says, “my parents were terrified and put me on a plane headed for the United States to save me from communism and the panic that had been sown. I lived among mistreated, abused and abandoned children.” Alex was sent to a camp, along with many other children. After protesting over sexual abuse by the priests there, a social worker promised to send him to a boarding house in Ohio. Instead, he was relocated to an orphanage to silence him. I know personally what happens to children left in catholic orphanages.
This abuse of helpless children was repeated during Argentina’s Dirty War, (1976-1981) when members of the Catholic Church including Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) conspired with the brutal military dictatorship led by General Jorge Rafael Videla. Church members took away the young children and babies of leftist prisoners and found them “more suitable” parents. (see this blog March 9,2014 for details on Pope Francis and the Dirty War).
Cuba doesn’t need the catholic church - it has won accolades for its treatment of children. “In Cuba, there are no children on the streets, no children out of school, no children without access to health services or culture, and there are no unprotected children without opportunities for development,” said Jose Juan Ortiz, UNICEF representative in Cuba. Pope Francis should stay out of politics – he doesn’t pay taxes and shouldn’t have any say in U.S. government actions. He should stay away from children and stop lying about what he does with donations from parishioners. Cuba does not need another hierarchy and dictator especially one that commits crimes in the name of God.
Friday, December 19, 2014
In Gallup, New Mexico the local catholic diocese made public a list of priests who were “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children between 1951 and 2013. This diocese includes Apache, Navajo and Coconino counties – the sad details of abuse of American Indian children by catholic clergy is well known. The list includes over a dozen other clergy and a layperson, but it does not outline any criminal charges, sanctions or how many children were sexually-abused.
Six of the accused priests are deceased. This release of abuser names follows the usual pattern of the church: crimes made public when it is too late to do anything about it. One Arizona lawyer, Robert Pastor explained what “credibly accused” meant to the church: the accused would be prosecuted by the church, not the civil authorities and this was just a way to justify hiding pedophile priests.
A spokesperson for the church had only sketchy details of any “punishment” – some priests were removed or later left the priesthood. Others were later found to be working in different dioceses. Some offenders were sent for rehabilitation –even though the psychiatrists know that pedophiles are never cured.
Barbara Dorris, outreach coordinator for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said that this disclosure was a step in the right direction but said: "It feels like they only do the bare minimum and only when forced…They have had years to do outreach, to try to find these persons who have been hurt, to perform with law enforcement to get to the truth in these instances, and yet what they have carried out is extremely tiny." She said that many priests whose names were on the list are still alive "and, we fear, still have access to kids."
EJ Montini, a columnist for azcentral.com writing about the release of names asked how could it have taken so long and whether other dioceses are still covering up. He related the facts about Rev. George Bredemann, a local priest who in 1989 pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted child molestation and, according to prosecutors, acknowledged 15 other child victims.
To show what is wrong with the attitude of the church, after Bredemann's admission the local Bishop O'Brien said, ''I'm saddened that this has happened to a priest in the Diocese in Phoenix.'' Said Montini, “I noted at the time that his excellency the bishop was confused. That nothing had happened to the priest. It had happened to little boys.” Montini says that according to victim advocates there has never been a full accounting. “There might never be such a thing, not in this life, anyway. I'd guess, I'd hope, however, that for pedophile priests there is a special place in hell,” said Montini.
BishopAccountability.org has an extensive list of Publicly Accused Roman Catholic Priests, Nuns, Brothers, Deacons, and Seminarians in the United States – see if your diocese is listed.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
My wife had surgery in a catholic hospital because her surgeon only operated there and she was in a lot of pain. It was a trauma for me. I had to listen to religious music for 4 hours. I sat there reliving the deadly torture I had from nuns and priests. I noticed where the donations of faithful parishioners go: there was a huge atrium with a waterfall, mountains, real trees, rocks and a life-size nativity set up. While waiting I heard some nurses talking about holy water – that if kept in the home it would ward off evil. More likely it is enriching the pockets of companies like this one:
“Catholic owned and operated from the company's owners, to product buyers, to our marketing staff, and our warehouse employees. Due to our ecumenical nature as Catholics, it is not a requirement that our employees be Catholic. However, being faithful members of the Catholic Church enables us to better support you and your gift-giving needs. Selling online since 2001, The Catholic Company has since been nationally recognized as being a leader in online retail with several awards in customer care and technology”.
So it’s a big business for something that should have no commercial pressure on us. God should bless the water not men – especially not those who are pedophiles or those who support and enable them.
Then, because my wife was not well enough for us to stop off at our local inexpensive pharmacy, we had to use the hospital pharmacy. I said I only had $20 on me and they took it all. In keeping with the holiday spirit (they had none) they refused to give us a partial prescription for the pain medicine and I had to pay for 40 pills. When it was time to leave they were in a hurry to get us out even though my wife was throwing up. This was after she took one of the same pills that had been prescribed and after my wife told them she couldn’t tolerate that medicine. They said it was the only type they prescribe – too bad for her. The hospital is just a money making machine and doesn’t care how they get the money.
Many people are telling me about their experiences with mean and greedy clergy – if you have an experience to relate please share it with all of us. You can also reach me on twitter @georgebarilla.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
The Vatican's economy minister Cardinal George Pell says hundreds of millions of euros were found "tucked away" in Holy See department accounts. None of it appeared in the city-state's balance sheets. By their own admission "It was impossible for anyone to know accurately what was going on overall," said Pell.
This is the same Cardinal Pell of Australia who did not believe that there needed to be an Australian Royal Commission investigating clergy sex crimes and cover ups. This is the same Cardinal Pell who, when a boy spoke up about being raped by a priest -- called the victim’s statements "irresponsible and untrue." This is the same Cardinal Pell who refused to hand over documents about child sex crimes by Catholic officials, to the Royal Commission and stonewalled the the UN Committee Against Torture. So Pope Francis picked a real loser to straighten out Vatican finances.
Pell went on to say that overall Vatican finances were in better shape than previously believed. "It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke ... the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments." We can see from the photo of Pope Francis where some of this excess money goes to – the Vatican kitchen and the Pope’s dinner plate.
At this time of year especially, the Pope should be thinking about sharing all of this excess money with hungry and homeless people and not celebrating this windfall over a seven course meal.
Friday, November 28, 2014
The Newburyport, MA news reported that Richard McCormick, 73, a priest who at one time was in a position equivalent to that of a bishop, was found guilty of five counts of child rape, incidents that took place at a summer camp in Ipswich operated by the Salesian order on the grounds of the former Sacred Heart Retreat during the early 1980s.
Lawrence Superior Court Judge Mary Lou Rup said McCormick “preyed on and exploited the vulnerability of a young boy who was in his care,” leaving him with lifelong scars. Judge Rup said that the victim’s testimony shows that the effects of abuse are permanent.
Everyone saw the man, now 44, cry as he remembered being put in a storage closet by McCormick who repeatedly raped him during two summers in 1981 and 1982. The victim said, “The only thing that matters now is he can’t do it to any more children.”
The convicted McCormick showed little reaction to the sentence, which will be carried out in the state prison in Walpole and if he is still alive by then it will be followed by 10 years of probation. I hope this is a message to the rest of the rapist priests that justice will be served.