Friday, January 30, 2015

Pope Francis grants sainthood to Junipero Serra abuser of Native Americans: Why Canonize Genocide?

                      Native American children losing their cultural identity

Pope Francis said last week that he will make the 18th-century Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra, a saint. Making him a saint would honor this brutal colonizer and many Native Americans protest. Ron Andrade, executive director of the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission, compared Serra to Hitler. Andrade, a LuiseƱo, said Serra “decimated 90% of the Indian population.”  More than 90% of the children born in the missions died before the age of ten: expectancy for the children was 7.4 years for the seven Baja California missions, and 4.5 years for 20 Alta California establishments.”

“Everywhere they put a mission the majority of Indians are gone,” Andrade said, “and Serra knew what they were doing: they were taking the land, taking the crops, he knew the soldiers were raping women, and he turned his head.” Sounds like the bishops today who cover up for priests that rape children.

Serra wrote: "That spiritual fathers, the priests should be able to punish their sons, the Indians with blows appears to be as old as the conquest of (the Americas)."

Native Americans were made to convert and live in restricted communities totally different from their lives of hunting and foraging. They were whipped for disobedience, captured if they tried to flee, and raped by soldiers. The missions were run like slave plantations and the people were treated like children -- and we have seen how the Catholic Church treats children – the way they treated me.

Steven Newcomb writing for says the Catholic Church’s policy of domination was created by Pope Alexander VI in 1493 who said that non-Christian “barbarous nations” should become Christian. He said the “mission” of the church was to dominate the land belonging to Native nations throughout “the Americas.” By granting sainthood to Serra, Pope Francis is approving of genocide. “It is a cruel irony that Pope Francis will finalize his canonization of Father Serra during the World Meeting of Families, in “the city of Brotherly love,” in the territory of our Lenape Nation,” said Newcomb, of Shawnee and Lenape Native American descent.

Is it coincidence that Adolf Hitler got his ideas about how to run a concentration camp (like Auschwitz) from what was done to Native Americans? According to the Pulitzer-Prize winning biographer John Toland, Hitler was inspired in part by the Indian reservation system. Is it another coincidence that Hitler also said, “There has never been anything more grandiose on the earth than the hierarchical organization of the Catholic Church. I transferred much of this organization into my own party.” As I reported in my book “Smothered” that Hitler was supported by the Catholic Church and that was how he was able to fool so many people and commit genocide.  So now we have Pope Francis from a church with a history of supporting mass murderers bestowing sainthood on an enabler of genocide. He isn’t the first pope to make a saint out of a sinner.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Doubt, a play: did the catholic priest do it or not?

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.

                                                               Play Review    

George Barilla and Mariagrazia LaFauci, director of "Doubt" (Flyleaf Theater Company)

The theater was filled and the play was a success. There were people of all ages and the play made a lot of people think about the issue of pedophile priests who can get access to our children. The director, Mariagrazia LaFauci put together a group of good actors, eye catching sets and lighting and an obvious awareness of the reality of the issue to create an image that will stay with the audience. The play was better than the movie and I think that is because the movie director didn’t talk to real survivors.  It was so great when the Executive Director of Flyleaf, J. Parker Eldridge, announced that part of the proceeds from the play will be donated to The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Considering that Flyleaf is a non-profit organization what they have done is even more extraordinary.  They are a great group of professional, dedicated and caring people – thank you all.   

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Crowds cheer in Philippines for Pope Francis while children are chained and abused

The 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.