Legion of Christ Father Maciel: Bigamist, Pederast, Dope Fiend, and Plagiarist

Alma Guillermoprieto writing (17 May 2010) in the New York Review of Books offers chilling insight into the life of Legion of Christ founder Marcial Maciel and his friendship with Pope John Paul II and Vatican silence about his grossly immoral life style.

Some highlights:

Of all the terrible sexual scandals the hierarchs in the Vatican find themselves tangled in, none is likely to do as much institutional damage as the astounding and still unfolding story of the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel. The crimes committed against children by other priests and bishops may provoke rage, but they also make one want to look away. With Father Maciel, on the other hand, one can hardly tear oneself from the ghastly drama as it unfolds, page by page, revelation by revelation, in the Mexican press.

In the end, the scandal of Marcial Maciel, gruesome and ribald as it is, will turn out to be of much greater significance to the Catholic Church than the isolated terrors inflicted on their victims by one or another European or U.S. bishop or priest. There is the distressing question of the Church’s last Pope, the popular John Paul II, and his relations with the demonic priest. There is the not unimportant fact that the Legionaries—along with Benedict XVI and indeed John Paul—represent the most morally conservative part of the Church, and that they now appear enmeshed in the most squalid moral scandal it is possible to imagine. There is, above all, the fact that an entire, large, wealthy, international institution is now under suspicion (what did Maciel’s fellow Legionaries know, when did they know it, and who was complicit?) and that the greatest institution of all, the Roman Catholic Church, appears to have engaged in a cover-up for decades on its behalf. Catholics who always assumed that a priest and Bing Crosby were more or less identical will need some time to adjust to this knowledge.

From the NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2010/may/17/father-maciel/

Austrian Bishops: Winds of Catholic Reform

Far better than Maria Von Trapp’s Sound of Music are the reverberations coming from Austria.

The Austrian bishops in the course of a three day meeting in Mariazell:

(2)     have called for the ordination of married men

(1)     have asked that the Vatican open discussion about priestly celibacy

(3)    have called for “great reforms in the Church”

Earlier, last week, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna told a group of journalists that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the former Vatican Secretary of State, had “deeply wronged” the victims of sexual abuse by downplaying the importance of the issue. On Easter Sunday, Cardinal Sodano had surprised everyone at the papal liturgy in St. Peter’s Square with an unscheduled statement of support for Pope Benedict XVI. In that statement Cardinal Sodano had referred to criticism of the Pope’s handling of the abuse issue as “petty gossip.” 

Cardinal Schönborn hinted that Cardinal Sodano—still a highly influential figure in Rome, as the dean of the College of Cardinals– had a history of underestimating the abuse problem. Schönborn said that in 1995, the future Pope Benedict pushed for a probe into abuse allegations against Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër – then Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna —  but that Cardinal Sodano resisted the probe. Cardinal Schönborn had earlier told The New York Times in April that Cardinal Ratzinger had called for an investigation of Cardinal Groër, who served as Archbishop of Vienna from 1986 to 1995, but that “the other side, the diplomatic side, had prevailed.”

Schönborn is emerging as a fascinating figure to watch and listen to. Some think he is working to make himself a likely papal successor to his friend and former teacher Joseph Ratzinger.

During his interview with Austrian newspaper reporters, Cardinal Schönborn made several other noteworthy comments:

  • On homosexual couples: “a stable relationship is certainly better than if someone simply indulges in promiscuity.”
  • On Catholics who divorce and remarry: the cardinal said the Church might need to reconsider the idea that they should not receive Communion.
  • On  the Roman Curia: it is “urgently in need of reform.”

They Must be Whispering in the Loggia about Cardinal Levada

ABC News has focused once again on the actions and inaction of Cardinal William Levada, former Archbishop of Portland, Oregon (1986-1995) and Archbishop of San Francisco (1995-2005). In 2005 he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of  the Faith.

GILLIAN FLACCUS and BROOKE DONALD of the Associated Press report:

While Levada, 73, has played a key role in several church sex-abuse reforms, in several cases as archbishop in California and Oregon he kept some accused molesters in the church and failed to share some allegations with police or parishioners. According to interviews and hundreds of pages of personnel files, deposition transcripts and court records over a 20-year period reviewed by The Associated Press, Levada allowed molesters to remain in the priesthood, didn’t respond to pleas to notify parishioners of an abusive priest and worked with an alleged abuser to establish a lay review board.

Complete report here:             http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=10649634

I am sure there must be a good explanation…….And certainly some widespread whispering in the Vatican loggia.

Ecclesiastical Fashion Show


In order of appearance: Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop Paul Cremona of Malta,  Archbishop Raymond Burke,   Cardinal Castrillon, Cardinal Pell again but………………….. the all time winner has to be: Archbishop Raymond Burke!

And today’s episcopal fashion show Bible reading is from Matthew 23:5:

“They do everything to attract people’s attention. They make their headbands large and the tassels on their shawls long.”

Cardinal Law’s Destructive Symbolism

A handful of Roman Catholic bishops around the world have now resigned either because of their complicity in covering up clerical sexual abuse or because they themselves abused children and teenagers.

It is now time for Cardinal Bernard Francis Law to hand in his resignation as Archpriest of Rome’s venerable Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. He is a triumphalist symbol of all that is wrong in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church: abusive power that not only goes unpunished but finds institutional embellishment and reinforcement in one of the world’s  oldest of old boys’ clubs.

Cardinal Law was the first bishop shown to have actively participated in the cover-up of child molestation. Despite substantial amounts of documentation that demonstrated Bernard Law’s deep involvement in covering up the molestation of thousands of children by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, Pope John Paul II appointed him to the comfortable and prestigious position at Santa Maria Maggiore. And incredibly, Law remains an influential churchman. Although he is now 78, the old fellow could still reign in Renaissance splendor for many more years. His predecessor at Maria Maggiore held on until he was 82.

As Patrick Fleming observed in the Tablet (8 May 2010), “Every kind of addict, including the sexual addict who abuses children, requires an enabler to continue in his or her illness.”

Cardinal Law  remains a strong symbol of the abusive enabler. And the institutional church continues to honor and rely on him as a member of the congregations for: the Oriental Churches, the Clergy, Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Evangelization of Peoples, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Catholic Education, Bishops as well as the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Some symbol indeed!

Pope Benedict has stressed the need for a “purification” of the church. Well said. But words need reinforcement in concrete action. Otherwise they are little more than “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

A Prayer and A Word for Father Mike

“Father Mike” is not his real name; but he is a very real person. One of my former students, who has now been a Catholic priest for fifteen years. He was a good student: outgoing, exceptionally bright, a likeable and healthy young man. And a zealous young man with deep faith. Nothing goofy or superficial or phony about Mike. For some reason — maybe just the concern of an old professor for one of his star students — I called him last week. I asked him how he was. For a couple minutes we exchanged the normal chit chat. He asked about my wife, and we talked about her as well. Then I said:  “BUT YOU…how are you doing in these upside-down Catholic days?” Silence for a few seconds and then I heard him sobbing. Very unlike Mike. “I’m not doing very well…” he stuttered.

Mike explained that he is now pastor of three parishes. That he thought he could handle, because they are small places in the country. What is destroying him right now however is the innuendo; the stares from parishioners, who are now distancing themselves from him; and the accusations of teenagers in his youth group.

It started last week, at a first communion practice. Parents with whom he has worked — and partied —  for a couple years, protectively held on to their kids when Mike approached them to get them lined up for a procession rehearsal. He said, “it seems that they are now all looking at me and thinking ‘is he one of them too?'” Then he said he thought he was just being paranoid. But then again….. on Sunday evening, he walked into the youth group gathering and found a group huddled in the corner of the room. They fell silent as he walked in. Then one of the high school sophomores called out: “hey Fr. Mike do you get off on kids and teenage boys?”

Now I was about sobbing. Mike — and there are a great many Father Mikes out there — is a very fine and good and healthy and trustworthy priest.

I will give Father Mike all the support I can. I hope readers of this bog will reach out a supportive hand to your Father Mikes. They need us and we need them!

Right Wing Christians and Tea Party People

The American Tea Party people, and all right wing authoritarians, are dangerous people. They will succeed in their destructive agenda, unless concerned people begin to think, speak-out, and act.  As Führer Hitler is reported to have said: “What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.”

Within the Church as well there is a vocal and militant minority of Tea Party-style Catholics who blindly and unthinkingly follow the orders of authoritarian and regressive “leaders.”

Seven qualities characterize the behavior of such right wing authoritarians. And they are hardly the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit!

(1) Authoritarian Submission

(2) Fear

(3) Self-Righteousness

(4) Hostility

(5) Lack of critical thinking

(6) Group empowerment

(7) Dogmatism


Authoritarian submission:

Tea Party people seem to believe unquestioningly whatever their leaders say. Manipulative right wing authorities such as Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and Sarah Palin can proclaim outlandish and utterly false statements; and their followers reverence their every word. They are happy to let others do their thinking for them.


The Tea Party people announced that President Obama’s health care proposals would set up “death panels” that would euthanize weak or infirmed Americans like Down’s syndrome babies. And a number of influential American bishops announced that the final heath care legislation would pave the way for more abortions. All untrue. Fear, however, is a convenient way to control people.


Self-righteousness reigns strongly in authoritarian leaders and followers. Combined with fear, it unleashes powerful aggression. Tea Party people describe themselves as “the good Americans,” “the true Americans,” “the people,” and “the American Patriots.”  Yet they abuse and threaten their “opponents,” and spread malicious gossip about them.


Hatred for “the other” characterizes all right wing authoritarians. It thrives in hate campaigns, demonstrations, and labeling people as “liars,” or “Communists” or “heretics.” Along a rural road in southwest Michigan a sign went up (but didn’t stay up long) shortly after the election of Mr. Obama: “We Used to Hang Niggers — Now We Send Them to Washington!” 

Lack of Critical Thinking:

I am amazed at the number of people who accept, without question, the nonsense that still flows from Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and other right wing demagogues about Barack Obama: that he is a closet Muslim, that he is a socialist, or that he is not really an American. And we have the ongoing nonsense from some Catholic leaders, who assert that pedophilia is due to homosexuality, that “abused” teenagers themselves had “invited abuse,” or that all children are homosexuals, until they are taught not to be.

Group Empowerment:

Authoritarian followers are highly conforming people. Assembled in a group of like-minded believers, they are more likely to do things, especially aggressive things which they would not ordinarily do alone. So for instance: the lynch mobs and KKK gatherings in the South, angry and fearful people winding each other up, yelling slogans of untruth and deception. We still hear the echoes of one mob refrain: “Obama is a tyrant!”


Authoritarians are intrinsically dogmatic. When leaders establish opinions and beliefs for their followers, they are carved in stone. Dogmatic edict and blind obedience and blind faith go hand in hand. Condemnation or death to all “traitors.”

Catholic Fundamentalism: Nineteenth Century Authoritarianism

Bob Altemeyer, associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of Manitoba, has written an excellent book on authoritarianism. I find it particularly helpful for understanding the psychological landscape of contemporary Roman Catholic fundamentalism and the Vatican-sponsored regression to a self-serving nineteenth century style Roman Catholic ethos. The book is free and available online. First an excerpt:

Fundamentalists…are highly likely to be authoritarian followers. They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority, and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs.

They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often hypocrites. But they are also Teflon-coated when it comes to guilt. They are blind to themselves, ethnocentric and prejudiced, and as closed-minded as they are narrow minded.

They can be woefully uninformed about things they oppose, but they prefer ignorance and want to make others become as ignorant as they…  

You can download the book here:


Pedophilia? Archbishop says it’s the fault of those gay kids…….

Archbishop Dadeus Grings, from the Archdiocese of Porto Alegre which is one of the largest dioceses in Brazil,  is living proof that ignorance and just plain stupidity are not affected by the grace of Holy Orders.

Grings has not only linked pedophilia with homosexuality, as did Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone,  but now asserts that pedophilia is understandable because all children are “spontaneously gay.” Great! Now we have a new scapegoat: little gay boys and girls.

The Archbishop, who is also chancellor of the Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, did in fact denounce sexual abuse within the church; but he stressed that internal ecclesiastical  punishment for priests guilty of abuse was sufficient and that the police should not be involved. “For the church to go and accuse its own sons would be a little strange,” Archbishop Grings said a few days ago. Well I guess that makes sense if the real fault lies with all those perverted gay kids.

Showing his alert pastoral concern, Grings said therefore that it is important to help children avoid homosexuality.”We know that the adolescent is spontaneously homosexual. Boys play with boys, girls play with girls….If there is no proper guidance, this sticks. The question is – how are we going to educate our children to use a sexuality that is human and suitable?”

Grings also argued that society’s acceptance of homosexuality is paving the way for an acceptance of pedophilia. Demonstrating insight and a keen sense of social justice, Archbishop Grings noted as well: “Before, the homosexual wasn’t spoken of. He was discriminated against….When we begin to say they have rights, rights to demonstrate publicly, pretty soon, we’ll find the rights of pedophiles.”

Known for his socio-historical awareness, the Archbishop of Porto Alegre argued in 2003 that just one million – and not six million – Jews died in the Holocaust, although a few years later he recanted this opinion. Nevertheless, last year he outraged Jewish groups in Brazil by telling a magazine that “more Catholics than Jews died in the Holocaust, but this isn’t known because Jews control the world’s media.'”

No Pope No Bishop Among 100 Influential

Time Magazine has announced its 2010 list of  “the 100 most influential people” who shape our world.

Although the Vatican has revved up its PR tactics, Pope Benedict did not make it in any category. In fact no Roman Catholic bishop made it in any category: neither among leaders, nor heroes, nor thinkers, nor leaders in social networking; nor even among artists, although we all know that our pope and bishops are indeed colorful actors.

This American Catholic is delighted to point out however that SISTER Carol Keehan, however DID make the list! Remember Sister Carol? She is the one denounced by so many high-placed US bishops.

I love what Victoria Reggie Kennedy writes in Time about Sister Carol:

Courageous and purposeful, Sister Carol Keehan, 66, is a deeply religious Catholic woman dedicated to carrying out the healing ministry of Jesus Christ on earth. Her leadership of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) has been defined by advocacy for the poor and an unwavering respect for human dignity. Her fight to reform health care was an extension of her concern for the most vulnerable in our society and was as integral to the mission of CHA as providing medical services. Undeterred by her critics, she refused to back down as she fought for reforms that would include prenatal and maternity care and coverage for uninsured children. She fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.

Leadership is not about doing what’s easy. It’s about doing what’s right. Last March, my husband, Senator Edward Kennedy, said he looked forward to being a foot soldier in the fight for reform and vowed that, this time, we would not fail. Sister Carol was a vital foot soldier in that fight.

And this time, we did not fail.