QAnon in Religious and Historical Perspective: We’re All Illuminati and Satanists

Recently, the editorial board of OpEdNews (OEN) — where I’m a senior editor — opened an on-line thread about QAnon and similar right-wing political movements.  In the course of the exchanges, editors criticized the latter simply as “conspiracy nuts” whose screeds should be banned from OEN.

After all, conspiratorial political analysis (often supported by odd mythologies, cosmologies and spiritualities) centralizes reptilian aliens. It ends up holding that the world is controlled by a cabal of pedophiles up to their necks in the business of human trafficking. The cabal is somehow associated with the “illuminati,” and with Luciferian Satan worship connected with the consumption of the adrenalized blood of trafficked children. For many, such references raise the specter of anti-Semitism.  

Moreover, the conspiratorialists in question support President Trump as a champion of children victimized by such commerce. His actions on their behalf is demonstrated, they say, by his 20 executive orders intended to inhibit such traffic. His border wall is largely responsible for restraining it dramatically. All of this, they observe, is ignored by the corrupt mainstream media. 

Additionally, QAnon and others of their stripe dismiss Covid-19 as a “plandemic” fabricated to “reset” the world economy even more in favor of its controlling one-percenters while intensifying their already oppressive management of the remaining 99%. Accordingly, mask mandates and social distancing measures should be resisted in the name of common sense and personal liberty.

Without enumerating them all, OEN editors wondered, what’s not to reject in such apparently unhinged allegations?

This Essay

The point of the following is to answer that question. In fact, it will argue that in religious and historical perspective, the QAnon conspiracy theorists speak more truth than perhaps even they intuit. As we’ll see, the world has indeed been controlled for millennia by a Luciferian Satanic cabal headed by groups of Illuminati with many deeply engaged in the practice of worldwide pedophilia. What’s more, allegations of anti-Semitism though worrisome, often have the effect of protecting pedophiles and deflecting attention from the major business interest that the vice represents.

The values of those involved their opponents say, are so alien to decent people that the guilty ones might as well be invaders from another planet. They seem completely controlled by what psychologists call the primitive reptilian brain. Excluding higher brain functions, it fosters pathological obsession with money, power, pleasure and social status; it excludes empathy and compassion. Reptilian aliens indeed.

We’ll also see that none of the terms many find off-putting – not Lucifer, Satan or illuminati – is sinister, much less evil or self-evidently crazy. And there’s a certain sense in which both Satan and Lucifer have long been undeniably worshipped especially by all westerners including Christians and Jews. And finally, the existence of a controlling unelected cabal and a huge worldwide pedophilia ring is itself beyond question – as is the fact that the already rich are benefitting spectacularly from the coronavirus pandemic.

I want to make this case because realizing the elements of sanity in movements like QAnon opens the door to dialog and cooperation with those on the right whom progressives can too easily dismiss as one-dimensional conspiracy fanatics. Again, they’re not crazy. They’re mostly working-class people who like the rest of us know something’s deeply wrong with the world. They correctly grasp that what’s wrong involves the elite, widespread child abuse and human trafficking largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Worldwide Pedophilia

For starters, QAnon’s allegations of globally organized pedophilia reflect an undeniable fact. Personally, I know what I’m talking about, because as a former priest, it turns out that I was unwittingly inducted into what everyone now sees as a de facto global pedophilic ring impacting more than 1.2 billion people. I’m referring to the Roman Catholic child rapists systematically protected by colleagues, bishops and popes. Think about it: the phenomenon is worldwide; it’s pedophilic; its coverup constitutes a conspiracy. Saying so is not insane.

Additionally, as shown in the recently released McCarrick Report, the Catholic ring had connections to an even wider pedophilic practices among the world’s elite. Its iceberg tip as suggested (in the Epstein scandal) enjoyed connections with the CIA, mi5, mi6, Mossad, and mafias of various types throughout the world. It’s arguably linked to Hollywood, academia and governments across the planet.

Again, all of that is just the tip of a huge iceberg whose gargantuan proportions simply stand to reason. The case of the Catholic Church shows that the pedophilic appetite is there. And, of course, it’s not confined to the clergy. This means that there is big money to be made in the trafficking of children connected with general prostitution, massage parlors, pornography, stripping, live-sex shows, mail-order brides, the foster child system, military prostitution, sex tourism, body organ harvesting, and associated money laundering and blackmail operations.

(Just a microcosmic example. . . One trafficked girl can be forced to have sex with 10 to 15 men each day. A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that on average, a single sex slave like that can earn her procurers at least $250,00 a year. Needless to say, business models involving that kind of money are highly attractive to organized crime and others.)

And it is by no means a stretch to argue that government officials are involved in the traffic – not any more than to allege that they profit from and protect the drug trade and ancillary money-laundering. We know too much to deny that. We know about the CIA’s direct role in the Central American drug trade during the 1980s (and beyond), as well as the connections between Mexico’s drug cartels and police and government officials in Mexico.

Relatedly, ex-NSA officer and whistle blower, Bill Binney, has maintained in pubic interviews that employing his former bosses’ unprecedented surveillance technology, the NSA could easily keep track of, reveal, and take legal measures against the entire human trafficking network. He says that with ten people, he himself could within thirty days identify not only domestic enemies, but every traitor, every elite child molester, and every money-laundering white-collar criminal in the world.   

So, it’s not unduly conspiratorial to allege that members of the world’s elite get together to conceive, plan and protect the operations involving children just listed. Again, we know too much about J. Edgar Hoover and his deals with mafia kingpins. In addition, the Epstein scandal itself and its implications of government officials, royals from various countries, the CIA, Israel’s Mossad, Catholic Church officials, and bankers for purposes of money-laundering, reveals a level of criminal planning that fulfills the very definition of conspiracy.

For instance, what do you think the world’s financial elite are doing during G7 and similar conferences? If it’s true that human trafficking is among the fastest growing enterprises in the world yielding billions to trillions in revenue each year, do you think they can avoid its discussion? If not involved in its day-to-day activities, bankers simply can’t avoid involvement in its money-laundering schemes? It would be insanely naïve to think otherwise.

Instead, it is perfectly sensible to affirm that a powerful faction of the world’s elite (if you don’t like the word “cabal”) is deeply involved in pedophilic and associated operations that are fostered, protected, and extended virtual immunity from prosecution. Their processes, procedures and crimes go virtually unreported in the mainstream media. (Think of how little we’ve heard from Ghislaine Maxwell since her arrest).

The Illuminati

And it’s all connected with the “illuminati,” secret societies and conservative rejection of the same. Everything in the modern world is. That’s especially true in the United States whose very founders were children of the Enlightenment; they were illuminati. And in the 18th century, people like them had to form secret societies such as the Free Masons complete with identifying handshakes and passwords. They needed them simply to protect themselves from the Catholic Church establishment and their royal antagonists. 

Additionally, and despite the spirit of the French Revolution, the illuminati worldwide had not yet entirely jettisoned belief in God. Instead, they were deists. They had largely rejected the Bible in favor of a “watchmaker divinity” who had created a self-governing, clock-like universe, set it spinning according to Newton’s laws and had not been heard from since. Many of the Founding Fathers of the United States were all illuminati in that sense.

Ironically and to this day, Christian fundamentalists find that kind of Founding Father secularism highly objectionable. They continue to mistrust science, evolution, psychotherapy, Marxist criticism, and modern biblical scholarship. No wonder the term “illuminati” retains sinister overtones for Republicans whose most powerful wing is comprised of white Christian evangelicals.

No wonder the latter can overlook the moral failings of Donald Trump and even see him as a messiah. Such apparent contradiction survives as one of our nation’s anti-intellectual cornerstones. 

Satanic, Luciferian Cults

As for Lucifer and Satan . . . The Constantinian betrayal of the authentic Jesus tradition (during the 4th century CE) turned Christians generally into Satan worshippers. Paradoxically, it also had them vilifying Jesus who was originally identified as the Great Bearer of Light (Lucifer) for his liberating message that contradicted the world’s self-serving imperial morality.

To be more specific, the book of Job shows that the being called “Satan” was in Hebrew lore a prominent member of God’s heavenly court. In fact, Satan was originally the representative of the Persian Empire in those celestial precincts. (Evidently, it was impossible for the ancient biblical authors to believe that an entity as powerful as Persia could not find representation in the ultimate seat of power.) As the imperial advisor of Yahweh, Satan was the defender of empire’s law and order.

It was precisely this Satan whom Jesus repeatedly repudiated in the gospel accounts of his words and deeds (see Matthew 4:10 and Mark 8:33). In his tale about Jesus’ temptation in the desert, Luke (4:6) has Satan (now identified with the devil) showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and telling him “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” In other words, according to early Christian tradition, attainment of imperial power is dependent on Satan worship.

Jesus’ rejection of Satan’s offer was a rebuff to empire that reached its apotheosis in the Book of Revelation where (according to Apocalypse mythology) Satan and his imperial legions were expelled definitively from Yahweh’s heavenly realm (Revelation 12: 7-12).

Such rejection in the atmosphere of hated imperial Rome, led Jewish Christians to imagine Jesus as “Lucifer,” the bearer of light – the ancient world’s avatar consistently associated with the morning star, the planet Venus, and with human wisdom and liberation.

The point is that all of this was reversed when under Constantine a prevailing faction of church leaders agreed to exercise condominium with Rome over its vast empire. To do so, they had to in effect deify Satan and call him “God” while vilifying Jesus’ revolutionary spirit by demonizing Lucifer. Thus, Jesus’ antinomian, anti-imperial stance became heresy, while obedience to law and empire became orthodoxy.

So, even according to biblical texts, there is truth to the contemporary conspiratorial position that the world is run by worshippers of Satan.

Anti-Semitism

Standard articles about QAnon and anti-Semitism begin by observing that the movement is not doctrinally anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, because of its denunciations of a world-controlling elite including figures such as George Soros and the Rothschilds, QAnon is often accused of that bigotry. Moreover, as we’ve seen, it and similar groups allege that the elite in question are connected to criminal enterprises that sometimes include the consumption of adrenalized blood by the so-called Satanists just referenced.

In the eyes of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and others, such criticisms and allegations, understandably evoke “anti-Semitic tropes” that are considered enough to justify labeling and dismissing those using them as basically anti-Semitic. However, (again, though understandable in the light of the Holocaust’s unspeakable horrors) the charges ignore at least six important factors:

  • Because of its frequent misapplication, the term “anti-Semitism” has been politicized almost to the point of meaninglessness. It has been used to discredit supporters of Palestinian rights, upholders of international law, members of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement as well as Jewish leaders such as Bernie Sanders and Noam Chomsky. The term has even been used to characterize those who do not completely endorse the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • In fact, Alan Dershowitz, longtime colleague of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, has already played the anti-Semite card.
  • Nevertheless, according to the Anti-Defamanation League, anti-Semitism is not a specific plank in Q-anon’s platform. Instead, while noting the earlier referenced trope allusions, the League has said “the vast majority of QAnon-inspired conspiracy theories have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.” 
  • George Soros and the Rothschilds are integral parts of the one percent criticized by virtually all progressives without anti-Semitic overtones.
  • Anti-Semites can be found in almost any group one cares to name. Offending tropes (e.g. “eating of blood”) actually originated with the Roman Catholic Church, were shockingly given voice by Martin Luther, and were reprised by Lutherans and Catholics in Nazi Germany. Yet neither Luther nor most of the groups just mentioned are routinely dismissed as anti-Semitic.
  • The charge of anti-Semitism is frequently stretched to discredit allegations of worldwide trafficking in children as “conspiracy theory” thus protecting the traffickers involved.

In summary, all of this impedes honest discussion of human trafficking in general and pedophilia in particular. Such prevention has arguably been an important factor enabling individuals like Jeffrey Epstein, Alan Dershowitz, and Ghislaine Maxwell to spend decades freely engaging in the traffic of underage females. 

Conclusion 

None of the foregoing is meant to endorse QAnon or related so-called conspiracy theories. It is however to say that their adherents should not be dismissed out of hand. In fact, they occupy terrain that is largely friendly to progressives – despite their support of Donald Trump. For instance:

  • They are not our class enemies; we all belong to the working class
  • They are sworn enemies of the one percent.
  • They correctly recognize the alien, reptilian, and pathological nature of the world’s elite controllers
  • They call us to recognize our own identities as illuminati and as satanic insofar as we support empire
  • They absolutely and correctly distrust the mainstream media.
  • They are similarly and justifiably suspicious of government officials.
  • They specifically recognize that official responses to the pandemic are deeply unfair and therefore highly suspicious
  • Their moral concern for children, child abuse and human trafficking is completely admirable.

Realizing such areas of convergence makes dialog and cooperation possible. That in turn helps us overcome the divide and conquer strategies of our keepers who would have us believe that potential allies are irredeemable deplorables who should be excluded even from the revolutionary pages of OpEdNews.

Anti-Semitism, Holocaust Denial, Hurt Feelings: The Bible’s Prophetic Tradition

Rob Kall, the editor in chief of OpEdNews (OEN) recently published a provocative edition of a weekly Zoom call among editors and contributors to his website. It was provocative because the remarks of one of the participants about fascism and the Jewish holocaust caused several other attendees to take offense and vehemently accuse him of holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. The discussion that ensued led Rob to wisely recommend caution in approaching such sensitive topics.

In my capacity as a theologian of the specifically Judeo-Christian Tradition, the conversation made me realize that the type of criticism that offended so many on the OEN call was entirely biblical. It was consonant with the tradition of Jewish prophets like Amos and Jesus of Nazareth who because they denounced the rich and powerful among their countrymen, were roundly accused of being self-hating Jews.

My hope is that summarizing the offending remarks on the one hand along with the outraged responses to them on the other, might highlight the value of the biblical tradition in helping us transcend national and institutional loyalties that prevent frank self-criticism and acceptance of historical fact.

Offending Remarks

Begin by considering the provocative remarks in question. In paraphrase, they ran as follows:

“I never use the word ‘fascist,’” the provocateur said. “I never use the word ‘holocaust’ either. That’s because the simple use of those words implies that one accepts the assumptions of Zionists and right-wing Jews. I refuse to do that, because the words suggest that in the 1930s, the German Jews were entirely innocent, when they weren’t – not by a long shot.

“I mean, no one hates any person or group without reason. For instance, the Shylock character in the “Merchant of Venice” wasn’t simply a product of Shakespeare’s imagination. Shylock had a foundation in reality – in people’s experience.  And like Shylock, elite Jews in Germany gave Germans plenty of reason for hating them. In turn, Hitler used that legitimate animosity towards the few to tar all Jews – even the poorest and most exploited – with the same well-justified brush.

“Let me explain.

“The fact is that the period from the end of the 19th century to WWI was a very prosperous time. Working class expectations for social mobility were on the rise. However, to move up the social ladder – to become an attorney, for instance — one had to belong to certain clubs (like guilds) in order to get clients. Wealthy Jews who were the bankers, attorneys and physicians, controlled the clubs in question; and they wouldn’t let working class people in. That created a lot of bitterness towards Jews in general.

“Before that, under feudalism and until the end of the First World War, the people who owned the land were the nobles, the clergy, the burghers and yes, the Jews. Wealthy Jews were not peasants. They had privileges. For instance, they could carry weapons. They also bought leases to the estates of the nobles (sometimes the size of entire counties). They managed those estates for a profit.

“In other words, wealthy Jews were the interface between the peasants and the nobles.

“At the same time, the nobles mistrusted the Jews I’m describing because (again) they were the bankers, attorneys, and physicians. The nobles resented having to trust the Jews for all those essential services. For their part, the peasants mistrusted the Jews just referenced because they were always in debt to them as their landlords.

“Then following the First World War and the Treaty of Versailles, Germany experienced tremendous inflation that drastically devalued the German mark. The Jews were blamed for that too because they controlled banking. The fact is that Jewish bankers engineered the inflation to bring down the actual costs of repaying the debts demanded by the Versailles treaty. That served the interests of the wealthiest Germans who, like the wealthy today, kept their money not in savings accounts but in stocks, bonds, and real estate. Unlike working class savings accounts, the value of stocks, bonds, and real estate float with inflation. So, inflation helped the rich Germans stay rich, but completely wiped out the country’s workers, both Jewish and non-Jewish. 

“Finally, there came the Great Crash of 1929 that impoverished everyone. So, by the time Hitler came to power in 1933, the Germans, the Poles, the Hungarians and the Austrians were all ready to explode. And, of course, Hitler lit the match with his identification of all Jews as the root of their problems.”

Defensive Responses

Responses mainly from Jewish participants in Rob’s Zoom call came thick and fast.

They included the following:

  • I disagree. People do in fact hate individuals and groups for no reason at all. And Jews in Hitler’s Germany represent a case in point. They were completely innocent. To hint otherwise is simply anti-Semitic and leads to holocaust denial.
  • I don’t think there were very many Jews who managed property for the feudal lords. Yes, there may have been a few Jews who had a lot of power, and there is something to the Rothschilds, and now we have the Zionists that I absolutely hate. However . . .
  • You’re talking about Jews as if they were somehow monolithic. Most Jews were poor.
  • Yes, my own ancestors were holocaust victims and I assure you that they had nothing to do with what you’ve just described.
  • My grandmother was dragged off to Auschwitz with her husband and three children. Their entire village was leveled.
  • I’ve heard these tired arguments before – you know: the Jews keep to themselves, they wear odd clothes, speak their own language, etc., etc. It’s all part of anti-Semitism. I don’t buy any of it.
  • You should be ashamed of yourself. You’re nothing but an anti-Semitic holocaust denier. You’re basically saying that “The Jews deserved what they got in the holocaust. That makes you uncivilized; you should get off this call.”
  • I hope you’re recording all of this, Rob, so we can go back and see who’s misrepresenting what.

Biblical Perspective

Of course, it’s probably futile for a member of the goyim like me to comment on the dialog just summarized. Frankly, I’m unqualified to do so. My relatives and loved ones weren’t the ones slaughtered in Hitler’s crematoria and gas chambers. They weren’t among the peasants, laborers, shopkeepers, mothers, fathers, grandparents and children whose lives were cruelly wasted and destroyed by the Third Reich.

Instead, as Elie Wiesel has pointed out again and again, my Christian religious cohorts were the very ones who incinerated Jews during the week, went to confession on Saturday, were given absolution, received Holy Communion on Sunday, and then returned to their gruesome work the following day.

Yet, it must be acknowledged that my religious tradition is also specifically Judeo-Christian. Its central figure is the Jewish prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, who was a reformer of Judaism and had no intention of founding the new religion that ended up defaming Jews as God killers – and who finished by supporting Hitler’s genocide. Jesus was not a Christian; from his birth to his death, he was a proud and faithful Jew.

In a sense, then, especially as a theologian in this tradition, I too am somehow a spiritual Semite. Whether they realize it or not, all Christians are. So, in that capacity, please indulge the attempt that follows to shed some biblical light on the dialog centralized here.

What really happened in the Zoom conversation just summarized mirrored exactly the traditional dynamic between on the one hand Jewish prophets like Amos and Jesus, and on the other, their contemporaries, especially among the elite in Amos’ 8th century BCE and in Jesus’ first century of our era. Both Amos and Jesus (as typical Jewish prophets):

  • Denounced their nation’s elite in no uncertain terms
  • Predicted that their crimes would lead to destruction of the entire nation
  • Were vilified as unpatriotic, self-hating Jews
  • Were threatened with ostracism, imprisonment and death
  • And were often (as in the case of Jesus) assassinated for their prophetic words      

Put otherwise, the Jewish prophets were social critics – the kind of clear-eyed seers who weren’t afraid to blame the powerful in their own nation for crimes that brought harm, ruin, death and destruction to the entire nation. The prophets did not blame the widows, orphans, foreigners, peasants, unemployed, beggars, prostitutes, or the hobbled and ill. Instead, they unstintingly impugned the equivalents of Germany’s Jewish one percent while recognizing that the crimes of those few inevitably brought ruin, pain, exile and death even to the innocent among their own people. It’s simply the way the world works.

For his part, Amos criticized the wealthy for breaking covenant with Yahweh, their God, the traditional protector of widows, orphans and resident non-Jews. Instead of caring for the poor, the one-percenters, he said, lay on beds of ivory, lounged idly on soft couches, drank the finest wines, anointed themselves with precious perfumes and oils, lived in their luxurious summer houses while underpaying and overcharging the peasant poor. They victimized everyone, even the most innocent. Such crimes brought harm, the prophet warned, to everyone, even the most innocent. Once again, that was simply the law of cause and effect.

Jesus did something similar under the Roman Empire. His prophetic criticism was directed not towards his people’s poor majority; he didn’t blame them. No, he unrelentingly criticized their Jewish exploiters. However, at the same time he knew that the crimes of those powerful would cause untold suffering for everyone. So, he predicted the absolute destruction of Jerusalem where forty years after his death more than one million innocent Jews were slaughtered and nearly 100,000 of his blameless compatriots were captured and enslaved.

To repeat, that’s the way the world works. The blameworthy crimes of the powerful cause suffering, death and massacre for the innocent majority.

Conclusion

Despite what I said about being unqualified to comment on words that seem cruel and insensitive to victimized Jews, I do know something about being tarred with a broad brush. As a Roman Catholic and former priest, I could easily be accused of being part of a worldwide pedophilic ring represented by the priesthood and hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. It would even be true to say that the ring has connections to an even wider movement of pedophiles among the world’s elite whose iceberg tip revealed (e.g. in the Epstein scandal) connections with the CIA, mi5, mi6, Mossad, and Mafias of various types throughout the world.

All of that would be true even though I never personally encountered any hint of pedophilia in all my more than 20 years preparing for and direct involvement in the Roman Catholic priesthood. It remains true despite the innumerable saints, martyrs, and holy men and women I’ve known personally and from the otherwise hallowed history of the Catholic Church.

The point here is that as an American, and much more as a former priest, I’ve been deeply associated with horrendous institutional delinquencies that I’d rather not discuss, because they hit too close to my spiritual and cultural identity. In other words, I find in my own community, uncomfortable truths that parallel the “accusations” against the Jewish 1% in Hitler’s Germany. I feel resentment at their very mention.

Nonetheless, and despite my hurt feelings, truth remains truth. And in the spirit of Amos and Jesus, I must face the facts and draw appropriate conclusions. Doing so draws me out of ghettoized consciousness and self-defensive denial. It creates room for self-criticism, dialog and recognitions that might head off further community disaster.

Why Jeffrey Epstein’s “Suicide” Is So Suspicious

I could hardly believe my eyes Saturday morning, when I read in Alternet that Jeffery Epstein was found dead in his jail cell of apparent suicide. And I find it hard to believe that he killed himself, especially since he’s been on “suicide watch” since the discovery of apparently self-inflicted bruises on his neck last month. Instead, I suspect he was killed by the CIA. My suspicion is based on my close reading for the past few days of muckraker, Whitney Webb‘s three-part expose´, “The Jeffery Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail.”

Webb’s series makes the point that the Epstein pedophilia scandal threatened to blow apart the entire U.S. government house of cards. It opened up a potentially devastating window not only on the sordid lives of Epstein and his close friends, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, but on the profound corruption of the entire U.S. government and of international politics as a whole. Though connected with the pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church, the scale of the Epstein branch of institutionalized child abuse absolutely dwarfs the shameful hypocrisy of justly vilified ecclesiastical criminals.

Epstein’s federal trial was scheduled to begin next summer. This means that the details of his crimes (and, more importantly, those of his high-placed patrons’) would steal headlines at the height of the general election of 2020. The evidence to be presented there is said to comprise more than one million pages.

In the light of what I’ll detail below, one can only imagine the surprises contained therein and whom those pages implicate. And given Epstein’s close association with Donald Trump and the Clintons (not to mention the other billionaire residents of Palm Beach Island in Florida), the trial and evidence presented at that crucial moment would likely have had an impact of the presidential election. Wayne Madsen for one,  speculates that it may have already influenced the resignations of several Republicans from the House of Representatives.

Epstein, of course, is the alleged hedge fund tycoon whose central role in a pedophilia network came to light when he was arrested last July on Federal charges of sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. Previously, he had been convicted of molesting an underage girl, but had mysteriously served what’s been described as the most lenient sentence in history for crimes like his — 13 months in a county jail during which he was free to leave during the day.

Alexander Acosta, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Labor was responsible for securing the ludicrous sentence, when Acosta served as Attorney General for the Southern District of Florida. On Epstein’s arrest last July, the FBI found hundreds of photos, videos, and recordings of child molestations some of them allegedly involving prominent public figures.

According to Webb’s expose´ , the Epstein story is merely the tip of a dark iceberg much bigger than most of us realize. The darkness below the surface stretches back more than 75 years. It involves not only Epstein, but the CIA, its Israeli counterpart the Mossad, the Mafia as a CIA asset, the mysterious MEGA Group of influential billionaires, many government officials, and other high rollers with familiar names.

Webb’s series unveils what she terms “Government by Blackmail” an all-encompassing political strategy that began at least as far back as the conclusion of the Second Inter-Capitalist War. As the phrase suggests, Government by Blackmail consists in luring heads of state and other powerful world figures into compromising situations (often with underage “prostitutes” of both sexes), filming them in the process, and then using such evidence as leverage to extort huge sums of money, to extract favors and actually shape the world’s political economy. It extended to the Mafia, for instance, a virtual license to kill without legal repercussion.

As an alleged intelligence asset himself (of either the CIA, Mossad, or both) Epstein’s job was to gather the required evidence. To that end, he placed in compromising and seductive situations government officials from across the world. His mansions, private islands, and fleet of jet planes provided the venues. They were the sites of fabulous parties featuring alcohol, drugs, and underage “call boys” and “call girls.” All the locales were equipped with sophisticated recording devices, both audio and video, and two-way mirrors for recording acts of criminal pedophilia and other crimes or embarrassments on the parts of Epstein’s “friends” and acquaintances. Invitees included heads of state from across the planet Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, of course, among them.

But, Webb reveals, Epstein is only the latest iteration of Government by Blackmail. He’s the clone of figures like the Mafia kingpin Myer Lansky, and Lew Rosenstiel (of Schenley distilleries). During the ’70s and ’80s Rosenstiel, Lansky’s close friend, regularly threw what his fourth wife (of five) called “blackmail parties.” According to Webb, the photos and recordings gathered there long kept Lansky out of trouble from the federal government. They also delivered entire cities to Mafia control in the post WWII era. In fact, Lansky entrapped for blackmail purposes, numerous top politicians, army officers, diplomats and police officials. He had photos of FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover in drag and performing homosexual acts.

Rosenstiel’s protegee and successor as blackmailer-in-chief was Roy Cohn, who at the age of 23 was a close adviser of Senator Joseph McCarthy. More importantly, he was also associated with Mafia bosses, J. Edgar Hoover, the Reagan White House and has been described as a mentor of Donald Trump. His mentor!

Simultaneously, Cohn took on the central role in the blackmail pedophile racket Lansky and Rosenstiel had started. As usual, its main targets were politicians often interacting with child prostitutes. That was the source of Cohn’s power. So were his dear friends in high places including (besides Clinton and Trump) Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, Barbara Walters, Rupert Murdoch, Alan Dershowitz, Andy Warhol, Calvin Klein, Chuck Schumer, William Safire, William Buckley, William Casey, and top figures in the Catholic Church.

It’s those latter figures that connect Cohn’s pedophile ring as inherited by Jeffery Epstein with the Church’s scandal. It directly involved “the American pope,” Francis Cardinal “Mary” Spellman, and Cardinal Theodore “Uncle Teddy” McCarrick. Father Bruce Ritter’s Covenant House (a multi-million-dollar charity for homeless and run-away boys and girls) was also deeply implicated. In fact, when Ritter’s involvement in sex acts with his underage protegees came to light, it was secular powers more than ecclesiastical forces that rallied to his defense.

Another pre-Epstein blackmail king was Craig Spence, a former ABC News correspondent who became a prominent DC lobbyist and CIA agent. All during the 1980s he provided child prostitutes and cocaine for Washington’s power elite. For purposes of blackmail, Spence used the now-familiar devices of video cameras, tape recordings, and two-way mirrors. His little black book and “favor bank” records have been described as involving a Who’s Who of Washington’s government and journalistic elite, this time including Richard Nixon, William Casey, John Mitchell, Eric Sevareid, John Glenn, and key officials of the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, as well as media celebrities and military officers. According to the Washington Times, during the Bush administration, Spence had permission to enter the White House late at night to supply “call boys” to top level officials there.

Significantly, in the light of Epstein’s demise, just shortly before his death (also quickly ruled a suicide) Spence expressed fears that the CIA might kill him — apparently for knowing too much about connections between Nicaragua’s Contras and CIA cocaine smuggling to support them. But according to Spence himself, his knowledge went much deeper. Shortly before his similarly alleged suicide, he told Washington Times reporters: “All this stuff you’ve uncovered (involving call boys, bribery and the White House tours), to be honest with you, is insignificant compared to other things I’ve done. But I’m not going to tell you those things, and somehow the world will carry on.”

The Contra connection shows how in all of this, the Great Enemy of the hidden powers described here (involving the White House, CIA, FBI, Mafia, Mossad, powerful lobbyists, “fixers,” and billionaire political donors) was socialism and communism. The latter’s world project was 180 degrees opposed to governance by the moneyed elite as represented by the blackmail project of Epstein and his predecessors.

And so, it was important for blackmailers to support the prosecution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, back McCarthyism and J. Edgar Hoover, to undermine the Soviet Union, attack Cuba and Fidel Castro, protect organized crime bosses, and to make sure that projects like the Sandinista Revolution of 1979-90 failed. To those ends, it was even more important to inveigle left-wing politicians and officials from socialist countries into the international blackmail dynamic described here.

As for Epstein himself, following Cohn’s death (from AIDS) in 1986, he quickly took up his mentor’s mantle. As described earlier, Epstein became an FBI informant in 2008 — yet more evidence of the agency’s long-standing involvement with and protection of pedophile rings for purposes of blackmail.

In summary, the Epstein scandal has finally made public a decades-long pedophilic blackmail operation at the highest level. Ultimately run by the FBI and CIA, (i.e. with the knowledge, approval and participation of law enforcement), it has involved prominent politicians, businessmen, police and military officials, celebrities, and ecclesiastical officials. The scandal has touched the current U.S. president and may still bring him down.

In the meantime, it has left behind a trail of broken lives in the persons of the children exploited for the pleasure of old white men whose debauched proclivities have been parlayed into economic and political power. On Epstein’s watch, the operation has spread to Central America and beyond, becoming truly international in the process.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Pizzagate fascinated right-wing conspiracy theorists. It alleged that the Clintons were somehow involved in a child prostitution operation run out of the Comet Ping Pong restaurant and pizzeria in Washington, D.C.

If an allegedly debunked (?) Pizzagate theory caused such stir, and if an epidemic pedophilia expose´ within the Catholic Church has brought it to its knees, one can only imagine the revolutionary potential of the documented disclosures that would inevitably have come to light in a Jeffrey Epstein trial. It had potential to reveal pedophilic involvement by public figures far surpassing the scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. It could still bring down not only the Trump administration, but the whole international House of Cards.

One can only hope . . . 

“It’s Over” for the Catholic Church and Its Abusive Clergy

Pedophilia cartoon

Readings for 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: I Kgs. 17: 10-16; Ps. 146:7-10; Heb. 9: 24-28; Mk. 12: 38-44

Last Thursday, the editors of The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) published an open letter to all bishops in the United States. The letter’s topic was the fallout surrounding the clerical abuse scandal. Its theme was “it’s over” – a refrain repeated seven different times in the document.

The repetition is relevant to the Gospel readings for this 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, the episode of the “Widow’s Mite.” The story summarizes the attitude of Jesus towards clerical corruption in his own day – and in our own.

After visiting Jerusalem’s temple just before his own execution, Jesus concluded that Judaism as represented there had no future. His words and actions expressed his clear conclusion, “It’s over!” He gives up on the temple system. His despair tempts me to give up on the Catholic Church.

Before I get to that, let me fill you in about the NCR letter and the apparent meaning of its catchphrase which implies that the Catholic Church has no more future than the Jerusalem temple Jesus cursed.

“It’s over,” the editors said because:

• The clerical abuse scandal has brought the church to rock bottom.
• This is a question of such rot at its heart that the corruption threatens the very identity and unity of the Catholic Church not only in the United States, but worldwide.
• The feds have now entered the picture ordering chancery officials not to destroy the paper trail they’ve been hiding for more than 50 years.
• Abusers and their enablers have been recognized as federal criminals.
• The bishops have nowhere left to hide. Like the king in the familiar fable the bishops and clergy all stand naked before the world; we all realize that they have no clothes. They have lost moral authority.
• Even Washington’s Cardinal McCarrick abused boys and seminarians for decades.
• And the cover-ups go right to the top – to the Vatican itself. The hastily-sainted John Paul II “let wolves roam his flock” because of his falsely inflated idea of a “heroic priesthood” to which no one can any longer subscribe.
• Blaming gay priests for the crisis is so obviously yet another diversionary attempt to block the fundamental reforms required in a clerical culture that has demonstrated a basic ignorance of human sexuality.
• So is blaming Pope Francis who alone among recent popes has exhibited the courage to confront the problem and to remove from office clerics even at the highest levels of the hierarchy.
• The only reason for belated confessions of guilt on the part of bishops is that they have at last been caught with their pants down (literally!) beginning as far back as 1985.
• Without relentless journalistic investigation, clerical abuse would have continued unimpeded and remained covered-up.
• As a result, apologies, studies, conferences, and spiritual retreats for prayer and meditation all ring hollow.
• Only very fundamental changes have any hope of saving the church.
Absent such transformation, it’s over!

And that brings me to the familiar story of today’s Gospel reading, “The Widow’s Mite.” Contrary to what you’ve been told, it’s not about the widow’s generosity. It’s about her exploitation by a clergy every bit as corrupt as the popes, bishops and priests we’ve just been discussing.

As Mark tells it, Jesus and his friends are visiting Jerusalem for the Passover Feast during the final week of his life. They are in the Temple. On the previous day, they had all taken part in (and perhaps led) a demonstration there against the temple priesthood and its thievery from the poor. I’m talking about Jesus’ famous “cleansing of the temple.” Soon the temple priesthood and scribal establishment will offer a reward of thirty pieces of silver for information leading to Jesus’ arrest. Judas will find himself seriously considering collecting that reward.

In the meantime, Jesus continues his on-going instruction about the corruption of the Temple System. In the episode before us, he takes a position, Mark says, “opposite” the temple treasury. The treasury was the place where Jews paid the tithe required by the law as interpreted by the priesthood that Jesus despises. It was a “flat tax” applying the same to rich and poor.

Ever class-conscious, Mark points out that “many rich people” somehow made it clear to all that they were putting in large sums. Then a poor widow came along and furtively put in a penny. Jesus calls attention to the contrast: “large sums” vs. “two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.”

“It’s all relative,” Jesus says. “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Jesus then leaves the temple in disgust.

The standard way of treating this reading runs like this: (1) The widow in the Temple donated to the temple priests “all she had to live on” and was rewarded with Jesus’ praise; (2) follow her example (3) donate generously to your priest and you will be richly rewarded either here, in heaven, or in both places.

That’s a standard treatment we have all heard. However, it has severe problems. To begin with, it ignores today’s responsorial from Psalm 146. That excerpt from Psalms sets a back-drop for the entire Liturgy of the Word and provides a key for interpreting not only today’s reading, but the entire Bible. The psalm reminds us that the poor are God’s Chosen People. God’s concern for the poor is not with their generosity towards God but with God’s securing justice for them. As the psalm says, God gives food to the hungry, sets captives free, gives sight to the blind, protects immigrants, and sustains the children of single moms. God loves those concerned with justice for the poor, the Psalm says. God loves prophets like Jesus. On the other hand, God thwarts the ways of the wicked – those who, like the scribes and high priests, exploit God’s favored poor.

With all of that in mind, we are alerted to circumstances in today’s gospel story that summon us to interpret it differently from the standard line.

We are reminded that the episode takes place in an elaborate context of Jesus’ assault on the temple system. In effect, the context is Jesus’ symbolic destruction of the temple itself. Yes, there was that “cleansing” I referenced. But there was also Jesus’ prediction of the deconstruction of the building itself. “Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down” (MK 13:1-2). Then there was that strange incident of Jesus cursing a fruitless fig tree as he was entering the temple precincts (11:12-14; 20-24). The fig tree was the symbol of Israel. Here again Jesus pronounces a judgment on an entire system that had become corrupt and forgetful of the poor who are so central to God’s concern.

That judgment is extended in Jesus’ teaching immediately before the episode of the widow’s mite. Again, Jesus takes a position “opposed” to the temple treasury and says, “Beware of the scribes . . . They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers.”

With Jesus’ warning ringing in their ears, a case-in-point, a poor widow, arrives on the scene. She pays her tithe – the flat tax – and leaves penniless. Jesus can take no more. He calls attention to the hypocrisy and injustice of the whole situation and leaves the temple in disgust. For him, in the words of the NCR’s Open Letter, “It’s over!”

And that returns me to my own questions about my commitment to the Catholic Church. Increasingly and reluctantly, I’m feeling that’s over too. Having just moved to the Northeast (Westport, CT), I’ve been searching for a community that honors the progressive teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-’65) – still the church’s official teaching – with its emphasis on social justice, engaged homilies, ecumenism, and vibrant liturgies.

So, I did an online search for “progressive Catholic Churches near Westport.” The search came up empty – except for a site denouncing progressive Catholicism. Nonetheless, a friend directed me to a church in Norwalk (a 15-minute drive from my new location). I joined a men’s group that meets in the church basement each Saturday morning at 7:00 to discuss the next day’s liturgical readings. However, I soon discovered that one of the ground rules for discussion is “No politics!”

That so leaves me out! The world is burning. And critical, liberationist readings of the Jesus tradition offer perhaps our best hope of putting out the raging fire. Where else but church do hundreds of people come together in every community across the country to ponder questions of goodness, truth, and their relationship to Ultimate Reality? Yet good-willed men are told: Don’t connect this with that.

Why continue?

Until that sort of thing changes, for me it is indeed over. And in leaving in disgust, I’m following the example of Jesus himself.

It’s Time for Catholics to Employ the Shock Doctrine: Set Up Alternative Storefront Churches Everywhere

Storefront

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

As described by Naomi Kline, that’s been the motto of reactionary politicians forever. In her book by the same title, she calls it “the shock doctrine.” It highlights the fact that when disasters occur, it becomes possible for politicians to ram through policies that otherwise wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of gaining approval.

9/11 provides the most obvious case in point. Its aftermath saw Congress gain quick endorsement of policies that its neo-fascist members have impotently lusted after for decades. I’m referring to the institution of a police state, to widespread surveillance of U.S. citizens, to the use of torture, to wars against oil and mineral-rich Muslims in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere, and to the mass expulsions of foreigners from U.S. soil.

It was similar with Hurricane Katrina. Following its devastation, public schools were privatized, government programs of aid to the impoverished were shredded, and black neighborhoods were gentrified on behalf of wealthy real estate moguls and their clients. All of those were prominent among the “impossible” desiderata of Washington’s elite.

And without 9/11 and Katrina, they would have forever languished beyond the pale of prospect.

The argument here is that the mega-crisis of clerical pedophilia has opened the way for ordinary Catholics to apply Klein’s shock doctrine to an institution that has otherwise remained immobile even in the face of the urgent call of Pope Francis (in “The Joy of the Gospel”) for radical change at almost all ecclesiastical levels.

I say “almost all,” because even in his otherwise brilliant Apostolic Exhortation, the pope specifically ruled out the ordination of women. (He did not even mention abolishing the requirement of priestly celibacy.)

However, my point here is that the horrendous pedophilic crisis has cardinals, bishops, priests, and even the pope himself on the run. Consequently, the door has swung wide for those outside the clerical establishment to take matters in their own hands. It’s time for us to demand changes that would otherwise remain unthinkable for the fossilized ecclesiastical establishment.

First on the list should be the re-examination of all church teachings about sex from masturbation to abortion. And here the laity should be in charge. For it has become evident that a celibate clergy has NOTHING at all to teach us about sex. In the light of clerical pedophilia and its coverup, they should forever remain silent on the subject.

Put otherwise: precisely as celibates, the Catholic clergy’s knowledge of sex can only be either entirely theoretical (usually based on a medieval understanding of the topic) or gathered from illicit, guilt-ridden practice. As such it is invalid and should be ignored on principle.

Second on the list should be the elimination of mandatory clerical celibacy itself. Common sense tells us that it is connected with the perversions of sex-starved priests.

Thirdly, it’s time to admit the obvious, viz. that pedophilia would never have flourished under the leadership of women. In other words, the door has swung open to the otherwise unthinkable for the clerical boys’ club – to the ordination of women.

With all of this in mind, Catholics should take advantage of this crisis by:

• Refusing to let the pope and others to get away with mere apologies and discussions about what to do with pedophilic offenders.
• Insisting instead that as a good faith measure, the pope immediately declare his intention to phase out mandatory celibacy and to open the way for women to serve the church at all levels from priest to pope.
• Demanding the convocation of a General Council (under lay leadership) to re-examine the entire corpus of church teaching on human sexuality.

But how apply pressure to bring about such changes? (And it’s here that the Shock Doctrine applies to a heretofore immobile laity as well as the clergy.)

Let me put it in terms of my own experience.

For years, it has been evident to me and other progressives within my local church in Kentucky that restorationist priests coming out of the reactionary papacies of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI were not meeting the needs of local parishioners shaped by the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Those teachings, I reminded my friends, remain the official doctrine of the Catholic Church.

With that in mind, I counseled repeatedly that without abandoning our identity as Catholics, we should leave the local church building and open a storefront, lay-led Catholic Church down the street. We would become a “shadow church” with its own lay pastor, its Eucharistic celebrations, its on-going education programs, and its outreach programs to the local poor. I recommended that we publicly invite our entire congregation to join us, and that we notify the local bishop of our intentions. We would continue meeting in this way, I recommended, until changes were instituted that met our needs.

Our model would be the Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (JMJ) Catholic Church centralized in James Patterson’s novel, Woman of God (which I reviewed here).

No one in our group of 20-25 proved ready to do any of that.

What I’m suggesting here is that the pedophilia crisis may have so shocked my sisters and brothers within my own community that they may now be open to follow the example of Brigid Fitzgerald, the priest hero of Patterson’s novel. She and her ex-priest husband opened a storefront church of the type I’m suggesting here.

I’m betting that following that example across the country and world would move local bishops, Pope Francis and the Catholic establishment to adopt something like the reforms I’ve suggested here.

So, let’s form our own JMJ churches. What have we got to lose?

This Just in: Both U.S. Government & Catholic Church Confirmed as Crime Syndicates

Wafer

Readings for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time: PRV 9:1-6; PS 34:2-7; EPH 5: 15-20; JN 6:56

Ironically, I felt some relief at last week’s horrendous revelations about the 300 Pennsylvania priests who sexually victimized more than 1000 children and young people over the last 70 years. The relief was similar to what I feel each day now as President Trump spews his venomous lies and implements his cruel policies to restore “America” to its good old days before the post-World II achievements of blacks, women, gays, immigrants, and social justice advocates.

I mean, the veils have finally been pulled back in both politics and religion. In this Sunday homily, though, it’s the latter that will be my focus, since I want to connect today’s Gospel reading with the priesthood and pedophilia.

Let me begin, however, with politics and its scandals that mirror and illuminate those of the church.

Politically, the deceits of Donald Trump have done us all a huge favor. They’ve forced us to face undeniably what our presidents, teachers, and media enablers have been doing for centuries. The revelations cannot be denied. What Mr. Trump is doing, they all have done. The only difference is that Trump’s predecessors didn’t admit it all so openly. But they’ve all lied to us about wars, elections, American ideals, and about their personal lives.

For instance, in the light of Mr. Trump, it’s now indisputable that the entire Republican Party is corrupt just like him. (The Democrats are not far behind.) By endorsing his racism, they reveal their own racism. They all routinely lie; they enrich themselves at public expense; they practice nepotism; they break laws, dishonor the Constitution, care only about their rich donors, and don’t give a damn about the rest of us.

The voting system is rigged against us. Republicans don’t even want everyone to vote. Mitch McConnell’s refusal to follow the Constitution after the death of Antonin Scalia, illegally stacked the Supreme Court in favor of corporations. For that reason, the Court’s decisions should all be considered invalid.

In other words, every branch of government – including the Fourth Estate – has been corrupted. As a result, we’re living in something like the Soviet Union, where NOTHING the government or media says can be taken at face value. (In fact, it never should have been.) Thank you, Donald Trump, for making all of that indisputable! It frees us up to work for outright revolution.

It’s the same with the Catholic Church, with Protestants not far behind. The widespread pedophilia among the clergy reveals that the faithful have been duped by the very people we were taught to trust as God’s representatives. (If there were at least 300 pedophilic priests in one state, how many have there been in the other 49?) All priests and former priests are now under suspicion.

And the hell of it is that these were the very teachers whose principal moral obsessions centered on sexual morality! They worried us about impure thoughts, pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, petting, fornication, adultery, birth control, abortion, and divorce. Since Augustine, they made us all feel guilty about the second strongest drive (after self-preservation) that humans possess (i.e. propagation of the species). In the confessional, we told them of our most intimate failings in that area. And they shared their sage advice on how to overcome them. These sex-obsessed “celibates” even advised couples about their married lives.

Could we have been more deceived? And what made all of that possible?

Those questions bring me to today’s Gospel whose content has traditionally be used by the Catholic Church to persuade the faithful that priests have quasi-magical powers. According to Catholic teaching, priests can change little wafers into the actual body of Christ. They can change wine into his blood. Similarly, in the confessional, their words can remove sin and open the gates of heavenly after-life to those who would otherwise be condemned to eternity in hell.

Can you imagine anything more powerful than that? No wonder priests were revered, and their faults, sins, and crimes overlooked!

More specifically, in today’s third reading, John the Evangelist has Jesus say

“Amen, amen, I say to you . . my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”

However, as I noted in last week’s reflections, the words John invents about eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood could not possibly have been spoken by the Jewish Jesus to a Jewish audience. After all, drinking any kind of blood – not to mention human blood – was expressly forbidden by the Mosaic Law.

Nonetheless, by the time John wrote his Gospel (anywhere between about 90 C.E. and 110) the evangelist’s audience (predominantly non-Jews) was highly influenced by Gnostic beliefs. Gnostics – and John’s audience – were all quite familiar with “dying and rising Gods” and with the ritual practice of metaphorically eating the Gods’ flesh and drinking the Gods’ blood by sharing bread and wine. So, to them, Jesus could be explained in precisely those terms, even if it meant putting into the mouth of Jesus words that he could never have spoken.

Yet, the “real presence” that even John was concerned about had nothing to do with the containment of an infinite God within a wafer or sip of wine. John’s audience was worried about connecting with the long-dead Master from Galilee. How might they do this? That was their question. John’s response was “Do what Jesus did: share food and drink.” And he wasn’t talking about “the Mass.” Sharing of bread with the hungry is what makes Jesus present. In fact, “bread” and Jesus’ “flesh,” “wine” and Jesus’ “blood” are all interchangeable terms. It’s the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup with the poor that makes Jesus present.

Catholic fundamentalism and literalist reading of scripture denied such understandings as heresy. And that enabled priests to masquerade as magicians and eventually gave them the power to determine the eternal destinies of their charges. It gave them immunity in their own eyes and even in the eyes of their victims.

After the pedophilia revelations, who can believe any of that?

However, we shouldn’t be discouraged. I mean, realizing our deception frees us up, doesn’t it? Just as in the field of politics, it can help liberate us from the childish beliefs that ignorant, hypocritical liars have foisted upon us. I mean, what can we believe that either our politicians or our clergy have told us about ANYTHING?

What I’m suggesting is that it’s all up for grabs now. We have to think for ourselves, not only about our presidents, but even about God.

And that’s true freedom.

So, what should Catholics who still care do about the latest expositions of duplicity? For starters, here are some suggestions:

• Admit that the Catholic Church has been generally corrupted by the pedophilic scandal; like the U.S. government, it is a crime syndicate
• More specifically, recognize that the priesthood along with bishops, cardinals, and the papacy itself have been perverted
• In that light, boycott the church until it calls a General Council to institute reforms from the top-down
• Realizing that the pedophilic scandal would not have occurred under the aegis of women, demand not only their ordination, but their empowerment to replace men in roles of church leadership including at the highest level
• Similarly, demand the abolition of required clerical celibacy for Catholic priests

Yes: It is undeniable that the lies of Mr. Trump and the sins of our clergy have initiated a new era in our country and in the world. That shouldn’t depress us. Rather, it should inspire us to completely throw off the old and embrace new possibilities both politically and in the realm of faith.

Pedophilia in the Church & U.S. Military = the Same Syndrome: Young People Should Abandon the Army Just as They’ve Abandoned the Church

vignette-bacha-bazi

Sex scandal and pedophilia were in the news again last week. And this time it deeply involved more than the Catholic Church, Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey.  No, it struck even closer to home than that for all Americans regardless of their religious affiliation. It involved an institution even more revered than Rome, Hollywood, or any Christian denomination.  I’m talking about the U.S. Military.

Yes, we all know about Pope Francis’ faux pas last week when he appeared to embody the ecclesiastical “old boys” syndrome by defending Juan Barros, a Chilean bishop who apparently had shielded a notorious pedophile priest from legal prosecution. The pope’s snippy defense of his prelatic friend, smacked of the cover-ups of child abuse that have come to light in the church over the last 30 years. According to the syndrome, Catholic bishops throughout the world have moved pedophilic priests from one parish to another, where the sociopaths typically continued preying on unsuspecting altar boys and confessional penitents.

Such procedure and its accompanying hypocrisy are prominent among the reasons young people and others have abandoned the church altogether.

A similar procedure involving the U.S. military should persuade young people to despise and reject military service.

I’m referring to an article published in the New York Times last week about a pedophilic practice in the Afghan military known as “bacha bazi” or boy play. It involves the widespread abuse and rape of underage boys by U.S.-trained Afghan Army personnel.

And how does this involve the U.S. military? Its leaders have adopted virtually the same policy that Catholic prelates have used over the years. They’ve turned a blind eye to the scandal and in doing so have allowed it to continue.

You see, there’s such a thing as the Leahy Law on the books. It legislates that when a recipient of U.S. aid commits gross human rights abuses, all aid to the offender must be cut off. Yet, to block application of Leahy, the U.S. and its military arm have invoked another law. It states that in the specific case of the Afghan War, no other U.S. laws apply.

Is that cynical enough for you? Does it remind you of the practice that has brought such opprobrium on the Catholic Church?  Imagine the corruption of two supposedly highly moral organizations (the Catholic Church and the U.S. military) that go out of their ways to protect pedophiles and prevent enforcement of laws that would penalize child abuse! Yet, that is exactly what two of our most trusted institutions have allowed to happen.

Add this black eye for the military to the “Me Too” scandal of sexual abuse of women enlistees in various service branches, and you end up with an outfit whose sexual corruption absolutely dwarfs that of the Catholic Church. Fully 40% of female military personnel claim they have been sexually assaulted by their peers. Eighty percent say they have been sexually harassed. If military women must endure such abuse at the hands of their colleagues, can you imagine how the abusers treat “enemy” women?

It’s time to face the facts. The U.S. military is at least as sexually corrupt as the Catholic Church. It’s time for our decent young people to vote with their feet just as they have with the church.

None of them with any shred of conscience should enlist.

Why the New Pope Should Resign: The Pedophilia Syndrome

ChristianVonWernich

Until yesterday’s election of Pope Francis I, I must confess I doubted the ability of the Holy Spirit to influence the election of a successor to recently resigned Benedict XVI. After all, Benedict and his predecessor had so stacked the College of Cardinals that the likelihood of a progressive or reformer being elected seemed impossible. That is, all of the papabile were clones of the previous two popes – all to a man, opponents of women’s ordination, artificial contraception, and of liberation theology. The patriarchy had defeated, it seemed, the very Spirit of Jesus.

However, as they say, the Holy Spirit operates in strange ways. Evidently, she concluded, “I’ll let them elect a clone of John Paul II if they like. But then I’ll take over and allow the scandalous crimes of that clone to become evident. As a result, he’ll have to resign. Then in desperation, the church will turn to a real reformer – this time chosen from outside the ranks of the College of Cardinals – perhaps even a feminine spirit like mine.”

Does that seem so crazy? Let’s move one step at a time. Before thinking about who the next pope should be, or where she should come from, here is the reason for Francis I to abdicate:

To begin with, he shouldn’t resign because he’s ultimately bad for Argentina and Latin America. That is, despite what they’re saying in the media, Cardinal Bergoglio was bad for the poor of Argentina. Remember, he’s a “compassionate conservative.” That means he’s a churchman who talks about combatting poverty, but then ends up opposing progressive politicians like Argentine president Cristina Kirchner.

In this, he’s the analogue of U.S. bishops siding with the Republican Party. All of those bishops claim to support the poor. However they end up doing the opposite. Their positions on the overriding “wedge issues” of contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage put them in bed with the Republicans and their “preferential option for the rich.” In this way, the bishops end up trying to persuade Catholics to vote Republican. Bergoglio did something similar in Argentine politics.

More accurately still, Francis I is the analogue of John Paul II in Poland. John Paul was ultimately bad for Poland (and the developing world as well). True, he opposed the Polish version of communism and seemed to support the labor union, Solidarity. However John Paul actually undermined his country’s sovereignty and the global labor movement by appearing to give papal blessing to international capitalism. That not only impoverished Poland, it weakened labor and progressives throughout the Catholic world.

The election of Francis I promises to do something similar for (to!) Latin America. As politically conservative, he imparts ecclesiastical approbation to rightist governments throughout the region in their efforts to discredit and unseat Latin America’s newly resurgent progressives.

Secondly, the new pope shouldn’t resign because he betrayed two fellow Jesuits during Argentina’s “Dirty War.” During that conflict (1976-1983), and like most of the hierarchy in Latin America, Bergoglio sided with the criminal dictatorship whose leader has since been put behind bars as a ruthless murderer.

According to Horacio Verbitsky and his book, Silencio, Fr. Bergoglio, then Superior General of the Society of Jesus, removed his order’s protection from two of his brother Jesuits accused of “subversion” (i.e. opposition to the military dictatorship). True, Verbitsky says, the future pope adopted a public posture of seeking the Jesuits’ release. However privately he cooperated in prolonging their detention and torture.

Both priests later brought charges against Bergoglio as an accomplice of the military for the priests’ unjust imprisonment. After initially and repeatedly invoking ecclesiastical privilege to avoid deposition about the case, Bergoglio was finally interviewed by prosecutors. According to Argentine human rights organizations, his answers were highly evasive.

No, the real reason Francis I should resign is because of what he did about the von Wernich case. Von Wernich was a police chaplain during the Dirty War. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for aiding and abetting the military in the illegal kidnapping, torture and murder of prisoners during the brutal dictatorship of the Argentine military. According to the New York Times, while von Wernich was being investigated for his actions, and while Bergoglio was a member of the Argentine Bishops Conference, the priest was transferred to Chile under an assumed name. There he served in a parish until his arrest, conviction and imprisonment for the crimes just mentioned. And von Wernich has never been defrocked, even after Bergoglio was elected head of the Bishops’ Conference, nor has any church apology been issued. In fact, the former police chaplain has been allowed to carry on as a priest while in prison.

Now imagine our reaction if von Wernich had been a pedophile. And imagine if Bergoglio had been part of a decision to transfer a pedophile cleric as he evidently was in the case of this serial kidnaper, murderer and torturer. The whole world would be outraged and would demand the pope’s resignation. He would be completely discredited. And yet, a serial kidnapper, torturer and murderer is infinitely more dangerous than a serial pedophile.

The point is that we have exemplified in the case of the new pope the very same syndrome that has been universally descried in cases of pedophilia. It is the same syndrome that plagued the tenure of Benedict XVI and that possibly evoked his own resignation. It’s the Old Boys protecting their own.

As I said, I’m not discouraged by all of this. Instead, my faith in the Holy Spirit has been renewed. Her ways are strange indeed. The papacy is crumbling before our eyes. But it may be the death necessary before resurrection.

Five Issues for the New Pope to Address — and to guide in his selection

cardinals

So the cardinals of the church are meeting to elect the next pope. Who cares? The media obviously do. The Catholic Church is getting a lot of air time and ink. But some of us might be caught yawning.

The yawn issues from the fact that the last two disastrous papacies (John Paul II and Benedict XVI) have so tightly packed the College of Cardinals with reactionary clones of themselves that any hope of rescuing the Romans from their deepest crisis since the Reformation seems remote at the very best.

But if there is hope of such rescue it resides in electing a pontiff who will directly address five issues: (1) summoning an Ecumenical Council, (2) opening priestly ordination to women, (3) abolition of mandatory celibacy for priests, (4) retraction of the prohibition of artificial contraception, and (5) practical adoption of liberation theology and its preferential option for the poor.

To begin with, an Ecumenical Council seems required not only to overcome the impression that the Roman Curia operating in its bubble has become hopelessly corrupt. It is necessary as well to bolster the teaching of the Second Vatican Council about collegiality after the twin papacies just mentioned did all they could to undermine cooperation with rather than dictating to local bishops.

An Ecumenical Council would also demonstrate serious intent to address the crisis of clerical pedophilia which is global in nature and requires global input to solve. Additionally, a general meeting of the world’s bishops would elicit input from theologian-advisers whose creative thought has been devalued over the last 35 years (dumbing-down the church in the process) and whose collective intellectual power transcends the capacity of any new pope who might be elected.

Secondly, the new pope and his Council must address the issue of women’s ordination. Opening the ranks of the priesthood in this way would have a twofold effect. Above all, it would be an act of restorative justice. It would incorporate into roles of church leadership its single most effective and committed constituents – whose contributions have been especially attacked, belittled and denigrated over the final year of Benedict XVI’s reign.

Admitting women to the priesthood would also have the effect of putting into proper perspective papal claims of infallibility. After all, John Paul II recklessly invoked those claims to bolster his untenable position against women’s ordination. By reversing John Paul’s error, any new pope would implicitly abandon the papacy’s indefensible claim to infallibility – and its attendant inability simply to admit error and reverse other mistakes connected with priestly celibacy, contraception, and the handling of priestly pedophiles.

Priestly celibacy is the third issue crying out for attention. To pretend there is no connection between sexual deviance and mandatory celibacy represents a monumental act of denial. Common sense would dictate that suppression of the most basic of evolutionary drives is a recipe for disaster. It is not only connected with pedophilia and misogyny, but with the loneliness that is endemic to the celibate priesthood and central to the ineffectiveness of celibates preaching to congregations overwhelmingly composed of married couples and young people anticipating marriage.

Along with the opening of the priesthood to women, removal of the celibacy requirement would immediately remedy the priest-shortage of the Catholic Church. Simultaneously it would presumably allow the many who have abandoned their calling in favor of marriage to resume the work for which they were trained all those many years. There’s simply no denying that following Vatican II, the cream of the crop was lost to this senseless and counterproductive prerequisite to ordination. It’s time to welcome back the former priests who wish to return.

Equally senseless has been the top-down decision outlawing artificial contraception made by Pope Paul VI and expressed in his 1969 Encyclical “Humanae Vitae.” That document took the decision about contraception out of the hands of the very commission the pope had then appointed to review the church’s traditional teaching. In doing so, Paul VI backed away from Vatican II’s emphasis on episcopal collegiality, and set the stage for the full retreat embraced by the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Reversing “Humanae Vitae” would not only rectify a highly questionable teaching on contraception that obviously undermines the Vatican’s teaching on abortion; it would also move the church back on the track towards the democracy portended by Vatican II, but resisted by Rome since the end of the 18th century.

Finally, and most importantly in terms of relevance to the post-modern world, the new pope and the Council he summons must embrace liberation theology’s preferential option for the poor. I say “most importantly” because this item unlike the others goes directly to the heart of the Christian faith. Even the inveterate enemy of liberation theology, Benedict XVI in his days as Cardinal Ratzinger, recognized that liberation theology’s commitment to the poor is essential to the Judeo-Christian tradition. And with the majority of church members now located in the developing world, it is indispensable to the church’s relevance to insist that global economic and social policy be made on a percolate-up rather than a trickle-down basis.

Correlatively, a church siding with the poor must insist in no uncertain terms that current military expenditure (especially on the part of the United States) represents robbery from the world’s poor. It is also high time for the Vatican to get out of the banking business and its attendant ties to money laundering, the Italian mafia, and banking system’s inevitable preferential option for the rich.

The retreat from Vatican II represented by nearly 35 years of Ratzinger’s overweening influence as right-hand man of John Paul II and as Benedict XVI was premised on a false hope. Evidently the last two popes imagined that a restoration of a vaguely remembered halcyon past would somehow fill pews and restore order to a church irrelevantly led by a hierarchy of out-of-touch old men. So the two popes doubled down on the old order instead of following through on the promise and risks of Vatican II. The disasters of recent years have shown the foolishness of their wager.

It’s now up to the cardinals and the pope they will select to get the church back on track. The unacceptable alternative is to continue along a path that will inevitably lead to further disaster and continued irrelevance.