Cardinal Sin

It’s sad that America’s top Catholic official won’t answer a simple question:  How many predator priests got how much money to quietly move on . . .  perhaps to molest again?  This is a predictable tactic bishops use when forced to defend the indefensible: they attack the messenger - David Clohessy

How often does the following point by Valerie Tarico need to be made before futher reiteration becomes superflous?

After all, these are men who claim to speak for God. They have direct access to the White House, where they regularly weigh in on issues ranging from military policy to bioethics, and they expect us all to listen – not because of relevant expertise or elected standing, but because of their moral authority. If paedophile payouts weren’t enough to convince you that this “moral” authority is often anything but moral, take a look at some of their other sins against compassion and basic decency.

There is no edge in moral authority that clerics of any hue could possibly lay bona fide claim to. To assert otherwise seems fraudulent. What creative primal moral force would contemplate allowing responsibility for its moral precepts to fall into the hands of any group comprised of such fallible men?  

A while back I read a strong piece by Cahir O'Doherty in his Manhattan Diary spot. For his readers he was instructively flagging up the reactionary orientation of America’s top Catholic Cardinal Dolan. His copy came to mind again upon reading of Dolan being praised in irish American circles for extending an invite to President Barack Obama to attend the Al Smith dinner, 'a night when the impact of the Catholic vote is recognized.' Dolan's predecessor Cardinal Egan, a pro-Bush cleric, had in the past snubbed the Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry by refusing to invite him to the Al Smith dinner. Dolan it seems is more political savvy, which is different from his political instinct being more democratic or liberal.

From the range of churchmen that can frequently be found pontificating on moral matters, cardinals least of all seem fit for purpose. The higher up the food chain the more omniabsent any moral perspective seems to be. Look for the cardinal sins and it is amongst the red hats they are likely to conglomerate: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Cardinals invariably seem either full of malign intent or beset by incompetence. Puffed up with pride, their eye on the material, their heart devoid of anything we might term spirituality, it is simply not possible to believe that the hand of a loving god directs their actions. Across the spectrum from the unscrupulous to the unwitting, whether it is Cardinal Aramburu of Argentina who collaborated with the vicious military dictatorship of the 1970s and was a disappeared denier, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer of Austria, addicted to rape, Cardinal George Pell of Australia who dismisses Jews as inferior, or Cardinal Sean Brady who cajoled and coerced into silence Irish children raped by his priestly colleagues, the image they collectively project is reptilian. Talking snakes is not just some biblical myth located in a magical garden called Eden.

And when they are not being malign or incompetent, they display a penchant for downright stupidity as a recent statement from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone made clear when he blamed Vatican leaks on Satanic forces: ‘The truth is that there’s a will to create division that comes from the devil.’ A bag of hammers falls considerably short of being daft enough to buy into that.

Cahir O'Doherty in his piece argued that ‘most concerning to Irish Americans here has been the continuing alignment of the institutional church and its leadership with the political hard right.’ His point is amplified against the background of an announcement by Mitt Romney that Paul Ryan of Irish American stock would be his GOP vice-presidential running mate.

Yes, that Paul Ryan - chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the infamous Ryan roadmap budget plan, which promises to turn Medicare into a privatized voucher system, and yank health care from millions of children whose parents happen to be poor. And that's just the beginning. In addition to a raft of cuts, the Ryan plan would end the Earned Income Tax Credit, which millions of parents count on.It's a plan that even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich deemed too "radical." 

There is a serious conservative reactionary agenda being pushed here and the perspective of Irish America could prove crucial in determining the outcome. Its concern about a right wing church leadership is hardly misplaced. Anybody familiar with religion in the US knows just how dangerous a phenomenon it can be particularly when anchored in the political right and embodied by conservative politicans like Michelle Bachmann and Rik Sanatorum.

My apprehensions about Dolan were raised a while back when I read that he had claimed his predecessor ‘Cardinal Egan did a splendid job.’ I knew something about Egan, having read about the 'splendid job' he did in an article called Gods And Monsters that appeared in Connecticut Magazine at the end of the 1990s. In a later synopsis of that piece it was stated that it portrayed Egan as:

a wily, coldly-calculating defender of the Church and abusive priests, more corporate lawyer than spiritual guardian. The article revealed that he had let accused priests continue to work in local parishes, authorized payments to victims in exchange for silence agreements, and lied about those payments during a deposition.

Birds of a feather ... O’Doherty depicts Dolan in a similar light.

In the past month the Cardinal has attacked the president, the White House, the gay community, the survivors of abuse by priests, The New York Times, and even the nuns. At this point both his supporters and critics could be forgiven for wondering who's not on his black list? I wonder who is served most by all this divisive language and sabre rattling and I doubt if its Jesus. It seems to me the people who most benefit from sowing division are the ones who manipulate our religious faith as a lure to get us into the voting booth.

Dolan's stance on these matters is shaped not by morality but is rooted in a religious anti-liberal agenda. Like many of his ilk he cannot countenance people having the right to make choices without any regard whatsoever to his religious opinion, even when that opinion is capable of forming attitudes like the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests having 'no credibility whatsoever.' And Dolan's credibility? When he denied that as Bishop of Milwaukee he authorised payouts to paeodphile priests, he had Joseph Zwilling, New York Archdiocese spokesman, claim it was just charity.  Joe the Joke must have been 'zwilling' barrels of beer and chewing on a skipful of hammers when he bagged that one. And this is what wants to pass muster as the credibility crew.

With the American hard right immorally thirsting for more wars, more welfare cuts, more discrimination against gays, women and Muslims, more erosion of science in deference to gobbledegook, it is of concern but little surprise that a conniving cardinal will seek to ingratiate himself with the most reactionary elements in US political life. What is reassuring is that some bishops in particular and Irish America in general seems increasingly sceptical of Dolan:

It's not just the folks at the Empire State Building who are snubbing Cardinal Dolan — a group of Irish-American state legislators in Albany have dissed him, too. ... "Dolan was the first one mentioned to honor, given his recent ascension to cardinal, and originally it looked like it was leaning that way,” said one supporter of the idea. “It was a no-brainer.” But some Assembly Democratic members are said to have balked because of the church’s vehement opposition both to same-sex marriage and a bill to extend the statute of limitations for past victims of sex abuse by priests. “It was clear there were certain members of the majority who would be unhappy and uncomfortable if the honoree was the cardinal,” a second member of the society said. It was decided, instead, to honor Brian O’Dwyer, the liberal lawyer.

Dolan has every right to express his views, but it does not follow that they must be heard. That is not in the cardinal's gift. His right to speak imposes no obligation on society to listen. What his discourse and disposition show all too well is the limitations of religious morality. As one blogger commented:

He's always ready to show us the true nature of Catholic morality. He attacks gays, attacks women, attacks nuns - and then turns around and pays a bonus to priests who rape kids. Thanks, Cardinal Timmy! Now we really know how to get to heaven! 

But why would we want to if the celestial beings running Paradise have been issuing moral instruction to him?


  1. AM,
    “Cardinal George Pell of Australia who dismisses Jews as inferior”

    You have made this allegation on a number of occasions and it is not true. Here is a simple account from Wikipedia that shows the truth. It is possible also to view the exchange online.

    “During a televised 2012 debate with Richard Dawkins, Pell stated that he had "a great admiration for the Jews" and repeatedly condemned Adolf Hitler. During the course of the debate, ABC moderator Tony Jones sought to imply anti-Semitism in Pell's remarks regarding the relative intellectual development of ancient Jewish society with that of great powers like Egypt, ...
    In responding to a series of questions by Jones as to why God would "randomly decide to provide proof of his existence to a small group of Jews 2,000 years ago", Pell said that, while the intellectual life of the ancient Jews was not the equal of the surrounding great powers like Egypt, Persia and Chaldea, "Jesus came not as a philosopher to the elite. He came to the poor and the battlers". Jones cross examined Pell over his use of the word "intellectual" and Pell said (in reference to Biblical times) that "the little Jewish people, they were originally shepherds. They were stuck. They’re still stuck between these great powers."

    No, Pell did NOT say that the Jews were inferior. He doesn't even call for the Talmud to be banned as a popular anit-Semite on the PQ does.

  2. A propos Pell, it is interesting to note that he was falsely accused of sexual abuse by a drug-dealing career criminal extortionist. How many others are falsely accused by those who demand strict justice for themselves while refusing it to others?

    “In June 2002, Pell was accused of having sexually abused a 12-year-old boy at a Roman Catholic youth camp in 1961 whilst a seminarian. Pell vigorously denied all the accusations and stood aside, but did not resign, as archbishop as soon as the allegations were made public. The complainant agreed to pursue his allegations through the church's own process for dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct, the National Committee for Professional Standards (NCPS). The subsequent inquiry found that the accusations had not been established. Justice Southwell concluded:
    [B]earing in mind the... very long delay, some valid criticism of the complainant's credibility, the lack of corroborative evidence and the sworn denial of the respondent, I find I am not 'satisfied that the complaint has been established'
    … As relayed by the Zenit news service, "Pell's alleged victim was, it turned out, a career criminal. He had been convicted of drug dealingand involved in illegal gambling, tax evasion and organized crime in a labour union. A commission probing the union devoted a whole chapter of its report to the man's activities. As the inquiry report noted, 'The complainant has been before the court on many occasions, resulting in 39 convictions from about 20 court appearances.'"
    (Wikipedia article).

  3. AM-

    " How many predator priests got how much money to quietly move on "

    The million dollar question which the x holy's refuse to answer- the devil has got their tongue-

    Most Money is the route of all evil but the x holy's used money which was given to them by the people to route thier own away from where they committed crimes- good money was turned into evil by some of the men of God-

  4. JJMcGirr Wikipedia is not a reliable source for information. A site called BrokenRites (Australia) gives much insight into George Pell. What a bastion of spiritual calibre the man is lol

    Google BrokenRites. Is well maintained site and blows the Vatican out of the water. I recommend you read the court cases section before running your mouth in defence of Pell.

    Why you would invest in defending this toxic cock in a frock?

  5. RE: 'How many predator priests got how much money to quietly move on . . . perhaps to molest again? This is a predictable tactic bishops use when forced to defend the indefensible: they attack the messenger - David Clohessy'

    So true.. But the world now knows the answer...

    I have never u/stood how so many can be as gullible as to listen to the dicates on morality from the Vatican. Dictates from self entitled godly men who state they abstain from sex (yeah yeah) don't want to be married (offer their celibacy up to the Lord number/not attracted to women), don't want their own kids (one can thank God for that one) dictating to the masses how one should be. That in itself should raise alarm bells in any sane person.

    God does not get a lookin at the Vatican - God is a mere PROP...
    Ka Ching! God is Big Bucks baby Victims of Catholicism should just curl up in a ball and die. How dare they speak out? Have they no shame? Repent ye sinners! Or their is always the alternative approach - forgive - o yes one must forgive these abberations because afterall

    Mother Church knows best... Just a few bad apples here & there folks...
    No need to be alarmed... Mother Church is sorting it...

    And as for challenging the corruption; How dare one expose the sordid, murky bottomless pit of deceit & perservity! Ka Ching - here have some money & shut up! (No thanks - cram it up yer whatnots)

    Catholicism is a cult pure & simple... One can not expect honesty and clean dealngs with any cult member espicially when the facts/reality are put in their face... It is frightening what a stronghold the cult has worldwide.

    Everyone knows pedo priests & nuns were moved around. Many a one from Ireland was shipped over here to re-offend... many a one.

    JJMcGirr I suggest you open your home to the offenders and rehabilitate them... Just don't drop the soap in the shower boy. Serve yer Mother Church JJ and help these poor innocent pedos who somehow mistook young childrens body as a freebie, all you can get meat market...

  6. An educated 18-30s club that RC church. Sex and travel and free board. Where do i sign up?

  7. The Holy Post

  8. John,

    Watch the debate and you will see what Pell did say. We did link it in an earlier article. That he later apologised would lead most people, I guess, to feel that he did make the charge of intellectual inferiority and got pulled all over the place while being laughed at by the audience.

    As for him allegedly abusing children I see nothing to suggest it is true. In fact until you raised it I knew nothing about it.

    But the thrust of this piece is really that clerics are not fit for purpose to authoritatively prescribe societal morality. They have an opinion, are as fallible as the rest of us, and can only be part of a wider societal conversation rather than have a special privilege or right to dictate what form that conversation can take.

  9. AM,

    ‘Watch the debate and you will see what Pell did say. We did link it in an earlier article.’
    I have done. Here is a transcript:
    “TONY JONES: George Pell, can I just come back to you on this question of the existence of God. Why would God randomly decide to provide proof of his existence to a small group of Jews 2,000 years ago and not subsequently provide any proof after that?
    GEORGE PELL: Well, I don’t think there’s ever been any scientific proof. I don’t believe God does anything randomly, although he might set up he might set up a system which works, apparently through, you know, through chance, through random but if you want something done, you’ve got to ask somebody. It’s no good, say, my asking everyone in the congregation will you would do something. Normally you go to a busy person because you know they’ll do it and so for some extraordinary reason God chose the Jews. They weren’t intellectually the equal of either the Egyptians or the…
    TONY JONES: Intellectually?
    GEORGE PELL: Intellectually, morally…
    TONY JONES: How can you know intellectually?
    GEORGE PELL: Because you see the fruits of their civilisation. Egypt was the great power for thousands of years before Christianity. Persia was a great power, Caldia. The poor – the little Jewish people, they were originally shepherds. They were stuck. They’re still stuck between these great powers.
    TONY JONES: But that’s not a reflection of your intellectual capacity, is it, whether or not you’re a shepherd?
    GEORGE PELL: Well, no it’s not but it is a recognition it is a reflection of your intellectual development, be it like many, many people are very, very clever and not highly intellectual but my point is…
    TONY JONES: I’m sorry, can I just interrupt? Are you including Jesus in that, who was obviously Jewish and was of that community?
    GEORGE PELL: Exactly.
    TONY JONES: So intellectually not up to it?
    GEORGE PELL: Well, that’s a nice try, Tony. The people, in terms of sophistication, the psalms are remarkable. In terms of their buildings and that sort of thing, they don’t compare with the great powers. But Jesus came not as a philosopher to the elite. He came to the poor and the battlers and for some reason he choose a very difficult but actually they are now an intellectually elite because over the centuries they have been pushed out of every other form of work. They’re a – I mean Jesus, I think, is the greatest the son of God but, leaving that aside, the greatest man that ever live so I’ve got a great admiration for the Jews but we don’t need to exaggerate their contribution in their early days.”

    To continue to state that Pell is being anti Jewish is plainly an untruth.

    “Pell's remarks were widely misreported and misinterpreted, leading to a clarification from his office - reported by The Times of Israel as an apology. Pell said that "... my commitment to friendship with the Jewish community, and my esteem for the Jewish faith is a matter of public record, and the last thing I would want to do is give offense to either" and that the Holocaust was "a crime unique in history for the death and suffering it caused and its diabolical attempt to wipe out an entire people.” (Wikepedia).

    Maybe it is these pro Jewish attitudes that provoke some Australian anti-Semites to attack him!

  10. John,

    again, this seeks to evade the point. It was never stated that he was anti-Jewish. It was stated that he viewed Jews as inferior. He has since said 'sorry' even if it was half hearted and done in a typical Churchy dishonset way.

    As he bobbed and weaved to evade the implications of what he said the audience laughed at him. It was embarrassing for him.

    But even if we allow for the very real possibility that he isn't a bad guy unlike some others who are undoubtedly evil (he and Brady I alluded to as being at the unwitting end of the spectrum while the other two would be sheer evil) we are left with the crux of the matter: he has no more authority than Rory McElroy to prescribe societal morality. he is merely in a position to offer the Church opinion on morality.

  11. "Catholicism is a cult pure & simple... One can not expect honesty and clean dealngs with any cult member espicially when the facts/reality are put in their face... It is frightening what a stronghold the cult has worldwide."

    This is the real agenda of the kooky anti-Semite from Australia.

    And if you hold on to your Faith, this is what you have in store:

    "(From a link on SMH's Blog:)

    "This Declaration is to advise the Catholic church and those who continue to follow and to support in any manner whatsoever shall be declared to be a moral danger to society and that furthermore they shall be justifiably publicly despised, vilified and publicly humiliated for howsoever long they continue to defend or support in any manner whatsoever.""


  13. John,

    it looks a promising read but seems to be out of print and unfortunately is not on Kindle. That is the one frustrating thing about Kindle - it has the potential to put a halt to 'out of print' but for some reason has not downloaded a lot of otherwise inaccessible material onto its system.

  14. AM,

    'it looks a promising read but seems to be out of print and unfortunately is not on Kindle.'

    It is out of print, but still available from a number of 'sellers' via Amazon. Feser also has a couple of other books available as audio items.

  15. John,

    I saw that. The first price I looked at was a bit daunting - almost £300 the seller was looking! For that I would want a barrel of whiskey. I bought the full collection of Anthony Trollope (that includes about 40 odd novels) on Kindle for about £3.

  16. AM,

    'I saw that. The first price I looked at was a bit daunting - almost £300 the seller was looking!'

    I think that is the price for those who come online drunk!

  17. I think you are right John. That is a rip off price. Others for the same book are more reasonable

  18. AM-

    Fuck superstition blah blah Atheism
    [ no offence john ]
    but where would you get a barrel of whiskey at, to buy- is that one of them new fangled things like Kindle- its bottle only whiskey down my way-

  19. Michaelhenry,

    that's great to know. There was me thinking there was no bottle at all down your way!!

  20. AM-

    The dissos down my way would not like you saying that they have no bottle-lol- its like the walking dead at the momment- another one bitten to only turn into a zombie / sorry- disso-

  21. I'm not sure about cardinal sins but what did a Sloth do do god?