This is a time to get together and eat and talk , just time for our friends. There is no format, dues, agenda etc., We can meet anytime or place we decide, picnic pot luck, local food, anything we want to, even invite speakers. But for now please show up, eat and talk to like minded friends. No need to RSVP just stop by and eat. email Trana if you like.
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|Is a ND Catholic Bishop Jeopardizing Church's Tax-Exempt Status?|
|Written by Anton Ominous (Guest Contributor)|
This weekend in North Dakota, Bishop David Kagan encouraged all priests to read a letter he had written in an attempt to influence the upcoming election.
Kagan said in his letter that, regarding abortion, “the positions of the two parties and the positions of their candidates are well known.” What I’d like to say to the Bishop is that it’s not all that impressive when he starts out with a false statement himself.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said whatever his audience wanted to hear regarding his position on abortion. On any given day, he might be all for putting women in prison for abortion or he might say that Roe v Wade is no big deal.
Our own Republican senate candidate, Rick Berg, has an interesting history on this issue himself. For about 21 years in the state legislature he was pro-choice. He even helped uphold Democratic Governor Bud Sinner’s veto of the most popular anti-abortion legislation that’s ever passed the North Dakota legislature.
But then his votes changed. The story a Democratic legislator told me was that Berg was told he would never get Republican support to run for a statewide office without changing his position on abortion.
The record would seem to support this tale because in Berg’s last couple of years in the state legislature, he went “Etch-A-Sketch” himself and flipped 180 degrees. He began supporting bills that even Catholic Church leadership opposed, such as putting a woman in prison for life if she had an abortion awi a result of a rape.
So no, Bishop Kagan, we don’t know the position of many candidates since many of them will say whatever you want to hear – whether they actually believe what they’re saying or not. In fact, the positions most Republicans have staked out on social issues tells me they are most certainly NOT pro-life.
The most outrageous part of the letter was where Kagan said “Please do not vote for the candidate who is most likeable.” Of course, he crossed the line here on his church’s tax-exempt status because Republicans themselves have been running ads saying Democratic senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp is likeable.
Frankly, the letter reads like it was written at Republican headquarters. It is offensive.
This new dustup by the Bismarck bishop has caused me to reflect on some of the disturbing things the Catholic Church has done over the past couple of years. Such as:
1. The Moorhead, MN, Teacher and Homosexuality
Remember the Moorhead teacher who lost her job at a Catholic school because of an answer she gave on an evaluation that asked her if she supported the teachings of the Catholic Church? She answered honestly and said she had problems with the Church’s stance on homosexual marriage. So she was fired. Real evolved, this Church is.
But I’m curious. Just what sort of God creates someone who isn’t your textbook heterosexual, only to have them suffer bullying, ridicule, and a different set of societal rules and law – sometimes leading them to end their lives rather than spend another day in their junior high gym class? The Church is wrong. It’s just as simple as that.
2. Health Care
In 2009 it was estimated that almost 3.8 million personal bankruptcies in the U.S. were due to medical bills for a catastrophic health event or emergency. And health care costs are threatening the ability of the government to fund other important social programs long-championed by the Church – like Head Start; Women, Infants and Children; and assistance for the poor.
As the health care debate unfolded, Catholic bishops weighed in to demand that the legislation not expand abortion. Democrats did everything they could to address these concerns but found that the bishops kept moving the goal posts in the negotiations. In the end, Democrats accomplished what the bishops originally wanted, and President Obama signed an Executive Order to further cement the compromise that abortion laws would stay the same under this legislation. In fact, the Executive Order likely strengthened the Hyde Amendment.
But the bishops said no. And they made their opinions loud and clear in the press and in the pews. I heard it.
At the same time, however, tens of thousands of Catholic sisters came out in support of the health care bill, calling it “the real pro-life stance.” The Catholic Health Association also supported the bill, as did the National Catholic Reporter. With all the provisions in the bill aimed at helping new or expecting moms, it isn’t hard to figure this one out.
With their vocal opposition to the health care bill, the Catholic bishops, and the Church, were important players in what was a huge turnover in the U.S. House in 2010. Instead of compassionate lawmakers trying to make government work for the poor, the Church had a hand in replacing them with greed-driven, anti-government fanatics who hold up the very un-Christian Ayn Rand as their philosophical guide. Let this one sink in: The Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Church played a very big role in supporting Ayn Rand-worshipping Tea Partiers to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. And Ayn Rand despised the teachings of Christ.
3. Religious Freedom
In early 2012 the Apocalypse was upon us. Well, maybe not the Apocalypse. Maybe it was just the
Catholic bishops again, claiming that our religious freedom was being trampled because the new health care law required that insurance policies cover contraceptives for women - including those who work at religious-affiliated businesses.
Twenty-eight states already required organizations that offer prescription insurance to cover contraception and the compromise struck by President Obama likely expanded the conscience protections in several states.
Other religious-affiliated institutions have had this on their books for years. This includes big names like Georgetown University, DePaul, Boston College, University of Scranton, Fordham University, and numerous hospitals. Some Catholic institutions decided to self-insure instead of fight these state laws, but there was no national outcry from the bishops, no worry that religious freedom itself was perched on the edge of a cliff, ready to be casually pushed over.
Many see this issue in reverse of how the bishops see it. They feel that it is the bishops who are forcing their religious beliefs (out-of-touch as they may be) upon tens of thousands of women who work at institutions that are somehow connected to the Catholic Church. Recent polling shows that most Americans support birth control, believe all workers should have access to birth control, and that health insurance policies should be required to cover birth control.
And now these bishops are coordinating more than 40 lawsuits against the administration in regard to this mandate.
The end game for the Catholic Church in all of this is their opposition to contraception and birth control in general and, in fact, sex of almost any kind that does not allow for procreation. I’m surprised the bishops aren’t threatening all the Catholics practicing the good ol’ “rhythm method” with eternal damnation since they’re just trying to fool God when they practice that, too.
But these aren’t the only battles the bishops are fighting. . .
4. Victims of Priests
There is an organization called SNAP – which stands for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. I don’t know much about SNAP other than it’s a shoestring organization that helps victims deal with the emotional and psychological effects of this abuse and makes referrals to therapists and lawyers for these victims. Catholic League president Bill Donohue rails against them whenever he can. But Bill Donohue is a hate-filled bigot who should have been publically rebuked by the Church long ago.
Anyway, the Catholic Church is still engaged in numerous sex abuse scandals that have rocked it to its foundations. Oddly enough, the bishops aren’t fighting to help the victims of these crimes; quite the contrary – they are still trying to hide the abusive clergy and they’re trying to take down SNAP.
The Church is “lawyering up” and pursuing a strategy of crippling the organization through a barrage of costly legal maneuvers.
A few months ago the whole issue with priests abusing kids came up with the revelations about Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Dolan is the spokesperson for the Church in the U.S. He is the head of the U.S. Conference of Bishops and the Archbishop of the New York Catholic Diocese. Before he was named to this position, he was the archbishop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Well, just like lots of places across the globe, the Milwaukee area has had its share of problems with priests accused of sexual abuse. But, if you want to push a priest out of the priesthood for potential criminal acts, it takes a long time and a lot of money. This alone speaks volumes of the issues within the Catholic Church.
So Dolan took another route. He authorized what can honestly be described as “payoffs” to the priests who had victimized kids so they would leave the Church without a fight. So some pedophile priests got their money and quietly moved one. I doubt that their victims moved on quite so easily.
Dolan has also been accused of moving millions of dollars around in diocese trusts so that the funds would be inaccessible when the Church was sued by the victims.
Centuries of abuse and deceit? Not so much. Access to contraceptives? YOU’RE GOING TO HELL!
You knew it was coming. When the nuns came out in support of the Affordable Care Act, you knew the bishops would soon exert their male-hierarchy authority over them.
Just as a side note, I remember quite clearly a mass I attended in a small western North Dakota Catholic Church. A visiting priest (or monsignor or something) was there and the place was full because he had traveled the world and was someone of importance in this hierarchy. Not only was the church full, but so was he – of himself. After a few minutes of his sermon, he brought up a story about meeting Mother Teresa. Yeah, that Mother Teresa. I remember it vividly because this is exactly what he said: “I recall a time when I was in the same country as Mother Teresa. I had heard of her but never met her and there she was down on the ground visiting with someone who was sick. I wanted to talk to her so I said ‘Get up, woman! I would like to speak to you.’”
I was dumbfounded at his arrogance. He told this story in large part to communicate his superior standing as a male in a male-dominated hierarchy to the people in that little church that day. And I have no doubt this is indeed how he treated Mother Teresa when he met her.
Anyway, I thought that story seemed relevant to the Catholic Church’s crackdown on nuns who have been more concerned with serving the poor than with participating in the bishops’ effort to sabotage health care reform or the bishops’ effort to impose their will on women’s access to health care.
One of the interesting turns in the crackdown on nuns is that reports from the National Catholic Reporter and a British Catholic paper note that it was disgraced former Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who was one of the primary drivers of this crackdown. Cardinal Bernard Law, as you may remember, was the guy who allowed pedophile priests to continue serving rather than taking a stand to protect victims and pursue justice.
6. Cafeteria Catholic Bishops
I could also label this part “The Silence is Deafening.”
While Bishop Kagan speaks in his letter about “faith and morals” he, and Catholic bishops in general, don’t make a sound when injustice after injustice is pursued by the Republican right.
I’m running out of space to deal with money laundering at the Vatican, Opus Dei, the Bishop who compared President Obama to Hitler and Stalin, or the Church excommunicating a pre-teen girl for an abortion (caused by rape) to save her life. Needless to say, the bishops and Church hierarchy are picking and choosing what to fight for, and apparently what parts of their Bible they pay attention to. And they’re picking the wrong things.
So just what is it with these guys? Are they so filled with fear and loathing of women that they pursue these 12th Century policies? Are they racist? Are they afraid of people catching on to them and a loss of power and position? What is it?
Whatever it is, it is causing a split like they haven’t experienced in a long, long time. When former ND Governor George Sinner submits a letter to the editor denouncing an initiated measure the Catholic bishops promote you know something is wrong. Regular Catholics who have rarely missed a Sunday mass in their lives are now leaving the Church in droves and it would appear no end is in sight. They recognize that something fundamentally wrong is going on.
My advice to Bishop Kagan? Vote for the likeable candidate. You’ll be glad you did.