Equal Protection Under The Law (CCR)

Defining equal and defining protection are exercises for another blog. For the purposes of this blog accepting some measure of belief in the concept strains credulity when looking at the current situation in the Catholic Church. Bishop Finn and Msgr. Robert Murphy of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are embroiled in yet another cover-up of child abuse by ordained men of the church. Both men appeared before a Grand Jury investigating this latest local incident of sanctioned institutional use of children.

For years, the Catholic Church has defiled children both by actions of ordained men of the church and by concerted and ongoing efforts to keep the problem hidden and out of the legal system.

The Mantra, the song of enforced silence has many verses. We hear them over and over: “God’s Law governs these Holy Men. God’s law comes first. The Church, Our Shepard, know best. The Church offers the protection of these good and holy men. The Church has a process of protection. God protects His people through the men of the church. Civil protections have no place in the abuse situations.” A current favorite is the new/old standard of blaming the victims, labeling Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests as trouble makers looking for a chance to make noise. Somewhat reminiscent of inquisitions of torture for failing to adopt the party line.

Granted, a diocese bankrupted under the strain of legal costs defending the Church, the priests, the bishops, the cardinal involved in one situation. As punishment, the Cardinal left United States jurisdiction to a position as head of Mary Major Church in Rome complete with all the comforts and trappings of his position in the hierarchy.

Granted, victims received money for silence.
Granted, psychological treatment was offered to some victims.
Granted, the abuse of children and the institutional cover-up has cost the Catholic Church in both membership and in revenue.

However, we are looking at equal protection under the Civil Law for victims rather than the cost of abusing, denying, ignoring, hiding, covering up. The Catholic Church has used their arsenal to keep the protection of children out of Civil Court, to avoid the open and honest investigation of the corruption. Lawyers protect the Church while the church works to deny protection of the abused.

We are searching for equal and for protection under Civil Law as we look at photos of Bishop Finn and his lawyers entering the building for the Grand Jury investigation. We see Finn and Murphy enjoying their absolute right–the protection of legal counsel, the hearing before Civil Law, the constant advice of those expert in Civil Law, their day in a Civil Law setting. We see these men of the church availing themselves of the very rights and protections that the church has worked so hard to deny victims of abuse by ordained men of the church.

God’s law protects the children? Civil Law protests the priests? Equal protection?

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The End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

A rerun of a previous blog, written prior to the legal end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

The United States Military is the most powerful in the world, operated and led by people of experience, intelligence and savvy. Many, maybe the largest percentage, never see front line combat assignments in modern warfare. Retirement steadily removes the oldest members of the highest officers ranks, moving younger people up the career ladder.

Prejudices of my generation, and generations who came before, diminish as younger people see with different understanding. Clearly, there are military people who, with their understanding and conscience, continue to distrust the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Perhaps those well-meaning men and women should trust the power of their organization to handle the death of the DADT dinosaur. Time and honesty will show that good and dedicated men and women have served with courage and respect while being caged in that dark ‘closet’.

The editorial page of the daily paper could consider moving Doonesbury from the comic section giving the military strips full editorial presence when Trudeau writes about DADT.

Admittedly, many church groups supported DADT and cannot let go of their stand on Gay and Lesbian people, the stand that uses God as condemnation, focusing on a few lines in The Book rather than focusing on the Jesus nature of love. Weren’t we taught that The Jesus of The New Testament overshadowed the ‘smite’ part of the Old Testament?

Not being a Biblical scholar, I cannot quote passages to back up a God that is all about acceptance, forgiveness, love, creation mirroring God’s image. Admittedly, I have problems understanding churches that condemn the private nature of homosexual couples while protecting pedophiles and abusers with cover-ups, money, promotions and denial. Whited sepulcher comes to mind— and a subject for another day.

With Permission, A Retelling:Threads of Love

  • The group’s original mission was to make baby gowns, caps and blankets for burial.

    Now it also provides families with cloth “memory envelopes” in cotton or satin, a place to slip mementos of a brief life: a lock of hair, a specially worded sympathy card, a photograph.

    The group also makes items for babies in the hospital. Among them:

    Small bean-bag pillows, covered in soft fleece, that nurses use to position sick or premature babies safely in their bassinets

    • Cloth dolls for babies in ICU that carry the scent of their parents

    • “Sleepy vests” for preemies, made with Velcro fasteners so they’re easy to slip on and off.

Between them, Sally Gripkey and Rose Anne Livingston — grandmothers and longtime friends — launched an organization that has helped hundreds of Midlands families cope with miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a newborn.

The women in their group, Threads of Love, make delicate white gowns, caps and blankets used as burial shrouds.

“Nobody goes to the hospital expecting to go home without a baby,” Livingston said, “so most people aren’t prepared for burials.”

The clothing has taken the place of blue, plastic bed pads that, before, wrapped the remains given to grieving mothers.

“They are babies. They aren’t just things, you know?” said Gripkey, 73, a retired respiratory therapist who knows her way around hospitals. The volunteers rarely meet the people who receive their handmade gifts. Still, they can comprehend the cruel pain.

“We can’t keep up,” said Livingston, 75, a retired real estate broker who became an adept volunteer as an Army wife, moving from post to post. Gripkey first read about Threads of Love, which began in Louisiana, in a sewing magazine. For a couple of years, she made gowns on her own.

Early on, Threads of Love got a $350 donation from the church. Since then, it has been self-sustaining, with occasional donations from families touched by their kindness. “We’ve never had to have a fundraiser,” Livingston said.

She buys fabric on sale. A group from Myrtle Beach donates lace. Invariably, the seamstresses spend their own money on supplies, making what Livingston estimated is 2,500 baby items a year.

The largest burial gown they make is 24 inches long. The smallest is 5 inches; it can lie flat in a sandwich bag.

Posted, The State South Carolina’s Homepage, Mar. 15, 2011   by Dawn Hinshaw;  photos KimKim Foster-Tobin.

If you, Gentle Reader, would like to read the entire article or if you wish to  contribute, you will find the information at:

http://thestate.com/2011/03/15/v-print/1736617/mending-hearts.html

Serendipity Lives

Just as I hit the publish prompt for this morning’s blog, an email from my friend, Pat C. hit the in-box.  Pat’s message was quickly followed by duplicates from others supporting the main points in the original.  Pat C.’s email is the perfect addition to my Dull, Duller, Dullest blog referencing changes that Congress needs prior to asking the public to feel any deep pinch.  The forward spells out some very specific changes, concepts that would go a long way towards making believers out of many of us.
Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. Term Limits.

A. Two Six-year Senate terms
B. Six Two-year House terms
C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

2.  No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3.  Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately.  All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen.  Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message.  Maybe it is time.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.   If not, just delete
You are one of my 20+.  Please keep it going.
This has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat …. it has everything to do with your kids and mine!


Dull, Duller, Dullest

NPR reports that a scientist ran the numbers, discovering that April 11 was the dullest day of the century. Waiting, I hoped the tag line would not be that a government grant funded that scientific bit of whatever.  However, the report was quickly interrupted by spring pledge break and a non-commercial advertising a law firm doing intellectual property work.  Surely, there is irony here.

Do we keep the tradition alive, subduing any urge to pursue interesting and even relevant thoughts on this April 11, 2011?  In another 100 years, will this day be a follower or perhaps find a way to lead?  Or, in another 100 years, will anyone even care?

Let’s care.

Let’s insist that government leaders find a way to address the budget crises while refraining from over reliance on hot-button emotional stuff.   Priorities require measures that affect everyone.   Some interviewer of soft voice and concerned cadence questioning a Senator about his stand on the funding of international aid programs should find a another line of work.  Unbiased news slips farther and farther from reality, but spinning with an eye to discrediting honest attempts to sort priorities in dishonest and counter productive.

If entitlement programs need cuts in order to sustain the economy we are again faced with the truth that everyone will feel the sting.  However,  those makers of our laws, Congress, would do well to start in their House, to cut their entitlements first.  Again, surely there is irony here.

What Price Violence?

Before the ramble begins, the disclaimer:  I am not a ‘dove’.  The hot snowball impossibility of that position never made it up the flag pole.  We are a people of sex and violence.   Neither am I a hawk defending the position that power and anger win the toss.

I am taking a position of respect for those who sincerely believe in and work for peaceful means of change.  I am taking a position of gratitude to our military men and women who defend against that power and anger sucking the soul of  the world.

I am not a proponent of stricter gun laws. Cain and David used rocks.  In some countries, rocks are the weapon of choice for certain crimes.

An NPR sports commentator recently  spoke of the glory of violence on the playing field.   He was against any rule changes to diminish the worship of that glory.  I leave that discussion to the fans.

“The themes of democracy, justice and empowerment are being displayed on the streets in several countries.”

“John Covington’s newest recipe for controlling Southwest Early College Campus (violence) calls for a total of 18 security guards and police officers mixed with a dozen additional hallway monitors.”

Both quotes are from the front page of The Kansas City Star, Tuesday, February 15, 2011.

Fires burn in the halls of an early college campus.  Fires burn in the streets of Cairo, Iran, Yemen, Bahrain.  Military personnel and police presence continue to increase in efforts to control the violence, put out the fires of protest.

In an educational setting designed to prepare  for college some students are mirroring the behaviors of Arab demonstrators demanding democracy, justice and empowerment.

Sucking the soul from the world…..

In House (CCR)

Let’s go back to Richard Nixon and Watergate, a scandal of politics and government gone terribly wrong, a disgraced President of the United States and jail time for men privy to the Oval Office.

Sam Ervin, Howard Baker, Daniel Inoye, Bob Woodward and others contributed to the investigation with professional thoroughness and personal dignity.  They, and others, worked to find the truth.

Suppose the investigation had been handled by in-house personnel like  H.R. Haldeman , Charles Colson, John Ehrlichman, G. Gordon Liddy or John Dean.     Suppose that the results of the investigation were left to this in-house team.    It is fair to speculate that Richard M. Nixon would not have resigned, that zero jail time would be served by anyone and the tapes would be dismissed as unimportant.

Recent mine disaster offer another opportunity to speculate on the differing results from differing investigations.   The government agency charged with overseeing mine safety finds evidence not offered up by the mining companies.  Lawyers representing the miners and/or families of miners killed in explosions would never be convinced that mining company ‘in-house’ investigations were complete.

BP’s equipment failures and the subsequent oil spill had huge consequences to the environment.  BP, and those subcontracted on the rig, offered varying explanations as they worked to plug the leak.  Neither the countries nor the people affected were foolish enough to believe that an ‘in-house’ investigation would find all the facts.

On Wednesday, January 19, The Kansas City Star carried an Associated Press story out of Dublin, Ireland.  Author credit is given to Shawn Pogatchnik.  Pogatchnik writes of a 1997 Vatican letter to Irish bishops warning the bishops not to report all suspected child abuse cases to the police.  Victims of abuse by priests see the letter as powerful proof that the church supported worldwide cover-up of pedophile priests.

The article  says, “…letter undermines persistent Vatican claims that it never instructed bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police.’  Pogatchnik claims that the letter, signed by Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II’s diplomat to Ireland, emphasized the church’s “…right to handle all allegations and punishments in-house“.  (Bold face emphasis is mine.)

Today, January 20, the Star  has a response from the Vatican insisting that the “…letter warning Irish bishops against reporting priests suspected of sexual abuse to police has been deeply misunderstood.”

Today’s article references the reaction of victims groups who call the letter a ‘smoking gun’.  The group believes that “..the church enforced a worldwide culture of concealing crimes by pedophile priests of which Rome bears ultimate–and legal–responsibility.

As defense, Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s U.S. lawyer stated that the ‘deeply misunderstood’ letter in no way instructed bishops to disregard civil requirements.  Rather, said  Vatican Spokesman,  Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican intended to ensure that pedophiles would not have any technical grounds for appeal.

Maybe.

IF…If the intention was to protect against technical grounds for appeal, why was the 1997 letter not publicized before now?  Why was the language of the 1997 letter not clear and precise?  Why is there any question as to the meaning and intent of the instruction given to the bishops by the Vatican?  Why  was that clarification not forthcoming during Ireland’s first wave of lawsuits against priests?

This feels like one more damning piece of  the cover-up creating a vestment of ugliness and deception.   Isn’t it time for the voice of the people of the church to cry out for an end to the cover-up, exposing the crimes and the deceptions?  I read the Jesus Philosophy as a cry for justice.