Wheat From Chaff (CCR)

Fourteen of my 73 years were well served by the education received in Catholic schools. Nuns were amazing. Their knowledge of subject matter, their teaching skills and their dedication have rarely been matched. In high school and college, priests shared the teaching duties and they, as well as the nuns, imbued the Catholic concept of God into each day. I spent a number of years volunteering and teaching in Catholic Schools, often reviewing the attributes of God as presented by the priests and nuns.

An omnipotent and omniscient Being was the God of the “one true, holy, Catholic and apostolic church”. We were given Jesus as the human aspect of God so we could feel a connection with a part of the Being. We could identify with the human side of God through Jesus.

On Sunday, October 16, 2011, the Kansas City Star published a lengthy and detailed article on the recent indictment of Bishop Robert Finn in connection with the abuse charges against Sean Ratigan, a priest of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. The article quotes members of the Catholic Church, giving their reactions to the charges against Bishop Finn.

A member of the St. Louis Parish on Swope Parkway, Jim Dougherty, expresses his belief in the following quote: “I still believe in a God that relishes and redeems woundedness.” (page A10, fifth column)

A God that is omnipotent and omniscient, a God of one true, holy, Catholic and apostolic church relishes something labeled woundedness? This God relishes the wounds inflicted on children by the shepherds ordained to protect from harm? Or is the relish of God savored and saved for the perpetrators of the wounds? Equal relish for victim and criminal?

A God, a being Supreme and all-powerful, that relishes anything fails the test of credibility.


On The Father, Joseph Matt (CCR)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 The Kansas City Star, page 1
Headline: Lawsuit alleges priest’s paternity

Granted abusing children is infinitely more debased than having sex with a consenting adult. Granted the consenting adult was vulnerable in the therapy session, transference known to every 101 Psychology student. Granted the woman/mother gave birth to the priest’s child, hiding paternity for many years. Granted the priest may not have presented himself as a trained therapist but simply offered his position as priest and friend. Granted the sexual relationship continued over a period of time, consensual sex.

Many years ago, my grandfather scorned the church because the local priest ‘had a woman’. To my grandfather the “sanctimonious position of the church regarding women and sex was disgusting, especially in light of what Pop believed to be common practice–a priest ‘having a woman’. Pop was born in Missouri in the late 1800s.

John Doe reports (page 9, Kansas City Star, September 27, 2011) that “My lawyer asked Bishop Finn what they were going to do about Joe Matt…And his answer was, well, Joe Matt’s done all these great things, he’s been a good guy, he takes care of his brother. All he did was compliment how good a guy Matt was.” Joe Matt returned to parish work after acknowledging paternity.

Many of my blogs reference the Catholic Church stated position: One True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic…the one true church built on the rock called Peter and based on the Jesus philosophy. Many of my blogs reference my Catholic baptism and my years of sincere and loyal participation. Many of my blogs reference the beauty of hundreds of wonderful people true to the liturgy, tradition and dogma of the church.

I have written on sexual abuse of children by ordained priests, men of position and power entrusted with the welfare of those children. I acknowledge that many other organizations have dealt with abuse issues.

I have challenged the Catholic Church position that women are lesser than–unworthy to function in the roles assigned to men.
I have challenged the Catholic Church position on gay marriage, on homosexual persons created in that ‘image and likeness of God’ part of the creation story. I have supported the repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. I have supported gay marriage and the rights of gay couples to parent children.

A whitened sepulcher is the image that refuses to leave. A magnificent edifice created on the beautiful teachings of a man named Jesus. This man named Jesus taught social justice, integrity, truth, adherence to stated principles. The building is a singular masterpiece until the doors open and the extent of corruption spills out.

Remember the parable of the widow’s mite, the pittance given (and praised). In her great need, the widow gave her money to the propagation of the so-called faith and her story became a part of the yearly calendar of readings. That widow’s mite helps to support a splendid city of pomp and wealth. Maybe Jesus would be shaking the dirt from his rope sandals.

Donnelly College Scholarship Dinner

Last week Donnelly College hosted the annual Scholarship Dinner. My volunteer duties included time at the reception table and a stint outside welcoming attendees. Actually, the time outside The Jack Reardon Center was disguised as a welcoming gesture while the main purpose was to guard the four reserved parking spots insuring that only certain folks used those spaces. Jazmin, a Block Scholar, and I were asked to identify (how?) those allowed in the front and center slots and to move others quickly on and out. A stretch limo was the no-brainer, but the other choices had embarrassing moments.

Jazmin shivered in the steady breeze, her bare arms shaking as the time dragged and the fourth VIP failed to show. She continued to smile as we welcomed each person in the wonderfully diverse crowd.

We talked of our history in Kansas City, Kansas, the changes along Minnesota Avenue, the scheduled EPA exodus to Johnson County. We talked of the immense value of Donnelly College as a beacon of not only education but a beacon of ethnic diversity and understanding. We talked about the life changing Block Scholar Program. Jazmin had her goal, Civil Engineer, that would be reached because the Block Family understands the value of protecting and nurturing young people determined to pursue a degree.

A small car whipped around the barricades taking one of the reserved spaces. That noisy engine could not belong to the tardy VIP, right?
As I prepared to give my “Sorry” speech, an order priest dressed in the long brown robe, rope belt and sandals jumped from the car, head down, and hurried towards the Center.

Not five minutes prior, The Archbishop of the diocese entered a bit breathless from his long walk. How could I ignore the blatant move by the little car, give priority to Father X when the Archbishop did not command a reserved spot? How could I do that?

In the name of equality, diversity, parity and multiplicity I did that. We were freezing and there was plenty of space if the late arriving VIP happened to show. Besides, Jazmin and I were hungry.

There is so much that could be written about the evening, about the program, about Mr. Block’s caring speech, about tremendous spirit of giving evident during the pledge drive, about the filmed interviews with Block Scholars, their lives opened to the audience, about the attentive and efficient wait staff, and about the hard work that preceded the event.

Rather than those important aspects, I believe that a glass raised to Steven and to Matthew—to their lives, their determination, their openness—is a glass raised to the purpose and order of that evening.

These young men represent the Mission of Donnelly and of the Block Scholar program. Steven and Matthew stand with pride, owning life mistakes and growing successes. They own it all. It is a privilege to know them.

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.

Consuming (CCR)

Patrick comments: “No one has set a lower standard for humanity than the Catholic Church.”

I have written about the rape and abuse of children, the institutional approval of rape and abuse via the persistent cover-up by those with the power to reassign, offering protection to pedophiles.

The Kansas City Star is following the Shawn Ratigan pornography obscenity, known by church officials and facilitated through failure to act.

Bishop Finn hands off to the Todd Graves Law group, a group specializing in protection of the brand name of corporations. If ever a ‘brand’ name stood wrapped in obscenity it is the Catholic Church and the persistent protection of rapists.

Msgr. Thomas J. O’Brien surfaces again, accused of abusing altar boys in the late 1970’s. Jon David Couzens accuses O’Brien and Rev. Isaac True of Conception Abbey of multiple counts of abuse.

Couzens has disclosed that a young friend’s suicide followed abuse perpetrated by O’Brien. (Reported in The Kansas City Star.)

Some years ago, a priest walked into a large gathering. The response of those attending was immediate. The priest received instant respect by both those who knew him as a man deserving of respect, and by those reacting to the uniform he wore.
He was a priest, a holy man of god, dedicated to the care and protection of the congregation.

At that time, I was a believer even though some life lessons should have taught a different understanding. My Catholic training was thorough. I lived it.
No more.

My Country Tis of Thee

Yesterday someone dear to me stated that I was not overly sentimental. This person reads me as more practical and dispassionate instead of overly demonstrative. Maybe. Maybe sentimental is a whisper no less felt than thunder.

Births, deaths, holidays, most milestones evoke sentiment. Each Wednesday and each Friday tears spill as family members start down the drive-way after a weekly visit. Family returning to either Colorado or South Carolina requires my face towards the ground, a plastic smile and a mighty stab at self-control. Good-bye is an avalanche of loneliness.

Today is July 4, Independence Day, a celebration of country and patriotism. My activities for the day include painting, stripping wax and buying paper products, laundry supplies and a favorite candy from the nearby Wal-Greens.

As I stood at the card aisle looking for the perfect birthday message (unsentimental but covering all the love and pride I feel for the person), the piped music was My Country Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty…

My reaction caught me…sentimental, nostalgic, sad, and even angry. As a fairly liberal-minded old person, I tend to focus on the warts rather than white-wash over the problems. I absolutely know what a privilege it is to live in the United States even as I lament the excesses and the failures to honor the all-men-created-equal declaration.

Politics lacks integrity and diminishes our system as it pays for professional advice on how to exploit integrity and patriotism. The John Edwards and Sarah Palins of the scene push collective buttons and hide behind personae and rhetoric.

We did learn from Viet Nam and our military men and women are given all deserved honor. The branches of the Armed Services will be prominent in 4th of July celebrations.

People, American people, celebrate this day together. Patriotism waves with new unwrinkled flags, with yearly resurgence of hope that the best can make its way forward and that appreciation can resurrect the best of My Country Tis of Thee I Sing.


Disclaimer First: This is a ramble, a struggle to understand with no conclusion to the journey.

As much as we might believe it is possible to separate our logical selves from our emotional selves, the evidence is otherwise. Research continues to present evidence that emotion, and the unconscious parts of the mind, determine the values that serve our needs.

In pre-school, we learn to discern patterns in shape, number or color. Long before that mathematical kind of pattern search, we learn to discern patterns in very complex behaviors around us. From birth, we build our values based on emotional responses, sorting the structure of our values, not opposing reason, but melding.

Mr. Spock of Star Trek did the mind meld as if Vulcan’s alone had that ability. Not so. Again, from birth we enter the minds of those around us. We meet our needs and build our value system by staying tuned.

Equally important, as we mature,is the monitoring of our minds as we correct for prejudices and mistakes. We reconstruct our values, our emotional responses, our ability to live within a social group.

Finally, motivation completes our package, tying together what we have structured as our logical set of values and our emotional response to any given situation. In those times of exquisite moments, immersed in love of another person, caught up in a joy of challenge and even in our search for God, we taste the hunger. We know the motivation that goes so far beyond material success.

Recently a number of events have gifted me with the awareness that it is time for yet another restructuring. Recent church related blogs have skirted the issue of responsibility and expressed values opposing perceived values.

Continuing generosity of family, neighbors and friends are both amazing and comforting. My blessings are people who cover all the visible bases while understanding the more difficult needs.

Far too often we handle difficult issues by dumping at the gates of a higher power to which we have assigned attributes build on an emotional need to explain what has no satisfying explanation.

Attempting to comfort, standard expressions give God the credit and reserve the pain for those unwilling to accept God’s offering.
When God closes a door, he opens a window.
God never gives us more than we can handle.
God reached out and saved (a name) when others perished.
There are no atheists on the battlefield.
God is trying to tell us something by the destruction of nature.
God spoke to me and showed me the way.
Pray, and God will answer…maybe not the answer to the prayer, but God’s answer to the need.
Why me? God is trying to tell me something.
The church is God’s emissary on earth, leading us to eternal life.

For the sake of communication, let’s accept that God is…that God is in a place, in the lives of people.
Why is a tsunami allowed to destroy a huge section of a country? Why do earth quakes strike down life without regard? Why is one family’s child less valuable than other children and signaled for early death? Why do the deluge of prayers for peace seem impotent? Genocide? Aids? Cancer? Addiction? Prejudice? Governmental dishonesty? All the mistakes of humans and not correctable by the powers of God?

Of course I know that these are questions from my late teens and early twenties, years of searching followed by years of diligently toiling. (Thanks, Mark.) I know that these are the questions of depression, sadness and grief, questions that are very easily answered by blindly believing, by giving God the design manual.

Perhaps an equally important question is How. How do the beautiful, caring and generous men and women continue to live their values in a culture that mocks, satirizes and bullies? How do people, with no reliance on god-rules do that diligently toiling thing while giving up chunks of self to care for those around them?

Could it be that humans have taken characteristics of those beautiful, caring and generous men and women and designed a power in that image and likeness.