Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cardinal Pell appears in court

Cardinal George Pell showed up in court today in Australia ...

More: A First: Cardinal Pell Appears in Australian Court on Sexual Charges

I will watch this case with interest as I've been an anti-fan of Pell's for years due to his attack on the primacy of conscience, his hand in the terrible missal translation, and his bad treatment of sex abuse victims (see here for details). The Pope hired Pell for very important jobs at the Vatican even while knowing of his bad reputation, and when members of his own sex abuse commission asked Francis to remove Pell, he refused .... another sign of the Pope's disinterest in fixing the sex abuse problem.

What's up?

I haven't been posting as much lately for a number of reasons. I've had some health issues and also worries about the house, the cats, and finances. And then Sitemeter retired its site, and you'd be surprised at how hard it is to write blog posts when you no longer can see proof that anybody ever visits the blog.

I haven't posted much lately about religion either because, I must admit, Catholicism seems more and more irrelevant to me. For more than 20 years I have hoped and waited for the church to evolve, even in some small way, on the issues of women priests, sex abuse, marriage equality, contraception/abortion, mandatory celibacy, wealth redistribution, etc.. Nothing has really changed, not even under Pope Francis, and in fact he has done little but double down on most issues.

It makes me sad - I have really come to respect some of the guys in the church ... William Barry SJ, John Dear SJ, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Tom Doyle OP .... but at the end of the day they are just individuals within a despotism that has marginalized some of them and has forced out others for speaking up for sex abuse victims, for women, for peace. Those who prosper in the church now are the moderate/conservative buddies of the guy on top, like Antonio Spadaro, SJ. The church is reminding me a little too much lately of our political situation.

But I will still continue to post about the stuff that matters to me .... movies, books, music, politics, animals and the environment, history and philosophy, and religion too. I just need to cheer up a bit.

Trump's engineered break-up

It's an engineered break-up. You know, like when a man wants to ditch a woman so he can move on to greener pastures, but he doesn't want to take responsibility for that. So instead of being hones and telling the woman he wants to end the relationship, he makes her environment so unpleasant that she herself will finally leave. It's the jerk's way out.

And that is what Trump is now doing to Sessions. He is making Sessions' environment toxic with his constant and disingenuous public criticisms of him, hoping Sessions will decide to resign. In that way, Trump thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of two groups of people .... the conservative voters who still love Sessions, and all those who believe Trump wants Sessions gone so he can replace him with a puppet who will fire special counsel Robert Mueller for him and end the Russia investigation.

But it won't work because Trump is transparent, not in the sense of being honest, but in the sense that everyone can see right through him. Putz.

Fact Checker Analysis: A quick guide to President Trump’s false Twitter claims today
... and ... Trump's strategy -- troll Sessions to get to Mueller

Saturday, July 22, 2017

It's good to be king

Trump has decided he has the power to pardon all his minions and all his family members, not to mention the power to pardon himself. Wow - even Richard Nixon didn't try this, apparently because he found the idea "dishonorable".

This "pardon oneself" idea comes after last week's news about Sean Spicer quitting in protest, after Jeff Sessions appears to have lied again about his Russia contacts, after mention of Trump and Putin's date night at the G20, after the revelation of Jared Kushner's other money, after Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting to get dirt on Hillary, and after Trump's recent unhinged interview with The New York Times in which he castigates Sessions, accuses Comey of blackmail, and threatens special counsel Mueller.

Did I miss anything? It's so hard to keep up. If Trump is allowed to pardon himself, our democracy really will be a joke.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Music from The Young Pope

I really need a break from the insanity of Trump. Perhaps a song from the end of episode 4 of The Young Pope. Here it shows him listening to an Italian song given to him as a gift from the Prime Minister of Greenland (don't ask why) and imagining the Prime Minister dancing to the tune ...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Drip, Drip, Drip

Rachel Maddow and then PBS NewsHour commentary from Shields and Brookstoday on the ever spreading 'Trump Jr/Russian Story' .....

There is not doubt now of collusion between Trump and Russia to affect our elections, and of course, no doubt that Trump and his minions continue to lie their asses off. It's said that Trump's supporters know all this but just don't care, and I believe that's true. I don't think they would care if he blew someone's head off on prime time tv as long as he was still useful to them ... Yes, Most Donald Trump Supporters Are Deplorable and Irredeemable. What they don't get is that Trump didn't become president in order to advance their agenda, he ran for office so he could enjoy being king.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Remember the kittens I mentioned weeks ago who turned up in my yard? They're still here. If I could only catch them, my sis would give us a ride to the County shelter where they hopefully could find homes. Unfortunately, I'm totally inept at catching them, so they're still here, quickly growing past the adoptable age. This wouldn't be such a bad thing if there were not already so many cats living in the yard.

Here's Marie and one of her babies ...

The two white kittens are wrestling ...

Two of three (I think) stripey kittens ...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate

Nope, I'm not posting about The X-Files but about the latest White House press briefing ...

I've been watching it (or actually 'listening to' it, since it's another press briefing they wouldn't allow to be om-camera) and the twisting of the truth and the propaganda that spewed from Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her guest speaker, Marc Short, director of legislative affairs, threatened to drive me batty. Just a few comments to try to set things straight ....

- Marc Short spoke about Democrats obstructing the confirmations of Trump nominees. He said the Democrats were frustrating the wishes of the American people by doing this, and that the Democrats should be more bipartisan. Hey, let's try to remember that Hillary won the popular vote and that the will of the American people is probably split, at best, over these nominees. And the bipartisan stuff - this is incredibly disingenuous given how the Republicans in Congress refused to even consider President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Courtl.

- Short also stated that most Americans support the Senate health care bill (not true - Poll: Only 12% of Americans support the Senate health care plan). And he said that this is because the ACA is dying, but he neglected to mention why it is happening (Trump’s Attempts to Sabotage Obamacare Are Working ... The costs of Trump's sabotage of Obamacare already are showing up in rate hikes)

- Sanders later went on about the unprecedented rapport between Trump and Poland on his trip to Europe. This should come as no great surprise since Poland presently has one of the most conservative governments of recent times ... Trump picks Poland for his second foreign trip, where the government is accused of attacking democratic institutions ... Poland Is Busing Trump Supporters to Warsaw to Ensure Cheering Crowds

- And she tried to avoid questions about Trump's two hour love fest with Putin at G-20. Why were there only four people in the meeting? Why was there no press? Why did what was supposed to be a 30 minute meeting go on for over two hours (Donald Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin lasts more than 2 hours after being scheduled for 30 minutes)? Why did Trump accept Putin's assertion that there was no Russian meddling in our elections? You can read more on this but come on, but I think the fact is that Trump likes Putin and that it doesn't bother him that the Russians interfered in our elections. I would not be surprised to learn that Trump colluded with the Russians to win. So what was happening during those two hours? Probably a lot of celebrating.

- Sanders also tried to deflect questions about a previously undisclosed meeting between Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Trump's campaign manager with a Russian lawyer yo obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton ...

And ...

The WH press briefings now seem to only exist to spread misinformation.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Young Pope

This week's DVD rental was The Young Pope, a 10 episode English-language Italian tv series from HBO. It stars Jude Law (Gattaca, Enemy at the Gates, A.I.), Diane Keaton, James Cromwell, and Sebastian Roché.

The story begins as Lenny Belardo (Law) has just been elected pope. Abandoned by his parents at a Catholic orphanage as a boy, Lenny was raised by Sister Mary, grew up to become a priest under the mentoring of NY Archbishop Spencer (Cromwell), and then archbishop and cardinal. The conclave of cardinals chooses him as the first American pope because they believe he is nondescript and malleable, but instead they find he is a ruthless and damaged autocrat who does not really believe in God.

I haven't watched much HBO stuff because its shows are notorious for treating women characters like things (HBO Slammed For Sexual Violence Against Women in Its Shows), and so far this show seems to have more than it's share of unpleasant sexual encounters. I'm still watching but it isn't a show I'd ever want to revisit.

But, it's interesting from a Catholic point of view to see a facsimile of what the Vatican is like and how it's run .... the show had the help of Vatican experts. The sets and costumes are very nice and the cinematography is nice too.

Here's the title sequence of the show (from episode 3) with the pope walking past a line of famous paintings. As he walks, a little comet (or the holy spirit?) proceeds him through the paintings, bringing the characters and things within them to life. For some reason the video clip doesn't show all the animation in the paintings, only just a bit (see the the fire burning in the last painting, The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre?), but if you watch the series, you'll get the whole effect. And in the background plays the tune of Jimi Hendrix' Watchtower ...

Here's a look behind the scenes ...

Saturday, July 08, 2017

More on Cardinal Pell

From the editorial board at The New York Times: The Vatican’s Failure in the Abuse Scandal

For all of Pope Francis’ deserved acclaim in leading the Roman Catholic Church to new directions, he is failing badly on his promise to address the child abuse scandal at the crucial level where ranking churchmen systematically protected priests who raped and molested children.

His failure to confront the problem was underlined last week when the pope had to grant one of his closest advisers, Cardinal George Pell of Australia, a leave of absence from the Vatican to answer multiple charges of sexual assault in Melbourne.

Until now, Francis stood by Cardinal Pell, the Vatican treasurer, even after the cardinal admitted to a special Australian investigation last year that the church had made “enormous mistakes” in responding to the scandal while he was a ranking archbishop .....

Meanwhile, Cardinal Pell, who has left Rome, is seen taking a break at an ice cream cafe in Singapore (Cardinal George Pell spotted in Singapore en route to Australia) ...

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Photos from the yard

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

July 4th - still hating fireworks

UPDATE: it's almost midnight and the fireworks continue in my neighborhood, including the illegal cherry bombs tossed in front of the house. The terrified cats are hiding somewhere in the yard. The little kittens I've been trying to catch in the backyard must be both deaf and insane by now. I hate fireworks and I hate the jerks who abuse them.

On the 4th of July I usually write about how much I hate fireworks ... they scare animals and birds, and they pollute the air, cause a fire hazard, and and seem to be some people's method for harassing others. It's not just me who doesn't like them - Jesi master Luke Skywalker feels the same ...

Monday, July 03, 2017

Celebrate our free press on the 4th

On this, the (almost) fourth of July, given Trump's war on the media, I'd like to remind us of how lucky we are for the Fist Amendment ...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Without a free and investigative press, would we know about Watergate, Cardinal Law's sex abuse cover-up, what's going on in war zones? I don't think so.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Thomas Reese SJ fails on Pell

One of the few priests I have any respect left for in the church has been Thomas Reese SJ but I was really disappointed to see what he had to say in an interview about Cardinal Pell, who is charged with at least three serious sex assault charges, including at least one count of rape.

Reese turned himself into a pretzel in an effort to excuse Pope Francis having chosen Pell for top jobs at the Vatican despite Pell's decades long terrible reputation on sex abuse (Marie Collins: Cardinal Pell's leave from Vatican service comes 'far too late').

Also disappointing is how Reese downplayed contemporary sex abuse crimes by Catholic priests ... a couple of examples: U.S. priests accused of sex abuse get second chance in South America (2015), For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad (2014)

Here's Reese temporizing ...

The situation in the Catholic church is kind of like our current political situation here in the US. The guy in charge (The Pope or Trump) is not doing a good job, but for certain reasons, the leader's minions and the rank and file will do all they can to make him look good and to excuse his actions.

In US politics, this means the Republicans will support Trump even though he is a psycho because he will sign off on their agenda. For the Catholic church, this means the hierarchy and the average priest will wax lyrical on Francis the reforming Pope, though he's made no real reforms and is failing badly on issues like sex abuse, the rights of women, divorce/remarriage/communion, and LGBT relationships. Why? Because they don't want to see a return of the little tin god who was the previous pope.

What a failure of integrity. I had expected more of Thomas Reese.