'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. -Adam Smith "All the 'truth' in the world adds up to one big lie." Bob Dylan "Idealism precedes experience, cynicism follows it." Anon

April 27, 2011

Best city in the world honours man who protected notorious Catholic child abuser

Chain The Dogma    April 27, 2011

Why is the best city in the world honouring a man who protected one of the most notorious child abusers in the Catholic Church?

by Perry Bulwer

The fast-tracked beatification of Pope John Paul II takes place May 1, 2011 and at the request of the Archbishop of Vancouver the City of Vancouver proclaimed that day “Blessed John Paul II Day in Vancouver”. The four reasons given for that proclamation are: 1) that is the day the Catholic Church will beatify him; 2) he played an unprecedented role in promoting peace and justice around the world; 3) he visited Vancouver once in 1984 and spoke to hundreds of thousands of people; 4) Catholics in Vancouver revere him.

Regarding the fast-tracking of that beatification, which will place John Paul II one step from sainthood, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, stated at a conference in Rome: "Clearly his cause was put on the fast track, but the process was done carefully and meticulously, following the rules Pope John Paul himself issued in 1983". How convenient. Beatified according to his own rules. But that is not the only ethical lapse in this process. Pope Benedict, who revered John Paul II, will be the first Pope in many centuries to bestow that honour on his immediate predecessor. It is also the fastest trip towards sainthood a Pope has ever taken.

Retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Sydney, Australia has a different take on that fast-track. He headed an Australian bishops’ commission on clerical sexual abuse from 1994-2003 and is the author of the book “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church.” In June 2008 at the University of California at San Diego he stated: “If sainthood for John Paul II is placed on the fast track, those in charge should take note of the cases of priestly sexual abuse he ignored, especially that of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado.”

Cardinal Amato explained that “Pope John Paul II is being beatified not because of his impact on history [so much for point 2 in Vancouver's proclamation] or on the Catholic Church [there go points 3 and 4], but because of the way he lived the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love....” He added, candidates must have “... lived the Christian virtues in a truly extraordinary way and ... must be perceived 'as an image of Christ'.” And Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as Vatican spokesman under Pope John Paul, explained further that “beatification is not a judgment on a pontificate, but on the personal holiness of the candidate”.

According to those criteria, Pope John Paul II was a virtuous, holy, image of Christ to be imitated by others. But was he? His friendship with and protection of one of the most notorious sexual abusers and pedophiles in the Catholic Church, Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the influential Legionnaires of Christ, suggests otherwise. Bishop Robinson

... described Pope John Paul II’s non-response in the matter of Father Maciel Degollado, head of the traditionalist Legionnaires of Christ, as “a failure of moral leadership on a massive scale.” The late pontiff had access to extensive documentation that Maciel Degollado had sexually abused 30 seminarians from the 1940’s to the 1970s, mostly in Spain and Italy. Some believe the true figure to be much higher.

But John Paul II, a close friend of Maciel Degollado, remained silent. The latter stood at the pope’s right hand during three papal visits to Mexico. Later, John Paul referred to him as “an efficacious guide to youth” and he heaped praise on Maciel Degollado on the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in 2004.

In her New York Times column, Maureen Dowd recently wrote:

Santo non subito! How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children?

For years after the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legion of Christ, was formally accused of pedophilia in a Vatican proceeding, he remained John Paul’s pet. The ultra-orthodox Legion of Christ and Opus Dei were the shock troops in John Paul’s war on Jesuits and other progressive theologians.
There was another reason, according to Jason Berry, who has written two books on the abuse crisis and is the author of the forthcoming “Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church.”
“For John Paul,” Berry told me just after returning from Good Friday services, “the priesthood had a romantic, chivalrous cast, and he could not bring himself to do a fearless investigation of the clerical culture itself.
“He was duped by Maciel, but he let himself be duped. When nine people accuse the guy of abusing them as kids, the least you can do is investigate.
“Cardinals and bishops had told him about the larger abuse crisis for years. And he was passive to an absolute fault. He failed in mountainous terms.”

Marcial Maciel did not just sexually abuse seminarians. He is alleged to have fathered at least six illegitimate children and sexually molested at least two of them. Legion of Christ officials, after decades of denial, recently acknowledged their founder had abused seminarians and had sired at least one child. So far, however, the Vatican under Benedict's lead is only interested in reforming the Legion, not shutting down that corrupt order that John Paul II promoted and protected.

If Pope John Paul II was so holy why did he protect a monster like Marcial Maciel, but failed to protect the thousands of children abused by predator priests while he was the head of the church? And as Maureen Dowd asked, “How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children?” That would have been a good question for the bureaucrats at Vancouver City Hall to ask before acquiescing to the archbishop of Vancouver's request for a special day to honour a man who failed to protect innocent children. Perhaps it should have been the survivors and exposers of Catholic clergy abuse who got the special day of honour instead.

Related Articles:

How can Pope John Paul II be a saint when thousands of children were raped or molested by priests under his leadership?

Vatican refuses to shut down corrupt Legionaries order for fear of imposing ideas on others, yet indoctrinating kids ok

Vatican names Spanish archbishop to investigate cult of consecrated women associated with disgraced Order

April 11, 2011

Beware of any religious organization with Family in its name

Chain the Dogma

Beware of any religious organization with Family in its name

by Perry Bulwer

That title may seem overly dramatic, but 'family' really is a loaded word today and not everyone promoting so-called family values is actually family-friendly or safe for children. This warning came too late for the St. Regis hotel in Vancouver that I recently discovered had donated rooms to a missionary family on their way to China. The hotel features them on their blog and Facebook page, without any apparent awareness that they are part of an extreme evangelical Christian cult that is responsible for tearing apart thousands of families, including my own, over the last four decades.

More on that particular family in a bit, but perhaps you are wondering if they are connected to one of the Family-named religious groups the Southern Poverty Law Center recently published an intelligence report on: 18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda. The Center will be listing several of those groups as hate groups, including four with Family in their name: American Family Association, Family Research Council, Family Research Institute and Illinois Family Institute. A fifth group, Abiding Truth Ministries, has a website called Defend the Family, which promotes hate and bigotry. Online you will often find references to Defend the Family International, which is always a reference to that group, but commonly confused with The Family International, also known as the Children of God founded by David Berg. Likewise, The Family, the political cult in Washington is often confused with Berg's cult. I once saw a U.S. senator's website that was commenting on The Family political cult, but linked to The Family International's website.

Speaking of politics, a federal election is happening here in Canada right now and voters are being courted by the inevitable appeals and promises to families common to many electoral campaigns. Appealing to families makes political sense since almost everyone is or was part of a family, but not all politicians mean the same thing when they talk about families, which come in many forms. That fact seems to be lost in this election. Not only are the three main parties promoting family-friendly agendas, they have each used the same photo of a multicultural, middle-class family in their campaigns. Obviously, it is wise to be sceptical about such appeals and political promises in the midst of elections. Political promises are rarely kept, not all voters fit that demographic, and not all politicians mean the same thing when they talk about families.

In the U.S., President Obama recently concluded that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and the government would no longer defend that law in court. In response to that a New York Times editorial stated: “Republicans like to cast themselves as the protectors of 'family values.' But ... [d]enying same-sex couples and their families the ... spousal benefits and protections granted other married couples is not a family-friendly policy. It is discrimination, plain and simple.” Someone should tell that to Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada who is trying to win a majority government in this election.

Although same sex marriage became legal in Canada in 2005, Stephen Harper attempted to reopen a parliamentary debate on the issue after he was elected Prime Minister in 2006. That never happened, as he was leading a minority government until this latest election was called so did not have the clout to pull it off, but it showed that he obviously did not agree with the Supreme Court that same sex couples were families too, with the same equal rights as other families. I doubt he has changed his mind on that as he is a member of the fundamentalist, evangelical Christian and Missionary Alliance.

The Family International, a.k.a. the Children of God, was founded by David Berg who previous to that was briefly a pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance (strange bedfellows, a pedophile cult leader and the Prime Minister of Canada). Partly because of negative publicity in the 1980s related to wide-spread child abuse, Berg, who died in 1994, changed the group's name to the more friendly sounding Family of Love, and then to The Family International. Berg's early followers were mostly single young adults and teens who were convinced by his dogmatic biblical literalism to leave their families to serve God in his 'Revolution for Jesus'. In those early days, Berg preached vehemently against the traditional family, using scripture to reinforce the idea that:

... God’s in the business of breaking up little selfish private worldly families to make of their yielded broken pieces a larger unit—one Family! He’s in the business of destroying the relationships of many wives in order to make them One Wife—God’s Wife—The Bride of Christ. God is not averse to breaking up selfish little families for His glory, to make of the pieces a much larger unselfish unit—the Whole Family—the entire Bride—the One Wife instead of many wives!

“One Wife” is one of The Family’s foundational doctrines, one of the most fundamental tenets of their theology. It is based on an internal document written by Berg to his followers, which remains required priority reading for new members and formed the basis for even more bizarre and controversial sexual doctrines. Far from institutionalizing the nuclear family, as one ignorant apologist falsely wrote about the group, The Family’s leadership has never hesitated to separate husbands and wives or manipulate the parent-child relationship. If The Family International places any importance at all in the nuclear family, it is only within the following context, described by Wendell W. Watters, M.D.:

The family plays powerful roles in human society. In addition to its nurturing and protective functions, the family is the primary agency for carrying out the socialization process by which social norms and values become incorporated into the character structure of the growing child. Indeed, so powerful is the family in human society that many revolutionary political movements have, in their initial stages, attempted to destroy its power to maintain the status quo, by appealing directly to children over the heads of their parents.
Jesus said: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). In another gospel, Jesus is quoted as saying: "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-­in-law" (Matt. 10:35). The Hitler youth movement was a major component of Nazi policy, while the early years of the Communist government in the former Soviet Union were marked by an attempt to appeal directly to the young. The present-day religious cults are noted for creating rifts between parents and their adolescent children. However, once a movement achieves its revolutionary goals, as in the case of Christianity and communism, it reverses this position and attempts once more to use the family as an ally in maintaining and extending its power.

Wendell Watters, M.D., Deadly Doctrine: Health, Illness and Christian God-Talk (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1992), 47-49.

That is exactly the pattern that Berg and his Christian evangelical cult followed. The only difference is that his 'Revolution for Jesus', which was supposed to herald the second coming of Jesus in 1993, with Berg and his Children of God as the vanguard, never materialized. Failed predictions do not stop evangelicals, however. After changing their name to The Family International, they now try to have it both ways. They continue to encourage teens and young adults to leave and even hate their families just like Jesus said, while at the same time promoting in their public relations websites and materials a false image of a child-friendly, family-focused missionary movement.

The blog for the St. Regis Hotel in Vancouver provides an example of that false image. The hotel management proudly proclaims it donated two nights stay for a missionary family with eight children on their way to China. The blog post describes their mission project: “EPIC (Empowering Parents in China) is a grassroots effort to provide Chinese parents with supplemental programs to help develop a more child-focused teaching methods...”. The post then tells us that: “Their mission is tied into the umbrella group The Family International...”. The blog post includes a photo of the family and to the uninformed they look so sweet and harmless, until you scratch the surface and begin looking a little deeper, which the hotel management failed to do. That is why my title warns not to trust religious groups with Family in their name.

Deceiving businesses has always been one of the main sources of support since the inception of The Family International as the Children of God. Even as Jesus Freaks in the early days, while most members were proselytizing on the streets, some specialized in soliciting directly from businesses. They would dress in business attire and use slick promotional materials and deceptive presentations, almost always featuring photos of children, to con companies into giving goods or money. They have had decades to perfect this fraud. Those donations are always used for the group's benefit, contrary to their usual claims that they are helping others. And even in cases where they do pass on some of the goods to others, they usually skim off the best for themselves first, which has been their practice all over the world. They then use the fact a company has donated to them as proof of their legitimacy for other companies they are targeting, or to win approval or favour from local authorities in their community.

I am certain that is what happened at the St. Regis Hotel. The manager was duped, with the help of smiling children, into helping them instead of being suspicious about a family that would take eight young children to China in the middle of the school year and with no apparent means of support other than begging. He apparently simply took their word that they were part of a legitimate group without doing any kind of background check, or if he did he didn't get past the first few online search results, which are the group's own websites. If he had looked just a little deeper he could have easily found all kinds of information warning about the terrible abuses of children The Family International is infamous for.

He also would have a difficult time finding any information at all about EPIC, the so-called grassroots project to provide child-focused teaching methods. First of all, the fact they call it a grassroots project ought to have aroused suspicion. If it has grassroots it probably has no transparency or accountability to anyone. Calling themselves a grassroots project is just another example of the obfuscation this group uses to deceive people about who they really are. It must have been enough for the manager to hear that they were tied to a large missionary group, but if he had looked into that group first he would have learned that The Family International, far from using child-focused teaching methods, denied true intellectual freedom to an entire generation of children who were forbidden to attend school or university. They were home-schooled by untrained teachers with an inadequate curriculum that was intended to indoctrinate rather than educate. But the manager did not do that background check and now his hotel is being used to promote, both on its blog and Facebook page, the activities of a notoriously abusive group founded by an alcoholic pedophile responsible for tearing apart thousands of families.

By the way, I posted two comments to the blog and emailed the manager twice, once with links to information about the group, and again without links to avoid any spam filter. Not only were my comments not published, but a comment most likely from another group member supporting that family was published. So far, the manager seems unconcerned that he is providing public relations cover for a child abusing organization. Perhaps more comments from the public on the hotel's blog and Facebook page will help convince him to stop promoting child abuse.

UPDATE:  April 18, 2011

After I published this article the manager of St. Regis Hotel, Jeremy Roncoroni, finally contacted me by email to explain that the reason he did not approve the comments I submitted to the hotel's blog was because he did not want that blog to be a forum for discussion of the issues I raised. However, he did approve a positive comment about the group after he censored mine, and his email contained no indication that he would take further action. He merely excused himself by saying that "the family in question came to us through a personal request" as if that explained and excused everything. As I told him in reply, he seemed to be missing the point of my comments, which was to inform the hotel's management that they were providing support and positive public relations for a deceptive religious group with a long history of well documented child abuse.  I did not think it was necessary for me to spell it out for him and ask him to remove the post from his blog, but because he had ignored the information I had sent him (he either did not understand or did not care) I did have to specifically ask him. After he received my reply, in which I provided personal details of my own abuse in and recovery from The Family International, he responded less than an hour later, simply stating, "the blog has been removed, thank you". He gave no indication he would do the same for the posting that appears on the hotel's Facebook page.


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