Priestly bad apples

There is an old saying that I often reminded folks to consider: “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

The meaning behind this simple old saying is that it is the baby which is by far the most important, precious thing. It may be sitting in a pool of filth, scum, and slime. So what? Toss the water, keep the baby.

The same theory can be applied to many things in life, but most especially must always be remembered when dealing with the most important things. One of those most important things is your spiritual life. Christians throughout history have far too often thrown the baby, in this case the Church, out with whatever bath water was mucking things up at any particular time.

In the past, Christians have left the Church, the only one founded by Jesus Christ himself, because they didn’t like things that were going on within the hierarchy, or because they didn’t believe in some matter of doctrine, or because they had been let down or felt betrayed by some scandal. This is exactly how Protestantism and Orthodoxy began.

The splits, or schisms, within the Church have left many wounds unhealed after centuries, and have left hundreds of millions of true believers in Jesus Christ susceptible to heretical teachings and practices.
The scars may never fully heal, and the Church may never be truly reunited, until the return of Christ himself in the final days.

There is a lesson to be learned here for Philadelphia-area Catholics in particular who are digesting and reacting to the news this past week of further revelations of sexual abuse of children at the hands of some in the Priesthood.

Current priests Charles Englehardt and Edward Avery, former priest James Brennan, teacher Bernard Shero, and sex-abuse investigator Monsignor William Lynn were all charged in the latest chapter of the scandals.

The lesson is that these unholy and abusive actions by people who claimed, to quote the Rev. Joseph Garvin in his homily today at St. Christopher’s Church in Somerton “to represent God but who in actuality represented Satan” were not representative of the Church, it’s priests, it’s teachers, or it’s vision.

Rather these rogue priests are, as have been all abusers uncovered in recent years, criminals and deviants who used the Church to destroy Christian lives and fracture the Church itself, Satan’s own avowed goal.

Priests, teachers, and other Church representatives who are the actual abusers need to continue to be weeded out and prosecuted.

It is not enough at the current time to simply fall back on the position, as Cardinal Justin Rigali has in his letter to parishioners this week that “..there is no admitted or established abuser in ministry.” That is an obvious defensive copout at a time when the Church needs to go on the offensive against it’s rogues.

The Catholic Church has promised to, as stated by David Clohessy in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, “remove credibly accused clerics.” Clohessy is the executive director of the Chicago-based “SNAP” (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests”, and he is absolutely correct when he calls on the Cardinal to identify and suspend accused priests in furtherance of the protection of our precious children.

We as Catholics have a role as elements of this long-standing scandal continue to unfold. We must continue to insist that Church hierarchy aggressively investigate any and all allegations of abuse, be they past or current.

We must insist that the Church always err on the side of protecting children in every allegation case. We must also remember to hold ourselves accountable for our own conduct in representing our Church to outsiders as well as to other Catholics.

But perhaps most importantly we must remember to not “throw the baby out with the bath water” in this situation. The Church is still the family and faith founded by Jesus Christ, and as such it is the single most important institution in all of our lives, including our own families.

We must stand by the Church, not flee from it. We must pray for and embrace the Church, not abandon it. We must strengthen the Church with our lives and our faith, not allow the devil to weaken it further.

Tough times don’t last, tough people do. The Catholic Church has lasted for over two millenia because we are a tough people, that toughness forged on the cross by Christ himself in our name. For the steadfastness in suffering that he undertook for our sakes on that afternoon at Calvary, we must willingly suffer and boldly overcome today.

As of 1995 there were almost a billion Roman Catholics spread throughout the world. As of 2005 there were more than 400,000 Catholic priests serving them. There have been over 4,000 American Catholic priests accused of abuse over the past half century, just 4% of the more than 109,000 American priests serving during that time.

There is no way that we can allow these Satanic priestly bad apples spoil our entire bushel of a beautiful Church.

Birth Pains of the New Caliphate

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seriously broached this topic. The recent riotous uprising in Egypt, categorized by the usual American media suspects as attempts at “democracy”, bring the topic clearly back to relevancy.

In actuality, the topic has always been relevant, but it always takes something major to wake up the American public.

For the great unwashed, and for those media talking heads who nearly lost their own heads this past week at the hands of these alleged democracy-loving demonstrators, let’s do a quick refresher on just what exactly is the Islamic “caliphate”, and why we all should be concerned about it.

A very long story begins in the first half of the 7th century A.D. with the birth of Islam under it’s founder, Muhammad, a man believed by followers of that faith to be the greatest and final messenger of God. Muhammad first spread this new faith by peaceful preaching and teaching, but he and his followers eventually turned to violent and forcible means.

In the aftermath of Muhammad’s death in 632, physical and spiritual battles arose for control of Islam by two groups who we continue that struggle today, 1,500 years later –  the Sunni and the Shiites. The Sunni were larger and stronger, and overall Islamic power was centralized under a leader who was known as the ‘Caliph’, the successor to Muhammad. The lands and peoples over which the Caliph held control became known as the Islamic Caliphate.

For centuries this Caliphate spread by conquest known as ‘Jihad’ throughout the lands of the Middle East, across northern Africa, and into both Spain and eastern Europe. By the end of the 17th century, just before the emergence of America as a nation and culture, the Caliphate controlled an area as large as the old Roman Empire.

The end finally began to come for the Islamic Caliphate on the eve of the American birth when, in 1774, it surrendered large portions of control to the emerging Russian nation. Then the Ottoman Empire, which controlled the Caliphate over it’s final four centuries, went into World War I on the side of the Axis powers, the losing side.

In the aftermath of defeat in World War I, secular power took charge in Turkey, and the Caliphate was formally abolished. Ever since that time, various religious and military leaders have vowed to return the Caliphate to power, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood. That has been and remains the goal of the worldwide movement known to many today as “radical Islam”, to take control first of the Middle East, and then begin to spread the Caliphate around the region, to neighboring nations, and eventually around the entire world.

The Muslim Brotherhood is at the very core of the troubles in the Middle East today. The Brotherhood has for decades been sparking, fomenting, and supporting uprisings through it’s creations such as al Qaeda and Hamas among dozens of others. Their stated goals are: the reestablishment of the Caliphate, the reunification of their nation (the Ummah), the institution of strict Islamic religious law (Shariah), and the spread of the Caliphate around the world.

They are behind the uprisings that have taken place recently or are currently taking place across the Arabic world from Egypt to Jordan, from Tunisia to Syria, from Libya to Lebanon. While these alleged “popular uprisings” for “democratic reforms” topple various types of secular institutional governments, make no mistake about what the new replacement governments will become. They will become Islamic theocracies, either outright or by proxy control.

As the Muslim Brotherhood exercises and expands it’s control by whipping up tens of thousands at the grass-roots level to violently demonstrate and forcibly coerce change, the results will not be anything like American or even European democracy. What we are seeing in Egypt and across the Middle East, and will continue to see there, in Africa, and will see at some point in every nation of the world during this century, are the birth pains of the new Caliphate.

Millions of Americans will be glued to their television sets for hours this weekend to watch a football game. They will gorge on tons of food and snack treats, scarf down alcoholic and carbonated beverages by the truck load, and gamble away hard-earned money on pools and bets. Meanwhile, a much bigger, deadlier, and far more important game will be playing out on the other side of the world.

Americans who continue to consider a few weeks, months, or even a couple years of largely quiet times in the struggle against radical Islam as anything other than a lull in the storm are kidding themselves. More than that, they are passively ignoring the struggle that will be one of the most vital across their world as they age. It is the struggle that will define the world in which their children and grandchildren live out this century. It is one that will be forced upon them by the Caliphate now in the struggles of it’s own rebirth.

For Republicans, rape is still rape

I am a proud Republican, and more than that, a proud Conservative, which I happily type with a capital ‘C’ in front.

I do not support every plank that the Republican Party puts forth, nor do I support every politician that takes up the ‘Red’ banner.

Those who get my vote, such as George W. Bush, sometimes only get it because they are better than lousy liberal alternatives.

I am also a proud father and grandfather of three beautiful daughters and a wonderful granddaughter, the husband of a loving wife, and a brother-in-law, cousin, uncle, nephew, co-worker, neighbor, and friend to many outstanding women.

All that prefaces my position now in full support of a bill (HR3) put forth by New Jersey’s outstanding congressman Chris Smith that would essentially end any taxpayer funding of abortions, as well as any tax breaks for health insurance that covers the same.

The usual suspects in the liberal community, from the radical fringe such as MoveOn, to the agenda-driven Planned Parenthood, to supposedly mainstream Democrats looking to protect their political power, are predictably against this legislative initiative.

However, as usual, they don’t stop at simply voicing common sense opposition in a debate of ideas. Instead they have stooped to tactics such as using code words, spreading divisiveness, and misinterpretation.

The tactic chosen to oppose the anti-abortion legislation, or as those of us firmly on the side of right and good choose to call it, the pro-life legislation, is incredibly and intentionally ugly. They have chosen to paint Republicans as somehow supporting, denying, or minimizing the crime of rape.
They are saying that Republicans are trying to “redefine rape”, and have actually stated in some forums that to Republicans, rape is no longer rape.

I find that kind of rhetoric, and that’s all it is, political and social rhetoric, to be patently offensive. As a man who has all of the above listed women in his life, I can tell you for a fact that to me and all Republicans, rape is rape is rape.

I would be sympathetic to and supportive of any woman in my own life who might experience this crime. In fact, a couple of them have experienced it. The same statement of sympathy and support can be said for Representative Smith, Republican leader John Boehner, and every other Republican politician.

Of course, this is not the issue that the legislation relates to at all. The legislation aims to back up with concrete action one of the basic platform items in the party’s ‘Pledge to America’ when it won control of congress in the elections of November 2010.

As Boehner has stated “Our members feel very strongly about the sanctity of human life.” A simple reading of the actual legislation easily shows that Republicans indeed have a heart.

The first handful of sections, 301-304, state the long-held party position against the murder of innocent babies in the womb. Those sections call for a prohibition on the funding of abortions themselves, for health care plans that cover abortions, on tax benefits relating to abortion, and on federal facilities and employees being used in the killings.

Then section 309 clearly reads that these limitations shall not apply to “situations where the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incense.”

It further reads that the limitations shall not apply in the case “where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”

Common sense legislation that respects and allows provisions for women who have been attacked, abused, taken advantage of, or placed in danger.

Legislation that also is standing up against the killing of innocent lives simply because someone was irresponsible, lazy, careless, negligent, or just plain-old heartless and uncaring.

Once again, and per usual, a simple actual reading of the actual legislation being presented shows the truth for those who are willing to seek it out.

So do not allow yourself to be persuaded by headline-grabbing, blog-clogging, radical lefty propaganda campaigns currently underway. Actually take the time and effort to read the legislation yourself. Then make your own decision.

But make no mistake, we Republicans love and care for the women in our lives, and we will not be “redefining rape” at all.

Rape is rape, and it is morally wrong. Just as morally wrong as the murder of innocent children whose only “fault” is one of being an inconvenient burden to an irresponsible parent.