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Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Pope must resign

It would appear that the smoking finger is now being pointed directly at Pope Benedict XVI, as the New York Times today ties him directly to the sexual abuse scandal that has been plaguing the Catholic Church for many years. Here's the basic news:

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

Be sure to read the whole story. Meanwhile, Sinead O'Connor, who tore up a photo of Ratzinger's predecessor, John Paul II, on "Saturday Night Live" years ago, is calling for the current pope to be criminally prosecuted.

I've suggested half-seriously in previous posts that the Catholic clergy is merely a pedophile ring in robes, but the incredible number of sexual abuse cases seems to make that hypothesis plausible. Perhaps a better way to think about it is that the clergy attracts many pedophile men who have gone into the Church thinking that it is either a solution to their urges or an opportunity to indulge in them under the cloak of papal authority, as it were. As for the Church's coverup of the scandal, in which Benedict is now seriously implicated, that also could have at least two underlying aspects. Either the Church knows that it is attracting pedophiles and doesn't have a serious moral problem with that, and/or it knows that the vow of chastity is really against human nature and doesn't want to admit that--because it would increase pressure to withdraw the celibacy requirement for the priesthood.

It's up to ordinary Catholics to make sure their church deals squarely with this issue (or better yet, in my personal view, to leave the church, a moribund and corrupt institution.) And it's up to the courts to bring these priests to justice, including the man who supposedly talks to God.

Afterthought. As a journalist, I continue to find it very odd that the news media don't ever seem to ask why there is so much pedophilia in the Catholic Church. Perhaps I am missing something. If any readers of this blog have come across such analyses, I would be grateful if they would share them with all of us.

Additional thought. I suppose the vow of chastity is what nuns take, but you know what I mean.

Update. Yet more evidence against Benedict XVI surfaces in the New York Times.

More on this topic. A biting commentary in Slate by Christopher Hitchens.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The oppressor has no right to criticize the tactics of the oppressed

I have searched in vain trying to find the original source of this expression, which I recall from the 1960s. If anyone here can provide a source for it please let me know.

But please also apply it to any current situation in the world that you find appropriate.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Palestinians are surrounded

Sometimes visual aids are necessary to see just what the Israelis are up to in Jerusalem and the West Bank. This map and the legend below are from the BBC.

1 Gilo:
850 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Nov 2009
2 Pisgat Zeev: 600 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Jan 2010
3 Sheikh Jarrah: Several Palestinian families evicted in past 18 months to make way for Jewish settlers after court ruled in ownership dispute
4 Ramat Shlomo: 1,600 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Mar 2010
5 Silwan: Demolition orders on 88 Palestinian homes built without difficult-to-get permits - Israel planning controversial renewal project
6. West Bank barrier: Making Palestinian movement between West Bank and Jerusalem harder - Israel says it's for security

Now, a word from me: It is hard not to conclude that the "peace process" has failed because Israel neither needs, nor perhaps even wants, peace. Israel does not need peace because it has been successful in suppressing nearly all Palestinian resistance with the military hardware that the United States largely pays for; and it does not want peace because Palestinian resistance, and occasional terrorism, provides the excuse Israel needs to continue its oppressive policies and its collective punishment of the Gaza and West Bank populations.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Does Israel deserve security?

Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem is understood by pretty much every nation, including the United States, as a violation of international law, as are the settlements in the West Bank. So Israel's announced plans to build 1600 apartments in East Jerusalem was not just "ill timed" with Joe Biden's visit, but represents a clear-cut provocation and a demonstration of the Jewish state's true motives: Take as much land as possible from the Palestinians while pretending to be interested in peace.

Under those circumstances, Israelis are lucky they are not being subjected to more resistance, violent or otherwise, from the Palestinians, because they fully deserve it just as the South African apartheid regime deserved the militant movement mounted against it by Mandela, the ANC, etc.

But since the Palestinians are relatively powerless, and the Obama administration so far seems unwilling to do much more than issue ever louder "condemnations" of Israeli actions, no one should be surprised if Palestinian terrorism raises its desperate head once again.

Addendum: The Israeli human rights group Gisha has been documenting Israel's oppressive policies towards the Palestinians for a long time. Most recently they have tackled Israel's attempts to prevent movement between Gaza and the West Bank.

Update. A Ha'aretz editorial expresses the alarm that many Israelis are feeling at the possibility that Netanyahu has pushed things too far with the United States, and that Israel will be the loser.