It is the oldest, most powerful, and most morally reprehensible institution on Earth. And over the course of twenty centuries the Catholic Church has destroyed the lives of countless human beings, which it continues to do to this day. Whether they’re protecting pedophile priests from the secular justice system, or condemning the use of condoms in Africa as AIDS spreads like wildfire, the Catholic Church is nothing less than a very dark and bloody cloud that lingers over the human experience like a nightmare that simply will not go away. And for some reason the Catholic Church continues to roll around in its privileged tax exemption status like a pig in shit. Why churches which preach such hate from their pulpits continue to be accorded such respect from the federal government is a huge mystery to me, but the feds may soon be losing their patience. CHANGE.org has launched a petition to IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman to investigate Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Church, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus for apparent violations of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, which by law may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of their activities and may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. The following is an excerpt from the petition and charge:
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago sent two threatening letters to the president, protesting his support for the rights of LGBT Americans, before Dolan on September 20, 2011 sent Obama a threatening letter, in which he said that if Obama continued to support LGBT Americans’ rights, he would “precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions.” Dolan’s threatening letter was publicly posted on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website and linked to Dolan’s blog. Subsequently, on November 8, 2011, Dolan had a meeting with President Obama, and afterwards told the bishops that he was happy with the meeting. Dolan’s direct threatening and lobbying of the president appears to have resulted in Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announcing that she was rejecting a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration to make emergency contraception more broadly available without a prescription. That is to say, Catholic dogma and Dolan’s politicking prevented all American women from having easy access to emergency contraception. Nonetheless, whenever Dolan and the Church are displeased that the requirements of their government contracts are not strictly in alignment with Catholic dogma, they screech that their “religious liberties” are being violated. Among the religious liberties which they seek to exercise is that of discriminating against LGBT Americans and women generally.
Where the Church has not been able to keep Catholic Americans in line with Church dogma, the Church seeks to impose its theology and shocking little shabby values on the society through legislation and political lobbying. Dolan successfully fought proposed legislation in Wisconsin that would have lifted the statute of limitations for prosecution of child rape (SEE HBO DOCUMENTARY STORY AT BOTTOM OF THIS POST). Shortly thereafter, he was made President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and promoted to New York, where he fiercely fights against proposed legislation that would lift the statute of limitations on child rape (After the arrest of Father Jaime Duenas in the Bronx, Dolan on his blog trashed Duenas’s alleged 16-year-old female alleged victim). A story in Philadelphia magazine about the Church child rape scandals in the Philadelphia Archdiocese — (the indictment had included names of at least 37 priests who can not be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations) –reported that the Church achieves its successes in fighting the lifting of the statute of limitations in part by having its insurers threaten elected officials.
The Catholic Bishops have called for two weeks of protests of President Obama and his policies between June 21 and July 4, 2012. Republican strategists have been widely quoted in the media in support of those actions, and expressing confidence that it will help them for the 2012 elections. The Church in every state very actively criticizes President Obama’s every LGBT initiative, naming him while condemning him, in ways that very evidently are negative endorsements of his candidacy, forbidden under 501(c)(3)-related law. Note that the Catholic Bishops have placed full-page ads denouncing the president’s policies, in such publications as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
To fight against the requirements of their government contracts, and as part of their open political war against President Obama, the Catholic Bishops created a new lobbying body called the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. Chaired by Bridgeport, Connecticut Bishop William Lori, that lobbying business includes a lawyer and a lobbyist, substantially devoted to promulgating anti-LGBT hate speech and to lobbying against the rights of LGBTers generally and of women generally. In that regard, it must be noted that Cardinal Bernard Law, who fled Boston for Rome as a result of the Church’s shocking child rape scandals in Boston, led a recent crackdown against American nuns, in which the nuns were lambasted and threatened for doing too much to help the poor and not enough to fight against LGBT rights and the rights of non-nun American women. As many nuns reside within the Church, the male crackdown on them might be thought of as a form of domestic violence.
You can sign your name to CHANGE.org’s petition by visiting CHANGE.org and by circulating the petition via Facebook and email. There used to be a wall between Church and State in America that was carefully erected by such founding fathers as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, and this wall has eroded considerably over the past century. This erosion is perhaps the greatest threat to the governing of the United States that exists today, and is a direct precipitant to the paralysis that has plagued Washington in recent years.
And the abuses of the Catholic Church extend far beyond political matters. In their upcoming documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (which translates as “my most grievous fault” in Latin), HBO is bringing the horrifying story of the Wisconsin St. John’s School For The Deaf sex abuse scandal from the 1970s to light. Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), the film tells the stories of several deaf men in Wisconsin who were sexually abused as children by their priest in the 1970s. As Screen Daily writes, “Gibney finds a particularly powerful and resonant anchor in which to investigate the injustices perpetuated by the Catholic Church. Indeed, what better way to highlight the Vatican’s appalling culture of silence than by following an opposing group of people who cannot talk?”
HBO will air Alex Gibney’s Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God in 2013, but as The Playlist wrote during the Toronto International Film Festival last week, “[the film] will receive a theatrical release from HBO in November following its world premiere at TIFF this week. The Hollywood Reporter announced the plan, which isn’t typical of all HBO docs, but is one that will ensure the doc’s Academy Award-eligibility as well as give it a broader platform before it makes its broadcast premiere on the premium cable channel.”