Monthly Archives: January 2010


Why am I taking off on the Vatican, or at least using my BLOG the past two weeks to list grievances? One thing is certain. There was justifiable cause to criticize the Vatican for a spate of priest child molesters in the past few years. The criminal justice system dealt with most of those cases and the offenders were convicted, though the victims were destined to live with their pain and humiliation. Had I been blogging back then, a relevant subject would have been the hypocrisy of the church’s rule of celibacy. There were numerous examples of priests, and nuns, I might add, whose celibacy was an invitation to clandestine affairs, rape, pedophilia and a slew of other unpleasant sexual activities. To list a few, nuns and priests had affairs, babies were often born and given to a good Catholic agency for adoption, or on several occasions abandoned on doorsteps or left in airplane lavatories. The more mundane stories involved priests and parishioners who fell in love and married which of course ended with the holy man leaving the church and finding another job. Then, of course, there were the cases mentioned above of priests seducing alter boys or little girls.

Generalizations are dangerous. Those who choose to be celibate do not automatically turn into rapists or pedophiles. However, when one’s entire life, beliefs, profession, emotions, and passions include the vow of celibacy, breaking that vow destroys everything that person stands for and believes in. That kind of pressure certainly could make people thrash about or act out in ways that perhaps they wouldn’t had they not been forced to eliminate such a normal biological aspect of their existence as human beings.

Last week, I wrote about the controversy of elevating Pope Pius XII to sainthood, notwithstanding the very real accusations that he aided and abetted the Nazi regime before, during and after the war. This week, I read an article about a book, sanctioned by the Vatican, and written by the Vatican official responsible for the process of sainthood. The book maintains that the beloved Pope John Paul II flagellated himself regularly to imitate Christ’s suffering, a ritual known as mortification that allowed him to feel the suffering of Christ. This self-inflicted pain is meant to make the potential saint feel closer to God. According to the book, Pope John Paul II kept a leather belt in his closet so he could whip himself at will, apparently not wanting to call upon one of his minions to fetch his weapon of choice. The book also reveals that when Pope John Paul II was a Bishop, he would regularly sleep on a hard wood floor in order to practice self-denial and asceticism.

If anyone is wondering if I am comparing pedophile priests, and Nazi Popes to the curious habits of Pope John Paul II, they are mistaken. I am of the belief that anyone can do anything to themselves or to another consenting adult in the privacy of their room, home, trailer, or hotel suite. My concern, or rather what perplexes me is why the Catholic Church would make stringent rules about celibacy for priests and nuns that obviously cause such terrible strain on their psyches. And, why would the Church sanction a person (a Pope or simple village girl) to beat themselves to a pulp in order to have a better chance at sainthood ?

Here we are in the 21st century and yet medieval practices, such as sexual abstinence, are still in place within the Catholic Church, despite the criminality that could be construed as a by-product of some of those rules. Equally disturbing, though perhaps not criminal, the Church condones at best, and encourages at worst, other barbaric practices such as self-flagellation in imitation of what Christ suffered at the hands of the Romans. The pity is that extremists in every religion ruin God and faith for the average believer.


For generations, the world suspected that during the Nazi regime the Vatican was in step and sympathy with Hitler and his cohorts. Pope Pius X11 was more than a conciliator. He was a comrade-in-spirit, though not in arms, with the Third Reich in return for keeping the Catholic Church in practice and in power in Germany.

John Cornwall’s book, Hitler’s Pope, which recounts the machinations and deal-making that Pope Pius instigated and instituted during that dark period in history details the facts with precision and prowess. A Catholic and a Catholic scholar, Cornwall originally set out to do a biography of Pope Pius sanctioned by the Vatican. He was allowed to sift through the Vatican archives, originally to write a book lauding the Church’s efforts, particularly Pius, in saving Jews and other victims of the Nazis. What he ultimately discovered was far from what he had intended to write. The book is an indictment not only of Pius X11, but also of the Vatican, which he claims aided and abetted the Nazis in order to maintain the Vatican’s influence over the Catholic Church.

Currently the debate rages over the determination of Pope Benedict XV1 to elevate Pius to sainthood. Those who are critical of the beautification of Pius X11, believe that the Vatican’s failure to open up its archives to prove that Pius made a concrete effort to help the Jews and other victims of the Nazis are numerous. Those who support the Vatican’s intention, the defenders of Pius–who was the Vatican secretary of state in the 1930s, say that his reticence to speak out against Nazi atrocities was sound diplomacy, and that speaking out more directly against the Nazis would have “made things worse.”

Frankly, how much worse could the Pope have made things worse back then if he had tried to dissuade the Nazis from murdering millions of Jews, when they were already being herded into cattle cars and shipped to death camps? The debate could be easily solved if the Vatican would agree to open its archives of that period to prove that either Pope Pius X11 was in cahoots with the Nazis or to exonerate him from years of accusations and suspicion. As it is, information found in national archives in the United States demonstrates that the pro-Nazi Croatian Ustasche transferred gold into Vatican coffers in exchange for the escape of several high-ranking Nazi war criminals. Other documentation found in the United States archives shows that many assets taken from Jews ended up in Vatican bank vaults. As of now, the Vatican has refused to open its Archives.

One of the most ludicrous statements in support of the beautification of Pius X11 was issued recently by the Vatican. “Sainthood,” a Vatican spokesman said, “is based on the Pope’s Christian life and not his historical record.”

Following that twisted logic, the ASPCA should give Hitler a medal for his kindness toward animals. After all, he adored his dog, Blondie, and even spared her the fate of being homeless and hungry when he killed himself and his mistress, Eva Braun, in his bunker. He poisoned Blondie. Or, perhaps the American Society for Inventors should award Osama bin Laden a special prize for his innovative use of box cutters to down multiple airplanes and kill thousands of people.

One of the conditions for sainthood in the Catholic Church is if the candidate has witnessed a miracle. On that basis, Pope Pius X11 qualifies. The miracle he witnessed was to have been elected Pope despite the knowledge of his colleagues (as they had viewed the Vatican archive) that he was a virulent anti-Semite and a Nazi collaborator.


Names, tags, descriptions, phrases that have carried with them meanings that were either unintentional or misunderstood or just plain wrong have been around for decades. Situations where politicians have been caught with their pants down, both literally and figuratively, have been reported on for decades.

Let 2010 ring in a new era where truth prevails even over political correctness and stereotypical situations that turn out to be not quite what we thought they were seep into our consciousness.

Beginning with Senator Henry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, and his comment about President Obama. Reid predicted that Obama could become the country’s first black president because he was “light skinned and had no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.” Let’s dissect that sentence, less for grammar than for meaning. Here goes. Reid actually said what many of us thought, especially those of us who supported Barack Obama and voted for him. The country was not ready for an African American who had the posture of say, Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. To America’s credit, notwithstanding the racism that is still rampant throughout the country, the people were willing to elect a Black man to the presidency if he had the posture of an intellectual, if he, in fact, was not a “professional” African American whose mission was to constantly point out the divide between the races. Nor were the American people prepared to have their elected leader talk in dialect, jive, or in jazzed up colloquialisms, anymore than we appreciated George Bush’s relapse into Texas down-home drawl, or Lyndon Johnson’s vaguely off-color comments to female reporters, or Hillary’s lapsing into Christian Right pounding-at-us-sermons when she was on the campaign trail.

Of course, the other examples were all White folks, which made the race issue non existent. Had we elected a Jew to the Oval Office, would we have voted for a man or woman who sprinkled in Yiddish phrases, such as calling Iran’s President, meshuga? My feeling is that Henry Reid said what we all knew—that we were fortunate to have a candidate who was Black, a milestone in American history, without being stereotypical. Regardless of the race or religion of a political leader, if he or she affected the cadence of speech or posture of how the world viewed the typical members of their race or religion, it would not have been endearing to the American people.

Moving on to political correctness trumping truth, how about the lunatic who blew up seven CIA members in Afghanistan? Why does the news media persist in labeling him a “militant” instead of calling him what he is—a terrorist. And, this happens all the time. For years when I covered the Middle East, regardless of the action, whether someone blew up the Alitalia counter in Rome, killing men, women and children, or strapped on a bomb in a civilian market in Jerusalem, killing hundreds, they are called “militants.” Yet, the Ergun, and here’s what really kills me, the Jewish group pre 1948, who committed violent acts including blowing up a section of the King David Hotel, in order to oust the British are consistently called terrorists. Let’s make up our minds. Either call both sides terrorists or both sides militants.

The best story of all since 2010 is that of Mrs. Robinson. This is an all-time first. A politician—Peter Robinson, the First Minister of the Province in Ireland, has left office for six weeks to devote his time to repairing the damage within his family. It seems his wife, sixty-three year old Iris Robinson was caught having an affair with a nineteen year old lad, Kirk McCambley. Not only did Mrs. Robinson live up to her name, but she allegedly spent government funds on her lover. Other than the misuse of government funds, I say YAY for Iris Robinson. It is a welcome relief to watching all the sad-faced wives who have stood by their philandering husbands, bravely keeping up the front that they are “in their corner,” despite the stories of frequenting prostitutes or seducing little boys in men’s rooms or buying their services in South-East Asian countries or Caribbean islands.

Let’s get real.

Men and women cheat whether they are politicians or just ordinary people. Men do not have the corner on bad behavior.

Terrorists are people who kill innocent people in the name of a cause. They are not militants.

Barack Obama probably would not have been elected if he were not a well-spoken, brilliant, light-skinned Black man.

Let the year 2010 forget a bit about political correct phrases and identify the enemy by its correct name. Let this year bring the knowledge that there is equality among the sexes, even when it comes to bad behavior.