Friday, April 30, 2010

The Photo Meditation of the Month (April, 2010): SIMPLICITY


A child, on his mother's lap at a women's
group meeting, is a symbol of simplicity

Photo (Chitolmari, Dt. Bagerhat, Bangladesh: May 6, 1995)
© Jerome D'Costa


Simplicity is a great virtue. The Bible teaches us time and again about the virtue of simplicity. A child is a symbol of simplicity.

Simplicity is devoid of vanity, pride, showmanship, cunningness and revenge. Simplicity means love, simplicity means kindness, simplicity means humility, and simplicity means peaceability.

Simplicity in word, deed, dress and thinking leads a person to greatness. People naturally like a person who is simple.

A simple person can influence more persons in an affirmative way. He or she can give rise to simplicity in others, too. All great persons, in general, were simple persons, whose influence and effect are still felt in this world.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Poem of the Month (April, 2010): SPRING FEVER


The Spring brought Tulip flowers 
in College Park, Toronto

Photo (Toronto: April 24, 2010) © Jerome D'Costa

Spring Fever

By Jerome D'Costa

After the deep winter, the Spring comes with vengeance.
Everything comes to new life -- humans, animals, plants and trees.
Gardens get bedecked with flowers,
Buck-naked trees wear their typical hairs, shirts and pants.
Humans and animals rush outside their abodes more frequently.
The Spring fever is on.

Another type of fever affects humans, too.
This fever is caused to many humans by pollen-based allergies.
Certain trees, grasses and weeds are the "culprits," so to say.
Pollens carried by air is inhaled and hay fever is the result.
Eye and nose watering, sneezing, coughing and feeling feverish
Are the temporary inconveniences of the Spring.

Yet, the Spring brings hope and joy
After the gloomy, coldy, and semi-depressing days of Winter.
The Spring helps create further life,
In human, animal and plant kingdoms.
Viva la Spring!

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Monday, April 26, 2010

The Signs of the Times


A graffiti on a wall near Bloor and Dundas Streets, Toronto
Photo (Toronto: April 23, 2010) © Joachim Romeo D'Costa

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Quotation of the Week (April 25-May 1, 2010)

A stack of shopping carts at the NoFrills Grocery Store
in Agincourt Mall, Toronto

Photo (Dec. 27, 2009) © Jerome D'Costa

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Two Archaeological Finds Enrich the History of Bangladesh

Villagers proudly mill around a newly-revealed
mosque minaret in the Padma River

Photo courtesy: Bangla Kagoj (March 30, 2010), Toronto

Discovery of an Ancient Mosque in the Padma River

According to the Bangla Kagoj, a Bangla weekly from Toronto, some villagers in Bagha Upazilla of Rajshahi District found an ancient mosque and another building in the decreasing waters of the Padma River. In the meantime, a portion of a minaret of the mosque rose above water and people also collected bones, skulls, door-and-window planks and various household items from under water.

Checking the 12"x6"x4"-size bricks, plucked from the mosque cupolas, some historians estimated that the submerged buildings could be from the kingdom of Pathan (Pashtun) jaigirdar (a fief-holder who is rewarded rent-free landed estate by a king or ruler for his meritorious service) Laskar Khan.

Mahbub Siddiky, President of Rajshahi Heritage, says that by the end of the 16th century, Pathan Jaigirdar Laskar Khan had his capital and military quarters at Alaipur of present Bagha Upazilla. The archaeological finds are located at Chakrajapur, three to four kilometres south of Alaipur. Mughal army chief Man Singh, after defeating Laskar Khan, had given the kingdom to Botshacharja.

The Bangladesh government officials are taking some measures in securing the area and the artifacts.

More Historical Sites Hidden Under Water

When writing the history of the Catholic Church in Bangladesh, I came across some places that were made famous by Portuguese traders who did business with Bengal in the 16th and 17th century. Due to river erosion, these places vanished in the rivers. Some of these places are Diang (called 'Dianga' by the Portuguese -- on the Karnaphuly River near Chittagong), Bhulua (in Noakhali District), Bakla ('Bacola' in Portuguese, in Bakerganj District, Chandecan (or 'Chandkhan' or 'Ciandecan' -- in the Sunderbans Forest in the present district of Satkhira), Sripur (was the capital of Kedar Rai on the bank of the Kaliganga River in present Munshiganj Upazilla. The Portuguese would get their ships repaired here), Norikul (the Portuguese called it 'Loricul' -- in Dhaka District on the bank of the Padma River), Katarab or Katibari (the Portuguese called it 'Katrabo' -- in Dhaka District, opposite of Khijirpur on the bank of the Shitalakkya River) and Hoshenpur (in Mymensingh District on the bank of the Old Bhramaputra River). Besides these, there were innumerable bazars (marketplaces) and villages and other human settlements that were devoured by annual erosion of aggressive rivers.

In the past several decades, Bangladesh rivers have been undergoing drastic changes. Due to dams constructed by India in upstreams, many of these rivers have been heavily silted making the water level much lower and less currenty than before. The aging and shrinking rivers are gradually revealing the loots they had taken away in their primes. In future, Bangladesh is most likely to encounter many more archaeological finds in the rivers.

A char (silted island) is rising in the Padma River
near the town of Rajshahi in early 1973
Photo (Rajshahi: 1973) © Jerome D'Costa

An example of destructive Padma River erosion
at Daulatdia in Faridpur District in 1985
Photo (Daulatdia: 1985) © Jerome D'Costa

Ancient Buddhist Temple Found at Kamrabo Village in Narsingdi Upazilla
A Buddhist temple being unearthed at Kamrabo Village
Photo courtesy: Bangla Kagoj (March 30, 2010), Toronto

Archaeologists are unearthing a Buddhist temple at Kamrabo Village near Shibpur of Narsingdi Upazilla, Bangladesh, reports the Bangla Kagoj weekly. The square temple has an entrance, veranda, circumambulatory path, an altar, lamp stand and several terracotta lotus flowers -- symbols of Lord Buddha. The temple was hidden in an earth mound covered with trees and shrubs. Local people called this mound 'Dhubirtek'.

It is noteworthy that Kamrabo village is about four kilometres away from Wari-Bateshwar, where a 2,500-year-old Buddhist settlement was discovered years ago. Professor Shah Sufi Mustafizur Rahman, the chief archaeologist, said that, with this digging at Kamrabo, the first Buddhist temple in Modhupur Tract has been found.

In the last ten years, archaeologists found roads, ditches, settlements, bricks, stone beads, coins, weighing scales, plates, stone and iron axes, and other artifacts at Wari-Bateshwar diggings, supervised by Professor Shah Sufi Mustafizur Rahman of the Archaeology Department of Jahangirnagar University. According to the professor, a tamrolipi (written copper plate) was found at Ashrafpur of Shibpur in 1885 and it had mentioned of four Buddhist viharas (places of refuge, dwelling or monastery for wandering Buddhist monks) in this area. He surmises that the Kamrabo temple should be one of them and there are possibilities of finding remaining viharas.

Historians marked 563-483 B.C. as the period when Lord Buddha, founder of Buddhism, was alive. According to Professor Rahman, there's a legend that lotus flowers bloomed in the places, where Lord Buddha visited after his birth. That's why in some statues the Lord Buddha is shown seated on lotus flower.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today is the Earth Day


A doodle on flowers
Doodle (Dhaka: April 26, 1995) © Jerome D'Costa

Today is the 40th Earth Day. It is now observed with environmentally-conscious programmes in more than 160 countries of the world. The purpose of the Earth Day is to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. In most of the countries, this day is observed on April 22.

US Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin founded the Earth Day on April 22, 1970. First it was observed in the USA, later this movement spread all over the world.

Today, even after 40 years of the observance of the Earth Day, the world is greater danger than before. The population explosion is making heavy demands on the world's resources like air, water and other resources. There is also the problem of wastage and ill-use or misuse of these resources.

All of us, in rich countries as well as poor countries, seriously need to be environment-conscious in our daily behaviour. We need to use the resources judiciously reducing wastage as much as possible. We need to recycle things and save on our resources. Pollutions, global warming and climate changes need to be seriously taken and acted upon.

Let's make the greens greener, let's make the Earth happy!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Vatican Publishes Guidelines For Dealing with and Documents on Sexual Abuse Allegations

The Vatican, in its website, on April 12, published a "Guide to Understanding CDF [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] Procedures Concerning Sexual Abuse Allegations" along with more than two dozen documents on clergy sex abuse under the title "Abuse of Minors: The Church's Response."

Although the guidelines have been published now, the procedures therein are old. Most of the procedures were in the 1983 Code of Canon Law and all of them have been in effect since the motu proprio "Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela" of April 30, 2001. All these have been published in the website "as an introductory guide which may be helpful to lay persons and non-canonists."

The Main Points of the Guidelines

  • The local diocese will investigate every allegation of clergy sexual abuse of a minor.
  • If there is some truth in the allegation, the case should be referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). The local bishop will send all the necessary information regarding the allegation to the CDF and let the CDF know of his opinion on the procedures to be followed and the measures to be adopted in the short and long time.
  • Civil law concerning reporting sex abuse crimes to the appropriate government authorities should always be followed.
  • During the preliminary stage and until the case is concluded, the bishop may impose precautionary measures to safeguard the community including the victim. The bishop also has the power to protect children by restricting the activities of any priest in his diocese.
  • When the priest is judged guilty, both judicial and administrative penal procedures can condemn a priest to a number of canonical penalties, the most serious of which is dismissal from the clerical state (priesthood).
  • The CDF also will bring to the Holy Father (Pope) requests by accused priests, who, upon realizing their crimes, ask for dispensation from the obligation of the priesthood and want laicization (return to the non-priesthood state). The Pope then grans such requests for the good of the Church ("pro bono Ecclesiae").
  • In cases, where the accused priest has admitted his crimes and has accepted to live a life of prayer and penance, the CDF authorizes the local bishop to issue a decree prohibiting or restricting the public ministry of such a priest.
Many have praised these guidelines, that have been made public just recently, but there are others who feel that these guidelines were already there but they were not followed conscientiously. They feel that new and strong guidelines are required to reduce clergy sex abuse cases drastically.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Quotation of the Week (April 18 - 24, 2010)

Some light sources, Toronto

Photo (July 26, 2009) © Jerome D'Costa

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Atheists Eager to Get Pope Arrested for 'Crimes Against Humanity'

Pope Benedict XVI

Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens -- two former Anglicans but later avowed atheists -- have been campaigning for getting Pope Benedict VI arrested during his September 16-19 official visit to Britain for "crimes against humanity." To them, the Pope's (then Cardinal Ratzinger) alleged cover-up of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church during his tenure as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is equal to "crimes against humanity."

These two atheists through Barrister Geoffrey Robertson, a highly visible lawyer, academic, author and broadcaster, and Mark Stephens, a media lawyer and human right activist, are trying to explore the possibility of bringing charges against the Pope and getting him arrested. Their argument is that the Pope does not have the diplomatic immunity as the head of a state because Vatican is not considered as a full state in the UN and it is not a full member of the UN with voting rights. The Vatican has only an observer state status in the UN.

Richard Dawkins suspects that child sex abuse had been deliberately kept secret by the Church. Christopher Hitchens says: "This man [the Pope] is not above or outside the law. The institutionalised concealment of child abuse is a crime under any law."

Vatican officials have denied any cover-up of the sex abuse cases and emphasized that Pope Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger, pressed for harsher measures against child abusing priests and made it easier for the Church to defrock them. He also made it more difficult for practising homosexuals to enter the priesthood.

According to the BBC News, Dr. William Oddie, former editor of the weekly The Catholic Herald in London, said the arrest campaign against the Pope demonstrated how "wonderfully lunatic" both Christopher Hitchens and Professor Dawkins were. "What's lawful is what is lawfully agreed by lawful authorities, in this case Italian law -- the government of Italy -- and secondly, international law, determined by the United Nations. Both legal authorities accept the Vatican is a legal state. Christopher Hitchens is entitled to say it shouldn't be one, but he can't say it isn't one -- it's like people in a lunatic society saying they are Napoleon."

Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, when asked about the arrest threat to the Pope, said: "This is a bizarre idea to say the least. It looks like the intent is to make a public opinion splash. I think they should look for something more serious and concrete before we can respond to it."

Who are these two atheists?

Richard Dawkins (1941- ), British ethologist (a branch of zoology that studies animal behaviour in their natural habitats), evolutionary biologist and science author, taught at the Oxford University and was a fellow of New College, Oxford. He is also a secular humanist, skeptic and scientific rationalist. Renouncing Anglicanism, he became an avowed atheist. Among his books are The Selfish Gene (1976), The Blind Watchmaker (1986) and The God Delusion (2006).

Christopher Hitchens (1949- ), British journalist, author, and polemist who studied at the Oxford University. Originally an Anglican, later he embraced atheism. He likes to call himself "anti-deist" or anti-God. He now resides in the USA. Among his books are The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (1995) and god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007). In the first book mentioned here, he attacked Mother Teresa as being a hypocrite for accepting large donations from tyrannical dictators and fraudsters.

Both of these two persons are prosetilyzing atheists -- they preach and disseminate their idea of atheism (disbelief or denial of God) through writing and speeches. Christopher Hitchens is quite active in the USA. He writes articles like " Why I Hate Christmas."

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Some Cartoons on Clergy Sex Abuse


Many feel that the Catholic Church for many years was busy
in defending the abusing priests than in understanding the
plight of and empathizing with the sex abuse victims
and their parents

Universal Press Syndicate cartoon 
@ courtesy of

The news media recently shifted their emphasis from the clergy
sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church to the adultery scandal
and return of the world-renowned golfer Tiger Woods
to playing golf again in the USA

Vance Rodewalt cartoon @ courtesy of The Toronto Star (April 9, 2010)

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Quotation of the Week (April 11 - 17, 2010)

An old tree with all its wrinkles in a farm in Ontario, Canada

Photo (October 19, 2009) © Mary D'Costa

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Signs of the Times


A sign in front of an office building
near Bay Street, Toronto

Photo (March 11, 2010)

Another sign in the NoFrills Grocery Story
in the Agincourt Mall in Toronto

Photo (December 27, 2009)
Photos © Jerome D'Costa

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Clergy Sex Abuse Is Again in the World Headlines -- 3

A doodle on the Holy Spirit. Let the Holy Spirit
blow the fresh air into the Catholic Church

Drawn (Dhaka: August 18, 1993) by Jerome D'Costa

Further Observations on the Clergy Sex and 
Sex Abuse Issues (contd.)

  • There's a difference between clergy sex and clergy sex abuse. The clergy sex covers a wider area -- all kinds of sexual act of a priest with another person, whether consensual or forced (rape). This can be consummational sex (penetrational or full intercourse) or non-consummational sex (kissing, inappropriate touching, fondling, oral stimulation and so on) with an adult male or female. Sex with children -- boys or girls under the age of 16 and who cannot give consent to sex legally -- also falls under this purview. The clergy sex abuse, on the other hand, mainly concerns children under the age of 16. Here the sexual relationship is not of the equals -- one is in powerful and most respectable position and the other in vulnerable position -- who does not have proper understanding of sex, who legally is not in a position to give his or her consent for sex with an adult. That's why this type of sex falls under the purview of sex abuse. Most of the countries of the world have laws prohibiting sex between an adult and such a minor (underage children). A priest, who engages in sex with a minor, commits a most serious sin (in the eyes of his religion) as well as a crime (in the eyes of the law of the country he resides in).

  • It is wrong to assume that ordinary Catholics don't know of the sexual crimes and indiscretions of their priests and bishops. Many of them know about these but mostly keep quiet out of deep respect for the high and holy office of priesthood in the Catholic Church. There may be other reasons for this, too. Once someone complaints or reveals such priestly crimes and indiscretions, then these people become more vocal and demonstrate their anguish, frustration and anger.

  • In a number of countries, some women and nuns (Sisters) are also part of the priestly sexual scene. When clergy sex issues come up, it is mostly clergy sex abuse of the minor children is dealt with, but clergy sex with adult males or females are either ignored or put in the back burner. How may cases are consensual sex and how many non-consensual sex (either committed forcibly or using pressure tactics) it needs to be determined. It is a fact that many women and nuns (Sisters) are being sexually harassed, molested and even raped by certain priests. In Africa, the prevalence of AIDS is driving some priests to demand sex of nuns instead of local women who are most likely to have been infected with HIV and AIDS. When statistics about clergy sex is revealed, mostly child sex abuse is mentioned, almost ignoring the clergy sex with adult males and females. If these cases were included, the number of sexually active priests would be higher. In certain countries' civil law, sexual harassment means someone -- may be a male person or a female person -- is bothering you by saying or doing unwanted or unwelcome things of a sexual or gender-related nature. It may mean he or she is touching you inappropriately or sexually; making offensive (of sexual nature) jokes or remarks about women or men; making sexual requests or suggestions; staring at or making unwelcome comments about your body; displaying sexually offensive pictures; and being verbally abusive to you because of your gender. In the male-dominated societies, especially in the third world countries, nuns can't come out and expose priestly sexual crimes because they will be less believed than males (priests). There's every chance for them to be blamed for enticing the named priests into the thing!

  • The way monetary compensation is being given to the clergy sex abuse victims is both unethical and immoral. Dioceses and Religious Orders so far have given billions of dollars in compensation to the innumerable clergy sex abuse victims in the USA, Canada, Ireland and some other countries. Where did all this money come from? Mostly from donations of the Catholic faithful. Why is this unethical and immoral? Because the money was originally donated for a worthy cause, for a good purpose, but it's being given out as compensation to the victims of a very few Judas-like characters in the guise of priests. In some dioceses, Church properties, including some church buildings, have been sold or about to be sold to pay for such compensations. The whole diocese, all the other good priests, and the whole body of the faithful cannot suffer for such a few renegade priests. The whole diocese cannot be bankrupted for such persistently abusing priests. In one parish in the USA, the Catholics are protesting the sale of a church building. If compensation is to be given, it should come from insurance against "bad behaviour" of priests, as doctors in the USA and Canada have "malpractice insurance" for payment of compensation in case of damage or injury done to patients in practicing medicine, surgery and the like.

  • In certain circumstances, married priests may be allowed. Places where the number of priestly vocations are extremely low, married priest may be allowed there. Priestly celibacy (non-marriage of priests) is not a divine law but a Church law. The Church law can be changed any time. If converted married Anglican (Episcopalian) ministers are allowed to act as Catholic priests in certain countries, if the Eastern (the Middle East and parts of India) Catholic Orthodox priests (who are mostly married) are also allowed, why can't the "Latin-rite" Catholic Church allow married priests? If married converted Anglican priests and Eastern Catholic Orthodox priests can be trusted and relied upon for doing God's work, why can't the married "Latin-rite" priests be trusted and relied upon? Some cardinals, theologians are expressing opinions that priestly celibacy rule of the Catholic Church needs to be re-examined in order to lessen the number of priestly sex and sex abuse cases. Some Church officials in the Vatican denied that there is any link between celibate life and priestly sex and sex abuse. In spite of Vatican denials and rebuttals, there is some truth that if celibacy rules were relaxed, clergy sex and sex abuse will be reduced to a certain extent. In the third world countries, clergy sex abuse of children is less than in the West. In most of these countries, there is a societal pressure against free mixing of boys and girls, especially youths. Dating in many of these societies is not condoned or allowed. As a result, many of the boys and youth, who go to the seminary for training to be priests, do not have any experience of relating and dealing with members of the opposite sex. Many of them are blank slates on this matter. When they become priests, they come in contact with many girls and women in course of their work, many of them out of curiosity or otherwise feel a strong urge to "experiment" with girls and women -- to see how it feels to touch, fondle and have sex with some of them. In other words, they feel the urge to taste the fresh flesh of a female human being. They see women as sexual objects. If celibacy laws were relaxed, such type of persons could be happily married priests from the beginning of their priesthood.

  • Laicization of Catholic priests needs to be hastened. Catholic priests, who willingly request their bishops and the Vatican for laicization, often face a brick wall in front of them. Laicization process takes a long-winding road with no end in sight. Out of many requests, a few gets approved leading into frustrations among unsuccessful applicants. We think that those who face problems, mostly about celibacy, make these laicization requests. Why not let them go rather than keeping them within the fold and receiving half-hearted or no-hearted service from them? If they have sexual problems, they will do more harm to the Church by just being in the fold of Catholic priesthood.

  • Introduce compulsory training on clergy sex and sex abuse in seminaries and formation houses of the Religious Orders. In the light of what happened and what's happening in the world regarding clergy sex and sex abuse, from now on, a compulsory training and orientation on clergy sex and sex abuse needs to be given to candidates in the seminary and formation houses. This training should include different types of case studies, Church and civil laws dealing with the subject matter, repercussions of violating these laws, what precautions need to be taken by the candidates, and so on. An openness regarding this matter will definitely bring about good results in the priesthood and the Church. "Holy persons don't talk about sex" is the wrong notion going on in the Catholic Church. This policy must change. Why? The modern world is deluged with sex -- in the Internet, cable and satellite TV, movies, video films, DVDs, books, magazines, sexy fashions and lifestyles of the females, and the like. The new priests need to learn to face their own sexuality as well as the sexual messages and pictures coming from everywhere. The sexuality is a big subject now and it must be dealt with by the Catholic Church.

  • This is the best time for the Catholic Church to be proactive in dealing with the clergy sex and sex abuse. In spite of all the negativity, in spite of all the allegations against the Church and Pope Benedict XVI, this is the best time to let the new dawn come to the Catholic Church. This is the opportunity to turn sadness into joy, to turn despair into hope. The pope need s to take a vigorous action on this matter. Why is this action needed? We all must realize that the world is no longer the same, a profound change has come to the world regarding communication among people. It must be recognized that the top-to-bottom (vertical) communication is over. Now-a-days, due to the far-reaching electronic media (cable and satellite TV, the Internet, social networking websites, satellite radio, cellphones with cameras, small digital and video cameras, and the like), the power of communication is hugely in the hands of the common people. Citizen journalism (anybody and everybody sending out reports and pictures to the media -- even to the big media) is increasingly becoming popular. As a result, when a news (real news, gossip or innuendos) spread, it spreads instantly in geometric fashion -- hugely and uncontrollably. Taking all these into account, the Catholic Church no longer can keep silent as before. Silence, now-a-days, instead of being golden, becomes deafening. The Catholic Church must be on top of things and come up with policies and guidelines regarding clergy sex and sex abuse issues. Our humble suggestion would be to set a high-powered Commission to study the situation in the whole Church, have consultations with bishops and experts and generate a set of "general guidelines" on the sinfulness and criminality of priestly sex and what actions the local bishops might take to address the situations. The local bishops then can come up with their own set of "particular guidelines", following the general guidelines and taking into account the local environment, situation and culture. A prompt action on this matter will truly strengthen the Church and the position of Catholic priesthood. God will be more happy, there's no doubt about it.
(The End)

[To go to the beginning of this write-up, please click here]

(Updated on February 23, 2018)

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Quotation of the Week (April 4 - 10, 2010)

A bundle of hay in a farm in Ontario, Canada

Photo (September 7, 2009) © Jerome D'Costa

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Today Is the Easter


The rising sun in Toronto
Photo (March 16, 2010) by Mary D'Costa

Today is the Easter, the feast of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from his death. The meaning of the Easter is important to the Christians. Jesus Christ, who came to this world to save mankind from the bondage of sin, died on the cross and resurrected from his death. His resurrection bring a new life among Christians, a life that is free of the bondage of sins. The Easter also completes the season of Lent when Christians devoted themselves to more prayer, sacrifice, and almsgiving.

Let the spirit of Easter abide in you. Happy Easter to you all!

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Clergy Sex Abuse Is Again in the World Headlines -- 2

Further Observations on the Clergy Sex and 
Sex Abuse Issues (contd.)

Pope Benedict XVI

Photo courtesy: The Internet

  • As the Status of the Catholic priesthood is heaven-high, so is the demand on their character and morality. The Catholic Church teaches that the priest is the alter Christus (the other Christ) in the holy altar of the church where he offers the holy Mass. In addition, Jesus Christ has given him power that even the angels of heaven don't have, that is, first, to turn the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ during the Mass, and second, the power to absolve sins of a person in the name of Christ during the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). The holiness, prayerfulness and sacrificial life (chastity, poverty, obedience, and celibacy) are supposed to be a part and parcel of the Catholic priesthood. The majority of the Catholic saints is priests, too. Naturally, there is the highest expectation from priests. This row all over about the clergy sex abuse may be thought to be by anti-Catholic elements, some definitely are, but a greater number is from Catholics who are genuinely angry, appalled, frustrated and ashamed of the unpriestly conduct, others are victims who have been used by these priests for their purely selfish interests. In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus Christ himself rebuked the Jewish Pharisees and Scribes who were speaking and acting against their position and standard by being hypocrites. If Jesus can rebuke them, why can't Christians and others rebuke the modern priests who go astray? In the secular world, if policemen break the law, why do people get so angry? Because, policemen are supposed to maintain and safeguard the law and not break it. The situation of the priests is also same in the religious field.

  • Regarding child sex abuse, priests and bishops, kindly place yourselves in the shoes of the parents of abused children. Let's be practical about it. Let's think that you are the parents of a child -- boy or girl who has been molested, sexually abused or, in extreme case, raped by a priest (or a bishop). How would you feel? What anguish, anger, feeling of vengeance would you be filled with? Let's say that you made a complaint to the local Superior of priests or to the Bishop. To your surprise, you notice that, initially, there is the denial that such a vile act could be done by such a nice and holy priest. You are told to keep quiet and not dare to defame the good name of your accused person. Upon further complaints and insistence, the action is slowly taken by removing the priest to another parish or institution. Sometimes, you see the priest is given a promotion or more responsible position. In the new place, none knows that the priest concerned had done something very evil which is against his vow or office. He is free to repeat the same type of crime. Let's say that you filed a lawsuit and ultimately, after a long delay, you won and your child is financially compensated. Will the financial compensation erase the scar that your child suffered? Can your child's innocence, that has been robbed by the priest forever, be returned? What will your thoughts on Church silence and secrecy be? Or, finally think for a moment that the alter Christus (the other Christ) has sexually abused or has been abusing an innocent child. How will you take it? If you think this way, you will be quick to take action against the perpetrator. If you fail to place yourselves in the shoes of the parents or the victims, if action is not taken, if there is flat denial, if there is every effort in saving the face of the clergy, a great omission or, in a serious case, a great sin is committed. Thereby, the Superior or the Bishop -- who is supposed to be working for truth and justice -- participates in the sins of the perpetrator he is trying to protect or defend. The parents, the victims and the laity can't fathom this dichotomy, this ambivalence, this double-standard, and this hypocrisy on the part of the supervisors or employers of the perpetrators.

  • Clergy sex abuse is not only a matter between the abuser and the abusee but also between the abuser and the community (Church). The Catholic Church is a community of faithful where religion is practised. The Church is the body of Christ. If one part of the body is hurt, the other parts get hurt, too. The priest is the leader of the community, the child is part and parcel of the community. If a priest harms a child, the family and the community are harmed in many different ways. One most glaring harm is by way of scandal or bad example given by the perpetrator priest. Jesus spoke of tying a millstone round the neck of a scandal-giver and throwing him into the sea.

  • The Catholic Church's obsession with the sin does not adequately reflect in the treatment of the cases of the clergy sex and clergy sex abuse. The Church teaches extensively on the sins: the original sin (committed by first man and woman -- Adam and Eve) and automatically transmitted to their descendants and the personal sin. The personal sin again can be venial (light or small) or mortal (deadly or heavy). The more serious case, serious consequence or sin committed by an important and responsible person fall under the purview of mortal sin. If a priest commits a sexual sin with another person (whether with a child under 16 years of age or with an adult male or female -- even though the sex with the adult may be consensual (mutually consented) -- is a mortal sin because the priest at the time of ordination knowingly and solemnly promised to observe chastity and celibacy. Secondly, he, to the full extent of his knowledge, knows what sin is and it is also his duty to preach and teach about sin. Some Superiors and Bishops, who had shifted the sex abusing priests from one parish or institution to the other, say that, previously, they did not know about the serious consequences of child sexual abuse -- that it has a lasting physical and psychological effect on the child for the rest of his life. That may be true, but the very action of the persistently abusing priests had serious spiritual consequences for themselves by way of committing serial mortal sins. Why were they allowed to commit or given scope for committing mortal sins knowingly? Wasn't it tantamount to cooperating with the mortal-sinning priests or participating in their mortal sins? 

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Clergy Sex Abuse Is Again in the World Headlines -- 1

Pope Benedict XVI

Photo courtesy: The Internet

The world news media are hot with the news and both informed and uninformed opinions on the Catholic clergy sex abuse of underage children. First, years earlier, the abuse cases came to limelight in the USA, then Canada and Australia. Presently, they are in Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Brazil.

Recently Pope Benedict XIV expressed his anguish and apology for the widespread clergy sex abuse in Ireland. The victims of the abuse were not happy, they expected more than apology from the pope. Then came the news that in Germany, when pope Benedict was an archbishop, a sex-abusing priest, instead of being punished, was allowed to return to his work. But, the Vatican denied this, saying that Archbishop Ratzinger (the pope's former position) was not aware of the priest's return to work without undergoing sufficient rehabilitation. Many people are demanding that the pope resigns from his position. There were also other allegations that the future pope as a cardinal, based in Rome, told bishops to deal with sexual abuse cases secretly instead of reporting them to the police. All these allegations and surmises are taking up a lot of space in news media.

Bishops Defend Pope Benedict XVI

The U.S. bishops and some other bishops in Europe and other parts of the world are defending Pope Benedict XIV and saying that it was this pope, rather than any other pope before him, who took actions on priestly sex abuses rather than avoiding the issues or keeping silent.

Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, Canada, speaking recently at a Mass at St. Michael's Cathedral to 400 priests who renewed their vows as part of the Easter season, said: "We cannot escape the horror of this by pointing out that almost all priests serve faithfully -- though that fact is a grace that gives joy to the Catholic people," reports the National Post. "But even one priest gone wrong causes immense harm, and throughout the world priest have done unspeakable evil."

Archbishop Collins further said: "We should be grateful for the attention which the media devotes to the sins of the Catholic clergy, even if constant repetition may give the false impression that Catholic clergy are particularly sinful. That attention is a profound tribute to the priesthood....People instinctively expect holiness in a Catholic priest, and are especially appalled when he does evil." Later after the Mass, he said outside the Cathedral: " A priest is supposed to be a holy person you can trust. If he's not, then that's news. If it wasn't, that would be a terrible thing."

Archbishop Collins dismissed allegations against the pope as "unfair and unjust." He said: "[Pope Benedict] has acted decisively, fairly, consistently and courageously to purify the priesthood and to make the Church a safe place for everyone." After the Mass, archbishop further said: "He [Pope Benedict] is a fair and loving and holy man and when he sees evil he has dealt with it. It's amazing that people who were so critical of him for being so strict now say he was too lax."

Further Observations on the Clergy Sex and Sex Abuse Issues

In the past, we made some observations on the clergy sex and sex abuse, now we make further observations on the same subject in the light of the events in the news.

  • It can't be denied that where there's sex (organ), there's sexuality. For this reason we have specific terms for different types of sexuality -- spousal sex (husband-wife sex), auto-sex (self abuse or masturbation), incest (illicit sex between closest relatives), fornication (sex between two unmarried people), adultery (one married person having sex with another person who is not married to him or her), homosexuality or gay sex (between male and male or between female and female), bestiality (human sex with animals), pederasty or pedophilia (between an adult and a child), sodomy or anal sex, polygamy (one male with many wives), polyandry (one female with many husbands), group sex, oral sex, inhibited or repressed sex and so on. Roman Catholic priests, after prolonged training willingly enter the priesthood and take the vow of chastity (keeping away from sex) and lead a celibate (unmarried) life. Although they have same sex urges as any other men, they are supposed to keep their sex inhibited or repressed as they dedicate themselves fully in the service of God and the Church. History testifies that priestly or clergy sex and sex abuse, although practised by a minority, was always there from the beginning of the Catholic priesthood. Some early Church Fathers had spoken publicly against priestly sex and sex abuse. Later centuries also saw such priestly crimes and indiscretions.

  • The ball of clergy sex abuse is again in the Catholic Church's court. This time the ball is in the Church's court in a big way reaching all the way to the Pope. How this is dealt with this time will mark the future course of history of the Church. It should be taken into account that clergy sex and sex abuse is not limited in a country or continent only, it is global -- it is existing in every country and culture. Some countries' cases did not come to public limelight does not mean that these are not happening there. On this v-e-r-y v-e-r-y serious matter, the Church leaders must not hide their heads in the sand like the ostrich, nor should they behave like the see-nothing, speak-nothing and hear-nothing monkey. This attitude will not solve the problem, it will only exacerbate it.

  • Inordinate media coverage should not be treated as a nuisance. Some Churchmen think that the inordinate interest of the media -- thought to be a hounding by the media -- is uncalled for and it verges on indecency. If the persistent media coverage weren't there in the cases of the Boston Archdiocese clergy sex abuse in the USA, the truth would not come out and the veil of silence and secrecy wouldn't have broken exposing the criminal priests. The continuous shifting of these abusing priests from one parish or institution to the other wouldn't also have stopped. The abused boys, whose innocence was most blatantly robbed by these priests, also would not get justice in the long run.
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