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"Bow your head with great respect, and genuflect! genuflect! genuflect!"

Let me make it perfectly clear: I am no fan of the Catholic Church. I respect it as an institution, but there are elements of its history -- deeds carried out by those appointed to high positions and deeply involved in its leadership -- that I deeply loathe.

Two of them in recent times come to mind: the conduct of the majority of the leadership of the American Catholic Church during the priest sex abuse scandal, and the conduct of certain European leaders immediately following World War II.

In the former matter, at one point roughly 2/3 -- 111 of 178 -- of all diocese leaders had kept priests who had been accused of sexual abuse working. Further, the stories of "pedophile priests" being shuffled from parish to parish, whisked away from their accusers and dumped on new parishioners without a word of warning, were legion -- as were the accounts of "hush money" paid to the families of the victims in order to buy their silence. Bernard Cardinal Law, former Archbishop in Boston, currently holds a very high position in the Vatican and was involved in the choosing of the current Pope, Benedict XVI. To my eyes, he belongs in a prison cell.

Law oversaw what became the epicenter of the sex abuse scandal, and it eventually came out that he had personally arranged for the coverup of hundreds of cases of sexual assault of children, and sent pedophiles to brand-new assignments that quickly became assignations. His actions led to a host of lawsuits against his Diocese, an unprecedented vote of no confidence by his subordinate clerics, and nearly brought the Diocese to bankruptcy. As it is, they had to close churches and sell off considerable holdings to settle all the claims by past victims.

Law was the most flagrant offender, but a lot -- a lot -- of high-ranking Church officials saw the problems of pedophile priests as a threat to the Church, and acted to protect it from scandal. Their methods were simple: get the silence of the victims by any means necessary (money, guilt, promises that the offender would get treatment) and then move the offender away from the victims. Under no circumstances was there to be any publicity that might embarrass the church, so that meant that everything was to be done to keep the authorities from getting involved -- and if that meant that serial child predators would escape facing Man's justice, and be given more and more opportunities to prey on fresh Catholic children, so be it.

And as a consequence of his deeds, Law was "kicked upstairs" and to this day holds his Cardinalcy and a high-ranking position in the Church.

Likewise, after World War II, officials of the Catholic Church helped many Nazi war criminals flee Europe. Bishop Alois Hudal personally arranged for the escape of Adolf Eichmann and the commanders of three concentration camps to South America. Later, Franciscan priests from Croatia arranged for many former Nazis to follow a similar path, apparently hoping that their anti-Communist beliefs would help check the rise of that ideology in South America. Later, Western intelligence agencies used their actions as a model for their own, similar, operations.

It is disputed just how high support was for Hudal and the Croatian Franciscans was within the Church, but the role of these actors is not disputable.

However, it must be kept in mind that part of the reason these two groups -- Hudal's and the Croatian Franciscans -- were so successful was that the Church was a major player in helping refugees, displaced persons, and the literally millions of victims of the war. The humanitarian efforts of the Church in working to heal the wounds of the conflict that very nearly destroyed Europe are often overlooked -- and should not be.

I do not consider the Church "evil." On the whole, I think that the Catholic Church has, throughout its history, contributed far more on the "good" side of the ledger of humanity than on the "bad." And while I have many problems with its tenets, I have found the simplest way to deal with those problems is to simply ignore them. I'm not a Catholic, never have been, never will be (knock on wood), and they're centuries past the point where I have to worry about being forcibly converted. I've commented on their internal politics on occasion, but that's only a reflection of the role the Church plays in global politics -- and is made easier by the fact that Vatican City is considered an independent nation, and the Pope a head of state.

So, yeah, yesterday I said that "elements of the Catholic Church" had been involved in helping Nazi war criminals escape justice. It was in the larger context of discussing the sins of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and is historically accurate -- as noted above, a bishop and a cabal of Croatian Franciscan priests did just that. I brought it up because it was germane to the thesis of my piece.

I was aware that some would take it as an attack on the Church itself. My use of the phrase "elements of" was intended to prevent some of that, as well as being more accurate and honest than accusing the whole Church.

I see many of the Church's problems and misdeeds not caused by the fact that they are a church, but mainly problems of scale. The Church is a huge institution, and most things big organizations do are large. Exxon Mobil makes huge, record profits when measured in dollars, but don't look quite so good when measured as a percentage of revenues. One drunken, womanizing lout is not that big a deal, unless he happens to be one of a group of one hundred prominent politicians. So when an institution the size of the Roman Catholic Church makes a mistake, it's probably gonna be a doozy. Toss in the religious element, and that just makes it that much bigger.

There is, in the world right now, one -- and only one -- religion that I consider to pose a real threat to civilization. I've discussed it many times before, I have many more pieces in mind in the future, and it ain't the one headquartered in Rome. In fact, the one based out of the Eternal City is one of the better checks on that other faith we have.

But that doesn't mean they've got a free pass from being held accountable for their sins -- even by those of us who don't belong to their Faith.


Comments (35)

Human institutions are like... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Human institutions are like that. The bigger they get and the longer they are around the more history of depraved deeds accumulates. Luther got it right and there are many churches that bear his name that have no higher human authority then the congregation itself.

Just because someone with t... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Just because someone with the church made a mistake doesnt mean that the church as a whole is bad. If we were all judged on our leaders (Ted Kennedy for example) then that would be an unfair judgement as well.

Yes, I am Catholic. I have no truck with child abusers. I think they should be all given the death sentence and good riddance. I havent seen one who said they were sorry for what they did BEFORE they were caught.

On the other hand when mentioning the sad affair that was the priest abuse scandal. And it was SAD, WRONG and a scandal there is one element that folks never mention. That is the priests who were accused that were innocent. I have a very good friend who is a priest and was accused. In fact I was an altar boy for him for several years way back when. He was accused by a drug addict looking to make a quick score on the church. An investigation was done and it turns out that my friend was only at the church for the 2 weeks when this person was a member there as a child. He was subsequently cleared of all charges.

So remember when someone says that x number of priests were accused. It is like saying that there were X number of people accused of doing Y. some of those were innocent.

Should the scandal have happened? Never. Should the abusers have been shuffled from parish to parish? NEVER. And the offenders should all be punished to the maximum extent of the law (if not beyond). But not all those accused were not guilty. Most were but not all.

Baloney. ELEMENTS OF JAY T... (Below threshold)
Jim in Cleveland:

Baloney. ELEMENTS OF JAY TEA are bigoted. ELEMENTS OF JAY TEA cherry-pick the bad instances of a Church that has stood for two thousand years as Jesus's proclaimed kingdom on Earth.

OJ Simpson murdered two people. Should I accuse elements of the Buffalo Bills as being sociopathic? David Duke ran as a Republican. Is it fair to say "elements of the GOP" hate blacks? The fact is the Church is made of imperfect people--sinners, as it were. Jesus hung around with sinners. He told them to knock off the sinning, but he knew they would keep on doing it. He died for them just the same. That's what the Catholic Church teaches.

Those who wish to find a reason to hate the Church will always find one. If you look for your Bernard Laws and your Alois Hudals, you are going to see plenty of them. Congratulation on your discovery--the Church has sinners.

I have no problem with criticizing the Church--it needs to be criticized and questioned. But Jay Tea's offhand comment about "elements of the Church" is not helpful or fair. There is only one word to describe looking only for evidence that will support your pre-conceived views: bigotry.

I get your reasoning, but b... (Below threshold)
whatever:

I get your reasoning, but by that same reasoning America is evil since: it once had slavery, stole lands from Native Americans, had Jim Crow laws, put Japanese Americans in intern camps, and all the other things that this country did that was pretty reprehensible.

I'll even bet you this: America helped far more Nazis escape from Europe than any other organization on this planet.

To you America is still a great country. The Catholic church, however, is fair game.

Jim, whatever, I said that ... (Below threshold)

Jim, whatever, I said that I believe the Church has been an overwhelmingly positive force in human history. I've also spoken favorably of the current Pope. But that does not mitigate the fact that two very high officials -- Law and Hudal -- used their offices to enable men who had committed great evil to escape justice, and (at least in Law's case) continue to commit evil. And neither man suffered much punishment for their deeds -- in fact, Law was given a promotion and helped choose the current Pope.

Motes and beams, people.

J.

I'm not trying to excuse th... (Below threshold)
Strick:

I'm not trying to excuse the Church (nor am I a member), but it might help to remember the historical context that most of the pedaphile priest problems took place in.

It's hard to remember, but once upon a time the Catholic Church was considered a liberal organization. Remember Paul Simon's radical priest in "Me & Julio"? It's focus on poverty and social issues made it the darling of the left before abortion became the touchstone of liberalism.

Back in the 60s, it was believed that almost any anti-social behavior could be cured with enough counseling and treatment. The Church itself is essentially in the forgiving business, so the idea of curing repentant priests had a natural appeal. In that atmosphere, when priest misbehaved, what did they do? The most liberal of things: they sent the priest to counseling to be cured of the pedophilia and reassigned them. I've seen figures that suggest the Church spent tens of millions of dollars on attempts to change the pedaphile priest's behavior.

We know now that this could never work, but it was unsurprising that Church leaders, convinced that it would, would try and try again. They had to believe priests who failed were just exceptions and needed more treatment, not that the theory that they could be cured was wrong. Eventually they hid the failures even from themselves so they could maintain the belief they were doing the right thing. What started as an attempt to do the right thing turned into a shell game, send the problem somewhere else.

So this failure of the Church is just another example of the many failure of 60s liberalism. The Church is surely responsible for its own actions, there's no excuse for the suffering they helped cause, but that failure is not the Church's alone.

Be critical of it for what it is then, a mutual failure that should not be used as a club by self righteous liberals angered by the Church's stand on abortion to discredit it on unrelated issues now.

"Do whatever steps you want... (Below threshold)

"Do whatever steps you want if
you have cleared them with the pontiff"

I Love that song

Great post Strick. It's al... (Below threshold)
SAHMmy:

Great post Strick. It's also interesting to note that most of the perpetrator priests were ordained in the 60's. There is a canon that prohibits the ordination of gay priests, but that too was overlooked at that time of 'revolution' in the U.S.

So we members who have suffered through this wretched scandal have to wait for death to come to our lousy bench of bishops and rebel priests, though indeed most have been defrocked.

The Pope does not micromanage The Church. Just as God doesn't micromanage our lives. It's all so very frustrating.

"Ave Maria, Gee it's... (Below threshold)
rockindoug:

"Ave Maria,
Gee it's good to see ya,
Gettin' ecstatic and
Sorta dramatic and
Doin' the Vatican Rag!"

By far my favorite of Tom Lehrer's little ditties.

And as a consequen... (Below threshold)
And as a consequence of his deeds, Law was "kicked upstairs" and to this day holds his Cardinalcy and a high-ranking position in the Church.

Well, what the Vatican did was hustle Cardinal Law out of the country, otherwise he would have faced charges. It's nice to have friends in high places.

Another black eye for the Vatican. The behavior of the Roman Catholic Church, as an institution, throughout the pedophile-priest scandal has been deplorable. Episodes like this indicate that the main objective of the RCC was not to make amends for past wrongs, but to cover their own asses.

Two things you should never... (Below threshold)
Nancy:

Two things you should never discuss. Religion and politics . . . unless you can do it constructively and also if you know something about it.

You have done neither. "Never been a Catholic, never will be - knock on wood." Says it all my friend. You are a bigot. I am a Catholic and I've heard your rant before - always directed at me - with a "Nothing personal intended". Sorry, it doesn't get more personal that to attack the foundation of a person's beliefs. No matter how you phrase it, you are a bigot - an Anti-Catholic bigot at that. The Church can never atone for its sins as you see them. Until you can get some balance, leave off writing about it - it only makes you look bad and unprofessional.

Two things you should never... (Below threshold)
Nancy:

Two things you should never discuss. Religion and politics . . . unless you can do it constructively and also if you know something about it.

You have done neither. "Never been a Catholic, never will be - knock on wood." Says it all my friend. You are a bigot. I am a Catholic and I've heard your rant before - always directed at me - with a "Nothing personal intended". Sorry, it doesn't get more personal than to attack the foundation of a person's beliefs. No matter how you phrase it, you are a bigot - an Anti-Catholic bigot at that. The Church can never atone for its sins as you see them. Until you can get some balance, leave off writing about it - it only makes you look bad and unprofessional.

Nancy has a point. Jay Tea... (Below threshold)
Jim in Cleveland:

Nancy has a point. Jay Tea is in John Kerry country on this one--trying to take both sides of the argument. It was he who brought up the Church while discussing the Red Cross, then wants to get cover by saying on balance the Church is a positive. Why bring up the Church at all then? It would be like talking about affirmative action, and taking a shot at blacks for Al Sharpton's Brawley debacle, but then saying that blacks aren't ALL bad. Non sequitur. Jay Tea obviously has a Catholic problem.

Catholicism (and Christiani... (Below threshold)
Dennis P. Skea:

Catholicism (and Christianity in general) is the last acceptable bigotry. Discuss Mohammed as a pedophile(he whose wife was a 9 year old) and risk beheading. Discuss a priest as a pedophile (just as vile as Old Mo) and be praised for your investigative prowess. Bigotry, the way to make yourself feel better.

" It's also interesting to ... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

" It's also interesting to note that most of the perpetrator priests were ordained in the 60's. There is a canon that prohibits the ordination of gay priests, but that too was overlooked at that time of 'revolution' in the U.S.-Posted by: SAHMmy"

No, the problem began when the Catholic Church DREAMED UP the idea that priests should be celibate (instead of "the husband of one wife" as Paul recommended).

As Paul wrote to Timothy: "Better to marry than to burn" (with lust).

As I intimated earlier of the true historical roots of the Roman church and their ties to the Frankish nobility (see Gregory of Tours' history), the overriding concern has always been wealth and influence. Being pagans, the Christian gloss was applied only as needed, bit by bit, and often conflicting with itself. Of just made up, as in the celibacy requirement: only a device to keep church lands and holdings from being divvied up between bratty legitimate offspring (bastardy: no problemo! They have no rights of inheritance!)

Probably the most disgusting aspect of the Church's parasitical role is the ransomming of innocent childrens' souls lest they be Christened by some weird priest with a secret life. Threatenimg babies' souls with hellfire or "purgatory" is demonic.

I brought up the Church bec... (Below threshold)

I brought up the Church because it was germane to the discussion. I was lambasting the International Committee of the Red Cross over helping Eichmann, and to attack them without mentioning that Bishop Hudal had also been essential could have come across as attempting to "white-wash" that part of the story.

Also, the mention of the Catholic Church was PARENTHETICAL. I was mainly furious over the ICRC. I am actually a little saddened that so many people took that aside and skipped over the main point about the ICRC.

J.

You know, I find the protes... (Below threshold)

You know, I find the protestations of bigotry by the faithful as, historically speaking, hyper ironic.

Being Catholic myself, I don't think we can kick ourselves around enough.

Children were abused by Priests. That's a fact. The Church covered it up. That's a fact. Cardinal Law was complicit. That's a fact. The Church gave him one of the most honored positions in Rome. That's a fact.

As Catholics we should be screaming from the pews until that man is brought to justice, instead we add to our own disgrace by wimpering about the bad people who point out the facts.

Mohammed be damned, the Catholic Church for centuries has tried to bring the light of truth and justice across the world and the fact that Cardinal Law gets to live out his days as a prince completely eclipses that light.

You want to be outraged? Be outraged that children were abused by Priests and the man who helped cover it up was rewarded.

I swear The Masons look better every year.

"I see many of the Church's... (Below threshold)

"I see many of the Church's problems and misdeeds not caused by the fact that they are a church, but mainly problems of scale. The Church is a huge institution, and most things big organizations do are large."

This is not quite relevant. The Church is a huge institution, true, but most of the things "it" does are...not done. The only thing the Church "does" as an institution is conserve and promulgate Christian doctrine. All else is the work of individuals, whether lay persons or men and women of the cloth.

The relevant aspect of the Church's hugeness is that it's a statistical universe, within which one can find virtually any sort of human conduct, whether it's noble or depraved. There are more than a billion Catholics worldwide -- one-sixth of the population of the world, or roughly the entire world population around 1800. If there were absolutely no Catholic pedophiles, it would be a miracle of the first order.

The incidence of pedophilic molestation, as a percentage of the subject population, is higher among American public-school teachers than among Roman Catholic priests serving in America -- and there are two million public-school teachers, but only a few thousand Catholic priests. Did you hear that from anyone else, before you heard it from me?

Don't take my word for it; look it up. Then ask yourself why the Church gets all the attention, when the "educators" in our government-run schools do their dirty deeds on salaries paid from our pockets, whether we like it or not.

Only demonic if you can del... (Below threshold)
kim:

Only demonic if you can deliver, childe barolDe

If you wonder why the church didn't consider its actions sinful, you don't know much about sin.
===============================

Hey, FWP, my argument about... (Below threshold)
kim:

Hey, FWP, my argument about sin applies to the NEA, too. I had not heard your statistic, but am not surprised either by the fact, or that I had not heard. It's not part of the narrative.
==============================

DPS, haven't you noticed th... (Below threshold)
kim:

DPS, haven't you noticed that all previous racist, sexist, and ethnic jokes, basically any demeaning humour, has been recast as 'blonde' jokes and told to universal hilarity?

It's their secret advantage. As if people weren't already jealous.
============================

Timmer,For the pedop... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Timmer,
For the pedophile issue, I am with you. I am still angry that the Church allowed it, hid it, and then moved Law and others to avoid prosecution AND left them with influence in the Church.

For the WW2/Nazi issue, I will always take exception. So much of the criticism of how the Church handled these affairs is done in a vacuum, and much of it began by those that have an anit-Catholiic agenda.

When the Catholic Church took a hard stand against communism and socialism, and refused to back down on its anti-abortion stance, the left (in the US and abroad) turned on the Church roundly.

To Strick's comment about the Church once being considered liberal... when the word liberal became all about socialism and abortion, that is when the label was removed. ;)

Scary, fundie man, <p... (Below threshold)
SAHMmy:

Scary, fundie man,

How does

"No, the problem began when the Catholic Church DREAMED UP the idea that priests should be celibate (instead of "the husband of one wife" as Paul recommended)."

address this point:

"It's also interesting to note that most of the perpetrator priests were ordained in the 60's. There is a canon that prohibits the ordination of gay priests, but that too was overlooked at that time of 'revolution' in the U.S.-Posted by: SAHMmy"

If celibacy was the real issue there would be no pedophilia among non-Catholic clergy. There is though, and lots of it.

"address this point:.. SAHM... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"address this point:.. SAHMmy "

Since you asked...
Homosexuals are drawn to the priesthood. Some are sexual opportunists, others like the idea of Dressing Up. Some wish to sublimate their desires into Service which is good, but sublimating their desires into Service and a wife is far better. Homosexally-inclined people get married all the time (to women). Instead seminaries put good apples in with the bad to buttress the ranks of the clergy.
And Paul said of his own celibacy, it is a "Gift", not a skill that he could accomplish on his own. It's only common sense. And since the other sin of masturbation is bound to be crossed, a priest has found himself a failure. How soon til he consider himself a reprobate? Unless he quits, bad things are likely to be inflicted on the young who are specifically put under the priests' care.
How can decades-long serial abuse be explained? Moral psychosis. Conservative (breakaway) Catholics (especially in Africa) today rail against the foolishness of such policies and their inevitable results.
The "60s" has nothing to do with it. The lecherous friar and the chickenhawk priests were written of by Chaucer in the 14th century. And he was a Catholic, loyal to Rome against the Avignon anti-popes. That explains why the schismatic Luther and the heretic Cauvin insisted all clergy be married and the Catholics called them "severe".
They outlawed the Inquisition and torture but were called "too stern" because the proscriptions on adultery were suddenly enforced. Go figure.

And I guess Jesus was marri... (Below threshold)
SAHMmy:

And I guess Jesus was married to Magdelene, right?

My wife works for a diocese... (Below threshold)

My wife works for a diocese here in Florida(Church receptionist). The tales I can tell, but most are petty stuff. With one exception.

Nearly five years ago a mother who was on hospital pregnancy bedrest, had a diocess Human resources person visit her in the hospital, The mom who was less than 25 weeks pregnant at the time was told her health insurance would be ended, her pay ended etc.

The father tried contatcting the diocese. They ignored his phone calls. He tried contacting the bishop(Who is now a cardinal.), no answer from them. The diocese reversed the insurance decision, but in the meantime put a mother and father through a great deal of stress at a very bad time. For about $80 a week(what the woman's health insurance cost at the time). The church is worth millions if not billions, and they can't afford $1,500. What is more important, life or money?

The bishop probably knew nothing about what was going on. I hope he didn't. Most church leadership is distant and out of touch with their flock. Because now he could be elected pope one day, and his diocese could have helped put a baby in a Palm Beach COunty grave through their greed. Yes the baby died, after the mother gave premature birth about a month after the diocese employee visited the mother at the hospital.

The diocese's conduct was no better after the baby died, the Human resources dept not answering the father's call in regards to making sure his son was placed on their insurance plan. YES THEY IGNORED HIS Phone call. Greedy and unfeeling.

Talk about Catholic Church horror tales. A baby or $1,500. What should matter more?

Bill

And I guess Jesus was marri... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

And I guess Jesus was married to Magdelene, right?

Posted by: SAHMmy

Nope. Myths and legends are an expected byproduct of Catholicism's occult pretentions, though.

But He wasn't celibate, rig... (Below threshold)
SAHMmy:

But He wasn't celibate, right?

Jesus was the son of a virg... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Jesus was the son of a virgin and he died a virgin. No broken bones either. That's why he is termed "Lamb of God". The perfect sacrifice, without blemish, who declared a New Order: the priesthood of the Believer, with no intercessory needed.
No "Mary" or no strange, furtive or conflicted priests required. Jesus is not manifested in the host at mass. That is idolatry. He is On High, at the right hand of God. Hears all, sees all, quick to forgive. Just don't mock him, and recognize that Satan will sit in Rome (on the Pope's throne, as Anti-Christ) before the true Christ arrives, and you'll be alright.

The Anti-Christ part is God's way of sweeping the dumbasses out of the way. Don't end up in Gehenna (the garbage pit). They still burn garbage there. No EPA. (It won't be forever, though. That's a Catholic myth best illustrated by Dante Alliegeri; the smoke goes up forever, the pain doesn't. The 1000 year wait for the sentence to be carried out is where the real torment lies. Only the condemned are in THAT room.)

Word to the wise...

He was CELIBATE?!!! Who th... (Below threshold)
SAHMmy:

He was CELIBATE?!!! Who the hell's idea was THAT?!

How.....UNnatural! Who DREAMED that up?!

The road to hell is paved with the skulls of smug protties.

bD, isn't it idolotrous to ... (Below threshold)
kim:

bD, isn't it idolotrous to bend before ever-lasting life?
==============================

I think JT's only error was... (Below threshold)
epador:

I think JT's only error was thinking that the seething Catholics posting above had ever forgiven Tom Lehrer for his blasphemous ditty from the 50's.

Not being Cqtholic, but having been a Eagle Scout, I always liked "Be Prepared" better. I wonder who above would favor the "Masochism Tango" or "National Brotherhood Week"?

Hi,I'm catholic.</... (Below threshold)
glow:

Hi,

I'm catholic.

Does anyone here have any actual links to reputable data on the magnitude of the "priest abuse scandal"? The reason I ask is that I previously attempted to research this and came up with nothing but news stories.

I did find one site which was run by a southern lawyer who admittedly hated catholics....the irony in this was twofold. First, the catholic church had begun contributing data to this lawyers collection of "cases" of priests accused of sexual abuse. (Please note the word 'accused'). Second, even on that loose criteria the data only amounted to 1/2 of 1% of all catholic priests being accused on an annual basis going back 40 years. So, I thought I would check with the experts in here to get the REAL stats....stats from a reputable source that can withstand reasonable scrutiny.

Also, If you wouldnt mind, I'd appreciate it if people who wish the launch tirades would state their own religion first....not just the generic "christian" or "Protestant" but rather the actual name of the religion you belong to. Last time I checked there were over THIRTY THOUSAND 'protestant' 'religions'.

I'll wait here for the data to come flooding in.

It is always easy to discus... (Below threshold)
Concerned:

It is always easy to discuss someone else's sins. whatever happened to compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and healing for victim and perpetrator?

while i agree w/ your asses... (Below threshold)
bob mercado:

while i agree w/ your assessment of the catholic church, i have to disagree w/ its management of historical documents that it has kept in vaults for hundreds of years out of the mainstream. documents which could be extemely significant in explaining moments in our history. or are they too damning to the catholic religion? we will never know.....




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