Saturday, April 03, 2010

I don't think I'm going anywhere

Not long after the earthquake hit Haiti we got an email from Hands On Relief, the group we worked with in Biloxi after Katrina. They were doing scouting and working with NGO's to see how they could best help out.

I just went to their web site to see how things were progressing and they have a hell of a good start. There are doing demolition/debris clearing, helping with temporary shelters and working to increase their volunteer capacity. They've fotten a lot of help from the Canadian Army which is more than I can say for FEMA when we were in the 9th ward.

Part of me wants to go. Even though things are far worse than they were in Biloxi. There is a far greater risk from diseases, medical care is very basic and accommodations are pretty damn spartan. To say nothing of the fluctuating security situation.

But I still wanted to go.

But working outside the past week had let me to an unpleasant realization. I don't think I am in good enough shape to do the work needed there. It's just that simple. I'm 42 and Rossana has a few years on me. Demo work is backbreaking. And I do not do well in hot weather. They need young, strong, healthy people or people with greater technical skills than I posses. I just don't know how helpful I would be even if I did go.

So I guess I'll be donating to Hands On directly, and if you have a few spare bucks, I'd appreciate if you'd consider doing so too. Or you could donate to the Red Cross or the charity of your choice. Let's not forget these people now that the camera's have gone and they are no longer leading the news.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I don't feel good...

The recent events concerning pedophile priests had given me pause. Haven't we been here before? Indeed we have. Hundreds of children abused in the US. A massive scandal. Millions in fines against the Church. And then things died down.

Then came the report about the workhouses in Ireland, more pedophiles come to light, then the Ferns Report, revelations about a secret document used to suppress accusers under threat of excommunication, more child abusers in Germany and now the revelation that the man who was supposed to oversee and handle this kind of thing is none other than former Cardinal Ratzinger aka The Pope.

The accusations are coming fast and hard now and the media smell blood in the water. The church is of course, trying to cover this up. Issuing denials and carefully worded statements and apologies. Fall guys are taking the blame. It's starting to sound very familiar. You might not be old enough to have experienced it first hand, I was only a child, but things are starting to play out like Watergate. And as Nixon observed, "it's not the crime that gets you, it's the cover up"

Ratzinger will have a very hard time squirming out of this because (by papal decree) ALL abuse cases are supposed to be handled by the Vatican and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (a very pretty name for what historically has been called The Inquisition). He was supposed to be the TOP man. I'm sure the office was responsible for many different tasks, but surely child rape and abuse cases were a high priority. Right? Right?

Then I watched this short documentary:

aaaaaaaaand, now I'm pissed. Very pissed. I like to think that I am fairly even handed. I believe firmly that there are almost always two sides to every story. I like to play the (no pun intended) Devils Advocate. Despite my distaste of organized religion I accept and admit that it can have a positive affect of many peoples lives. And when you consider that there may be somewhere around 50 million children worldwide who are being raised as Catholics it may be inevitable that some of the hundreds of thousands of priests would be pedophiles. Any group with these numbers would likely have this problem. But it's how the Church handles the problem that really gets me.

Despite the recent events the Church continues to plod along like it's the 12th century. It is an entity unto itself. Beholden to no one. It ignores secular laws. It pays hush money. And worse, it continues the same behavior of shifting priests around, blocking police inquiries and above all failing to help the victims.

By the way, did you know that when a diocese pays off sexual abuse victims millions of dollars not one cent of it comes from the Vatican? Nope. They're like McDonald's franchises. So the money comes from the diocese and that money comes from parishioners. Tadaa! Members of the flock pay to have their children raped.

I don't want to pick on the Catholic Church, but it's a top-down organization and it's very large and it KNOWS what the fuck is going on. The Pope could change how the church deals with pedophiles tomorrow. It could initiate sweeping change. But it won't.

It will pray for the victims. Sure. Fat lot that will do. But but it won't change. Why? Because at it's very core, at it's very heart it believes that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

The thing that might force change (whether the Church wants it or not) is that there is very little secrecy anymore. For good or ill we are very much a confession culture these days. What used to remain a deep secret is now shared much more easily. People no longer believe that such atrocities are impossible. And now the media and lawyers want a piece of the pie. Good luck keeping them at bay Mr. Ratzinger.