Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Jesus Loves You & The Jesuits Rape You.

Two Remote Alaska Villages Are Still Reeling from a Catholic Volunteer's Sojourn Three Decades Ago, When He Allegedly Molested Nearly Every Eskimo Boy in the Parishes. The Accusers, Now Men, Are Scarred Emotionally and Struggle to Cope. They Are Seeking Justice.

By William Lobdell
Los Angeles Times
November 19, 2005


[Photographs and captions in this story were selected by BishopAccountability.org from Alaska priest, a portfolio of photographs by Damon Winter that was posted with this article.]

ST. MICHAEL, Alaska—Peter "Packy" Kobuk has to walk past the old Catholic church to get almost anywhere. To fill a drum of heating oil. To take his children to school. To wash his clothes at the only laundromat in this Eskimo village of 370.

"I think about burning it down, but I have to block that out," says Kobuk, 46. "It all comes back to me right away each time I have to see it."
The decaying wood-frame building also haunts John Lockwood, a married father of nine. Its bell tower, which rises above the village's 90 plywood shacks and prefabricated houses, is one of the first landmarks he sees when returning home in a longboat from hunting seals in the Bering Sea.

"It brings back a lot," says Lockwood, whose weathered face reflects a life spent in the Alaska outdoors. "He did all those bad things to us little kids there, and no one did nothing to stop it."

Even after 30 years, the men can't shake their memories of the late Joseph Lundowski, a volunteer Catholic missionary who arrived in their village in 1968.

The devoutly Catholic village elders welcomed Lundowski warmly, as they did all men of the cloth. But the children soon grew to fear and despise him.
Now grown, they said that over a seven-year period, "Deacon Joe" molested nearly every boy in St. Michael and the neighboring settlement of Stebbins.

The alleged victims, now in their 40s and 50s, say they secretly carried this burden until last year. Then, after watching the Catholic sexual abuse scandal unfold on satellite television, 28 men from the two villages decided to break their silence.

"We couldn't tell anyone [before] because no one would believe us," said Kobuk, one of the few St. Michael Eskimos who is still a Catholic. He wears a homemade rosary around his neck, the blue beads held together by string from a fishing net.

"He worked for God, and I was just an Eskimo child."

In 1886, the Jesuits established their first mission in western Alaska. Making converts in this frozen, unforgiving corner of the world proved difficult at first.

For thousands of years, Eskimos' lives as hunters and gatherers had been ruled by Yuuyaaraq, or "the way of the human being." Yu'pik people believed that their elaborate oral traditions and spiritual beliefs helped ward off bad weather, famine and illness.

It wasn't until an influenza epidemic in 1900 wiped out more than 60% of Alaska's native population that the Jesuits began to make headway.

The Eskimo shamans seemed no match for the deadly virus. The spiritual defeat, along with encroaching Western influences, caused entire villages to convert to the new religion.

Today, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks stretches across the upper two-thirds of Alaska, a rugged chunk of territory bigger than Texas but with just 41 churches and 24 priests.

Staffing remote parishes such as those in St. Michael and Stebbins with full-time priests has proved impossible, which is why Lundowski and other volunteers played a key role in village ministries.

Just 200 miles below the Arctic Circle, the wind-swept settlements of St. Michael Island sit 12 miles apart on a rugged section of coast where the tundra meets the Bering Sea. They are accessible only by small plane or, when the ice melts on Norton Sound, by boat.

In summer, the island is a place of great beauty. Wildflowers blanket the rolling hills, and the occasional Beluga whale swims among schools of herring and king salmon in the dark blue sea.

In the winter, the remote Alaskan villages of St. Michael and Stebbins are accessible only by small plane or, when the ice melts on Norton Sound, by boat. A 12-mile-long gravel road also links the villages. 

In winter, the landscape becomes a white, windy Arctic desert, and even the sea freezes for months on end.

Lundowski arrived in 1968, at the end of a long personal odyssey. An orphan, he was raised in West Virginia by his aunt. During World War II, he served in the Army under Gen. George Patton in North Africa and Europe, former associates said.

After the war, he lived at a Trappist monastery in Oregon and worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska before volunteering to help Father George Endal, a Jesuit priest, in several Eskimo villages.

Father Endal was responsible for St. Michael, Stebbins and a third settlement, Unalakleet, 45 minutes away by plane. Villagers said that for long stretches of time, he left parish affairs on St. Michael Island in the hands of Lundowski and another lay missionary.

Though Lundowski was never ordained, he assumed the role of a Catholic priest.

Villagers said he wore vestments and held Sunday services, gave homilies, taught catechism, baptized children, officiated at weddings and performed burial services at a hillside cemetery, where digging a grave required breaking through six feet of frozen tundra with picks and shovels.
Lundowski started molesting boys soon after he arrived, according to legal documents. Joseph Steve, a slight, soft-spoken man in his mid-50s, believes he was the missionary's first target.

Then 17 and a devout Catholic, Steve had volunteered to help Lundowski teach catechism classes at St. Bernard Church in Stebbins.

One afternoon, he said, Lundowski asked him to stay after class and wash some dishes. "He sneaked up on me," Steve said. "He pulled my pants down and penetrated me."

"I never finished the dishes," he said.

Lundowski had daily access to the village children, teaching them catechism and holding afternoon recreation sessions in the "monkey rooms," as parish play areas were called.

Kobuk said he attended Lundowski's catechism classes at the St. Michael parish beginning at age 12.

One day, after Kobuk recited the Ten Commandments and sang "This Is the Day the Lord Has Made," Lundowski told him to stay after class. After the other boys left, Lundowski locked the doors and lowered the window shades, Kobuk said.

"I was scared and asked him what he was going to do, and he says, 'You'll see,' " Kobuk recalled.

Kobuk said that Lundowski removed his dentures and performed oral sex on him in the missionary's rectory bedroom. Then Lundowski gave Kobuk a $20 bill—a fortune for an Eskimo boy in 1971—and told him he was a "special kid," Kobuk said.

Over the next four years, Kobuk said the missionary plied him with altar wine, sodomized him and forced him to engage in sexual acts with other Eskimo children—boys and girls.
Kobuk said that when he threatened to tell, Lundowski told him to go ahead, insisting that no one would believe a child over a man of God. Kobuk said the missionary also threatened to flunk Kobuk in catechism class.

"I was torn between getting my first Communion, the money, the alcohol and the candy, and the molestation," he said.

Another villager, Elias Pete Jr., 43, hung out at the Stebbins church on weekday afternoons and Saturdays through the winter, drawn by the warmth of its oil-burning stove. When he was 9, Pete said, Lundowski performed oral sex on him for the first of many times. Afterward, he said, the missionary gave him 25 cents that he shook out of an Easter Seal donation can.

Nicolas Pete, Elias' 41-year-old uncle, said Lundowski would threaten to take away stars that tracked his progress toward confirmation unless the boy consented to sex.

"When he was all done, he would say, 'You can keep that star,' or 'I'll give you another one.' Silver or blue, those were the high-ranking ones."

Lockwood, 48, of St. Michael, said Lundowski would drag him into the rectory bedroom, digging his meaty fingers into Lockwood's biceps hard enough to leave bruises.

"He'd block the door, and there was no way to fight that big, blubbery guy," Lockwood said.

After one attack, he said, "I showed him the bruises and said I was going to tell. But he just said, 'You're a little kid. People will just think you fell down.' "

The isolated and impoverished Eskimo villages had spotty telephone service and no police officers. But Kobuk and several others said they tried to get help. A few told their parents, who didn't believe them. Three said they reported Lundowski's conduct to Father Endal, who promised to take care of it, though the molestations continued.

Endal died in 1996 and has since been accused of molesting a minor.

"I thought [Lundowski] would get in trouble for what he was doing," said Thomas Cheemuk, who alleged that he was molested as a boy. "I couldn't figure it out. I decided one time to tell somebody, but I couldn't figure who to go to."
The end came without warning. One day, Lundowski was teaching catechism classes to the village boys. The next morning, he was gone.

Jerry Austin, who owned St. Michael's only plane, said an agitated Father Endal approached him one day in 1975 and asked him to fly Lundowski to Unalakleet the next morning.

Austin suggested Lundowski wait until later in the day, when a bush pilot was expected to fly in. "He said it would be too late," Austin recalled.

He said he agreed to make the flight as a favor to the church. "Everyone around here had heard the rumors about Lundowski," Austin said.

The next morning, Lundowski climbed into the single-propeller plane carrying only a small duffel bag. They flew in silence to Unalakleet.

With the missionary gone, most of his alleged victims set about trying to forget.

Like many others, Lockwood turned to alcohol and drugs. Because both villages are dry settlements—a fifth of hard liquor goes for $150 on the black market—Lockwood made "home brew" alcohol, a mixture of yeast, sugar and fruit juice.

"It's not good, but it does the job," Lockwood says.

Thomas Cheemuk got married, raised six children and attempted suicide three times. In 1999, his brother, John "Dunny" Cheemuk Jr., killed himself, a death Tommy attributes to the molestations.

Kobuk vented his rage with a string of assaults—on fellow villagers, a church secretary and his own children. His convictions drew sentences totaling 495 days in jail.

The troubles of Lundowski's alleged victims stood out, even in the Eskimo villages of western Alaska, which have some of the highest rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, domestic violence and suicide in the world.

"They are probably the ones I arrest the most," says Theresa Kobuk, Packy's niece and St. Michael's public safety officer for the last seven years.

H. Conner Thomas, a criminal defense attorney in Nome, says he often wonders why the men of St. Michael Island seemed to have "more than their fair share of significant problems" with the law.

"This may be an explanation," he says.

Packy Kobuk was one of the only Eskimos to talk openly about what had happened. He said he spoke about the alleged abuse with at least nine priests and one nun. On three occasions, he said, he brought it up with Bishop Michael Joseph Kaniecki, who came to the village annually to perform the confirmation ceremonies.

"He would just change the subject," Kobuk said. "He didn't want me to bring it up."

The prelate has since died and church officials said they have no record of any complaints about Lundowski.

One summer evening in 2004, Kobuk saw a television news report about a sexual abuse case against a popular Nome priest. For the first time since the Catholic Church molestation scandals had erupted, someone was taking on the Alaska church.

Kobuk said he began to consider taking legal action himself.

"I wanted everyone to know that there was a lot of us involved, and the abuse happened out here too, and not just in the cities," Kobuk said.

The first lawyer he approached turned the case down, citing a conflict of interest. The rejection hit him hard.

He said he rode his four-wheel Honda ATV to a remote beach where a grizzly bear had been spotted and he followed its tracks in the sand.

"I didn't want to kill myself," Kobuk said. "I wanted an animal to do it."

After a few hours of walking and crying, he had a change of heart.

"I was saying the rosary on the way back," he recalled. "I didn't want that bear to eat me."

A week later, Kobuk saw an advertisement in the Nome Nugget: "Did You Know Joseph C. Lundowski, Also Known as Brother Joe or Deacon Joe?"

The ad read, in part: "You may be able to help several children who were possibly abused. Any information, no matter how small, can help a child seek justice and healing."

Kobuk called the number at the bottom of the ad, placed by attorney Ken Roosa.

A former state sex crimes and federal prosecutor, Roosa signed up his first client in Alaska's clergy sexual-abuse scandal in 2002. Shortly afterward, he was swamped with calls from others who said they had been abused. He brought in John Manly, a Costa Mesa attorney who had helped negotiate a record $100-million settlement for sexual-abuse suits against the Diocese of Orange County.

Since then, 85 Alaska natives from 13 villages have filed claims against the church for alleged abuse by six priests and two lay missionaries from 1956 to 1988.

The flood of allegations has led to speculation that the Eskimo settlements were a "dumping ground" for abusive priests and lay workers affiliated with the Jesuit order, which supplied priests and bishops to the Fairbanks diocese.

"It's like the French Foreign Legion—you join rather than go to prison," says Richard Sipe, a former Benedictine monk who is an authority on clergy sexual abuse and has served as an expert witness in hundreds of cases, including those in the Eskimo villages. "I was absolutely convinced this happened in Alaska."
Father John D. Whitney, chief of the Jesuits' Oregon Province, which includes Alaska, denied that known deviants were shipped there. To the contrary, Jesuit literature portrayed Alaska as "the world's most difficult mission," a prestigious assignment for the most courageous and faithful priests.

"They weren't in exile," Whitney said. "They were looked on as people who were blazing the trail for faith."
Initially, all of the Stebbins and St. Michael men wanted to remain anonymous, agreeing to file suits only under the legal pseudonym "James Doe." That changed when Kobuk came forward and encouraged others to go public as he had.

"I wanted the priests to know they had hurt us," he said, "and not just a bunch of James Does."

Now the men must prove their claims. As victims of clergy sexual abuse across the country have learned, reconstructing events that occurred decades ago in secret is a daunting task. For the Eskimos, the job was complicated by the church's initial insistence that there was no record that Lundowski had ever volunteered for the church.

The villagers and their attorneys dug through church archives, family photo albums and old letters looking for evidence.

Roosa came across a grainy copy of a 1975 church newsletter that listed participants in a training program for deacons in the Diocese of Fairbanks. It included a photo of a bald man with horn-rimmed glasses. The caption read: "Joe Lundowski, 59 yrs., Stebbins."

This was proof that the church had trained Lundowski as a deacon and knew he was serving in Stebbins.

In the same file, Roosa found a 1965 letter by a senior Jesuit stating that the church "should have gotten rid of [Lundowski] a long time ago."

The letter was written three years before Lundowski arrived in St. Michael by Father Jules M. Convert, then in charge of the Jesuits in Alaska, to Father Jack Gurr, chancellor to the bishop of Fairbanks. Convert began by asking for a shipment of food for his men and more nails to complete the building of a village church, but most of the letter was devoted to his concern about Lundowski.

Convert expressed dismay that the bishop in Fairbanks, Theodore Boileau, had moved Lundowski from one village to another after receiving "complaints" about his conduct.

Convert described Lundowski as a church volunteer and wrote that he had forbidden him to use the title "brother" because "it greatly confused the folks."

In his reply, Gurr questioned "why the Mission Superior (i.e., yourself) cannot give 'guidance' to [Jesuit priests and volunteers] on such matters. What would you do if it involved a woman? ... You should try to bring the scandal to end...."

Convert replied that he didn't have the authority to remove Lundowski, and that only the bishop could do so.

"He's a lay volunteer, sent by the bishop to Hooper Bay against what he knew to be our thinking of the fellow. I happen to know he's a possible cause of trouble, so I refer him and the case to the proper [church] authorities, for whatever action they see fit to take...."

There is no evidence that church authorities investigated the allegations. Convert himself now stands accused of molesting 20 Eskimo children.

An additional piece of evidence against Lundowski came from one of his alleged victims. The man, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is serving a prison sentence for rape in Alaska, gave the plaintiffs' lawyers a letter Lundowski had written to him in 1993.

The inmate, who asked to remain anonymous, told attorneys that he wrote Lundowski to describe the emotional turmoil he had suffered as a result of the missionary's molestations.

In a handwritten letter with a postmark from Chicago, Lundowski replied: "Your letter came to me as a shock and sadden me as to your condition. It goes without saying that if I am in anyway to blame for your illness, I apologize....

"I pray to God who relieves all illness to comfort you and to restore you to perfect health. Since I left Alaska and came [to Chicago] to work, I have accepted the Lord in a real and personal manner .... I too have suffered. Two years ago I had a heart attack with a stroke and still have limited use of my legs and arms. My prayer for myself every day is for Him to come and take me. I don't write this for sympathy, but to let you see the Lord punishes us in his own ways."

Lundowski spent the final decade of his life as the night switchboard operator at a Christian rescue mission on Chicago's South Side. He died in 1996.
Officials of the Diocese of Fairbanks and the Jesuits' Oregon Province—the two defendants in the Lundowski suits—have asked a Superior Court judge to throw out the claims.

In legal papers, they argue that the statute of limitations on the allegations has run out, and that Lundowski was an unauthorized volunteer not under the supervision of the diocese or the Jesuits.

None of the missionary's 28 accusers in St. Michael and Stebbins—nor the dozen who have filed suit from other villages in which Lundowski previously served—has received a settlement offer.

Bishop of Fairbanks Donald Kettler said the church must find a way to help any victims of abuse, but that money is a problem for his cash-strapped missionary diocese.

Whitney, head of the Jesuits' Oregon Province, said that "we're not culpable for the actions of Mr. Lundowski, who was never a Jesuit. We have a moral responsibility in our role as priests to be part of the reconciliation work of Christ."

Whitney said that reconciliation and healing would come in a relationship with God, and not in a courtroom.

"We've remained faithful to the people in the villages," Whitney said. "We haven't withdrawn or run away. We want to be companions in their pain and healing. We want to know how we can help."
On most Sunday mornings now, the Catholic church in St. Michael is nearly empty.

Packy Kobuk says he longs to go to church but cannot overcome the feeling that the elders there have turned their backs on him twice—once when he was a child and again now.

If the weather is right, he takes long strolls through the village during the church service. On his walks, he sometimes recites the Lord's Prayer or the Apostle's Creed or another of the prayers he learned in his youth, many from Joseph Lundowski.

To the Virgin Mary, he offers his own prayer.

"We need your help," he tells her.

He goes on to pray that wrongdoers will be exposed.

"I want everyone to know what happened to us here," he said. "It's been covered up too long. And I also pray for forgiveness. That's the hardest part."


Wa'laykum Salam.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Obama - The New Whore On the Block.

"The Arab Spring may have been a last chance for the US to recover its standing in the Middle East. After some hesitation, Obama realized that...

"Now he has blown it, perhaps forever. No self-respecting Arab will forgive him for plunging his knife into the back of the helpless Palestinians. All the credit the US has tried to gain in the last months in the Arab and the wider Muslim world has been blown away with one puff." (Uri Avnery)
A wonderful speech. A beautiful speech.

The language expressive and elegant. The arguments clear and convincing. The delivery flawless.

A work of art. The art of hypocrisy. Almost every statement in the passage concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a lie. A blatant lie: the speaker knew it was a lie, and so did the audience.

It was Obama at his best, Obama at his worst.

Being a moral person, he must have felt the urge to vomit. Being a pragmatic person, he knew that he had to do it, if he wanted to be re-elected.

Obama - selling America's national interests for a second term

In essence, he sold the fundamental national interests of the United States of America for the chance of a second term.

Not very nice, but that's politics, OK?

It may be superfluous - almost insulting to the reader - to point out the mendacious details of this rhetorical edifice.

Obama treated the two sides as if they were equal in strength - Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis.

But of the two, it is the Israelis - only they - who suffer and have suffered. Persecution. Exile. Holocaust. An Israeli child threatened by rockets. Surrounded by the hatred of Arab children. So sad.

The Palestinians, of course, should have a state of their own. Sure, sure. But they must not be pushy. They must not embarrass the US. They must not come to the UN. They must sit with the Israelis, like reasonable people, and work it out with them. The reasonable sheep must sit down with the reasonable wolf and decide what to have for dinner. Foreigners should not interfere.
No occupation. No settlements. No June 1967 borders. NoNakba. No Palestinian children killed or frightened. It's the straight right-wing Israeli propaganda line, pure and simple - the terminology, the historical narrative, the argumentation. The music.

Obama gave full service. A lady who provides this kind of service generally gets paid in advance. Obama got paid immediately afterwards, within the hour. Netanyahu sat down with him in front of the cameras and gave him enough quotable professions of love and gratitude to last for several election campaigns.

Mahmoud Abbas - "a tragic hero"

The tragic hero of this affair is Mahmoud Abbas. A tragic hero, but a hero nonetheless.

Many people may be surprised by this sudden emergence of Abbas as a daring player for high stakes, ready to confront the mighty US.

If Ariel Sharon were to wake up for a moment from his years-long coma, he would faint with amazement. It was he who called Mahmoud Abbas "a plucked chicken".

Yet for the last few days, Abbas was the centre of global attention. World leaders conferred about how to handle him, senior diplomats were eager to convince him of this or that course of action, commentators were guessing what he would do next. His speech before the UN General Assembly was treated as an event of consequence.

Not bad for a chicken, even for one with a full set of feathers.

His emergence as a leader on the world stage is somewhat reminiscent of Anwar Sadat.

When Gamal Abd-al-Nasser unexpectedly died at the age of 52 in 1970 and his official deputy, Sadat, assumed his mantle, all political experts shrugged.
Sadat? Who the hell is that? He was considered a no-nentity, an eternal No. 2, one of the least important members of the group of "free officers" that was ruling Egypt.

In Egypt, a land of jokes and jokers, witticisms about him abounded. One concerned the prominent brown mark on his forehead. The official version was that it was the result of much praying, hitting the ground with his forehead. But the real reason, it was told, was that at meetings, after everyone else had spoken, Sadat would get up and try to say something. Nasser would good-naturedly put his finger to his forehead, push him gently down and say: "Sit, Anwar!" 

To the utter amazement of the experts - and especially the Israeli ones - this "non-entity" took a huge gamble by starting the 1973 October War, and proceeded to do something unprecedented in history: going to the capital of an enemy country still officially in a state of war and making peace.

Abbas' status under Yasser Arafat was not unlike Sadat's under Nasser. However, Arafat never appointed a deputy. Abbas was one of a group of four or five likely successors. The heir would surely have been Abu Jihad, had he not been killed by Israeli commandoes in front of his wife and children. Another likely candidate, Abu Iyad, was killed by Palestinian terrorists. Abu Mazen (Abbas) was in a way the choice by default.

Such politicians, emerging suddenly from under the shadow of a great leader, generally fall into one of two categories: the eternal frustrated No. 2 or the surprising new leader.

The Bible gives us examples of both kinds. The first was Rehoboam, the son and heir of the great King Solomon, who told his people: "my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions". The other kind was represented by Joshua, the heir of Moses. He was no second Moses, but according to the story a great conqueror in his own right.

Modern history tells the sad story of Anthony Eden, the long-suffering No. 2 of Winston Churchill, who commanded little respect. (Mussolini called him, after their first meeting, "a well-tailored idiot".). Upon assuming power, he tried desperately to equal Churchill and soon embroiled Britain in the 1956 Suez disaster. To the second category belonged Harry Truman, the nobody who succeeded the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt and surprised everybody as a resolute leader.

Putting Palestine at the centre of world attention

Abbas looked like belonging to the first kind. Now, suddenly, he is revealed as belonging to the second. The world is treating him with newfound respect. Nearing the end of his career, he made the big gamble.

But was it wise? Courageous, yes. Daring, yes. But wise?

My answer is: yes, it was.

Abbas has placed the quest for Palestinian freedom squarely on the international table. For more than a week, Palestine has been the centre of international attention. Scores of international statesmen - and women - including the leader of the world's only superpower, have been busy with Palestine.

For a national movement, that is of the utmost importance. Cynics may ask: "So what did they gain from it?" But cynics are fools. A liberation movement gains from the very fact that the world pays attention, that the media grapple with the problem, that people of conscience all over the world are aroused. It strengthens morale at home and brings the struggle a step nearer its goal.

Oppression shuns the limelight. Occupation, settlements, ethnic cleansing thrive in the shadows. It is the oppressed who need the light of day. Abbas's move provided it, at least for the time being.
Barack Obama's miserable performance was a nail in the coffin of America's status as a superpower. In a way, it was a crime against the United States.

The Arab Spring may have been a last chance for the US to recover its standing in the Middle East. After some hesitation, Obama realized that. He called on Mubarak to go, helped the Libya-ns against their tyrant, made some noises about Bashar al-Assad. He knows that he has to regain the respect of the Arab masses if he wants to recover some stature in the region, and by extension throughout the world.

Now he has blown it, perhaps forever. No self-respecting Arab will forgive him for plunging his knife into the back of the helpless Palestinians. All the credit the US has tried to gain in the last months in the Arab and the wider Muslim world has been blown away with one puff.

All for re-election.

It was also a crime against Israel.

Israel needs peace. Israel needs to live side by side with the Palestinian people, within the Arab world. Israel cannot rely forever on the unconditional support of the declining United States.

Obama knows this full well. He knows what is good for Israel, even if Netanyahu doesn't. Yet he has handed the keys of the car to the drunken driver.

The state of Palestine will come into being. This week it was already clear that this is unavoidable. Obama will be forgotten, as will Netanyahu, Lieberman and the whole bunch.

Mahmoud Abbas - Abu Mazen, as the Palestinians call him - will be remembered. The "plucked chicken" is soaring into the sky.

Wa salamu 'alaikum.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Candy From Catholics.

You Are Not Alone
By Mark Furnish, Diocese of Rochester NY
Delivered to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child
Geneva, Switzerland
October 12, 2002


I can not change the fact that I was sexually molested by a Catholic priest.
Believe me, I have tried for the past 15 years to do just that. I spent those years in denial -- I am just now discovering the harm, pain and embarrassment this molestation has caused to my body and mind.
It was very difficult for me to tell my wife, family, friends and colleagues what happened. I have struggled with the decision to publicly come forward with my story. I don't want to do this, but I believe I have to. If my story, in some way, can prevent even one child from facing the pain of sexual abuse and the hurt of manipulation by someone they trust, than my discomfort with all of this is worth it. I firmly believe that silence, denial and the lack of action is the greatest tragedy in this entire Catholic crisis. I need to break the wall of silence.
My abuser was a master of deceit and manipulation. He knew that his role as a Catholic priest granted him instant trust by adults -- my parents included. He knew I would not question his authority at 12 years old, especially as a student taught in Catholic schools since kindergarten. He was smart enough to hide his sexual impulses under the guise of "weekend trips" with other boys at his "cottage" -- actually a small, run down two room hunting shack three hours away from my home in the middle of the woods.
I went on several of these trips. Sometimes I was molested, other times I was not -- but the pattern was always the same. The other boys and myself were allowed to drink alcohol, whisky, gin and beer were all very common -- in fact very little in the way of nonalcoholic drinks were provided to us. After dinner we would take a drive to a local bar, where Father would continue to drink into the night. After the bar visit we would all get into his car and he would drive us back to his cottage ( I vividly remember one night he was so drunk he vomited on himself while driving).
It was now time for bed -- and it became one of the most stressful parts of the evening. Most of us would sleep on the floor in the dining room -- but one of us would be chosen to sleep in Father's bed with him. Sometimes he would pick the boy to sleep with him, but most times we would be asked to choose among ourselves. If we did not make the determination quickly, Father would get upset and tell us to hurry up -- often times a flip of a coin would decide the matter.
Father's bed was quite small. He would insist that the only way I could sleep comfortably was to strip down to my underwear. He would not drop the matter until I complied with the request. He would then offer to give me a "massage" to aid in falling asleep -- he always referred to these sessions as "massages". The massage would consist of Father rubbing down my body and always ended by touching my genitals and buttocks area. Sleeping during the night was difficult, often times I would wake up because Father's hands were touching me.

The next morning Mass would be celebrated before breakfast. After breakfast we would all take turns taking the Sacrament of Confession with Father. He called these "open" confessions. These confessions involved taking a walk in the woods. Father would proceed to list off Ten Commandments asking me to list the sins I committed under each Commandment.
This would go quite quickly until we reached "Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife". He would explain that this did not just mean adultery, but any sin involving sex, including masturbation. He would then focus on intently on the subject of masturbation for the rest of the confession. If I denied I masturbated, he would say I was lying, siting some scientific "study" which indicated that 99.9% of all men masturbated. He was obsessed with the topic. The rest of the day would be a repeat of the day before.
On the way back to Rochester, Father would remind us that he trusted all of us a great deal, and "discussing" what happened at the cottage would create problems for everyone -- as it had once in the past when someone "had a big mouth". At home, I didn't volunteer facts about what occurred and since I was spending my time with a priest, my parents didn't feel the need to ask.
I went to the cottage four or five times. However, there were also trips to Toronto where "massages", trips to pornography stores and heavy drinking all occurred.
By the time I was in high school I knew enough to know that I did not enjoy these trips and refused to go on any more overnights. Although I stayed in contact with Father, occasionally going out to dinner, where he complained bitterly to me about how the Bishop was "out to get him". I grew up and went on with my life. Father performed the funeral mass for my grandmother, and I even asked him to perform my wedding ceremony (he refused.)
Why did I wait so long to come forward? Why didn't I refuse to stop going on my trips with my abuser after the first molestation? Good questions with a very simple answer. I was is extreme denial, quite common with victims of sexual abuse. These trips were a bizarre mix of alcohol, sexual molestation, normal sightseeing, and Catholicism. I had sex talks with Father under the guise of "confession", I was told the molestations were "massages" and the next morning mass was said. As a teenager, it was easy for me to convince myself nothing was wrong.
The denial worked for a long time. It wasn't until law school that I suffered from extreme panic attacks and depression. For a long time I had no idea what was the cause of them. Over the past year, the nonstop media coverage of priest abuse forced me to reflect back and I started to piece together my own story of abuse -- and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Today I am in therapy and working to help others who suffer with the same stigma.
My mother, a devout Catholic all her life has left the church. I was not only sexually abused, but spiritually abused as well.
Everyday I find out more and more about my abuser. I found out recently he was sent away for treatment and people had concerns about his unhealthy interest in youth before I was even born. Why wasn't anyone there to protect me? I also harbor guilt that I didn't speak out sooner -- might it have spared someone else from abuse?
So I want to take this awful experience and use it as a tool to warn others. The common warning we tell children is "don't take candy from strangers" -- very good advice. But we fail to realize that sexual abuse often occurs by a trusted member of that child's life -- no one should be immune from suspicion -- even your priest. Further, the negative effects of sexual abuse often do not manifest until years later -- it is important to take preventative steps before it is too late for your child.
I hope my story will help in some small way. I also want to encourage others who suffer in silence to come forward with their own stories -- you are not alone.
Wa Salamu 'Alaykum.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Fourteen Years In Gaza.

A blackout as it is, you resort to a candle to light it up. In Gaza, you light the candle up. In Gaza, you read under a faint candlelight. In Gaza, you read; in the dark, you read.
Gaza …

Fourteen years in Gaza have taught me to believe that it is inconceivable for anyone who, on a Friday morning, hasn't been walking up and down the bustling aisles of a popular market while the sweating traders, at each side of the aisle, are calling at the top of their voices in well-rhymed phrases with the prices of their commodities, it is unimaginable for them to appreciate the enormous capacity and the charming power of the small word, and that to perceive how far significant these four letters are is next to impossible.

Gaza … Fourteen years are too much to me to make me realise what an improper behaviour that is, having visited a friend, you leave your cup of tea, not untouched, but rather unfinished, your plate of candy, no matter how stuffed you are, not finished. The more heartily you devour it, the more pleased your host is.

In Gaza, you and your friends meet together at home; you take issues with them, and they yell at you, but you never yell at them; they throw the pillow behind their backs over at you, and you never respond. Meanwhile, your mother knocks on the door of the guests' room and calls out to you from behind, rebukingly bidding you to lower your voice, although she knows it for sure that your voice was hardly audible and that it is your friends who are making all this fuss. All this fuss, in Gaza, is about the day of the "Tasha" – the Arabic for a small trip inside the town – you and your friends will be going on. The trip will be to nowhere special but to a street! A mere street. All that which makes it differ from other streets is a statue standing upright in the middle of the island separating the two sides of the road; the statue is called "Al-Jundy Al-Majhoul" The street is special, for it is a little wider than all other streets in Gaza. With all these privileges, the street, therefore, becomes a destination for you and your friends; and, for its own sake, you and your friends spend hours arguing to decide on a date where everybody is free that you can gather and visit the statue, together!

Gaza …

Fourteen years have taught that I should not be staying up late at night the eve of Friday. They have taught me how much I would regret if I dared to do it. The mere thought of doing it is terrifying. In Gaza, Salatu Al-Jum'a – the Arabic for The Prayer of Friday – is most sacred above all else. In Gaza, you commit vices and crimes all week long; you commit offences and misdeeds all week long; you are a thief; you have murdered someone; you have committed adultery; and you might have just taken God's name in vain, but you do pray Salatu Al-Jum'a. In Gaza, therefore, it is never surprising why it is terrifying to think of staying up late on the eve of Friday. On Friday, in Gaza, you wake up early in the morning; and, while your mother prepares the breakfast, your sisters carry on arranging and tidying the house and its items in apple pie order unless you'll be telling them off because you have heard your mother shout at them for not doing their job right. Shortly afterwards, when you have eaten your breakfast, you settle the matter with you brothers who is first, in preparation for the prayer, will be taking a bath, after your father finishes, and who is next!

Gaza … Not so little a word before has amassed such an immense variety of meanings in between its four letters. The city and the village, the happy and the sad, the old and the small, the far and the near, the poor and the poorer, and the good and the better!

Gaza is where you are never tired of shaking hands with others. You walk alongside a friend who pauses to shake hands with a friend; and you, unknowingly, find yourself shake hands with your friend's friend; and on top of that, you answer to his inquiry about your heath: "Tamam, teslam" – I'm well, hope you are, too – as you put your hand across your chest as sort of respectable salutation.

A week or two later, while you're hurrying along the street, alone without your friend, you hear someone hailing for you from a distance. Taken aback, you fix your eyes upon the approaching object and is soon so embarrassed to discover it was your friend's friend— or rather your recent friend— whom you first met not very long ago to have forgotten him this fast. Friendly reproaching you, he'll part company with you, wholeheartedly inviting you to pay him a visit at home along with your mutual friend.

Nowhere other than Gaza are you wakened up in the early morning, rubbing your eyes, so infuriated with the thoughtlessness of whoever is ringing the doorbell unceasingly at this early hour, and you are struck to know it is your kind neighbour "Em Mazen", stretching her hands with a large-sized plate on the end, piled up with fine fresh home-made bread. Enchanted by its smell, you cannot hide your admiration towards its baker. Its smell is reminiscent of the most renowned poet of the Gazans, of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Darwish as he says: " We have on this earth what makes life worth living: April’s – hesitation, the aroma of bread at dawn … " In Gaza, at the doorstep, Em Mazen bids you a long, very long, good morning before she hands you the plate and leaves off, cheerfully as she always is.

Gaza …

The very word per se is evocative of a whole lot of irreconcilable senses: of life and death, of delight and misery, of excitement and wretchedness, of hopefulness and despair, of Hamas and Fateh; and, not understandably, of Al-Ahli and Al-Zamalek. Gaza, the word, by its own nature, and upon the mere pronunciation of it, automatically conjures up two images deeply inculcated in the memory of every Gazan: one of Fares Oda, unflinchingly facing a tank and throwing it with a stone, and the other Mohammed El-Dorra, embraced by his father, and shouting for his life. The word, although light as it seems, weighs heavily upon the heart of its enemies.

Gaza is nowhere on the earth and is everywhere on the earth. Gaza is a pun where critics stand incapable of uncovering its near meaning, and which they think is the far hidden meaning. Gaza is a pun where illiterate peasants, drivers, peddlers, teachers and engineers are more knowledgeable of puns than literary critics: Gaza the heart, and Gaza the city. No matter what distance alienate you from Gaza, you are never alienated. Gaza lives in the heart of those physically detached from her as well as she lives in the heart of those who lives on her sand.

Ghazza …

People in Gaza are synonymous of commendable naivety. Life is so easy and lovable. It is where my family visits yours when my children, out of boredom, suggest that we might break this monotonous routine of daily life by taking up this visit, and after a first feigning of feeling inclined to go on with this visit, I just let go to my children's demands and to my desires as well. Thereafter, I remember that this month is closing in its end which obviously means that I am lacking the sufficient money to buy some one or two pounds of banana so as not to visit you empty-handed, which, in Gaza, is not a very agreeable behaviour. I cancel the visit, therefore.

In Gaza is where you pick up a book to kill the ennui which has been invading your life since you've grown up and people stopped calling you "ya walad" – come on, boy – since you were that boy who used to spend the day in the streets, having a jovial time among a convivial company. You pick up the book, and as you start reading it, you remember that you have forgotten doing something without which your reading is unworkable, or let us say you will be having a hard time carrying on reading this book. The case being so, you put the book aside, get up, and head towards the kitchen in order to make yourself a mug of strong tea with mermeria (sage). While you run your eyes over the lines one following the other, your mug of tea remains untouched. It is cold, now. The weather is awfully hot. And the sun is sinking behind the horizon in silence. And the power just goes off. A power outage. In Gaza, power outages control you and your life; they control your sleeping and your reading. In Gaza, no schedule is set without the power outages there in your mind, humiliatingly restricting you to their oppressive rules.

Gaza …

A blackout as it is, you resort to a candle to light it up. In Gaza, you light the candle up. In Gaza, you read under a faint candlelight. In Gaza, you read; in the dark, you read.

Mohammed Rabah Suliman


Palestinian Statehood.

10:42PM BST 20 Sep 2011.
Riyad al-Maliki, the foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority, said that seven UN Security Council members had pledged to endorse an application for statehood.
The support of nine of the 15 countries on the council would require the United States into the uncomfortable position of using its veto, which it is entitled to as one of the five permanent members but wants to avoid given the new mood in the Arab world and President Barack Obama's vocal support for the eventual outcome of a Palestinian state.
Mr Obama will meet both Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, in New York on Wednesday in last minute efforts to forge a compromise.
The likes of Nigeria, Gabon and Bosnia have become unlikely kingmakers in one of the most explosive issues addressed at the UN for decades, with their votes being eagerly courted by both the Palestinians and the Americans. All three countries are serving as non-permanent members of the council, which is empowered to welcome new countries into the 193-member world body.
"I hope that the United States will change its position and follow the majority of countries which want to support the Palestinian right to self-determination and an independent state," said Mr Maliki."
"There is a lot of talking going on and a lot of arms being twisted. This will probably go right down to the wire," he said.
Mr Abbas has vowed to present the application for statehood on Friday when he addresses world leaders gathered for the UN's annual general assembly.
He has argued that the Palestinians have no choice but to pursue nation status after peace talks with the Israelis aimed at creating a viable Palestinian state from the West Bank and Gaza collapsed last year.
Only three states, the US, Germany and Colombia, have said they would oppose the Palestinian proposal. According to one official at the UN, the Palestinians already have eight votes, with Nigeria and Gabon are already on board, along with Russia, China, South Africa, Brazil, Lebanon and India, leaving Bosnia as the effective casting vote. But assessments of current voting intentions vary.
Britain, France and Portugal have not declared their intentions, but would probably vote no out of loyalty to the United States. They hope to avoid a security council vote through efforts by the European Union and the Quartet mediation group on the Middle East to broker a compromise.
The Quartet is working on a joint statement that would include an upgrading of the Palestinian Authority's status at the UN, a recognition of Israel as a "nation state for the Jewish people" and a time frame for resumed negotiations.
Shortly before a meeting with Mr Abbas, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, admitted "no progress" had been made on the statement in the previous 24 hours.
"We are all talking about how we can get the Israelis and Palestinians back into negotiations. That's the object of all the European Union countries," he said.
Another possibility for compromise is that the security council would set up a committee to examine the merits of the Palestinian application, delaying a vote for weeks or even months while the two sides started talking again.
The likelihood is however that after decades of conflict and occupation, the Palestinians will submit their request for statehood, despite threats from the US Congress to cut off funds to the PA, and despite warnings that trouble could flare quickly on the ground.
Yesterday Jewish settlers marched through the northern West Bank in various locations in protest, throwing rocks at Palestinian homes and people.
"This is our land, and there will never be a Palestinian state on the homeland of the Jewish people," said Michael Ben Ari, the ultranationalist member of parliament who led a march in Beit El.
World leaders meanwhile used the UN summit to welcome Libyan leaders who deposed Col Muammar Gaddafi. Meeting interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil for the first time, Mr Obama warned that Nato would continue to carry out their campaign of air strikes where civilians were "threatened". The National Transitional Council also received the welcome boost of the African Union and South Africa recognising them.
Wa'laykum Salam.
* The map above shows the land that Palestinians lost to the enemy.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Nazism & Christianity.

I take the Bible, and all evening long I read the simplest and greatest sermon that has ever been given to mankind: The Sermon on the Mount! 'Blessed are they who suffer persecution for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'!
-- Joseph Goebbels
When today a clique accuses us of having anti-Christian opinions, I believe that the first Christian, Christ himself, would discover more of his teaching in our actions than in this theological hair-splitting.
-- Joseph Goebbels
I swear before God this holy oath, that I shall give absolute confidence to the Fuehrer of the German Reich and people.
-- Heinrich Himmler, reminding his hearers about the oath taken by all SS men as well as by the military forces
An early member of the Nazi party and one of its principle leaders, [Hermann] Göring founded the Gestapo and served as the Reichsluftfahrtminister of the Luftwaffe.
With the Catholic Church the Führer ordered a concordat to be concluded by Herr Von Papen. Shortly before that agreement was concluded by Herr Von Papen I visited the Pope myself. I had numerous connections with the higher Catholic clergy because of my Catholic mother, and thus-- I am myself a Protestant-- I had a view of both camps.
-- Hermann Göring (Trial of The Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 1945, Vol.9)
God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he [Hitler] was sent to us by God to save Germany.
-- Hermann Göring
No matter what human beings do I shall some day stand before the judgement seat of the Eternal. I shall answer to Him, and I know he will judge me innocent.
-- Rudolf Hess, in a statement to the Nuremberg Tribunal
Erich Koch ... functioned as President of the East Prussian Protestant Church Synod when the Third Reich began. He founded his own regional variation of the German Christians (Deutsche Christen) party.
We commit ourselves, and we demand this commitment not only from the elected representatives of the church, but above all from all Protestant men and women, to service in our communities! We want to serve: through tireless recruitment to our worship; through chivalrous intervention for the poor and needy, through defence of our faith;... through true Evangelical witness in public.
-- Erich Koch
The Protestant League stands very close to the NSDAP. It is consciously German and, through moral and religious power, wants to contribute to the building up of the German people.
-- Hans Schemm
It is henceforth the goal of the Education Ministry that every child in Bavarian schools shall be made familiar with the principles of the Christian and national state.... Religious instruction is nothing other than service to the soul of children. Faith in God and the personality of the teacher must be expressed in a realistic instruction filled with religious sincerity.
-- Hans Schemm
May God save Germany!
-- Joachim Ribbentrop, [fanatical Nazi and anti-Semite] his last words before his hanging
Now it goes to God!
-- Julius Streicher, as he mounted the gallows platform to his death

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Get Rid Of The Palestinians.

“The aim of the [Jewish National] Fund was ‘to redeem the land of Palestine as the inalienable possession of the Jewish people.’...As early as 1891, Zionist leader Ahad Ha’am wrote that the Arabs “understood very well what we were doing and what we were aiming at’...[Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, stated] ‘We shall try to spirit the penniless [Arab] population across the border by procuring employment for it in transit countries, while denying it employment in our own country... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly’...At various locations in northern Palestine Arab farmers refused to move from land the Fund purchased from absentee owners, and the Turkish authorities, at the Fund’s request, evicted them...The indigenous Jews of Palestine also reacted negatively to Zionism. They did not see the need for a Jewish state in Palestine and did not want to exacerbate relations with the Arabs.”
John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

21 Sexual Predators - Beware.

Al Salamu 'Alaykum.
The 21 catholic priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children and have been suspended by the Catholic church have been named. These worthies and their haunts are as follows:
  1. Philip Barr, Pastor Emeritus, St. Edmond's, Philadelphia
  2. John Bowe, Saint Joseph's, Warrington, Pa.
  3. George Cadwallader, Saint Vincent De Paul, Richboro, Pa.
  4. Paul Castellani, Saint Philomena's, Lansdowne, Pa.
  5. Michael Chapman, Ascension of Our Lord, Philadelphia
  6. Msgr. John Close
  7. Msgr. Francis Feret, Saint Adalbert's, Philadelphia
  8. Mark Fernandes, Saint Agnes, Sellersville, Pa.
  9. Msgr. Michael Flood, Saint Luke the Evangelist, Glenside, Pa.
  10. Mark Gaspar, Our Lady of Charity, Brookhaven, Pa.
  11. Joseph Glatts
  12. Steven Harris
  13. Daniel Hoy, Retired, Our Lady of the Assumption Rectory, Strafford, Pa.
  14. Msgr. Joseph Logrip, Saint Stanislaus, Lansdale, Pa.
  15. Andrew McCormick, Sacred Heart, Swedesburg, Pa.
  16. Zachary Navit, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doylestown, Pa.
  17. Leonard Peterson, Saint Maria Goretti, Hatfield, Pa.
  18. Robert Povish, Chaplain, State Correctional Institute, Graterford
    Saint Eleanor Rectory, Collegeville, Pa.
  19. John Reardon, Saint John Of The Cross Rectory, Roslyn, Pa.
  20. Thomas Rooney
  21. Peter Talocci
You can read the entire article here: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Philly-Archdiocese-Suspends-21-Priests-117611144.html
Wa'laykum Salam.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The West Does Not Know Islam.

Al Salamu 'Alaykum.

In the words of Swiss journalist and author, Roger Du Pasquier “The West, whether Christian or dechristianised, has never really known Islam. Ever since they watched it appear on the world stage, Christians never ceased to insult and slander it in order to find justification for waging war on it. It has been subjected to grotesque distortions the traces of which still endure in the European mind. Even today there are many Westerners for whom Islam can be reduced to three ideas: fanaticism, fatalism and polygamy. Of course, there does exist a more cultivated public whose ideas about Islam are less deformed; there are still precious few who know that the word islam signifies nothing other than ‘submission to God’. One symptom of this ignorance is the fact that in the imagination of most Europeans, Allah refers to the divinity of the Muslims, not the God of the Christians and Jews; they are all surprised to hear, when one takes the trouble to explain things to them, that ‘Allah’ means ‘God’, and that even Arab Christians know him by no other name. “

Wa salamu 'alaykum.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Islam Only For Arabs?

Al Salamu 'Alaykum.

One common myth among non-Muslims is that all or most Muslims are Arabs. This is untrue. While it is true that the last Prophet, Muhammad (saws) was born in Arabia and the Islamic faith spread from there, it is also true that the Muslim community is a global community, alhamdulillah and its largest portion is in the Far East rather than in Arabia. Also, there are more Muslims in China than in Syria and in Germany than in Lebanon.
Approximately 62% of the world’s Muslims live in Asia with the largest Muslim country by population being Indonesia. Indonesia has approximately 200 million Muslims and accounts for 13% of the world’s Muslim population.

Arab Muslims account for only 20% of the entire Ummah and in the Middle East, two non-Arab countries, Turkey and Iran are the largest Muslim majority countries. Islam is also the predominant religion of North Africa. Egypt and Nigeria have the most populous Muslim communities in Africa.

The following figures are based on the demographic study by the Pew Research Center report of Mapping the Global Muslim Population, as of 8 October 2009:

Asia Pacific: 972,537,000
Middle East-North Africa: 315,322,000
Sub-Saharan Africa: 240,632,000
Europe: 38,112,000
Americas: 4,596,000
Total: 1,571,198,000.

The top twenty Muslim countries by Population are as follows:

1. Indonesia.
2. Pakistan.
3. India.
4. Bangladesh.
5. Egypt.
6. Turkey.
7. Iran.
8. China.
9. Nigeria.
10. Ethiopia.
11. Morocco.
12. Algeria.
13. Afghanistan.
14. Sudan.
15. Saudi Arabia.
16. Iraq.
17. Uzbekistan.
18. Yemen.
19. Syria.
20. Tanzania.

And that puts that particular myth to rest.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Muslim_population

Wa'laykum Salam.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Palestine Is Ours.

Al Salamu 'Alaykum.
The following is the introduction of the booklet, "The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict" by Jews for Justice in the Middle East. Everyone should download this booklet and read it. It is available on the following page: http://ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html
Jazakallahu khayra.
"The standard Zionist position is that they showed up in Palestine in the late 19th century to reclaim their ancestral homeland. Jews bought land and started building up the Jewish community there. They were met with increasingly violent opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, presumably stemming from the Arabs’ inherent anti-Semitism. The Zionists were then forced to defend themselves and, in one form or another, this same situation continues up to today.
The problem with this explanation is that it is simply not true, as the documentary evidence in this booklet will show. What really happened was that the Zionist movement, from the beginning, looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population so that Israel could be a wholly Jewish state, or as much as was possible. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never be sold or even leased back to Arabs (a situation which continues to the present).
The Arab community, as it became increasingly aware of the Zionists’ intentions, strenuously opposed further Jewish immigration and land buying because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Arab society in Palestine. Because of this opposition, the entire Zionist project never could have been realized without the military backing of the British. The vast majority of the population of Palestine, by the way, had been Arabic since the seventh century A.D. (Over 1200 years)
In short, Zionism was based on a faulty, colonialist world view that the rights of the indigenous inhabitants didn’t matter. The Arabs’ opposition to Zionism wasn’t based on anti-Semitism but rather on a totally reasonable fear of the dispossession of their people.
One further point: being Jewish ourselves, the position we present here is critical of Zionism but is in no way anti-Semitic. We do not believe that the Jews acted worse than any other group might have acted in their situation. The Zionists (who were a distinct minority of the Jewish people until after WWII) had an understandable desire to establish a place where Jews could be masters of their own fate, given the bleak history of Jewish oppression. Especially as the danger to European Jewry crystalized in the late 1930’s and after, the actions of the Zionists were propelled by real desperation.
But so were the actions of the Arabs. The mythic “land without people for a people without land” was already home to 700,000 Palestinians in 1919. This is the root of the problem, as we shall see."
'Alaykum Salam.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Children Of Incest - The Early Popes.

Al Salamu 'Alaykum.
Some quotes showing the profanity and perversion of the Popes from the year 189 to 816.

VICTOR 189-198 Friends with the lewdest concubine in Emperor Commodus' palace, which he frequently visited. [From: How Christianity Grew Out of Paganism, by Joseph McCabe]

CALLISTUS 217-222 Had embezzled bank money and was jailed prior to his stint as Bishop of Rome (Pope). [From: How Christianity Grew Out of Paganism, by Joseph McCabe]

MARCELLINUS 296-304 Though still regarded as both Saint and Martyr in official Catholic literature, Catholic historian Duchesne proves that he died in bed (thus he was not a martyr). And the official Papal Chronicle admits that he abjured (renounced) the Christian faith. [From: A Rationalist Encyclopaedia by historian and former Franciscan monk Joseph McCabe]

DAMASUS I 366-383 Renounced his wife and kids when he became Pope, after seizing the throne through the use of violence. He also encouraged the budding fraudulent relic industry. When pope, he introduced the first heresy bull and yet consorted with the "principle females of the city" [Sex Lives of the Popes, Nigel Cawthorne].
Damasus ("the tickler of matrons' ears," as some of his priests called him)
-- The Story of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe
Tried and found guilty of adultery but on the intervention of the Emperor Gratian, was acquitted. Canonised after his death and now regarded a Saint. (Hilarious)

SIXTUS III 432-440 Tried for seducing a nun. In the absence of witnesses, he could not be convicted. He nevertheless hinted at an admission of his guilt by alluding to Jesus' statement on adultery, where no one should cast stones unless one is free of sin.

LEO I 440-461 "A warped, sadistic torturer" "who brutally tortured" [Sex Lives of the Popes, Nigel Cawthorne] the followers of Manichaeanism which had been declared a heresy. He had at least two children on becoming Pope. He was the first Pope to claim the right to put anyone who disagreed with him to death.
This Church Father, Saint and Pope,
Leo I was the first in a long line of popes to arrange for punishment of heresy and all beliefs other than Christianity. Having no legal authority of his own, Leo I induced the Emperor's edict to punish and pursue the Pelagianists, the Priscillianists in Spain, and the Manichaeans in the whole Roman empire, the first organized persecution of Christians by Christians. The infamous edict was even written in the papal secretariate.
At the same time bishop Optatus of Mileve called for capital punishment of the Donatists, another Christian sect of the time.
[Link, referencing Abermals krähte der Hahn by Karlheinz Deschner]

GREGORY I 590-604 He was the first pope to enter the relic industry. He convinced the nobleman Dynamius that the cross he sold him (for lots of money) contained the 'filings' from chains worn by the blessed Apostle, St Peter himself, and that it would therefore free Dynamius forever from sins. After this first marketing success, the Pope embarked on duping more gullible Christians by selling them the "keys of St Peter 'wherein are found the precious filings and which by the same token also remit sins'" [Holy Horrors by James A. Haught].
...he [Gregory] laid the foundation of the temporal power and wealth of the Papacy through this fortunate belief of his that the end of the world was really approaching at last. A man with possessions, the Bible said, had as much hope of getting through the eye of a needle as of getting through the narrow gate of heaven. So the men who had large estates in Italy passed them over to the Papacy and looked for the heavens to open.
Pope Gregory ... was the greatest slave-owner in the world in the sixth century. Announcing that the end of the world was to come in 600 A.D., he kindly allowed land-owners and slave-owners to hand over their property to the Church -- God would not damn the Church for its wealth -- and enter monasteries. The Papacy soon had an income from land, of about two million dollars a year; a stupendous sum in those impoverished days. Enormous numbers of slaves tilled the eighteen hundred square miles of the Church's property. Gregory freed them occasionally: when they got money. He never condemned slavery. He would not allow any slave to become a cleric, and he expressly reaffirmed (Epp. vii, 1) that no slave could marry a free Christian.
-- The Story Of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe, historian and former Franciscan monk
Pope Gregory the Great also opposed secular learning and had Rome's last collections of old Roman works destroyed:
He heard that Bishop Desiderius, of Vienne in Gaul, was conducting a small school, and he wrote him a letter (Migne edition, bk. XI, ep. liv) of which I may translate a passage:
After that we heard a thing that cannot be repeated without a feeling of shame -- namely, that you are teaching grammar to some. This troubled us so greatly, and filled us with so deep a disdain, that we fell from our former praise of you to mourning and sorrow, because the praise of Jove must never be heard from the mouth that praises Christ. Think how grave and horrible it is for a bishop to repeat what even a religious layman should not. And, though our beloved son the presbyter Candidus denied the affair, at our pressing inquiry, and tried to excuse you, ye have not lost the suspicion, because it is so execrable for this to be said of a priest that it must be strictly investigated.
Desiderius is, in fine, to give up "studying trifles and secular letters" if he is to return to the Pope's favor. ...The bishop's fault was, pure and simple, that he was teaching "profane letters."
After Gregory's death there was a tradition in the Church, reproduced in the "Polycraticus" (ii, 26) of John Salisbury, that the Pope had burned the old Roman libraries which still remained on the Capitoline and the Palatine Hills. I have little doubt that the tradition is correct.
... The Julian library at Rome (which, with others, the Pope is said to have burned) contained one hundred and twenty thousand books.
-- The Story Of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe, historian and former Franciscan monk

HONORIUS I 625-638 The first pope to be branded a heretic - a shame as he was one of the better Popes. "He was condemned as a heretic by the 6th general council", according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. He shared the views of the heretical Monophysites who denied the Incarnation of Christ and believed only in the divine nature of Christ.

LEO III 795-816 Created a spiritual cesspool. Following this Pope's rule, the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle of 836 CE stated that many monasteries had become the haunts of homosexuals and that many convents had become little more than brothels where unwanted babies were killed and buried. The church introduced laws banning priests' mothers, aunts or sisters from living in the houses of priests, since even relatives of the clergy were unsafe as incest was so rife.

Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji'oon.

Wa Salamu 'Alaykum.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Judaism's Real Face.

Better a Jew

For the growing minority of non-Jews living in Israel, a sense of belonging can be impossible to achieve.

By Nicky Blackburn

Just recently, former MK Michael Kleiner described non-Jewish immigrants to Israel as "dirty water." He applied the metaphor to Russian immigrants, but his racist statement was also aimed at me. The only difference is that I'm the dirty water that slopped in from England, not Russia. Kleiner's comments are not unusual in Israel. For years now I've been listening to politicians, public officials, even ordinary people spilling out bile toward the non-Jewish citizens of the country.
Living in Israel as a gentile is not an easy experience. There is always someone out there to remind you that not only do you not belong, but that in some way you are polluting the purity of the country. During my early years in Israel, the first question people asked me was whether or not I was Jewish. It was like an obsession. In taxicabs, at bus stops, at interviews, at work, even in the supermarket, the question followed me everywhere and anywhere. "Are you Jewish?" I lied about it twice. The first time to a taxi driver. He eyed me suspiciously and then launched into a tirade about his brother who had married a goy and gone to live in America. "It's people like him who are destroying the Jewish race," he told me angrily, his eyes locked on mine in the mirror. "I cannot forgive him."
The second time I was standing in a queue at a public toilet. I was six months pregnant and the toilet attendant, an elderly man with a stoop, shuffled over to me. "Where are you from?" he asked. "England, but I live here now," I replied in Hebrew. "Are you Jewish?" he asked. "Yes," I said, hoping to put the whole conversation to rest. Instead the man took my hand, and with tears in his eyes thanked me for moving to Israel, and for bearing this child here in the Jewish homeland. I never lied about it again.
I met my Israeli husband in India in 1990. We lived in England for a few years and then decided to move to Israel and get married. Before we left, my husband asked if I would convert to Judaism. He told me it was important for both him and his family. I agreed. I'm not a practicing Christian. I only went to church on special occasions. My faith went so far as the morning assembly at my Church of England school and the Lord's Prayer. I was open to Judaism. I thought that becoming Jewish would be an intellectual and emotional challenge. I thought it would bring me closer to my husband's family and my new way of life. I expected it to give me great insight into the Jewish people. In retrospect it did, but certainly not in the positive way I was anticipating.
My first encounter with Orthodox Judaism came in London, where I approached a rabbi who worked with university students. He gave me a handwriting test and after examining my graphic flourishes, said he would be happy to teach me. The first week he talked about the laws pertaining to the physical relationship between married couples. The following weeks the subject was the same. The rabbi complimented me on my eyes, commented on my appearance, and told me his wife was eight months pregnant. I grew uncomfortable and soon stopped going.
`Just a game'
My husband and I moved to Israel in 1993. We got married in a civil ceremony in Cyprus, and then a year later married in Britain. We also wanted to have a wedding in Israel, but decided to delay it until I became Jewish.
We applied to the rabbinate in Jerusalem. I sat with my husband in the corridor waiting to see a rabbi. The mood in the halls was tense.
"Don't let them see you're nervous," one young conversion candidate advised me. "They'll never let you through if they think they've got you scared."
"You just have to play a game with them," another would-be convert agreed. "Don't tell them anything other than what you have to. Don't give anything away."
Half way through our long wait, a girl burst out of a room sobbing furiously. "I've been studying a year and a half. I've taken test after test and they still tell me that I'm not committed," she wailed.
After talking with the rabbi, my husband and I realized that it would be impossible to convert this way. We were already married and our lifestyle in Tel Aviv was far from that required by the Orthodox. We started looking for alternatives, and found a rabbi who would be willing to help me convert for NIS 600 a week.
The rabbi lived in an Orthodox suburb in the hills surrounding Jerusalem. Twice a week we sat in his tiny, dark apartment studying at the dining room table. Whenever I asked a question he would snap at me angrily. "Don't ask questions. It's a matter of faith. You're not supposed to understand. You're just supposed to believe." Sometimes he would ask a question and as I made to reply, he would bark out "wrong!"
Whenever possible, he criticized the Christian religion. He told me it had been set up for people who were too lazy to live by Jewish rules, by people looking for an easy life. On one occasion he told me that Baruch Goldstein should be praised for killing 29 Arabs in an attack in Hebron in 1994.
Throughout those awful weekly meetings I kept quiet. I gritted my teeth, studied the books, paid him the money and did not say a word. Inside, however, I began to seethe. I was sickened by his hypocrisy. He set himself up as a man of faith, then took our money without a moment's hesitation. The more I learned about the Jewish religion in Israel, the more I realized how rife it was with corruption. The media was full of stories about Orthodox figures taking bribes, about scams and dodges carried out in the name of religion. And worse than that, it was like an open secret. Everyone knew about it, they even laughed about it, but no one was prepared to do anything to stop it. Instead they insisted that it was vital that I become Jewish.
After a while I began to question this insistence. No one actually cared whether I believed in Judaism or not, not even the rabbi. No one cared whether I'd continue to celebrate Christmas or any other Christian holidays. When I told Israeli friends that I felt this was morally wrong, many sympathized, but others dismissed my fears. "It's just a game," they'd say. "Don't even think about it." All anyone seemed to care about was that it would say Jewish on my ID card, and that somehow, therefore, I would fit in.
As time went by, I became increasingly distressed. I was shocked by the discrimination I saw around me toward anyone who was not Jewish. In my office, colleagues called me "shiksa" and "goy" as if it were a joke. They made comments about my non-Jewish appearance. Readers wrote letters of complaint if newspapers dared run adverts for Christmas festivities. The media was constantly running stories about how the Jewish race was being destroyed by assimilation. A cartoon published in 1996 showed a man sitting at a table. "The two major threats to Jewish continuity today are - terrorism and assimilation!" he said. "Or, in other words, the non-Jews who want to kill us - and the non-Jews who want to marry us."
Facing facts
I continued visiting the rabbi, but he began to grow uneasy as stories about corruption in the conversion process began to leak to the press. Finally he told me that he could no longer help. "You're not prepared to suffer enough to become Jewish," he said.
We next tried a rabbinical court lawyer in Jerusalem, a man with good connections to Shas. He offered to convert me for a large sum of money. We met him in a hotel on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He asked me about Jewish friends, about any connections I had with Judaism as a child. After some coaxing, I realized he was not after the truth, just some fabricated story about how, even as a child, I had always wanted to be a Jew. He told my husband to gather certificates and documents showing that I bought my meat only from Kosher butchers, that I attended synagogue, and was following the rules of the Orthodox way.
By the time we left the hotel I knew that I did not want to be Jewish. I bitterly regretted my decision. I was antagonistic and hostile. I did not want to lie or cheat anymore. Not long afterward we were given details of a rabbi in Paris who would convert me for $5,000 in a simple, one-day process. By then, however, it was too late. I was so ashamed of the whole process that I could not go through with it. I felt that by converting I would actually be committing a sin. I decided, however hard it would be, that Israel would have to accept me as I was.
My husband's family took the decision badly. They felt I had cheated and manipulated them, and for a long time afterward their frustration spilled over into our relationship. Very few people here understood me. Some Israeli friends felt I was making an unwarranted fuss about something very minor, while at the same time admitting that they would never dream of changing their own religion.
For years after this experience, my bitterness and resentment continued to seethe. I felt let down by the country. Before arriving here, I believed that the terrible suffering the Jews have experienced over the centuries would have created a nation where tolerance and understanding was prized. Instead, I found a society full of prejudice and bigotry.
Today, my anger has given way to some kind of understanding. Israel is a young and diverse society struggling for a national identity in the face of wave after wave of mass immigration from different countries. The only glue that holds this country together is its Jewish identity, and even this glue is not particularly strong. It is never easy to accept outsiders when a society is so deeply divided. Nor is it simple to welcome strangers when Israel is still viewed as a safe haven for Jews in an increasingly anti-Semitic world.
But Israel must face facts. Today there is a growing minority of non-Jews who live within the Israeli community. We are full members of this society and yet we are still denied some very basic human rights. My two sons, for instance, can serve in the army, they can pay taxes, but they cannot marry here, nor can they be buried alongside Jewish friends or partners. Like me, they will spend their lives listening to constant sniping remarks by politicians and officials who feel they are second class citizens, the dirty water that slipped in on a wave of immigration. They too may have to listen to jokes about goys, sarcastic comments about their parental heritage, and have doubts raised about their Israeli identity.
This, however, is a mistake. Today there are 50,000 Russian immigrants living in Israel who identify themselves as Christian, and another 270,000 who are not Jewish according to halakha. While some of them have given up and left Israel, in a few cases even seeking asylum in England on the grounds of religious persecution, the rest are here to stay. Israel must make a decision. Does it want yet another alienated minority, or does it want full citizens who feel a real bond to their country?
In the wake of all this, it is hard to understand why the Orthodox community is so determined to make conversion such an unpleasant process. Every year thousands apply to convert, but only a small number make it through. Assimilation today is a major problem for diaspora Jews. Experts are beginning to realize that it is also a growing problem within Israel. At a recent conference, Dr. Asher Cohen, of Bar-Ilan University's Institute for the Study of Assimilation, reported that the present rate of intermarriage in Israel stands at 10 percent, and is rising. Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun, head of the Kibbutz Hadati Yeshiva, also told participants that rabbis who ease the conversion process and promote mass conversion, are actually preserving Judaism.
Instead of welcoming new converts, however, Judaism shows them its worst face. Potential converts are too often met with narrow-mindedness, corruption, and distrust.
While some people undertake conversion with a full heart, many others view it as a game in which you cheat and lie to win.
Had I been met with understanding, then perhaps I would be Jewish now, and so would my two children. For Israel, it was a missed opportunity. Instead of teaching me to respect the religion, I learned instead to despise its protagonists. My children are growing up as Israelis. Their overwhelming identification is as Jews. But they also celebrate Christmas and Easter. If they ever decide they want to convert, I will support them, but there's no doubt my experiences will shape what I tell them about the Orthodox religion.
Today, I have no real idea of what it will mean to bring up two non-Jewish children in Israel. Perhaps as they get older they will be bullied by classmates, perhaps they will be accepted unquestioningly, perhaps they will feel they do not belong. Much depends on where we live and where they go to school. Much also depends on how Israel develops once the war with the Palestinians is finally concluded.
In the last few years, I have noticed a change in Israel's character, a growing maturity and tolerance within the secular population. Israelis today are more willing to accept people who are different. Certainly things for me have changed. I now have a warm relationship with my parents-in-law, whom I love dearly, and people rarely ask if I'm Jewish.
Despite that, however, I still feel like an outsider. At Christmas I bring out my tree and decorate the house, but inside I feel it's almost an act of defiance. A few years ago, a co-worker arrived in the office fuming because hotels in Jerusalem had put up Christmas trees. I told her that I put up a tree every year. "Well I hope you shut your curtains," she said bitterly. "It's not right that people in your neighborhood should have to see it. When you live here you should respect our beliefs." I was deeply distressed by her prejudice, but the awful truth is that I really have begun to feel that my religion should be hidden away behind curtains.
Just a few weeks ago I had another reminder. I was writing an article on Tekes, a new alternative Israeli organization set up to provide secular ceremonies for Jews who cannot, or do not want to, undergo an Orthodox ceremony. I suggested to the founder that I might also write up the article for a newspaper here. He hesitated for a few moments, and then said: "No offense, but I think it would be better if a Jew wrote the story."
Wa'laykum Salam.