Pope Benedict To Be Given Global Immunity From Catholic Church Sex Crime Prosecution

From: the freethought express

By: Dorian Staten

Pope Benedict turned a blind eye to Catholic priests molesting boys, then avoided charges due to diplomatic immunity, and will have police protection and continued immunity after he steps down as Pope. That’s one helluva lot more protection than the victims he ignored ever received.

From Reuters:

  • “His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn’t have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Defenseless? Like the young boys who were raped by priests? Go on…

  • “It is absolutely necessary” that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a “dignified existence” in his remaining years.

Ah, yes. A ‘dignified existence.’ Just like all the victims of Catholic priest molestation who hanged themselves. Please, tell me more.

  • The final key consideration is the pope’s potential exposure to legal claims over the Catholic Church‘s sexual abuse scandals.

Oh those pesky sexual abuse lawsuits. Who wants to have to deal with all that nonsense? Certainly not the high and mighty ex-Pope.

While the victims the Pope turned a blind eye to try to put the pieces of their lives back together, the Pope will be living high off the hog with protection and diplomatic immunity. It’s one old, pious, delusional man’s middle finger to every one of the Catholic Church’s sexual assault victims.

Emphasis Mine



‘Religious Freedom’: Constitutional Principle or Electoral Politics?

From: Religion Dispatches


N.B.: This is why separation of Church/State is more important than ever.

  • On Thursday the Catholic bishopslaunched the Fortnight for Freedom, the grassroots phase of their campaign to gain official religious status for hospitals, universities and social service agencies they neither control nor support financially. That status, as has been widely noted, would exempt these organizations from the administration’s requirement that an employer’s health insurance plan cover contraceptives, with no copay or other costs to the employee. But the longer term goal is to legally shore up the contention that every organization and employer, religious or not, has the right to refuse to comply with any public policies they claim trouble their conscience.The bishops’ ham-handed lobbying, extreme language and unyielding position have not helped their cause. Bishop Daniel Jenky compared the president to Hitler; Cardinal Dolan of New York insisted that Obama was trying to “strangle” the Catholic church; and others have claimed that they would be forced to stop providing health care rather than comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement.Nor has the bishops’ cause been helped by the fact that just about everyone understands that Catholics have a right to disagree with the church’s position on contraception, and that providing someone with the means to obtain something that they have a moral right to obtain is also theologically sound practice.Two weeks of church-sponsored rallies, masses, marches and educational symposia are not going to influence the Obama administration to change its mind about the definition of who is entitled to an exemption from public health policy it deems important to women’s health and society. There are just far too many unintended pregnancies that end in either abortion or children poorly cared for to ignore the problem.

    If the bishops, who are so unpopular, were the only worry, the exemption would stay narrow—or be narrowed even further. However, just before the Fortnight began, the Catholic Health Association, which includes over 600 hospitals across the United States, released its comment letter on the contraceptive insurance mandate concluding that the Obama accommodation, which would have had insurance companies implement and pay for the mandate in these hospitals, would not work. It was simply not possible to separate functions so neatly, it claimed, and many CHA hospitals are self insured. Thus, the only answer is to broaden the exemption so that the hospitals are treated the same as the religion itself.

    In some quarters the letter was treated as a reversal of position—even a sign of bad faith, or that the bishops had gotten to Sr. Keehan and reeled her in. It would be fairer to take the letter at face value, as an acknowledgement that on close examination Obama’s suggested accommodation simply would not work—a reasonable conclusion given the self insurance issue and that it is still not clear whether the insurance companies would pick up the slack in the remaining cases.

    So the CHA returns to its original position more strongly, once again requesting a broader definition of a religious employer that includes them. The real issue is not contraceptive coverage, which many Catholic hospitals are already providing on a state by state basis where required, and in some cases voluntarily.

    Though it’s not the same as acting in bad faith, the CHA is probably not unhappy that the accommodation seems unworkable as it would much prefer to get another bite at the apple and make the case for religious status.

    Unless organizations like Catholic hospitals are allowed the same status as the religions themselves, they are likely to be treated under the law much as we treat individual religious persons. And the Supreme Court has already determined that when public policy aimed at everyone conflicts with individual religious beliefs, public policy is the higher good. Justice Scalia in his majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, 1990, noted: We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate.”

    The CHA seems reluctant to wait for a court decision and instead want to push for a political one by convincing the president to expand the exemption now. It is in good position to press its case politically, as it has, as good lobbyists do, combined advocacy for its positions along with subtle political support for the president’s reelection. Whatever differences CHA may have with Obama on reproductive health policy, CHA is able to look at the big picture. Obama losing a second term would be a disaster for health care, poverty reduction, and all social services. And, unlike the bishops, CHA is more committed to the survival of the Affordable Care Act than to ensuring that it mirror Catholic positions.

    While little credit for passage of health care reform was given to the women’s and choice groups that early on acceded to the exclusion of abortion coverage and worked like mad to get it passed, Sr. Keehan was lauded by the media as the single most important figure in its passage when she sided with the administration’s assertion that the ACA did not in any way include funding for abortion. She earned not only a pen at the signing ceremony, but ongoing access to and deference from the White House.

    Then, when the US bishops ratcheted up its opposition to the president’s reelection by accusing him of hostility to religion for not giving the Catholic hospitals an exemption, and Catholic columnists in both the secular and religious press bought the claim, adding that Obama had thrown progressive Catholics and Sr. Keehan under the bus, Sr. Keehan again came to the President’s rescue by offering support for his “accommodation”:

    The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions. The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed.

    Having decided to press for recognition as a religion, the CHA has another plus going for it in addition to its favored status at the White House: nuns have become heroes. In general Catholic voters, whom the Democrats want to bring closer, are supportive of the nuns but they don’t tend to like the bishops. Catholic health care is one of the few good things we can point to in a church otherwise plagued by corruption and, yes, pedophilia. Even pro-contraception Catholics are inclined to support the sisters. During the Clinton administration’s attempt at health care reform, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) made clear, with regard to the provision of a conscience clause for religious hospitals, that whatever the nuns in Baltimore who had cared for her mother wanted they would get.

    Nuns are especially popular today after the Vatican foolishly attacked them for caring more about the poor than about opposing gay rights and abortion. Catholic and non Catholic columnists alike praised them to the skies. The sisters, whose claim to oppressed persons status is that the Vatican called them “radical feminists” and slapped their wrists, are more lauded for their courage than Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent nearly 15 years under house arrest.

    Months before the election is the perfect time for the CHA to press its case for an exemption from the policy, which would not only allow it freedom from following the law on contraceptive insurance, but also to assert without scrutiny that any number of health services violate its religious beliefs. In her interview with Kaiser Health News, Sr. Keehan acknowledged that the CHA still has “some very real concerns in the church that even if you get rid of the coverage of contraceptives, [there may be] problems in the future.”

    Up to now, the administration has followed a strategy that is political, but respectful of the constitutional limits on religious freedom. It has correctly taken the position that public policies established to serve the common good require a clear and narrow definition of what is and what is not a religion. We do not just abandon the common good to unexamined claims that a public health or education provider is required by faith not to comply.

    We are prepared to give an actual religion an almost free pass to assert what the religion teaches and requires, but not a hospital which holds in its hands the life and health of many of all faiths and no faith, and operates under the laws and regulations of the state. If such entities have any right to an exemption based on religion, those claims should be subject to strict regulatory scrutiny.

    It would be wiser to grant no exemption at all than to entangle the state in the adjudication of claims over what religious belief outside the scope of a denomination requires. But if we were to examine claims, on the contraceptive issue we would be forced to conclude that these hospitals do not require an exemption. We would write in the file that any further claims need to be carefully examined given the lack of a good religious argument for refusing to insure employees for contraception. And our trust and confidence in the CHA would be diminished by such a frivolous claim.

Emphasis Mine


Protecting Access to Birth Control Does Not Violate Religious Freedom — And It Is a Moral Imperative

The moral thing to do is to make certain that every woman who wants it has access to birth control.

from: Huff Post

by: Robert Creamer

In many respects it is amazing that in 2012 there is a controversy over women’s access to birth control.

Let’s be clear, the current controversy over the Obama administration’s rules that require all employers who provide health insurance to provide birth control without a co-pay to its women employees, has nothing whatsoever to do with religious freedom.

It has everything to do with an attempt to take away women’s access to easy, affordable birth control, no matter where they work.

Birth control is not controversial. Surveys show that 99 percent of women and 98 percent of Catholic women have used birth control at some time in their lives.

No one is trying to require that anyone else use birth control if it violates their religious convictions. But the convictions of some religious leaders should not be allowed to trump the rights of women employees to have access to birth control.

The rule in question exempts 355,000 churches from this requirement since they presumably hire individuals who share the religious faith of the institutions in question. But it does not exempt universities and hospitals that may be owned by religious organizations, but serve — and employ — people of all faiths to engage in decidedly secular activities. These are not “religious institutions.” They are engaged in the normal flow of commerce, even though they are owned by religious organizations.

Some religious leaders argue that they should not be required to pay for birth control coverage for their employees if they have religious objections to birth control. This argument ignores the fact that health insurance coverage is not a voluntary gift to employees. It is a part of their compensation package. If someone opposed the minimum wage on religious grounds — say because they believed it “discouraged individual initiative” — that wouldn’t excuse them from having to pay the minimum wage.

If a Christian Science institution opposed invasive medical treatment on religious grounds, it would not be allowed to provide health care plans that fund only spiritual healing.

Many Americans opposed the Iraq War — some on religious grounds. That did not excuse them from paying taxes to the government.

The overwhelming majority of Americans oppose taking away the ability for women to have easy, affordable access to birth control. A Public Policy Polling survey released yesterday found that 56 percent of voters support the decision to require health plans to cover prescription birth control with no additional out-of-pocket fees, while only 37 percent opposed. Fifty-three percent of Catholic voters favor the benefit.

Fifty-seven percent of voters think that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women.

No doubt these numbers would be vastly higher if the poll were limited to the employees of those hospitals and universities because eliminating the requirement of coverage would cost the average woman $600 to $1,200 per year in out-of-pocket costs.

But ironically, requiring birth control coverage generally costs nothing to the institution that provides it. That’s because by making birth control accessible, health plans cut down on the number of unwanted pregnancies that cost a great deal more. And of course they also cut down on the number of abortions.

That may help explain why many Catholic-owned universities already provide coverage for birth control. For instance, a Georgetown University spokesperson told ThinkProgress yesterday that employees “have access to health insurance plans offered and designed by national providers to a national pool. These plans include coverage for birth control.”

The University of San Francisco, the University of Scranton, DePaul University in Chicago, Boston College — all have health insurance plans that cover contraception.

And, finally, this is nothing new. Twenty-eight states already require organizations that offer prescription insurance to cover contraception.

Of course the shocking thing about this entire controversy is that there is a worldwide consensus that the use of birth control is one of society’s most important moral priorities. Far from being something that should be discouraged, or is controversial, the use of birth control is critical to the survival and success of humanity.

In 1968, the world’s population reached 3.5 billion people. On October 31, 2011, the United Nations Population Division reported that the world population had reached seven billion. It had doubled in 43 years.

It took 90,000 years of human development for the population to reach 1 billion. Over the last two centuries the population has grown by another six billion.

In fact, in the first 12 years of the 21st Century, we have already added a billion people to the planet.

It is simply not possible for this small planet to sustain that kind of exponential human population growth. If we do, the result will be poverty, war, the depletion of our natural resources and famine. Fundamentally, the Reverend Malthus was right — except that the result is not inevitable.

Population growth is not something that just happens to us. We can choose whether or not to reproduce and at what rates.

No force is required. The evidence shows that the population explosion stops where there is the availability of birth control and women have educational opportunity.

That’s why it is our moral imperative to act responsibly and encourage each other to use birth control. And it’s not a hard sell. Children are the greatest blessing you can have in life. But most people are eager to limit the number of children they have if they have access to contraception. We owe it to those children — to the next generation and the generation after that — to act responsibly and stabilize the size of the human population.

The moral thing to do is to make certain that every woman who wants it has access to birth control.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: ‘Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win‘, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.

Emphasis Mine


Just the Facts: Churches and the Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Misinformation on how the rules works has leaked into the media. For instance, pro-life and religious groups continue to claim the rule would force employers to pay for drugs that cause abortion, which the administration says is not the case.

From: Truthout

N.B.: Se

By:Mike Ludwig

“The Obama administration‘s recent decision to require all employers, with the exception of churches and places of worship, to cover contraceptives in health care plans continues to cause a firestorm of controversy. House Speaker John Boehner told reporters on Thursday that the rule is unconstitutional. Catholic bishops continue to call the rule an “attack” on “religious liberty” and are calling on the administration to broaden the exemption and Congress to pass a law that could overturn it. The administration, however, is standing firm on its decision.

Misinformation on how the rules works has leaked into the media. For instance, pro-life and religious groups continue to claim the rule would force employers to pay for drugs that cause abortion, which the administration says is not the case. Senior White House officials held a conference call with reporters on Thursday to clear up any misunderstandings. Here’s a rundown of the most important facts according to those who actually wrote the rule:

  • Under the Affordable Care Act, employers and private insurance providers will be required to provide reproductive preventative services, including birth control and other contraceptives, to women who choose to use them. The services are free of charge at the point of service and provided without co-pays, deductibles and cost-shares.
  • Nonprofit organizations that “primarily” exist to spread their religious values and primarily serve and employ people who share those values are exempt from the rule. This means that churches and houses of worship are exempt, but religiously affiliated schools and hospitals that serve and employ people of different faiths are not exempt.
  • Officials said that some parochial schools could qualify for the exemption if they exist to teach religion and primarily serve and employ fellow believers.
  • The rule applies only with private health insurance and does not require individual practitioners to provide contraceptive.
  • Most women use contraceptives in their lifetime, including 98 percent of Catholic women. (Meanwhile, 100 percent of Catholic bishops are men.) The average woman uses contraceptives for 30 years of her life at a cost of $30 to $50 per month.
  • The policy does not cover drugs that cause abortion, such as RU-486.
  • Twenty-eight states already require contraceptive coverage. North Carolina, New York and California have identical religious exemption standards and other states have no exemptions at all.
  • There is no list of specific institutions that are exempt but institutions must meet the above requirements. There is no application for the exemption, and an institution must use the requirements to evaluate itself and then notify its insurance provider that it is exempt.
  • Administration officials said they are working with states on enforcing the rule.
  • After taking public comments, the administration decided to give some religious nonprofits, including those that employ people of other faiths, one year to comply with the rule.

Emphasis Mine