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Catholics, Lutherans hoisted on own petard?

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The Roman Catholic hierarchy took full advantage of Friday’s grisly “holy day” and Easter Sunday to circle the wagons over its coverup of Catholic crimes against children. The Vatican continues to paint the Church as victim, not victimizer. Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, in his Good Friday homily at St. Peters’ Basilica, had the gall to compare current accusations against the pope and the Catholic church to the “more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism” and the “collective violence” suffered by Jews. This turned out to be even too much for the Vatican, which over the weekend made sure Cantalamessa apologized publicly.

So far the Vatican has not distanced itself from remarks by Father Gabriele Amorth, “chief exorcist for the Holy See,” who continues to insist that the ongoing attention to the scandals is proof Satan is trying to destroy the church. The Catholic New Agency reported Amorth as saying “we should not be surprised if priests too . . . fall into temptation. They also live in the world and can fall like men of the world.” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd nailed it on the head yesterday when she responded, “Falling into temptation is eating cupcakes after you’ve given them up for Lent. Rape and molestation of children is far beyond what most of us think of as succumbing to worldly temptation.”

On Easter, various cardinals worldwide came to the Vatican’s defense. Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City, claimed Benedict is facing “defamation and attacks of lies and vileness because of a few dishonest and criminal priests.”

Lima’s archbishop, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, made this bizarre pronunciation: “The visible head of the mystical body of Christ has been mistreated by the enemies of the church.”

Victims of rapacious, predatory priests are now “enemies of the church”? Cipriani’s concern is for the head of a “mystical body” being “mistreated,” not for the thousands upon thousands of devastated Catholic victims and their families?

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, yesterday referred to an “offensive that aims at destablizing the Pope.” During an interview on radio Europe 1 yesterday, he referred to the charges as “a smear campaign.”

In a public welcome to the pope before his Easter Mass at St. Peter’s Square, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the college of cardinals, made unprecedented remarks. Sodano told the pope that the bishops and 400,000 priests stood by him and repeated the Pope’s odious reference to the scandals as “gossip.” Sodano said: “Holy Father, the people of God are with you, and do not let themselves be impressed by the gossip of the moment.” The pope then embraced him. Isn’t that sweet?

These are views of the cardinals — those next in line to replace the pope. The Vatican can’t “clean house” — this is institutional and goes all the way to the top.

The clueless Vatican hierarchy may be in for a surprise as a Kentucky civil lawsuit naming the Vatican as defendant wends its way through the U.S. courts. Benedict XVI will try mightily to wiggle out of being deposed and having secret documents subpoenaed. But it may not take the civil courts to bring down the Vatican. If the Vatican continues these kinds of candid comments about the pedophilia scandals, it may hang itself.

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Wisconsin Synod Lutherans silence women

In the category of “This I know, for the bible tells me so” is the amazing fracas in Baraboo, Wis., at St. John’s Lutheran Church, part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Church. The Wisconsin Synod is famous for still refusing to permit women to vote in church.

The men of the Baraboo church debated for six hours on March 21 over whether to fire the church’s school principal. Women were not only barred from voting, but even from speaking! Principal John Hartwig ended up being removed by a 76-74 vote of Church men. Why did the men of the church vote to fire the church’s school principal? Because Hartwig’s father, a former pastor, had authored a document many years ago questioning (gasp) Lutheran doctrine that says women shall not have authority over men. The church accused Hartwig Junior of (double gasp) distributing his father’s document to several in the congregation.

Julie Cutrell, the mother of students at the church school, told WISC-TV, Madison, Wis., that she was nearly escorted out of the church by police. “If they [women] had any questions, they were to hand them off to a male member — and let the men read the questions for them.”

Women reported that the written questions duly handed in were left unread.

Carla Lentz, a member of the church, said she was treated like a second-class citizen: “We weren’t allowed to speak, as women.”

Where did these primitive, antiquated ideas come from?

All the men of the church had to do was open their bibles and turn to 1 Cor. 14:34:

“Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

“And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

It’s a measure of how subjugated the women in this denomination are that Hartwig’s daughter criticized the media for focusing on women’s rights in reporting the story: “That’s not what this is about, at all.” Huh?

Let us close this homily with the inspiring words attributed to Martin Luther:

“No good ever came out of female domination. God created Adam master and lord of all living creatures, but Eve spoiled all.”

“If a woman grows weary and, at last, dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing; she is there to do it.”

Lovely family values — courtesy of the founder of the Lutheran Church, whose bigotry and heavy hand still dominate in Baraboo, Wis.

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