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New Light on Vatican Cover-Up: Follow the Money

Marcial Maciel Degollado with Pope John Paul II

An important article was published this week in The National Catholic Reporter by journalist and author Jason Berry. This article sheds new light on possible motives for the Vatican to encourage Bishops to conceal sexual abuse by priests, as they did for many years in the U.S. and, as we are now learning, in other countries.

Berry has been covering the story of the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sexual abuse by Catholic priests since the scandal first broke in New Orleans in the early 1980s. Berry is the author of the book Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II and director of a documentary based on the book.

Berry’s April 6 article in The National Catholic Reporter is the first of two parts dealing with the secretive “Legionaries of Christ” and its late founder Father Marcial Maciel Degollado. This organization is said to be even more influential and mysterious than Opus Dei.

Berry Describes Maciel as a “great fundraiser” who was successful in attracting young men to the priesthood, as well as “a notorious pedophile” who also had affairs with a number of women who bore him “several children.”

The charismatic Mexican, who founded the Legion of Christ in 1941, sent streams of money to Roman curia officials with a calculated end, according to many sources interviewed by NCR: Maciel was buying support for his group and defense for himself, should his astounding secret life become known.

This much is well established from previous reporting: Maciel was a morphine addict who sexually abused at least 20 Legion seminarians from the 1940s to the ’60s. Bishop John McGann of Rockville Centre, N.Y., sent a letter by a former Legion priest with detailed allegations to the Vatican in 1976, 1978 and 1989 through official channels. Nothing happened. Maciel began fathering children in the early 1980s — three of them by two Mexican women, with reports of a third family with three children in Switzerland, according to El Mundo in Madrid, Spain. Concealing his web of relations, Maciel raised a fortune from wealthy backers, and ingratiated himself with church officials in Rome.

Berry reports that Maciel arranged through generous gifts (paying for massive renovations on the Cardinal’s house) to get a powerful Cardinal named Eduardo Francisco Pironio, now deceased, to sign off on the Legion of Christ’s constitution, which included:

…the highly controversial Private Vows, by which each Legionary swore never to speak ill of Maciel, or the superiors, and to report to them anyone who uttered criticism. The vows basically rewarded spying as an expression of faith, and cemented the Legionaries’ lockstep obedience to the founder. The vows were Maciel’s way of deflecting scrutiny as a pedophile.

Pope Benedict XVI, who has been sharply criticized for aiding in the cover-up of the pedophilia scandal, opened an investigation into Maciel’s activities in 2004, and despite the favor in which Pope John Paul II held Maciel, Benedict was successful in having him replaced as head of the Legion of Christ and disciplined for his sexual activities with seminarians.

How did this man get away with his debauchery for so long? Berry explains that Maciel gave money–a lot of it, and in cash–to Cardinals.

In an NCR investigation that began last July, encompassing dozens of interviews in Rome, Mexico City and several U.S. cities, what emerges is the saga of a man who ingratiated himself with Vatican officials, including some of those in charge of offices that should have investigated him, as he dispensed thousands of dollars in cash and largesse.

Maciel built his base by cultivating wealthy patrons, particularly widows, starting in his native Mexico in the 1940s. Even as he was trailed by pedophilia accusations, Maciel attracted large numbers of seminarians in an era of dwindling vocations. In 1994 Pope John Paul II heralded him as “an efficacious guide to youth.” John Paul continued praising Maciel after a 1997 Hartford Courant investigation by Gerald Renner and this writer exposed Maciel’s drug habits and abuse of seminarians. In 1998, eight ex-Legionaries filed a canon law case to prosecute him in then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s tribunal. For the next six years, Maciel had the staunch support of three pivotal figures: Sodano; Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; and Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish secretary of John Paul. During those years, Sodano pressured Ratzinger not to prosecute Maciel, as NCR previously reported. Ratzinger told a Mexican bishop that the Maciel case was a “delicate” matter and questioned whether it would be “prudent” to prosecute at that time.

In 2004, John Paul — ignoring the canon law charges against Maciel — honored him in a Vatican ceremony in which he entrusted the Legion with the administration of Jerusalem’s Notre Dame Center, an education and conference facility. The following week, Ratzinger took it on himself to authorize an investigation of Maciel.

According to Berry, in 1997, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, firmly refused a cash gift offered by a Legionary after Ratzinger spoke at one of their meetings. That certainly speaks well of Ratzinger, judging by the amount of money the Legion was spreading around. Here is a little more from Berry’s piece:

Maciel traveled incessantly, drawing funds from Legion centers in Mexico, Rome and the United States. Certain ex-Legionaries with knowledge of the order’s finances believe that Maciel constantly drew from Legion coffers to subsidize his families.

For years Maciel had Legion priests dole out envelopes with cash and donate gifts to officials in the curia. In the days leading up to Christmas, Legion seminarians spent hours packaging the baskets with expensive bottles of wine, rare brandy, and cured Spanish hams that alone cost upward of $1,000 each. Priests involved in the gifts and larger cash exchanges say that in hindsight they view Maciel’s strategy as akin to an insurance policy, to protect himself should he be exposed and to position the Legion as an elite presence in the workings of the Vatican.

Yet Berry could find no evidence that the Legion’s “donations” have been reported or recorded in any systematic way. There does not even seem to be a method by which this could be done. So the Church has a situation in which a powerful organization run by a pedophile has used money to spread its influence far and wide during “five decades” of “Maciel’s strategy of buying influence.”

Based on Berry’s descriptions, the Legion of Christ is still extremely influential in the Vatican, in the Church as a whole, and in the secular world as well. Maciel’s followers are everywhere, even among the wealthy and powerful in the U.S. Some of Maciel’s famous followers/admirers who are mentioned in Berry’s article are actor Mel Gibson, Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan, singer Placido Domingo, politicians Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum, and frequent cable commenters William Donohue and William Bennett.

Meanwhile, seminarians are still being taught that Maciel was a saint:

Two Legion priests told NCR in July that seminarians in Rome were still being taught about Maciel’s virtuous life. “They are being brainwashed, as if nothing happened,” said a Legionary, sitting on a bench near Rome’s Tiber River.

How do you go about cleaning up corruption that is this long-term and pervasive?

78 Responses

  1. Part II of Berry’s article is out now. I haven’t finished reading it yet. I have to say, the National Catholic Reporter is a very courageous publication.

    • Mr. Berry was on Coast to Coast last night–3 hours. It was awesome.

      Now that’s journalism!

  2. Human rights violations come under Ceasar’s domain, no? Render onto Ceasar….. Criminal charges and lots of them and start at the top with the ringleader– that’s you Mr. Pope.

    • It seems to me the ringleader was Pope John Paul II. Benedict might still manage to save himself.

      • Yes, Benedict not implicated here, but elsewhere.

      • Thanks so much, bb, awesome job. I know the coverups go back decades, but I personally feel a big part of the problem is that JP was such a zealot that he was willing to overlook pretty much anything in his attempts to remake the Church and align with the most reactionary elements.

        • I don’t know that much about John Paul II, except that he seemed awfully conservative. SoD says he was in the dark about this stuff and that John Paul II was trying to open up the church spiritually. I don’t know her source for that.

          • Oh, yeah, I saw that after I posted. Sorry! That could certainly be the case, maybe JP was a good guy and the cretins around him were pushing a reactionary agenda, I wasn’t there, I don’t know. Totally OT, but Boston.com just put up a story about Barney Frank,

            The problem started soon after the ophthalmologists – two sisters on their way to a conference in Boston – boarded the Virgin flight. When they discovered that Frank was sitting nearby, the women loudly dissed the landmark health care bill as an “Obamanation.”

            “They wanted to talk to me, but I apologized and said I like to read and watch on planes,” Frank told us todday. “They began to talk louder and that’s when Jimmy (Ready) said, ‘If you’re trying to be bitchy, you’re doing a good job.”

        • I agree. I never liked or trusted the man. JPII, that is,.charismatics scare me though I had no idea it was this bad. I think Ratzinger had been set up to take the fall for JPII for years now. Ratzinger is an academic, rational, and has no grandiose pretentions to sainthood. I would rather deal with a reasonable person with whom I disagree on some issues than a zealot any day.

  3. I haven’t read the book but my cognitive dissonance radar is buzzing. Does Berry source his allegations? The reason I ask is that there was a large contingent who were constantly trying to silence some of John Paul’s views and encyclicals later in his life. John Paul was moving in a decidedly “transcendental” direction in his waning years, even publishing a public speech he made asserting that heaven and hell were not “places” but states of mind. Benedict was one of John Paul’s biggest critics and at the time I remember reading that he called some of John Paul’s ideas fringe. I was distressed when I heard Benedict was being named Pope because he was from the group trying to stifle some of the more impressive spiritual ideas that were finally filtering out of the Vatican.

    If you try to find that paper today from John Paul, you will not; however, Time magazine did a brief piece on it and that may still be available.

    Long story short, I’m just a bit suspicious unless Berry can source his allegations. Does he?

    • I’m not sure what allegations you are referring to. But Berry is *THE* expert on the Church abuse scandal. He provides sources in his article. Take a look at it. He’s reporting on an investigation by the church, you know.

    • I’m not sure how this stuff about John Paul II’s ideas relates to the Legion of Christ or the information about Maciel, the founder.

      • It’s not his ideas but the pushback against him because of those ideas. He was dispelling ideas that they were used to using as control instruments and they were not happy.

        I guess I’m not convinced by his writings about the level of involvement he is asserting John Paul had. I think John Paul was kept in the dark like a mushroom for quite some time. That was a really weird scene.

        • I’m not sure where you’re getting your information about John Paul II being kept in the dark about sexual abuse or about the Legion of Christ. What you are saying doesn’t match what I’ve been reading from many sources. Berry’s article provides quotes from multiple sources. I guess I’m not sure what points you are focusing on. If you are really interested, you can check for yourself. My focus wasn’t on defending either John Paul II or Benedict. Benedict was pretty much forced into acting on this case because of the many complaints over many years. The pressure built up to the point that he had to do it.

          In my opinion, this is an important article, and if you look around the web, you’ll see I’m not the only one who thinks so. I’m sorry you have problems with it, but I’m not really clear on what is troubling you. Sorry about that….

          • I’ve never heard of the Legion of Christ. Is it like Opus Dei or something like that? Or more like the Knights of Columbus? I guess I’ve never had much to do with institutional Catholicism like you so I’m not aware of how these groups fit into the structure. Is it something outside the church or is it an arm of the church?

          • As I said in the post, it seems to be a lot more influential than Opus Dei. The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal organization for lay people, not an organization of priests. According to the article:

            The Legion has a presence in 23 countries, with dozens of elite prep schools, religious formation houses, and several universities.

            You can read about it in Wikipedia. I included the link–also included the Legion’s web page. This is a very far right organization that was built on pedophilia and secrecy.

          • I think you’re misreading my commentary. I’m not criticizing you or the post.

            I will say I truly liked John Paul II so maybe my bias blinds me. I’ll be off now.

          • I’m not interested in a “row.” I just didn’t understand your objections or why you thought Berry didn’t have sources. I don’t claim much knowledge about John Paul II, and what you said sounds interesting. If you have sources, I’d be interested.

            Anyway, there’s a new post up, so this one can disappear into the ozone.

          • Sorry, no “official” sources, just some very close friends who spent a bit of time over there around 1998-2000. Again, this is just my personal bias.

          • Well, I would love to know more about it.

          • SOD, I apologize. I commented about JP without reading your comment first, I wasn’t trying to set anything off. Like I said, I wasn’t there and have no real way of knowing who played what role.

          • okay, silly me again, but what exactly does an ‘organization of priest do ? Is that like the difference between being a Jesuit and a Franciscan like a difference in order? ls it something completely different?

          • I don’t know that much about it–other than what I’ve read at the links I gave. It does seem to be an order sort of like the Franciscans, but they are extremely wealthy and have used their money to grease lots of palms.

            You have to realize that the Catholic Church is a very political organization. The corruption isn’t that much different than what you see in government or corporations.

          • I will never understand why Pope John Paul II is treated by the US and, of course, the US media ,as the “good guy” who can’t be canonized fast enough. When he died, US media covered him for weeks on end. That was a first in American history.

            But, Of course, he knew about the sexual abuse of his flock by his church. How could he not? But strangely enough, when the sexual abuse scandals saw the light of day in the US, Pope JP II was given largely a pass and rarely criticized. So Did he ever apologize to the victims and promised change in his church? I don’t remember ever hearing such thing. The vatican, i.e. the pope, said it was an American problem AFAIR. Right!

            I am not Catholic so Pope Paul II’s spiritual thinking is of no interest to me. But what was always of interest to me was his Ueberconservative rule which lasted for decades and ruined the lives of many. I just read several Irish books dealing with family life in Irland. Who suffered the most? The women.

            btw. what goes for pope Paule II also goes for Mother Theresa who turned out to be quite the celebrity, jetsetting after the money. They were totally d”acord in their firm conservative beliefs and their “actions” hurt and ended the lives of the many poor, esp. the women and the many children all over the world. As usual. Catholic or not.

            Besides, John Paul II was v. sick and weak for so long, I always had the impression he didn’t have a clue where he was and what he was saying when giving a speech nobody could understand.
            Yet his handlers hauled him from one place to another. He started out as a v. healthy and robust pope but not long after he was assassinated and he never recovered his health.

            P.S. AFAIR Benedict was a v. close friend of JP II. I really don’t care for any of them, but to pile on Benedict now for the sins of his church while excusing JOPII as a saintlike figure, that is just plain wrong. And pure nonsense.

            Besides, Benedict was received in the media( and on blogs as well) with great bias. Who hasn’t called him the Nazipope? Something he clearly wasn’t.

            Like I said before, I don’t care for these popes and get angry when I read how they ignored the abuse crimes with such ease. I just read how Benedict handled the Irish abuse scandals. V.v. slowly.

            There is inly one thing I care about and those are the victims of these abusive Catholic priests. When I think of the abuse of the deaf children alone, I get sick of it all ….

            Ok. back to reading part II.
            Thanks bostonboomer, for posting this v. interesting article.

          • I agree about JP2 being ultra-conservative. There was one really good Pope in recent history – John 23rd, who called for Vatican II council that included many reforms.
            Most of JP2’s papacy was invested in rolling back the good that Vatican II did.

          • votermom,
            exactly. You pretty much summed it up in two paragraphs.

            Absolutely JPII was elected to push back the John 23rd reforms. All he did put a nice face on his ultraconservative rule and people fell for it. Until his death. Unbelievable the time and age we live in…

            As a non-Catholic the forbidden birth control law (among many others by the Catholic church) angered me the most since Religion = Culture (see Ireland, for example) and all women suffered when the laws were laid down by the politicians. Catholic or not.

            btw. Mother Theresa always seemed to me the symbol of JPII’s rule. “Saintlike” working among the poorest of the poor while busy refusing to teach women who needed it the most about birthcontrol. Yet The streets were packed with homeless children. I used to be so angry.

            Mother T. A saint? Hardly. Her celebrity status hurt the poorest among us … yet it supported JPII who very unsaintlike rejected any requests and demands by women for help i.e.reform.

  4. They all start out as Priests – they were protected by their Bishops and Cardinals and Archbishops and Pope, so they carry the tradition.

    The Catholic corporation has always had their hand out for money….lots and lots and lots of it….was there a crime the Catholics couldn’t accept if the price was right?

  5. “How do you go about cleaning up corruption that is this long-term and pervasive?”

    Simple. If you’re Catholic, stop going to mass. Never go to church again. End of story.

  6. BB, you are one helluva brave human being and I applaud you, because this needs to be exposed. However, in doing so, you become defacto, the lightening rod. Hence I salute you for your bravery.
    Personally, I think that it’s not just the Catholic Church, although that corporations seems to be the most involved in paedophilia, but it’s every corporation that pretends to be a religious entity, and quite frankly, that is all of them. Tax free? yeah, all of them, and they all have secrets that may be biblical, but are definitely not Christ-like.
    Kudos to you for having the ovaries to continue to try to expose what I consider a massive fraud at taxpayers expense, while knowing you will be a target. I wish I were as brave as you. I just gave up and withdrew.

  7. Sorta on topic: Ringo Star reacts to being forgiven by the Pope

    The Vatican may have forgiven the Beatles over the weekend for their “satanic” messages — but Ringo Starr, the legendary band’s drummer, says he couldn’t care less.

    But Starr told CNN: “Didn’t the Vatican say we were satanic or possibly satanic — and they’ve still forgiven us? I think the Vatican, they’ve got more to talk about than the Beatles.”

    • LOL

    • Ringo Starr has a head on his shoulder, and he has never told anyone how to live or conduct themselves, other that to be good to each other. His wealth is as a result of his own personal endeavors and utilizing his talents.
      Vatican has a whole multi trillion industry based on how to tell everyone else how to live, but don’t bother about overseeing the responsibility – just keep making those 19th century proclamations and protecting their own. Their wealth is based on a multitude of people who believe, without question, in their message, no matter how far it diverges from the gospels of Jesus.
      I prefer Ringo.

  8. So, some folks have been saying the pedophilia is due to gay Priests and others have been saying it has nothing to do with sexuality–that’s it’s a power thing. I do want to know–is it a gay thing or a power thing?

  9. Sophie, Gay has nothing to do with paedophilia. and most paedopilias are not gay.
    Most pedophiles are heterosexual. I suspect, much like rape, it’s a power thing – a king of the world syndrome, but I’m not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist. Just know the child molesters are sickos, much like rapists, and I’ve know and loved many friends who are gay, and not one – not one! would ever endanger a child. Two of my gay friends have children – and between the five children, we have two PHDs, a Col in the navy, a Doctor, and one heck of a mechanic who takes care of my car.
    Gay parents are no different than hetero parents, and quite frankly it peeves me to see comments like yours that suggest otherwise. I am not gay at all – wish I were cause then I would at least have a companion. I am hetero and gave up on sex 18 years ago, after two rather disasterous relationships that resulted in over 200K of the money I earned being flushed down the toilet. Add to that I was molested by a “not Gay” neighbor at age 5 and raped by a “not Gay” guy at age 21. From my perspective, gay society is the only place I feel safe.

    • HT, I didn’t mean pedophiles in general, I meant those in the priesthood. I don’t know why it should be different and I am wondering if it is and putting it out there as a question.

      For years I’ve known and expressed what you just said. I am gay and I didn’t ask that in an anti-gay way–trust me.

      I have been reading article after article stating that the church perpetrators we predominantly gay. I personally found that hard to believe, yet haven’t seen any articles proving otherwise. So, consider my question more of a hope for a different explanation.

      • I’m guessing that the preception that more boys have been abused is because they just had greater access to boys. Altar boys for decades before there were altar girls, back in the day a lot of boys were sent to seminary, single moms asking the priest to provide guidance to sons, things like that. There are plenty of priests who had greater access to boys and girls who abused both. Also, I hate to say it but I suspect many female victims never came forward because they were afraid they’d be more likely to be branded sluts and liars.

      • Sophie, I apologize if I offended you. I suspect that Seriously is correct in terms of the sex and availability of children. The Church perpetrators were not gay. They were/are pedophiles – people who prey on children regardless of sex.
        Gay is a convenient excuse. Ain’t right – religiously, diagnostically, morally – but what do they care as long as they came blame the latest pariah and transfer guilt to slide out under the fact that they condoned criminal behaviour for over 30 years and counting. And by condoning, they didn’t stop it, they just moved the perpetrator and let him loose to continue in another location.
        The church – any church these days – is a corporation. They operate in the same manner as a corporation, however, they have several benefits. They have a congregation who have been raised to believe what they sell, and they have tax exempt status and freedome of auditory activities. As such they continue with their inhouse activities of covering up any activities that could threaten them and their position as the arbiters of morality and faith.
        I cannot imaging the mind of a pedophile, however, where else could one join, pretend to be a pious individual, then have access to all the children of a parish? And not be suspected of any untoward activity? Most of the adults who came forward to report abuse also indicated that either they couldn’t tell their parents, or their parents didn’t believe them.

        • Aye yep. Well said. Perpetrators look for unprotected victims. So you will find them where there are children, where people are incarcerated, where people are mentally or physically ill. It’s up to us to protect those who need protecting. One of the best ways to do that is to do what the Catholic Church has failed to do– and that is to hold them accountable. No cutesy self-pseudo- policing like the cc. To the courts with them. I’m sure god will understand.

  10. BB, I truly admire your continuing attempts, against all odds, to throw light on this malignacy. Thank you, for an abuse survivor.

    Here’s to you!

  11. Sort of off topic but completely related. A couple of days ago I read that 36 swim coaches had been banned for life for molesting their students over the last 10 years. Some have even been sentenced to nearly life terms in prison for their crimes. However, the head of the national swimming organization, I forget what it was called, continued to deny that there was a problem. Sound familiar?

    Frankly, all of these large organizations where there is a lot at stake are going to try to cover up, keep things quiet and deny, deny, deny. It would be inconceivable if they did otherwise. It may not be right but I think that is the way people are. I am sure the vast, vast majority of priests love their work. Love the people they serve. And of course they love the church itself. As such they try to protect it.

    And I said this before. I don’t think that it is that priests are pedophiles but the opposite. It is pedophiles who infiltrate the church and become priests in order to either try to cure themselves or just to have easy access to children in vulnerable situations. Much the same as those swim coaches chose their profession so that they could have access to children. One DA said that while the guy he prosecuted may have been a terrific swim coach the fact of the matter was that he was only doing it as a ruse and that his real profession was molesting children.

    • That DA just about sums it all up. Pedophiles are emotionally crippled immature persons who gravitate toward professions where they have access to children. The priesthood was a dream for them.

  12. “How do you go about cleaning up corruption that is this long-term and pervasive?”

    Tear the (!#$%&) organization down!

    Roger Dawkins is a man after my own heart. Two excerpts from his recent WaPo article http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341

    ..”This former head of the Inquisition should be arrested the moment he dares to set foot outside his tinpot fiefdom of the Vatican”

    “Pope Ratzinger should not resign. He should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice – the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution – while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, about his ears.”


    Screw religious organizations. They have done waaaay more harm than good. We simply don’t need them to be good and caring to each other.


    I highly recommend Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion”. He writes a scathing review of the bible – old and new testament.

    • Dawkins gets on my nerves. He seems like just another kind of proselytizer to me.

      • Was just thinking how skeptical I am of proselytizers, gurus and media mavens.

      • True he is strident, Nevertheless I appreciate his impassioned pleas to spare children from religious indoctrination and his defense of women and gays who are consistent victims of religious persecution.

        He is on the side of fairness and equality for all and the elimination of religious exceptionalism. What can I say? He’s my kind of guy. He’s clear thinking, rational and writes a good book. And best of all he can pen a succinct take-down of one of the most despicable entities on the planet — the pope.

        • I understand what you’re saying. I guess what bothers me is that people like Dawkins oversimplify religious ideas and assume that all religious people are as simpleminded about it as they are. I agree with the critique of organized religion.

      • Yep. Another Jerry Falwell, just with a different message. (Or maybe the same one, at bottom. ‘Accept what I say and send me your money.”)

  13. The churches in general love money too much.

    They forget the words of the One they claim as Founder: “You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

    However, if Prof. Dawkins wants to get rid of religion, he needs to get busy and invent immortality.

    Human beings can reason, but we are not primarily rational. Like other mammals, we are primarily life-forms of emotion and drives, and fear is one of the most powerful emotions, and self-preservation is one of the most powerful drives.

    Like other mammals, and indeed all other living things, we die. Unlike other living things–with maybe a few exceptions–only humans know that no matter how clever and lucky we are, someday Mr. Gaiman’s perky Goth girl will catch up with us.

    Naturally, our fear emotion and our self-preservation drive do not like that at all. Add to that crushing knowledge the complexity of the human brain–the more complicated something is, the more easily it malfunctions–and it’s a wonder mental illness isn’t even more prevalent in humans than it is.

    In some humans, the fear emotion and the survival drive are sufficiently weak that they can accept their eventual extinction with equanimity, and be content without hope of an afterlife of some sort.

    Likewise, in some healthy young adult humans, the sexual drive is sufficiently weak that they can accept chastity with equanimity.

    I doubt either group will ever constitute a majority, however. :mrgreen:

    As long as human beings die, there will be religion. Period.

    • What I don’t get is why atheists like Dawkins feel the need to get all righteous and crusadery about being non religious. It’s not like he’s driven by big political or sociological motives. So he believes there is no god. Big deal, so do I. Why does he need to impose himself on people who choose to believe otherwise. If he wants to go after socially destructive facets of institutional religions, fine, that has purpose. But running around demonstrating he’s smarter than people of faith because he can prove god does not exist, whatever. Arrogant like Nietzsche and ultimately pointless, or toxic as history has shown. As a scientist philosopher, positing no god is not hard work. It might actually take higher mental faculty for an intelligent mind to wrap itself around the notion of spirituality.

      • That’s what bugs me too, 3W.

        • Yes, science and marketing don’t mix well. I’m a bigger fan of Stephen Gould.

          • I haven’t read Dawkins, but I like the late Prof, Gould’s work.

            And then there’s *Isaac Asimov*. *sigh* :mrgreen:

          • I haven’t read Dawkins, but I like Gould’s works.

          • I haven’t read Dawkins either. I enjoy Gould too, and am also a fan of Pascal Boyer. IBW, you might enjoy his book “Religion Explained.”

            I’m not even sure if Boyer is an atheist or not as he is most interested in uncovering why humans are religious, as opposed to confronting organized religious structures and their all-too-human flaws. From his website:

            “Is religion a product of our evolution? In the past ten years, the evolutionary and cognitive study of religion has begun to mature. It puts forward new hypotheses and testable predictions. It asks what in the human make-up renders religion possible and successful. Findings from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, cultural anthropology and archaeology promise to change our view of religion.”


            “Ritualized behavior is characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but it is also observed in other, nonclinical contexts such as children’s routines and cultural ceremonies. Such behaviors are best understood with reference to a set of human vigilance–precaution systems in charge of monitoring potential danger and motivating the organism towards appropriate precautions. Ritualized behavior focuses attention on low-level representations of actions, probably leading to some measure of intrusion suppression. Cultural rituals too may be understood in this framework.”

            Interesting stuff. 🙂

        • I mean how do you go from the hard science of the selfish gene to something as prosaic and manufactured as the meme theory of modern mass media. It’s gimmicky.

      • Dawkins points out the nonsensical aspects and frightening power organized religion wields.

        He is no way as upsetting to me as the perpetrators of barbaric religious practices such as stonings, beheadings, suicide bombings, gender discrimination, etc.

        I don’t watch TV so I don’t know how he presents himself on talk shows. No matter it is the essence of his argument I like — religion causes much of the world’s woes.

        • Not to trying to debate, but Stalin, Mao, H!tler, Genghis, Attila, Pol Pot, and their followers were atheists . Not saying that religions and their institutions haven’t been the cause of all manner of injustice, death, and destruction too. Where it exists, they should be challenged and dismantled. But I haven’t seen the scientific proof from Dawkins that having zero religion would result in a world and societies with significantly less injustice, death, and destruction. Would be nice if it really were that simple. And on a purely material level, Dawkins just strikes me as a fame seeker and opportunist when he’s in the media. I don’t have particular issues with his work in the hard sciences, at least the parts I can recall.

          • Unfortunately, I think that having a world with zero humans is the only thing that will result in less injustice and destruction.

          • You can add the Montagnard extremists among the French Jacobins to that list. They sent thousands of dissidents (and sometimes their spouses and families) to the guillotine during the Terror, sometimes hundreds in one place in one day.

          • No problem with debate. This is, after all, one of the touchiest of subjects.

            In “The God Delusion” Dawkins addresses the Stalin and Hitler
            were atheists assertion (p.272):

            “What matters is not whether Hitler and Stalin were atheists, but
            whether atheism systematically influences people to do bad things. It d
            There is not the smallest evidence that it does”

            Dawkins also cites (p.229) some stats put forward by Sam Harris in his “Letter to a Christian” which point towards more crime in traditionally religious red states in the US.

            Now this is not conclusive evidence and more research needs to be done on the correlation of violence and religious fervor but it is fascinating to ponder.

            IMHO Religion does systematically influence people to do bad

            I say disregard the man’s media personality or go to other sources of rationalist thought like Grayling.

            Take away one’s personal dislike for media pundits

            Take away Dawkins personality

          • It’s not religion so much as the assertions that they alone know The Truth. It’s that kind of orthodoxy that quickly becomes an excuse for attacking others.

      • The ones like Dawkins–Harris, Snitchens,Rand, etc.–are or were handsomely paid for their huckstering. Many others–the ones taken in by Paul Doherty or the guy who runs the website “Jesus Never Existed”; Humphreys?–are just terribly eager to show how much more intelligent they are than people they prefer to see as gullible and stupid.

        None of this, by the way, is meant as criticism of atheists in general or atheism itself. I don’t share the viewpoint, but I can see how they reached it and respect their reasoning and them.

    • “However, if Prof. Dawkins wants to get rid of religion, he needs to get busy and invent immortality. ”

      I’d say the onus is on us to rearrange our view of existence.

      • Indeed it is, madazel. And something tells me that we’re going to keep turning tail and running from any real transformation.

  14. someone earlier in the thread asked what an order of priests like the Legionnaires of Christ do. They give access to power. In a country like Mexico, where it was founded in the 1940’s, it gives the wealthy in Mexico access to network and a secret club to belong to; for a price. Think of it as a Catholic Skull and Bones society.

    This type of organization is not espousing “socialist” reform in Mexico. They play into the poor’s sense of religious duty and honor and then spin Christ’s teachings of charity and social justice to maintain the status quo. Look at their own recent election. Caulderon is a Harvard MBA guy. The man that ran against him garnered more votes and was a favorite of the poor and the middle class. Caulderon however is the President in an election where voting fraud was suspected.

    The Legionnaires of Christ are the kind of fascist religious organization that gave credence and power to fascist regimes like Pinochet’s. “Order out of chaos!

    • I agree, and thank you for the explanation. It’s like a right wing cult.

  15. Sorry about spelling: Calderone

  16. I think my posts are failing to register for some reason. 😡

    • I’ll check it out the next time one of your comments ends up in moderation.

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