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 A new report from Amnesty International has  concluded that the sexual abuse of children by priests and church run  institutions in Ireland, amounted to torture.

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Friday I was reading a T.S. Eliot poem on-line, Little Gidding, searching for a quote I  wanted, and when the words of a friend’s passing came to my ears the poem became  a prayer.


…With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

I have always struggled to understand Eliot but have not, until today, tried to understand him with critical commentaries and scholarly insights. But Friday, when I lost Kitty, the words themselves were enough, speaking of endings and beginnings and oneness. And I thought about revelation and scripture and wondered why the poetry was more consoling than the psalm or the gospel verse. And I wondered: isn’t  God speaking in each and through each of these?

Writing that struggles to give voice to the mystery of life and death, give name to the Mystery of life and death, give meaning, give hope. Isn’t that what scripture is, what poetry is? And I asked: is there poetry in the rituals of our faith? Does God speak through those, or only patriarchy and pomposity?  When did we lose the poetry in our sacraments? Perhaps when we replaced poetry with prescription, inspiration with instruction, prophecy with pomposity, mysticism with Magisterium.

Today, even with the reading of a critical commentary, I find myself drawn to the depths of spirituality in Eliot: his struggle, his inspiration, his insight. He was a flawed man and didn’t lay claim to the Truth and yet in his images and allusions I find more Truth than in our doctrine. Once Truth is claimed, Truth is lost. The humility of the Christian poet is more illuminating than the arrogant protestations of the Catholic hierarch.

Friday, in the moment of loss, it was poetry that spoke to me of Hope, God, continuation, Oneness. And I feel no need to honor her further than with these words, in which Eliot references the medieval mystic, Julian of Norwich:

All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Yesterday, two US organisations, SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and religious) and The Center for Constitutional Rights (a New York-based nonprofit legal group) appeared at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, to request that the Pope and three Cardinals of the Catholic Church be investigated for crimes against humanity. To put this in perspective, the ICC is currently hearing cases of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, particularly against civilians.

Should the officials of the Church be held responsible for the spiritual genocide of thousands of children perpetrated by “officers” of their organisation, who used their “uniform” and authority to elicit dread obedience from children ranging in age from kindergarten through high school for the purpose of sexual gratification?  Perhaps not, you think? After all, the criminals were each responsible for their own crimes.


Should the officials of the Church be held responsible for creating and/or enforcing of directives that established protocols for a response to victims that relied on threat, intimidation, and the enforcement of oaths of secrecy?

Should the officials of the Church be held responsible for creating and/or enforcing directives that established protocols of mis-representation and re-assignment in the treatment of accused and/or admitted pedophiles and ephebophiles in the priesthood?

Should the officials of the Church be held responsible for ignoring or undermining the directives established by the USCCB and other national Catholic bodies for the protection of children from the criminal behavior of sexually predatory Catholic priests and religious?

Without a doubt!

Will bringing this case solve the problem? No.  Will it make a difference? Simply by the enormity of the public scandal, yes.

An article came across my desk today from a Jewish news source ( ISRAEL21c NEWSLETTER) talking about an interfaith forum in Jerusalem. I thought I would share. It’s good when we get it right.

Quelling the effects of climate change

The Interfaith Eco Forum held at Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel in July drew about 40 people, including representatives from all three monotheistic faiths. [Rabbi Yonatan] Neril pointed out poignant reasons for bringing faith into the equation.

“The widespread human degradation of the natural world indicates that our way of life is out of balance,” he says. “This is where religions come in — to be a force for positive change in the world. And there is no better place to begin than with religious leaders here in the Holy Land.”

Religion can be a force for positive change, says Rabbi Yonatan Neril.

He sees the multi-faith paradigm in Israel as an advantage rather than as grounds for more conflict. “People of many faiths draw inspiration from their respective traditions to live sustainably, and these efforts cross-pollinate each other and encourage coexistence on our shared planet and in this land,” Neril says.

The forum attracted worldwide media attention and featured talks by Dr. Michael Kagan, the initiator of the Holy Land Climate Change Declaration endorsed in April by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land; [Catholic]Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Haj Salah Zuheika, deputy minister of the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Religious Affairs; and Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s international director of inter-religious affairs.

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