Friday, May 25, 2012

Pope's Butler Arrested in Leaks Investigation

Pope's Butler Arrested in Leaks Investigation

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict's butler was arrested on Friday in connection with an investigation into leaks of confidential documents, some alleging cronyism and corruption in Vatican contracts, a senior Vatican source said.
The scandal, which has come to be known as "Vatileaks", involves the leaking of a string of documents to Italian media in January and February, including personal letters to the pope.
Some of the documents involved allegations of corruption, mismanagement and cronyism in the awarding of contracts for work in the Vatican and internal disagreement on the management of the Vatican bank.
The president of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was ousted by its board on Thursday.
Vatican spokesmen said earlier on Friday that a person in possession of confidential documents had been arrested but that they could not disclose his position or identity until they were given permission from Vatican investigators.
The Vatican source confirmed reports by Italian media that the person arrested was the butler.
"It's all very sad," another senior Vatican source said, commenting on an episode that is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Vatican.
The pope's butler serves in the apartments of the Apostolic Palace, serving at the papal tables, handing rosaries to visiting dignitaries and riding in the first seat of the popemobile at papal audiences.
As an intimate member of the papal household, he is privy to the goings on in the most reserved and private rooms in the Vatican.
Italian media said investigators had found documents in his apartment.
The pope, who has been shocked and saddened by the leaks, ordered several investigations, including one headed by Vatican police and another by a commission of cardinals.
The leaked documents included letters by an archbishop who was transferred to Washington after he blew the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption and cronyism, a memo which put a number of cardinals in a bad light, and documents alleging internal conflicts about the Vatican Bank.
In January, an Italian television investigation broadcast private letters to Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the pope from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former deputy governor of Vatican City and currently the Holy See's ambassador in Washington.
The letters showed that Vigano was transferred after he exposed what he argued was a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to Italian contractors at inflated prices.
In one letter, Vigano wrote of a smear campaign against him by other Vatican officials who were upset that he had taken drastic steps to clean up the purchasing procedures. He begged to stay in the job to finish what he had started.
Bertone responded by removing Vigano from his position three years before the end of his tenure and sending him to the United States, despite his strong resistance.
(Editing by Alison Williams)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Finally, someone says it better than me.

There's a great, very educational op-ed in the Washington Post today.  Here's the link:

You might know that 43 Catholic organizations filed suit against the Obama administration to overturn decision that all employers must provide contraception free of charge to its employees.  I understand only 13 diocese joined the lawsuit.  That doesn't appear as broad support to me.  Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, CA, gave an interview to the America Magazine saying, "I think our rhetoric has to be that of bishops of the church who are seeking to be faithful to the Gospel, that our one concern is that we make sure the church is free to carry out her mission as given to her by Christ, and that remains our focus.” If the bishops can maintain that focus, he said, “the people rally behind us,” but the bishops lose their support when the conflict is seen as too political."

Amen.  I've long been a critic of aggressive stances against contraception and the Church's complete and sole devotion to just one crime against humanity, abortion.  But, one commenter on the WP said it much better than me and I thought I'd post it because it's just so logical and concise.

11:30 AM PDT
And now for something completely different - a positive suggestion for the bishops, a bit of jiu-jitsu.  

The Church is opposed to contraception, but not to birth control. It's model is natural family planning, which it holds out as a holistic approach to integrating birth control within a relationship of deepening intimacy between husband and wife. It is, however, little practiced, even among Catholics.

(Note: Natural family planning is not simply the old rhythm method, and has been shown to be as effective contraception.)

At the same time, anti-contraception has become something of an obsessive-compulsive complex among many in the Church, and seems to dominate the hierarchy. It generates far more publicity, much anger, and often negative energy, turning into heat what could be light shed upon promoting their holistic alternative. I have long thought that the Church could do more to promote it's pro-life philosophy by softening its negative campaign and putting that wasted energy to work in building support for pregnant women, ensuring that all had access to adequate medical care, nutrition, and the social, moral, and material support to turn a pregnant woman into an expecting mother, while continuing their adoption programs to make sure that there is an alternative when biological motherhood doesn't turn into parenting.

So here's the trick - accept Obama's compromise if the administration will make a matching move, adding natural family planning to the birth control coverage of all employer-provided health insurance plans.

Sure its a hard turn for the anti-contraception forces to make. It will require a re-evaluation of how religious belief best engages with public policy, and the balance of goods and bads in their moral calculus. But if the lawsuits fail, they might give it some consideration.

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's time for me to move along; it's time for me to get it on; I'm tired of singing sad songs

It's been hard and sad for me to read recent posts from TCIE and JellyBelly.  I hate to see them both suffer and have been suffering for so long.  I guess it was harder since I've felt so much stronger lately.  I felt like I'd prepared myself so well for Mother's Day and it all really worked out.  The priest didn't have mothers stand up for a blessing but I'd decided that if he had, dammit I was going to stand up, too.  God knows what we've been through, how hard we've tried, how faithful we've been.  I felt no sense of loss this year.  I've had it up to here with suffering.

I'm starting a master's program in the fall.  I'd resisted getting an advanced degree especially since we got married because I figured I'd have children by now and wanted to devote my time to them, not a degree.  But those that won't exist shouldn't be waited on.  The high-level jobs I want demand a master's degree and my company does offer some amount of tuition reimbursement so it's a win-win plan.  It's two years and certainly a time commitment away from my marriage but it's for the long-term good.  I'm excited for the future.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Yes, I was burned but I call it a lesson learned.

My husband talked to Peter yesterday and called him on his behavior.  In short, Peter said he treats Sibylle better than her last boyfriend, cooks for her, takes her on trips (what a benevolent saint!) so what he does with her is "his business and nobody else's."  That attitude is the biggest hallmark of people with no faith.  That their actions affect no one but themselves and only they can judge themselves.  Totally incorrect thinking in my book, but there you have it.

When bad things happen, as they do a lot these days, I try to remind myself that the experience matters.  Bad moments teach.  Now I know never to see Peter again.  I didn't know that before, although I suspected it that would have been the right decision.  Now I know if I'm feeling vulnerable and need a truly restful vacation, I should go alone or just with my husband and nobody else.  I didn't know that before.  So, I don't feel as bad now as maybe I could.  Perspective.  Life is not an upward trajectory. :)  I just keep repeating that to myself.

Lest you think I have nothing more going on in my life, you'd be wrong although easily forgiven since I tend to focus on the drama here.  A while ago I rescued a dog abandoned at a park near my house.  I'm a cat person.  I never disliked dogs; I just didn't understand them.  But this dog and I just connected.  My very good friend Holly took him and now he lives with her.  I'm sort of a part-time parent.  He's young, maybe a year old.  He's strong and I think he's a Be.lgian Mal.inois.  Those are bad-*ss dogs.  I tried attaching a picture but it's sideways and can't fix it.  Hmmm.  Give me some time on that one.

So, it's a looking like a good day.  I take Dog for his training class tomorrow morning because Holly is otherwise occupied.  I delivered the letter "Made for Another World" so astutely wrote to my parish on Tuesday.  I head to Mass on Sunday with my head held high.  I will not be defeated.  


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My weekend with the 1% and Peter's Sexual Debauchery

This is going to be a long complicated post.  Prepare yourself.  Peter (I took him off my "cast of characters" but you might remember him as my husband's best friend and remember I use fake names for everybody on this blog) is a newly appointed financial adviser to the Gr.and C.any.on Tr.ust.  This non-profit is a land conservation group with some very, very wealthy board members and donors.  They organize trips, hiking, rafting, bicycling, etc. for donors.  These trips are not advertised to the general public.  Peter was our connection to an excursion this past weekend.  We drove 11 hours to get there and arrived early Friday evening.  I was tired.  Let's leave it there for right now.

The group was small, twelve of us in total.  Folks from Arizona, Utah, and California.  At least six of the people were very wealthy, the 1%.  It was mostly fun to debate some very opinionated, very smart people.  The manager of GCT is a Har.v.ard Ph.d. who I think took himself a bit too seriously.  I bemoaned the lack of vocational training in the United States and how we push even those most incapable to a liberal arts education and he replied that he was a licensed plumber.  OK.  And he makes "museum quality furniture."  I'm not sure that was the best way to say he makes fine furniture or he is a master woodworker.

What surprised me about this particular group was there love, absolute love of dropping names.  The plastic surgeon's wife is apparently close friends with Jane.t Napoli.tano and enjoyed telling me about the adventures together.  I felt like asking my adventure mates whom exactly didn't they know?  Nearly everyone was off on another adventure soon, one hitting Paris with a granddaughter, another Turkey with a friend.  LDS bashing was also popular as well as putting down the overweight.  That wasn't nice.

The hiking was awesome.  We got a little lost the second day and the lawyer told me he was frustrated, a bunch of us ran out of water although not everyone was completely out, but we managed to make it out and have celebratory beers at the trailhead.  I favored water.  As we said our goodbyes, the lawyer's wife invited me to Phoenix since she knew "a bunch of people my age I would have fun with."  She might have just had a bit too much beer, or maybe she did really like me.  I received at least three separate comments from people saying they liked my boldness and how I wasn't at all afraid to offer my opinion on any topic.  And I very much appreciate they cared to listen to my theories on how to reform the US tax code.

Back to the tired state Friday night.  My husband had told me a couple days before we left that Peter was not bringing, let's call her Birdy, on the trip.  Peter had broken up with Birdy a couple weeks ago.  But he had someone new, naturally.  We met the new girl during the Friday night cocktail reception at the Lodge.  I could tell she was young.  How young, I didn't know.  But I do know that Peter is 51, albeit a very young looking 51.  He could pass for 40.  That is not such a comfort when the girls are in their early 20s.

I did ask her, let's call her Sybille, how old she was on Saturday.  23.  I was dying, dying to ask her if she knew how old Peter was but I chickened out too many times that weekend.  Peter, in a solo conversation, said she didn't know how old he was just that she said, "he was old enough to be her brother." Great.

Back to Friday night.  I was extremely tired.  For me, that doesn't not mean I will sleep through shelling outside my door. It just means I'm desperate for sleep.  I don't think we were in bed for an hour when it started.  She was loud.  I estimate the noise was 10% genuine pleasure and 90% to boost Peter's ego.  And that thought made me sick to my stomach.  I was angry.  Really angry.  I asked my husband to talk some sense into his friend, that he was looking like a fool and should act like the professional he represented himself to be.

After Saturday's hike, most of us relaxed in and around the hot tub.  My husband wanted to stay in the room and take a shower.  After my soak, I went back to our room and heard the Devil's Children at it again. I was pissed but not as much as the night before since it was the middle of the day and I was awake.  But, the shamelessness, the immorality was gnawing at me.  Peter and Sybille came to our room holding hands, disgustingly self-satisfied.  All I could do was act disinterested and do a ridiculous passive-aggressive act.  I told them their time might have been better spent with the group, not staying in their room.  Peter told me we should try staying in our room, I might find out how much fun it is.  I responded that getting out is better if he had the good sense to try it.  They had sex that night.  All bets were off.

Sibylle's family is LDS and she left her faith because "[she] discovered coffee."  When she said this I wanted to respond, "and apparently for extramarital sex."  I wanted desperately to talk to her, give her some perspective beyond this temporary high.  That Peter in these situations does exactly the same thing.  The only thing that changes is the woman.  I wanted to believe that if she just sobered up she could see sleeping with someone thirty years your senior is a horrible mistake.  But, she seemed to eat up the attention.  He spoon-fed her dessert.  He does that with everyone.  He holds her hand, puts his arm around her, holds her from behind.  He does that with everyone.  The facade fooled everyone but me and my husband but bothered me the most.  I'm sure all the other participants thought his behavior was so sweet, genuine affection.  I saw the drama, the act, the play.

I wasn't the only one to notice, though.  The organizer's wife asked me why Peter brought a different woman than the he had indicated during sign-ups.  She reacted to their hugging and kissing on the trail as "bizarre."  To me it was and is much more than that.  My husband can't understand why this is making me so upset.     Here are my reasons:

  1. Even after my husband had asked Peter to exercise a minimal level of discretion, he refused to do so. 
  2. Peter is using women and the immorality is stunning.  I don't care that they seemingly consent to the relationship.  No 23-year-old is on the same level as a 51-year-old.  Peter won't deal with women who are his equals and takes advantage of the naive.  That, to me, is sickening.
  3. Peter made a mockery of marriage this weekend.  Everybody on this trip was married except him.  None of the spouses were hanging on each other.  Does holding hands make him feel his choices are more legitimate?  It's sending a message to everybody, "Hey, I really care about this girl."  No, he care about continuing to have sex with them.  That's all.  Those of us sharing a room made a life-long commitment to one another.  Peter reveled in the debauchery, the sin.
  4. Peter is leading this girl to certain heartbreak.  It's the height of irresponsibility.  It's cruelty.  He complained at dinner while he was holding Sybille's hand, that Birdy had sent 50 "aggressive text messages" that day.  Poor Sybille just smiled confusingly.  I wanted to tell her so badly that she was next.
For all the anger I feel towards Peter, I'm mostly angry at myself.  That I failed to take a moral, Christian stand, to be a voice for my faith, for Christ.  I let these people walk into Hell and said nothing.  I told my husband that I would never see Peter again with a date.  Alone, maybe but never again with a girl.  I don't want to be a witness to this ever again.  My husband doesn't want me to tell Peter what I think.  Or he wants censorship rights.  :)  I'm not sure what steps I'll take right now.  I just wanted to get this off my chest.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You Don't Know Me

I don't know where to begin.  So much has changed the last three weeks.  My favorite priest at our parish announced Sunday he is leaving to go to, of all places, Jack's childhood parish.  He would joke they made a play on the name and called it Our Lady of the Ghetto.  Jack was the only white kid at the school so I guess that's how he distinguished himself.

Motorcycle riding is becoming a bigger part of my life lately.  I'm easing myself out of my fears and riding my own bike again.  On Sunday, we rode to a breakfast place at the local community airport.  The parking lot design is a bit tricky.  In the past, I would have attempted turns and wiped myself out if I couldn't negotiate the curb.  This time I stopped, assessed the situation, backed up with my feet and stayed upright.  I consider that a major victory.

Speaking of Jack, I told my husband just how disappointed I am that he and other friends with kids have apparently dropped us.  Even Afina has gone AWOL on me.  She's easier to get back than Jack.  I'm an infertile that actually loves visiting friends' kids.  It's like being a grandparent, you spend time and spoil them, then give the kids back to their parents.  I guess I could reach out to Jack and ask him how fatherhood is treating him, but I hate always being the one to initiate.

I've regained the weight I'd lost on the Peru trip.  For a couple weeks I was unhappy but I'm starting to embrace the idea of a naturally fluctuating weight.  I've gained and lost the same five pounds the last eight years.  It's just life.  As long as my clothes still fit, I'm willing to ride the wave.

I cut my hair into a chin length bob and lightened up the color.  I think I do "cute" much better than "sultry" with the long, wavy hair.  And there's no more layers which makes styling much faster.  I love experimenting with my hair.

TCIE posted something that really bummed me out and sadly, confirmed some feelings I've been ruminating over the last few weeks.  I know my comment on her blog didn't suggest how bummed I was, but this is really how I feel.  [The following comments are MY FEELINGS and in no way, intended to attack or belittle anybody so please don't take it that way.]  It wasn't so much what she wrote about what she thought about childlessness, but the comments from mothers who appeared to patronize the deeper spiritual meanings of childlessness.

I have a big problem with the comments that said [my paraphrasing], "Gosh, it's so touching what you wrote.  Not that I have any concept of what it means to face a life with no children of your own, but it's so cute of you to look at the sunny side of life."  Now, this is probably not at all what these women meant, I know because you're not mean-spirited.  But, that's what it read like to me.

And here's why.  There's a schism, a vast divide between those who are now mothers or actively seeking treatment to have a child and those who made the gut-wrenching decision to stop trying or reconcile with yourself and husband the fact that no matter what you or doctors do, you will not get pregnant.  For some, this is a stark, biological fact.  It's painful.  It's a pain that goes beyond temporary infertility.  It is a permanent state of a two person family.  It's a pain that I will always carry and sometimes will have pangs of regret when I'm 37, 40, 45, 55, 65, 99, 103 (yes, I expect to live that long.)  I'm not saying that childlessness is all pain, all the time.  It's most definitely not.  I had an impromptu karaoke session at a local bar last night while you were home with the kids.  I'm sure you had a great time with your kids.  I had a great time at the bar.

It's just that you don't get me and I don't get you.  I've wanted to diversify my readers and the blogs I read but can't seem, at this point, to get past married, Catholic women blogs.  It's not doing anything for me anymore beyond masochistic entertainment.  I know that's a strong statement but it's true.  I've got to get away.  That doesn't mean leaving my ATC blog permanently.  I don't know what it looks like right now.  I'm disenchanted.  I have to move on.