Dodgy Padres!

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Wobbly church fathers, monks and rabbis!

Child abuse not taken up under Bishop Nazir Ali’s watch

Michael Nazir Ali was appointed Bishop of Rochester in 1994, resigning after 15 years of service, in order  ‘to work with Muslim converts to Christianity in Britain’ (Daily Telegraph, 28 March 2009) and collaborating with Patrick Sookhdeo of the Barnabas Fund, much preoccupied with Christian minorities in Muslim lands.  During his tenure, child abuse scandals at the Church of England-run Kendall House seemed to have escaped his notice. Notwithstanding his evangelical interests worldwide, there were unattended problems closer to home!  The launch of an enquiry had to await his successor, Rt Rev James Langstaff.  The   review established that  girls  were routinely drugged, locked up and physically, emotionally and sexually abused,  before it closed in 1986′. One victim interviewed in 2009 told Radio 4 the feeling of being injected as a teenager was “like [your body] is just dying”. Surely Nazir Ali, now finds the Kendall House Review difficult reading.  Did he fall on his sword in 2009?

Men of Harlech, would you win a name in story! reports on a Welsh padre, ‘In a shocking [FB] post, Reverend Father David Lloyd branded people who dismissed video posts from  Britain First and Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) as “idiots” . . . Father Lloyd, who represents the Newcastle Parish in the Diocese of Llandaff, also shared Facebook posts from groups such as Islam Exposed, and told his followers controversial figure Tommy Robinson of Pegida should be “applauded and supported” . . . A spokeswoman from the Church in Wales said Father Lloyd had “apologised” for the messages. She added: “The Revd David Lloyd’s views expressed in his tweets were his personal ones and not those of the Church in Wales”. click here, 30th May 2016

Trouble with the Franciscans

Michael Day, writing in the Independent, notes how the Order has been ’embroiled in a scandal in which charitable proceeds were invested illegally in shell companies in Switzerland, Kenya, Eritrea and the Middle East, some of them linked to arms and drugs trafficking’. Apparently the Order of the Franciscan Friars Minor has around 14,000 members world-wide. What, a hawala system! [The Independent, 28th November 2015]

‘Merchants in the Temple’

According to Gianluigi Nuzzi’s Merchants in the Temple, due to be published on Thursday, one high-ranking Vatican official, Monsignor Giuseppe Sciacca, was so keen on improving his apartment that he took it upon himself to knock down a wall separating his flat from his elderly neighbour’s. When the elderly priest returned from hospital, where he had been very ill, he found his things had been packed in boxes….[the book] delves into allegations of financial shenanigans, including an allegation that the Vatican’s former secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone, used €200,000 (£142,000) from a foundation meant to support the Bambino Gesù paediatric hospital in Rome to renovate his own apartment. click here, The Guardian, November 2015

Intolerant voice at Catholic Synod, October 2015

Cardinal Robert Sarah at the Synod convened by Pope Francis ‘gave a speech grouping homosexual and abortion “ideologies” with Islamic fundamentalism and comparing them to “Nazi Fascism and Communism”. Source, The Tablet, 31st October 2015.

The Lehava movement

From The Tablet (15 August 2015): ‘The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land filed a complaint with Israeli police last week against Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein and the anti-assimilation Lehava movement, following remarks the Rabbi made about the burning of churches in Israel. At a panel discussion for Jewish yeshiva students, Rabbi Gopstein allegedly asserted that according to Jewish law, churches and mosques could be burned. The Benedictine Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha was attacked by arsonists in late June.

Remembering Calvi!

Paul Vallely in The Guardian: ‘[…] In 1982 the Banco Ambrosiano dramatically collapsed. In the aftermath, it emerged that its main shareholder was the Vatican bank. Calvi had set up 10 shell companies in Panama, nominally controlled, via a Luxembourg subsidiary, by the Vatican bank. […] A $1.3bn black hole was found in the Banco Ambrosiano accounts. Calvi fled the country on a false passport, and in June 1982 was found hanged under Blackfriars bridge in London.[…] Perhaps the most formidable member of the old guard was the secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a man with a fondness for vestments of fine Italian filetto lace and gold-embroidered mitres set off with a sporty pair of aviator sunglasses. He was a man who became so powerful as Benedict’s first minister that insiders called him the deputy pope. […] In January 2012 Bertone’s allies forced through a measure removing the independence of the AIF watchdog, compelling it to report to Bertone. When the cardinal wanted the Vatican bank to invest €15m in an Italian TV and film production company, Lux Vide – founded by a friend of Bertone – Gotti Tedeschi refused. In March 2012 Gotti Tedeschi was fired, and Bertone proposed the deal once more. “The message was: ‘The boss wants this,’” a Vatican source told me. The money, which has since been written off, went through.[…] The US banking experts found poor cashflow checks, inadequate documentation, ignorance about due-diligence procedures and a complex system of proxies that clouded who really controlled many accounts. When senior IOR officials were asked by Promontory staff how – amid such chaos – they answered to the regulator, they replied: “We answer to God.” Well, they were told, now you will answer to more earthly authorities.’ Click here.

No Drivers Please!

Naomi Alderman expressing indignation with the London-based Jewish orthodox community objecting to women driving cars: ‘But I wish the office of the chief rabbi – supposedly a moderate and outward-facing organisation – had come up with more leadership than the milquetoast statement: “The Belz Hasidic dynasty has contributed significantly to the rich tapestry of our tradition, but this particular view is entirely removed from mainstream Jewish practice.” How about saying you condemn “this particular view”, Rabbi Mirvis, that you find it unsound in Jewish law? How about saying it’s regressive and brings shame on the entire Jewish community? How about using your position to say that until this ruling is changed, Belzer will no longer be welcome to take up honoured positions in synagogues under your authority: they won’t be counted in minyan prayer quorums, or allowed to be witnesses in your religious courts? These moves might be symbolic, but in the religious world symbols count for something.”. click here, The Guardian, 1st June 2015

The leaders of an Orthodox Jewish sect in north London have reportedly declared that women should not be allowed to drive in a letter sent out to the community….click here, the Independent, 28th May 2015.

Rev. Doggart, Tennessee

‘Have you heard about the Christian terrorist Robert Doggart, who was plotting a violent attack against a Muslim-American community in New York state? Probably not, because as opposed to when U.S. law enforcement officials arrest a Muslim for planning a violent assault, they didn’t send out a press release or hold a press conference publicizing Doggart’s arrest. So let me tell you about Doggart and his deadly plan to use guns and even a machete to attack American Muslims in upstate New York. Doggart, a 63-year-old Tennessee resident, is an ordained Christian minister in the Christian National Church.’ Dean Obeidallah, writing in the The Daily Beast, 18th May, 2015

Rev. Roberston, Scotland

Rather extreme! “I observe how the poison of materialism, secular humanism and enlightenment rationalism have sapped the spirit of the Scottish people and I cry, ‘can these bones live?’ – from Rev. David Robertson’s Easter Message. click here.

Patrick Sookhdeo

Dr Sookhdeo has been styled as ‘Professor Patrick Sookhdeo, Visiting Professor, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom’ –  for some inexplicable reason, the DA has seen him as an expert on Muslim matters. Other UK institutions with Security expertise have also conferred him with gravitas – such as Cranfield, where he has been ‘Senior Visiting Fellow’. Some due diligence would have been in place! How can an evangelical leader, founder of the Barnabas Fund that focuses on Christian minorities, author of ‘Global Jihad: the future in the face of militant Islam’? be able to offer an objective and balanced assessment of Muslim issues? Philip Lewis reviewing Sookhdeo’s ‘Faith, Power and Territory: A handbook of British Islam’, noted

“The title of this book should read, ‘Beware, the Muslims are intent on taking over!…the section on British Islam includes such headings as ‘planning for Islamic dominance’ and ‘strategy for the Islamisatin of the UK’. The material on Muslim organisations is preceded by the sombre warning that ‘it is important to bear in mind the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya which permits Muslims to dissimulate in times of danger’…his assertion that ‘the gradual penetration of the UK…by radical Islam has gone largely unnoticed until the subversion of systems is now well entrenched’ is scaremongering of the worst kind…”[review published in Church Times, 27 June 2008, p.23]

It seems that the good doctor is adept at his own form of dissimilitude. According to press reports, ” Barnabas Fund’s director Patrick Sookhdeo has been found guilty of sexual assault and of intimidating two witnesses.The jury at Swindon Crown Court decided that founder of one of Britain’s major Christian charities, which supports persecuted Christians and campaigns for religious liberty throughout the world, felt a woman’s thighs and breast in his office. The 67-year-old shook his head and put his head in his hands as he was convicted.” Click here.

Foul-mouthed Buddhist monk

A south-east Asian Buddhist monk has provoked outrage by calling a United Nations special envoy a “b****” and a “whore”. Burmese monk Ashin Wirathu made the remarks about South Korean envoy Yangee Lee, who toured Myanmar last week to access the dire situation of the nation’s persecuted Muslim community.Last Friday Mr Wirathu said at a public rally: “We have explained about the race protection law, but the b**** criticised the laws without studying them properly”. 22nd January 2015, click here.

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Reverential Pegida

…a Catholic priest who took part in a demonstration organised by the Pegida-offshoot group Dügida in the western city of Duisburg on Monday has been banned from preaching by his religious elders, after he compared the movement to the Crusades. 21st January 2015, click here.

The Churches during the National-Socialist era

Charles Marsh’s recent biography on the heroic Pastor Bonhoeffer provides some insights on the less laudable responses of the Churches to the Nazis in 1930s Germany. Christian teachings “could be commandeered in the service of Germany, especially when the German theological establishment prsumed the providential blessing of the warrior God”.  Moreover, “Nazi banners ornamented the churches; one minister declared, ‘Christ has come to us through Adolf Hitler”.  Susan Heschel in ‘The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany’ records how Church intellectuals such as Walter Grundman condoned the publication of a ‘dejudaized’ New Testament (Die Botschaft Gottes) in which Jesus connections with Judea were removed, as well as references to his virgin birth and miracles. However, for the record, it should be noted that the Lutheran churches were split between Nazi-supporters (Deutsche Christen) and those opposed (Bekkende Kirche). Bonhoeffer became a leader of the latter, or ‘Confessing Church’

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Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

No wonder the Pope has been embarrassed by the actions of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in charge of the Holy See and its administration under Pope Benedict XVI . This church leader has apparently decided to settle in a  luxury 6,500 square foot apartment in the grounds of the San Carlo Palace in the Vatican, with a spacious roof garden. The simple-living Francis is not amused.

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A loose cannon (or is it the Rev. Canon?) James McConnell of the Whitewell MetropolitanTabernacle in Belfast tok a very uncharitable swipe at Islam, declaring to his Sunday congregation on 18th May that “Islam is heathen, Islam is Satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in Hell.”  We await the Church leadership to disassociate itself from this intolerance – perhaps Muslims can take some comfort from Jesus’s teaching: Blessed are the persecuted. click here

“There is a Roman Catholic priest at a medieval church an hour’s drive from Paris who has been indicted by a United Nations court for genocide, extermination, murder and rape in Rwanda. Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka was notorious during the 1994 genocide of 800,000 Tutsis for wearing a gun on his hip and colluding with the Hutu militia that murdered hundreds of people sheltering in his church. A Rwandan court convicted the priest of genocide and sentenced him in absentia to life in prison. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda spent years trying to bring him to trial. But the Catholic church in France does not see any of this as a bar to serving as a priest and has gone out of its way to defend Munyeshyaka.” Chris McGreal in The Guardian, 8 April 2014

The priest at St Mary and All Saints church, Hampton Lovett, Worcestershire: “The church said it had been unaware of the most serious accusations when it appointed the Right Rev Jonathan Ruhumuliza in 2005, even though they had been widely aired during and after the genocide, in which 800,000 Tutsis were murdered, and which led to a schism within the Anglican church in Rwanda.” 15 Feb 2014

The Revd Paul Flowers – statement from the Methodist Church: “We expect high standards of our ministers and we have procedures in place for when ministers fail to meet those standards. Paul is suspended from duties for a period of three weeks, pending investigations, and will not be available to carry out any ministerial work. We will also work with the police if they feel a crime has been committed.
We are also asking people to pray for all those involved in and affected by this story.”

“..the newly-elected Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, David Lau, was seen on a video telling an audience of yeshiva boys that they shouldn’t watch European basketball games in public. “What difference does it make,” Lau said, “if the kushim who get paid in Tel Aviv beat the kushim who get paid in Greece?” Kushim, especially when used in a dismissive context like Lau did, is a well-understood derogatory term for blacks.

“Israeli police say they have questioned the country’s chief rabbi and raided his home and office over his alleged involvement in a bribery and money-laundering scheme.”

“Father Piero Corsi has sparked outrage in Italy with a Christmas message posted on the door of his church arguing that women suffer sexual violence because they neglect housework and children, serve cold dinners, dress provocatively….”

“France’s top rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, has resigned amid a scandal over plagiarism. Rabbi Bernheim had admitted to plagiarising several authors and lying about an academic status on his CV, reports said”.

“Two more infants have been infected with a deadly herpes virus in the last three months after undergoing a controversial religious oral circumcision in New York City…The identify of the rabbi who performed the circumcision is being withheld by the boys’ parents, preventing the health department to step in, they said.”

“Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, who is leader of the UK’s Strictly Orthodox Jewish community, told the alleged victim that it was “mesira”, or forbidden, to report a suspected Jewish sex offender to a non-Jewish authority”.

“Palestinian sources in the city of Haifa have said that a group of rabbis has sent threatening letters to hotels and banqueting halls in the city, warning them not to host any New Year’s Eve parties or display any Christmas decorations. The warning refers to the celebration of “Gentile” festivals. Should the warning be ignored, the rabbis have threatened to withhold religious services and the monthly inspections which provide Kashrut supervision”.

“Father Piero Corsi has sparked outrage in Italy with a Christmas message posted on the door of his church arguing that women suffer sexual violence because they neglect housework and children, serve cold dinners, dress provocatively….”

“Israeli authorities have indicted a former chief rabbi of the country on charges of fraud and breach of trust…Bakshi-Doron and others are accused of falsifying rabbinical certificates for more than 1,000 soldiers and police officers so they could be eligible for salary increases”.

“It has been alleged that the [Swiss] priest has been funding the website herself, the Tages Anzeiger reported. The prosecutor also believes it possible that she has been contributing some of the racist content, albeit under pseudonyms. The Council [of Reformist Churches] had already warned the priest previously for her participation at extreme-right Islamophobic events in Germany. Having reviewed the content of the website, the Council described the articles posted there as ‘inflammatory and derogatory’

“Hewlett Johnson became the Dean of Canterbury in 1931, when he was already getting on for 60, and clung on to the post, despite numerous attempts to get him out, until 1964. Over those 33 years, Johnson devoted the bulk of his astonishing energy to proving that Soviet Communism, especially as practised by Stalin, was heaven on earth…”

“Padres who earn as much as bishops in the Church of England, starting on more than £37,000 have their own moral mazes to navigate. Last month the government inquiry into the death of the Basra hotel receptionist Baha Mousa ñ who was beaten to death while in British custody in Iraq in 2003 ñ criticised Father Peter Madden, who was attached to 1st Battalion the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, for not reporting the abuse. The inquiry accused Madden of giving inconsistent evidence and “lacking the courage” to report the “shocking and shameful” treatment of 10 Iraqi men, including Mousa. His conduct shocked serving chaplains. One, who does not wish to be named, says: “The inquiry was very damning. That padre got it wrong. I hope it was a one-off but it will be a marker for us.”

A priest suspected of being an IRA leader and masterminding a bombing atrocity was allowed to escape arrest thanks to a secret deal between police, ministers and the Roman Catholic Church, a report revealed yesterday. Father James Chesney was the ‘prime suspect’ after nine people, including an eight-year-old girl, were killed and 30 injured when three car bombs exploded in the quiet Northern Ireland village of Claudy in July 1972.

Rabbi Meir Kahne ‘un jour aprËs líenlËvement de ces soldats, IsraÎl devrait sortir et attraper 100 Arabes, les mettre dans des cages mesurant 2 mËtres par 2 et dire : “Ils seront assis ici jusquí‡ ce que vous rel‚chiez gratuitement nos enfants’…Aucun arabe ne vaut la vie díun seul soldat juif. Certains pensent que cíest du racisme, moi je ne le crois pas.”

“Catholic priest Brendan Smyth pleads guilty to 17 counts of indecently assaulting five girls and two boys in Belfast. His order, the Norbertines, spent decades shuttling him among Irish and American parishes and harbored Smyth from British arrest2.

“The resignation of Roger Vangheluwe, 73, the Bishop of Bruges since 1984, was the first from Belgium since a child abuse scandal began testing the Catholic Church several months ago in Europe and the United States”.

“A group of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka led a crowd that demolished a Muslim shrine last week, the BBC has learned. This incident took place on Saturday in Anuradhapura, an ancient Buddhist city and Unesco world heritage site. The monk who led the group told the BBC he did it because the shrine was on land that was given to Sinhalese Buddhists 2,000 years ago. But a prominent Muslim in the area said he was very sad and the sentiment was shared by many Sinhalese too.”

“Rabbi David Twersky, leader of the Rachmastrivka Hasidic dynasty, says the recent tsunami in Japan, which has left thousands of people dead, was the result of the arrest of two yeshiva students by Japanese authorities after being convicted of smuggling drugs.”,7340,L-4050133,00.html

“A leading rabbi in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar has encouraged Israel Defense Forces soldiers to make use of the outlawed ‘neighbor procedure’ while operating in Palestinian areas. ‘Anything you do to keep the war tough is permissible, and obligatory according to the torah,’ Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, headmaster of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, wrote in fliers distributed to his students.”