Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Thoughts on Gosnell film

Dean Cain in Gosnell
(production still from gosnellmovie.com/press)

Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer is one of the most important films in recent years. It is an engaging, well-paced crime drama that sheds overdue light on the nature of the abortion industry and the government and media powers that protect it.

ABORTION COVERUP
Perhaps the scariest moment in the Gosnell movie is when one realizes how protected the abortion industry is. During a scene depicting pretrial questioning, a state official shrugs at the fact that the state of Pennsylvania neglected to properly vet abortion businesses.

In the actual case, Pennsylvania health department official Janet Staloski testified that health department attorneys "changed their legal opinions and advice to suit the policy preferences of different governors" and that the state didn't want to be "putting a barrier up to women" seeking abortions.

The lack of media interest in the case likewise reveals the propagandist quality of the abortion industry. Whether from government or media, such propagandists have proven reluctant to even discuss abortion's true nature.

The actual Gosnell Grand Jury report filed in 2011 goes on for over 60 pages detailing how the Pennsylvania Department of Health woefully permitted unsafe medical conditions to persist at abortion offices. Gosnell's office, as the movie reiterated, went uninspected at one point for a span of 17 years.

That section of the report begins:
We discovered that Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety. 
The film moves along at a decent pace, beginning with investigators discovering illegal prescription drug activity from Gosnell's office. The abortion horrors transpiring there might not otherwise ever have been exposed if not for the state following the drug leads.

It is a fascinating watch, especially for those interested in true crime, courtroom drama, and police investigation. Ed Morrissey, senior editor at Hot Air and regular guest host on Relevant Radio, reviews some of the other accurate attributes of Gosnell here.

Although the subject matter largely revolves around abortion, the movie is not graphic. Evening television depicts far more gruesome imagery than can be seen in Gosnell. That brings me to Baby Boy A.

BABY BOY A
Baby Boy A was born alive and subsequently murdered by Gosnell. "[T]he doctor just slit the neck," testified Kareem Cross, an assistant at Gosnell's office. A photo of the baby factored into Gosnell's guilt. Gruesome details of Baby Boy A's fate are given in the Grand Jury Report beginning on page 100. Cross was asked why she took the picture of this boy Gosnell killed. Cross testified:
Because it was big and it was wrong and we knew it. We knew something was wrong. ... I’m not sure who took the picture first, but when we seen this baby, it was – it was a shock to us because I never seen a baby that big that he had done. So it was – I knew something was wrong because everything, like you can see everything, the hair, eyes, everything. And I never seen for any other procedure that he did, I never seen any like that.
Below is a screencap of Baby Boy A from the Grand Jury Report.

I asked film director and star Nick Searcy via Twitter why the photo was not shown in the movie. He graciously replied: "Because we have good taste and discernment."

While I respect that decision and the audiences Gosnell had to consider, I would like to have seen the photo in the film. Granted, the film's epilogue does refer the viewer to the Gosnell film website to see the photo.

The issue brings to mind the question of whether or not to show images of aborted babies. For example, images are shown by the Pro-Life Action League's "Face the Truth" tours. Pro-life theology professor Dr. Monica Miller argues photos expose the truth of abortion's atrocity in a way non-visual communication cannot. In 2013, not long after the Gosnell trial, she was interviewed on the Kresta in the Afternoon show on the topic Graphic Images: An Apologia (written form of her arguments can be also read at Pro-Life Action League).  In the case of Baby Boy A, I do not find the photo that graphic. It is a photo of a newborn. I would like to have seen the image in the movie, if even by way of a long camera shot. To include the photo in the film seems consistent with the unmasking theme of the film itself. The matter also reminds me of the graphic nature of The Passion of the Christ (2004). Although many criticized the brutality in that film, many others argued for the necessity of depicting the violence. And the Baby Boy A image is far more benign than what is depicted in The Passion.

GOSNELL EVEN WORSE THAN FILM REVEALS
Depicting all of Gosnell's crimes could probably fill multiple television seasons. The Gosnell film focuses largely on the investigation and parts of the trial, including Baby Boy A and the death of Karnamaya Mongar. However, his gruesome legacy went much further. As the film mentioned, Gosnell's atrocities go back at least to the early 1970s in which he participated in an experimental abortion technique that badly damaged many women's insides.

The Grand Jury Report goes on for hundreds of pages about his improprieties, including especially disturbing accounts beginning on page 6 under the subhead "Butcher of women."

For example, Gosnell tore the cervix and colon of one woman, prevented relatives from getting to her, and only let them in once they threatened to call police. The victim was brought to a hospital and had to have a portion of her intestine removed. Multiple other stories in the report tell of similar horror.

SUMMARY
All in all, this is a gripping film full of accurate details on one of the most important issues of our time. Not to be lost is awareness of the collaborative effort by government and media in facilitating Gosnell's crimes in the name of abortion. It is an eye-opening account to anyone unfamiliar with the abortion industry and the schemes that hide its true horrors.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Revisiting Fr. John Corapi in light of current Church scandal

Detail of Fr. John Corapi from
his "Heaven & Hell" CD collection
THE CURRENT SCANDAL
Fr. John Corapi was considered among the greatest Catholic preachers of the 1990s and early 2000s. He left public ministry in June 2011.1 I blogged about his departure back then, including this timeline of events. A statement from a priest in his order claimed his behavior was "unbecoming of a priest." Rumors abounded that he engaged in improprieties with one or more women and possibly returned to drugs, from which he escaped decades ago. Fr. Corapi argued the canonical process was flawed, stating that his canonical and other attorneys concluded he "cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process."

Today, the Church faces a renewed look at the modern sex abuse scandal. More prominently figuring in coverage is that 80% of victims have been male and post-pubescent.  This is consistent with data reported in 2004. Although this does not mean simply being "gay" makes one a predator, but it does mean those who are gay and predatorial are active in the Church.

Reigniting the current attention to the scandal was the August 22, 2018 letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. In the letter, he describes a network of pro-homosexual and/or heterodox clergy having risen to key positions in the Church throughout the decades.

Viganó's account is striking because of the high position within the Church from which it comes. But it is not unique among clergy itself. A scathing exposition on the homosexual subculture and powerful clergy blocking faithful clergy was written in 2012 by Fr. Dariusz Oko. In June, journalist Rod Dreher recounted his efforts to break the Cardinal Theodore McCarrick scandal as far back as 2002, but those with information would not go on record. A popular homily on August 26 by Fr. Robert Altier expounded on infiltration dating back to the early 20th century, as described in such places as the famous book AA-1025.

There are many other accounts describing the scandalous behavior of infiltrating culprits, roadblocks encountered throughout the decades by orthodox priests, and more. Heterodox clergy are at the highest levels. Faithful clergy are persecuted and threatened. With all this in mind, let's return to Fr. Corapi.

I recently listened again to a number of Fr. Corapi's talks from the 90s and early 00s. Whatever the truth about his departure, his talks were among the most popular the Church has heard in recent memory. They were candid, typically delivered passionately, truthful, and backed firmly by magisterial teaching. If you have old CDs or MP3s, I would recommend giving them a listen again. His messages from back then are largely just as relevant today.

FATHER CORAPI'S WORDS
Let's review several excerpts from Fr. Corapi's talks in light of what has been described about Church scandal today. Emphasis mine:
I sat in a meeting not that long ago with a number of bishops and theologians. I sat between two bishops. The one on my left said, “Well, we’re wasting our time in this meeting.” It was on moral theology. I said, “Why is that, Bishop?” He said, “Well, until we come out and publicly denounce Pope Paul VI and Humanae Vitae, we’re wasting our time.” Yeah, the Bishop said that. To my face. I didn’t read it on the front page of The Wanderer. He said it! My hearing was fine. I made him repeat it three times to make sure. The one on my right said, “I don’t think we can talk much about formation of conscience, you know, it’s in the catechism, but, you know, we have to tell our people they have to form their conscience to the world around them.” What? What do you mean by that? “Well, we’re not the only ones with a good idea. We have to be up to date and people of our times.” “What do you mean, that if the culture says that it’s all right to commit mortal sin, we should form our conscience in accord with that?” He said, “Oh, mortal sin, I doubt there is such a thing.” Now if you’d ever confront one of them with this, they’d deny it to your face. We tolerate evil men! And watch out, the consequences are about to come home to roost.  ...  (MP3)
Those self-styled apostles, who are nothing of the sort, you found that they don’t really teach what the Church teaches, however clever their language, however subtle their heresies. Let me tell you something, and I’m saying it straight out. There are two Churches right now. The right one and the wrong one — God’s Church and Satan’s assembly. (Apocalypse Now #2 of 4, 1994) (MP3)
A religious sister I knew for years, forty-some years professed in an active order, marginalized because she was faithful to the Church. Still wore her religious habit. Thought it was odd that the only novice they’d had in years was about to be professed, and she wasn’t invited. She also thought it odd that the ceremony was to take place on what she thought was the vigil of All Saints Day—midnight, Halloween in other words. She hid in the choir loft. What she saw can’t be repeated. It involved witchcraft and lesbianism. She confronted the superior the next day and was told “If you ever say a word, we’ll put you in a mental hospital. And it will be your word against ours, and you won’t win.” She came back from the school she had taught in for thirty years to find her suitcases in the parking lot and the locks changed. Her reward for forty-some years of religious profession. And a good lay woman had to come and take her to live with her. (Apocalypse Now #3 of 4, 1994) (MP3)
I sat in a room having dinner with a group of 10 priests two months ago. After dinner, one of my brothers said, “What do you think of the new encyclical on moral theology?” [probably Veritatis Splendor from August 1993] They didn’t know me. I was a stranger there. One of the priests responded, “He’s got some nerve trying to tell us what to do.” And it escalated. Like sharks smelling blood working themselves up into a frenzy. And the hatred that radiated out of that room would frighten you. And I’ve seen it for years. ... (MP3)
At a recent convocation of priests in a diocese in the northeast, [to] get together to discuss the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the main speaker, who had 90% of the time, said in a nutshell, “Don’t pay too much attention to it, boys.” And the bishop sat there. “Don’t believe it literally. Because we don’t believe that anymore. The parts on moral theology—ugh! They talk about sin! Never talk about sin. Talk about immature behavior. Talk about a psychological deficiency, but never mention sin. We don’t want to give anyone a guilt complex.” This is what’s going on in your Church and mine, the Bride of Christ. But the Bride of Christ is indefectibly holy and beautiful. But at the moment, She’s being attacked—in a sense raped. That is not alright with me, nor should it be with you. (To Love the Church is to Love the Lord, 1993) (MP3)
I know many places right now where a lie is being taught that there is no such thing as original sin. That is a heresy. In case you didn’t know it, you’re hearing it here. Heresy. Jesus Christ is divine without any question. That’s an old heresy that’s been recycled—Arianism. He is not merely human. He is fully God and fully man, true God and true man. The Blessed Virgin Mary is immaculately conceived, preserved without sin from all eternity in virtue of her son’s passion, death, and resurrection. Virgin before, during, and after birth. Dogma. Doctrine. Without faith in that it is impossible to please God. Why? Because He’s revealed it to us. We have a better idea than God? I think not. We smarter than God’s Church? I think not. And it is nothing but unmitigated callous arrogance to think that we know more than what’s been revealed. And there are millions, possibly, who fall into that category. And you can go in many diocese and see it taught at the highest levels, from the chancery office down, including in our seminaries. And then you wonder why Father has a problem. Then you wonder why Father has a moral problem. Then you wonder why Father isn’t feeding you with the substantive doctrine of truth. (The Truth is a Matter of Life and Death, 1993) (MP3)
Very often a moral problem is behind a doctrinal problem. Why is it that they can’t see that artificial contraception, homosexual behavior, just isn’t right? In some cases, part of their life. And how are you going to preach against it, unless you convert, change your life? (Attack on Truth, ca 2004) (MP3)
OBSERVATIONS
Notice in the first story about the meeting with bishops, the bishops condemn the papal encyclical on human sexuality, Humanae Vitae. Fr. Corapi proceeds to then describe something like a competing subculture when he refers to "God's Church and Satan's assembly." Notice how Fr. Corapi describes teachers in the Church who try to make "conscience" the primary driver of "morality" instead of Church teaching.

We still see this. For example, in February 2018, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich stated in February 2018 that conscience must be the primary driver of morality instead of universal Church precepts. His statements remind us of the idea of the "dictatorship of relativism" then-Cardinal Ratzinger warned about in 2005. In September, Cupich swiftly sanctioned a priest for burning a flag promoting homosexuality that once hung at his parish. Of Viganó's letter on Church sex scandal (which named Cupich), Cupich quickly called the allegations going down a "rabbit hole," made accusations of racism, and insisted the Church has a "bigger agenda" to worry about. Cupich also endorsed the book of and invited to speak a Jesuit priest who regularly promotes homosexual behavior, has referred to a man's same-sex partner as "husband," and hopes so-called "married" same-sex couples will kiss at the sign of peace in the same way married couples do. These are just examples of many occasions in which Archbishops, bishops, and priests deviate from Church teaching and deceive the laity.

Notice Fr. Corapi describe how a heterodox priest said to "never talk about sin." In Cupich's entire February talk, sin is mentioned once only when he quotes Pope Francis dismissing the idea that people in "irregular" relationships are necessarily in mortal sin. The concept of sin is supplanted with the notion of "accompaniment," which is mentioned in some form 18 times. He describes what includes sinful arrangements only as different types of "situations" some 10 times.

Notice in Fr. Corapi's story about the nuns and witchcraft, the faithful sister was threatened with mental rehab. A September 25 blog post by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf describes the frequency of this same ploy used against orthodox priests.

Notice in the other stories the attack on authentic doctrine that often comes with corruption and moral problems. According to Viganó's now-famous report, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was instrumental in Cupich's ascension to Archbishop. And McCarrick, as is now well-known, has been a central figure and culprit in the Church's sexual scandal for decades. Doctrinal and moral corruption, as Fr. Corapi described, often work in concert. Exceptions are not strong objections. If a doctrinal error is deliberately perpetrated by a clergyman who has not committed sexual scandal directly, he still, by virtue of diluting the truth of the faith, fosters the belief that Church morals are malleable.

REVISITING THE DEPARTURE
Many voices have now risen to describe the devil's vicious tactics to silence orthodoxy and promote immorality in the Church. It is not publicly known what was the true fate of Fr. John Corapi and why he ended his ministry. We know his popularity and willingness to call out heterodox bishops no doubt made him a thorn in the sides of infiltrating powers. We know in his younger years he lived a sinful life, including cocaine use and spending a year in a mental hospital. What happened with him in 2011 could range anywhere from him relapsing into sin or an infiltrating subculture of enemies plotting his demise. He could have succumbed to his old ways, or, in light of his past stay at a mental hospital, he could have been threatened by an infiltrating subculture with mental rehab as were many other priests.

He did start a website, since closed, under the name John Corapi minus his "Father" title for a brief period after departure. Criticism abounded even among faithful Catholics that he acted in disobedience no matter what happened. The entire affair seemed chaotic. It is my opinion that the quality of his talks particularly lost some sense of candidness and zeal somewhere in the mid-later 2000s. But, before that, he was arguably the best preacher of his time.

In June 2011 the Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Rene Henry Gracida, stated: "I believe that he is justified in not seeking to clear his name through a canonical process; at the present time such processes are very flawed in most dioceses." In July 2011, a since-deleted post from the webmaster of Fr. Corapi's order, SOLT, cautioned against believing Fr. Corapi and that "Church authorities ... have been trying to bring him in for years."

What we do know is that Fr. Corapi's earlier talks often spoke candidly of a poisoned Church, including the hierarchy. We know that his theology was firmly grounded in orthodox truth. In re-listening to his stories, we can see that they are consistent with many others who have since come forward to describe improprieties, heterodoxy, and infiltration in the Church.

STAY VIGILANT
What we can learn from Fr. Corapi's and others' accounts from years past are clues to what attention we should give to what warning signs. He warned of an overlap of doctrinal and moral deviance. We must be alert to linguistic snakery that gives way to doctrinal and moral corruption. It may be necessary to intensify sanctions regardless of whether a clergyman deviates even slightly from a dogma or commits grave sin. In another talk, Attack on Unity, Fr. Corapi proposed the notion that a lack of understanding in Thomistic metaphysics and philosophy has resulted in a "downhill" trend in theology, because many teachers fail to understand the meaning of "being," for example. Many are calling for a return to a more traditional liturgy and traditional Church decor and iconography. If doctrinal and moral faults are as intertwined as they appear, then the Church's solution to this crisis must include doctrinal correction in addition to a systemic correction of checks and balances. If it takes a soft inquisition to purge any defiant, unbelieving clergy, so be it.

Remember the famous quote from then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1969:
The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. ... As the number of her adherents diminishes...she will lose many of her social privileges. ... But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. (Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and Future, 1969)
Time will tell if the Spirit wills such a purgation to shrink the Church and raise it again to "great power." We must pray for wisdom and invoke Our Lady, the angels, and saints.

Decades have passed while several voices have cried out in the wilderness as did Isaiah or Jeremiah during tumultuous times for God's people. The time for purification of this scandal is overdue.



1Fr. Corapi's current whereabouts and status are difficult to ascertain. I sent an inquiring message to his former order, SOLT, on Monday, Sept. 24, but have not received correspondence as of Oct. 3, 2018.

Related reading:
St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body.
Dr. Ryan T. Anderson's Truth Overruled on marriage between a man and woman.
Austin Ruse on the science of fatherless or motherless children.
Dr. Jeff Mirus: In denial about not ordaining homosexuals?
Phil Lawler: The McCarrick scandal & the gay lobby: a problem the bishops won’t address
Dr. Janet E. Smith: McCarrick, dissent from ‘Humanae vitae’, and the ‘sensus fidelium’.
Rod Dreher: Voice of Conscience = Voice of God, a critique of Arch. Cupich
The Catholic Voyager: Psychology of a pedophile