Friday, February 24, 2006

As American As Thomas Nast's Cartoons

One of America's greatest political cartoonists, Thomas Nast, the man who first depicted Santa Claus as we know him to be, found a home in American Progressive thought. Like Lyman Beecher, Samuel Morse, Margaret Sanger, Frances Willard, William Garrison, and John Quincy Adams, Thomas Nast believed that the Catholic Church was an evil institution dedicated to world domination and sexual perversions of all manifestations. This cartoon from Harpers Weekly seems suitable to today's climate.

There is a great old American tradition of vilifying the Catholic Church. In the 19th Century, immigrant Catholic children attended public schools where they learned how horrible the 'faith of their fathers and mothers' was to them. Pretty soon Catholics built their own schools. Today, those schools dominate post season athletics 'because they have an unfair advantage over Public Schools.'

The ministers of the Catholic Church are monsters; in the 19th Century they were recruiters for the Pope's Vatican Army and today they are sexual predators. The trouble is - the American Catholic Bishops are leading supplier of fuel to the fires raging in today's headlines.

I attended Catholic grammar school, high school, university and graduate school. In high school I attended a seminary in Holland Michigan ( all male) the only nuns were Mexican Hermanitas who cooked for us. We played football, basketball, baseball, and boxed.
We lived in a barracks-like dormitory. I was there for three years ( 1966-1969).
I had daily classes, athletics, and punishments under the supervision of priests and brothers. I was never approached, courted, flirted with, touched ( other than clouted for the best of reasons; I was a jerk) , much less sexually molested. I'll admit that I ain't much to look at.

I received a magnificent education and learned charity from some
wonderful people. What did I miss?

Back home, my Dad asked if I wanted to finish at Leo with my buddies from the neighborhood, but I had missed the allure of feminine company; I finished at a co-ed Catholic high school - Little Flower. There were nuns in control again but they were not as prone to violence as the grammar school sisters had been. Parish priests, including the guy who called for Cardinal George to resign, filled out the theology staff. One priest Father Charles Ruby spent what seemed like every hour of the day with us punks from Wood Street.

Father Ruby opened the gym for us during his 'free time;' talked to us about racial change and our obligations to civil rights as Catholics; counseled draft age guys about military service; warned us about Irish arthritis - getting stiff in a different joint every night; and bailed out malefactors from the lock-up at Gresham. He did not grab boys.

The only abuse from the clergy, aside from eight years of clouts in grammar school, that I have ever experienced was being hit by Cardinal Cody's driver while running across Chicago Ave. when I was late for a class at Loyola. I got a 'Watch where the hell you're going!' from Louisiana Fats, yelling from the rolled down window of his Limo. The Progressives loved Louisiana fats, who spent his early tenure in Chicago undoing the great works of Card. Mundelein and Bishop Sheils.

As a baby teacher at Bishop McNamara High school in Kankakee, IL, I witnessed Father Ken Yarno C.S.V. courageously report sexual abuse of a boy in the 'care' of another priest and that was in 1979. It's in the public record.

Boys and girls are and have been abused by priests, as well as some laymen from what I understand. It is a horror. The bishops of the Catholic Church and their chancery office spin-doctors have screwed the pooch and with the arrogance of people who have been 'right and correct' all of their lives have dismissed the charges of abuse against the clergy like so many used votive candles.

Punish the sexual predators; I have no problems with guy who shanked Geoghan in Massachusetts. Each man's death diminishes me and I can stand to drop a few pounds.

But, let's try to keep our eyes open. There are people who have made a cottage industry from the clergy abuse scandals. What is going to be left when ever person who has passed a stiff collar on the street brings a charge of abuse? Class Action suits. Remember the Children! Well, remember the children when they no longer have a Catholic school to attend. Remember the Poor! Well, remember the thousands of Catholic employees who will not see their pensions. Remember the Hurting! Well, remember the hurting when there is no Catholic Charities! Remember Justice! Well, remember justice when people like Bishop Joseph Imesch of Joliet, are tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. If Bishop Imesch is guilty of a crime, bring a case against him and convict him based upon evidence.

We , the fair minded American People, would burst the back-side out our Depends, if any Bishop had fired an openly GAY priest ten years ago. If a charge of homosexuality were leveled against any priest how soon would it have taken for the ACLU and Gay activist lawyers to sue the diocese? As quick as a lawyer can say, "40%." How long would an issue like "PRIVACY" been not taken for granted?

We want it now! We want it to go away. Well, things do go away. The money. The services. The schools. The opportunities.

Let's remember that the man who gave use Santa Claus, 19th Century cartoonist Thomas Nast, also HATED the Catholic Church and Catholics in particular. His sentiments are an American tradition. Faith is larger than tradition and so are the laws of Cause and Effect.

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