**TheMediaReport.com SPECIAL REPORT** Star Witness In Church Abuse Trial SLAMS Kansas City Star: ‘It Was Clear The Kansas City Star Was Not Interested In The Truth’

Judy Thomas : Kansas City Star : Mary Sanchez

On trial in Kansas City: The Kansas City Star's Judy L. Thomas (l) and Mary Sanchez (r)

The Kansas City Star may not have been officially listed as a party in the recent high-profile clergy abuse trial in Kansas City, but the credibility of the Star was certainly on trial. And by all accounts, it lost.

A splashy, three-part series in 2011, entitled, "The altar boys' secret," by the Star's Judy L. Thomas, relayed the shocking charges of a man named Jon David Couzens, who claimed that an abusive priest, Msgr. Thomas O'Brien (who died in 2013), had forced Couzens and three other altar boys thirty years earlier to perform sex acts upon each other and upon him only minutes before Mass was to begin at the Catholic school where the boys attended.

And according to the Star, Couzens claims that this episode happened not just once, not twice, but on three separate occasions.

Color me skeptical: Not when it comes to the Catholic Church

Jon David Couzens

The accuser:
Jon David Couzens

The notion that an abuser would set up multiple forced orgies with four minors immediately prior to the start of Mass would strike most as incredible or, at the very least, implausible. So the question immediately arises: What do the other three alleged victims of O'Brien's pre-Mass forced orgies have to say about Couzens' claims?

Well, the first other alleged victim is Brian Teeman, who died of a suicide in 1983. The second alleged victim is Chuck Caffrey, who died in a car accident in 2000.

That leaves the only other alleged victim still living, Jeff Barlow. But Barlow completely rejects Couzens' wild story and vehemently denies ever being abused by O'Brien or anyone else.

Appearing at the recent trial in Missouri, Barlow forcefully asserted, "With God as my witness and without a doubt, I was never abused."

In other words, the only person alive today who can corroborate Couzens' wild story denies that it ever happened. Yet when the Star's ace reporter Judy Thomas spoke with Barlow, and Barlow denied that such repeated group orgies had occurred, Thomas did not become the least bit skeptical of Couzens' claims.

And when Barlow testified at trial earlier this month, he offered his opinion about the Kansas City Star's journalistic integrity and ethics. Barlow declared:

"I was infuriated because it was clear that The Kansas City Star was not interested in the truth. It was like I was discounted."

Barlow also offered an opinion to the plausibility of repeated group molestations just moments before Mass was to begin. Barlow testified:

"This idea that in this short period of time you're going to molest four boys, swear them to secrecy and then walk into Mass is ridiculous."

The Kansas City Star's lower bar for the Catholic Church

Thomas' reporting just demonstrates how low the bar is for the Star to trumpet any story alleging abuse by a Catholic priest. In her never-ending zeal to bludgeon the Catholic Church, Thomas forged ahead with her story of "Four young lives, innocence lost," despite the fact that only one of the four actually claimed something happened, and the only other living alleged victim claims it didn't. (Couzens has also claimed he was abused by a second priest as well. And in addition to the alleged four-at-a-time group orgies before Mass, Couzens also claims that O'Brien abused him individually in the confessional, in the church basement, and in O'Brien's own bedroom.)

(To be precise, Barlow has indeed said that he believes that it is very possible that the abusive O'Brien could have molested Couzens and others individually in separate episodes. However, Barlow has always been adamant that Msgr. O'Brien "absolutely" never abused him, nor did he witness the priest ever actually abuse anyone.)

Honorable mention

We also want to cite the Star's Mary Sanchez for one of the most vulgar and bigoted pieces we have read in a while. In a rambling and wild-eyed article written shortly after the trial, Sanchez, who wholeheartedly embraced Couzens' claims of group orgies, asserted that the Church had somehow been "forgiving" to the admittedly abusive O'Brien.

And in the course of lambasting the Church, Sanchez also claimed, "Federal laws mandating that certain people must report suspected child abuse have been around since the mid-1970s. They always included clergy" (emphasis added).

No, they haven't, Mary. You made that up. Read the federal law, and please issue a correction to your readers for your indisputably incorrect statement of fact.

[NOTE: In his case against the Church, Couzens had sought over $10 million. Yet moments before a jury was to weigh in on the credibility of Couzens' claims, Couzens agreed to be part of a $9.95 million settlement with approximately 31 other accusers. In the end, Couzens apparently accepted far less money than what he originally sought.]


  1. Lauren says:

    One wonders why the church keeps paying on these bogus claims. They only get more of them by doing so.

    It just shows you how the church is run by incompetents.

  2. Lauren on the 28th is expressing the doubts of many Catholics, when she says harsh words about how the Church is being run. The public perception will be that these incredible payouts prove that the claims of sexual abuse are true. The complexities and practicalities of the insurance industry will be lost on the general public.

    Incidentally would be curious as to the past track record of Jon Couzens, usually those who tell woppers begin at an early age. This guy most have plenty of form.

    Because I was an altar boy myself, and his story reads like a Hollywood horror story script.

  3. Publion says:

    We can see clearly here so many of the now-standard Stampede elements.


    There is the ‘scripting’ element (noted by ‘Malcolm Harris’), and the scripting of this claim even resembles the Doe/Gallagher scripting (see Ralph Cipriano’s most recent article on the BigTrial site).


    Within that scripting, there is a mise-en-scene that nicely covers a number of bases: the accused priest’s alleged abuse is tied to the celebration of Mass and also to the sacraments (confession in this case), thus neatly impugning not only the integrity of the priest but of the Church’s sacraments and the Mass;  there are multiple alleged victims, for that extra emotional kick and to give (to the un-thoughtful reader) the impression that this story is multiply-corroborated (about which see more below); and the primary setting (the sacristy) also indicates some tactical forethought since it is one of the few places where – if one were making up a story – one might reliably presume the priest to have been where and when the story needs him to be (otherwise, if one were to have made up some other time/location, unforeseen evidence might arise demonstrating that the priest was not and could not have been at the location at the time of the alleged abuse).


    But this last point raises a tactical problem for the allegant’s endeavors: while the accused priest might reliably be presumed to be in a sacristy to celebrate Mass, it is highly unlikely that he would be able to abuse several altar boys in so insecure or un-secured a site as a sacristy just before or after Mass. But one also again sees the compensatory advantage to this somewhat dubious bit in the story: the accused (and his Church, perhaps) can be cast as so thoroughly morally deranged as to perpetrate abuse even within moments of celebrating or of having-celebrated Mass. And this then ties in with the old Stampede saw that the Church is and always has been nothing more than an organized enterprise for the abuse of minors.


    There are the aforementioned multiple abusers. This not only gives extra emotional and ‘outrage’ oomph but also implies some degree of multiple-corroboration. But – remarkably – all but one of the allegant’s co-‘victims’ are dead, and – even more remarkably – the one alleged co-‘victim’ still alive denies that any abuse ever happened to him.


    And the accused cleric is safely dead so at least there won’t be too many surprises from that quarter when it comes to countering this story and the allegations.


    There is also the legal-strategizing element: while there was apparently a standard Anderson-Strategies settlement in the works for other allegants, this allegant and his counsel opted for a trial instead.


    But then but then but then: at precisely the (theoretically) glorious moment when the allegant’s story and claims and allegations might be accepted and validated by a jury, the allegant through counsel withdrew the case and joined the settlement payout instead. Why? I would say that it is clear that the money payout was more guaranteed through the settlement process than through the trial-process (the tortie having assessed the mood of the jury and come to the conclusion that the verdict most likely wasn’t going to go in his favor and the story would be rejected).


    One might observe that this whole episode was a stretch too far for any tortie to attempt, but a) torties are enterprising types by nature and by the demands of their business model and b) in the Stampede era there really isn’t any rational limit on what you can reasonably hope to run by the legal system (especially if the media are reliably supportive of your gambit – about which see more below).


    And to run by the media too. Clearly the local media had decided to help make history rather than merely report it and they had already picked their ‘side’. The only question I still have has to do with the timing: were the media stories we see in this article produced before the verdict-avoidance maneuver or after it? If before, then the local media were surely complicit in trying to sway (and manipulate) public opinion; if after, then the local media were now forced to somehow distract the public from the hugely suspicious jury-avoidance gambit by amping up their presentation of the horrors and so on and so forth of the (alleged) abuse.


    And it is a sign of the Stampede times that the local media might have reasonably hoped that their public would be more receptive to the horrifics of the allegations rather than to the glaring fact that when those allegations were on the very cusp of being finally assessed by a jury the allegant opted to avoid that assessment and go for a more secure (if less remunerative) route to the cash.


    Lastly, we see here that the Stampede Strategies rely upon all manner of distasteful characters deliberately coming up from their depths to have a go at the piñata. But in this case the tortie overreached himself and actually exposed the whole game to the risk of being rejected by a jury and that last-minute retreat and avoidance stands as an indicator of the wisdom of the Anderson Strategies in generally going for a settlement as being the more reliable route to the cash.

  4. malcolm harris says:

    Publion on the 29th comments about a pattern in abuse allegations that appear to have a scripted similarity. A few days ago was watching a T.V. program called 'WOULD I LIE TO YOU'. Produced in the U.K. and comedy entertainment. Featured six celebrity guests who were divided into two panels, they competed to try to catch each other out lying. Viewers might think it appeared spontaneous but was too clever and slick to be spontaneous.

    Because the storyteller had prepared a narrative that was plausible, and might possibly be true…sometimes it actually is true. The questioners had excellent questions….that are artfully crafted to trip up the storyteller if he is trying to fool them. They cross-examine the guy,albeit in a friendly way. Of course while this is going on the viewers form their own opinion about the veracity of the storyteller.

    After watching this program I paused to wonder to what extent the 31 alleged victims in Kansas City were ever questioned in a similar manner. Some people may assume that they must have been cross-examined. But is that true?. After all. ..every one of the 31 alleged victims shared in the huge $9.95 million mediated settlement. You would think that one or two would have been tripped up by questioning?.

    If any one of those Kansas City claimants were to challenge me with the words…. 'Would I lie to you?'  My answer would be;  "Yes, you might….because you have nothing to lose and everything to gain".

  5. Publion says:

    On the 3rd at 1211AM ‘Malcolm Harris’ discusses that very interestingly-formatted TV program.


    And his concluding point is acute: the Stampede has made great use of the script or template that now provides the backbone for so many allegations.


    The components of that script and template are: decades ago / a minor or child / who was high-functioning and large-futured / was abused by a priest (the definition of abuse nicely left undefined, although ‘abuse’ may simply be called ‘rape’ in some schemes) / although the priest may now be dead, and perhaps long-dead / for which alleged abuse there were no witnesses (or the witnesses themselves are now dead or not-locatable) / but which alleged abuse was the sole and direct cause of many terrible dysfunctions (which explains in many cases the unpleasant and perhaps distasteful or repellent personal condition of the current allegant).


    To which might also be appended the following coda: the local Church authorities did nothing (meaning they did not immediately fork over the desired cash).


    And if I am correct in my theory, then the media’s role in sousing the public with (grossly un-examined) scare stories thus created a public atmosphere / which caused the Insurer attorneys to conclude that the possibility of a successful outcome at a trial (or in so many cases, many trials to deal with the many allegants) was very low / and thus settlement was the only route that the Insurers would accept / and thus in many cases the Diocese (the Anderson Strategies generally abandoned going after individual priests in 2002) would have no choice but to ‘settle’ the allegations without trial.


    And once that decision was made by the Insurer attorneys, then defense attorneys for the Diocese would have no choice but to go-along / resulting in only a pro-forma interviewing of allegant-Plaintiffs  / with no serious questioning of the allegants and allegations.


    And given the dogmas and necessary presumptions of Victimism, it would also be considered ‘insensitive’ or ‘re-victimizing’ to skeptically question the allegant-Plaintiffs / because all accusers-allegants are presumed to be genuine ‘victims’ simply by virtue of making their claims and allegations.


    And as a further consequence of those dogmatic presumptions, allegants cannot be prosecuted for making false or frivolous claims.


    And this is the congeries of presumptions and practices and sub-strategies that constitute the Anderson Strategy and the Stampede.


    And that Strategy and the Stampede surfed the various broader cultural movements roiling American society starting in the mid-70s: the presumption that ‘corporations’ were in so many ways evilly harming individuals; the concept of ‘predators’ and ‘superpredators’ committing violent crimes and going on crime sprees; the (now-discredited) pop-psychological claims of ‘repressed memory syndrome’; the more specifically sexual matter of widespread ‘incest’ that arose in the late-70s (neatly impugning the concepts of ‘family’ and ‘patriarchy’ and male sexuality – and heterosexuality – generally); and the stunning series of day-care abuse trials such as the (now-discredited) McMartin Ritual Satanic Abuse Child Day-Care case (that also impugned religion and any belief in the Beyond).


    The Stampede’s early phases began as cases against individual priests, but then effloresced into the January 2002 phase wherein the Church was envisioned as an ‘evil corporation’ that covered-up its alleged abusive evils / and perhaps had as its only or primary goal the perpetration of such (alleged) evils. This envisioning of abuse cases thus made the Bishops evil corporate CEO’s with the Pope as the Chairman of the Board (thus also feeding nicely into intra-Catholic issues concerning liberal or progressive ‘reform’ or ‘change’ in the Church, primarily along the lines demanded by various Catholic elements and along lines which also mirror so very well the general progressive or liberal American agenda for society and culture generally).


    Which may go quite a way toward understanding the problems with the recent Synod on the Family, the formal reporting of which strongly indicate the current Pope’s tendency not only to a) lean toward that agenda but also to b) deploy some of that agenda’s methods (i.e. packing the formal Synodal reporting commission with his own preferred factotums, publishing the discussions as if they might be formal pronouncements, and publishing the actual episcopal voting tallies – which introduces ‘politics’ into the deliberations of major Church bodies such as the Synod).


    And once the Church was envisioned as a ‘corporation’ then the prospect of payouts exploded into the realms of major payouts by Church Insurers, which was chum in the water that suddenly made the prospect of abuse lawsuits pure catnip to the entire tortie class and – with all the various Victimist legal ‘reforms, amplified and enabled by the media according to the template and scripting described above  – that also served as catnip to anybody who might want to have a go at the piñata.

    • malcolm harris says:

      On the 4th November Publion describes with clarity the worrying picture that confronts the Church and it's insurers. We could be forgiven for feeling anxious about future bundled lawsuits. Because the template he identifies is still being used as a lucrative business model by some torties.But is there a way out of this morass?

      Publion provides a clue when he talks about the underlying ideas that sustain the victimist mindset. Much of their thinking is based upon unexamined presumptions. They seek to change attitudes and even the law to help victims of sexual abuse….but in the process actually deny the constitutional rights of the accused person. Virtually tilting the scales of justice so far that it ceases to be justice. This wrongheaded mindset is best understood from their own assertions…..such as the following:

      'You can't expect victims to be coherent and rational, you can't disregard their stories simply because they don't make sense, or change from telling to telling….we must listen to all stories with a presumption of belief'

      I know that many of you will be tempted to laugh out loud….but that's not socially acceptable. Because it's similar to the Emperor's new clothes…only a child may laugh out loud.

      To my mind the key word is 'presumption'. But what is this presumption actually based upon? Is it based upon scientific observation, from meticulous studies under controlled conditions, by appropriately qualified people? Nope….no more than the Emperor's new clothes ever required the skills of a real tailor.

      The insurance industry should group together to fund a research project at a prestigious university. To discover what genuine victims of sexual assault will do when subjected to cross-examination in a simulated courtroom setting.The necessary funding, a few million dollars, would be a drop in the buchet, compared to the hundreds of millions already paid out in mediated settlements.

      Selection of genuine victims, for the study, should err on the side of caution. They should be assured that their cases were not being re-opened. Their participation in the research would be to advance academic understanding of sexual assault victims. The university's Law School and it's Psychology Department could join forces to conduct the research project. Naturally the intrusive questioning would trigger past emotions, some sad and some angry emotions, but I predict that the subjects would persevere and attempt to answe all questions.

      But how would it change anything? Well for example shall go to the case of Billy Doe/Fr. Engelhardt, just two or three years ago in Philadelphia. The jury convicted the defendant and he was sentenced to prison. The jury would never before have seen an alleged victim of sexual assault, being questioned in court. To them it was not surprising to see Billy Doe break down completely, and unable to continue. So they wouldn't have even suspected that his performance had been rehearsed and contrived. To avoid and frustrate cross-examination.

      But if the authoritative research I have suggested had already existed, then the defense attorney would have had a card up his sleeve. He could have called his expert witness, ideally the academic who had conducted the relevant research. This expert witness could have testified that victims they had studied had continued to answer questions, despite struggling with their emotions. The overwhelming majority had continued to be coherent, rational and consistent with their stories. This would have created doubt in the minds of the jurors regarding Billy Doe's performance in the witness box.

      When jurors have doubts they are obliged to give the defendant the benefit of their doubts. So this case might have served justice….instead it actually served a rampant with-hunt mentality.


  6. Publion says:

    On the 10th at 856PM ‘Malcolm Harris’ admirably seeks some sort of way forward out of the Stampede.


    In his analysis, he acutely realizes that the “underlying ideas” and “unexamined presumptions” play a key role. And he rightly connects i) those ideas and presumptions to ii) the primary sensibility with which one must Correctly approach the assorted stories, claims and allegations: one must approach them in a state of presumptive belief (and – I would add – must even more presumptively assume that the less rational and coherent and credible and even outré they may seem, then the more credible and accurate and true they must be).


    And I would also add that in order to mask the glaring whackness at the core of such presumptions, Victimist agitprop calls instead for an unremitting focus on the vividly-recounted and inferred horrifics of the (presumed-to-be-true) allegation rather than focusing on any stodgy, fuddy-duddy, insensitive, oppressive, patriarchal, uncharitable, un-Christian, un-Jesus-like – and, of course, re-victimizing – rationality or evidentiary considerations. Thus we got and get the media-amplified soap-operas which in so many areas of concern have been the staple of media ‘news’ and ‘reporting’ for decades now.


    ‘Malcolm Harris’ (hereinafter: ‘MH’) reasonably sees a solution along the lines of acquiring some actual facts upon which accurate assessment might be based. And that is indeed the theoretical solution that would rightly and quickly propose itself in such a circumstance as faces us in the Stampede.


    But it is precisely here that I think such a perfectly logical and rational solution must fail. Because we are not in a laboratory or research situation, but rather in a political situation (using that term in the broad sense): the Stampede is anchored not in the realm of science and established or discoverable fact but rather in the realm of agitprop and propaganda designed to manipulate public opinion. (Some readers may be familiar with the current reports of an MIT prof who was hired by the White House to help design the Obamacare legislation, who recently made the mistake of speaking candidly about the team’s strategy of hoodwinking the public by purposely making the language of the Bill (now a law) opaque and confusing, since – the team presumed – the public’s stupidity and confusion were the best guarantees of getting the legislation passed by running it by the herd sort of like it was  a wolf in sheep’s clothing.)


    Nor are there many Parties or interests who would care to see the actual facts discovered at this point: the Insurers have already paid out the money and might not want their own stockholders to realize how much cash (billions) they paid out on the basis of these ungrounded stories, claims and allegations; the former Plaintiffs have the cash now and certainly aren’t interested in having the very basis of their success (i.e. lack of examination) now examined; the torties ditto and doubly so: they don’t want to see the core dynamics of the Game exposed and they don’t want to see themselves exposed to possible claims or even merely perceptions-of having committed frauds upon the courts (an egregious professional no-no and in some aspects a crime); the media would surely not be interested in having their cheerleading amplification tactics exposed for what they really are and have been all along; and for the Church to support such examination at this point would – by the Playbook’s rules – merely expose it to the charge of trying to ‘re-victimize’ the ‘victims’.


    Nor would the strictly political interests behind-the-scenes care to be exposed, nor the various groups within and outside the Church who have greatly furthered their several (synergistic) agendas by glomming onto the phantasmagoria of a ‘rape-culture’ Church of predatory clerics and butt-covering bishops. In Kansas City, for example, you have a contemporary progressive urban elite in the metro area surrounded by mostly Protestant and even fundamentalist outlier regions and demographics, and the primary Catholic ‘intellectual’ presence is provided by a Jesuit university (about which see more below).


    And if various crimes against the integrity of the legal system (filing false or frivolous claims, perjury, attorney-abetted frauds committed upon the courts) are uncovered in the course of such a purely scientific research project, then there is no enforceable way of the researchers living up to their hypothesized promise that their discovered facts would never become the basis of possible legal action (civil and/or criminal).


    Nor at this point are we dealing with ‘fresh’ juries, meaning jurors untainted before-the-fact by the decades’-worth of media Stampede phantasmagoria reported as fact.


    And I say this even though there has been a Republican sweep in the recent mid-term elections. Which has indeed brought forward some interesting new changes. For example, there is now public discussion of the deployment of dubious research methodologies and conclusions in Pentagon-conducted or Pentagon-contracted ‘studies’ as to the prevalence of ‘unwanted sexual contact’ in the military (with all of which problems readers of this site might well be familiar by now). See this article



    The Doe/Gallagher trials (the criminal trials against his alleged assailants and the run-up to the civil trial in April) are indeed revealing just what MH observes, and it is tantalizing to imagine what that up-coming civil trial will demonstrate along these lines. But the Doe/Gallagher matter is one brought to the fore by accident: the DA and the Abuseniks (and the other interests also at work) lost control of the coverage and public presentation of the trial (thanks to the work of Ralph Cipriano). But I don’t think the various Stampede interests would sit still for a wider and deliberate effort to expose their assorted gambits.


    So at best I think what MH proposes here is more along the lines of a ‘counterfactual’: what would happen (or would have happened) if instead … ? This has its legitimate place as a source of some definite illumination, but I don’t think it is workable in actuality.


    In a related aspect, there is the question of the Pope’s approach to the Stampede.


    Keeping an eye on Boston (home of the Boston Globe, which played such a key (and questionable) role in the January 2002 expansion of the Stampede into its sue-the-Bishops-and-Church phase), we see that even its more ‘conservative’ counterpart – the Boston Herald – is revealing an interesting new tack: in the print edition of Sunday, November 9 on pages 4 and 5, there is an article entitled ‘Battle Seems Brewing Between Pope, Bishops’.


    The Herald’s approach: hometown boy (Boston Cardinal O’Malley, the papal go-to guy on the American clergy sex-abuse matter) is the Pope’s right-hand man, and may well be a key player not only in matters sex-abusive but also in the rest of the Pope’s agenda of fighting the ‘conservative’ bishops in the Church. “And that can only be a good thing”, as the article opines.


    In the course of its excursus, the article also trumpets a key inaccuracy about the Stampede: that it was such (‘conservative’ old fuddy-duddy and sleazy) bishops who did “shrug off” sex abuse claims (i.e. didn’t fork over the cash forthwith) and then got “lawyers to hammer out undisclosed settlements”. Although we have the clear statement of a specifically-knowledgeable Federal judge (Schiltz) and our own analysis of cui bono in regard to the settlements, that reveal the very high probability that it was the Insurer attorneys who caved (as they were strategically expected to do by the Anderson Strategies) to the torties’ demands, which demands included secrecy – the same secrecy, I would add, that will work to trip-up MH’s otherwise very reasonable theoretical solution here.


    I think that the Pope’s basic agenda – willy or nilly – is to introduce into the Church not only from within but from the top the same agenda, in Content and Method, that the ‘liberal’ wing of American Catholicism has been plumping since Vatican 2 (and since the Jesuits themselves, in July, 1964 under the auspices of their soon-to-be-defunct New England Province, made biddy-biddy-boom with the Kennedy interests to finesse and enable abortion as a plank in the Democratic Party’s platform and agenda).


    To recombine points I have made before on prior threads here: new papal favorite Cardinal Walter Kasper (who comes from Germany’s Liberal Theology milieu of i) reducing Christianity to ethics and ii) going-along with the government as a de facto instrument of God and His Providence) is publicly pushing the approach of ‘pastoral’ (as if it were opposed to ‘doctrinal’) primacy, to the bottom-line effect that, as John Allen, Jr. says in a recent article (Boston Globe, November 9, page A7 of print edition): “Francis has said that the church hierarchy should not focus so much on abortion and same sex marriage but instead concentrate on making the church a more welcoming place”.


    But as I have said: when you are dealing with an intricately-woven and complexly-constructed system of doctrine, you cannot so easily separate ‘pastoral’ from ‘doctrinal’ (precisely the mistake German Liberal Theology and all its derivatives since the Enlightenment have made) and then focus, according to your preferred agenda, on the ‘pastoral’.


    And surely it was the perverse fruit of German Liberal Theology that in the 1930s it sought to make itself “welcoming” to both the German Volk and to the German Reich. As you see, “pastoral” has its dark side, and you don’t have to ‘come over to it’, you can also just slide into it.


    An author named Robert Kaiser has just come out with a new book (entitled Inside the Jesuits) which purports to give us insight as to what might be expected from the Pope by looking-at the (glorious, in Kaiser’s opinion) history of the Jesuits.


    But I would say that the Jesuits of today no more resemble their forebears of yore than the French Army of the mid-1930s resembled their forebears of the Great War. And rather than look to the achievements now centuries-ago of the Order’s golden age and to present-day folksy and chummy and clubby Jesuit humorists, we are better advised to consider soberly that July 1964 confab in Hyannisport. Because – at least in regard to American and perhaps Western European Jesuits – that’s really the most fruitfully revealing (if not at all encouraging) historical fact of vital relevance here.

  7. Publion says:

    I have been keeping an eye (at a distance) on that Boston aspect of things developing up there that I mentioned in my immediately previous comment here. I think I see something taking shape, and it is of significant relevance to the Stampede.

    The Boston Herald, that city’s so-called ‘conservative’ paper (actually more of a tabloid, but the only alternative to the Boston Globe newspaper), publishes today yet another article – and a front-page full-length color photo – developing along the same lines as the one I mentioned in my immediately previous comment.


    Thus today: home-town boy (Cardinal O’Malley) is “the new voice of the Vatican” (big and bold lettered front-page headline) according to “papal theologians” (whatever they are, about which see more below).


    Apparently the Cardinal was on the 60 Minutes show for a “stunningly candid” interview which – the paper says – “reveals him … as the new face of the papacy”. If this means that the Cardinal certainly cleared his appearance and the general thrust of his material with the Vatican, then I would imagine this is indeed true: he will be the “face” – for American audiences at least – of the papacy. (The page 5 article in the print edition is accompanied by another posed photo of the Cardinal, this time a head-shot showing him gazing up and over the reader’s shoulder, as in ‘visionary looking to what is beyond you’ (and – I think it needs to be said – behind you, the reader).


    OK, then.


    The Cardinal – we are told – was “tackling thorny issues” ala mode the “extraordinary papacy that takes tough questions and embraces criticism” which – we are further told – is “in stark contrast to centuries of Vatican custom”. That last bit of phrasing is sly and cute: as if the only thing this new papacy might be doing is merely changing some old ‘customs’.  And the Cardinal may be seen (the article’s author opines) as ‘signaling’ “something about what Pope Francis is trying to model, and calling for”.


    Once again, the same local Catholic intellectual sources are consulted for suitable back-up quotes; this time they are two faculty members (and one a Jesuit) of the local Jesuit university, Boston College – the keystone academic institution of that soon-to-be-defunct Jesuit New England Province whose July, 1964 machinations we have previously seen. From those sources we are told that the Cardinal is “the Pope’s closest American advisor” who “has gauged that now is the time when he can be a little more forthright”.


    From that Jesuit prof we are further tantalized with a bit of Vatican dish: what the Cardinal is doing (no doubt with the papal approval) is to introduce the “frank” style of “confronto Americano” (which is either Italian or pidgin-Latin for ‘the American mode of confrontation/discussion/expression’). The Jesuit prof burbles that “in Italian a confronto Americano is a bad thing” but now it “has become the more accepted style in Rome”.


    That may well be – but I don’t see it as primarily a positive thing in the context in which it has been embraced and introduced by the papacy and its up-and-coming whiz-kids.


    Because Cardinal O’Malley took office in Boston replacing Cardinal Law. Cardinal Law was – to my mind – the ultimate expression of the old Machine-Boss model of American hierarchs, mutated – as Law worked it – into the elite-CEO model: a military-brat whose prior See was in southern Missiouri, Law was also a Harvard grad and hobnobbed deeply and cheeribly with the progressive elites – secular and yet often Catholic – so thick on the ground in certain precincts of his new See.


    And Cardinal O’Malley’s just-add-water approach was to simply become the anti-Law.


    And in the matter of the Stampede, what that meant was to accept the core-scripting as defined by the American mainstream media, working synergistically with all the elements we have seen here, and then (having committed that profound core give-away)to adopt the stance of i) more effectively presenting the Church as being deeply sorry (for ‘facts’ that were hardly well-established, as we have seen here) and ii) conforming the Church to that queasily Maoist role of disgraced-and-contrite-authority-in-a-dunce-cap that some readers may vividly recall from that Red statesman’s Cultural Revolution – which was contemporaneous both with Vatican 2 and the American and Western European Nineteen-Sixties).


    Now it appears that the Pope will be visiting the United States next year. Philadelphia is being mentioned as at least one site of his visit.


    Organizational dynamics being what they are and always have been – and the Church is hardly free of them, nor can ever be – we can expect all manner of intra-Catholic interests in the United States to surf such waves as may be created by the visit, before and during and after the fact. Thus we are seeing here in the Boston Herald the media strategy of presenting its hometown boy as a major player – and one who will most likely lend support and strength to the ‘progressive’ or ‘liberal’ interests, as his boss wants to see.


    As I said in my prior comment, it seems to me that the Pope – at least in matters American and Western European – is taking what is essentially a Gramscian path, as have the ‘progressive’ or ‘liberal’ interests in American and Western European Catholicism (and beyond them, American and Western European ‘progressive’ and ‘liberals’ generally) for the past half-century.


    Gramsci, some readers may recall, was a 1920s Italian Leninist and Communist Party boss and thinker who applied himself to what he saw as a substantial problem for ensuring the spread of Communism: whereas Lenin could manage to get a revolution going in deeply-troubled Russia, yet that strategy wouldn’t work in Western Europe where democracies were well-established and the populations more politically adept than was the case with the Russian government and citizenry.


    What was required, Gramsci decided, was a sustained and highly-strategized campaign of creating issues (using the methods of Red propaganda and agitprop), working with the media and – ideally – with elements within Western governments that would be sympathetic to (or at least would be “useful idiots” in the service of) the revolutionary agenda. One should use the very structures and principles and practices and culture of the West against its own governments, polities and peoples. And if storming the West’s ‘castle’ (to use Gramsci’s medieval military imagery) could be made easier by having such “useful idiots” with official authority inside the walls who would open up this and that vital door or barrier, then so much the better.


    Thus Gramsci sought to ‘politicize’ every issue or obstacle (to the Red agenda), using the means of agitprop and propagandistic manipulation.


    Shorn of its specifically political Communist bits (as we would see in Saul Alinsky’s writings), this strategy has been deployed in the service of numerous agendas in the past half-century.


    And we see it now – I will say – being deployed not only a) inside the Church and within Catholicism (that activity has been going on for decades already) but also b) from the very top: the ineluctable practical effects of ‘openness’ and ‘welcoming’ (and we saw this in the tactics that characterized the recent Synod and the reporting of it, even by official Vatican organs) will be to ‘politicize’ Church affairs and deliberations.


    And thus the Gramscian script would call for the creation of victim-groups who can be pushed-forward (much like baby harp-seals in commericals) to put a ‘human face’ on what will always remain the core revolutionary agenda, simultaneously anchoring the public impression that the ‘revolution’  i) is in a good and warm and fuzzy cause and ii) is only going to marvelously help (and end the oppression-of) the ‘victims’ of this and that claimed ‘oppression’.


    Much of this may well sound familiar to readers here.


    So the Pope may come to the United States with his front-man, Cardinal O’Malley having set the agenda in regard to the Stampede (i.e. the Stampede stories and claims and allegations were all true and we reprehensible and oppressive (and male) worm-clerics are so very sorry) … precisely as the Stampede’s own hugely-questionable dynamics and presumptions begin to wind-down through the revelations that continue to keep coming.


    And – in a crowning irony – the Pope may be visiting Philadelphia, where the Doe/Gallagher trials are precisely revealing just how corrupted the dynamics and tactics of the Stampede have really been.


    But perhaps by that time the Stampede will no longer be such a front-burner issue; it will – in the assessment of its supporting interests – have done its job and the Pope’s visit can be surfed for its larger import in regard to assorted larger and deeper intra-Catholic agendas.


    Interesting times indeed.


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