Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Christian nurse says NHS 'persecuted' her faith and favours Muslims employees
A Christian nurse who refused to remove her crucifix at work has told an employment tribunal she felt "persecuted" because of her faith. Shirley Chaplin, who has worn her cross every day for 30 years, said she felt that Muslim members of staff were treated with greater understanding when it came to outward symbols of their religion.
The 54 year-old was banned from working on hospital wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she failed to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain. She is now suing her hospital employers.
She said: "Muslims are treated preferably to Christians who are treated less favourably." "I feel upset and persecuted. My belief is genuine and I am here to bear witness to that." She claimed that Muslim staff were allowed to wear headscarves as a "commitment to their faith and it is just accepted as they way they are".
The grandmother stressed that she had "no particular dislike" of Muslims but said they were the only other religious diversity within the Trust and they were "not asked to give witness about their faith". "I believe it is discrimination," Mrs Chaplin claimed.
The Trust said they made a number of attempts to reach a solution including wearing clip-on crucifix earrings.
Mrs Chaplin, a nurse since 1978, said: "I felt the Trust was trying to humiliate me" adding that a badge clipped on her uniform would have been a safer option than clip on earrings. Mrs Chaplin said the crucifix which she was given as a Confirmation gift, 'stays on my body'.
When one member of the three-man tribunal panel asked Mrs Chaplin about the cost of the protracted case to her emotionally, financially and to her health, she replied: "They are persecuting my faith. I am not sure what point they are trying to make."
She told tribunal Judge John Hollow that the cross and chain were a traditional way of wearing the crucifix and a crucifix alone on a lapel would not be satisfactory.
She said: "I want my clinical role back. My desire is to carry on working on wards as a nurse which has been taken from me until you decide what my future will be." Mr Hollow said at 54 years of age she still had a lot of skills to offer.
Mrs Chaplin is backed in her battle by six bishops, who claim Christians are being persecuted in Britain. The six bishops who back the nurse - and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury – wrote to The Sunday Telegraph to offer their support.
They said: “It would seem that the NHS trust would rather lose the skills of an experienced nurse and divert scarce resources to fighting a legal case, instead of treating patients. “This dedicated nurse… has worn the cross every day since confirmation as a sign of her Christian faith, a faith which led to her vocation in nursing.”
A spokesman for Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust said: "The Trust made its position clear at the beginning of the tribunal and it would be inappropriate to make a running commentary on some of the key issues before we have articulated our case at the hearing."
A crime to sell goldfish?
It is in Britain if you are not careful. There is no limit to the number of things that a Fascist State can and will regulate
A 66-year-old British woman was fined and ordered to wear an ankle monitor as punishment for selling a goldfish to a 14-year-old.
Joan Higgins, 66, owner of Majors Pet Shop in Sale, England, was fined $1,506, ordered to wear an ankle monitor and given a seven-week curfew as punishment for selling a goldfish to a 14-year-old boy sent into the store by police on a test buy, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
A 2006 law prohibits the sale of live fish to children under the age of 16. Higgins' son, Mark, 47, was fined $1,300 and ordered to complete 120 hours of community service.
"I think it's a farce. What gets me so cross is that they put my mum on a tag -- she's nearly 70, for goodness sake," Mark Higgins said. "She's a great grandma so she won't be able to babysit a new born baby. You would think they have better things to do with their time and money."
"The council sent the 14-year-old into us. It is hard to tell how old a lad is these days. He looked much older than 14," he said.
Spreading the Big Lie
Why did the Washington Post choose Palm Sunday to publish an ignorant and malicious piece by Sinead O’Connor on abuse in the Catholic Church?
If Irish singer Sinead O’Connor wishes to denounce her mother publicly as an abusive parent, that is her privilege. If Ms. O’Connor wishes to shred a photograph of Pope John Paul II on stage, as she did almost two decades ago, she is, one supposes, within the boundaries of “performance art.” If Ms. O’Connor wishes to “separate” the God she believes in from the Catholic Church in which she was raised, as she put it in a March 28 article in the “Outlook” section of the Washington Post, she is free to do so.
What Sinead O’Connor is not free to do is to misrepresent the teaching and law of the Catholic Church in the Post in order to buttress her claim that the Church is an “abusive organization” and that the Church threatens with excommunication those who would blow the whistle on clerical sexual abusers. That is utterly false. If Ms. O’Connor is aware of that falsehood, she has lied. What is more likely is that she picked up this arrant nonsense from those who are attempting to portray the Catholic Church as a global criminal conspiracy of sexual predators, in order to cripple the Church morally and financially and to drive it from the public square in shame.
The current maelstrom of controversy swirling around the Church and Pope Benedict XVI is replete with Big Lies. One of those Big Lies — that Benedict, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, impeded sanctions against a diabolical Milwaukee priest who had abused 200 deaf children in his care — was exploded recently on NRO. Yet another Big Lie is that Benedict XVI is soft on abuse and, as Ms. O’Connor suggested, is more concerned with salvaging the reputations of senior clerics than in rooting out the evil of sexual abuse; the Pope’s sharp rebuke of the Irish bishops and his frank condemnation of abusing priests and nuns in a March 20 letter to the Irish Church reveals that claim for the falsehood it is.
One of the Big Lies left over from the Long Lent of 2002 in the U.S. is that clerical sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance and misgovernance were abetted by a 1962 Vatican document, Crimen sollicitationis (“The Crime of Soliciting”). That document, and a 2001 letter from then-cardinal Ratzinger to all the bishops of the world on specific abuse cases, have been cited for years as the smoking gun proving that the Vatican is engaged in an international conspiracy to protect child molesters (and its own reputation and exchequer). Ms. O’Connor, wittingly or not, bought this Big Lie in her Washington Post article. Explaining why it’s a Big Lie requires a understanding how the Catholic Church understands the sacraments, including the Sacrament of Penance, often called “confession.”
As the Catholic Church understands them, the sacraments are holy things: rituals and words that connect the believer of 2010 with the Risen Christ and with his teaching and action on earth, more than two millennia ago. In confession, Catholics bring their sins before Christ, who acts in the person of a priest, in order to receive God’s merciful forgiveness. Confession can involve a detailed accounting of transgressions, which is one reason that, for centuries, the Church has protected the confidentiality of the Sacrament of Penance with absolute and inviolable secrecy. Catholics have been free to confess their sins without fear that the priest would ever speak a word of what he heard, and that confidence has been buttressed by the fact that any priest who reveals what he hears in confession is automatically excommunicated.
Which brings us to Crimen sollicitationis. The document was crafted to ensure that if a Catholic were solicited to commit a sexual sin by a priest while going to confession, he or she could denounce that priest without being exposed to public scandal. Sinead O’Connor (and many, many others who have been flogging this particular Big Lie) have it precisely backwards. Crimen sollicitationis was not written to protect sexually abusive priests from punishment; it was written to enable the Church to get to the truth about predatory priests without embarrassing their victims or breaking the seal of confession.
In fact, the protections required by Crimen sollicitationis encouraged victims of abuse to come forward. By requiring secrecy of the bishop and priests who handled any complaint about a priest-confessor who was a sexual predator, the Church tried to protect the confidentiality of the confessional and the privacy of the victim, not to prevent the crime from being reported to the police by the victim, who was never under any obligation of secrecy. The appropriate analogy is not to some Mafia-like international criminal conspiracy, but to the secrecy of those newspapers that choose not to print the names of rape victims.
This 1962 instruction remained in force until 2001, when Cardinal Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued a new document, De delictis gravioribus (“On more serious crimes”), which continued the effort to protect the confidentiality of confession and the privacy of Catholics abused by confessors while acknowledging that the Church had to respond effectively and consistently to accusations against priests (who, like everyone else, have a right to the presumption of innocence). Anyone with even minimal knowledge of how Ratzinger handled cases of clerical sexual abuse after they fell under the jurisdiction of CDF understands that Benedict XVI is committed to an honest accounting of priestly misconduct and to the ongoing reform of the life and ministry of priests.
So, to repeat: Both the 1962 and 2001 Vatican instructions were intended to protect the privacy of victims and the integrity of the sacraments, and to enable the Church to take serious action against priests who committed the horrible crime of sexual solicitation during confession; no one has ever been threatened with excommunication for blowing the whistle on a clerical sexual predator; and the procedures put in place at CDF in the early part of this decade — like the transfer of these cases to CDF itself — were intended to strengthen the Church’s capacity to deal with clerical sexual abuse, not cover it up.
Moreover, the Vatican instructions of 1962 and 2001 were chiefly concerned with (mercifully rare) abuses of the Sacrament of Penance, not the sort of serial abuse of minors that has drawn our attention and disgust in recent years. To fault these documents for not solving a problem they were not written to address is to miss the serious effort made by the Church, largely under Ratzinger’s leadership, to purge the priesthood of sexual predators.
These are facts. They can be verified by any competent canon lawyer. Why the Washington Post chose Palm Sunday, while Benedict XVI was celebrating one of the most beautiful liturgies of the year in St. Peter’s Square, to publish an ignorant and malicious piece by Sinead O’Connor, whose contempt for the Church is well known, is not for us to judge. What we can say, as yet another fact, is that by doing so without any elementary fact-checking, the Post’s editors have contributed to the further spread of a Big Lie.
On terrorism, Holder's argument doesn't add up
With all the excitement over health care, you might not have noticed that the Obama administration still doesn't know what to do with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And in recent days, its case for trying the mastermind of 9/11 in civilian court has quietly fallen apart.
When Attorney General Eric Holder first decided to send KSM to federal court in Manhattan, his reasoning was simple. "We know that we can prosecute terrorists in our federal courts safely and securely because we have been doing so for years," Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee last November. "There are more than 300 convicted international and domestic terrorists currently in Bureau of Prisons custody including those responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the attacks on embassies in Africa."
It sounds convincing -- until you ask about those 300 convicted terrorists. Who are they? Are they big-time terrorists of the KSM variety -- the kind Republicans believe should be tried by military commissions -- or are they defendants guilty of less serious offenses who can reasonably be tried in civilian courts?
Republican Sen. Jon Kyl was skeptical from the start. "It's a disingenuous argument," Kyl told me in February. "There haven't been 300 high-profile, dangerous terrorism cases in the United States -- if there were, we would have heard about them."
Kyl peppered Holder with questions, and now, finally, he has some answers. Late last week, the Justice Department sent Congress a lengthy chart listing the names and offenses of 403 defendants convicted in terrorism-related cases between September 11, 2001, and this month. To the administration's defenders, it's case closed: See, there really were all those terrorism cases, just like the attorney general said. To more critically minded observers, the chart raises serious questions about the administration's argument.
The department divides terrorism cases into two groups. The first group involves "violations of federal statues that are directly related to international terrorism" -- that is, laws prohibiting terrorist acts themselves, the use of weapons of mass destruction, providing material support for terrorism, and the like. The second group involves lesser offenses, like immigration violations, that may or may not be closely related to international terrorism.
Most of the offenses on the list -- 245, or about 60 percent -- are of the second sort. That leaves 158 cases in the first, more serious group, and 92 of them involved providing material support for terrorism, like writing a check to a foundation found to have supported terrorist acts. All told, 337 out of the 403 would be perfectly appropriate cases for civilian courts.
"For the bulk of the cases that he's talking about, there's no question that [civilian] courts are the appropriate venue, because they are relatively minor offenses," Kyl told me Monday by phone from Vienna, Austria, where he's been on a terrorism fact-finding trip that included stops in Qatar and Yemen. "It's for the major kind of terrorist offenses that you want to go to military commissions."
Even in the final 66 cases, purportedly the most serious, there are examples of prosecutions of "animal-rights terrorists" and "narcoterrorism" -- not exactly comparable with KSM. And the best example of a comparable case -- the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui -- was one in which the civilian system was strained nearly to the breaking point.
It's an understatement to say Republicans are unhappy about Holder's chart. In an effort to prove that the civilian system can handle cases like KSM, the Justice Department has come up with a crazy mix of irrelevant examples. "It's as if we asked how many apples do you have, and they realized they only had a handful of apples, so they dumped in a barrel of oranges and said we have so much fruit," says one Senate GOP aide.
Republicans don't want to be misunderstood. They believe it is absolutely vital to prosecute terrorism-related cases, and they are pleased the Justice Department has done so. They just don't believe those cases are in any way comparable with the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and in no way support the argument that KSM should be tried in civilian court.
Holder is scheduled to appear before the Judiciary Committee on April 14. I asked Kyl what he hopes to learn. "I don't know," he sighed. "You really have to work at it to get anything useful from the attorney general."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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