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Separation of Church and State

The recent vote in Washington, DC, to allow gays & lesbians to marry, and the resulting Catholic Church's response to that vote, reinforces the need for complete separation of our government and religious institutions. Although there are ongoing discussions with city officials, The Catholic Church, not liking the choice made by the voters in the District, has decided to end spousal benefits to the employees of Catholic Charities working in the Nation's capital. They told their employees on Monday (3/8/2010) that they are changing their health coverage to avoid offering benefits to same-sex partners of its workers. Catholic Charities receives $22 million from the District for social service programs.

During the last administration, there was an effort by our President (George W. Bush), and the Republican congress, to push for more public funding for faith-based organizations. We now have hundreds of religious organizations promoting their religious beliefs using our tax money. As Richard Stearns stated in an earlier posting., "The evangelicals were often so focused on sexual morality and a personal relationship with God that they ignored the needy." The same seems to be happening with the Catholic Church.

Here in Southwest Louisiana, the Cajuns are mostly Catholic. In this area, the Catholic Church is well known for moral lapses such as the sexual abuse of minors by its priests. The first such case to make national news was a local priest, Gilbert J. Gauthe. Knowledge of his molesting children existed as far back as 1972 while he was a priest in Broussard. He was later transferred to New Iberia, then Abbeville, and finally Henry. The Church kept moving him around and sending him for therapy over the next 10 to 11 years. He is suspected of molesting over 100 children and finally admitted to molesting 37 children. Much of this would probably not have been known had it not been for the investigative reporting by Jason Berry for the Times of Acadiana in 1985. Here are links to the series he wrote for the Times: PART I & PART II. It is a story of years of cover-up by the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana.

Gauthe pleaded guilty in 1985 to sexually abusing 11 altar boys and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Houston Chronicle wrote in 1998: “Gauthe received special treatment in prison, including his pick of teenaged inmates for sexual trysts, and was released after less than nine years, in 1995. A federal judge had intervened on his behalf. The judge was from Gauthe's hometown, and Gauthe's grandfather had helped the judge's widowed mother many years previously.” Here is a link to the website chart: History of actions by Rev. Gilbert J. Gauthe. Gauthe later died while in prison for other crimes he committed.

This will continue to be an ongoing problem for the Church. The Catholic Church was formed by an all male cast which has written all of the rules by which they try to control the masses. Why is it that a woman has to live by the rules of men in this modern day. As long as women are excluded from the clergy and celibacy is a rule of the Church, more of the same problems will exist in the future. The Vatican is now embroiled in scandals involving the pope's brother as well as the thousands of sexual abuse cases in Ireland and other parts of the world. Click Here to read about the Catholic Church Scandals in Europe.

Voters should retaliate by letting their government representatives know how they feel, and try to get them to enact legislation to ban any taxpayer funding for any religious charity that discriminates against any group. The Federal Government should also re-write the tax laws to cut off the tax-exempt status of religions or churches which discriminate. The Catholic Church's actions here in Louisiana as well as in the Nation's Capital shows just how hypocritical the Church is. They have a long history of covering up pedophilia within the Church and then turn around and discriminate against gays and lesbians. More than ever, as our Constitution so clearly states, we need to keep a separation between religions and our secular lives.

Update - March 16, 2010: The Pope himself was involved in the Church coverups in the past. An article by Christopher Hitchens, in Newsweek, describes the actions of Cardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI in the cover-up. Here is the link: Newsweek article by Christopher Hitchens.

Article by Leo Touchet, March 12, 2010
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