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Dec-02-2012 13:13printcomments

Let's hear it for the WCC... Dissing The Doctrine

And even madmen manage to convey unwelcome truths in lonely gibberish. - W. H. Auden

Priest sex abuse

(DAYTONA BEACH, FL) - Recently, writing in the Los Angeles Times, John Gehring enthused over the Vatican's "five decades of sweeping reforms" and announced that the Catholic faith and the Church "stand at a crossroads." If you were a Lakota parent in Pine Ridge, where a recent South Dakota legislature rubber-stamped a Catholic attorney's bill that reduced to four years the statute of limitation for a priest raping your child; if you were a Philadelphian just a month ago witnessing a bishop's three months jail sentencing for covering up decades of child abuse; or if you're simply a citizen reading about Pope Ratzinger's beatification of a Mohawk woman in order to turn down the heat over a century of Catholic residential shool charnel houses, you might respond that, rather than a crossroads, the Vatican stands at a traffic circle.

Notably, an example cited as one of the sweeping reforms: Mass can now be celebrated in the language the people can understand, rather than in the language that doctors and pharmacists use so the patient can't understand what's going on.

Meanwhile, in our enlightened society, the United Nations, civilized governments, the academic community and a few subsidized native leaders perform a continuing anvil chorus of righteousness, twitterpated over what they consider great advances in the simple process of recognizing that indigenous people the world over are actually real people, and that therefore their problems must be “addressed.” Addressing is essential to the process, followed by resolving, templating, reporting and adopting, without doing squat in terms of real action.

From an earnest academic seeker after truth, a member of the DoD "study group," we learn this:

The United States government has just released its plan for implementation of the 2010 UPR Recommendations (whatever the hell that is, it's only two years in arrears so far) which it accepted. More information can be found on the State Department’s website. The core aspect of this has been the Administration’s establishment of working groups around the following thematic areas:

• Civil Rights and Racial and Ethnic Discrimination • Criminal Justice Issues • Indigenous Issues • National Security • Immigration • Labor and Trafficking (Human, child or urban? -Ed) • Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and Measures • The Environment • Domestic Implementation of Human Rights • Treaties and International Human Rights Mechanisms

Isn't that just too damn lovely for words? But there's more:

“The website provides the full list of UPR Recommendations accepted by the United States (broken down into the above categories), as well as the lead agencies and contact individuals appointed to chair each of the government’s working groups. The publication of the inter-agency working group(s) and points of contact is something the USHRN UPR Coordinating Committee and many of you have sought for some time, and is a welcome development.

“We look forward to seeing how the development of the working groups translates into action and look forward to working with you as we continue to share information and coordinate in our advocacy efforts as we move into this next phase of implementation.”

I'm thrilled. Of course, I'm not a Lakota freezing my ass off in Pine Ridge without the necessary propane to keep my kids warm, but I'm glad that not only are their problems being “addressed,” but committees and academicians are actually appointing somebody or other to chair “working groups.” And people are apparently "creating templates" and "implementing solutions" all over the place.

I'm also underwhelmed that the current Obama Administration may not go so far as to buy a little propane, but they do support all the right moves:

“Implementing concrete measures consistent with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to ensure the participation of indigenous peoples in the decisions affecting their natural environment, measures of subsistence, (such as propane) culture and spiritual practices.

“Formulating goals and policy guidelines for the promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples and cooperation between government and indigenous peoples.

“Guaranteeing the rights of indigenous Americans, and fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (Or at least foster-homing them. -Ed)

Not only all of the above, but with a little more reservation, the U.S. “supports in part”:

“Ending the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples.

“Recognizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without conditions or reservations, (sice it was "declared" a mere 58 years ago - Ed.) and implementing it at the federal and state levels.”

Holy crap, any day now, after we get through addressing, implementing, templating and guaranteeing, it looks like we might get off our collective national assiette and do something. Say maybe around 2020?

“Formulating goals and policy guidelines” are key, of course, but, like the finding of a cure for cancer, if anything “concrete” were to happen, like a Mafia funeral, and everybody showing up with truckloads of flowers, thousands of UN drones, government trolls and academic constructors of theoretical models might be forced to find a new line of work.

The neat thing about Christianity is that, since we're all evil since birth, no matter how nasty the crime against humanity, it can be downgraded by Papal bull (lower-case B) to sin, which can be forgiven, and in the process, particularly if we pony up a bit, we can be just as good as new. Hey, didn't Jeffrey Dahmer see the light and start going to church regularly while he was serving 900-odd years for those 17 murders? (That is until one of his non-Christian fellow cons fatally worked him over with a shovel.)

This infinite mercy applies to churches as well as people. After the ingrab, as Auden might have said, comes the outreach that strangles. These days, there seems to be a regular conga line of church organizations taking turns repudiating The Doctrine of Discovery. The most recent, the one that actually brings a lump to the throat, is the World Council of Churches (WCC, in insider lingo). By that I mean it sort of sticks in your craw, if you think about it.

In case you hadn't heard, the Doctrine of Discovery (known as the DoD in academe's theoretical models) started in 1452 just 40 years before Columbus did the deal of the century with Queen Isabella. With two successive Papal Bulls (guess at the derivation of THAT term), Portugal and Spain were given first dibs on the New World, and in 1496 Henry VII with a Royal Charter of the Church of England granted John Cabot and his boys whatever was left over.

And in 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court, although a little late, announced that indigenous people had no rights or sovereignty because they had been discovered. That's it, the DoD, in a nutshell.

There followed of course, after the Papal bull, 500 years of church-sanctioned genocide, oh a hundred million discovered people or so, on the assumption that everybody should be either Christian or dead. But that isn't the best part, of course. It seems that all that's necessary for contemporary churches of the world is to “repudiate” the papal bulls (and the Church of England's bovine version) and everything is cool.

The Roman Catholic church doesn't quite belong to the World Council of Churches, but it has reps who sit in on all the committee meetings, and you can just imagine how many committees there are when you get 500 million protestant clergy "addressing" the world's problems, implementing policies, creating templates and even resolving resolutions.

The United Church of Canada and its big brother the Anglican Church of England (Episcopalian) are charter members, of course. The latter's current double whammy is remarkable: decrying all that nasty genocide of the DoD on the one hand, while at the same time doing damage control in Brantford, Ontario, where their famous Mohawk Institute has a proud gulag history going back to 1832. Recently, the Mohawks have been digging up their own version of Anglican Church history in Canada. Kids' bones and rotted school uniforms.

Speaking of the United Church of Canada, I think they came up with a great idea that in fact symbolizes the whole “repudiate the DoD” caper. Perhaps it should be adopted and emulated by the WCC. After 100 years or so of running what Canada's Prime Minister apologized for as a sort of Sunday School gone wrong (although 50% of the Indian kids neither graduated nor got out) the United Church Observer featured the picture of a smiling Native kid as a sort of mascot on its front page.

I think the WCC (and if they don't have a publication, they should start one) should run a whole montage of native kid pictures on THEIR front page, from the extinct Beothuks, to transplanted Inavuts to massacred Mayans. All smiling, of course, in the best missionary (or academic) tradition.

What's going on now with the WCC and the other DoD repudiators amounts to a huge ecumenical movement (“after the ingrab comes the outreach”) to the resounding cheers of the academic community – and the odd politician not involved in other crucial concerns such as the evils of contraception - – makes you feel good about Christianity.

My suggestion is that the World Council of Churches should hire an incarcerated serial child rapist as its WCC poster boy. The candidate could be eligible to teach a Sunday School class. You know, all the kids in the neighborhood of the pen, like the warden's and the screws' kids.

For the WCC - and its academic cheering section - that could be the ultimate outreach.


Bill Annett grew up a writing brat; his father, Ross Annett, at a time when Scott Fitzgerald and P.G. Wodehouse were regular contributors, wrote the longest series of short stories in the Saturday Evening Post's history, with the sole exception of the unsinkable Tugboat Annie.

At 18, Bill's first short story was included in the anthology “Canadian Short Stories.” Alarmed, his father enrolled Bill in law school in Manitoba to ensure his going straight. For a time, it worked, although Bill did an arabesque into an English major, followed, logically, by corporation finance, investment banking and business administration at NYU and the Wharton School. He added G.I. education in the Army's CID at Fort Dix, New Jersey during the Korean altercation.

He also contributed to The American Banker and Venture in New York, INC. in Boston, the International Mining Journal in London, Hong Kong Business, Financial Times and Financial Post in Toronto.

Bill has written six books, including a page-turner on mutual funds, a send-up on the securities industry, three corporate histories and a novel, the latter no doubt inspired by his current occupation in Daytona Beach as a law-abiding beach comber.

You can write to Bill Annett at this address:

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