Holocaust denying ultra-right Catholics’ war against Pope Francis


Women sat on one side of the aisle, their heads – even the youngest girls – covered in scarves. Photograph: Jonathan Watts for the Guardian

This photo shows women during the illegal ordination of a priest in Nova Friburgo in Brazil by ultra-right Roman Catholics. The women sat on one side of the aisle, their heads – even the youngest girls – covered in scarves. This tendency within Roman Catholicism is Islamophobic. However, one hears their fellow Islamophobes far more about similar seating in some mosques (definitely not in all mosques) than about these Catholic fanatics.

Unfortunately, the existence of these fanatics has nothing to do with it being April Fools’ Day now …

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Ultra-traditional Catholics rebel against pope in Brazil: ‘He is less Catholic than us’

In Dutch there is a proverb: ‘To be more Roman than the pope’, meaning fanatical extremism.

Hailing from around the world, a group led by an excommunicated bishop call themselves a ‘resistance’ movement against Vatican reforms. The response from the Vatican was swift and unequivocal: ‘Excommunication is automatic’

Jonathan Watts in Nova Friburgo and Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome

Wednesday 1 April 2015 11.00 BST

In a secluded monastery in south-eastern Brazil, a breakaway group of ultra-conservative Catholics gathered to participate in an act of rebellion against the pope.

The setting could hardly have been more tranquil: rolling green hills, purple-glory trees, palm leaves swaying in the wind and a temporary chapel made of breeze block walls and a tin roof left partially open to the elements.

But the 50 or so priests, Benedictine monks, nuns and other worshippers who file into Santa Cruz monastery on Saturday were no ordinary congregation. Hailing from Europe, the US and Latin America, they described themselves as a “resistance” movement against Vatican reforms.

In favour of Latin services – and fiercely opposed to ecumenism, freedom of religion and closer relations with Judaism – they had come to defy the authority of Rome with the ordination of a new priest by an excommunicated bishop, Jean-Michel Faure.

It was the second such ceremony in the past month: Faure was consecrated here without papal approval only two weeks ago by the Holocaust-denying British bishop Richard Williamson. In response, both clerics were automatically ejected from the church, but this has not stopped the group’s drive to build an unsanctioned clergy.

The ceremony harked back to an earlier, more conservative age. Women sat on one side of the aisle, their heads – even the youngest girls – covered in scarves. Over three hours, the liturgy was almost entirely in Latin, as were the hymns sung by a choir of monks accompanied by a nun on an electric organ.

Before his ordination, brother André Zelaya de León prostrated himself before the altar and then rose to his knees for a blessing on his tonsured head by Faure. At times, the prayers were so quiet that they almost drowned out by the cicadas and birds in the trees.

Apart from the digital cameras, cellphones – and the electric organ – the ceremony would have been recognisable to centuries of Catholic believers before what today’s ultra-conservatives consider to be the wrong turn taken by the Catholic church with the democratising reforms of the 1962 Second Vatican Council.

After the mass, Faure told the Guardian the Vatican was smashing tradition, and going against the teachings of Pius X, a staunch conservative who was pope between 1903 and 1914.

“We do not follow that revolution. The current pope is preaching doctrine denied by Pius X. He is less Catholic than us,” he said. “He does not follow the doctrine of the faith that are the words of Jesus Christ.”

The Vatican’s response to the ordination was unequivocal.

“Excommunication is automatic,” a spokesman said. He added: “For the Holy See, the diocese of Santa Cruz in Nova Friburgo does not exist. Faure can say what he wants, but a Catholic, and even more so a bishop, obeys and respects the pope.”

Faure, a French cleric who has worked in Mexico and Argentina, said he did not accept this ruling.

“Canon Law states that excommunication is valid if it follows a mor[t]al sin. But ours is not a mortal sin. We’re just following our religion. To do this, we need priests, and to have priests we need bishops.”

He compared his situation to that of other Catholics in history, such as Joan of Arc, who were initially excommunicated but later recognised for their contribution to the Church. “Although we are a minority now, if you look at history, we are a majority. There [are] all the saints, 250 popes and all the Catholics who think exactly as we think.”

Faure said he only reluctantly become a bishop in case Williamson died in an accident, which would leave the group without the means to ordain priests.

Though he did not say it, the French bishop may also be replacing his British counterpart as a spokesman for the movement. Williamson has repeatedly stirred up controversy with comments denying the Holocaust, … warning that Muslims are taking over Europe, and claiming that women are dominating corporations and the military because they are not fulfilling their natural role “making babies”.

Williamson was one of four bishops illegally ordained in 1988 by a French Roman Catholic archbishop called Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the Society of St Pius X and an outspoken critic of the liberalisation of certain church practices following the Second Vatican Council, including the widespread use of vernacular language rather than Latin in mass, inter-faith dialogue and efforts to communicate with the secular world.

Lefebvre and all four bishops were immediately excommunicated for participating in the illicit ordinations, but their movement has been a thorn in the Vatican’s side ever since.

Only about one million Catholics – or .01% of the Catholic population – describe themselves as followers of St Pius X, but successive popes have attempted to heal the rift with them.

In 2009, Pope Benedict ignited controversy by lifting the excommunication of the four bishops and even promised the rebel group autonomy from bishops they considered too liberal.

This quickly backfired when it was revealed that Williamson had alleged that no Jews were killed in gas chambers, that the US orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that freemasons were conspiring to destroy Catholicism.

The Vatican said at the time that Benedict had not been aware of Williamson’s views on the Holocaust. …

In contrast to his predecessor, Pope Francis has paid little attention to the ultra-conservatives.

Williamson has declared that he does not intend to start a new society, but the movement has now created a new bishop and a priest, and Faure claimed that there were at least two bishops in the Society of St Pius X who sympathised with the self-styled “Resistance”.

“If Bishop Lefebvre makes a deal with Rome, many people will leave the society. They won’t accept capitulation,” he said.

In conversation, the traditionalists appear to be hoping for a divine and dramatic intervention. Williamson, who describes himself as a “bloody-minded Brit”, has said he expects a “gigantic chastisement” such as Noah’s flood.

Faure talks more of a coming third world war.

“It would be horrible, but it would change the world. But the day after wouldn’t be like the day before,” Faure said, pointing to the conflicts in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq. “It would change many things in the world. It would be a new approach in many aspects and why not, in religion.”

For the moment, however, their group of roughly 55 rebel clergy has to rely on stubborn faith.

René Trincado, a priest from Chile, who was expelled from the Society of St Pius X in 2013 because he opposed an accord with the Vatican, is among those at the Santa Cruz monastery, which he described as the base of the resistance operations in Brazil.

“We’re not afraid of excommunication. It has no validity,” he said.

Additional reporting by Shanna Hanbury

Australian priest blames victim for her murder


Jill Meagher, who was murdered in Melbourne. Photograph: Facebook/PR Image/AAP

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Jill Meagher‘s family criticise Catholic priest over ‘disgusting’ claim

Priest reportedly told students at a Melbourne primary school that if Meagher had been more ‘faith filled’ she would have been home and ‘not walking down Sydney Road at 3am’

This victim blaming is even worse for being part of a sermon to primary school children.

Merran Hitchick

Sunday 29 March 2015 06.36 BST

A Catholic priest in Melbourne has reportedly been criticised for a speech in which he said Jill Meagher would have been at home instead of out on the night she was raped and killed if she was more “faith filled”.

Meagher was murdered by Adrian Bayley after a night out Melbourne in September 2012. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The priest delivered his homily at an end-of-term service for a Catholic primary school in Melbourne on Friday and radio station 3AW reported he held up a newspaper article with a picture of Bayley on it to make his point. The report says he told a crowd of about 100 that if Meagher had been more “faith filled” she would have been home and “not walking down Sydney Road at 3am”.

Meagher’s family were outraged by the report and said it was a “stupid thing to say”.

“Adrian Bayley was out there that night looking for a victim and found her,” Joan Meagher, Jill Meagher’s mother-in-law told the Irish Independent. “He was looking for anyone, it didn’t matter to him who the person was.

Thomas Meagher, Jill’s husband, put a statement on Facebook calling the comments “disgusting”.

“What a truly abhorrent lesson to teach a child,” he wrote. “How a human being with such dangerous and misogynistic views can be allowed pass those messages onto children is depressing. Shameful.”

The Catholic Church has apologised for the comments, the Age reports, with one official saying the church did not support the “totally inappropriate” and offensive” comments.

Monsignor Greg Bennett, vicar-general of the archdiocese of Melbourne, went on radio to apologise.

“I’ve spoken with the priest; he acknowledges that the homily wasn’t appropriate and apologises for the offence and upset it has caused,” he told 3AW.

“The reference to Jill Meagher in particular was offensive and inappropriate and the people of Victoria and Ireland mourn her sad and tragic death.

See also here.

Stop human rights violations in Bahrain


Bahraini human rights defender Ms Ghada Jamsheer

From SpyGhana.com in Ghana:

Bahrain: Lift the travel ban imposed on human rights defender Ms Ghada Jamsheer

March 24, 2015

Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa,

Minister of Interior,

Tel: +973 -17572222 and +973 17390000.

Email: info@interior.gov.bh

Your Excellency,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights activist and Freelance journalist.

I would like to draw your attention to the following case.

Human rights defender Ms Ghada Jamsheer was stopped at Bahrain International Airport on 14 March 2015 by security authorities and was informed that she was not permitted to travel as the Prosecutor General had ordered a travel ban against her. She had not received any written notification of such a ban.

Ghada Jamsheer is a human rights defender and the Head of the Women’s Petition Committee. She is an author, blogger, and an advocate for women’s rights and freedom of religion. Ghada Jamsheer attended the Fourth Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders in 2007.

The human rights defender was stopped at Bahrain International Airport as she attempted to travel to France to receive medical treatment. Ghada Jamsheer and her legal representative immediately sought a meeting with the Prosecutor’s Deputy, who reportedly refused to meet them. No reason was provided for the travel ban, but the Prosecutor’s Deputy asked the human rights defender to submit a request the next day for a review of the decision. Prior to travelling, Ghada Jamsheer had reportedly sought and received assurance from the Deputy Interior Minister that she would be allowed to travel.

Ghada Jamsheer has been targeted in the past for her human rights work, and is currently a defendedent in a prolonged trial on charges of “assaulting a police officer”. On 15 December 2014, the human rights defender was released after spending more than three months in detention in connection with the charges. Ghada Jamsheer had been arrested at her home on 12 November 2014, 12 hours after being released from ten weeks of detention.

The human rights defender was originally arrested on 14 September 2014 against the backdrop of ten complaints filed against her by different individuals for posting “insulting” and “defamatory” tweets.

I am concerned at the travel ban and on-going trial against Ghada Jamsheer, as it is believed that they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate human rights work. I view this act as part of an ongoing crackdown against civil society and human rights defenders in Bahrain.

I urge the authorities in Bahrain to:

1. Immediately drop all charges against Ghada Jamsheer, and lift the travel ban imposed on her, as it is believed that they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights;

2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human rights activist & Freelance journalist

Also from SpyGhana.com in Ghana:

Bahrain: Investigate the allegations of torture against Naji Fateel

March 24, 2015

Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa,

Minister of Interior,

Tel: +973 -17572222 and +973 17390000.

Email: info@interior.gov.bh

Your Majesty,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights activist and Freelance journalist.

I would like to draw your attention to the following case.

23 March 2015 marks the 13th day since human rights defender Mr Naji Fateel, detained in Jaw prison, has been held incommunicado. Authorities have refused to allow the human rights defender’s family to visit or contact him and did not provide any information on when contact may be resumed, stating that he is being punished.

Naji Fateel is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and a blogger who has been active in reporting human rights violations in Bahrain. He has been imprisoned and tortured in the past, and was the subject of death threats during the Bahraini uprising starting in February 2011.

Reportedly, on 10 March 2015, Bahraini security forces attacked prisoners at Jaw Prison using rubber bullets, tear gas, and shotgun pellets. The incident allegedly started when the family of a detainee protested after being denied permission to visit the person. According to a witness, Naji Fateel was held in the same building where the clashes occurred, but was not involved in the events. However, shortly after the incident, an officer ordered that several individuals be taken to Building 10, including Naji Fateel.

The human rights defender had a sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment upheld against him by the Appeals Court of Bahrain on 29 May 2014. The human rights defender had been convicted of establishing “a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution” under Article 6 of the controversial Terrorism Act. Front Line Defenders sent an observer to his first instance trial, which fell short of fair due process guarantees. At the time of his arrest on 2 May 2013, Naji Fateel was held incommunicado for three days and reportedly subjected to torture.

I would like to express my grave concern at the incommunicado detention of Naji Fateel, especially given that he was not involved in the clashes, as well as at the absence of any information on his current situation. In light of his previous ill-treatment and torture and the fact that the use of torture has been documented in Bahrain, I am concerned for his physical and psychological integrity and security.

I urge the authorities in Bahrain to:

1. Immediately allow Naji Fateel to resume contact with his family;

2. Ensure that the treatment of Naji Fateel, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment’, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

3. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture against Naji Fateel, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human rights activist & Freelance journalist

Bahrain: Families Denied Prison Access After Unrest. Investigate Overcrowding; Ensure Family Contact for Prisoners: here.

Will a British court deliver justice for Bahraini torture victims? Here.

Bahrain asks [United States] Congress for help in restoring arms sales. Read more: here.

Saudi women get whip lashes for Internet messages


This video says about itself:

27 September 2011

Amnesty International says a Saudi woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for driving a car. CNN’s Fionnuala Sweeney reports.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Saudi woman sentenced to 70 lashes for allegedly insulting man on WhatsApp

In a separate case, a judge allowed a man to divorce his wife after she told him she prayed ‘to be patient enough to put up’ with him on the messaging service

Henry Austin

Wednesday 18 March 2015

A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a woman to 70 lashes after she allegedly insulted a man on the messaging service WhatsApp.

The 32-year-old, who has not been named, admitted to insulting the man but also refuted the verdict, according to reports in GulfNews.com and other local media.

The nature of their argument was unclear but she was found guilty of tarnishing the reputation of the complainant through the application, reported the Okaz newspaper who also said she was fined around £3,600 for the offense.

In a separate case, another Saudi judge allowed a man to divorce his wife after she told him that she prayed “to be patient enough to put up” with him in a WhatsApp message, the Al-Hayat newspaper reported.

The husband is said to have claimed that the message was “inappropriate.”

They are not the first to fall foul of the Saudi Anti-Cyber Crime Law, as in July last year two women in the city of Jeddah were sentenced to 10-days in jail and 20 lashes for insulting each other on WhatsApp.

A judge issued the verdict after reading the messages exchanged between the the women who were reportedly cousins.

British government charges anti-ISIS girl with terrorism


This video from Syria is called 2014 International Women’s Day in Qamishlo – Rojava Kurdistan.

NATO, Saudi, Bahraini, etc. armed forces fight wars in Iraq and Syria. Officially ‘against ISIS terrorism’, but in practice more about oil.

However, when Kurds in, eg, Syria really fight ISIS, then the government of NATO member Turkey helps ISIS in various ways; and declares the Kurdish anti-ISIS people to be ‘terrorists’. The government of the Netherlands and other NATO countries follow Mr Erdogan’s government in calling anti-ISIS Kurds ‘terrorists’.

So, it seems, does David Cameron’s British government, also NATO allies of Erdogan‘s Turkish government.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

British teenage girl charged with trying to join Kurdish forces fighting Isis

Shilan Ozcelik, 18, becomes first Briton to be arrested for trying to fight against Islamic State in Syria

Owen Bowcott

Friday 13 March 2015 18.34 GMT

A teenager from London, who was allegedly trying to join a Kurdish military women’s unit fighting Isis in Syria, has been charged with a terrorist offence.

Shilan Ozcelik, who is of Kurdish descent, was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport. She is believed to be the first British citizen to be arrested for trying to join the campaign against the jihadis who control eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Ozcelik, from Holloway, north London, faces one charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism under the 2006 Terrorism Act.

Her supporters say she travelled to Brussels in an attempt to join the women’s protection units, also known as YPJ, that are based in Rojava – the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria under attack by Isis.

She was arrested by on 16 January at as she returned from Brussels. Neither the YPJ nor the YPG, the main men’s Kurdish peshmerga militia in northern Syria, are banned organisations in the UK. …

Ozcelik appeared at Westminster magistrates court on Wednesday and was charged with a terrorist offence. She was remanded in custody and is due to appear at the Old Bailey next month. Her supporters are planning a demonstration outside Holloway prison in north London, where she has been remanded.

Earlier this month a former British Royal Marine, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, died fighting for Kurdish YPG forces in northern Syria.

British composer and suffragette Ethel Smyth


This video from Britain says about itself:

March of the Women by Ethel Mary Smyth -100 years ago TODAY! March 23, 2011

23 March 2011

Dame Ethel Mary Smyth was an English composer and leader of the women’s suffrage movement.

The March of the Women was written in 1911 and premiered by a chorus of Suffragettes at a fundraising rally at the Albert Hall in London on March 23, 1911, almost one hundred years ago to this day. The tune became the battle cry of the suffrage movement.

The most famous, though least public performance occurred in Holloway prison in London in 1912: over 100 suffragists, including Mrs. Pankhurst and Ethel Smyth, who had smashed windows of suffrage opponents’ homes in well-coordinated simultaneous incidents all over London, were arrested, tried, and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.

One day, her conductor friend, Sir Thomas Beecham visited Smyth in the prison only to see the prisoners taking their outdoor exercise marching and singing, “The March of the Women.” Ethel Smyth could be seen at a window overlooking the prison yard conducting them vigorously waving her toothbrush.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

I[nternational] W[omen’s] D[ay]: Not just unseen in our political history but unheard too

Sunday 8th March 2015

Peter Frost remembers one of Britain’s greatest composers who, after nearly a century of being ignored by history, is beginning to get the recognition she deserves

This year Dame Ethel Smyth finally became Radio 3’s Composer of the Week in the run-up to the celebration of International Women’s Day. The recognition has been a long time coming.

But that is only to be expected if, like Smyth, you don’t just write six fine operas and an array of chamber, orchestral and vocal works but also upset the Establishment by throwing stones through the window of the colonial secretary.

It didn’t stop with breaking windows. She also stormed 10 Downing Street itself to hammer out the her Suffragette anthem the March of Women on prime minister Herbert Asquith’s piano while the Cabinet was still in session.

These militant activities saw her, with 200 sister Suffragettes sentenced to two months in Holloway Prison. Sir Thomas Beecham went to visit her in jail and afterwards told this story.

“I arrived in the main courtyard of the prison to find the noble company of martyrs marching round it and singing lustily their war-chant while the composer, beaming approbation from an overlooking upper window, beat time in almost Bacchic frenzy with a toothbrush.”

Smyth led a fascinating and unconventional life. She overcame opposition from her army father in order to enrol at the Leipzig Conservatorium in 1877 where she won respect from Johannes Brahms, Clara Schumann, Edvard Grieg and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

Tchaikovsky, rather sexist and patronising, said of her: “Miss Smyth is one of the few women composers whom one can seriously consider to be achieving something valuable in the field of musical creation.”

Back in England in the late 1880s, her music attracted much attention from influential figures including Thomas Beecham, Adrian Boult, Henry Wood and George Bernard Shaw praising her work.

Smyth became a leading and militant Suffragette in the early 1910s. She met, and became enchanted by, Emmeline Pankhurst, and they eventually became lovers.

Openly bisexual, usually dressed in men’s tweeds and deerstalker cap, Smyth flaunted convention by having affairs, not just with Pankhurst but with Virginia Woolf, her married opera librettist Henry B Brewster and a number of other notable men and women of the time.

She shared a Surrey cottage with three famous sisters Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Agnes Garrett.

She still remains the only female composer to have had an opera performed at the New York Met.

Her most famous opera, The Wreckers, has been compared with Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes but it is rarely performed. The last recording was made over 20 years ago.

Smyth wrote some of her best music for the Votes for Women cause. Her March of the Women came to be adopted as the Suffragette anthem. It still has the power to inspire today.

Later in life increasing deafness curtailed her composing and she turned to writing a series of revealing autobiographies.

In 1939, when war had shut down BBC music and concerts, Smyth was still showing her political sympathies.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph she suggested that a programme of free concerts broadcast from provinces “would lift up the hearts of many … and ease the situation of a class of unemployed the thought of whom gives one perpetual heartache.”

In 1937 she gave an interview to the BBC describing her Suffragette stone-throwing. You can still hear it online.