Friday, June 26, 2009

Ana Fernandez - continued

I have been listening to the Radio América radiothon this morning to help Ana Fernandez' six children and it is restoring my faith in humanity. Ana is the Salvadoran woman who was killed in the Metro train crash earlier this week. The radio station set a goal of $19,000 which would help the children stay together and pay their rent for one year. When I turned it off at 12:30 p.m., the station was reporting that they had already received over $41,000 in contributions!

As we reported in the earlier post on this topic, the family has set up a bank account for donations. Residents can drop off donations at any Chevy Chase Bank location (Account No: 1313225291) and make checks out to Nerio N. Fernandez or William S. Fernandez. They are Ana's brothers.

The older children testified during this very emotional program and one can't help but be impressed by their resilience and will to keep their family united. The oldest girl, Evelyn's testimony was especially moving. She talked about how her mother set an example by working two jobs to support her children and that she, Evelyn, was prepared to do likewise, to do whatever it takes to help her siblings, even if it means postponing her own dream of becoming a singer.

I really wish that some of the anti-immigrant bigots in our community would learn some Spanish and be able to listen to testimonies such as these. Then they would understand that our Latino families with their love of God and drive to better themselves and their community are an asset to this country.

Photos: The late Ana Fernandez and 5 of her 6 children (l-r: Jusara, 14; Víctor, 11; Evelyn, 18; Jaqui, 2, Sergio, 10. Not pictured: Antonio, 21)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oraciones de Frei Betto

Adital just posted some marvellous prayer/poems by Frei Betto. We have printed the Spanish version here (translated by J.L.Burguet) and added our own English translation (Note: Any suggestions for improvements in the translation would be gratefully received). Betto is the author/editor of a new book Diário de Fernando: Nos cárceres da ditadura militar brasileira (Rocco, 2009). It is the prison diary of Fernando de Brito, a Dominican priest imprisoned and totured by the Brazilian military dictatorship from 1969 to 1973. Frei Betto was jailed with de Brito and patiently rescued and reconstructed this clandestine diary.


Padre nuestro que estás en el cielo y eres nuestra Madre en la Tierra, amorosa orgía trinitaria, creador de la aurora boreal y de los ojos enamorados que enternecen el corazón. Señor contrario al moralismo desencarnado y guía del camino peregrino de las hormigas de mi jardín.

Santificado sea tu nombre grabado en los girasoles de inmensos ojos dorados, en el enlace del abrazo y en la sonrisa cómplice, en las partículas elementales y en la candidez de la abuela al servir la sopa.

Venga a nosotros tu Reino para saciarnos el hambre de belleza y sembrar reparto donde hay acumulación, alegría donde reina el dolor, sabor a fiesta donde campea la desolación.

Que se haga tu voluntad en las sendas desnortadas de nuestros pasos, en los ríos profundos de nuestras intuiciones, en el suave vuelo de las garzas y en el beso voraz de los amantes, en la respiración atosigada de los afligidos y en la furia de los vientos convertidos en huracanes.

Así en la Tierra como en el cielo, y también en el núcleo de la materia oscura y en la garganta abisal de los agujeros negros, en el grito inaudible de la mujer acongojada y en el prójimo visto como distinto, en los arsenales de la hipocresía y en las cárceles que congelan vidas.

Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día, y también el vino embriagador de la mística alucinada, la valentía de decirle no al propio ego, el dominio vagabundo del tiempo, el cuidado de los desheredados y la ausencia de temor de los profetas.

Perdona nuestras ofensas y deudas, la altivez de la razón y la acidez de la lengua, la avidez desmesurada y la máscara con que cubrimos nuestra identidad, nuestra ofensiva indiferencia y nuestro reverencial servilismo, la ceguera ante el horizonte desprovisto de futuro y la inercia que nos impide hacerlo mejor.

Así como nosotros perdonamos a quien nos ha ofendido y a nuestros deudores, los que nos provocan con orgullo y convierten en envidia nuestra tristeza de no poseer el bien ajeno, y a quien, ajeno a nuestra supuesta importancia, se cierra a la inconveniente intromisión.

Y no nos dejes caer en la tentación ante el porte suntuoso de los tigres de nuestras cuevas interiores, de las serpientes atentas a nuestras indecisiones, de los buitres depredadores de la ética.

Mas, líbranos del mal, del desaliento, de la desesperanza, del ego inflado y de la vanagloria insensata, de la insolidaridad y de la endeblez del carácter, de la noche desprovista de sueños y de la obesidad de convicciones insustanciales.



Our Father who art in Heaven and are our Mother on Earth, loving Trinitarian orgy, creator of the aurora borealis and eyes in love that make the heart tender. Lord, opposed to disembodied moralism, who guides the pilgrim path of the ants in my garden.

Holy be Thy Name captured in the huge golden eyes of the sunflowers, the bond of the embrace and the complicit smile, in the elementary particles and ingenuousness of the grandmother serving soup.

Thy Kingdom come to satisfy our hunger for beauty and sow distribution where there is accumulation, joy where sorrow reigns, a taste of feasting in the fields of desolation.

Thy will be done in the disoriented paths we tread, in the deep rivers of our intuition, the gentle flight of herons and the lovers’ voracious kiss, in the labored breathing of the afflicted and the furious winds of hurricanes.

On Earth as it is in Heaven, and also in the nucleus of dark matter and the deep throat of the black holes, in the inaudible scream of the anguished woman and in the neighbor viewed as other, in the arsenals of hypocrisy and the jails that freeze lives.

Give us each day our daily bread, and also the intoxicating wine of hallucinating mysticism, the courage to say no to one’s own ego, the vagaries of time, concern for the underprivileged and the fearlessness of the prophets.

Forgive us our trespasses and debts, intellectual haughtiness and bitter tongue, excessive greed and the mask with which we conceal our identity, our offensive indifference and reverential subservience, the blindness to the lack of a future on the horizon, and the inertia that keeps us from making it better.

As we forgive those who trespass against us and our debtors, those who provoke us with pride and change our sadness at not possessing another’s goods into envy, and the one who, far from our supposed importance, closes his mind to inappropriate meddling.

And lead us not into temptation before the magnificent demeanour of the tigers of our inner caves, the snakes attentive to our indecision, the vultures that prey upon our ethics.

But deliver us from evil, from dejection, from despair, from inflated egos and foolish vanity, from lack of solidarity and weakness of character, from sleepless nights, and the glut of insubstantial convictions.

Let us love.


Ave María / grávida de las aspiraciones de nuestros pobres, / el Señor está contigo, / bendita eres entre los oprimidos, / benditos los frutos de liberación / de tu vientre.

Santa María, madre latinoamericana, / ruega por nosotros / para que confiemos en el Espíritu de Dios, / ahora que nuestro pueblo asume la lucha por la justicia / y en la hora de construirla en libertad, / para un tiempo de paz. / Amén.


Hail Mary/pregnant with the hopes of our poor/the Lord is with thee,/blessed art thou among the oppressed/and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb/freedom.

Holy Mary, Latin American Mother,/pray for us/that we might confide in the Spirit of God,/ now that our people undertake the struggle for justice/ and at the hour of building it in freedom,/ for a time of peace. Amen

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ana Fernandez

Sometimes I'm stunned and saddened by the cruelty of some of my fellow Americans.

I have been reflecting and praying about Ana Fernandez. She is the 40-year-old Salvadoran woman who was one of the 9 people killed in the Metro train crash this week. Today, WTOP reports that her family "says they have been getting hate-filled telephone messages about whether or not Fernandez, a mother of six, was a legal immigrant." This is sick and pathetic. Whether or not Fernandez was documented or not, her family has suffered a terrible tragedy and deserves our compassion and concern, not hatred and bigotry. I want to say this before discussing Ana's individual situation because this kind of behavior is morally repugnant, unChristian, and unAmerican no matter who the victim is.

As a matter of fact, Ana, who hails from San Jerónimo de San Alejo in La Unión, El Salvador, was in the United States legally. All but the oldest of her six children ages 21, 18, 14, 12, 11 and 1 1/2 were born here and her oldest is also residing legally in this country, sponsored by Ana. She was widowed and had recently remarried to Oscar Flores, a window-washer by trade. According to the Washington Post, the couple had been married less than two years and a friend had given her a wedding dress, but the two still hadn't scraped together the time or money for the formal church ceremony they had been planning. The littlest girl, Jackie, is his daughter.

On the evening she died, Fernandez was commuting into the District to her second part-time job, cleaning offices at Columbia Plaza. She was a proud member of SEIU Local 32BJ and Jaime Contreras, president of the local, described her as a "good lady". "She was trying to help one of her fellow churchgoers find a job," Contreras said.

Her oldest daughter, Evelyn, who has vowed to keep the family together and try to fill her mother's shoes called Fernandez "a strong woman". "She was always working; working two jobs, she did whatever she had to to take care of us. She never needed any one to help her."

Please keep Ana Fernandez and her family in your prayers, as well as all the victims of the train crash. As you can see from the video below, her family are faithful evangelicos and I know that God will comfort them and see them through this tragedy.

As far as practical assistance is concerned, we understand from El Diario de Hoy that the consul for El Salvador, Ana Margarita Chávez and Radio América - 1540 AM will be arranging a radiothon to raise funds for the family this Friday. For more information and/or to make a donation, call the radio station at (301) 942-3500. According to El Tiempo Latino, an account has been established through Chevy Chase Bank to receive donations for the family: 1313225291. Fernandez's family plans to bury her body here in Washington.

Religious leaders ask G8 nations to consider the poor

In a letter to leaders participating in the G8 Summit in Italy, July 8-10, the presidents of the Catholic bishops’ conferences of the G8 nations have urged Summit leaders to “take concerted actions to protect poor persons and assist developing countries.” The letter echoes a similar statement by 129 world religious leaders who held their own G8 summit in Italy on June 16-17. Both the letter and the statement are excellent and so we have reproduced them below.

Letter from National Conferences of Catholic Bishops to the Leaders of the G8 Nations

Dear Leaders of the Group of 8 Nations:

At a time of global financial and economic crisis, we write on behalf of the Catholic bishops’ conferences in the G8 nations to urge you to take concerted actions to protect poor persons and assist developing countries at the upcoming G8 Summit in Italy.

As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, wrote in a letter to Prime Minster Gordon Brown prior to the G20 meeting which the Prime Minister hosted:

The current crisis has raised the spectre of the cancellation or drastic reduction of external assistance programmes, especially for Africa and for less developed countries elsewhere. Development aid, including the commercial and financial conditions favourable to less developed countries and the cancellation of the external debt of the poorest and most indebted countries, has not been the cause of the crisis and, out of fundamental justice, must not be its victim.

Our moral tradition commits the Church to protecting human life and dignity, especially of the poorest, most vulnerable members of the human family. In the faces of poor persons the Catholic Church sees the face of Christ whom we serve in countries throughout the world.

Ironically poor people have contributed the least to the economic crisis facing our world, but their lives and livelihoods are likely to suffer the greatest devastation because they struggle at the margins in crushing poverty. In light of this fact, the G8 nations should meet their responsibility to promote dialogue with other powerful economies to help prevent further economic crises. In addition, they should meet their commitments to increase Official Development Assistance in order to reduce global poverty and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, especially in African countries. This requires deepening partnerships with developing countries so that their peoples can be active agents in their own development, participating in political, governmental, economic and social reforms that serve the common good of all. In a particular way it is important to strengthen peacekeeping so that armed conflicts do not continue to rob countries of the resources needed for development.

In a similar way, poor countries and peoples who have contributed the least to the human factors driving global climate change are most at risk of its harmful consequences. As Catholic pastors and teachers, we have a special concern for how climate change impacts the poor. Concrete commitments should be agreed upon and mechanisms should be created to mitigate additional global climate change and to help poor persons and developing nations adapt to its effects as well as to adopt appropriate technologies for sustainable development. Protecting the poor and the planet are not competing causes; they are moral priorities for all people living in this world.

The G8 Summit takes place in the shadow of a global economic crisis, but its actions can help bring a light of hope to our world. By asking first how a given policy will affect the poor and the vulnerable, you can help assure that the common good of all is served. As a human family we are only as healthy as our weakest members.

We pray that your meeting will be blessed by a spirit of collaboration that enables you to take steps to reduce poverty and address climate change in a time of crisis.

Sincerely yours,

Most Rev. Vernon James Weisgerber
Archbishop of Winnipeg
President, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

His Eminence André Vingt-Trois
Archbishop of Paris
President of the Bishops’ Conference of France (Conférence des évêques de France)

Most Rev. Robert Zollitsch
Archbishop of Freiburg
President of the German Bishops’ Conference (Deutsche Bischofskonferenz)

His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco
Archbishop of Genoa
President, Bishops’ Conference of Italy

Most Rev. Peter Takeo Okada
Archbishop of Tōkyō
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan

Most Rev. Joseph Werth
Bishop of the Diocese of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Novosibirsk
President, Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Russian Federation

His Eminence Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien
Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

Most Rev. Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George
Archbishop of Chicago
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Appeal by the Fourth Summit of Religious Leaders on the occasion of the G8

We, leaders of the worlds religions and spiritual traditions gathered in Rome on the eve of the G8 Summit of 2009, are united in our common commitment to justice and the protection of human life, the building of the common good and the belief on the divinely established and inviolable dignity of all people from conception to death.

We speak from the heart of the great majority of the human family who are members of religions or spiritual traditions. In a time of economic crisis when many securities are crumbling, we feel even more acutely the need for spiritual orientation. We are convinced that spiritual life and the freedom to practice it is the true guarantee for authentic freedom. A spiritual approach can touch the hunger for meaning in our contemporary society. Materialism often expresses itself in idolatrous forms and has proved powerless in the present crisis.

We carry forward important work begun in multireligious meetings held just prior to the G8 Summits, (in Moscow 2006, Cologne 2007, Sapporo 2008, Rome 2009) and building on earlier meetings in London. We have been convened by the Italian Bishops Conference, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for whose assistance we are grateful.

We greet the leaders of the nations gathered in L’Aquila and we pray for them as they exercise their heavy responsibilities to confront the challenges facing the human family today.

We commenced our meeting in L’Aquila in solidarity with those who are suffering there from the devastating earthquake and in solidarity also with all those around the world who are bearing the burdens of suffering.

We are convinced that a new moral paradigm is essential to address today’s challenges. Through the notion of shared security we can draw attention to the comprehensive character of our moral and religious concerns. We are using the term “security” in a new way. We add the word “shared” to draw attention to a fundamental moral conviction: the wellbeing of each is related to the wellbeing of others and to our environment. Shared security focuses on the fundamental inter relatedness of all persons and the environment. It includes a comprehensive respect for the interconnectedness and dignity of all life and acknowledges the fundamental fact that we all live in one world. Ultimately we are convinced that to overcome violence justice with compassion and forgiveness are necessary and possible.

Shared security is concerned with the full continuum of human relations from relationship amongst individuals to the ways that people are organized in nations and states. It follows that the security of one actor in international relations must not be detrimental to another. Those international leaders who are responsible for global decision-making must act transparently and be open to the contribution of all involved.

The current financial and economic crisis weighs most heavily upon the poor. Addressing these related crises call for a new financial pact that addresses squarely (1) the causes of the financial crisis, (2) acknowledges the need basic moral principles, (3) includes all stakeholders and (4) places at a premium the urgent need for sustained financing for development. We are convinced that, in a time of economic crisis and spiritual disorientation for the men and women of our time, religions can and must offer a decisive contribution to the search for the common good. As we confront this crisis, there is the need for the spiritual wisdom entrusted to the great world religions so as to steer an ethical path to justice and human flourishing. Concretely, as part of the reform of the finance system, we urge concerted action to close down the unregulated off shore banking system. Regarding development assistance, we urge the inclusion as partners of civil society organizations including especially religious communities and their organizations.

In continuity with previous world religious summits we continue to call for the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals. Their completion has been promised for 2015, but progress has now fallen behind. The current crisis has worsened the situation of those whom the MDG’s are designed to assist. We insist that it is an imperative for the lives of millions that the MDG’s be fulfilled on schedule and we commit ourselves to work together with the G8 leaders to that end.

Africa is already hard hit by the world financial crisis and it runs the risk of being seriously damaged in its efforts against poverty with a negative impact on the economic growth of its countries. It is our hope that the international community places Africa at the centre of policies for development, by finding new sources for financing cooperation and favoring the involvement of States and civil societies of African countries in a perspective of rebirth of the whole continent. In this same context we would like to affirm that the time has come to commit ourselves decisively to the healing of the entire continent wounded.

Seventy years from the beginning of the great tragedy for humanity that was World War II and the many subsequent conflicts, causing human suffering, injustice and poverty, we call for nations to resist making war a means of international politics and to make every effort to establish a just peace for all. We believe that the attempt to militarily dominate the sea, space, neutral territories or states creates obstacles on the way to nuclear and conventional disarmament. We also believe that conventional disarmament and efforts to ban military technologies and initiatives that could provoke a new arms race should go hand in hand with efforts to advance nuclear disarmament.

We request the G8 Summit to pursue rigorous implementation of nuclear reduction and nonproliferation policies leading to the goal of total nuclear disarmament. The five acknowledged nuclear-weapon states must act on their commitments to work toward eliminating existing nuclear weapons as rapidly as possible. States with nuclear weapons that have not acknowledged them must acknowledge their possession, make similar commitments to their elimination and enter into the NPT. We press for prompt ratifications and entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and commit to take no action leading toward the reintroduction of any form of nuclear weapons testing.

We call attention to the plight of the ever growing number of “illegal” immigrants and the absence of adequate and uniform standards designed to protect them.

We urge that the full rights and dignity of people be respected and cost-sharing introduced where appropriate as states re-evaluate their comprehensive policies for legal residents and immigration. We urge attention to the fact that immigration is growing and that ecological pressure may greatly accelerate it.

We representatives of world religions and spiritual traditions gathered in these days in Rome facing the threats and the challenges of a difficult time of crisis for our societies, reaffirm our commitment to work with all people of good will, for the realization of the common good. In this context we call for the establishment of mechanisms for dialogue between religious communities, political leaders, international organisations and civil society structures.

Our method and our strength, the strength of yesterday, today and tomorrow will always and only be that of the transformation of hearts and shared action through dialogue.

Dialogue is an art that everyone must practise and cultivate within and between religions, culture, politics and especially those who have power in the world. Dialogue requires courage and enables people to see each other more clearly, enabling us to offer life and hope to new generations.

This is our renewed commitment, this is the appeal we address to the world.

We commit ourselves to meet again in Canada in June 2010

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Big Mama's in the House -- but she ain't in the Roman Catholic Church!

UPDATE 7/27/09: Rev. "Big Mama" Capretta apparently has quite a following in the Spanish-speaking gay community, at least according to this interview with him in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. The interview also reveals that Capretta grew up Roman Catholic and went to parochial school where he first felt called to the priesthood. He cherished his time there praying the Rosary with the priests and nuns who ran the school. He tried junior seminary but left when the seminary closed due to lack of students and transferred to a Jesuit high school where he changed his mind about the priesthood but had his first homosexual encounter. Capretta also describes coming out to his family and their acceptance of him and also reveals that he is single right now. He thinks his dual career as a priest and a performing artist scares prospective partners away.

UPDATE 7/1/09: I think it's important to give equal time. For those who don't click on the comments, Nicole Neroulias has an excellent interview with Rev. Capretta on Religious News Service. And Big Mama's got a new Lord's Prayer Dance Mix:

I've been trying to resist blogging about this story but it keeps buzzing around cyberspace like an annoying little gnat. I first heard about it in an article with the eye-catching headline 'Big Mama' Homosexual 'Drag Queen' is NOT a Roman Catholic Priest that made a good faith effort to slap at the gnat. Unfortunately, author Randy Sly, who was an Archbishop in the Charismatic Episcopal church before converting to Catholicism and becoming an editor at Catholic Online, doesn't really do full justice to this story so we are going to fill in the gaps.

The buzz got started when drag performer "Big Mama" Capretta decided to give herself a publicity boost by issuing a press release titled Ohio Catholic Priest Comes OUT as a Drag Queen with a Billboard Dance Hit. According to the release: "In celebration of Gay Pride Month, Big Mama Capretta reveals the surprise truth about her identity. By day, Capretta is none other than Father Anthony (aka Vincent Capretta), a proud practicing Catholic priest from Columbus, Ohio. By night, Big Mama Capretta is one heck of a fun drag queen performing for her minions!"

"It's Big Mama y'all! And, I am no longer afraid to come out of the closet as a gay Catholic Priest!" shouts the 'out-and-proud' Big Mama Capretta aka Father Anthony Capretta. "Thank you everyone for buying, playing and charting 'Big Mama's House.' I am living proof that a person can do anything they set their mind to. We have to love and enjoy ourselves in this world. And, I am enjoying my life being who I am and who God intended me to be! Now, let's DANCE y'all!"

The news release immediately got picked up by the gay and celebrity gossip blogs with a large measure of anti-Catholic gloating and without anyone doing one iota of investigation. About the only thing that is on the level in this press release is that Capretta's "Big Mama's House" (see video below) is currently No.25 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart. Now it's time to tell the rest of the story and "out" Capretta completely.

Capretta the Performer:

Here is Capretta's basic biography as offered on the good "Reverend"'s Website:

Capretta began his music career at the age of seven studying music theory and classical guitar at the renown Cleveland Music School Settlement. Winning radio talent contests at the age of twelve led Capretta to vocal scholarship in the Opera Department of the prominent Cleveland Institute of Music. In additon to serving as lead tenor for the Cleveland Civic Light Opera for two seasons, Capretta has held several leading roles in professional and community theater.

Capretta was featured at the New Music Seminar in New York City in 1986 in response to his first music video "Fallin Again". In 1987, Capretta hit the national Eurobeat charts in the United States on LSA Records with his covers of the disco classics "I Will Survive" and "Turn the Beat Around" and again in 1990 with "Never Knew Love Like This Before". Capretta hit the European dance charts in 1992 on Loading Bay Records with his rendition of the classic "It's My Party" and his featured on the Best of Loading Bay High Energy Volume I.

Topping the Playboy Cable Channel Hot Rock's chart in 1993 with his #1 steamy music video "Puerto Rican Sex", Capretta is also known for his successful music video "Stormy Weather" on ETV and RockAmerica in 1996.

Now Capretta resurfaces in 2009 on Carrillo Music Records with the huge dance floor anthem "Big Mama's House" produced by International dance music producer Rod Carrillo.

See any reference to Capretta's religious career? I don't. For most Catholic priests I know, their ordination date and pastoral assignments are front and center in their official biographies.

Capretta the Priest:

Capretta's press release is deliberately misleading and would have one believe that he is a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. He isn't. In fact, Rev. Capretta is rector of The Columbus Community of Charity, an "Independent Old Catholic Church", established in 1999 in Columbus, Ohio. The congregation meets at the historic Manor of Lady Jane Grey, which also serves as Capretta's residence and the Sunday morning service is only open to members of the community, not the general public.

The story of this building and its dedication (version by "Sonja Marie" of the "Lady Jane Grey Internet Museum") is bizarre as well:

"Dedication of The Historic Mansion, at 392 Rhoads Avenue, at the farthest east intersection of the Bryden Road Historic District, in the City of Columbus, the The County of Franklin, in the State of Ohio, the The Country of The United States of America, to the everlasting memory of Her Royal Majesty Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England 1553, commences on Sept 28th, 2003...Robert James Carter II and The Reverend Deacon Vincent-Anthony James Capretta, curate the fifteen year restoration process of the one hundred year old Tudor English Manor, beginning in the year 1998...An invitation to the public to participate in the dedication ceremony of The Manor to Her Majesty Lady Jane Grey will promptly commence at 7:30 in the evening upon the west lawn following a regal procession from the Franklin Park symbolizing Her Majesty's last walk to a gruesome death at the block in the year 1554 as punishment of Her Majesty's unwillingness to relinquish Protestant beliefs to those of the fanatical Mary Tudor I...Leading the procession is The Most Reverend Kimo Keawe, Primate of The United Reform Catholic Church International in Honolulu, Hawaii [Ed. note: That would be the bishop who ordained Capretta]. Following His Excellency, a horse drawn carriage exhibiting the symbol of Tudor Royalty, a single red rose and crown, upon a satin white pillow, recalling Her Majesty's succession to The Throne of England by the will of His Majesty King Edward Tudor VI and the blood Her Majesty shed upon beheading in defense of religious freedom..."

Anyway, you get the idea. And now for the less romantic version:

The property at 392 Rhoads Avenue was purchased on July 7, 1999 for $117,000 and the so-called "historic mansion" was built in 2003. It is currently valued at $82,950 according to the Franklin County Treasurer's Office which lists its owner as Little Eagle Properties LLC. Now you might well ask: Who or what is Little Eagle Properties? But you already know: Robert Carter and Anthony Capretta are the principal partners (see Little Eagle Properties v. Ryan, 2004-Ohio-3830) and 392 Rhoads is also the company's main business address. The partners own several additional properties in the metropolitan Columbus area, including one at 414-416 Rhoads Ave. on which they currently owe back real estate taxes.

Now about "Reverend" Capretta. He has a B.A. in Sociology from Excelsior College in New York (1995) and an M.A. in Administration from Central Michigan University (1997). He was ordained a deacon in November 2002 by Bishop Craig Martin Davis. Then he put himself under the United Reform Catholic Church and its then presiding bishop Kimo Keawe who ordained him a priest in September 2004 (The Columbus Dispatch, 12/31/2004). URCCI and a couple of other independent Old Catholic groups merged to form what is now the United Ecumenical Catholic Church in 2005. Capretta moved on and, according to The Community of Charity Web site, it is now under Bishop Charles Leigh of The Apostolic Catholic Church in Florida. The Apostolic Catholic Church says of the Community of Charity: "This Old Catholic community is under the protection of our bishop on an experimental basis for the next 18 months. During the 18 month time period it will either seek full membership in the ACC or explore other relationships to enhance its ministry to God's people."

If you are confused at this point, join the club and hold your breath. It gets worse. On the Community of Charity Web site you will notice that Capretta has added "OFM" after his name. This has confused a lot of people who are used to this being the abbreviation for "Order of Friars Minor", aka the Franciscans. So where did Capretta get it? According to the Dispatch, he was a religious brother within the Old Catholic movement and went by the name "Brother Anthony" before becoming a priest. It is possible that he is a member of the Franciscans of the Holy Cross, an Old Catholic order under the UECC, but in that case he should be using "OFC", not "OFM". Since there is no evidence that the man has had any formal theological formation (seminary, divinity school, etc..) it is possible that he is using the wrong initials out of ignorance rather than intent to deceive.

The Community of Charity follows a pre-Vatican II liturgy except that it is in English (again according to the Dispatch). They believe in Transubstantiation and offer the same sacraments as Catholicism except that confession is optional, communion is offered to non-Catholic Christians, and the priesthood is open to all including married people, women, and gay people. A statement of their creed can be found here. Dagmar Celeste, the former first lady of Ohio, who was ordained in 2002, participated in Capretta's ordination.

To sum it up: Capretta is not a Roman Catholic priest so the fact that he is also a drag queen is nothing to get excited about.

Capretta the Ex-Con:

Back in the late 1980s when he was living in Cleveland and was by turns a rock singer named Vincent Capretta and a "religious brother" named Brother Anthony, Capretta was convicted of mail fraud. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (11/28/1989):

"One of the most outrageous deceptions perpetrated on the public recently was a man who described himself as Brother Anthony of the League of St. Anthony of Padua. The purpose of his group, he said in direct mailings, was primarily to help the poor and hungry. He often claimed the brothers of his friary faced a financial crisis and couldn't pay their utility bills.

Brother Anthony's appeal netted him more than $270,000 from people across the nation until he was arrested. He pleaded guilty to 32 counts of mail fraud last July. In reality, the "priest" was Vincent Capretta, a Cleveland rock singer who used the money to pay for recording fees, costumes, hairstyling, college tuition and living expenses, postal inspection agents say."

Capretta served three years in the federal penitentiary on these charges. Persons wishing to corroborate this story can check out the Cleveland Plain Dealer archives at the Cleveland Public Library.


I wish that the gay blogs in particular would stop elevating this man and making his "coming out" announcement into some great revelation in their battle for acceptance by the Roman Catholic Church. Capretta is NOT Roman Catholic. He is an ex-con who is barely even functioning as a priest in his own denomination. He is a successful musician and drag performer and can rightly be honored for these achievements by those for whom they are meaningful.

To my fellow bloggers: By elevating guys like Capretta, you are doing a disservice to the thousands of real gay Catholic priests who faithfully honor their celibacy vows and serve gay and straight Catholics every day of their lives without fanfare.

To "Reverend" "Big Mama" Capretta: Enjoy your success in the music industry and leave serving God to those who care enough to train for and dedicate themselves to that ministry. Please.

Photos: The many faces of Big Mama Anthony Vincent Capretta

Practicing what we preach: The Catholic Church and the right to organize

As a Catholic and a union member, one of the things that has always stuck in my craw has been the Church's capacity to preach a mean line about the right of workers to organize and bargain for their economic and other workplace interests while continuing to try to suppress unions in Catholic hospitals and other institutions and refusing to bargain in good faith.

The late Pope John Paul II was a firm supporter of labor, coming from his experience with Solidarność and other unions and their role in securing democracy in his native Poland. This was reflected in his encyclicals such as Laborem Exercens. The United States Catholic Bishops also supported collective bargaining rights in their landmark pastoral letter, Economic Justice for All: "The Church fully supports the right of workers to form unions or other associations to secure their rights to fair wages and working conditions. This is a specific application of the more general right to associate. In the words of Pope John Paul II, "The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrial societies." (#104)

Yet this support was not evident in places like Chicago where hospital administrators at Resurrection Health Care systematically engaged in union-busting tactics worthy of the most anti-labor employer.

Today there is a glimmer of hope that change has come. As the article below states, a couple of major labor unions in the health care industry and representatives of the Catholic Church have signed a historic joint document that commits the Church and its institutions to recognizing and not interfering with their employees' right to organize collectively. Only time will tell if the Church will live up to this promise but at least it's a beginning.

Labor unions, Catholic hospitals to end conflict

By Sam Hananel
Associated Press
June 23, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — Labor unions and Catholic leaders have reached an agreement designed to end years of bitter hostilities that often surrounded union efforts to organize workers at Catholic hospitals.

The accord, announced Monday, seeks to apply Catholic teachings that recognize the right of workers to "freely and fairly" decide whether to join a union.

One of the key principles directs both employers and unions to refrain from harassing, threatening, intimidating or coercing workers.

The agreement touches on a thorny situation for Catholic hospitals, some of which have aggressively resisted union organizing amid complaints that their conduct contradicts Catholic doctrine on social justice.

In Chicago, for instance, union leaders have accused hospital officials at Resurrection Health Care of worker intimidation and other unfair tactics to thwart a six-year effort to unionize workers at the company's eight hospitals. The company has denied those claims.

"The central actors in these dramas have to be the workers themselves, that's what we feel is the strength of the document," said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., who helped lead the discussions.

Under the agreement, hospital managers agree not to use "traditional anti-union tactics," including hiring firms, known as union-busters, that work with companies to defeat organizing drives. Unions also agree not to publicly attack Catholic health care organizations during labor campaigns.

Nearly 600 Catholic hospitals that employ about 600,000 workers are covered under the agreement. Roughly 15 percent of those workers are currently believed to be union members.

The recommendations do not bind individual bishops, hospitals or unions but provide guidance in how they are expected to conduct themselves during union organizing efforts. Union leaders believe it will be easier to organize workers at the nation's Catholic health centers if hospital managers abide by the agreement.

"The theme that runs through all of this as far as I'm concerned is the emphasis on workers' rights to organize as part of church teachings," said AFL-CIO president John Sweeney.

Parties to the accord include the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union.


Photo: Workers and supporters rally at Resurrection Health Care

Monday, June 22, 2009

Listening to Priests for a Change

Fr. Francis X. Clooney, SJ, professor of Divinity and Comparative Theology at the Harvard Divinity School, offers a novel suggestion on America's blog (6/20/2009): perhaps in this "Year For Priests" the Church could survey its priests and really listen to what they are thinking rather than just asking for unconditional silent obedience. Among the questions Clooney thinks the Church needs to ask its servants here in the United States:

1. Why are there so few vocations?
2. Would it be good to allow married men to be ordained?
3. What is the best way for the Church to extend pastoral care to gay individuals and gay couples?
4. How do priests think about their celibacy in a society where our understanding of sexuality is undergoing so many changes?
5. Are we fully welcoming and making use of the pastoral gifts of women in the Church?
6. How can the Church best speak out on issues of violence, poverty, racism and sexism in today’s society?
7. What was most and least valuable in seminary training?
8. What are the best theological resources that help the priest do his job?
9. If we could change three things in how the Church is organized and run, what would they be?
10. Where is the piety of parishioners most alive and vital today?
11. Which kinds of liturgy work best, how have recent changes in liturgical form and language affected parish worship, and how do we help people to pray better, by the way we pray on Sundays?
12. How, from the parish priest’s perspective, are the bishops doing?
13. Given that John Vianney was a famed confessor, how do priests today think sin is understood in their congregations, and what might be done to rejuvenate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to revitalize its role in Church life again?
14. What if anything are priests and people angry about these days?
15. What are the best and worst things the Church does for, to, its priests?
16. What might a priest's greatest hope be in 2009?

Of course, we know that, as has been famously stated, the Catholic Church is not a democracy so this is probably just a lovely pipe dream but, as Fr. Clooney concludes: "I am sure that if this could be done, the full graces of this year might become more memorably available for all of us, because we could then be honoring our priests — by listening to them."

Fernando Lugo: Church Should Reconsider Celibacy

Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo gave an extensive interview this weekend with the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio in which he discussed many issues, including his views on celibacy. We have translated it below.

Although the article alleges multiple paternity cases, only two are active right now. Lugo has acknowledged being the father of Viviana Carrillo's two-year old son Guillermo Armindo. Guillermo and his mother spent part of Fathers Day with the president at Mburuvicha Róga. Lugo and his son kicked a ball around when the president wasn't on his cellphone conducting state business. According to Ultima Hora, visits from Viviana and Guillermo have become a weekly routine, with the pair usually staying for lunch.

As for the other paternity case, there is a stalemate between the president and the judge hearing the matter for Benigna Leguizamón. Judge Delsy Cardozo is insisting that the president appear in Ciudad del Este to have the blood drawn for the DNA test on June 25th. Lugo has challenged the ruling in court, asking instead for the test to be done in Asunción. All due respect, but perhaps a little "noblesse oblige" from the president would be helpful here. There is a vast difference economically between himself and the plaintiff. If he really has retained the priestly qualities he claims to have retained in this article, Lugo should be above these petty pissing contests and should want to get this matter resolved ASAP.

The Time Has Come to Reconsider Celibacy

Gustavo Villavicencio Aravena
El Mercurio (Chile)
June 21, 2009

President Fernando Lugo receives “El Mercurio” in his office in Palacio de López, the government residence. It’s Thursday morning and the leader has clad his 1.85 meter frame as if he were still a priest. All black, except for his white collarless shirt. And he says he has faced the great controversy that has affected his administration “with serenity.”

Everything started during Holy Week. Young Viviana Carrillo (26) claimed that Lugo had had a relationship with her when he was bishop of San Pedro, that he had known her since she was 16 years old, and that he was the father of her two-year-old son Guillermo Armindo.

The news was carried in newspapers throughout the world, just like in 2008 when it was announced that a former priest had been able to put an end to 61 years of rule by the Partido Colorado in Paraguay.

The controversy began recently. Lugo acknowledged the relationship and the child’s paternity in a televised message. Six additional claims were added to this one, claims that Lugo has not acknowledged.

As “El Mercurio” was interviewing him, a judge ordered the President to travel to the eastern part of the country to submit a blood sample for a DNA test, since a 27-year old young woman states that she has had a child with the leader, while he was still a bishop. The case generated a strong drop in the polls for the President, but the former priest appears calm and says he is not afraid to face the “alleged” paternity charges, to which he responds with a smile, and asserts that his only son “is a gift from God.”

On June 15, you completed 10 months in power. Who is Fernando Lugo today?

Fernando Lugo was a person who was concerned about the country, with a spirit of generous commitment to the work he had been doing over the last 30 years. Today Fernando Lugo continues to be a person who is committed to what he is doing, but with a different mission -- having to struggle with national and international problems. Erase the country’s image as the most corrupt, plunged in poverty. I acknowledge that it hasn’t been easy and it has cost me a lot.

In what ways are you still a bishop?

Knowing how to listen to people, being more contemplative than practical. Sometimes politics requires rapid responses, and the margin one has between statement and action also means that the margin for error is less. It’s possible that we have made many mistakes, but we would have made more mistakes had our reflexions been slower and less reflexive. I think that I am still like a bishop in the ability to consult, to listen to others, and at the same time react firmly when I have to decide. I still have a lot of pastoral qualities.

How have you been getting used to wielding power in government?

I preferred having authority to having power. I think that as bishop people gave me a lot of authority. Now, political authority is more demanding, and there is never a lack of bitter criticism, which is difficult to absorb.

You put an end to over 60 years of the Partido Colorado in power. What would be the big changes that your administration seeks to accomplish?

First, I have devoted myself to cleaning house from within. At that time, the image of the party was everything. Now, that doesn’t exist; there is no image of myself, the party or the alliance. I have always said that the institution should serve all Paraguayans. Second, openness. Even though corruption hasn’t ended in the country, the image of public administration is different than it has been for the last 50 years.

There has been a lot of controversy in Paraguay since it became known that you fathered a child while you were still a bishop. How have you dealt with this in personal terms?

I have publicly acknowledged one paternity case. The others are alleged (laughs). I have dealt with it with much serenity, with many close friends, and with the greatest value --acknowledgement and truth. I believe that the truth will make us free. You have to accept the consequences. Each one is responsible for their own acts. We can’t delegate responsibility for things we ourselves have done, whether good or bad, in error or not. And this year I have done this publicly.

After what you have experienced, what do you think about priestly celibacy today?

Only God is perfect, only God is absolute. There is an imperfect celibacy, a human celibacy that helps one to have more freedom for pastoral ministry. I believe that celibacy is an asset within the Church, one that should be recovered as a sign of the kingdom of God. When this sign has become lost, I believe it is time to reconsider celibacy today in Latin America and in the world. I believe that the latest events should call us, the Catholic Church, to a calm reflexion about the value of celibacy in the Church.

As a priest, what conflicts did you have with celibacy?

As any human being, I am not eager to hide anything. There are moments in life when emotions and love don’t respect age or position. Sometimes there are people who make the heart beat more rapidly, and I think I’ve been in such situations. But situations that make you lose your head, fall in love, change your life completely, those were perhaps not present during my life as a priest. But yes, there are many fleeting situations, not very strong ones, that sometimes make you rethink your life and your choices.

When you leave the presidency, what will you do?

I am going to reconcile politics and religion in my life. I am going to live away from the city and review many aspects of my life, and try to contribute to society.

Do you continue in your faith life?

Deeply…I continue to believe more than ever in a liberating God, a loving God, who is always present in our lives. Today, as a layman, I take communion and I seek advice from priests and bishop friends. If there is one thing I never want to leave, it is the Catholic Church into which I was born.

Do you think highly of President Bachelet personally?

Do I think highly of President Bachelet personally?

How do you view President Bachelet and the Chilean government?

I have very high regards personally for President Bachelet. I think we agree in many areas and I admire her administration. Of course she has certainly had a lot of criticism domestically but her administration is growing. Chile is a country where you can see the hand of a woman, of someone who is kind but also fair and concerned about social issues.

What do you think of Hugo Chávez’ policies in the region especially with respect to freedom of expression?

I believe in freedom of the press and that private initiative should go hand in hand with state initiative to benefit the vast majority. Polarizations have not always come without little traumas that take time to heal. I respect Venezuela on the issue of self-determination of [indigenous] peoples. We in Paraguay want to develop a model without interference and draw on some examples of countries such as Chile, Brazil, much closer to our dream of a more harmonious nation, without many excluded.

In your opinion, what is the contribution of the formation of Unasur, of which Michelle Bachelet is currently president pro-tempore?

I think that it has been an important initiative. I applaud all attempts at integration and welcome them, when they are effective in building a region without great inequities. A region that can secure true democracies and ensure the respect for human rights. Let’s hope Unasur can solidify this.