Archive | February 2012

Suffer little children to come unto me…

I am sure that if Jesus was the man the Good Book says he was, he would not just be distressed, he would be outraged. After all it was a relatively small incident, trading in the temple, turning his ‘father’s house’ into a marketplace, that caused him to fly into the only Biblically documented instance of his extreme rage. What would he do then to the many who have over the years abused and misused the power that they claim to possess in his name.

I saw a film a couple of years ago which filled me with anger. Titled ‘Deliver us from Evil‘ the film made by Amy Berg chronicled the deviant life of a self-confessed paedophile Oliver O’Grady, an Irish Roman Catholic priest who admitted to raping and abusing as many as 25 children during his tenure in Northern California, one of his victims a mere infant. What was disturbing even though O’Grady mouthed words of repentance for his acts was the matter of fact attitude with which he looked into the camera and spoke, his expression as hollow as his words, at times a smirk creasing the corners of his mouth. Perhaps I imagined it… but I wouldn’t be surprised if others who have seen the documentary observed the same. I believe it was there, his smirk, his face smug in the belief that having served just seven years in prison for destroying the lives of 25 known victims, he was out and free, living a life paid for by the Vatican, bought by the crushed spirits of his victims and others like them in countries around the globe. It seemed as though in reliving his crimes for the camera he felt a sense of elation, recollecting the power he once exercised over the powerless. His victims, afraid, not just of the horrors they knew awaited them when they were with him, since many of them were abused and raped repeatedly, but helpless, knowing that no one, not even their own would probably believe them.

I was angry for a while at Amy Berg for allowing him those moments of glory, giving him the floor to gloat, to talk about the letters he sent his victims many years later asking them to come and meet him, which they refused to do. But I also realised that it was her initiative in making this film that exposed another paedophile to the world and to me, who had never heard of Oliver O’Grady up until that day. I called my sister who lives in the U.S. and told her to watch the film… I don’t know if she did. I must confess that I cried at various points during the film. I even contemplated turning my back on the church, but then as I always have in life, I chose to take what was good out of my religion and leave aside that which is unwholesome.

My church is Christ after all, not his priests…

O’Grady took refuge in the confessional, claiming that his superiors were aware and did nothing, neither restraining him, or sending him for therapy, nor reporting what ended up being a series of heinous offences to the police. What they did instead was shield him and suppress all evidence of his crimes. It was the persistence of his victims that finally saw him face some form of punishment, not for the offence of rape or sodomy but for performing ‘lewd and lascivious acts’ on two minors, brothers, for which he received a 14 year sentence, serving just 7 before he was deported to Ireland. Since then O’Grady has roamed free, apparently travelling to the Netherlands where he worked in various parishes under an alias, mostly around young children.

The film also focused on the deeper cover up by the church, with O’Grady’s Bishop at the time, Roger Mahoney, playing ringmaster. In fact the film alleges that Mahoney’s attorneys cut a deal for O’Grady’s silence regarding Mahoney’s knowledge of his crimes, in exchange for an undisclosed sum of money to be paid to O’Grady when he turned 65 years (i.e. in 2011).

In 2010 O’Grady was once again in focus when he was arrested in Dublin, Ireland, for possession of child pornography. Some of the photos and videos depicting children as young as 2 years of age.

In fact Pope Benedict XVI (formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) himself came under scrutiny and criticism  for suppressing  instances of child abuse and transferring priests accused of such offences to other parishes where they continued to abuse helpless victims, a claim many of Ratzinger’s supports refute citing the case of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado who Ratzinger actively pursued against the wishes of Pope John Paul II under whose patronage Maciel thrived. It was only after the last pontiff’s death that Ratzinger in his role as Pope Benedict XVI ordered Maciel to a ‘reserved life of prayer and penitence’… an extremely light sentence by any measure considering that Maciel was then 85 years old and died less than two years later, having fathered six children, some of whom he allegedly also abused.

And now on the heels of so much that’s been a blot on the holy name of Christ, we hear of Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop of New York recanting an apology he made in 2002 to victims of clergy related sexual abuse, stating that he never should have apologised in the first place as he did not think that anything wrong had occurred in Bridgeport Connecticut or New York during his tenure there as Cardinal. His statement to a Connecticut based e-zine, connecticutmag.com while reopening the wounds of many victims of sexual abuse by members of the Roman Catholic Clergy, many unacknowledged and suffering in silence for decades, has also once again brought to the fore the fact that the church even while attempting to sound repentant at times does not really see itself as responsible for shielding criminals. It’s flippancy and irreverence for the harm caused to thousands of victims, most of them children seems out of consonance with the stated teachings of Christ.

What I’d like to know is where on earth, heaven or hell do they get off?

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3 pm at the Promenade

I haven’t ranted in so long my ranty shoes are pinching. I wonder if I need a new pair, or if perhaps a little wearing in will get them all supple once again.

Which reminds me that I need to exercise, so I went for a walk the other day. To be honest, it was more of a car ride, then a lunch halt at Saayba in Bandra, which still makes the most mouthwatering spicy seafood dishes this side of the suburbs. Though I wish they’d de-veined their tiger prawns in the special that I ordered. But my normally queasy constitution held up just fine. It probably was the Sol Kadi that did it… Oh and btw as far as Sol Kadis go, my vote would go to Central Lunch Home in Colaba. Their stuff’s real potent, and bloody delicious too. If you haven’t heard of Central, just take a trip down Colaba Causeway towards Sassoon Dock and ask for Saurabh hotel. That’s the Udipi place Gregory David Roberts aka Shantaram, Mumbai unofficial socialite tour-guide took Madonna, for dosas, and a whiff of the Sassoon dock. So go there and ask for Central, you’d probably get a cold stare, but you’ll find Central and the Sol Kadi. Believe me, it’s worth it.

So car ride, leisurely lunch (surprisingly light) and back into the car for a ride down to Carter Road, in the afternoon sun, which thankfully decided to play a bit of a hide n seek game with some clouds.

I decided to can the walk and just sit by the sea and watch the waves.

Dude… Where’s my wave?

But low tide can be such a kill-joy. So I stared at the rocks and the herons, and at fishermen mending their nets in the hazy distance, and at a group of crows pecking on… watermelon! Who knew? And at a young couple grabbing some alone time far out where the rocks were worn out enough to provide an unjagged seat.

The birds and the bees

At least someone was glad for the low tide that day.

And then as I perched on the ledge and dangled my feet off the edge I saw it.

Where have all the flowers gone...

Now, I’ve always said that we’re a hypocritical  and shallow lot. We preach and don’t practice. We want to end corruption and will rant and rave against the system, but we’re willing to offer a bribe if it means moving to the front of the line. Time is money, a friend who runs a business told me once, a month after she vociferously yelled her lungs out against corruption at a rally. We can’t help it, it’s ingrained in our systems. We’re perfect people in an imperfect world.

What’s wrong with sex determination and female foeticide, after all don’t we just love women. We even worship them, our plethora of female deities, lavishing their cold, lifeless but gaudily bedecked images with jewellery and expensive silk. Then we go home and probably slap our wives in the face because they don’t make the dal like our mother’s did.

Not forgetting our obsession with beauty, and the yardstick by which we judge it. All clamouring for white skin on Asian bodies, we even slap so much paint on our Gods, we forget their divinity as we dance around them to raucous Hindi film music. And then we rant about being colonised by the British, slamming everything we oppose as a western import, while still being slaves to the west, clamouring for American degrees, even if it’s from some back alley college without certification. And calling each other bros! Oh come on now, what on earth happened to the good old bhaiyya or bhai (brother). But bro it is, picked up by all and sundry.

Why even the girls use it… Pick up the code book while you’re at it chicas.

So no wonder Ganesh lies amidst the rocks, discarded and unclaimed. Feted while he was beautiful, and immersed into the sea amidst much pomp and revelry. Only to be thrown back by the relentless waters, stripped of his veneer, where he lies unnoticed and unclaimed, his hand still raised in blessing on an indifferent people.

God... But only with your paint on!