Archive for February 18, 2012

Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles, an amusement park for pedophiles

Saturday, February 18, 2012



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Miramonte Elementary School, an amusement park for pedophiles


 The serene exterior of Miramonte Elementary School hides a house of horrors where child sex abuse was part of the curriculum.
Friday, February 17, 2012 – A Heart Without Compromise; Advocating for Children by Jerome Elam

HOUSTON, February 17, 2012 – The serene exterior of Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles provides a false facade hiding a house of horrors where child sex abuse was part of the curriculum. Authorities charged two teachers, Mark Berndt and Martin Springer, of sexually abusing the students placed under their care by unsuspecting parents.

Parents in this largely Latino neighborhood are consumed with outrage over the sacrifice of their children’s safety at the altar of silence. School officials knew for more than a year that authorities were investigating the activities of the two teachers, but told parents nothing.

Mark Berndt has been charged with committing lewd acts on 23 children between the ages of 6 and 10.  Authorities say he used students for twisted games of child pornography that included spoon-feeding semen to children.  Martin Springer has been accused of fondling two seven-year-old girls.  The pair worked at Miramonte their entire career, Berndt since 1979 and Springer since 1986.

Last week, a female teacher has been implicated for supplying victims to Berndt.  Reports state that she would take children from her class to Berndt.


Click here to read rest of story.

Why cardinal-to-be Timothy Dolan matters

Saturday, February 18, 2012


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The above link has a video of interest.

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February 17th, 2012

Comments (194 comments)

Why cardinal-to-be Timothy Dolan matters

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor


(CNN) – At the Vatican on Saturday, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be elevated to the College of Cardinals. The move will further cement Dolan’s standing as America’s top Catholic.

“This is the most exclusive club in the Catholic Church,” said John Allen, CNN’s Vatican analyst, of Dolan’s elevation. As a cardinal, Dolan will join the ranks of those who will choose the next pope.  The College of Cardinals was established in 1150.  Its main role is to advise the current pope and pick his successor.  The elevation alone brings speculation that Dolan himself could one day be elected to lead the global church.

“In many cases you also become, at least informally, a candidate to be the next pope, because the next pope will almost certainly come from the roughly 120 cardinals under the age of 80,” Allen said.  Once a Cardinal reaches 80, he is no longer able to participate in the election of the pope or enter the secret conclave where cardinals gather when the time comes to select the next pope, typically upon the prior pope’s death.

Dolan will remain the head of the Archdiocese of New York, which includes 2.6 million Catholics in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and parts of New York north of the Bronx. The diocese also includes St. Patrick’s Cathedral, one of the most famous church buildings in the United States, where Dolan often celebrates Mass. He is also head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, putting him in regular touch with President Barack Obama on issues like contraception coverage in the new health care law.

On the streets of New York, Dolan is equal parts pastor, celebrity and politician. He is equally affable and gregarious whether speaking to Mayor Micheal Bloomberg or a New York City firefighter.

Dolan fits well into the culture of New York City. He is regarded by reporters as incredibly media savvy and has the ability to communicate his message in resonating sound bites.

When his elevation was announced, he told reporters it was more about his archdiocese than it was about him.

“It’s almost as if Pope Benedict XVI is putting the red hat of the cardinal on top of the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty or home plate at Yankee Stadium,” he said.

The New York archdiocese has long been headed by a cardinal, as are many other major metropolitan centers around the world.

When Benedict announced in 2009 that Dolan would be moved from Milwaukee, where he was archbishop, to New York, Allen said “it was written in the stars” Dolan was on his way to becoming a cardinal.

“Had he not been a Catholic bishop he probably would have been a United States senator or a corporate CEO or the host of a late-night TV talk show,” said Allen, who is also a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.

“There is no doubt Timothy Dolan of New York is a rapid climber in the Catholic church,” Allen said. “Benedict has indicated in every way a pope can he wants this guy to play a prominent role in Catholic affairs not only in the U.S. but around the world.”

In his role in New York, Dolan has faced criticism from SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The organization has called him the “Teflon prelate.”

“He’s charming and affable but as bad or worse than most bishops when it comes to clergy sex crimes and coverups,” David Clohessy, the executive director of SNAP, said in an e-mail after Dolan was installed in New York. “His deceitful and secretive moves to help a serial predator priest quietly resign in August are particularly upsetting.”

The group claimed Dolan allowed a prominent priest to resign, despite claims from at least nine men who have accused him of molesting them when they were boys, the group said.

In 2008, Dolan’s predecessor found the allegations credible and suspended the priest, the group said.

At the time, Dolan’s office declined to respond to CNN’s questions about the priest.

But Dolan has responded to allegations of sexual abuse in the broader church and from the pulpit at St Patrick’s Cathedral. He has said the church and the pope deserve a critical examination. “All we ask is that it be fair and the church not be singled out for a horror that has cursed every culture, religious organization, institution and family in the world,” he said.

Rumors of Vatican power struggle

Dolan will continue on as president of the bishops conference for two years. The group of bishops addresses many needs of the church, from how to handle changes in the liturgy to acting as the public policy arm of the church.

In January, Dolan burst onto the political stage. After closed-door conversations with the White House going back to November, the cardinal-in-waiting challenged the White House over an insurance mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that forced religious institutions, except for houses of worship, to provide insurance plans that included coverage for contraceptives.

In a video posted on the bishops’ website, Dolan called the move a “foul ball.” He led the charge to push back against the policy. He and bishops across the country read letters from the pulpit decrying the policy as a violation of religious liberty.

As the debate heated up on the political stage, Dolan kept up the pressure, telling reporters at the opening of a charitable site in New York, “The federal government should do what it’s traditionally done since July 4, 1776, namely back out of intruding in the internal affairs of the church.”

Eventually, the White House changed course and extended the religious exemption to other religious organizations and will force insurers to provide and pay for contraceptives to people who work for religious organizations who oppose contraceptives.

Supporters of the president’s plan have called it an “elegant solution,” but some religious conservatives called it a “flawed compromise.” Dolan first said it was a “first step in the right direction” but later said the revised policy still raises “serious moral concerns.”

“The bishops’ role is to protect vigilantly the institution of the church, and what it says, what the theories are for how we should be best as the people of God,” Sister Simone Campbell said. Campbell is the executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby in Washington. While the group agrees with the bishops on immigration and poverty, her group opposed the bishops’ stand on the HHS policy.

“These very points are the tension points in our church because it’s the application of faith to a democratic culture,” she said.

While the bishops opposed the Affordable Care Act and the new White House contraception rule, they have worked with the Obama administration on other issues.

“We congratulate Cardinal-designate Dolan on his historic achievement,” press secretary Jay Carney said. “The Obama administration has worked closely with the Cardinal-designate Dolan and the Catholic Church on a wide range of initiatives to promote strong communities and serve the common good. We appreciate Cardinal-designate Dolan’s leadership and look forward to continuing to work with him and church leaders to strengthen our nation and promote justice and peace throughout the world.”

The administration is sending several representatives to the Saturday morning ceremony at the Vatican. In addition to Dolan, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore will also get his red hat and be elevated to a cardinal.

Eric Marrapodi – CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor


A Day in the Life of a Banned Canadian: Conversing with Kevin Annett

Saturday, February 18, 2012


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This post is a follow up to a previous post about Kevin Annett on this blog.

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Day in the Life of a Banned Canadian: Conversing with Kevin Annett

Posted by  on February 18, 2012. Leave a comment.

by Sarah J. Miller

Sarah J. Miller is the pseudonym of an award-winning syndicated journalist. In her words,

“I’m assuming an uncharacteristic anonymity in this case because of threats made against me if I proceeded with an investigative piece about Reverend Annett. Such warnings actually perked my curiosity about the man and the shit storm surrounding him.”

I had been prepared to distrust the quiet, intense man who sat across from me, not only because most people I know expected me to.

Zealots of any variety are sowers of unhappiness, and from most of what I had read about him, Reverend Kevin Annett is a latter day John Brown, seeking the downfall of all of official society in his determined quest for justice for the violated. And frankly, I just don’t like clergy persons, including the defrocked brand, for “once a black robe, always a black robe”, from my experience.

And yet the man before me didn’t match my prejudice, especially when he began to speak. He does so calmly and gently, with a confident logic based on hard and compelling evidence garnered from years of research.

Rumors to the contrary, Kevin Annett is neither crazy, nor a charlatan. He is someone, rather, who bears a shocking truth that most Canadians, understandably, do not want to hear.

My pleasant surprise at the man’s unexpected demeanor and the intelligent clarity of his words made me realize right off the bat that everything I had been told and fearfully warned about Kevin Annett was unfounded: a fact that made me want to learn more.

A second look at my subject reminded me of the Vietnam veterans I had come to know during my fledgling days as a greenhorn reporter: someone bearing the kind of war-weariness and “thousand yard gaze” that says more than words ever can.

Kevin talks like a battlefield veteran, with regular references to fallen buddies and unrelenting attacks. But his aura is not weighted down by any kind of post traumatic reactions that I can see, despite the brutal personal savaging he has been put through over the years. He is not a bitter or a vengeful man, although he has enough cause to be.

My own positive vibe from the quietly graying man with an irrepressible smile made the professional journalist in me play hard ball with him.

“So why do people call you crazy?” I asked him provocatively, nudging my pocket recorder towards him.

He smiled.

“I guess it must seem crazy to take on the government of Canada and its churches”

“Is that what you’re doing?”

“Well, that wasn’t my original plan. Don’t forget, the United Church went after me first”

“That cost you your family” I offered.

His deep brown eyes showed a brush of sadness for the first time, and he nodded.

“Was it worth it?”

“Not for me, or my daughters” he replied. “But for a hell of a lot of other people, it was”

I stared at the documents spread before me, showing how half of the children at Alberta Indian residential schools had died in one school term; and at a Canadian law from 1933 allowing any Indian to be sexually sterilized.

“Why did nobody know about all this?” I asked him, holding up a document.

“They did” he replied laconically, gesturing to a photocopied article from a November 15, 1907 issue of The Ottawa Citizen that described the enormous death rate in the Indian schools.

“But the churches are acknowledging this now …” I said.

“No, they’re not” Kevin replied, his eyes suddenly hard. “They’ve been forced by us to admit that children died, but they claim it wasn’t from deliberate intent. Like, 50,000 deaths were somehow accidental”

“They murdered them, is that your line?”

“There’s lots of ways to kill off Indians. The preferred method in the rez schools was deliberate exposure to TB and smallpox.”

I felt a strange vexation just then, an angry unacceptance that must have been obvious to my interviewee, for he smiled again as he saw my expression.

“So what do you want?” I exclaimed, trying to sound calm.

“Something that won’t happen in this country. Justice”


“Prison terms for church officials. A war crimes trial. Returning the children’s remains, first of all, for a proper burial”

I’d read all of that from his websites, and I knew he was alone in demanding such things. All of Canada, it seems, is content with issuing an apology for what is undeniable genocide – including the aboriginal chiefs. I asked Kevin why he thought that was.

“It’s convenient. Canadians will bear any amount of corruption or murder rather than face anything unpleasant, or controversial. And as for the national chiefs, well …”

Again, that ironic smile, and the piercing turn of phrase.

“There’s always been Around the Fort Natives. You know, the AFN”

The conversation was frustrating me. I wanted to know more about the man, and what allowed him to endure what he has.

“You’re not a very well liked guy” I said.

“That depends who you talk to”

“Look, Kevin, you can’t get a job. You’re a pariah. You’re castigated every day over the internet with some new smear. I think you called yourself a social leper, in your film. Most polite society avoids you like the plague. A lot of powerful players seem determined to shut you up.”

He said nothing as I uttered the obvious.

“So tell me. What’s it like to be banned?”

He smiled at my reference to South African apartheid.

“Seriously” I continued.

He took a moment, and then muttered,

“Very lonely”

Kevin looked out the window at the puffy clouds hovering over Vancouver’s north shore mountains.

“For a long time, I expected a Hollywood ending to all this” he continued frankly. “You know, I’d be vindicated, all the assholes would go to jail after admitting everything, and all my friends would recover. I had to wake up to the way things are. It’s been a long process”

“Waking up?”

“Yeah, to what we’re really a part of. To how these crimes never stop, they just shift location. To how I’m going to go through this shit until the day I die.”

“How does that feel?”

He gave me a long, penetrating stare.



He shook his head sadly. The room grew very silent.

“I interviewed Leonard Peltier a few times” I offered, trying to break the log jam. “He said it didn’t matter that he was in prison, because everywhere’s a prison for him and his people.”

“That’s about it” Kevin replied, nodding. “But he has the advantage of being an obvious target. I’m a white guy, a former church insider. My imprisonment isn’t so obvious.”

“Oh, I don’t know” I shot back. “Your case is broadcasted all over the world.”

“That really hasn’t helped me, not practically. Anybody who gets too close to me is eliminated, especially if they have pull”

“What do you mean, eliminated?”

“Killed off, if they’re aboriginal. Scared off or bought off, if they’re white”

Kevin proceeded to list off an impressive array of names of lawyers, scholars, and even politicians who had once sponsored his work or come to his aid, and then inexplicably dropped away from his campaign. What I’d been told by a confidential source in the RCMP confirmed a lot of what he was claiming.

“I’ve been told you’re definitely on the fed’s shit list” I ventured.

“You should try telling your newspaper colleagues that, because they won’t believe me”

I shook my head and leaned towards him to emphasize my point.

“It’s not that they don’t believe you, Reverend. They can’t do anything about it, and they know when to avoid a story.”

“No shit”

“There’s just no percentage in backing a whistle blower and giving him a lot of exposure, not unless their target is about to crack. Trust me, I’ve interviewed enough of them” I said.

“So what’s the usual outcome?” he asked me.

“For somebody like you? Exactly what you’re going through” I proclaimed.

He pondered for a minute, and then said,

“The thing is, I’ve already beaten them. I feel like I’ve won”

“Won what?”

“I survived all they could throw at me. I brought out this truth and forced them to respond. I did the right thing and I helped save lives. That’s enough of a victory.”

I doubted he believed what he was saying, knowing something of his character. I told him so.

“So tell me what you really think” I said to him.

“Okay. I feel like I’ve been smashed into the ground and nothing is ever going to stop those fuckers from raping and killing more children whenever the hell they want. I feel stupid for having even tried taking them on. Some days, it’s like, I made a big fucking mistake. I wish I could go back and make a different choice. But I can’t. I’m stuck with my choice, and I’ve got to make the best of it.”

“But in your film you said you’d do it all over again if you had to”

“Of course I would”

“Then, I don’t get it …”

“Neither do I” he said curtly.

After laughing together, I asked him,

“So David didn’t beat Goliath this time?”

“I don’t think he ever does. Maybe it’s not about beating him, but ignoring him”

“How do we do that?”

“Stop paying him taxes and voting for him, for starters. Stop buying his useless shit and going to his bloody churches”

“Are people doing that?” I asked.

“I think so. Here and there. I’m hoping we reach a critical mass of non-cooperation before it’s too late for all of us”

“Did you used to preach like this?” I asked him.

“Not at first. I was trying to be a minister, at first. But yeah, eventually.”

“Do you miss that old life?”

There’s a long pause in our conversation then, for Kevin couldn’t reply. I thought he was going to break down, for the tears welled up in his eyes, and he looked away, embarrassed. I remember turning off the recorder respectfully.

At the time, his reply mattered to me, but it’s strangely unimportant to me now, maybe because it’s so obvious.

I have never been able to say how much of a person’s life I’ve been able to accurately represent in my writing, and whether what I call a story is not just my own yarn, seeking an echo somewhere.

What I can say is how completely shaken I was by my encounter with Kevin Annett. Beyond and beneath all the words and the deep resonation of his character, he left me with a sense of heroic tragedy that I have rarely encountered, even amidst wars and revolutions. The term “lonely courage” says something of the man and his nobility, but there is much more to him and his quest. I would dare to call it an epic.

Kevin was the one to excuse himself, after speaking to me for a few hours. A friend of his needed help of a sort he wasn’t free to describe, but he did allude that the fellow was homeless and without a friend – except, of course, Kevin himself.

I am an agnostic, and rarely do I hold out hope for anything like salvation to pull us from the hell we’ve created for ourselves. But I have indeed met someone I can genuinely claim is a man of god: banned from our midst, to be where he is meant to be, as one despised and feared by those who know him not, and shunned by those who should know better, and yet beloved by the lost and neglected ones; and thus, by all of who and what he is, making a new chance for the rest of us possible.

Monterey Diocese Settles Lawsuit Against Priest in Sex Abuse Case

Saturday, February 18, 2012


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Monterey Diocese Settles Lawsuit Against Priest in Sex Abuse Case


Posted: Feb 17, 2012 2:36 PM MSTUpdated: Feb 17, 2012 4:48 PM MST


By Kiki Jones – email


Victim’s Group Asks Supporters to Take Down Website For Accused Priest

Alleged Victim Being Retaliated Against?

Accused Priest Was in Treatment Facility For Priests

Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Central Coast Priest

Alleged Victim Followed Priest to San Juan Bautista for Latin Mass

Parishioners Upset About Priest Allegation Announcement

Alleged Sexual Abuse Victim Files Lawsuit Against Priest


SALINAS, Calif- The Diocese of Monterey says that it has settled a lawsuit against Fr. Edward Fitz-Henry. The Diocese paid $500,000 to settle the lawsuit but in the settlement they do not admit to any liability.


In the lawsuit the victim claims that he was the victim of Fitz-Henry between 2005 and 2007 when he was a parishioner at Madonna del Sasso parish. Because of the allegations, Bishop Garcia suspended Fr. Fitz-Henry from ministry and the church conducted an internal investigation.


While investigating the 2005 incident the church claims to have found out about an incident in 1992. In a statement the Diocese said that before the investigation it thought that the 1992 incident was just a “non-sexual boundary violation involving a minor.”


After presenting some new evidence in the 1992 incident to the Diocesan Independent Review Board, the church decided that the 1992 incident was a credible violation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”


Fr. Fitz-Henry is still suspended from ministry and the Diocese will send this case to Rome in a few weeks.

The Diocese also says that Fr. Edward Fitz-Henry has filed a cross claim against the Bishop of Monterey. “It is unfortunate that Fr. Fitz-Henry has decided to take this action in the civil courts.  Civil courts do not have jurisdiction in internal Church governance.  The Diocese will promptly move for a dismissal of this cross claim,” released the Diocese in a statement.

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I just want everyone to know that I was an Altar Server for Father Ed at Carmel Mission in early 1990’s. He was Great and there was NEVER any issues. I know a few different guys from that time period and all said Father Ed was a Great Guy. I really think he is being targeted because Being Irish, he was more nurturing than most american priests. At San Juan Bautista He would hug the people of the community as they walked into church before Mass. Ask any of them if he gave them a weird vibe. I know I never experienced anything “off” with him. He would give great homilies that people would actually talk about. So please before you cast a stone at him, talk to other people who know him. If he indeed was like “that” there would be a lot of others coming out. We have so much admiration for him that we are waiting to see if he will be able to Baptize our 2 sons. He is a Great Human.


Patrick OMalleyThe Catholic church is an evil institution, They admit no liability so that their “pedophile priest count” won’t rise above the 4,392 “Jerry Sanduskys” that we know about. Be careful, because this pedophile will be able to live in any neighborhood, just like another 200 known pedophile priests that live in California.




We applaud this victim for courageously reporting the abuse he says he suffered at the hands of this priest. Hopefully any others, who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Fr Edward Fitz-Henry, will have the courage to speak up and report it to police. Keep in mind your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others. Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511 <snapjudy@gmail.com> “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and all clergy.


Melanie Sakoda

While no amount of money can restore the innocence lost as a result of childhood sex abuse, we are glad that the victim of Father Edward Fitz-Henry is able to walk away with some feeling of justice. Since the diocese and the review board have both said this is a credible allegation, Fitz-Henry should be immediately put in a remote, secure, independent sex offender treatment center so kids will be safer. We also urge Bishop Garcia to immediately visit every parish where this predator worked and beg other victims and witnesses to come forward. Melanie Jula Sakoda Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) SNAP East Bay Director Toll Free Phone: 1-877-SNAPHEALS (1-877-762-7432) melanie.sakoda@gmail.com 925-708-6175


The Message on Contraception, Without Apology

Saturday, February 18, 2012


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The Message on Contraception, Without Apology

Katherine Taylor for The New York Times

The Rev. Roger Landry in North Providence, R.I., on Thursday at the gathering Theology on Tap.


Published: February 18, 2012

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — It was last Sunday morning, and the Rev. Roger J. Landry, whose accent is from working-class Lowell, Mass., but whose college degree is from nearby Harvard, had just finished officiating at the 8:30 Mass at St. Anthony of Padua, his church in this old whaling town. After his fiery sermon attacking the Obama administration, several people in the pews applauded — a sound striking for its echoes in the cavernous, awesome church, and for its rarity. One does not applaud in Mass.

But Father Landry did not mind the enthusiasm. He is a traditionalist, and he is eager to share his opinions with his flock. This is a priest who believes official Catholic teaching about contraception, and who is not afraid to say so.

Such men may not be the exception, but it’s not clear that they are the rule. As the furor over the Obama administration’s mandate for employee health insurance has made clear, Roman Catholic bishops condemn contraception, equating some forms of it with abortion. But many parish priests are conflicted. Some disagree with the teaching, and others agree with it but avoid discussing the topic, knowing how thoroughly their parishioners have embraced birth control.

Father Landry worries that other priests’ reticence keeps Catholics in the dark on church teachings on contraception. “In most places,” he said, “they don’t hear about it because there are a lot of priests who are conflict-averse, and when you preach in a way that people aren’t pleased, not only do you lose parishioners, but you lose their budget envelopes along with them, and you’ll also get some nasty e-mails and face-to-face conversations.”

Father Landry, 41, is balding, ruddy and blue-eyed, and he speaks quickly and confidently. He gives his parishioners the stiff, 80-proof doctrine: the church hierarchy bans all artificial contraception, and the withdrawal method. The only permissible forms of birth control are abstinence and “natural family planning,” using knowledge of a woman’s cycle to restrict intercourse to times when she is unlikely to conceive.

He was just a small boy at morning Mass, watching the priest give Communion, when he first heard a whisper of a calling: “I just had the little insight as a 4-year-old that the priest must be the luckiest man ever, to be holding God in his hand and giving him to others.” He entered seminary after graduating from Harvard in 1993, and he arrived at St. Anthony’s in 2005, after stints in Fall River and Hyannis, Mass.

As a priest, Father Landry has tried, gently, to lead couples away from contraception. “I know from their having told me that many of the couples here have stopped contracepting,” Father Landry said. “In terms of the numbers, it’s probably between 15 and 20 couples who have explicitly told me that.”

Father Landry gets his message across in several ways. First, he talks to engaged couples about their plans for a family. To facilitate that conversation, he gives them a questionnaire.

“The last question,” Father Landry said, “is always ‘Are you planning to have children? Are you planning to start right away after you’re married?’ The vast majority of couples answer, ‘Yes, we definitely want to have children, but we want to wait two or three years.’ ”

The priest asks if they are aware of church teaching about contraception. “Shockingly, 50 percent of the couples that I prepare for marriage have never heard that the church teaches about contraception,” he said.

Father Landry also gives sermons on contraception, something very few priests do. He says he relies on Pope John Paul II’s argument against contraception, which he summarizes. “That God has made us fundamentally for love,” Father Landry said, “and that marriage is supposed to help us to love for real. In order for that to happen, we need to totally give ourselves over to someone else in love, and receive the other’s total self in love.

“What happens in the use of contraception, rather than embracing us totally as God made the other, with the masculine capacity to become a dad, or the feminine capacity to become a mom, we reject that paternal and maternal leaning.”

Father Landry argues that contraception can be the gateway to exploitation: “When that petition is made for contraception, it’s going to make pleasure the point of the act, and any time pleasure becomes the point rather than the fruit of the act, the other person becomes the means to that end. And we’re actually going to hurt the people we love.”

Many non-Catholics — and many Catholics — see the church’s teaching on contraception as cruel toward women. But Father Landry says it’s women who intuitively get how divorcing sex from procreation allows men to use them; in his experience, it is almost always the woman who moves a couple toward abandoning artificial contraception.

“They have a lot of times experienced having been used in their marriage or their previous relationship,” Father Landry said.

After Mass, during the coffee hour in the church basement, parishioners expressed a range of views on the pastor’s teachings.

One couple with grown children agreed that if they had benefited from Father Landry’s teachings years ago, they would have had more children. “We definitely would not have used contraception,” the wife said, “not if we had it to do over again.”

An older woman with white hair, sitting near the doughnuts being sold for $1, appeared to disagree. “Don’t get me started on him,” she said, rolling her eyes when asked about Father Landry’s teachings on contraception.

Father Landry does not think contraception is the most important issue he faces. He worries about couples living together before marriage, not to mention the poverty and violence that afflict New Bedford. But he sees the Catholic sexual ethic as crucial to his message — and not just the part about contraception.

Last spring, scenes of a movie called “Whaling City” were being shot in St. Anthony’s. During the filming, the priest noticed that the church’s rack of sexuality pamphlets was being depleted.

“I saw all the camera men and sound guys,” Father Landry said, “and in their back pockets, coming down the main aisle, one had one on pornography, the other had ‘Sex and Contraception’ hanging out of his pocket, the other one had ‘In Vitro Fertilization.’ ”

Father Landry aimed his cellphone camera at one of the men and “snapped a photo of his derriere,” he said. “Because it’s exactly what I’m trying to do.”


A version of this article appeared in print on February 18, 2012, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: The Message on Contraception, Without Apology.

For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage

Saturday, February 18, 2012


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For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Amber Strader, of Lorain, Ohio, described her pregnancies as largely unplanned, a byproduct of relationships lacking commitment. More Photos »


Published: February 17, 2012

LORAIN, Ohio — It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.


Slide Show

And Baby Makes Two


The New York Times

More Photos »

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Teresa Fragoso takes classes and works at a Lorain, Ohio, bar, where she took her son one day when she could not find a sitter. More Photos »

Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.

Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.

One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.

The forces rearranging the family are as diverse as globalization and the pill. Liberal analysts argue that shrinking paychecks have thinned the ranks of marriageable men, while conservatives often say that the sexual revolution reduced the incentive to wed and that safety net programs discourage marriage.

Here in Lorain, a blue-collar town west of Cleveland where the decline of the married two-parent family has been especially steep, dozens of interviews with young parents suggest that both sides have a point.

Over the past generation, Lorain lost most of two steel mills, a shipyard and a Ford factory, diminishing the supply of jobs that let blue-collar workers raise middle-class families. More women went to work, making marriage less of a financial necessity for them. Living together became routine, and single motherhood lost the stigma that once sent couples rushing to the altar. Women here often describe marriage as a sign of having arrived rather than a way to get there.

Meanwhile, children happen.

Amber Strader, 27, was in an on-and-off relationship with a clerk at Sears a few years ago when she found herself pregnant. A former nursing student who now tends bar, Ms. Strader said her boyfriend was so dependent that she had to buy his cigarettes. Marrying him never entered her mind. “It was like living with another kid,” she said.

When a second child, with a new boyfriend, followed three years later — her birth control failed, she said — her boyfriend, a part-time house painter, was reluctant to wed.

Ms. Strader likes the idea of marriage; she keeps her parents’ wedding photo on her kitchen wall and says her boyfriend is a good father. But for now marriage is beyond her reach.

“I’d like to do it, but I just don’t see it happening right now,” she said. “Most of my friends say it’s just a piece of paper, and it doesn’t work out anyway.”

The recent rise in single motherhood has set off few alarms, unlike in past eras. When Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a top Labor Department official and later a United States senator from New York, reported in 1965 that a quarter of black children were born outside marriage — and warned of a “tangle of pathology”— he set off a bitter debate.

By the mid-1990s, such figures looked quaint: a third of Americans were born outside marriage. Congress, largely blaming welfare, imposed tough restrictions. Now the figure is 41 percent — and 53 percent for children born to women under 30, according to Child Trends, which analyzed 2009 data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Still, the issue received little attention until the publication last month of “Coming Apart,” a book by Charles Murray, a longtime critic of non-marital births.

Large racial differences remain: 73 percent of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites. And educational differences are growing. About 92 percent of college-educated women are married when they give birth, compared with 62 percent of women with some post-secondary schooling and 43 percent of women with a high school diploma or less, according to Child Trends.

Almost all of the rise in nonmarital births has occurred among couples living together. While in some countries such relationships endure at rates that resemble marriages, in the United States they are more than twice as likely to dissolve than marriages. In a summary of research, Pamela Smock and Fiona Rose Greenland, both of the University of Michigan, reported that two-thirds of couples living together split up by the time their child turned 10.

In Lorain as elsewhere, explanations for marital decline start with home economics: men are worth less they used to be. Among men with some college but no degrees, earnings have fallen 8 percent in the past 30 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the earnings of their female counterparts have risen by 8 percent.

“Women used to rely on men, but we don’t need to anymore,” said Teresa Fragoso, 25, a single mother in Lorain. “We support ourselves. We support our kids.”

Fifty years ago, researchers have found, as many as a third of American marriages were precipitated by a pregnancy, with couples marrying to maintain respectability. Ms. Strader’s mother was among them.

Today, neither of Ms. Strader’s pregnancies left her thinking she should marry to avoid stigma. Like other women interviewed here, she described her children as largely unplanned, a byproduct of uncommitted relationships.

Some unwed mothers cite the failures of their parents’ marriages as reasons to wait. Brittany Kidd was 13 when her father ran off with one of her mother’s friends, plunging her mother into depression and leaving the family financially unstable.

“Our family life was pretty perfect: a nice house, two cars, a dog and a cat,” she said. “That stability just got knocked out like a window; it shattered.”

Ms. Kidd, 21, said she could not imagine marrying her son’s father, even though she loves him. “I don’t want to wind up like my mom,” she said.

Others noted that if they married, their official household income would rise, which could cost them government benefits like food stamps and child care. W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, said other government policies, likeno-fault divorce, signaled that “marriage is not as fundamental to society” as it once was.

Even as many Americans withdraw from marriage, researchers say, they expect more from it: emotional fulfillment as opposed merely to practical support. “Family life is no longer about playing the social role of father or husband or wife, it’s more about individual satisfaction and self-development,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

Money helps explain why well-educated Americans still marry at high rates: they can offer each other more financial support, and hire others to do chores that prompt conflict. But some researchers argue that educated men have also been quicker than their blue-collar peers to give women equal authority. “They are more willing to play the partner role,” said Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist.

Reviewing the academic literature, Susan L. Brown of Bowling Green State University recently found that children born to married couples, on average, “experience better education, social, cognitive and behavioral outcomes.”

Lisa Mercado, an unmarried mother in Lorain, would not be surprised by that. Between nursing classes and an all-night job at a gas station, she rarely sees her 6-year-old daughter, who is left with a rotating cast of relatives. The girl’s father has other children and rarely lends a hand.

“I want to do things with her, but I end up falling asleep,” Ms. Mercado said.

A version of this article appeared in print on February 18, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Unwed Mothers Now a Majority Before Age of 30.