Sexual Abuse in the Church, a Case History

This report by Randy Engel, one of the founding warriors in the Catholic cleric sexual abuse war, is instructive, and horrifying.

An excerpt.

Father Anthony Joseph Cipolla was born on August 29, 1943 in Rochester, PA, a borough of Beaver County. He was the youngest of five children – Ann, Vincent, Genevra, Anita, his twin sister, and Anthony – born to Ambrose and Albina (Natale) Cipolla. His first parish, where he received his First Holy Communion on June 17, 1954, was St. Titus Church in Aliquippa. It was a heavily mixed ethnic church with German-born, Italian- speaking Father Edward Zauner serving as its long-time pastor. Fr. Cipolla, a country boy, gave credit for his vocation to Fr. Zauner and to his mother, who by every account was a devout Catholic and a kind, generous soul.

That same year, 1954, due to the expanding population in the area, Pittsburgh Bishop John Dearden established a new parish, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, in nearby Aliquippa under Father Cornelius J. Finneran. A small chapel was built on the site in September 1954, but the church was not completed until 1987. It was here that the young Anthony Cipolla learned his catechism, went to confession and attended Mass. And it was here that the Mass of Christian Burial was said for the 73-year-old priest following a fatal auto accident on August 30, 2016.

A Missionary Priest and Boys, Boys, Boys

According to autobiographical data provided by Fr. Cipolla, he wanted to be a missionary priest, not a diocesan priest. At the start of 10th grade in high school, he entered St. Anthony’s minor seminary in San Antonio, TX, operated by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (O.M.I.). However, the distance was too great, plane rides home too expensive and tuition too high. He returned home.

Later, he applied to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (P.I.M.E.) and was accepted at Maryglade College Seminary, in Memphis, MI. He graduated in 1966 and was sent by the missionary order to the Pontifical College Josephinum near Worthington, OH, for his theology training. He remained at the Josephinum for only one the year. Then he left for reasons unexplained.

The next religious order he decided to try out was the Missionaries of the Holy Family (M.S.F), whose special charism is fostering family life. The American Province for the Italian-based congregation sent Cipolla to St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Farmington, MO. When his novitiate year was over, he took his simple vows. The order then sent Cipolla to St. Leonard’s Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, operated by the Franciscan Friars Minor of St. John, for his second year of theological studies. Again he left the seminary for reasons unexplained.

Fr. Cipolla now took a year off and accepted a teaching position at St. Anselm’s parochial K-8 grade school in Dearborn Heights, MI. In addition to teaching religion, geography, English and history he also taught a boys’ physical education class. Cipolla resided in Dearborn, where readers of Part I of this series will remember he took Frank Labiaux and other boys in the summer of 1977 to an auto museum and ended up assaulting the 12-year-old Frank in his motel room.

Fr. Cipolla then returned to the P.I.M.E. Fathers who accepted him back for his final two years of theological studies. He took up residence at the P.I.M.E.’s Queen of the Missions Seminary in Oakland, N.J. and commuted about 20 minutes away to Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, N.J. for his theology classes.

According to Cipolla, the P.I.M.E.’s rector, Father John Barocco asked him to teach religion at the nearby Our Lady of Perpetual Help School and instruct gym classes for 7th grade boys. The money he earned was put towards Cipolla’s tuition.

The young Cipolla also became involved with the Oakland Boys’ Club which had 225 high school and grade school members. He oversaw the club’s sports program and gave an annual retreat for boys at the P.I.M.E.’s seminary. There was also Camp Tamarac where Cipolla took boys on campouts.

Cipolla Ordained as a Diocesan Priest

At the close of his last year with the P.I.M.E. Fathers, Cipolla was contacted by Fr. Finneran, the pastor of Our Lady of Fatima, now his home parish, telling the young man that his father was dying and his mother was struggling to keep the family restaurant and bar open. He was needed at home immediately. Fr. Finneran also told Cipolla that he had already talked with Bishop Leonard of the Pittsburgh Diocese and that Leonard was willing to ordain him as a diocesan priest if and when Cipolla returned home.

In early summer of 1972, Cipolla left the P.I.M.E. Fathers and his dream of being a missionary behind. Before he left, the Oakland Boys’ Club held an award dinner in the priest’s honor. Anthony Cipolla was named “Man of the Year,” and the Oakland Chief of Police gave him an engraved plaque in appreciation for his service to the Oakland Boys Club. Cipolla returned home and Bishop Leonard sent him to St. Bernard Parish in Mt. Lebanon to get a taste of what it was like to be a diocesan priest. “I was starting to like the idea although I never forgot my desire to be a missionary,” Cipolla said. On Saturday, October 28, 1972, at age 29, Anthony J. Cipolla was ordained by Bishop Leonard for the Pittsburgh Diocese at Our Lady of Fatima Church. On Sunday, October 29th he said his first Mass. During a visit to see his father in a nursing home, Fr. Cipolla blessed him with a relic of hair from Padre Pio’s beard and his father lived another six years. According to Fr. Cipolla, Ambrose Cipolla, who had opposed his son entering the priesthood was now filled with gratitude to both Padre Pio and his son – the priest.

More Red Flags – Fr. Cipolla’s Parish Merry-go-round

During the approximately 16-years that Fr. Cipolla served under three bishops, Bishop Vincent Leonard, Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua, and Bishop Donald Wuerl, in the Pittsburgh Diocese, he was moved from parish to parish – five parishes before he assaulted Frank Labiaux and his stepbrother Tucker Thompson, and two parishes and a home for exceptional children after the diocese learned of the abuse. The priest was never assigned to be pastor of any parish.

The priest remained at his first parish, St. Bernard Church in Mt. Lebanon from 1972 -1974; at Immaculate Conception in Washington PA from 1974–1975, that is, less than a year; at St. Philomena in Beaver Falls in 1975 for just a matter of months; at St. Agatha in Bridgeville from 1975-1976, for less than a year; at St. Francis Xavier on the Northside from 1976–1978, where he sexually abused Frank and Tucker; at St. Canice in Knoxville from 1978-1983 where he was accused of molesting a 12-year-old boy for more than four years, 1982-1986; at St. Philip in Crafton in 1983 for a few months; and finally the McGuire Memorial Home for Exceptional Children from 1983-1988.

According to Rev Ronald Lengwin, the spokesman for the Pittsburgh Diocese, young priests “typically spent five years at each church, but if they were unhappy in their post, it was not unusual to be transferred much sooner.” Clearly, Fr. Cipolla was “unhappy” with most of his assignments and the pastors were “unhappy” with him.

The Temptation to Exist

This is a remarkable book and, as I wrote in my book, The Criminal’s Search for God: Sources:

“The last book I read before being released from McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary in 1969 was The Temptation to Exist by E. M. Cioran (1968) whose very opening spoke to criminals.

Almost all our discoveries are due to our violences, to the exacerbation of our instability. Even God, insofar as He interests us—it is not in our innermost selves that we discern God, but at the extreme limits of our fever, at the very point where, our rage confronting His, a shock results, an encounter as ruinous for Him as for us. Blasted by the curse attached to acts, the man of violence forces his nature, rises above himself only to relapse, an aggressor, followed by his enterprises, which come to punish him for having instigated them. Every work turns against its author: the poem will crush the poet, the system the philosopher, the event the man of action. Destruction awaits anyone who, answering to his vocation and fulfilling it, exerts himself within history; only the man who sacrifices every gift and talent escapes: released from his humanity, he may lodge himself in Being. (p. 33)” p. 67

This article from the LA Review of Books, about Cioran, is excellent.

An excerpt.

FOR SOME, he was one of the most subversive thinkers of his time — a 20th-century Nietzsche, only darker and with a better sense of humor. Many, especially in his youth, thought him to be a dangerous lunatic. According to others, however, he was just a charmingly irresponsible young man, who posed no dangers to others — only to himself perhaps. When his book on mysticism went to the printers, the typesetter — a good, God-fearing man — realizing how blasphemous its contents were, refused to touch it; the publisher washed his hands of the matter and the author had to publish the blasphemy elsewhere, at his own expense. Who was this man?

Emil Cioran (1911–1995) was a Romanian-born French philosopher and author of some two dozen books of savage, unsettling beauty. He is an essayist in the best French tradition, and even though French was not his native tongue, many think him among the finest writers in that language. His writing style is whimsical, unsystematic, fragmentary; he is celebrated as one of the great masters of aphorism. But the “fragment” was for Cioran more than a writing style: it was a vocation and a way of life; he called himself “un homme de fragment.”

Cioran often contradicts himself, but that’s the least of his worries. With him, self-contradiction is not even a weakness, but the sign a mind is alive. For writing, he believed, is not about being consistent, nor about persuasion or keeping a readership entertained; writing is not even about literature. For Cioran, just like Montaigne several centuries earlier, writing has a distinctive performative function: you write not to produce some body of text, but to act upon yourself; to bring yourself together after a personal disaster or to pull yourself out of a bad depression; to come to terms with a deadly disease or to mourn the loss of a close friend. You write not to go mad, not to kill yourself or others. In a conversation with Spanish philosopher Fernando Savater, Cioran says at one point: “If I didn’t write, I could have become an assassin.” Writing is a matter of life and death. Human existence, at its core, is endless anguish and despair, and writing can make things a bit more bearable. “A book,” said Cioran, “is a suicide postponed.”

Cioran wrote himself out of death over and over again. He composed his first book, On the Heights of Despair (Pe culmile disperării, 1934), when he was 23 years old, in just a few weeks, while suffering from a terrible bout of insomnia. The book — to remain one of his finest in both Romanian and French — marked the beginning of a strong, intimate link in his life between writing and sleeplessness:

I’ve never been able to write otherwise than in the midst of the depression [cafard] brought about by my nights of insomnia. For seven years I could barely sleep. I need this depression, and even today before I sit down to write I play a disk of [sad] Gypsy music from Hungary.

That Cioran is an unsystematic thinker doesn’t mean that his work lacks unity; on the contrary, it is kept tightly together not only by his unique writing style and manner of thinking, but also by a distinct set of philosophical themes, motifs, and idiosyncrasies. Among them failure figures prominently. Cioran was obsessed with it: the specter of failure haunts his oeuvre starting with his earliest, Romanian book; then, throughout his life, he never strayed away from failure. He studied it from varying angles and at different moments, as true connoisseurs tend to, and looked for it in the most unexpected places. Not only can individuals end up as failures, Cioran believed, but also societies, peoples, and countries. Especially countries. “I was fascinated with Spain,” he said once, “because it offered the example of the most spectacular failure. The greatest country in the world reduced to such a state of decay!”

Failure permeates everything. Great ideas can be stained by failure, and so can books, philosophies, institutions, and political systems. The human condition itself is for Cioran just another failed project: “No longer wanting to be a man,” he writes in The Trouble with Being Born (De l’inconvénient d’être né, 1973), he is “dreaming of another form of failure.” The universe is one big failure, and so is life itself. “Before being a fundamental mistake,” says Cioran, “life is a failure of taste which neither death nor even poetry succeeds in correcting.” Failure rules the world like the whimsical God of the Old Testament. One of Cioran’s aphorisms reads: “‘You were wrong to count on me.’ Who can speak in such terms? God and the Failure.”

Cioran could speak so well of failure because he knew it intimately. Cioran was someone who in his youth got involved in catastrophic political projects (which he regretted all his life), who changed countries and languages and had to start everything from scratch, who was a perpetual exile and lived a marginal life, who was almost never employed and nearly always on the verge of poverty. He must have developed a profound familiarity with failure — even a flair for it. He knew how to appreciate a worthwhile case of failure, how to observe its unfolding and savor its complexity. For failure is irreducibly unique: successful people always manage to look the same, but those who fail fail so differently. Each case of failure has a physiognomy and a beauty all of its own, and it takes a subtle connoisseur like Cioran to tell a seemingly banal but in fact great failure from a noisy yet mediocre one.

He first encountered failure in his native land, among his fellow Romanians. Cioran was born and grew up in Transylvania, a province that had for a long time been part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, and only lately, in 1918, became part of the Romanian kingdom. Even today Transylvanians display a strong work ethic, and seriousness, discipline, and self-control are held in high esteem. But when Cioran went to college in Bucharest, the country’s southern capital, he stepped into a whole new cultural universe. Here the winning skills were different: the art of doing nothing, sophistry (from slightly playful to plainly cynical) trumping intellectual soundness, procrastination as métier, wasting one’s life as vocation. As an undergraduate philosophy student, Cioran came in touch with some of Bucharest’s best performers in this respect. The mix of intellectual brilliance and a striking sense of personal failure that some of them exhibited gained his unconditional, perpetual admiration.

In Bucharest I met lots of people, many interesting people, especially losers, who would show up at the cafe, talking endlessly and doing nothing. I have to say that, for me, these were the most interesting people there. People who did nothing all their lives, but who otherwise were brilliant.

Liberalism & Communism

It is and has been, a long marriage made in worldly (and too often the Catholic world) heaven and this article from City Journal captures the recent history.

An excerpt.

Shortly after taking power in 1959, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro took up Vladimir Lenin’s old strategy of gaining the support of “progressive” intellectuals in Europe and the United States. Lenin called them “useful idiots.” French writers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir became Castro’s first marks.

The couple embodied the intelligentsia in its purity and perfection: they led a bourgeois life in Paris, they posed as revolutionaries, and they had a woeful record of predicting the future. During World War II, they never publicly denounced the Nazis and continued to publish undisturbed in France. After the war, they supported Stalin, then the Communists of North Vietnam, then China’s Mao Tse Tung. In 1960, they accepted Castro’s invitation to Havana, where they were received like royalty. They responded by publishing celebrations of the Cuban revolution. They never seemed to grasp that the Castro regime was a typical Latin American caudillist dictatorship, wrapped up in Marxist language to secure Soviet protection.

There is no question that Sartre was useful for Castro, but was he really an idiot? Is it possible that the great writer saw and understood nothing on his trips to Havana, Moscow, and Beijing? It is more probable that he saw and understood everything, but judged it advantageous to claim that he didn’t. In the 1950s, completely informed of the existence of the Soviet Gulag and urged by Russian dissidents to denounce the prison camps, Sartre serenely kept his mouth shut, in order, as he said, “not to drive Billancourt to despair.” Billancourt was at that time the Paris suburb considered a “working-class fortress,” where 30,000 workers manufactured Renault automobiles. Did Sartre really believe in a universal proletarian revolution carried out by Stalin, Castro, and Mao? This proclaimed faith in a collective liberation doesn’t cohere with the profoundly individualist philosophy of his writings.

I knew Sartre a little personally in the 1970s. I, too, made the pilgrimage to Havana, Moscow, and Beijing (though I went in order to denounce the dictators). It always seemed to me that Sartre placed himself above the revolution—and above humanity in general. He was a Machiavellian: he believed in one morality for the elites and another for the people. Castro understood that Sartre was moved by vanity. The dictator showered the public intellectual with honors and bestowed upon him hours of personal audience. Sartre was rich; he didn’t need to be bought, but his moral corruption was boundless.

Beyond Sartre’s case, which, to be sure, provides an archetype of intellectual idiocy, most of those who worshiped dictators have obtained the rewards they sought—recognition that they couldn’t find in their own countries. After Sartre came a stream of intellectuals from East and West. Susan Sontag led the way for the United States. Intellectuals of the Left have always lusted after power. For this reason, they detest materialism, capitalism, and the United States. Democracy does not accord power to philosophers.

Our Greatest President

Most would agree that to be Abraham Lincoln and this short speech, addressing a country divided, from 1861 is one of the very many reasons why.

Address in Independence Hall

On Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural journey to Washington as president-elect, he stopped in Philadelphia at the site where the Declaration of Independence had been signed. One of the most famous statements in the speech was, “I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.” This hall also was the place where Lincoln’s body lay in state after his assassination in 1865, one of many stops his funeral train made before he was laid to rest in Springfield, Illinois.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania February 22, 1861

Mr. Cuyler:

I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here, in this place, where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live. You have kindly suggested to me that in my hands is the task of restoring peace to the present distracted condition of the country. I can say in return, Sir, that all the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated and were given to the world from this hall. I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here, and framed and adopted that Declaration of Independence. I have pondered over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army who achieved that Independence. I have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the motherland; but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men. This is a sentiment embodied in the Declaration of Independence. Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world, if I can help to save it. If it cannot be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it.

Now, in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there need be no bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say, in advance, that there will be no bloodshed unless it be forced upon the Government, and then it will be compelled to act in self-defence.

My friends, this is wholly an unexpected speech, and I did not expect to be called upon to say a word when I came here. I supposed it was merely to do something toward raising the flag. I may, therefore, have said something indiscreet. (Cries of “No, no”) I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, die by.

Retrieved November 11, 2016 from

Death Row

Too often we do not know the depth of detail involved in the sentence of death when we call for abolition, so this great public service story by the Los Angeles Times, profiling all 749 individuals currently housed in California’s death row, is a must read.

An excerpt.

That’s the question facing Californians at the voting booth. A yes vote on Proposition 62 would end the death penalty and change sentences to life without parole. A yes vote on Proposition 66 would speed up the legal process leading to an execution. The state hasn’t executed a prisoner in a decade. Thirteen men have been put to death since the death penalty was restored here in 1978.

Here’s a look at the 728 men and 21 women currently on death row.


Cubs Do It!

Wow, what a great world series, and here’s a story from the Chicago Tribune about the historic night.

An excerpt.


The most epic drought in sports history is over, and the Cubs are world champions.

After 108 years of waiting, the Cubs won the 2016 World Series with a wild 8-7, 10-inning Game 7 victory over the Indians on Wednesday night at Progressive Field. The triumph completed their climb back from a 3-1 Series deficit to claim their first championship since 1908.

A roller-coaster of emotions spilled out in a game that lasted almost five hours, featuring some wacky plays, a blown four-run lead, a 17-minute rain delay and some 10th inning heroics that sealed the deal.

It was a perfect ending for a franchise that had waited forever for just one championship, and your stomach never will be the same.

This is not a dream. The Cubs did it.

It was real, and it was spectacular. After blowing an eighth-inning lead in stunning fashion, the Cubs bounced back in the 10th with run-scoring hits from Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero.

Over? Not quite.

The Indians came to within a run with two outs, until Mike Montgomery entered to induce the game-ending grounder to third base that saved the city. The Cubs rushed the field, waved “W’ flags and held a group hugathon.

Tears flowed across Cubs Nation after the final out, and fans responded with the world’s biggest group hug, remembering all the loved ones who could only imagine what it would be like to experience this moment of pure bliss.

World Series Starts Today

So I will be sidelining blog posts for the duration; and however it turns out, it will be historic.

I’m all in for the Cubs as their fans, ballpark, history and current team’s record call me to their side.

Here’s a good story from the Chicago Tribune about one roster addition, a very important addition.

An excerpt.

One swing of the bat.

That’s all it takes to change a game – and perhaps a series. Sometimes it doesn’t even require a swing, such as when Ben Zobrist laid down a bunt against the Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series to start a Cubs rally that ended two games later with a celebration.

Cubs fans never will forget that. And Cubs executives still remember, which is what brought Kyle Schwarber to town Tuesday for Game 1 of the World Series. Schwarber’s presence in the lineup as the designated hitter can change any game and potentially this series. He can alter history. He represents a risk worth taking.

Schwarber will be limited. Nobody doubts that. Barely seven months ago he underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his knee. His recovery falls under the category of remarkable in a day and age professional athletes err on the side of caution when rehabilitating injuries and returning to play. But if doctors cleared him medically, it becomes a baseball issue. And if Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer believe Schwarber can make an impact as the 25th man on the World Series roster, they have earned the benefit of the doubt. They understand how even the specter of a guy who hit five home runs in 27 postseason at-bats can affect the thinking of opposing Indians manager Terry Francona. They get it.

Schwarber made his major-league debut against the Indians on June 16, 2015. What better team for the Middletown, Ohio, native to dramatically return against than the American League champs?

Activating Schwarber qualifies as a bold move, but the Cubs didn’t win their first pennant in 71 years tiptoeing gingerly to the top. This would not be a regime anybody can call risk-averse. Whether trading for controversial closer Aroldis Chapman or reinstating AWOL infielder Tommy La Stella, the Cubs have been consistent letting baseball reasons rule their thinking. Schwarber is just the latest example. Cublike now means creative aggressiveness. This fits the description. You don’t have to agree with every decision to respect that the Cubs have been consistent in the rationale.

Catholic Teaching & Peter

John Rao in the Remnant Newspaper reminds us of the importance of remembering why the two might not always be congruent.

An excerpt.

“This brief which destroys the Company of Jesus is nothing other than an isolated and particular judgment, pernicious, reflecting little honor on the Papal tiara and deleterious to the glory of the Church and to the glory and propagation of the orthodox (i.e. Catholic) faith….Holy Father, it is not possible for me to commit the Clergy to the acceptance of the said brief.”  – Archbishop Christophe de Beaumont of Paris to Pope Clement XIV

Indulgence in a fetish is a dangerous habit, blocking, as it does, access to the full reality of the given aspect of life that it masquerades, but escape from its influence is immensely difficult. The fetish in question here is “the papal fetish”; the obsessive insistence upon the orthodoxy and goodness of all statements and actions coming from a reigning Pontiff, regardless of every indication that the opposite may actually be true.

And, as with fetishes in general, this papal fetish blocks access to the full appreciation of the glorious purpose that the Papacy really has, preferring a mess of willful pottage to the banquet of truth it is meant to offer to the faithful.

I began to realize the hold of this powerful fetish as soon as I became involved with the Roman Forum, which was just when the Novus Ordo descended upon us. It was at that time that Dietrich von Hildebrand began to argue that the Traditional Mass could not be abrogated, and that although its temporary replacement had to be recognized as legitimately promulgated by papal authority, we had to fight for the correction of its horrible deficiencies, and seek, as our final goal, the full restoration of the Mass of the Ages. “Accept the reality of the legitimate authority, but fight to have its horrible actions revoked,” became his battle cry. And for this, papal fetishists treated him as promoting schism and even heresy, insisting, as I heard one distinguished conservative say, that “if the pope ordered me to hear Mass standing on my head I would gladly do so”.

Thankfully, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed the truth that we could never be obliged to stick our feet up in the air during the Sacred Liturgy, and that we had every right to listen to the prayers at the foot of the altar right side up instead.

Those who adopted the von Hildebrand battle cry, and who therefore recognized that legitimate authority could make terrible decisions that loyal Catholics had to fight to correct, took heart in the fact that almost the entirety of Church History shared their view. For Catholics, historically, have mostly been untouched by the papal fetish, and to a large degree because the Papacy itself for long stretches of time did not do much to encourage it. St. Peter, as the Romans say, has all too often preferred to “sleep” rather than to stir up popular enthusiasm for his prerogatives in a way that might actually force him to have to do something active on behalf of the universal Church. Weak and lazy popes have often been our curse. 

Yes, the Supreme Pontiff can sometimes be shown to have taken action and demanded obedience on his own steam, as when Pope Leo the Great wrote his Tome for the Council of Chalcedon, and Pope Gregory the Great sought vigorously to deal with the collapse of effective imperial government in the West. But much of the time outside militants had to stir the Papacy to exercise its rightful authority, as—ironically, given the position of the Eastern Orthodox today—in the Early Middle Ages, by Greeks of the caliber of St. Maximus the Confessor at the time of the Monothelite Controversy and Pope St. Martin I.

Interestingly enough with respect to the current argument, the greatest assertion of papal supremacy in pre-modern times, that which was associated with the reform movement of the High Middle Ages, was ushered in, in the tenth and eleventh centuries, by nothing less than the booting of bad but actually legitimate popes from off of their thrones through the intervention of the German imperial authority coming into Italy from across the Alps. This was undertaken with the enthusiastic approval of militant reformers such as St. Peter Damien, and with judgments uttered by reformed popes regarding their wicked predecessors that would perhaps make even the hardiest opponents of the current pontificate blush.

Christendom was grateful for the intervention of such outside secular help once again in the fifteenth century when the Papacy was hopelessly caught in a three way fight for the title of Supreme Pontiff. It was then that the Emperor Sigismund, in violation of all existing canonical rules, pressed the claimants to the See of Peter, including the legitimate Roman one, to abdicate to make the way for a new and universally recognized successor.

Drones, Convict’s New Best Friend

No one who knows anything about prison culture should be surprised about this, as reported by the Washington Post.

An excerpt.

Prison inmates, a remarkably ingenious bunch, are disrupting long-standing methods of smuggling drugs, porn and cellphones the same way online retailers hope to one day deliver socks and underwear to American homes — through the air, with drones.

By coordinating with wingmen on the outside for shipments of contraband, inmates can bypass the need to bribe corrupt guards or persuade family members to hide forbidden items in body ­cavities.

Though nobody is precisely sure just how many drones are landing every day in prisons, the threat is global. Last year, there was a melee at an Ohio prison after a drone dropped heroin into the exercise yard. In April, security cameras at a London prison recorded a drone delivering drugs directly to an inmate’s window.

And in Western Maryland earlier this year, prosecutors convicted a recently released inmate and a prisoner serving a life sentence on charges of attempted drug distribution and delivery of contraband after they completed several nighttime missions netting them $6,000 per drop in product sales. It was such a lucrative scheme that the former inmate had purchased a new truck for himself with the profits.

In many cases, the drones soaring over prison walls are the same $50-to-$500 devices that show up under Christmas trees only to be promptly crashed into trees by their new owners. Flight paths are somewhat more clear in the stark nothingness surrounding many prisons.

“These things can be fun toys if you’re not trying to smuggle contraband into a prison,” said Alleghany County assistant state’s attorney Erich Bean, who prosecuted the Maryland case, calling it “one of the most interesting ones I’ve ever handled.”

Prison officials are dealing with this new threat even as inmates continue using older, higher-risk methods. Earlier this month, more than 50 correctional officers and inmates were charged in a smuggling scheme at Eastern Correctional Institution, Maryland’s largest prison.

Drone deliveries, while clever, aren’t all that surprising given how much time inmates spend watching television news, security officials say. They’ve likely seen stories about retailers such as Amazon (founded by Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos) pushing the concept.

Ban the Box, Unintended Consequences

Ban the box is a misguided public policy putting employers in the position of not knowing the character or honesty of who they hire, and it has consequences that are unintended, as this story from Governing Magazine reports.

An excerpt.

For years, policymakers have tried to find the best ways to support ex-offenders as they re-enter society. One idea that’s gained momentum in recent years: “ban-the-box” laws, which bar employers from asking applicants about their criminal history when they first apply for a job. Backed by a broad coalition of interest groups ranging from the liberal-leaning National Employment Law Project (NELP) to the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a flurry of jurisdictions have enacted these measures. The thought is that when questions concerning criminal records are delayed until later in the hiring process, ex-offenders have a better shot at being hired based on their qualifications.

Nearly half of states and more than 100 localities now have some form of a ban-the-box law on the books.

Most of them cover only public employers or government contractors. But nine states have taken it a step further, barring private employers from asking about criminal records on applications.

Until this year, there was little research into the effect these laws actually had. But a pair of recent studies suggests they carry an alarming unintended consequence: Young African-American men without criminal histories, an already disadvantaged demographic, may find it even harder to receive job callbacks.

In one study, University of Michigan researchers submitted 15,000 fictitious job applications before and after ban-the-box policies went into effect in New Jersey and New York City. Using distinctive applicant names to imply race, they measured whether employers either requested an interview or asked applicants to call them back.

Employers contacted all black applicants at a rate of 11 percent following enactment of the policy. That’s an improvement for blacks with convictions, but a decline for those with clean records, who had previously received callbacks at a rate of 12.7 percent. The study was limited to applicants ages 21-22 during a few months immediately after ban-the-box became effective.