Jim Varagona

Category: religion

>Lead Me Not Into Temptation

>I’ve been pushing ink lately. It certainly beats baby photography. It keeps me closer to home and doesn’t involve monotonous driving.

Nearby my place of work is a massive Wally Mart, which I recently stopped at to grab some gear to fight the winter weather. While looking for the supplies, I passed someone that looked eerily familiar. He was a bit worn since the last time I saw him about ten years ago, but I knew who it was. It was none other than Michael McGrath, my favorite molester priest, “the most sued former priest in St. Louis”, and also considered “the most dangerous St. Louis priest”. Needless to say I was in the presence of a local celebrity.

It felt good to see that he looked pretty rough. It is safe to say he’s packed on a few and his sneer looks more crooked than ever.

that sneer

After I passed the sick excuse for a human being, I thought about going back and confronting him. It actually made me recall the homeless man that molested my dogter. Are worthless people like these even worth confronting? He certainly hasn’t suffered much because of his behavior. He may be the most sued former priest here, but he’s yet to serve time or pay up as far as I know. That’s where the Catholic Church comes in to save the day.

I only wish he’d suffer a worse fate than obesity and aging. And I’m not even a victim or related to a victim of his. I only came close and that was close enough to piss me off. May his ills grow worse in the new year.

In other news dealing with abusive priests, the San Diego diocese is asking priests to donate a month’s salary to go towards the recent $198.1 million sexual abuse settlement. That dwarfs in comparison to the $600+ million settlement the Los Angeles diocese made in July, the largest ever by a diocese so far. The sad thing is that the San Diego Diocese is reaching out to its church goers and asking them to contribute to righting their wrongs.

The donation request is part of a new campaign called “Embracing Our Mission”
and will be used to help “cover the expense involved in compassionate outreach
to our brothers and sisters who suffered sexual abuse within the family of the
church,” the memo said.

They could at least have their own Bingo Night in America or something to rile up the troops.

The priests have also been taking things out on the nuns. I’m the last guy to stand up for the nuns, but the L.A. Archdiocese sold a convent that was still being occupied and had been for 40 years in order to raise funds for their record settlement.

Sister Angela has it right when she said “what hurts the most is what the money will be used for, to help pay for the pedophile priests. We have to sacrifice our home for that?”

How can Catholics support this nonsense? I know the priests must accept responsibility and make these settlements, but their methods are a bit ridiculous. Then again, I’m not sure how I’d raise hundreds of millions of dollars either…except for making a blockbuster motion picture. That may be their next move. Pay close attention to the producer credits of the movies you see at the multiplex in the future. It might include a Father or two.

>Responding to Responses

>Man, don’t you hate when you go two weeks between blogs. My last posting about my personal opinion about embryonic stem cell research really touched some nerves. While I appreciate Maire‘s opinion, I have to say that her two main points didn’t do much for me or fellow diabeto, Mr. Momarsh.

The violence against women argument doesn’t do much for me. For an argument coming from feminist groups, it doesn’t say much about females if you say that they are completely susceptible to offers to buy their eggs. Why is it so wrong for offers like that to be made on the backs of our alternative weekly papers or on college campuses? People do desperate things for money, but at the same time, it must be their own responsibility to research the pros and cons of the procedure. It only makes sense for something that pays $2,000-$10,000 to look into things. And besides, this legislation bans buying or selling eggs for the purpose of obtaining cells.

I agree that SCNT is cloning. My argument is that feeding it to the general public in 30 second ads doesn’t give them much background, and as much as listing a web address is giving background information, I don’t think a lot of people actually take the time to read those partisan informational sources and consequently any opposing or bipartisan sources. I think when folks hear cloning, they think of Dolly in human form. Now, Dolly was conceived through SCNT, but the process is not taken any further than the blastocyst stage when extracting embryonic stem cells, which I don’t think is really explained thoroughly by either side too much. By creating a blastocyst from my adult stem cells and an unfertilized egg, the idea is that it is an extension of me to heal me.

I must also emphasize that SCNT is a very small part of the current initiative being voted on in Missouri. The process hasn’t progressed very far anyway to be a viable option anytime soon. The main point in my mind is to make use of the cells in embryos that are thrown out from fertility clinics and from abortion. Keep in mind that this is all legal already, but not federally funded. The most important passage from the initiative states it will “prohibit state or local governments from preventing or discouraging lawful stem cell research, therapies and cures”. I would think that by making this an amendment to the state’s constitution, it would help clarify the issue. While Maire states that the researchers she works with do not like the idea of this as an amendment, I have seen plenty of researchers on the other side as well, which only show how divisive this issue is.

The issue will continue to spark debate well after it is voted on because I am sure other states will follow with similar measures. It would be helpful to list more factual information in the ads and to inform anyone involved in any related process of the full scope of what is involved.

On a larger scale, I wish there was a check and balance system in political advertising to lessen the back and forth of he said, she said. There should be a bipartisan board made up of equal numbers of folks from the various parties, including the “others”, that review each ad before it is run and release it to the public only after its claims are verified. I realize there are groups now that have ad watches in effect, but it should have to be done before the ads are aired instead of questioning them after folks are basing decisions on the information in those ads. I think it would cut down on campaign spending and wasting by negating the need to respond to every ad by the other side and simply state your case instead.

That’s a dream though. Politics don’t work that way in America, and it’s a shame.

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>For Those Against Stem Cell Research

>For those that question stem cell research, tell your family, friends, and co-workers with diseases that could benefit, that their quality of life means nothing to you. No babies are being killed for these cells. They come from otherwise “discarded” embryos.

The current Conservative administration has not outlawed abortion, so it will occur. I don’t think more women will abort for the purpose of furthering stem cell research, so until someone repeals Roe V. Wade, why not make something good of something you find despicable.

And yet other cells come from embryos stored by couples at fertility clinics. Once they get pregnant, or reach a desired goal, the rest of their stored embryos are thrown out at some point. So until someone decides to save all of these discarded embryos and make a commune of discarded humans from them, I say help find cures from the cells, which were taken from the woman with her consent, so don’t throw in a violence towards women debate here.

Opponents of my opinion have said that you can get the same benefit from adult stem cells, but adult stem cells can’t transform into any cell, which embryonic cells have the ability to do, no matter what part of the body they’re from.

As far as cloning goes, I have yet to see any scientific document from an American scientific publication that states this will lead to the cloning of humans. Now there is SCNT (Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer), which is labeled as cloning by the opponents (the link is to what I consider to be a funny, yet blunt domain for the opponents…http://www.nocloning.org/). It is therapeautic cloning, which differenciates from reproductive cloning, what people generally think of when it comes to cloning.

In SCNT, the nucleus of an unfertilized egg is replaced with the nucleus of an adult somatic cell. The egg evolves into a blastocyst, which is one of the earliest stages of an embryo, with about 100-200 cells. Compare that to an adult human with over 10 trillion cells. Once at that stage, the stem cells are taken and may be transplanted back to the patient with no danger of rejection, since they are an identical match. Maybe in that case, the adult stem cells could provide the same benefit, by creating embryonic stem cells.

Reproductive cloning would involve taking that blastocyst and continuing to help it along until it can exist outside of the body, but the chances of a healthy embryo coming from SCNT are still small.

I’m sure everyone knows of somebody that has died with a disease that could be helped with this research. And cures may not happen right away. What in science does without years of research? Whose to say that those folks and those with those diseases now do not deserve a better quality of life? If you are against that, then you are inhumane.

I myself have Diabetes and know others with it as well. It would be great to live without multiple shots in a day or a device connected to my body at all times in order to live. It would be great to not have to bleed everyday to better control my blood sugar. A life without messing up one insulin calculation and suffering with a seizure or being nauseated for days sounds really nice. And I’m sure Michael J. Fox would love to simply sit still. And Christopher Reeve would have enjoyed walking again or simply to live another day, but since you are humane people, we must deny people what may be available to us through science.

That makes as much sense as a war in a country that had nothing to do with killing our people and only takes more of our people’s lives, especially considering that our tax money could be going towards saving lives instead of killing our boys and innocent Iraqis, not to mention it has more factual evedience backing it than the reasoning for that war. It’s a shame that the President used the only veto of his tenure to prevent more lines of cells to be backed by federal funding. It only shows his continued ignorance. This whole debate may be based on an idea that doesn’t have many years of research behind it, but the possibilities are backed by fact. This would require a bit of hope on our part, but as Michael J. Fox said when in St. Louis on October 5, “You can’t quantify hope. And I’ll come down on the side of hope every time.”

Missouri, the state I have lived in all of my life, will be voting on this issue. This is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

All eyes will be on Missouri for the Nov. 7 vote, the first of its kind in
the nation. Some say the outcome could provide clues on national voter sentiment
on a contentious political divide, perhaps spawning similar referendums in other
states. To this point, the legislative battle has largely been confined to
Congress and state general assemblies. In the case of Illinois and a handful of
other states, lawmakers have backed embryonic stem-cell research with state
funding.

The measure seeks to ensure that any forms of stem-cell research that are
legal under federal law also would be legal in Missouri.But voters are being
asked to do more than simply preserve the status quo. The measure would negate
the state Legislature’s ability to ban certain forms of controversial research,
such as those involving cloning technology.

Once again, it’s this cloning technology that scares people away, but I urge folks to look beyond the word “cloning” to see that it isn’t bringing cloned humans into the world. Cloning technology is used in the world today to bring people like me our insulin. A lot of biotechnology today involves “cloning technology”, but this involves human cells, so it creates the idea of creating humans. When used in SCNT, I believe an extension of the person is being used to save them. For it is their own adult stem cells that are being used in the process to prevent rejection. And while some would say that the blastocyst is a child being murdered, I would say you’ve gone too far. It’s amazing that the anti-abortion movement doesn’t stand up for the lives of those with these diseases, those fighting in wars, and those innocents our country kills in war. It’s a bit of a double standard if you ask me.

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>I’m Giving Myself Extra Insulin Tonight…1 Year of DiabetoBlog

>

I actually missed my 1 year of DiabetoBlog by 6 days (“McGrath Didn’t Molest Me…Thank God” on 8/24/2005), but I’ve been busy taking pictures of cars and trying to find my way out of that business. To celebrate, I will cover all the bases tonight, and touch on a few from the past.

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Dirty Priest On the Loose

One of my favorite molester priests was released from jail this morning. Bryan Kuchar, who I mentioned in that McGrath blog linked to above, was a deacon at St. Joan of Arc, my grade school, while I went there for 1 year. My sister even had a Catholic school girl skirt autographed by him. The priests, especially the younger ones, took on almost a celebrity like popularity with us back then, which makes it easy for me to see how kids could get lured in.


The Archdiocese of St. Louis is shacking him up for a while until the Vatican tells them what to do with him. I suggest they put him to work teaching Sunday school after he makes his rounds in the neighborhood handing out leaflets that state he is a sex offender. I hope his god has a sense of humor. I’d like to see Kuchar go on television in place of his lawyer and swear to his god that he did nothing immoral. He was laicized, or dismissed from the priesthood, last February, along with the king of molesting priests, Michael McGrath, so it is interesting that the Archdiocese still takes responsibility over him like a mother to a child. I wonder what church’s homecoming is funding his hotel stay.
SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) was trying to get him locked up after his release and is actively seeking past victims that have yet to come forward. If that doesn’t work, they could probably more easily pin some kind of terrorism charges on him, because I know of this great prison in Abu Ghraib.

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More Fun with Ceiling Fans

Back in April, I mentioned that my wife and I battled it out with our upstairs neighbor through our ceiling fans. Our land lady installed at least 3 fans in this 2 family flat that use the same type of remote, so when you control one, you control them all. When we mentioned this to her, she giggled it off and said next time she puts fans in, she won’t make that mistake. I asked them to look into there being codes on the units to differentiate, but we have been put on the back burner indefinitely, so that they may build a fortress in our backyard to live in.

A few nights ago, after a long break in the fighting, suddenly our bedroom fan came under fire. I was relaxing in bed, reading about Counterculture Throught the Ages, when the fan turned off. The wife exclaimed “Oh shit!”, realizing what was to ensue.

After a few back and forth volleys, the gal upstairs turns both fan and light off, which makes even less sense. Please just simply flip the switch if you want neither. Don’t turn both off, leaving us with nothing, and hence even more to fight over.

Our neighbor was very persistent with the battle. To emphasize my anger I flashed the lights quite a few times. This did bring on a calm period at one point. We settled back into our bed and the insurgency regained its force. I was not willing to let her win this. The air doesn’t circulate in our room very well due to a badly placed vent, so we need our fan…damn it.

I told my wife to leave it to me and that I wouldn’t let her down. As I continued reading, I kept up with each flip of the lights and fan. I had it down to a science. Even after an hour of reading, after I set down my book, I kept up, half asleep, by memorizing the 4 button presses to regain the fan setting we enjoy.

This carried on for probably another hour, with bouts of sleep for myself in between the volleys, which were slowing down.

And then, it happened. I won. I woke up 6 hours later with my fan at its correct setting. I was the victor. And as stupid as it sounds, it felt amazing.

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Poopy Update

As an update to my last post, we waited two more days for our lawn to be cut. That was also after another call asking me to pick up my dog’s “dung”. Silly rabbit. If only they kept up with things. I did pick it up, and it finally was cut.

An annoying pile of trash, crap, junk, or whatever term you see fit was also cleaned up…well, kind of. Here are the before and after photos…

Before

After

As you can see, it looks a bit better, and we have to be excited about even slight improvement, like having a kid that doesn’t go in his pants in public as often as before. My only issue is that I still managed to find a grocery bag’s worth of broken glass in all of that crap, just by dusting the surface. I have to look out for my dog here, because dogs are curious creatures. Imagine if a toy of hers hit that pile of nonsense and she began to paw at it. This is what she could have encountered…

My advice is to never rent, and if you do, take lots of photos and document everything, even through blogging. Renting is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes there could even be mice in them or broken glass and you have to end up in litigation.

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>Come Out of Your Hole, Michael McGrath

>The story that never ends and one of the topics that originally pushed me to blog (see DiabetoBlog #1: McGrath Didn’t Molest Me…Thank God) is back again with more predictable, yet insane news. From today’s STLToday.com:

New lawsuit alleges abuse by often-sued former priest
By
Robert Patrick
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
07/06/2006

The most-sued former priest in St. Louis was sued again Thursday by a man who says he was abused 30 years ago as an altar boy and student at St. Ferdinand Church in Florissant. The 20th lawsuit against Michael McGrath alleges that he fondled the boy, identified only as “John Doe GJ,” at least once on an outing sometime between 1976 and 1978. At the time, McGrath was an associate pastor and teacher, and the boy was 10 or 11 years old, the suit says. The man, now around 40 years old and living in Missouri, did not remember what happened until sometime in the past year, said lawyer Ken Chackes. In a prepared statement, the man said that he felt as if his life had “flat-lined,” as if he had been “held back.”

The suit says that the St. Louis Archdiocese knew or should have known that McGrath had a “dangerous propensity to abuse children” and that the church should have better supervised McGrath. McGrath was ordained in 1975, removed from public ministry in 1997 and laicized in 2005. He served in parishes and schools in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, the archdiocese said. McGrath’s lawyer, J. Martin Hadican, said Thursday morning that he could not comment on the lawsuit’s allegations. Archdiocese spokesman Tony Huenneke said that the archdiocese had settled or mediated one complaint and 15 lawsuits against McGrath for a total of $793,600. Huenneke said the archdiocese would not have settled the cases if officials did not believe the accusations to be credible.

This is crazy. So this occurence comes from an accuser that “did not remember what happened until sometime in the past year”, which is a bit fishy unless you go for the idea of repressed memories. Still, I think this case bears fruit simply because we are dealing with “The most-sued former priest in St. Louis”.

Mike, you got to be happy with the ring of that.

It’s good that the Archdiocese believes the accusations to be credible and isn’t putting up a defense of lies to protect one of their boys…well, he used to be (McGrath was dismissed from the priesthood in February of last year). I still echo my sentiment from my very first blog by asking “where does the settlement money come from?” The close to $800,000 used simply to “settle” with McGrath’s many other accusers had to come from somewhere, and considering the fund raising of the Catholic Church, the whole situation makes me feel uneasy.

Speaking of feeling uneasy, my wife was watching the news with me earlier when we learned of this new development.

Notice what his shirt says (“He Knows When You Are Sleeping”).

McGrath’s crooked sneer flashed on the screen and she asked me sarcastically, “Are you sure he didn’t do anything to you?”

It’s only been about 9 years since I’ve seen that piece of filth, so I think the image of such a traumatic event would be burnt in my mind. I’m sure if I was haunted by such a thing that I would find suitable punishment for the man, besides settling for money from his former employer.

The former molesting priest apparently still resides in Richmond Heights (at 1433 Hawthorne Place), which is in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. I’m surprised no one has tracked him down for an interview, to picket in front of his house, or to drag him out and give him lashings.

And what kind of a man defends these idiots? J. Martin Hadican is no stranger to defending holy sex offenders. I easily found reference to him defending none other than Bryan Kuchar, the other molesting priest I came in contact with in my life during a year in grade school at St. Joan of Arc in St. Louis, while he was a transitional deacon, basically one step from being a priest. Kuchar was sentenced to 3 years in jail in November of 2003.

It’s a shame that the statute of limitations lets McGrath sit back and relax. There should be a provision that states after so many lawsuits for something so dispicable, you can just throw the guy in jail for a while. If he takes issue with that, I welcome him to speak up for himself, instead of hiding behind his attorney’s words. Come out of your hole, you inglorious bastard!

UPDATE 6/20/2007: I just watched Deliver Us From Evil, an excellent documentary focusing on a dirty priest. It gives an insightful and disturbing look into the mindset of one of these men.

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McGrath Didn’t Molest Me…Thank God

In last Thursday’s edition of the Metro section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I noticed a small blurb in the “Local Briefs” entitled “2 Sue Priest, Ex-Priest, Allege Sexual Abuse.” What stood out was:

A Missouri man sued Michael S. McGrath, claiming the former priest sexually assaulted him beginning in 1981 in a movie theater, a van and McGrath’s aunt’s house in Oklahoma. McGrath was at St. Patrick’s Parish in Wentzville at the time, the suit says. McGrath has been sued 18 other times since 2003, according to
court records.

McGrath was laicized, or dismissed from the priesthood, on February 4th of this year; a full 2 years since the first accusations. He still lives life as a free man in the Richmond Heights area.

But I knew McGrath when he was Father McGrath, and he was my religion teacher at Bishop DuBourg High School in 1997. My sister also had him in 1995. He was a peculiar man with a crooked sneer, that seemed to get off from giving high school students demerits for piddily dress code violations. He always wore a polo shirt, most of the time with an accompanying sport coat, and he always wore sandals, which I was told was so his feet could breathe because of fungus issues.

As a teacher in the classroom though, I thought he was great. His methods certainly were unorthodox to most though. He had a living room set-up including a couch and two plush chairs, which for one week a month, your table could sit at for class. He even had a great Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” poster on the wall. One time, after school, he tried explaining to me and a buddy that the song is entirely about Mary and Jesus, but I don’t remember the specifics.

As he lectured, if he noticed someone sleeping or trying to sleep, he would apologize and say something to the effect of “you will learn more from your dreams than from me, so I have no problem with your slumber,” except when he said it, it sounded very sincere, but coming from a kooky guy. He taught us the “Celestine Prophecy,” which to this day I cannot explain, except it is a book about a guy looking for something…hey, I was sleeping.

I mentioned that I spoke with him after school. I also left school property with him and my friend. I am not sure why. He lured us with Rold Gold pretzels that were left over from a blood drive. Luckily we weren’t getting driving lessons from him, which seems to be a frequent striking time for him. We did meet a friend of his, a younger guy, who was on his break from driving a bus. Oddly enough, McGrath went on to do the same. The thing is, I find it strange that we came so close to such a sickening creature, and we had no idea.

He actually left DuBourg in the middle of the year he was teaching my class, without any explanation. It was not until later that I found out why he was actually removed by the Archdiocese.

mcgrathrftcoverHe went on to drive buses for Metro, which the Riverfront Times actually did a cover story for, but didn’t mention his unknown past. Click on the link, and check out that creep.

Kuchar

Bryan Kuchar

I was raised Catholic in St. Louis. I went to St. Joan of Arc for all of grade school. In 1992 or 1993, when I was in the 5th grade, we had a deacon named Bryan Kuchar. To us kids back then, these guys were like celebrities to us for some reason. My sister, who was in the 8th grade that year, had him autograph her skirt. In 1995, he sodomized a boy 3 times. In November of 2003, he was sentenced for 3 years in the St. Louis County Jail. Kuchar was also laicized at the same time as McGrath. Luckily, I chose not to be an altar boy in my grade school years.

During High School, I dated a girl who answered phones for Michael Campbell, then pastor at Our Lady of Sorrows. In March of 2002, he left there because of allegations of abuse from 12 years prior.

mcgrath

Even his clothes were creepy.

I could go on, but my point is that as much as these are played off as stray incidents, I can find multiple priests from my life in the Catholic church that were criminals. It’s frightening to consider my close brushes with these men. It’s even more frightening to consider that McGrath still walks free. At least the St. Louis Archdiocese has done their part by giving back over $2 million to the victims. What good does that do? And where does that money come from anyway? Is it the same money that my family put in the collection plate, or that we spent on gambling and booze at their wonderful picnics?

I’m sure God is looking down with such approval.

Related article (added 1/19/06, but from 6/27/03)

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