But it was the outright fraud by America’s big banks that finally made Father Rien an activist for the first time since he was ordained 40 years ago.
As the crisis snowballed through 2007 and 2008, parishioners started coming to Father Rien for help, saying they had dutifully filled out and filed mortgage modification applications with the Bank of America, only to be suddenly evicted. Time and again the bank, equipped with their own legal documents, said their customers’ paperwork had been lost and their applications were too late.
“I had 24 or 25 families just in my parish saying the same thing; it was untenable.”
When Father Rien approached the Bank of America to plead his parishioners’ cases the bank told him he had no connection to the families and no right to speak on their behalf.
He did not know it then but Father Rien was seeing early signs of what became known as the robo-signing scandal, in which four American banks admitted forging signatures on untold thousands of documents to speed up foreclosures.
In February this year they came to a $US26 billion legal settlement over the issue, but Father Rien says they are still failing to help many of their struggling customers.
The priest seems stunned by what he says is the corporate and personal greed that has led to this situation.
“Look at how much money some of these people [in finance] earn; no one needs to be that rich, no one.” So Father Rien joined PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organisation), the faith-based network that launched the bank divestment campaign. “I am angry,” he says.
From the stream of high-profile cases in the news, I have to say there appears to be a coordinated effort by American cardinals to pick fights over any softening of the church’s most hard-core stances. Glad to see them “heightening the contradictions,” because it just brings things closer to the day when American Catholics split from Rome:
A day before Easter, the head of New York’s Roman Catholic archdiocese faced a challenge to his stance on gay rights: the resignation of a church charity board member who says he’s “had enough” of the cardinal’s attitude. Joseph Amodeo told The Associated Press on Saturday that he quit the junior board of the city’s Catholic Charities after Cardinal Timothy Dolan failed to respond to a “call for help” for homeless youths who are not heterosexual.
“As someone who believes in the message of love enshrined in the teachings of Christ, I find it disheartening that a man of God would refuse to extend a pastoral arm” to such youths, Amodeo said in his letter to the charitable organization last Tuesday.
Phone and email requests from the AP for comment from the archdiocese were not immediately answered on Saturday.
The conflict started with a letter to Dolan from Carl Siciliano, founder of the nonprofit Ali Forney Center that offers emergency services to homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people. He said the cardinal’s “loud and strident voice against the acceptance of LGBT people” creates “a climate where parents turn on their own children.”
“As youths find the courage and integrity to be honest about who they are at younger ages, hundreds of thousands are being turned out of their homes and forced to survive alone on the streets by parents who cannot accept having a gay child,” Siciliano wrote in his letter, sent last week.
Siciliano, who is Catholic, said parents who are strongly religious are much more likely to reject children who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Of the nation’s homeless youths, as many as 40 percent are LGBT, studies show.
by Boohunney On March 26th, Andrew Wordes, the infamous “Chicken Man” of Roswell, GA took his own life in an explosion that also destroyed his home during an attempt by marshals to evict him from his property that was in foreclosure. Wordes property was located in an area that was in proximity to McMansion neighborhoods and considered an eyesore by some. Others considered him the lovable Chicken Man.
Wordes had been involved in an on going dispute with the City of Roswell beginning back in 2009 on several issues including raising more “livestock” (chickens and turkeys) on his one acre property than permitted by the city. Also, there were other issues as Wordes not obtaining a permit to grade his property against floods and to repair damage from the epic floods in Georgia in 2009. The result was a conviction for Wordes and he was sentenced to community service. He was unable to meet the terms of his probation due to illness and was sent to the city jail for three months. During this time his house went into foreclosure.
If these troubles were not enough, in July of 2011, someone opened up a pen and released all his baby chicks. Approximately 53 of his 160 turkeys and chickens were allegedly poisoned. Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell had sympathy as he stated that he owned some of the turkeys that died. In fact, many residents of the area have poultry in their yards, including the Mayor Wood.
The Chicken Man was a relic of past times in an area now of suburban sprawl. Considered eccentric, he was well liked by many and tried to live life on his own terms. He sold his fresh eggs and traded poultry with many of the new “Suburban Farmers” that are becoming in vogue along with the old time property owners that have livestock that are surrounded by the new developments moving further and further out into rural areas. Some argue it was about eminent domain issues, some are saying it was foreclosure issues.
It was a sad ending to a true character. Some people just can’t handle colorful or coexist with the unusual. In his honor, my neighbors next door will receive a bag of feed for their beautiful chickens. More here.