Zubeida Jaffer / COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALIM
Have you ever wondered how wealthy the church really is? In his book, ‘The Vatican Billions’, writer and philosopher Avro Manhattan gives us a glimpse of the true financial worth of the catholic church:
“The Vatican has large investments with the Rothschildsof Britain, France and America, with the Hambros Bank, with the Credit Suisse in London and Zurich. In the United States it has large investments with the Morgan Bank, the Chase-Manhattan Bank, the First National Bank of New York, the Bankers Trust Company, and others.
If you were tried for witchcraft in early modern Scotland, one of the surest ways to be convicted was to confess. Of course, you didn’t need to confess to be convicted, and confession wasn’t always voluntary. This problem led to a practice called “waking the witch”: a form of torture that involved depriving the accused of sleep for days on end, until they were so exhausted they would hallucinate and babble incoherently. These “ravings” would often later be used as evidence of guilt.
CHICAGO (AP) — One day in May of 1970, an 11-year-old boy and his disabled sister were sitting on the curb outside a Chicago tavern, waiting for their mother to come out. When a priest with crinkly eyes and a ready smile happened by and offered the family a ride home, they could not have been happier.
The boy, Robert J. Goldberg, now 61, would pay dearly for the favor, enduring what he describes as years of psychological control and sexual abuse he suffered while working as a child valet for the late Rev. Donald J. McGuire. He remained in the Jesuit’s thrall for nearly 40 years, even volunteering to testify on McGuire’s behalf during criminal trials that ultimately resulted in a 25-year prison sentence for the priest.
But today, Goldberg says he has finally broken the hold McGuire once had on him. And he has begun to tell his story, in interviews with The Associated Press and in a lawsuit he filed Monday in California state court in San Francisco.
The lawsuit charges that McGuire, a globe-trotting Jesuit with ties to Saint Teresa of Calcutta, abused Goldberg “more than 1,000 times, in multiple states and countries,” during sojourns to spiritual retreats throughout the United States and Europe.
Men circled the three women, their fists wrapped around thick iron pipes and wooden sticks. The women huddled on the ground at the center of their village in the western Indian state of Gujarat and whimpered as the crowd gathered. Two young men had died in the village, and the women were being called dakan, the Gujarati word for witch. They were accused of feasting on the young men’s souls.
In 1572, the killings began. That year, authorities in the tiny settlement of St Maximin, in present-day Germany, charged a woman named Eva with using witchcraft to murder a child. Eva confessed under torture; she, along with two women she implicated, were burned at the stake.
The pace of prosecution picked up from there. By the mid-1590s, the territory had burned 500 people as witches—an astonishing feat, for a place that only had 2,200 residents to begin with.
Why is it that early modern Europe had such a fervor for witch hunting? Between 1400 to 1782, when Switzerland tried and executed Europe’s last supposed witch, between 40,000 and 60,000 people were put to death for witchcraft, according to historical consensus. The epicenter of the witch hunts was Europe’s German-speaking heartland, an area that makes up Germany, Switzerland, and northeastern France.
Conventional wisdom has chalked the killings up to a case of bad weather. Across Europe, weather suddenly got wetter and colder—a phenomenon known as the Little Ice Age that pelted villages with freak frosts, floods, hailstorms, and plagues of mice and caterpillars. Witch hunts tended to correspond with ecological disasters and crop failures, along with the accompanying problems of famine, inflation, and disease. When the going got tough, witches made for a convenient scapegoat.
But a recent economic study (pdf), which will soon be published in the The Economic Journal of the Royal Economic Society, proposes a different explanation for the witch hunts—one that can help us understand the way fears spread, and take hold, today.