Monday, August 27, 2012

Petrus Romanus on America, Ben Franklin, and Satanism


This is from the newest E-Block; as noted last time we posted one of these, I'm posting it now because of the short shelf life -- to say nothing of the urgency of putting Horn and Putnam in their place before they can deceive anyone else.

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For our next installment on Petrus Romanus (“PR”), we will have a look at some of the outlandish conspiracy theory claims the authors use as secondary evidence for the corruption of the Catholic Church (which, in turn, enables them to more freely errantly argue that Petrus Romanus is the expected "false prophet" of Revelation).

Satanic Practices

PR appeals to the works of several authors who assert that various Satanic practices have been hidden by Catholicism. The first alluded to is Luigi Marinelli, an author of Gone with the Wind in the Vatican. The reliability of this source can be immediately questioned – as the obituary linked below notes, “no names were given, and most of the stories were decades old.” None of this means, of course, that the Vatican is free from scandal, but it also means that Marinelli is not a credible source to use for such outrageous charges made light of by the authors. Professional researchers, and practicing law professionals, would never use such tenuous material as evidence.

The authors also appeal to Emmanuel Milingo, who reputedly, while at an “Our Lady of Fatima” conference, charged high ranking members of the church hierarchy with being in league with Satan. It becomes quickly apparent that Milingo is not exactly a credible witness. Milingo is famous for having taken part in a marriage ceremony under the auspices of Sun Myung Moon (link below). Any evangelical leader who pulled such a stunt would hardly be taken as a credible witness. His statement about Satan, moreover, was tied to unspecified accusations of sexual impropriety, not to any sort of conspiracy theory. Again, this is not to say that the Vatican is free of all such things, but that the use of someone like Milingo as a source is the wrong way to make a solid case.

Their chief source of the sort, however, is Malachi Martin – a rather prolific writer in his time who also produced works of fiction. In one of those works, Windswept House, there is an account of a reputed "enthronement of the fallen Archangel Lucifer" in the Roman Catholic Citadel, on June 29, 1963, with an alleged parallel ceremony in Charleston, South Carolina, the site of an important Masonic Lodge. The authors make much of this, and you can find this story repeated on many conspiracy-theory websites. Yet why take this as history when it is in a fictional novel?

That’s a Dan Brown story of sorts wherein the authors appeal to an interview of Martin by John McManus, in the New American of June 9, 1997, in which Martin said that the events described actually happened. However, there’s plenty of reason to be suspicious of these claimed “facts” based on what little Martin offers in the interview:

Q. Your book begins with a vivid description of a sacrilegious "Black Mass" held in 1963 in Charleston, South Carolina. Did this really happen?

A. Yes it did. And the participation by telephone of some high officials of the church in the Vatican is also a fact. The young female who was forced to be a part of this satanic ritual is very much alive and, happily, has been able to marry and lead a normal life. She supplied details about the event.

Any prosecutor would find a conviction difficult based on such limited hearsay. Martin’s sole source is (reputedly) one woman who was said to be part of this event – and who apparently only concluded, based on a telephone conversation at the event, that Vatican officials were on the other end of the line.

Various sources – many of them also of questionable worth – identify the woman pseudonymously as “Agnes” and say this event occurred in 1957, not 1963, and connect the event to Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (who was also accused of pedophilia by someone else later on, though those charges ended up dropped when the reputed victim, Stephen Cook, recanted – suffice to say there’s enough controversy there for another article entirely). At the time, the woman was supposed to be 11 years old, and supposedly reported these events to Martin in 1990.

Given historic hysteria surrounding claims of Satanic ritualism, and the confusion of dates, these claims will require a lot more refinement and checking to deserve the status and importance that PR gives them.

Franklin’s Hellfire

Among selected claims that follow are many offered in the service of a thesis that America was in some way founded as a Freemason’s occult paradise. We will check some of these in more detail in other contexts, but here, we will consider a claim – borrowed from their fellow conspiracy theorist Christian Pinto – that Benjamin Franklin was involved in occult sacrificial practices.

The sum of the matter is that Franklin – reputedly a Freemason of some note – was a member of a group called the Hellfire Club that mocked traditional religion, took part in orgies and also performed animal and human sacrifices. The main claim we will consider is this:

On February 11, 1998, the Sunday Times reported that ten bodies were dug up from beneath Benjamin Franklin’s home at 36 Craven Street in London. The bodies were of four adults and six children. They were discovered during a costly renovation of Franklin’s former home. The Times reported: “Initial estimates are that the bones are about two hundred years old and were buried at the time Franklin was living in the house, which was his home from 1757 to 1762 and from 1764 to 1775. Most of the bones show signs of having been dissected, sawn or cut. One skull has been drilled with several holes.”
The original Times article reported that the bones were “deeply buried, probably to hide them because grave robbing was illegal.” They said, “There could be more buried, and there probably are.” But the story doesn’t end there. Later reports from the Benjamin Franklin House reveal that not only were human remains found, but animal remains were discovered as well. This is where things get very interesting. From the published photographs, some of the bones appear to be blackened or charred, as if by fire… It is well documented that Satanists perform ritual killings of both humans and animals alike.

To begin, I think it is wise to report what the whole of this Times article said, including important parts PR (or Pinto?) left out, with the most important bolded.

WORKMEN have dug up the remains of ten bodies hidden beneath the former London home of Benjamin Franklin, the founding father of American independence.

The remains of four adults and six children were discovered during the £1.9 million restoration of Franklin's home at 36 Craven Street, close to Trafalgar Square. Researchers believe that there could be more bodies buried beneath the basement kitchens.

Initial estimates are that the bones are about 200 years old and were buried at the time Franklin was living in the house, which was his home from 1757 to 1762, and from 1764 to 1775. Most of the bones show signs of having been dissected, sawn or cut. One skull has been drilled with several holes. Paul Knapman, the Westminster Coroner, said yesterday: "I cannot totally discount the possibility of a crime. There is still a possibility that I may have to hold an inquest."

The principal suspect in the mystery is William Hewson, who, like Franklin, was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and the husband of Polly Stevenson, the daughter of Franklin's landlady, Mary Stevenson.
In the early 1770s Dr Hewson was in partnership with William Hunter, who, with his brother John, was one of the founders of British surgery. Dr Hunter and Dr Hewson ran a school of anatomy in Soho, but after an argument Dr Hewson left to live in Franklin's house, where he is believed to have established a rival school and lecture theatre. Dr Knapman added yesterday: "It is most likely that these are anatomical specimens that Dr Hewson disposed of in his own house, but we are still not certain about the bones' exact age or origin."

Evangeline Hunter-Jones, deputy chairman of the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House, the charity concerned with restoring the property and opening it to the public, said: "The bones were quite deeply buried, probably to hide them because grave robbing was illegal. There could be more buried, and there probably are."

Brian Owen Smith has volunteered to lead researches on behalf of the friends. He said yesterday: "The discovery represents an important insight into very exciting years of medical history. Benjamin Franklin, through his support for Polly and Dr Hewson, socially and scientifically, was very much part of that."
To the suggestion that Franklin might have been a grave robber, or an accomplice to Dr Hewson, Hilaire Dubourcq, of the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House, responded: "It is possible that he has an alibi. It seems likely that he actually let Dr Hewson have use of the whole house for his school for a time, and went up the street to live with Mary Stevenson. He did not necessarily know what was happening below stairs in the house during his absence."

Dr Hewson fell victim to his own researches at an early age. He accidentally cut himself while dissecting a putrid body, contracted septicemia and died in 1774, aged 34.

Franklin, who wrote the opening words to the Declaration of Independence, continued to support the widowed Polly, and when he returned to Philadelphia he invited her there to live as his neighbour. Both her sons became eminent medical men, as have successive generations of Hewsons in America.

If the first Dr Hewson did obtain bodies for his experiments and demonstrations by robbing local graveyards, he risked the death penalty or deportation. He might have had the help of his students in secretly burying the remains beneath the four-storey house, where the dissections may have been performed.

It is hoped to reopen the house to the public at the end of the year. Regular visitors during Franklin's residency included Pitt the Elder (the Earl of Chatham), Edmund Burke, James Boswell, Adam Smith and Thomas Paine, the author of The Rights of Man.

It is notable that PR omits all reference to Hewson – and to the house being four stories, which makes it all the more possible that someone like Franklin could miss such a thing in “his own house.” (Pinto's own website, in what appears to be a 2011 version of what is quoted, does refer to Hewson, but merely quotes authorities as being "uncertain" of the reason for the bones, and does not check any further. Unfortunately I cannot check earlier versions as the page is not archived.) The official website of the Franklin house (links below) affirms the connection, as these worthy quotes indicate:

During the conservation of 36 Craven Street, excavation of the basement uncovered over 1,200 pieces of human and animal bones in what would once have been the House’s garden. Glass slides, ceramics, mercury and other material found, as well as the marks of saws and other instruments, suggest that these were the remains of William Hewson’s anatomy school, run from the house between 1772 and Hewson’s death of septicaemia in 1774. For the first time since their discovery ten years ago, a variety of the larger bone fragments, including skull and limb bones showing instrument marks, will be on display at Benjamin Franklin House, along with contextual information and images on Hewson’s life and contributions to anatomy and surgery.

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The human remains derive from over 15 people and show dissection marks from surgical instruments (animal remains were found primarily in the front of the House in the old coal depositories). For example, a femur bone has been cut cleanly probably demonstrating the process of amputation. This was a valuable skill when there was little knowledge of sterilization and much diplomacy took place on the battle field! The skull pieces have circles drilled out from a trepanning device – a sample of one is on display in the Seminar Room. Trepanning was primarily used to relieve pressure on the brain. However, relatively few surgical operations had any likelihood of success; invasive procedures were made difficult by the possibility of major blood loss and infection, and the lack of anesthetic, not used until 1846.

Key evidence linking the Craven Street bones to Hewson’s anatomy school is a portion of a turtle spine and mercury found in the bone pit. In an experiment conducted in 1770 at the Royal Society, Hewson showed the flow of mercury through a turtle to highlight the lymphatic system. With help from Franklin, Hewson was elected to the Royal Society and received their Copley Medal for his work. Other items linked to anatomical study were also found in the bone pit, including microscope slides.

In Georgian England, the practice of anatomical study became increasingly popular. Limited hospital teaching left a gap filled by private schools like Hewson’s. They also satisfied growing interest in public health and talks by the experts were financially successful. Despite this, procuring bodies for dissection was not easy. It did not become a fully legal practice until 1832. It is likely that some of Hewson’s cadavers came from the so-called ‘resurrectionists’ – bodysnatchers who shipped their wares along the Thames under cover of night.

Given the evidence related to medical practice, it seems rather outlandish to make any connection – as Pinto and PR do – to any sort of occult activity. Pinto himself, in the aforementioned article online, waves off the evidence by saying that unnamed "researchers" are "doubtful" about this explanation; from this one suspects that the "researchers" are not actual experts in the subject, but conspiracy lunatics like Pinto. Another source, the Royal College of Surgeons, notes that:

Human and animal bones and teeth were interspersed with fragments of pottery, glassware, metalwork and even free-flowing globules of mercury. Amongst the zoological remains there was material from cats, dogs, fish and even marine turtles.

One wonders what Satanic rituals Pinto has in mind that sacrificed fish and turtles?

That leaves one point, where Pinto says that from “published photographs” some of the bones “appear to be blackened or charred as if by fire...” It is hard to address this without knowing what photos Pinto has in mind, but I could find no reputable source saying the bones had been burned or charred. I did find that bones can turn black because of manganese (an element critical to bone health, which also happens to cause the black staining one often sees in the toilet!), so barring better documentation by Pinto or PR, this should be taken as the better option.

We might close with some alleged "uncomfortable questions" Pinto asks in a vain attempt to refute the evidence:

If the humans were medical cadavers, why were they disposed of like so much trash beneath the house? Why not give them some kind of proper burial? If grave robbers could sneak into a graveyard to steal a body, they could also sneak in to put one back. Furthermore, why were the human remains mingled with those of animals?

Pinto is evidently not very bright, as it fails to occur to him that sneaking remains back invokes at least twice the risk of getting caught. That they "could" sneak back is true, as true as it is that a bank robber could return to rob the same bank twice. And not make a bit of sense in doing so. As for the mingling of bones, one may as well ask why medical experiments are done on animals even for human products. The disposal was obviously a convenience regardless of the purpose. Pinto's "uncomfortable questions" merely reflect his own ignorance and wishful thinking.

The Name of America

Common knowledge says America’s name came from an Italian explorer named Amerigo Vespucci. PR has a conspiracy theory with what they think is a better explanation which “mainstream academia has yet been willing to accept.” I can’t imagine why not!

According to PR, America was named after “Amaru” – a Peruvian deity to be equated with Quetzalcoatl. Thus, it is said, “Amaruca” literally means, “land of the plumed serpent.”

Their source for this claim is already a red flag the size of Rhode Island; namely, a non-serious historian named Manly P. Hall, a Freemason. A number of difficulties attend this thesis, not the least being one that escapes PR even as they have it in their own book: “America” is first listed as such on a map in 1507 by a German cartographer, while Hall traces the origins of “Amaruca” to the activities of Spanish priests in the early 1700s. It never occurs to PR’s authors to ask about the missing 200 years and where the German cartographer got the name.

There are a few other problems as well. “Amaru” associated with South American history is the name of an Inca monarch who lived in the mid-1500s (link below). Listings of Inca deities from various sources are conspicuously void of any “Amaru,” although there was apparently a tribe by that name, and the word did mean “serpent.” At best, it seems Hall confused an abstract term for a proper name.

One would like to see some comment on this sort of thing from a linguist specializing in the Incan language, but alas, Manly P. Hall is somehow good enough for PR. In the meantime, what do the real scholars say? There are other options on the table (link below, including a note that the –“ica” suffix would mean something like “great” or “high,” as applied to mountains – which belies Hall’s reading of “Land of the serpent”). An older one is that the name came from a gold-rich district and tribal name in Nicaragua, Amerrique. Another theory has the name coming from a Welshman named Richard Ameryk. And so on, as reflected in the conclusion to the article:

No definitive conclusions can be reached. Too many claims are, for lack of hard evidence, based on speculation. Theories about the true origin of the name are ultimately historical fictions. Yet behind these fictions lie compelling views of the New World. Taken together, they form a multicultural vision of its distinctive character. To hear Americus in the name; to hear the Amerrique Mountains and their perpetual wind; to hear the African in the Mayan iq' amaq'el; to hear the Scandinavian Ommerike, as well as Amteric, and the Algonquin Em-erika; to hear Saint Emeric of Hungary; to hear Amalrich, the Gothic lord of the work ethic, and the English official, Amerike — to hear such echoes in the name of our hemisphere is to hear the wishful projections of their proponents, as well as ourselves.

That is probably the best way to describe how PR manages to see “Amaru” involved.

Read more:
On Marinelli
On Milingo
Forum post preserving Times item on Franklin (WARNING: Forum user uses profanity)
Items from official Ben Franklin house website here and here
Items on Amaru here and here
On America's name here

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