So far, in this series:
This post is about a personal trajectory that would inescapably involve me personally with the American University of Madaba (AUM). This came to a dead stop, so to speak, with the strangest death threat I ever heard about, and it’s the weirdness that, I think, is telling. I never would have connected the dots without the Church Militant documentary “Den of Thieves.” I am most grateful for life-altering questions in my life being answered.
Time lines are useful. Let’s see:
- Mid-2005: Pope Benedict XVI blesses the cornerstone of an important new project for the Middle East, the American University of Madaba in Jordan. Yours truly, meanwhile, is 24/7/365 working on a Doctoral Thesis in the Library of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.
- Mid-2010: I’m invited to go back to Jerusalem where I lived for seven months during Saddam Hussein’s missile attacks decades earlier. I was to go to a certain institution which I had visited a thousand times, even in the most terribly violent of circumstances when not even one other person of whatever religion or law enforcement position would show up. I only mention that to demonstrate what is perhaps a stupid lack of fear, as a confession of idiocy. But it is what it is. No fear. This will become important as the timeline continues. While at that particular institution, I was to teach at a certain academic institution which grants doctorates for the Holy See in certain matters. From there I would be brought across the Allenby Bridge by a certain most significant personage in the Middle East so as to be established at a certain pilgrimage center in Jordan. Meanwhile, my CV has been growing significantly. That pilgrimage destination is an easy bike ride in proximity to the American University of Madaba. In mid-2010, it was crunch time for AUM, as it was now five years since construction started in 2005 as donors were getting nervous about everything to do with AUM. There wasn’t much in the way of professors to make the AUM “Catholic”, as promised. AUM had absolutely nothing in the way of accreditation in the USA where AUM is incorporated. As a coincidence I might mention that by this time in my life I had already aided another university level international Catholic institution to get their accreditation and had taught at university level for many years. It would have been a perfect fit. To be clear, no one had mentioned any purpose of putting me at AUM in any capacity. However, my participation in the circumstances would have been entirely inescapable. I didn’t know this at the time. I didn’t know such a place existed.
- Still mid-2010: To get things started, I had to get a visa as a religious worker in Israel. The problem was that already for a year and a half the Israeli consular services were on strike, and were not granting visas to, say, Catholic priests and nuns, so that institutions were limited or shut down, such as hospitals and clinics and schools and orphanages. Yet, with most unique arrangements worthy of a movie, I was given a visa, which had to be only in person, only in Washington, D.C.
- Days later: With everything in my life packed up stateside, and with tickets in hand, and just hours from heading to the airport, someone, I don’t know who, called my ecclesiastical higher-ups stateside and reported that, what with increased violence in the Middle East (which increase is normal for thousands of years), it was probable that I would be murdered. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve about ever heard in my life, and the strangest. This has nothing to do with the personages in the Middle East who arranged this trajectory in my life. The one offering that cautionary threat over the phone hours before I got on the plane, you know, as a supposed courtesy, offered a further threat, this time to my ecclesiastical higher-ups: Since they were now forewarned by this out-of-the-blue phone call, they would also consequently be blamed publicly by the caller if they allowed me to get on the plane to Tel Aviv in some hours time. So, that’s (1) a threat for me and (2) a threat for my higher-ups. Effective. That’s someone who is practiced.
- Minutes after that phone call, I had to call Israel and inform those who had already placed me on quite literally do-or-die schedules to take me off. That was like a nuclear bomb going off in the Old City of Jerusalem. The chaos of the next hours and days for them trying to get coverage for me also involved three European countries and the disruption of very many lives. It’s not something anyone will forget. This proves the innocence of most anyone connected with the underlying alleged fiasco simmering below the surface. Whatever about Bella, mentioned previously in this series, the identity of the one proffering the threat was likely someone seemingly entirely removed. Needless to say, I did not get on the plane.
- A couple of years raced by, and I was soon pastor of the parish where I am now. I’ve been here for nine years. Only now, with the documentary “Den of Thieves” do some things begin to make sense for me.
So, what’s my conjecture about the identity of the one relating the death threat? It may be significant as a lead in trying to understand what’s happening. I asked the one who received that phone call many times about the identity of the caller. The response was anger and refusal. So, that’s a dead end, as it were. But I think Bella (see the post prior to this one in this series) found out I was going over to the Middle East and was on a trajectory to be situated right next to the American University of Madaba and, knowing nothing about me, was happy to relate the news that someone was found who would be an asset to the University in such manner as to calm down and encourage anxious donors. Being happy about this, he had to call a best buddy, a gentleman we’ll call Bellissima, who in turn works in the Holy See, wherein the IOR, Vatican Bank, is found. Criminal homosexualist Bella has for decades been “thick as thieves” with criminally homosexualist Bellissima.
Bellissima already knew me by way of reputation. He could offer a report on my usefulness as a stooge or the danger of my being anywhere in the vicinity of the American University of Madaba in Jordan. Why is it that as soon as he heard my name he would immediately make a death threat to keep me far away from all operations in the Middle East is fodder for yet another post.
Next up in this series: “Den of Thieves”: Oh no! Anti-Mafia!