Monday, September 22, 2014

Clarification and Analysis of the Most Recent Swiss Order

Clarification and Analysis of the Most Recent Swiss Order by Sangeet Duchane (Ma Prem Sangeet) The group calling itself the Inner Circle has recently sent out a message with excerpts from a decision of the Swiss Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations that had previously removed the board members from the OIF, Zurich board and appointed a trustee. The new order temporarily reinstates OIF board members. The IC message failed to report that the primary reason given in the decision for reinstating the OIF board members at this point in time was that a worldwide book fair will be held in October (in Frankfurt) and that it is essential for the board members to be free to negotiate publishing contracts or the Foundation will suffer irreparable financial harm and the trustee was unable to supervise this activity. This injunction related only to the makeup of the OIF board pending the review of the complaint against the OIF board members. It was not a decision on the merits of the case, though comments were made about the merits. Under the order, Robert Doetsch (Ramateertha), as the official complainant, has 30 days to appeal this reinstatement order to the Federal Administrative Court in St. Gallen. This is not an appeal of the final decision on the complaint, only of the interim reinstatement. Meanwhile, the submission of evidence related to the original complaint will continue. Ramateertha has until October 13, 2014 to reply to the OIF board members’ reply to his complaint in the ongoing administrative process, but an extension is likely. After that the board members may be given another opportunity to reply. Board members may also receive extensions to file these replies, so it is unclear when a final decision will be made. Until the Swiss government makes a final decision the board members will not be cleared, and the Swiss office has reserved the right to require supervisions of the board members during the pendency of the proceeding. The conclusions about the validity of the original complaint against OIF board members quoted by the Inner Circle are based on the report and recommendations of the trustee appointed by the Swiss government, Andreas G. Keller, who has concluded that the allegations of the complaint were baseless. In reaching this preliminary conclusion both the trustee and the Supervisory Board ignored the overwhelming evidence of at least one illegal activity by these individuals. The strongest accusation of illegal behavior is that two members of the board of OIF, Michael Byrne (Jayesh) and John Andrew (Amrito), and their attorney, Phillip Toelkes (Niren), filed a “will” as evidence in a legal proceeding purported to be Osho’s will. They all signed the “will,” claiming that they were witnesses to Osho’s signature in 1989. Forensic examination has shown that the alleged Osho signature on the “will” was identical to the signature on a 1976 letter from Osho that was posted on several websites. Since then a copy of the letter has been found on the cover of the book Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, v. 5, published in 1976. Forensic examinations are confirming that the signature on the book cover is the same as the signature on the alleged will and that the paper of the book cover is older than 1989. Four forensic experts in three countries (Germany, Italy, and India) have confirmed with 100 percent certainty that if the will is more recent than the original signature or copies of the signature, the will is unquestionably a forgery. Still, the Supervisory Board alleges that no illegal activity was found. If the will is forged, then members of the board, their attorney, and other members of the board who were involved in the legal proceeding where the will was submitted or who knew of the forgery and failed to report it (basically all of them), may be guilty of criminal offenses for conspiracy, forgery, and providing false testimony with regard to the primary claimed assets of the Foundation. This issue has not even been mentioned, let alone addressed, by the latest order, though it was clearly presented in the complaint and mentioned in the Board’s earlier order suspending the board members. At the very least, evidence of forgery and the submission of false testimony means that all the assertions of the OIF board members must be subjected to rigorous independent investigation. How much credibility is left for anyone who would stoop so low as to forge a will of their own teacher/Master? If they would be dishonest about that, what wouldn’t they be dishonest about? The alleged illegal activity of forgery and providing false testimony is very relevant to this proceeding and cannot simply be ignored when the substance of the complaint is addressed. OIF claims to have approximately 2,700 publishing contracts for Osho’s work. In 2011 Klaus Steeg (Pramod) testified that in 2011 OIF had “over 200,000 e-subscribers” on the Osho website. On the website, subscription prices range from $1.99 to 2.49 per month. This would mean that OIF was receiving from $4,776,000 to $8,376,000 annually in 2011 just from e-subscribers, and may be receiving more now. This income is primarily based on OIF’s claim to own Osho’s copyrights, including digital rights. So the alleged assets of the Foundation, from which it claims millions in income per year, are the exact same assets covered in the “will,” which experts say is forged, and ownership of these assets is worth a substantial amount of money. That could make the attempt to attain it by fraud a serious crime, and the Swiss government needs to fully investigate these allegations. The activity of forging such a will raises several serious questions: 1) questions about the honesty and character of the accused perpetrators and their suitability to operate a nonprofit foundation; 2) the reason behind the alleged fraud. Why would board members need to forge a will if the Foundation was operating above board and actually owned what it claimed to own? 3) How much damage has been done to the Foundation’s purpose by the actions of board members, since their actions, in the name of the Foundation, reflect on Osho and damage his reputation? 4) Why didn’t Mr. Keller ask ‒ or answer ‒ any of these questions before recommending temporary reinstatement of board members? OIF’s claim to own Osho’s copyrights has always been disputed. In the case regarding trademarks in the US OIF claimed to own copyrights based on documents dated in 1978, 1981, and 1985. That claim was refuted first because the 1978 and 1981 documents were not copyright assignments, but licenses, and second because no originals could be produced to prove those documents were authentic. In the EU proceeding regarding the trademark issue OIF came up with a whole new theory of copyright ownership. It then claimed to own Osho’s copyrights based on an alleged assignment by Sheela in 1983 under alleged powers of attorney from Osho. However, when asked to produce originals of any of these documents, OIF was unable do so. So, as the EU proceeding was drawing to a close, OIF submitted the “will” as its new or additional basis for claiming copyright ownership. The credibility and integrity of the OIF board members then came glaringly into question. Osho’s intellectual property rights are valuable, not only in a monetary sense, but as spiritual teachings and insight allegedly entrusted to a Swiss foundation to be held for the benefit of everyone, alive now or in future generations, who wants access to this insight for any reason. The issue of board membership cannot be about the board members and their belief in their entitlement to be on the board of the Foundation no matter what they do. People who willfully commit criminal acts in the name of the Foundation must be removed from the board to protect the purpose of the Foundation, which is to present Osho’s teaching to the world. This protection is for the good of the beneficiaries of the Foundation and to further the Foundation’s purpose. Switzerland has both a legal and a moral duty to preserve the assets of the Foundation, including the good name of Osho, and remove from a position of authority people who are found to have carried out illegal activities in the name of the Foundation. Removal of board members will not harm the Foundation. Turnover in board membership is inevitable in nonprofits that span human lifetimes. The current board, all near or past retirement age, will leave the board at some point in any event and the Foundation will continue. New board members can be appointed who have business expertise and access to business advisors who can carry on the work, including the work of financial restructuring to recover from the financial mess the current board has created. The greatest risk to the work of the Foundation is if the board consists of people who try and take personal control of the foundation’s assets, as Jayesh is accused of doing through the “will,” or people who destroy Osho’s reputation and the purpose of the Foundation through their willful public acts. The board members are not victims. No one held a gun to their heads and said, “Forge a will that will give Michael Byrne (Jayesh) personal control of Osho’s assets, lie about the validity of the will in a legal proceeding, and then continue to lie about the validity of the will for over a year,” yet this is exactly what these people are accused of doing. Whatever they have done, they have done out of their own choice, for their own purposes, and are responsible for the consequences. The purpose of the Foundation must not suffer because of their bad choices and selfish actions. Rather than address any of this, the trustee, Keller, went on to complain about Ramateertha personally and question his motivation for filing a complaint, in spite of the fact that there is evidence to show that Ramateertha was motivated to complain about the board members because of the alleged will forgery. He did not contact the Swiss government until after the “will” was placed in evidence and after forensic evidence indicated it was forged, and he was not only encouraged to follow up on his complaint, but guided in making the complaint by Swiss officials. Keller also criticized people who have supported Ramateertha’s complaint. (Keller didn’t name them, but they are Alvaro Ruffo della Scaletta and Vaidehe Vadgama (Chidananda and Videh).) Keller claimed they concealed their identities prior to the order that removed the board members. However, extensive written evidence shows that Swiss officials had repeated contact with these two over the period of a year and that Chidananda and Videh fully identified themselves and revealed their own interest in translating Osho’s work from Hindi to English long before the complaint was filed. There was no surprise to the Swiss government, no withholding of information, and the persons who made the initial order removing the board members had access to full information about interested parties before that order was made. For the trustee to misstate the facts like this and to refer to people working to translate Osho’s work as “competitors” of the Foundation, while at the same time emphasizing the nonprofit purpose of the Foundations, is not only absurd, but indicates an unacceptable bias. This bias may be related to Keller’s relationship with Jayesh. On June 24, 2014, Keller met with Ramateertha in Zurich. Keller informed Ramateertha that he had met with Michael Byrne (Jayesh), who had told Keller that he had loaned millions to the Foundation and would forgive the debt except for concerns about gift tax. Jayesh claimed to be so wealthy because he deals in real estate and sells oil wells. Keller apparently believed these assertions without proof and was very impressed with what he imagined was Jayesh’s deep commitment to Osho’s work. Comments in the most recent order indicate that Keller most likely did not do a more thorough independent investigation of the board member activities than he did of the story Jayesh told him. Keller, after all, concluded that the board members were blameless without even addressing the forensic evidence on forgery done in the name of the Foundation. He also asserted that the current debt is to an offshore foundation in Belize, not to Jayesh, and that Jayesh was acting as a trustee for the Belize foundation when he received money from the operation of the Osho.com website. The question of the quality of Keller’s work will no doubt continue to be asked on many levels as this case continues. I have not yet seen the arguments and documents submitted by OIF, so comment on those will be for a later article. At the moment OIF appears (on the books) to be around $8 million in “debt” to Osho Multi Media Trust located offshore in Belize. The Supervisory Board currently appears to believe that this was a loan related to maintenance of the archives in the 1990s, but what is this trust, who is on the board, where did it get money to “loan,” and when was a “loan” made to OIF? Did Keller conduct a full investigation of this? Keller and some Swiss officials may believe in oil wells and mystery trusts that provide millions of dollars, but in the world of people making Osho’s teachings available, these are highly suspicious claims. Anyone with any information about this is encouraged to share it. Further, the income from the Osho.com website is being paid into a Hong Kong company, with Jayesh listed as the sole shareholder. If, as Keller claims, Jayesh owns the Hong Kong for-profit as a trustee for the Belize trust, and the millions of dollars from e-subscribers or other users of the website are being paid to the Belize trust every year, how can the Swiss Foundation be $8 million in debt to that offshore trust, placing OIF on the brink of bankruptcy? There is a danger that OIF will attempt to “settle” this “debt” by purporting to transfer its claimed ownership of Osho’s intellectual property rights to an offshore trust where there will be no supervision of the board members’ actions. This would trigger litigation about the legality of the transfer and about OIF and/or the mystery trust’s claimed ownership of intellectual property rights. That could throw copyright ownership into limbo for many years and destroy the current publishing arrangements, not to mention wasting assets that could be used to make Osho’s teachings more available. There are several other questions that need investigation: The Hong Kong Registry Office records show that O International Digital Media (which is receiving the income from the website) is, or was, owned personally by Jayesh. Now Keller asserts it is owned by the offshore trust. Who is correct? Swiss authorities from several different government offices informed interested parties that OIF had been tax-exempt, but lost its tax-exempt status in 2012. Now Keller asserts that OIF was never tax-exempt. Who is correct? Why are Swiss authorities contradicting each other (and then blaming others)? Allegations of personal gain by board members made in the original complaint open a whole other legal can of worms, because the alleged transfer of copyrights to OIF from RFI (Rajneesh Friends formerly Rajneesh Foundation International) required that the board members of OIF never profit from the assets. Yet the records of OIF show that the board members are also board members of for-profit corporations that do business with OIF, and that at least one such for-profit, America Multi-Media based in Arizona (Klaus Steeg (Pramod) and John Andrews (Amrito) as board members), was “loaned” almost $1.5 million by OIF, and the “loan” was never repaid, greatly contributing to OIF’s alleged financial difficulties. What are the facts behind this? Did Keller investigate? Are there other dubious transactions that have contributed to the present precarious financial state of the Foundation besides the Belize and America Multi-Media “loans”? Did a company owned by Jayesh in Hong Kong receive funds from the Foundation? Are the OIF board members paid by the various related companies around the world? If so, how much are they paid and for what duties? Board members can be legitimate employees of a foundation or of companies owned by a foundation, but the employment must be legitimate, they must be the most qualified people for the job, the salary must be reasonable, and they have to actually do the work they are paid to do. Much remains to be discovered, so stay tuned.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Osho International Foundation under Swiss Government Control

SWISS ORDER suspends and revokes all OIF foundation members June 5, 2014 at 11:49pm Swiss Confederation Bern, 2 June 2014 Ref: 984 – Ro Order In the following proceedings: Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI) General Secretariat (GSEDI) Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations (ESA) Robert Doetsch, VenloerStrasse 57, 50672 Cologne, GermanyRepresented by attorney Dr. iur. et Dipl.Chem. Hans Maurer, Fraumünsterstrasse 17, Postfach 2018, 8022 Zurich -­‐ Complainant -­‐ 2. Michael O’Byrne (since2013: Michael Byrne), President of the Foundation Board, Suite 1201, ConventionPlaza Apartments, 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong, People’s Republic ofChina 3. John Andrews, VicePresident of the Foundation Board, London, Great Britain 4. D’Arcy O’Byrne, BoardMember, Flat 1, Palmeira Ave, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 3GA, Great Britian versus 1. Osho International Foundation, Bahnhofstrasse52, 8001 Zurich Represented by attorney Dr. Walter H. Meier, Bienenstrasse 1,8004 Zurich 5. Kaus Steeg, BoardMember, Lütticher Strasse 33-­35, Cologne, Germany 6. Rudolf Kocher, BoardMember, Steinägerten, 4458 Eptingen Regarding Respondents 1 - 6 Recall of the Foundation Board – enactment of superprovisorische Maßnahmen [immediately enforceable exparte measures]; initiation of exchange of documents; supervisory measures (Complaint filed 20 May, 2014) The Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI), noting that, whereas: • On 20 May, 2014, former member of the Foundation Board, Mr. Robert Doetsch, filed a complaint through the agency of his legal counsel with the Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations (ESA), petitioning that Respondents 2 through 6 should be dismissed from their positions as president, vice president and members of the Foundation Board of Osho International Foundation (OIF). The complaint further more petitions that that suitable new board members should be sought and instated for Respondent 1, OIF. • It is further petitioned that Respondents 2 through 6 should be dismissed from their positions as president, vice president and members of the OIF Foundation Boardwithout prior hearing, i.e. as asuperprovisorische Maßnahme [immediately enforceable ex parte measure], and that a trustee should be appointed to serve until the instatement of the new Board. • Then,also as an immediately enforceable ex parte measure, i.e. without prior hearing of the Respondents, the creditors of Respondent 1, in particular the banks PostFinance and Credit Suisse, should be instructed not to pay out or transfer any funds to the Respondents or to other persons until otherwise instructed by the ESA. • The right of complaint under foundation legislation is a federal matter, governed directly by Art. 84 Abs. 2 ZGB (Riemer, Berner Kommentar, DieStiftungen, 1975, N 120 zu Art. 84). The submission of 20 May, 2014 is thus to be treated as a Supervisory Board for Foundations complaint. The Complainant was himself previously a member of the Foundation Board of Osho International Foundation and, having many years of experience and profound knowledge of the material, has a special interest in the preservation and protection of the archives of Osho in keeping with the goals of the Foundation. In particular in the context of his own many years of study and related activities in connection with the teachings of Osho, Robert Doetsch must depend on being able to use the archives of Osho and to continue to have access to the material, both now and in the future. As a beneficiary of the Foundation Robert Doetsch thus has a particularly close relationship with the Foundation and is thus entitled to file such a complaint (BGE 107 II 385 E. 3). The ESA is thus obliged in its official function to make the necessary assessments in the matter (Riemer,BernerKommentar, Die Stiftungen, 1975, N 121 zu Art. 84 ZGB). Foundation regulation legislation constitutes material public law pursuant to Art. 5Bundesgesetz [Federal Code] of 20 December, 1968, regarding administrative proceedings (VwVG; SR 172 021) and filing a complaint with the Supervisory Board for Foundations is a legal remedy of administrative justice sui generis,and thus such proceedings are correspondingly regulated by the VwVG (BGE 107II 385 E. 4). • The first matter to be adjudged is the ordering of immediately enforceable ex parte measures. The objective of ordering a preventative measure is the creation or maintenance of a state of affairs that will guarantee the efficacy of the later injunction (BGE 130 II 149 E.2.2). The prerequisite for the ordering ofa preventative measure is that there should be convincing grounds for it and that detriment to private or public interests that could not easily be corrected would occur without the ordering of the preventative measure. In addition to this, there must be urgency. Furthermore, the ordered measure must be appropriate. Among other things, a preventative measure serves to protect threatened interests (analogously to Art. 56 VwVG). Such a measure isordered on the basis of a summary examination of the legal situation and thefacts of the matter, for which a credible presentation of facts is sufficient (A. Kölz, I. Häner, M. Bertschi, Verwaltungsverfahren und Verwaltungsrechechtspflegedes Bundes, 3.A. S. 198 ff. mit Hinweisen). • The Complainant has made a credible case that Respondents 2 through 6 are guilty off serious breaches of the aims of the Foundation, including and in particular continued misappropriation of Foundation assets, the full extent of which cannot yet be fully estimated. • Even following extensive research by both the Complainant and the ESA, only a part of an extensive international web of companies and organizations within the purview of OIF has come to light, this web apparently serving the exploitation of the intellectual property rights of OIF and the direction of the resulting proceeds to third parties. • In addition to the investigations conducted by the Complainant, investigations by at least three other persons known to the ESA have led to the same conclusions. • Against this background, the revised annual financial statements of OIF for 2012/2013 may prove to represent only a fraction of the estimated worldwide income accruing from the intellectual rights to the works of Osho. In its accounts,OIF has been portrayed for years as over indebted, and despite requests by the ESA, the incumbent Foundation Board has failed to implement any sustainable measures for correction of this state of affairs (the letters of subordination submitted regularly by the main creditor, who had a close relationship with the Foundation, cannot be considered to be serious corrective measures in this context). • In the course of copyright proceedings in Alicante, Spain, the Respondents submitted a last will and testament of Osho that three independent experts have since assessed to be not authentic. This demonstrates that the Respondents areat least willing to contemplate illegal methods in the pursuit of their aims. • If a hearing of the Respondents were to be permitted in advance, too much time would pass and the danger would be greater that actions could be taken that would be to the detriment of the Foundation. Following assessment of the facts of the matter it is realistic to assume that there is a danger that remaining liquid assets could be siphoned off. The risk of asset transfers would also appear to be even greater in view of the fact that in the 2013 financial year, there was an outflow of virtually half of the liquid assets. • Thus,the creditors of OIF, specifically the banks PostFinance and Credit Suisse, are to be ordered not to pay out or transfer any funds to the Respondents or other persons until further notice from the ESA. This order applies to a total of three accounts with PostFinance, in Swiss francs, euros and US dollars. At the Credit Suisse it applies to five accounts in Swiss francs, euros, US dollars and Australian dollars, and one account with the designation “STL” (Short TermLoan). • It is not currently possible to protect the remaining liquid assets in the bank accounts of the Foundation with less extensive measures. • In contrast to this, the protection of the material assets of the Foundation, i.e.in particular the archive of original video and audio recordings and the intellectual property rights to the same, can be sufficiently secured by means of a general restraining order issued by the ESA, accompanied by information on the criminal liability consequences pursuant to Art. 292 StGB in the event of noncompliance. • Inview of the infringements of the Foundation objectives in question, in particular the misappropriation of financial assets, it is clear that the current Foundation Board must be removed from office until full and complete investigation and clarification of the relevant financial transactions, assets and contracts has been completed. This is particularly important in view of the fact that it is quite possible that the investigations could reveal grounds for criminal proceedings. Against this background, the potential conflicts of interests of the members of the Foundation Board are manifestly clear. The fact that Respondents 2 and 4 are presumably financial beneficiaries of companies that profit directly from the marketing of the intellectual rights to Osho’s works provides ample grounds for a conflict of interests on its own. In addition to this, however, the Respondents also hold executive positions in virtually all known organizations involved in this marketing business. It is thus obvious that if the Respondents were to remain in their positions and offices in the Foundation Board this would at least impede the investigation of these allegations, if not make them completely impossible. It is also absolutely clear that Respondents 2 through 6 must definitely be recalled as Foundation Board members if the apparent infringements of the aims of the Foundation should be proven to be true. • The suspension of Respondents 2 through 6 from their positions and functions as members of the Foundation Board of OIF pursuant to Art. 84 Abs. 2 ZGB is the only way to achieve expeditious and complete clarification of the facts of the matter and the legal situation. • The appointment of a trustee pursuant to Art. 83d ZGB has the immediate purpose of restoring the Foundation’s ability to act. The duties of the trustee include conducting the investigations needed to clarify the financial and contractual relationships in connection with the marketing of the intellectual property rights, conducting such daily business of the Foundation as cannot be postponed, and, if necessary, also the preparation for the election of new Board members. As is usual in such cases, the details will be regulated by contract. • Consequentially,the ESA has sought suitable candidates for this trustee ship and found that Mr.lic. Iur. Andreas G. Keller, attorney, is a suitable choice for the position and fulfills the requirements, and Mr. Keller has immediately declared his willingness to take on the task. The rights and duties of the parties involved were set out in a contract dated 28 May, 2014, based on the general terms and conditions of business (AGB) of the Bund für Dienstleistungsaufträge[Federationfor Service Contracts]. The formal appointment of the trustee with authority to sign as a single signatory and his registration in Commercial Register are to be formally ordered by the Supervisory Board for Foundations. • Over and above this, no other business operations leading to increasing damage are known and there are no other immediate dangers. • The proper exchange of documents is to be initiated simultaneously and the complaint of 20 May, 2014 is to be served to the Respondents by 3 July, 2014,for their response in the main proceedings. The service of the complaint to Respondents 2 through 5 who live abroad is to be effected at the current correspondence address of the Foundation at the offices of their legal representative Dr. Walter H. Meier. Publication of this order in theSchweizerischesHandelsamtsblatt [SHAB Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce] pursuant to Art.36 VwVG is out of the question in this case. Firstly, this would undermine the purpose of the preventative measures, and secondly it would contravene the legal privacy rights of both the involved persons and OIF. • It must be prevented that an appeal lodged against the ordered supervisory measures could cause irreparable damage to the Foundation assets (property) and delay the urgently necessary clarification of the financial situation and future prospects of the Foundation. The suspensory effect of any possible appeal against this order must thus be revoked (Art. 55 Abs. 2 desBundesgesetzes vom 20. Dezember 1968 über das Verwaltungsverfahren; VwVG; SR172.021). • The ESA expressly reserves the right to issue further orders impacting the proceedings and supervisory measures pursuant to Art. 84a or Art. 83d ZGB. • The costs of the proceedings for this intermediate order are set at CHF 4,000.00and are to be aggregated to the main proceedings, pursuant to Art. 3 Abs. 1Bst. F Gebührenverordnung Stiftungsaufsicht (SR 172.041.18) and Art. 63 VwVG. Therefore, it is hereby ordered: 1. The entire Foundation Board of Osho International Foundation is to be provisionally suspended and their signatory rights are to be revoked. The following persons shall be removed from their positions and functions: − MichaelO’Byrne (since 2013: Michael Byrne), President of the Foundation Board, Suite 1201, Convention Plaza Apartments, 1 Harbour Road,Wanchai, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China − JohnAndrews, Vice President of the Foundation Board, London,Great Britain − D’ArcyO’Byrne, Board Member, Flat 1, Palmeira Ave, Hove, EastSussex, BN3 3GA, Great Britain − Kaus Steeg, Board Member, Lütticher Strasse 33-35, Cologne, Germany − Rudolf Kocher, Board Member, Steinägerten, 4458 Eptingen 2. Mr. lic. Iur. Andreas G. Keller, attorney,Zurich, is to be appointed as trustee for Osho International Foundation with entitlement to sign as sole signatory. 3. The Handelsregisteramt [CommercialRegistry Office] of Zurich is be requested to effect the necessary entries in the Commercial Registry without delay. 4. The creditors of Osho International Foundation,in particular the banks PostFinance AG,3030 Bern, and Credit Suisse,8070 Zurich, are to be instructed to not pay out or transfer any funds to the Respondents or third parties until instruction to the contrary. 5. The Complaint of 20 May, 2014, is to be served to Respondents 2 through 5 via the agency of the legal representative of Osho International Foundation and to Respondent 6 directly for response in the main proceedings,by 3 July, 2014. 6. The Foundation Board of Osho International Foundation is to be instructed, with reference to the possible consequences under criminal law pursuant to Art. 292 StGB in the event of infringement, to effect no disposition of the assets of the Foundation without the consent of the Supervisory Board for Foundations until further notice, this to apply in particular to the entire Osho archive and the entire intellectual property rights to text, audio and images. 7. The costs for the enactment of this order of CHF4,000.00 are to be aggregated to the main proceedings. 8. The suspensory effect of any appeal against this order is to be revoked. 9. Disclosure to (by registered mail): − Osho International Foundation,Bahnhofstrasse 52, 8001 Zurich − The Foundation Board of OshoInternational Foundation, through agency of attorney Dr. Walter H. Meier,Bienenstrasse 1, 8004 Zurich (with a copy of the Complaint) − Rudolf Kocher, Board Member,Steinägerten, 4458 Eptingen (with a copy of the Complaint) − Mr. lic. Iur. Andreas Keller,attorney, Gehrenholzpark 2g, 8055 Zurich − Attorney Dr. Hans Maurer,Advokaturbüro Maurer & Stäger, Postfach 2018, 8022 Zurich Right of appeal: An appeal may be lodged against this order, within 30 days of disclosure, with theBundesverwaltungsgericht [Federal AdministrativeCourt], Postfach, 9023 St. Gallen. The appeal must include the claim, the grounds for the claim including the evidence for the same and the signature of the claimant or his or her representative; the disputed order (or the disputed decision) and the documents referenced as evidence must be included (Art. 50und 52 des Bundesgesetzes vom 20 Dezember 1968 über das Verwaltungsverfahren;VwVG; SR 172.021). 10. Notification to: − Handelsregisteramt[Commercial Register Office] of the Canton of Zurich (for registration) − PostFinance AG, Mingerstrasse20, 3030 Bern (in advance by fax 058 667 6228) − Credit Suisse, Paradeplatz 8,8070 Zurich (in advance by fax 044 333 2532) − Fiduconsult Acta SA, RueFritz Courvoisier 40, 2300 La ChauxdeFonds. [signed]HelenaAntonio Director of the Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Helping the Visually Impaired in India

My exciting journey with Sankara Eye Foundation (SEF) by Murali Krishnamurty, Founder, Executive Chairman Sankara Eye Foundation, USA 12 million people are blind in India, and an additional 50 million are visually impaired. Over 90 percent of the blind live in rural areas in extreme poverty. On the other side, up to 80 blindness of the blindness is treatable or preventable. Dr. R.V. Ramani and Dr. Radha Ramani founded Sankara Eye Care Institutions (SECI) in 1977 at Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, to provide vision to the visually handicapped poor in and around Coimbatore. My uncle, Mr. P. Balasubramaniam, used to volunteer at the Sankara Eye Hospital in Coimbatore. After completing my MS in Computer Science, I settled in the San Jose area California in 1984, and my brother, K. Sridharan, also moved to there a few years later. My uncle started talking to us about raising some support in the USA for free eye surgeries at our Coimbatore Hospital. We were so busy with work and our light music group ‘Pallavi’ that we were not ready to take up this responsibility. My uncle persisted but we would not budge. Everything changed when my brother visited the Hospital in Coimbatore in 1997. He came back deeply moved, and we finally decided to start the Sankara Eye Foundation, USA in 1998 with the help of our friend Mr. Ahmad Khushnood Qazi. We sent handwritten appeals to people we knew and raised around $8,000 in 1998, and that motivated us. We organized our first fundraiser by our group ‘Pallavi’ on April 3, 1999 in the San Jose area and organized the event meticulously with Customer Care as our priority. We raised over $18,000. The number of free eye surgeries at our hospital started increasing – from 8,000 in 1998 to 15,000 in 1999, and 22,000 in 2000. In the year 2000, our volunteer Rajeev Chamraj proposed a big vision of “Vision 20/20 by 2020” for SEF. I was excited and at the same time wondered if we were taking on too much. All of us, both at the SEF and SECI India were in the same boat like me. At that time I was into reading books by Swami Vivekananda. Swami-ji says, “Every one is potentially divine and can do anything and everything. Think big. Even if you are a thief, don’t be a petty thief, be a big thief.” That got into my head, and I motivated all of us into accepting a big vision of building 20 Sankara Eye Hospitals all over India by the year 2020 and play a significant role in eradicating curable blindness. We had no idea how we were going to do it but we committed ourselves to our vision. I also think very highly of India’s ex-President Dr. Abdul Kalam who has the vision of a “Developed India by the year 2020.” We will play a small role in that by helping the visually handicapped poor. Our first replication was in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, with the support of other organizations. Our sincere, whole-hearted work and big vision attracted volunteers and donors all over the USA. Support started pouring in, and the progress has been phenomenal – from one hospital and 8,000 free eye surgeries to eight hospitals and 150,000 free eye surgeries in 2013. We performed our one-millionth free eye surgery in March 2013 and hope to perform several million more. Our ninth hospital is getting ready in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, and will be inaugurated in May 2014. We just purchased land in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, for our tenth hospital. This movement is unstoppable now, and I consider myself very fortunate for having been thrust into this work by our dear uncle. I thoroughly enjoy reading Osho books, and thanks to Osho I understand the beauty of other religions like Buddhism, Sufiism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Taoism, Judaism etc., Osho’s teachings also help me put my work in the proper perspective. Life is a celebration, and we must enjoy every moment of this. The past is not there, the future is not there, and only the current moment is there, and we must be present. I am also learning how to channel my energies and handle emotions. I am currently reading Osho’s Gita Darshan Vol. 2
, and it is just wonderful. What a brilliant way of explaining things so that a common man can understand! From Swami Vivekananda and Osho, I understand that God or Existence will take care of the blind poor, and I should not think that “I made a difference.” I am the privileged one as this is providing me an opportunity to become a better person, loving all beings, and enjoying life thoroughly. Only actions and no doer. www.giftofvision.org

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pratiksha Exhibits at ‘Soul of Asia’ in Goa

Pratisksha’s paintings to be shown at the much acclaimed “Soul of Asi”* exhibition during the 44th International Film Festival of India in Goa, from November 20 to 30, 2013 Many of Pratiksha’s striking and complex paintings, which are always linked with meditation and spirituality, have been published in the media, as well as her articles about particular paintings with a spiritual background. She has exhibited 10 solo shows across the country including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmadabad, Chandigarh and Baroda. The use of vibrant colors, intricate designs, and the subtle concepts of mysticism behind each of her paintings is the outcome of her being a meditator. Osho’s vision is beautifully and pictorially presented on canvas through the myriad strokes of her brush, seamlessly creating a stunning visual impact. When Pratiksha’s paintings were selected for the prestigious international film festival, IFFI Director Mr. Shankar Mohan said her paintings are a subtle vehicle that can transport the sensitive eye to the inner meanings of Osho’s great teachings. He said, “Her total devotion to the vision of her Master Osho is reflected in each of her vibrant canvas, as though seeking completion and fulfilment through her on the lofty and intricate concepts of life, living and redemption - so simply and clearly enunciated by the great master himself. Her paintings, I am sure, will find an immediate and spontaneous response of connectivity, from the various film lovers who will be attending IFFI 2013.” Famous Indian film actress Rekha will be inaugurating Pratiksha’s show, which no doubt will also be visited by many friends who are staying in Goa over winter! Pratiksha Apurv is Osho’s niece, daughter of Vijay Bharti. Born in Gadarwara, Madhya Pradesh, she took sannyas at age 11 in Pune and also lived in Rajneeshpuram. At the peak of her career as a famous fashion designer (she launched her acclaimed label Oshonik in 1990) she suddenly felt a calling to paint, to give expression to her inner growth. She lives in New Delhi. Email: pratiksha1964@gmail.com Website: www.pratikshaart.com
Previously published in Osho News www.oshonews.com

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Viha Connection is looking for writers!


Beloveds,
We are inviting the community to share your stories, experiences, and insights about your sannyas name. Osho gave many reasons why He chose to give us new names, and when He gave sannyas in person, He gave each new sannyasin a unique meaning for the name. When Osho was ill for many years, the names were chosen by volunteers in the “front office,” and sent out under a printed Osho signature. After Osho left the body, center and group leaders around the world have chosen names for new people if they want them. However they came to us, the names seemed to have an impact.
The experience of taking a new name can be powerful, funny, playful, or serious. We’d like to hear about yours. What is in a name, after all?
These are very short pieces, so you’ll need to choose one aspect or issue to share. Here are some possible questions:
·      Did you take a completely new name or choose to keep part of the old? Why?
·      How did you feel about the experience of the name change?
·      Did you use the sannyas name in your workplace, with your family, etc.? What was the reaction/response?
·      Do you still use it? In what circumstances?
·      Did the name have any impact on your life?
·      Did you get a personal message from Osho about the meaning of your name, or did you get a message about that on a different level?
·      Did the meaning of your name change for you over time?
·      Did you want a different name that was e.g. more exotic, less common, you didn’t want Prem or Deva...
·      Did you believe that prefixes had set meanings, like Prems are unloving or Devas are crazy? If so, how did that affect you?
·      Were you ever embarrassed about using your sannyas name?
·      Do you have an entertaining story about your sannyas name or your experience with it?
We’ve provided a few quotes from Osho about sannyas names at the end of the invitation for your inspiration, but there are many more. This is an open invitation, so feel free to pass it on.
Firm copy deadline:
October 20
Please let Avinasho know by September 1 if you are planning to participate in this Special Section: oshoviha@oshoviha.org
Length:
Not more than 450 words, though less is fine.
Other submission info:
Electronic submissions in Microsoft Word are best to oshoviha@oshoviha.org
Photos:
Please send a photo of yourself (deadline November 10) to go along with your article. It’s best to send it electronically to oshoviha@oshoviha.org. Please be sure it is high-resolution, 300 dpi jpeg or TIF. You can also mail us a printed photo at Viha Meditation Center, PO Box 352, Mill Valley, CA 94942.
A note about the writing process:
We recommend that you read through this invitation with care before you start to write, and also refer to it during the writing process. We ask you to stick to the subject as outlined in this invitation, as the Special Section is designed to be a look at a particular subject from a variety of viewpoints. 
Love from the Editorial Board of the Viha Connection
Osho Quotes
OSHO,
A DEAR FRIEND OF MINE SENT A LETTER TO YOU FROM THE WEST ASKING FOR A SANNYAS NAME AND THEN CAME HERE BEFORE SHE RECEIVED AN ANSWER AND TOOK SANNYAS HERE. THE NAME SHE WAS GIVEN BY LETTER WAS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT KIND OF NAME FROM THE ONE YOU GAVE HER HERE. I WAS VERY DISTURBED WHEN I HEARD ABOUT THIS BECAUSE I HAVE ALWAYS THOUGHT OF MY NAME AS MY PATH. I HAVE USED IT TO DIRECT ME WHEN I HAVE BEEN CONFUSED. WHAT REALLY IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NAME YOU GIVE TO US?
Veera, all holy cow dung. Don't be deceived by the names. You are always hankering to catch hold of something, to make something big out of nothings. The names I give you are just like lovers' sweet nothings. Don't make much fuss about them.
In fact, once I have given you the name, never come and ask me about its meaning again because I forget. It is in that moment that I create the meaning around it. Then how am I supposed to remember? I must have given thirty thousand names or more.
A name is just a name. You are nameless. No name confines you, no name can confine you. They are just labels to be used -- utilitarian, nothing spiritual in it. But because I pay so much attention to your name and I explain it to you, you get hooked with it. That is just my way of showering my attention on you, nothing else; just my way of showing my love to you, nothing else.
The Diamond Sutra, Chapter 10
This uniqueness is a gift of god, and this uniqueness can only be known in deep love because only in love do you relax, only in love do you put your armor aside. Only in love do you allow yourself to be indefensible. Only in love can you trust that the other will not harm you, so you can allow the other into the deepest and the most delicate part of your being.
And the relationship between a disciple and a master is a love relationship. That's why I give you a new name, that's why to every sannyasin I give a new name. That's my perception of you, that's my vision of you, that's my penetration into your uniqueness.
Zorba The Buddha, Chapter 4
Sannyas is a disidentification with the past... a new beginning, a new being, a fresh breeze, a rebirth. All that is implied in giving you a new name. [...]
God will also need a name so that He can call you, so He can provoke you, so that whenever He wants to say something it can be addressed to you. The sannyas name is simply a new address -- a new address fundamentally meant for God, for the whole existence. So this is a turning point.
The Shadow of the Whip, Chapter 2
I give you a new name only to make you feel that names are not important. Your old name can simply disappear because it was only a label, it can be changed. You are not the name. To insist this fact, to emphasize this fact upon your consciousness, that the name is not your reality... [...]
But ordinarily you grow with your name; in fact, you become conscious only later on. Your name is deeper than your consciousness, hence there arises an identity with the name. You start feeling, "This is my name; this is me."
When you become a sannyasin I want to destroy that identity, because this is the beginning of destruction of all identities. First I destroy the identity with the name, then I will destroy the identity with the body, then the identity with the mind, then the identity with the heart. When all these identities have been destroyed you will be able to know who you are: the unidentified, the nameless, the formless, the indefinable. And that is only a pure witness in you; nothing can be said about it, no word is adequate to explain it.
I Am That, Chapter 6

Friday, August 2, 2013

Facebook Discrimination: Osho Demoted from Personhood


Osho International Foundation, Zurich (OIF) has claimed “Osho” as its own exclusive trademark in several countries around the world. In 2008 the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that “Osho” cannot be a trademark in the US. In India, Osho International Foundation Pune, a completely separate Indian legal entity, claimed ownership of “Osho” as a trademark, but the claim was opposed and no registration or ruling has ever taken place. In 2010 Osho Lotus Commune in Cologne filed a case in the EU to invalidate a trademark for “Osho” that OIF registered in 1999.
Nonetheless, OIF continues to claim that no one can use the name Osho to indicate an association with Osho the person in work that is related to Osho’s spiritual teachings unless OIF gives them permission. At some point after losing the US case, OIF went out and registered trademarks in new jurisdictions like China and Venezuela, where there are not enough sannyasins to oppose the registrations. Based on these filings they claim to own an “international” trademark for Osho.
OIF now argues that no one can use Osho’s name descriptively in a business name on the Internet, because the Internet goes to the whole world, and OIF has Osho registered as a trademark in some jurisdictions.
In the EU case over 30 center leaders, therapists, and others involved with Osho’s work testified that they had used Osho’s name to describe His connection to their work, programs, and processes since 1989 or soon after. OIF did not register a trademark for those services till 1999 and did not begin attempting to license that mark until 2009, after losing in the US.
In retaliation, Klaus Steeg (Pramod) has filed complaints with Facebook on behalf of OIF against every person with a page containing the name Osho who testified in the EU case, and Facebook has taken down those pages. In one case Facebook even took down the personal page of a center’s web person.
Facebook’s terms, which appear on its website, state that Facebook will not adjudicate between parties in an intellectual property dispute. US law requires Facebook to allow people accused of copyright violations to object to the copyright claim, and if the accused responds and the claimant does not file an enforcement lawsuit within a specified time, the page must be put back up.
In contrast, if a claimant to trademark ownership fills out a scanty online form that could not possibly give enough information to actually determine the sufficiency of a trademark claim, Facebook will take down the page, will not allow the accused to respond, and will not put the page back up unless the claimant agrees to it.
In doing this, Facebook is deciding that the trademark claimant has a valid claim to a trademark, though there are many possible defenses to a trademark claim, such as that the mark is invalid (as the US has decided with “Osho”), that the registration was fraudulent, that there is no trademark where the accused is based, that the accused has priority in using the alleged mark, and that the word is the name of the historical person and being used as a name, not as a trademark (which is the case with all the pages that have been taken down).
All jurisdictions have a process for trademark claimants to bring actions for infringement, and the accused is always allowed to present a defense. None require the accused to bring an action to prove non-infringement, but Facebook has now created that situation. Rather than requiring the trademark claimant to file the infringement action in the appropriate legal jurisdiction, as a copyright claimant must do, the accused in a trademark case is excluded from Facebook until it files a legal action against the claimant in the jurisdiction where it is incorporated or against Facebook in the US. In this case, people accused of infringement by OIF may need to go to Switzerland to bring an action against OIF.
The result of this Facebook policy is discrimination against people connected to Osho as a spiritual teacher, who want to use His name to describe their work or to talk about His work on a Facebook page. Osho the person can be mentioned in page content, but people may not mention Osho in the page title – in the place that will attract people interested in Osho – or Facebook may take down the page. In other words, people associated with Osho cannot use Facebook to discuss or spread the teachings of their spiritual leader in the way all other religious groups can. Both “Jesus” and “Buddha” are trademarks in the US for specific products, but Facebook would not take down all pages with these names in the title. For example, Facebook would not take down a page for the First Church of Jesus Christ, because they would acknowledge that “Jesus” in the church name is a reference to the historical person, not a trademark use. They would not take down a page titled Buddha Sanctuary, as they would recognize this as a reference to the historical Buddha.
Yet Facebook treats Osho differently. For Facebook Osho is not a person with a name, and people associated with Osho are not allowed to refer to Him in their page names. For Facebook, Osho is only a trademark. Facebook is aware of this situation and the effect of its practices on lovers of Osho but has refused to comment on its policy or to change it.
The result has been remarkable. One of the pages Facebook took down was Osho Pulsation, which is located in California, where the law is clear that there is no Osho trademark. Other pages taken down were for Osho Uta Institut, Osho Times, and Osho Diamond Breath. All of these used the name Osho in connection to their businesses before OIF filed for relevant marks. Under EU law OIF cannot enforce a later mark against them, even if a mark for “Osho” should turn out to be valid. Over the last year or so other pages have been taken down, including those of Swami Rajneesh, now known as Ozen Rajneesh, whose activities have taken place in India and Mexico, where OIF, Zurich, has never had a trademark claim.
Those who testified in the EU trademark case are not the only one’s affected. Ursula Hoess (Vatayana) has written to other owners of Facebook pages that contain Osho’s name, telling them they must “acknowledge” OIF’s ownership of trademarks for “Osho” or their pages will be taken down. (Of course, no one can “acknowledge” ownership of a trademark. That is always up to the relevant legal jurisdiction to decide.) Phillip Toelkes (Niren) has written letters threatening legal action against Osho Uta Institut and Osho Diamond Breath and to a long-time therapist to tell her she may no longer describe herself as an “Osho therapist.” That was a blast from the past, since few, if any, therapists refer to themselves that way these days anyway. Interestingly, most of Niren’s letters have been written to people in Europe, and he has ignored the fact that he is not licensed to practice law there.
Klaus Steeg has written threatening letters to www.oshonews.com, and when they did not agree to comply with his demands, OIF had the Osho News Facebook page taken down (and he is not licensed to practice law at all). This activity is expected to continue unless legal action is once again taken against OIF. If a legal action is brought against Facebook, the terms of use may require OIF to pay their legal fees as well.
Sourced from Viha Connection magazine

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Vatican and Osho: A Study in Hypocrisy




by Ma Prem Sangeet
The recent resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has inspired many claims about the relationship between the Vatican and Osho, many of them unsupported. Osho apparently thought that John Paul II had met with Reagan in 1985, shortly before Osho was arrested, but this was an error. According to online records Reagan met with John Paul II in 1982 and 1987.
Reagan, a fundamentalist Christian, would ordinarily have been the natural enemy of the pope in the politics of American Christianity, but the two men shared a common passion: a hatred of communism. Carl Bernstein reported in the June 24, 2001 issue of Time that the two men met for 50 minutes in 1982, supposedly to discuss Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. In fact, they spent most of their time talking about two other topics dear to their hearts. The first was the recent suppression of the Solidarity labor movement in Poland, and the second was the assassination attempts they had both experienced in 1981. They agreed they had both been divinely spared for missions from God.
The Reagan administration believed Poland was key to the downfall of the Soviet Union and that John Paul II, as a highly influential Pole, could be tremendously useful. Bernstein revealed that the US provided clandestine aid to Solidarity, supplied the pope with top-secret information on a regular basis, and William Casey, head of the CIA and a conservative Catholic, made regular secret visits to the Vatican. The Nation reported on April 17, 1989 that in his turn John Paul II ordered all priests to resign posts in the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, which the Regan administration opposed.
This was definitely a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” relationship. They were willing to do each other favors to get to their shared goal. John Paul II seems to have been obsessed with the idea of freeing Poland from communism and is reported to have talked of little else with US officials, even when they had a different purpose, like discussing disarmament. He had appointed someone else to deal with “religious threats,” while he focused on the political. His “enforcer of the faith” was German Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.
Joseph Ratzinger was the Archbishop of Munich and Freiling from 1977 to 1982, during a time when Stern and Der Spiegel were publishing articles with lots of pictures of naked people in groups in Pune and when centers in Munich, Cologne, and other areas of Germany were booming. Ratzinger was apparently worried that the appeal of Eastern mysticism would lure people away from the Church.
Ratzinger was appointed head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Church’s modern version of the Inquisition, in 1981. He soon became the second most powerful man in the Vatican and was elevated to cardinal in 1993. In Rome he focused much of his efforts on stopping what he called pluralism, or the seeking of truth and grace in religions other than Christianity. He claimed pluralism or “relativism” was a threat to true faith from the Third World. In a 1997 interview published in the March 21 issue of the French L’Express, Ratzinger called Buddhism an “auto-erotic spirituality” and said: “In the 1950s someone said that the undoing of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century wouldn’t come from Marxism, but from Buddhism. They were right.” Ratzinger spoke of the ”seductions” of Buddhism and other Eastern traditions. According to John L. Allen, Jr., author of Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican’s Enforcer of the Faith,1 Ratzinger’s statements were so offensive that a group of American priests issued an apology to Buddhists.
***Footnote: 1This and some other references are quoted in the new, revised version of Max Brecher’s A Passage to America, soon to be available as an ebook on his website, www.maxbrechersbookstobuy.com.
Ratzinger used his inquisition to censure Catholics who supported pluralism; Allen reports that Ratzinger went so far as to excommunicate a priest in Sri Lanka. In 2000 Ratzinger’s office created a statement of doctrine later signed by John Paul II called Dominus Iesus.2 It held that non-Catholic Christian traditions were “defective,” but non-Christian were “gravely deficient” in terms of salvation.
***Footnote: 2vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html
So, what was Ratzinger’s relationship with Osho and sannyasins? Though he was often suspected of working behind the scenes in things like German legal disputes and Italian visa applications, nothing could be proved. The October 11, 1985 National Catholic Reporter stated: “The cardinal, who ‘daily receives top secret information from every continent,’ does his best to take daily top-secret action on the basis of this information.”
The only assertion of a direct connection came from Ashok Row Kavi, former columnist for the Bombay Sunday Mail. On December 24, 1989 he reported that someone “very close” to Ratzinger had revealed that Ratzinger “is known to have operated behind the scenes in the expulsion of Rajneesh from America.” In early February 1990, Kavi reported in a column that Ratzinger had said in 1981: “All sorts of Satanic cults by oriental godmen are out to seduce the faithful away from Christ.” Kavi claimed that Osho was the “object of these controversial statements.”
Considering the quid-pro-quo relationship between the Reagan administration and the Vatican, the belief that Ratzinger was instrumental in having Osho thrown out of the US is plausible, but given the Reagan administration’s longstanding opposition to Osho, it’s unclear if they needed any encouragement. At the very least, there is evidence that Ratzinger felt justified in lobbying to have Osho removed from the US.
After becoming Benedict XVI in 2005, Ratzinger soon met with enormous scandal. Ongoing investigations of sexual abuse of children revealed Church cover-ups that led to Ratzinger’s door in the Vatican. As head of the Congregation he was directly responsible for investigating such misbehavior, and in 2000 he had ordered his office to take oversight control of all investigations. Yet virtually nothing was done to stop the abuse. Several Catholic dioceses, including the one in Portland, Oregon, have had to file bankruptcy to avoid millions of dollars of damages for abuse and cover-up. Ratzinger’s supporters have claimed that this inaction was the fault of John Paul II, but in the eight years of Ratzinger’s tenure as pope, he apologized profusely for the child abuse, while doing little to stop it. Two cardinals from the US and Ireland have been implicated in widespread abuse cover-ups, but the cardinals are still in office and joined the conclave to vote for Benedict’s successor.
Meanwhile, back in Rome, Benedict’s butler was among Vatican watchers who were appalled by the allegations of misbehavior against Benedict’s own second in command, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The butler stole stacks of correspondence documenting sexual misbehavior and financial corruption in the Vatican and blew the whistle, allowing much of the correspondence to be published. Benedict had no choice but to order an investigation. The report of the investigation came in less than two months before Benedict announced his resignation.
The Italian press published information about the report, with screaming headlines about gay factions in the Vatican, which is hardly groundbreaking news, and downplayed the other issue mentioned: misuse of funds and a financial scandal that may involve the Vatican Bank. This brings to mind the story of John Paul I, who died suddenly after 33 days in office, when he, among other things, indicated a willingness to allow an investigation of a Vatican Bank scandal. Since Vatican protocol does not allow autopsies of popes, the dispute over the cause of his death continues. The case was written up in the book In God’s Name, which Osho spoke about (One Seed Makes the Whole Earth Green, Chapter 3; The Rebel, Chapter 13).
Benedict and/or his conservative supporters recognized that he lacked the courage, vitality, and credibility to deal with the latest Vatican corruption scandal, so he’s off to a quiet retirement, while the attempt to save face and save the necks of many influential people in Europe falls on his successor, Pope Francis. Francis, another conservative, was reportedly the second runner up in the last conclave. He was elected in a conclave where well over half of the members had been selected by Benedict.
The irony of Benedict’s belief that the very flawed institution of the Catholic Church (child abuse, sexual perversion, blackmail, theft, and possibly murder) is the only agency of God on Earth and that Benedict has been justified in his self-righteous attacks on “deficient” non-Christian traditions that threaten its supremacy – like Osho, Buddhism, Hinduism – is hard to miss. But Joseph Ratzinger has apparently missed it completely. The insight and integrity of Pope Francis remain to be seen.