Catholic Interest

Interesting things Catholic

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    Friday, March 31, 2006

    Pope urges "defeat of a culture threatening democracy itself"

    That's telling 'em Holy Father...


    "Your support for the Christian heritage, moreover, can contribute significantly to the defeat of a culture that is now fairly widespread in Europe, which relegates to the private and subjective sphere the manifestation of one's own religious convictions. Policies built on this foundation not only entail the repudiation of Christianity's public role; more generally, they exclude engagement with Europe's religious tradition, which is so clear, despite its denominational variations, thereby threatening democracy itself, whose strength depends on the values that it promotes."

    "It must not be forgotten," he stressed, "that when Churches or ecclesial communities intervene in public debate, expressing reservations or recalling various principles, this does not constitute a form of intolerance or interference, since such interventions are aimed solely at enlightening consciences, enabling them to act freely and responsibly, according to the true demands of justice, even when this should conflict with situations of power and personal interest."

    "These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity. The Church's action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, irrespective of any religious affiliation they may have."

    The main area of the Catholic Church's interventions in the public sphere, said Benedict XVI, "is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable." Among these principles he listed:

    "Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

    recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family, as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage, and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

    and the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

    Thinking of converting to muhammad?

    Uttering the word "talaq" (I divorce you) three times allows a Muslim man to divorce his wife with immediate effect.


    An Indian Muslim says he will not be separated from his wife, despite uttering the words necessary for divorce while he was asleep.

    Akhtar says he came home on the night in question last December and took sleeping tablets following a row with his wife.

    "I uttered the 'talaq' while I was asleep. I didn't mean it," Akhtar, a worker at a local brick field, told the BBC.

    "It's unfair that I'll have to leave my wife for what I said in my sleep and we are being socially boycotted by the villagers because we haven't accepted the verdict of the clerics."

    "I am victimised as I am still in touch with Akhtar. Nobody is coming to my grocery shop."
    The clerics, though, are refusing to budge.

    It's a religion of peace; It's a religion of peace; It's a religion of

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Vocations: acknowledging the heroic radical move for God that it is

    Picking at her black fingernail polish and fiddling with her shirt and shoulder-length blond hair, 16-year-old Chelsea Sledgeski seems every bit the typical teen.


    Sledgeski is considering becoming a nun.

    When she talks about what would attract a suburban girl with a sparkly shirt and a safari-themed room to a life of chastity and poverty, her first words aren't about devoting herself to the needy or saving souls from eternal damnation. Her inspiration sounds pretty pragmatic: Nuns and priests seem really happy compared with adults traveling other life routes.

    For now, priests and nuns are being imported from countries, such as Vietnam and Nigeria [and Poland], that have rising seminary populations and more conservative religious cultures. But the longer-term strategy requires deciphering the themes that will pull in young American Catholics. And churches' recruitment drives increasingly are focused on what Sledgeski talked about: how to be happy.

    "Fishers of Men," a 20-minute video released this month by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, presents priests as handsome and heroic, appearing in scenes of war and civil rights marches that are contrasted with the image of bored-looking people riding an escalator to meaningless jobs. The video will be shown at Catholic schools, churches and religious retreats around the country.

    link to short clip of the video

    Recent local campaigns have played off the same idea, using posters, pamphlets and newspaper ads to show that priests are anything but lonely and isolated. One of them features the slogan "Life's Great in Black and White" and a photo of a group of young priests smiling and laughing. Other churches have picked up the catchphrase "Men in Black," using it on posters riffing off the Hollywood movie or as the name of a team of priests who travel to parishes to shoot hoops and talk about their work.

    Peter Stamm has been interested in joining the clergy since third grade, when he became an altar boy at Our Lady of Victory, a church near his subdivision of Spring Valley in Northwest Washington.

    By ninth grade, the call was too loud to ignore, drowning out the intensifying sex abuse scandals that prompted his classmates at the parochial St. Anselm's School to be unkind.

    "People made their voices very well known that I was a pedophile, a homosexual, like in the halls and stuff," he said with no inflection. "Luckily, I was at a good place in my prayer life. I accepted all the persecution I got and prayed for people doing it."

    Home during his spring break this month, Stamm talked excitedly in his family's elegantly appointed living room about his upcoming weekend with a group of friars in Emmitsburg, in Frederick County, who own nothing and beg for food.

    "I think when people see this radical lifestyle they are drawn to it. It's very liberating to not be attached to the unnecessary," he said.

    Opposition from parents is the biggest challenge the church faces in the vocations field, officials say.

    Bob Sledgeski is Catholic and was the one who pushed his daughter to start attending the more charismatic services at Our Lady of the Fields. Now, they have teenager-parent arguments about whether her grades are suffering because she is spending so many nights at church. He appreciates the role priests and nuns play and is ready to accept God's will but wonders whether his daughter could satisfy her urge to serve God in some other way, such as with the Peace Corps.

    Chelsea Sledgeski is trying to sort it out. Until about a year ago, she thought even the idea of God was "weird -- how someone could dedicate their whole life to something they couldn't even prove."
    But then she started going to church, to the pizza nights, the musical services and the skits about Lent that play off the show "The O.C." One night in the church's lower hall, priests and nuns came to talk to the teens.

    "And I remember them talking about how they made these sacrifices, and they couldn't get married and took vows of poverty," she said. "I remember them just being very happy about it, and I thought that was kind of strange. How could you be very happy about not owning anything? But now I'm starting to get it."

    Thanks to 'Papist' the DC Lawyer for forwarding the information.

    Really, where would we be without the Church?

    "Through the apostolic ministry," said the Pope. "the Church, the community brought together by the Son of God, ... will live through the ages, building and nourishing the communion in Christ and in the Spirit to which everyone is called and in which everyone can experience the salvation given by the Father.


    Unlike John Paul, I have a hard time reading Benedict without parsing what he's
    saying. Perhaps John Paul did the parsing for me.

    "Indeed, the twelve Apostles were careful to provide successors so that the mission entrusted to them would continue after their death. Thus over the centuries the Church, organically structured under the guidance of her legitimate pastors, has continued to live in the world as a mystery of communion which in some way reflects Trinitarian communion itself."

    That word 'organic' is perfect. With so many people around me having babies
    lately, is sounds like from 12 cells, the next successors carefully chosen,
    through the centuries. Especially at the beginning as the Church was growing,
    the choice of successors was so important, because any changes back then would
    have had loud ramifications as the centuries moved forward.

    So guidance
    by the Sprit is evident, and the fact that the world as we know it would be
    quite something else without the Church's birth 2,000 years ago. What the world
    would be today without the Church I can not imagine.

    The Holy Father then explained how "the idea of communion as participation in Trinitarian life" is particularly highlighted in the Gospel of St. John, "where the communion of love binding the Son to the Father and to mankind is at the same time the model and source of the fraternal communion which must unite disciples to one another."

    The Holy Father concluded: "Communion truly is the good news that remedies all forms of solitude, the precious gift that makes us feel welcomed and loved in God, in the unity of His people gathered in the name of the Trinity; it is the light that makes the Church shine out as a sign raised among peoples."

    Besides all else that could be said about experiencing Trinitarian love through
    the Church, and because of that love, changing the world over 20 centuries,
    married people uniquely cooperating with God to procreate children participate
    in that extra dimension of husband and wife.

    God the Trinity, Church in
    Trinity, man and woman precreating in the communion of love as properly
    understood through the Church's teaching inspired by God the Spirit.

    Long sentences to describe a very earthly activity in a particlar home,
    a particular husband and wife, and new children.

    That understanding is life changing and life forming. The Trinitarian
    aspect could never be recognized without the help of the Church, the Church
    would never exist without the Apostle's careful selection of successors and the
    Spirit's guidance.

    This is something people living without God can not
    hope to experience, and people outside the Church can only experience to lesser
    degrees based on their self-imposed distance.

    And really, where would we
    all be today without the Church?

    We would be nowhere.

    Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    Just for fun... some Oxymora

    A little pregnant


    Government pushes harder and wider against Catholics

    “I see this for what it is. It is not a victims’ rights issue. It is not a victims’ services issue,” said James Papillo, a Catholic deacon. “The issue is an attack on the Catholic institutions.”


    At the direction of the state’s archbishop, Connecticut’s four Catholic hospitals established in January a policy of not prescribing Plan B if a rape victim is ovulating or one of her eggs has been fertilized. The policy was modeled after one in Peoria, Ill.

    “We believe that rape victims deserve compassionate and competent medical care,” said Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information for the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Bishops. “But we disagree on what proper medical care is.”

    A growing number of states are considering laws that would require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims, drawing criticism from supporters of the Roman Catholic Church, which likens the morning-after pill to abortion.

    “We believe that rape victims deserve compassionate and competent medical care,” said Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information for the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Bishops. “But we disagree on what proper medical care is.”

    Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina and Washington already require hospitals to dispense it.

    Advocates say Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin this year have also considered proposals that would require hospitals to dispense the morning-after pill.

    Russian Church can't stop defending its borders

    Officials of the Russian Orthodox Church were reserved in their reaction to cardinal Walter Kasper's words about a progress in the Orthodox-Catholic relations, including the Pope's visit to Russia in the near future.


    'The position of our Church has not changed. A meeting of the Primates of the two Churches would be justified, if they were to reach a solution for the problems existing between us, such as proselytism and expansionist actions of the Greek Catholics towards Orthodoxy in Ukraine', deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for external church relations Rev. Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax on Tuesday.

    The same old tired Orthodox position..

    The Western Church is stealing our parishioners in Russia and Ukraine.
    Whereas the rest of the Catholic world sees borders as only political things,
    not religious things. For this the Orthodox seem timid and fearful.

    'We would like to hope that sooner or later we could reach understanding of these problems. However, I think that the time for excessive optimism has not come yet', a Russian Orthodox church representative noted.

    Professor of the Moscow theological academy deacon Andrey Kurayev also disagrees with cardinal Kasper's words about 'a new spirit' in the relations between the Russian church and the Vatican.

    'My sense of smell is not so fine as to sense this spirit. As a rank and file clergyman, I do not see any improvement in the relations between Russian church and Vatican', Rev. Andrey told Interfax on Tuesday.

    He founds cardinal Kasper's statement that the problem of proselytism (the enticing of believers - IF) could be 'easily solved' by the Catholic side unjustified.

    'As far as the problem of proselytism is concerned, the recent transfer of the chair of Ukrainian uniates from Lvov to Kiev approved by Vatican can in no way be regarded as a friendly gesture', Rev. Andrey noted.

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    Four-year-old Jandre Botha refused to call his mother's lesbian lover "daddy"

    A tabloid tragedy I know. But still.....


    Four-year-old Jandre Botha refused to call his mother's lesbian lover "daddy" - and paid with his life.

    Jandre's father, Jan Botha, was in the Vereeniging regional court's public gallery on Wednesday when his former wife, Hanelie Botha, 31, and her partner, Engeline de Nysschen, 33, were found guilty of the gruesome murder of his son.

    He sat in court holding the hands of his fiancée, Yolanda Deysel, and listened attentively to magistrate Rita Willemse, who, in her judgment, accepted evidence that among the reasons that led to Jandre's brutal ordeal was his refusal to call De Nysschen "daddy".

    Both testified that while Jandre was assaulted, his mother failed to intervene or protect him. Evidence showed he had sustained horrific injuries, including a fractured skull and brain damage, as well as broken legs, collarbone, hands and pelvis.

    The mother failed to protect him at the very beginning of her slide into
    the pit.

    The court accepted the evidence of Professor Mohammed Dada, a trauma expert, who said the boy's injuries were similar to those of a person who had fallen from a double-storey building.

    The "pair's" version...

    The court ruled that she had lied to protect De Nysschen. The doctors who had examined Jandre dismissed the pair's version that he had slipped in the bath.

    The magistrate criticised Hanelie for failing to report Jandre's abuse at the hands of her lover to the social workers monitoring Jandre's progress, after she had gained custody of him during a lengthy court battle with her ex-husband.

    She also failed to report the abuse to her ex-husband.The boy's father became aware of Jandre's abuse only on the day of his death, June 12, 2003. De Nysschen contacted him and said Jandre had fallen earlier in the day and had died.

    Black leading indicator on marriage

    I grew up in a time when two-parent families were still the norm, in both black and white America. Then, as an adult, I saw divorce become more commonplace, then almost a rite of passage. Today it would appear that many -- particularly in the black community -- have dispensed with marriage altogether.


    There is no religion in this article, which is of course the root problem.

    It is interesting to read where the young generation finds themselves. God
    help them.

    For years, I wondered why not. And then some 12-year-olds enlightened me.
    "Marriage is for white people."

    Although slavery was an atrocious social system, men and women back then nonetheless often succeeded in establishing working families. In his account of slave life and culture, "Roll, Jordan, Roll," historian Eugene D. Genovese wrote: "A slave in Georgia prevailed on his master to sell him to Jamaica so that he could find his wife, despite warnings that his chances of finding her on so large an island were remote. . . . Another slave in Virginia chopped his left hand off with a hatchet to prevent being sold away from his son." I was stunned to learn that a black child was more likely to grow up living with both parents during slavery days than he or she is today, according to sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin.

    Traditional notions of family, especially the extended family network, endure. But working mothers, unmarried couples living together, out-of-wedlock births, birth control, divorce and remarriage have transformed the social landscape. And no one seems to feel this more than African American women. One told me that with today's changing mores, it's hard to know "what normal looks like" when it comes to courtship, marriage and parenthood. Sex, love and childbearing have become a la carte choices rather than a package deal that comes with marriage.

    "A woman who takes that step is bold and brave," one young single mother told me. "Women don't want to marry because they don't want to lose their freedom."

    The turning point in my own thinking about marriage came when a longtime friend proposed about five years ago. He and I had attended college together, dated briefly, then kept in touch through the years. We built a solid friendship, which I believe is a good foundation for a successful marriage.

    But -- if we had married, I would have had to relocate to the Midwest. Been there, done that, didn't like it. I would have had to become a stepmother and, although I felt an easy camaraderie with his son, stepmotherhood is usually a bumpy ride. I wanted a house and couldn't afford one alone. But I knew that if I was willing to make some changes, I eventually could.

    As I reviewed the situation, I realized that all the things I expected marriage to confer -- male companionship, close family ties, a house -- I already had, or were within reach, and with exponentially less drama. I can do bad by myself, I used to say as I exited a relationship. But the truth is, I can do pretty good by myself, too.

    Most single black women over the age of 30 whom I know would not mind getting married, but acknowledge that the kind of man and the quality of marriage they would like to have may not be likely, and they are not desperate enough to simply accept any situation just to have a man. A number of my married friends complain that taking care of their husbands feels like having an additional child to raise.

    By design or by default, black women cultivate those skills that allow them to maintain themselves (or sometimes even to prosper) without a mate.

    And here's the new twist. African American women aren't the only ones deciding that they can make do alone. Often what happens in black America is a sign of what the rest of America can eventually expect. In his 2003 book, "Mismatch: The Growing Gulf between Women and Men," Andrew Hacker noted that the structure of white families is evolving in the direction of that of black families of the 1960s. In 1960, 67 percent of black families were headed by a husband and wife, compared to 90.9 percent for whites. By 2000, the figure for white families had dropped to 79.8 percent. Births to unwed white mothers were 22.5 percent in 2001, compared to 2.3 percent in 1960. So my student who thought marriage is for white people may have to rethink that in the future.

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    What's the Bishop close to the problem saying about Immigration?

    It seems the Church is saying that the way we're going has got to stop.
    Probably everyone agrees with that. Yet if things have gotten so bad, that the
    Church could no longer comply with the new secular law, then for sure, the
    disscussion will come to a head.

    From the Bishop close to the action...


    I've received a lot of criticism for stating last month that I would instruct the priests of my archdiocese to disobey a proposed law that would subject them, as well as other church and humanitarian workers, to criminal penalties. The proposed Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives in December and is expected to be taken up by the Senate next week, would among other things subject to five years in prison anyone who "assists" an undocumented immigrant "to remain in the United States."

    Some supporters of the bill have even accused the church of encouraging illegal immigration and meddling in politics. But I stand by my statement. Part of the mission of the Roman Catholic Church is to help people in need. It is our Gospel mandate, in which Christ instructs us to clothe the naked, feed the poor and welcome the stranger. Indeed, the Catholic Church, through Catholic Charities agencies around the country, is one of the largest nonprofit providers of social services in the nation, serving both citizens and immigrants.

    Providing humanitarian assistance to those in need should not be made a crime, as the House bill decrees. As written, the proposed law is so broad that it would criminalize even minor acts of mercy like offering a meal or administering first aid.

    Current law does not require social service agencies to obtain evidence of legal status before rendering aid, nor should it. Denying aid to a fellow human being violates a law with a higher authority than Congress — the law of God.

    That does not mean that the Catholic Church encourages or supports illegal immigration. Every day in our parishes, social service programs, hospitals and schools, we witness the baleful consequences of illegal immigration. Families are separated, workers are exploited and migrants are left by smugglers to die in the desert. Illegal immigration serves neither the migrant nor the common good.

    What the church supports is an overhaul of the immigration system so that legal status and legal channels for migration replace illegal status and illegal immigration. Creating legal structures for migration protects not only those who migrate but also our nation, by giving the government the ability to better identify who is in the country as well as to control who enters it.

    Afghan death penalty recap and Vatican's strategy

    Under pressure from the US, the Vatican, and other Western leaders, Afghanistan's fledgling democracy Sunday sidestepped a politically charged case in which prosecutors had sought the death penalty for a Muslim man who converted to Christianity.

    Rather than pass judgment on Abdul Rahman, an Afghan who converted while living abroad 16 years ago, the court declared him mentally unfit for trial Sunday.

    While state executions for apostasy are rarely carried out, laws allowing them remain on the books in not only Afghanistan but in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan.

    More generally, while countries like Egypt and Pakistan guarantee religious freedoms in their constitutions, they limit religious speech and local police frequently lean on people to recant if they seek to convert.

    Last year for instance, Egyptian Christians and Muslims clashed over a girl the Christians claimed had been forced to convert to Islam. The Muslim side said the girl was a willing convert, and had married a Muslim.

    In Pakistani villages, Muslims who convert to Christianity are occasionally killed by their own family members, to protect the family's honor. In major cities, Islamic militant groups have launched attacks against Christian churches for their supposed sympathy for America. In Alexandria, Egypt, last October, three rioters died as they sought to attack a church for distributing DVDs of a play deemed offensive to Islam.

    Afghanistan is a deeply conservative country where 99 percent of the population is Muslim and an estimated 10,000 Christians can practice only in secret. Out on the street, many ordinary Afghans chimed in with the mullahs calling out at Friday prayers for Abdul Rahman to be put to death.

    "The order of God is execution for this person and no one can change it. This person has denied God and the Koran and he should be punished in a way that will stop other Muslims from converting," said Sayed Saber, a 32-year-old in Kabul.

    Most mainstream schools of Islamic jurisprudence call for converts to be executed. Though the Koran promises only hellfire for apostates and also says "there should be no compunction in religion,'' Islamic jurists have typically argued that execution is mandated, citing stories of comments made by the prophet Muhammad.

    "The prophet Muhammad said that anyone who rejects Islam for another religion should be executed," said Mr. Mawlavezada, the judge.

    Though some liberal Islamic scholars disagree, pointing out that no such rule exists in the Koran, they have been largely silenced in Afghanistan. Last year, Afghan writer Ali Mohaqeq Nasab spent almost three months in jail last autumn for an article questioning the traditional call for execution.

    And the Vatican's long term strategy?


    The United States-led wars on Iraq and Afghanistan should not be viewed as crusades launched by Christian countries against Muslims, and "Western" is not synonymous to "Christian," the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue said on Sunday, March 26.

    "This is a very damaging confusion," Cardinal Paul Poupard, also the Vatican's Culture Minister since 1988, told Reuters.

    "Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor John Paul II, never ceases to say this and show it by his acts, such as opposition to armed intervention in Iraq," he said.

    He said that the church is not "western."

    "It is catholic," he stressed, using the term derived from the Greek word for "universal."

    Poupard, 75, has also turned a spotlight on the role that culture can play in fostering understanding between Muslims and Christians.

    "Culture plays a fundamental role for relations between Christians and Muslims," he told Reuters.

    "Benedict XVI clearly told me we had to develop the dialogue of men of culture with representatives of non-Christian religions," the French cardinal said.

    He recalled that the Pope told Muslim leaders in Germany last August that Christian-Muslim dialogue was "a vital necessity on which in large measure our future depends".

    A leading theologian before becoming Pope last April, Benedict has long thought contact with non-Christians should not focus only on religion, where agreement can be difficult if not impossible, Reuters said.

    Good Luck.

    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    Don't forget Hillary

    Now I'm not saying that the Republicans will offer us anything better. We've
    yet to see.

    But please remember Hillary and Bill and how anything they say is only for

    It is useless to listen to them.


    After being surprised by her husband's role in the Dubai ports deal, Sen. Hillary Clinton has insisted that Bill Clinton give her "final say" over what he says and does, well-placed sources said.

    Hillary Clinton's handlers are keeping a close rein on the former President's schedule to try to prevent another embarrassing screwup like their competing roles in the Dubai ports deal.

    While she was blasting the Bush administration for allowing Dubai to run six of the country's ports, he was advising Dubai on how to sell the deal.

    "Hillary has final say," said the adviser, and the ex-President's staff has been warned not to do or say anything without running it by the senator's handlers.

    The Hillary camp recognizes the 42nd President's enormous political value to her race for the White House.

    To boost his spouse's Oval Office bid, the former President is hosting several get-togethers around the country with ex-staffers and is planning some regional town hall meeting and panel discussions to talk about success stories from what Hillary Clinton likes to call "our administration."

    The senator's camp knows, however, when it's politically prudent to put her near her husband, like when they visited victims of Hurricane Katrina, the funeral for Coretta Scott King and in Israel at the anniversary of the assassination of Mideast peacemaker Yitzhak Rabin.

    Still, the senator's advisers are trying to put a muzzle on her husband's more controversial comments and actions that have hindered her effort to paint herself as a national security hawk - a crucial part of her political makeover.

    Who the heck wants to watch a "political makeover"?

    Forget it.

    Err.. or rather don't forget it.

    Saturday, March 25, 2006

    Pick a boy.. or how about a girl? It's all up to you!

    Without any reference to God in all of this, this mother's truth still comes
    through. God help us and the ultimate consumers we have become.


    I want my family to be judged by the sum of our hearts, not the sum of our parts.

    Just the other day, I received another intriguing letter in my mailbox. It said: “Have you ever considered Gender Selection? It’s easy, reliable and affordable.”

    Included with the letter was a colored brochure that had a picture of a smiling blond boy and girl on the cover, the stereotypical perfect pair. I’d heard about gender selec­tion on television and read about it in magazines, but here it was staring me in the face and promising me all the happiness of a Disney vacation. Was this really the next wave in luxury items, the “perfect” family on demand?

    No, it was something else about the expensive sales brochure I held in my hands that was making me very, very uneasy.

    I turned to the “Is It Ethical?” section of the brochure for insight. It said, “Experience shows that most people use selection techniques for a second or third child to achieve a balance in the composition of their families.” This sounded like it was written by a practitioner of the “Come-on, Everyone Else Is Doing It” school of ethics, the type of person with whom our mothers never wanted us to travel to the Brooklyn Bridge. It is very tempting to jump at an offer that tells you that money can buy your wildest dreams. The good doctor was promising that with just a little sperm trafficking, he could conjure up an “easy” and “afford­able” future baseball player or blushing bride.

    I understand the desire of so many parents to experience the joy of having one of each. I already had a healthy daughter when I gave birth to a healthy son, and I basked in the glory of having a perfect pair. I heard all the usual congratulatory words and felt the very real envy of others. Once out of the spotlight of other’s expectations, Cameron and Ryan were two wonderfully unique children. Before they were born, my dreams for them might have been pink and blue. The reality was a more complex, vibrant and unpredictable spectrum of colors. My son and daughter surprised me daily with their likes, dislikes and complete disdain for parental authority at bedtime. I realized quickly that I was going to be my children’s guide to the world, but that I had no real power to determine their ultimate destination.

    I now live each and every day without one of my children. Whenever someone hears I lost a child, he or she never asks, “Was it a boy or a girl?” Everyone knows a child is a child and that a parent’s love isn’t dependent on gender. Whatever today’s ethicists might say, I believe that trying to select a gender means buying into the silly belief that fate can somehow be bought. I learned the hard way that it can’t be bought, or even bribed. So farewell, good doctor, I do not want to live my life influenced by people like you, who are willing to profit off the misfortunes and unfulfilled dreams of others. I want my family to be judged by the sum of our hearts, not the sum of our parts.

    Rap... and the Catholics got even more

    We ain't no jive.


    Minnesota: From kids with homosexuals playing house, to sad nuns playing religion

    At a rally Thursday in front of the state capitol in St. Paul, Minn., more than 1,000 people—including at least 60 clergy members from across the state—turned out to protest a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.


    "I'm here out of my faith," the Reverend Tim Tennant-Jayne, an ordained United Methodist minister, said at the rally. He said that he and fellow supporters of marriage equality "haven't been as loudly a part of this. Conservative viewpoints have been very loud."

    OK, I know it's a small thing. But do you suppose Tim, being raise in one of
    those households with a concatenated name "Tennant-Jayne", was influenced by
    parents who could not unite under either of their single names? Just a theory.

    And from Reverend Mari-ann...

    Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde of St. John the Baptist Episcopalian Church in Minneapolis, said that those who want to ban same-sex marriage "claim this amendment protects families and protects marriage. We know it would do no such thing."

    She added that issues like unemployment and homelessness damage the institution of marriage more than any same-sex union could.

    Another of these poor liberal arguments. Mariann is either saying that since we
    have unemployment and homelessness, that same-sex union is OK, or that

    same-sex union would damage marriage less than unemployment and
    homelessness, so being the lesser evil, same-sex union should proceed.

    Another case of liberal "feelings" over thinking. Mariann states boldly
    against the claim that "[this] amendment protects families and protects
    marriage. We know it would do no such thing."

    How does she know the
    amendment would not protect families and marriage? I guess she just feels tha way.

    And how are the Catholics doing in Minnesota?

    At St. Joan's parish, we
    have a Catholic theologian, renown feminist and ethicist, Mary Hunt. Let's see
    what she has to say...


    Hunt believes that the GLBT community and their families are rapidly approaching the end of tolerating rejection from the Catholic Church.

    Right now, the way the Catholic Church is guiding our lives is simply not adequate to obtain our faith.

    Hunt suggests that sexism is usually paired with colonialism. The Roman Catholic Church is formed and run like a top down model, quite similar to the military.

    A solution would be for parishioners to act like an ecclesia, a congress or assembly, pretty much how a community gets together as a discipleship of equals. Hunt believes that “Church is not a democracy. This Kyriarchy, or structure of lordship, is not a democracy, but an Ecclesia is.”

    Hunt believes what persists in today’s Catholic Church is a top down leadership at its worst. She defines this governing as a “Kyriarchal hold on congregations. Financial giving is still up, yet we don’t have a say on how it’s spent.” Hunt suggests that “We, the people, need to have our Stonewall moment”, nee, the 1969 Stonewall Riots, where we stand up, speak out and resist. “We should respond to the hierarchy bullying in the same way.”

    We need to embrace new models of ministry and face this terrible issue of heterosexism that is so rampantly controlling the decisions of the Church. Hunt offers “rethinking the center so people in the margins are taken more seriously.”

    I'm sure a little Sunday talk by Hunt does more for God's people than Vespers
    ever could. And why does feminism so often mean lesbian and secret code "GLBT"? Oh well.

    I have a pet peeve about Liturgists. After all, the liturgy is pretty set
    in place for all Catholics. After VaticanII, Liturgists started hanging nice
    colored banners from the ceiling, and choosing the hymns. They had a small role
    to play, but are now way to over-educated.. sometimes requiring a B.S. or
    Masters to obtain a job in progressive churches like St. Joan of Arc. So what
    happens? The job expands and expands.

    Here's the "credits" section from the St. Joan Sunday bulletin for the Late

    Hosts: The Raeker-Rebek Family
    Cup Ministers: Don & Michelle Dehn, Ceclie Bedor, Debra Anthony
    Slide Projectionist: Luke Burris
    Musician: George Thome

    Hosts, Cup Ministers, Slide Projectionist, and Musician "ministries". You
    just know a Liturgist with a Masters Degree had to have a hand in organizing
    such a fine production to show our Lord.

    If you should find yourself driving through the hinterlands of Minnesota
    late on Sunday,
    and see a light beaming from the door of the Late Mass,
    slide projections whizzing across the the stadium screen,
    people marching solemnly with hosts and cups,
    and theologian Hunt leading the pack...

    Be afraid... be very afraid.

    Friday, March 24, 2006

    It is painful when a fringe Catholic exposes herself... unfaithful and unaware

    Here's a woman with access to the media whose Catholic faith is at
    an ill formed level. It seems to me that this is the main dilemma with lay
    leadership. What process could vet her from causing damage? How could someone
    explain to her in terms she would understad that her formation is lacking?

    At this stage in her journey she needs remediation, humility, and a
    willingness to learn. Instead, she is in the news media, speaking with
    confidence, unfaithful and unaware.


    ''Why did God make you?" the catechism asked.
    ''God made me to show His goodness and to make me happy with Him in Heaven," the catechism taught me.

    I had a child's unflinching faith. So did my friend Beth. We both spent the seventh grade in different towns and different parishes praying for the same thing: signs of the stigmata. We longed to be martyrs and saints. We laugh at this now. But it's a wry laugh. What happened to us?

    Forty years later a different priest called me a cafeteria Catholic, but not in a mean way. He said it with an understanding born of having said this many times before. But he said it with a warning, too. You cannot choose what to believe if you are a Catholic. You have to believe what the church teaches.

    I didn't. And I don't. And I am not the only one.

    So here we start. No longer wishing to be a Saint, seemingly proud that she is
    not the only one who does not believe what the Church teaches.

    And then one day, the moon lit up a man I did follow, a good man and a good priest.

    He said, ''God loves us all," and he meant it. He said, ''People are good," and he believed it. He said at the end of every Mass, ''Go and serve the Lord and one another." And he did.

    I forgave the church its trespasses because of him. I opened my eyes and saw that there were no longer just altar boys serving Mass. There were altar girls as well. I saw lay people reading. I saw Eucharistic ministers. I saw a community where there once had been a kingdom.

    Happy to find that God loves us, she now sees the things important to her..
    altar girls,
    lay people reading,
    Eucharistic ministers,
    a flat
    community rather than a hierarchal kingdom.

    And becuase of the Priest,
    or what she selectively heard from him, she has graciously forgiven the Church
    its trepasses.

    I turned a deaf ear to Rome's dictates about premarital sex, divorce, artificial insemination, and contraception. Yes, the church was against these things, but when I returned, it was to a parish where there was no finger-pointing. This church was holding out its arms.

    This deaf ear and blind eye make all things well with her.

    Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, a social breach, unheard of. But he did it anyway. Jesus was best friends with Mary Magdalene, another scandal. Jesus forgave Peter for denying him, and Judas for betraying him, and his Father in Heaven for sacrificing him.

    Now this could be a sign of hope. Perhaps the author understands that in these
    cases of denial and betrayal, Jesus was also warning them to sin no more. Although Jesus forgiving the Father for "sacrificing" him is a theology I am unaware of.

    But without
    humility, and a desire to learn, her bent tree is still bent...

    The Roman Catholic Church, my church, deems homosexuality a sin. It says that two people of the same gender who love one another and are in a committed relationship are sinners. It says that same-gender couples aren't really couples and are not morally fit to raise children.

    But the Roman Catholic Church, my church, also teaches that God loves his creation so much that he sacrificed his only son for all of us.

    For all of us. Not just the heterosexuals in the group.

    The moon pulls and illuminates. But my church is in the dark.

    There you have it. Her verdict is that "my church is in the dark", which I
    presume also means that she is in the light... enlightened.

    A previous
    post about Love
    Without Judgement
    , speaks to the same misunderstanding and pride.

    And given what we know about the woman, just how is the Church managing
    to exclude her from positions of lay leadership? I think in too many cases, these
    sick patients have assumed the role of doctor.

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    The Pope brings one home.. "Habemus papam!" Anglican

    Next month, I will celebrate the first anniversary of my decision to become Catholic. It was the day of the words, "Habemus papam!" on April 19, 2005, that electrified me and led me to call the local Roman Catholic parish the next day.


    The turmoil within the Anglican Communion and the depressing dead-end political fights which shoved Truth to the side left me in despair over where I should go. Over and over I asked myself that if Jesus prayed that 'they would be one' as He and the Father are one, why, oh why were all these churches fracturing? And why was I considering going to yet another branch-of-a-branch-of-a-branch that had split off from the trunk? Lord, to whom shall I go? Going to another off-shoot must surely be offensive, must give lie to the prayer that Christ prayed for his disciples.

    And as I took that "leap of faith", that affirmation of what had been a quickening revolution in my heart, it wasn't a hard landing after all. For there was Christ waiting for me all along. This past year has been full of unexpected graces and I am grateful to be where I am. What took me so long? I echo St. Augustine, "Late have I loved Thee, O Lord."

    First line of Defense for South America

    Colombian pro-life leaders are appealing for solidarity and asking for prayers worldwide to ask God to save Colombia from pro-abortion laws and its effects.

    The court decision is expected to impact all of Latin America in its ability to turn the tide on the issue. “The future, not only of Colombia, but of all of Latin America is at stake,” Cardinal Pedro Rubiano of Bogota has said.

    The prayer follows:

    Divine Infant Jesus, through the intercession of Our Most Blessed Mother, we pray that families and society throughout Latin America and the whole world would welcome each child, because in welcoming the child, we welcome you. Help us all to live according to your plan for life and love, and thereby develop a real culture of life.

    An international pro-life network is organizing a worldwide prayer campaign to combat the looming abortion industry in Latin America.

    Alliance for the Family in Washington, and its Latin American branch, Alianza Latinoamericana para la Familia, issued the appeal Monday.

    Abortion is generally prohibited in all Latin American countries, except for Cuba. However, these countries’ legal systems have been systematically under attack by strong internationally supported abortion groups in the past few decades. Their latest strategy, similar to that of U.S. pro-abortionists in Roe v. Wade, is to try to throw out pro-life laws through the courts.

    Until now, virtually all legislative attempts to eliminate or weaken these laws have been defeated. But pro-abortionists in Colombia have brought a case to that country’s Constitutional Court, where they believe they have enough support among the judiciary to declare unconstitutional parts of Colombia’s laws prohibiting abortion. The court is now in the final stages of issuing a decision.


    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Catholics and Homosexual Adoption nicely explained

    Catholic Charities believes that same-sex caregivers do not provide an atmosphere that is conducive to the well-rounded rearing of children. Despite all the talk of generic "parenting," mothers and fathers are not androgynous, interchangeable "parental units." A mother is not expendable and cannot be replaced by a second father. When she is missing, something essential is lost. To deliberately deprive a child of a mother or a father is to do violence to that child. Moreover, not only are both parents necessary for the unique contribution each provides, they also furnish an example of interaction between the sexes themselves.


    Some have countered that entrusting children to gay couples, while perhaps not the best option, beats the alternatives. There simply are not enough available married couples willing to adopt, and gays fill the gap. Yet this logic is based on two false premises. First, there are long lines of married couples waiting to adopt a child, many of whom spend years navigating the labyrinthine adoption process. Most often, what are lacking are not adoptive parents, but children to adopt. The process can become so frustrating and drawn out that many opt for other alternatives, like adopting a child from a foreign country. Second, where gay adoption is permitted, no special rules apply granting preference to married couples, and children are placed indiscriminately with homosexual couples and heterosexuals. Once again, the determining factor often becomes income, as if a plasma television, MP3 player, and Game Boy were more important for a child than a mother and father.

    Finally, the adoption issue has often been mistakenly identified as a question of gay rights. Yet children are not a commodity that all should "have," and no one has the right to adopt. Children do, however, have the right to a mother and a father. Adoption is not about filling an emotional void in adults' lives, but offering a stable home to unfortunate children. When political agendas prevail over the best interests of children, sloppy moral reasoning is sure to follow.

    Father Thomas D. Williams, LC, is dean of the theology school at Rome's Regina Apostolorum University where he teaches Catholic Social Doctrine.

    Without Christian Morals, all that's left is Logic

    A recovering Mr Hokamura claims he is concerned with where his new kidney came from. "My translator said my donor was a young executed prisoner," says the businessman. "The donor was able to provide a contribution to society so what's wrong with that?"

    "It was cheap," adds Mr Hokamura, now back in Japan. "I can always earn more money."


    Hundreds of well-off Japanese and other nationals are turning to China's burgeoning human organ transplant industry, paying tens of thousands of pounds for livers and kidneys, which in some cases have been harvested from executed prisoners and sold to hospitals.

    When Kenichiro Hokamura's kidneys failed, he faced a choice: wait for a transplant or go online to check out rumours of organs for sale. As a native of Japan, where just 40 human organs for transplant have been donated since 1997, the businessman, 62, says it was no contest. "There are 100 people waiting in this prefecture alone. I would have died before getting a donor." Still, he was astonished by just how easy it was.

    Ten days after contacting a Japanese broker in China two months ago, he was lying on an operating table in a Shanghai hospital receiving a new kidney. "It was so fast, I was scared," he says. The "e-donor" was an executed man; the price: 6.8m yen (about £33,000).

    Sources say the cost of a kidney transplant runs to £37,000 and for a liver up to £88,000. Mr Hokamura paid another million yen for transport costs. There is little attempt to conceal the origins of the organs, the bulk of which are taken from executed prisoners.

    Says Mr Hokamura: "I was on dialysis for four years and four months. I was tired of waiting."

    The Chinese government insists it is trying to crack down on the market in illegal organs.

    But the signs spray-painted on the walls outside clinics and hospitals in many parts of China tell a different story. Simple and direct, these show a mobile phone number and the character for shen, which means "kidney", written alongside. Postings on numerous online bulletin boards and other internet sites also offer kidneys for sale.

    The sale of organs for transplants is illegal in China, but the black market is flourishing. And it's not just the small private hospitals and clinics springing up all over the country - even bigger hospitals in the capital Beijing and the business hub of Shanghai have adverts in toilet cubicles and on the walls of wards.

    Using logic to determine what is good or bad is entirely malleable. It's
    our First Things that our logic proceeds from that makes the difference.

    It feels safer around Christians.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Even Mother Teresa threatens muslims

    Albania's largest Muslim group said Monday that placing a bust of Mother Teresa in a northern city would not damage religious harmony, rejecting claims from smaller Muslim associations.

    The Culture Ministry's proposal to put a statue at the entrance to Shkodra, 110 kilometres north of the capital, Tirana, was opposed the day before by three small Muslim associations.


    Representatives of the Charity Islamic Association, Islamic Intellectuals and Albanian Muslim Forum opposed the bust, saying the religious situation in Shkodra was "not so calm" and the bust was a provocation. They said a cross in a nearby area was vandalized in January.

    I must remember that no form of government, even democracy, is satisfactory for serious muslims. In their view, all forms of government except their old religious code called "sharia" must fade away eventually. That is why their governments of whatever form are so screwy and scary to Christians.


    Indonesia is a democratic, secular country, and there is no constitutional basis for using Islamic law in court in most regions. But insulting a religion is a crime, and a fatwa, or religious edict, issued by the Council of Ulemas can carry great weight as evidence of an alleged offense to Islam.

    Indonesia, which has more than 190 million Muslims, the world's largest Islamic population, has become increasingly conservative since the 1998 collapse of President Suharto's military regime. In recent years, the government has grown more active in enforcing religious law.

    In recent months, fatwas issued by the Indonesian Council of Ulemas and its regional councils denouncing clerics and cults as deviant have been followed by arrests, prosecution and sometimes mob violence against the accused.

    The Indonesian Council of Ulemas, which is made up of 43 Muslim scholars and leaders of major Islamic organizations, was formed in 1975 to guide Muslims on how to live in accordance with Islamic principles. Muslims make up more than 85% of the nation's population.

    The council has recently issued fatwas banning women from leading prayers if a man is present and prohibiting Muslims from praying alongside members of other religions. Provincial and local branches of the council also have issued numerous fatwas regulating Islamic practices.

    Ma'ruf Amin, a vice chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas and the chairman of its fatwa committee, says the ulemas' role is to define proper behavior for Muslims and to set boundaries that protect the purity of Islam.

    He denies that the ulemas are promoting hatred, and says Muslims who engage in deviant practices are bringing violence upon themselves.

    Bringing "violence upon themselves"... is that not what the Nazi's said of the Jews?

    Yusman Roy, a former boxer and a convert to Islam, is serving two years in prison because he believes that Muslims should pray in a language they can understand.

    Roy, who led bilingual prayer sessions at his small East Java boarding school, is seen as a heretic by conservative Muslims here. They believe true prayer can be conducted only in Arabic.

    Roy's desire to pray in Indonesian has sparked such an outrage that he was convicted last year in criminal court of "spreading hatred." Animosity toward Roy ran so high that police posted guards to keep an angry mob from torching his house and school.

    Sumardi Tappaya, 60, a high school religious teacher on the island of Sulawesi, was locked up in January after a relative told police he had heard Sumardi whistling while he prayed. The whistling was declared deviant by the local ulemas, and Sumardi is now in jail awaiting trial on charges of religious blasphemy. He faces five years in prison.

    Ardhi Husain, 50, who ran an Islamic center in East Java that treated drug addiction and cancer with traditional medicine and prayer, was sentenced in September to five years in prison for writing a book that the ulemas said contained 70 "errors," such as claiming that Muhammad was not the last prophet and that non-Muslims could go to heaven. Five editors of the book also received five-year terms. An employee who sold a copy to a neighbor received three years.

    After Husain's arrest, a mob burned down his facility. No one has been arrested in the attack.

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    2,000 year old Church works for unity with 1,700th anniversary Armenian Church

    This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Lebanon, accompanied by members of the patriarchal synod and by a group of pilgrims.


    In his address, the Pope recalled the history of the Armenian people over the centuries, in particular the suffering "they underwent in the name of the Christian faith during the years of terrible persecution, which remain enshrined in history with the sadly meaningful name of 'Metz Yeghern,' the great evil."

    The Holy Father then indicated how "various Churches that recognize St. Gregory the Illuminator as their common founding father are divided from one another, although over the last few years they have resumed a cordial and fruitful dialogue with the aim of discovering their shared roots. I encourage this renewed fraternity and collaboration hoping that it may give rise to new initiatives for a joint journey towards full unity, ... with its own hierarchy, in fraternal interior harmony and full communion with the Bishop of Rome."

    "One comforting sign of this hoped-for unity was the celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the foundation of the Armenian Church, with the participation of my beloved predecessor John Paul II."

    Benedict XVI concluded by saying: "We all wish to be instruments at the disposal of Christ. May He - Who is Way, Truth and Life - enable us to continue with all our strength, that, as soon as possible, there may be one flock with one pastor."

    The years involved here are extraordinary! I think Catholics always
    understand things in the long term, over many centuries if necessary..... 17
    centuries in this case.

    As does Jesus, who will return in glory at the Father's appointed

    Committed Gene Robinson advises the Roman Catholic Church

    Bishop Robinson said: ‘We are seeing so many Roman Catholics joining the [Anglican] church. Pope Ratzinger may be the best thing that ever happened to the Episcopal Church’. He continued: ‘I find it so vile that they think they are going to end the child abuse scandal by throwing out homosexuals from seminaries. It is an act of violence that needs to be confronted’.


    If the folks leaving us for the Anglicans are the best thing that has ever
    happened to Gene's church, then they are indeed in bad shape.

    Like I
    said before... Let's swap!

    How about starting the day with a Good Breakfast?

    Invitation from The Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino,
    Bishop of Madison

    Dear Friends,

    It is with joyful anticipation that I invite your participation in the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast and surrounding events.

    Our Catholic faith works perfectly together with human reason so that God Himself might draw every human heart closer to the truth which culminates in the person of Jesus Christ. Many of our deepest convictions, confirmed clearly by Christ Himself, can also be known by reason alone: The existence of God, the absolute dignity of every human being, and the truth of marriage as a one flesh union between a man and a woman, for a lifetime, with openness to children.


    National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Mass
    St. Matthews Cathedral
    1725 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, D.C.

    His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick,

    Dr. Scott Hahn,

    Father Benedict Groeschel,

    His Excellency Robert J. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin,

    Father Paul McDermott, O.P.

    Creationist, Intelligent Design, Scientist... Can't we all just get along?

    I know a Missouri Synod Lutheran, and they apparently believe in the 7 day
    account of creation in the Bible.

    I am of course an advocate of
    Intelligent Design, since with eyes wide open, God's design and power and
    presence is obvious.

    And Scientists? They are just looking at their
    scientific realm. Like the design of a water faucet, they are not talking about
    God, just science.

    The rub seems to be when they refuse to talk about God. Some Intelligent Design
    folks don't like the "randomness" of the scientists explanation. So what?
    them to their craft, and leave us believers to our God. Believers will
    see God
    in all the scientific explanations, and non-believers won't.

    It may be
    that atheists are proud of the fact that science does not
    address itself to
    positive belief in God. But they have nothing to be proud
    of. Science is not
    religion class. If we are worried about how our children
    will learn religion, we
    just have to teach them about God before they get to
    science class, and all will
    be well.

    I admit that Creationists are a
    different case. Their literal
    Biblical reading couldn't be farther apart
    from what science is telling us.
    I would suggest that when Creationist
    parents are asked by their kids why
    science does not support the 7 day
    creation account, the parents simply answer
    "I don't know". That is what the
    following account of a Nobel laureate scientist
    also says... "It will always
    come down to something you can't answer".

    We can't expect science to
    teach religion. But we know that when the
    scientist can not answer the
    ultimate question of our origins ..

    some point, when we
    understand the Big Bang theory and the origins of the
    universe, it will be
    based on an equation that explains it. But we'll never know
    where the
    mechanism of that equation came from."

    ...That the scientist is
    about the person we call God.

    Lederman, 83, shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in
    physics for his work with neutrinos, among the fundamental particles of the
    universe. Lederman, who lives in Chicago, is director emeritus of the Fermi
    National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois and a former professor at Columbia
    University. For 20 years, he has been one of the nation's leading voices for
    improved science education.

    Q: Why do you object to teaching creationism?

    A: We live in a rational world, which operates on scientific principles. Successful societies are scientific; the others are pre-scientific. Countries where there is constant poverty, terrorism, warfare and religious fundamentalism never do science. If (the effort to teach creationism) continues, we'll have kids who don't know biology, don't know science, don't know evolution, and we'll be a Third World country.

    Q: Can one believe in God and science?

    A: If you believe in science, you're going to have to weaken your belief in miracles, but it doesn't mean you can't believe in a creator. At some point, when we understand the Big Bang theory and the origins of the universe, it will be based on an equation that explains it. But we'll never know where the mechanism of that equation came from. It will always come down to something you can't answer.


    Sunday, March 19, 2006

    What exactly did the USA win in Afghanistan?

    A man could be sentenced to death after being charged with converting from Islam to Christianity, a crime under Afghanistan's shariah laws, a judge said yesterday. The trial is thought to be the first of its kind in Afghanistan and highlights a struggle between religious conservatives and reformists over what shape Islam will take four years after the fall of the Taliban.


    Shariah law states that any Muslim who rejects Islam should be sentenced to death, according to Ahmad Fahim Hakim, deputy chairman of the state-sponsored Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Repeated attempts to impose a jail sentence were barred.

    "We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge said. "It is an attack on Islam." He will rule on the case within two months.

    Abdul Rahman, 41, was arrested last month after his family accused him of becoming a Christian, Judge Ansarullah Mawlavezada told Associated Press. The accused was charged with rejecting Islam.

    The prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, said he had offered to drop the charges if Mr Rahman converted back to Islam, but he refused. "He would have been forgiven if he changed back. But he said he was a Christian and would always remain one," Mr Wasi said. "We are Muslims and becoming a Christian is against our laws. He must get the death penalty."

    I know.. we got rid of the Taliban. But you can see that imposing democracy
    on people almost from a different planet than us, is not the end all be
    all. In fact, what have we won?

    The muslims have a strange view of the world. In their view, the poor folks
    like us non-muslims will eventually be faced with becoming muslims or die. It
    could take a 1,000 years, but they believe it will come to pass. Those that are
    muslims must die if they try to escape by conversion.

    Die, die, die.

    Quite different from the religion of life of Christians and Jews. Yet
    muslims think they have the final revelation, have "corrected" our Old and
    New Testament for themselves, that they will take over the world for God, and oh
    yes... they never heard of turning the other cheek.

    As far as I am concerned, someone has implanted the seeds of destruction
    into their religion's foundation. Somewhere around the year 616 or 666

    Wisconsin Bishops like the vote

    Wisconsin's Catholic bishops were pleased with the state Assembly's decision to send to the voters a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, according to the head of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference.


    "Wisconsin is one step closer to placing this question before the voters and the strong vote in favor of the resolution mirrors the public sentiment on the issue," said John Huebscher, executive director of the conference, in a statement.

    "The bishops anticipate that when given the chance to approve this amendment, the voters will do so, as they have in other states where the question was put before them," he added.

    The 43-word amendment recognizes only marriage between one man and one woman and does not give similar legal status to civil unions between unmarried individuals.

    "As to the debate between now and November, the bishops hope all citizens will repudiate words and deeds that demean individuals with a homosexual orientation," Huebscher said.
    "Supporters of this amendment must serve only to affirm marriage,
    not foster hostility to any group or individual.
    The bishops hope they will do so with
    compassion and

    Saturday, March 18, 2006

    Legally, Polygamy is next

    From the looks of this picture, polygamists dress their children nicely.

    I don't know much about polygamy, except for what the Church teaches:

    [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive."

    Adultery, divorce, polygamy, and free union are grave offenses against the dignity of marriage.

    As explained in the Newsweek article, the polygamists and gay-marriage
    groups have no love for each other, legally they are on the same free ride:

    There's a sound legal argument for making the controversial practice legal, says Brian Barnard, the lawyer for a Utah couple, identified in court documents only as G. Lee Cooke and D. Cooke, who filed suit after being denied a marriage license for an additional wife. Though the case was struck down by a federal court last year, it's now being considered by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Barnard plans to use the same argument—that Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 sodomy case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individuals have "the full right to engage in private conduct without government intervention," should also apply to polygamous relationships.


    Almost always, when the legalization of polygamy is brought up, it's used to make a case against gay marriage. Most notably, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania told the Associated Press in 2003 that legalizing gay sex would pave the way for legalized bigamy, polygamy and incest. This "slippery slope" argument angers some gay-rights activists who see the issues as being completely separate.

    "I frankly would not love to see an article [about polygamy advocacy] in NEWSWEEK because this is the connection that our opponents make, and we feel it's a specious one," says Carisa Cunningham, director of public affairs for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. Polygamy activists aren't thrilled with the association, either. Though they closely watch the gay-marriage battle, they are generally religious and conservative—and, like Henkel and Hammon, believe that homosexual behavior is a sin.

    I don't know what the polygamist atmosphere does to the children as they are
    growing up.

    But I am very afraid of a little boy in the controling atmosphere of
    2 homosexual married men for all the childhood years.

    Is there someone who
    doesn't know what I mean? I doubt it.

    Because the popular culture sees polygamists as religious and conservative,
    the legal trail for polygamy will probably be a slow one. It will have none of
    the gay agenda demonstration marches and liberal legislators behind it.

    But legally, what to stop anything if marriage is not between one man and one
    woman? Only the Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment it seems. I hope we
    will find out soon.

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Poland exports the Faith and Ukraine's "unspeakable trials and suffering"

    Due to the shortage of British clergy, dozens of priests from Poland arrive in the United Kingdom each month to take charge of parishes and minister to the growing number of Polish migrant workers, reports The Guardian. While some are long-term assignments, some priests just fly in for the weekend to celebrate mass.


    But Polish priests aren’t just going to Britain. In recent months, more than 62 priests from the Archdiocese of Krakow left for assignments around the world, including Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Germany, Tanzania, Ukraine, and the United States.

    Poland seems to be the only nation in Europe where the number of vocations is rising, accounting for one-quarter of all European applications to the seminary. Currently, Poland has 29,089 ordained priests, about 1,845 monks and 23,105 nuns.

    Krakow's seminary alone currently has 240 students. The number of Poles applying to join the priesthood increased, from 4,500 in 1998 to 7,100 in 2005. Some explain the high numbers with the Church's role in the struggle against communism and the extraordinary influence of Pope John Paul II.

    In contrast, in 2003, there were a total of 110 seminarians in all of Ireland and a total of 27 seminarians in England and Wales. This trend of decline repeats itself in other European countries. In France, seminaries accepted 927 applicants in 2001, compared with 1,210 in 1991. There were no applications to join the priesthood in the French-speaking part of Switzerland in 2002.

    And regarding the Ukraine...

    Pope Benedict XVI prayed that Mary and the communist-era martyrs of the Ukrainian Catholic Church would strengthen Ukrainians in their faith and their commitment to Christian unity.

    The pope sent a letter to Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, who was leading commemorations of the 1946 "pseudo-synod" manipulated by the Soviet authorities to unite the Eastern-rite Catholic Church with the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Soviet authorities had arrested all the Ukrainian Catholic bishops before the synod began; after the vote to unite with the Orthodox, "violence against those who remained faithful to unity with the bishop of Rome intensified," Pope Benedict said. "

    But despite unspeakable trials and suffering, divine providence did not permit the disappearance of a community that for centuries was considered a legitimate and vivacious part of the identity of the Ukrainian people," the pope said.

    Pope Benedict prayed that the commemoration of the banning of the Eastern Catholic Church in Ukraine would help members of the newly freed and reorganized church "deepen their intimate and convinced bonds with the successor of Peter."

    The Ukrainian Catholic Church, "purified by persecution," has given a powerful witness of faith and fidelity to Ukrainian Catholics around the world and to the entire church, the pope said.

    Invoking Mary and "the many martyrs who adorn the face of your community," the pope offered his blessing to the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

    More gay buzz: Denver adoptions, Brokeback

    In an uncommonly clear and straightforward statement, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver has publicly voiced the problem with homosexual adoption. James H. Mauck, President of Catholic Charities Denver, has stated that, "It is apparent that there are some who wish to compel Catholic Charities to place children with couples whose life choices run contrary to the values and beliefs of Catholic Charities and many other non-profit child placing agencies. This demand is imprudent and wrong."

    Even Mauk's statements can be seen as soft-pedalling the Catholic teaching which considers adoption by homosexual couples abuse of the adopted children. In a document issued before he was elected Pope, titled "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons," then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, "Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in (homosexual) unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development."


    In Boston however, Governor Mitt Romney yesterday filed legislation seeking an exemption for religious groups from the law requiring homosexual couples be given equal treatment as adoptive parents.

    A Boston Globe editorial tore into Romney for the bill, sarcastically reminding Romney that he is "governor, not a Catholic bishop" and further accused Romney, a Mormon, of "accepting instructions on public policy from the pope." Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented, "In perhaps the most anti-Catholic editorial we've seen in years by any major American newspaper, the Boston Globe erupted in a Catholic-bashing furor yesterday that will surely mar its reputation."

    Even though many Catholic leaders may not be up to defending the Church on homosexual adoption, Jeff Jacoby, a Jewish columnist at the Boston Globe, did so admirably. In a column titled, "Kids take back seat to gay agenda", Jacoby wrote about the agenda of "the normalization of homosexual adoption." He said, "So important is that agenda to its supporters that they will allow nothing to stand in its way -- not even the well-being of children in dire need of safe and loving families."

    And regarding Brokenback...

    The homosexual propaganda film Brokeback Mountain may be appreciated by the new archbishop of San Francisco, but the film has received a cold reception from the President of the Mexican Bishops Conference. Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago said that within such films "there is a very clear tendency…of inserting a conviction into the atmosphere and mentality of society that a deviated sexual orientation can be considered completely normal."


    Bishop Rabago commented on the film now being distributed in Mexico under the title 'Secret on the Mountain'. "People who have this type of orientation deserve respect, because they are human beings...but orientations of this nature are always abnormal, they are deviated orientations," said the bishop. "I can tell you," he continued, "that those of us who have pastoral contact with these types of people know about their great suffering."

    Alberta's Minister of Economic Development Clint Dunford said of Brokeback's Oscar wins, "I am pleased. Winning at the Oscars provides a credential booster for both the local crew and for the province. Boosting Alberta's image like this means more film business in the future and the imagery captured by Alberta's inspiring mountain scenery will have a lasting effect on Alberta's tourism for years to come."

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Mexico Garbage Pickers' Priest

    At the site, Father Guevara unfolds a small metal table, places a lace doily over it, and waits patiently for his flock. Eventually about 150 workers gather, taking a break from hauling refrigerator-sized garbage bags bursting with bottles and flattened cardboard. They keep their hoods and kerchiefs on, shielding their faces from the dust and eye-stinging toxic air. Mass begins.

    For more than 20 years, Guevara has trekked into this mafia-run landfill. Nonprofits with good intentions have come and gone here, attempting to create positive change. But Guevara remains the only outsider who has managed to penetrate this seemingly off-limits subculture and forge a trusting relationship with the pepenadores, as the trash pickers are sometimes known.

    "I'm not a savior, not a hero," says Guevara. "I've found a simple path to this community: I keep my nose out of politics and what goes on here and focus on bringing mass, along with some food, to the people."

    After a recent mass, Guevara and a few longtime assistants hand out small bags of food, mostly cooking oil, cornflakes, and black beans. Alongside them a doctor and nurse offer free physicals. Severe skin rashes are common year-round, blamed on toxins and gases from refuse in the dump.

    Soon, everyone returns to work. María Gómez and her husband and two young daughters sort through cardboard and glass from plastic soda bottles. Together, they earn about $5 a day.

    Gómez remembers when Guevara first arrived. "He lifted our spirits," she says. "Few people come from the outside, never before a priest. Now, he's been with us for so many years, we know he does what he can to watch over us."


    It can feel lonely in North Carolina

    The 35 Catholic evangelists distributed St Patrick holy cards to the some 20,000 spectators who gathered in downtown Raleigh. On the front of the cards was a picture of St. Patrick and on the back a brief bio with an invitation to attend Mass at a Catholic Church nearby and receive free information about the Catholic Church.

    "Many people are not knowledgeable about Church history," said Karen Matthews. "They think St Patrick’s Day is about shamrocks and leprechauns. We want to bring back the spiritual aspect of the holiday and use the parade as a teaching moment to tell the world about one of the world’s great evangelists."

    This was the third year the group has marched in the Raleigh St Patrick’s Day parade, but this was the first year the group invited Catholic youth groups to compete for the Catholic Youth Evangelization Award. A youth group from St Luke’s the Evangelist Catholic Church in Raleigh won the trophy for their echo cheer. The words of their cheer are:

    We don't need no leprechauns
    We don't need no shamrocks
    Our Jesus Christ rocks
    We don't need no Blarney Stone
    Flesh and Blood we have been shown
    No shelieghleigh do we need
    Jesus Christ is all we need


    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    The Dan O'Connell society; a better approach than that atrocious SNAP bunch

    I sense that we lay people may be starting to act like adults instead of crying victims.

    Like many dioceses in North America, the archdiocese has been plagued by the scandal of priestly sexual abuse. The diocese is unique however, in that a movement of faithful Catholic lay men has chosen to publicly confront the scandal, not by demanding - as do most such groups - that the Catholic Church become more liberal and abandon priestly celibacy, but by direct confrontation and demands for faithfulness.


    The group's website explains, "For an atheistic culture, celibacy is incomprehensible - and unnatural. But for Catholics, we know our nature is fulfilled by love for God our Father. Our purity codes could not match the splendor of our message if they were easy. Celibacy is difficult, but it marks the priesthood with a spiritual focus, pursued in imitation and anticipation of Christ. Our priests take on a difficult discipline, but it allows them to lead the laity in other difficult disciplines that the world says can't be done - daily prayer, communal fasting and worship, faithful marriage and teenage virginity."

    The Dan O'Connell society, named after a father allegedly killed by a priest with homosexual tendencies who had reportedly sexually abused boys, is an organization of men, of fathers, says founder Dr. David Pence. The organization has compiled evidence, not only on abusive priests but also, on the men in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church most responsible for allowing and even facilitating such abuse.

    The group has called on three prominent priests in the diocese to resign, and hoping to avoid unnecessary public scandal, the society has requested they resign voluntarily before they are forced to act. By acting, the society means to publish a white paper which would reveal publicly the details of the misdeeds of the three men named. That white paper is to be revealed, if necessary, near the end of Lent.

    Dr. Pence told in an interview that it is common practice in dioceses where priests are found to be sexual abusers to place those abusive priests in administrative positions so as to 'keep them out of harms way'. However, says Pence, those positions are often the judicial positions which would deal with priestly sexual abuse.

    Dr. Pence told that the society sees the destructive homosexual subculture within the priesthood as tied to feminism and its attack on patriarchy. Thus, the society aims to re-establish that fraternity among men - a fraternity of fathers - spiritual and biological.

    "As Catholic fathers we observe the devious and immature homosexual cliques that have infiltrated so many of the diocesan chanceries and seminaries of our Church in America," says the founding document. "We want the collar back. We have taught our children to respect 'Father,' and we want to be assured that Father will protect them. Fathers do not have sex with their children. Fathers do not have sex with other men. These are the oldest taboos in human history, and they are central to the purity code that defines the Catholic family."

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    This 'gay adoption' invention is so interesting!

    I am surprised that this gay adoption news item has not yet gotten boring. It is
    just so rich in culture change. What in the world are we turning into?

    I look at this picture, and see some of the 1,000 words it tells.
    These two men are obviously in love.. they are staring in each other's eyes.

    The man on the left is kissing the little girl, but really looking at
    the man on the right.

    The man on the left does not hold the
    girl, the girl seems simply to be in the way.

    The little girl is
    sucking her thumb and looking somewhere else. She seems like a prop, and

    As the Catholic Church states, adoption of little children this environment
    is child abuse and does violence.

    This is my favorite gay marriage photo so far. I have looked pretty hard
    for something similar, but with a little boy, but have had no luck so far. It is
    plain to me that little boys can not be placed in households for their childhood
    years with 2 gay men. This just can not be done. Please see NAMBLA web site for some of the reasons

    If you find a picture of 2 married gay men with a little boy, please
    forward it to me.

    This site, Proudparenting (there's that proud 7 deadly again), names this
    as a Catholic 'traditionalist' vs. 'liberal' split. Understanding the Church as
    a money driven political organization, they see power in withholding money...

    However happy a tough stand on gay adoption might make traditionalists, liberal Catholics might feel alienated and choke funding at a time when many U.S. dioceses are under financial stress from declining attendance and multimillion-dollar lawsuits in sex-abuse scandals, religious scholars say.

    As I noticed a few months ago, please notice that 'What's in your pocket'
    CapitolOne is a corporate sponsor of this 'Making Gay and Lesbian Parents Proud'
    site, according to the banner I see at the top of the page.

    Speaking of San Francisco, where gay adoption by Catholic agencies is
    being reviewed, the site sees this Georgetown statement as supporting their
    aims, whereas I can also support the facts in the Georgetown statement. Two
    different views of the same reality:

    “For some Catholics, this position on gay adoption will be disconcerting. But for those seeking a more conservative path, it will be a good thing," said Chester Gillis, chair of the theology department at Georgetown University. “For those who take their cues from American society, American laws and so forth, they will be uncomfortable with this. They will be forced in some way to choose between their church and their country or their state.”

    When did all this get legal? For some time I have been aware that D.C. had
    passed some law allowing gay adoption, but D.C. is a strange government. This
    sites lists a whole bunch of States that supposedly allow the adoptions:

    New Jersey,
    New Mexico,
    New York,
    Washington D.C.,

    catholic interest.