Catholic Interest

Interesting things Catholic

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    Thursday, August 31, 2006

    Pope helps define inclusiveness

    The argument from all the Catholic dissidents is that Jesus accepts everyone.
    Which is true.

    But the uncomfortable fact is the Jesus then asks
    the sinner to stop sinning and follow Him. Which is also true.

    Pope nicely exposes the half-truth of the dissident argument in his talk about


    Basing ourselves on these simple observations that arise from the Gospel, we can make a couple of reflections. The first is that Jesus welcomes in the group of his close friends a man who, according to the conception of that time in Israel, was regarded as a public sinner.

    Matthew, in fact, not only managed money, considered impure as it came from people foreign to the people of God, but in addition collaborated with a foreign authority, odiously avid, whose tributes could be determined arbitrarily.

    For these reasons, on more than one occasion, the Gospels mention together "publicans and sinners" (Matthew 9:10; Luke 15:1), "publicans and prostitutes" (Matthew 21:31). Moreover, they see in publicans an example of avarice (cf. Matthew 5:46: they only love those who love them) and mention one of them, Zacchaeus, as "chief tax collector, and rich" (Luke 18:11).

    Given these references, there is a fact that calls attention: Jesus excludes no one from his friendship. More than that, precisely when he is seated at the table in Matthew-Levi's house, answering those who were scandalized by the fact of his frequenting rather undesirable company, he makes the important declaration: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous but sinners" (Mark 2:17).

    The good proclamation of the Gospel consists precisely in this, in the offering of God's grace to the sinner! In another passage, with the famous parable of the Pharisee and the publican who went up to the Temple to pray, Jesus even points to an anonymous publican as example of humble confidence in divine mercy: While the Pharisee boasted of moral perfection, "the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'"

    And Jesus commented: "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:13-14).

    With the figure of Matthew, therefore, the Gospels present us an authentic paradox: He who seems to be farthest from holiness might well become a model of acceptance of God's mercy enabling one to glimpse its marvelous effects in his life.

    In this connection, St. John Chrysostom makes a significant comment: He observes that only in the narration of some of the calls is the work mentioned in which those in question were engaged. Peter, Andrew, James and John were called while they were fishing; Matthew while he collected taxes.

    They are jobs of little importance, comments Chrysostom: "As there is nothing that is more detestable than the tax collector and nothing more ordinary than fishing" ("In Matth. Hom": PL 57, 363).

    The call of Jesus comes, therefore, also to people of a low social level, while they are engaged in their ordinary work.

    There is another reflection that arises from the Gospel narrative: Matthew responds immediately to Jesus' call: "He rose and followed him." The conciseness of the phrase underlines clearly Matthew's promptness in response to the call.

    This meant for him abandoning everything, especially a sure source of income, though often unjust and dishonorable. Obviously Matthew understood that familiarity with Jesus did not allow him to continue with activities disapproved by God.

    One can easily intuit that it can also be applied to the present: Today one cannot admit attachment to what is incompatible with the following of Jesus, as are dishonest riches. Once he said openly: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Matthew 19:21).

    This is precisely what Matthew did: He rose and followed him! In this "rising" one can see the detachment from a situation of sin and, at the same time, the conscious adherence to a new life, upright, in communion with Jesus.

    Monday, August 28, 2006

    Our coalition partner

    Hang the scum. Or maybe not.


    A Polish church leader has criticized calls by one of his country's governing parties to restore the death penalty for convicted murderers and pedophiles, rejecting claims the move would conform with Roman Catholic principles.

    Jozef Zycinski, Catholic archbishop of Lublin, told a meeting of pilgrims that politicians tying to play a "strongman" image sometimes try to make their views appear based on Christian principles, but were actually based "brutally" on the premise that "'anyone who can't measure up to our demands should be excluded from human society'." Zycinski said. "In his encyclical 'Evangelium Vitae', however, Pope John Paul II clearly said the penalty for criminals shouldn't extend to taking life. He taught respect for life at all its stages."

    The archbishop was reacting to demands for the reintroduction of capital punishment by the populist Polish Families League (LPR), whose leaders have claimed justification in Catholic social teaching. Officials of the league said this week they had collected nearly all 500 000 signatures needed for a death penalty referendum, despite parallel criticisms of the initiative by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

    The church leader said circles still existed in Poland which "lacked respect for human life and its dramas."

    LPR leaders have campaigned for hanging, last used in Poland in 1988, since entering a coalition in May with the Law and Justice and Self-Defense parties. The party also opposes homosexual marriage, the sale of land to foreigners and the presence of Polish troops in Iraq.

    Sunday, August 27, 2006

    Airbrushing history

    Get a grip folks. Damn nannies.


    A British TV channel is snuffing out smoking from classic children's cartoons after a viewer complaint about episodes of "Tom and Jerry."

    "We have now pledged to view Boomerang's entire library of favorite cartoons and remove all other references that could be seen as glamorizing smoking in all our shows," said Cecilia Persson, vice president of programming, acquisitions and presentation for Boomerang's parent, Turner Broadcasting UK.

    Turner said the decision applied only to Boomerang's output in Britain, which includes "The Flintstones," "The Jetsons" and "Scooby-Doo."

    British TV regulator Ofcom said Monday that one viewer had complained about two "Tom and Jerry" cartoons - each more than 50 years old. In "Texas Tom," Tom the cat tries to impress a female feline by rolling and smoking a cigarette with one hand. In "Tennis Chumps," Tom's opponent is seen smoking a cigar.

    Beyond race, discrmination is deep

    Christians naturally discriminate toward beatutful people much like everyone
    else. This is deep and life changing in ways perhaps stronger than race or gender.

    I wonder if the Bible ever spoke of human beauty in a positive sense. I don't
    think so. Just as the Bible never requires a person to be smart.


    While researchers have long shown that tall people earn more than their shorter counterparts, it's not only social discrimination that accounts for this inequality -- tall people are just smarter than their height-challenged peers, a new study finds.

    My observations do not bear this out. Salespeople are usually handsome.
    But that's just simple prostitution and not a measure of intelligence.

    My gut reaction would be that there are many more less intelligent physically beautiful people. In other words, their gain in one area is their loss in the other.

    Although in the large accounting firms I do see good accountants who are
    pretty folks, accounting ability is only a certain small form of
    intelligence, and often a stunted one at that.

    Other studies have pointed to low self-esteem, better health that accompanies greater height, and social discrimination as culprits for lower pay for shorter people.

    But researchers Case and Paxson believe the height advantage in the job world is more than just a question of image.

    "As adults, taller individuals are more likely to select into higher paying occupations that require more advanced verbal and numerical skills and greater intelligence, for which they earn handsome returns," they wrote.

    For both men and women in the United States and the United Kingdom, a height advantage of four inches equated with a 10 percent increase in wages on average.

    Lebanon Catholics

    The Christian exodus from Lebanon has accelerated in recent decades. In the last official national census, Christians-- mostly Maronite-- composed 63% of Lebanon's population. Today the best estimates fix the Christian population at 32%.


    The Maronite Catholic bishops have issued an urgent appeal for international help in rebuilding Lebanon, saying that grave uncertainties about the future are sparking an exodus of Christians from that country.

    In a plea made public by the AsiaNews service, the Maronite bishops asked for help in re-opening schools for the new academic year, and delivering medicines and other critical supplies to Lebanon before winter begins.

    In an interview with AsiaNews, Msgr. Guy-Paul Noujaim, Maronite patriarchal vicar for the diocese of Sarba, expressed his concerns. “These days a great number of Christians are joining the exodus," he said. "They feel abandoned.” Archbishop Paul Matar of Beirut agreed, telling AsiaNews that his people "want to leave the country not out of fear, but out of uncertainty for its future."

    Archbishop Georges Bakouni, who heads the Melkite Catholic community in Tyre, has urged his people to stay in Lebanon, and asked those who fled the fighting to "come home and show that Lebanon will not die."

    China Bishops

    The Chinese government has released an underground Roman Catholic bishop who had been imprisoned for a decade, the Cardinal Kung Foundation announced.


    Bishop An Shuxin, auxiliary bishop in the diocese of Baodai, Hebei Province, was arrested in May 1996. His only contact with the outside world after that was a visit with his elderly mother in 2000.

    The foundation said the circumstances of the bishop's release are unclear, but he appeared to be under government surveillance. He has a work permit to function as a bishop and has not registered with the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the government religious organization.

    The Patriotic church is not recognized by the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI recently excommunicated two Patriotic bishops who were consecrated without Vatican approval.

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    History 102

    The Apostle John's objective in writing the Book of Revelation is to unveil, "from the death and resurrection of Christ, the meaning of human history," says Benedict XVI.


    "This is the fundamental vision," the Holy Father continued. "Jesus, the Son of God, is, on this earth, a defenseless, wounded and dead Lamb. And yet, he is standing, firm, before the throne of God and participates in the divine power.

    "He has in his hands the history of the world. In this way, the visionary wishes to tell us: Have confidence in Jesus, do not be afraid of opposing powers, of persecution! The wounded and dead Lamb conquers! Follow Jesus, the Lamb, trust Jesus, follow his way! Even if in this world he seems to be the weak Lamb, he is the victor!"

    Benedict XVI said: "The object of one of the principal visions of Revelation is this Lamb at the moment he opens a book, which before was sealed with seven seals, which no one was able to open. John is even presented weeping, as no one could be found able to open the book and read it. History appears as undecipherable, incomprehensible. No one can read it.

    "At the center of the vision that Revelation presents," the Pope said, "is the extremely significant image of the Woman, who gives birth to a male Child, and the complementary vision of the Dragon, which has fallen from the heavens, but is still very powerful.

    "This Woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but she represents at the same time the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church that at all times, with great pain, again gives birth to Christ. And she is always threatened by the power of the Dragon. She seems defenseless, weak."

    "But, while she is threatened, pursued by the Dragon, she is also protected by God's consolation," Benedict XVI said. "And this Woman, at the end, is victorious. The Dragon does not conquer. This is the great prophecy of this book, which gives us confidence!

    "The Woman who suffers in history, the Church which is persecuted, at the end is presented as the splendid Bride, image of the new Jerusalem, in which there is no more tears or weeping, image of the world transformed, of the new world whose light is God himself, whose lamp is the Lamb."

    No kidding. People must be reading the newspapers!

    She called for an "honest debate" on how to best to bind communities and conceded multiculturalism may have led to isolated communities.


    Yesterday, Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly launched a Commission on Integration and Cohesion as part of the Government's response to the 7/7 bombings.

    Her speech drew a cool response from some Muslim groups.

    Most people in the UK feel threatened by Islam, a poll revealed today, after the Government launched a bid to tackle inter-faith tensions.

    The YouGov survey for the Daily Telegraph found 53% were concerned about the impact of the religion - not just fundamentalist elements - up 21% from 2001.

    There had also been a near doubling of the number agreeing that "a large proportion of British Muslims feel no sense of loyalty to this country and are prepared to condone or even carry out acts of terrorism".

    A total of 18% backed the statement - compared with just one in 10 in the wake of the terrorist bombings in London last July.

    And there was a seven point slump - to 16% - in those believing "practically all British Muslims are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who deplore terrorist acts as much as anyone else".

    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    I'm not much for crying statues either

    We have the Revelation of God's Word, and Marian apparations.

    Strange statues are not necessary.

    Looks like other religions have odd breakouts of extraordinary odd things also.


    “Hey man, this is faith,” said the Santa Fe resident, as she offered milk to a statue of the deity Lord Shiva — the “destroyer’ — at a temple in New Delhi.

    Rao is one of tens of thousands who have thronged temples across India this week following weekend reports that gods and goddesses were “drinking” proffered milk — a phenomenon seen as a miracle by the country’s Hindus.

    People believe giving offerings “will appease their gods,” Hindu priest Rishikesh Bhargav said this week as people continued to try to tempt the deities with milk.

    The so-called milk “miracle” first surfaced in 1995 when temples in India, Britain and Canada were jammed by believers who asserted that the portly god of good fortune, Lord Ganesha, had switched to milk from his preferred candy.

    Belief and worship hold an important place in the lives of most Indians, irrespective of their caste and economic status, and parts of the country are often swept by religious frenzies.

    “Forget deities. I fed a cup of coffee to a statue of Jawaharlal Nehru (India’s first prime minister) right before television cameras,” Indian Rationalist Association president Sanal Edamaruku said in New Delhi.

    Ah coffee! Now that's something I can sympathize with the statue on.

    “Even bricks are drinking milk and these are just the mechanics of a process called capillary action,” he said.

    His scepticism came under fire from well-known Hindu priest Mahant Surendra Nath.
    “Why disbelieve when these things are happening right before our eyes?” said the priest, who is based in the Indian capital.

    The deity milk-drinking frenzy in overwhelmingly Hindu India came just days after Muslims in the western Indian city of Mumbai swilled “sweet” seawater.

    Tens of thousands of Mumbai residents sipped puce-coloured seawater despite anxious health warnings from doctors who said it was full of city waste water.

    Scientists said that the sea water’s salinity had declined because of heavy rains which resulted in an overflow from nearby rivers.

    “Very soon there will be a jaundice epidemic in Mumbai and its suburbs,” said Pradeep Bijalwan, a medical practitioner.

    But the faithful attributed the “miracle” liquid to a beach-front Islamic shrine.

    Many saw it as a blessing from Makhdoom Ali Mahimi, a 13th century Sufi saint in whose honour a shrine is built in the city’s Mahim area. Mahimi is revered by both Muslims and Hindus.

    The church is on a collision course

    Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, likened Europe to the typical American college campuses where government-legislated politically correct speech codes increasingly govern what opinions can and cannot be voiced.

    He then noted that those restrictions on speech, combined with the spread of laws institutionalizing same-sex marriage, embryonic stem-cell research and abortion (as well as the pressure put on countries like Ireland and Poland by the United Nations and the European Union to adopt similar laws) are a dangerous combination.

    "There is a train wreck coming between radical social policies and the teachings of the Catholic Church," Ruse told Our Sunday Visitor. "The church is on a collision course."


    "The church is at risk of being brought before some international court if the debate becomes any tenser, if the more radical requests get heard." Those words, spoken by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, about the Church's position on life and family issues, have a tinge of the apocalyptic in them.

    Last year, the Alberta Human Rights Commission investigated Canadian Bishop Fred Henry because of comments he made against same-sex marriage, now legal in Canada. A similar instance occurred in Sweden, where a Pentecostal pastor was arrested for condemning homosexuality.

    In both cases, the men were eventually acquitted. But according to Ronald Rychlak, the associate dean of the University of Mississippi School of Law and adviser to the Holy See's Mission at the United Nations, the next bishop or pastor brought up on similar charges might not be so lucky.

    "Once you put judicial structures in place designed to prosecute thought crimes or hate crimes, people of faith, and especially Catholics, are at risk," he told Our Sunday Visitor.
    And nowhere are they at more risk than in Europe.

    And in California...

    The California Assembly passed a bill by a vote of 46-31 on Monday that says public schools may neither teach nor sponsor any activity that "reflects adversely" on anyone because of their sexual orientation, reported


    “This bill is a misguided attempt to bias public school instruction and activities in favor of people engaged in homosexual, bisexual, and transgender behavior. The concept of the bill is flawed,” said Bill May of Catholics for the Common Good.

    “SB 1437 also further undermines parents’ rights and responsibilities to educate their children according to their religious or moral beliefs regarding marriage, family, and sexuality,” May said.
    The Campaign for Children and Families says the bill would alter school textbooks, instructional materials, and school-sponsored activities "to positively reference transsexuality, transvestitism, bisexuality, and homosexuality, including homosexual 'marriage,'" reported

    Campaign for Children and Families president Randy Thomasson added that the bill “micromanages public schools by forcing them to promote a gaggle of sexual lifestyles that disturb parents and confuse kids.”

    The lobby group is now urging like-minded citizens to contact Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and urge him to keep his promise to veto the bill.

    During debate on Monday, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Democrat, said he believes the bill would make schools "safer."

    We will have to see if the next president ushers in a liberal cultural
    shift in power. Or if not the president, perhaps the war. Or perhaps the slumped
    economy. Something that would give the USA a Canadian Bill of Rights.

    It's hard to predict, but I do notice that 'orange' is becooming a popular
    fashion color again like it was back in the 70's.

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Evangelical Youth

    Second, when Jesus made disciples of young men (and John was called "a youth and almost a boy" by one early church father), He challenged them to "Follow Me." Teenage discipleship in Jesus' day meant spending time with an adult. Initially, that was with a parent who worked your tail-end off on the farm while talking about Deuteronomy. If you were blessed enough later in life to receive teaching from a rabbi, it meant attaching yourself to the teacher and learning adult lessons with adult methodology. There were no cool websites, lock-ins, hip-hop bands or youth organizations pulling out the stops to come up with neat, new (actually, frequently gross) games to capture attention before a quick three-point Bible study and then pizza.


    Could it be that youth see right through it all? Could it be they know our faith is a farce? Could it be that staying home on Sunday mornings is just as relevant to the Kingdom as attending a church that makes a joke of ministry, specifically youth ministry?


    Kids do not need to be catered to as kids, but asked to continue their
    journey to a recognizable adulthood.

    It's adult role models that are missing. Anything short of Christian adults
    drawing children to God through a worthy example is useless for both


    "We are not brainwashed, mistreated, neglected, malnourished, illiterate, defective or dysfunctional," 17-year-old Jessica said. "My brothers and sisters are freethinking, independent people: some who have chosen this lifestyle, while others have branched out to a diversity of religions."


    Calling their lives blessed, more than a dozen young women and girls from polygamist families in Utah spoke at a rally Saturday, calling for a change in state laws and the right to live their life and religion.

    The youths, ages 10 to 20, belong to various religious sects, as well as families that practice polygamy independent of religious affiliation. They said they spoke voluntarily. They gave only their first names, saying they were protecting the privacy of their parents.

    Dressed in flip-flops and blue jeans, bangs drooping over their eyes, the teens at Saturday's rally talked on cell phones and played rock music, singing lyrics written to defend their family life.

    All of the speakers praised their parents and families and said their lives were absent of the abuse, neglect, forced marriages and other "horror stories" sometimes associated with polygamist communities.

    Here we have something that can agree with Natural Law, and unlike
    homosexuality, the partner's parts fit the right places.

    It's not for Catholics of course, but it surely was popular in the Old
    Testament, and I think the civil sanctions against it are uncalled for.

    Reproductive Rights

    Here is a statement regarding the International Treaty on Disabilities given to the U.N. General Assembly by the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations last Wednesday.


    Particular concern is raised against any intra or extra utero screening be used to mark new human beings for termination. This is a heinous offense against humanity, the new life, and all of those disabled living heroically and joyfully, even in suffering, and those who with compassion and love care for them. All of these techniques and interventions are to be used on behalf of new life, not its frustration.

    A society which seeks to reduce suffering by abortion or by euthanasia of a disabled newborn, or at any time thereafter, will devour itself. In truth the human condition ultimately finds each and every one of us disabled, physically, emotionally or psychologically.

    We must first preserve and then serve the lives of "the least in ability" because neither life nor love, or usefulness and purpose are denied in disability.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006


    When a government is forced to discipline and herd other governments and
    people within its own borders, it seems to fall into ancient caricatures.

    The USA is not like the Nazis, but lends itself to Nazi caricatures in its
    foreign nation building power.

    And now like in medieval times, it is respecting the poor people fleeing into
    church buildings crying "sanctuary, sanctuary!".

    It is humor only today to consider the popular 1970's sentiment of holding
    hands on a hillside singing "I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect


    Because for the last 150 years, our culture is just a passing style of 20 to
    30 year chapters.

    Immigration enforcement officers do not plan to enter a church where a single mother sought sanctuary rather than submit to deportation to Mexico, a government official said Friday.

    But Elvira Arellano, 31, and her supporters say only a stay of deportation will ensure that she and her 7-year-old son, an American citizen, are not forcibly removed from the Adalberto United Methodist Church.


    Arellano has been living in the church since Tuesday, when she was supposed to surrender to authorities for deportation.

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had said they would apprehend Arellano at a time and place 'of their choosing' and that nothing prevented them from going into the church.
    But on Friday, a government official close to the case said immigration agents have decided against entering the church to remove Arellano.

    The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it is against ICE policy to discuss operational matters, said the Arellano case carries 'no more priority than any of the other 500,000 fugitives nationally.'

    When you memory goes bye bye

    Goo Goo Dolls rocker JOHN RZEZNIK feels troublesome kids should be given a taste of religious schooling because he was terrified of getting beaten by the nuns who taught him. The IRIS singer had a strict Catholic school upbringing, but it made him respect authority and family values. He says, "I still flinch every time I see a nun. They would whoop your ass and then they'd call your parents and tell them why they'd whoop your ass and you'd go home and your parents would whoop your ass! "You read these things about kids bringing guns to school and I would never be caught dead with a gun at Corpus Christi grammar school because I would be afraid that the nun would take it away from me and pistol whip me."


    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Another sign that I am ancient

    Have you ever seen the Priest wear one of these during a funeral Mass, or a special Mass for the Dead?

    If so, you are at least as old as me.

    Where now, we mention a dead person by name during the Mass, then we actually at times had a 'stand-in' casket that we wheeled up to the altar railing that was actually incensed at the end of the Mass.

    Seemed very normal to me at the time as a kid. Except on those mornings, I knew the Mass would be even longer than usual.

    One good thing that happened though, was that I got to like singing some parts of Requiem Aeternam by heart.

    Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

    The term for the empty casket is "Catafalque". link

    Where are all the Blacks?

    Nearly 500 African-American priests and Catholic laypeople from 20 U.S. dioceses came to Atlanta in August to focus on becoming better evangelizers through prayer, the sacraments and solid formation, and trusting in God's grace and love to overcome any personal limitations.


    "Don't settle for junk food or fast food when you can have a gourmet meal," Bishop Holley said. "Jesus is serving up the finest spiritual food one can give, as he taught people in the synagogues. Some rejected the finest spiritual food and preferred junk food. Today they are what we might call spinning heads, eyes and ears closed and focused on themselves."

    According to the National Black Catholic Congress Web site, there are 2.3 million to 3 million African-American Catholics in the United States. Worldwide the church includes 270 million Catholics of African descent out of more than 1 billion Catholics.

    A rough cut calculation would give us about 60,000 per State. Way low! I am
    sure that to the typical Black in America's culture, a Catholic Church on Sunday
    seems like an impossible and foreign place to be.

    The one Black bible pastor I do know, and the radio stations I listen to
    now and then, tell me it is a social Christianity involved in rudimantary
    structures such as escaping drugs and keeping the family together along with
    plenty of prosperity gospel preaching.

    Not that the non-Black cultures are anything to brag about, but the
    division between Blacks and non-Blacks has never been greater or more obvious.
    This is a huge divide, that I have no idea how it will ever be healed.

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Trying to make some news

    The usual suspects for sure... all 100 of them.

    The Vatican's position on women entering the priesthood has not budged, despite polls showing a majority of American Catholics favor allowing them to do so.

    The L.A.Times can be excused I suppose of for thinking that polls can change
    Church teaching.


    Jane Via said she would probably cry and, sure enough, she did.

    Their web site... A contemporary, expansive anduniversal communityfor the promotion of gospel values and inclusive liturgical celebrations.. link

    Midway through her homily at the rented San Diego church used by her upstart congregation, Via choked up, thanking the packed house of 100 worshipers for sustaining her over the last week.

    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not taken a formal position on the issue, but three of the American women have received letters from diocese officials warning that they had chosen to excommunicate themselves.

    Via called such consequences "unwelcome," but also, in a sense, liberating."I was so angry for so long at the church and church men who weren't willing to make even the smallest change in language to include women," she said. "My anger is gone."

    Liberated by excommunication. Well, at least her anger is gone.

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Any questions?

    It is useless to investigate islam looking for an authoritive

    With some parallels to the local corner ‘bible church’, it’s
    read the koran, and decide for yourself. Only Catholics have an authoritive

    Even among peace activist Catholics, there are bumper
    stickers that state “If you want peace, work for justice”. They see Jesus
    constantly on the side of the poor and oppressed. But come on, do you think
    Jesus had a ‘plan’ for justice and peace? Was He all about a program? Where
    exactly is he eliminating oppression? Rather He told us that the poor
    we would have with us always. And like Mother Teresa, those poor are to be shown

    He was all about love. In fact he was love. That’s the
    starting point and foundation. Diving love in each heart. After that, everything
    is easy.

    The key turning point for Christians is to turn the other
    cheek. As far as I know, no other religion has such a teaching. Like St.
    Francis, take off your clothes, leave your belongings in the street, give the
    oppressors your coat and shirt too, and get on with it.

    Or you
    could, as this individual islam spokesperson decides, “help eliminate oppression
    in all its manifestations and work for justice and you will see that peace will
    prevail.” Well sure. That’s one heavy plan that has been continuing from
    the vantage point of individual viewpoints of oppression, justice, and peace
    since Cain and Able.

    Nope, there is something in the Sermon on the
    Mount and Calvary that contains the more difficult and more divine action.
    Sacrifice. Although it will never appear on the list of short term goals… It is

    Only Christians have it. Which even if it is seldom tried,
    is the important thing.


    Islam is derived from two root words -- "salaam" meaning peace and "ism" meaning submission. This very definition formulates the significance of following the Islamic way of life and of submitting to this religion in totality, since it promises this will bring about peace. Peace, then, is not a mere concept or an automatic result of identifying oneself as a Muslim. It is a goal, a reward and a state of being that is achieved when one surrenders to the Islamic way of life freely, with understanding and sincere commitment.

    Islam warns that all human beings are to be treated equally and their dignity preserved because to do otherwise is to sow seeds of discontent and tilt the balance of justice. Poverty, starvation, homelessness and wasteful consumption of world resources by a few are all contributing to the disharmony in our world today. To chant peace as a mantra without actively seeking to correct this imbalance will not achieve peace.

    Achieve and submit.

    Islam is to be excused for not being told about Love. Somehow, that
    angel that whispered all those secrets to their prophet forgot that little
    thing. I would still like to see that angel's identity card. He sounds to
    me like a troublemaker.

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    We have an unusual religion

    Continuing his series of audience talks about the apostles, Pope Benedict focused on the Gospel and letters of St. John and, particularly, on the evangelist's affirmation that God is love."

    It is very difficult to find texts of this kind in other religions," the pope said. For John, love is the definition of God, he said.


    "John does not limit himself to describing divine action," the pope said. "He does not simply affirm that 'God loves' or even less that 'love is God.'"

    For St. John, he said, love is God's essence, and every action of God flows from love and is marked by love "even if we cannot always understand immediately that this is love, true love."

    But love is not an abstraction, it must be "direct, concrete and even verifiable," the pope said.

    In Jesus' incarnation, life, death and resurrection, God's love for all humanity has been verified, he said."

    He did not limit himself to verbal declarations, but committed himself and paid the price in person," Pope Benedict said.

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Cuba 40 years on

    An obscure Cuban legend, based on the reported vision of a Spanish priest 150 years ago that tells of a bearded leader who rules with an iron fist and dies in his bed in the fourth decade of his reign, has gained fresh currency with the recent illness of Cuba's dictator, Fidel Castro.


    According to a strong oral and written tradition preserved by the Catholic congregation of Santiago de Cuba, a Spanish priest, sent to the city to be it's archbishop in the 1850s, had a vision of Cuba's patron saint, La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, in which she told him of a coming Cuban leader who bears an uncanny resemblance to Castro.

    According to the legend, she spoke of a "very bold young person" who would arise from those very mountains – armed, bearded and triumphant. He would be accompanied by other bearded men with long hair.

    They would arrive wearing the medal of the virgin around their necks, but soon would deny their belief in it.

    The young leader would be acclaimed by all because of many popular reforms, but little by little, he would seize all the power, weighing down the Cuban people with an iron dictatorship that would last 40 years. During his 4 decades in power, Cuba would undergo numerous calamities and shortages. The bearded leader, the prophecy said, would die in his bed.

    A short period of instability, conflict and bloodshed, would follow his death, but "soon" Cuba would rise little by little to an outstanding position among the nations

    Just stop for a minute will you?

    Pope Benedict yesterday made a new appeal for peace in the Middle East, calling for an immediate ceasefire.


    "Faced with the bitter consideration that calls for an immediate ceasefire in that torn region have remained unheeded, I feel the urgency to renew my pressing appeal to that effect, asking everybody to give their effective contribution to building a just and lasting peace," the Pope said.

    Benedict made the remarks during the Sunday prayer from his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, a hill town south of Rome.

    "We know well that peace is first of all a gift of God," the Pope told pilgrims. "But at this moment, we also want to also remember that it is the commitment of all men of good will.
    "Nobody evade this duty," the pontiff said.

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Naughty girl, age 47

    I don't care, and I think most people don't care.

    Except that it sets a poor example for the vulnerable. Can you imagine there
    are still 'fans' for this old naughty singer? Perhaps Viagra has some unseen
    mental side-effect.


    In an uncommon show of solidarity, Rome's Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish leaders have collectively condemned pop star Madonna's decision to stage a mock-crucifixion during her concert in the Italian capital on Sunday, the AP has reported.

    The 47-year-old singer was criticized during the American leg of her worldwide “Confessions Tour” for a sequence in which she wears a fake crown of thorns and descends on a suspended, glittery cross.

    But priests in Rome have gone one step further, calling it blasphemy.

    “This concert is a blasphemous challenge to the faith and a profanation of the cross. She should be excommunicated," said Cardinal Ersilio Tonini of the lapsed Catholic pop star.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Rewarding Charity

    This from John Kerry who is riding for dollars...

    All I can tell you is that this ride means a great deal to me. If you've ever participated in a walk, run or ride for a cause you believe in, you know what a powerful and rewarding personal experience it can be. The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge is especially so.

    I can hardly wait until early Saturday morning when I join thousands of fellow riders at the starting line in Sturbridge. There are several different routes, and the one I'll be riding travels 111 miles to Bourne.

    Because I care so much about this event and about the unbelievably important work that Dana-Farber does, I'm hoping you'll sponsor me on my ride on Saturday by pledging either a total dollar amount or an amount per mile.

    OK, I'm not picking on Kerry, but getting a "powerful and rewarding personal
    experience" seems to accomplish a worthy goal in a shallow manner. These rides,
    walks, and runs are hugely successful. I just think they're beneath Christian


    Somehow, a person riding a bike is struggling against an advesary.. in this
    case dreaded cancer and the usual fear of death.

    And how does this
    struggle work?

    It works by non struggling participants donating money based on completion
    of the struggle. Somehow they too join the struggle by giving money, since
    another person is struggling.

    And what makes it rewarding and personally powerful? The person struggling
    accomplishes something physical, and does a good thing by being a vehicle to
    bring money in. I guess.

    Yikes! Let’s disengage here. None have us Christians have forgotten, that
    when we give alms, we are not to let the right hand know what the left hand is
    doing. With that attitude, we would not invent a struggle, and not need a
    struggler to motivate us to part with our money.

    So what it seems we have here is unspiritual charity. Which is fine for
    what it is. Self-esteem is built all around. Rewarding and powerful. Secular
    items for sure. I have always been afraid of self-esteem, rewards, and power.

    I am sure we Christians for the most part will not confuse this shallow
    secular charity with Charity. I just bring it up in case in rare cases the
    temptation has not been scrutinized.

    It’s something like bingo in the Church Hall on Friday nights.. but that’s
    another topic.

    16th Century still alive and well in Cuba

    It has been 400 years since three men found a diminutive wooden statue floating off the Cuban coast bearing the label, "I am the Virgin of Charity."

    Countless miracles have been since ascribed to the image, which was declared the patron saint of Cuba and crowned by the late Pope John Paul II during a historic visit to the Communist-run island in 1998.

    But while the Virgin has evolved into one of the island's most important symbols, it confounds both the Roman Catholic Church and Cuba's Communist rulers. That's because many of her most fervent devotees say they follow the Virgin, but not the faith, and some use her shrine as a place to make anti-government statements.

    "I am not Catholic. I just believe in the Virgin," Marleny Faria, a 50-year-old seamstress from the city of Santiago de Cuba, said as she visited the statue's shrine. "I came here to ask for the health of my grandson."


    Pilgrims lay wreaths of flowers at her altar and gaze adoringly at the 40-centimetre figure, dressed in an elaborate golden gown and wearing dangling earrings.

    In a room downstairs, devotees leave behind chunks of hair and letters to ask the Virgin for good health, love and success. They also deliver objects to thank her for wishes already fulfilled. Wheelchairs and IV tubes intermingle with concert posters, medals and baseball jerseys.

    "A lot of people trust more in her than in anything else," Despaigne said. "I was baptized when I was little, but I don't follow the Catholic religion. I follow her, because of her history, her idiosyncrasy, her miracles."

    The Virgin was discovered in the Bay of Nipe in the early 17th century before being brought to the village of El Cobre, nestled in lush tropical forests outside Santiago in southeastern Cuba. She resided in several small shrines, including one in a hospital, until the church at the peak of a hill in El Cobre was built in her honour.

    The church's current priest, Rev. Jorge Rodriguez Rey, recognizes that many who hear his sermons are not devout believers. Tourists and nonreligious Cubans from across the island certainly outnumber practising Catholics who go to the church, he said.

    "Those who take communion, or use the church for weddings and baptisms -- well, it's a small number," he said. "Many people who come here have an informal faith. We try to take advantage of their search for the transcendental, and educate them about Catholicism. We don't turn them away."

    Ernest Hemingway gave the Virgin the Nobel Prize he won for his literature soon after writing The Old Man And The Sea in his Havana hacienda.

    The mother of Fidel and Raul Castro left behind a small golden guerrilla fighter in the 1950s as her sons battled the government of former dictator Fulgencio Batista ahead of the Cuban Revolution.

    So what else is new?

    A dusty hole many generations away from civilization.

    "Yes, yes, we have been told to leave Afghanistan because of security concerns," Han told Reuters.

    He said the Koreans in the capital have been confined to their guesthouses while those outside the capital Kabul have begun returning to prepare to leave the country.

    Other sources in the capital aware of the issue confirmed the government had ordered the group to leave.


    Hundreds of Islamic clerics rallied in an ancient mosque in a northern city on Wednesday to demand the Koreans' expulsion after accusing them of trying to spread Christianity.

    Dozens of Afghan Muslims have converted to Christianity in recent years and live underground, according to locals.

    In February, thousands demonstrated against the release of a man facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity from Islam.

    The man, Abdur Rahman, was released from prison and then spirited to Italy after international outrage and calls by Western leaders and Pope Benedict.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Pope Prayers

    For August...

    The Holy Father's general prayer intention for the month of August is: "That orphans may not lack the care necessary for their human and Christian formation."

    His mission intention is: "That the Christian faithful may be aware of their own missionary vocation in every environment and circumstance."

    catholic interest.