Sprinklergate: Is it Real, or Is It Politics?

Market Street, San Francisco Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by William Welch https://www.flickr.com/photos/20098477@N02/

Market Street, San Francisco Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by William Welch https://www.flickr.com/photos/20098477@N02/

I’ve been sick as the proverbial dawg these past few days. I managed to put together a couple of posts, but then I fell back into bed and pulled the blankets over my head.

I’m not feeling all that great today, either, but I have roused myself from my coughing and hacking and moaning and complaining long enough to realize that there’s another oddball “scandal” about the Catholic Church leap-frogging around the internet.

From what I gather, a cathedral in San Francisco (of all places) attempted to use a sprinkler system to encourage homeless people to vacate the steps leading into their building. Or some such.

Needless to say, the story has fueled the tanks of Catholic bashers. It’s also brought out quite a few disappointed and sad comments from faithful Catholics, as well. The story seems to be all about whether or not the Catholic Church and the Archbishop of San Francisco should be keel-hauled and sentenced to extinction over Sprinklergate.

I haven’t read too much about a couple of issues that I think are somewhat pertinent.

First, the Archbishop of San Francisco is engaged in a battle over the future of the Catholicism in that great city, i.e., whether or not the Church will be run by its own teachings or by secular authorities and the mob actions of “activists” who don’t agree with those teachings. This particular argument is about homosexuals.

Second, digging up dirt on someone who opposes them is a standard tactic of the gay rights movement. Demands for  civil and human rights for gay people are just. Homosexuals have been subjected to unjust discrimination and violence for a long time.

But that does not justify advancing this cause by denying the human rights of other people. Far too often, the gay rights movement has advanced its cause by the ignoble method of organized and manufactured character assassination of those who oppose it.

Using character assassination as a method of political bullying is an effective tactic. It harms, sometimes destroys, the ability of the person who is attacked to put their ideas forward in a credible manner. It also serves as a warning to anyone who might be inclined to join them that they, too, will be destroyed. In this case, it sends a signal to other bishops to duck and cover or be personally attacked as well.

I’m not going to take a position on Sprinklergate in this post, but I am going to raise a simple question: Is the whole scandal and the sudden media focus on this rather obscure action by the cathedral an example of attacking the Archbishop because he’s standing for Catholic teaching?

I’m not saying that turning the sprinkler system on homeless people to get them to move off the church steps is a good thing. What I’m saying is that the reason it has been so widely reported may very well be politically motivated.

Archbishop Cordileone has been attacked, picketed and and smeared ever since he took office in San Francisco. These attacks are because  he has taught actual Catholic teaching as regards gay marriage. This latest series of attacks are precisely and directly because he has been doing his best to create a Catholic Church in San Francisco (again, of all places) that is actually Catholic.

In a back-handed way, Sprinklergate is a compliment to Archbishop Cordileone. If this is the best his opponents could do, then he must be an honest man.

There are other issues about Sprinklergate which need to be discussed. But that really is the topic for another post.

My point here, dear Catholics, is don’t be so quick to join in with public lynchings of our clergy when those public lynchings are so obviously linked to actions by that clergy to defend the teachings of the Church in a Catholic-bashing world.

Now, I’m going back to coughing and hacking, moaning and complaining. As soon as I feel up to it, I’ll write another post talking about other overlooked issues in Sprinklergate.

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Church Turns to Congress for Relief from Attacks on Religious Freedom

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ed Uthman https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ed Uthman https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

The city of Washington, DC has passed two laws that directly attack religious freedom.

The first is the ironically titled Human Rights Amendment of 2014. According to Catholic News Agency,

… the Human Rights Amendment of 2014, forces religious schools to recognize persons and groups who might conflict with their stated mission and allow them use of their facilities and benefits. For example, a Catholic school would be forced to officially recognize an openly-gay student group and could not deny them use of its facilities.

The second is the equally mis-titled Reproductive Health Non-Discrmination Act of 2014. Again, according to Catholic News Agency,

… the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act of 2014, prohibits all employers from discriminating against employees over their “reproductive health decision making.” Thus, a Catholic or pro-life group could not make employment decisions based on their employees’ decision to act contrary to the mission – such as procuring an abortion, for example.

Both of these two laws are direct attacks on both religious liberty and First Amendment freedoms. That is why I say that their titles are ironic. They do not guarantee human rights and freedom from discrimination. These laws themselves are attacks on the basic human right of religious liberty and freedom from discrimination of religious believers.

To read a fact sheet on the two laws, go here.

There are two resolutions in the United States Senate which would overturn these laws. Congress has 30 days to review the bills, which are slated to become law on April 17. As noted in the Catholic News Agency article,

The Archdiocese of Washington supports these two resolutions, which, they say, “subjugate the Church’s moral teaching to the moral views of the government” and “result in discrimination against religious believers.”

The Knights of Columbus, the United States bishops’ conference, the Catholic University of America, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention have joined the Archdiocese of Washington in the call to pass the resolutions.

I do not know if Georgetown University has joined the opposition to these laws. If they have not, I would like to know why.

Congress clearly has the power to overturn these laws. The question, as always with Congress, is will they use their power for the purpose it was given to them, or will they set this up as another partisan fight in order to align voters for the ’16 elections?

Congress needs to hear from their constituents as to why they are not doing any of the things that got them elected in the first place.

The Archdiocese of Washington issued the followed press release concerning the resolutions in Congress on March 18:

Religious Freedom at Stake

U.S. Senate Must Stand for Religious Freedom in Nation’s Capital

March 18, 2015

WASHINGTON – Today the Archdiocese of Washington, along with a large and growing coalition of religious institutions, faith-based organizations, and pro-life advocacy organizations within the District of Columbia, welcomes the introduction of two resolutions disapproving the unprecedented attack on religious freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of association in the nation’s capital through the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA).

HRAA, by removing conscience protections in the law, would prevent religious educational institutions from operating according to the tenets of their own faith with regard to human sexuality, and RHNDA would force religious institutions and other organizations to hire or retain employees who publicly act in defiance of the mission of their employer. Both laws subjugate the Church’s moral teaching to the moral views of the government, violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and result in discrimination against religious believers.

The Archdiocese of Washington has long respected home rule for the District of Columbia and, therefore, advocated for our religious rights with the D.C. Council throughout the legislative process. Despite this, the Council passed these acts. The archdiocese’s appeal to Congress to restore these constitutional rights is the only legislative recourse that remains. The Council of the District of Columbia transmitted the new measures to Congress on March 6, initiating a thirty-day congressional review period.

The archdiocese is grateful for the resolutions introduced today in the U.S. Senate and is hopeful for swift action in both chambers of Congress within the remaining days of the congressional review period.

###

 

 

 

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Vatican Archives Shed Light on the Armenian Genocide

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ana Ulin https://www.flickr.com/photos/anaulin/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ana Ulin https://www.flickr.com/photos/anaulin/

This year is the 100th anniversary of what is often called “The Forgotten Genocide,” which is the Armenian Genocide.

This slaughter of Christians by the Ottoman Turks occurred during World War I. Together, the formed the kick-off for the bloodbath that we remember as the 20th Century.

I’m going to write about the Armenian Genocide after Lent. The Vatican Archives are a source of information about this forgotten genocide of Christians.

From Catholic News Service:

.- Ahead of Pope Francis’ Mass commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, newly released historic documents confirm the Holy See’s broad commitment to helping the Armenian people at a time when few others would.

The Italian Jesuit-run magazine La Civiltà Cattolica stressed that newly published documents “prove how the Holy See, always informed about events, had not remained passive, but was strongly committed to face the issue” of the Armenian Genocide. “Benedict XV was the only ruler or religious leader to voice out a protest against the ‘massive crime’.”

The Armenian Genocide is considered to have begun April 24, 1915 with a massacre of Armenians in Istanbul. Over the next eight years, 1.5 million Armenians would be killed and millions more displaced.

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ISIS Bombs Shiite Mosque in Yemen. More than One Hundred Dead.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matt Lemmon https://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matt Lemmon https://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/

More than 100 people were murdered by the bombing of a Shiite Mosque in Yemen.

This highlights something that Americans in general have been ignoring. Much of the conflict in the Middle East comes from warring factions within Islam itself.

This bombing marks the first attack by ISIS within Yemen.

From USA Today:

Suicide bombers killed more than 130 worshipers in two Shiite mosques in Yemen’s capital Friday, one of the deadliest attacks in the war-torn nation’s history.

The bombings could trigger new sectarian violence in the mostly Sunni nation under assault from Shiite rebels known as the Houthis.

Al-Masirah TV, a network owned by the Houthi rebels, said 137 were killed and 345 were injured when four suicide bombers attacked the Badr and Al Hashoosh mosques in Sanaa, the Associated Press reported. A fifth suicide attack at another mosque was foiled in the northern city of Saada, the network said.

The two mosques were attacked during Friday midday prayers, the busiest time of the week. While they are both controlled by the rebels, Sunni worshippers also attend services there.

A group claiming to represent the Yemeni branch of the Islamic State — composed of Sunni extremists — claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as a “blessed operation” against the “dens of the Shiites” in an online statement, the Associated Press reported.

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Scrivener is (Finally) Coming to iPad

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Mehdi Kabab https://www.flickr.com/photos/pioupioum/

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Mehdi Kabab https://www.flickr.com/photos/pioupioum/


One of the most fun things about leaving legislating behind and taking up writing has been the switch from heavy-duty computing to boutique computing.

The reason that’s fun?

Because I like to buy certain things: Shoes, purses and techie stuff.

I actually enjoy trying out software and reading about it and figuring out what will work the best for what I want to do.

So, it’s been a kick, tossing out Microsoft Office and Filemaker Pro and loading up on the likes of Scrivener, a book writing software created by a book writer for book writers.

When I read on the Scrivener blog that the much-delayed, highly-desired Scrivener for iPad might actually be available for purchase by late summer or early fall, it was interesting enough for me to bring it up at dinner with my husband.

Hubby responded by asking What’s Scrivener?

I was stumped for a moment. How do you describe gravity? It just is, and you can not function or live long and prosper without it.

Scrivener, if you’re a writer, is both your left and right hands. It won’t write your books for you, but it will turn your computer into a book writing machine of the first order.

I’d as soon go for a walk in the snow without my shoes and socks as I would to sit down to write my book without Scrivener. I could do both, but Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.

The on line tutorials, which can be found both on the Scrivener website and on YouTube, will get you up and running and teach you how to do anything you want to do with the software. The blog forum is friendly and helpful and the technical support from Scrivener staff is quick, personal and effective.

Scrivener can be had for the paltry sum of $45.

As for Scrivener on the uber portable iPad?

Priceless.

 

 

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Help Me to Confront My Own Transgressions

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Bruno https://www.flickr.com/photos/_pek_/

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Bruno https://www.flickr.com/photos/_pek_/

This Lenten Prayer of St Ephrem goes back to the 4th century.

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Purple Prose Aside, Oklahoma Did Not Limit Marriage to People of Faith

Rep Todd Russ, Oklahoma House File Photo

Rep Todd Russ, Oklahoma House File Photo

My former colleague, Representative Todd Russ, recently passed a piece of legislation, HB 1125 that would move issuance of Oklahoma marriage licenses from court clerks to clergy or judges.

Under Oklahoma law as it presently stands, court clerks, who are elected officials, issue marriage licenses.

I think that the bill is a response to lawsuits against court clerks around the country who have not issued marriage licenses for gay marriage due to their religious belief. It appears to be an attempt to remove that pressure from court clerks. According to both the author and representatives who opposed the bill, court clerks have not objected to the legislation.

During floor debate, Democratic Leader Scott Inman raised the question of whether or not the bill would, as an unintended consequence, open the door for “marriage” of any type, including group marriage, polygamy, marriage between humans and animals, etc. Rep Russ answered that HB 1125 does not change regulations as to what constitutes legal marriage.

I think that Representative Russ made an attempt to deal with a problem. I don’t think that this piece of legislation does what he hopes. It has huge holes in it. It also transfers the potential for court challenges and judicial pressure from court clerks to the clergy.

There is no definition of clergy in the bill. This piece of legislation, by creating a whole new legal responsibility for clergy, needs a definition for what constitutes clergy that is specific to the legislation.

As it stands now, the only requirement in the law is that the clergy be “ordained.” That leaves the definition of what constitutes clergy for the purposes of performing this government function entirely in the hands of the religious body of which they are a part.

Since “ordained” is not defined in the bill either, any person could, for the purposes of this law, “ordain” themselves. I am aware that there are definitions in other places in the statutes. But since this creates a new kind of clergy that is part government functionary and part religious leader, a new definition is called for.

Another serious problem with the legislation is that it does not define what relationship the clergy would hold vis a vis the government. Are they now government officials, rather than clergy? That is a legitimate question, since they are now charged with enforcing state law concerning marriage so far as it pertains to the issuance of marriage licenses.

America has kept the issuance of marriage licenses and the definition of marriage as a legal construct entirely under the auspices of the government for over 200 years. The idea of transferring this to clergy is a radical change with many unintended consequences.

One unintended consequence would be the massive impact that this change would have on arguments concerning religious freedom. I believe strongly that clergy should not be government officials by virtue of their ordination. If we make them that, we also make them subject to the same oversight and control as any other government functionary.

Statutes that make all ordained clergy function as government opens clergy and faith to government regulation. It transfer the court challenges and pressure being brought against court clerks to clergy. It pierces the protected legal status that clergy holds now.

This legislation, which I think is a good-faith attempt to deal with a serious problem, will, in a few years, create other problems concerning attempts to limit religious freedom that will be exceedingly grave. It has the potential to create a religious freedom train wreck.

HB 1125 has been the object of quite a bit of purple prose, both in the mainstream press and in the blogosphere. This includes claims that Oklahoma has done away with marriage licenses, or that the bill would limit marriage to people of faith. 

These claims are not accurate. The bill changes how marriage licenses are issued. It does not do away with them. Any one who wants to get legally married in Oklahoma today would be able to get legally married under this bill if it becomes law.

I’m not sure how to handle the problems we are now facing as a result of the nihilism that is being applied to family law in this country. If I was still a legislator, I would have voted against this particular bill for the reasons I give above.

My greatest concern about the bill is that it would change the legal status of clergy and that would create the means for successfully attacking religious freedom in the future. It does not matter if the bill labels clergy government functionaries or not. If this bill becomes law, that is the function they will be performing.

I have no doubt that future civil challenges would use this law to seek to define clergy as government functionaries through the courts. This law creates a means by which clergy can be subjected to government regulation as civil authorities.

In today’s political climate, that would be a disaster for religious freedom in this country. Groups have been attempting to control what clergy preaches for decades. This law hands them the means to do that. It would also open the doorway for legitimate court challenges requiring clergy to perform gay marriages (and other inventive forms of “marriage”) even if it violates the teachings of their faith.

You can read the version of the bill that passed the House here.

 

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I’m Taking a Sick Day

I went all winter and never got a cold. Now that the weather’s turning warm, it catches up with me.

I’m taking a sick day today. I’m going to sleep, watch old movies on tv and get well.

See you in a few.

Rebecca

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Will the Stepford Congress Kill the Sex Trafficking Bill?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chuck Coker https://www.flickr.com/photos/caveman_92223/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chuck Coker https://www.flickr.com/photos/caveman_92223/

The boys and girls in DC are doing their doo-dah, once again.

It seems that Congress has labored and almost brought forth a bill. That in itself is newsworthy. Congress doesn’t make laws these days. It makes slander against anyone in the opposing political party that it can find to attack. By opposing party, I mean, of course, both of the political parties. Each political party is the opposing party to somebody.

It seemed for a moment in political time that this great American law-making body was actually going to make a law. They found something they could agree on enough to get enough of themselves to stop denouncing one another long enough to … ummm … actually do something that was part of the job they were elected to do.

Congress was poised on the tip of an actual vote on an actual bill. Americans everywhere held their breath. Would this Congress, long thought barren, bring forth a law?

Not, mind you, that it was much of a law. This particular bill would set up a fund for victims of sex trafficking. The monies to support this fund would come from fines that are paid by those who are convicted of sex trafficking. The money in the fund would be disbursed through grants to local law enforcement and non profits.

In other words, the law would not “protect” sex trafficking victims, as one headline I read stated. In fact, it would not do anything for sex trafficking victims in a direct fashion. But it would provide jobs for folks in the shiny new anti-sex trafficking industry, and some of them night help sex trafficking victims. Of course, the recipients of the grants would be subject to all sorts of politically correct stuff and nonsense, but that’s another post.

This bill is, as they say, a modest proposal. It is an especially modest response considering the horrific crime against humanity that it seeks to address. The real story here is that Congress actually came so close to passing a bill.

But, never fear my fellow Americans. Congress is not going to allow itself to break its losing streak by doing something. It seems that the Dems discovered that (Gasp!!!!) the bill does not allow these monies to be used to pay for abortions for victims of sex trafficking.

Now, we can not have that. Any piece of legislation that concerns “women’s issues,” which is to say any piece of legislation that involves sex, which as we all know, is a man’s delight and a woman’s “issue,” must have a codicil in it somewhere providing “access” for abortion. The reason for this is simple: All any woman needs, ever, is an abortion.

If a woman is kidnapped, raped, beaten, shut in a tiny room and only let out to be repeatedly sold so that she can be raped again and again and again, night after night, day after day. If she is sold across borders and put in “legal” brothels or put on the street and sold hand to hand, if she is told that if she resists, her family in her home country will be killed … if all this is done to her … why then, what she needs is an abortion.

I know something about this problem. I sit on the board of directors of a non-profit that rescues these women, often at great personal risk (people who will do all this, will kill anybody you know.) This organization provides a home environment, therapy, medical aid, education, clothing, and anything else these women need to help them rejoin humanity. Sometimes, the women are pregnant. When they have their babies, it’s a time of great rejoicing in the shelter. The babies are loved and the women are supported.

Odd as it may sound to the abortion-is-all-women-need crowd, when women are given the option of having their babies without paying a horrific price for doing so, when they are honored, respected and loved and their babies are honored, respected and loved, they want the children.

Many of the women we are talking about come from very traditional, conservative societies where children are valued. They value their maternity, when the people around them value it.

But I digress. Let’s return to the ugliness of Congress. It appears that this modest little piece of legislation is in big trouble.

The Democrats (or at least enough of them) are going into a you-can’t-pass-a-bill-about-women-without-promoting-abortion frenzy. They are willing to see the bill die rather than forego using it to fund abortion.

Because, you see, if help for women doesn’t include abortion, why then, it’s no help at all. Women need abortions. More than they need rescue, therapy, medical care (many of these women are horribly injured) freedom from slavery, legal aid, love, support and home, these women — like all women, everywhere — need abortions.

If the Ds can’t make sure that the sex trafficked ladies get their abortions, then they will protect them from having freedom, medical care, therapy, shelter, legal assistance, love, support and home forced on them. After all, without abortion, why would any of these things matter to a woman?

Just when it seemed that the Ds would take home the trophy for dereliction of duty for the week, the Rs jumped in. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that, unless the Ds stop fighting the sex trafficking bill, he will not schedule a vote on the confirmation of Loretta Lynch, who is President Obama’s nominee for Attorney General.

Because, you see, refusing to do its job is how Congress gets its way, and its way is always about partisan fighting.

There is the possibility that public dismay might jog the Stepford Congress out of its partisan thrall. But that won’t happen unless public dismay convinces the people who own Congress that their investment is in danger. It’s more likely that this bill will go the way of the ban on abortions after 20-weeks.

These people campaigned on all sorts of issues, and that got our votes. But they were lying in all those campaign ads. They were sent there to do what they are doing, which is to position their parties to take over the White House in ’16 and allow their money backers to take control of the Imperial Presidency.

The Ds are fighting over money for abortion because that’s big campaign $$ to them. The Rs are blocking everything that Congress might do because, as any politician knows, it’s easier to sell the public on being against things than it is to explain why you’re for something. They don’t want to do anything because there is risk in doing things and that might hurt the chances of taking the White House in ’16.

That’s why this little bill almost came to a vote. It looked like such a win-win-win-win that everybody thought it would be good political fodder for themselves.

But then, abortion reared its ugly head, and Congress stopped itself from breaking its self-imposed losing streak just in the nick of time.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — An amazing thing about Congress: Things can always get worse.

After several years of troubles with spending bills that were once routinely bipartisan, the Senate has now found a way to disagree on a bill that would protect victims of sex trafficking. And in the process, that dispute has ensnared President Obama’s largely uncontroversial nominee for attorney general, Loretta E. Lynch.

The latest impasse sweeps up five years of the lowlights of congressional dysfunction: abortion and immigration policy disputes, White House exasperation, garden-variety distrust, and mutual loathing between Democrats and Republicans.

“Life is really simple,” Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and minority leader, said on the Senate floor on Monday, attributing the sentiment to Confucius, “but we insist on making it complicated.”

The bill in question, sponsored by Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, is a modest measure with broad support in Congress that seeks to create a victims’ fund from fines collected from perpetrators of sex trafficking. A similar measure has passed the House and was expected to pass easily in the Senate.

But a provision in the Senate bill would prevent the fees from being used for abortions for the victims. Democrats say Republicans sneaked it into the bill. Republicans firmly deny the charge. And Democrats now say they will not vote for it unless the language is removed, something that Republicans decline to do.

In turn, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has said he will not turn to the matter of confirming Ms. Lynch, Mr. Obama’s nominee to replace Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., until the sex trafficking bill gets off the floor. A procedural vote to move the bill forward was expected on Tuesday.

 

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How the Crusades Saved Europe and America

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Narek https://www.flickr.com/photos/56767781@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Narek https://www.flickr.com/photos/56767781@N00/

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-richard-the-lionheart-genius-and-virtue/#ixzz3Uei7a9Wt

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