Member of Original STURP Team Talks about the Shroud of Turin


Believers are, for the most part, quite equitable about whether or not the Shroud of Turin is the burial shroud of Christ.

Atheists, on the other hand, tend to get worked up about it. They seem almost to fear it. I am guessing that this is because they’ve got so much ego invested in their non-belief that the thought that some artifact might rattle that a bit is scary to them.

The first time I ever heard of the Shroud was when I came across a book written by a member of the scientific team which investigated it in 1978. This group is often referred to as STURP Team. The acronym stands for Shroud of Turin Research Project.

The video below is a brief reflection by one of the team members on how the investigation and its findings affected him.

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The Nuns Just Whupped You Man!

The Sisters of Mary whup up on their competition at the American Bible Challenge.

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15 Countries Named for ‘Systematic, On-Going’ Abuse of Religious Freedom

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom issued a recent report that named 15 Countries of Particular Concern because of the threats that their governments pose to religious liberty.

These countries are: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam. The governments in these countries have “either engaged in or tolerated systematic, on-going, egregious abuse of the right to freedom of religion or belief.”

Based on the stories I’ve seen since I’ve been writing about Christian persecution, I would guess that the most consistently persecuted group in these countries is Christians.

From CNA:

Washington D.C., May 4, 2013 / 04:11 pm (CNA).- A recent report on international religious liberty cautioned that severe threats to freedom of religion exist in diverse communities through the world and should be discouraged through actions by the U.S. government.

“The Annual Report ultimately is about people and how their governments treat them,” said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the commission that released the report.

“Religious freedom is both a pivotal human right under international law and a key factor that helps determine whether a nation experiences stability or chaos,” she explained.

The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom gathers information throughout the year by meeting with government officials, citizens, analysts and non-governmental organizations across the globe in order to assess the state of international religious liberty. The independent, bipartisan group then advises the president, U.S. Congress and State Department on recommended actions to be taken.

Issued each year, the commission’s report marks “countries of particular concern” (CPCs), which are defined as “countries whose governments have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief.” The State Department has the opportunity to officially label CPCs and decide whether to impose sanctions or other penalties on each country.

The 2013 document recommended 15 countries to be designated as CPCs: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. (Read the rest here.)

Explain to Me How Taxing the Internet is NOT Raising Taxes on the Little Guy

Explain to me how taxing the internet is not raising taxes on the little guy because, frankly, I don’t get it.

In my simple little mind, I think that a federal intervention that allows the states to slap a sales tax on the things we buy on Amazon and Ebay is, well, slapping a national sales tax on mom, pop, you and me.

One thing I’ve always admired about Republican tax policy is that they don’t make any bones about the fact that they want to tax everybody but the rich and give to nobody but the rich. They are right out front with their intention to use the national treasure as a piggy bank for corporations and anybody else in the top 5% who wants some. 

The Democrats, on the other hand, try to be more fair, or at least they do part of the time. Out of all the deficit-enhancing tax cuts that Congress has passed in the last 13 years, only one showed up in my paycheck. That was the temporary reformulation that President Obama used to try to stimulate us out of fiscal armageddon when he first took office in ’08. 

I believe he promised something about not raising taxes on us working stiffs. It went something like this:

“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains tax, not any of your taxes.”

That sounds fairly comprehensive to me. However, nothing that anybody in Washington says to we the people appears to matter all that much to them. In fact, I’m beginning to get the feeling that they tell us stuff so that we will believe it, so that they can do the opposite. 

The President’s no-tax-on-the not-rich is a case in point. It appears that he didn’t mean that he wouldn’t tax gouge the little guy when taxes are “unfair.” What is an “unfair” tax? It appears that a tax is “unfair” when the Chamber of Commerce says that it’s unfair. 

In the effort to achieve “tax fairness” the United States Senate has pushed a measure that would require consumers to start paying sales tax on internet purchases. They claim, however, that this is not a tax increase. It will take money out of your pocket and put it in the government’s pocket, true. But it’s still not a tax increase and only the addlepated and simple-minded think that it is. 

Personally, I don’t think anybody believes that. I do think that hired guns who lobby Congress for Wal Mart, et al, and the Congressmen who get campaign donations from the same, will recite this claptrap until their noses grow out and sprout leaves. But they don’t believe it. They’re just hoping that the American people will be passive and dumb enough to let them get away with it. 

They are calling this “tax fairness,” as if any missed tax gouge on the American people was somehow a breach of morals. I love that. I hear the same kind of nonsense every time a bill that will hurt the people gets tossed at us in the Oklahoma House. “Tax fairness” means that if this thing passes, you and I are going to get a tax hike ranging from 9 or 15% on the things we buy on the internet. 

Wal Mart is the main proponent of this kind of legislation in Oklahoma, just as they are in Congress. Personally, I think it’s kind of hilarious, hearing a Wal Mart hired gun tell me that all Wal Mart wants is a level playing field. I know people who had small businesses before Wal Mart came into their neighborhood. I’ve heard the way these guys negotiated with them. 

This is about limiting competition. A Reuters article on this subject said that “Prospects for the bi-partisan measure are murkier in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where some Republicans view it as a tax increase.” 

Well, duhhhhh. 

Since we are dealing with Puppet people congressmen, anything can happen. If the pressure goes up, we might very well see some evolving door Republicans on taxes as well as social issues. 

In meantime, would somebody really, really smart please explain to me again how this is not a tax increase?

I’m just too simple to get it. 

From Reuters:

(Reuters) – A measure to empower U.S. states to require out-of-state retailers to collect online sales tax cleared a legislative hurdle in the Senate on Monday, after earlier winning official backing from President Barack Obama.

Seventy-four senators voted to limit debate and move forward with a final vote on the proposed legislation in the Democratic-controlled Senate, likely on Wednesday.

“You have businesses all around America on Main Streets and shopping malls collecting sales tax on the things that they sell, competing with Internet retailers who do not,” said Democratic co-sponsor Senator Richard Durbin.

Supporters of the measure include brick-and-mortar retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Best Buy Co Inc and cash-strapped state governments, along with Amazon.com Inc, which hopes to simplify its U.S. state retail tax situation. Opponents include many online merchants, including eBay Inc and Overstock.com Inc.

Prospects for the bipartisan measure are murkier in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where some Republicans view it as a tax increase.

Lobbyists on both sides are working to make their case in Congress. Several new wrinkles emerged on Monday, a key one being that the Obama administration for the first time officially backed the measure.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the bill “will level the playing field for local small business retailers who are undercut every day by out-of-state on-line companies.” (Read the rest here.)

Who is This Christian Basher? Separating Fact from Internet Legend

Michael Weinstein is a self-styled “civil rights advocate” and Founder and President of a hate-tank called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

He is also the author of a Christian-bashing article that was published by the Huffington Post. 

I wrote about an article yesterday about this article, Christian Bashing: Are There Any Limits? and readers followed through with a plethora of information on Mr Weinstein. One of the claims was that he is a religious adviser for President Obama. However, I don’t think that Michael Weinstein is a religious adviser for President Obama or the Pentagon.

I’ve googled quite a bit, and I found that claim splashed all over the internet. However, I could not track it back to a reputable source. What I found instead were circular sources linking to one another. 

I did find a Department of Defense document that says this:

Internet posts are attributing a statement that superior officers who try to convert those under their command should face court-martial to Mikey Weinstein, president of the Albuquerque, N.M.-based Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and are identifying him as a Pentagon advisor, Christensen noted.

“Mr. Weinstein is not part of any DOD advisory group or committee, nor is he a consultant to the Defense Department regarding religious matters,” Christensen said. “Mr. Weinstein requested, and was granted, a meeting at the Pentagon April 23, with the Air Force judge advocate general and others, to include the deputy chief of chaplains, to express his concerns of religious issues in the military.”

Based on the unabashed self-promotion I saw on the Military Religious Freedom Foundation web site, I doubt that Mr Weinstein would leave something like this out if it was true. If someone has a link to an original source saying that Mr Weinstein is a religious advisor for either President Obama or the Pentagon, please share it with me. Otherwise, I’m going to round-file that story as internet legend. 

Here, from the MRFF website, are a few things about Mr Weinstein, who often refers to himself as “Mikey,” that did turn out to be true:  

  • “Mikey” is a 1977 Honor Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. Served in a Federal prosecutor in the JAG corps. 
  • A registered Republican.
  • Former legal counsel for the Reagan White House. Committee Management Officer of the much-publicized Iran-Contra Investigation in his capacity as Assistant General Counsel of The White House Office of Administration, Executive Office of the President of the United States. 
  • Mikey served as the first General Counsel to Texas billionaire and two-time Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation.
  • In December 2012, Defense News named Mikey one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense. As a distinguished “Opinion shaper” exercising a hard-fought influence over the U.S. Armed Forces, Mikey’s influence has been recognized as exceeding that of former General David Petraeus himself by a publication that represents “the world’s biggest military newsroom.” 
  • On November 7, 2011, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State presented Mikey Weinstein with AU’s first ever Person of the Year Award. 
  • On November 18, 2012, for the fourth consecutive year, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was officially nominated again for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize (its fifth total nomination)

Here, in the order in which they appear, is a list of the organizations that have submitted “partnering links” to the MRFF:

    • Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
    • California Church IMPACT
    • Atheist Alliance International
    • Constantine’s Sword
    • Jews on First!
    • Mainstream Baptist
    • Town Hall, Los Angeles
    • Americans United for Separation of Church and State
    • Calvets Investigation Committee
    • Society-Links.com
    • womenstanding
    • Working Minds
    • Humanists of the Treasure Coast
    • Pacific Palisades Democratic Club
    • American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado
    • Center for Inquiry
    • Free Range Longmont
    • Chasing Evil
    • the Horn, The Head on Radio Network
    • Foundation Beyond Belief
    • United Atheist Front

 

 

Christian Bashing: Are There Any Limits?

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Michael Weinstein, Esq, the Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is living proof that anyone with a word processor can call themselves a civil rights activist.

He’s also living proof that you can say just about any Christian-bashing thing you want and get away with it. 

I ask you, what would happen if you substituted “Jew,” or “black,” or “Muslim” or just about any other group of people for Christian in this little diatribe:

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you of monsters and monstrous wrongs. And let me tell you what these bloody monsters thrive on.

I founded the civil rights fighting organization the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to do one thing: fight those monsters who would tear down the Constitutionally-mandated wall separating church and state in the technologically most lethal entity ever created by humankind, the U.S. military.

Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces. Oh my, my, my, how “Papa’s got a brand new bag.”

What’s Papa’s new tactic? You’re gonna just love this! These days, when ANYone attempts to bravely stand up against virulent religious oppression, these monstrosities cry out alligator tears in overflowing torrents and scream that it is, in fact, THEY who are the dispossessed, bereft and oppressed. C’mon, really, you pitiable unconstitutional carpetbaggers? It would be like the utter folly of 1960′s-era southern bigots howling like stuck pigs in protest that Rosa Parks’ civil rights activism is “abusing” them by destroying and disenfranchising their rights to sit in the front seat of buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Please, I beseech you! Let us call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters.

Queasy with the bright and promising lights of the cultural realities of the present day, those evil, fundamentalist Christian creatures and their spiritual heirs have taken refuge behind flimsy, well-worn, gauze-like euphemistic facades such as “family values” and “religious liberty.” These bandits coagulate their stenchful substances in organizations such as the American Family Association  (AFA), the ultra-fundamentalist Family Research Council (FRC), and the Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty(CARL). The basis of their ruinous unity is the bane of human existence and progress: horrific hatred and blinding bigotry. However, when the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and others correctly characterize them as “hate groups,” they all too predictably raise a deafening hue and disingenuously bellow mournfully like the world class cowards they are. (Read the rest here.)

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These lovely words did not come from some seldom-read little blog run by a nut and his pals. They were right up front on Huffington Post, with its huge circulation. 

I ask again: If the group which is the object of all this hatred was any other than Christians, what would the reaction be? But since it is about Christians, I ask you to notice the deafening silence. 

When it comes to discrimination and persecution, speech precedes action. Talking about people like this wears away the resistance to thinking about them in this manner. Thinking about them this way wears away the resistance to legal discrimination and ultimately, violent persecution. 

Zeke Pipher, who blogs at Man on the Run, has written an excellent article on Mr Weinstein’s Christian-bashing rant. You can find it here.

My question: How far does this have to go before Christians wake up, stand up, and say, Enough! 

Persecuted

Mama Bear and Archbishop Myers

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Threaten my kids and you’ll meet a she-bear on the attack.

I feel much the same way about my Church. 

Disparage Jesus and see how I respond.

There are just certain things that get my attack-defend side moving. 

Archbishop Myers has managed to step on just about every attack-defend nerve I’ve got. He put a confessed, convicted child sex abuser back with kids. Then he defended the action by claiming he didn’t violate the rules that the bishops have for handling these things.

Bah.

Mama bear and the babies

I am the mother of sons. The thought of someone endangering one of them like this has me ready to charge out and do battle. 

I love the Catholic Church with all my heart. I am so grateful to the bishops for standing up against the destruction of traditional Christian morality in our society. I would follow them anywhere in this fight. 

But with friends like Archbishop Myers, who needs enemies? Actions like his cut the moral ground out from under his brother bishops and make it difficult for any of us to defend the Church in the public square. 

As for disparaging Jesus, when a shepherd of the flock opens the gate and allows the wolf in with the lambs and then claims he didn’t do anything wrong … what do you call it? 

Me

I am also a public official. I am responsible for other people’s lives. That doesn’t make me more sympathetic with the Archbishop. It makes me less so. 

This wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t something where he didn’t know or the “experts” told him it would be ok. It didn’t happen back in some long ago past when people supposedly didn’t know that molesting children was wrong. (When was the time, anyway? I’m no kid, but I don’t remember it.)

This is now, after more than 10 years of constant talk about the “problem” of bishops putting child abusers with children. It comes after the apologies, after the reforms, after the promises of never again. The priest in question isn’t someone that was newly discovered to be a child abuser. He’s a confessed, convicted child abuser who was, essentially, remanded to the archbishop’s custody.

Is there some fact here I’ve got wrong? Is there some exculpatory bit of evidence I don’t know about? 

If there’s not, then what the tom fool was Archbishop Myers playing at? Why, why, why did he do this incredibly stupid, destructive and potentially catastrophic thing to the children that God has entrusted to his care? 

Why did he place his Church on the chopping block again? Why did he pull the rug out from under his brother bishops’ feet with actions he knew would get them all tarred with the same ugly brush? 

Sending a confessed, convicted child molester back to ministry with children makes as much sense as giving an embezzler a job in a bank or sending an alcoholic to work in a liquor store. If his goal to was help Father Fugee, he should have done everything he could to keep him away from young people. Surely there was a back room job counting beans somewhere he could have found for him. 

I could go on. 

And on.

But there’s no point. We’ve all got the weary task of once again trying to clean up the mess this Archbishop has made. It’s hard work, reminding people over and over again that Jesus condemns this, and that the Church is still true, even if her ministers sometimes trip and fall. 

One bishop who does something like this does so much harm. The damage — to individuals, to the Church’s witness to Christ — is incalculable.  

Cardinal Warns Bishops About Seeing Themselves as a ‘Mere Manager or Functionary’

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Cardinal Marc Ouellet gave a homily at the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales a few weeks ago that seems particularly pertinent in light of the scandal in New Jersey. 

Rather than comment on it, I’m going to let Cardinal Oullet’s words speak for themselves:

My brother bishops, you face many challenges In your apostolic ministry in England and Wales. Perhaps you can identify with Peter and John as they are dragged before the Sanhedrin to be pressured, threatened and even beaten to stop proclaiming the saving Truth of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you can sense viscerally the pressure to obey men rather than God, to see yourself-as a mere manager or functionary rather than a disciple and an apostle.

 

Yet as St Peter discovers, the encounter with Jesus on the shore and the food He shares with him is not only for him and the Apostles. It is also for Jesus’ lambs and His sheep. Real love for Him, Jesus is telling Peter, has to be shown in love for others, love shown in deeds of self-giving and service.

The Venerable Bede, commenting on today’s Gospel, reminds us of this. He writes: “[T]he Lord added at the end of each inquiry [to Peter], ‘Feed my sheep,’ or ‘Feed my lambs,’ as if he were clearly saying: ‘There is only one true proof of wholehearted love of God – if you strive to exercise care by labouring solicitously on behalf of your brothers ‘” (Bede the Venerable, Homily 1122 on the Gospels).

 

Pope Francis, also makes us feel uncomfortable. One thing I have noticed, even in my personal meetings with him, is that Pope Francis’ sole criterion is Jesus Christ. The Holy Father does not get distracted by peripheral considerations. He goes to the heart of things with simplicity and boldness. You recall that just two days after his election he said to the Cardinal Electors gathered in Rome: “If we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord …. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness” (Homily from Missa pro Ecclesia with the Cardinal Electors, March 14,2013).

 

When you return home refreshed by prayer and rest in the Lord, let the joyful presence of the Risen Christ in your heart become an open space for your sheep or even a shore where He can meet them and give them love and hope. Amen.

You can read the full text here

Convicted Child Molesting Priest Resigns: Does that Make it All Better?

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“The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”

 Jesus Christ

Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I am Catholic, has the story. 

Father Fugee, the convicted child molester, has resigned. Archbishop Myers, who put him back with kids after his conviction, has accepted his resignation.

Tra-la-la-la.

Rather than go through another trial, prosecutors required Father Fugee to undergo counseling – which I assume they thought would make him all better – then they required him to sign a document promising he wouldn’t be around children anymore. 

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You may remember Father Fugee. He’s the New Jersey priest who pled guilty to child sexual abuse and whose conviction was subsequently vacated on a technicality by an appellate court. 

Archbishop Myers is the New Jersey archbishop who also signed the document promising that Father Fugee wouldn’t be around children. It sounds like the prosecutors tossed this child molestor back into the same place where he had committed his original crimes on the basis that he had promised them he wouldn’t do it again. 

Prisons are costly enterprises. Just think how much money we could save in Oklahoma if we were smart like these New Jersey prosecutors. We never thought about asking felons to promise us they wouldn’t do it again. Think how much money we’ve wasted, locking people up, when all we had to do was get them to promise us they wouldn’t do it ever, ever, ever, again. 

Of course, Archbishop Myers, who was Father Fugee’s supervisor the first time he sexually abused children, needed to promise that he wouldn’t do it again, too. That fixed it. No problems now.

Tra-la-la-la.

When the Archbishop got caught recently, breaking his promise, well, all we needed was for him to explain that he hadn’t done anything wrong. Which he did. He sent a letter to the priests in his archdiocese, explaining to them that he had not violated the rules he helped write to govern bishops concerning how they handle child sex abusers. 

Tra-la-la-la.

When ignorant people who don’t understand continued their outrage, it was time to drain the boil. Father Fugee resigned and the Archbishop accepted his resignation. 

Archbishop myers

I think — not know, think — Father Fugee agreed to exit stage left and Archbishop Myers “promptly” accepted his resignation because the two of them talked it over and decided it was the best way to save the Archbishop’s bacon.

The rest of us, of course, are expected to wipe our brows, go whew! I’m glad that’s over. And fergitaboutit. 

According to a nj.com article, Father Fugee “submitted his request to leave ministry,” and “Archbishop Myers promptly accepted the resignation.” I hate feeling this way about one of the bishops of the Church, but that sounds like one fine case of professional courtesy to me. 

Tra-la-la-la. 

Again, I hate saying things like this about a bishop of the Church, but when I have to choose between the bishop and following Jesus, the bishop loses. According to another nj.com article, Archbishop Myers has a history of things like this. 

From nj.com:

Myers and his aides say the archdiocese has taken aggressive measures to identify abusive priests.

 In other cases:

 - In 2004, the Newark Archdiocese wrote letters to six dioceses in Florida on behalf of the Rev. Wladyslaw Gorak, one week after learning Gorak’s ministry had been terminated in the Orlando Diocese — after he was accused of breaking into a woman’s home.

- Also in 2004, the archdiocese banned the Rev. Gerald Ruane from public ministry after investigating an allegation he molested a boy, but did not publicly notify lay people or other priests. Ruane continued to say Mass and wear his collar in public.

- In 2007, the archdiocese failed to inform lay people that it found a molestation claim credible against the Rev. Daniel Medina, who had worked in parishes in Elizabeth and Jersey City. The case wasn’t made public until a victims group uncovered an alert sent by the archdiocese in September 2008 to other bishops saying Medina was on administrative leave and could not be located.

PROCEDURES FOLLOWED

Neither Myers nor the priests identified above would agree to an interview for this story. But Myers’ spokesman, James Goodness, said the archbishop has lived up to his promises of 2002 and that the archdiocese has carefully followed procedures meant to bar abusive priests from ministry. He said it has trained thousands of church employees to spot molestation, published procedures for filing sex accusations against priests and passed annual audits examining whether it keeps its promises. He noted, too, that the archdiocese has an agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office to forward all allegations of sexual misconduct to county prosecutors.

“We do not have priests in ministry without proper supervision, and those who have had credible allegations have been removed from ministry,” Goodness said. “We do notify the communities where people (priests) have served of the existence of allegations and the results of all our inquiries.

“We believe we are living both within the letter and the spirit of the charter,” he said.

One thing that troubles me is all this debate about whether or not Archbishop Myers followed the guidelines the bishops set up in Dallas. I don’t care if he followed those guidelines or not.

  1. He deliberately, with full knowledge of what he was doing, put innocent children in harm’s way.
  2. He violated the trust of every Catholic on this planet that our bishops will follow Jesus and shepherd us in the Way.
  3. He knew what he was doing
  4. When he got caught, he wrote a letter explaining how he hadn’t done anything wrong by putting a convicted child molester back with kids. He based this on a set of guidelines that he helped write. 

Let’s get off the guidelines and take a look at the Gospels of Christ. This man did not follow Jesus. He did not do his job of caring for the welfare of the people that the Lord God has entrusted to him. 

Father Fugee resigned and Archbishop Myers promptly accepted his resignation.

Tra-la-la-la????

Does that make it all better?

Not for me, it doesn’t. Archbishops Myers refuses to even promise that he won’t do it again. In fact, he tells us he didn’t do it in the first place. 

To top it off, if that nj.com article is accurate, he has a history of doing things like this. I repeat a question I said yesterday: Has he ever heard of Jesus Christ? 

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Video: Pope Emeritus Benedict’s Return to the Vatican

Pope Emeritus Benedict returned to the Vatican today.

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict will live a short distance to one another. I’ve read reports that the Pope Emeritus’ brother will probably live in the same building with him. Ironically, even though two popes will be in residence at the Vatican, the Papal Apartment will be empty.

The video below shows his arrival, as well as a retrospective about the day he left the papacy. The video of the Pope Emeritus and Pope Francis praying together are from Pope Francis’ earlier visit with his predecessor.

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Evolving Door Politicians: Paul Ryan Now Supports Gay Adoption

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We’ve got more “evolution” going on in Congress.

In yet another poll-reading flip-flop, Congressman Paul Ryan now says that he supports gay adoption. Ryan was last fall’s vice-presidential candidate — and the hope of values voters — on the Republican ticket. One of his first first actions in that race was to weaken his stand on abortion. Congressman Ryan voted against allowing homosexuals to adopt children in the past, but that, as they say, was then.

I doubt very much that he’s evolved on issues such as corporate welfare and taxing the middle class to give to the rich. I’ll bet he still has never met a tank or a gun, a bomb or a war he didn’t like and that his desire to raid social security is as strong today as it was yesterday.

My quibble here isn’t so much with the Congressman’s opinion itself as that he clearly can’t be trusted to stick with what he says are his values concerning so-called moral issues. Of course, he’s not alone in this. There’s so much “evolving” going on in the political sector that it’s dizzying.

Maybe these elected officials should just give a proxy for their votes to Gallup polls and save themselves the trouble of going in to work.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

The forum was a town-hall meeting in his home state of Wisconsin. Asked a question on gay rights, Ryan said that in 1999 or 2000, he had voted against allowing adoptions by same-sex couples in the District of Columbia, but that he’d be a “yea” on that issue if it came up today.

“I do believe that if there are children who are orphans who do not have a loving person or couple – I think if a person wants to love and raise a child, they ought to be able to do that. Period. I would vote that way. I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman; we just respectfully disagree on that issue,” Ryan said.

The Wisconsin lawmaker elaborated a bit on this position in remarks to a local television reporter, saying he’d felt that way for years, but he’s never talked about it publicly. He gave no indication if a defining moment or event caused the change of heart. (Read the rest here.)

Gonzaga: The Knights are Back

 

Thayne mcculloh 206Dr Thayne McCulloh

Gonzaga University’s president, Dr Thayne McCulloh announced Tuesday that he was granting student club status to the campus chapter of the Knights of Columbus.

Gonzaga is a Catholic University, founded by the Jesuits.

SueWeitzDr Sue Weitz

Dr McCulloh’s action reversed an earlier decision of his Vice President for Student Life, Dr Sue Weitz. Dr Weitz had refused the Knights of Columbus student club status because the group is Catholic and all-male in membership. Dr McCulloh has also directed the Student Activities department to review and update the policies which led to this decision in the first place.

Logo GonzagaPrimary

Although I am glad that the university’s president has reversed the decision, the fact that it happened in the first place seems to me to raise questions about exactly what kind of education students are getting there. Is Gonzaga becoming just another secular institution where Christians are shunted aside and barely tolerated? Has political correctness replaced Gospel teaching on the campus?

There has been quite a bit of discussion over Vatican’s moves to reform the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. I wonder if similar reforms, and for the same reasons, are needed at some of our Catholic universities.

From CNA:

.- The Knights of Columbus applauded a decision by Gonzaga University to grant them recognition as a sponsored organization after their application to be acknowledged as a student club was denied.

“We welcome this development and appreciate that our college Knight of Columbus Council #12583 has received official approval” as a sponsored university organization, the group said in a statement.

“We express our gratitude to the President of Gonzaga University, Dr. Thayne McCulloh, for his support and for asking for a review of the current Clubs and Organizations Recognition Policy and Process to deal with any inconsistencies.”

On April 30, Gonzaga president Thayne McCulloh granted the Knights of Columbus status as a student club, after an earlier decision by the school’s student life office suggested that they would not be granted this recognition.

“The Knights of Columbus St. Aloysius Gonzaga Council #12583 is approved as a sponsored organization at Gonzaga,” said a statement released by McCulloh’s office.

“This sponsorship is granted under the University’s ‘Standards for On-Campus Religious Activities Policy.’”

On March 7, the university’s student life division had denied the council’s application for recognition as a “student organization,” according to a report by the Cardinal Newman Society.

The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic charitable fraternal organization with 1.8 million members globally. It has more than 14,000 local councils – including numerous college councils – throughout the U.S. and overseas.

The vice president for student life at Gonzaga, Sue Weitz, had written the March 7 letter to the Knights council saying it could not be recognized as a “student organization” because the group is closed to women and non-Catholics. (Read the rest here.)

New Jersey Archbishop Strains out Gnat of Legalities, Swallows Camel of Child Sex Abuse

“Whoever harms one of these little ones that believes in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck and he was cast into the sea.”

Minnesota030

I support the bishops.

How many times, over how many issues, have I said that?

I support them whenever and however they teach and preach the Gospel of Christ. I support them in their battles against secularism and the social dissolution around us. I support them in their efforts to evangelize this great Church and inspire the people of God to stand up and speak out for Jesus.

I support the bishops.

Except when I don’t. 

When a bishop stops preaching Christ and Him crucified and starts parsing legalities in order to get around rules he wrote himself and which he gave us his word he would keep, I take a look at him. When a bishop does this in order to excuse another violation of the promises to stop endangering children by placing them in the care of priests who are known child abusers, I don’t follow him.

A case in point is Archbishop Myers of New Jersey. Archbishop Myers has evidently placed a priest who is a convicted child abuser in a position where he will be in extensive contact with children.

Let me repeat that: Archbishop Myers put a convicted child abuser in ministry to children. 

Of course, as usual, the Archbishop is not the only bad guy involved here. Father Michael Fugee confessed to “fondling a 14-year-old boy’s genitals.” In the course of his confession, he evidently also said that he was a homosexual. Three years after his conviction, an appellate court vacated his conviction because the trial judge had allowed the jury to hear the part of the confession in which he said he was a homosexual.

I don’t know the legal hat they hung this on, but I do know that whatever basis it was sounds very much like political correctness run amok once again. I would guess that the assumption was that his admission of homosexuality was somehow regarded as too prejudicial for a jury to hear. The confession of child sexual abuse? Not so much.

So.

We have a confessed, convicted child abuser that the courts turn lose. Rather than go through another trial, the prosecutor’s office decided that what Father Fugee really needed was some of that counseling for sex offenders that has been shown to work so well at changing these guys.

The prosecutor basically did what we’ve condemned the bishops for doing. They gave a child abuser useless counseling, then put him back in the situation where he could do it again. The sop to public safety was that they made Father Fugee sign a piece of paper saying he wouldn’t do it again. More specifically, he signed a paper saying he would stay away from children, and Archbishop Myers signed it, too.

Let’s think this through. We have a court that vacates a judgement because the jury also heard that the confessed and convicted child abuser said he was a homosexual. Then, we have a prosecutor who follows in the footsteps of bad bishops and decides that what this guy really needs is some counseling and to make a promise that he won’t do it again.

Archbishop myers

Archbishop Myers, not to be outdone in this chain of abuse of the public trust and disregard for the welfare of children, follows through by putting said child abusing priest back where he’s with children, once again. As if that’s not enough, we also have a couple of people at the parish level who know all about Father Fugee’s conviction and go along with placing him with children.

Is there anyone involved in this situation who hasn’t violated the public’s trust? 

It is so tiresome to keep hearing about abuse of the system that is so egregious that we end up more disgusted with the public and Church officials who should have done something and didn’t than we are with the actual child abuser.

Everybody involved needs to lose their job. From Father Fugee on up the food chain to the appellate court justice, they all need to go into a line of work where they are not responsible for other people’s lives. I’m including Archbishop Myers in this, as well.

I haven’t read the fine print, but I honestly thought that the bishops gave us their word that they’d stop this nonsense of putting child molesting priests back with children so they could do it again. I thought they promised us they’d stop doing this. I also thought they meant it.

I think just about every bishop out there did mean it. But it’s becoming obvious that at least a couple of them made these promises with their fingers crossed behind their backs. 

Archbishop Myer sent an it-all-depends-on-what-the-definition-of-is-is letter to his priests in which he explains, basically, that he’s done nothing wrong. His reasoning is all about the finest of fine points in the Charter for the Protection of Children, a document he says that he helped write. He says that claims that he violated this Charter are “baseless.”

I wonder, has this guy ever heard of Jesus Christ?

Has he ever once thought about the Gospels he proclaims?

What does he think that shepherd’s crook he carries means?

I think that Archbishop Myers has broken the real Charter, and that’s the charter of trust with the Catholic people of the world. Notice, I did not say the Catholic people of his archdiocese. I did not say the trust of the children he allowed this priest to be near.

He violated my trust. And yours. And the trust of every person on this planet who follows the Church with the belief that it will lead us in the narrow way of Christ.

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Whatever the fine points of this Charter that the Archbishop helped write himself to govern himself, he has violated both the letter and the spirit of the Gospels he proclaims. Jesus said, “Whoever harms one of these little ones that believes in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck and he was cast into the sea.”

What part of that contract doesn’t the Archbishop understand?

Archbishop Myer’s letter:

Arch myers letter

Arch myers letter page 2

 

From NJ.com:

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Fr Fugee with two boys during pilgrimage to Canada in 2010. Facebook photo

Amid calls for a Vatican investigation, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers came under fierce criticism Monday for his handling of a priest who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors in defiance of a lifetime ban on ministry to children.

At the Monmouth County church where the Rev. Michael Fugee had been spending time with a youth group, angry parishioners said they were never told about Fugee’s background and they questioned Myers’ defense of the priest, the subject of a lengthy story in the Sunday Star-Ledger.

“It’s complete craziness that the church can let this happen,” said John Santulli, 38, a father of two at St. Mary Parish in Colts Neck. “I’m a softball coach, and I need a background check just to get on the field. Every single person I spoke to today said, ‘Oh my God. I didn’t know about this.’ It’s incomprehensible.”

Trenton Bishop David M. O’Connell, who previously said Fugee was operating in the diocese without his knowledge or permission, has ordered the pastor of St. Mary to bar the priest from any church activities, a spokeswoman said in a statement Monday.

The bishop of Paterson, Arthur Serratelli, has likewise said Fugee was on a retreat at Lake Hopatcong without permission.

For the first time in his many years as an advocate for victims of clergy sex abuse, Mark Crawford, New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on the archbishop to resign, characterizing Fugee as the latest in a string of problem priests shielded by Myers.

“The archbishop continues to insist it’s fine for Fugee to work with children. It’s a very dangerous message,” Crawford said.

Pope Emeritus Benedict Returns to the Vatican

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Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, CNA file photo

Pope Emeritus Benedict will return to the Vatican today. 

According to a CNA article, he will live in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, “where he will live a life of prayer and meditation. The monastery contains a chapel, a choir room, a library, a semi-basement, a terrace and a visiting room.

From CNA:

.- Benedict XVI will return to the Vatican on May 2 by helicopter, coming back the same way he left just two months ago when he resigned as Pope.

The return of a former Pope is something that has no historical precedent, making everything a new one for the Vatican’s staff.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican’s press office, told CNA April 30 that “there will be someone there to welcome Benedict XVI” but he is not yet sure who that will be.

The former Pope will arrive by helicopter around 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon, and after a brief greeting will head to the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, where he will live a life of prayer and meditation. (Read the rest here.)

Name That Photo: Flying Hats and the Papacy

What’s your caption for this duo of Holy Fathers and their flying hats?

Benedict loses hat

 

Pope loses hat

Book Review: God’s Favorite Place on Earth

To join the discussion about God’s Favorite Place on Earth, or to buy a copy, go here

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Frank Viola, who blogs at Rediscovering the Supremacy of Jesus Christ, is offering 25 free books or audios to those who buy his newest book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth, in the next week. To learn more, go here

That offer makes a good book a good deal, as well.

God’s Favorite Place on Earth is a combination first person fictionalization/meditation/teaching on the Gospel stories surrounding the family of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. This family lived in the little town of Bethany, and Gospel accounts make it clear that their friendship with Jesus was both personal and on-going. 

These people knew Jesus in the intimate way that friends know one another. They also recognized Him as more than just another rabbi. They got Him at a time when His own disciples were often confused the things He did and said. 

This is the same Lazarus who died and was dead four days when Jesus stood at his grave and, with the words Lazarus come forth! raised him from the dead. 

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First, Jesus meant it when He said that being his disciple means taking up our crosses and following after Him. The message in Viola’s fine book is three-fold. 

Second, God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t work according to our time-table or our human goals. He has His own plan and our part in it is to follow Him and do what He tells us to do.

Third, (and most important) Christian life is Christ-centered living. It is not about our missions or our apostolates. It is not a function of how many hours we spend at church or how we vote. Following Christ means following Christ and Him crucified.

Frank Viola has written a fine book that gave me meat for thought about my own Christian walk and the ways in which I put things ahead of Him in my life. It was a convicting and uplifting read, both at once. 

I heartily recommend it. 

Mary’s Day


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Today is May Day.

Mary’s Day.

The month of May is the month of Our Mother. I’m going to write more about this as times goes forward.

This is a video of the Litany of Mary. It’s a responsive prayer in which one person calls out one of the many names by which Mary is known and others respond by saying “Pray for Us.”

I chose this version because it’s easy for someone who is unfamiliar with the prayer to follow. All you need to do is follow along and pray the responses that are in blue.

The Litany Blessed Virgin Mary is a study in the theology of Mary’s role in the salvation of humanity as well as a prayer. She truly is the Mother of God and all that this means.

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Should Pastors Who Preach Against Gay Marriage Be Allowed to Speak at the National Day of Prayer?

 

National day of prayer logo

Should pastors who preach against gay marriage be allowed to speak at the National Day of Prayer?

I have never attended the National Day of Prayer services here in Oklahoma. I can’t pray in public. When I have to stand for public prayer — as I often do — I don’t feel God. All I hear is the echo chamber of my own thoughts. A lot of times, if the matter is grave, I pray my own private prayer while the public prayer runs as background noise. The National Day of Prayer just isn’t my cup of tea. 

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National Day of Prayer, Tulsa, OK

I never gave the National Day of Prayer much thought until atheist cranks started trying to make it illegal. Then I realized that while I don’t attend because it’s not my personal religious flavor, I do think that it’s up to Congress, and not a smattering of nobody-can-do-anything-I-don’t-agree-with zealots whether such an event should happen. 

So, if the topic is the National Day of Prayer, my reaction is going to be along the direction that those who want to have this day can have it rather than anything based on my personal plans to participate. I don’t intend to change my plans for this year’s National Day of Prayer. I won’t attend the event. However, if the cranks keep on cranking, I may change my mind and show up next year, not for prayer so much as for solidarity with my Christian brothers and sisters.

Once again, the war is being forced upon us.

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National Day of Prayer at Oklahoma City Bombing memorial

This year’s National Day of Prayer is receiving flak from a new quarter. Rather than just the usual atheist crankery aimed at driving Christianity from the public square, we now have the LGBTQ crowd. They don’t want to end the event. They want to chose who leads it.

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Small group prays after official Day of Prayer ceremony, Oklahoma State Capitol 

The Human Rights Campaign is seeking to stop participation by a pastor who has preached against gay marriage, or, as they call it, “equality.” They are asking that Pastor Greg Laurie not be allowed to lead the event.

So, the question arises: Should pastors who preach against gay marriage be allowed to speak at the National Day of Prayer? 

As nutty as it sounds, the Human Rights Campaign, seems to say no. 

Their reason is that he says things like this:

“Sin is sin,” he said during the Thursday night Bible study at Harvest Orange County in Southern California.

Laurie addressed the “hot-button” issues of homosexuality and marriage while preaching on the fifth commandment of honoring one’s father and mother.

“It doesn’t say honor your mother and mother as in two women married, or honor your father and your father, or honor your mother and her live-in lover,” he said.

“God established the family … He and He alone defines the family. Maybe that’s why Satan hates the family so much and has effectively declared war on it because God loves the family.

“Tamper with God’s formula, if you will, at our own peril.”

Like many pastors who have spoken on the issue of marriage, Laurie said the issue is not political, but rather moral and biblical. (Read the rest here.)

I do not understand why gay people seem to be so blind to the fact that the same rights which allow them to promote their cause belong to everyone.

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Demonstration at Oklahoma State Capitol 

Some leaders in gay rights organizations seem committed to a program of harassment and hazing of anyone who disagrees with them. At the same time, they appear to be equally committed to creating a world where those who refuse to participate in gay marriages will lose their jobs and have their businesses closed down.

Now it appears they want to make sure that those who speak against gay marriage are locked out of public events. 

The question remains: Should pastors who preach against gay marriage be allowed to speak at the National Day of Prayer? 

From C.P. US:

Homosexual activists are labeling evangelist Greg Laurie as the “anti-gay California pastor” and are asking government officials to rescind Laurie’s invitation to lead National Day of Prayer-related events in Washington, D.C. as the event’s honorary chairman.

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) advocacy group in America, contends that Laurie has a history of speaking out against LGBT Americans. And OutServe-SLDN, an association of actively serving LGBT military personnel, is calling on the Pentagon to remove the pastor from the agenda, citing “his blatantly anti-LGBT message.”

“Pastor Laurie’s message is out of step with what the majority of people of faith across this country believe,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of HRC’s Religion & Faith Program.

“In greater numbers than ever before, people of faith are feeling compelled to speak up and organize for equality – because of their faith.” (Read the rest here.) 


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