First Month as Pope: What We’ve Learned About Francis

In his first month in office, Pope Francis has shown us that he is a man of:

1. Simplicity

2. Approachability

3. Continuity and Fidelity to the Magisterium

4. Tenderness

5. Service

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Pope Francis: One Cannot Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Without the Tangible Witness of One’s Life

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Pope Francis preached another wonderful homily when he celebrated Mass today. 

This pastoral Pope seems to understand us. He is able to preach to us in a way that reaches into our lives and tells us directly how to follow Jesus as we wend our way through life.

His homilies are shot through with theology, but it’s theology that doesn’t announce itself. The Holy Father is able to teach and preach theology in a real-world way that his listeners can comprehend and take home with them to live out. 

Today’s homily was another of this type. Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? he asks.

We should all ask ourselves: Do I have the courage … to think, to choose, and to live as a Christian, obedient to God? One cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life.

In other words, Preach Christ. If necessary, use words. 

Or 

You’ve got to walk the walk before you can talk the talk. 

The Pope also talked a good bit about the need for worship instead of just asking God for things and then thanking Him. 

I’ve pulled out a few quotes, which I will put below. I also will give you a chance to read the full homily for yourself. 

Read it and be blessed. 

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Peter and the other Apostles. In response to the order to be silent, no longer to teach in the name of Jesus, no longer to proclaim his message, they respond clearly: “We must obey God, rather than men”. 

And they remain undeterred even when flogged, ill-treated and imprisoned. Peter and the Apostles proclaim courageously, fearlessly, what they have received: the Gospel of Jesus. And we? 

Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what he represents for us, in our families, among the people who form part of our daily lives?

… we all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel.

We should all ask ourselves:

How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other Apostles, to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, obedient to God?

Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life.

Worship 1

Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? 

 worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history. 

This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others.

I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? 

Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives.

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Pope Francis: St Paul’s homily (full text)


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday evening in the Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls. Proclamation, witness, and worship were the three key ideas on which Pope Francis focused in his homily, with especial emphasis on those who suffer for their witness to the Faith. Below, please find the full text of his homily, in English.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
It is a joy for me to celebrate Mass with you in this Basilica. I greet the Archpriest, Cardinal James Harvey, and I thank him for the words that he has addressed to me. Along with him, I greet and thank the various institutions that form part of this Basilica, and all of you. We are at the tomb of Saint Paul, a great yet humble Apostle of the Lord, who proclaimed him by word, bore witness to him by martyrdom and worshipped him with all his heart. These are the three key ideas on which I would like to reflect in the light of the word of God that we have heard: proclamation, witness, worship.

      In the First Reading, what strikes us is the strength of Peter and the other Apostles. In response to the order to be silent, no longer to teach in the name of Jesus, no longer to proclaim his message, they respond clearly: “We must obey God, rather than men”. And they remain undeterred even when flogged, ill-treated and imprisoned. Peter and the Apostles proclaim courageously, fearlessly, what they have received: the Gospel of Jesus. And we? Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what he represents for us, in our families, among the people who form part of our daily lives? Faith is born from listening, and is strengthened by proclamation.

 

        But let us take a further step: the proclamation made by Peter and the Apostles does not merely consist of words: fidelity to Christ affects their whole lives, which are changed, given a new direction, and it is through their lives that they bear witness to the faith and to the proclamation of Christ.
        In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times to feed his flock, to feed it with his love, and he prophesies to him: “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (Jn 21:18). These words are addressed first and foremost to those of us who are pastors: we cannot feed God’s flock unless we let ourselves be carried by God’s will even where we would rather not go, unless we are prepared to bear witness to Christ with the gift of ourselves, unreservedly, not in a calculating way, sometimes even at the cost of our lives.
        But this also applies to everyone: we all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel. We should all ask ourselves: How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other Apostles, to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, obedient to God?
        To be sure, the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colours and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out. In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. There are the saints of every day, the “hidden” saints, a sort of “middle class of holiness” to which we can all belong.
        But in different parts of the world, there are also those who suffer, like Peter and the Apostles, on account of the Gospel; there are those who give their lives in order to remain faithful to Christ by means of a witness marked by the shedding of their blood. Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life.
      Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.
        But all this is possible only if we recognize Jesus Christ, because it is he who has called us, he who has invited us to travel his path, he who has chosen us.
        Proclamation and witness are only possible if we are close to him, just as Peter, John and the other disciples in today’s Gospel passage were gathered around the Risen Jesus; there is a daily closeness to him: they know very well who he is, they know him.
        The Evangelist stresses the fact that “no one dared ask him: ‘Who are you?’ – they knew it was the Lord” (Jn 21:12). This is important for us: living an intense relationship with Jesus, an intimacy of dialogue and of life, in such a way as to recognize him as “the Lord”, and to worship him.
        The passage that we heard from the Book of Revelation speaks to us of worship: the myriads of angels, all creatures, the living beings, the elders, prostrate themselves before the Throne of God and of the Lamb that was slain, namely Christ, to whom be praise, honour and glory (cf. Rev 5:11-14).
        I would like all of us to ask ourselves this question: You, I, do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all.
        All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that he alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.


This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others.
This evening I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives.
Dear brothers and sisters, each day the Lord calls us to follow him with courage and fidelity; he has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples; he sends us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but he asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives, and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Paul help us on this journey and intercede for us.

 

Join the Discussions of the Year of Faith

Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.

Dominican Sisters Hear about the Election of Pope Francis

While rehearsing for a new album (which will be coming out this summer) the Dominican Sisters hear that there is white smoke …

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Come Kneel Before Him Now

This is a Eucharistic flash mob. I wonder what the response to this would be in one of our malls; or on the Mall in Washington DC, or any number of public places.

Here in Oklahoma, we have so few Catholics, it might just lead to confused stares and dome scratching from all the Southern Baptists. :-)

 

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Dame Margaret Thatcher: Women, Power and Politics

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Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has been excoriated this week in a way that makes no sense.

After all, she was a duly elected official who served her term in office in a way that received approval from a good number of the people she governed. Nothing in her governance that I know of lends itself to the unseemly, downright crude behavior that has followed her death.

Jessica Hof, who blogs at All Around the Watchtower, wrote an interesting post, Women, Power and Politics, which was published on nebraskenergyobservor, taking the Iron Lady’s attackers to task.

I’ve been disturbed by the viciousness of the post-mortem attacks on Dame Thatcher myself. I saw a photo of one sign (which was held by a woman) proclaiming “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.” If anyone dared to use language that caricatured African Americans in this way when speaking of President Obama, they would be rightly criticized and shamed for it. However, as usual, when the object of this sort of thing is a woman, no one remarks on it.

Here is Jessica’s fine post in its entirely. Published with permission.

Women and power

by JessicaHof

womenandpowerWe live in a society in which men still dominate the political scene. Relax, this isn’t the prelude to a rant about how unfair that is – quite the opposite. Politics takes the sort of dedication which the gender which does obsession with stuff well has in spades. From my limited experience, men quite like power and they don’t, on the whole, regret (much) the loss of family time which it necessitates. Men seem happy to put the time and the effort in, so I see no reason why they shouldn’t reap the rewards.

When Mr Blair became Prime Minister he came to office with a lot of new female MPs, and we were told that a new era had opened. Well, nearly twenty years on, little has changed. Few of those women have got on in politics, and they have not inspired a new generation of women to try their hand.  It does not seem how hard feminists try, women don’t want to play that game. Sure, you’ll get some women who want to do it, but the idea that most women want to do it seems, by the evidence, to be wrong.

Maybe that’s why there is an unpleasant tine of misogyny in some of the leftist criticisms of Mrs Thatcher. Would anyone be calling a dead Tony Blair a ‘warlock’, and what, pray, is the male equivalent of ‘the bitch’. It is hard not to see in some of this a sense by men (and some women) that there was something fundamentally wrong in Mrs T even being in power.

A difficult one for the Left of course. They are supposed to be in favour of equal opportunity and female empowerment – and there was Mrs Thatcher, who was very powerful and owed nothing to equal opps.  She took on the men at their own game and she was better at it. That may lead a woman like Glenda Jackson (whose idea of empowerment was to run round in the nude in a Ken Russell film) to say she wasn’t her idea of what a woman should be, but that is more evidence, were any more needed, of the inability of leftist women to actually understand the majority of their own sex. Most of us don’t want to be men. We like men, we think they are wonderful, and we know that properly handled, they are God’s greatest gift. But there’s a whole art in that :)

Mrs Thatcher never pretended to be like men. She used her femininity as a powerful weapon. She knew that most men like a good-looking woman, and that being strong, efficient and capable are no bars to being attractive. By all accounts, she was perfectly capable of flirting with Mr Reagan, and even the socialist Mitterrand was struck by her combination of the mouth of Marilyn Monroe with the eyes of Caligula. She made her husband a cooked breakfast every morning, and she fussed over her staff like a mother hen.

The plain fact is that in our society there is no template for what being a woman in power is supposed to be like. No one makes anyone go into politics, and if you don’t want people to comment on your looks, don’t go into politics. If you do, don’t complain that you don’t get treated like a man – do what Mrs T did and take advantage of that.

Kermit Gosnell: The Monster Pro Choice Built

Pro life bloggers and tweeters have raised public awareness of the trial of Dr Kermit Gosnell, the late-term abortionist who is on trial for murder. It appears that the media is beginning to respond to this pressure with increased coverage.

However, when I asked the question earlier this week, Public Catholic readers told me they had seen coverage back when Dr Gosnell was first arrested. I did some looking around and turned up this incredible video by Katie Couric.

I’ve spent years working to pass pro life legislation. Much of this legislation involved trying to get true informed consent, parental consent and sensible regulations of clinics. The so-called pro-choice movement has fought every single one of these bills. Each time, they claim that the bill will “drive women back to the back alleys.”

My question: How is the “back alley” any worse than Kermit Gosnell and his chamber of horrors? I knew women who had illegal abortions back before Roe. None of them went through anything as bad as what is described here.

I am not advocating for abortion, either legal or illegal. What I am saying is that the obsessive pro-abortion attitude of our society has led to the empowerment of monsters who prey on women and subject them to “medical” care that is actually worse than the situations they use to justify their position.

There are many reasons why the media has ignored this story. One of them has to be the fact that they have been complicit in creating this situation with their blind defense of abortion, all abortion, under any circumstances, for any reason. They claim that they are doing this for women, but Dr Kermit Gosnell’s chamber of horrors puts that claim in question. 

Before abortion was legalized, proponents promised us a world where crime rates, drug addiction, child abuse would all drop due to the fact that every child would be “wanted.”

Wrong.

They also promised us a world where women no longer would endanger their lives because of dehumanizing back-alley abortions.

The message of Dr Gosnell’s unreported trial is, wrong again.

I think there are many reasons why the pro choice media has tried so hard to ignore this story. I would guess that chief among them is the reality they won’t admit: Kermit Gosnell is the monster they helped build.

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The Anchoress on Gosnell and the Media

Elizabeth Scalia aka The Anchoress  has done a fantastic job writing about the media blackout on the Kermit Gosnell trial. The only reason the media is beginning to take note of this horror is because of the work she and others like her have done.

Her recent column at First Things is no exception.

Here is an excerpt:

Gosnell Headlines? Gone, Baby, Gone!

The story of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist who ran what a Grand Jury report referred to as “a baby charnel house,” where viable babies—“big enough to walk around with me or walk me to the bus,” as Gosnell joked—were delivered and then outright killed with a “snip” to the spinal cord, their feet sometimes severed for souvenirs, is one the press quickly consigned to the memory hole. It is not being talked about by the “strong feminist” voices on daytime TV, or on night time cable news. There are no headlines, no feature articles in leading magazines.

The mainstream media, confronted with a house of horrors that was gestated and born of a single-minded mania for “protecting choice for women” had no choice but to report on Gosnell being charged for the murder of one woman who died while under his dubious “care” (another woman’s death had been “settled” for a financial consideration), and they mush-mouthed their way through his killing of at least seven living, viable babies, but they did not like this story.

They did not want to discuss that authorities had repeatedly received reports of Gosnell’s mayhem and had chosen to look the other way. They did not want to have to mention that Gosnell’s disgusting, “third-world” abortion mill—a place where women were abused, manhandled, disrespected, over-sedated, punctured, infected, sterilized, interiorly ripped, and otherwise treated like pieces of meat—would still be running, unimpeded, were it not for an investigation into illegal drug trafficking.

The Gosnell story—a story that by any measure deserved in-depth coverage, some serious discussion about regulation and responsibility, and a few features forcing the nation to consider just when a “late-term” abortion slips into the category of “infanticide” or what our leadership and politicians really think of all of this—proved too big and too messy for the mainstream media. (Read the rest here.)

Megyn Kelly Panel Slams Media Blackout on Kermit Gosnell Trial

Patheos’ own Mollie Hemingway participated in this Fox News discussion of the media blackout on the trial of abortionist Dr Kermit Gosnell.

The bottom line: The media has not reported on this sensational trial because they didn’t want to. Why do you think they don’t want to report this story?

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Pope Francis and Spring Cleaning at the Vatican

I don’t usually write about internal Church government. The reasons are simple: I don’t know anything about it, and I don’t really care.

I am a pew-sitting Catholic who mostly takes from the Church rather than gives to it. I take the graces of the sacraments, the support and advice of very good pastors, and teachings which form a moral spine for my life.

All these squabbles about the Vatican Bank and the boys in the Vatican running amok don’t affect my mostly-taking relationship with the Church. However, I’ve been around government of another sort (and I think governments all have some of the same challenges) to have a silent opinion about what has happened inside the Vatican to fuel the situation that led to the recent problems.

I won’t say more than that because, as I said in paragraph one, I don’t know.

However, if what I think is true, then Pope Francis is doing exactly what needs to be done to set things right. Deacon Greg, as always, has the story. What it boils down to is that the Holy Father is getting ready to clean the Vatican house. He has appointed a new committee to help him run things. Only one current Vatican official is on it.

That doesn’t mean that everyone he’s giving the old heave-ho was a bad actor. But it certainly is the only real way to clear out the entrenched and what appears to be, ingrown, situation that created the previous bad acting.

I would guess that the change will be welcomed by some of the people who end up leaving. After all, the Pope isn’t killing them. He’s giving them new and different jobs. That will probably blow a fresh new breeze through their lives as well as the corridors of the Vatican.

Pope Francis is bringing in people from all over the world to run things in Vatican City. This, in my opinion, is a reflection of what the Church is. The Roman Catholic Church is not so much Roman as it Catholic. By that I mean that it is universal. It speaks every language and has every color, inclination and face that humankind presents.

It is, like Jesus Himself, incarnated human in order to speak for all humanity. Church governance needs to reflect that fact. The ingrown situation in the Vatican up to now is a relic of earlier centuries when transportation and communication with the various limbs of the Church could take months, or in some cases, even years. It was the functional solution for Church administration in those times.

Pope Francis is moving the Church forward without changing it one whit. It is and will always be the same Bride of Christ that it has always been. It’s just that this bride wears the face of all humankind.

From The Deacon’s Bench:

Pope Francis marked his first month as pope on Saturday by naming nine high-ranking prelates from around the globe to a permanent advisory group to help him run the Catholic Church and study a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy — a bombshell announcement that indicates he intends a major shift in how the papacy should function.
The panel includes only one current Vatican official; the rest are cardinals and a monsignor from Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia and Australia — a clear indication that Francis wants to reflect the universal nature of the church in its governance and core decision-making, particularly given the church is growing and counts most of the world’s Catholics in the southern hemisphere.
In the run-up to the conclave that elected Francis pope one month ago, a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy was a constant drumbeat, as were calls to make the Vatican itself more responsive to the needs of bishops around the world. Including representatives from each continent in a permanent advisory panel to the pope would seem to go a long way toward answering those calls… (Read the rest here.)

Funky Times at Public Catholic for the Next Few Days

Patheos will be transferring Public Catholic to a new system this weekend. I think that old comments will go away for a few days and then come back. There may be general wonkiness with current comments. 

If all goes as planned, this will be temporary and no comments will be lost permanently. 

Bear with me as we go through this funkiness. Let me know how it looks from your end. I’ll report anything really oddball to the IT whiz kids so they can get it fixed for us. 

Six Quick Takes: Christian Persecution in Vietnam, Egypt, Syria and the Good Ole USA

Today’s quick picks feature two instances of attacks on Christians freedom of conscience and religious freedom in the United States. Each of these is direct government discrimination against a Christian’s right to practice their faith unmolested. The statutory authority for these attacks on individual liberty is so-called anti-discrimination laws that have been passed in the past few years.

 

It would seem that, rather than ending discrimination, these laws are empowering it. I am beginning to look on at least some of these laws and the way they are being used as Jim Crow laws for Christians.

 

A third case of discrimination against Christians under the name of “tolerance” comes from Denmark. In this instance, a new law will force Christian churches to perform gay marriages.

 

The other three quick picks are samples of the violence that Christians face in much of the world. They range from mob violence in Egypt and Syria to government beating, torture and murder in Vietnam.

1. Vietnam: Church Leader Beaten to Death Syria: 300,000 Christians Flee War, Persecution

A Hmong church leader in Vietnam has been beaten to death in police custody, area sources said.

According to a story by Morning Star News, police beat Vam Ngaij Vaj around his neck and shoulders and probably electrically shocked him, resulting in his death on March 17. That’s according to a church leader who spoke with those who viewed the battered corpse.

“They think he could have been electrocuted as well as beaten,” said a Hmong Christian leader in Vietnam.

Morning Star News said Vaj, of Cu Jut District, Dak Nong Province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, and his wife were clearing brush from their field in nearby Dak Ha Commune of Dak Glong District when they were arrested for “illegally destroying the forest” on March 16. (Read more here.) 

2. Syria: 300,000 Christians Flee War, Persecution

ICC Note: Some 300,000 Christians are living as refugees after escaping war and persecution in Syria, Asia News reports. While people from every political, ethnic, and religious background are suffering in Syria’s civil war, Christians have found themselves in a very unique and frightening situation, having widely chosen not to take up arms or to openly support either the rebels or the regime. While many Christians have publicly denounced the brutality of President Assad and by no means support the regime, most Christians see little hope in an alternative government which, they fear, will be led by Islamists who will hinder or outright abolish the religious freedoms long experienced by Christian in Syria.

4/4/2013 Syria (AsiaNews) – More than 300,000 Christians have fled their villages and towns to escape the war, but also UN refugee camps, said Issam Bishara, regional director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Iraq. (Read more here.) 

 

3. USA, Washington State: Elderly Christian Florist Faces Thousands in Fines for Refusing to Provide Flowers for Gay Wedding

OLYMPIA, WA, April 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Christian florist in Washington state could be slapped with hefty fines because she refused to provide a floral arrangement for a gay “wedding.”

Barronelle Stutzman is facing thousands of dollars in fines.
Barronelle Stutzman is facing thousands of dollars in fines.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed charges today in Benton County Superior Court.

On March 1 Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, refused to sell flowers to Robert Ingersoll for his “marriage” to Curt Freed.

“He said he decided to get married, and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,’” Stutzman said. She said it was the only wedding she had declined in 37 years.

But Ferguson said that stance violates the law.

“Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation,” Ferguson said. “If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”

The state of Washington is seeking $2,000 in fines for every reported violation, as well as a permanent injunction requiring the shop to violate its conscience or stop selling flowers for wedding ceremonies.

Some of her neighbors in this very liberal state agree she should be compelled to sell flowers regardless of her religion.

One resident told KEPR-TV, “She doesn’t have the right to say no.”

The station reported Stutzman has received death threats after her simple testimony of faith went viral. (Read more here.) 

 

4. USA, New Mexico: Photographers Guilty of Discrimination for Refusing to Shoot Gay Wedding

June 7, 2012 (LifeSitenews.com) – A New Mexico appeals court has upheld a lower court verdict that a photography studio that refused to shoot a same-sex “wedding” on religious grounds is guilty of “sexual orientation discrimination” under state law.

According to the court’s verdict, the trouble began for Elane Photography when the company was contacted by lesbian Vanessa Willock asking if they could photograph a “commitment ceremony” for Willock and her “partner.” The company, owned by Christian couple Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, responded stating that they only shoot traditional weddings, and do not do “same-sex weddings,” but thanked Willock for her interest.

The following day, Willock’s anonymous “partner” sent an email to Elane Photography stating that she was going to “marry,” without stating that the “marriage” would be between herself and a woman.  She asked if the company could travel to the location of the event, and was told that it could. 

The two emails would be used as proof that the Huguenins were discriminating against Willock in her suit against the company, and resulted in a judgment of $6,637.94 against the defendant.

Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane photography, who informed the plaintiffs that she could not shoot their same-sex “commitment” ceremony.

Although the government of New Mexico does not recognize same-sex “marriage,” civil unions, or domestic partnerships for homosexuals, the court ruled that Elane Photography had engaged in illegal discrimination based on sexual preference under the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA). 

The Alliance Defense Fund, which was representing the couple, has decided to appeal the case to a higher court.

“Americans in the marketplace should not be subjected to legal attacks for simply abiding by their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy?

“Of course not, and neither should the government force this photographer to promote a message that violates her conscience. Because the U.S. Constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling artists to promote a message they disagree with, we will certainly appeal this decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court.” (Read the rest here.) 

 

5. Egypt: Coptic Pope Decries Violence Against Christians

CAIRO (AP) — The leader of Egypt‘s Coptic Orthodox Church on Tuesday blasted the country’s Islamist president over his handling of the recent deadly sectarian violence, including an attack on the main cathedral in Cairo.

The remarks by Pope Tawadros II underscore rising Muslim-Christian tensions in Egypt. They were Tawadros’ first direct criticism of President Mohammed Morsi since he was enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Orthodox Christians. They are also likely to fuel the political turmoil roiling the country for the two years since the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Tawadros said Morsi had promised him in a telephone conversation to do everything to protect the Coptic cathedral, “but in reality he did not.”

Asked to explain Morsi’s attitude, Tawadros, who spoke in a telephone interview to a political talk show aired on the private ONTV network, said it “comes under the category of negligence and poor assessment of events.”

On Sunday, an angry mob of Muslims threw firebombs and rocks at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, leaving two people dead.

The attack followed a funeral service for four Christians killed in sectarian clashes in a town north of Cairo early the day before. (Read more here.) 

 

6. Denmark: New Law Forces Churches to Perform Gay Marriages

Homosexual couples in Denmark have won the right to get married in any church they choose, even though nearly one third of the country’s priests have said they will refuse to carry out the ceremonies.

The country’s parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.

Denmark’s church minister, Manu Sareen, called the vote “historic”.

“I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married. Today, it’s only heterosexual couples.”

 

Under the law, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church. (Read more here.) 

 

 

Pope Francis: Do Not Get Into this Game of a Life of Complaints

Stop complaining


Pope Francis gave a homily at morning mass a few days ago that hits this lady right between the eyes. 

It was about one of my favorite hobbies: Complaining. 

My husband and I sometimes joke about a former member of the Oklahoma House that we both know. If you gave this guy a check for a million dollars all he would do is gripe about the taxes. One of my husband’s jokes is that you can walk outside with this guy and remark that it’s a beautiful day and he would reply, “Yeah, but that makes for darn dark nights.”

I’m not in this man’s league when it comes to complaining and looking on the dark side, but I do have more than a small dose of the same disease. It can seem that focusing on the bad that might happen is a way to ward off disappointment when it really does happen. But in truth, all it does is ruin the good times you’re having now. If something bad happens, worrying about it ahead of time won’t make it hurt one bit less.

As for complaining, you can beat people down with too many complaints. You can blight their happiness and take away their joy. Constant complaining dampens initiative and makes people feel helpless when they’re not. You can push them down to their emotional knees and them hold them there with your carping and complaining and hand-wringing and whining.

Debbiedowner

I once knew a woman who was never able to just say “Thank you.” If her husband worked all day painting the house for her, when he was finished she would look at it and say, “We really need to re-seed the lawn” She didn’t mean to be a Debbie downer. In fact, I don’t think she knew what she was doing. It was habitual; something she probably learned as a child. But how sad for her that she wasted so many good moments by focusing on the negative, and how destructive to her relationships that she complained when she should have been complimenting.

This is where Pope Francis’ homily comes in. He preached on the Gospel story from St Luke about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. These men were bereft and broken-hearted because of Jesus’ death on the cross. I have not been able to find the full homily on the Vatican web site. But here are a few quotes that resonated with me:

“And they stewed, so to speak, their lives in the juice of their complaints and kept going on and on and on with the complaining,” the pope said. “I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints.”

When all people can think of is how wrong things are going, Pope Francis said, the Lord is close, “but we don’t recognize him. He walks with us, but we don’t recognize him.”

Like the disciples joined by the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, people can hear beautiful things, but deep down, they continue to be afraid, the pope said.

“Complaining seems safer. It’s something certain. This is my truth: failure,” he said.

But the Gospel story shows how very patient Jesus is with the disciples, first listening to them and then explaining things step by step, until they see him.

“Jesus does this with us, too,” the pope said. “Even in the darkest moments, he is always with us, walking with us.”

Complaining and griping — about others and about things in one’s own life — is harmful “because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints,” he said.

“Do not get into this game of a life of complaints.”

I need to print that out and put it on my bathroom mirror. The Holy Father is exactly right when he says that “when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints.” At least, he certainly is about me. My most public cross has been the many attacks I’ve endured for being a pro life Catholic Democratic elected official.

When I speak of deliberate slander and character assassination for gain, I am describing what was done to me.

Pick up your cross

instead of remembering that Jesus told us to “rejoice and be glad when men say all manner of evil against you falsely on my account,” I complained and whined and focused on my hurt and anger. “Great is your reward in heaven,” Jesus told us, but I concentrated on how much it hurt me at the time.

Pope Francis’ words cut right across my own behavior like a giant x mark. God gave me the opportunity to suffer just a little bit for Jesus, and for the babies. It was never a punishment. It was always a gift. I saw that some of the time. But far too often, I looked right past the honor of taking a hit for Jesus to my own anguish about how much it hurt.

Part of stepping out in faith means laying aside our complaints about the way the world reacts to us when we do it. In truth, when they attack us and revile us for standing for Jesus, they are handing us the Kingdom of Heaven. 

If we can just remember that, we’ll realize that there is nothing for us to complain about.

 

 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Jesus Christ

United States Army and Catholic/Christian Bashing

UNITEDSTATESARMY I held off on writing about this because I was trying to figure it out. 

An Army Training Manual designated Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity as terrorist organizations, alongside the Ku Klux Klan, Hamas and al-Queda. Reports say that the manual was used (presumably as a teaching device) during an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on religious extremism. You can find the entire training manual here. This is a screen shot I took of the slide in question:

Army slide

Fox News said that Army spokesman George Wright told them that this training manual “is not condoned” by the US Army and was an isolated incident. “This slide was not produced by the Arny and certainly does not reflect our policy or doctrine … It was produced by an individual without anyone in the chain of command’s knowledge or permission,” he said.

I held back on writing about this because the Army was claiming the manual was the product on one wacko soldier and that they had corrected the situation. I didn’t exactly buy that, but I also didn’t know enough to have an opinion about what was happening.

Enter Lt Col Jack Rich who appears to be on active duty and is stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Lt Col Rich is reported to have sent an email to his subordinates listing the American Family Association and the Family Research Council as “domestic hate groups.” 

The email said in part:

“Just want to ensure everyone is somewhat educated on some of the groups out there that do not share our Army Values,” the note read, according to Starnes’ report. “When we see behaviors that are inconsistent with Army Values — don’t just walk by — do the right thing and address the concern before it becomes a problem.”The email ran on for 14 pages and listed The Southern Poverty Law Center as a source for its material. According to Fox News, it documented groups the “military considers to be anti-gay” among other things.

A Yahoo News article made this comment:

Some cultural warriors would likely look at this, teamed with some of the other incidents unfolding of late, and assume that there’s a war on Christianity — one that has worked its way into the U.S. military. Of course, others would dismiss such a notion as silly and unfounded. While Tony Perkins, who heads FRC, called the e-mail evidence that the military has become anti-Christian in nature, a Pentagon spokesperson denied such allegations.

I guess I’m one of those “culture warriors” the article talks about, because I am beginning to see a pattern here and it’s a twin to the pattern that’s formed in our universities. Those in authority are twisting the original intent of phrases such as “equal opportunity” to legitimize overt prejudice and hazing of Christians and Christian groups who support traditional Christian morality.

I know full well that sounds simplistic. But when we see one university after another attempting to kick Christian groups off their campuses under the guise of “inclusiveness,” it begins to form a pattern. When the United States Army experiences a similar rash of anti-Christian rhetoric in training manuals and now from a high-ranking officer, it does point in that direction.

These incidents with the Army are also certainly not the only ones that have occurred. They are just the ones we have learned about. It appears that the Army is breaking out with a case of Christian-bashing measles. 

The point I want to make is these two incidents were not private, off-the-cuff incidents between a couple of individuals. One was an Army Training Manual used at an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity Training Session and the other was an officer sending instructions to his subordinates. 

The United States Army is easily one of the most efficient killing machines on the planet. This kind of behavior coming from inside its ranks is not something to be taken lightly or dismissed.

It is ironic to me that things like equal opportunity training sessions are being used to foment discrimination. But that corruption of the original intent of these things appears to be widespread.

MilarchLOGO It seems that the Archdiocese for Military Services, which knows a lot more about these things than I do, reacted to the training manual in a similar, “I dunno for sure”  way. Their official statement about it said they were “astounded” by a training manual that

 … expressly listed “Catholicism,” “Evangelical Christianity” and other religious groups as examples of “religious extremism” alongside groups such as “Al Qaeda”, “Hamas” and the “KKK.”  

I am wondering how they will react now that another shoe has dropped. Army

Other recent incidents against Christians in the United States Military include:

  • A War Games scenario at Fort Leavenworth that identified Christian groups and Evangelical groups as being potential threats;
  • A 2009 Dept. of Homeland Security memorandum that identified future threats to national security coming from Evangelicals and pro-life groups;
  • A West Point study released by the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center that linked pro-lifers to terrorism;
  • Evangelical leader Franklin Graham was uninvited from the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer service because of his comments about Islam;
  • Christian prayers were banned at the funeral services for veterans at Houston’s National Cemetery;
  • Bibles were banned at Walter Reed Army Medical Center – a decision that was later rescinded;
  • Christian crosses and a steeple were removed from a chapel in Afghanistan because the military said the icons disrespected other religions;
  • Catholic chaplains were told not to read a letter to parishioners from their archbishop related to Obamcare mandates. The Secretary of the Army feared the letter could be viewed as a call for civil disobedience.

Also:

Military Says Crosses Disrespect Other Faiths

Army Silences Catholic Chaplains 

Army Removes Steeple, Crosses, From Chapel

Air Force Removes God from Logo

Catholic Charities ‘Appalled’ by Former Board Member’s Abortion Advocacy

Ambition is pitiless. Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida seems to be agog and aghast at what its former board member has wrought.

It’s no small thing when Catholic Charities learns someone who sat on its governing board has hitched her wagon to Planned Parenthood’s star. I can only imagine what the people who work there and the other board members must have felt when Alisa Snow popped up on the internet, advocating infanticide.

According to Mark Dufva, Executive Director for Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, “We were appalled.” 

4COLOR1

His description of the vetting process Mrs Snow went through before she was allowed to join their board sounds like something the FBI should adopt for screening presidential appointees.

Ms Snow filled out a detailed application. Her personal references that were checked. She was interviewed. Her appointment had to be approved by the local bishop.

She then “went through an orientation process that “clearly explains Catholic social teaching on a number of issues, including abortion. At several times throughout the process, potential board members are asked if they have any conflicts with these teachings,” he said. “At no time … did Ms Snow express any disagreement with the Church’s teachings on these subjects, and she signed a board member agreement wherein she reiterated that understanding.” 

Planned Parenthood

I think it’s clear that Ms Snow understood what she was doing when she agreed to represent Planned Parenthood. Anyone who has gone through the kind of process Dufva describes should know how wrong it is to help people kill babies through abortion. 

She resigned from Catholic Charities board on January 21. I would guess she did this to clear the decks for her new job as the legislative advocate for America’s number one abortion provider. Then, a few weeks later, we have the sorry spectacle her standing before a Senate committee and testifying against a bill that would require medical care for babies that survive abortions. 

“We believe any decision that’s made (regarding whether or not to give the baby medical care) should be left up to the woman, her family and her physician,” she said

I can’t explain this behavior and I won’t try. If you can figure it out, you tell me. 

 

UPDATE: Gonzaga’s President Will Review Knights of Columbus’ Application for University Recognition

Gonzaga University’s president Thayne McCulloh, announced that he will “review” the decision to deny recognition to the Knights of Columbus at the school.

According to the Gonzaga web site, this review is expect to take 30-45 days, which means it will probably come down after the academic year is finished.

That seems like a long time to review something that should, by all rights, be a slam dunk.

This is the web site of the University’s board of regents. If they operate the way boards of regents do here in Oklahoma, they hire and fire the university president and must approve hiring of senior staff. They would also approve the school’s budget, tuition structure and policies.

Here is a copy of the statement from the Gonzaga website:

Proposed Knights of Columbus Student Club

STATEMENT FROM GONZAGA UNIVERSITY ON THE ISSUE OF OFFICIAL
RECOGNITION OF PROPOSED KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS STUDENT GROUP

Gonzaga University’s Student Life division recently issued a decision that it could not recognize a proposed Knights of Columbus student club under its current club recognition process.  The University is concerned that all of the factors involved in this decision have not been represented in their entirety, and thus may be misunderstood.

Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh states that Gonzaga honors and respects the purpose and good works of the Knights of Columbus, with which it has a long tradition and mutual collaboration at both local and state levels.  The Knights of Columbus College Council (#12583) is already present within the student body and receives support from the administration.  Gonzaga University’s core Catholic and Jesuit identity recognizes, encourages and supports many student organizations that advance faith-related issues (for example, Gonzaga Right to Life, and the Blessed John Paul II Fellowship).

President McCulloh has received a request from the sponsoring student to review the institution’s decision regarding the recognition of the organization as a student club, and has decided to undertake this review.  The review is expected to take 30-45 days.

The Last Wagon Train for the Marriage Gold Rush

Wagontrain You’d think it was the last wagon leaving for the gold rush.

Politicians are hopping off traditional marriage and jumping on board the gay marriage band wagon as fast as their fat little feet will carry them.

It’s been kind of fun for me,  watching them step up to the mike and explain how god (little g,) evolution, their philosophical understanding and reasoning abilities, as well as family and friends have finally made them come to this secular jesus (little j) and get turned around facing forward at last.

All this time when they were campaigning based on their support for traditional marriage it seems that they were just deluded by a lack of … ummm … evolution? … brainpower? … moral gravitas? … oh you know, the bloomin’ polls were the other way and you gotta do what you gotta do to win the election.

They tell us that their long soul searching has finally come to an end. They are now persuaded by their own evolving natures, “their” god (little g), their philosophy and highly questionable reasoning abilities, etc, that now is the time for them to make this brave stand. The day has come for them to go along with the crowd (once again) on gay marriage and reverse the position they took previously. Having dusted off 2,000 years of Western civilization with their profound moral gravitas, it’s time for them to get back to standing their ground on all those other issues.

Which they will do.

You can trust them.

Until the poll numbers change.

One problem with governing by the polls is that you never know what you believe until you get up in the morning and check to see the latest numbers. Another problem with governing by the polls is that nobody else knows what you think, either.

Liar liar ver1

Marriage is a fundamental kind of thing. If whole groups of politicians can just flip over on marriage like a bunch of flap jacks, why should we believe them about other promises they make?

These aren’t children. The young ones are middle-aged. Their ways should be fixed.

I wouldn’t be making this judgement if it was just one lone ranger who stood up and announced in a quavery voice that his gay brother wouldn’t eat Christmas dinner with him unless he changed his stand on the issue. I would never object to anything that smacked of authenticity and an honest reappraisal of the issue. That’s life. And life happens to all people, including elected officials.

When a politician steps out there alone and does something like this, it usually betokens guts and some sort of genuine change of heart. The price of making a move like this all by yourself can be enormous and no one would do it lightly.

But that is not what is happening here. What they are giving us are canned little speeches that sound like they came from a liars template shop.

“I evolved. I prayed. I want people to be happy. My family/friends/gay staffers told me to. Civil rights.”

They say these things like someone reading the slip from a fortune cookie. It is soooo obvious that they don’t believe what they are saying. It is equally obvious that they also don’t much care if we believe it. This is just another bit of work they’ve got to cross off their to dos before they go to the reception and on to dinner with the boys.

They don’t care that no one with half a brain is going to buy these twice-told tales they tell. They just want to get it over and done so they can go back to doing whatever it is they do when they’re not balancing the budget and not getting this country out of an endless round of meaningless wars and not taking care of the industrial drain or finding jobs for the jobless recovery or any other useful thing that I can see.

They are the same balding pieces of work they were before they “evolved,” or god (little g) spotlighted them like a deer and told them to go forth and overturn 2,000 years of Christian teaching, or they realized that people need to be happy, or their family/friends/gay staffers finally got their attention, or they had some sort of bizarro epiphany about “civil rights.” They’re the same phony-baloney political opportunists they were when they told us they supported traditional marriage.

The polls told them what to say then, and the polls are telling them what to say now.

Stampede

I know I sound harsh, but it’s difficult to be mild when I see such obvious, in-your-face, flat-out and unapologetic lying to the American people. What we are witnessing is a herd crossing of the political Rubicon that home and family represent in Western society. Once it’s done, we — and by that I mean our society and our future as a nation and a people — will never be the same again.

This is not about evolving or family or civil rights. It most certainly is not about Christian faith. It is about perceived political expediency.

The assumption seems to be that the people in their districts will overlook this as they have so many other things and re-elect them like slot machines come election time. It may work. The American people are so overburdened with the multiple traumas bad governance and a deconstructing society have pushed onto them that they no longer respond like free people.

“What can we do?” they say. “Nobody listens anyway.”

Kingdom of God

My advice to anyone who feels disheartened by all this callous gamesmanship on the part of our elected officials is to remember that while we are indeed citizens of the USA, we are also citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Here, right now, we are already citizens of that Kingdom.

Our first loyalty and our only center has to be that Kingdom coming. Our jobs as citizens of this world is to be the leaven of the Kingdom.

Our faith never was and never should be in politicians. Our faith is in Jesus Christ. It does not matter to us at all what the polls say. We follow Christ and He never changes.

Do not let a few stupid politicians who foolishly follow polls instead of God Almighty drive you to despair. Absolutely do not let them wear down your commitment to keep on speaking for the truth of the Gospels and doing the right thing.

As for this charge for the last wagon leaving for the gold rush, it is a rush to the fool’s gold of fleeting popular opinion. Before you can say “I told you so,” it will come rushing back, going the other way.

Your job right now is to make sure that you, for one, do not get on it.

UPDATE: Voice for Life Cleared for Official Recognition by Johns Hopkins University

Voice for life johnshopkins

Caroline Laguerre-Brown, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, earned her salary last week when she cleared Voice of Life, a pro life organization, for recognition as a legitimate campus group.

I say she earned her salary because her action pulled the university’s feet out of the fire of public approbation by simply honoring the idea of freedom of speech on campus. The student government had refused Voice for Life’s application on the touchy-feely grounds that their presence might make people feel “uncomfortable,” and whether “a Hopkins group (should) be involved in this much activism.” In other words, they turned them down without any clear-cut reason in the University’s rules that they could point to. They just didn’t want Voice for Life on the campus.

Voice for Life appealed the decision to the Vice Provost who wrote them a letter stating that so long as their activities fell within the parameters they had outlined in their email to her, they were allowed by University rules.

It’s a lawyer letter if I ever read one. There’s an unmistakable don’t-step-over-this-line-or-you’re-out meaning to it. But the letter does say that Voice for Life can be recognized by Johns Hopkins University.

In my opinion, this is a real save for the school. All they have to do is just behave the way a university should and allow students with differing ideas to express those ideas in a reasonable way. Far too many universities have abandoned their own principles of open inquiry and academic freedom in an attempt to silence groups such as this. A good number of them have plunged their schools into needless controversy in defense of indefensible positions; positions that are on their face biased and discriminatory.

I’m glad Johns Hopkins University has decided to do the better thing and allow Voice for Life to present their case in the university marketplace of ideas along with everyone else.

Vice Provost Laguerre-Brown’s letter to Voice for Life is below.

Students for life johns hopkins letter

Church of England Goes Thumbs Down on Blessing Gay Marriages

Queen elizabeth at easter services

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip at Easter Services 2013


The Church of England issued a report today in which it states that it will not support the blessing of gay marriages.

The report says in part:

… ‘marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children.’

 the sexual differentiation of men and women is a gift of God, who ‘created humankind in his image… male and female he created them’. It is on male and female that God gives his blessing, which is to be seen not only in procreation but in human culture, too (Genesis 1.27-8).

In calling it a gift of God, we mean that it is not simply a cultural development (though it has undergone much cultural development) nor simply a political or economic institution (though often embedded in political and economic arrangements).

It is an expression of the human nature which God has willed for us and which we share. And although marriage may fall short of God’s purposes in many ways and be the scene of many human weaknesses, it receives the blessing of God and is included in his judgment that creation is ‘very good’ (Genesis 1.31).

In calling it a gift of God in creation, we view marriage within its wider life-context: as an aspect of human society and as a structure of life that helps us shape our journey from birth to death. 

Lord george carey

This report from the Church of England comes after former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey, issued a stinging op-ed rebuke to the Prime Minister and the whole movement that is pushing for gay marriage.

Recent polls indicate that “more than two-thirds of (British) Christians feel that they are part of a ‘persecuted minority,” he wrote, ” … the prime minister has done more than any other recent political leader to feed these anxieties.”

Lord Carey’s op-ed piece goes on to note that the Equalities Minister, Helen Grant, “recently gave her support to the Labour MP Chris Bryant’s campaign to turn the 700-year-old chapel of St Mary Undercroft into a multi-faith prayer room so that gay couples can get married there.”

It’s a powerful piece. I will put an excerpt below with a link so you can read it all. If you follow the link above, you can read the entire document that the Church of England issued today. It is titled “Men and Women and Marriage.”

I’m going to write more about this Friday, but it appears that British Christians are starting to come awake. From the news coverage I’ve read, the British press is almost as biased in favor of gay marriage as the American press. Some of the comments I read were completely over the top for anyone who claims to be a professional journalist.

All of us who follow Christ need to support and help one another. Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Southern Baptist, Evangelical — it doesn’t matter. We need to stand on the Gospel principles we share and refuse to be moved. We also need to aid and help one another, including emotionally, as we go through the waters ahead.

Union jack

Here, from the Daily Mail, is Lord Carey’s op-ed piece:

I like David Cameron and believe he is genuinely sincere in his desire to make Britain a generous nation where we care for one another and where people of faith may exercise their beliefs fully.


But it was a bit rich to hear that the Prime Minister has told religious leaders that they should ‘stand up and oppose aggressive secularisation’ when it seems that his government is aiding and abetting this aggression every step of the way.


At his pre-Easter Downing Street reception for faith leaders, he said that he supported Christians’ right to practise their faith. Yet many Christians doubt his sincerity. According to a new ComRes poll more than two-thirds of Christians feel that they are part of a ‘persecuted minority’.

Their fears may be exaggerated because few in the UK are actually persecuted, but the Prime Minister has done more than any other recent political leader to feed these anxieties.


He seems to have forgotten in spite of his oft-repeated support for the right of Christians to wear the cross, that lawyers acting for the Coalition argued only months ago in the Strasbourg court that those sacked for wearing a cross against their employer’s wishes should simply get another job.


More shockingly, the Equalities Minister, Helen Grant, recently gave her support to the Labour MP Chris Bryant’s campaign to turn the 700-year-old Parliamentary chapel of St Mary Undercroft into a multi-faith prayer room so that gay couples can get married there. The Speaker of the House of Commons is reported to be supportive of the move.


Now, there are many questions that we need to ask. If this means the removal of Christian symbols from the chapel to accommodate all faiths and even humanist ceremonies this would amount to changing the chapel fundamentally, even to banishing the Christian faith from the seat of political power. This would have implications for Her Majesty, the Queen, and could place her in a very difficult position as the chapel is a Royal Peculiar under her direct patronage.


As David Cameron knows, I am very suspicious that behind the plans to change the nature of marriage, which come before the House of Lords soon, there lurks an aggressive secularist and relativist approach towards an institution that has glued society together for time immemorial.



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