Black Smoke = No Pope x3

As of 0530 this morning, (edt) the Papal Conclave had voted three times and three times failed to come to a 2/3 majority on any one man.

That means we don’t have a pope yet.

Three times, black smoke came out of the chimney at the Vatican.

But the cardinals appear to be taking votes in what for them is rapid succession, so things are moving along quickly.

A CNA/EWTN article describing this says in part:

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2013 / 05:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At 11:38 a.m. local time on March 13, black smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, indicating that the cardinals gathered at the Vatican have not yet reached an agreement on the next Pope.

Voting began on the evening of March 12, yielding an initial inconclusive vote marked by black smoke at 7:43 p.m. local time.

Tow more rounds of voting will be held in the afternoon, with a smoke signal expected between 7:00p.m. and 8:00p.m.

As a general rule four rounds of voting and two smoke signals will take place each day, until a Pope is chosen. The exception to that rule occurs when a Pope is selected on either the morning of the afternoon’s first ballot. In that case, the smoke will be seen around10:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m.(Read more here.)

Black Smoke = No Pope Yet

Black smoke rose from the newly-installed chimney at the Vatican today signaling that a vote had occurred but the 2/3 majority had not been reached for any candidate.

We do not have a pope yet. But the College of Cardinals has voted.

Hopefully, it won’t be long.

A New York Times story describing this says in part:

 

VATICAN CITY — The cardinals of the Catholic Church held their first ballot on Tuesday to elect a pope, with black smoke signaling no winner on the first day of their conclave inside the Sistine Chapel.

Night had fallen by the time the smoke rose, but people who had flocked to St. Peter’s Square on this cold, rainy evening could watch the spotlighted chimney on giant screens set up in St. Peter’s Square. Some shrieked in excitement as the thick smoke began billowing out.

The outcome was expected, since all 115 of the cardinals are theoretically candidates, and the winner must receive two-thirds, or 77, of the votes. In past modern conclaves, the first ballot essentially served as a primary, when a number of cardinals emerged as leading vote-getters. Subsequent rounds made clear where the votes were flowing. The smoke will be white when a pope is elected.

 
The cardinals, who are staying in seclusion in the 

Vatican’s Santa Marta residence, will return to the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday morning. The schedule calls for two rounds of voting in the morning and two in the evening, as needed. (Read at the rest here.)http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/world/europe/vatican-pope-selection-conclave.html?_r=0


New Pope Will Have Time for Adoration Before He is Presented to the Public

Pope

“Habemus Papam!”

It won’t be long before we hear those words. When we do, and our new pope is presented to us, we can know that he has taken time to be with the Lord before walking out on that balcony.

One change from previous elections is that our new pope will be given time for prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament before he is presented to the public. 

I think this is a wonderful change in procedure. Time spent with the Blessed Sacrament fills a person with the peace that passes all understanding. 

The man who will become what some members of the press have called the “CEO for Christ” is going to need this peace, and those of us who are looking to him for leadership, guidance and inspiration need for him to have it. Prayer is the wellspring of the Christian life. Even though I sometimes get too busy to do it well, I always find what I need when I pray. At times, this is an understanding that I have been wrong and need to change. At other times, it’s peace and comfort. But it is always the Holy Spirit, guiding and sustaining me.

The Blessed Sacrament is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord. He reaches through it and into us. I can think of no other place where our new pope needs to go after his election than before Christ in the eucharist. 

A CNA/EWTN News article about this change in procedure for the new pope says in part:

.- In a change to past papal elections, the new Pope will have the chance to adore Jesus in the Eucharist before he makes his appearance on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi told journalists March 11 that, “when the Pope goes to the loggia, he passes the Pauline Chapel and will stop there for a brief moment of personal prayer and silence in front of the Blessed Sacrament.” (Read the rest here.) 

Video of Reaction to Election of John Paul II

I found this fascinating video of the announcement that Karol Wojtyla was the new pope: Pope John Paul II.

It is beautiful to watch and hear the astonishment of the reporters. They didn’t know then what we know now: That John Paul II was going to be one of the greatest popes, a man for the times.

I pray that God will send us another great man, one for these times, to be our Holy Father.

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Book Review: Our Place in the Order of Creation

To join in the conversation about The World is Not Ours to Save: Finding the Freedom to Do Good, or to find a link to buy a copy, go here. 


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We are the clay. God is the potter.

We are the created. God is the creator.

Our dominion over this Earth is ours by designation, not because we made it or because we can keep it. We have dominion over the Earth because God assigned it to us as a trust.  It is the same with our lives. We did not earn them. We do not merit through our own actions either life or love. We are here because God breathed the breathe of life into us and we became living souls. When that days comes that our souls are required of us, these bodies we inhabit will die and return to the dust from which they came. 

We exist as a thought in the mind of the God Who made us.

That is our place in the order of creation. We are free because God made us free. We have life because God gave us life. We are able to choose and decide and act out of our will because God gave us minds and hearts and the freedom to use them as we wish. 

But this world, this sinful fallen world with all its prevarications and cruelties can not be saved by our actions. There is nothing we can do to redeem humanity from its own willful sinfulness. Nothing we can offer that will turn back the tide of original sin that blights each of us and the whole of creation. 

What this means is that we can not play God. When we try, we fail. When we try continuously, we become weary with a Sisyphean weariness that leaves us defeated and bitter if we do not face the reality of who we are in the order of creation. 

Christians, in particular, are easy prey to the peculiar hubris of trying to save the world from itself. In my work as an elected official, I encounter people on a daily basis who profess Christ but behave as if He doesn’t exist. They battle for what they think is His cause with an angry fanaticism. But they do not have the faith to trust Him with the outcome. The less they trust, the angrier they become.

They work and worry and experience each defeat as a personal failure, until they are ready to fall over from emotional, physical and moral exhaustion. They take on the whole problem themselves. They forget that their might is nothing against the evil of a fallen world, and, more importantly, they forget that it is not, never was, never will be, up to them. 

All any of us has to do is our part. In the final analysis, all any of us has to do is what God tells us to do. In my experience, God doesn’t share His plans in detail. He just tells you what you are to do. Then, He tells someone else what they are to do. But He doesn’t tell either of you about the other. You part is to do what God wants and let Him unfold the plan.

Which He will. 

In His time and in His way, He will bring all the disparate parts of His plan together. You are a thread in the fabric He is weaving, nothing more. You may have to wait a long time to see it. You may not see it in this life. But the whole pattern will come together and when it does, it will be glorious beyond anything you could have thought of. It is not your job to see the whole of it. Your job is to trust and obey. 

You are free to enjoy the wonderful life He has given you, safe in the knowledge that He makes all things work to the good and whether or not you can see it doesn’t change that. 

As Tyler Wigg-Stevenson put it in the title of his book, The World is Not Ours to Save.

The World is Not Ours to Save: Finding the Freedom to Do Good is basically a meditation on Micah 4. Micah 4 is a prophecy of Christ and the conversion of the Gentiles, as well as the coming Kingdom of God. It contains the beautiful verses They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 

Tyler Wigg-Stevenson has obviously thought a great deal about these prophecies. He shares his interpretation of their meaning and applies them to the work of every person who feels called to engage in the social justice battlefield on the side of the Gospels. 

The World is Not Ours to Save is a wise book with excellent advice for those who are worn slick from trying to do God’s job of saving the world rather than focusing on simply doing their part. I recommend it. 

Busy Week Ahead.

I am going to be busier than anyone who has not been an elected official can imagine this next week.

I’m talking about long days that run into night of hearing bills counter-balanced with arguments, fights, anger, jostling, jangling over-stimulation that does not stop.

What that means to the readers of this blog is that I won’t be able to respond to you as quickly as some of you would like. I may very well get snappy in some of my infrequent replies, and more than likely I will make some really dunderheaded mistake.

So I apologize in advance.

And ask your forebearance.

In the meantime, let’s pray for the next pope. We need a great man to lead us through these contentious times.

Vatican Releases Detailed Schedule for the Conclave

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The Vatican has released a detailed schedule for the Papal Conclave which begins tomorrow. The earliest we could have a new pope would be Tuesday evening, around 7 pm.

According to everything I’ve read, this is unlikely. If the press has the story straight, there are no frontrunners. Based on what little I know about these things, it sounds like it will take more than one ballot to elect the next pope.

A CNA/EWTN article describing the Conclave schedule is below.

 

VATICAN CITY, March 9 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Vatican press office director, Fr. Federico Lombardi, has revealed details of the daily schedule of the Conclave set to begin March 12.The Mass for Election of a New Pontiff will take place on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. Beginning at 3:45 p.m., Cardinals will be transferred from the St. Martha House, the building where the Cardinals will reside during the Conclave, to the Vatican.

>From there, Cardinals will process from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel where they will pray Vespers and officially enter the Conclave at 5:00 p.m.

The first possible smoke sighting will be on Tuesday evening at around 7:00 p.m.

If the smoke is black, the Cardinals will reconvene the next morning beginning with Mass at 8:15 a.m. in the Pauline Chapel and mid-morning prayer. Voting will begin again at approximately 9:30 a.m.

There will be four votes per day, with two in the morning and two in the afternoon. (Read the rest here.)

Vatican Lockdown Ensures Vote by Secret Ballot

Vatican The Vatican is locking down for the big vote. That raises the question:  How do you keep a secret when more than a hundred people are in on it?

The answer is that you drive them to and from their meetings on a bus, lock them in, install jamming devices guaranteed to turn iPhones into clocks and iPads into pads. Then, to top it off,  promise excommunication to anyone — from those at the top to those who clean the floors — who talks out of school.

As we say in Oklahoma, that oughta do it.

I doubt if we’ll hear so much as a squeak from inside the Sistine Chapel while the votes take place. We will learn the outcome, but the vote, the deliberations and discussions, are for the ears of those making them.

This is an excellent idea. I am a strong believer in openness in governance. But I also know that there are times when people have to be able to consult with one another in private if anything positive is going to happen. Cardinals are people. This secrecy protects them — and us — from the pressures of electing a pope based on passing considerations of personal popularity.

We need the pope that the Holy Spirit wants. I am praying every day in my own shorthand version of prayer that God will give us a good pope. The challenges this man will face are our challenges as well. They are the problems and perils of Christianity at this time in history. The pope will have the only unified voice in Christianity today.

He speaks for 1.2 billion Catholics, and for another 800 million Christians of other communions. He also speaks for the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised of every faith and no faith all around the globe.

It is important that the cardinals vote, as we do, by secret ballot. It is also important that they cast these votes and discuss the issues surrounding them without cameras, bugs or gossip to inhibit them.

The following article from NBC News describes some of the measures being taken at the Vatican to ensure that this happens.

By Alastair Jamieson, Staff writer, NBC NewsROME — Jamming devices to halt communication were installed at the Vatican on Monday, as part of a security lockdown ahead of the papal conclave.

>The behind-the-scenes ballot process is supposed to remain a secret, but modern technology left Roman Catholic Church officials taking no chances.

< Staff working alongside the cardinals voting inside the Sistine Chapel must swear an oath of secrecy.

“I expect they’ll be on a total lockdown,” NBC News’ Vatican analyst George Weigel said. “Security is tight. It’s got to be.”

Jamming devices will be used at the Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican and the nearby guest residences at Santa Marta where cardinals will sleep during the conclave, officials told reporters on Friday

The move will ensure cardinals cannot communicate with the outside world or use social media. It will also prevent hidden microphones from picking up the discussions.

Any cardinals or Vatican workers –- such as those serving food in Santa Marta – breaching the code face excommunication from the church. (Read more here.)

Cardinal Dolan: The Camera Loves Him on Two Continents

TimothyCardinalDolan DNC 6sep2012

Star quality.

Some folk got it.

Some folk don’t.

You know what I mean. You see them on screen or in a photo and your eyes immediately fix on them. They aren’t always the best looking or the most glib or even the prettiest. But they’ve got that shine that makes people look and then want to look again.

Priests, bishops, cardinals and even popes are not normally rated or valued for their star quality. It isn’t an attribute that goes into the computation of what makes for holiness, fidelity, wisdom or, even, as many stars have proven, good sense. But in these days when everybody has a camera in their pocket and even the most klutzy geekophobe can manage to upload their digital treasures to the virtual Wild West of the internet, media stardom does take on a kind of transitory illusion of relevance and even power.

Every so often, brains, depth of character and moral strength combine in someone who’s been hit by the star wand. The camera loves them, and they can actually hold your attention without a script or teleprompter.

That seems to be what America has in Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Of all the places most of us would go looking for someone with star quality, the face under a cardinal’s hat would be one of last; especially when the cardinal in question is a portly, plainspoken Irishman with unabashedly old-fashioned ideas about faith, morals and modern life.

But star quality is one of those things you can’t explain. You know it when you see it, but you don’t really know why it’s there. It’s a kind of magnetism that draws and fascinates people. Even those who have it are often unaware of it and, if they do know they’ve got it, don’t know where it comes from.

Cardinal Dolan has been a blessing to the Catholic Church in America precisely because he can explain the Church’s position to the many millions on the other side of the camera. We’ve had others with this gift, but they have crashed and burned under the warping power of public adulation.

It appears that Cardinal Dolan doesn’t try to flay the emotional hide off people he disagrees with. He isn’t glib with quickie phrases that entertain the self-righteous while they cut the defenseless to the bone. There is nothing mean or mean-spirited or snide in the things he says. He stands for the church and doesn’t back down. But he also doesn’t try to destroy those who oppose him in this.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that people in Italy are just as charmed by Cardinal Dolan as many Americans. There’s something about a good-hearted man who’s willing to tell the truth instead of run away from it that is refreshing in this world. 

Based on things I’ve read in several places, Cardinal Dolan’s American brashness (and compared to most of the rest of the world, we are all brash, my fellow Americans, believe me) doesn’t offend. It captivates. That in itself is amazing.

There’s no denying it. The Cardinal has a kind of clerical star power, and he appears to have it without the lies, phoniness and outright heresies of many of the few other priests who have star power, too.

God love him.

I’m proud of him.

A New York Times article describing Cardinal Dolan’s situation says in part:

VATICAN CITY —

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, has become an object of fascination in Rome for the fluency of his juggling act: he is simultaneously head of the United States’ most prominent Roman Catholic diocese and president of its national conference of bishops, tapped by the Vatican for numerous prestigious assignments and by network television anchors for their most prized interview spots.

In the weeks since Pope Benedict XVI announced his intention to retire, the possibility that Cardinal Dolan could succeed him has been largely dismissed on the theory that his biggest strengths — outsize personality, Everyman affect, relentless public cheer — mark him as distinctively American in a way that makes it unlikely he would be chosen by his colleagues.

But in recent days, his joyful and telegenic orthodoxy is getting new attention in Rome; on Thursday, a prominent Vatican reporter, Sandro Magister, highlighted his qualifications, calling him “the consummate candidate, who represents the impulse in the direction of purification.”

Cardinal Dolan has colorfully dismissed speculation that he could be pope, saying that he expects, and is eager, to return to New York. Nonetheless, this papal interregnum has become an important period for him, presenting an opportunity for him to use mass media to reach Catholics in his vast and diverse archdiocese, and to elevate his stature as he faces battles with President Obama over health insurance regulations and with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York over a proposed liberalization of the state’s abortion laws.

He shows an easy demeanor; he is unfailingly positive, even when asked difficult questions. But even he is quick to say that he represents a new style, not a new point of view, for Catholic bishops. In an interview here, before the cardinals decided to stop speaking to reporters, he described the church’s teachings as a gift to be treasured, but said, “Let’s perhaps work on a way to wrap it in a more attractive way.” (Read the rest here.)


Military Under Fire: How Would the Repeal of DOMA and Gay Marriage Affect Military Chaplains?

How would the repeal of DOMA and the legalization affect military chaplains?

When you consider this president’s previous attacks on religious freedom, that is a sobering question.

This video from the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance discusses these questions.

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Marriage March

We are Catholic

This put a grin on my face. I hope it does the same for you.

Have a blessed Sunday, my friends.

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Pope Emeritus: What Does He Do?

I found this on the fine blog, iCatholicSalmon. Check them out.

How Do They Chose the Pope?

Are you curious how a pope is chosen? This video gives a quick overview of the process.

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Militant Secularism, Atheism and Rising Legal Discrimination Against Christians

Martin Niemoller

Militant secularism is on the march throughout the Western world.

It began with court cases concerning what were clearly government entities in nature. The first court cases focused on things that were problematic.

It didn’t take long for these court cases to move past the clearly problematic to a frontal assault on any mention of faith in any guise in even the most quasi of public situations anywhere in the country. In a few years, it broadened to include attacks on Christian public officials, which I have experienced myself. Verbal hazing and hectoring became such a commonplace that many public Christians began to self-censor their remarks to avoid it.

The reason for this is that public life is difficult and insecure enough without adding extra problems to it. Public officials and other public figures get worn out from the constant harassment and misery of being attacked 24/7. Also, the use of slander and mockery, can, over time, destroy their reputations and make it impossible for them to do their jobs.

So, they backed down. They self-censored Jesus out of their vocabularies. It was easier to keep quiet about their faith than to take it on the chin, especially since most of the American Christian world was cocooned in a rock-a-bye world of their own and largely indifferent to what was happening.

However, public figures are not the only targets these days. More and more, the courts have become a means of harassment and oppression of Christians who are private citizens simply trying to live their faith in their private world. Thus we have bans on student-initiated prayers in school, censorship of religious viewpoints from valedictory speeches and, lately, the banning of Christian groups from college campuses.

It was and is the Martin Niemoller poem, coming to life again.

I wrote a post yesterday, Atheist Governments: Failed Experiments in Godless Goodness which referred to this situation. This post is an extension of that.

One of the more interesting examples of forced removal of Christian art from public grounds is the Soledad Cross. This cross was designed by architect Donald Campbell and is part of a memorial for war veterans.

Americans were outraged when Al Queda blasted ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan because they offended their religious sensibilities. But they do not see the parallel in the forced removal of religious art from public places in our own country at the behest of a well-organized movement of militant secularists.

Mt SoledadYou can find a list, of the cases the Freedom From Religion group in Wisconsin is involved in now on their website. I would guess that this list is relatively small compared to the numbers of threatening letters concerning Christian art, speech and actives that it churns out on what appears to be a continuous basis. The Supreme Court has ruled that historic monuments may be preserved, but there are no guidelines as to what constitutes a historic monument.

The deluge of court cases that are brought by a couple of groups and dumped on public entities, coupled with the threat of costly litigation, usually results in people backing down without a fight. This is using the courts as a club to bully and intimidate ordinary citizens into giving up their rights.

The ACLU has joined with the Freedom From Religion Foundation in some of these lawsuits. They have also filed suits of their own. They claim, like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, that they are “defending” the Constitution and the American people from the dangers of statues in parks, plaques, and commentary in graduation speeches.

Both these groups often file lawsuits that are aimed, not so much at government policy, but the individual expressions of faith by government employees. They have worked assiduously to drive religion in general and Christianity in particular from the public square. In case after case they have filed suit against city parks, state governments, and courthouses all over the country. They have forced them to remove statues, and ban celebrations that smacked in any way of a Christian viewpoint.

You would think the mere sight of the Ten Commandments on a plaque was a threat to our liberty equal to say, banning prayer in schools, even when they are student-led, censoring personal religious comments out of student speeches or requiring college faith-based student groups to put atheists in charge.

Of course, that is exactly what has been happening in more and more places around the country. Here a few examples that I found of censoring student speech and attempting to force student religious organizations to admit unbelievers as members and leaders of their groups. I found these with a simple google search that took about 10 seconds.

Censorship of Christian’s Free Speech in Schools Christian’s Valedictorian Speech Censored by Principal District Pulls Plug on Speech  Attorneys Win Settlement in Cases Involving Censorship of Religious References from Valedictory Speeches Student Says Testimony About God Censored From Speech 

There are a number of cases of Christian student groups being kicked off college campuses because they refuse to put non-believers in positions of leadership in their organizations, or because they require that members be people of faith. There are many of these incidents. Some of them involve numerous press releases with denials and counter charges that go back and forth. However, I doubt that there would be any back and forth if the initial discrimnatory actions by the universities in question had not been taken.

Discrimination on College Campuses University of Michigan Kicks Christian Club Off Campus Campus Crackdown: Restricting Religious Freedom  Vanderbilt Christian Groups, Citing Religious Freedom, Follow Catholics Off Campus Rollins College Boots Student Religious Group Off Campus College Forces Christian Group Off Campus  Christian Groups Face Hostility on Campus  Universities Across Nation Kick Christian Groups Off Campus Christian Group Kicked Off Campus at Brown University 

If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. That’s one of the nifty little sayings pro-abortion advocates are fond of tossing around. However, in real life, they are using political clout with the president to create an abortion hegemony in which organizations, including the Church are forced to refer for abortions or be severely penalized.

The same kind of thing is at work with gay marriage. If you don’t believe in gay marriage, don’t get gay married, the slogan goes. But Christian groups on college campuses are being penalized for following their faith concerning what is rapidly becoming a gay hegemony. At the same time, Catholic adoption agencies in many states have been forced to close because they will not place children with anyone except a married man and woman.

This is militant secularism run amuck. It not only violates the religious freedom of American citizens, it deprives orphan children of loving homes and trafficked women of the help they need to get out of that life and move forward. Here are a few examples I found, again, with a quick google search.

Direct Discrimination Against Churches and Church Ministries Illinois Catholic Charities Closes Adoption Over Rule  Same-Sex Law Forces Catholic Charities to Close Adoption Program Bishops Say Rules on Gay Parents Limit Religious Freedom Discrimination Against Catholic Adoption Services  Oregon Catholic Charities Loses Grant Because It Will Not Refer for Abortion Kentucky Catholic Charities Shutters Aid to Traffickers Over Refusal to Refer for Abortion

 

I could go on with this, but I think I’ve made my point. The increasing harassment and move toward overt legal discrimination of Christians is so widespread and has been in the news so often that I honestly believe it is public knowledge. Anyone can find all the cites they want about it in a matter of a few seconds. I’m sure that what I’ve given here are not the best examples. I didn’t aim for that. I literally just took the ones at the top of the many pages of hits I got when I googled. They are also not meant to be comprehensive.

They are indicative. They indicate what is happening and why the concerns of Christians about the rise in overt anti-Christian activity on an official as well as a social level is well-founded. They also indicate a growing problem with how ideas like “inclusion,” “tolerance” and “equality” are being  codified and used to create enforcement that produces exclusion, intolerance and inequality for Christians.

Atheist Governments of the 20th Century: The Death Toll of Godless Goodness

Deathcamp

After 17 years in political office, I am familiar with many of the tactics political bullies employ.

One of the most commonplace — and effective — is disruption. I’m not sure when this began, but I do know that both the Communists and the Nazis used it to good advantage, and that it then moved onto the scene here in America in the last half of the 20th century.

The methodology is quite simple. Simply go into a meeting, an on-line discussion, a classroom or whatnot and make yelling speeches out of turn, ask strident and abusive questions, call people names and take over the place. Stop other people from talking by shouting them down.

The so-called “new atheists” employ this tactic constantly in on-line spaces where Christians gather. They often swarm on Public Catholic like a bunch of angry wasps. One of the tactics they employ (along with sending me a barrage of name-calling, abusive messages when I won’t allow them to post their name-calling, abusive comments on this blog) is to demand ridiculous levels of “proof” of any statement that anyone makes in favor of Christianity.

If you say that water is wet, they want a cite.

This is both tiresome and diversionary. It pulls the discussion away from the main points of the post in question, and refocuses it on the yelling blather of the disrupter. This is an especially good tactic to employ when you don’t have any valid points to make, as in, say, trying to argue against the simple fact that 20th Century atheist governments murdered many millions of their own citizens.

Just for the fun of it, I tried googling to find a source which gave totals of the people atheist regimes slaughtered in the past century. I found a lot of sites. Interestingly, the totals were pretty much the same, wherever I looked. So, instead of giving you a clickable site for what is common knowledge, I’m going to suggest a book. If you want to learn about deaths under the atheist regimes of communism, go to amazon.com and order this:

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If you want to learn about the tactics you’ve seen employed on this and other Christian on-line sites, go to amazon.com and order this:

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In the meantime, here are the generally-accepted death counts from atheist regimes of the 20th Century. I think it’s important to note that these figures are the most conservative I could find. For instance, Stalin’s death toll is only for the 1930s.

Hitler is a special case in that he is a right wing rather than a left wing killer. What this means in practice is that Hitler pandered to Christianity in his early rise to power, then took over the churches once he got in power. He enforced this by imprisoning and killing large numbers of bishops and Catholic priests as well as protestants. Anyone who tried to stand for the Gospels in his regime was signing their own death certificate. According to documentaries I’ve seen on the History Channel, Hitler made fun of faith and religious people in private.

In my opinion, claims that Hitler was a Christian at the time he committed these crimes (he may have been as a child, I don’t know) or that Stalin was a Christian, which I’ve also heard, put the claimants in the same intellectual space as holocaust deniers.

Another important point is that most of these deaths were the result of government leaders, killing their own citizens. Again, Hitler is a special case in that he also killed civilians in conquered territories of the Reich. Whether or not this made them citizens is a point of law. I think it does, since he was responsible for their governance.

There are a plethora of places where you can verify these numbers, if you are so-minded.

Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69, Tibet 1949-50) 49-78,000,00 people murdered

Jozef Stalin (USSR 1932-39 only) 15,000,000 people murdered

Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-79) 1,700,000 people murdered

Kim II Sung (North Korea 1948-94) 1.6 million people murdered

Tito (Yugoslavia 1945-1987) 570,000 people murdered 

Suharto (Communists 1967-66) 500,000 people murdered

Ante Pavelic (Croatia 1941-45) 359,000 people murdered

Ho Chi Min (Vietnam 1953-56) 200,000 people murdered

Vladimir Ilich Lenin (USSR, 1917-20) 30,000 people murdered

Adolf Hitler (Germany 1939-1945) 12,000,000 people murdered


Is There Christian Persecution in India?

Persecution is an ugly word. According to my online dictionary, it means “hostility or maltreatment, esp because of race or political or religious beliefs.”

That sounds simple enough. But, as usual, when you add politics and questions of power to the discussion, simplicity flies away. Political definitions, especially when they are trying to obscure reality, quickly become something too complicated for ordinary mortals to either understand or take action against.

Persecution, in the hands of politicians, becomes a tiny target that almost no one except the few that the politicians have decided (usually for reasons other than the persecution itself) they want to help. The reason for this is that slippery words like persecution are problems for politicians who hold the responsibility for nations and organizations in their hands.

If the definition of persecution is too easy, then they will find themselves faced with a moral responsibility to act, and actions from political units always mean committing the resources, and sometimes the lives, of their citizenry. Any good government takes care of its own people first. No head of state, either secular or religious, wants his or her options for governance directed by open-ended definitions of words like “persecution.”

This isn’t hubris. It’s necessity. Heads of state have been entrusted with the lives and well-being of their citizens. They cannot commit them wily-nily to the righting of every wrong there is. In the first place, righting every wrong is a practical impossibility. There too many wrongs for any one entity to right, even if that entity is a government. Also,  evil and cruelty are hydra-headed. Chop off one evil and two more grow in its place.

Governments are very careful about what they chose to call persecution because persecution is a loaded word that demands a morale response and moral responses lead to demands for action. Actions by government, any government, are big moves that result in endless ripples of effect that can not be either controlled or predicted.

Governments shy away from easy access to their power through words like “persecution.” They create nuances and artificial qualifications in their definitions of the word that force almost all the people who suffer real-life persecution, sometimes even to the death, outside of its meaning.

In this way, they can excuse themselves from becoming ensnared in demands for action against the hydra-headed monster of persecution of innocent people that flares continuously around the globe.

What becomes problematic in this is that they also can try to stop the rest of us from acknowledging the truth of what’s happening, as well. A lot of governments are more afraid of their own people than anything else. The more oppressive a government is, the more this is true.

They do not want their citizens going off and naming persecution as what it is because they fear what might happen if this catches on in the popular imagination. They are afraid of having to act and they fear that people who call things for what they are might involve enough other citizens in their concerns that the demands for action will get out of hand.

This critical balance between necessary government conservatism about committing itself and its citizens to causes, fights, wars and troubles that are not its own, and the clear-cut facts of merciless situations leads to almost laughable twisting and turning of language. People use the tools at their disposal, and government has legal definitions of things at its disposal.

Government can create any definition of any thing that it wants. It can call the mass murder of millions a “final solution.” It can define medical murder as “death with dignity.” It can write definitions with such pinpoint specificity that no one except those it wants to let in will fall under those definitions.

I believe that is what has happened to the word “persecution.” So many people are suffering and dying all around the globe that no government, no entity, can hope to respond to it. If any one government tries, it will end up exhausting its resources and accomplishing nothing.

This is not evil. It is necessity. It is responsible care-taking of the people whose lives are in a specific government’s hands.

However, that does not oblige you and me to go along with these pin-point definitions of persecution which defy common sense and rational thought. We are free to look at reality as it is, without the varnish of legalese. We do not have to accede our personal vision to the blinders that government wears. We can look at things as they are.

Is there Christian persecution in India? Unless a lot of sources from a lot of places are all colluding in a massive confabulation, the answer is yes.

Here are two videos I found on YouTube. The second one is an actual video of an attack on Christians which resulted in their deaths. So be warned, it’s hard to watch and not for everyone, especially children.

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Christian Persecution and the Terminology of Death

Desolate by Hoddie

Years ago, I had a conversation with a nice woman who held a responsible position in the Episcopalian (or Anglican, as it is called in most countries) missions agency. She kindly agreed to introduce me to several African Anglican bishops. In the course of our conversation, she told me that none of the Christians in the countries where these bishops presided were suffering “pure” persecution, since what they were going through did not come by direct government order.  Her contention was that “persecution” could only happen if a government ordered it.

She introduced me to a number of bishops, despite the fact that I did not agree with her on this. They gave me an entirely different story. They had no doubt that what they and their people were undergoing was persecution, many times to the death, for their Christian faith.

One bishop from Northern Nigeria told me that five of his churches had been burned to the ground, that his daughter had been seized, and that a member of one of his parishes was murdered by a mob that put the man over a sawhorse and cut off his head. I can still hear the pain and horror in his voice as he described this to me.

Yet, by the definition I had heard none of this would qualify as persecution.

I had an interesting conversation earlier today with a sophisticated and knowledgeable Catholic who holds the same view. If I understood him correctly, the only persecution that can be officially accepted as such is that which comes as an official action by an official government of the type that occurs in North Korea, Saudi Arabia and China.

I’ve been chewing on this all afternoon. I understand — or at least I think I do — the difference between government-enforced persecution and that which comes from groups of people in a society. There are few things more draconian that government-enforced persecution. However, to label everything that is not government-enforced as “not persecution” just doesn’t jibe with me; not if the horror stories I’ve read and been told are true. 

I’ve spent a fair lifetime in the world of political jargoneering, and I have an admittedly cynical view of it. When people parse the meanings of words to avoid the obvious fact that other people are being murdered, it triggers enormous emotional and mental resistance in me.

I tried to find the United Nations definition of persecution by looking online, and all I found were definitions related to refugees. I’ll quote the salient parts as I discuss them.

The first definition, which is a definition of persecution itself, says:

51. … From Article 33 of the 1951 Convention, it may be inferred that a threat to life or freedom on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group is always persecution. Other serious violations of human rights – for the same reasons – would also constitute persecution. (Emphasis mine.)

I’m not versed in International law, but taken on its face, that seems to say that what the bishop from Nigeria described to me, as well as most of the other things I’ve heard and read, fit this definition of persecution.

The second part of the definition goes to what both the two people who think persecution only occurs at the behest of a government are probably referring to:

65. Persecution is normally related to action by the authorities of a country. 

However, the same definition goes on to say:

It may also emanate from sections of the population that do not respect the standards established by the laws of the country concerned. A case in point may be religious intolerance, amounting to persecution, in a country otherwise secular, but where sizeable fractions of the population do not respect the religious beliefs of their neighbours. Where serious discriminatory or other offensive acts are committed by the local populace, they can be considered as persecution if they are knowingly tolerated by the authorities, or if the authorities refuse, or prove unable, to offer effective protection.

The violent persecution I’ve described on this blog and heard about in my discussions with people from these countries seems to fit this definition to me.

All this came from a Google search. I may have the wrong definitions. However, it does show that at least part of the United Nations definitions of persecution include situations such as those I have been writing about.

The reason I’m going over this is because I believe that people are being murdered, imprisoned and otherwise mistreated in large parts of the world today because they are Christians. If I am wrong about this, I want to know it.

If, on the other hand, I am right, I intend to persist in calling it out so long as it continues and I am able to say anything about it.

My thoughts run along these lines:

This was not a government action.

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But it was persecution. 

 

This is not a government action either.

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But it also is persecution.

 

I am trying to understand how we can work around the intractability of legal definitions which narrow the meaning of persecution to the point that it allows things like these and does not call them by name.

Papal Conclave Begins Tuesday, March 12

The CNA/EWTN story describing this says in part: 

.- After five days of meetings, the College of Cardinals has voted to hold a conclave to elect the next Pope on Tuesday, March 12.

“The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013,” Father Federico Lombardi said in a March 8 message to reporters.

The cardinals will celebrate a Mass For the Election of a New Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning and “in the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave,” he confirmed.

Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam arrived in Rome on Thursday afternoon and with his presence the College of Cardinals reached its full number.

The cardinals were able to choose an earlier date than was previously allowed under Church regulations because Benedict XVI issued a declaration to make that possible. (Read the rest here.) 


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