Category - Faith and Spirituality

Catholics don’t have to breed ‘like rabbits’, says Pope Francis

Pope says Catholic church supports “responsible parenting” but criticises ‘ideological colonisation’ of the developing world

Pope defends church’s opposition to artificial contraception

AP, January 20

Catholics do not have to breed “like rabbits” and should instead practise “responsible parenting”, Pope Francis said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters en route home from the Philippines, Francis said there were plenty of church-approved ways to regulate births.

But he firmly upheld church teaching banning contraception and said no outside institution should impose its views on regulating family size, blasting what he called the “ideological colonisation” of the developing world.

African bishops, in particular, have long complained about how progressive, western ideas about birth control and gay rights are increasingly being imposed on the developing world by groups, institutions or individual nations, often as a condition for development aid.

“Every people deserves to conserve its identity without being ideologically colonised,” Francis said.

At that, Francis’ head exploded from the cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy.

Anchor Leaves CNN After Paris Tweets


aletejahtv

NYT – The veteran CNN anchor Jim Clancy has left the network after a series of Twitter messages he wrote about the terrorist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

In the tweets, which were sent on the day of the attack, Mr. Clancy wrote about the cartoons the paper had published depicting the Prophet Muhammad, but he then began criticizing supporters of Israel and sparring with other Twitter users. Mr. Clancy’s Twitter account has since been deleted, but the tweets were published on several websites, including Gawker, Twitchy and Mediaite.

Pope strongly defends church teaching against contraception

AP, January 16

Manilla – Pope Francis issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia’s largest Catholic nation to urge families to be “sanctuaries of respect for life.”

Francis also denounced the corruption that has plagued the Philippines for decades and urged officials to instead work to end its “scandalous” poverty and social inequalities during his first full day in Manila, where he received a rock star’s welcome at every turn.

[…]

Francis has largely shied away from emphasizing church teaching on hot-button issues, saying the previous two popes made the teaching well-known and that he wants to focus on making the church a place of welcome, not rules. But his comments were clearly a nod to the local church, which recently lost a significant fight when President Benigno Aquino III pushed through a reproductive health law that allows the government to provide artificial birth control to the poor.

“Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death,” Francis exhorted the crowd. “What a gift this would be to society if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation.”

He then deviated from his prepared remarks to praise Pope Paul VI for having “courageously” resisted calls for an opening in church teaching on sexuality in the 1960s. Paul penned the 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” which enshrined the church’s opposition to artificial birth control.

Francis noted that Paul was aware that some families would find it difficult to uphold the teaching and “he asked confessors to be particularly compassionate and understandable for particular cases.”

But he nevertheless said Paul was prescient in resisting the trends of the times.

“He looked beyond. He looked to the peoples of the Earth and saw the destruction of the family because of the lack of children,” Francis said. “Paul VI was courageous. He was a good pastor. He warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching, and from the heavens he blesses us today.”

Oklahoma to stage first execution since botched procedure 9 months ago

Lethal injection of convicted murderer will use controversial drug cocktail; Florida also set for execution Thursday.

AP, January 15

After a nearly nine-month delay prompted by a botched lethal injection last spring, Oklahoma plans to execute a death row inmate Thursday with the same controversial three-drug method Florida intends to use around an hour earlier.

Oklahoma prison officials ordered new medical equipment, more extensive training for staff and renovated the execution chamber inside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary to prevent the kind of problems that arose during the execution of Clayton Lockett in April. Lockett writhed on the gurney, moaned and tried to lift his head after he’d been declared unconscious, prompting prison officials to try to halt his execution before he died.

Attorneys for the state say a failed intravenous line and a lack of training led to the problems with Lockett’s injection, not the drugs.

Both Oklahoma and Florida plan to start the executions with the sedative midazolam, which has been challenged in court as ineffective in rendering a person properly unconscious before the second and third drugs are administered, creating a risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering.

Johann Hari: ‘I failed badly. When you harm people, you should shut up, go away and reflect on what happened’

He was the Independent’s star columnist whose lying and cheating destroyed his career. Now Johann Hari is back, with a book about drug-taking – including his own. But will anyone believe a word of it?

The Guardian, Decca Aitkenhead, January 2

When I heard that Johann Hari had written a book about the war on drugs, two immediate concerns sprang to mind. The first was whether anyone would trust a word he wrote.

The author used to be the Independent’s star columnist, a prolific polemicist and darling of the left, until his career imploded in disgrace when it emerged in 2011 that many of his articles contained quotes apparently said to him but in fact lifted from his interviewees’ books, or from previous interviews by other journalists. Worse, he was exposed as a “sockpuppet”, or someone who anonymously furthers his own interests online. Using a false identity, Hari had maliciously amended the Wikipedia pages of journalists he disliked – among them the Telegraph columnist Cristina Odone and the Observer’s Nick Cohen – accusing them of antisemitism, homophobia and other toxic falsehoods. Under the same pseudonym, he had also edited his own Wikipedia page, lavishly flattering his profile to, as he puts it, “big myself up”. The Independent suspended him, four months later he resigned, and no British newspaper has published his journalism since. He has never spoken publicly about the scandal, until now.
Read More

Vatican forever bars woman who bared breasts

Grabbed baby Jesus statue

Thomson Reuters, December 27

Vatican City – The Vatican said it had arrested a member of women’s rights group Femen who on Christmas Day bared her breasts and grabbed a statue of the baby Jesus from a nativity scene in front of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

Femen’s website says the woman was protesting as part of its anti-clerical “Massacre of the Innocents” campaign contesting religions’ “maniacal desire to control women’s fertility”.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Friday that Ukrainian citizen Iana Aleksandrovna Azhdanova was being detained and questioned by a Vatican judge. On Saturday, the Vatican said she had been released and was forbidden to return to the Holy See.

He said she was accused of vilification of religion, obscene acts in public, and theft. He said her action “offended the religious feelings of many people”.

Saudi terrorism court ‘to try women drivers’

BBC, December 25

Two Saudi women who were detained for defying a ban on female drivers are to be tried in a terrorism court, activists say.

Loujain al-Hathloul, 25, and Maysa al-Amoudi, 33, have been in detention for nearly a month.

The women’s cases had reportedly been transferred over comments they had made on social media – rather than for their driving, according to activists.

India lawmakers demand Modi speak on mass conversion to Hinduism

AP, December 22

New Delhi – Opposition lawmakers, charging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done little to stop hard-liners in his party from forcibly converting religious minorities to Hinduism, threw Parliament into an uproar Monday, with the upper house of Parliament adjourned after descending into shouting matches.

Right-wing Hindu groups allied to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party whose members are overwhelmingly BJP members have conducted a series of ceremonies across India over the past week to convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.
Read More

First woman bishop: parish priest Libby Lane is surprise choice

Bookies off the mark as Church of England names the Rev Libby Lane as its first female bishop in Stockport, Greater Manchester
The Telegraph, By John Bingham, December 17

A parish priest from Hale has made history as the first woman to be named as a bishop in the Church of England.

The Rev Libby Lane, a 48-year-old mother of two, is to be the next Bishop of Stockport in Greater Manchester.

It comes more than 20 years after the ordination of the first female priests in the established church and almost a century after the first attempts to open the ministry to women.

After the announcement, she said: “This is unexpected and very exciting.

[…]

The appointment, which was kept a closely guarded secret, is being formally announced by Downing Street after being approved by the Queen.

The Established Church is now the last great institution of public life in Britain to open its upper reaches to people of both sexes.

The milestone is expected to be the first of a handful of announcements in the coming months of women being admitted to the episcopate.

It comes as ministers also prepare to introduce new legislation to fast-track women bishops into the House of Lords.

They hope it will mean the first female clerics will be taking their places among the “Lords Spiritual” of the Upper Chamber before the General Election.

Urban Inuit: Nomads from the Arctic find new home in Canada’s capital

The Inuit migration south to Ottawa has picked up speed, a challenge for those used to traditional life

Al Jazeera, By Leyland Cecco, November 23

Ottawa, Ontario — Dion Metcalfe pulls up his shirt to reveal an inukshuk tattooed onto his stomach. The stone cairn, used to guide or mark a path in the North, is coupled with a compass and the names of his family.

“My Inuit name is Aalla; it means stranger,’’ he says as his fingers trace the Inuktitut syllabics.

For most of his life, Metcalfe has been a stranger. Born to an Inuit father and Dutch mother in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Canada’s east coast, the family moved to Ottawa when he was six months old. His father went to a residential school, a system notorious for its abuse of students, and what he suffered there he inflicted on his son. Metcalfe grew up bullied at school and at home, caught between two cultures.

Long known as nomads of the Arctic, the Inuit have been migrating to southern urban centers for nearly a half-century now. To outsiders, the Arctic is a barren polar desert, but the Inuit communities thrived there for thousands of years, braving winters with little daylight, and in some areas, temperatures that dipped below -50°C. Dog sleds were once used both for day-to-day travel and hunting, these days largely replaced by planes and snowmobiles. Because of the uniquely isolated nature of life in the North, myths about Inuit lifestyle, such as kissing with noses, still persist.

Half of Americans Think Climate Change Is a Sign of the Apocalypse

What a new report on theology and global warming means for public policy

The Atlantic, By Emma Green, November 22

Snowmageddon, snowpocalypse, snowzilla, just snow. Superstorm Sandy, receding shorelines, and more. Hurricanes Isaac, Ivan, and Irene, with cousins Rammasun, Bopha, and Haiyan.

The parade of geological changes and extreme weather events around the world since 2011 has been stunning. Perhaps that’s part of why, as the Public Religion Research Institute reported on Friday, “The number of Americans who believe
that natural disasters are evidence of the apocalypse has increased somewhat over the past couple years.”

As of 2014, it’s estimated that nearly half of Americans—49 percent—say natural disasters are a sign of “the end times,” as described in the Bible. That’s up from an estimated 44 percent in 2011.

[…]

This is an interesting study in how religious beliefs affect thinking on science and current events, but it also may have implications for how people view public policy and their responsibility for the natural world. If God will intercede to stop humans from destroying the earth—which 39 percent of respondents believed to be true—why legislate limits on carbon emissions? Or, for that matter, why drive less, or eat fewer steaks, or change any behavior that affects the environment?

[…]

To be fair, people’s views on the existence and importance of climate change aren’t the same as their views on environmentalism, and this is reflected across the religious communities that were included in the survey. Significant majorities of Jews, mainline Protestants, white and Hispanic Catholics, and the religiously unaffiliated agreed that God expects people to care for animals, plants, and the planet. But 43 percent of black Protestants and 46 percent of white evangelicals said the opposite: The earth, they say, was made for the use of humankind.

Thomas Merton Listening to the Rain

This, via Monksworks, from Thomas Merton:

Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money. By “they” I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold is not real, so that the only way to make something actual is to place it on the market. The time will come when they will sell you even your rain. At the moment it is still free, and I am in it. I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness.

The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the wood with an immense and confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with insistent and controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer.

Read More

U.S. Catholic Bishops Hope To Calm Anxiety Over Pope Francis

AP, By Rachel Zoll, November 10

Baltimore (- no irony) — America’s Catholic bishops came together Monday to project an image of unity, after a Vatican meeting on the family unleashed an uproar over the direction of the church.

Last month’s gathering in Rome on more compassionately ministering to families featured open debate — alarming many traditional Catholics, who argued it would undermine public understanding of church teaching. Pope Francis encouraged a free exchange of ideas at the assembly, or synod, in contrast to previous years, when such events were tightly scripted.

At a meeting Monday in Baltimore, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz[?], president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, signaled there was no conflict between a gentler approach and upholding church orthodoxy. Kurtz cited his home visits to parishioners, where he wouldn’t give them “a list of rules to follow firsthand,” but would instead “spend time with them trying to appreciate the good that I saw in their hearts,” before inviting them to follow Christ.

“Such an approach isn’t in opposition to church teachings. It’s an affirmation of them,” said Kurtz, who attended the Vatican gathering.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, who also participated in the Vatican gathering, emphasized that last month’s meeting was only the start of a discussion before a larger gathering on the family next year, where bishops will more concretely advise the pope on developing any new church practices. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said the divisiveness he read in media accounts did not reflect the collegial discussion inside the event.

“It was a synod of consensus,” Dolan said. The pope, he said, has a God-given gift “for attentive listening.”

Such a bullshitter is Mr. Dolan.

Newsweek: Will American Bishops Follow Pope Francis’s Progressive Lead? We’re About to Find Out
NCR: Agenda for bishops’ fall meeting includes discussion on family synod

Washington – The U.S. bishops’ conference will hold its annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore Nov. 10-13. The agenda includes a discussion of last month’s Synod of Bishops on the family.

A number of liturgical items will be discussed and a handful of elections held. Additionally, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., elected president of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops a year ago, will deliver his first presidential address.

Kurtz’s address: USCCB November 2014 General Assembly Presidential Address

… fruitful discussion and unity of purpose….a couple who prays together tends to stay together….better convey St. John Paul II’s remarkable vision of marriage and family life as developed in his theology of the body (the body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God, and thus to be a sign of it.)…the Church is a home and a family for everyone…We stand with the Little Sisters of the Poor, who simply want to serve others with integrity of faith.We’ll continue to uphold religious liberty against government actions like the HHS mandate in order to protect our ability to fully witness to the Gospel…

…and anxious they should perhaps be, via The Independent: Pope Francis invites Patti Smith to play at Vatican Christmas concert
Related, Seattle PI: New Chicago archbishop brings Francis-like message

Separating Church and State Still an Issue in the US

Truthout, By Eleanor J. Bader, November 8

It bills itself as “southwest Florida’s newest hometown . . . A town where children can ride their bikes to school, walk to the candy store and scoot their way to the ice cream shop. Where neighbors are friends and life is good. Where everyone enjoys life as it is meant to be lived.”

Yes, it sounds like Mayberry, USA, but this is not the description of a made-for-TV utopia. Indeed, it’s a very real place created by Domino’s Pizza founder and former Detroit Tigers’ owner Tom Monaghan, in partnership with the Florida-based Barron Collier companies.

Indeed, Ave Maria, Florida, was founded as an unincorporated “stewardship community district” in 2005. Florida’s then-governor Jeb Bush attended Ave Maria’s groundbreaking and dubbed it “a new kind of town where like-minded people live in harmony between faith and freedom.”

Faith? Freedom? For Monaghan, the two are inseparable, and he has trumpeted his intention of creating a city “according to strict Roman Catholic principles.” As he sees it, this means that stores will be unable to sell pornography, pharmacies will be barred from selling condoms or other forms of birth control, and cable TV will not be allowed to carry X-rated channels.

Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

The Voice of America, By Carolyn Presutti, October 18

Miami – Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion.

According to the organization whyIslam.org, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino.

And according to Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO), a group that promotes Latino conversions, a little more than half of new converts are female.

Greisa Torres arrived in Miami four years ago from Cuba.

While she felt at home in the Florida city, where two out of the three residents are Hispanic, Torres says she lost her identity in the move and found it in the Prophet Muhammad.

[…]

Londono says her research found that some people might view Islam as giving women less freedom, but the converting Latinas see it as a positive change.

“It defines their world on a clear grid of what’s permitted or ‘halal,’ and what’s prohibited which is ‘haram.’ So they know exactly where they stand,” Londono says. “So the Koran becomes this guidebook that tells you exactly what to wear, what to eat, how to wash, how to behave, when to pray.”