Saturday, May 03, 2008
Green is in. I find the green movement just about everywhere I go. It's seeping into philosophy, into education, into medicine. I find it in food, in fashion, and in home decor. In fact it is so prevalent that if Colleen McCollough is correct in saying that "People have contempt for whatever there is too much of", green is already on its way out. No, probably not.
Not to be left behind, our Church has embraced this craze as well. A recent link at Spirit Daily brought me to a column in the Tulsa Beacon by architect Randy Bright, titled "Eco-theology may emphasize creation over the Creator." Since that is my belief as well, he captured my attention.
Bright reviews an issue of Faith & Form, an architectural journal that focuses on religious architecture, themed "Greening God's House", which included the theology of John Paul II reviewed in an editorial in the publication. The main article was written by architect Roberto Chiotti, and featured a project of his firm recently completed, St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin, church home of a Passionist parish in Toronto, and the first Gold-LEED church in Canada. Motivator for the project was Father Thomas Berry who seeks "to establish a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship." This would be the same Thomas Berry who wants to "put the Bible on the shelf". The usual green theology makes its appearance in the article, and then Bright writes:
What disturbs me is how the worship of creation instead of worship of the Creator is seeping into some of our churches. Are our roots so shallow in our knowledge of the scripture and our knowledge of God that we cannot see flawed thinking? Are we becoming so enthralled with the fad of green design that we must justify it with a philosophy that demeans God’s creation of mankind and that relegates us to a position equal to or even lower than animals or plants? Or in the words of Chiotti, become “co-creators” with God?
While there are many things in the green movement that are good, and we should always be striving to manage the Earth’s resources better, we need to be careful not to get so caught up in the green movement that we diminish the sovereignty of God.
I couldn't have said it as well myself!
A brief article from the Daily Commercial News by Dan O'Reilly provides some details about the new church building.
- It is the "first place of worship in Canada to achieve LEEDS certification"
- It took 18 months to build
- It replaced a 50 year old church
- It has waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, and solar powered low-flow faucets
- It uses passive solar heating
- It provides a 50 percent reduction in energy costs (compared to what he doesn't say)
Most significantly O'Reilly tells us:
"Reducing costs was one of the reasons for building a green church," says parish priest, Father Paul Cusack. But our primary motivation was to establish a link between the sacredness and gathered community of faith and sacredness of Earth."
Ok, you can pick your jaw up off the floor now!
We worship what is sacred, do we not? The Sacred Heart for instance? Father Cusack has told us that we worship the earth and ourselves!
Let's take a look at this variety of Earth/self worship. Here's the church. I hope the sign out front is quite large given that this looks much more like a local library here in the Akron area than it looks like a church. In fact, 50 years from now when the parish decides yet again to abandon its building, maybe the local library can make use of it.
The website tells us the old church had been "built...in a farmer's field" but today it "stands in the centre of a vibrant and bustling urban landscape." Just imagine what this eco-friendly church is going to look like in 50 years given the same advance in civilization the last 50 brought. Unless they bought up a large portion of land, these folks are going to be building another church long before the usefulness of this building has expired. I hope the cost savings of the current one is worth it. Somehow I don't think so.
As the Baptismal font scrolled up on my computer screen, my first thought was that I was looking at one of those new urinals. Ah, but no, this one has water in it. The walls that aren't glass in this place creep me out. They remind me of a mausoleum.
And then there is the altar. Note the three candlestands? Sort of like the three lights of Masonry?
The LEEDS award is explained in the website in an article titled "New Church Project Article #1". That's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEEDS. Gold is the coveted higher LEEDS award.
Here I learned that the 50-year-old previous church was a "deteriorating facility that had become prohibitively expensive to operate and maintain". My house was built in 1957. I sure don't think of it as "deteriorating". Perhaps if the good priest had kept up with the maintenance, his church would not have been "deteriorating" either. Let's hope he does better with this new state-of-the-art (read expensive) model. That damning quote about sacredness of the earth and man is right there in their parish website! He even elaborates:
Unlike most churches built to inspire a sense of other-worldliness, the new St. Gabriel's is designed to emphasize that when we gather to worship, we do so within the greater context of creation.
I would have thought a crying baby or two at Mass would have taken care of that. I don't go to church to worship creation. I go to church to be in the house of God. If I want creation, I go out in the backyard and pull weeds.
The priest has bought the zeitgeist of ecological crisis. I don't get the impression he believes God can handle it, either. He quotes Rosemary Radford Reuther to back up his statements. According to this priest water that is polluted can't be used in Baptism? Says who? He takes the typical earth-centered deep ecology position that the earth is more important than man:
[Thomas Berry] believes that the real hope lies in our ability to re-establish an integrated sense of the whole, to redefine a cosmology based not upon an anthropocentric view of the human as primary but based instead upon a biocentric understanding of the earth as primary and the needs of the human as derivative.
That is a radical departure from our theology which teaches that we are made with a soul in the image and likeness of God. After reading through Article #1, I concluded that this new church is a monument to Thomas Berry who is still living, I believe. It certainly wasn't conceived as a house of God.
But wait! It gets worse in "New Church Project Article #2". Now we are asked "How will you address the sun?" Actually I won't be addressing it because it doesn't talk.
The "south facade of the worship space...is glazed with clear glass" to "harness the winter sun's energy". Doesn't the sun rise in the east and set in the west? In any case the website says that in this liturgical environment "time...takes on a cosmic dimension as the sun traverses the sky above" so that "no two masses will experience an identical liturgical environment." The liberals have been arranging that "no two masses" concept for quite a while with a lot less cost involved.
The chapel of reservation is stuck in the north end of "this sacred axis". Isn't it traditional to face God by facing east? Not here. Here worshippers face God by facing north. Isn't there some pagan god that comes out of the north? Anyway...
They have made an "unprecedented investment" in an underground parking garage. When you have a giant window, looking out at cars it messes with your symbolism, I guess. Worshippers are supposed to sit in church and forget how they got there perhaps. Cars, after all, are so disgusting when you're an environmentalist. Best to keep them underground. The parking lot has reserved spaces not for the handicapped (though it might have those as well) but rather for the car pooling and hybrid vehicle parishioners. I guess this is a wealthy parish. Check out the cost of hybrid vehicles.
The piece de resistance turns up in this second article. It dwarfs all of the rest of my critique in its magnitude of heresy.
Pedestrians who approach the church from Sheppard Avenue are greeted with "stations of our cosmic earth" situated strategically along the path through the garden. Based upon a series of eight stained glass windows commissioned for the chapel at the Passionist's Holy Cross Centre for Ecology and Spirituality, the stations depict significant moments in the evolutionary story of the universe and the pilgrim journey of humankind within that story. The first station depicts the "big bang", the initial bursting forth of energy at the beginning of time from which all else has evolved. The following two stations move through the coalescing of matter to form our solar system and the emergence of early life forms within the seething primordial broth of our planet's oceans. The fourth depicts the emergence of the human.
It goes on from there, but you get the idea. The article also speaks of "the Passion of Christ including the Passion of the Earth", which means that the Earth is redemptive in the opinion of this priest. In any case he tells us
The new building as sacred space presents a "Gestalt whole", and like the medieval cathedrals of Europe, becomes itself a form of Catechesis, engaging the senses and inviting transformation.
As you build, so shall you pray?
Now what was it again that Randy Bright had to say about the dangers of eco-theology?
What disturbs me is how the worship of creation instead of worship of the Creator is seeping into some of our churches. Are our roots so shallow in our knowledge of the scripture and our knowledge of God that we cannot see flawed thinking?
Ummmm, yes, I guess they are. How did these parishioners get suckered in?
Friday, May 02, 2008
CROSS ? STAY AWAY !
NOR has linked a Jerusalem Post story telling of a Cardinal, an Archbishop and two Protestants who arrived at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. They were not permitted to gain access because they were wearing crosses. According to the article:
The site's rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz, said all must respect its sanctity to Jews. "They were asked to remove the crosses, but they refused," he said.
A website calling itself "IMAO" purports to have a sermon delivered by Jeremiah Wright posted on its website. I don't know anything about the website. In a presidential campaign, I have to believe that if it weren't true, one of Obama's campaign managers would have done something about it.
But what if it is true?
It's racist. It's anti-Semitic. It provokes violence.
How could someone running for president stomach such rhetoric? The fact that he could, and for many years, would surely disqualify him for candidacy, wouldn't it?
Again, that's not an argument against him, because maybe he should be a Muslim. They're doing God's work: Blowing up the honkeys and the Jews. So only reason that all those crackers oppose Obama is that they know he's going to succeed at what he promises: Killing the honkeys!
Now some tell me that we shouldn't be for killing the honkeys. We should just turn the other cheek. Who says this? That cracker Jesus! Well, answer me this: Has Jesus ever been called a [n-word]? Did anyone invent AIDS to kill Jesus? Well, maybe Jesus should not be lecturing the black man on what he should and should not be doing. As we speak, the government is working on plans to send all black people to Venus! That's right: NASA is going to send us to Venus where it is inhospitable to life and we will all die. So what does Jesus have to say about that? Nothing! God bless Jesus? No. God [expletive] Jesus! To hell with him! Throw his cracker ass out of here!
Those are the words of revolution. Does Obama actually buy this stuff? Lord God Almighty!!
Spirit Daily has linked the New York Times spin on Wright, including this:
Though their views are not necessarily representative of those of black ministers elsewhere, many pastors here describe Mr. Wright, who belongs to the liberal, predominantly white United Church of Christ, as a friend and role model. He is a frequent guest in North Carolina pulpits, and has been a voice in state social issues for decades.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
CATHOLIC WRITER'S CONFERENCE
I registered for it. Then the hospital episode sucked up a lot of time. Consequently I wasn't able to get through the 12 emails explaining how everything is supposed to work until tonight. I started wading through them, and got lost very quickly. I really am a computer illiterate. Also noticed that a lot of stuff seems to already be closed because they have been registering people for individual sessions while I've been dealing with doctors, so looks like I'm out of luck for taking part in any of it. Oh well, I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow anyway.
To give you an idea of what I'm talking about if you're interested, the directions for getting involved in the conference are given in this portion of the conference website. I tried to wade through this as well. My brain refuses to cooperate. It is detailed out. All I was hoping to do was check in to listen...er read...anyway. Maybe I'll try tomorrow to do that.
LITTLE PORTION HERMITAGE
Yesterday I found a story linked at Spirit Daily about a fire at Little Portion Hermitage which destroyed the chapel and dining hall. I read it and moved on, but one line in the coverage kept nagging at the back of my mind..."Viola and I were the first on the scene."
Viola, I presumed was a woman. John Michael Talbot, who presumably represented the "I" in the passage and who signs himself "Founder and Spiritual Father" of this facility, appeared to be a monk. A monk and a woman were the first at the scene of the fire? Aren't monks celebate? What was a woman doing there in those hectic moments when the fire had first been discovered? It didn't jibe.
Last night when I couldn't sleep, I turned to the computer for something quiet to do, and this story came back to mind. A little digging brought forth a lot of information.
First of all the fire was also reported by American Papist who accounted it "horrible". He was advertising for donations for recovery and rebuilding. Presumably the story is accurate.
I found the layout of the monastery at the Hermitage Tour website, and discovered that there are facilities for sisters, for families, for brothers. This is not your ordinary monastery.
The fire story was also covered at Talbot's website where I learned that John Michael Talbot is a Catholic recording artist, apparently a rather successful one given that he is advertising his 50th album, though reviewer Cliff Doust at Cross Rythms thought his "Chant from the Hermitage" was "competent" but "devoid of harmony" and "tedious." He also indicates the album contains "John Michael Talbot-penned psalms". Is he saying Talbot is in the business of rewriting Scripture?
On a website promoting Talbot's recordings I learned that Little Portion is a "Catholic-based ecumenical community". Here he is referred to as the "General Minister of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at Little Portion Hermitage in Arkansas". He is the Catholic "minister"--how's that again???
Google brought up a Letter about Talbot to the Editor of New Oxford Review by Richard & Joann Marshall. Commenting on an NOR article, they were not particularly impressed with him after attending one of the retreats given at the Hermitage in 2001:
We were shocked as Talbot talked about Eastern religions and mysticism, and how great Buddhism and other Eastern religions are, and how much we can learn from them....
...they had two Buddhist ladies meditating with crossed legs and making a humming sound...
...there is a retreat called "Come to the Quiet"..."Searching in Eastern religions for mystical experience and answers..."
I found the beginning of the article at the NOR website. It's not complimentary.
I found the description of the retreat on the monastery website:
Searching in the Christian Hesychast tradition for mystical experience and answers? This retreat will help you with meditation as both theory and experience found in the depths of our own Christian tradition and with integrations with other faith traditions.
Director: John Michael Talbot
Apparently singing is not Talbot's only forte. He believes he is a qualified retreat director as well.
But Talbot isn't the only one directing retreats at Little Portion. The Arkansas Catholic website carries an article about Father Thomas Keating leading retreats at the Hermitage. There is a picture with the article showing
John Michael Talbot (seated center) and his wife Viola looks on as Father Thomas Keating addresses members of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at Little Portion Hermitage Aug. 15
Wife?! Talbot is pictured wearing a cassock, cross, and beard. Is he trying to imitate an Eastern Orthodox priest? They, after all, are allowed to be married. But they are ordained, while Talbot's claim to fame is his music, not his priestly ordination, which he doesn't have.
I found the listing of retreat directors at Little Portion. Michael Card is among them.
Michael Card is a renowned Christian composer, author and performer who has received numerous Dove awards, most notably for the hit song, "El Shaddai," and acclaim as a Gold Medallion Book award finalist for his theological works. He holds a master's degree in biblical studies, and is currently working on his doctorate in classical literature. Michael reads both Greek and Hebrew, and wrote his own translation from the Greek text for his commentary on John.
Though awards and recognition are always a welcome affirmation of any artist's work, Michael states, "The purpose of my music, books and concerts is to focus in on and worship Christ. The songs and writings are just vehicles to accomplish this purpose."
When did singing popular Christian music qualify someone as a retreat director?
There is Steve Rabey:
Steve Rabey is an award-winning author who has written over twenty books and more than 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and popular culture for magazines, websites, and newspapers. His articles have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The American Spectator, and many others. He also serves as a member of the adjunct faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary.
If I'm not mistaken, Fuller Theological Seminary is Protestant.
And there is Annie Karto, a singer-songwriter, and Ida Hayworth, a nurse. Finally down at the bottom in last position is Fr. Robert Dombrowski, a parish priest. At least one member of this retreat team is actually qualified, though he must be an ultra-liberal to be able to show his face in this crowd.
But singing and songwriting is not Talbot's only talent. He writes books as well, again on spiritual themes, and the monastery provides a forum through which he can sell them. They sell jelly too. And God knows what else. This business and religion mix appears to be a lucrative combination. When something goes wrong, such as your building burning down, you can always remind everyone that you are a charity and accepting donations.
Talbot has another website called PrayTwice.com where this man of many words expounds further, once again pictured in what appears to be a "priestly" cassock.
There is a lot more on the web about Talbot, but by this time I was finally getting sleepy and decided to quit.
My conclusion after all of this research was that Talbot has got a good thing going posing as a quasai priest while basking in stardom and leading a money-making operation to push his goods. It looks like gullible Catholics are getting sucked in.
The more I thought about it, the more this outfit looked to me like a cult such as Jonestown or that community in Waco, Texas that the Feds set on fire several years ago, only this time it wears the label "Catholic". And now they too have had a fire.
The Holy Spirit is often pictured as a fiery tongue, and I can see that Little Portion Hermitage has a Retreat labeled "Fire of God". Perhaps the old adage could be applied: Be careful what you pray for!
"BAPTISM" OF THE RINGS
Dallas Morning News reports:
COLLEGE STATION, Texas, April 30, 2008 -- Texas A&M University has a new and sober, but uplifting, tradition.
This year, for the first time, instead of following the two-decades-old tradition of dunking newly acquired Aggie rings in a pitcher of beer, more than 200 students and former students had their rings blessed and dunked in Holy Water after Mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church across the street from campus.
The idea of blessing and dunking Aggie rings into Holy Water began at St. Mary's when the Rev. Father Brian McMaster decided that Holy Water would be more meaningful than the current beer-dunking tradition.
Katy Jackson, manager of the Dixie Chicken restaurant, an Aggie hangout across the street from campus, said the beer-dunking tradition began in the early 1980s during a beer-drinking evening. An Aggie, showing off his new ring, accidentally dropped it into a pitcher of beer. Not knowing any other way to get it out, he chugged the beer, giving birth to a tradition.
Anomaly or New Springtime?
TIMING IS EVERYTHING - STATISTICS ON THE PAPAL VISIT
Reuters reports on the polled statistics concerning the Papal visit. He scored well. I think this visit was a success. It appears that what made it a success was his meeting with the sexual abuse victims. Without his sincere regret and apology, without this meeting, his visit would not have been able to start the healing process. As it is, I do think a healing process has begun with Benedict's actions.
I also think that had he made the visit six months ago it would not have been nearly so successful. He came when the headlines were starting to fade from the morning papers, but before the tragedy had faded from the minds of the laity. The timing, in retrospect, appears to me to have been nothing less than brilliant.
A pope talks all the time, and is constantly quoted in print form. Thus his words carry less of an impact. His gestures, however, hit us right between the eyes. At least that is how I see it from the statistics reported.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
CANCER JOURNAL - I NEED TO VENT
Please, if you're not up to listening to complaining, skip this post. I really need to complain.
I've just come from my doctor's office--the doctor in Family Practice who is treating my blood clots. Unbelievably he tried to blame me for not knowing what dose of Coumadan they gave me at the hospital! Now he wants me to keep a diary of what dosage I take. It changes every day. And it seems that I'm going to have to go in for repeated blood tests in order to monitor the Coumaden while I'm on chemotherapy. In other words I'm going to be continuing to take rat poison and living on a leash. I think you can guess how I feel about that.
He has no explanation how I could develop another blood clot while taking Coumaden. He does believe that my arm will continue to swell indefinitely because I have had a blood clot there. This is my left arm. It swelled up all the way down into my fingers yesterday when I attempted to run the vacuum and dust. I can no longer wear my wedding ring because of the fear that my fingers will swell and it will have to be cut off. They made that clear at the hospital.
The doctor has no answer for the breakdown in communication at the hospital. He did admit that it broke down.
When I pressed him, he agreed that it was the hospital's responsibility to record what dose of medication they give me, and that the information should be transmitted to him via a file. He apparently does not have that information, and judging by the pressure he was putting on me to keep a log of my Coumaden dosage, he can't get it.
I haven't had breakfast yet. A glass of scotch and water is lunch. I'm beyond angry.
As I told the doctor, I feel like over last weekend I passed from a woman living with cancer to a woman dying from it.
My next appointment with him will be on Friday. At $30 a crack, this is going to get expensive!
I haven't yet had it out with my oncologist. That meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.
I don't have any plan of attack for this situation yet. But every cell of my being is screaming "Nooooooooooo!" right now, and so far the scotch isn't helping.
ENOUGH FRUSTRATION FOR THIS MORNING
Blogger is behaving like an evil stepchild this morning. I haven't been through the Catholic news yet because all my time has been spent dealing with Blogger. The posts below will have to suffice for the present since I have a doctor's appointment this morning.
SISTER CARMELINA TARANTINO OF THE CROSS, C.P.
I'm not sure what a "Facebook" is, but I received email from the creator of a Facebook website devoted to the nun. Her story there is interesting, and sounds like other stories of saints that I've read, though I don't believe she has been canonized. I attempted return mail to the email I received, but Mailer Deamon sent it back. It does appear as though this is an effort in the cause for sainthood. Check it out.
Satanic symbols adorned the garage door of a Cape Coral man when he got home from work Monday, according to police.
Randy Bickley, 39, said a “very messy” pentagram was drawn on his garage door in permanent blue marker, along with the words “Hail Satan.”
The article indicates the graffiti could not be washed off. The owner believes juveniles did it. Read the story here.
That is the title of a program across the pond with many branches. I found it described in this website :
Making a wonderland for wildlife - amid England's former “dark satanic mills” – might sound like an unusual way to celebrate Pentecost. But that's exactly what's being promoted by Bradford's Hope08 team.
Christians in villages, towns and cities across the UK are uniting for this Hope08 high point - 'hope where you live' - as part of Pentecost. The aim nationally is to accumulate one million ‘hours of kindness’.
Pictured is Prince Caspian from the "Chronicles of Narnia", sword at the ready. This program is being spun as a "knightly" endeavor, prompting me to wonder if it is Rosicrucian in origin.
Another of the Hope2008 branches caused me to do a doubletake. Check out the video here. The website poses as dark and evil, yet what is being promoted should be seen as light and bright. It's confusing in its images, and thus attention grabbing and unsettling.
The rest of the links at the Hope2008 website are less dramatic and resemble more the typical Christian Church imagery.
STRIP CLUB BECOMES CATHOLIC CHURCH
Big changes got under way for a local Lake County strip club to convert it into -- believe it or not -- a Catholic church.
Rafa's nightclub recently went out of business, and the building's new owners have been busy stripping it of its old roots.
Read it here.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
If you were old enough to be interested in the news in the 1960s, you know the destructive capacity of Thalidomide to unborn babies. Given to pregnant women to stop morning sickness, it produced horrific birth defects including deformities of the arms and legs, as described in this National Toxicology Program report. The word "Thalidomide" still sends shivers of horror down my spine.
The drug is back on the market, but not for pregnant women. I first learned of its use in treating breast cancer. As with most cancer drugs it is used to prevent development of cells, a critical factor in the development of a fetus.
It is being used to treat leprosy as this CNN report indicates. Research is ongoing for its use in treating inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
The drug, though, is no safer for unborn babies than it was in the 1960's. An article on its use at the Cancerbackup website says:
You must not become pregnant or father a child while taking thalidomide, as it causes severe abnormalities in developing babies. Women will be asked to have a pregnancy test, to check that they are not pregnant. They will also be advised to use a highly effective form of contraception (such as implanted, or injected contraception) as well as a barrier method (such as a condom or cap).
Men taking thalidomide are advised to use a condom during sexual intercourse even if they have had a vasectomy. Both men and women will be asked to use contraception for four weeks before starting treatment and for four weeks after treatment has finished.
Obviously this poses real ethical questions for a married Catholic woman of child-bearing years who has one of the diseases it is used to treat, especially if she is already a mother with an obligation to her living children. Does she reject this treatment, even if it might be the only hope of survival? Does she refuse sexual relations with her husband, thus jeopardizing the marriage? Does she violate the Church's prohibitions and practice birth control?
The same dilemma is presented to a married man, but in his case, there is no upward limit on the need for birth control.
As drugs of this nature are increasingly produced, Catholic morality will not be able to ignore this medical-ethical dilemma for much longer.
SOUR GRAPES ?
In a CNS story linked by New Oxford Review, Archbishop Piero Marini, former papal liturgist, claims:
Liturgical renewal launched by the Second Vatican Council is an "irreversible path" and has not been affected by Pope Benedict XVI's concession on wider use of the Tridentine rite, a Vatican official said.
"The pope's decision has so far not produced any change in the celebrative practice of our ecclesial communities. His gesture was only one of service to unity," Archbishop Piero Marini, who arranged papal liturgies for more than 20 years, said in an interview April 25 in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.
"Therefore let's look ahead and let's continue with enthusiasm the path undertaken by the council," he said.
MEDIA OUT OF TOUCH WITH CONSUMERS OF MEDIA
Bishop Philip Tartaglia says there is a "fundamental disconnection" between media and consumers. Endorsing Pope Benedict's doctrine of "info-ethics", the bishop says the media have lost ethical underpinnings.
In a message sent to all of Scotland's 500 Catholic parishes for the 42nd World Communications Day, Bishop Philip Tartaglia claims that "a fundamental disconnection between the provider and the consumer" has occurred in the media....
In it, the Catholic leader suggests that "mass communications can fairly be charged with losing the ethical underpinning that once existed [in it]".
Read the article.
ITALIAN CULTURAL CATHOLICS
Richard Owen of the Times in Rome reports:
Italy professes to be a Catholic nation - but a majority of Italians do not know "even the most basic facts" about the Bible, according to a survey.
The international poll, conducted by Eurisko for the Catholic Biblical Federation, showed that in Italy only 14 per cent of those questioned were able to answer a series of questions about the Bible correctly. They included whether Moses or St Paul featured in the Old Testament, whether Jesus had written any of the Gospels, and whether the Gospels form part of the Bible. Another question which defeated most Italians was: which of the following - Luke, John, Peter and Paul - wrote the Gospels?
Among the respondents 88 per cent of Italians described themselves as Roman Catholics, three quarters said they kept a Bible in their home, and 79 per cent said they felt their lives were "protected by God". But only 32 per cent described themselves as "regular churchgoers", and only 28 per cent thought the Bible should be taught in schools.
Monday, April 28, 2008
ALZHEIMERS PATIENTS IN THE HOSPITAL
Yesterday when I was at the hospital waiting to get my blood test and shot, and when the staff was clearly overworked, I noted that one of the reasons was the Alzheimer's patient they were trying to control. He was fully dressed which seemed odd given that he had a room which he wasn't staying in. When he turned around, I noticed a big sign on his back giving his room number, apparently put there so someone could bring him back to where he belonged when he strayed. He was talking with the floor secretary who was trying to get him to go back into his room.
He needed a sitter, but the hospital refused to provide it, saying that the family must take that responsibility. I learned that "the family" was his 80-year-old wife who had been up all night with him. Obviously he was a major reason why I was left sitting for half an hour and why my medication had not been ordered. I could sympathize. My mother had Alzheimers. Caring for an Alz. patient is a 24/7 job. Unlike a baby, who can be just as demanding, you can't pick up the adult and put him in a crib where he is confined; and there is an unlimited number of objects within any home or hospital with which a person who has lost his mental capacity can get into serious trouble. Burdening the staff with this sort of caretaking means that other duties are left undone, as in my case.
At the rates a hospital charges this is completely unacceptable. I felt that my care was jeopardized by the situation, but I could speak for myself and did so. Patients on this floor were elderly and bedridden and not so fortunate as I was.
This reduction of everything related to healthcare to the bottom line dollar sign MUST be interrupted. It is the reason I feel that I must be my own advocate and set limits for what I will accept whenever I enter the medical arena. The world of medicine should not be an adversary of the sick, but that is what it has become since insurance companies entered the picture. It has not always been the case. I've lived long enough to remember the days when I viewed health insurance as unnecessary and not worth the trouble of filling out the paperwork. Back then there was no interruption between doctor and patient. Increasingly that insurance company interruption is pitting healthcare providers against healthcare customers in a world of medicine that too often resembles a Kafkaesque nightmare.
A CONTRACT ON THE POPE
According to an article which reviews a newly issued book at a Polish news site linked by Spirit Daily, eight members of the Russian politburo, including Mikhail Gorbachev, sanctioned a contract on the life of John Paul II in 1979.
GETTING OUT OF THE ADOPTION BUSINESS
The Bishop of Nottingham Malcolm McMahon says his diocese will cut its ties with an adoption agency because it cannot accept the government’s new laws on homosexual rights.
Bishop Malcolm McMahon said he and the trustees of the Catholic Children’s Society adoption agency felt that they had been forced into the decision by the Sexual Orientation Regulations which bans discrimination against gays in the provision of goods and services.
The law would compel the diocese in certain circumstances to place children in the care of same-sex couples.
“We have been coerced into this, I am not happy about it at all,” Bishop McMahon said. “The regulations have coerced the children’s society into going against the Church’s teaching, and we don’t wish to do that.”
A Vatican directive issued in 2003 said it was morally wrong to place children in the care of same-sex couples.
Read the rest...
SAVING CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
In an article by Kathryn Lopez, editor of National Review Online, she writes about President Bush's concern about inner-city Catholic schools closing in large numbers dumping poverty stricken students into a failed public system. Lopez would like to see McCain take up this "human rights" cause:
You’ve no doubt heard about Catholic school closings. According to the White House, between 2000 and 2006, almost 1,200 faith-based schools closed in America’s inner cities. The closings have thus far affected nearly 400,000 students in the United States. President Bush calls the alarming numbers a “crisis.” At the summit, he said: “They’re places of learning where people are getting a good education and they’re beginning to close, to the extent that 1,200 of them have closed. The impact of school closings extends far beyond the children that have to leave these classrooms. The closings place an added burden on inner-city public schools that are struggling. And these school closings impoverish our country by really denying a future of children a critical source of learning not only about how to read and write, but about social justice.”...
Faith-based — often Catholic — schools offer hope to many inner-city children in America. These schools change lives. These schools could distinguish an otherwise Wonder Bread politician (albeit an American hero) from a conventional liberal propping up a preacher of hate and spouting that same old backward song of dependent despair. Sen. McCain, lead by following the civil rights leader of your party.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
FROM THE EMAILBOX
Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 03, Number 17 | Friday, April 25, 2008
A Tribute to Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo
"A Life in the Service of Life"
(Used with permission of The Wanderer.)
When Pope John Paul II established the Pontifical Council for the Family on May 13th of 1985 - the morning of the very day he was shot in St. Peter's Square - he may not have understood how countercultural this Council would be, nor how effective. Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo assumed the mantle of leadership for the Council in 1990 and hit the ground running on his new mission. Because of his experience defending the Church in his home country of Colombia, where he was threatened with death numerous times by terrorists, he was perfectly suited to be the custodian of the Church's splendid treasury of teachings on life, marriage and family in a worldwide ministry.
In Cardinal Lopez, the Church had a warrior for all that was true and good. For many years he was involved in the fight against liberation theology in Latin America, which was a systematic attempt to adapt the authentic Gospel message of freedom in Christ to pernicious Marxist doctrines. As President of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) in 1979, he invited Pope John Paul II to make his very first foreign trip to the CELAM conference in Mexico to help forestall what many considered to be an imminent schism in Latin America due to the bishops' overall endorsement of liberation theology.
Later, as head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, he worked tirelessly for the clarification and affirmation of the Church's teaching on all life and family issues from a pastoral point of view. One of the major, but behind-the-scenes, initiatives of Cardinal Lopez was his regular seminars with bishops around the world to educate them on ways to pastorally implement these teachings in their dioceses. He knew well the impact that a Cardinal from a Vatican Council could have on members of the hierarchy, especially in the poorer countries of the world. For that reason he also established the triennial World Meeting of Families to bring together the most influential organizations and brightest minds of the world community in the defense of life, marriage and family at a time of unprecedented attacks on these sacred realities.
Among the top achievements of the Pontifical Council for the Family under Cardinal Lopez' tenure has to be the magnificent document called The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality issued in 1995 dealing with the issue of educating the young in matters of human sexuality. In it, he lays out the Catholic version of human sexual education with all the rules, caveats and, indeed, the beauty of this task for parents and Catholic educators. The Council reaffirms a fundamental truth that is firmly ground in Catholic theology and tradition: namely, that parents are the proper educators of their children in these matters and that other educators, even in Church schools, only involve themselves under the authority and supervision of the parents. This document gave hope to countless parents and pro-life advocates who have seen the nefarious programs of sex education destroy the souls of children for decades.
Perhaps his greatest impact, however, was his intrepid willingness to publicly defend the truth about life, marriage and family in the face of attacks from both the pagan world and Church dissenters. Cardinal Lopez was nothing short of a tour de force for orthodoxy. Case in point; when Spain was debating the passage of a "same sex marriage" law in 2004, His Eminence urged government leaders to engage in civil disobedience and refuse to perform "gay marriages" if the law were passed. That gesture made him the whipping boy of the ultra liberal Spanish press for years. Similarly, in that same year when both he and Pope John Paul were attacked by the BBC for the Church's "retrograde" prohibition of the use of the condom to stop AIDS, Cardinal Lopez responded with one of the best documents ever produced by a Vatican dicastery, Family Values vs. Safe Sex, in which he set down, unequivocally, the Catholic and pro-life position declaring that the Church would not worship the condom god for any reason whatsoever. The Cardinal even went so far as to call for governments to put warning labels on condom packages because, as statistics prove, the chances of "death by latex" are much greater than the prospect of death by smoking.
In 2006, he unabashedly said something that can scarce be heard from the mouth of any Church authority these days; namely, that those who destroy human embryos should be excommunicated. The Church believes categorically that an embryo is a human being with all the rights inherent to born human beings, and so, logically, the destruction of innocent human life should merit the same canonical penalty as procured abortion. It was refreshing to see that someone at the highest level of the Vatican hierarchy was able to apply canon law to the real depredations of the culture of death.
Human Life International certainly enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with His Eminence. He was a keynote speaker at HLI's world conference in Houston in 1993 and thereafter participated in HLI-sponsored conferences in Chile, Argentina and Mexico. HLI translated and published the Council's monumental Lexicon of Ambiguous and Debatable Terms and massively distributed the Family Values document around the world. Just three weeks ago, HLI representatives in Rome visited with the Cardinal, little knowing that we would be one of the last groups to formally visit and work with this eminent champion of love, life and the family.
It is said that one dies the way one lives, and that certainly is true of this man who was the voice of conscience to the Church on these issues. In what must have been one of his last official acts, the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines received a letter from Cardinal Lopez last week advising them that it is never licit to accept funds or donations from companies that promote the culture of death. "Accepting such funding creates confusion among the faithful, as they give the impression that abortion, and the production, distribution, and use of contraceptives and abortifacients are acceptable practices," the prelate said; and he added that "it would provide those working against the family grounds for extremely persuasive criticism to attack and discredit Church organizations and the Church herself, especially through charges of incoherence and insincerity," he said.
If Pope John Paul II has been recognized as the "pope of life," Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo will undoubtedly be remembered fondly as the "prelate of life" for his uncompromising commitment to the good of life and family. Now, we pray that this champion of life will enjoy the fruits of his many labors in the Life that awaits us all.
NO MORE ECUMENICAL PROGRAMMING
A vote for Catholic truth in advertising...If the station calls itself Catholic, it should actually be Catholic.
For 24 years the Rev. Chris Rose has been the voice of WJMJ radio's "Sunday at Six," a religious program from the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, so when word trickled down a few weeks ago that his show was being canceled, he was shocked.Read more...
Of course, Rose asked why the station's owner, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford, was taking this step.
The answer, he said, was more upsetting than the cancellation itself.
The archdiocese is eliminating most of its Protestant shows, switching to a primarily Catholic format, and has not yet decided how, or in what numbers, ecumenical programming will continue.
I read this as an early indication that Benedict's visit has generated a change in the wind back to enthusiasm for the religion we claim to embrace.
Tellingly, the article says:
...Whealon, who died in 1991, specifically sought to create an ecumenical station as a way of complying with the spirit of Vatican II.
Perhaps the "spirit" has expired.