Saturday, April 05, 2003

From Catholic Herald, the Milwaukee Diocesan paper, comes a story about a prayer service conducted at St. Matthias parish on the Feast of the Annunciation, but this service had absolutely nothing to do with the Blessed Virgin or childbirth! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, April 04, 2003

According to a report from the Worldwide Faith News archives, representatives of the Catholic and Episcopal Churches are attempting to form an amalgamation of the two. Prof. J. Robert Wright of the General Theological Seminary said: "We're down to the important issues now, the bedrock, where our reasons for staying separate must be for reasons of the highest magnitude, and we do believe there are some issues that mean we must stay apart for the time being--but with a resolve to face those issues head on with renewed vigor because we can see more clearly the issues that divide us." Those are some serious issues, including women's ordination, homosexual marriage, and the authority of the papacy. According to the NCCB website, on March 16, 2002, members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States (ARC-USA) "visited Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco and St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Cathedral where Archbishop Levada presided at a Eucharist. After the liturgy he hosted a dinner for the members in his residence. The Right Reverend William Swing, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, joined the members at the liturgy and dinner, as did the ecumenical officers of both dioceses." This joint visit gives the impression that both cathedrals, and thus both religions, are equal. Bishop William Swing is the founder and promoter of United Religions, a form of syncretistic religion that will encompass all faiths and worship Gaia. How can Roman Catholics dialogue with a promoter of such an idea? At the heart of the discussions is a document developed in 1999 called "The Gift of Authority," produced by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. The document can be read here. According to Church Executive Magazine, U. S. talks are co-chaired by Episcopal Bishop Edwin Gulick of Louisville, KY and Catholic Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco. Their on-line article dated April 3, 2003 - "Catholics, Episcopalians propose joint-bishop meetings" indicates "Episcopal and Anglican bishops should accompany Roman Catholic colleagues when they make their periodic reports to the pope and attend Vatican synods, and participate in meetings of the U.S. bishops' conference with a voice but no vote." CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Is it open season on America over there in Rome? First it seemed that Rome was indifferent to our sexual abuse crisis, making only a few statements opposing what had taken place. The relative silence, compared to the loud and strident protest of the war in Iraq, was deafening. So noteworthy, in fact, that the combination of the two carried a message of Roman disfavor for America to me. But the war and sexual abuse are not the only subjects on which Rome puts America down. This morning an article at ZENIT makes it clear that America is viewed as the big bad behemoth in the north. In a review of his book "A Challenge for Latin America" ("Una Scommessa per l'America Latina"), Guzm�n Carriquiry Lecour, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, asks: "Will the champions of free trade maintain customs barriers against our products? More than aid, Latin America needs free access to the markets, abolishing protectionism." But he offers a qualification: "At the same time, it must be careful not to deny its Ibero-Indo-American and Christian roots, so as not to fall into the quagmire of unrestrained capitalism, he cautioned." The implication that we are a "quagmire of unrestrained capitalism" seems obvious. They don't like us over there in Rome, but they'll be happy to have our dollars to facilitate the process of constructing the "United States of South America." How did we make the No. 1 position on the Non-Favored Nation list? Could it be because American money is so essential to Vatican programs that they have learned to resent us...biting the hand that feeds in the process? Americans can resent too. Resentment at being used is entering my thinking more and more often. Meanwhile Zenit brings us the story of the Pope relying on the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe to guide his steps over the last 25 years. As I consider those years here in the Church in America, I can't help but consider abortion, the sexual abuse scandal, the nuns teaching goddess worship, the abberations in the liturgy, "renovated" churches, Catholic universities teaching non-Catholic doctrine, "Vagina Monologues," the sex education programs in our parochial schools, demands from nuns for women's ordination and the acceptance of homosexuality, the critical decline in vocations to the priesthood...it's a litany of decay. And I can't help but think about Matthew 8:23-27. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

A number of Mid-East journalists make short statements about their view of the war. They are unanimous in claiming that Bush and Blair have acted illegally in invading Iraq as well as expressing concerns about destabilization of the political arena of the Mid-East. What is surprising are a few statements placing the blame on the Iraqi regime and a statement by Al Omar who says: "This war could have been avoided if the Arab countries and the international community considered the UAE proposal asking Saddam to leave Iraq and allow the UN and Arab League to establish a democratic government. At the end, this was the only solution to avert a war and bring stability in Iraq and the region. If Arab countries unanimously agreed to the proposal the war could have been avoided." CarrieTomko@aol.com

One of the Marian apparitions (I forget which one) foretold that a time would come to the Church when bishop would oppose bishop. "The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino, Calif., sued the Archdiocese of Boston yesterday, alleging that Boston officials hid the history of sexual molestation by former priest Paul Shanley when he moved to California. The lawsuit, filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court, is believed to mark the first time that one US Catholic diocese has sued another in civil court, according to both dioceses. As such it is a further indication of how the sex-abuse scandal has moved through the Catholic Church, overturning long-established customs. A spokesman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington called the lawsuit, at the least, a historic 'rarity.' The lawsuit accuses Catholic officials in Boston of engaging in 'misrepresentations and suppression of information' as well as 'active misconduct and negligence' in hiding the background of Shanley, who has been accused of molesting boys since 1967. He moved to San Bernardino in 1990 and has been accused in a civil lawsuit of assaulting at least one teenager while there. In that lawsuit, Kevin English has sought damages from both dioceses, contending he was abused starting when he was 17. San Bernardino officials say that they have not turned up evidence to corroborate English's claims so far, but that a settlement could nonetheless cost upward of $12 million. That would be enough to push the diocese 'to the brink of bankruptcy,' said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the diocese. The lawsuit aims to ensure that whatever amount English is paid comes from Boston, not San Bernardino. ''We should not have to pay for Boston's mistake,' Lincoln said. " "Others said the case shows that internal fractures among the nation's bishops, which have until now been confined to closed-door meetings, increasingly are becoming public." CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

It's a shortcoming of this American, who tends to forget how geographically large the Mid-East is, to imagine that all of the Arab world is fighting a war with America. For that reason it blows my mind to access Gulf News and discover what looks to be just another segment of Western Civ going about its daily business. The tunnel which will run under the Dubai International Airport and the picture of the traffic patterns around the airport could be a story about any large American city. CarrieTomko@aol.com

David Mills at Touchstone Magazine offers his perspective on the depopulation trend in Europe. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, March 31, 2003

This is the regime the Pope supports: U.S. forensics experts and mortuary personnel are now trying to determine the identities of the dead soldiers. But officials fear the worst. Inside the hospital, the shocked Marines found bloodied pieces of an American female soldier's uniform. Her name badge and American flag were missing. Now, investigators believe that the hospital was a den of horror rather than healing and was used by the fanatical Feyidah militia as a staging area and headquarters. Inside, the leathernecks found one room that was equipped with a bed and a car battery, indicating that it was used to electrically torture prisoners. How is this different from Nazi Germany? CarrieTomko@aol.com

A story on "The Sex Lives of Christian Teens" from Christianity Today offers the perspective of teenagers on pre-marital sex. Among the ideas expressed in the story are these: A growing concern surrounds definitions of what actually constitutes "sex." Many teens, it turns out, are using new, less-restrictive classifications to justify the acceptability of sexual activities. "One of the new trends in adolescent sexuality that might be surprising for parents is the dramatic increase in oral sex," says Kara Eckmann Powell, a professor of Christian education at Azusa Pacific University and a youth pastor at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California. "Largely because of the exposure it has received in the media in recent years, teens don't think it's sex, so they're experimenting more and more with oral sex. Often it's the girls who initiate it because they see it as a way to gain intimacy and connection with guys," Powell adds. * * * * * Michelle, a quiet, attractive 16-year-old, says she enjoys school, loves God and her church, but finds her youth group a little dull. Asked whether the group talked much about sexual issues, she replies, "We don't talk about it at all." She wishes that her youth leader would address some of her and her peers' real-life questions�"Maybe if we talked about some of the stuff that's going on with us, then it wouldn't be so boring." * * * * * At 17, John was a handsome and energetic high school senior with a charming smile and winning personality. Popular for his athletic prowess, he had learned that such recognition brought with it certain expectations. "Of course, there was always a lot of pressure to have sex, from teammates and other kids," he says. "I was a football player, you know. And the girls�they really come after you. But the Bible is clear. No sex till marriage." Now 18 and studying business administration in college, John says the main thing that helps him maintain a biblical standard of purity is a steadfast emphasis on his objectives. "I haven't given into drugs, alcohol, or premarital sex because I see where indulging has taken a lot of my peers," he says. "You have to stay prayed up and know what you want out of life. You don't want to limit yourself. Having babies or getting AIDS is not on your route. If you're focused on your goals, peer pressure shouldn't faze you." Asked about Christian friends who gave in and became sexually active, John answers knowingly. "It starts out as curiosity. They want to know what it feels like. I want to know, too. I really don't want to wait. But I don't want to pay the costs of not waiting, either." And John isn't just talking about physical costs. "I've seen some Christian guys and girls who start having sex, and they change. They still go to church, but their spiritual lives become fake. When you are consistently doing wrong and know it, your spiritual life becomes empty and you get farther and farther from God," he says. "Sometimes you end up not really believing in anything ." CarrieTomko@aol.com

What to make of this I mean, it's a good thing that men are renewing their Catholic faith, right? It's not a Catholic kind of thing, though; it's an evangelical kind of thing. A camp meeting kind of thing. So should we be happy about it becase it encourages men to practice the faith, or should be be leary of it because it's Protestant? CarrieTomko@aol.com

Environmentalist population controllers agitate for acceptance of birth control and abortion. Meanwhile, populations are beginning to decline, bringing problems we haven't yet addressed. A story from the Times Online indicates Europe is facing a declining population fostered by contraception and delayed marriage as a result of women putting off having children in order to concentrate on their education and career. There has not been a precedent set for this on a large scale until now. Immigration may offset this trend, but if not, the decline is inevitable. A story from Zenit (see the archive for March 6) indicates that AIDS will contribute to declining populations worldwide: NEW YORK, MARCH 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The United Nations reduced its world population estimate for 2050 by 400 million, due to the AIDS epidemic and lower birthrates, the Associated Press reports. About half of the 400 million drop is a result of an expected increase in the number of deaths, primarily from AIDS, according to the U.N. report cited by AP. The U.N. Population Division projects that the other half of the drop is because future fertility levels in most developing countries will likely fall below 2.1 children per woman, the level needed to ensure the long-term replacement of the population. In 2000, the United Nations projected a world population of 9.3 billion by midcentury. Its revision sets the new estimate at 8.9 billion. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Pope pleads yet again for an end to the war. CarrieTomko@aol.com

BBC reporter Greg Palast asks the uncomfortable question: Did President Bush spike the investigation into Bin Laden's activities? and proceeds to answer it. You probably won't like the answer. CarrieTomko@aol.com

A different perspective on the war with Iraq written by Ken Joseph Jr., an Assyrian, a minister and peace activist who was born, raised and resides in Japan where he directs AssyrianChristians.com, the Japan Helpline and the Keikyo Institute. Joseph visited Iraq and talked with his relatives. What he discovered is not the story this peace activist expected. He now says of his peace activism "I was wrong." Surely the Pope has sources who have conveyed to him the message that is contained in this story. Surely he knows about this repression. Why, then, does he oppose the war? Here is Ken Joseph's biograpphy. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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