Saturday, November 15, 2003

PHOENIXMASONRY MASONIC MUSEUM has a picture of a Jewish High Priest's vestments at their website. The vestments were used in the ritual of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 1910, according to the caption. CarrieTomko@aol.com

SPIRITUALISM AND THE VATICAN I found this statement on a website dedicated to Spiritualism. VATICAN SAYS OK TO TALK TO DEAD! Britain's Psychic World newspaper in its July edition says there are "Major changes to Roman Catholic views as The Vatican says it is OK to talk to the Dead." Assistant Editor, Michael Colmer says he has discovered the keynote Vatican policy change regarding "Communication with the Dead." It originated with a very senior and authoritative spokesman, the Rev. Gino Concetti, chief theological commentator for the Vatican. He shared his new Catholic thinking in the respected Italian journal, "L'Osservatore Romano." Colmer points out that it is important to note that Fr. Concetti is not a rebel and thus his views carry Vatican endorsement. Fr. Concetti said: "Communication is possible between those who live on this earth and those who live in a state of eternal repose, in heaven or purgatory. It may even be that God lets our loved ones send us messages to guide us at certain moments in our life." He added that the key to the Church's attitude was the Roman Catholic belief in a "Communion of Saints" which included Christians on earth as well as those in the after-life. "Where there is communion, there is communication," he said. Fr. Concetti suggested dead relatives could be responsible for prompting impulses and triggering inspiration - an even for "sensory manifestations," such as appearances in dreams. He further declared that the new Catholic Catechism specifically endorsed the view that the dead could intercede on earth and quotes the dying St. Dominic tellings his brothers: "Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life." Colmer adds: "This new attitude represents a 180 degree turn in Catholic thinking." Further to Michael Colmer's Psychic World story, the Vatican based Zenit News Service reported on July 13th that the Pope, John Paul II, in a letter on Incarnation and Death to the Master General of the Dominican Order, Father Timoth Radcliffe, used the exact same quotation given by the dying St. Dominic, but refrained from discussing direct Spirit communication as such. The Pope's letter warns that the modern world's denial of the incarnation of Christ "in turn leads to a greatly diminished sense of human possibility." The Dominican Order is meeting in Rhode Island this past week. Sure, a Catholic can talk to the dead if you consider prayer to be conversation. However, most Catholics would run if the dead started talking back in such a way that others in the room could hear. I'm sure the creators of this website would be disappointed with the reality of the Communion of Saints. CarrieTomko@aol.com

FATIMA - AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE CONFERENCE John Vennari was in Fatima to attend the pan-religious conference entitled "The Present of Man - the Future of God: The Place of Sanctuaries in the Relation to the Sacred" held October 10-12, 2003. His extensive eyewitness report can be read at the fatima.org website. Here are his opening comments: It described itself as a "Scientific" Congress, which is not the word we would use for it in North America. Here, we would label it an "Academic" Congress. In any case, the Congress comprised modern theologians and clergymen discussing the importance of religious sanctuaries � any sanctuary, be it Catholic, Buddhist or Hindu. ������� The first two days contained numerous speeches from Catholics only, including the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, D. Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva; the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, Jose da Cruz Policarpo; the notorious "interfaith theologian", Father Jacques Dupuis; and various other Ph.D.�s from Portugal. ������� On Sunday, in sessions presided over by Archbishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, Prefect of the Vatican�s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, representatives from the world religions � including Buddhist, Hindu, Islam, Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic � gave testimony to the importance of "sanctuary" in their religious traditions. ������� Later, the Portuguese press published that the aim of this Congress was to establish Fatima as an interfaith Shrine. "Scientific." That word, especially when it is linked with "spiritual" is a footprint of the Anthroposophical Society. Steiner talks repeatedly about "Spiritual Science." He does that in order to make a distinction between what he teaches and what religion teaches. Of course there is a distinction only in his mind and the minds of those who accept his teaching. There is nothing "scientific" about Anthroposophy, and there is nothing "scientific" about a discussion of an interfaith center. Vennari's article includes pictures from the conference. More from the article: During the applause, I could not see the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon from my seat. But it is certain that he agrees with Dupuis� ecumenical thesis. Later the same day, a small group of young traditional Catholics questioned the Cardinal about the new interreligious orientation. A youth quoted to the Cardinal a passage from the book of Sister Lucy, Calls from the Message of Fatima, where she faithfully explained the First Commandment. The Cardinal responded, "Sister Lucy is no longer a point of reference today since we have such a good one in the Second Vatican Council".[9] In other words, the Cardinal says that Vatican II�s new ecumenical teaching eclipses the traditional Catholic teaching on the First Commandment, which forbids the worship of false Gods, as reflected in the writings of Sister Lucy.������� For years, concerned Catholics have said that the reason Fatima is now downplayed and eclipsed is because the new ecumenical religion of Vatican II has replaced it.[10] I am grateful that the Cardinal abandoned all pretense and admitted this disgrace outright. It explains why the present ecumenical hierarchy falsely consider Fatima to be of little importance. CarrieTomko@aol.com

PORTUGAL NEWS confirms in this weekend's edition that the report on Fatima which caused such a stir last weekend is, indeed, accurate. Unfortunately the link is not reliable. I was able to access the story from the Spirit Daily website. Perhaps others will have better luck there than using the embedded link here. CarrieTomko@aol.com

ANN COULTER AT NATIONAL POST enters the discussion on Terri Schiavo's behalf in this article sent in by a reader. The whole article is good commentary, but this passage was the most poignant: I note that "six years of litigation" is not enough to end the lives of child-molesting serial killers on death row in the United States. The same people who want to kill Terri believe death row cases are never final, no matter how many courts and juries have spoken over how many decades. Indeed, it would seem that we consider the lives of murderers on death row to be of more worth than one woman who has done nothing wrong apart from her "crime" of being unable to feed and care for herself. The crime of murder is more defensible than the "crime" of dependency. We should all take a moment to consider that. Those who argue for the reasonableness of murdering the helpless have become talk television celebrities. Those who harbor murder in their heart are portrayed as the elite, the spiritually enlightened, the morally astute; while those who fight for life are presented as retrograde sideliners, incapable of focusing on the whole picture. Incredibly, Michael Schiavo and those who support him have no sense of shame for what they are doing. This same society which can entertain the wishes of a Michael Schiavo holds Mother Theresa as an icon ....Mother Theresa, who took the outcasts, the dying, the untouchables abandoned to the gutter of a society founded on non-Christian values, and brought them to the world's attention while caring for them with Christian love. We talk about love. Rarely does a day go by without hearing the word at least once. It's a cheap love we cherish. A love that focuses on the glamorous, on the television image. A fairytale love. A love that doesn't want to see or be told about the real thing, because the real thing is difficult and sacrificial, and lacking in any hint of glamour. Real love tends the disabled spouse. Real love does not "move on." We are quick to admit that we want this real love for ourselves, but don't remind us about the price of giving it. We don't want to talk about that because it scares us. We know how expensive it can be and none of us knows whether we would have the courage to pay the price. When we advocate for euthanasia, we are not so much advocating for our own future death as we are advocating for exemption from the burden of caring for another. We are advocating for the good life which is not possible when real love imposes its demands. Perhaps the solution to the Terri Schiavos of this world is to put them into prison. Oh, not the barred cages the criminals endure. This prison would be a comfortable place financed by the state and located in some out-of-the-way place where we don't have to look at it and can pretend it isn't there. A place that will never tweak our consciences with its presence. A place that will never intrude on our daily pursuits with that unwelcome question "Could I endure if I were put to the test?" CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, November 14, 2003

CRISIS MAGAZINE - E-LETTER November 14, 2003 ********************************************** Dear Friend, I've got two things I want to bring to your attention... I'll start with the bad news. As you probably already know, the Episcopal church in America (ECUSA) recently appointed an openly practicing homosexual as the bishop of New Hampshire. Bishop V. Gene Robinson has been the center of a firestorm in the ECUSA and the greater Anglican church around the world -- some communities are officially severing ties with the ECUSA because of this decision, and many people are wondering if full schism isn't far down the road. Still, Bishop Robinson and his supporters have defended the decision, saying that the church needs to be open to everyone, not just a select few who accept "outdated" teachings about homosexuality. Bishop Robinson feels that this is a sign of God's work in the church, helping people feel welcomed and free to speak their mind about their personal beliefs. This is all pretty ironic, given what happened last week in England... Apparently, the Right Rev. Dr. Peter Forster, Anglican bishop of Chester, said in an interview with a local newspaper, "Some people who are primarily homosexual can reorientate themselves. I would encourage them to consider that as an option, but I would not set myself up as a medical specialist on the subject -- that's in the area of psychiatric health." For daring to express his quite reasonable views, Forster has been accused by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) of making "offensive" and "scandalous" remarks that others feel could incite violence against homosexuals. Martin Reynolds, the communications director of the LGCM, said, "These are irresponsible remarks that could inflame latent homophobia." But it gets worse. You see, the local police are now investigating Forster to determine if his comments amount to a criminal offense under England's hate crime laws. Even if one disagrees with the bishop's analysis of treating homosexuality, it's his position -- and the position of historic Christianity -- that homosexual acts are disordered. Should he be denied his right to say so publicly? And what about the LGCM and other groups who push so hard for "equality" and "inclusion" in the Anglican church? If Bishop Robinson is allowed his say, why isn't Bishop Forster? Look, honest efforts to ensure that homosexuals are protected equally under the law is one thing; encroaching on the rights of others -- where now even disagreement could be made a criminal offense -- is quite another. "Equality for me but not for thee" now seems to be the rallying cry for gay activists. It's small comfort that this blatant disregard of civil rights is occurring in the UK and not in the U.S. (not yet, anyway). But with the continuing success of gay activists in this country, we're not far behind. As sobering a thought as that is, I do want to give you some good news to balance it out. Last week, while I was speaking at my alma mater, the University of Texas, Austin, several students alerted me to the following... Planned Parenthood recently began construction on a new abortion facility in Austin, making it the fourth licensed abortion provider in the city. When local pro-lifers got wind of the plan, they flooded the contractor's office with calls and complaints about the project, saying that working with Planned Parenthood would hurt Browning Construction's business with pro-life companies. The result? Browning pulled out of the project and construction came to a halt. Predictably, some were furious. Former mayor of Austin, Bruce Todd, called it "economic blackmail." Actually, Mr. Todd, it's called freedom in action. Browning is free to work for Planned Parenthood, and pro-lifers are free to take their business elsewhere. Insisting that the contractor has the right to work for Planned Parenthood but should be spared from any backlash or criticism is rank hypocrisy... The same kind of hypocrisy that demands "tolerance" for homosexuality while showing only intolerance for those who object to it. It seems that if you're a faithful Christian these days, you need to get used to the double standard. I hope you have a restful weekend. I'll talk to you next week. Deal To learn more about CRISIS Magazine, visit http://www.crisismagazine.com/subscribe.htm CarrieTomko@aol.com

CATHOLIC SUPORT FOR CONTROVERSIAL MOVEMENT GROWS DESPITE HIERARCHY'S OPPOSITION By Lee Penn The Christian Challenge (Washington, DC) November 14, 2003 THE VATICAN stands firmly against it. Nonetheless, Catholic support for it has spread worldwide, beyond the usual array of dissident Catholic theologians, priests, and religious orders. "It" is the eight-year-old, controversial interfaith venture, the United Religions Initiative (URI), founded by liberal California Episcopal Bishop William Swing. Far from including only the major ancient religions, the URI has opened its doors to "spiritualities" of all sorts, including those of the pagan, occult and New Age genre. Some critics point to evidence that the URI will act to distill from these many belief systems a one-world religion. Though still relatively unknown, the URI has grown to 201 chapters and more than 15,000 adherents around the world, and has attracted some major benefactors. At Rome in 1996, Bishop Swing received a firm rebuff from Cardinal Arinze, who was then the head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. According to Bishop Swing, the Cardinal "said that a United Religions would give the appearance of syncretism and it would water down our need to evangelize. It would force authentic religions to be on equal footing with spurious religions." Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, who worked under Cardinal Arinze (and is now his successor), pointedly ignored Bishop Swing's invitation to attend the 1997 URI summit conference. Since then, the Vatican has restated its opposition to the URI. In a June 1999 letter to Homiletic & Pastoral Review, a magazine for Catholic priests, Fr. Chidi Denis Isizoh of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said: "Religious syncretism is a theological error. That is why the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue does not approve of the United Religions Initiative and does not work with it." As the San Francisco Chronicle reported in June 2000, "Swing found that the Vatican wanted nothing to do with his organization." MANY CATHOLICS, however, are not following the Vatican lead. Open supporters of the URI in the episcopate have included Cardinal Paul Evaristo Arns (the retired Archbishop of S?o Paulo, Brazil), Archbishop John Baptist Odama (from Uganda), Thomas Gumbleton (auxiliary Bishop of Detroit), and Archbishop John Quinn of San Francisco (the retired Archbishop of that city). William Levada, the Archbishop of San Francisco, has not officially stated support for the URI. Nevertheless, the Archdiocese of San Francisco is--in practical terms, if not formally--cooperating closely with the URI. Diocesan spokesman Maurice Healey agreed that "through its actions, the Archdiocese has viewed the URI positively." Fr. Gerard O'Rourke, director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the URI from its beginning; he served on the URI Board of Directors until 2002. The Jesuit leaders of the University of San Francisco (USF) also support the URI. Fr. John Lo Schiavo, S.J. (Chancellor of USF) served through 2000 on the URI Board of Directors. In April 2001, Fr. Steven A. Privett S. J. (current president of USF) praised Bishop Swing's "realization that dogma divides and action unites" when he introduced Swing to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. The Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J., (President of USF from 1991 through 2000) donated to the URI in 2000. Sister Bridget Clare McKeever, director of the Office of Spirituality for the Catholic diocese of Salt Lake in Utah, publicly endorsed the URI in 2001. The Catholic Diocese of Oakland, California, donated to the URI in 2000--the only Roman Catholic diocese yet to go on the record as doing so. URI activities have also been supported by Catholic Relief Services, the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Religious Orders Partnership (associated with Global Education Associates), Pax Christi USA, and many orders of nuns. John Borelli, Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said in November 2002, "Since the Archdiocese of San Francisco is involved in the URI, the Catholic Church is involved." In March 2003, Borelli said, "My advice to Gerry O'Rourke from the start is that all kinds of interfaith activities are beneficial and he should be involved in the URI if he feels it is a worthwhile project." Borelli added that there has been "no formal communication from the Vatican to the USCCB about the URI." Thus, the USCCB bureaucracy is a de facto supporter of the URI. Catholic support for the URI is worldwide. Five of the 37 URI Global Council members are Catholic, including Fr. James Channan, of Pakistan (a Consultor for the Vatican Commission on Religious Relations with Muslims and prior Vice-Provincial of the Dominican "Sons of Mary" order), and Fr. Dr. George Khoury (President of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of the Greek Catholic Church, in Israel). Other prominent Catholics who have endorsed the URI include Fr. Thomas Michel S.J. (director of the Jesuit Secretariat for Interreligious Dialogue); Fr. Joseph Wainaina (who has been the National Pastoral Coordinator for the Kenya Episcopal Conference); and Fr. Albert Nambiaparambil, who served in the 1990s as Secretary of Interreligious Dialogue for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India. Catholics in Belgium, Brazil, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and other countries have taken leadership roles in local and regional URI activity. Dissenting theologians supporting the URI include Paul Knitter (senior editor at Orbis Books and professor of theology at Xavier University), Leonard Swidler (professor of "Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue" at Temple University), and Hans K�ng. ------ Sources available upon request. Permission to circulate the foregoing electronically, or reprint it, is granted, provided that there are no changes in the headings or text. CarrieTomko@aol.com

FATIMA According to an editorial at Spirit Daily, the basilica planned for Fatima that will be an interfaith--a universal religion--center will look like the pictures presented here. Jesus would never allow his mother to be offended in this way. Either this proposal will be defeated, or we are looking at a sign of the end of the world, since we have the promise that the faith will not be destroyed in Portugal. The M+G+R Foundation is following this closely. They offer two versions of the Secrets. The original Text. And what they call the "version fabricated by the Vatican." Maria Esperanza, who is associated with the Church approved apparition of Betania, has made some comments covered by Spirit Daily that could be read as signs of hope. At the very least she seems to believe the world will still be here in 2015. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, November 13, 2003

ANOTHER EXPOSITION OF THE "PRIORY OF SION HOAX" according to author Robert Richardson. CarrieTomko@aol.com

SOUTH AMERICAN CATHOLICISM is described in this article about "Religion in Brazil" at the Embassy of Brazil in London website. Brace yourself. It ain't your grandmother's religion! Brazilian Catholicism is shaped by the lack of priests which requires them to travel from parish to parish to baptize, marry, preach, and dispense the other sacraments, then give a dispensation from the regular practice of the faith before moving on to another parish. During the priest's absence, lay devotions fill the void since they can be led by locals. Consequently, devotion to saints takes on greater significance, with festivals playing a prominent role. But this leads to abuses of communication with the dead: Since it is hardly regulated by the official Church, the cult of the saints has opened itself up to a series of syncretic links. In Amazonia, where indigenous traditions are stronger, Catholic saints of transatlantic origin form a counterpoint with spirits who inhabit "the depths" of forests and rivers. Pajelan�a, practised by lay priests, guides the Catholic faithful in the use of sacred herbs and in the rituals involving "enchanted" beings who live in the depths of the waters. And a further deterioration into spiritualism: A third current of belief was introduced by Kardecist Spiritualism, which has grown in Brazil since the nineteenth century. Although it is based on Christianity, the distinguishing feature of spiritualism is communication with souls. This helps the individual soul to find and follow the right path in the vast process of evolution, which it does through successive reincarnations. Contact with the souls of the dead was already an important practice in the Iberian tradition, associated with the medieval doctrine of purgatory. Even today, every Monday is devoted to the souls of the dead, and candles are lit throughout the country, illuminating the prayers for the dead. Spiritualism has developed this aspect of Portuguese religiosity, lending it ritual solemnity and a new theoretical basis. Saints, orix�s and souls made up such a rich tapestry of spiritual beings that a new religion came into being, with decidedly Brazilian characteristics. This was Umbanda, a creation of the twentieth century. Umbanda venerates the Catholic saints and the African orix�s, but there is also room for spiritual guides of another kind, namely disembodied spirits of purely local significance who do not form part of the hierarchies of conventional religions. The Church has reacted: In the midst of this profusion of spiritual beliefs, there have been some important reactions in recent decades. Two in particular stand out: Liberation Theology and the evangelical and pentecostal movements. Both focus their attention on the central thesis of Christian tradition, ignoring, or even condemning, communications with souls, guides, orix�s, avatars and saints. Their message is one of reform and is likely to influence the modernization of Brazilian religious culture.... Inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit, evangelical and pentecostal religions have shown impressive growth. They constitute the major religious phenomenon of the end of the twentieth century. Their message is that it is necessary to be "born again", to turn one's back on the past, and open oneself to radical changes in one's way of life, inspired solely and exclusively by Jesus Christ. The largest congregation, the Universal Church of God's Kingdom is active throughout the national territory and even overseas, with branches not only in Florida, USA, but also in many European countries. The Universal Church of God was the subject of an NPR "All Things Considered" segment playing on the car radio this evening. Catholic World Report describes it: Universal Church of God�s Kingdom [is] known locally as IURD. This denomination, founded by Edir Macedo, a former follower of an African-Brazilian cult, is by far the most powerful Protestant organization in the country; the group controls Brazil�s third-largest television network, and has 17 members sitting in the Brazilian parliament. Macedo has claimed to have more than four million followers, and few observers have disputed that claim. But the IBGE figures and the SEPAL investigation put the actual number of permanent IURD members at just over 300,000. This is home-grown religion, neither Roman Catholicism nor American Protestantism. According to NPR, participants join for a specified period of time with a particular purpose in mind. This religion is a "name it and claim it" faith. Members have high expectations that prayers will be answered in a most positive way. And in return members are asked to tithe. Additionally the collection basket is passed around at services for additional contributions. NPR calls it the McDonalds franchise of religion. From spiritualism a 180 deg. turn to ultra-traditional Catholicism can be found in the Diocese of Campos, Brazil. Pictures from this diocese look like 1950's Catholicism in America. Their magazine is a walk down memory lane for an American Catholic educated in parochial school in the 1950s. A branch of the SSPX, Campos reconciled with Rome in January 2002. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THEY JUST DON'T GET IT across the pond in Scotland among other places. They seem to think that this is a solution to the number of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. The panel of experts has: recommended better and quicker abortion services, more access to contraception and the appointment of a �sex czar�. Yet the only workable solution to the problems they claim to be addressing is to restrict sex to marriage. It's such a simple solution. No czar is needed. No babies die. And people stay healthy and live lives interconnected in a family setting which helps to reduce a tendency toward mental depression, a tendency which Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan calls "one of the most serious illnesses of our day." Cdl Barragan points to fear as the cause of this depression: "The World Health Organization speaks of medicines for its treatment," the cardinal told Vatican Radio. "We maintain that the medicines are good, but that, in the final analysis, depression is nothing other than fear." "Postmodern man has become fearful," he continued. And one of the most important causes of depression, "if not the most important � is the absence of values and fear of death." It is reasonable to fear death when we look around and find that our family is diminishing. That we attend many funerals but seldom stand at the viewing window in the hospital nursery. It's not so much that we fear our own death as it is a fear of the loss that death of those we love will bring. As our world of loved-ones shrinks, depression is a legitimate response. Yet instead of doing the sane and sensible thing, recommending abstinence and supporting families with children, the "experts" are encouraging promiscuity, and proposing that killing the babies will solve the problems promiscuity causes. It also calls on local clinicians to ensure there is access to all methods of contraception and says: �All methods of contraception are cost effective when compared to unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. Access should not be restricted on grounds of cost.� Abstinence before marriage and exclusivity within marriage is cost-effective compared to all methods of artificial birth control. While it's true that children are expensive to raise, demographics are proving that an economy with a top-heavy senior population is an economy built for decline. There is no escaping the necessity of the family and no escaping the essentials of childbirth and child rearing in a family setting if we want to remain a civilized and viable society. Those are the rules that even the most inventive "sex czar" will have to live with. And what was the Catholic Church's response to this jaunt down fantasy road? The Roman Catholic Church issued a cautious response to the report. A spokesman said that while it would definitely not support moves to provide more abortion services and wider access to contraception, it recognised that the report was a consultative document and open to modification. Sigh. Fortunately the American bishops have spoken wiser words on this topic. Glasgow's Archbishop Mario Conti, too, has spoken some words of wisdom, though he could have expanded his comments beyond the classroom: Archbishop Conti issued his warning on the dangers of widening teenagers� access to contraception and abortion ahead of the launch of its sexual health strategy this week. He said: �What is not acceptable to the Catholic Church, and, I suspect, to many others, is the ideological approach of so-called family planning experts which undermines the authority of parents and contradicts the sound teaching of responsible educators by offering explicit, values-free, sex advice, free contraceptives and abortion facilities to children and young people .� We live in a culture that does not support children economically. It does not support the desire to be present with them to raise them. It does not support sexual morality, but rather attempts to undermine our children's natural reticence on the subject of sex at every possible moment. Via the classroom, TV, the movies, advertisements, and literature, our culture tells our kids that life is about sex and money and power. Until we have seen the emptiness of this trend for what it is and the need to abandon it, the "sex czars" of the world will continue to waste taxpayers' money on "solutions" that merely contribute to the problem. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE PRICE OF GIVING WITNESS TO CHRIST is often high, as Alabama's Chief Justice Roy Moore can attest now that he is without a job. He seems to think it's worth the price. Moore said he had consulted with his attorneys and with political and religious leaders and would make an announcement next week which he said ''could alter the course of this country.'' He did not elaborate. He could appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court.... On Thursday Moore said he had no animosity toward the court. But, he said, unless the states stand up, ''public acknowledgment of God will be taken from us. In God we trust will be taken from our money and one nation under God from our pledge.''... The prosecutor, Attorney General Bill Pryor, on Wednesday termed Moore's defiance ''utterly unrepentant behavior'' that warranted removal from office. The chief justice testified he was fulfilling his duties and promises to voters when he refused to follow the court order.Moore, 56, testified that he followed his conscience and did nothing to violate judicial ethics.''To acknowledge God cannot be a violation of the Canons of Ethics. Without God there can be no ethics,'' Moore testified. This is the sort of courage it will take to restore a moral order to our nation. Too many of us I'm afraid, and I include myself here, are not willing to pay the price. At the very least, though, I can take a moment to admire someone who has that courage. CarrieTomko@aol.com

ONCE AGAIN ITALIAN CHURCHES ARE EMBRACING THEIR HERITAGE namely, sacred classical music and Gregorian chant, which has been available to Catholics only in secular concert halls and out of recording studios for decades. A festival of this music will be held in Rome November 19-24 in the four major basicilas, St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul's Outside the Walls. May the faith which inspired some of the world's greatest music inspire those who listen to it to come home to the faith once again. Worship is the most noble purpose of art of any variety, and that certainly applies to the music of the Church. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

DA VINCI CODE EXPOSED by Esoteric and Science News. in a 3-part report published in September. CarrieTomko@aol.com

ON REMOVING FEEDING TUBES Amy Welborn has linked this article which describes the experience of death by starvation and dehydration of a cognitively disabled patient who was rescued after 8 days and subsequently lived to be able to talk about the experience. CarrieTomko@aol.com

DID I READ THIS RIGHT? Does it actually say that the Church in Switzerland is planning to introduce a married priesthood? Or is this just another example of a religion reporter who doesn't get the big picture? A Swiss branch of the Roman Catholic Church has taken a revolutionary step towards abolishing celibacy and allowing women to become priests. On Wednesday the Roman Catholic synod of canton Lucerne signed a declaration, which is due to be presented to church leaders in Switzerland later this year. If accepted, it would represent a milestone in modernising the Roman Catholic Church. �It�s not all about abolishing celibacy,� said Paula Beck, spokeswoman for the synod. �If a priest decided not to get married even though he is allowed to, it [celibacy] will be of a higher value. �Beck added that the ban on the ordination of women priests was discriminating. �There is no such law of God that does not allow a woman to become a priest.� Why does this bring visions of ECUSA to mind? The article goes on to tell of the woman priest in the Old Catholic Church who was ordained 4 years ago. CarrieTomko@aol.com

VATICAN CHRISTMAS SEASON CONCERTS are always interesting. This year the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will play. The Holy See announced in a statement today that it has organized a concert entitled "Reconciliation Between Jews, Christians, and Muslims," to be held in the Vatican January 17, 2004.... Freely inspired in Genesis 17:14 the piece presents the divine call of the man whom Jews, Christians and Muslims alike all look to as their father in faith. The chorus is made up of singers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Turkish capital of Ankara.... The stated purpose of the concert is "to promote the commitment to a peaceful coexistence among all the children of Abraham," according to a statement of its sponsors: the Holy See Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. The document added that personalities and representatives of international Jewish organizations, of the Churches and ecclesial communities, and of Islam are being invited to attend. I tend to wonder how this is going to affect the thinking of suicide bombers. Most especially the thinking of those whose life is so miserable that they are content to die in the hope the plight of others will improve. But then, I suppose that it's pc to give a high sounding purpose to the concert you will have anyway because listening to good music is one of the privileges that wealth and status conveys. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, "Peace and security," then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thes. 5:2-3 Still, I expect that the Vatican has the best of intentions. CarrieTomko@aol.com

SPEAKING OF PEACE archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's permanent observer to the UN, said: Peace is above all about those who are realistic enough to recognize that in spite of the downsides of human nature and society, peace is possible. No effort should be spared in achieving it. For this, peace must be willed, earned and shared as a common good of humanity. Was the "Star Spangled Banner" playing in the background when he made this statement: Mr. President, the reasons that are given to justify conflicts must be duly addressed, before, during and after they occur. The necessity to impose an armed defense to dissuade the other party from becoming an enemy should be prudently and carefully weighed against an equal necessity to reach out to the other party, beyond any presumed or alleged enmity, leaving always the door open for all possible peaceful solutions. Consequently, when those who bear the responsibility and the obligation to defend peace and order are called upon to decide whether or not to take up legitimate defense, their decision must be subject to the rigorous conditions given within the moral order because such actions can be justified only when all peaceful means of resolving the crisis have been proven to be impractical, ineffective or impossible. What, I wonder, would the Archbishop refuse to sacrifice for peace? Would faith be a negotiable item? CarrieTomko@aol.com

AN INTERVIEW WITH CDL. GEORGE PELL who has just returned from the ceremonies in Rome. He had this to say about the Pope. ALISON CALDWELL: How did he appear to you? GEORGE PELL: He's not well, not at all well. No he's not well at all. He's markedly weaker than when I saw him at the end of June. Speaking of the message the Pope gave to the newly created Cardinals: GEORGE PELL: Oh, he was exalting us to do our duty, reminding us that the colour of our splendid vestments was the colour of blood and harks back to the time of the martyrs, and reminding us that we've got to do our duty and teach the teachings of Christ, even if it's a little bit uncomfortable at times. Almost sounds prophetic, doesn't it? CarrieTomko@aol.com

GHOST SHIPS Contaminated American WWII ships carrying asbestos, toxic chemicals, and heavy fuel oil are roaming the Atlantic looking for a home. Portugal doesn't want them. Hartlepool in northern England has agreed to take them temporarily, but intends to send them back to us. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

LIFE IN PARTS OF THE EU is not good for children. We like to think of Europe as Western and civilized. When we hear about the European Union, we think of traffic in London and Paris fashions. We think of the cathedrals of Rome and the castles of Germany. And we think of democracy. We think the people are like us. But we don't sell our children. Romanians, northern Romanians, do. It's a gruesome story made up of dire poverty, shifting economics, and 15 children to feed. I'd like to say it could never happen here. But I know I'd be kidding myself if I did. How do these people of the story interact with the people who populate the London Stock Exchange, or belong to the world of Paris couture, or those who ride the chunnel on business? How can they speak the same language at all? And what will it mean for everyone to be in unity when the differences are this divergent, and some of them are this desperate? CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE CAROLINA MORNING NEWS tells it like it is with regard to the fallout of homosexuality. Shame, shame, being correct is no substitute for political correctness! The story was linked at CruxNews. CarrieTomko@aol.com

IT'S A SLOW NEWS DAY so I went looking for silliness, and found some. Take the Human Pincushion in this picture for instance. Are there really social circles where this is considered beautiful, or something? Do you think she takes them all out at bedtime? ARE YOU OVERSTRESSED? FEMALE? If you answered "yes" then you need to go shopping according to Ananova. And all along you thought taking a "mental health day" was a classy way of playing hookey, didn't you! MEANWHILE, ALL YOU SHINY TOP GENTS should be booking your flight to Germany where you can get a state supported rug if you're willing to become a civil servant. Then when your wife comes home from her stress relief shopping with her brain disengaged, she might mistake you for that Prince Charming she couldn't keep her hands off of the day before her wedding. IT STRETCHES CREDIBILITY beyond the breaking point...! Prisoners are being transferred between jails in luxury chauffeur-driven Mercedes cars because of a shortage of armoured vans. The prisoners from Holloway, Pentonville and Wormwood Scrubs in London are driven in �30,000 E-class Mercedes Benz cars with leather seats, air conditioning and professional drivers.... "Do you want to know why we use Mercedes?" he said. "What is the most reliable car on the road?"Cars have been used before which are older and more unreliable. They break down. We are getting the prisoners to their destination safely and securely." And luxuriously, I might add. Let me see if I understand this. They don't have enough armoured vans, but they do have enough chauffeur-driven Mercedes? One per prisoner, perhaps? Their own private limo? Just see what wonders can be accomplished with a small taxpayer investment fund! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, November 10, 2003

MARK SHEA HAS BLOGGED THIS STORY OF HALF-TIME ACTIVITIES AT COLUMBIA which I find appalling. What is it about Catholicism that invites such desecration? No other religion would tolerate it. And no other religion would have to. CarrieTomko@aol.com

"GAY DIVORCE" APPROVED IN ENGLAND but no "gay marriage" will accompany it. Rather, the Queen will give a speech next week to British parliament which will promote same-sex couples having the same rights as married couples. There seems to be some hair splitting going on here that requires a microscope to be able to see it. Divorce without marriage. Same rights as married couples, but without marriage. Are they speaking specifically of the marriage ceremony itself? Because if they aren't, I fail to appreciate what is lacking in the gay relationship being proposed here that the marriage relationship enjoys. Perhaps the Queen will be good enough to supply the distinction. Or perhaps we are merely talking about political correctness and not a difference in reality. CarrieTomko@aol.com

A SPIRIT DAILY EDITORIAL includes these comments: "I watched EWTN�Thursday�evening to hear the pope read the�Gospel readings in what some say could be a farewell speech," writes one viewer. "He�read� John 10-11 instead� of Luke 11-47, which was the Gospel�for the day according to my Word Among��Us�daily Mass reading book which is always accurate. John 10-11� says... "I am the good Shepard. A good Shepard� lays down his life for�the sheep. A hired man, who is not a Shepard and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf� catches and scatters them.... Why would he change it if indeed he did and could it mean I am the good Pope but following me is the bad pope with which you the Christian sheep will be scattered?"... We do believe that when John Paul II goes, a great storm will break upon mankind. We believe the Pope's greatest mission has been preparing us for that. And he has done all that is humanly possible. Is he in charge? Yes. He may be physically disabled, but those who visit with him say that he is aware of what is going on around him, and has kept his sense of humor. When asked recently by a visiting cardinal how he felt, John Paul II replied: "I don't know. I haven't read the newspapers yet." � Did anyone else see this program and this change in Gospel readings? CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE HISTORY OF THE RITE OF PERFECTION in the Scottish Rite is given at this official Scottish Rite website. Once again the Chapter of Clermont is mentioned in the founding of this obedience. Morals and Dogma by Albert Pike lists the first 18 degrees of the Scottish Rite, called the "Lodge of Perfection," as: 1 - Apprentice 2 - Fellow-craft 3 - Master 4 - Secret Master 5 - Perfect Master 6 - Intimate Secretary 7 - Provost and Judge 8 - Intendant of the Building 9 - Elu of the Nine 10 - Elu of the Fifteen 11 - Elu of the Twelve 13 - Royal Arch of Solomon 14 - Perfect Elu 15 - Knight of the East 16 - Prince of Jerusalem 17 - Knight of the East and West 18 - Knight of the Rose Croix The Council of Kadosh begins with the 19th degree. The chapter on the Rose Croix Degree opens with this statement from Pike: Each of us makes such applications to his own faith and creed, of the symbols and ceremonies of this Degree, as seems to him proper. With these special interpretations we have here nothing to do. Like the legend of the Master Khurum, in which some see figured the condemnation and sufferings of Christ; others those of the unfortunate Grand Master of the Templars; others those of the first Charles, King of England; and others still the annual descent of the Sun at the winter Solstice to the regions of darkness, the basis of many an ancient legend; so the ceremonies of this Degree receive different explanations; each interpreting them for himself, and being offended at the interpretation of no other. In no other way could Masonry possess its character of Universality; that character which has ever been peculiar to it from its origin; and which enables two Kings, worshippers of different Deities, to sit together as Masters, while the walls of the first temple arose; and the men of Gebal, bowing down to the Phoenician Gods, to work by the side of the Hebrews to whom those Gods were abomination; and to sit with them in the same Lodge as brethren. MORALS AND DOGMA, p. 276 The Degree of Rose + teaches three things;--the unity, immutability and goodness of God; the immortality of the Soul; and the ultimate defeat and extinction of evil and wrong and sorrow, by a Redeemer or Messiah, yet to come, if he has not already appeared. ibid, p. 287 Christians believe the Redeemer or Messiah has already come and will come again. The Jews await the first appearance of the Redeemer. Some members of the hierarchy have told Catholics that the Catholics and the Jews await the same Redeemer. In the document "Reflections on Covenant and Mission," they say: While Christians and Jews understand the messianic hope involved in that perfection quite differently, still, whether we are waiting for the messiah � as Jews believe � or for the messiah�s second coming � as Christians believe � we share the belief that we live in an unredeemed world that longs for repair. Why not articulate a common agenda? Why not join together our spiritual forces to state and to act upon the values we share in common and that lead to repair of the unredeemed world? From a Masonic website comes this quote: from a petition for universal religious inclusion throughout the fraternity of Freemasonry in all its forms and appendant bodies: They have witnessed, if not firsthand then surely in the annals of their fraternity, that the Master�s trowel has spread the cement of brotherly love and affection among Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Moslems and the followers of many other spiritual paths. They have beheld �how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,� each praying with the other to the Great Architect of the Universe, but in the Holy Name inscribed within his own conscience. Indeed, in the glow of such a divinely graced companionship, many have come to read their own scriptures with new eyes, hear their own creeds and prayers with new ears, and feel their own spirits with new hearts. In sharing the wisdom of their various religions, they have affirmed that all agree that there is but One True Source and Sustenance of all that ever was, is or shall be. Fitting together with that discovery as neatly as two hands folded upon a faithful breast, many Freemasons have also realized that each tradition of faith affirms that the same Divine Presence dwells in the hearts of all people, acknowledging the incumbent duty to love others as they love themselves. The brilliance and power of such a Light shining in the world cannot fail to be noticed. For many persons it is a beacon of faith, hope and charity, offering further illumination along the path to which they have been called. This is a good definition of Universalism. Catholicism does not fit into this picture. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE M+G+R FOUNDATION COMMENTS ON THE FATIMA RUMORS though they do not yet have confirmation that the interfaith proposal is a reality. CarrieTomko@aol.com

A STORY OF A COUPLE WHO LOST EVERYTHING IN THE CALIF. FIRE including the momentoes of their daughter who had died, makes the fires very real and personal. A statue of the Blessed Virgin from a nativity set survived the blaze in tact. Apparently the rest of the set was gone. Something that sends a message perhaps? The intensity of the heat was enough to melt a bronze statue. That required 2,300 degree heat. Yet this little statue remained. CarrieTomko@aol.com

FR. DAVE'S HALLOWEEN SHOW Fr. Dave Adams, who was kidded about his last name being the same as the Adams Family, grew up interested in horror movies. Once he was ordained, he put a presentation together describing how the movies of his childhood focused on how the monsters got that way, and comparing it to current monsters who are just focused on evil. His talk then moves on to gargoyles on European cathedrals, and why they are there: He frequently is asked about gargoyle carvings. "People have seen them and have wondered how they got included in church decor," he said. Artistic stonemasons building the classic cathedrals in Europe incorporated the gargoyles as rainspouts so visitors would not get doused. "The rainspout was actually the (gargoyle's) mouth so you had this hideous creature with dirty water spewing out of its mouth and what that was supposed to represent was symbolically being outside the church," he said. "It represented the wages of sin and the souls of the damned." Then the the masons got "overly ambitious," he said, adding creatures elsewhere. "They had to come up with a new rationale, so they said it was more souls of the dammed, held captive by God on the outside of the church to guard the church and the people inside against other evil spirits, which demonstrated dissent among the ranks of the damned compared to the unity that should be among the people of God." The Jack-o'-lantern he said could symbolize a person's approach to religion. Like an untouched pumpkin, some people don't let religion affect them. The painted pumpkin symbolizes those who attend church regularly and appear to be touched by religion, but are only pretending. The carved Jack-o'-lantern symbolizes those who have let religion change them inside. "If you let God change you inside . . . even though the world can still be dark and cold, you will always have the warmth of light inside of you and light and warmth coming out of you," he said. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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