Welcome to the Reading Room

Here are some news stories and articles which might be of interest to you. I've posted the opening section, and if you want to read more, you can click on "Read the whole article" to go to the original item. You'll find a variety of things here -- current news, political analysis, opinion pieces, articles about religion -- things I've happened to read and want to share with you. It's your Reading Room, so take your time. Browse. You're certain to find something you'll want to read.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The boy who paints like an old master

His pictures cost upwards of £900, there are 680 people on a waiting list to buy them, and his second exhibition sold out in 14 minutes. Patrick Barkham meets the gifted artist Kieron Williamson, aged seven.

by Patrick Barkham

Kieron Williamson kneels on the wooden bench in his small kitchen, takes a pastel from the box by his side and rubs it on to a piece of paper.

"Have you got a picture in your head of what you're going to do?" asks his mother, Michelle.

"Yep," Kieron nods. "A snow scene."

Because it is winter at the moment, I ask.

"Yep."

Do you know how you want it to come out?

"Yep."

And does it come out how you want it to?

"Sometimes it does."

Like many great artists, small boys are not often renowned for their loquaciousness. While Kieron Williamson is a very normal seven-year-old who uses his words sparingly, what slowly emerges on the small rectangle of paper in his kitchen is extraordinarily eloquent.

This month, Kieron's second exhibition in a gallery in his home town of Holt, Norfolk, sold out in 14 minutes. The sale of 16 new paintings swelled his bank account by £18,200. There are now 680 people on a waiting list for a Kieron original. Art lovers have driven from London to buy his work. Agents buzz around the town. People offer to buy his schoolbooks. The starting price for a simple pastel picture like the one Kieron is sketching? £900.

Kieron lives with his dad Keith, a former electrician, his mum, who is training to be a nutritionist, and Billie-Jo, his little sister, in a small flat overlooking a petrol station. When I arrive on a Saturday afternoon, Kieron and Keith are out. When Kieron returns in football socks and shorts, I assume he has been playing football. But no, he has been replenishing his stock of pastels in Holt, a chichi little place where even the chip shop has grainy portraits for sale on its walls...  Read the whole article.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009: The Anglican Year of Living Dangerously

by David Virtue

It was a year that Anglican leaders might well breathe a sigh of relief has passed.

It was a year of turmoil and upheaval that included two resolutions on sexuality passed at The Episcopal Church's 76th annual General Convention that promise to further isolate The Episcopal Church from the Anglican mainstream. It was the year the birth took place of a new Anglican province on North American soil; a lesbian was elected bishop in an ultra-liberal Episcopal diocese; litigation increased over property in the US and Canada; a pope offered a "safe haven" for traditionalist Anglicans across the world; and a Covenant was finalized that many believe holds little promise of keeping an increasingly feuding and fractured communion together.

Queen Elizabeth II made famous the phrase "annus horribilis" to describe her own personal travails in 1992. Dr. Rowan Williams might well echo those two words as he looks back on the year that has passed from the walls of Lambeth Palace. His personal cry might well be, "Nevertheless, let this cup pass from me...."

The Anglican Communion followed the bell curve of a worldwide economic recession with its own spiritual and ecclesiastical recession. The Episcopal Church's $141 million budget (down some $23 million and possibly more), described by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as "death", was reflected in church program and budget cuts that saw 37 of its 180 staff eliminated. If TEC were a publicly traded company, it would be a penny stock bearing in mind that its 109 dioceses failed to show any growth (with the notable exception of South Carolina) with diocese after diocese reporting lost income, closing parishes and aging congregants. Some experienced added legal costs fighting to retain properties.

With no discernible gospel to proclaim, there seems little likelihood that the lost ground will ever be made up. Couple that with the increasing flight of mega evangelical parishes from both liberal and orthodox dioceses, the church seems bent on isolating and destroying the very wing that can make it grow. Millions of dollars were racked up in legal fees as orthodox parishes from coast to coast fled their revisionist task masters, at the same time pushing their ownership claims from local courts to ever higher courts in the hopes they might be vindicated...  Read the whole article.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Story of the Man and the Birds

Now the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man. "I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized, that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. "If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safety ... to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand."

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - Adeste Fidelis - listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow. Read the original here.

Sen. Lautenberg Declines To Say Where Congress Gets Constitutional Authority To Mandate Health Insurance

by Edwin Mora

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) declined to say where Congress gets the constitutional authority to require every American to have health insurance, as both the Senate and House health care bills mandate.

At the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 22, CNSNews.com asked Senator Lautenberg, “Specifically where in the Constitution does Congress get the authority to mandate that individuals have health insurance?”

Lautenberg said, “I am not going to answer that,” and then walked away.

The individual health insurance mandate in the Senate health reform bill would force all Americans to carry some form of government-approved health insurance or pay an excise tax penalty ranging between $500 and $1,500 per year.

The Senate health care bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is 2,078 pages long and is estimated to cost -- over 10 years, with benefits starting in 2014 – at least $1.8 trillion.

The legislation passed on a party-line vote, 60 – 39, on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve. (Sen. Jim Bunning [R-Ky.] skipped the vote, while the two Independents – Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut – joined with the 58 Democrats to pass the bill.)

Back in 1994, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) examined the individual health insurance mandate, which was then being proposed by President Bill Clinton’s health care reform effort, and described the idea as an “unprecedented form of federal action.”

“The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States,” the CBO analysis said. “An individual mandate would have two features that, in combination, would make it unique. First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government.”  Read the whole article.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Urbi et Orbi Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world, and all men and women, whom the Lord loves!

“Lux fulgebit hodie super nos,
quia natus est nobis Dominus.
A light will shine on us this day,
the Lord is born for us
(Roman Missal, Christmas, Entrance Antiphon for the Mass at Dawn)

The liturgy of the Mass at Dawn reminded us that the night is now past, the day has begun; the light radiating from the cave of Bethlehem shines upon us.

The Bible and the Liturgy do not, however, speak to us about a natural light, but a different, special light, which is somehow directed to and focused upon “us”, the same “us” for whom the Child of Bethlehem “is born”. This “us” is the Church, the great universal family of those who believe in Christ, who have awaited in hope the new birth of the Saviour, and who today celebrate in mystery the perennial significance of this event.

At first, beside the manger in Bethlehem, that “us” was almost imperceptible to human eyes. As the Gospel of Saint Luke recounts, it included, in addition to Mary and Joseph, a few lowly shepherds who came to the cave after hearing the message of the Angels. The light of that first Christmas was like a fire kindled in the night. All about there was darkness, while in the cave there shone the true light “that enlightens every man” (Jn 1:9). And yet all this took place in simplicity and hiddenness, in the way that God works in all of salvation history. God loves to light little lights, so as then to illuminate vast spaces. Truth, and Love, which are its content, are kindled wherever the light is welcomed; they then radiate in concentric circles, as if by contact, in the hearts and minds of all those who, by opening themselves freely to its splendour, themselves become sources of light. Such is the history of the Church: she began her journey in the lowly cave of Bethlehem, and down the centuries she has become a People and a source of light for humanity. Today too, in those who encounter that Child, God still kindles fires in the night of the world, calling men and women everywhere to acknowledge in Jesus the “sign” of his saving and liberating presence and to extend the “us” of those who believe in Christ to the whole of mankind.

Wherever there is an “us” which welcomes God’s love, there the light of Christ shines forth, even in the most difficult situations. The Church, like the Virgin Mary, offers the world Jesus, the Son, whom she herself has received as a gift, the One who came to set mankind free from the slavery of sin. Like Mary, the Church does not fear, for that Child is her strength. But she does not keep him for herself: she offers him to all those who seek him with a sincere heart, to the earth’s lowly and afflicted, to the victims of violence, and to all who yearn for peace. Today too, on behalf of a human family profoundly affected by a grave financial crisis, yet even more by a moral crisis, and by the painful wounds of wars and conflicts, the Church, in faithful solidarity with mankind, repeats with the shepherds: “Let us go to Bethlehem” (Lk 2:15), for there we shall find our hope.

The “us” of the Church is alive in the place where Jesus was born, in the Holy Land, inviting its people to abandon every logic of violence and vengeance, and to engage with renewed vigour and generosity in the process which leads to peaceful coexistence. The “us” of the Church is present in the other countries of the Middle East. How can we forget the troubled situation in Iraq and the “little flock” of Christians which lives in the region? At times it is subject to violence and injustice, but it remains determined to make its own contribution to the building of a society opposed to the logic of conflict and the rejection of one’s neighbour. The “us” of the Church is active in Sri Lanka, in the Korean peninsula and in the Philippines, as well as in the other countries of Asia, as a leaven of reconciliation and peace. On the continent of Africa she does not cease to lift her voice to God, imploring an end to every injustice in the Democratic Republic of Congo; she invites the citizens of Guinea and Niger to respect for the rights of every person and to dialogue; she begs those of Madagascar to overcome their internal divisions and to be mutually accepting; and she reminds all men and women that they are called to hope, despite the tragedies, trials and difficulties which still afflict them. In Europe and North America, the “us” of the Church urges people to leave behind the selfish and technicist mentality, to advance the common good and to show respect for the persons who are most defenceless, starting with the unborn. In Honduras she is assisting in process of rebuilding institutions; throughout Latin America, the “us” of the Church is a source of identity, a fullness of truth and of charity which no ideology can replace, a summons to respect for the inalienable rights of each person and his or her integral development, a proclamation of justice and fraternity, a source of unity.

In fidelity to the mandate of her Founder, the Church shows solidarity with the victims of natural disasters and poverty, even within opulent societies. In the face of the exodus of all those who migrate from their homelands and are driven away by hunger, intolerance or environmental degradation, the Church is a presence calling others to an attitude of acceptance and welcome. In a word, the Church everywhere proclaims the Gospel of Christ, despite persecutions, discriminations, attacks and at times hostile indifference. These, in fact, enable her to share the lot of her Master and Lord.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, how great a gift it is to be part of a communion which is open to everyone! It is the communion of the Most Holy Trinity, from whose heart Emmanuel, Jesus, “God with us”, came into the world. Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, let us contemplate, filled with wonder and gratitude, this mystery of love and light! Happy Christmas to all!

Ronald Reagan: Christmas Address to the Nation

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thou SHALT shoplift: Priest tells congregation it's better than robbery or prostitution

by Chris Brooke

Poor people who are desperate for cash have been advised to go forth and shoplift from major stores - by an Anglican priest.

The Rev Tim Jones said in his Sunday sermon that stealing from successful shops was preferable to burglary, robbery or prostitution.

He told parishioners it would not break the eighth commandment 'thou shalt not steal' because it 'is permissible for those who are in desperate situations to take food that they might not starve'.

But his advice was roundly condemned by police and the local Tory MP. Father Jones, 42, was discussing Mary and the birth of Jesus when he went on to the subject of how poor and vulnerable people cope in the run-up to Christmas.

'My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift,' he told his stunned congregation at St Lawrence and St Hilda in York.

'I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.

'I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.

'I would ask them not to take any more than they need. I offer the advice with a heavy heart. Let my words not be misrepresented as a simplistic call for people to shoplift.

'The observation that shoplifting is the best option that some people are left with is a grim indictment of who we are.

'Rather, this is a call for our society no longer to treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt.

'When people are released from prison, or find themselves suddenly without work or family support, then to leave them for weeks with inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly.

'We create a situation which leaves some people little option but crime.'

The father of two, whose parish has a wide mix of social conditions, said his advice to people in dire circumstances is that 'they should not hurt anybody and cope as best they can'.

He added: 'The strong temptation is to burgle or rob people - family, friends, neighbours, strangers...  Read the whole article.

Christmas Message 2009

by Patriarch Fouad

First of all, I want to welcome you, all the journalists gathered here today, and thank you for the good but difficult work you perform. Through this work you have the opportunity to seek and serve the truth. Many journalists have paid and continue to pay a real cost to their lives due to their dedication to the truth. Information is not neutral. It has a real ethical dimension. Through informing the readers about what happens in the world, you help them to have an objective and ethical evaluation of the events themselves. Thank you and welcome.

Christmas approaches. Therefore I wish peace and Grace to all the inhabitants of this Holy Land: Palestinians and Israelis, Christians, Muslims, Jews and Druses. I extend these greetings to our faithful in Jordan and Cyprus who are also part of this diocese. The Birth of Christ offers several values to meditate upon: peace, hope, love, sharing, hospitality, compassion and human dignity...  Read the whole article.

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Jesus-Era House Found in Nazareth, Israel

NAZARETH, Israel — Days before Christmas, archaeologists on Monday unveiled what they said were the remains of the first dwelling in Nazareth that can be dated back to the time of Jesus — a find that could shed new light on what the hamlet was like during the period the New Testament says Jesus lived there as a boy.

The dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest that Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres. It was evidently populated by Jews of modest means who kept camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman invaders, said archaeologist Yardena Alexandre, excavations director at the Israel Antiquities Authority,

Based on clay and chalk shards found at the site, the dwelling appeared to house a "simple Jewish family," Alexandre added, as workers at the site carefully chipped away at mud with small pickaxes to reveal stone walls...  Read the whole article.

Anglicanorum Coetibus: A Glorious New Era of Christian Unity

by Mary Ann Mueller

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS----If the 1974 ordination of women caused the first fissure in The Episcopal Church and the subsequent consecration of V. Gene Robinson to the bishopric rent the very fabric of Anglicanism worldwide, then more than four hundred years before, the Reformation, including the English Reformation, helped to fracture the entire Body of Christ and herald in Protestantism: a brokenness to the entire Body of Christ which still hasn't been healed.

Christ, Himself, prayed in His Priestly prayer: "The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are One, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me." (St. John 17: 22-23 -- ESV). That prayer was uttered in the Garden following Christ's institution of the Eucharist and before He was arrested and led to the Cross at Golgotha.

As we are about to enter into the second decade of the 21st Century, so far Christ's prayer for Christian unity has not been fulfilled. For nearly a millennium, since the Great Schism of 1054, which split Apostolic Christendom, the Church -- the Body of Christ -- has become more and more dismembered as Biblical truth and apostolic authority are jettisoned for the pabulum of social justice and spiritual rebellion.

Now there is a sense of urgency for that fulfillment for Christ's priestly prayer. For years, Anglo-Catholic members of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the wider Continuing Anglican Movement have been throwing pebbles at the Pope's window in the Vatican seeking reunification with the See of Rome and to be brought into the fullness of their Catholicity, hopefully keeping some of their unique Anglican liturgy, patrimony and ethos.

The Vatican heard the fervent plea and the window cracked in 1980 when Pope John Paul II allowed for the Pastoral Provision which gave American Anglicans the opportunity to "Swim the Tiber" and still retain some of their cherished Anglican heritage... Read the whole article.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Popes Pius XII, John Paul II declared 'venerable'

In a series of decrees issued on December 19, the Vatican has approved miracles allowing for the canonization of five people and the beatification of five others. The Vatican also recognized the 1984 murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko by Communist intelligence officers as a martyrdom, preparing the way for his beatification.

The decrees, approved by Pope Benedict XVI during a private audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, also proclaimed that ten other candidates for sainthood had lived lives of heroic virtue. Those decrees make the candidates eligible for beatification if a miracle is attributed to their intercession.

The two decrees commanding the greatest public attention were those recognizing the heroic virtue of Pope Pius XII, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, and Pope John Paul II, who reigned from 1978 to 2005... Read the whole article.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Legion of Christ discloses Fr. Maciel's plagiarism to its members

CNA STAFF, Dec 18, 2009 / 11:42 am (CNA).- In an effort to distance itself from the wrongdoings of its founder, the Legion of Christ has recently circulated an internal memo detailing how a long venerated work of spirituality attributed to Fr. Marcial Maciel was actually a slight re-writing of a book from a little-known Spanish author.

“El Salterio de mis días” (The Psalter of my Days), according to the Legionary tradition, was regarded as written by Fr. Maciel during the period of the "great blessing," (1956-59), when the Mexican founder was submitted to a canonical process by the Vatican that was finally called off.

The memo now reveals that the text, very popular among the Legion in its original in Spanish and partially translated into English for internal use, was “based” on the little known work of a Spanish Catholic politician, Luis Lucía.

In a book titled “El Salterio de mis horas” (The Psalter of my Hours), Lucía, a Christian Democrat, reflected on his experience of being persecuted both by the Communist government during Spain's civil war (1936-1939), and the Nationalist government of Francisco Franco, who condemned him to death, but later changed the sentence to life in prison.

Lucía, the author of several political and spiritual books, probably wrote “The Psalter of my Hours” in the 30's. He was released from prison in 1941, and died in Valencia, Spain in 1943.

Despite being long forgotten, a small edition of “The Psalter of my Hours” was published in Valencia in 1956. It seems this was the edition Fr. Maciel read in Spain.

Although the memo does not describe Fr. Maciel's copying as plagiarism, a Spanish member of the Legion familiar with the text told CNA that Fr. Maciel's version reproduces "80% of the original book in content and style."  This is the whole article.  Read the original here.

The Catholic case against health-care reform

by Phil Lawler


President Obama’s crusade to enact health-care reform legislation is nearing its climactic battle in the US Senate. How should Catholic Americans look upon this legislative struggle?

The US bishops have consistently voiced their support for health-care reform, while insisting that the legislation must include some language ensuring against public support for abortion. In the House of Representatives their lobbying had its desired effect, and the “Stupak Amendment” gave the bishops a bill they could support. In the Senate a pro-life amendment was rejected. Still the US bishops’ conference has clung to the bare hope that some acceptable language might be inserted, somewhere during the remaining steps of the legislative process.

As a matter of practical politics, I think the bishops’ hopes are unrealistic. The Senate vote against the pro-life language was decisive. If the Senate passes a bill without a pro-life amendment, a joint committee will iron out the differences between that legislation and the version passed by the House. That reconciliation process will be dominated by the Democratic majority leadership, which is wholeheartedly committed to abortion coverage. Thus if a health-care reform bill is passed in this Congressional session, it will almost certainly include subsidies for abortion.

But just for the sake of the argument, let’s assume that the final legislation includes a solid pro-life amendment. Should Catholics then give their legislation their wholehearted support?

Absolutely not, for four reasons.

First, even if it doesn’t subsidize abortion this year, the federal health-care program will subsidize abortion in the future. All it takes is one act of Congress to amend the bill, one federal judge to rule that a ban on abortion funding is discriminatory, or one bureaucrat to rule that abortion is a “preventive” medical procedure, and the subsidies will snap quickly into place. Pro-life forces have battled valiantly to stave off the public funding of abortion this year, but as long as the federal government controls the health-care market, the battle will be fought repeatedly—month after month, year after year, legal case after case—until the left reaches its goal, and locks in the funding.

Second, abortion isn’t the only moral issue. The main focus of public attention has been the potential subsidies for abortion. But the legislation would also ensure federal subsidies for contraception and sterilization. American citizens could soon find themselves paying for in vitro fertilization treatments and sex-reassignment surgeries, if doctors and their federal overseers certified that these procedures were necessary.

He who pays the piper calls the tune, and if the federal government pays for health-care treatment, the White House ultimately will set the standards to determine which procedures warrant support. We already know where President Obama stands on embryonic stem-cell research, and we can easily predict how he will respond to the use of medicines obtained from human embryos in the treatment of diseases. Such medicines (if any ever appear) will receive federal subsidies. On the other hand, efforts to provide rudimentary medical care (as opposed to extraordinary treatment) for comatose patients will be stifled. So at both beginning and end of human life, the financial pressures will be adverse to the cause of human dignity... Read the whole article. 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

God Is Relevant; The Art of Desecration

by Edward Pentin

ROME, DEC. 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- It's hard to imagine a serious conference on the importance of God in the world taking place in many of the West's capital cities today. If they do take place at all, they usually degenerate into televised spectacles and malicious attacks on the Church.

Yet a three-day conference in Rome last week -- titled "God Today: With Him or Without Him, That Changes Everything" -- successfully brought together leading theologians, philosophers, artists, politicians and Church to discuss, rationally and calmly, the importance and relevance of God to people's daily lives. An estimated 2,500 people -- many of them young people -- filled the auditorium near the Vatican, despite some secularists predicting they would never turn up.

Benedict XVI sent a message underlining the significance of the meeting, which was originally the idea of Cardinal Camillo Ruini and hosted by the Italian bishops conference. "The issue of God," he wrote, "is central in our time, which often tends to reduce man to a single dimension -- the 'horizontal' dimension -- in the belief that his openness to the Transcendent is irrelevant to his life."

Man's relationship with God, he stressed, "is essential for the journey of humankind" and the Church and all Christians have the task of making God present in the world. The Pope then highlighted what made this conference different from the usual sceptical debates about religion.

Its starting point was to show the various paths that lead to affirming the truth about the existence of God fully revealed through Jesus Christ. It also aimed at throwing light on the essential importance that God has for mankind, for each person's life and his salvation.

"In a cultural and spiritual situation such as the present, where there is a growing tendency to relegate God to the private sphere, to consider him as irrelevant and superfluous, or even to reject him explicitly, it is my heartfelt hope that this event may contribute, at the least, to dispersing the shadow that makes modern man hesitant and timorous before the idea of openness to God," the Pope wrote... Read the whole article.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Remembrance, and Maybe Sainthood, for Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

by Paul Vitello

To a Catholic boy like Tim Dolan, growing up in the heartland when Protestant neighbors still made casual jokes about the “papists” next door, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen rode into town in the 1950s on the new main street of the United States, the television set, like a true-blue American hero.

“He showed the broad American public that the truths of our faith were consonant with the highest values of the society: patriotism, God, family and the struggle against Communism,” said that boy, now known as Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

Archbishop Dolan led a memorial Mass on Wednesday evening at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the death of Bishop Sheen. An auxiliary bishop of the New York Archdiocese from 1951 to 1965, the man whom the Rev. Billy Graham called “the greatest communicator of the 20th century” is buried in a crypt under the cathedral altar, which was open for public viewing before the Mass.

In a way, the event — which attracted Roman Catholic dignitaries, parishioners from across the country and two great-great nieces of the bishop — served unofficially as promotion for a little-noticed campaign to make Bishop Sheen, the first and greatest Catholic televangelist, a saint of the church.

After 20 years in radio, Bishop Sheen scored a hit with his first weekly TV show, “Life is Worth Living,” on the DuMont network. The program drew tens of millions of viewers on Tuesday nights from 1951 to 1957, though it appeared opposite giants of early television like Lucille Ball and Milton Berle (who once quipped that the bishop was pretty good for a guy who “uses old material”)...  Read the whole article.

The Most Boring Man in the World?

Obama’s speeches all run together into the same mind-numbing oration.

by Rich Lowry

Barack Obama’s vibe used to be a cross between JFK and Beatlemania. Now it’s fading into “Oh, him again?”

There’s nothing wrong with a boring politician. But Obama isn’t becoming boring in a stolid, dependable Angela Merkel kind of way. He’s not boring like a mannerly George H. W. Bush or a thoughtful Bill Bradley. He’s boring like yesterday’s celebrity.

He’s the teen heartthrob who’s grown a little too old. He’s the star from The Real World Denver — three years ago. The cruel vicissitudes of the celebrity culture apply to everyone. If Paris Hilton can be overtaken by the even-more-pointlessly famous Kim Kardashian, no one is safe.

Much of what was new and different about Obama didn’t survive its first contact with reality. His core supporters on the left suffer from what Woodrow Wilson called, in a different context, the “tragedy of disappointment.” They expected a glorious new dispensation. Yet Gitmo remains open, more troops are going to Afghanistan, and the tides haven’t receded.

Swing voters had more modest hopes — responsible, nonideological governance. Nope.

The Obama team believes there is only one person who can redeem his political project — and that’s Barack Obama. He must be deployed early, often, unrelentingly. He’ll talk to your children in the classroom, show up during your Thanksgiving Day NFL game and explain — and explain some more — his policies.

The old preacher’s adage is, “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.” Obama might add “repeat as necessary,” including on late-night TV shows...  Read the whole article. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pope to preach in Westminster Hall

Pope Benedict XVI will preach in Westminster Hall, where Catholic martyrs including Sir Thomas More were condemned to die, when he visits England next September, it has emerged.

He will make an address to MPs and peers from the spot where Sir Thomas was sentenced in 1535 for his opposing the adultery of King Henry VIII.

Details of the four-day state visit are being discussed in Rome between a delegation of Whitehall officials and their Vatican counterparts.

A Vatican delegation has also visited London in an attempt to finalise the plans.

It is understood, however, that the visit will begin on September 16 and that it will end after the Pope has personally presided over the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, possibly in Wembly stadium, on Sunday September 19.

The address in Westminster Hall will be one of two public speeches that the Pope will deliver during the trip. The other will be to academics at Oxford University.

Former Tory Minister Ann Widdecombe, a convert to Catholicism who will be standing down at the next General Election, said it was “marvellous” that the Pope will be able to address parliamentarian from such an historic venue.

She said: “He should remind Parliamentarians of their duty to guarantee freedom and democracy and that includes Christians.”

Westminster Hall was built in the 11th century and is the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster.

It is sacred to many Catholics because it was where many martyrs and saints were tried for High Treason during the Protestant Reformation... Read the whole article.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rowan Williams cannot now prevent an Anglican schism

by Paul Vallely

Rowan Williams bought himself time for a while in his attempt to hold the Anglican Communion together in its row over gay bishops. But yesterday it looked like that time is running out.

He had appealed to the liberal church in the United States to impose a moratorium on electing any more gay bishops after the divisive election of Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003. But the ceasefire between liberals and evangelicals has effectively been ended by the election of a bishop who has committed a double sin in the eyes of conservatives: Canon Mary Glasspool is a woman priest and has openly been a lesbian for 21 years.

Dr Williams is clinging to one final hope. Her selection has still to be ratified by the national church before she is ordained next May. In theory her appointment could be rejected. But it is a forlorn expectation. The mood in the US church is that it is time to reject conservative intolerance and affirm that homosexuals are as loved by God as heterosexuals. The conservative group Reform yesterday said that a schism is now "absolutely inevitable". What has irritated liberals is the speed with which Dr Williams has issued his statement requesting "a period of gracious restraint" which is church-speak for urging the ceasefire to continue.

It comes in contrast to Lambeth Palace's unwillingness to make public comment about the anti-gay laws being proposed in Uganda where homosexuals are already liable to be jailed for life. A new bill will impose the death penalty on HIV positive gay men for "aggravated homosexuality". The law is being backed by at least one Ugandan bishop who has denounced homosexuality as a sign of modern Western decadence. But though Dr Williams' office has let it be known that he is appalled by the proposed law, he feels that publicly condemning it will make it more rather than less likely to come into force.

So it has come to this, for a man who made his reputation as one of Anglicanism's leading liberal catholic theologians: he swiftly condemns liberal Americans for being too tolerant, and yet feels forced to remain silent over a rank and brutal inhumanity.

Critics from both sides have unkindly quipped that Dr Williams has boldly nailed his colours to the fence. He may find that preferring unity to truth will not be possible much longer.  This is the whole article.  Read the original article here.

The Anglo-Catholic

A Brief Introduction and Rationale

by Christian Campbell

I am the Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL) and a member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Church in America’s Diocese of the Eastern United States. The ACA is the American province of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC).

I enter the world of blogging only reluctantly. Though I have followed the Anglo-Catholic and traditionalist Roman Catholic blogosphere closely for a number of years, my participation has always been limited to that of a spectator. A lay leader in my Anglican parish and diocese, it has been helpful to keep abreast both of developments in sister jurisdictions of the so-called “Continuing Church” and ecumenical developments with other Catholic groups — but I have always been wary of entering the fray. The pitched battles waged in the comment boxes of weblogs rarely prove productive. The unhappy divisions in the Anglican Continuum have made for a digital minefield that has hardly seemed worth treading, and, as an Anglican, I have generally felt it presumptuous to publicly comment on Roman Catholic sites. Moreover, my leadership role in the Church requires a certain discretion and, until now, there has never been a reason for me to complicate matters by mounting an online soapbox.

In October of 2007, the House of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion petitioned the Holy See for a provision which would allow the TAC — corporately — to enter full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Similar appeals were made by other Anglican groups, most notably Forward in Faith UK.

On November 9, 2009, the Holy Father answered the prayers of generations of Anglican Catholics with the publication of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus which provides for canonical structures allowing Anglican groups to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony...  Read the whole article.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pope, Russia agree to upgrade diplomatic ties

by Daniela Petroff

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI and visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed Thursday to upgrade Vatican-Kremlin relations to full diplomatic ties, the Vatican said.

The step forward on the diplomatic front comes at the same time as a warming in previously tense relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican.

A Vatican statement said Benedict and Medvedev agreed that Russia will upgrade its representation at the Vatican from a special mission to embassy level and that the Vatican will reciprocate in Moscow.

The two men also discussed challenges to "security and peace" in the world and "themes of mutual interest such as the value of the family and the contribution of believers to the life of Russia," the Vatican said.

Medvedev, on a one-day visit to Rome, met with the German pope for 30 minutes, speaking through interpreters. He had earlier met with Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

After decades of hostility between the Vatican and the Kremlin during the Cold War, the major breakthrough came when former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met with Pope John Paul II in December 1989.

But the lifting of restrictions on religion led to new tensions with the Orthodox church, which accused the Vatican of poaching for souls in traditional Orthodox territory — a charge the Vatican denied.

The standoff prevented John Paul II of fulfilling his wish of making a pilgrimage to Russia.

Vatican officials, however, say that despite improved atmosphere such a trip is not on Benedict's agenda now. The Vatican statement after Thursday's meeting did not mention it.

Benedict had met with Medvedev's predecessor, Vladimir Putin, two years ago. As a gift, Medvedev presented Benedict with 22 volumes of an encyclopedia on the Russian Orthodox Church to complete a set brought by Putin.  This is the whole article.  Read the original here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Divorce Myth

by Dr. Jeff Mirus

Children are happier if their parents are happier; they are better off growing up in an environment free from bickering; they are resilient enough that family upheavals do not negatively affect them over the long-term. Few would argue with these statements, but there is at least one scenario in which all of them are resoundingly false: That scenario is divorce. It turns out that, apart from violence and abuse, children are very much worse off if their parents become happier by divorcing, or if they avoid bickering by divorcing, or if the upheaval in question is the destruction of the family unit itself by divorce.

An article in this month’s Homiletic & Pastoral Review by Barbara Meng (not yet available online) summarizes the data. Meng herself has an impressive résumé. She holds an MTS degree from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, DC; she is the editor of the Catholic Family Quarterly and the business manager of Catholic Faith Alive; she has seven children and eighteen grandchildren; and, by the way, she’s been married for 50 years.

In considering marriage and divorce, I’m always reminded of my wife’s grandmother, who had a reputation as a bit of a shrew, and who was heard to make the following comment on her own marriage when she was considerably older than Barbara Meng, had been married longer, and had become far less mentally alert: “Willie and I have been married for sixty years,” she said, “and never a bad day!”

Yes. Well. But this is not as much of a digression as you may think, for by the very laughter with which this statement must be greeted by any married couple, the opposite is proved, and a key point is made: There are many “bad days” in every marriage. It isn’t only those who are deliriously happy who stay the course. Yet staying the course is supremely important to children, and even to grandchildren...  Read the whole article.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mosul: Christian buildings attacked, Church of Saint Ephrem levelled

At present, there is no information about casualties. Attackers carried out their action in broad daylight without any opposition. The methods used are like those used in the attack against the Bishop’s Palace in 2004. Christian sources say the “attack was like a Mafia warning”, a message to Christians “to leave the city.” The faithful are left with anger, disappointment and fear.

Mosul (AsiaNews) – Explosive devices were detonated this morning at two Christian sites in Mosul, the Church of Saint Ephrem and the Mother House of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine. At present, there are no reports about casualties but the church was entirely destroyed. The convent also suffered damages but it is not known how much. Christian sources in Mosul told AsiaNews that the “attack was like a Mafia warning”, a message to Christians “to get out of the city.”

At around 10 am, a commando of about ten gunmen stormed the Church of Saint Ephrem in the al-Jadida neighbourhood, in a new section of the city. Attackers told everyone inside to leave and then calmly proceeded to place explosives around the building. When they were set off the whole structure was levelled. The same thing happened to the Bishop’s Palace in December 2004...  Read the whole article.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kill the Bills. Do Health Reform Right.

The bill is irredeemable.

by Charles Krauthammer

The United States has the best health care in the world — but because of its inefficiencies, also the most expensive. The fundamental problem with the 2,074-page Senate health-care bill (as with its 2,014-page House counterpart) is that it wildly compounds the complexity by adding hundreds of new provisions, regulations, mandates, committees, and other arbitrary bureaucratic inventions.

Worse, they are packed into a monstrous package without any regard to each other. The only thing linking these changes — such as the 118 new boards, commissions, and programs — is political expediency. Each must be able to garner just enough votes to pass. There is not even a pretense of a unifying vision or conceptual harmony.

The result is an overregulated, overbureaucratized system of surpassing arbitrariness and inefficiency. Throw a dart at the Senate tome:

You’ll find mandates with financial penalties — the amounts picked out of a hat.

You’ll find insurance companies (who live and die by their actuarial skills) told exactly what weight to give risk factors, such as age. Currently, insurance premiums for 20-somethings are about one-sixth the premiums for 60-somethings. The House bill dictates the young shall now pay at minimum one-half; the Senate bill, one-third — numbers picked out of a hat.

You’ll find sliding scales for health-insurance subsidies — percentages picked out of a hat — that will radically raise marginal income tax rates for middle-class recipients, among other crazy unintended consequences.

The bill is irredeemable. It should not only be defeated. It should be immolated, its ashes scattered over the Senate swimming pool...  Read the whole article.

CRU’s Tree-Ring Circus

Who peer-reviews the peer-reviewers?

by Mark Steyn

My favorite moment in the Climategate/Climaquiddick scandal currently roiling the “climate change” racket was Stuart Varney’s interview on Fox News with the actor Ed Begley Jr. — star of the 1980s medical drama St. Elsewhere but latterly better known, as is the fashion with members of the thespian community, as an “activist.” He’s currently in a competition with Bill Nye (“the Science Guy”) to see who can have the lowest “carbon footprint.” Pistols at dawn would seem the quickest way of resolving that one, but presumably you couldn’t get a reality series out of it. Anyway, Ed was relaxed about the mountain of documents recently leaked from Britain’s Climate Research Unit in which the world’s leading climate-change warm-mongers e-mail each other back and forth on how to “hide the decline” and other interesting matters.

Nothing to worry about, folks. “We’ll go down the path and see what happens in peer-reviewed studies,” said Ed airily. “Those are the key words here, Stuart. ‘Peer-reviewed studies.’"

Hang on. Could you say that again more slowly so I can write it down? Not to worry. Ed said it every 12 seconds, as if it were the magic charm that could make all the bad publicity go away. He wore an open-necked shirt, and, although I don’t have a 76” inch HDTV, I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a talismanic peer-reviewed amulet nestling in his chest hair for additional protection. “If these scientists have done something wrong, it will be found out and their peers will determine it,” insisted Ed. “Don’t get your information from me, folks, or any newscaster. Get it from people with Ph.D. after their names. ‘Peer-reviewed studies is the key words. And if it comes out in peer-reviewed studies . . . ”

Got it: Pier-reviewed studies. You stand on the pier and you notice the tide seems to be coming in a little higher than it used to and you wonder if it’s something to do with incandescent light bulbs killing the polar bears? Is that how it works?

No, no, peer-reviewed studies. “Peer-reviewed studies. Go to Science magazine, folks. Go to Nature,” babbled Ed. “Read peer-reviewed studies. That’s all you need to do. Don’t get it from you or me.”

Look for the peer-reviewed label! And then just believe whatever it is they tell you!

The trouble with outsourcing your marbles to the peer-reviewed set is that, if you take away one single thing from the leaked documents, it’s that the global warm-mongers have wholly corrupted the “peer-review” process. When it comes to promoting the impending ecopalypse, the Climate Research Unit is the nerve-center of the operation. The “science” of the CRU dominates the “science” behind the UN’s IPCC, which dominates the “science” behind the Congressional cap-and-trade boondoggle, the upcoming Copenhagen shakindownen of the developed world, and the now routine phenomenon of leaders of advanced, prosperous societies talking like gibbering madmen escaped from the padded cell, whether it’s President Obama promising to end the rise of the oceans or the Prince of Wales saying we only have 96 months left to save the planet...  Read the whole article.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The $698,000 mistake

In real estate boom, one mother took a chance on the American dream -- and lost big

by Donna St. George

The motel room seemed to shrink as days wore on, and their belongings bulged from its one dresser and closet. Papers. Clothes. Hair accessories. Room 267 had become a cramped way station for a family of four, far from what Daverena White had in mind when she decided to buy a house.

Back then, in 2006, before the country's housing bust and mortgage crisis, before the recession hit and jobs fell away, White settled on a four-bedroom colonial along the rolling landscape of Clarksburg, in Washington's outer suburbs. She imagined her three youngest children growing up there. It was the first house that White had ever owned.

But this was where that decision had led: to a bleak winter of foreclosure and homelessness and finally this crowded motel room where White had lost count of how many days she and her children had awakened there, hoping for something better.

Now, on a sunny afternoon this past May, White answered her cellphone. The children had climbed off their school bus 20 minutes earlier, and the motel television flashed with cartoons. Suddenly the sound of her voice filled the room.

"Thank you so much," she said. "Thank you so much!"

She hung up. "Yes!" she yelled. "Yes! Yes!"

Her teenage daughter started to cry.

It was her youngest who pressed her. "Are we moving?" he asked. The 5-year-old was serious, almost urgent. "I want to go now."

As the recession shows signs of easing and the economy begins to recover, the families most affected by it, such as Daverena White's, are starting to recover, too.

But recovering is not the same as recovered. As White has come to understand, it can take years -- whether it's an economy, a bank or a single mother of four who wanted a house. Now she knows that. But as all of this began in the heady days of the mortgage boom, she didn't. She only knew that there seemed to be possibilities, even to those with little means such as herself, which is how a woman who had never paid more than $700 a month in rent and who had relied in recent years on Section 8 housing vouchers suddenly owned a house.

A four-bedroom house.

With 3 1/2 bathrooms. And walk-in closets, black granite countertops and a fireplace.

And a sale price of $698,000.

How White was able to buy this house -- and the havoc that doing so wrought -- is the story of a moment in time when all of the old rules about home-buying suddenly disappeared. It happened even though smart people knew better. It happened in White's case even though the college-educated day-care provider knew deep down that she was not ready. In the expansiveness of the boom, it was easy to believe. And tens of thousands of people did...  Read the whole article.

The Bad Business of Planned Parenthood

by Mauricio Roman

Despite profits of $85 million in 2008, Planned Parenthood is facing serious financial difficulties. According to a recent Harvard Business School case study, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is structured as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with multiple affiliates, each of which is also a 501(c)(3) non-profit. The national entity lobbies on national policy, sets affiliation standards, and leases its "Planned Parenthood" brand to affiliates, each of which has its own independent board and management structure, and so enjoys independence in its day-to-day operations.

Internally, Planned Parenthood's difficulties stem from the uneven strength of its affiliates, and President Cecile Richards is worried. According to the Harvard case, her organization faces "tough economic times, a hostile political environment, and limited ability to raise philanthropic dollars in a resource constrained area of the country."

What does a "hostile political environment" entail? For one thing, past government funding of crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence-only sex education programs. No industry likes a product that can become a substitute for the one it sells. From this perspective, abstinence is a substitute for contraception, and adoption is a substitute for abortion. Unable to grasp that these are morally superior options to abortion, Planned Parenthood sees them only as threats to their established position. It's not difficult to understand why: Young women seeking contraception account for 60 percent of Planned Parenthood's total clientele, while abortion is provided to 10 percent of its female customers. Even allowing for overlap, that's 60 to 70 percent of Planned Parenthood's customer base.

Happily, in some regions, Planned Parenthood is failing badly at its goal of countering the "hostile political environment." The Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates (FAPPA) laments that "while we worked hard this session to zero-fund the $2 million appropriation for so-called crisis pregnancy centers in Florida, we were not successful in its defunding."

Difficulties such as these are driving down the number of Planned Parenthood affiliates, from 163 15 years ago to 91 in late 2009. And according to the Harvard case study, this consolidation is expected to continue with several of the remaining affiliates discussing mergers... Read the whole article.

A Danger in Dubai

Debt and lack of transparency in the affairs of the emirate have shaken investors’ confidence. It is important that the Gulf states continue on the path of free markets

There will be a trace of schadenfreude in Western financial capitals about Dubai’s financial woes this week. During the economic downturn, it has been easy for businesses in the Gulf, buoyed by petrodollars, to buy Western assets cheaply. Sovereign wealth funds have in effect acted as private banks, with minimal disclosure, for the oil-rich to go on a corporate shopping spree in Europe and the US.

But any mild satisfaction at Dubai’s misfortune would be seriously misplaced. Amid the financial market ructions, one message should be stressed by policymakers: it is important that Dubai succeed. The liberal economic order of open markets and free trade is the most effective means of repairing the economic damage wreaked by awesome financial mismanagement.

The world was alerted to Dubai’s problems by a brief statement about the corporate restructuring of Dubai World. It sparked convulsion on world stock markets. The state-owned company, one of the biggest in the United Arab Emirates, is having difficulty in repaying $60 billion in debt. The story is bigger than Dubai. In 2007-08 the Western financial system all but collapsed under a cascade of bad debts. Investors are apprehensive that the debt problems of Dubai and the exposure of Western banks might mark a new stage in the global financial crisis.

After the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September last year, when a credit squeeze turned to a full-blown financial panic, policymakers responded swiftly. They bailed out the banks, slashed interest rates and launched huge public spending programmes. Stock markets stabilised in March and have since recovered strongly. Investors have bet that the risk of economic catastrophe has receded and that the banks are now secure. They must now ask whether the signs of recovery were a false dawn... Read the whole article.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day

October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience

Preamble

Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.

While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire’s sanctioning of infanticide. We remember with reverence those believers who sacrificed their lives by remaining in Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the plagues, and who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord.

After the barbarian tribes overran Europe, Christian monasteries preserved not only the Bible but also the literature and art of Western culture. It was Christians who combated the evil of slavery: Papal edicts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries decried the practice of slavery and first excommunicated anyone involved in the slave trade; evangelical Christians in England, led by John Wesley and William Wilberforce, put an end to the slave trade in that country. Christians under Wilberforce’s leadership also formed hundreds of societies for helping the poor, the imprisoned, and child laborers chained to machines.

In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and successfully fought to establish the rule of law and balance of governmental powers, which made modern democracy possible. And in America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or class.

This same devotion to human dignity has led Christians in the last decade to work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and sexual slavery, bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and assist in a myriad of other human rights causes—from providing clean water in developing nations to providing homes for tens of thousands of children orphaned by war, disease and gender discrimination.

Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good. In being true to its own calling, the call to discipleship, the church through service to others can make a profound contribution to the public good.

Declaration

We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend the good of all who bear his image. We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture, in natural human reason (which is itself, in our view, the gift of a beneficent God), and in the very nature of the human person. We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address as we, with St. Paul, commend this appeal to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions...  Read the whole thing.

Happy Franksgiving

How FDR tried, and failed, to change a national holiday.

by Melanie Kirkpatrick

Last I checked, Thanksgiving is still scheduled to take place tomorrow. The economic news may be gloomy, but unlike President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression, President Barack Obama has not tinkered with the date of the holiday.

In 1939, FDR decided to move Thanksgiving Day forward by a week. Rather than take place on its traditional date, the last Thursday of November, he decreed that the annual holiday would instead be celebrated a week earlier.

The reason was economic. There were five Thursdays in November that year, which meant that Thanksgiving would fall on the 30th. That left just 20 shopping days till Christmas. By moving the holiday up a week to Nov. 23, the president hoped to give the economy a lift by allowing shoppers more time to make their purchases and—so his theory went—spend more money.

Roosevelt made his decision in part on advice from Secretary of Commerce Harry Hopkins, who was in turn influenced by Lew Hahn, general manager of the Retail Dry Goods Association. Hahn had warned Hopkins that the late Thanksgiving, Nov. 30, might have an "adverse effect" on the sale of "holiday goods."

In an informal news conference in August announcing his decision, FDR offered a little tutorial on the history of the holiday. Thanksgiving was not a national holiday, he noted, meaning that it was not set by federal law. According to custom, it was up to the president to pick the date every year.

It was not until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln ordered Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November, that that date became generally accepted, Roosevelt explained. To make sure that reporters got his point, he added that there was nothing sacred about the date.

Nothing sacred? Roosevelt might as well have commanded that roast beef henceforth would replace turkey as the star of the holiday meal, or that cranberries would be banned from the Thanksgiving table. The president badly misread public opinion. His announcement was front-page news the next day, and the public outcry was swift and loud...  Read the whole article.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Catholics set up a task force for huge Anglican exodus

by Simon Caldwell

The Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales have set up a task force to help the possible exodus of tens of thousands of disaffected Anglicans into their church.

The move was announced as Anglican leader Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, protested to the Pope in the Vatican over its plans to receive Anglican converts en masse.

Pope Benedict XVI was last month accused of attempting to poach Anglicans unhappy about decisions taken in their church to ordain women and sexually-active homosexuals as priests and bishops.

In response to requests from about 30 Anglican bishops around the world for 'corporate reunion' with the Catholic Church, he has permitted vicars and their entire congregations to defect to Rome while keeping many of their Anglican traditions - including married priests.

In a 20-minute meeting on Saturday, Dr Williams complained to the Pope about the 'lack of consultation' over the move, saying it had left him in an 'awkward position'. But the pair failed to issue a joint statement... Read the whole article.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kennedy says RI bishop banned him from Communion

by Ray Henry

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has banned Rep. Patrick Kennedy from receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, in Rhode Island because of the congressman's support for abortion rights, Kennedy said in a newspaper interview published Sunday.

The decision by the outspoken prelate, reported on The Providence Journal's Web site, significantly escalates a bitter dispute between Tobin, an ultra orthodox bishop, and Kennedy, a son of the nation's most famous Roman Catholic family.

"The bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion," Kennedy told the paper in an interview conducted Friday.

Kennedy said the bishop had explained the penalty by telling him "that I am not a good practicing Catholic because of the positions that I've taken as a public official," particularly on abortion...  Read the whole article.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saturday Night Fever

GOP senators preview the weekend’s cloture debate for NRO.

by Robert Costa

In the 2008 presidential race, John McCain often dueled with Barack Obama over health care. Over a year later, Obama is in the White House and McCain finds himself back on Capitol Hill. The battle, however, continues.

With the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) making a final push to pass Obamacare in the upper chamber, McCain tells NRO that it is crucial for Senate Republicans to make every effort to defeat Reid’s 2,074-page blueprint, which is expected to come to a cloture vote on Saturday night. That vote will determine whether the bill can move to the Senate floor for a final debate. Reid, who leads a caucus of 58 Democrats and two independents, needs to secure 60 votes in order to proceed.

Democrats, says McCain, “are trying to fundamentally change health care in America.” Reid’s bill, he adds, is “like a big fish in the sun: After a short period of time out there, it really begins to stink.” McCain’s concerns are numerous: the bill’s spending, its new taxes, its Medicare cuts, its abortion language, its public option, its employer mandates, and its lack of medical-malpractice reform. The last item really irks the Arizona senator. “The total absence of meaningful malpractice reform just shows you the incredible influence of the trial lawyers of America,” says McCain. “It’s just blatant.”

The Congressional Budget Office’s recent score of Reid’s bill puts the cost at $848 billion over ten years. McCain says that number is misleading. Unlike the House and Senate Finance Committee health-care bills, whose reforms were set to start in 2013, Reid’s bill pushes back the implementation date to 2014. McCain calls the move “outrageous.”

“People will start paying taxes right away, but now the benefits won’t kick in until years later,” says McCain. “It’s like buying a house and starting mortgage payments only to be told that you have to wait five years to move into your home. And when you look at the actual cost of implementation, once the taxes come into effect, the ten-year cost is $2.5 trillion.”

Beyond the CBO numbers, “this bill is an atrocity, it’s awful,” says Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), an orthopedic surgeon. “The overall costs are hidden. A huge part of Medicare that seniors depend on is going to be cut, and the bill includes major new taxes.”

Also worrisome, says Barrasso, is that rationing is on the horizon: “The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government panel, just came out with an astonishing report on mammograms that [encourages the government to step] between people and their doctors. It’s amazing that the government and the Democrats would show their hand this soon. This report is clearly the first step toward rationing and a glimpse into the future of health care in America.”

Knowing that the public is growing increasingly uneasy about Obamacare, the Senate GOP is more than ready to raise objections at every turn, says McCain...  Read the whole article. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Archbishop tells Pope: there will be no turning back on women priests

by Ruth Gledhill and Richard Owen

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday made his most outspoken challenge to the Roman Catholic Church since the Pope invited disaffected Anglicans to switch to Rome.

Speaking before he meets Benedict XVI tomorrow, Dr Rowan Williams told a conference in Rome that the Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women was a bar to Christian unity.

“For many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women,” he said.

The Anglican provinces that ordain women had retained rather than lost their Catholic holiness and sacramentalism, he said.

Addressing an ecumenical conference at the Gregorian Pontifical University, the Archbishop said that the way Anglican leaders dealt with internal arguments offered lessons for senior Catholics.

“Is it nonsense to think that holding on to a limited but real common life might be worth working for within the Anglican family? And if it can be managed within the Anglican family, is this a possible model for the wider ecumenical scene?”

The ordination of women priests — and the prospect of women bishops — is one of the main reasons why disaffected Anglicans may take up the Pope’s offer of a “Church within a Church” that would enable them to retain traditional Anglican practices within the Catholic faith.

But yesterday the Archbishop made clear that there would be no turning back the clock on women priests in order to appease critics. He dismissed the Pope’s offer to disaffected Anglicans as barely more than a “pastoral response”, which broke little new ground in relations between the two Churches...  Read the whole article. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bishops discuss authority over Catholic colleges

by Rachel Zoll

BALTIMORE — Fallout continues from the summer controversy over the University of Notre Dame awarding an honorary degree to President Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops went behind closed doors at their fall meeting Wednesday to discuss, among other issues, what action they should take to increase oversight of the nation's more than 200 Roman Catholic colleges and universities.

Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the bishops' conference, revealed this week that he had formed a task force charged with reviewing the issue. Its research included a look at what church law says about bishops' authority over the schools.

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities has planned a similar discussion of canon law and bishops' authority at the group's annual meeting, set to begin Jan. 30 in Washington.

"Can bishops just pull the plug on us? It's not that simple," said Richard Yanikoski, president of the Catholic college association. He attended a meeting of the bishops' education committee last Sunday that briefly touched on higher education. He expected the bishops' would more fully examine the issue in their executive session.

The decision by Notre Dame, the nation's flagship Catholic university, to honor Obama at its May commencement caused an uproar within the church and drew protests from around the country and on the school campus by anti-abortion groups.

More than 70 U.S. bishops spoke out against the university's decision, a remarkable reaction given that it is customary for only a local bishop to comment. Notre Dame said Obama was honored as an inspiring leader who broke a historic racial barrier as the nation's first African-American president — not for his positions on abortion or embryonic stem cell research.

Leaders of other Catholic schools worried that anger over Notre Dame's action would spill over to all colleges and cause long-standing damage to their relations with bishops... Read the whole article.

Obama’s Prissy America

Why does Obama’s tolerant, apologetic America seem so very self-centered?

by Victor Davis Hanson

The liberal writ was that a strutting “bring ’em on” George W. Bush for eight years did what he pleased on the international scene. His “unilateral” America supposedly did not consult with either allies or international organizations, as he rammed through democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush’s “my way or the highway” personal credo resulted in an America alone.

Obama, of course, was hailed as the multifaceted antidote to all that. The new nontraditional America would reach out to the world. We would now listen rather than lecture. This was a welcome reflection of Barack Obama’s own cool and tolerant approach to politics, learned as a seasoned community organizer in Chicago.

But things have not quite worked out as planned. Barack Obama to all appearances is certainly more relaxed than Bush. And he resonates abroad as a nontraditional American. Indeed, Obama is now the paradigm of America’s ongoing metamorphosis into something more like the rest of the planet.

Yet in his own way Obama projects a far more prissy, self-indulgent America than we had under Bush. And that self-centeredness seems a logical extension of the new commander-in-chief himself.

How can that be, given Obama’s well-known apologies — for everything from slavery and our treatment of Native Americans to being imperious toward Europeans and Muslims? In obsequious fashion, we have sought to assure the Russians that we won’t deploy anti-ballistic missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. Obama has reminded the Chinese that they enjoy sovereignty over Taiwan. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, the Castro brothers, Hugo Chávez, and assorted other old enemies of the United States are suddenly considered either neutrals or friends.

It seems counterintuitive, then, to suggest that Obama’s America is increasingly self-absorbed...  Read the whole article.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good news: Obama creates 30 new jobs in one congressional district. Bad news: No such district

by Andrew Malcolm

Chicago politics, where voting is such a revered civic duty that people do it even after they're dead, cold, stiff, stuffed, boxed and buried beneath the permafrost for years, has now come to D.C. with the Obama administration.

This afternoon comes the most encouraging economic news, courtesy of our keen-eyed buddy Rick Klein over at ABC, that the Obama administration's $787-billion economic stimulus has, for example, thankfully created 30 new jobs in a little-known rural corner of Arizona at a cost to American taxpayers of only $761,420.

That works out to only $25,380.67 spent to create each individual job.

Seems like a lot per slot, but those 30 folks must be happy to be employed again and paying taxes.

This will be a real feather in the cap of Vice President Joe Biden, who's been left behind and assigned by the ever-campaigning president to monitor the stimulus plan, its spending and effectiveness moving into the crucial midterm elections of 2010. Might the Democrats snatch that House seat?

So the people of that 15th Congressional District in staunchly Republican Arizona should be pretty happy about this.

Trouble is, there is no 15th Congressional District in Arizona. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. Doesn't exist...  Read the whole article.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Bishops at the Cliff: Tobin's Challenge

by Dr. Jeff Mirus

I see three challenges in Bishop Thomas Tobin's public rebuke of Congressman Patrick Kennedy in an open letter on November 12th. With respect to his pro-abortion stance, Kennedy had asserted that “the fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Bishop Tobin replied, point blank, that this simply is not true. The three challenges I see in this are for Kennedy, Bishop Tobin himself, and the American bishops as a body...  Read the whole article.

Archbishop of Canterbury claims higher taxes would be good for society

Higher levels of tax would be good for society, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

by Martin Beckford

Dr Rowan Williams said that taxation should not be seen as a way of stifling business or redistributing wealth but helping to make the world a better place in which to live.

He called for new levies to be introduced on financial transactions and carbon emissions, and an end to the idea that unlimited economic growth is desirable.

The archbishop also claimed reality television gives us “alarming glimpses” of what the world would look like were everyone to be governed by self-interest.

Dr Williams, the most senior cleric in the Church of England and a self-confessed “hairy lefty”, has made a series of critical statements since last year’s banking crisis on the excesses of the financial sector and Labour’s attempt to spend its way out of recession.

In his latest comments, delivered to the TUC Economics Conference on Monday, he pointed out that the term “economics” derives from a Greek word meaning “housekeeping” and should be about “creating a habitat that we can actually live in”.

However he said that over the past few decades, the market has been treated as an “independent authority”, creating social disruption around the world and the “extraordinary phenomena” of debt trading... Read the whole article.

The Rationing Commission

Meet the unelected body that will dictate future medical decisions.

As usual, the most dangerous parts of ObamaCare aren't receiving the scrutiny they deserve—and one of the least examined is a new commission to tell Congress how to control health spending. Democrats are quietly attempting to impose a "global budget" on Medicare, with radical implications for U.S. medicine.

Like most of Europe, the various health bills stipulate that Congress will arbitrarily decide how much to spend on health care for seniors every year—and then invest an unelected board with extraordinary powers to dictate what is covered and how it will be paid for. White House budget director Peter Orszag calls this Medicare commission "critical to our fiscal future" and "one of the most potent reforms."

On that last score, he's right. Prominent health economist Alain Enthoven has likened a global budget to "bombing from 35,000 feet, where you don't see the faces of the people you kill."

As envisioned by the Senate Finance Committee, the commission—all 15 members appointed by the President—would have to meet certain budget targets each year. Starting in 2015, Medicare could not grow more rapidly on a per capita basis than by a measure of inflation. After 2019, it could only grow at the same rate as GDP, plus one percentage point.

The theory is to let technocrats set Medicare payments free from political pressure, as with the military base closing commissions. But that process presented recommendations to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Here, the commission's decisions would go into effect automatically if Congress couldn't agree within six months on different cuts that met the same target. The board's decisions would not be subject to ordinary notice-and-comment rule-making, or even judicial review... Read the whole article.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Cardinal and the Constitution

by Mary Anastasia O'Grady

Cardinal Rodriguez says Manuel Zelaya was removed from power constitutionally.

Tegucigalpa

It's a good 30 minutes by car from here to the Catholic retreat center where I traveled to meet Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga last week. The brick compound sits just off a dirt road on a hillside in a forest of tall pines. When I arrived the sun was going down, and in the stillness of the early evening the world seemed serene.

Yet for the cardinal, life lately has been anything but peaceful. Ever since then-president Manuel Zelaya began preparing to overthrow the constitution earlier this year so that he could remain in power past his term limit, Honduras has been in turmoil. And the Catholic Church has found itself necessarily involved.

The hard left has argued that the decision to depose Mr. Zelaya was driven by elite antipathy toward his activism on behalf of the poor. But the cardinal, who is an outspoken advocate for the downtrodden and a longtime critic of Central American income disparities, does not share that view. He has supported the removal of Mr. Zelaya. I wanted to hear more about that...  Read the whole article.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pope Benedict Putting Church On Path To Unity

by James G. Wiles

By coincidence, when word came of Pope Benedict’s initiative towards the Anglicans, I was re-reading Father Basset’s history of the English Jesuits.

The day before, I had viewed "A Man for All Seasons" and recalled the paintings in the London Oratory. One of my prized possessions is a beautifully printed account of the English martyrs of the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem Hospitaler, a gift of Professor William Tighe of Muhlenberg University. When I took my wife to Ireland for the first time in 1994, we spent more time wandering through ruined abbeys than we did in the pubs.

For someone with that kind of personal background, it was impossible not to think of Psalm 126: “When the Lord turned against the captivity of Sion, then were we like unto them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter.” The music of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd played in my head.

Like the falling of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the possibility that the Catholic church of the English might finally come home to Rome in my lifetime was paralyzing. I was struck by the notion that, like the Soviets and their allies who’d sought to kill Pope John Paul II, instead had seen their Communist empire collapse around them, the shades of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII might now be watching from hell as the Archbishop of Canterbury sat with the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and listened to His Eminence announce the Holy See’s terms upon which Anglicans could return en masse to the Catholic fold. Somewhere, William Shakespeare, that recusant Catholic, was smiling... Read the whole article.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vatican Clarification on Delay of Anglican Provision

"Unmarried Ministers Must Submit to the Norm of Clerical Celibacy"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the clarification issued today by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, on speculation for the reasons for the delay of the announced apostolic constitution allowing for personal ordinariates for Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

* * *

There has been widespread speculation, based on supposedly knowledgeable remarks by an Italian correspondent Andrea Tornielli, that the delay in publication of the Apostolic Constitution regarding Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, announced on October 20, 2009, by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is due to more than "technical" reasons. According to this speculation, there is a serious substantial issue at the basis of the delay, namely, disagreement about whether celibacy will be the norm for the future clergy of the Provision.

Cardinal Levada offered the following comments on this speculation: "Had I been asked I would happily have clarified any doubt about my remarks at the press conference. There is no substance to such speculation. No one at the Vatican has mentioned any such issue to me. The delay is purely technical in the sense of ensuring consistency in canonical language and references. The translation issues are secondary; the decision not to delay publication in order to wait for the ‘official’ Latin text to be published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis was made some time ago.

The drafts prepared by the working group, and submitted for study and approval through the usual process followed by the Congregation, have all included the following statement, currently Article VI of the Constitution:

§1 Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and in the Statement "In June" are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.

§2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.

This article is to be understood as consistent with the current practice of the Church, in which married former Anglican ministers may be admitted to priestly ministry in the Catholic Church on a case by case basis. With regard to future seminarians, it was considered purely speculative whether there might be some cases in which a dispensation from the celibacy rule might be petitioned. For this reason, objective criteria about any such possibilities (e.g. married seminarians already in preparation) are to be developed jointly by the Personal Ordinariate and the Episcopal Conference, and submitted for approval of the Holy See."

Cardinal Levada said he anticipates the technical work on the Constitution and Norms will be completed by the end of the first week of November.
This is the whole article.  Original article here.

Attacks on traditional Anglicans prove pope's point

by Colleen Carroll Campbell

The day before he was chosen to lead the Catholic Church, the future Pope Benedict XVI made international headlines when he warned his fellow Cardinals about the "dictatorship of relativism" that he saw gripping Western culture. Flourishing in an age when "having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism," this dictatorship is one that "does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

That prognosis struck some of Benedict's critics on the left as too defensive and dour when he first uttered it. But today, nearly five years later, many of those same naysayers are proving him right. Exhibit A is their reaction to Benedict's decision last week to welcome tradition-minded Anglicans en masse into the Catholic Church.

Responding to a demand from Anglicans who long have sought a way to join the Catholic Church without abandoning their Anglican identity, the pope authorized the creation of a new canonical structure that allows these converts to retain some liturgical riches of their Anglican heritage while uniting with Rome.

The decision buoyed the spirits of many self-described Anglo-Catholics who feel marginalized and betrayed by the Anglican Communion's willingness to change age-old Christian teachings to suit contemporary sexual mores. Recent years have seen fierce debates between Anglicans who support their church's ordination of women priests, appointment of openly gay bishops and blessing of same-sex marriages and those who see such innovations as inconsistent with Scripture and 2,000 years of Christian tradition...   Read the whole article.

Finding a Catholic home

by Christopher Mahon

Coming from an Anglican family of church musicians, I was received into the Catholic Church just over five years ago on the Feast of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More. Some other members of my family have also converted, but not all of them. Until now, we have been aware that becoming Catholic meant relinquishing some of our cherished heritage. So the Apostolic Constitution announced by the Vatican is quite a gift for my family and an answer to literally years of prayer.

Two years ago, when news first spread of the request from the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) for union with the Holy See, it was apparent that TAC Primate John Hepworth was serious about his vision for “the end of the Reformation of the 16th century.” The Oct. 20 announcements in the Vatican and London bring that vision one great step closer to being fulfilled.

Pope Benedict XVI’s truly historic initiative has authorized the establishment of a universal system for Anglicans to join the Catholic Church without having to abandon legitimate religious traditions that are “precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith.”

What is essential to understand about this move is that it effectively appropriates to the Catholic Church the Anglican traditions that are held so dear to so many. Renowned for its beautiful use of a hieratic form of English in the liturgy and its cultivated musical life, the Anglican heritage is now able to find a home in a church that will neither betray the apostolic faith nor commit ritual suicide... Read the whole article.

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Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.