It seems Rendell had no idea it would be so hard to give away money the dosen't exsist yet.
It is my hope that we will be able to announce the new host very soon. It should be coming this week! All I can tell you right now is we will work very hard to bring the best show possible. Stay tuned.
Fewer than 30 percent of shareholders voted for the proposal this time around — keeping Exxon the only company in the Fortune 50 that refuses to give in to pressure from the homosexual lobby.
Mac McQuiston of the CEO Forum said Exxon's stand comes right from the top.
"They've said, 'You know what? Right is right,' " McQuiston explained. "And Lee Raymond, who's the CEO, has said, 'As long as I'm CEO, we're going to do what's right.' "
Kermit Rainman, a gender issues analyst for Focus on the Family, said the pressure on the corporation is intense, including protests and a barrage of phone calls at its corporate meeting in Dallas this week.
"One of the major strategic plans by the gay activists' leadership has been to target corporate America in getting them to change their policies," he noted. "By doing that they know that they can change the culture of our country."
New York City, which owns more than 8 million shares of Exxon, is also pressuring the oil giant to cave in. Tom Strobhar of Pro-Vita Advisors said standing up for right will ultimately be rewarded.
"God honors this in God's time," he said, "but clearly Exxon/Mobil's under a great deal of pressure — and I thank God for the courageous people at Exxon/Mobil."
Three years ago, Exxon/Mobile repealed a gay nondiscrimination policy at the request of shareholders.
Terry Eastland provides a detailed look at the Massachusetts governor, his religion and his politics. (Weekly Standard) In 2002, the church released the anti-war statement: "As a church, we must renounce war and proclaim peace." (CNN)
The Schiavo case is by no means an isolated instance. Shortly afterward the Telegraph newspaper in British reported April 17 on an 81-year-old widow from the American state of Georgia, Mae Magouirk. In spite of having drawn up a living will she was deprived of food and water for 10 days after being admitted to hospital for heart problems, which, according to the Telegraph, were considered treatable by doctors.
The widow was not comatose or even in a so-called vegetative state. But a problem arose when her granddaughter, named in the living will as her guardian, decided that Magouirk was "ready to go home with Jesus." Her life was saved when other members of the family successfully took legal action to restore nourishment.
Last week the issue of withdrawal of food and water also came up in Britain, with what the Guardian newspaper described May 16 as "one of the most important right-to-life appeals to come before the English courts in recent years."
The case involves Leslie Burke, who suffers from a progressive degenerative disease. He fears that in the future, once his situation has deteriorated, doctors will decide to stop feeding him. Burke won a high court ruling last July, which declared the guidelines by the General Medical Council to doctors on the withholding of life-prolonging treatment were unlawful in some aspects.
The General Medical Council is now appealing the ruling and last week both sides presented their arguments before three appeals court judges. According to Burke's attorney, Richard Gordon, the issue was about "who decides," the BBC reported May 18. In the original case Burke argued that the General Medical Council advice, which gives doctors in cases such as his the final say on what treatment to give a patient in the final stages, was an infringement of his human rights.
In his ruling last year Justice James Lawrence Munby agreed with Burke, saying that if a patient is competent -- or, if incompetent, has made an advance request for treatment -- doctors have a duty to provide artificial nutrition or hydration.
Last year's judgment does, however, have some defects, noted the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales. A note released May 17 by the Catholic Communications Network explained that the bishops are intervening in the appeal because they are concerned that by elevating the principle of patient autonomy to the level of an absolute, there could be "potentially dangerous implications for assisted suicide and euthanasia." The declaration did stress, however, that the bishops are not opposed to Burke's attempts to ensure he will continue to receive nourishment.
When it comes to animals, by contrast, legislators and judges seem to have fewer problems protecting victims. At the very time Terri Schiavo was dying, a newspaper report from Vermont described how a farmer was convicted of starving his cows to death.
Christian DeNeergaard received a suspended one-year sentence as well as 30 days of work crew assignment as part of a deal with prosecutors, the Times Argus newspaper in Barre reported March 24. Last October the then Washington County State's Attorney Tom Kelly said he would seek at least some incarceration for animal neglect, which claimed the lives of at least 11 cows.
In a declaration just after Terri Schiavo's death on March 31, Cardinal William Keeler, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, commented that her plight brought to light a critical question: "To be a society that is truly human, how should we care for those most helpless patients who cannot speak for themselves?" He added: "We pray this human tragedy will lead our nation to a greater commitment to protect helpless patients and all the weakest among us."
A church official contacted the State Department May 20, asking it to notify a Houston federal court of the pope's immunity as the head of a foreign state, according to the defense motion. Vatican attorneys requested a delay on the matter.
The lawsuit filed by plaintiffs identified as John Does I, II and III accuses the pope, then acting as a cardinal, of conspiring to cover up the alleged abuse about a decade ago. The suit names a former seminary student as the alleged abuser.
Justices unanimously sided with Ohio inmates, including a witch and a Satanist, who had claimed they were denied access to religious literature, ceremonial items and time to worship.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the 2000 law, which was intended to protect the rights of prisoners, is not an unconstitutional government promotion of religion.
"It confers no privileged status on any particular religious sect, and singles out no bona fide faith for disadvantageous treatment," Ginsburg wrote.
The law requires states that receive federal money to accommodate prisoners' religious beliefs unless wardens can show that the accommodation would be disruptive. Opponents of the law had argued that inmate requests for particular diets, special haircuts or religious symbols could make it harder to manage prisons.
Tuesday's decision overturns a ruling by the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had struck down part of the law, called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, on grounds it violated the separation of church and state.
I met a man last week. He was a pastor of an area church and upon learning of my Catholic faith he asked me the question "Are you born again? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?"
Now I can't tell you you how many times I have heard this question. It always seems to be a direct challenge to Catholics rather than a genuine concern. My response to his question was this, "As a Catholic, I have the most personal relationship possible."
I could tell by the look on his face he was not sure where I was going. So I asked him "would you like to know how? " I'm not sure he really did but he said yes so I continued on.
A Catholic’s personal relationship with God begins when they are "Born Again" through the sacrament of baptism. In this sacrament, the Lord forgives mortal, venial, and original sin as well as permanently marking the soul with a sign of His grace.
When I do good works I meet Christ face to face. The sacrament of confession is also a personal encounter with Jesus. Christ established this sacrament to free us from our sins. When I read or hear Scripture I experience the Lord in a profound way. Prayer is my one on one conversation with God. The reception of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is the most personal experience one can have. I truly receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.
So to answer his questions I say yes to both. I believe I have a a closer relationship than the pastor who asked me for he rejects so many elements that bring us closer to Christ.
I want to wish all of you a happy and safe Memorial Day. Thanks go out to all who have served. There will be no new posts untill Tuesday May 31 when we are back live in the studio. Continue to pray for all our troops.
Beginning in July, when you have a question – any question – all you have to do is "Ask God." That's the name of the company whose motto is "We Know It All."
AskGod.com promises to provide each caller to its toll-free number with their own "live personal Internet search expert or 'angel' at their beck and call 24/7. By simply dialing a toll-free number, Ask God's Angels will retrieve the answer to any question. After giving the answer over the phone, the answer to their query can be emailed or text messaged for future reference."
So what would you ask? Ask God promises to provide customers with directions, restaurant info, weather reports, business statistics, real estate listings, flight information, currency conversions, language translations, hotel and car rental information – in other words, just about everything.
For example, you have a license number of a car that ran you off the road. Can they tell you who the car belongs to? YES THEY CAN.
And what does it cost to talk to this higher authority? As little as $20 a month for a six-month agreement.
If it wouldn't cost me $120 bucks I might call them and ask theological questions all day long. See if I can stump "god".
I think I'll pass on this one.
Taxpayers in Monaca likely will have a heftier property tax bill for the 2005-06 school year, but they won't have to unravel the intricacies of Act 72 property tax relief - Monaca School District has opted out.
The Norwin school board voted unanimously to opt out of Act 72.
In Hampton, the school board voted 8-0, with one abstention, to opt out of Act 72.
The Pine-Richland school board has rejected Act 72.
The Shaler Area school board has voted not to participate in Act 72.
Pittsburgh Public Schools Board took no action on Act 72 last night, in effect opting out of participation.
As of last only 40 of the state's 501 school districts had opted in to the tax-relief program.
A district judge issued an arrest warrant for Burress yesterday after he failed to appear at a delinquent tax claim hearing Wednesday.
Burress, who signed with the New York Giants in March, could be arrested and fined $2,500 upon returning to Pennsylvania, said Coraopolis District Judge Mary Murray.
Keystone Municipal Collections attorney Tom Kratzenberg said Burress owes taxes for 1998 through 2002. The 1 percent wage tax was to be split between Moon Township and the Moon Area School District.
The amount of taxes was not specified.
The Steelers paid Burress almost $15.2 million during his five years with the team, though he did not live in Moon the entire time.
The retirement of seven of 314 active diocesan priests set off a chain reaction, causing 20 priests to move and five to take charge of two parishes. Priests ordained as few as four years are being appointed pastors, sometimes of large parishes.
Priests ordained in the late 1950s and early 1960s -- which had by far the largest ordination classes in U.S. history -- are now in their 70s. The canonical retirement age is 75, though some retire at 70 for health reasons. The diocese has 314 active priests for 214 parishes. Not all priests work in parishes. Some serve in hospitals or other specialized ministries.
All this takes place as parishes engage in "Envisioning Ministry" discussions about how they would manage if they lost one priest -- which would leave many parishes with no resident priest. Representatives of neighboring parishes are meeting in 56 clusters to consider such measures as coordinated Mass schedules, shared staff and shared sacramental preparation. Although that sounds like the reorganization process of 1992-1994, which closed 39 churches and merged 163 parishes into 56 new ones, it is not intended to produce mergers.
One of the biggest changes is in the length of time it takes for a newly ordained priest to become a pastor -- the person responsible for everything that happens in a parish. A priest ordained in 1965 could expect to wait 25 years to be placed in charge of a parish. More recently, the minimum training period was six years. Now any priest who has taken the diocesan pastor-training program is eligible.
UPDATE: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today applauded the decision of a North Carolina Baptist pastor to apologize for an anti-Muslim sign displayed outside his Forest City church.
Danieltown Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Creighton Lovelace had previously refused calls to take down the sign, reading "The Koran needs to be flushed," posted in front of his church.
CAIR reacted to the controversy by calling on mainstream religious and political leaders to repudiate the sign's bigoted message. The Washington- based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group also urged Americans of all faiths to obtain and read a free Quran available through CAIR's new "Explore the Quran" campaign.
In the apology, Lovelace said in part:
"When I posted the sign in front of the church, it was my intent only to affirm and exalt the Bible and its teachings. It was certainly not my intent to insult any people of faith, but instead to remind the people in this community of the preeminence of God's Word.When I posted the message on the sign, I did not realize how people of the Muslim faith view the Koran-that devoted Muslims view it more highly than many in the U.S. view the Bible.Now I realize how offensive this is to them, and after praying about it, I have chosen to remove the sign. I apologize for posting that message and deeply regret that it has offended so many in the Muslim community."
In an earlier statement sent to CAIR, Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, condemned the message on the sign and called for "respectful" relations with American Muslims.
"We thank Pastor Lovelace for his apology and hope this incident will serve to improve relations between Christians and Muslims in North Carolina and throughout America," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad suggested that American churches and mosques host Muslim-Christian dialogues on Jesus, who is revered by both faiths.
A sign in front of a Baptist church on one of the most traveled highways in the county stirred controversy over religious tolerance and first-amendment rights this weekend.
A sign in front of Danieltown Baptist Church, located at 2361 U.S. 221 south reads "The Koran needs to be flushed," and the Rev. Creighton Lovelace, pastor of the church, is not apologizing for the display.
"I believe that it is a statement supporting the word of God and that it (the Bible) is above all and that any other religious book that does not teach Christ as savior and lord as the 66 books of the Bible teaches it, is wrong," said Lovelace. "I knew that whenever we decided to put that sign up that there would be people who wouldn't agree with it, and there would be some that would, and so we just have to stand up for what's right."
Seema Riley, a Muslim, who was born in Pakistan and reared in New York, was one of those upset by the sign.
She moved to Rutherford County for the "small town friendly" atmosphere, she said. When she saw the sign on the side of the highway Saturday she felt angered and threatened. "We need a certain degree of tolerance," said Riley. "That sign doesn't really reflect what I think this county is about." She said that according to Islamic faith, a follower does not even touch the Koran without going through a ritual cleansing. Muslims believe the physical book to be a sacred item that is treated with respect and reverence, much like the image of Jesus in Christianity. "For someone to put that sign up -- the person just didn't understand -- didn't take into consideration what putting up that sign means," said Riley. "I don't think it should be posted on a sign in public viewing on the highway to create a hostile environment for me."
When Lovelace was asked whether he considered before he put the sign up that there may be some consequences or that some people may be angered, he said he was aware of the likelihood of angering some people.
Is this a proper Christian approach toward Muslims?
"We've always been very grateful for the complimentary tickets provided by Kennywood and, when you think about it, it's been a perfect partnership between the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Kennywood," said Judith Stone, President and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "We're both in the business of making magic."
"For years, we've enjoyed supporting our communities in a variety of ways. This ticket program is one of the most rewarding," said Andy Quinn, Director of Community Relations for Kennywood Entertainment. "I've personally been privileged to see thousands of children visit one of our parks who, without this particular program, may not have this wonderful childhood experience."
Since 1992, the three Kennywood Entertainment parks in Western Pennsylvania, Kennywood, Idlewild & SoakZone, and Sandcastle, have donated nearly 200,000 days of fun to youngsters. The Children's Charities Tickets fall into two categories: one benefits individual children, and the other is used for fundraising by non-profit organizations. A rotating committee of full-time Team Members (employees) from each park administers their park's program.
Non-profit organizations wishing to apply for tickets for the 2006 season may visit www.idlewild.com , www.sandcastlewaterpark.com , or www.kennywood.com between Labor Day (September 5, 2005) and Thanksgiving (November 24, 2005) to complete an online application. Kennywood Entertainment Cares: Children's Charities Tickets will be awarded by February 1, 2006.
Bishop Jose Manguiran of Dipolong manages The Meaning (bpmanguiran.blogspot.com), whose subtitle is "Life is meaningful only when it begins and ends with Christ." For this, he focuses on how one can lead a Christian life in an ever-faster-paced society. He also develops arguments on various philosophical issues and lays out his personal thoughts for all to read, reported AsiaNews.
Viewpoints (ovc.blogspot.com) is the diary of Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan. In it, the archbishop carries on his personal battles against what he calls society's cancers, namely gambling and illiteracy -- battles that have earned him death threats.
Then there is Tidbits (medroso.blogspot.com) by Bishop Leonardo Medroso of Borongan. Unlike his fellow prelate bloggers, who focus on discussions and reflections, Bishop Medroso gives technical advice and spurs his readers to follow the right path. For instance, in one of the latest updates, he urged young people to go to Cologne, Germany, for the 2005 World Youth Day. Readers can also find a ready-made form to request funds from the bishops' conference that can be printed and filled out by the country's dioceses. Readers can access other pages within the episcopate's site, www.cbcponline.net.
The timing and venue of the press conference is intentional: at 2:00 p.m., the 2005 Annual Meeting of Stockholders of Viacom will begin.
Catholic League president William Donohue wrote a news release today that explains the seriousness of this issue. A tape of select portions of this Nazi-like assault on Catholicism, and on the person the show calls “Mother F—king Teresa,” will be sent to many interested parties throughout the nation, including the bishops of every diocese in the United States.
Donohue, who will be joined by some Catholic League staff members, will answer any questions following a few remarks. Copies of today’s Catholic League news release on this subject, “Mother F—king Teresa—Courtesy of Viacom,” will be distributed to Viacom shareholders as they enter the hotel.
We will keep you up to date!
One of the groups that brought the lawsuit, Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, or CRC, charged that the old committee was filled with homosexual advocates.
CRC and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays were represented in the lawsuit by Florida-based Liberty Counsel, which called the board's decision a "good first step in the right direction toward resolution of the issues in this case."
Liberty Counsel President and General Counsel Mat Staver cautioned, however, that other issues remain before the case can be completely settled. But he said the board's actions "send a strong message that other school districts should heed."
Jack F. Emerick, 67, the former spiritual leader of Grace United Methodist Church in Harrison, faces up to six years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 25 by U.S. District Court Judge Gustave Diamond.
Emerick, of the Natrona Heights neighborhood in Harrison, was executor of the estate of James Blackwell, who died in 2001.
Federal prosecutors said Emerick took money that should have gone to the church in accordance with Blackwell's wishes. Emerick maintained that Blackwell owed him the money for back rent. If the judge determines that Emerick stole the estate money, the sentence likely will be harsher.
Best Buy is promising children won't get violent or sexually explicit video games at their stores, in response to concerned investors who want to reverse the electronics chain's miserable track record on protecting children from such questionable content.
Youths were successful 88 percent of the time when trying to purchase Mature-rated video games at Best Buy, according to an independent study. Those numbers have upset investors, explained Julie Tanner of Christian Brothers Investment Services, which represents shareholders for Best Buy.
When shareholders speak, companies listen. So Best Buy agreed to make its policy known in stores and on its Web site. The company also agreed to discipline any employee who sells a Mature-rated video game to a child.
"Christians claim that theirs is faith based on love, but they'll just as soon kill you," Shortell wrote in an online journal that is linked to his Web site (www.shortell.org).
Brooklyn College officials responded yesterday by launching an investigation into the controversial professor's views.
"I sharply disagree with the offensive anti-religion opinions of Prof. Timothy Shortell," Brooklyn College President Christoph Kimmich wrote in a letter to The News. But Shortell remained defiant in his latest post.
"I have been attacked recently in the New York newspapers," he wrote. "We laugh at our critics. We will behold with joy their silly tantrums."
He also called himself and others who share his beliefs "Übermenschen," a reference to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's idea of the perfect person, or "superman."
“In today’s article, Los Angeles Times op-ed page writer Robert Scheer manages to mangle the facts and distort the truth about both the Catholic Church and homosexuals. He does so because he is full of hate.
“He dubs the Catholic Church ‘one of the most sexually repressed institutions in human history’ that is responsible for a ‘horrific drumbeat of child molestation revelations’ led by a new pope who is ‘a longtime leader of vicious church attacks on ‘evil’ gays’; Pope Benedict XVI is also accused of scapegoating the media. Scheer is wrong on all counts.
“It is not the Catholic Church’s emphasis on sexual reticence that gave us the scandal, it was morally delinquent priests who jettisoned the Church’s teachings on sexuality. The ‘drumbeat of child molestation revelations’ is pure myth: 81 percent of the victims were male—the majority being postpubescent—and 100 percent of the victimizers were male, thus making this a homosexual scandal (not a pedophilia scandal). But don’t look for Scheer to mention this: He will protect gays at all costs and he will slander the Catholic Church at any expense.
“The pope never called gays ‘evil’ and Scheer knows it. What the pope said when he was a cardinal is that homosexual behavior is ‘intrinsically evil,’ thus reiterating Church teaching. So what? This is hardly a unique position: None of the world’s religions—Christianity, Judaism, Islam (as well as the Eastern religions)—accepts homosexuality. And who is Scheer, a non-Catholic, to stick his nose into internal religious matters anyway?
“Not only has the pope not scapegoated the media, but as recently as Good Friday he drew attention to the ‘filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely’ to God. Now if only the Los Angeles Times would rid itself of its own rot.”
Kerry told Boston Globe editorial writers and columnists the Standard Form 180 will be sent to the Navy within a few days.
Kerry's records became a campaign issue after more than 260 Vietnam veterans who served in his swiftboat section launched an effort to counter many of the senator's claims about his war service.
The Kerry campaign largely avoided responding to specific charges and instead threatened lawsuits against the television stations that aired ads by the former colleagues, organized as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The senator's campaign also demanded publisher Regnery pull best-seller "Unfit for Command," attacked the character of co-authors John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi, and accused the group of being run by the Republican Party.
Mainstream media repeated the assertion that the claims against Kerry were debunked, without providing evidence. Those who offered evidence contended the military's records supported Kerry's version of events, often without mentioning the swiftboat vets' assertion that it was Kerry himself who wrote the "official record" in many instances, in after-action reports.
Kerry, however, seemed to contradict his campaign's position in late October, just a week before the election, when he told NBC's Tom Brokaw his military record "is not public." Then in January, Kerry told ''Meet the Press" host Tim Russert he would sign the form.
Blogger Mark Coffey at Decision '08 urges caution, noting it was 111 days between Kerry's promise and his actual signing of the form.
The book is "Rainbow Party," by juvenile fiction author Paul Ruditis. The publisher is Simon Pulse, a division of Simon & Schuster. The cover of the book features the title spelled out in fun, Crayola-bright font.
The main characters in the book are high school sophomores -- supposedly typical 14- and 15-year-olds with names such as "Gin" and "Sandy." The book opens with these two girls shopping for lipstick at the mall in advance of a special party. The girls banter as they hunt for lipsticks in every color of the rainbow: "Okay, we've got red, orange, and purple," Gin said. "Now we just need yellow, green, and blue.""Don't forget indigo," Sandy said as she scanned the row of lipstick tubes.
"What are you talking about?"
"Indigo," Sandy repeated as if that explained everything. "You know. ROY G. BIV. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet."
Ok, what kind of party do you imagine they might be organizing? Perhaps a makeover party? With moms and daughters sharing their best beauty secrets and bonding in the process?Good guess but WRONG!
No parents are invited. A "rainbow party," is a gathering of boys and girls for the purpose of engaging in group oral sex. NO I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP. Each girl wears a different colored lipstick and leaves a mark on each boy. I won't go into any more detail but you can imagine where all this goes.
In the end, the kids in the book abandon plans for the event and news of an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases rocks their school. You must fight your way thorugh the entire book to find one shred of redeedming value.
The author and publisher of the book seem to have persuaded themselves that they are doing families a favor. Simon & Schuster won't comment, but Bethany Buck, Ruditis' editor, told USA Today the intention was to "scare" young readers, and Ruditis told Publisher's Weekly:"Part of me doesn't understand why people don't want to talk about [oral sex]," he said. "Kids are having sex and they are actively engaged in oral sex and think it's not really sex. I raised questions in my book and I hope that parents and children or teachers and students can open a topic of conversation through it. Rainbow parties are such an interesting topic. It's such a childlike way to look at such an adult subject -- with rainbow colors."
What Ruditis does not understand is an "adult subject" is for adults NOT CHILDREN. The teen market is now awash in sexually explicit books that would require brown-paper wrapping if sold at 7-11; their authors are being hailed as "edgy." Maybe Howard Stern should consider a career in children's books.
The 238-to-194 vote in favor, far short of the 290 needed to override a presidential veto, sends the issue to the Senate, where an identical measure is pending. Stem cell research has considerable support in the Senate as well. Its chief sponsor is Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, who heads the Senate subcommittee that controls federal financing for medical research.
Fifty House Republicans broke with President Bush to vote with 187 Democrats and the chamber's sole independent, Bernard Sanders of Vermont, in favor of the bill. Fourteen Democrats joined 180 Republicans in voting against it.
Boys at private Anglican and Catholic schools are more likely to oppose sex before marriage and be less tolerant of pornography. They are also less likely to feel depressed or consider suicide, according to a survey of 13,000 teenagers by Professor Leslie J Francis from the University of Wales, Bangor.
Church schools, state and private, have a good reputation among parents for providing a strong moral education and high academic standards. Catholic and Church of England schools in London are frequently the most over-subscribed.
Professor Francis questioned boys aged between 13 and 15 at a number of non-denominational comprehensives and independent Christian secondary schools. He found that 62 per cent of those educated at Christian private schools claimed to believe that pornography was too widely available. Only four in 10 boys at other schools agreed.While only 13 per cent of boys at nondenominational schools were against sex outside marriage, the proportion jumped to 64 per cent among their Christian-educated peers.
73 per cent of the Christians interviewed said abortion was always wrong, compared with 39 per cent of their peers.
The two sides issued a joint document, "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ," which will now be examined by the Vatican and the Anglican Communion. If the terms of the new accord are eventually accepted by top church officials - by no means a certainty - it would overcome one of the major doctrinal disagreements dividing the world's 77 million Anglicans and more than 1 billion Roman Catholics. Historically, the Anglican Communion has opposed the teachings because there is no direct account of them in the Bible.
Immaculate Conception refers to the Catholic dogma, pronounced in 1854, that Mary was born free of "original sin." The Assumption refers to the belief, defined in 1950, that Mary was directly received body and soul into heaven without dying. Anglicans have neither teaching. Both Catholicism and Anglicanism agree, however, in their belief in the virginal conception, meaning that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born.
But Anglican Archbishop Peter Carnley of Perth, Australia, co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, said the Catholic dogmas concerning Mary are "consonant" with biblical teachings about hope and grace. The only remaining question between the faiths is the authority on which those dogmas are based, he said - a question to be tackled in future discussions.
"For Anglicans, that old complaint that these dogmas were not provable by scripture will disappear," Carnley said during a news conference with the commission's other co-chairman, Catholic Archbishop Alexander Brunett of Seattle. The commission, which was founded in 1961 to stress the similarities between the faiths in hopes of reuniting them, spent five years developing the 81-page booklet, in a process sponsored by the Anglican Consultative Council and the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
"This is really wonderful," said Susan Payne, 48, an Episcopalian student at Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry who attended the news conference. "It was always used as a negative thing to divide us from Catholics. Anything that will eradicate that false divide between us is a very good thing."
Bob Chapman, a reporter for the Episcopal publication Living Church, said there is a long Anglican tradition of honoring Mary - there is even a shrine to her in Walsingham, England - but the degree of devotion varies greatly within the faith.
The e-mails, released to The Palm Beach Post in response to a public records request, also show that state lawmakers persevered with legislative maneuvering to keep the severely brain-damaged woman's feeding tube intact, despite advice from Bush's top Schiavo attorney that such an effort was hopeless.
Throughout the first two weeks of March, Bush's executive staff exchanged dozens of e-mails with attorneys for Sen. Bill Frist and Rep. Tom DeLay, the respective majority leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, drafting and revising legislation that legal and political teams in Florida and Washington hoped would halt the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube.
The lawyers at the center of the electronic exchanges were Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez, Bush's general counsel, and Allen Hicks, Frist's top lawyer.
Frist, R-Tenn., led the Senate effort that ultimately resulted in passage of a bill signed into law by President Bush, paving the way for Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, to seek federal court jurisdiction after repeated losses in state and district courts to try to keep their daughter alive.
The Schindlers had battled Michael Schiavo, their daughter's husband, for nearly a decade over whether the tube on which she relied for nutrition and hydration should be removed, as Schiavo contended she would have wished. The Schindlers were backed by a variety of right-to-life groups as well as the president and the governor, who all intervened on the Schindlers' behalf in a struggle that transfixed the nation until Terri Schiavo's death on March 31, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed.
Staff for Republican Floridians U.S. Rep. David Weldon, like Frist a doctor, and U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, the sponsors of the federal "Terri's law," were among about a dozen regular recipients of the messages.
That bill, signed into law by President Bush, created a "federal remedy under habeas corpus (traditionally used for death penalty cases) for cases like Terri's," read an e-mail sent to the governor by Christa Calamas, Gov. Bush's assistant general counsel.
Also included in the e-mails was Brian Darling, Martinez's assistant who resigned last month over a memorandum he authored citing the Schiavo cause as one that would "excite" the conservative right-to-life base.
The e-mails include a terse response from Rodriguez, sent via her hand-held Blackberry device, upon learning that Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer had ruled in favor of the media seeking to view the Department of Children and Families' petition to intervene on Schiavo's behalf.
"DCF is assessing appellate options, and trying to determine whether Judge Greer has already released the petition to the media or has allowed time to appeal. DCF will attempt negotiations with St. Pete Times/Tribune Broadcasting...." read a message to Gov. Bush and Rodriguez from Calamas.
"Forget negotiations. They should appeal on principle," came Rodriguez's reply on March 3. Meanwhile, state lawmakers launched a quest to once again intercede in Schiavo's case.
Sen. Dan Webster, R-Oviedo, tried vainly to persuade his colleagues to support a bill that was drafted by Gov. Bush's office but which the governor's top Schiavo lawyer dismissed as futile. Ken Connor last fall tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Florida Supreme Court to uphold the "Terri's Law," passed by Florida lawmakers in 2003. That law gave Bush the authority to order Schiavo's feeding tube removed, but the court struck it down in October.
"While admirable, I do not believe it will do one thing to provide Terri Schiavo relief," Connor wrote Webster on March 12 regarding the bill Webster pushed this spring.The bill never passed.
Reminiscent of the tactics of Communists in the USSR who put dissidents in mental hospitals, the forced stay, according to Voice of the Martyrs, has been in effect since January. At that time, the adoptive parents of Gaser Mohammed Mahmoud, 30, committed him to the El-Khanka Hospital after learning he had converted from Islam to Christianity two years earlier.
Persecution of Christians has been a way of life in Egypt, consisting of routine harassment of members of the Coptic Church and other believers there.
Tim Wildmon said that, from the very beginning, the Disney boycott was about raising issues that were of concern to AFA — especially the promotion of homosexuality in the culture and in the media. One of the positive things to come out of the boycott, Wildmon insisted, was that Disney seemed to become more cognizant of how it had hurt its family-friendly image among many Christians.
The news that Disney was co-producing a film based on the Christian literary classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, has brought cautious approval from some evangelicals. The film, co-produced with Walden Media, will be released in theaters December 9.
According to an article by the Orlando Sentinel’s Mark Pinsky, Disney has mounted a 10-month marketing campaign to reach the Christian community with news of the film. Toward that end, Disney has hired two Christian marketing companies, Motive Marketing and Grace Hill Media.
While there are still troublesome stains on the Mouse House — the annual "Gay Days," for example — Wildmon said AFA was broadening its focus beyond Disney. Still, that does not guarantee that AFA will never again call for a Disney boycott, should the company do something particularly egregious. "If, for example, Disney removed the clear Christian symbolism from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe film, then all bets would be off," he said. "So I guess one could say that, as far as we’re concerned, Disney is on probation."
A wiry man who wears a beret to many of his meetings, Mr. Baxter, who is now 56 years old, has gone from a rock career that brought him eight platinum records to a spot in the small constellation of consultants paid to help both policy makers and defense contractors better understand the way terrorists think and plan attacks.
The guitarist-turned-defense-consultant does regular work for the Department of Defense and the nation's intelligence community, chairs a congressional advisory board on missile defense, and has lucrative consulting contracts with companies like Science Applications International Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. He says he is in increasing demand for his unconventional views of counterterrorism.
His defense work began in the 1980s, when it occurred to him that much of the hardware and software being developed for military use, like data-compression algorithms and large-capacity storage devices, could also be used for recording music. Mr. Baxter's next-door neighbor, a retired engineer who worked on the Pentagon's Sidewinder missile program, bought him a subscription to an aviation magazine, and he was soon reading a range of military-related publications.
Mr. Baxter began wondering whether existing military systems could be adapted to meet future threats they weren't designed to address, a heretical concept for most defense thinkers. In his spare time, he wrote a five-page paper on a primitive Tandy computer that proposed converting the military's Aegis program, a ship-based antiplane system, into a rudimentary missile-defense system.
On a whim, he gave the paper to a friend from California, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. To Mr. Baxter's surprise, the congressman took it seriously, and the idea proved to be prescient: Aegis missile-defense systems have done well in tests, and the Navy says it will equip at least one ship with the antimissile system by the end of the year.
Mr. Baxter's friends in Congress and the Pentagon say they take him seriously as a defense thinker but concede that his celebrity past carries its own advantages. During a trip to Manila with Mr. Baxter in 1998, Mr. Rohrabacher was having a hard time winning permission to fly over a number of contested islands until he brought Mr. Baxter to a meeting with the then-Philippine president, Joseph Estrada. Mr. Estrada immediately put one of his government's few C-130 transport planes at the two men's disposal. "He's apparently just a huge Doobie Brothers fan," Mr. Rohrabacher says.
Michael Schiavo didn’t waste any time in claiming her estate. According to records filed in the clerk’s office of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, by 1:35 p.m. on March 31, he had filed a petition for administration of her estate before Pinellas County Probate Court Judge George W. Greer, the same judge who had ordered her death by starvation and dehydration.
Greer didn’t waste any time in signing the order for Schiavo.But the order Greer issued on March 31 at 1:35 p.m. has a major problem. It declares that Michael Schiavo, a resident of Pinellas County, died March 30, 2005. PDF File #3
Not only have the bar associations of West Pasco, Clearwater and St. Petersburg lauded Greer for his alleged professionalism in the case, but Greer claims to be a stickler for the law. However, in the Schiavo case not only couldn’t Greer get the name of the decedent right, but he had the wrong date of death too.
So much for professionalism.
According to the filing submitted by Schiavo attorney Deborah Bushnell, the petitioner has an interest in the estate as the decedent’s husband and he claims to be the sole beneficiary of the estate as surviving spouse.
Bushnell is the attorney who was representing Schiavo in 1997 when he and Judge Mark Shames tried to remove Terri’s feeding tube without notification to her parents, Mary and Bob Schindler Sr. Shames had a prohibited conflict of interest in the case in that the Schindlers had discussed the entire matter with him prior to his ascending the bench when they asked him to represent them in the guardianship case against Michael Schiavo.
1993 to 2005 investment return:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean came under withering questioning from "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert Sunday. Dean continued to insist that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should be treated more harshly than Osama bin Laden. Dean also came under fire for his heated rhetoric against Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly – and his flip-flopping on key issues like abortion.
In a pointedly embarrassing interview with NBC's Tim Russert, the DNC chairman spent almost the entire program under withering attack as Russert demonstrated Dean's hypocrisy on past comments.
Dean had been strongly backed for the DNC post by the party's hysterically anti-GOP left – notably Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Al Gore. The liberal troika had seen Dean as a counterweight to Hillary Clinton's growing power and her and her husband's desire to move the party to the center.
Rather than using the national program as a platform to launch broadsides against the Bush administration and aggressively tout the Democrats' agenda, Dean appeared mired in his own past.
During the show, Dean claimed, "Hypocrisy is a value that I think has been embraced by the Republican Party," and he vowed to Russert that "I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy."
Ironically, Russert played the hypocrisy-exposing role as he repeatedly unmasked Dean's integrity on key issues. Dean defended his declaration last week that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should begin serving a jail sentence.
"I think Tom DeLay ought to go back to Houston, where he can serve his jail sentence down there courtesy of the Texas taxpayers," Dean said on May 14.
Dean stuck to his guns, telling host Tim Russert: "He hasn't been convicted yet, but ... I think there's a reasonable chance that this may end up in jail."
Russert asked if it was appropriate that Dean has Ok'd the posting of a bogus mug shot of DeLay on the DNC Web site, suggesting that the Republican has already been charged with a crime.
Dean sidestepped the issue, saying that DeLay should not be serving in Congress. In his answer, Dean then claimed, incredibly, that the Democrats are "not going to stoop to the kind of divisiveness that the Republicans are doing." Huh?????????????
On the hot-button issue of abortion, Dean said he was against the procedure in one breath, but in the next he defended the far more gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion.
Noting that "there are significant numbers of pro-life Democrats in the South," the DNC chief said he wanted "to strike the words 'abortion' and 'choice'" from the Democrat lexicon.
Instead, Dean advised, "The way it ought to be framed ... is 'Do you want Tom DeLay and the boys to make up your mind about this, or does a woman have a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets.'"
Moments later, however, the top Democrat was defending partial-birth abortion, insisting, "I don't think that there is an ethical doctor in America who will do a third-term abortion without there being a reason like the health and life of the mother."
Russert countered by noting that "several heads of the American Medical Association endorsed banning third-term abortions because they said life of the mother is one thing but the health is a much different issue. It can be defined in so many different ways, it was a major loophole."
A deflated Dean responded: "It is an incredibly difficult area. It is an area which is conflicted."
Dean also insisted that both pro-choicers and pro-lifers could work together on "common ground” – that both sides wanted to greatly reduce the number of abortions in America.
Despite Dean's claims, Russert noted that at almost every turn the Democrats oppose efforts to restrict abortion.
"But, Governor, the problem for Democrats has been that many request abortion on demand, "Russert said, adding, "When there are attempts to say that there should be parental notification for children under 18 – to be notified with a judicial bypass, if there's a spouse, a parental abuse situation – many Democrats oppose it. Third-trimester abortion, 'partial-birth' abortion, Democrats opposed it. ... President Clinton vetoed it. Every time there's a vote to restrict abortion, the majority of the Democrats seem to vote against it."
In 1139 Saint Malachi visiting the Innocent II in Rome supposedly received a vision of all the future popes until judgment day. He gave a written account of his vision to the pope that was not discovered in the Vatican archives until 1590.
There has been much debate concerning their authenticity. Some scholars believe the prophecies are Jesuit forgeries from the sixteenth century intended to comment on the various popes of that period.
The prophecies of Saint Malachi were first pronounced a forgery by Fr. Menestrier, S.J., in the seventeenth century. He claims the forgery was intended to influence the conclave that elected Gregory XVI. Later scholars, such as J. J. Delaney, Pocket Dictionary of the Saints (1983), note that the descriptions of the 16th century popes, around the time of the supposed forgery are exact, while their accuracy falls off quickly after 1590. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th edition) pronounces the prophecies "a 16th-century forgery" pure and simple.
The vision itself contains a brief description of 112 future popes beginning with Celestine II who was elected in 1130. These descriptions are in the form of mystical titles referring to some trait, symbol, or biographical detail.
So why would such a document with no ecclesial authority and of undetermined authenticity claim so much attention? Well, some of the recent predictions have been remarkably accurate!
Hal Lindsey, the guru of all things apocalyptic, points out in his April 8th article on WorldNetDaily that the "descriptive predictions...Though they are a bit obscure, they have fit the general profile of each of the popes." He points to the examples of the three popes before Benedict XVI: The prophecy for Paul VI "Flos Florum" (Flower of Flowers) and his coat of arms contained three fleurs- de-lis (Isis blossoms). The description for John Paul I was "De Medietate Lunae," (the Half Moon). He was baptized Albino Luciani (white light), was born in the diocese of Belluno (beautiful moon), became pope when there was a half moon (Aug. 26, 1978), and died after an eclipse of the moon.
John Paul II was prophesied under the title "De Labore Solis," (from the labor of the sun), and indeed he was born during an eclipse of the sun on May 8, 1920. There was also an eclipse on the day of his funeral.
What about Benedict XVI? As it turns out Saint Malachi describes him as "Gloria Olivae" meaning "the glory of the olive." The Order of Saint Benedict had a branch called The Olivetans.
Not to mention the name chosen by Cardinal Ratzinger put Saint Malachi speculators into high gear. About the last pope, the prophecy reads, "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End."
If Saint Malachi's prophecy accurately described the last four pontiffs, could it mean that the end is near? The substance of the vision resembles that of the Book of Revelation. The issue is one of chronology: Are we to believe the Judgment Day is at hand?
Before you descend into apocalyptic gloom, recall the Acts of the Apostles, Book One. Just before Jesus ascended into Heaven, one of his disciples asked him a final question, "'Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?' And he said unto them, 'It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power.'" (1.6-7).
That fact is, we never know when the end might come. We must to be ready always and live our life as such. Would you be ready to go?
A Saskatchewan man has been charged and ordered to pay $17,500 in damages to several homosexuals as a result of a flyer he distributed in Regina, containing warnings against the dangers of a homosexual lifestyle that a human rights tribunal ruled was “hate speech.”
On May 2, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal ordered William Whatcott to pay homosexual Guy Taylor $2,500 and $5,000 each to homosexuals Brenden Wallace, James Komar and Kathy Hamre for damages. The four had sued Whatcott for a flyer he had distributed in mailboxes between September 2001 and April 2002 for what they considered “hate speech.”
“I believe homosexuality activity is a sin,” Whatcott said, according to a CP report. “To give me a $17,500 fine and say I can't say that is quite frankly garbage and is not something I am going to abide by. If I have to sit in jail for the rest of my life, I am not going to be quiet.”
Quotes found to convict him included, “Our children will pay the price in disease, death, abuse…if we do not say no to the sodomite desire to socialize your children into accepting something that is clearly wrong,” and “Sodomites are 430 times more likely to acquire AIDS and 3 times more likely to sexually abuse children!”
Whatcott added bible verses referring to homosexuality such as the following: “The Bible is clear that homosexuality is an abomination,” and “Sodom and Gomorrah was given over completely to homosexual perversion and as a result destroyed by God’s wrath.”
Whatcott argued in his own defence that “he had himself engaged in homosexual acts and that the Lord had set him free,” according to court testimony. He added that “only 2% of homosexuals were monogamous or semi-monogamous, while 43% of male homosexuals estimate having had sex with 500 or more different partners, and 28% of male homosexuals estimate having sex with 1,000 or more different partners.”
Below is a letter sent to St. Mark’s Church, a parish of approximately 200 members in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Yesterday evening I submitted to the Vestry my resignation, effective July 1st. This was a very difficult decision for Christine and me. We have come to love Johnstown and the people of St. Mark’s. But we feel strongly that God is calling us to make this decision.
Twenty-five years ago, I was ordained into the priesthood of the Episcopal Church and into a vision of the catholicity of the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church has since become a very different kind of church. In the name of an ideology of radical inclusivity, the Episcopal Church has moved significantly away from the apostolic and catholic faith of Jesus Christ. With the decision made by General Convention two summers ago to approve the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions, it has, in my judgment, become heretical. I feel that I am a priest without authority. I cannot in conscience represent the Episcopal Church to the world, nor can I in conscience summon sinners into its fellowship. As a consequence I cannot function effectively as your parish pastor.
As my wife and close friends can well testify, my life has been an agony for me since the 2003 General Convention. I have struggled to discern God’s will for my life and for my ministry. I have had to reassess my understanding of the Church from the ground up. I have finally concluded that I cannot in conscience remain an Episcopalian. I must be in the Church founded by Christ Jesus. It is thus my intention to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
I hope and pray that I leave St. Mark’s stronger than when I came. Our level of stewardship has increased over 30%. We have completed an ambitious capital funds drive, receiving pledged commitments of almost $280,000. If we also include the anonymous gift of air-conditioning for the church and the Pennsylvania state grant for the bell tower, we have raised approximately $400,000. We can be very proud of this!
But even more importantly we have grown spiritually. The Alpha Course has had a powerful impact upon our spiritual and communal life. The name of Jesus has been exalted. The Spirit has moved in our hearts. Fellowship has been strengthened. My only regret is that we have not been able to grow our parish numerically.
Christine and I are very grateful for the friendships we have formed here at St. Mark’s. It has been a privilege being a part of this parish community. Please know that we pray for the Lord’s abundant blessings upon each of you and upon St Mark’s Church. We ask for your prayers as we begin this new chapter in our lives.
St. Mark’s is fortunate to dwell within an orthodox diocese with a godly bishop. I urge you to follow his counsel and leadership.
If I have hurt or offended anyone, I ask for your forgiveness.
Yours in Christ,
"I don't think that most of the Resurrection narratives in the New Testament are historical at all. But I don't think there would have been a New Testament or a Jesus movement had there not been some astonishing experience of power. That caused these people to see Jesus in a way they had never seen him before."
The report is set to air Friday, May 20 at 10 p.m. ET / 9 Central.
The government is considering the federal mail-fraud statute as a potential means of charging Murphy in the reported awarding of a favorable labor contract to the firefighters for their endorsement in the 2001 Democratic mayoral primary. Murphy went on to win the nomination over then-City Council President Bob O'Connor by 699 votes.
Word of the possible mail-fraud prosecution emerged after Murphy's attorneys met with federal authorities in an effort to persuade them not to seek an indictment.
Interviews with sources working on both sides of the Murphy investigation have provided a glimpse into a part of the federal grand jury system rarely seen by outsiders: The back-scene maneuvering in which each side takes the measure of the other, dropping hints about what legal strategies might be in the offing.
While investigators have focused on a meeting that Murphy and the firefighters union president, Joe King, had over lunch at The Roadhouse, a Route 51 restaurant, in 2001, the mail fraud statute could be used because virtually every aspect of everyday commerce relies, directly or indirectly, on the use of the U.S. mails.
Much speculation on both sides has centered on Section 1346 of the mail-fraud statutes. The section was adopted Nov. 18, 1988, at the request of the Reagan administration after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a conviction, saying the government had unreasonably expanded the interpretation of mail fraud.
The new section redefined a "scheme or artifice to defraud" to include "a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services."
Under such a prosecution, Murphy would essentially be charged with "defrauding'' Pittsburgh taxpayers of the honest performance of his duties. The statute's language, said one lawyer connected to the case, could be broad enough to encompass the deal they believe took place between Murphy and King.
Prosecution sources have indicated that a decision on whether to seek an indictment against Murphy will be made before the end of the summer.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Tom Creighton, R-Manheim, would allow school boards to decide whether they should display the slogan in district buildings.
The proposal yesterday won the support of the House's basic education subcommittee by a 6-1 vote. It now will advance to the House Education Committee for consideration.
Still, the measure received critical questions from members in both parties.
The push for this legislation grows out of a social conservative movement backed by the American Family Association. The Mississippi-based group is campaigning to have the national motto be displayed in every classroom.
But Rep. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, objects to having Pennsylvania join this list.
He said the legislation creates the impression that the state endorses a certain religion. If this were to become law, he said children who come from homes that don't believe in God would be forced to go to school every day to see a slogan that goes against their beliefs.
"I think what we're doing is trying to say we're the majority and our religion is right and your religion is not," Leach said. "I think that's immoral and un-American."
Winter today turned 75, the normal retirement age for bishops.
Bishop Donald W. Wuerl, in a press release, said, "I want to express personally and in the name of the Church of Pittsburgh profound gratitude for his episcopal ministry over the past 17 years."
Winter was chosen as a bishop in 1988 and consecrated in February 1989.
He also has been serving as administrator, then pastor, of Sacred Heart Parish in Shadyside since 1990.
Winter, a native of Pittsburgh's Beechview neighborhood, will celebrate his 50th anniversary as a priest in December.
He served in several diocesan parishes and held many diocesan posts during his career
The combined company, which will operate under the name US Airways, will be funded by $1.5 billion in new capital from a variety of investors, including aircraft maker Airbus.
The goal of the merger is to stitch together two geographically distinct carriers with a history of financial struggles into a stronger airline that would compete better with lower-cost rivals such as Southwest Airlines Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp.
"I think talking to ghosts will skew younger than talking to God."
Moonves made the starling comments during a breakfast with reporters where he announced his new fall schedule. "The Ghost Whisperer," a supernatural drama about a woman who communicates with the spirit world, will replace "Joan of Arcadia," which features a young woman who speaks to God.
That story started me thinking. Here is the question I have been pondering... Does Protestantism have a place for the Blessed Virgin Mary?
The objection I often hear, is lifting up Mary results in bringing down Jesus. Without compromising the principles of sola gratia, sola fide, and sola scriptura, is it possible for an evangelical to understand and honor Mary in ways that are scripturally based? All Christians are included among those of every generation who call Jesus' mother blessed, but how is that to be done?
All too often, the only time I heat the subject of Mary addressed, is in reaction to a Catholic belief. The fact is, evangelicals often say less about Mary than the New Testament does. When is the last time you heard mention of her in a sermon or worship service with the possible exception of Christmas?
Is fear of association with Catholics the root cause of this dismissal of Mary and her worth? I can't answer that. I would not expect any evangelical to fully adopt the Marian devotion of Catholics. However, it seems most evangelicals have abandoned a fully biblical appreciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her role in the history of salvation.
Catholic priests in the church marking the spot where Jesus was believed to have been born said that during the five-week siege, Palestinians tore up some Bibles for toilet paper and removed many valuable sacramental objects, according to a May 15, 2002, report by the Washington Times.
In Saudi Arabia yesterday, the country's top religious authority, Grand Mufti Adul-Aziz al-Sheik, condemned the alleged desecration and called for an investigation "to alleviate the sorrow that befell Muslims."
In contrast, during the 2002 church siege, the muted complaints of Christians under the Muslim-dominated Palestinian Authority gained little traction.
The Palestinian gunmen, members of Yasser Arafat's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, seized church stockpiles of food and "ate like greedy monsters" until the food ran out, while more than 150 civilians went hungry, the Washington Times report said.
The indulgence lasted about two weeks into the 39-day siege, when the food and drink ran out, according to an account by four Greek Orthodox priests trapped inside. A church helper told the Times the quantity of food consumed by the gunmen in the first 15 days should have lasted six months.
Angry Orthodox priests showed reporters empty bottles of whiskey, champagne, vodka, cognac and French wine on the floor along with hundreds of cigarette butts.
Maybe a roll a Charmin could be the key to world peace!
Schiavo's family, who had a 15-minute private meeting with Cardinal Renato Martino and other Vatican officials Tuesday, have thanked the Vatican for its support as they sought to keep their brain-damaged daughter alive.
The framed picture of Schiavo was handed to a prelate standing behind Benedict as the pontiff greeted pilgrims during Wednesday's audience.
Schiavo died March 31 in a hospice in Florida after her parents unsuccessfully battled a court order to have her feeding tube removed. She died 13 days after the tube was removed.
The struggle between Schiavo's parents and her husband over whether she would have wanted to be kept alive with the feeding tube riveted Americans and sparked an international debate about end-of-life issues. The Vatican condemned her death as "arbitrarily hastened," and called removal of her feeding tube a violation of the principles of Christianity and civilization.
Visitors to the Web site for the Silver Ring Thing will see a gathering of 415 smiling youths in baseball caps and baggy jeans that occurred 10 days ago in northwestern Pennsylvania. All around them are flashy lights, music and testimony. Many of the students show off their $12 silver rings. The rings are a symbol of their pledges to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. Such is the Silver Ring Thing, a faith-centered program that sometimes runs for three hours and is known to feature bonfires, luaus and special guests. The "thing" bills itself as an experience in abstinence-only education.
It's more than that, claims the American Civil Liberties Union, and because the group has gotten $1 million in federal funding, that's a constitutional problem. This week, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Boston alleging the group has moved beyond educating into evangelizing. The ACLU claims that violates the constitutional principle of separation of church and state and further blurs the line between using federal funding to fuel faith-based programs.
"It's very much religiously based," said Barbara Feige, head of the Pittsburgh ACLU. "The organization sees itself as bringing students to Christ; it uses federal funds to do this and that poses a constitutional problem, because it amounts to government-endorsed religion." For at least a year, the ACLU has been observing the group. It says the silver ring itself has an inscribed biblical verse and that there is no equivalent secular ring. During presentations, organizers quote Bible passages on stage; students who wear the ring make avow to remain abstinent, which the group calls a covenant before God; for follow-up, the students are encouraged to get the Silver Ring Thing Bible, which is full of Christian messages, and there's no secular equivalent, said Feige.
The debate over secular education or proselytizing occasionally flares up as federal funding of abstinence education has increased over the past four years. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which doles out much of the funding, in 2001, approximately $82 million was spent on abstinence education. In 2005, approximately double that amount will be spent, about $167 million. Since 2003, the Silver Ring Thing has received about $1.3 million as part of the Bush administration's effort to broaden abstinence-only education.
Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania believes the message of Silver Ring Thing should be more comprehensive and says the group in Pennsylvania gets a significant chunk of government money. In 2004, it received a $400,000 federal grant, one of the largest of 10 given to abstinence programs in Western Pennsylvania. Officials with the Silver Ring Thing did not return phone calls yesterday and did not provide a statement from the organization responding to the charges.
The president and founder of the group, Denny Pattyn, a native Pittsburgher, started the outreach program 10 years ago in Yuma, Ariz. In 2000, he introduced the Silver Ring Thing to Christ Church at Grove Farm in Ohio Township, where he was working. Three years ago, Pattyn announced he wanted to expand the program to 75 cities and would seek $1.75 million in federal seed money. He said he was working with U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, both conservative Republican legislators.
Across the nation, the organization now claims at least 20,000 teenage members from about 15 states who have agreed to wait until marriage for sex. The program is expanding internationally and is sending 30 men and women to Glasgow, Scotland, Dublin, Ireland, and other cities in the United Kingdom for the summer. The group is seeking funding to have a presence in Africa. Secular health and sexuality programs, which often must compete for funding, say the messages of the Silver Ring Thing don't offer enough education and can be misleading.
The school will be offering a class on porn in the fall semester.
All 20 student slots have been filled and there's a waiting list.
Grad student Jay Clarkson is teaching the course. But he cautioned that students looking for a cheap thrill will be disappointed. He said no films or other explicit material will be shown in class. Clarkson said the class will examine the impact of porno on mainstream culture.
But Iowa House Speaker Chris Rants doesn't like the idea a bit. The lawmaker said the pornography class isn't something that should be taught with taxpayer's money.
"Allah has tormented us with 'the people most hostile to the believers' – the Jews. 'Thou shalt find that the people most hostile to the believers to be the Jews and the polytheists.' Allah warned His beloved Prophet Muhammad about the Jews, who had killed their prophets, forged their Torah, and sowed corruption throughout their history. "
"With the establishment of the state of Israel, the entire Islamic nation was lost, because Israel is a cancer spreading through the body of the Islamic nation, and because the Jews are a virus resembling AIDS, from which the entire world suffers. "You will find that the Jews were behind all the civil strife in this world. The Jews are behind the suffering of the nations. "Ask Britain what it did to the Jews in the early sixth century. What did they do to the Jews? They expelled them, tortured them, and prevented them from entering Britain for more than 300 years. All this was because of what the Jews did in Britain. Ask France what it did to the Jews. They tortured them, expelled them, and burned their Talmud, because of the civil strife the Jews wanted to spark in France, in the days of Louis XIX. Ask Portugal what it did to the Jews. Ask Czarist Russia, which welcomed the Jews, who plotted to kill the Czar - so he massacred them. But don't ask Germany what it did to the Jews. It was the Jews who provoked Nazism to wage war against the entire world, when the Jews, using the Zionist movement, got other countries to wage an economic war on Germany and to boycott German merchandise. They provoked Russia, Britain, France, and Italy. This enraged the Germans toward the Jews, leading to the events of those days, which the Jews commemorat today. "But they are committing worse deeds than those done to them in the Nazi war.
Yes, perhaps some of them were killed and some burned, but they are inflating this in order to win over the of the media and gain the world's sympathy. The worst crimes in history were committed against the Jews, yet these crimes are no worse than what the Jews are doing in Palestine. What was done to the Jews was a crime, but isn't what the Jews are doing today in the land of Palestine not a crime?!
"Look at modern history. Where has Great Britain gone? Where has Czarist Russia gone? Where has France gone - France, which almost ruled the entire world? Where is Nazi Germany, which massacred millions and ruled the world? Where did all these superpowers go? He who made them disappear will make America disappear too, God willing. He who made Russia disappear overnight is capable of making America disappear and fall, Allah willing.
"We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world – except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule, because they are treacherous by nature, as they have been throughout history. The day will come when everything will be relived of the Jews - even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew."
The proposals, which came under immediate attack from senior evangelicals, come in a document agreed by leading theologians and prelates of both churches and published in America tonight.
"Mary: Hope and Grace in Christ" was launched at a Roman Catholic Mass in Seattle by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic). It is to be published in the UK at Westminster Abbey on Thursday.
The long-awaited document, published after six years of discussion, effectively seeks to backtrack on centuries of Anglican dissent over the place of Mary in the Catholic Church by giving new credence to dogmas that helped inspire the Reformation.
It states that there is "no continuing theological reason for ecclesial division" over the role of the Virgin Mary. "We do not consider the practice of asking Mary and the saints to pray for us as communion dividing," it says. The document also describes private devotions inspired by apparitions of Mary as "acceptable".
In the passage likely to cause most dissent, the document says the infallible dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption - the teachings that Mary was herself conceived "without sin" and that on death she was "assumed" body and soul into Heaven - are "consonant with the teaching of the Scriptures".
The document is not intended itself to be authoritative but to be a basis for discussion, yet its authors admit openly to the hope that the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion will recognise a "common faith" concerning Mary as outlined in the paper.
The Catholic Bishop of Nottingham, Malcolm McMahon OP, one of 18 delegates from ten countries who served on Arcic, said the document showed that Mary need no longer be considered an obstacle to unity between Anglicans and Catholics. He said: "What we have done is put down a paving stone on the road to Christian unity."
The document is published at a sensitive time in Anglican-Catholic relations. The last Pope, John Paul II, was noted for his devotion to Mary. He also made clear his dismay over the direction the Anglican Communion was taking over the ordination of women and more recently of homosexuals.
Unity talks between the two churches foundered and the publication of the Mary document was delayed after the American Anglican church consecrated the openly homosexual Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. Bishop Frank Griswold, the Unites States Anglican primate, was forced to resign as co-chairman of Arcic. The Australian primate, Archbishop Peter Carnley, was appointed in his stead. Bishop Griswold was present at the launch of the document last night at St James’ Catholic cathedral in Seattle, seat of the group’s Catholic co-chair, Archbishop Alexander Brunett.
The appointment of Pope Benedict XVI, who in his previous incarnation as the Vatican’s doctrinal enforcer dismissed Protestant communities as not "proper" churches, has nevertheless put unity back on the agenda.
Last week the Vatican praised the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for adopting a hard-line orthodox stance against the liberal pro-homosexual agenda in his church.
The Mary document will reinforce growing fears among evangelicals that the Catholic church is prepared to consider unity with the Anglicans once more, but strictly on its own terms.
The Reverend Rod Thomas, a leading evangelical cleric who acts as spokesman for the Reform conservative grouping, said the document represented an attempt to "shoehorn into Scripture" the Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.
He said: "If Mary has been wholly and completely assumed into Heaven and we are able to pray to her, it goes completely against the grain of Jesus Christ being our great high priest who intercedes on our behalf with the Father." He said he had a lot of sympathy for the members of the commission as they struggled to find common theological ground. "But it has become clear that we can only find common ground through theological fudge. That can never be a basis for moving forward in unity. The document goes nowhere near addressing the understandings of revelation, of scriptural authority and the uniqueness of Christ that were the cornerstones of the Reformation and are the cornerstones of evangelical faith today. It is not so much an attempt to turn the clock back as a demonstration that to move forward would require compromises on our understanding of the Bible’s teaching that, however courteously expressed, are still issues that divide us."