Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tune Thou my harp...

Tune Thou my harp;
There is not, Lord, could never be,
The skill in me. 

Tune Thou my harp,
That it may play Thy melody,
Thy harmony.

Tune Thou my harp;
O Spirit, breathe Thy thought through me
As pleaseth Thee.
...Amy Carmichael
image by Ella Mullins

Heroin Addict Prays to God for a Miracle

Mild winter continues in Syracuse!

Icicle pansies by the back door

...by the garage

Hiawatha Lake in Upper Onondaga Park, Syracuse, NY
(two blocks from our house-click on picture to enlarge)

January 7, 2012
Raymond took these pictures today as the phenomenal weather continues almost springlike here in Syracuse NY.   Our outdoor thermometer reached 50 degrees today! -PD

Central New York continues to enjoy above-average temps

Nova Scotia churches balk at paying for the sins of the fathers

Dakshana Bascaramurty and Kaleigh Rogers
Friday, Jan. 06, 2012

Churches in eastern Nova Scotia are no strangers to hard times. Attendance is dwindling. The population is declining. And they inhabit one of the most economically disadvantaged regions of the country.

This year, however, their plight has reached a point of crisis – and parishioners have had enough.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish is selling 250 properties and liquidating its assets to pay a $15-million settlement for sexual abuse involving clergy.

Churchgoers were dealt another blow this week with the sentencing of Rev. Raymond Lahey – the bishop who brokered the multimillion-dollar deal. the rest

Friday, January 06, 2012

Civil War looms in Nigeria

January 6, 2012
by George Conger

Action, not talk is needed from Muslim leaders if Nigeria is not to fall into civil war, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria said last week in the wake of Christmas Day terror attacks mounted by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh appealed to Nigeria’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to exercise leadership, saying “it is not enough to condemn the act. It is not enough to dissociate itself from it.”

Muslim leaders “must take some pragmatic steps in the interest of all of us to bring about an end to this matter. There is no other body in a better position to speak to Boko Haram,” the archbishop told reporters last week during a visit to St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla in the Niger State.

On 1 Jan 2012 Boko Haram issued an ultimatum to Christians living in the Muslim majority areas of Northern Nigeria to leave within three days, or face their wrath. The terror group has claimed responsibility for a series of bomb and gun attacks on churches and the police stations across five states on Christmas Day. At St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla near the capital of Abuja, 35 people were killed when a bomb was tossed into the congregation as the service was ending. A half dozen other Christians were killed in related attacks across the North also. the rest

A.S. Haley: Big News in Fort Worth

January 6, 2011

Today the Supreme Court of Texas noted probable jurisdiction over the direct appeal filed by Bishop Jack L. Iker and his diocesan corporation from the summary judgment granted in favor of ECUSA and the rump diocese of Fort Worth a year ago. (The Texas Supreme Court accepts very few direct appeals from the judgments of trial courts, and there are strict standards which such requests must satisfy. The Court's acknowledgment that there is "probable jurisdiction" means that, at this stage of the case, it appears that all of the jurisdictional requirements for a direct appeal are satisfied. By doing so, the Court signals that it will postpone any final decision on whether it in fact does have jurisdiction under the applicable standards to its eventual disposition of the case. Meanwhile, it will hold oral arguments and deliberate on the case as though it had been an appeal accepted from one of the Courts of Appeal.)

No definite date for oral argument appears to have been set yet. The arguments in the San Angelo case (Church of the Good Shepherd), currently set for February 29, 2012, are the last dates for arguments which the Court currently has scheduled. Its calendar of arguments for March and April should be published shortly.

Of course, this is huge news for Bishop Iker and his Diocese. First, the Texas Supreme Court accepts the petition for review in the Good Shepherd case, in which it notes that the issues to be decided are as follows: here

Doctors going broke

By Parija Kavilanz
January 6, 2012

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Doctors in America are harboring an embarrassing secret: Many of them are going broke.

This quiet reality, which is spreading nationwide, is claiming a wide range of casualties, including family physicians, cardiologists and oncologists.

Industry watchers say the trend is worrisome. Half of all doctors in the nation operate a private practice. So if a cash crunch forces the death of an independent practice, it robs a community of a vital health care resource.

"A lot of independent practices are starting to see serious financial issues," said Marc Lion, CEO of Lion & Company CPAs, LLC, which advises independent doctor practices about their finances.

Doctors list shrinking insurance reimbursements, changing regulations, rising business and drug costs among the factors preventing them from keeping their practices afloat. But some experts counter that doctors' lack of business acumen is also to blame. the rest

Class is over for Planned Parenthood

Shenendehowa cuts ties with group after sex ed lessons spur complaints
By SCOTT WALDMAN, Staff writer
Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Excerpt:
Shifler said a primary concern among the two dozen parents allied to her cause centered around the way abstinence was presented to children and that some parents were not given proper notification about their right to opt out of the coursework. She said that children were being lulled into a false sense of security and that they could still be exposed to sexually transmitted diseases.

"There's a difference between teaching something and promoting something," she said.

Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson's educators teach students in 46 schools in 12 counties. They are essentially guest lecturers that supplement the regular core health curriculum.

The lessons largely focused on abstinence, particularly for middle school students, said Darren Cosgrove, a community educator for Planned Parenthood who has taught in the district for 10 years. the rest

Arise, shine, for your light has come...

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.
Isaiah 60:1-6
image

Nigeria church attack leaves five dead

Friday, January 6, 2012

At least five people have been killed in an attack on a church in northern Nigeria on Thursday.

Pastor Johnson Jauro told the AFP news agency that he was leading the congregation in prayers on Thursday evening when the gunmen stormed into the church and opened fire.

He said the five worshippers killed included his wife.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, it comes after the militant group Boko Haram warned Christians that they had three days to leave the predominantly Muslim north.

The attack on the Deeper Life Church in Gombe is another sign of the worsening situation for Christians in northern Nigeria. the rest

New York’s Tragedy

Thursday, January 5, 2012
Matthew Cantirino

NYC41Percent, an initiative founded last year in part by New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan with the aim of calling attention to (and thereby reducing) the eponymous abortion rate in New York City, has just released statistics for 2010 [note: not 2011, as it takes over a year for stats to become available]. Although the rate ticked downward a notch from 2009, the results are still devastating. Along with the statistic that over 40 percent of city pregnancies end in abortion, some of the more specific numbers reveal nothing less than an epidemic ravaging entire communities:
- Among non-Hispanic blacks there were far more abortions than births, 38,574 to 26,635, or 60%. So for every 1,000 African-American babies born, 1,448 were aborted.
- Among Non-Hispanic black teens, the abortion rate was even greater – 5,956 abortions to 2,265 live births, or 72%. For every 1,000 African-American babies born to teens, 2,630 were aborted.
- The abortion rate among teens as a whole was 63% – 12,139 abortions to 7,207 live births. For every 1,000 babies born among New York City teens 1,684 were aborted.
You can find more information and see the report in its entirety by clicking here [opens a .pdf file]. the rest

Bible becomes 2011 bestseller in Norway

New translation's success, which saw queues outside bookshops, is not linked to Utøya murders, says publisher
Alison Flood
Tuesday 3 January 2012

The UK's 2011 bestseller lists might have been dominated by cookery, courtesy of Jamie Oliver, and romance, courtesy of David Nicholls, but Norwegian readers were plumping for another sort of book last year: the Bible.

The first Norwegian translation of the Bible for 30 years topped the country's book charts almost every week between its publication in October and the end of the year, selling almost 80,000 copies so far and hugely exceeding expectations. Its launch in the autumn saw Harry Potter-style overnight queues, with bookshops selling out on the first day as Norwegians rushed to get their hands on the new edition.

"We only printed 25,000 to start with and thought it would last six to nine months, but it was launched mid-October and by the end of the year it had sold 79,000 copies – it's just incredible," said Stine Smemo Strachan, who worked on the project for the Norwegian Bible Society. "It has only been knocked off the number one spot once, by [literary author] Karl Ove Knausgård … There were people sleeping outside the day before the launch because it was embargoed – it's a bit ironic seeing that the content has been available for quite some time now." the rest

Breakaway parishes in Greater Cleveland, across Ohio say Episcopal hierarchy too liberal

Friday, January 06, 2012
By Michael O'Malley

BAY VILLAGE, Ohio -- A nationwide rift among Episcopalians has fractured St. Barnabas church, where the bulk of the congregation has broken away from the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio and is worshipping in an auditorium at Bay High School.

In recent years, a number of Episcopal congregations across the country have been at odds with church hierarchy over Christian teachings.

Essentially, breakaway groups see the church drifting from orthodox Christianity to a more liberal creed, including allowing openly gay, partnered clerics to serve as bishops.

"When they talk about Jesus, it's not the same Jesus I talk about," said the Rev. Gene Sherman, pastor of the 250-member breakaway congregation from St. Barnabas. the rest


An Anglican church blossoms in northern Chatham County
...Chatham County, rural and quiet, might not be the kind of place you'd expect to find an Anglican congregation, but then the Holy Spirit (Will Willimon, former Dean of Duke Chapel used to call the Holy Spirit "capricious") may move in directions and ways that we mortals find strange, unusual and unexpected...

Thursday, January 05, 2012

A true and faithful Christian...

A true and faithful Christian does not make holy living an accidental thing. It is his great concern. As the business of the soldier is to fight, so the business of the Christian is to be like Christ. ...Jonathan Edwards image

The Anglican World in Review – 2012

January 5, 2012
by George Conger

The passions and partisan divisions that inflamed the Anglican Communion over the past decade burned low in 2011, with most Churches turning their attention to domestic affairs. Civil unrest, economic collapse, natural disasters and the culture wars pushed the Communion’s fight over doctrine and discipline to one side.

No grand agreements were made nor understandings reached on the issue of autonomy and the role of Scripture in guiding the life of the church. Rather an ecclesiastical ennui, an exhaustion of battles without end, led most Churches to concentrate upon local issues.

This displacement did not arise from a meeting of minds or suspension of judgment arising for the Listening Process sponsored by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) or other Church-backed dialogues, but out of a sense of futility felt by traditionalists and alienation felt by the progressive wing of the Church over the management of the debates.

The decision to avoid conflict in hope of gaining time to allow passions to die away adopted at Lambeth 2008, drove global Anglican relations throughout 2011. the rest

Muslim Persecution of Christians: December, 2011

"Saying Merry Christmas Is Worse than Killing Someone"
by Raymond Ibrahim
January 5, 2012

The Nigerian church bombings, in which the Islamic group Boko Haram ["Western Education Is Forbidden"] killed over 40 people celebrating Christmas mass, is just the most obvious example of anti-Christian sentiment in the Muslim world. Elsewhere in this region, Christmas time for Christians is a time of increased threats, harassment, and fear, which is not surprising, considering Muslim clerics maintain that "saying Merry Christmas is worse than fornication or killing someone." A few examples:
  • Egypt: The Coptic Church is being threatened with a repeat of "Nag Hammadi," the area where drive-by Muslims shot to death six Christians as they exited church after celebrating Christmas mass in 2010. Due to fears of a repetition,the diocese "cancel[ed] all festivities for New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve."
  • Indonesia: In a "brutal act" that has "strongly affected the Catholic community," days before Christmas, "vandals decapitated the statue of the Virgin Mary in a small grotto … a cross was stolen and the aspersorium was badly damaged."
  • Iran: There were reports of a sharp increase in activities against Christians prior to Christmas by the State Security centers of the Islamic Republic. Local churches were "ordered to cancel Christmas and New Year's celebrations as a show of their compliance and support" for "the two month-long mourning activities of the Shia' Moslems."

the rest

Religion and the 2012 Iowa Republican Caucuses

Pew Forum
January 4, 2012

Polling conducted as voters entered the 2012 Iowa caucuses shows a clear split between born-again evangelical Christians, who favored Rick Santorum, and other voters, who favored Mitt Romney.

Among the 57% of Iowa caucus-goers who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians, Santorum finished in first place with 32% support. Ron Paul garnered 18% of the evangelical vote, while Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry each received 14% of the evangelical vote.

Among the 43% of Iowa caucus-goers who are not evangelical Christians, Romney was the winner, attracting 38% support. One-quarter of non-evangelical caucus-goers voted for Paul (26%). Santorum garnered 14% support among non-evangelical voters, similar to the 12% who supported Gingrich. the rest

Three Lessons From the Iowa Caucus Results

Pharmacists’ Conscience Rights on Trial—Violation of Free Exercise Rights

By Ed Whelan
January 4, 2012

Excerpt:
It is clear that the Washington state regulations at issue are not neutral and generally applicable. Washington’s alleged interest in its regulations is to promote its residents’ health by ensuring timely access to lawful medications.But, as I detailed in my post exploring those regulations, the regulations expressly set forth various secular exceptions to the general duty to dispense drugs. Some of these exceptions, as plaintiffs readily acknowledge, are consistent with Washington’s alleged interest, as they protect patients’ health and prevent fraud. But other exceptions affirmatively undermine that alleged interest just as much as, or more than, conscientious objections would.

For example, the state allows pharmacies to refer customers elsewhere when, for various secular reasons, it doesn’t have a drug in stock—for example, when the drug falls outside the pharmacy’s chosen business niche, when the pharmacy determines that the drug is too expensive or has too short a shelf life, or when its restocking practices have left it temporarily out of stock. The state also allows pharmacies to accept payments only from certain insurance plans, to refuse to serve Medicare or Medicaid patients, and to require payment in cash. And the state allows pharmacies to refer customers elsewhere when dispensing a drug would take extra time—such as when a drug requires simple compounding, extra patient monitoring, or additional paperwork.

In all of these cases, a customer who is referred elsewhere for Plan B (or any other drug) is in the same situation, and faces the same delay, as a customer who is referred elsewhere because a pharmacist has a conscientious objection to dispensing the drug. Yet the state bans only referrals for reasons of conscience and not referrals for these various business reasons. That shows that the regulations are not neutral and generally applicable.

The state defendants claim that the regulations are neutral and generally applicable because they forbid conscientious objections that are not religiously based along with those that are. But that claim misses the point. When considering whether a law is neutral and generally applicable, the question is not whether some secular conduct is banned together with religious conduct; the question is whether the law applies equally to all relevant conduct, both secular and religious. Here, the regulations ban referrals for reasons of conscience but permit analogous referrals for a wide variety of secular reasons—thus belying the asserted urgency of the state’s interest in ensuring timely access. (Further, there is no evidence in the record of any pharmacist who has non-religious “moral” objections to dispensing drugs, and any such moral objections might well qualify as religious for purposes of Free Exercise protection.) the rest

Hawaiian churches denied exemption for civil unions

Charlie Butts
OneNewsNow
1/4/2012

A court in Hawaii has refused to exempt churches from being forced to allow their property to be used for civil union ceremonies.

The Emmanuel Temple and the Lighthouse Outreach Center Assembly of God requested a restraining order to block a law that permits same-sex couples to enter civil unions. It exempts clergy from performing the ceremonies, which are the equivalent of marriage, but there is no provision to protect church property. They argued that they would face civil penalties and fines if they refused to rent their property for same-sex civil unions, but U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright denied the request.

Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel Action tells OneNewsNow that creates a clear conflict between government and the free exercise of religion.

"There is no exemption for religious institutions, for churches, houses of worship from being subject to fines and to sanctions as provided in the legislation for refusing to allow their houses of worship to be desecrated through the use of a so-called 'civil union' ceremony," he explains. the rest

Albert Mohler: President Obama and Same-Sex Marriage—The Dance Continues

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Excerpt:
President Barack Obama has done far more to advance the cause of gay rights than any previous president. His executive orders and administrative policies have granted benefits to the domestic partners of federal employees, ordered the Department of Justice not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts, and ordered the Department of State to make the rights of homosexuals a major priority and principle of American foreign policy. Beyond all that, the President led the effort to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, leading to the full integration of active homosexuals within the U. S. armed services.

But, what about the question of same-sex marriage? The President has explained that his views on the subject are “evolving.” Just a few weeks ago, the President told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he is “still working on” the issue. The President has clearly affirmed something like same-sex marriage, assuring a gay rights group in October that “every single American deserves to be treated equally before the law.” In that context, there is little room for seeing that statement as anything other than a call for same-sex marriage.

The President has insisted that he is not for same-sex marriage . . . yet. He undermines the Defense of Marriage Act, assures activists for same-sex marriage that he is moving in their direction, but is still “evolving.”

In the aftermath of the Stephanopoulos interview, New York Magazine stated the obvious with this headline: “President Obama Won’t Say if He’ll Stop Pretending to Oppose Same-Sex Marriage Before the Election.” the rest

Church of England calls assisted suicide plan morally unacceptable

A senior bishop has described plans to allow assisted suicide for the terminally ill as morally unacceptable.
By Martin Beckford, Social Affairs Editor
05 Jan 2012

The Rt Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, said the best safeguard for vulnerable people would be to keep the existing law in place.

He also claimed the Commission on Assisted Dying, a group of peers and academics chaired by the former Labour minister Lord Falconer, was a “self-appointed” group that excluded anyone who objected to legalising assisted suicide.

It had “singularly failed” to prove that vulnerable people would be safer under the new proposals than under the existing law, which is rarely used but means anyone who helps another person kill themselves can be jailed for up to 14 years. the rest
In response Bishop Newcome, who speaks for the Church of England on healthcare topics, said in a statement: “The present law strikes an excellent balance between safeguarding hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people and treating with fairness and compassion those few people who, acting out of selfless motives, have assisted a loved one to die.

“Put simply, the most effective safeguard against abuse is to leave the law as it is. What Lord Falconer has done is to argue that it is morally acceptable to put many vulnerable people at increased risk so that the aspirations of a small number of individuals, to control the time, place and means of their deaths, might be met. Such a calculus of risk is unnecessary and wholly unacceptable.”

Primate Okoh to Nigerian president: Look inward

January 2, 2012
By CALEB AYANSINA

ABUJA—PRIMATE, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, has admonished President Goodluck Jonathan to look inward, as there were disloyal elements within the system that are sabotaging government’s efforts to curb the activities of the Islamic sect, known as Boko Haram, in the country.

The Primate also appealed to Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Northern traditional rulers and Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, to take decisive action to curtail the serial bombings, saying condemning and distancing themselves from the attacks were not sufficient.

Okoh, who gave the admonition when he paid a condolence visit to St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, the scene of the Christmas Day bomb blast in Niger State, acknowledged that although it was a bad time for the parish and Christendom, “we are sure that evil will not win. Even in Nigeria, evil will not prevail so that the righteous will not put their hands in bad things.”

He said there were some people in the system pretending to be concerned, but were stylishly preventing the people at the helm of the affairs from knowing what actually the situation was.

His words: “Government business is an intricate business, may be there are certain things they do not want to reveal to the public to avoid compromising their method.” Story

Nigerian archbishop denounces Christmas terrorist attacks

Nigeria's defining and perilous year

Mass Conversions and Liturgical Pluralism: A Path to Christian Reunification?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 9:00 AM
Matthew Cantirino
First Things
On January 1, Pope Benedict XVI formally announced the creation of a new personal orindariate for Anglican groups in the United States wishing to convert to Catholicism. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, which is “juridically equivalent to a diocese,” will bring both lay and clerical members of the Anglican church into full communion with the Bishop of Rome while permitting them a large degree of control over liturgical matters (especially allowing the retention of the Book of Common Prayer, the language of certain rites, and married priests).

Though this is only the second such ordinariate, following the creation of one for England and Wales in January 2011, media reports indicate that further ordinariates are under consideration for Canada, Australia, and other English-speaking nations.

The expected proliferation of these exceptional cases is remarkable for several reasons. First, their growth represents a new tack in evangelization that is simultaneously more accommodating of converts and more aggressive in outreach to them. It also indicates a deepened seriousness on the part of the Vatican to pursue Christian reunification, a project which has been of particular interest to Benedict XVI’s thought and papacy.

But perhaps the most intriguing facet of this project is the (re)newed Catholic willingness to accept entire groups of converts and allow them to retain significant hallmarks of their Christian traditions, even when these traditions are somewhat alien (though not in opposition to) what has traditionally characterized Latin-rite Catholicism. the rest

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Children, draw near to your Father...

File:StJohnsAshfield StainedGlass GoodShepherd Portrait.jpg
Children, draw near to your Father, and he will embrace you in the arms of love. Come, ye poor, stray, wandering sheep, return to your Shepherd. Come, ye who have been seeking happiness in worldly pleasures and pursuits, but have failed to find in them that satisfaction ye expected: come, and learn how to be truly happy here, and eternally happy hereafter. – Come, sinners, to your Saviour. Come, ye dull, ignorant, and illiterate; ye who think yourselves the most incapable of prayer: ye are more peculiarly called and adapted thereto. Let all, without exception, come; for Christ hath called all. ...Madame Guyon image

Why European Loans Could Hurt U.S. Taxpayers

January 4, 2012

There is a major disconnect between what the Obama administration says and what it does about bailing out countries in the European periphery. For while the administration keeps insisting that Europe has the financial wherewithal to rescue those European countries in distress, it has allowed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail out Greece, Ireland and Portugal on an unprecedented scale. And it has done so in a manner that puts U.S. taxpayer on the hook in a major way, says Desmond Lachman, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

•While the IMF never lent a country more than 12 times its IMF quota contribution during the Asian and Latin American crises of the late 1990s, its recent loan commitments to Greece, Ireland and Portugal have been more on the order of 35 to 40 times those countries' IMF quotas.
•In U.S. dollar terms, the IMF's lending commitments made to those three European countries now total around $100 billion.
•Considering that the United States has a 17.75 percent share in the IMF, these lending commitments put the U.S. taxpayer at risk for an almost $20 billion loss should those countries be unable to repay the IMF.

The egregiousness of the situation is multiplied when it is taken into account that this style of lending will likely continue with emergency relief to Spain and Italy. the rest

Staggering abortion rate among UK's teenagers

By Benge Nsenduluka
Christian Post
Monday, 2 January 2012

Data released by a European research group has revealed how European countries compare with respect to teen abortion rates.

A previous study conducted by the group “REPROSTAT 2” analysed abortion rates among girls ages 13-19 in 25 European countries and the findings have placed the UK under fire.

The UK had the second highest teen abortion rates at a rate of 22.1 per cent, and it has also been reported that a quarter of all abortions in the UK are from teenagers, according to Mail Online.

Interestingly, Greece, which shares similar abortion laws to the UK, had the lowest teen abortion rates with a rate of only 4.1 per cent. the rest

Los Angeles Bishop Resigns After Acknowledging His Two Children

By ROBERT JABLON
01/4/12

LOS ANGELES -- The resignation of a Los Angeles bishop who fathered two children has shocked the nation's most populous Roman Catholic archdiocese, where Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala grew up and was an outspoken supporter of causes dear to the huge Hispanic population.

Zavala, 60, who once urged Catholic media to report scandals such as clergy sex abuse "in a spirit of love and mercy," had his resignation accepted by Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday. A code of Roman Catholic canon law permits bishops to step down earlier than the normal retirement age of 75 if they are sick or otherwise unfit for office.

"This is unexpected, sad and disorienting news for many people who know and like Bishop Zavala," archdiocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg said Wednesday. "Remember, he was raised here. He has deep roots in Los Angeles and so he's very well-known here."

Tamberg said he had virtually no details about Zavala's affair except that it involved consenting adults and that no church funds were used. the rest

Perv bishop gets time served for child porn
OTTAWA - A former bishop caught with child porn at the Ottawa airport in 2009 will be freed after a judge sentenced him Wednesday to time served.

Raymond Lahey, 71, got 15 months in jail and two years of probation. He has already spent eight months in jail, but received two-for-one credit for the time served...

Planned Parenthood’s Annual Report: Got $487.4M in Tax Money, Did 329,445 Abortions

By Penny Starr
January 3, 2012

CNSNews.com)According to its latest annual report, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) received $487.4 million in tax dollars over a twelve-month period and performed 329,455 abortions.

In addition, the number of adoption referrals made by the organization continued to decline.

The latest annual report covers the period from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, the PPFA’s fiscal year. The report states that the organization received “government health services grants and reimbursements” totaling $487.4 million.

Previous Planned Parenthood annual reports showed total funding from “government grants and contracts” (which were $363.2 million in 2009), while this year’s report also accounts for payments from Medicaid managed care plans among the payments the group receives from government. the rest

Surprising Top Ten List of Anti-Christian Acts of 2011

Jan. 3, 2012
Christian Newswire

 DefendChristians.Org solicited the members of their online community to vote for their choice of the top ten anti-Christian acts of 2011 in the U.S.

"I am always surprised at the results of our poll and this year is no exception," said Dr. Gary Cass of DefendChristians.Org. "The fact the number one and number two issues are public policy and political in nature shows Christians are very concerned about the political direction of the country. I wouldn't be surprised if this translates into a strong political response in 2012."

These results do not necessarily represent the views or priorities of DefendChristians.org. They are a measure of the opinions of a cross-section of subscribers who responded to our online poll.

The Top Ten Anti-Christian Events in 2011 are: Here

New Stats Show Military Divorce Rate for 2011 Highest in Over a Decade

More and more service member marriages are ending. Learn about this trend and the complex legal issues surrounding military divorces.
December 31, 2011

Nearly 30,000 military marriages ended in fiscal year 2011, according to Pentagon data released in December. The military divorce rate in 2011 was 3.7 percent, up more than a full percentage point over the last ten years.

Military divorce rates have not been this high since 1999. Many troops returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and staging areas overseas arrive to a broken home, with little more than the services of California military divorce attorneys to help ease their transition back into single life.
the rest
Unlike military divorce numbers, in the civilian world, divorce rates have been declining since 2000. In 2009, the latest year for which CDC data is available, the civilian divorce rate was 3.5 percent.

Why the disparity between civilian and military divorce trends? Experts are cautious to come to pinpoint definite conclusions without sufficient study. But, there is no doubt that the rigors of military life, especially the repeated deployments seen in recent years, can lead to tension in a romantic relationship.

SNAP leader: Testimony was 'fishing expedition'

Clohessy says he refused to turn over documents
Jan. 03, 2012
By Joshua J. McElwee

David Clohessy, the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), says his court-ordered testimony Monday in the case of a priest accused of sexual misconduct amounted to an "extraordinary fishing expedition" to try and get at the contents of "private communications" between him and sex abuse victims and whistle-blowers.

The testimony, which Clohessy said lasted about six hours and took place in a St. Louis, Mo., hotel, came after the Missouri Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal to stop the deposition.

The deposition, requested by lawyers defending Kansas City, Mo., diocesan priest Fr. Michael Tierney, was first reported late last week. Lawyers requested that Clohessy testify and turn over 23 years' worth of internal documents, correspondence and emails.

Victims' advocates said the deposition, the first of its kind for SNAP, would have wide-ranging impact on the ability of victims of clergy sex abuse to identify their accusers and tell their stories without revealing their names in public. the rest

Criminal serving his sentence with monks pleads to be sent back to prison...

...because monastery life is too hardBy Nick Pisa
3rd January 2012

A convicted criminal who was serving out his sentence in a monastery has escaped for the second time and asked to be sent back to prison because life was too tough.

Thief David Catalano, 31, was sent to a Santa Maria degli Angeli community run by Capuchin monks in Sicily last November.

But he found their austere lifetstyle too tough to handle and soon escaped. After a short while on the run he was caught by police and sent back.  the rest

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Christian is more than an empty vessel...

The Christian is more than an empty vessel. He has...Someone within. We have a treasure in the earthen vessel, and not only a treasure - a transcendent power! That is humanity as God intended it to be. The vessel is not much in itself, but it holds an inestimable treasure, beyond price, and a transcendent power, greater than any other power known to men. ...Ray C. Stedman image by Manish Bansal

Santa killed by Muslim fanatics for being ‘infidel’ in Tajikistan

January 02, 2012

DUSHANBE. – An outrageous incident occurred in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where a group of religious fanatics killed Santa Claus.

Parvis Davlatbekov wore as Santa Claus to congratulate his friends for the New Year. However, a group of fanatics attacked and stabbed him by crying ‘infidel’ in the street.

The young man died on Monday without coming into consciousness. The unprecedented tragic incident is widely discussed in Facebook, ITARR-TASS reports.

Tajikistani MFA acknowledged officially the incident. However, it rejected that the brutal killing occurred on religious grounds but claims it was a regular violence. the rest

Managing editor of Vancouver Xtra homosexual magazine says “we will teach your kids new norms”

by BC Parents and Teacher for Life
Mon Jan 02, 2012
VANCOUVER, Canada

Those who said there was a pro-homosexuality agenda were treated with scorn as alarmists before the propagandists for that agenda became as bold as they are now. But we have it directly from the managing editor of Xtra Vancouver: as clear an enunciation of the homosexual activist agenda for the schools as we may have seen anywhere.

In the October 20th, 2011, edition of the Vancouver edition of the homosexual magazine Xtra, the managing editor of that magazine wrote in the online edition:

”. . . the gay rights movement is shifting norms in Canada. And with that comes a message to those who won’t evolve: your outdated morals are no longer acceptable, and we will teach your kids the new norm.”

It may have gone relatively unnoticed, but this boast by a homosexual spokesman encapsulates what so many of those who claim to stand for traditional morality fail to acknowledge: Pro-homosexuality activists are not poor, down-trodden members of a minority who simply want to live their own lives as they choose. They are seeking to change the hearts and minds of our children and our grandchildren. They are seeking to establish “new norms” for our society. the rest

Coptic priest: We will resist reimposition of jizya to the point of martyrdom

January 1, 2012

"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." -- Qur'an 9:29

And it may well come to that. "Yohanna Qulta, Deputy Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt: If the Salafis Come to Power and Instate the Jizya Poll Tax, We Will Oppose This to the Point of Martyrdom," from MEMRI, December 10, 2011 (thanks to Wimpy):
Following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian priest Yohanna Qulta, deputy patriarch of the Coptic Catholic church, which aired on Al-Hayat TV on December 10, 2011.Interviewer: When I asked if the Copts were thinking of leaving Egypt, you said: "Absolutely."

Yohanna Qulta: Of course. The fear we encounter on TV and in national newspapers, which I don't want to name... Actually, why not? Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar... They run large headlines, quoting the Salafis as saying that the Copts should either leave Egypt or pay the jizya poll tax in submission.
the rest

Pressure on Dutch church after report

Jan. 03, 2012
By John L Allen Jr

Two leading politicians in the Netherlands, both from conservative parties, have called for the resignations of Catholic bishops in the wake of a damning report on sexual abuse in the Dutch church.

The country’s prime minister, Mark Rutte, also announced that his cabinet is considering lifting a statute of limitations to allow criminal prosecutions. A complaint has already been filed with the public prosecutor’s office against a former bishop of the Rotterdam diocese, Philippe Bär. An attorney representing alleged victims has charged Bär with covering up abuse during his tenure from 1983 to 1993.

Meanwhile, an influential Catholic commentator in Italy has rejected suggestions that the revelations amount to an indictment of the liberal spirit of Dutch Catholicism following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). the rest

"Nigerian Taliban" gives three day ultimatum to the Christians to flee Northern Nigeria

The "Nigerian Taliban" also advise Muslims in the south to return to the north because they risk being killed by soldiers. Thousands of Christians fleeing. The bishops reject the sectarian drift of the conflict and ask for more security, but also no retaliation.
01/03/2012

Lagos (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Christians in northern Nigeria have three days to leave the area before a series of attacks against them: This is the ultimatum set by the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the massacres that took place Christmas day in 12 sites across the states of Yobe and Borno (northeast), Niger (West), Plateau (central Nigeria). The killings have claimed the lives of over 40 people and already thousands of Christians are fleeing in terror.

The ultimatum comes a few days after the decision by President Goodluck Jonathan (a Christian) to declare a state of emergency for the areas attacked, with the deployment of armed soldiers.

The ultimatum also includes advice to the Muslims in the south to flee towards the north (which is Muslim majority) to avoid becoming a victim of attacks by soldiers.

A spokesman for Boko Haram, Abul Qaqa, told the media that "our Muslim brothers are advised to return to the north, because we have evidence that they will be attacked. We also issue a three-day ultimatum to the southerners living in the north of Nigeria, to leave. We have serious indications to suggest that the soldiers only kill the innocent Muslims in areas where government has declared a state of emergency. We will face them decisively to protect our brothers." the rest

Pentecostal Renewal Transforms Rwanda after Genocide

Survivors flock to charismatic churches as a haven for healing.
Catherine Newhouse in Kigali, Rwanda
1/03/2012

Excerpt:
Before the genocide, Rwanda was considered the most Roman Catholic country in Africa. It was 63 percent Catholic with a population of 8 million in the mid-1990s, according to Anne Kubai, former head of religious studies at the Kigali Institute of Education.

In the 18 years since the genocide, the overwhelmingly Catholic demographic shifted quickly and enormously toward Protestant and independent churches. Dramatic population growth has fueled the shift. Rwanda's post-genocide population dipped to 5.4 million; now experts project that it will exceed 11.5 million by the end of 2012. Of 19 sub-Saharan countries surveyed, Rwanda has seen the most significant rise in Protestant faith, according to a new Pew Foundation report. The country is now 38 percent Protestant, and of those Protestants, Pentecostals are the most sizable group.

The genocide changed everything. In 1994, neighbor turned against neighbor as extremist Hutus killed about 1 million minority Tutsis and Hutu moderates who supported them. The church hierarchy, both Catholic and mainline Protestant, emerged with blood on its hands. Catholic priests were among the guilty. Some lured their parishioners into churches, only to let murderers in next. Other priests failed to speak out against ethnic violence in time to prevent the worst of it.

Andrew Rusatsi, a seminary professor in Nyakibanda, Rwanda, said many Rwandans felt betrayed by the Catholic Church's involvement. "They embraced other churches—Protestant, Pentecostal, and Restoration churches, which have been proliferating like mushrooms," Rusatsi said. Protestant church leaders were also implicated in the genocide, but to a lesser extent.

After the genocide, a new brand of churches emerged: Pentecostal congregations started by Tutsi refugees returning to their homeland after decades of living in neighboring countries to escape persecution. In Uganda, Tanzania, Congo, and Kenya, Rwandan refugees had encountered the emotionally expressive Pentecostal faith. the rest

Pro-Life in Hollywood

Mon, Jan. 02 2012
By Brittany Smith

Being pro-life in Hollywood can often be the kiss of death for actors. But a new list of five pro-life male celebrities was recently compiled by LifeNews.com.

Those that made the cut include: Jack Nicholson, Eduardo Verastegui, Ben Stein, James Caviezel, and Mel Gibson.

Verastegui took first place on the list. The Mexican actor is best known for his 2007 film “Bella,” which his production company, Metanoia, produced.

He was told he would never get work as an actor because he refused to accept roles that went against his Christian and pro-life beliefs. But “Bella,” in which Verastegui starred, won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007.

Verastegui also donates to pro-life organizations and his own organization, Mantle of Guadalupe, raises money for a pregnancy resource center in L.A. the rest

Muslim Brotherhood promises to protect Copts over Christmas

by Elton Jones
Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood organisation has said it will protect Christian believers as the Coptic Christmas holiday rolls around.

This is happening due to the slew of attacks brought against the Christian population during 2010 and 2011. The Coptic Christmas holiday will take place in the country on January 7.

"We have decided to form Muslim Brotherhood committees to protect the churches so that the hands of sin do not ruin the festivities like they did several times under the old regime," the group said.

Adding, "We call on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the police to protect the churches in the same way they protected polling stations during the elections." the rest

Iran threatens U.S. Navy as sanctions hit economy

By Parisa Hafezi
Tue Jan 3, 2012 

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran threatened Tuesday to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf, Tehran's most aggressive statement yet after weeks of saber-rattling as new U.S. and EU financial sanctions take a toll on its economy.

The prospect of sanctions targeting the oil sector in a serious way for the first time has hit Iran's rial currency, which has fallen by 40 percent against the dollar in the past month.

Queues formed at banks and some currency exchange offices shut their doors as Iranians scrambled to buy dollars to protect their savings from the currency's fall. the rest

Monday, January 02, 2012

London Fireworks 2012

The United States is the most charitable nation in the world

December 31, 2011

Something that, it seems to me, those of us who develop and offer Catholic-grounded critiques of American consumerism, individualism, exceptionalism, etc., etc., should at least keep in mind. I can't help noting that some of the "Catholic" countries whose social practices and economic policies are often held up as models for the United States (France, in particular) do pretty badly. I note also that the top 7 consist, basically (with one exception), of the "English-speaking peoples" (U.S., Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand).

Here

Is it worth it? the economics of same-sex marriage

The institution of marriage must be fundamentally redefined to accommodate same sex couples, says a Canadian economist.
Douglas W. Allen
Monday, 2 January 2012

Excerpt:
MercatorNet: How can changing the law to accommodate the demands of same-sex couples possibly harm heterosexual marriages?

Let's take one example. Historically the definition of parent has been "natural parent" which has meant "biological parent." There can only be two natural parents, and someone who is the biological parent has been given an entire set of rights and responsibilities. These rights and responsibilities have been designed to manage the problems that arise in procreation. Societies have wanted parents to have the proper incentives to remain married and to look after their offspring. It has always been a serious matter to alter these rights and responsibilities.

Well, natural parenthood makes no sense when you introduce same sex marriage, because if there are children one of the spouses is not biologically connected. In jurisdictions that have same sex marriage there is always some type of redefinition to accommodate this. In Canada we created a concept called "legal parent." In British Columbia this has meant a birth certificate asks for the mother's name and the "co-parent's" name. The concept of "father" has been reduced. More significantly, there can be more than two legal parents. There have been a host of legal cases involving divorce where biology has no standing and non-biological natural parents have been given custody. This is a dramatic shift in the rights of parents, and affects the way parents behave. The impacts of these are yet to be fully seen. the rest

First civil union in Delaware takes place in an Episcopal church

Jan. 1, 2012

Two women became the first couple in Delaware joined in a same-sex civil union ceremony Sunday during a historic and emotional service at their Wilmington church.

Fellow Delaware attorneys, as well as judges, legislators, friends and family members witnessed the tearful exchange of vows between Lisa B. Goodman and Drewry N. Fennell at Trinity Episcopal Church on North Adams Street.

A friend of the couple, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, delivered the sermon. During the liturgy, Lt. Gov. Matthew Denn and Superior Court Judge Jan R. Jurden each read from the Bible. Both know the couple from their days at the law firm Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor. the rest

NYT: Catholic Church Unveils New Home for Ex-Episcopalians

By ERIK ECKHOLM
January 1, 2012

Opening its doors more widely to disaffected Episcopalians, the Roman Catholic Church has established the equivalent of a nationwide diocese in the United States that former Episcopal priests and congregations can enter together as intact groups, the Vatican announced Sunday.

Converts who join the new entity will be full-fledged Catholics, expected to show allegiance to the pope and oppose contraception and abortion. But they will be allowed to preserve revered verses from the Book of Common Prayer. And, in what one Catholic leader called “an act of generosity,” priests who are married will be exempted from the Catholic requirement of celibacy, though they may not become bishops.

The new grouping, called the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, will have its headquarters in Houston and be led by Jeffrey N. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop and father of three who left the church in 2007 and became a Catholic priest in 2009, under an existing exemption for converting Anglicans.

With the title of ordinary, Father Steenson will be a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and will report directly to the Vatican, church officials said. the rest

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Jeffrey Steenson to lead the Anglican Ordinariate in the U.S.

Former Rio Grande bishop appointed January 1 by Pope Benedict XVI
January 1, 2012
By George Conger

The Vatican has appointed the former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande to head up the American branch of the Anglican Ordinariate.

On 1 Jan 2012 the Vatican announced that Fr. Jeffrey Steenson had been named the Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The American branch of the ordinariate will be based in Houston, Texas and is the second national jurisdiction for former Anglicans established under the provisions of Pope Benedict's 2009 apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus”.

A second former Episcopal clergyman, Fr. Scott Hurd, who was received into the Catholic Church in 1996 and is presently a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, has been appointed vicar-general of the ordinariate for a three-year term, the Vatican announcement said. the rest

AP: Pope names cleric for ex-Anglicans

Icicle pansies blooming on January 1, 2012 in Syracuse NY

I don't ever remember seeing any flowers blooming outdoors in January during my entire lifetime living here in Syracuse, NY, but these icicle pansies are amazing!  This is a picture Raymond took yesterday out by the garage (they're even nicer today at 50 degrees).  The weather is expected to deteriorate later today, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying this little bit of heaven. -PD

Happy New Year 2012



May God make your year a happy one!
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;

Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;

Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear from your heart;

Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;

Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes
need you most, and by making you anxious
to be there to help.

God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.
...Author Unknown image by Bob Jagendorf