Daily Archives: June 14, 2008

Statement on "Same-Sex Marriage" from the Catholic Bishops of New York State

Recently, proposals have been put forth in our state to recognize so-called “same-sex marriage,” a radical step that would remove from marriage its most basic, fundamental characteristic, thereby altering its very essence.

Our Governor has ordered recognition of such unions from other states as “marriages” in New York. This redefinition defies reason. Additionally, the state Assembly last year approved a measure to permit such “marriages” here, though to date the Senate has not.

Such actions, whether the legal union is called “marriage” or “civil union,” represent a destructive development for our state.

The joining of man and woman in the bond of marriage is a constant and visible reminder of God’s goodness and the beauty of the Divine plan for humankind. The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus Christ himself raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. And, indeed, all of the world’s great religions rightfully recognize marriage as a holy union of a man and a woman.

Numerous theological and religious arguments could be advanced as to why same-sex unions should be rejected. However, this is not simply a matter of theology, and religious values are not the sole source of opposition to this plan.

Marriage always has been, is now and always will be a union of one man and one woman in an enduring bond. This is consistent with biology and natural law, and should be obvious to all, no matter what their religion, or even if they have no religion at all. It is a mutual personal gift between the two that serves the individual couple in many ways, allowing them to grow in love and, through that love, to bring forth children.

Just as importantly, this union also serves the larger society. Marriage provides a stable family structure for the rearing of children and is the ultimate safeguard so that civil society can exist and flourish. That is why civil society through the ages has recognized its duty to foster and respect marriage between a man and a woman.

read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Charles Blow: Why Is Mom in Rehab?

The actress Tatum O’Neal was arrested recently on charges of buying crack cocaine from a man on the street near her New York City home. She is a 44-year-old mother of three. She has spent years in and out of drug abuse treatment (which she chronicled in her 2004 memoir), and according to her publicist she will continue to “attend meetings” for drug and alcohol abuse.

Ms. O’Neal illustrates a disturbing trend among those being admitted to substance abuse treatment services: a growing percentage of older women are being treated for harder drugs.

Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that the total number of admissions to treatment services from 1996 to 2005 (the last year for which detailed data are available) stayed about the same among people under 40, but jumped 52 percent among those 40 and older. Of the 40 and older group, the rise in admissions among men was 44 percent. Among women, it was 82 percent.

I confess that the 82 percent figure blew my mind. Wow. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Drugs/Drug Addiction

NY Times: California Braces for ”˜New Summer of Love’

The groom was shopping for the perfect diamond for his betrothed ”” the other groom. As Rey Almeida, a 47-year-old elementary school principal, perused the Equality Forever rings (a same-sex wedding special at 40 percent off if purchased from June 16 to June 26), he couldn’t help reflecting on the symbolism.

“We’ve been waiting for the right moment,” Mr. Almeida, 47, said of marrying his partner, Alan Pex, a 46-year-old accountant who was initially as standoffish as Mr. Big on “Sex in the City.” “Now there’s the possibility of a ring, a ring that says, I want to marry you and spend the rest of my life with you.’ ”

California is gearing up for the “new summer of love,” as it is being dubbed here: the legalization of same-sex marriage beginning at 5:01 p.m. Monday.

Unlike in Massachusetts, California’s new law does not limit marriages to residents of the state, thus resurrecting old postcard images of California as the promised land….

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

The Economist: When religions talk

Debates about Islam and the West can throw up unexpected tensions. Take the American and the Brit, successful young professionals who met recently at a seaside resort in Egypt. As it happens, both were devout Muslims who pray five times a day. But as they discovered, manifest piety, of the sort ubiquitous in poorer bits of Egypt, arouses instant suspicion in parts of the country where rich tourists and important Westerners need cocooning””even when those Westerners have come to attend the august deliberations on “Islam and the West” taking place nearby with the blessing of Egypt’s government.

The young men’s daily supplications were snooped on aggressively by the police and they found themselves longing for the freedom to bow down before God that is taken for granted in California and the English Midlands. Inter-faith encounters, it seems, are tricky enough when they take the form of careful speeches by heads of government and other movers and shakers; for ordinary people who simply want to say their prayers, things can be downright baffling.

That doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stop faiths from trying to talk to each other. Since Osama bin Laden launched the war he describes as the renewal of an ancient conflict between Islam and the “Crusaders and Jews”, there have been many initiatives to head off global confrontations involving religions and the cultures they have spawned. Al-Qaeda’s war on the West is by no means the only religious or pseudo-religious dispute in the world. In India, militant Hindus are at odds with other faiths. Sri Lanka’s Buddhist monks often support the battle with Tamil separatists. In Northern Ireland and the Balkans, conflict has raged ostensibly between different forms of Christianity…

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Irish voters reject EU treaty

In Ireland, the failure of the referendum was a crushing blow to most of the Irish establishment, including the major political parties and most business groups, which had worked for a yes vote.

But campaigners for a no vote mobilized under the efficient leadership of Declan Ganley, a businessman who argued that the treaty took power away from Ireland.

Ganley, who formed the group Libertas to campaign against the treaty, said that the vote would force the Irish prime minister, Brian Cowen, to renegotiate the treaty and secure a “better deal.”

“We want a Europe that is more democratic, and that if there is to be a president and a foreign affairs minister, they should be elected,” he said in an interview.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe

Episcopal Church Deputies’ President Briefs Council on Regional Initiative

Representatives from five Anglican provinces and two other dioceses are participating in regular conference calls for the Anglican Churches in the Americas initiative said Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, in opening plenary remarks to Executive Council on June 13 in Albuquerque, N.M.

In addition to The Episcopal Church, the planning group for the Feb. 22-29 event in Costa Rica includes representatives from the provinces of Brazil, Mexico, the Central America region and Canada. Representatives from the dioceses of Cuba and Uruguay are also participating, Mrs. Anderson said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Gregg Easterbrook: Life Is Good, So Why Do We Feel So Bad?

The Democratic National Committee recently ran an ad blasting John McCain for saying the country is “better off” than in 2000. Yet, arguably, except as regards the Iraq war, Mr. McCain’s statement is true. In turn, Mr. McCain is blasting Barack Obama for suggesting that international tensions are not as bad as they’ve been made to seem. Yet, arguably, Mr. Obama is right.

Democratic attacks on Mr. McCain and Republican attacks on Mr. Obama both seek to punish impermissibly positive thoughts. At a time when there exists a sense of crisis over the economy, fuel prices and many other issues, this reinforces the odd, two realities of life in the United States today: The way we are, and the way we think we are. The way we are could use some work, but overall, is pretty good. The way we think we are is terrible, horrible, awful. Possibly worse.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A.

The Buffalo Bills Team statement regarding passing of Tim Russert

“The Buffalo Bills organization is devastated in hearing the news of the passing of Tim Russert. Tim, as everyone knows, was a tremendous Bills fan. He was always so proud to let people know just how much he loved our team and was such a great ambassador for Buffalo. So many times he ended his “Meet The Press” show with his patented “Go Bills!” that it became part of our Game Day morning rituals. He was a true friend and we will miss him immensely. Our sincere sympathies go out to his family and our team carries a heavy heart tonight as we mourn the loss of this great man, Buffalo’s native son and a Bills fan forever.”

Watch this NFL.com video also.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Media, Parish Ministry, Sports

The NBC Evening News pays tribute to Tim Russert

It really is worth watching it all. What was most striking is the degree to which his strong Christian faith as a Roman Catholic was evident throughout. My favorite piece is Tim’s coverage of his own father.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Media, Parish Ministry

Buffalo flags fly at half-staff as city mourns the death of Tim Russert

But nowhere was Russert’s passing felt harder or deeper than in Buffalo, where he was born May 7, 1950.

When Russert’s father, Timothy J. Russert Sr., who was immortalized in “Big Russ/Father and Son: Lesson of Life,” learned his famous broadcasting son had died, the 83-year-old retired truck driver broke down in tears. His son’s death came at an especially heartbreaking time ”” two days before Father’s Day.

He was in the Orchard Park assisted living facility, where his son had helped him to move just a week ago.

“Big Russ knows his son died. He’s crying right now,” said Joseph Passafiume, the son of Jean Passafiume, Big Russ’ companion for three decades.

Breaking the news to Big Russ were his daughter Kathryn, the last of Tim Russert’s siblings living in Western New York, and Michael Shea, a family friend.

“Kathy and Mike are with Big Russ,” Joseph Passafiume said. “Kathy’s also taking it bad. . . . My mom’s completely heartbroken.”

Mayor Byron W. Brown ordered flags on city property lowered to half-staff.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Media, Parish Ministry

Tim Russert Revitalized Washington Talk Shows

CNBC’s John Harwood said he and journalist Gerald Seib taped an appearance yesterday morning on Russert’s MSNBC talk show, and that as they left, “Jerry observed that he didn’t think Tim felt well.”

One of the last people to see Russert alive was Michael Hart, a Comcast technician from Waldorf, who struck up a friendship and said the newsman delighted in getting Washington Wizards tickets for Hart’s six children. Hart said they were laughing and joking as he set up cable service for Russert’s son in a Georgetown apartment.

As they rode down in the elevator, Hart said, “we talked about the upcoming campaign. He said, ‘Thank you for looking out for my family. Happy Father’s Day.’ He put both his hands on mine and I gave him a hug.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Media, Parish Ministry

Roman Catholic bishops aim to improve priest morale

Meeting for the first time since Pope Benedict XVI visited the U.S. and spoke of the deep shame he felt over clergy sex abuse, America’s Roman Catholic bishops Thursday began discussing how they can repair relations with priests after six years of scandal.

A small group of bishops and clerics, over a private lunch, started talks about the pain and trauma clergy have suffered since the crisis erupted in 2002. Embarrassment ran so deep that many priests stopped wearing their Roman collars in public at the height of the scandal.

Archbishop Roger Schweitz of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, said bishops are trying to learn directly from clergymen what church leaders should do to improve morale.

“I’m hoping with the priests to work out an equitable and just way to preserve the reputation of priests and also take accusations seriously,” Schweitz said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Bishop Tom Butler: It's often atheist writers who touch on some of the most profound questions

A few weeks ago I found myself on a TV Sunday morning programme where Richard Dawkins was a fellow panel member. He probably won’t thank me for saying so, but I found myself more often agreeing with his responses than with some of the wilder Christian members of the audience, not least over the casting out of supposed demons from children. I was reminded of the new King William of Orange’s answer to the person asking for the traditional sovereign’s healing on Maundy Thursday, “May God give you better health and more sense.”

But the strange fact is, that it’s often writers like Dawkins and Philip Pullman who would regard themselves as atheist who touch on some of the most profound and basic religious questions. In Dawkins’s case the necessity or otherwise of a divine creator of a wondrous and awesome universe; in Pullman’s case the tension between human free-will and social control or the interface of parallel universes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Rachel Johnson: Even middle-class children are suffering from neglect

And when did you last see your children? Before you both left at the crack for the office? When they were already in bed? Or do you only see them ”” let’s be brutally realistic here, given our divorce rate ”” at alternate weekends?

So we don’t need to ask any more who tucks them up at night, takes them to school, listens to their Homeric summaries of Harry Potter books, buys them Start-rites, takes them to the dentist, finds out they’re upset, do we?

Because it’s not you two, the parents, who gave them life. No, it’s more likely to be Agnieszka from Gdansk, who doesn’t really give a monkey’s.

All this week, the story has been that we have the least nurtured offspring in the world: as Fathers 4 Justice staged a rooftop protest on Harriet Harman’s roof, David Cameron, a father of three, told Relate that families needed support, money, tax-breaks, but above all, time; we are bottom of the UN table for raising children; and the four children’s commissioners this week reported that the UN convention on the rights of the child doesn’t seem to apply in Britain, with one in three children living in poverty, and over a million in poor housing. The dossier documented failures in all areas ”” asylum, education, learning disability, smacking ”” but even so, it didn’t say the thing I kept waiting for: that even middle-class families with aspirational graduate parents don’t spend that much time just hanging together, chillaxin’, any more.

I’m not saying that our Jessicas and Bens are swigging alcopops on street corners, in hoodies. Of course they’re not. But there is definitely evidence that the middle classes are producing their own, quasi-feral generation of children (sorry, I simply can’t type kids), only in their own, very different, handwringingly guilt-ridden, overcompensating way.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Marriage & Family

New front opens in the evolution wars

The battle over science education could soon spill into the courts in Louisiana, where looming legislation would allow teachers to bring up scientific criticisms of evolution, global warming and other hot-button topics.

The state House approved the bill Wednesday on a 94-3 vote. Because the Senate already approved a near-identical measure, supporters expect the upper chamber to pass this bill also.

A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal would not say whether he will sign the bill, saying only that he will review it when it gets to his desk.

“It’s not about a certain viewpoint,” said supporter Jason Stern, Vice President of the Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative group pushing the bill. “It’s allowing [teachers] to teach the controversy. It’s an academic freedom issue.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology