Daily Archives: March 25, 2010

NY Times: Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys

Top Vatican officials ”” including the future Pope Benedict XVI ”” did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger. It is still the office that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

USA Today–U.S. students' reading scores show little progress

In spite of high-profile efforts to improve the reading skills of the USA’s poorest schoolchildren over the past several years, their reading abilities barely improved last year compared with 2007, results of a federally administered test show.

Reading scores essentially didn’t budge in 2009, both for students overall and minority students, according to results issued Wednesday on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. Fourth-graders’ scores were unchanged at 221 points on a 500-point scale, and those of eighth-graders rose just one point, from 263 to 264.

Likewise, achievement gaps between white, African-American and Hispanic students changed only slightly since 2007, though in fourth grade, the difference between white and African-American students’ scores has tightened six points since 1992. Overall, though, average scores in both grades have risen just four points since then.

Read it all.

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

Christine Allen: Oscar Romero, a beacon of hope for the poor

A young man in El Salvador, Luis González, told me recently: “Monsignor Romero provided a means through which social protest could be expressed. If a poor person said that beans were expensive, they were killed. No one could talk. But he could say those kinds of things.

Thirty years on from his death, Romero’s life and murder is a challenge to the church and to all believers: are we prepared to actually put that power at the service of others, and to fight for justice for the world’s poor and marginalised, whatever the cost to ourselves?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --El Salvador, Central America, Church History, Other Churches, Poverty, Roman Catholic

Bishop of the Anglican Church of El Salvador victim of an assassination attempt

(ACNS) The Episcopal Church of El Salvador denounces before the general public and the international community the murder attempt that Bishop Barahona and two of his closest collaborators suffered.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, --El Salvador, Central America, Religion & Culture, Violence

AP: CatholicTV rolls out shows in 3-D to attract youth

Avatars and Mad Hatters are already performing before American audiences in 3-D, and Shrek is coming soon. Now, a national Catholic television network is throwing priests into the mix.

CatholicTV debuted 3-D programs Tuesday in an effort to reach younger people and to make the faith message more vivid. The network posted several 3-D shows on the Internet, released its monthly magazine in 3-D – complete with glasses – and said it will eventually broadcast some programs in 3-D.

CatholicTV’s director, the Rev. Robert Reed, said he’d been planning to introduce 3-D well before the success of James Cameron’s movie “Avatar” or the 3-D “Alice in Wonderland.”

“It’s a way for us to show that we believe the message we have is relevant, and we’re going to use every possible avenue to bring that message to people,” said Reed, whose network reaches 5 million to 6 million homes nationwide through various cable providers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

WSJ: Bank Launches Big Plan to Cut Mortgage Debt

Under pressure by Massachusetts prosecutors, Bank of America Corp. said Wednesday it would reduce mortgage-loan balances as much as 30% for thousands of troubled borrowers, in what could presage a wider government effort to encourage banks to offer debt reduction to ease the mortgage crisis.

The plan is one of the boldest moves yet to address the plight of millions of U.S. homeowners who are “under water,” owing more on their homes than they’re worth. It could make it easier for the Obama administration to move in a similar direction with its existing loan-modification program, although senior government officials and many bankers remain very wary of offering to cut loan balances as the main way of helping distressed borrowers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

California Anglican Church Defends Attempts To Seize Property by Episcopal Diocese

St. Paul’s Church of Visalia has chosen to fight attempts by the Episcopal Church to seize its property including the stately 60-year-old brick church complex at Hall and Main Streets.

The Rev. Richard James, pastor of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, said the Fresno law firm of Penner, Bradley and Simonian has been hired to represent the St. Paul’s congregation in court.

“This move was necessitated by legal action taken against St. Paul’s by the Episcopal Church and the Rev. Jerry Lamb Bishop of the newly formed Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. .Lamb is seeking claim to St. Paul’s property for a small group which broke away from the congregation after it voted by a large majority to remain a part of the original Diocese of the San Joaquin, said James.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Departing Parishes

LA Times–Measure to legalize marijuana will be on California's November ballot

An initiative to legalize marijuana and allow it to be sold and taxed will appear on the November ballot, state election officials announced Wednesday, triggering what will probably be a much-watched campaign that once again puts California on the forefront of the nation’s debate over whether to soften drug laws.

The number of valid signatures reported by Los Angeles County, submitted minutes before Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline, put the measure well beyond the 433,971 it needed to be certified. Supporters turned in 694,248 signatures, collecting them in every county except Alpine. County election officials estimated that 523,531 were valid.

The measure’s main advocate, Richard Lee, an Oakland marijuana entrepreneur, savored the chance to press his case with voters that the state’s decades-old ban on marijuana is a failed policy.

“We’re one step closer to ending cannabis prohibition and the unjust laws that lock people up for cannabis while alcohol is not only sold openly but advertised on television to kids every day,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, State Government

NPR–Three of the Largest Black Methodist Denominations Rallying To Help Young Black Men

[GREG] COLLARD: It’s not just a Charlotte problem. U.S. Census figures show almost two-thirds of African-American kids don’t have a biological father living at home, and that can lead to other issues. A Justice Department report found the incarceration rate for black men in 2008 was six-and-a-half times that of white men.

Mr. WARREN BROWN (Bishop): We’re not just going to visit you in prison, we’re going to try to keep you out of prison.

COLLARD: That’s Bishop Warren Brown speaking this month in Columbia, South Carolina, at what was billed The Great Gathering. Almost 7,000 people attended a meeting of the major black Methodist denominations: the AME, AME Zion and CME.

Mr. BROWN: We recognize that oftentimes we feel that we will deal with our young black men in the eighth or tenth grade. That’s too late. We’ve got to work with them out of kindergarten.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Men, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Young Adults, Youth Ministry

Cambridge Episcopal church plans move forward as tenants prepare to move

Since Oaktree Development, the co-developer of the St. James property, does not anticipate starting construction until after the 2009-2010 school year, the Kesher School will have until then to relocate to between 4,000 and 5,000 square feet of space that can accommodate up to eight classrooms and a common area.

Esterson said they have been looking at sites in Cambridge and Somerville, specifically near bus routes for student accessibility, and more importantly, a location with natural light.

“The program deserves a better space,” he said. “Church basements are cheap, but there are none left in Cambridge.”

For the last several months, Beth Rubenstein, assistant city manager for Community Development, said Oaktree and church representatives have been seeking the necessary permits and approvals to build housing and additional office and program space at the site of the former Cambridge Car Wash and the historic church property at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Beech Street.

The city’s Planning Board has approved a special permit to build. The Historical Commission has approved the project “in principle” with a number of conditions. A hearing has been scheduled for April 1.

“We are still not completely happy with the details,” said Historical Commission Executive Director Charles Sullivan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

E.J. Dionne: Three points for conservatives

Many who call themselves conservatives propose to cast aside even government programs that have stood the test of time. They seem to imagine a world in which government withers away, a phrase that comes from Friedrich Engels, not Buckley. Or they tie themselves up in unruly contradictions, declaring simultaneously that they are dead-set against government-run health care and passionate defenders of Medicare.

And while modern conservatism has usually supported the market against the state, its oldest and most durable brand understood that the market was an imperfect instrument. True conservatives may give “two cheers for capitalism,” as Irving Kristol put it in the title of one of his books, but never three.

Perhaps I have just fallen into the very trap I warned against, seeking a conservatism that corrects, but doesn’t oppose, progressivism.

But to my mind, conservatism has always made its greatest contribution as a corrective force that seeks to preserve the best of what we have. As our long and bitter health care debate winds to a close, might proponents of such a conservatism find an opening? Are they still there?

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Kathleen Parker: Bart Stupak's fall from pro-life grace

Poor Bart Stupak. The man tried to be a hero for the unborn, and then, when all the power of the moment was in his frail human hands, he dropped the baby. He genuflected when he should have dug in his heels and gave it up for a meaningless executive order.

Now, in the wake of his decision to vote for a health-care bill that expands public funding for abortion, he is vilified and will forever be remembered as the guy who Stupaked health-care reform and the pro-life movement….

Stupak, too, knew that the executive order was merely political cover for him and his pro-life colleagues. He knew it because several members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explained it to him, according to sources. The only way to prevent public funding for abortion was for his amendment to be added to the Senate bill.

Clearly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the president didn’t want that. What they did want was the abortion funding that the Senate bill allowed.

Thus, the health-care bill passed because of a mutually understood deception — a pretense masquerading as virtue. No wonder Stupak locked his doors and turned off his phones on Sunday, according to several pro-life lobbyists who camped outside his office.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate

(London) Times: Israel cannot afford to risk international isolation

In diplomacy, no news is usually bad news. On Tuesday Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, met President Obama in talks that stretched over a period of three and a half hours. But Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu failed to pose for a single photograph afterwards, or provide even a cursory joint statement. What had made it impossible for the two men to present even a mask of optimism and agreement? The silence fuelled suspicions that relations between Israel and its closest ally are at their lowest ebb for decades.

The cause of the impasse is the Israeli settlements in Arab east Jerusalem. Mr Netanyahu’s position has been that the settlements are nonnegotiable, setting Israel on a collision course with Mr Obama. Israel’s timing could scarcely be worse. In January, Israel sparked a row with Turkey over a diplomatic snub. And this week Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat in the belief that Mossad had forged British passports to effect an assassination in Dubai. So Israel has snubbed the world’s most powerful nation, alienated its closest Muslim ally and infuriated Britain. After three own goals in quick succession, how many more simultaneous problems can Israel handle?

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East

A Prayer for the Feast of the Annunciation

We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that we who have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 131

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture