Sunday, October 31, 2010

...and on the seventh day (t)He(y) rested

Rosary Prayers For October

This short invocation to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, is an appropriate prayer for the Month of the Holy Rosary, as well as for reciting at the end of the rosary.

To Our Lady of the Rosary

In this prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary, we ask the Virgin Mary to help us to cultivate a habit of interior prayer through the daily recitation of the rosary. 

This is the object of all of our prayers: to arrive at the point where we can "pray without ceasing," as Saint Paul tells us to do.

To the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

This theologically rich prayer to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, calls to mind our Blessed Mother's protection of the Church - as, for example, at the Battle of Lepanto (October 7, 1571), when the Christian fleet defeated the Ottoman Muslims through the intercession of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.

For the Crusade of the Family Rosary

This prayer for the Crusade of the Family Rosary was written by Francis Cardinal Spellman, the cardinal archbishop of the archdiocese of New York in the mid-20th century. 

The Family Rosary Crusade was originally an organization, founded by Fr. Patrick Peyton, dedicated to convincing families to recite the rosary together daily.

Today, we can pray this prayer to spread the practice of the daily recitation of the rosary.

In that vein, it is especially appropriate to add this prayer to our daily prayers for the Month of the Holy Rosary.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rosary Prayers For October

This short invocation to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, is an appropriate prayer for the Month of the Holy Rosary, as well as for reciting at the end of the rosary.

To Our Lady of the Rosary

In this prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary, we ask the Virgin Mary to help us to cultivate a habit of interior prayer through the daily recitation of the rosary. 

This is the object of all of our prayers: to arrive at the point where we can "pray without ceasing," as Saint Paul tells us to do.

To the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

This theologically rich prayer to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, calls to mind our Blessed Mother's protection of the Church - as, for example, at the Battle of Lepanto (October 7, 1571), when the Christian fleet defeated the Ottoman Muslims through the intercession of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.

For the Crusade of the Family Rosary

This prayer for the Crusade of the Family Rosary was written by Francis Cardinal Spellman, the cardinal archbishop of the archdiocese of New York in the mid-20th century. 

The Family Rosary Crusade was originally an organization, founded by Fr. Patrick Peyton, dedicated to convincing families to recite the rosary together daily.

Today, we can pray this prayer to spread the practice of the daily recitation of the rosary.

In that vein, it is especially appropriate to add this prayer to our daily prayers for the Month of the Holy Rosary.

Diocese launches revamped website

Bishop Seamus Freeman of Ossory launched a revamped version of his diocese’s website yesterday.

The website has been re-developed over a period of months by a design team from, which specialises in creating and managing online sites for parishes, dioceses and other religious organisations.  

The diocese said that the website,, opened up new possibilities for carrying out its mission and it was “apt that we use every means at our disposal in getting the message of God's salvation to all and sundry.”

It noted that the “recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful pastoral ministry.”  

The diocese said the revamped website would offer a “unique, user friendly, interactive website which will cater for the needs of all visitors.”

These included visitors looking for Mass times in a particular church, parishioners seeking the address of a priest, parents hunting for information on a particular school, minsters of the Word preparing the text of readings for the following Sunday or casual surfers searching for information on the Church in the diocese.

“ provides an easily accessible place for diocesan users and guests to find accurate and dependable information on the Church in general and the diocese of Ossory in particular.  Visitors will appreciate the site's ability to provide accurate directions and maps to all of the churches in the diocese - a very useful feature for people attending weddings or funerals in unfamiliar areas.”

The diocese plans that the site will, in due course, also host parish bulletins and include a feature that will allow people to subscribe to their own parish and have the weekly bulletin emailed directly to them.

The diocese praised the design work on the website undertaken by, which it described as “a comprehensive web design, development and support company specialising in church web presence for dioceses, religious orders and parishes throughout Ireland. Through close collaboration with members of the diocesan staff, they have designed and presented this new and comprehensive web presence for the diocese of Ossory.”

Bishop Freeman said the redesigned site would enable the diocese and its people to be “ever more effective in promoting Gospel values by putting modern technology ever more effectively at the service of God's Word."

Meanwhile, the bishop also launched the Ossory diocese programme for the forthcoming Eucharistic Congress at a function in St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny. is part of the Church Support Group that specialises in the provision of a range of innovative digital services to parishes, religious congregations and dioceses across Ireland.  

Today, this portfolio includes, delivering live, high-quality broadcasting of church services - the first in Ireland to do this and now available with a set-up box that has revolutionised the availability of this service; ChurchResources, ie, a buying programme that aggregates the buying power of the church in Ireland to minimise costs for parishes, schools and others around the country. is a part of the family of Church Support Group.


Supporters of in vitro fertilization protest Polish church campaign against the procedure

About 70 Poles have rallied outside a Roman Catholic bishop's residence in Warsaw in opposition to the church's campaign against in vitro fertilization.

A liberal politician who organized the rally on Thursday, Janusz Palikot, nailed a copy of Poland's constitution to a wooden cross to emphasize his view that the church is violating the separation of church and state.

One protester held a sign that read, "Poland is not Iran" while other demonstraters chanted, "The constitution, and not the Bible!"

The protesters are angry that the church is trying to persuade lawmakers to vote against a government plan to offer state funding for the medical procedure.

IVF is a highly contested issue in the traditionally Catholic country.


Banking crisis: Archbishop Nichols calls for rediscovery of virtue

Delivering the 2010 Provost Derek Hole Annual Public Lecture at the University of Leicester, the Very Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster has examined the banking crisis, the present Government's austerity measures and reflected on the challenges of life in our society in the coming months and years. 

The Archbishop's lecture 'Living the virtues in a time of austerity' also explored the relationship between reason and faith in the elaboration of society's values and ethics, with particular reference to the Address given by Pope Benedict XVI in Westminster Hall on Friday 17 September.

Archbishop Nichols said that simply seeking to impose new rules on the economy and society would not be sufficient to create a just society and called for a re-discovery of virtue saying: "The virtues are not about what one is allowed to do but who one is formed to be. They strengthen us to become moral agents, the source of our own actions. The classical virtues form us as people who are prudent, just, temperate and courageous. To them is added, in the Christian lexicon and life, the theological virtues, those of faith, hope and charity by which we see that our human growth is, in fact, rooted in the gifts of God and, actually, forms us for our ultimate happiness: friendship with God."

Archbishop Nichols continued: "I would like to suggest that an important part of our recovery as a society will be achieved through the practice of these virtues. Then we will build the trust which lies at the heart of human relationships, whether in the family or the neighbourhood. This is the pathway down which institutions also have to travel, in order to restore trust. I don't doubt that this is what the vast majority of ordinary British people instinctively want. They want to belong to a world in which people care for one another. They are alienated by a selfish society. At a profound level they care more for quality of life than for the value of property. Yet the structures and values built into the way society works often frustrate that deeper and better instinct. We need to find ways of releasing this instinctive generosity, often seen in times of extreme emergency but less so routinely.'

To read the full text of the lecture see: 


Diocesan Clerical Changes 2010 - Ossory

Bishop Freeman has recently announced the changes to diocesan appointments.  All changes are effective from the 29th October 2010.

The full list of appointments is:
  • Very Rev. Dean Seamus McEvoy P.E., Rathdowney, Co. Laois.
  • Rev. Patrick Carey, Chaplain, St. Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny.
  • Rev. Lorcan Moran, C.C., Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny.
  • Very Rev. Richard Scriven, P.P., Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny.
  • Rev. Sean O’ Connor, Team Member, St. John’s, Kilkenny.
  • Rev Dr. Dermot Ryan, Chaplain, St. Kieran’s College and Diocesan Director of Adult Faith Development.
  • Very Rev. Eamonn O’ Gorman, P.P., Seir Kieran, Co. Offaly.
  • Very Rev. Peter Muldowney, P.P., Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny.
  • Rev. William Purcell, full time Diocesan Director of Vocations with residence in St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny.

Church sex abuse victims to gather near Vatican, demand crime against humanity designation

People who were raped and molested by priests are gathering in Rome this weekend to launch a petition demanding the United Nations designate systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity.

Organizers said the Sunday gathering would mark the first time that abuse survivors from around the world will gather for a day of healing and to demand greater accountability from the Vatican. 

A few hundred people from a dozen countries are expected.

Organizers had hoped to stage the demonstration in St. Peter's Square, but said they had to move it a few hundred meters (yards) away because the Holy See declined to give them access.

Organizer Gary Bergeron, abused as an altar boy by a Boston-area priest, said Friday the issue needs to be treated as a global one.

"If it can happen in an institution like the Catholic Church, it can happen anywhere," he told reporters at the Foreign Press Association. 

"If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone."

Bergeron and co-organizer Bernie McDaid, also abused by a Boston-area priest starting in the sixth grade, were two of the more prominent survivors of clerical abuse to emerge after the sex abuse scandal erupted in Boston in 2002.

In 2003 they met with the Vatican No. 2 in Rome and five years later McDaid became the first victim to meet with Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff's trip to the United States.

Eight years after the U.S. scandal erupted, however, they said the Vatican hasn't taken sufficient responsibility, hasn't reached out to victims or put in place universal prevention programs.

"We always realized this was a huge issue. We were ahead of the curve," Bergeron said. "The world wasn't ready to listen."

Now, however, they said they wanted to start an awareness campaign since the world has been sensitized to the problem following revelations this year of thousands of victims in Europe and beyond, the bishops who covered up for pedophile priests and Vatican officials who turned a blind eye for decades.

"If this were any other corporation, heads would have rolled and been fired immediately," McDaid said. "This is totally unacceptable to me and a lot of others."

The pope has admitted the church failed to take sufficient measures to stop the abuse and has apologized to victims during several foreign trips. 

He has insisted victims were the church's top priority, although the Holy See itself hasn't initiated any widescale outreach programs.

Some 60-80 deaf victims from Verona are expected to attend, spokesman Marco Lodi Rizzini told The Associated Press.

The Verona victims have emerged as one of the more horrific examples of abuse to come to light in Italy; dozens have reported that they suffered rape and molestation by priests while students at an institute for the deaf in the 1960s and 1970s.

In addition, victims from Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere are expected to attend, Rizzini said.

Organizers plan to launch a petition asking the United Nations to designate "systematic" sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity. 

Under Article 7 of the U.N. treaty establishing the U.N. International Criminal Court, a crime against humanity is defined as an act committed as part of a "widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population."

The statute lists murder, enslavement, torture as well as "rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution ... or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity."

"I'm not here to change the world. I'm here to make sure my son isn't abused," said Bergeron, whose father was abused by a priest when he was a child as well.


Cardinal-designate Burke speaks about obligation to vote for truth

Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke stressed to Catholic voters in a recent interview that they have a “very serious” obligation to uphold the truth of “moral law” in the upcoming mid-term elections. 

He specifically cited protecting unborn children from abortion and defending traditional marriage.

The American Vatican official, who was recently named by the Holy Father as a future cardinal, spoke on Oct. 20 to Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, just hours after the Pope’s announcement. 

Cardinal-designate Burke opened his remarks by saying that “as a bishop it’s my obligation, in fact, to urge the faithful to carry out their civic duty in accord with their Catholic Faith.” 

Clarifying that he does not endorse particular candidates, the prelate also spoke of his duty to relay “principles” to the faithful to help inform their vote.

Speaking on the contentious topic of abortion in the upcoming mid-terms, Cardinal-designate Burke said one “can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion.”

“You may in some circumstances where you don’t have any candidate who is proposing to eliminate all abortion, choose the candidate who will most limit this grave evil in our country,” he explained, “but you could never justify voting for a candidate who not only does not want to limit abortion but believes that it should be available to everyone.”

The Vatican prelate also addressed the issue of same-sex “marriage,” asserting that maintaining the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman is not unjust discrimination.

“Where there is unjust discrimination –for instance, where you say that a fellow human being, because of the color of his skin, is not a part of the same race as someone, say, who is a Caucasian, that is a kind of discrimination which is unjust and immoral,” he said.

However, he added, “there is a discrimination which is perfectly just and good, and that is the discrimination between what is right and what is wrong.”

“Between what is according to our human nature and what is contrary to our human nature. So the Catholic Church, in teaching that sexual acts between persons of the same sex are intrinsically evil, are against nature itself, is simply announcing the truth, helping people to discriminate right from wrong in terms of their own activities.”

In his interview, Cardinal-designate Burke also urged Catholic politicians who have caused “scandal” by endorsing positions contrary to moral law to repent through a “genuine reform of heart.”

“That’s done through the Sacrament of Penance,” he said, adding that political figures must publicly “renounce” their errors, recognizing and recanting the “evil” they have promoted.

Cardinal-designate Burke's remarks on voting can be viewed at:


Holy Land Church official finds no ‘anti-Zionist’ bias at synod

Many Christians in the Middle East harbor “anti-Zionist” resentments, but those resentments are rooted political injustices and not theology, according to a top Church official in the Holy Land. 

Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa said the tensions were reflected in the recent Synod for Bishops on the Middle East, but he rejected charges that the synod was biased against Israel.

"I don't think the Synod Fathers were taken hostage by anyone," he told the Italian newspaper Il Foglio Oct. 27. 
Father Pizzaballa is the Vatican-appointed custodian of the ancient Christian holy sites in Israel and Palestine. 

In an interview with the paper’s Vatican analyst Paolo Rodari, he responded to charges made by Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon.

Ayalon charged that the synod had become an "important forum for political attacks" and was "taken hostage by an anti-Israeli majority."

"That the Arab world might have little sympathy for Israel is evident," Father Pizzaballa said, noting that 90 percent of Christians in the Middle East are of Arab origins. He called it a "normal thing" that this sentiment might surface "in some way" during the synod’s discussions.

But the synod's final message also included condemnations of  anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism and a reminder that Christians must study both the New and the Old Testaments, he said.

It is "not a given," that the synod fathers of the Middle Eastern world would write these words, he said.

Father Pizzaballa also pointed out that the synod’s final message condemned all forms of racism and “Islamaphobia,” and called Jews, Muslims and Christians to greater commitment to dialogue.

While individual bishops might express their opinions on these issues, only the final message of the synod reflects the official position of the assembled Church leaders, he stressed.

The synod’s message, Father Pizzaballa said, is “not the voice of the Vatican nor the Church.” 

It is rather "simply the voice of the synod fathers."

The synod’s final message offered little new with respect to Israel, he added. The gathering of bishops condemned Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine and any use of God's name to justify violence. These are positions "already expressed in the past” by Church leaders, he noted.

Accusations that the synod fathers harbor an “anti-Zionist” bias are misguided. Zionism, the belief that Israel has the right to a homeland in the territory promised to the Jews in the Bible, is a “Western category,” Father Pizzaballa said. “It is a way with which the West tries to describe a situation."

"That a certain anti-Zionism might be present also among Christians in the Middle East is evident,” he said. “But this anti-Zionism, if it exists, it does not have theological foundations. 
It is more than anything a sentiment motivated by the Israeli-Palistinian conflict. It is a reaction to a dramatic situation and in which immediate solutions are not seen"

The issue of anti-Zionism surfaced after remarks by Melkite Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros of Newton, Mass. in the concluding press conference of the synod, Oct. 23. 

Archbishop Bustros said the biblical ideas of the “chosen people” and the “promised land” could not be used to justify “the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of Palestinians." He added, "Sacred Scripture should not be used to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestine.”

Father Pizzaballa said the controversy reinforces the need for greater dialogue between Jews and Catholics and deeper study of the ways Scripture is interpreted in each tradition. 

Christians, he said, “are accustomed to making a spiritual and allegorical reading of the Scriptures and our reading does not always fit together with that of the Jews." 


Islamic Fundamentalist Mass Media Targets Egyptian Coptic Church

The majority of Coptic Christians and liberal Muslims in Egypt believe that Fundamentalist sheikhs and their mass media have played a vital role in the latest wave of incitement against the Coptic Church, orchestrated by Egyptian State Security.

The Salafi (one who follows the ways of the first Muslims) television channels, airing their programs from Egypt, supported by their affiliated fundamentalist journalists and mosque imams, have engaged in a coordinated smear campaign against the Coptic Church and its Pope, designed to terrorize the Copts.

Newspapers and TV channels in Arab countries gave a wide platform for Islamists to join in the campaign. 

It was on Al-Jezeerah TV Channel on September 15 that the Islamist and ex-secretary general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, Dr. Selim Al-Awah, accused the Pope of running "a State within the Egyptian State" and the church of having its own militia and of hiding weapons and ammunition obtained from Israel in monasteries and churches, preparing for a war "against the Muslims," to divide Egypt and establish a so-called Coptic State.

Al-Awah also accused the church of abducting and torturing Christian converts to Islam in monasteries, to brainwash them back to Christianity. He warned that if the status of the Church remains as such, the "country will burn" and called on Muslims to go out in demonstrations as the "only answer left to counteract the strength of the Church."

Pope Shenouda expressed his concern about the smear campaign, he said in interviews with Egyptian state-owned channels end September "it is easy to incite the naive simple citizen, but the effects of these incitements are quite serious." He blamed the media and the instigators, who have an effect on the masses, causing hatred between Muslims and Christians and between the Church and the State.

Salafi Sheikh Wagdy Ghoneim openly attacked the Pope, alleging the presence of weapons in monasteries and the Copts for fighting against the application of Sharia law in Egypt, calling on them to leave if they do not like it. He also attacked the Copts in the diaspora for siding with the Jews in the flotilla incident and for believing that should anything happen, the United States will come to save the Copts. He said "I swear by God, you will not have time stay alive until America and the West arrive, this is for your own good, if you understand. Do you think the Muslims inside Egypt will say thank you and may Allah give you health? No, by God."

Coptic political analyst Magdi Khalil said "No one cannot deny the effect of the Salafi mass media as they have a wide audience amounting to millions." He blamed them for fabricating events to incite Muslims against the Coptic Church. "They fabricated the alleged conversion to Islam of the priest's wife Camilia Shehata, which, despite her denial of ever wanting to convert to Islam and Al-Azhar's negation that she ever went there, still draws demonstrations in front of mosques every Friday." 

The last demonstrations took place in Cairo and Alexandria simultaneously on Friday October 22, calling for Camilia's freedom from the prisons of the Church as well as other "Muslim sisters," calling for the boycott of Coptic businesses and insulting the Pope. The next and eleventh of these weekly demonstrations is scheduled for Friday October 28.

Joining in the campaign against the church from London, is sheikh Haney el-Sebay, a convicted terrorist who sought political asylum in the UK and who runs the Almaqreze Center for Historical Studies there. He threatened the Copts in his speech and talked about the Coptic militias and the priest's wife Camilia Shehata. He added that Mubarak must have become a Christian as he acts against Muslim interests.

On October 19, Egypt's main satellite operator Nilesat temporarily suspended 12 Islamic channels, and warned 20 others, on grounds of violating their licenses. The reasons given were mainly for promoting religious hatred, inciting sectarianism, violence, quack medicine and sorcery. "This decision was taken after extensive study that indicated a near doubling of these channels over the past year and a recent spike of extremist religious discourse," information minister Anas Al-Feki said in a statement. Before these measures were taken, there were 94 Islamic private television channels airing from Arab countries.

Nine of the twelve suspended channels were funded by Saudi Arabia. "There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia is playing a destructive and ruinous role in Egypt," commented Magdi Khalil.

Analysts said that the suspension decision seemed to be mainly aimed at stopping the spread of strict Islamic Salafi/Wahabbi teaching that might boost support for the Muslim Brotherhood, prompted by the forthcoming crucial parliamentary elections in November.

Several angry Islamists came out attacking the government over this decision, and exposing the complicity of State Security with the satellite operators.

Sheikh Safwat Hegazi, a preacher in El-Nass, one of the suspended salafi TV channels and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told State Security that if the channel is not opened soon, they will air from outside Egypt. 
He added, "then Egyptian security will not have any control over us or be able to guide us." He pointed out that in the coming period the suspended channels will re-open and will be owned by the sheikh.

Mamdouh Ismail, a lawyer for Islamist groups, said that the closure of the religious satellite channels was a gift to the church to ensure its support in the elections. He said that Security imposes on the preachers conditions in case they appear on the satellite channels, such as not to criticize the policy of the state, otherwise they could face expulsion from the channel.

Khalil disagrees that anything was done for the sake of the church, "When they were attacking the Copts, no one moved. However, when some of the channels became a political threat and crossed the red line drawn by State Security, which is not to attack the government, they were suspended." 

He added that some of the sheikhs in the suspended channels started calling on Muslims not to vote for Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party "as they hand over your Muslim sisters to the church".

According to Khalil extremist on these channels have been calling for years for the murder of Copts, issued fatwas for the permissibility of Muslims purloining Coptic property and money, accusing them of treason and being agents of foreign powers, and of being unbelievers and idolaters, ridiculing their Holy Books and their beliefs, calling for their Islamization either peacefully, by deception or by humiliation, inciting the State against them, calling for the torching of their churches and inciting against their women.

It was reported that one of the most fundamentalist of the suspended TV channels, "Al-Hekma," owned by Sheikh Mohamad Hassan, will appear soon on Lebanese-owned "Nour Sat" after changing its name to "El Rodah."

Commenting on the ongoing smear campaign and demonstrations against the Church, Coptic activist Mark Ebeid said "These allegations are extremely serious. They run on the same lines used by the Ottoman Empire as an excuse for the 1915-1923 Armenian and Assyrian Genocide.


Cardinal Bertone pays tribute to Pope’s theology of the liturgy

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone paid tribute to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s theology of the liturgy at the October 27 release of the Italian translation of first volume of the future Pope’s collected works. 

The first volume gathers together Cardinal Ratzinger’s writings on the liturgy from 1964 to 2004.

Referring to Pope Benedict’s 2005 address to the Roman Curia, Cardinal Bertone said that Cardinal Ratzinger’s theology of the liturgy manifests a correct interpretation of the Second Vatican Council: not a “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture,” but a “hermeneutic of reform,’ of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us.”

Cardinal Bertone also lauded the Pontiff’s “lifetime of research,” “a commitment that has produced over 100 books and more than 600 articles.”

“This body of texts,” he added, “attests not only the work of a scholar, but also sheds light on the commendable generosity with which Professor Joseph Ratzinger wanted to share the fruits of his research with a very large and diverse audience.”


Spanish Humor Magazine 'Kidnapped' by Printer for Anti-Pope Content

Another day, another religiously persecuted comic. Following last week's outcry over the Islam-inspired superhero cartoon "The 99" and numerous incidents of violence against cartoonists critical of Muslim extremists, a Spanish magazine has been (perhaps unlawfully) shelved by its printer for its unfavorable comment about a state visit by the Pope Benedict XVI. 

The publisher of humor magazine Retranca wrote that the new issue, which was timed to coincide with the Pope's visit to Galicia, has indeed been "kidnapped" by the printing company, Murcia Jimenez Godoy.

The Retranca cover depicts the Pontiff in a shower of money, with a headline referencing the cost of his visit, which is three million Euros. 

According to The Comics Reporter, the caption says something along the lines "he's not bringing the usual loaves and fishes or the miracle of the host but making it rain dollars," which seems a rather valid point, and one that American pundits often make in reference to the cost of moving and protecting the President and his family around the globe.

Spanish news site says Murcia Jimenez Godoy is run by Catholics and quotes a staffer as saying this issue of Retranca contains "dishonest and disproportionate" attacks on the Pope and the church and that they do not wish to be involved with a publication that "attacks the pope in a scandalous manner." 
Additionally, the company contends that because they do not have a formal contract with the publishers of Retranca, they are not obliged to turn over the material, which we gather has actually been printed.

As Tom Spurgeon points out, the damage is only exacerbated by the Streisand Effect, with more people all over the world now seeing the "offensive" image than would have if the printer had simply delivered the issue without a fuss.


Science is neither a panacea, nor to be feared, says pope

Science is never to be feared, yet its discoveries will never be enough to answer all of the world's questions, Pope Benedict XVI told scientists and researchers meeting at the Vatican.

"Scientists do not create the world; they learn about it and attempt to imitate it, following the laws and intelligibility that nature manifests to us," he said in an address to members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Oct. 28.

The fact that there is a constant, a law or logic that exists outside of human control "leads us to admit the existence of an all-powerful reason, which is other than that of man, and which sustains the world," he said.

Meeting for a plenary assembly Oct. 28-Nov. 1, academy members were discussing "The Scientific Legacy of the 20th Century."

The pope said that over the last century, many people developed one of two extreme views of what science was all about.

On the one hand, the development and use of nuclear weapons and other disturbing advancements caused some people to fear science and distance themselves from it, he said.

On the other hand, science's many groundbreaking and life-changing discoveries led some people to think science was a "panacea" and that science might be able to "answer all of the questions of man's existence, and even of his aspirations," he said.

Science represents neither of these extremes; it is "a patient, yet passionate search for the truth about the cosmos, about nature and about the constitution of the human being," Pope Benedict said.

The church greatly esteems and encourages science, and the pope praised the way many scientists appreciate the role philosophy plays in enriching their work.

Science can benefit from recognizing the human person's spiritual dimension and the human "quest for ultimate answers" about the world and the meaning of life, he said.

Pope Benedict urged scientists to take on a more "interdisciplinary approach tied with philosophical reflection" and asked that scientific achievements be used to help solve "the great problems of humanity," promote the true good, and foster integral development around the world.

The science academy also hosted a working group Oct. 27-28 on the latest research looking at "Human Neuroplasticity and Education."

Participants discussed how education and the unique capacities of the human brain have expanded the cognitive potential of human beings.

Stanislas Dehaene, a French expert in cognitive neuroscience, said that the human brain wants to make sense of what it sees and to constantly seek out hidden patterns and rules that govern behavior.

While scientists don't yet know how the brain is able to "extract" these hidden rules, he said the special ability has enabled humans to make huge achievements in culture and science.

Humans have "exploited the cognitive niche -- getting better knowledge of the world," he said. Animals have good spatial knowledge, but they are not able to integrate lots of different data in a special way.

Dehaene said such cognitive abilities were an important tool for human survival because someone who could better understand and interpret animal behavior, for example, would be a much more successful hunter, and discovering the cycle of the seasons and how plants grow and make food means humans were able to "develop a much better feeding system."

Wolf Singer, director of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany, said there are critical windows of opportunity for mastering certain language and motor skills that are open only during the first two decades of life.

Up until 20 or 25 years of age, the human brain is creating and removing neurological connections that allow for all sorts of unique skills, like riding a bicycle or playing a musical instrument, he said.

When the window closes after 20 or 25 years of age, the brain stops developing and no new pathways can be created, only existing connections can be made more efficient, he said, so "you have to get it right" early in life.

For that reason, parents and teachers are enormously important in transmitting a whole host of skills and knowledge to future generations, Singer said.

"If we had no educational system, our children would behave like cave dwelling Stone Age people" because sophisticated human behaviors and abilities are the result of "intentional instruction," he said.

Teachers should be paid well and they along with parents who do a good job teaching children "should have the highest social prestige of all the professional groups, not the bankers," he said.

"There is nothing more important than educating children," he said.

Learning is still possible as an older adult, he said, but age will affect how well the skill is mastered.

"You won't see a great pianist who started at age 30, for example," he said.

Adults also learn differently from children, so while children can learn the whole structure of a language "intuitively," an adult "needs to do it consciously" by focusing on language's rational aspects like grammar rules and vocabulary lists, Singer said.


Former prison chaplain to be next Kirk Moderator

A former chaplain to one of the toughest prisons in Scotland has been nominated as next Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The Rev David Arnott, who was chaplain at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow was named by the Committee to Nominate the Moderator as Moderator-Designate. Mr Arnott will preside over the 2011 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

A regular presenter on BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day for more than 35 years, he has also contributed to Radio 4’s Prayer for the Day, Scottish Television and Grampian Television.
David Arnott was born in Dunfermline, Fife, and after a scholarship year at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, he was taught at the University of St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh, graduating in MA French and Spanish and a Bachelor of Divinity (Honours) New Testament.

Mr Arnott and his wife Rosemary have three grown-up children and six grandchildren.

Following a probationary placement at St Ninian’s Parish Church in Greenock in 1971, the Moderator-elect was ordained to Stobhill Parish Church in Gorebridge. 

The congregation had recently endured trying times before he confidently led into a triple union in 1975 in the renamed Gorebridge Parish Church.

Two years later he was called to Netherlee Parish Church in Glasgow. During his time there he encouraged the wider mission of the congregation by strengthening its ties to St Andrews Church in Colombo and the wider community in Sri Lanka, making new links with a local UPA (Urban Priority Area) congregation and establishing firm relationships with a church and school and its wider community in Transylvania. The links he forged still remain strong today.

During his time preaching in Glasgow, he spent two years as a part-time chaplain at Barlinnie as well as serving on many committees in Glasgow Presbytery and was Convenor of its Business Committee, during which time he directed the restructuring of its committee system.

In 1996 he was inducted to his last charge at St Andrews: Hope Park which was linked to Strathkinness Church in October 2005. While there he served as a local hospital chaplain and chaplain to two primary schools. 

He also served as an honorary Church of Scotland chaplain at the University of St Andrews. 

During his time in St Andrews he was Convenor of both the Ministry Committee and the Superintendence Committee and was Moderator of the Presbytery in 2007.

Throughout his church career Mr Arnott has served on various Church of Scotland boards and committees both at presbytery and national level. He has been Convenor of the Education for the Board of Ministry. 

Having been assessor at the then Selection Schools, he was invited to join a small working party which remodelled the selection process for applicants to ministry. From 2006 to 2009 he was Senior Director of the Kirk’s new Assessment Conferences.

Whilst on the then Board of Practice and Procedure he was invited to convene a commission for the General Assembly examining the future of the Presbyteries of Europe and Jerusalem. 

He was also the Convenor of the General Assembly’s Arrangements Committee and also the General Assembly’s Business Committee. For several years he asked to address an annual conference for Church of Scotland candidates on preaching and other subjects.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is chaired by the Moderator, who leads daily worship, keeps order, rules on points of order and signs documents on behalf of the General Assembly.

The role is an honorary one and is held for 12 months. During the Moderatorial year the post-holder generally travels as Church representative in Scotland, Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom, as well as travelling overseas in an ambassadorial capacity.

Moderators carry out a series of visits to several Church of Scotland Presbyteries as well as international tours.

SIC: Ekklesia/UK

JFK's rosary beads kept in New Ross

The rosary beads that was in the late President John F Kennedy's pocket when he was shot in Dallas, Texas, in 1963 were given to his Irish relatives in County Wexford by his wife Jackie it has been confirmed.  

The extraordinary gesture was revealed in RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy's new documentary on JFK, indicating the importance of his Wexford ancestral home to the American President.

President Kennedy of course visited the Kennedy homestead in Dunganstown near New Ross on his June 1963 state visit after two earlier low-profile trips to Ireland. 

According to Ryan Tubridy, the presence of JFK's rosary beads in the house where his great grandfather Patrick Kennedy was born reflected his deep attachment to Ireland. 

He said that, “To this day in the house which is run by Patrick Grennan, they have this extraordinary memento.” 

Jacqueline felt they belonged to the Presidents ancestral home in Ireland.  

President Kennedy was the first, and to this day, the only Catholic President of the United States. 

Interestingly his late brother Robert who was assassinated in Los Angeles in June 1968 also died with a rosary beads in his hands.


Bankrupt Crystal Cathedral believes woes won't last long

Nearly a week after filing for bankruptcy, the founder of the Crystal Cathedral took the pulpit on Sunday assuring the congregation that tough times never last.

"Tough people do," said the Rev Robert H Schuller, as reported by The Orange County Register.

The 84-year-old pastor and his daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, told the thousands of attendees inside the all-glass church in Southern California that their current debt is close to $50 million, the bulk of it being their mortgage to the campus.

But what triggered the bankruptcy, Coleman said, was the $7 million debt to vendors whose services they employed during the 2009 "Glory of Christmas" production. 

Some of the vendors include PNCEF LLC equipment finance company, Promotional Media Inc, and Lloyd Daniel Corp.

In a video message to supporters on Saturday, Coleman, the megachurch's senior pastor, said filing for bankruptcy was one of the most difficult things she has had to do in her entire life.

"It was actually heartbreaking to be very honest and open with all of you," she said.

"Yet dad has taught me and raised me to believe that every challenge, every setback is an opportunity," she said, reflecting the positive thinking she inherited from her father.

"We are positive. We do believe that God is here with us and we're relying on Him," added Coleman, who became senior pastor after her brother, Robert A Schuller, resigned in 2008. "I do believe with all my heart that God will have the last word and it will be good."

Though Coleman placed much of the blame for the debt on the downturn in the economy and the subsequent drop in donations, reports reveal that the Garden Grove, California, church was amassing debt much earlier.

The addition of a welcoming centre in 2003, along with refurbishments on campus, was made as donations were falling through and the audience for its "Hour of Power" broadcast was shrinking.

Evangelical theologian Dr Albert Mohler believes the problem, however, is not money. Rather, it is the church's theology. The founder built his church preaching messages focused on "positive thinking". His messages were meant to inspire and uplift people, rather than teach or convert them.

His only son, Robert A Schuller, inherited the same theology. He told The Christian Post in a 2007 interview that his calling was to encourage, uplift and inspire people. 

Though his calling was the same as his father's, he had different plans for the television programme as he wanted to adapt to the changes in media. He also wanted an autonomous board without family members, according to the local Register.

He took the helm of the church in 2006 only to resign two years later after disagreements with his father over the direction of "Hour of Power" and the church.

The younger Schuller recently explained on the "100 Huntley Street" television programme about what went down at the cathedral in the months leading to his resignation.

In July 2008, the board, with his father's direction, decided to make his brother-in-law his boss. Then in September, his boss said his sermons were "not anointed" and were not good enough for the "Hour of Power".

"By October, they said they had to have other preachers in the pulpit on Sunday morning. So I was allowed to preach any time other than Sunday morning. So with that, I resigned," the younger Schuller recounted.

That ordeal impacted his relationship with his father.

"We didn't talk for a long time," he said. But the two have resolved things and they are doing very well now, he added.

Currently, the younger Schuller is running his own media company called ComStar Media Fund. He has so far acquired two television networks and a radio station that distribute family-values programming.

His son, Robert V Schuller, has also left the Crystal Cathedral and started his own church in Orange County called The Gathering.

Meanwhile, Coleman acknowledged that "the whole world is watching Crystal Cathedral" and she sees it as an opportunity to show "that God is a big, mighty, provisional God".

"We know this is just a chapter," she said.


Peace is possible in the Middle East, says Pope

A special two-week assembly of Middle East bishops concluded on Sunday with a list of 44 propositions and a call by Pope Benedict XVI for individuals, groups and nations to work together for peace.

“Conflicts, wars, violence and terrorism have gone on for too long in the Middle East,” said the pontiff in his homily Sunday.

“Peace, which is a gift of God, is also the result of the efforts of men of goodwill, of the national and international institutions, in particular of the states most involved in the search for a solution to conflicts.

“We must never resign ourselves to the absence of peace,” Benedict added.

For two weeks, 172 bishops gathered in Vatican City for the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Churches of the Middle East.

The bishops were joined by 14 Roman Curia officials, 30 academic experts, and 14 non-Catholic Christians, including Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee and the Rt. Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

Together, the delegates discussed the future of Christian communities in the Middle East and agreed upon 44 propositions, including the creation of an office or commission entrusted with the study of migration and of the factors behind it so as to find ways of stopping it; greater use of the Arabic language in major Catholic institutions and meetings so that Christians of Arab culture have access to information in their mother tongue; and the renewal of ecumenical commitment between churches through practical initiatives.

Also among the propositions was the diffusion of the social doctrine of the Church, which the bishops noted as oftentimes lacking despite being “an integral part of faith formation;” pursuit of dialogue with followers of other religions to bring hearts and minds closer together; and a follow-up synod.

“The Churches which have taken part in the Synod are called upon to make sure that it is properly followed up by working together with the Council of the Catholic Patriarchs of the Middle East and the official structures of the relevant Churches, with a greater involvement of priests and lay and religious experts,” the bishops concluded.

The October 10-24 gathering was organised as Christians in the Middle East face increasingly difficult challenges wrought by the escalating conflicts and the rise of radical Islam.

Although they are the largest native non-Muslim religious group in Arab Middle East, Christians in the region are rapidly declining in number and influence due to a variety of reasons including lower birth rates among Christians compared to Muslims, persecution, poor socioeconomic prospect, and political instability.

In Iraq, for example, ongoing persecution has forced hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians to flee the country. 

The UN High Commission for Refugees estimated last year that since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, up to 500,000 Christians had left the country. That translates to about half the Christian population leaving within the short time span of six years.

Meanwhile, throughout the Middle East, the faithful today account for only around six percent of the estimated 356 million people who live in the Middle East.

Some Middle East scholars fear the loss of the Christian community will not only have consequences for the Church but will also adversely affect Islamic moderation and the status of women in the region.

“[One] contribution that Christians can bring to society is the promotion of an authentic freedom of religion and conscience, one of the fundamental human rights that each state should always respect,” pointed out Benedict in his homily Sunday.

And peace, the pope stated, “is the indispensable condition for a life of dignity for human beings and society”.

“Peace is possible. Peace is urgent,” Benedict exhorted. “We pray for peace in the Holy Land. We pray for peace in the Middle East, undertaking to try to ensure that this gift of God to men of goodwill should spread through the whole world.”

From Iran to Egypt, the Vatican estimates there are about 17 million Christians, or about five percent of the region's population. 

A century ago, Christians made up around 20 percent.


Churches accuse Government of ‘stigmatising’ poor

Churches and Christian charities have written to the Government expressing their concern over its rhetoric on benefit fraud.

They say that recent announcements from the Government have had the effect of “stigmatising the poor”, particularly those who receive out of work benefits.

Although the Christian leaders stress that benefit fraud should be stamped out, they question the emphasis being placed on it by the Government.

“The tendency to emphasise fraud when poverty and welfare reform are discussed often distracts attention from getting resources to those genuinely in need, which accounts for the other 99.4% of benefit spending,” they said.

They accused the Chancellor of conflating the figures on benefit fraud during his speech to announce the Comprehensive Spending Review last week.

While George Osborne claimed that £5bn was being lost each year to fraudulent benefit claims, the church and charity leaders said the real figure was closer to around £1bn a year.

“We agree with the Government that benefit fraud is a serious offence, but implying that the poorest perpetrate this offence three times more than is the case is clearly unjust,” they said.

“The fact that issues around welfare reform are vital to the social and economic future of this country means it is imperative that the debate is informed by accurate information”.

The leaders also suggested that the Government rhetoric on benefit fraud was misrepresentative of the reality facing poor people.

“Our experience of working in deprived communities is that life on benefits is often a struggle, with difficult and stressful financial choices being a daily occurrence,” they said.

“We believe this reality is not well reflected in Government statements and needs to be at the heart of any debate on welfare reform.”

The letter has been signed by a number of Christians, including the Rev Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, Simon Loveitt, spokesperson on Public Issues for the United Reformed Church, the Rev Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council in the Church of Scotland, and Lt Col Marion Drew of The Salvation Army.