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Pope Francis Uses ‘Genocide’ To Describe Armenian Killing, Turkey Reacts

Some critics claim the Pope excluded the Turkish persecution of other Muslims. But he is, first of all, a Catholic Bishop, a Shepherd to his flock. Armenia was the first nation to call itself Christian way back is 300 AD. – AK

 

by Desmond Butler and Ayse Wieting via HuffingtonPost.com

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday called the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks “the first genocide of the 20th century” and urged the international community to recognize it as such, sparking a diplomatic rift with Turkey.

Turkey, which has long denied a genocide took place, immediately summoned the Vatican ambassador to complain and promised a fuller official response.

“The pope’s statement which is far from historic and legal truths is unacceptable,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted. “Religious positions are not places where unfounded claims are made and hatred is stirred.”

Francis, who has close ties to the Armenian community from his days in Argentina, defended his pronouncement by saying it was his duty to honor the memory of the innocent men, women and children who were “senselessly” murdered by Ottoman Turks 100 years ago this month.

“Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” he said at the start of a Mass in the Armenian Catholic rite in St. Peter’s Basilica honoring the centenary.

In a subsequent message directed to all Armenians, Francis called on all heads of state and international organizations to recognize the truth of what transpired and oppose such crimes “without ceding to ambiguity or compromise.”

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey, however, has insisted that the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest, not genocide. It has fiercely lobbied to prevent countries, including the Holy See, from officially recognizing the Armenian massacre as genocide.

Turkey’s embassy to the Holy See canceled a planned news conference for Sunday, presumably after learning that the pope would utter the word “genocide” over its objections. Instead, the Foreign Ministry in Ankara issued a statement conveying its “great disappointment and sadness.” It said the pope’s words signaled a loss in trust, contradicted the pope’s message of peace and was discriminatory because Francis only mentioned the pain of Christians, not Muslims or other religious groups.

Reaction to the pope’s declaration on the streets in Istanbul was mixed. Some said they supported it, but others did not agree.

“I don’t support the word genocide being used by a great religious figure who has many followers,” said Mucahit Yucedal, 25. “Genocide is a serious allegation.”

Francis’ words had immediate effect in St. Peters, where the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Aram I thanked Francis for his clear condemnation and recalled that “genocide” is a crime against humanity that requires reparation.

“International law spells out clearly that condemnation, recognition and reparation of a genocide are closely interconnected,” Aram said in English at the end of the Mass to applause from the pews, where many wept.

Speaking as if he were at a political rally, Aram said the Armenian cause is a cause of justice, and that justice is a gift of God. “Therefore, the violation of justice is a sin against God,” he said.

Several European countries recognize the massacres as genocide, though Italy and the United States, for example, have avoided using the term officially given the importance they place on Turkey as an ally.

The Holy See, too, places great importance in its relationship with the moderate Muslim nation, especially as it demands Muslim leaders to condemn the slaughter of Christians by Muslim extremists in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

But Francis’ willingness to rile Ankara with his words showed once again that he has few qualms about taking diplomatic risks for issues close to his heart. He took a similar risk by inviting the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to pray together for peace at the Vatican — a summit that was followed by the outbreak of fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Francis is not the first pope to call the massacre a genocide. In his remarks, Francis cited a 2001 declaration signed by St. John Paul II and the Armenian church leader, Karenkin II, which said the deaths were considered “the first genocide of the 20th century.”

But the context of Francis’ pronunciation was different and significant: He uttered the words during an Armenian rite Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica marking the 100th anniversary of the slaughter, alongside the Armenian Catholic patriarch, Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Armenian Christian church leaders and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who sat in a place of honor in the basilica.

The definition of genocide has long been contentious. The United Nations in 1948 defined genocide as killing and other acts intended to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, but many dispute which mass killings should be called genocide.

In his remarks Sunday, Francis said the Armenian slaughter was the first of three “massive and unprecedented” genocides last century that was followed by the Holocaust and Stalinism. He said other mass killings had followed, including in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia.
___

AP writers Desmond Butler and Ayse Wieting in Istanbul and Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.

Why Tsarnaev deserves the mercy of a life sentence

Let’s work to make penitentiaries do what they were created for; doing penance up repentance. Don’t make him a martyr. let his stew with the memories of those whose lives he destroyed. – AK

 

by the Monitor’s Editorial Board via CSMonitor.com

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The same 12 jurors who convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing last week will soon be asked to impose one of two punishments on him: the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole. They will hear testimony from a string of witnesses and listen to arguments from both sides. A decision is expected in May.

This choice, of course, is theirs alone to make. The 12 men and women from the Boston area were selected in this high-profile federal trial in part because they expressed no qualms about capital punishment, which is allowed under federal law. Yet to impose the death penalty, they must do so with unanimous consent. One juror can let Mr. Tsarnaev survive.

This bar is set high because government is rightly concerned about violating the sanctity of life in executing someone. It needs to set a standard far higher than that set by Tsarnaev and his now-dead brother in their brutal killing of innocent people.

The rest of us can only hope the jury makes the right choice, one that will help prevent a similar attack. Deterrence of crime is the centerpiece of justice, more so than retribution and the strong emotions of vengeance and hatred that drive it. Tsarnaev was convicted for his criminal actions, not for what he believes, his motives, or his past. Law enforcement is focused on specific crimes and the prevention of them. The same lens of justice needs to apply to the penalty for Tsarnaev and must deal with this question: Which punishment will influence the actions of other potential terrorists?

His defense attorneys are expected to argue that Tsarnaev deserves a life sentence because he admits the crime, that he was 19 years old at the time, and that he was under the influence of his older brother and perhaps even influenced by his alleged drug use. These points are all debatable but they at least hint at the main reason for imposing a life sentence. A degree of mercy might open the possibility over time that Tsarnaev will renounce his crime and plea for others not to kill in the name of misguided jihad, as he did.

If Tsarnaev does repent and reform, it will not be because he expects to be set free. His life sentence will come with no parole. Any repentance could only be from the heart, and thus all the more effective in potentially persuading others not to follow his example.

The mercy of imposing a life sentence in this case might eventually be seen by Tsarnaev as an expression of grace, which is a powerful antidote to sin. “Go and sin no more,” said Jesus to the adulteress after not condemning her and persuading others not to condemn her and to stone her to death.

Mercy itself has an aspect of the divine to it, as Shakespeare expressed in the “The Merchant of Venice”:

[Mercy] is an attribute to God himself;

 And earthly power doth then show likest God’s

When mercy seasons justice.

Those who wish to impose the death penalty in this case may see that irreversible penalty as the better deterrence. But a far more effective deterrence would be the persuasive power of a convict who someday decides not to die as a martyr and who, after reflecting on his actions and the grace shown to him, lives instead as a model to others. That possibility deserves a voice in the jury room.

Kresta in the Afternoon – April 13, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 13, 2015

 

4:00 – Kresta Comments: Does “Gay Conversion Therapy” Work? Is it Harmful? 

4:20 – Kresta Comments: 100 Years since the Armenian Genocide

4:40 –  A Tour of Scripture’s 24 Parables 

Fr. George Rutler is your guide on a journey through Jesus’ parables. From the Prodigal Son to the Good Samaritan to the Sower, he will give a unique insight to the deeper meanings and symbolism of Christ’s most famous teachings.

5:00 – Kresta Comments: Should Catholic Schools be Forced to Employ Actively Gay Teachers? 

5:20 – The Devil’s Attack on the Church Starts with the Family 

Everywhere we look we see the breakdown of the family and family values. Pope Francis has said this is an integral part of the devil’s plan because the family is the foundation for faith. Aaron Kheriaty joins us.  

Horus Manure: Debunking the Jesus/Horus Connection

by Jon Sorensen via StrangeNotions.com

Jesus-Horus

Many atheists, neo-pagans, and other disbelievers of Christianity claim the story of Jesus Christ was borrowed from earlier mythologies. In recent years, a claim has been making the rounds that Jesus is based on the Egyptian god, Horus.

Who was Horus?
Horus is one of the oldest recorded deities in the ancient Egyptian religion. Often depicted as a falcon or a man with a falcon head, Horus was believed to be the god of the sun and of war. Initially he appeared as a local god, but over time the ancient Egyptians came to believe the reigning pharaoh was a manifestation of Horus (cf. Encyclopedia Britannica, “Horus”).

What about Jesus?
The skeptical claims being made about Jesus are not always the same. In some versions he was a persuasive teacher whose followers later attempted to deify him by adopting aspects of earlier god-figures, while in others he is merely an amalgamation of myths and never really existed at all. Both versions attempt to provide evidence that the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ are rip-offs.

In the 2008 documentary film Religulous (whose name is a combination of religion andridiculous), erstwhile comedian and political commentator Bill Maher confronts an unprepared Christian with this claim. Here is part of their interaction.

Bill Maher: But the Jesus story wasn’t original.

Christian man: How so?

Maher: Written in 1280 B.C., the Book of the Dead describes a God, Horus. Horus is the son of the god Osiris, born to a virgin mother. He was baptized in a river by Anup the Baptizer who was later beheaded. Like Jesus, Horus was tempted while alone in the desert, healed the sick, the blind, cast out demons, and walked on water. He raised Asar from the dead. “Asar” translates to “Lazarus.” Oh, yeah, he also had twelve disciples. Yes, Horus was crucified first, and after three days, two women announced Horus, the savior of humanity, had been resurrected.

Bill MaherMaher is only repeating things that are and believed by many people today. Similar claims are made in movies such as Zeitgeist and Religulous and in pseudo-academic books such as Christ in Egypt: The Jesus-Horus Connection andPagan Origins of the Christ Myth.

Often Christians are not prepared for this type of encounter, and some are even swayed by this line of argumentation.  Maher’s tirade provides a good summary of the claims, so let’s deconstruct it, one line at a time.

Written in 1280 BC, the Book of the Dead describes a God, Horus.
In fact, there are many “books of the dead.” But there is no single, official Book of the Dead. The books are collections of ancient Egyptian spells that were believed to help the deceased on their journey to the afterlife. The title Book of the Dead comes from an Arabic label referring to the fact that the books were mostly found with mummies (cf. The Oxford Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Funerary Literature”). Some of these texts contain vignettes depicting the god Horus, but they don’t tell us much about him.

Our information about Horus comes from a variety of archaeological sources. What we do know from the most recent scholarship on the subject is that there were many variations of the story, each of them popularized at different times and places throughout the 5,000-year span of ancient Egyptian history. Egyptologists recognize the possibility that these differences may have been understood as aspects or facets of the same divine persona, but they nevertheless refer to them as distinct Horus-gods (cf. The Oxford Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Horus”).

Part of the problem with the “Jesus is Horus” claim is that in order to find items that even partially fit the life story of Jesus, advocates of the view must cherry-pick bits of myth from different epochs of Egyptian history. This is possible today because modern archaeology has given us extensive knowledge of Egypt’s religious beliefs and how they changed over time, making it possible to cite one detail from this version of a story and another from that.

But the early Christians, even if they had wanted to base the Gospels on the Horus myths, would have had no way to do so. They might have known what was believed about Horus in the Egypt of their day, but they would have had no access to the endless variations of the stories that laid buried in the sands until archaeologists started digging them up in the 1800s.

Another part of the problem is that the claimed parallels between Jesus and Horus contain half-truths, distortions, and flat-out falsehoods. For example…

Horus is the son of the god Osiris, born to a virgin mother.
The mother of Horus was believed to be the goddess Isis. Her husband, the god Osiris, was killed by his enemy Seth, the god of the desert, and later dismembered. Isis managed to retrieve all of Osiris’s body parts except for his phallus, which was thrown into the Nile and eaten by catfish. (I’m not making this up). Isis used her goddess powers to temporarily resurrect Osiris and fashion a golden phallus. She was then impregnated, and Horus was conceived. However this story may be classified, it is not a virgin birth.

He was baptized in a river by Anup the Baptizer, who was later beheaded.
There is no character named Anup the Baptizer in ancient Egyptian mythology. This is the concoction of a 19th-century English poet and amateur Egyptologist by the name of Gerald Massey (see sidebar 2 below). Massey is the author of several books on the subject of Egyptology; however, professional Egyptologists have largely ignored his work. In fact, his writing is held in such low regard in archaeological circles that it is difficult to find references to him in reputable modern publications.

In the book Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection (Stellar House Publishing, 2009), author D. M. Murdoch, drawing heavily from Gerald Massey, identifies “Anup the Baptizer” as the Egyptian god Anubis. Murdoch then attempts to illustrate parallels between Anubis and John the Baptist.

Some evidence exists in Egyptian tomb paintings and sculptures to support the idea that a ritual washing was done during the coronation of Pharaohs, but it is always depicted as having been done by the gods. This indicates that it may have been understood as a spiritual event that likely never happened in reality (cf. Alan Gardiner, “The Baptism of Pharaoh,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 36). This happened only to kings (if it happened to them at all), and one searches in vain to find depictions of Horus being ritually washed by Anubis.

Like Jesus, Horus was tempted while alone in the desert.
The companion guide to the film Zeitgeist outlines the basis for this claim by explaining, “As does Satan with Jesus, Set (aka Seth) attempts to kill Horus. Set is the ‘god of the desert’ who battles Horus, while Jesus is tempted in the desert by Satan” (p. 23).

Doing battle with the “god of the desert” is not the same as being tempted while alone in the desert; and according to the Gospel accounts, Satan did not attempt to kill Jesus there (cf. Matt. 4, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13).

The relationship between Horus and Seth in the ancient Egyptian religion was quite different than the relationship between Jesus and Satan. While Seth and Horus were often at odds with each other, it was believed that their reconciliation was what allowed the pharaohs to rule over a unified country. It was believed that the pharaoh was a “Horus reconciled to Seth, or a gentleman in whom the spirit of disorder had been integrated” (The Oxford Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Seth”). In stark contrast, there is never any reconciliation between Jesus and Satan in Scripture.

Healed the sick, the blind, cast out demons, and walked on water.
The Metternich Stella, a monument from the 4th century B.C., tells a story in which Horus is poisoned by Seth and brought back to life by the god Thoth at the request of his mother, Isis. The ancient Egyptians used the spell described on this monument to cure people. It was believed that the spirit of Horus would dwell within the sick, and they would be cured the same way he was. This spiritual indwelling is a far cry from the physical healing ministry of Christ. Horus did not travel the countryside laying his hands on sick people and restoring them to health.

He raised Asar from the dead. “Asar” translates to “Lazarus.”
The name Osirus is a Greek transliteration of the Egyptian name Asar. As I mentioned earlier, Osirus is the father of Horus, and, according to the myth, he was killed by Seth and briefly brought back to life by Isis in order to conceive Horus.  It was not Horus who raised “Asar” from the dead. It was his mother.

The name Lazarus is actually derived from the Hebrew word Eleazar meaning “God has helped.” This name was common among the Jews of Jesus’ time. In fact, two figures in the New Testament bear this name (cf. John 11, Luke 16:19-31).

Oh, yeah, he also had twelve disciples.
Again, this claim finds its origin in the work of Gerald Massey (Ancient Egypt: The Light of the Worldbook 12), which points to a mural depicting “the twelve who reap the harvest.” But Horus does not appear in the mural.

In the various Horus myths, there are indications of the four “Sons of Horus,” or six semi-gods, who followed him, and at times there were various numbers of human followers, but they never add up to twelve. Only Massey arrives at this number, and he does so only by referencing the mural with no Horus on it.

Yes, Horus was crucified first.
In many of the books and on the websites that attempt to make this connection, it is often pointed out that there are several ancient depictions of Horus standing with his arms spread in cruciform.  One can only answer this with a heartfelt “So what?” A depiction of a person standing with his arms spread is not unusual, nor is it evidence that the story of a crucified savior predates that of Jesus Christ.

We do have extensive evidence from extra-biblical sources that the Romans around the time of Christ practiced crucifixion as a form of capital punishment. Not only that, but we have in the Bible actual eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion. On the other hand, there is no historical evidence at all to suggest that the ancient Egyptians made use of this type of punishment.

And after three days, two women announced Horus, the savior of humanity, had been resurrected.
As I explained before, the story of the child Horus dying and being brought back to life is described on the Metternich Stella, which in no way resembles the sacrificial death of Jesus. Christ did not die as a child, only to be brought back to life because his grieving mother went to the animal-headed god of magic.

The mythology surrounding Horus is closely tied with the pharaohs, because they were believed to be Horus in life and Osirus in death. With the succession of pharaohs over the centuries came new variations on the myth. Sometimes Horus was believed to be the god of the sky, and at other times he was believed to be the god of war, at other times both; but he was never described as a “savior of humanity.”

Combating the never-ending list of parallels
If you do an Internet search on this subject, you will come across lists of supposed parallels between Jesus and Horus that are much longer than Bill Maher’s filmic litany. What they all have in common is that they do not cite their sources.

Should you encounter people who try to challenge you with these claims, ask them to explain where it is they got their information. Many times you will find that they originate with Gerald Massey or one of his contemporaries. Sometimes they have been repeated and expanded on by others. But these claims have little or no connection to the facts.

You should challenge the person making the claim to produce a primary source or a statement from a scholarly secondary source that has a footnote that can be checked. Then make sure the sources being quoted come from scholars with a Ph.D. in a relevant field, such as a person who teaches Egyptology at the university level.

Due to the mass of misinformation on the Internet and in print on this subject, it is important to respond to these claims using credible sources. Fortunately, there are many good books on Egypt and Egyptology in print. But there are also bad ones, so make sure to verify the author’s credentials before purchasing them.

The study of ancient Egypt has come a long way since its beginning in the 1800s, and new discoveries are being made even today that improve upon our understanding of the subject. It’s safe to say they will do nothing to bolster the alleged Jesus-Horus connection.

The Horus mythology developed over a period of 5,000 years, and as a result it can be a complex subject to tackle. But you don’t have to be an Egyptologist to answer all of these claims. You just need to know where to look for the answers—and to be aware of the claims’ flawed sources.


Appendix 1:
A brief history of modern Egyptology

Rosetta StoneModern Egyptology really begins with the French campaign in Egypt and Syria initiated by Napoleon Bonaparte around 1798. Among other things, the French established a scientific exploration of the region.

In 1799, a soldier named Pierre-Francois Bouchard discovered the Rosetta Stone, which contained a bilingual text that eventually led to the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Prior to this, our knowledge of ancient Egypt’s 5,000-year history was limited to what was known through the writings of pre-Christian Greek historians such as Herodotus and Strabo.

The discovery of the Rosetta Stone led to a renewed interest by the Europeans in all things ancient Egypt, commonly referred to now as “Egyptomania.”  It was not until nearly a century later that Egyptology as an academic discipline began to come into its own. Since that time, we have a much better understanding of ancient Egyptian history and culture.

Appendix 2:
Massey scholarship

Gerald MasseyWhen researching the supposed Egyptian influences on Christianity, inevitably one comes across the name Gerald Massey. Massey was an English poet and amateur Egyptologist who lived from 1828 to 1907. He is the author of three books on the subject: The Book of the BeginningsThe Natural Genesis, and Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World. Because his books represent some of the earliest attempts to draw comparisons between the Christian and Egyptian religions, other writers attempting to draw these comparisons frequently cite them.

One recent example is the book Christ in Egypt; The Horus-Jesus Connection by D.M. Murdoch. In it the author states: “This present analysis of the claims regarding the correspondences between the Egyptian and Christian religions is not dependent on Massey’s work for the most part,” yet she devotes an entire chapter of the book to defending the authenticity of Massey’s scholarship (something she does not feel called to do for anyone else she quotes in her book) and thereafter adopting many of the same comparisons.

Critics of Massey’s work often point out that he had no formal education in the area of Egyptology. While this is a valid criticism, I think it is also important to point out that the study of ancient Egyptian religion has advanced far beyond what was known in the 19th century. Not only is much of Massey’s scholarship built on wild speculation, it is also the product of an academic discipline still in its infancy.

Divine Mercy Sunday, The Crown of Our Easter Celebration

by Dr.  Tom Neal via WordonFire.org

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This final Day of the Easter Octave, named Divine Mercy Sunday by Pope John Paul II in 2000, is a “hermeneutical crown” of the eight-day-long celebration of that Eighth and final Day of creation.

Hermeneutical? The word simply means “interpretive,” or the science of discovering meaning. Hence, I mean that this feast of Mercy really gets to the core of Easter’s true meaning.

Eleison?

Mercy, as I intend it here, is love encountering evil and overcoming it, healing it, redeeming it and raising out of its ruins surpassing goods that could never have been apart from these evils. Though God never positively wills an evil, He permits evil only in view of the greater goods He might draw from them. And it is mercy that sustains the mysterious logic of the felix culpa, the “happy fault” of Adam that we sing of in the Exultet at the Easter Vigil.

The whole economy of God’s work in Jesus is at heart a work of mercy, with the Passion being the inner core of that heart. In the Resurrection, God the Father accepted his Son’s sacrifice as a new and eternal mode of God’s being God: in the heart of the eternal Trinity is forever the risen Body of Jesus ever-marked with the signs of the Passion. God now, only and for all ages, relates to creation through the open wounds of the Risen Christ.

To me, this is utterly astonishing to ponder: God’s mode of being-God — etched in His flesh — is forged by mercy’s response to human hatred and cruelty. This is the message embedded in the icon of Divine Mercy revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska.

Eucharistic Chaplet

It’s also the meaning of the “Chaplet of Mercy” that St. Faustina received from God in a vision. The Chaplet is an offering of the Slain-Risen Lord to the Father — by His priestly people — asking the Father to be who he has shown himself to be in Christ: Mercy. As such, the Chaplet is an extension of the liturgical-sacramental offering of the same Slain-Risen Lord that is the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

To see this, one need only reflect on the words of Eucharistic Prayer I that follow the Consecration: “…we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation…”

In this sense, I have always found the Chaplet to be a superb way to prepare for, and extend forward the celebration of the holy Eucharist into life. It shapes in me a deeper awareness of my sharing in Christ’s royal priesthood through Baptism. This priesthood calls me to — at every moment — offer both my own life as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1) for the life of the world, and to offer the living sacrifice of Christ Himself.

A number of years ago, this insight — like lightning — flashed in my mind during the per ipsum at Mass. The per ipsum is the moment, at the end of the long Eucharistic prayer after the Consecration, when the priest lifts up the Host and Chalice toward the Father and prays,

Through him, and with him, and in him,

O God, almighty Father,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

all glory and honor is yours,

for ever and ever.

On behalf of all and for all, the priest offers up God to God, the Son to the Father, and the faithful, united to the Son in His self-offering, seal their co-offering by a solemn and oath-making  “great Amen.” As we were singing thrice the great Amen, I understood with what seemed like absolute clarity this Amen was our co-pronouncing with Christ His tetelestaiconsummatum est, “It is finished” (John 19:30). I also saw in that moment that our “Amen” was also our consenting “we are able”:

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized…”

That “cup” and “baptism” are, of course, references to his Passion.

Amen.

Offerimus

The Chaplet, as a para-liturgical devotion, sustains the moment of our liturgical “great Amen.” It affirms the staggering truth that in Christ we have the authority to — at any moment we choose — apply the infinite treasury of God’s mercy to the world. And the sobering truth that we are willing to join Jesus in His self-offering.

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

It causes me to tremble. May He who is Risen to forever intercede for us before His Father sustain us daily in fidelity by His grace.

The Holy Cardinal Who Died in a Prostitute’s Home

by Joanna Bogle via CatholicHerald.co.uk

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At last Cardinal Jean Daniélou is beginning to be honoured as he should be

In a way, it was a form of posthumous martyrdom: the once distinguished Jesuit dying in humiliating circumstances, on an errand of mercy, his reputation in tatters and his Jesuit confrères unwilling to offer any defence of his actions.

Cardinal Jean Daniélou was a Prince of the Church who had spent the first part of his priestly life seeking to renew and restore an authentic understanding of the riches of the Church Fathers and the need for a return to these sources of theology.

He was part of the ressourcement group – with Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar and the young Joseph Ratzinger – who had a profound and valuable influence at the Second Vatican Council. The older among them, including Daniélou, had suffered considerably in earlier years, as their exploration of the writings of the early Fathers challenged the standard Neo-Thomism of the day. Absolutely orthodox in their beliefs, they were regarded by some as dangerous Modernists and by others simply as tiresome individuals whose call for a fresh sense of mission and evangelisation was surely unnecessary.

Publishing patristic texts in a series, Sources Chrétiennes, in the 1940s, Daniélou and de Lubac opened up the Church Fathers to a new generation, an approach to theology offering a rediscovery of treasures. Joseph Ratzinger, a peritus (adviser) at Vatican II 20 years later, described the sense of vigour and hope that accompanied the debates in Rome: a recognition of the Church’s glorious truths for which the world was aching.

But then came the betrayal, of which Daniélou spoke in a Vatican Radio interview in 1972: “A false interpretation of Vatican II … secularisation, a false conception of freedom”, and a collapse of authentic religious life, with priests abandoning their vows, a whole vision of consecrated life at risk. The Jesuits of his own community were caught up in this: his superior would in due course leave the priesthood and dedicate his life to legalising abortion in France.

Daniélou had been appointed cardinal by Paul VI in 1968. He had politely refused the honour several times before. But the Pope told him he was needed “so that you can suffer with me for the Church”, and he accepted.

Suffering there was indeed. Paul VI was attacked and denigrated with passion across the Western world for affirming the Church’s unchanging teachings in Humanae Vitae, and his final years saw him facing forces of hatred and contempt that at times seemed almost overwhelming.

Here I have a personal memory. In the ideological battles of those years, people who loved the Church and defended the Pope seemed few and, at times, almost voiceless. Catholic institutions, publications and seminaries united in condemning Paul VI’s encyclical. Liturgical and catechetical chaos contributed to the gloom. The Faith Movement, led by the splendid Fr Edward Holloway, launched a series of booklets teaching the truth and celebrating the Church’s message. One was Daniélou’s I Believe in the Church.

The booklets were sold from our house in a London suburb. A spare bedroom was taken over for this purpose and, as the work expanded, the stock migrated down the corridor into my room, where my (ever-loyal, non-Catholic) father constructed metal shelving. I woke every morning to the works of Daniélou and Cardinal Wright, as well as Frs Holloway, Nesbitt and Tolhurst, in bright 1970s covers that seemed so modern at the time. I was occasionally dragooned into helping with the packing and posting.

Daniélou wrote with a great love of the Church. He knew her faults and had suffered from them. But he had no rancour. Rather, he wrote, “what draws me to the Church is not the sympathy that I feel towards the people who compose her, but what is given to me through these men, no matter who they are – that is to say, the truth of Jesus Christ. I am attached to the Church because she cannot be separated from Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ freely gave himself to her, because I cannot find Jesus Christ in any authentic way outside her.”

In May 1972 Daniélou was found dead in a prostitute’s house with a large sum of money in his pocket. Of course, there were headlines. The Jesuit community, immediately setting up an inquiry, discovered the truth with no great difficulty. Daniélou had been known to carry out all sorts of charitable visits to the poor and the marginalised. His last was to a woman whose husband was in prison and needed legal help. She described with complete simplicity what had occurred: the good priest had come to bring the money, then collapsed and died in her presence. There was never any question of immoral behaviour. He was simply a good man who had carried out innumerable works of charity to similarly needy people over many years.

But – and here’s the horror of it – the Jesuits refused to make public their findings, allowing the public to gloat over the mystery of the death of this once-revered man. He was loathed by the then leadership of the Paris Jesuit community because he had denounced them for abandoning their vocation and had espoused complete loyalty to the Church in her hour of need.

Today, the truth is known and Daniélou is beginning to be honoured as he should be. I am rather proud to have been a part of the group that stood by him, even when his reputation was unjustly tarnished. I’m discovering with joy his earlier writings, and being nourished by them. The post-Vatican II chaos gave way to happier times, with St John Paul the Great paving the way for a new era.

There’s probably a case to be made for the cardinal’s beatification. There are certainly lessons to be learnt from his life and even from the manner of his death. To meet God in humiliating circumstances, misunderstood as a villain and yet acting with great charity, is to meet the Man on the Cross. Thank God for the life and work of Jean Daniélou.

Kresta in the Afternoon – April 10, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 10, 2015

 

4:00 – Joseph Pearce: Evangelizing through Culture

 

5:00 – Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Nabeel Qureshi was raised in a devout and loving Muslim home and was passionate about his faith. He eventually discovered evidence of Jesus’s resurrection and divinity and was in a difficult position: he couldn’t deny the evidence, but he didn’t want to deny his family. Nabeel joins us today with the story of his dramatic and challenging journey

Kresta in the Afternoon – April 9, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 9, 2015

 

4:00 – How I Made Peace with my Sister’s Killer

Jeanne Bishop’s story begins with tragedy: her sister, brother-in-law and their unborn child were brutally murdered in their home. In her dying moments, Jeanne’s sister wrote ‘love you’ in her own blood. A local teen was arrested and convicted for the murders. Jeanne decided to forgive him and move on, and even became a strong opponent of capital punishment. She refused to let herself think about her sister’s killer and thought forgiveness was enough…until she realized she also need to confront him and reconcile. Jeanne joins us today with her story about moving beyond mere forgiveness to the deeper waters of redemption and grace.

5:00 – Tsarnaev Sentencing: Consider the Victims

Yesterday Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts relating to the Boston Marathon Bombing and subsequent police chase. Seventeen of these charges carry the death penalty and Tsarvaen’s sentencing trial begins next week. Raymond Flynn, former mayor of Boston, is a pro-life Catholic who opposes the death penalty. However, he says that the families of the victims must be considered when sentencing is reached. He joins us today.

5:20 – Kresta Comments: Forgiveness and Justice for the Evilest of Deeds

5:40 – Kresta Comments: Obama Calls for Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy 

A Catholic School Removes Teacher for Defending Faith

by Anne Hendershott via crisismagazine.com

 

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Chesterton once wrote that “War is not the best way of settling differences—but it is the only way of preventing them from being settled for you.”  If the Catholic Church is to continue to teach the timeless truths about the dignity of all human persons from conception to natural death, and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, the Church needs to begin to seriously engage in the war that has already been declared against her by those who wish to destroy these teachings.

In the past few weeks, there has been an escalation of the attacks against the Church in places like the Archdiocese of San Francisco where Sam Singer, the head of a high priced Public Relations firm, was hired to wage war on Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone because of the archbishop’s strong defense of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Organizing protests, and enlisting the local media to help him in his battle against the archbishop, Singer has been successful in waging a well-funded media war on the Church and her teachings.

Likewise, in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, a battle began last week against a priest who gave permission to show a pro-life film, To Be Born, to a sixth grade CCD class. Described in the local newspaper as holding “rabid anti-abortion views,” the priest—a pastor who is beloved and greatly respected by his faithful parishioners at St. Monica’s Catholic Church—was called a “bully” in a front page story of the Wilkes Barre newspaper. Unfortunately, instead of fighting back with the truth of Catholic teachings on the sanctity of life, the priest has appeared to accept the criticism of showing a pro-life film to “sensitive” sixth graders by admitting that he “showed poor judgment” in allowing the pro-life film to be shown. The CCD teacher who showed the pro-life film has resigned. She was already under attack from parents because she had the temerity to disclose to her students that “not everyone goes to Heaven.”

While it is understandable that the Pennsylvania pastor would want to de-escalate the public controversy by apologizing for allowing the film to be shown, his failure to engage in the battle makes things harder for those on the front lines of the ongoing war on the unborn. It would have been better if the priest was at liberty to explain that the reason sixth grade CCD students need instruction in the pro-life teachings of the Church is because by the time they reach sixth grade many students have already been introduced to the pro-choice message of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood in their middle schools. The Affordable Care Act opens the door to Planned Parenthood clinics in public middle schools and high schools—providing grants for establishing “School Based Health Centers” run by abortion providing organizations. While the law prevents these clinics from being used to provide abortion, the middle and high school clinics make abortion referrals, and assistance in accessing contraceptives and abortifacients. Planned Parenthood runs school-based clinics in many middle schools throughout the country.

In addition to the clinics, fifth and sixth grade students are exposed to sexually explicit messages in the books recommended by Common Core Standards throughout the country. Mary Jo Anderson published an article last year in Crisis, entitled, “Common Core Sexualizes American School Children,” which asks the question, “why has so much disturbing material been systematically built into the Common Core recommended texts?” CCD is supposed to be the place where public school children learn about the teachings of the Church—teachings that can counteract what they have learned in their public schools, and it is unfortunate that this priest did not simply say that.

It is difficult to fight these kinds of battles—especially when the media favors those who attack the Church. Archbishop Cordileone has been under siege since he arrived in San Francisco—but he has been courageously fighting a noble fight against an overwhelmingly greater force that wants the Church to just stay out of the conflict over same-sex “marriage.” It is unfortunate that some of his brother-bishops—including the bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey—have decided to surrender in the face of the enemy.

Two weeks ago, when Patricia Jannuzzi, a religion teacher at Immaculata High School in the Diocese of Metuchen, posted a statement supporting traditional marriage on her personal Facebook page, angry same-sex “marriage” advocates, some of them Immaculata alumni, demanded that she be removed from her teaching position, and that the school address the “homophobic undertones in the school.” Creating achange.org petition called “Stop the Public Hate Speech of Teachers” alumnus Tom Robinson (class of 2001) posted: “I know that many of you want to see Mrs. Jannuzzi fired, but addressing the systemic problem of homophobic undertones in the school and publicly posted on social media is much more important than one person keeping her job.” For Robinson, anyone—including a religion teaching at a Catholic high school—who refuses to support the goodness of homosexual acts is an enemy that must be destroyed.

Jannuzzi is indeed being destroyed. Much of the media—including the local newspapers—have described Jannuzzi’s Facebook posting as a “rant” when the reality is that she wrote: “We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity!” Pointing to her statement that “(gay activists) want to reengineer western civilization into a slow extinction,” as evidence of her hatefulness, more than 1,000 individuals have signed the petition to have her removed. And, rather than defending Jannuzzi for her willingness to defend Catholic teachings, the principal and the pastor of her school have suspended her—sending a letter to alumni, parents and students apologizing for “any hurt this has  caused to any individuals and the negative light in which it has cast our school.”

And, to make matters worse, on March 20, Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski, the episcopal leader of the Diocese of Metuchen, appeared to concur with the high school administrators by saying that “the teacher’s comments were disturbing and do not reflect the Church’s teachings on acceptance…. Pope Francis reminds us that we are to accept all of our brethren. We must ensure that our educators steer away from harsh and judgmental statements that can alienate and divide us.”

What Robinson—and those who have signed the change.org petition—want is for the Immaculata High School to stop teaching what the Church teaches about same sex behavior. For them, Church teachings on homosexual behavior are hateful. He makes it clear in his post:

We are asking for action to be taken and hate speech to stop at Immaculata.  A school-wide Stop Hate Speech awareness day and sensativity [sic] training for students and teachers would go a long way.  Knowledge is power and providing students with knowledge about how to act in society is just as important as learning geometry, writing, or a foreign language.

Contrary to what Bishop Bootkoski seems to suggest, in 2010, Pope Francis referred to the trend towards same-sex “marriage” as a movement that begins with the devil, cautioning us to “not be naïve: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a move of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” In a criticism of the Immaculata decision to suspend the offending teacher, Rod Dreher asks: “Could Pope Francis Teach Here?” Dreher points out that in January, Pope Francis gave a homily in which he called same-sex “marriage” an “ideological colonization that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family.” Pope Benedict XVI warned in 2012 that the policies which “undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.” Jannuzzi was merely echoing Benedict who knew that this was a war that needed to be fought.

We are all called to fight that war. Robert P. George, a law professor at Princeton and Harvard, and the vice chairman of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom, is advising parents of students at Immaculata High School to boycott the school until Mrs. Jannuzzi is fully reinstated. The suspension of this faithful teacher—a teacher who in 2012 was given the Regina Nostra medal by the diocesan bishop for her “love and devotion” to Immaculata High School and the parish—is proof that Immaculata High School is “not a fit place for your children.” George has posted Jannuzzi’s photo on his own personal Facebook page—and has asked that others join this fight. Over the weekend, the family lawyer announced that Jannuzzi’s contract will not be renewed in the coming school year despite the bishop’s public statement implying that her suspension was only temporary.

There will be cultural battles because there can never be common ground on issues like abortion and same-sex “marriage.” No institution like the Catholic Church can exist in isolation from cultural conflicts. Sociologists like James Davison Hunter and the late Philip Rieff have cautioned us that we can never get “beyond” the culture wars. Rieff’s books, Triumph of the Therapeutic and Charisma, remind us that, “Where there is culture, there is struggle.” For Rieff, culture is war by other—normative—means. “By its very nature the work of culture—including Catholic culture—is the matter and manner of disarming competing culture.”

This is not to suggest that the Church must be filled with hostility. It does not mean that the Church is resistant to all change. The Church, like all institutions, is constantly being “re-created” in certain ways as some change is inevitable—it is inherent to culture as it emerges through conflict. However, this re-creation cannot be guided by the changing values of a secular culture. The Church cannot change her infallible teachings—the teachings of the Magisterium—including the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of the family. These are not just “values” because values change. These “non-negotiable” teachings are the definitive teachings of the Church and they will never change. Thus, to the extent that secular forces challenge Church teaching, the culture wars will continue.

The constant battles have already made many of us war-weary—including, most likely, the leaders of Immaculata High School and the Diocese of Metuchen. But, we can never concede defeat because of political pressure from alumni, donors, or movie stars like Susan Sarandon who criticized Jannuzzi on behalf of her nephew who matriculated there. Pope Francis warned us to be wary of “popular opinion.” On December 9, 2013,in an address to the members of the International Theological Commission, he said that although the Church must pay attention to the sensus fidelium, or the sense of the faithful when exercising its teaching authority, the Church should never confuse that sense with popular opinion on matters of faith. Pope Francis has made it clear thatsensus fidelium does not mean “majority opinion.” The Holy Father knows, as his predecessors knew, that we are at war with a movement that began with the Fall of Man in the Garden, and will continue until the end of time. It is a war without end—but we are emboldened in the battles as long as we remember to “Thank God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (Cor 2:14).

‘Shell-shocked:’ new details about NBC’s handling of the Brian Williams scandal

by Brian Stelter via money.cnn.com

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The crisis inside NBC News over Brian Williams’ puffed-up stories was made worse by the anchorman’s denial and his strained relationship with executives in charge of the network, according to a new probe in Vanity Fair magazine.

As the crisis over Williams’ exaggerated war stories unfolded, network executives were frustrated by Williams’ “inability to explain himself,” the story says. The anchor “appeared shell-shocked” when the scandal emerged, rendering him unable to respond effectively.

In February, amid the series of embarrassing revelations, Williams was suspended without pay for six months. His “NBC Nightly News” is now being anchored by Lester Holt. It is unclear whether NBC will let Williams return at the end of the suspension period.

At issue was Williams’ involvement on an Iraq War mission in 2003. Over the years, his recounting of the mission turned more dramatic, to the point he was saying that an RPG had struck the helicopter he was aboard. In fact, that happened to a different helicopter, not the one Williams was on.

The Vanity Fair story, authored by Bryan Burrough, says NBC’s internal fact-checking investigation of Williams is ongoing. It has been led by Richard Esposito, the head of investigations for NBC News.

“People who have spoken to Esposito say his group has compiled a number of other incidents that, taken as a whole, paint a portrait of Williams as a man who has consistently burnished his stories,” Burrough writes.

The magazine also addresses the Williams scandal in editor Graydon Carter’s monthly letter to readers. He concludes that Williams’ “regrettable self-immolation” should not end his broadcasting career.

“Taken all together, he would be an enormous asset anywhere,” Carter writes. “And if NBC is smart, once Williams’s time in journalism purgatory is up, the network will find a big chair for him and tether him to it for a good long while.”

Carter’s commentary and Burrough’s reporting were both published online on Tuesday, the second day on the job for the new chair of NBC News and MSNBC, Andy Lack. Williams’ fate rests with Lack and the man who just put him in charge, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke.

Burke is described in the story as a competent executive who has improved NBCUniversal’s standing in many areas, but has struggled to manage the network’s news division. “Even some of Burke’s defenders admit he has only himself to blame for the decline of NBC News,” Burrough writes.

The author zeroes in on Burke’s 2012 choice to name Pat Fili-Krushel the chair of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC, despite the fact that she had “virtually no experience in journalism.” Fili-Krushel has become “the scandal’s second victim,” Burrough writes, now that Lack has taken over.

Lack has decades of experience in journalism. He previously ran NBC News between 1993 and 2001.

Burrough’s story, which relies heavily on anonymous sources, adds new details about what happened inside NBC in the key hours leading up to Williams’ initial — and inadequate — apologies for exaggerating the Iraq story.

Williams told an exaggerated version of the story on “NBC Nightly News” in late January, as part of a tribute to a military veteran who had been with him on the mission. Fili-Krushel’s hand-picked deputy, NBC News president Deborah Turness, noticed Williams’ story “and liked it, terming it ‘very sweet,’ ” according to the story. “What she liked even more, she told one listener, was its performance once it was posted to Facebook, which she called ‘extremely good.’ ”

Indeed, Williams’ tribute to the veteran was widely shared on Facebook. But that’s also where several vets posted comments saying that Williams had falsified parts of the tale. It is unclear when Williams first saw these comments. But according to the story, whenever he found out, “he did not tell Turness or Pat Fili, even though he and Fili had lunch the following Tuesday.”

The same day Williams and Fili-Krushel had lunch, February 3, Stars & Stripes newspaper reporter Travis Tritten interviewed some of the soldiers on the mission and prepared a story about Williams’ misstatements.

On February 4, Tritten contacted NBC to ask for comment. Williams spoke on the record to Tritten without his bosses knowing, according to the story — a sign of how his relationships with Turness and Fili-Krushel were lacking.

Turness learned about the apparent exaggerations around 3:30 p.m., three hours before “Nightly News” broadcast time. She then tried to work with Williams on the wording of an apology that he read on the air. But the statement seemed to only exacerbate his problems.

“Burke learned of things only after the apology broadcast,” Burrough writes. The surfacing of a David Letterman clip from 2013, where Williams told another misleading version of the story, made clear to the executives that the discrepancies were very serious. The next day, Burke began holding crisis meetings.

But Burrough quotes NBC sources who say Williams had a hard time acknowledging the scope of the situation, even as questions began coming up about other past stories he had covered.

Furthermore, the story affirms other recent reports about chilliness between Williams and his “Nightly News” predecessor Tom Brokaw, who remains an important voice inside NBC.

Burrough quotes a friend of Brokaw’s, who says, “Tom will never say this for the record, but I’ve talked to him about this, and I can tell you for a fact Tom is livid about this. Tom didn’t push Brian out, but he didn’t try to save him, either.”

The story also quotes a source who implies that Williams believes Brokaw is to blame for his sudden downfall: “I talked to Brian about this, and I’ll never forget what he said at the end. He said, ‘Chalk one up for Brokaw.’ “

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