Sunday, November 24

A religious sister ministering in Nigeria offers her perspective:

Sister Carrozzo has been living in Nigeria for 16 years. Five years ago, she moved from Lagos to Kaduna, site of high tension and ethnic-religious clashes between Muslims and Christians. "The violence arrived just as a summer storm, at a moment that everybody more or less expected," the religious said. "Over the last few months there were only talks about peace and living together pacifically. Then all of a sudden, pandemonium" broke out. At least 1 million people live in Kaduna, and both religious groups claim to be in the majority. In an interview with Misna, Sister Carrozzo explained the scenario in which the violence broke out. A crowd of Muslim militants in Kaduna triggered violent clashes in protest against the Miss World beauty pageant, to be held in December in Abuja. "We have been living in Kaduna already for some years, where we have set up an educational program, a nursery and primary school in which we house, educate and give a meal to 500 children every day -- Christian and Muslim children," Sister Carrozzo explained. "We have a close relation with the Muslims who attend our school," she added. "It is important that this be understood by those who see the matter from outside and are not aware of this reality. The people, the inhabitants -- Muslim and Christian -- live and work close to one another. "My Muslim friends were among the first to call to ask about how I was doing. However, the fanatics then went into action. They are on both sides and when they come out into the open, everything becomes difficult."

Instapundit throws down the gauntlet

And as for what preening churchmen think we ought to drive, well, my sentiments are unprintable. And I think it's pretty lame that people who would never in a million years let some preacher tell them who to sleep with somehow think it's cool when preachers start telling people not to drive SUVs.

Given the notorious inability -- and unwillingness -- of the religious racket to police its own members' behavior lately, I have zero interest in their opinions on the war, the environment, "social justice," evolution, or any of the subjects on which they desire to opine, and about which they typically know nothing.

Can you say, "squandered moral capital?"

I'll probably offer more thoughts on this later tonight. ( tired. Monday.)

Jimmy Breslin writes on Bishop Murphy's recent letter on behalf of the Campaign for Human Development

Priest blesses Pennsylvania fox hunt

The Coal Valley Hunt opened Saturday in traditional style with the hunt blessing, performed by Fr. Robert McElwee of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Frontenac. McElwee invoked God's blessing on the horses, hounds and humans, and presented each rider with a medal of St. Hubert, the patron saint of foxhunting.

(Incidentally, they hunt coyotes, not foxes at Pennsylvania fox hunts.)

The Peoria paper has a slew of Fulton Sheen stories today:






From the WaPo: The imposition of sharia in Nigeria:

In Nigeria, a nominal democracy of 130 million people, they don't just steal sheep. Some people also drink alcohol, engage in prostitution, commit adultery and go outside after midnight.People dress in short sleeves, too, and ride in taxis that aren't segregated by sex.And double up on motorbikes, even though that may involve a woman sitting with, touching, holding onto, a man who is not her husband.For Nigeria's 50 million Christians, there are no criminal penalties for such behavior. But there are penalties for many of its 65 million Muslims, particularly those who live in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim northern states.

This is because of sharia, which, to Muslims, is a God-given code for how a life ought to be lived. Used in varying degrees, for most Muslims it is a guide to such individual activities as prayer, fasting and donating to the poor. Beyond that, many Muslim countries have adopted sharia as their civil law, governing such things as marriage and inheritance. And then there are the countries that use sharia as their criminal law, applying its judgments and penalties to such offenses as theft and adultery, which are known in sharia as Hadd offenses.

But Nigeria is also home to Christians such as the Rev. Linus Awuhe, a Catholic priest who says, "I, as a Christian, cannot accept sharia" -- and in that divide between Awuhe and Tambuwal is why the introduction of sharia hasn't been without problems.....

..."Sharia is a religious law, an Islamic law, but it is not a Christian law," says Linus Awuhe, explaining one reason he opposes sharia's implementation. In addition to being a priest, Awuhe is the Zamfara chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria. "I am not saying they're not entitled to their beliefs. What I am saying is they should not force their beliefs on me."

"Secondly," he continues, "the manner in which the sharia law is implemented goes against my own fundamental human rights. When you talk of the issue of sin and punishment, you don't amputate a sinner, you don't stone a person to death, you bring a person about by grace."

And third, he says, "Let me tell you that sharia will not achieve justice, not in Nigeria, because the Nigerian is still the Nigerian. Nigeria needs to be renovated from within. In the past, sharia was used in the north to harass political opponents, to oppress them. Today, too, sharia is being used by the elite to oppress the masses. It is the masses who will suffer, not the elite.

"Tell me, how many hands of officials have been amputated?" he goes on. "These people are looting the economy. How many of their hands have been amputated? They are amputating the hands of petty thieves, who do what they do because of social disorder. There are no good roads. The educational system is collapsing. Health care is zero. There is a great poverty in this land. The people are made to live miserable lives. So how can someone bring in a system of justice when that justice doesn't apply to him, who sends his children to school out of country? Who drives the road in a heavy jeep? Who lives in air conditioning? Who doesn't queue up for fuel? Who goes to Germany for health care? And above all uses his pen to rob the country? And who is amputating his hand?"

LA church reopens after 1999 fire

In the long three years of rebuilding, of bureaucratic delays and the seemingly overwhelming task of raising $2 million, unexpected gifts of generosity appeared and reappeared like miracles to keep the congregation's spirits high.

The new church retains its historic twin domed towers topped with crosses. But a wing has been added, doubling the capacity to 950. New windows symbolizing the Holy Trinity and the Latino culture of most of the congregants were designed by Father Donie Keohane, an artist and pastor at St. Martin of Tours in Brentwood.

"In many ways, we're more blessed now than when we started," Cunnane said. "We have a new and bigger church, and a wider circle of friends and supporters. We've certainly realized that church is not a building; it is us, the people."

Contributions came from major donors like Palos Verdes Peninsula resident Mary Centofante, whose still-cherished memories five decades after graduating from St. Thomas Elementary School prompted her to donate $200,000 to build a new Blessed Sacrament chapel inside the church.

Living the faith is not about "how often you go to Mass, but what you do to help people," Centofante said in explaining her gift, which she donated in memory of her husband, Albert.

But half of the needed funds came in myriad small donations, many from parishioners whose average annual income of $14,000 skirts the poverty line, said St. Thomas' director of development, Joe Neeb.

The congregation of 8,000 families comes from most of the countries in Latin America, and also includes a sprinkling of whites, blacks, Filipinos and Koreans.

Victims' groups announce that they'll put their energy into encouraging civil authorities to get tough.

Standing in a parking lot across from St. John the Evangelist Church in Wellesley, the advocates called on Governor-elect Mitt Romney, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, and other state officials to make resolving the church sex abuse turmoil a political priority.

Representing an array of victim support groups, the advocates said they intend to lobby legislators and district attorneys by letters, phone calls, and, if need be, demonstrations outside their offices or at political fund-raisers starting next month.

They demanded prosecutors show ''greater diligence'' in pursuing offenders, and urged lawmakers to repeal statute-of- limitations laws for reporting abuse. They also called for legal reforms that would jail those who do not report sexual abusers. A recently enacted state law calls for a $1,000 fine for those who do not report accusers.

Baier said victim advocacy groups would continue to picket the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, where Law leads Mass on Sundays, but that about ''80 percent'' of the coalition's efforts would be directed toward legal reforms.

About a dozen advocates, including members of Speak Truth to Power, Coalition of Catholics and Survivors, Linkup, and Voice of the Faithful, stood alongside Baier and Gallagher as they spoke to reporters yesterday. Several held signs bearing large photographs of children who had allegedly been abused.

'This is me at my First Communion,'' said Susan Renehan, pointing to the photo she held of a smiling 7-year-old in a white dress. ''It was taken about 100 feet away from where I was sexually abused by a priest in New Jersey.''

In Poland, they're starting work on a shrine that was supposed to be built 200 years ago

The leader of Poland's Roman Catholics broke ground Saturday on what should be one of the country's largest and most important Catholic shrines — two centuries after it was first planned. Cardinal Jozef Glemp broke ground on the Temple of Holy God's Providence in the residential Wilanow section of Warsaw as more than 100 watched through the rain. "We count on God's providence to watch over the construction," Glemp said. Construction was to have started in 1791 to commemorate Poland's adoption of a democratic constitution that year. But plans were scuttled in 1792 after the constitution was abolished, following a military defeat by Russia.

A NH pastor has resigned, admitting that accusations that he had a relationship with a female minor twenty years ago are true.

Now, these articles come across the transom every day, sadly enough, and I don't blog all of them. But this one, I do, because I am struck by the reasonable reaction of the parishionors. They're not weeping to get him back. They're not celebrating his holiness. They're quite logically wondering what else he might have done and doing the calculation that, although the priest in his letter to the parish said he "fell in love" with the girl, that the specter of a 40-something man "falling in love" with a 17-year old indicates that something isn't quite right.

From the Washington Times:

Controversial book about the relationship of the Austrian Church to Nazism

Some Austrians were clearly not ready for Stefan Moritz's book about their country's pro-Nazi priests — bishops who hushed up the Holocaust and a prelate who helped thousands of Hitler's henchmen escape justice. "A woman just screamed 'Heil Hitler,' and hung up," said Mr. Moritz. "Another caller asked me if I were a Jew, because only a Jew could write garbage like this."Mr. Moritz, who isn't Jewish, has shaken up his country with a book claiming Austria's Roman Catholic Church ignored and even abetted Nazi horrors.By publishing "Gruess Gott und Heil Hitler" ("Greet God and Hail Hitler"), Mr. Moritz, 36, is treading on sensitive ground. After all, close to 80 percent of Austrians are Roman Catholics.

Not all Austrian clergy were cowards or collaborators.Mr. Moritz cites the case of the Rev. Franz Reinisch, banned from preaching because of his critical stance toward the Nazis. The church, instead of backing Father Reinisch, expelled him from his Pallotine order, and he was executed in 1942 after refusing to swear loyalty to Hitler and join his army, Mr. Moritz writes. That's only one example in his argument that the Austrian church in general struck a bargain with the devil in order to survive, and that many priests and bishops went beyond silence to actively support the Nazis.

The fight over VOTF in Newark

Myers' only direct contact with members of VOTF came last month when he sent them, in response to their first entreaty, a copy of an anti-VOTF article written by the conservative Catholic editor of CRISIS magazine. Myers' business card was attached to it -- no note.

VOTF reacted adroitly: Members contacted the CRISIS editor, Deal Hudson -- whose article called the group "a wolf in sheep's clothing" -- and persuaded him to speak at their February meeting in New Jersey.

"If they want to meet face to face, I give them credit for that," Hudson said when contacted last week at his Washington offices. "I have been a vocal critic of theirs, and it is only fair that if they invite me that I respond."

Hudson said that if he were a bishop he would do exactly what Myers did and ban the group. He said that when he speaks to VOTF he will stipulate that it not be on church property within the Newark archdiocese in respect of Myers' ban.

Asked whether opening dialogue with the group is violating the spirit of Myers' edict and his own support for Myers' position, Hudson agreed he is engaging in "a balancing act."

"I am definitely going to call Archbishop Myers to see if it is all right with him," Hudson said. "It is always possible that they are using me for cover."

It would be very disapppointing if Myers tells Hudson not to speak to that meeting. This is exactly what VOTF needs - the voices of all the faithful.

An interview with Monsignor Foster of Boston, twice removed for on the basis of false accusations.

No one in authority, not Cardinal Bernard F. Law or any other bishop, has apologized to him for the way he was treated, Foster said in an interview last week. And, he said, it is an apology he deserves.

In an archdiocese still reeling from disclosures about the warm letters Law sent to serial pedophiles like defrocked priest John J. Geoghan, Foster's hopes for a meeting with the cardinal have gone unrealized - even though the two men concelebrated Mass last Sunday.

''Yes, I am angry at the treatment I have received from an institution I have committed my life to,'' Foster said. Without citing Law by name, he said, ''I would wish that someone with institutional authority would sit down with me and talk to me about my experience, and the feelings that I've had, the emotional rollercoaster I've been on, the questions that remain.''

He is puzzled, too, at what his friends believe are insufficient efforts by the church to fulfill its promise to help restore his reputation. ''For the last 11 months, we have put a lot of resources into helping the cardinal with reputational issues. So this is not something new, restoring someone's reputation,'' he said.

Yet despite the focus on his case, Foster says he has no interest in being ''the poster boy for the falsely accused.'' Foster says it is the victims of priests, and not him, who deserve the church's undivided attention.

''What I've been through doesn't compare to what these [victims] have been through. They need to hear how sorry the church is for what's been done. They need the apology. They need healing,'' he said. ''They need to be reached out to. For people in authority, that's their first obligation.''

Post-abortion women to be a presence in DC around January 22

Jerry Hall joins Popetown


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