Friday, March 19, 2010

Colleagues List, March 20th, 2010

Vol V. No. 30


Edited by Wayne A. Holst




In this issue:
Special Items -

Two Key Lectures at the U. of Calgary This Week -

The Iwaaza Lecture on Urban Theology
Chair of Christian Thought

"Cross-Pressured Authenticity"
by Ronald A. Kuipers


Muslim Awarness Week
Western Muslim Presentation:

"Jihad of the West:
Alienation, Integration & Identity"
by Tariq Ramadan


Oscar Nominated Film: My Notice:
March 17th, 2010

"The Most Dangerous Man in America"


Colleague Contributions:

Ron Rolheiser
Ralph Milton
Ken Kuhl
Jim Taylor
Donald Grayston
Kelly Johnson


Net Notes:

Vatican Sees Campaign Against Pope
Ratzinger's Responsibility by Hans Kung
Abuse Scandals Surface in Brazil, Chile
Restoration Work Starts on Rio's Christ
Bart Ehrmann on the Bible's Contradictions
Book Review: Oscar Romero and the Communion of Saints
Bp-Elect Mamakwa Vows to Move Native Ministry Forward
Joy and Sadness Greet News of Second Gay ECUSA Bishop


Global Faith Potpourri:

Fourteen Stories from Ecumenical News International


Quotes of the Week:

Joan Chittister
Rosa Parks
Sarah Miles
Abraham Heschel


On This Day (March 16th - March 17th)

March 16, 1968 - My Lai Massacre During Vietnam War
March 17, 1942 - MacArthur New Allied Commander in SW Pacific


Closing Meditation - St. Patrick's Prayer for the Faithful


Dear Friends:

There is much to share with you in this week's issue of
Colleagues List. I hope that the dominant items, space-
wise, will not direct your attention away from many fine
contributions and reports.

I had the opportunity to listen to two fine presentations
from very different perspectives at the U. of C. this

First was a Chair of Christian Thought lecture entitled:
"Cross-Pressured Authenticity" (a part-assessment of the
book "A Secular Age" (Charles Taylor) by Ronald A. Kuipers
of the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto.

Second was Muslim Awarness Week "Western Muslim" presentation:
"Jihad of the West: Alienation, Integration and Identity" by
the famous Islamic theologian-scholar Tariq Ramadan of
Oxford University.

"Secularization" viewed creatively, and a better definition
of the term "Jihad" may be a good way to sum up the talks given
by Kuipers and Ramadan.

I appreciate their visits to my campus and hope that my
transcriptions capture the essense of what they said. Of
course, I hope you will benefit from my text as well.


Two weeks ago, on Oscar weekend I offered a notice of
the new film "The Most Dangerous Man in America."

This week, editor and colleague Daina Doucet
posted an edited version of my comments.


Colleague Contributions:

Ron Rolheiser - shares his views on "The Imperative
of Ecumenism" from his weekly e-column.

Ralph Milton - will be concluding his weekly e-column
"Rumors" after almost 600 issues. I want to honour
Ralph for his contribution to Canadian religious
journalism and share an example of this thought.

Ken Kuhl - introduces the biggest religious news story
of the week, and of many weeks, with his article from
the Irish Times of Dublin on the Catholic sexual abuse
scandal in that country. (ENI, Cathnews, Zenit, BBC)

Jim Taylor - picks up on this week's St. Patrick's Day
focus with a story about St. Brendan, another famous
Irishman we should know more about.

Donald Grayston - found a story by Thomas Cahill in the
New York Times that celebrates the Irish in classic

Kelly Johnson - sent me a helpful reminder that the
founder of Earth Day (coming soon) was John McConnell
Jr. a Pentecostal.


Net Notes:

"Vatican Sees Campaign Against Pope" - opens the second
front in this week's Catholic church struggles. The New
York Times has been commenting daily on the German church
crisis that threatens to implicate the pope himself.

The BBC religion commentator states it in stark terms:
"I have never seen a graver crisis affecting the credibility
of the leadership of the world's longest surviving
international organization, the Roman Catholic Church."
I include a series of articles, reflecting this huge story.
(ENI, New York Times, The Tablet)


"Ratzinger's Responsibility" - it was inevitable but also
galvanizing, to have Hans Kung enter the debate on the
involvement of Ratzinger, his frequent nemesis, in the crisis.
(National Catholic Reporter)


"Abuse Scandals Surface in Brazil, Chile" - at the risk
of 'piling on' I add yet another dimension to the story -
the two-thirds world and global nature of the crisis


"Restoration Work Starts on Rio's Christ" - visitors
to Rio are familiar with the famous statue of Christ
that overlooks the city and its harbour. (Cathnews)

"Bart Ehrmann on the Bible's Contradictions" - modern
religion readers have no doubt heard of Bart Ehrmann.
His latest book "Jesus Interupted" reveals what the
author finds as 'contradictions' in the Bible. The
author tells how he has evolved from a conservative
to a liberal Christian, and now to agnosticism.
(Wall Street Journal)

"Book Review: Oscar Romero and the Communion of Saints" -
last week we recognized the thirtieth anniversary of
the martydom of Oscar Romero. This week, I share a
review of a new biography (published by Orbis in America)
and now appearing in the UK (The Tablet)

"Bp-Elect Mamakwa Vows to Move Native Ministry Forward" -
Canadian Anglicans recognized the election of Archdeacon
Lydia Mamakwa - the first area bishop of the Diocese
of Keewatin in NW Ontario. Another first is that she
is a woman (Anglican Journal)

"Joy and Sadness Greet News of Second Gay ECUSA Bishop" -
US Anglicans celebrated the March 17 news that Diocese of
Los Angeles Bishop-elect Mary Douglas Glasspool had received
the required number of consents to her ordination and
consecration as bishop. Still others lamented the decision...
(Anglican Journal)


Global Faith Potpourri:
Thirteen Stories from Around the World


Quotes of the Week:

Joan Chittister, Rosa Parks, Sarah Miles and
Abraham Heschel provide us with wisdom.


On This Day (March 16th - March 17th)

This week, we remember the My Lai Massacre during the
Vietnam War (1968) and the fact that Douglas MacArthur
was named commander of the Allies in the SW Pacific
during World War II (1942)


Our closing meditation is "St. Patrick's Prayer for the
Faithful" provided by Sojourners Online.


In spite of all the material, I hope that your selections
will give you a good current awareness of the religion
and culture world today.

Blessings on your continuing Lenten journey.




Contact us at: (or)
St. David's Web Address -

Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services -



Created and maintained by Colleague Jock McTavish



Monday Night Study, January 18th - March 29th, 2010
An insightful description of where Christian faith
is moving in the twenty-first century.

Follow our class videos, power point presentations,
other notes and study resources. Bookmark this link:



All are welcome to attend these events!
Monday, March 22nd, 2010 (7-9PM)

Kelly Johnson and Glen Ryland
Pentecostal Chaplains at the U. of Calgary
and Mount Royal University, Calgary

"What Pentecostalism Means to Us"


Monday, April 5th, 2010 (7-9PM)

Ola Mahajer, Science Commissioner
2010-2011 U. of C. Student Council
Biology and Religious Studies Major

"QandA - on the Meaning of Islam"



A collection of twenty-five+ studies conducted since 2000 can
quickly be found at:
This collection of study resources represents a decade of
Monday Night Studies at St. David's, plus extra courses too!

You are welcome to use our course outlines, class notes and
resource pages in your personal and group reflections.




Iwaasa Lecture on Urban Theology
Chair of Christian Thought
March 16th, 2010

"Cross-Pressured Authenticity:
 Charles Taylor on Religious Identity in a Secular Age"
 by Ronald A. Kuipers
 Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto, ON

My notes of the lecture:

Dr. Kuipers based his paper on the important book
"A Secular Age" by McGill University philosopher
Charles Taylor, a recent winner of the Templeton Prize
as well as many other honours.

This is a helpful, descriptive volume to help us better
understand our secularized times.

Taylor is unhappy with the general acceptance of the
"contraction theory" - assuming a decline or "loss" of
of religion due to the emergence of secularity.

Is religion truly in decline? We have failed to tell
the whole tale about this, he says, for in reality, the
matter is much more complex.

Dr. Kuipers introduced two themes around which he presented
his ideas. "Cross-pressure" and "authenticity" - these are
descriptives which can help us to recognize why we tend
to confuse secularization with the decline of religion.

1. Cross-Pressure

There is a proliferation, not a contraction, of spiritual
options for people today.

What seems like decline is actually the confusion that
results from exposure to many spiritual forces converging
upon us at the same time.

No matter what spiritual 'option' people may follow, the
end result is a general, heightened contemporary awareness
of the spiritual.

People are in various states of this spiritual awareness.
Even those who are "entrenched" in a faith tradition are
growingly aware of this cross-pressure.

2. Authenticity

We all are individuals and reserve the right to find faith
on our own without having it imposed upon us. "I will do
my spirituality my way" is a commonly held value today.

Search and struggle is a natural part of this individualized
spiritual journey. Issues of transcendence are becoming more
- not less - pronounced.

When cross-pressure and authenticity converge in us, we
experience an unsettled, "fragilized" situation and a deep
need for spiritual resolution.

B. God is Dead, and I Don't Feel So Good Myself

1. Dealing with Cross-Pressure

The new atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens buy the contraction
theory claiming, in essence, that science has replaced religion.
Taylor, however, assumes a difference approach.

The "social imagination" or the framework for recognizing God
is changing in our time. Secularization is a shifting of that
framework. "Open" and "closed" views of God exist together in
this frame. Fixed and unfixed approaches learn to co-exist.

Atheism is now an option for people. This was not so in the past.
Personal faith becomes "one possibility among others" in our
contemporary situation.

All perspectives tend to be influenced by the "spin" of many
differing representatives in this spiritual mix. Intellectual
dishonesty exists on all sides of this spin.

It is important to stand beyond this dynamic, and see all sides
of what is being offered.

Religion can continue to exist without traditional authority
by reverting to the essentials - i.e. the primal spiritual
meanings that existed for humans before our various inherited
authorities developed.

In other words, we are not confined by the master narratives of
faith we have inherited. Nor need we buy the contraction theory.
Alternate master narratives exist.

We are mostly at mid-point of these current cross-pressures.

2. Dealing With Authenticity

Our times make us dubious of readymade answers for faith.
The Romantic era, several centuries ago, taught us to
"find our own way; avoid a slavish following of any tradition."
This tendency has been democratized in our culture and most
people support the idea.

What might authentic religion, rather than inherited
traditional religion, look like?

The matter of personal meaning is a central value of
our age. We need to be concerned about that meaning
in our contemporary spiritual journeying. The goal should
not be to "role back modernity" to the affirmations of
the past, but to "work through" the implications of what
we experience as personally meaningful.

There is a proliforation of religious experience available
to people today. As well, there is much meaninglessness.
The sense that there is "something more" presses in.

In spite of this confusion, authenticity compells us to
realize that we are far from accepting unbelief as a
viable option. Still, we do not see value in a return
to traditional religion.

One of the great gifts of Christianity and its two thousand
year history is that it links us to other ages of faith
from our own. We need to avoid too much "identification"
with our own particular age. It too will pass.

We must both "know our age" in order to engage it, and
"losen ourselves spiritually from this age" so as not to
be confined by it.

We are experiencing a new kind of religious identity in
these times. It is important to "throw away the crutches"
that keep us from fully engaging the secular age we



Taize provides people with the kind of spiritual hospitality
as well as discipline that many seek today. You bring who
you are to Taize, and you engage it as you can in order
to find meaning.

Many people search for faith at secular universities but
cannot find it. The social scientific approach to religion
in such schools prevents many from a personal spiritual
engagement. Yet even in such places, a spiritual quest
is possible.

How should creedal and confessional churches respond to
this "doing it my way" meaning-quest taking place among
their own people? We need to see all creeds and
confessions as historic reference points, not definitive
statements for all time.


Buy the book "A Secular Age" by Charles Taylor:


The Western Muslim Lecture
Muslim Awareness Week
March 17th, 2010

"Jahid of the West: Alienation, Integration and Identity"
 by Tariq Ramadan
 St. Anthony's College, Oxford University, UK.

Wikipedia biographical article on Tariq Ramadan:

In addition to his book "Western Muslims and the Future
of Islam" Ramadan has also written "What I Believe" and
"Radical Reform" (among other titles.)

Ramadan spoke to a large group made up mainly, but not
totally, of Muslims. He spoke to his audience assuming
they were primarily Canadian Muslims. I was warmly
welcomed  by many people that I met.


My Notes:

Canada is in a privileged position, compared with many
Western countries, to tackle issues about which I speak.
The situation for Muslims is much better in this country
than most in the West. The situation, however, is always
fragile, and can easily turn negative. Your country has
been too quick to follow the lead of the USA, in the past.

(I'm thinking, for example of when Harper seemed to be
influenced against Muslims by Bush) but things have changed.
Take advantage of the current opportunities to influence
Canadian attitudes toward Muslims. That is indeed possible.

Let me unpack the four key words of my presentation title:
jihad, alienation, integration and identity.

1. Jihad

Jihad, in Arabic, means "to strive" - to make an effort.
There is a spiritual dimension to this term; with both
positive and negative; individual and social, aspects to it.

To engage in a personal Jihad, for example, means to engage
in a personal struggle to know oneself totally - both the
positive and negative aspects (greedy and generous, dishonest
and truth-teller, aggressive and peaceful.) Of course, all
these traits are universal in nature.

"Use the positive side of your being to master the dark side."
We have to learn to do good things, as this does not come to
us naturally.

Resist - what is bad
Reform - from bad to good
Knowledge - is required to know and do the good.

What you face in terms of a personal jihad is the same for
you in the West as for any Muslims around the world.

There are political and spiritual aspects to jihad as well,
and these require the same disciplines I have noted above.


Remember that you are not visitors to Canada. You are
Canadians and belong here. From here on, Islam will be
a religion of Canada. Make it a faith that will truly
contribute to the well-being and the good of Canada.

Speak, as I do, about being a Western Muslim. Be proud
if this, and do not convey a victim mentality.


Islam is one, but it must fit into many different social
contexts around the world. One faith, but many different
interpretations of it. It is not Islam that needs reforming
but our own minds need to be changed.

2. Alienation (Psychological/Spiritual Jihad)

You feel alienated from others when you think of yourself
through the eyes and biases of others. You need to learn
to take responsibility for seeing yourself as the subject,
and not the object, of how others perceive you.

The current Western view of Muslims is negative. The media
convey us as violent people. This is true even in Canada.

If you think that alienation and negative perceptions are
bad, you must deal with this reality and move past hurt
and defensiveness.

Do not begin with how others perceive you. Define your own
meaning. This is psychological/spiritual jihad - seeing
yourself not defensively, but as a subject.

Don't respond in fear but as an equal subject with others
in a common quest for good. When I do this, I not only
serve myself and my Muslim community, but all my fellow
citizens in Canada. I have a sense of my own dignity and
I can look upon all others with dignity as well.

This psychological/spiritual jihad can help all people
become better human beings.

When I am successful in dealing with myself I am no longer
alienated from, but fully integrated into, my world as it is.

3. Integration (Intellectual Jihad)

We must learn to translate the meanings of Islamic (Koranic)
words and their meanings into understandings that fit our
situations in the West.

For example, many translate Islam as "submission" but this
has a connotation that can be negative. Better to use a
term like "surrender to the peace of God" "to enter into
God's peace" "to come to experience an inner peace."

Translation of such key meanings represents an intellectual
jihad, and is very important for Muslims living in the West.
We need to translate our teachings in ways that help us to
integrate to the West.

We need to translate, from the heart of Islam, other words
like "citizenship" and "secularism" and go deeper than mere
surface definitions. This intellectual jihad will not only
serve Muslims in the West, but all Muslims and all humans.

Western Muslims can play a crucial, though not exclusive,
role in intellectual jihad.

4. Identity (Social, Cultural and Political Jihad)

We need to demonstrate our identity with Western societies
by adhering to the laws of Canada; speaking the languages of
this land and being loyal to this nation.

We are both committed and contributing members of our society.
We can be integrated citizens of Canada now by showing that
we believe in it and want to contribute to it.

We take from this culture, but we also find ways to give back.

In that regard, we might not always agree with the common
wisdom of this land, but we respect it and learn from it.

Go for wisdom wherever you can find it. Be involved in all
fields of social endeavour to demonstrate you belong here.

Encourage each other to be good Muslims, but also good Canadians!
Remember that through an honest jihad, it is possible to be both.
This struggle will help you to destroy alienation, find ways to
become fully integrated, and to build your identity here.



1. Our Imams need to be trained in the West so they can make
distinctions between Islamic religion and Islamic culture.
They need to help Muslims integrate to Canadian society.

2. Canada is a promising country, but our situation remains
fragile. Make the most of this time in our history here.

3. Radicalization - as we have seen with some Islamic groups
is always unacceptable, but sometimes understandable.

4. If you challenge Muslim practices that are inappropriate
for this country you can expect criticism. But always speak
from Muslim Tradition itself when you challenge. When you
do this, you will not be contradicted by other Muslims.

5. Homosexuality - it is classically condemned in Islamic
understanding, but do we condemn without discussion? No.
Always seek to respect those who think differently.

6. In Europe, the term "immigration" is a problem with negative
connotations. In Canada "immigration" is a good word because
it is the basis for how this country has developed. This is
the root of your society and a very positive thing. You
need to help us in Europe to understand your definition
of "immigration."

7. Non-violent jihad? Not all Muslims accept my explanation,
but challenge those who question non-violent jihad. Don't
expect to change all minds, but always attempt to promote
discussion and dialogue.


Buy his book: "Western Muslims and the Future of Islam"

Two video presentations by the speaker:

Tariq Ramadan on Youtube:

"Western Muslims and the Future of Islam"

A Conversation with Tariq Ramadan on Youtube:


Oscar Nominated Film - My Notice:

"The Most Dangerous Man in America"

This week on the website:
Read the article:



The Imperative of Ecumenism
March 14th, 2010

I am deeply grateful for having... strong, conservative,
religious roots. But a lot of things have changed for me
since I was a young, idealistic, Roman Catholic boy growing
up in an immigrant community on the Canadian prairies.

Early on in my seminary years, my professors, honest
scholars (and mostly Roman Catholic priests), exposed me
to some wonderful Anglican and Protestant biblical scholars
and theologians whose insights and commitment deepened my
understanding of Jesus and helped rivet me more firmly in
my own religious life.

Later on in my seminary years, I was joined in the classroom
by men and women from various Christian denominations, all of
whom were studying for ministry and all of whom had a deep
commitment to Christ. Friendship with them and respect for
their faith did not lead me to leave Roman Catholicism and
join another denomination, but it did begin to reshape my
thinking about what constitutes true faith and true religion.
It helped me too to realize that our commonality as Christians
largely dwarfs our differences...

Read the entire article:



The End of Rumors
March 14th, 2010

“To everything there is a season,” said the ancient preacher.
And the season has now come when Rumors must end.

The weight of age presses more heavily on me than I often want
to admit, and the mental energy needed to do this newsletter
each week becomes harder to find. We’re approaching 600 issues
and a dozen years, and I have always maintained that I wanted
to stop doing this when it was still hard to stop, and when
people still wanted me to continue. As P.T. Barnum has said,
“Always leave ‘em wanting more.”

So Easter will be the last issue. The last lectionary commentary
will be the one for Easter Sunday.

It’s a hard thing to say and a hard thing to do, and I will
miss it. Most of all I’ll miss the delightful notes I get from
so many of you each week.

But the time is right and it must be done. There are other
things I need to say to you all, but I’ll save those for that
last issue on Easter Sunday.



My Comment:

Ralph Milton has inspired many Canadians to use their gifts to
write biblically and spiritually. I have read Ralph's books
and his weekly "Rumors" for many years.

When you and Jim Taylor established Wood Lake Press about
thirty years ago, it was a giant step forward for Canadian
religious publishing.

We will miss you, Ralph, but we hope you will continue to share
with us what you can, as long as you can.



Here is an example of Ralph's recent "Rumors" writing:

Rumors – When I was 13 or 14 years old, I decided I wanted
to be a writer when I grew up. In middle age, I concluded I
was too ordinary to be a writer. Now at a somewhat frailer
75 I realize that ordinariness is the essential quality of
a writer.

When I first took up this craft, I didn’t realize how much
time you have to spend alone. And that’s exactly how it has
to be, because it takes a long, long, time to discipline
promiscuous words into an approximation of what you have in
your head.

Or what’s in your heart. And that’s where the best writing
always comes from. And it often involves intense emotion.

On one occasion Bev came into my office to locate a book.
“Why are you crying?” she wanted to know.

It was a reasonable question, but I didn’t really have a
reasonable answer.

The particular tears on that occasion came when I was trying
to capture in words the picture in my heart of Bev and Zoë,
in the middle of a quiet afternoon.

Bev was sitting way back in an easy chair. Zoë was on her lap
sitting way back into her grandma. And the two of them were
singing, one song after another, quietly, unconsciously,
simply being there with each other, their eyes half closed.

And as they sang “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” I finally
understood the difference between religious music and non-
religious music. It has nothing to do with the music at all.
It has to do with who is singing what to whom and why.

“Mary Had a Little Lamb” can be a far more powerful hymn of
praise and beauty than anything Luther or Wesley or Wren ever

So I sat in the glory and the beauty of that holiness, and
tried not to blow my nose too loudly...

The power of the ordinary almost overwhelm me sometimes when
I read stories such as that of the woman who poured oil over
Jesus’ feet. Somebody who was there saw what happened, heard
Jesus’ reply, and recognized it as a holy moment.

The story got told over and over in the early church, and
people understood the holiness of that moment, even though
they got all mixed up in the details and argued about whether
it was Mary of Bethany, or Mary of Magdala, or some other Mary
who did the pouring. And what Judas said and why he said it.

But there was someone there the time it first happened –
someone who could see the holiness in the ordinary – who had
the soul of a writer. Or better yet, the soul of a story

And for that someone, I thank God.


Want to communicate with Ralph?

Write him at:


London, ON


The Irish Times
March 15, 2010
by Mary Rafterty

OPINION: When clerics are shown to have blatantly breached
the principles they preach, they must accept the consequences
and resign...

Read the article:


Ireland's Cardinal Brady Rejects Calls to Resign

Cathnews USA
March 15th, 2010

Sean Brady has rejected calls to resign over claims he
helped cover up sex abuse investigations in the 1970s
after he admitted being present at meetings where two
abused teenagers were made to sign vows of silence.



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
16 March 2010

Irish church explains cardinal's role
in sex-abuse investigation

Dublin (ENI). The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has issued
a statement aimed at clarifying actions of its current leader,
Cardinal Seán Brady, back in 1975 when he was a teacher, and
who now faces calls to resign due to a paedophile investigation
in which he was then involved. The statement follows Cardinal
Brady's confirmation that he represented the church at meetings,
where two young victims of a paedophile priest signed an oath of
silence about their complaints. The Catholic communications
office in Ireland released a statement on 16 March saying, "In
late March 1975, Father Seán Brady was asked by his bishop,
Bishop Francis McKiernan, to conduct a canonical enquiry into
an allegation of child sexual abuse which was made by a boy in
Dundalk, concerning a Norbertine priest, Fr Brendan Smyth."
The statement said, "However, he had no decision-making powers
regarding the outcome of the enquiry," the statement explained.


Zenit News, Rome
March 17th, 2010

Cardinal Brady Admits Shame, Asks for Prayer

Says "Drip, Drip, Drip" of New Revelations Has to Stop

ARMAGH, Ireland - On the feast of St. Patrick, patron of
Ireland, the president of the country's episcopal conference
is asking for forgiveness for his role in a sexual abuse case
from the '70s.

Cardinal Sean Brady reflected on "wounded memories and past
mistakes" during his homily today in Armagh's Cathedral of
St. Patrick.

The cardinal has come under media fire because he interviewed
two adolescent boys in 1975 who reported being abused by a
priest who would later be jailed for his crimes, but not
for another two decades and after abusing dozens of children.

The cardinal's involvement in the case -- he was asked by his
bishop to interview the boys because he had a degree in canon
law - has only come to light this week...


"I have listened to reaction[s] from people to my role in
events 35 years ago," the cardinal said in his homily today.
"I want to say to anyone who has been hurt by any failure on
my part that I apologize to you with all my heart. I also
apologize to all those who feel I have let them down. Looking
back I am ashamed that I have not always upheld the values
that I profess and believe in."

Read the entire article:


Pope Writes Letter on Irish Pedophile Priests

March 19th, 2010


Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
19 March 2010

Irish cardinal's apology comes as Pope
releasing Irish abuse letter

Dublin (ENI). The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in
Ireland is facing pressure to resign after apologising for
his actions in 1975, when he represented the church at
meetings where victims of a paedophile priest signed an
oath of silence. At the same time the Vatican said that
Pope Benedict XVI has signed a pastoral letter aimed at
defusing anger in Ireland over a simmering sex abuse scandal
in the Catholic Church. The letter follows growing criticism
over the church's handling of abuse cases across Europe.
Cardinal Sean Brady used a homily on St Patrick's Day,
when the patron saint of Ireland is celebrated, to apologise
after he had earlier confirmed that he represented the church
at meetings where two victims of the paedophile priest signed
their oath of silence.



March 17, 2010


Remembering Brendan
By Jim Tayloa

St. Patrick is not the only Irish saint, although he is by far
the best known. When Joan and I went on a “pilgrimage” through
Ireland four years ago, we met St. Brendan.

Not in person, of course. According to legend, St. Brendan reached
North America about 500 years before the Vikings. In 1978, author
Tim Severin showed that Brendan’s voyage was possible by sailing a
leather-clad boat, like the one Brendan would have used, across
the Atlantic to Newfoundland.

For 15 centuries, pilgrims have come to the Dingle Peninsula, as
far west as you can go in Ireland, to plod the pilgrims path from
the sea to the top of Mount Brandon -- the ancient Irish weren’t
much concerned about consistency in spelling.
Part of the walk was fairly easy, across a ridge, down the other
side. Our group merely had to watch out for sheep droppings,
slippery mud, and an incredibly prickly plant called gorse,
furze, or whins...

Read the article:



Turning Green With Literacy
by Thomas Cahill

March 16th, 2010

WHY should we celebrate the Irish? No doubt, several
reasons could be proffered. But for me one answer
stands out. Long, long ago the Irish pulled off a
remarkable feat: They saved the books of the Western
world and left them as gifts for all humanity.

Read the article:



Thought you also might be interested in the origins
of Earth Day and it's links to a Pentecostal and
Lutheran minister!




Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
15 March 2010

Vatican defends accusations against Pope from Germany
Rome (ENI). The Vatican has described accusations that
Pope Benedict XVI was involved in covering up a German
sex abuse case as part of a campaign to discredit him.
At the same time a group of reform-minded Catholics in
the pontiff's home country has called on him to speak
about the wider sex abuse scandal currently in the
headlines there. Some media in Germany have linked the
action, or non-action, taken against a paedophile priest
to Benedict during his period as archbishop of Munich in
the early 1980s. Along with this, the Roman Catholic
reform group We are Church has criticised the Pope and
the church for not doing enough to speak on a wider
scandal dating back some decades in which clerics and
church institutions are said to have been involved in
sex abuse against children. At the Vatican Press Office,
the Rev. Federico Lombardi said on 14 March.


New York Times,
March 14th, 2010
by Nicholas Kulish and Rachel Danadio

The Vatican decried what it said was an aggressive
campaign against Pope Benedict XVI in his native
Germany over a sexual abuse scandal.

Read the article:


The Tablet
March 15th, 2010

A Church on trial

This is proving a long, cold winter for the Catholic Church
in relation to the sexual abuse of children by clergy. Hard
on the heels of the devastating Murphy report into sexual
abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin, similar cases are now
coming to light elsewhere in Europe, especially in Germany.
The possibility of a similar scandal in Spain is now being
openly talked about there too, and child abuse allegations
are being investigated in Holland and Austria.

This follows a series of grave scandals in the United States,
and of course the Catholic Church in Britain has not been
spared. These developments on the continent of Europe mean
that any simplistic assumption that the problem is confined
to Ireland and the Catholic Irish diaspora, or even to
Catholics in the English-speaking world, is no longer



New York Times
March 17th, 2010

German Priest in Church Abuse Case Is Suspended
by Nicholas Kulish

The priest at the center of a sex-abuse scandal that has
embroiled the pope worked with children for decades after
he was convicted of molestation.

Read the article:


National Catholic Reporter
March 18th, 2010

Ratzinger's Responsibility
by Hans Kung

'Scandalous wrongs cannot be glossed over,
we need a change of attitude'

After Archbishop Robert Zollitsch's recent papal audience,
he spoke of Pope Benedict's "great shock" and "profound
agitation" over the many cases of abuse which are coming
to light. Zollitsch, archbishop of Freiburg, Germany, and
the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, asked pardon
of the victims and spoke again about the measures that have
already been taken or will soon be taken. But neither he nor
the pope have addressed the real question that can no longer
be put aside.

According to the latest Emnid-poll, only 10 percent of
those interviewed in Germany believe that the church is
doing enough in dealing with this scandal; on the contrary,
86 percent charge the church's leadership with insufficient
willingness to come to grips with the problem. The bishops'
denial that there is any connection between the celibacy rule
and the abuse problem can only confirm their criticism.

1st Question: Why does the pope continue to assert that what
he calls "holy" celibacy is a "precious gift", thus ignoring
the biblical teaching that explicitly permits and even
encourages marriage for all office holders in the Church?

Celibacy is not "holy"; it is not even "fortunate"; it is
"unfortunate", for it excludes many perfectly good candidates
from the priesthood and forces numerous priests out of their
office, simply because they want to marry. The rule of celibacy
is not a truth of faith, but a church law going back to the
11th Century; it should have been abolished already in the
16th Century, when it was trenchantly criticized by the

Honesty demands that the pope, at the very least, promise
to rethink this rule -- something the vast majority of the
clergy and laity have wanted for a long time now. Both Alois
Glück, the president of the Central Committee of the German
Catholics and Hans-Jochen Jaschke, auxiliary bishop of
Hamburg, have called for a less uptight attitude towards
sexuality and for the coexistence of celibate and married
priests in the church

2nd Question: Is it true, as Archbishop Zollitsch insists,
that "all the experts" agree that abuse of minors by clergymen
and the celibacy rule have nothing to do with each other? How
can he claim to know the opinions of "all the experts"? In
fact, there are numerous psychotherapists and psychoanalysts
who see a connection here. The celibacy law obliges the priest
to abstain from all forms of sexual activity, though their
sexual impulses remain virulent, and thus the danger exists
that these impulses might be shifted into a taboo zone and
compensated for in abnormal ways.

Honesty demands that we take the correlation between abuse
and celibacy seriously. The American psychotherapist Richard
Sipe has clearly demonstrated, on the basis of a 25 year
study published in 2004 under the title Knowledge of sexual
activity and abuse within the clerical system of the Roman
Catholic church, that the celibate way of life can indeed
reinforce pedophile tendencies, especially when the
socialization leading to it, i.e. adolescence and young
adulthood spent in minor and major seminary cut off from the
normal experiences of their peer groups, is taken intoaccount.
In his study, Sipe found retarded psycho-sexual development
occurring more frequently in celibate clerics than in the
average population. And often, such deficits in psychological
development and sexual tendencies only become evident after

3rd Question: Instead of merely asking pardon of the
victims of abuse, should not the bishops at last admit
their own share of blame? For decades,they have not only
tabooed the celibacy issue but also systematically covered
up cases of abuse with the mantle of strictest secrecy,
doing little more than re-assigning the perpetrators to
new ministries. In a statement of March 16, Bishop Ackermann
of Trier, special delegate of the German Bishops' Conference
for sexual abuse cases, publically acknowledged the
existence of such a cover-up, but characteristically he
put the blame not on the church as institution, but rather
on the individual perpetrators and the false considerations
of their superiors. Protection of their priests and the reputation
of the church was evidently more important to the bishops than
 protection of minors.

Thus, there is an important difference between the individual
cases of abuse surfacing in schools outside the Catholic
church and the systematic and correspondingly more frequent
cases of abuse within the Catholic church, where, now as
before, an uptight, rigoristic sexual morality prevails,
that finds its culmination in the law of celibacy.

Honesty demands that the chairman of the German Bishops'
Conference should have clearly and definitively announced,
that, in the future, the hierarchy will cease to deal with
cases of criminal acts committed by those in the service
of the church by circumventing the state system of justice.

Can it be that the hierarchy here in Germany will only wake
up when it is confronted with demands for reparation payments
in terms of millions of dollars? In the United States, the
Catholic church had to pay some $1.3 billion alone in 2006;
in Ireland, the government helped the religious orders set
up a compensation fund with a ruinous sum of $2.8 billion.

Such sums say much more about the dimensions of the problem
than the pooh-poohing statistics about the small percentage
of celibate clergy among the general population of abusers.

4th Question: Is it not time for Pope Benedict XVI himself
to acknowledge his share of responsibility, instead of
whining about a campaign against his person? No other person
in the Church has had to deal with so many cases of abuse
crossing his desk. Here some reminders:

* In his eight years as a professor of theology in
Regensburg, in close contact with his brother Georg, the
capellmeister of the Regensburger Domspatzen, Ratzinger
can hardly have been ignorant about what went on in the
choir and its boarding--school. This was much more than
an occasional slap in the face, there are charges of
serious physical violence and even sexual abuse.

* In his five years as Archbishop of Munich, repeated
cases of sexual abuse at least by one priest transferred
to his Archdiocese have come to light. His loyal Vicar
General, my classmate Gerhard Gruber, has taken full
responsibility for the handling of this case, but that
is hardly an excuse for the Archbishop, who is ultimately
responsible for the administration of his diocese.
* In his 24 years as Prefect of the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith, from around the world all
cases of grave sexual offences by clerics had to be
reported, under strictest secrecy ("secretum pontificum"),
to his curial office, which was exclusively responsible
for dealing with them. Ratzinger himself, in a letter on
"grave sexual crimes" addressed to all the bishops under
the date of 18 May, 2001, warned the bishops, under threat
of ecclesiastical punishment, to observe "papal secrecy"
in such cases.

* In his five years as Pope, Benedict XVI has done
nothing to change this practice with all its fateful

Honesty demands that Joseph Ratzinger himself, the man
who for decades has been principally responsible for the
worldwide cover-up, at last pronounce his own "mea culpa".

As Bishop Tebartz van Elst of Limburg, in a radio address
on March 14, put it: "Scandalous wrongs cannot be glossed
over or tolerated, we need a change of attitude that makes
room for the truth. Conversion and repentance begin when
guilt is openly admitted, when contrition1 is expressed
in deeds and manifested as such, when responsibility is
taken, and the chance for a new beginning is seized upon."

[Fr. Hans Küng is a theologian and author of many books,
including "Does God Exist: An Answer for Today" and
"Infallible?: An Inquiry"]



Cathnews Asia
March 17th, 2010

Child sex scandal revelations have emerged in Brazil after
the Vatican said three priests were under investigation
following allegations of child abuse.
Read more:



Cathnews Asia
March 15th, 2010



Wall Street Journal
March 15th, 2010




The Tablet,
March 15th, 2010
by Scott Wright

Reviewed by Jim O'Keefe

It is now 30 years since Archbishop Oscar Romero of El
Salvador was assassinated by a Salvadorean military death
squad, on 24 March 1980.

Christians throughout the world will remember the "Monsenor",
as he was known, during this anniversary year. This book
helps us appreciate why Oscar Romero has found a place in
the affection, memories and spirituality of so many people.




Anglican Church News
March 15th, 2010



Anglican Church News
March 19th, 2010



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
15 March 2010

Australian churches 'curry' support
to halt attacks on Indians - Feature

Melbourne, Australia (ENI). Church leaders have taken to
eating curry meals to support campaigns to overcome violence
and racism against Indian students living in Australia.
"Vindaloo against Violence" was a recent event where
Australians were invited to have a curry lunch or dinner
on 24 February as an act of appreciation and peace between
local citizens and the Indian student community. The Rev.
Alistair Macrae, leader of Australia's largest Protestant
Church, the Uniting Church in Australia, had urged church
people, "to head out for a curry … to the local Indian
restaurant and order a vindaloo or a curry and while giving
thanks for the food, pray for Indian students in this country
and pray for the generous Spirit to soften our hearts".


Adventist leader who survived Soviet prison, exile; remembered
Moscow (ENI). Mikhail Kulakov, a Seventh-day Adventist leader
and Bible translator, is being remembered as a survivor of
imprisonment and exile in the Soviet Union for his religious
beliefs, after his death in Highland, California, at the age
of 83. Kulakov had brain cancer, and died on 10 February,
according to a statement released by the world headquarters
of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The Russian Adventist was born in Leningrad, which is now St
Petersburg, in 1927, as Stalinism was beginning to grip the
Soviet Union. He followed in the steps of his father, who was
an Adventist minister. Kulakov's work as the leader of
underground worship services resulted in his arrest in 1945,
and subsequent exile to the central Asian Soviet state of
Kazakhstan. [430 words, ENI-10-0178]


Lutheran grouping's membership tops 70 million for first time

Geneva (ENI). For the first time, the total number of members
in churches belonging to the Lutheran World Federation has risen
to just over 70 million increasing by 1.6 million from the
preceding year. On its Web site, the Geneva-based grouping says
that in 2009 membership of LWF churches in Africa and Asia
increased, while churches in Latin America and the Caribbean,
as well as in North America, experienced a slight decline.
In a statement, the communications' office of the federation
said that the total number of members in churches affiliated
to the federation in 2009 stood at 70 053 316. In 2008, LWF-
affiliated churches had around 68.5 million members worldwide,
up from 68.3 million in 2007.


16 March 2010

Christian leaders call for peace prayers in divided Thailand

Tokyo (ENI). Christian leaders in Thailand have called on people
to pray for peace, reconciliation and a "just solution" in the
country, where political tensions are escalating in protests
involving opponents of the government and its supporters. Fewer
protestors in red shirts turned out on 16 March than in previous
days, though this time they threw their own blood at the entrance
to Government House, news agency reports said. The demonstrators
said the action was a symbolic expression of what government
opponents were prepared to do to achieve their aims.


Less than half in US link Easter to the Resurrection,
survey shows

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). While most Americans describe Easter as
a religious holiday, less than half of U.S. adults surveyed link
it specifically to the Resurrection of Jesus, a Barna Group study
shows. Seven in 10 respondents mentioned religion or spirituality
in their response to an open-ended question about how they describe
what Easter means to them personally. But just 42 percent tied
Easter to the Resurrection following the death of Jesus on the


17 March 2010

March and message highlight plight
of India's Dalit Christians

Bangalore, India (ENI). Churches in India are calling for
equality and justice for discriminated and marginalised
communities in a Lenten campaign that has started in the
world's second most populous nation. It has a message that
cites the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark in the Bible
(15:34), who, when he had been crucified, cried out, "My
God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" ," The Rev. Raj
Bharath Patta, secretary of the NCCI Commission on Dalits
told Ecumenical News International, "In our times today,
when the doors of hope are closed from every corner to
communities that have been dying under the rubric of
discrimination and oppression, to cry out one's
frustration is also to invoke hope.".


Christian rights' body asks UN
to reject new Burma poll law

Kathmandu (ENI). A Christian rights organization has urged
the United Nations to reject a law passed by Burma's military
rulers that could lead to the expulsion of pro-democracy leader
Aung San Suu Kyi from her own party ahead of the country's
first poll since 1990, an election she convincingly won. The
military junta in Burma has not yet set a date for the next
election but there has been speculation that it could be held
in October. There has also been speculation that the
authorities will aim to have the election before Suu Kyi
is released from imprisonment. The new law disenfranchises
significant sections of the population, and bars a person
with a criminal conviction, which would include Suu Kyi and
Buddhist monks arrested for protesting, from standing as a
candidate or being members of a political party. Christian
Solidarity Worldwide and BurmaInfo (Japan) recently sent a
joint fact-finding mission to the Burma-Thailand border,
and released a report earlier in March.


Salvation Army reports record US donations
despite sour economy

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). Nickels, dimes and dollar quarters
added up quickly last Christmas despite the economic slump as
Americans donated a record US$139 million to the Salvation
Army's Red Kettle campaign. "America is an incredibly
generous nation and philanthropy is alive and well, despite
the current economic conditions impacting so many," said
Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, national commander of the
Salvation Army, Religion News Service reports. "We are
grateful for every donor, volunteer and corporate partner
for supporting the Salvation Army's mission by giving more
than ever during a time when some have so little to give."
The Salvation Army reported a 7 percent increase in giving
over the $130 million record of 2008.


18 March 2010

Pope visits Lutheran church in Rome

Rome (ENI). When Pope Benedict XVI visited Rome's Lutheran
"Christuskirche", he noted both successes and challenges in
relations between Lutherans and Roman Catholics touching on
the unresolved subject of receiving the Eucharist. The Pope
in a 14 March visit cautioned against being content and
resting "with the successes of the ecumenism of recent years".
The pontiff said, "We cannot drink of the same chalice and we
cannot be together around the altar." Benedict said, "This
should make us sad because it is a sinful situation, but
unity cannot be created by men."


19 March 2010

Gaddafi's call for Christian-Muslim split
denounced in Nigeria

Nigeria (ENI). Nigerian religious and political leaders
have criticised Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi's call
for the partitioning of Africa's most populous nation into
two countries - one for Christians and one for Muslims
Nigeria said on 19 March it was recalling its ambassador
to Libya, noting that Gaddafi’s remarks were offensive
and irresponsible. Gaddafi said on 17 March that partition
had saved many lives in India and Pakistan. He asserted
that splitting Nigeria into two "would stop the bloodshed
and burning of places of worship". Gaddafi's comments came
in a speech to students and were quoted by the Libyan State
news agency, Jana.


Ousted Zimbabwe bishop said to be flouting court order

Harare (ENI). Anglicans in Zimbabwe are saying that former
Harare Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga is ignoring a High
Court ruling that restored access to church buildings by
members of the Anglican Church of Central Africa. High
Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu on 5 March dismissed an
attempt by Kunonga to block an appeal by the Church of
the Province of Central Africa against a ruling in 2009
that gave Kunonga, who has been excommunicated, control
of church properties. The man who took over as bishop of
Harare after Kunonga was excommunicated, Sebastian Bakare,
rued in an interview carried in the Church Times newspaper
on 12 March that other denominations in Zimbabwe "have
been silent on such "injustice perpetrated against
ordinary members of one church whose only 'crime' is to
worship in their churches".


Dutch summit to engage faith leaders
and UN on HIV response

Geneva (ENI). A summit of 40 Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian,
Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh leaders and the United
Nations aims to inspire change in the fight against HIV
and AIDS and the stigma that goes with it. The two-day
summit, which organizers said is the first of its kind,
starts on 22 March in Den Dolder, Netherlands. It aims to
explore opportunities for religious leaders to take action
to eliminate the stigma and discrimination affecting people
living with HIV and AIDS. "The leaders gathered at this
summit have the ability to inspire and empower change –
within their own communities, across countries, and
throughout wider communities," said the Rev. Richard
Fee, head of the board of directors of the Ecumenical
Advocacy Alliance.



National Catholic Reporter
March 18th, 2010

The Bifurcation of Loyalties

Our theology of obedience (loyalty to church authority)
must be reviewed so that those of good heart can become
real moral leaders rather than simply agents of the

- Sr. Joan Chittister


March 16th, 2010

This movement was not just about desegregating the buses,
or even just the mistreatment of our people in Montgomery.
This movement wasabout slaking the centuries old thirst of
a long-sufferingpeople for freedom, dignity, and human
rights. It was time to drink at the well.

- Rosa Parks from "A Call to Conscience," edited by
  Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard


March 17th, 2010

Jesus is real, and so, praise God, are we. Every single
thing the resurrected Jesus does on earth he does through
our bodies. You're fed, you're healed, you're forgiven,
you're pronounced clean. You are loved ...
Go and do likewise.

- Sarah Miles, from her book "Jesus Freak"


March 18th, 2010

"For many of us the march from Selma to Montgomery was both
protest and prayer. Legs are not lips, and walking is not
kneeling. And yet our legs uttered songs. Even without
words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying."

- Abraham Joshua Heschel, American rabbi, theologian,
   and philosopher



On March 16, 1968, during the Vietnam War, the
My Lai Massacre was carried out by United States troops
under the command of Lt. William L. Calley Jr.


On March 17, 1942, Gen. Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia
to become supreme commander of Allied forces in the southwest
Pacific theater during World War II.


On March 18, 1965, the first spacewalk took place as Soviet
cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov left his Voskhod 2 capsule and
remained outside the spacecraft for 20 minutes, secured
by a tether.



Prayer for the Faithful

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

(Sojourners Online)


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