Liberty University: Disgraced Jerry Falwell replaced


Liberty University taps an anti-LGBTQ extremist to replace Jerry Falwell Jr. after years of scandals

Jerry Prevo started “a bitter and sometimes violent battle over LGBT rights” in the 1970s in the state of Alaska that continues today.

By Alex Bollinger Tuesday, August 11, 2020     

Donald Trump with supporter Jerry Falwell Jr.Donald Trump with supporter Jerry Falwell Jr.Photo: White House

Liberty University has announced that its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., will be replaced this year by pastor and anti-LGBTQ activist Jerry Prevo.

After several high profile scandals involving both his workplace conduct and his private life, Falwell announced that he’ll be taking an indefinite leave of absence from leading the prominent evangelical university that his father founded.

Related: Jerry Falwell Jr re-opens Christian university because Trump will handle coronavirus like a “CEO”

“Please pray for us as well as the Falwell family as we embark on our academic year and so we may continue to be united in our common purpose and our faith in Christ,” said Prevo in the statement from the university announcing his appointment as acting president.

While Prevo just retired as head pastor at the Anchorage Baptist Temple – far from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia – he is the current chairman of Liberty’s board of trustees. Prevo, though, has a lot in common with the founder of Liberty University, the late anti-LGBTQ extremist Jerry Falwell, Sr. According to Charles Wohlforth at the Alaska Daily News, Prevo started “a bitter and sometimes violent battle over LGBT rights” in the 1970s in the state of Alaska.

In 1978, Prevo and a group of pastors created an organization to oppose Dave Rose’s candidate for mayor of Anchorage. According to one website that follows Alaska politics, Rose drew their ire because, when he was on the city’s assembly, he supported an ordinance that outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“As a teenager, I saw Prevo destroy the political career of mayoral candidate Dave Rose, our family friend, with false insinuations he was gay,” said Wohlforth, who also recalled the event. That was just the beginning of Prevo’s involvement in politics. He was already the head of what would become the largest congregation in the state.

In 1980, Prevo founded the Alaska chapter of the Moral Majority, a powerful Christian conservative organization that was co-founded by Falwell Sr. The group helped elect Republicans across the country in the 1980s to push “family values,” which was their term for opposition to abortion and other measures that protect women’s equality, opposition to LGBTQ equality, and promoting religion in schools and other public spaces.

Prevo helped the group elect Republicans in Alaska and gained access to powerful people himself. He claims to have met every president since Jimmy Carter, except for Barack Obama. Even though LGBTQ rights have advanced since Prevo got involved in politics, he blames a lack of education about the Bible. “Young people these days, I don’t think they know what God says about” homosexuality, Prevo said last year. “Therefore, they are endorsing it.”

But his activism has continued. His church in 2012 ran transphobic ads to oppose a measure that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative. One of the ads showed a drawing of a balding, hairy, muscular woman going into the women’s locker room at a gym while a bystander looked shocked, relying on negative stereotypes of transgender women to oppose LGBTQ equality. The other ad claimed that a hypothetical daycare center would be forced to hire “a transvestite who wants to work with toddlers,” implying that LGBTQ people are a threat to children.

In 2013, Prevo’s church kicked out a Boy Scout troop after the organization ended its long-standing ban on gay youth. “No homosexual will enter the Kingdom of God,” Prevo said to explain why the church was distancing itself from the scouts.

The group Save 71, created by Liberty University alumni, is opposed to Prevo’s appointment, saying that he’s one of Falwell Jr’s “greatest enablers” when it comes to the alleged toxic workplace culture at Liberty University

For years, Falwell Jr. has been accused of improperly using school and personal funds to help muscular young men with business projects, making inappropriate comments about students (like calling one “retarded”) and to subordinates (like showing them racy pictures of his wife and bragging about the size of his genitals), and partying at nightclubs – Liberty bans students of all ages from drinking alcohol, hanging out with the opposite sex after dark, and “social dancing.”

But the scandals apparently got to be too much for the university this past week, when Falwell Jr. posted a picture of himself with a woman who is not his wife and both of their pants were open while he held a drink (he claimed it was nonalcoholic). He later apologized for posting the picture in a slurred interview with a morning radio show and promised to be a “good boy.”

Even a member of Congress called for Falwell Jr to resign.

Falwell Jr also opened Liberty this past spring as colleges around the world closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. When the New York Times reported on several students who may have caught the virus at the school, Falwell filed a lawsuit against the newspaper for $10 million, claiming that a journalist who talked to students was trespassing on campus.

But Prevo’s appointment is “not a comforting sign,” 2018 Liberty graduate Dustin Wahl told the Washington Post, adding that Prevo “is not in touch with the situation at Liberty. The Board does not have interest in turning the page on the years of Falwell’s amoral and catastrophic leadership.”

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One of Donald Trump’s greatest supporters, Gerry Falwell Jr., has recently been sacked by fundamentalist ‘Liberty University’ board, for unseemly conduct, ill-befitting the position he held as the University’s President.

Pictured in this article standing alongside the POTUS, Falwell has been one of his most avid supporters for the repeal of human rights of U.S. citizens, whose needs for justice were being met by the previous Democratic government under President Obama. This latest scandal attaching to the head of Liberty University can do nothing for the reputation of the University, nor for its ‘moral majority’ reputation in the United States.

However, the new appointment of another fundamentalist anti-gay Protestant pastor, Baptist leader Jerry Prevo – of this curiously-named ‘Liberty’ University (for whom the cachet ‘liberty’ gives the freedom to protest against other people’s freedom to be who they are intrinsically) – gives Donald Trump the sort of faux-Christian backing he needs to secure the votes of the notorious ‘Religious Right’ group in the United States, whose aim isto consolidate the authoritarian reign of Donald Trump as President at the next U.S. Election.

Whether Trump’s claim to represent U.S. Christians will succeed or not, depends, largely, on the willingness of the American people to any longer be seduced by Trump’s chronic inability to manage his country’s social and economic situation under the current conditions being imposed by the depredations of COVID 19 in the U.S.A. His shaky hold on any credibility with the country’s Moral Majority’ must surely also affect his chances of re-election to the country’s highest office.

Trump’s playboy background – together with his tactical ineptitude on matters of public concern – have not earned too many brownie points with the population of America at large. His authoritarian attitude towards the common human rights of all Americans has not won him any friends amongst the LGBT+ or the African/Mexican/American communities either. His diplomatic skills have been proved singularly lacking in understanding amongst world leaders – to the extent that his continuing bluster is no longer being taken seriously by them.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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US. Catholic Bishop question’s Trump ‘Pro-Life’ motivation

Catholic bishop challenges Trump’s pro-life claims

Monday, August 10th, 2020

President Donald Trump’s pro-life claims have been analysed and found wanting.

An American church leader, Bishop John Stowe of Kentucky challenged Trump’s pro-life claims in a recent webinar. He told his audience that rather than being pro-life, Trump was actually anti-life.

“For this president to call himself pro-life, and for anybody to back him because of claims of being pro-life, is almost willful ignorance.”

“He is so much anti-life because he is only concerned about himself, and he gives us every, every, every indication of that,” Stowe said.

“Pope Francis has given us a great definition of what pro-life means,” Stowe explained.

“He basically tells us we can’t claim to be pro-life if we support the separation of children from their parents at the U.S. border, if we support exposing people at the border to COVID-19 because of the facilities that they’re in, if we support denying people who have need for adequate health care access to health care, if we keep people from getting the housing or the education that they need, we cannot call ourselves pro-life.”

Trump’s alleged pro-life stance deliberately seeks to win over Catholic voters, Stowe said. “Every unborn child is a precious gift from God,” he said at the 2018 March for Life in Washington. Stowe says being truly pro-life must include efforts towards racial, social and environmental justice.

“We have to be concerned for the unborn children, it’s foundational for us.”

While the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference often criticizes Trump administration, environmental and immigration policies, Stowe’s critique is unusual in criticism of Trump himself.

The webinar, which was about the church’s future after 2020, was hosted by the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs.

The other two speakers on the webinar panel were Shannon Dee Williams, the Albert LePage assistant professor of history at Villanova University, and Michael Bayer, the former director of evangelisation and adult formation at St. Clement Parish in Chicago.

Speaking about the future of the church, they addressed the importance of racial and social justice advocacy.

“The church has to take leading roles in campaigns that are working to protect Black lives [and] working to dismantle white supremacy,” said Williams.

In her view, the church needs to address inequities in health care access and outcomes, end mass incarceration and secure police reform and accountability.

“Where are our hierarchy on this? Why aren’t we planning a million-person march in Washington, D.C. for immigrants?” Bayer asked.

“I’ve been in those marches protesting the assault on pre-born life. Where are our mass Washington, D.C. [efforts to] show up and protest the assault on Black and brown life?”

The webinar, which was about the church’s future after 2020, was hosted by the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs.

Source
• National Catholic Reporter
• Image: National Catholic Reporter

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Not only the U.S. Episcopal Church (T.E.C.) is challenging Donald Trump’s claim to represent Christians in his bid for re-election! Here, also, is a Roman Catholic Bishop in the U.S. doing the same – by questioning Trump’s claim to represent ‘Pro-Life’ politics

The interesting thing is that the arguments put forward at the https://www.icmica-miic.org/ seminar in the U.S., is that, not only the bishop, but also other speakers, were questioning Trump’s integrity on matters other than the issue of abortion – to include how Trump views, and treats, other pro-life situations, like; the separation of families at border controls; vital public health concerns (Coronavirus, etc.) and other common human rights.

It can only be good that Trump’s pretensions vis-a-vis the public view of morality are put to the test for voters – before the actual election of the POTUS – by accredited Church leaders. This U.S. Catholic challenge, added to the U.S. Episcopal Church Bishops’ recent condemnation of Trump’s past record on human rights issues, ought to influence a much broader Christian understanding of the danger of Trump’s re-election.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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TEC Bishops United against U.S. Police Brutality

Episcopal Church House of Bishops July 2020: A Word on Protest and Federal PolicingEpiscopal Church Office of Public AffairsPosted Aug 4, 2020Back to Press Releases 

The House of Bishops met virtually July 28-29, 2020. The following statement was adopted on July 29. While the situation on the ground in Portland has changed, the bishops believe it is important to share their statement about protest and policing:

Blessed be the Lord! *
for he has shown me the wonders of his love in a
besieged city.—Psalm 31:21

We bishops gathered virtually on July 28 and 29 in the midst of an unprecedented series of public moments in the United States: an ongoing pandemic causing great physical, emotional, and economic suffering; continuing protests over the use of deadly force by police, especially in communities of color; and an expanding investigation into the depth and extent of systemic racism in our national life and history. Any one of these would be a major disruption in American national life. The confluence of all of them has been truly world-changing, and has left some angry, others hopeful.

If there is one event during the time we met which encapsulated all the anxieties and aspirations of U.S. bishops in the House, it is the situation in Portland, Oregon and other cities. Even as we were meeting the mostly nonviolent protests in these cities continue, as does the deployment of unmarked, anonymous federal officers there.

We Episcopalians stand in a creative tension with regard to civil authority. We are the inheritors of an established church tradition and so it is our longstanding custom to honor legitimate government. At the same time, we follow One who challenged the civil authority of his own day.

The national and international conflicts of the twentieth century have taught us the value of protest and civil disobedience. The Civil Rights movement of the mid-twentieth century was built on Christian social principles. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.”

We certainly share and understand the concern for protection of life and property. What troubles us is the unprecedented nature of the federal response to a largely peaceful protest. The federal forces deployed in Portland and elsewhere are unidentified and patrol in unmarked rental cars. They detain and arrest protesters without probable cause. They are specifically uninvited and rejected by the elected civil authorities of where they are deployed.

As bishops we serve both as civic leaders and pastors. We are concerned both for the health of our body politic and for the suffering and injustice we see in our streets. We commit ourselves both to advocate for continued nonviolence on the part of the protesters across the United States and for a return of policing authority to local agencies who are known by and accountable to the people’s elected representatives. Respect for the rule of law cuts both ways: protesters must respect life and property; authorities must abide by due process.

The United States is not the first nation to face these challenges, and it will not be the last. But the church cannot remain silent when we see such flagrant abuse of civil power deployed against those who stand for justice and peace and against systemic institutional racism. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian who gave his life standing with those who challenged merciless power masquerading as legal authority, “Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak.”

May we all, in our shared witness to the love, justice, and reconciliation proclaimed and embodied in Jesus Christ, do all in our power to return the streets of all our cities to the peace of the heavenly city toward which we walk. And in this time of unique challenges and opportunities, may we continue to hold before us the vision of love and justice which have inspired Jesus and all his followers from his day to ours.

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There can be little doubt that the TEC Presiding Bishop, ++Michael Curry, has harnessed the collective conscience of the American Episcopal Church’s bishops on a matter which concerns the citizens – not only of the United States – but of every democratic country around the world.

Under the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, civil liberties in that country are being seriously eroded, so that this present evil – police brutality – is just one more symptom of Trump’s autocratic regime, which has suborned the power of the country’s judiciary to act in favour of repressive measures that are calculated to ensure that Trump will remain in power in the nex presidential election.

This cynical clinging to power and authority could be likened to other repressive regimes around the world that Trump, ironically, is prone to criticise and marshall his Republican colleagues to overcome by belligerent means – preferring militant options to civilised dialogue. As a newly-empowered autocrat, Trump is proving to be a threat to peace – not only in the United States, but in any situation where his personal authority is questioned.

The EpiscopalChurch in the United States, under the charismatic leadership of the Presiding Bishop, is no longer afraid to call attention to the misdemeanours of the current POTUS – a situation that gives heart to all other democracy-loving people, whose desire is to live together in peace and harmony with its citizens, wihout prejudice against those whose lives are blighted by poverty, inequality and injustice.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Catholics Looking for Changes in Ministry

A growing chorus for creatively re-thinking Church ministry

A female theologian and a Catholic archbishop add their voices to calls for change

Robert Mickens – LA CROIX – Vatican City – June 26, 2020

A growing chorus for creatively re-thinking Church ministry

“We need to revisit the issue of ministries in the Church.”

That’s a quote from French biblical scholar Anne-Marie Pelletier, a Catholic lay woman that Pope Francis appointed some months ago to the Vatican’s new “Study Commission on the Female Diaconate”.

Hers is just the most recent voice in a growing chorus challenging the current Catholic leadership to engage the whole Church in better discerning the Holy Spirit’s gifts among the members of God’s household.

In an exclusive interview with La Croix‘s Céline Hoyeau, the 74-year-old Paris native and mother of four basically said the Church needed to be more creative about how it commissions or ordains people, both men and women, for ministry. Her point was that being an ordained deacon or presbyter is not – or, at least, should not be – the only form of legitimately recognized and officially commissioned ministry in the Church.

Pelletier, who won the Ratzinger Prize for Theology in 2014, said more must be done to make this a reality.

Catholics tend to be lousy at group discernment

And that will require some serious discernment as a community. However…

“Catholics, particularly those in the clerical caste, tend to be pretty lousy at group discernment – especially when it comes to identifying those in the community who possess the unique spiritual gifts ordered to the various ministries of service in the Church.”

Thus began the Nov. 8, 2019 “Letter from Rome”.

In light of Anne-Marie Pelletier’s comments and in the context of what is usually the “ordination season” for new priests, let’s refresh our memories about the current crisis surrounding Church ministry and ecclesial leadership’s inability or unwillingness to reform a system that is broken.

There is lack of true discernment when it comes to charisms.

The ordained priesthood (presbyterate) is a good example.

Generally, the process begins through the initiative of a male adult who believes (or his mother believes) that God is calling him to be a priest. The man will then seek to affiliate with a diocese or join a religious order. If he can tie his own shoelaces and is not a convicted felon, he’ll likely pass his initial audition. Unfortunately, that’s no joke. The most important thing in order to get to the next stage is to manifest the will to be celibate and convince the Church authorities that he does not “practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.'”

If all that checks out, our man with the vocation will likely have more interviews, undergo psychological testing and be subjected to other background checks.

Jumping through hoops

If there are no glaring signs of mental illness or personality disorders he will then be admitted to a seminary or novitiate program. At this point, the standard trope is that the seminarian is discerning and the diocese or religious order is discerning, as well. Thus begins a series of “hoops” the candidate for priesthood will be expected to jump through in order to make it to ordination. He will learn that very special and necessary skill – creativity with the truth.

There are elaborate programs of priestly formation that are drawn up by national episcopal conferences. They must receive the Vatican’s seal of approval before being implemented. The daily regime differs somewhat from one seminary to another. Every house of formation has its own variation of a dress code, liturgical schedule and style, types of pastoral experience, curfew (or not) and a number of rules and regulations.

Then after three or four years of theological studies the candidate must face his first major hurdle. Will the seminary staff recommend him to be ordained to the transitional diaconate? Occasionally, one or two don’t make the cut. But that is rare.

The second and final hurdle is ordination to the presbyterate. The seminary rector and his staff can advise a bishop not to ordain a man for reasons they deem to be serious. But, again, and for a variety of reasons, there are few people who are blocked.

Usually a questionable candidate has been weeded out already in the first couple of years. If he is not, it is because he enjoys the favor of his bishop…

Where is the voice of the community?

During the Rite of Ordination a priest presents the candidates to the bishop: Most Reverend Father, holy mother Church asks you to ordain these, our brothers, to the responsibility of the priesthood,” he says. “Do you know them to be worthy?” the bishop asks. And the priest responds: “After inquiry among the Christian people and upon the recommendation of those responsible, I testify that they have been found worthy.”

How, exactly, have the “Christian people” been questioned or involved in the process of finding these men worthy? And which people – their parents, their friends?

Every diocese and house of formation is unique, of course. Some involve the laity in the task of reviewing applicants for seminary or preparing them for ministry. But the origins of a man’s path to the priesthood – or at least the exploration of it – is mostly of that man’s own initiative. Obviously, there are people – especially priests – who encourage certain men (usually young men) to consider the priesthood. Hopefully, they see qualities in these men that would make them good presbyters. But, again, this is the initiative of an individual.

What if an entire community – say, a parish – were able to do something similar?

Rather than waiting for someone to come forward on his own initiative, what if the community engaged in prayerful discernment to identify those in their own midst who have the charisms of service?

The system of seminary selection and formation is broken

The truth is that the Church’s system of selecting and preparing presbyters is seriously flawed. We’ve known this for a very long time. And in light of the clergy sex abuse crisis, which has been like an ever-replenishing Pandora’s box of horrors, the bishops have been emphatic that they have improved the screening of candidates and tightened standards of well-rounded formation. But the system is still not working.

Just in the past several weeks, two priests from archdioceses in the United States and England were charged with sexual abuse of minors. One of them was ordained five years ago and the other only four. The Englishman has been sentenced to four years and three months is prison. Both will likely be booted from the priesthood. How did they ever make it to ordination? Who discerned they had a vocation to the priesthood? Was the community involved in this decision in any meaningful way? The recurrence of sexual abuse – even if it involves only a small percentage of the clergy – is just one proof that the system of selection and formation remains inadequate.

There are other indicators, as well. Among them are pathologies that stem from deep-seated tendencies – not only towards homosexuality, but also and especially towards clericalism; even when the candidate for Holy Orders tries to deny or hide them.

Synodality could lead to communal discernment of the charisms

Pope Francis is trying to implement synodality at every level of the Church. And why should that be any different for identifying the best candidates to serve the community in various ministries and positions of leadership? But rather than focus on the ministries or the leadership roles themselves, the work of a community engaged in group discernment might aim to do something even more profound. It would seek, through the help of the Holy Spirit, to identify those persons who have been graced by the same Spirit with charisms proper to the various ministries.

“There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit,” St. Paul tells the Christian community in Corinth. “There are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord… The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good” (cf. 1 Corinthians 12).

Paul tells the Romans:

“Since the gifts that we have differ according to the grace that was given to each of us: if it is a gift of prophecy, we should prophesy as much as our faith tells us; if it is a gift of practical service, let us devote ourselves to serving; if it is teaching, to teaching; if it is encouraging, to encouraging. When you give, you should give generously from the heart; if you are put in charge, you must be conscientious; if you do works of mercy, let it be because you enjoy doing them” (cf. Romans 12).

Bishops confirm what the community has discerned

In a synodal Church the entire body of believers would engage in communal discernment to identify those with specific gifts. The pastors (bishops) would then ratify and “ordain” these people to exercise their charisms – God’s gifts – for the general good.

“To some, his ‘gift’ was that they should be apostles; to some prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; to knit God’s holy people together for the work of service to build up the Body of Christ” (Cf. Ephesians 4)

As it is now the presbyters and the bishops are expected to fulfill almost all the tasks. But there are currently non-ordained people – men and women, celibate and married – who clearly have the charisms of preaching, presiding over prayer, being in charge, healing and so forth. However, the authorities of the Church, the bishops, rarely allow these people to officially share these charisms with the rest of the community because, for centuries, they have been reserved to the ordained.

The Second Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on the Church says the bishops “know that they were not ordained by Christ to take upon themselves alone the entire salvific mission of the Church toward the world. “On the contrary, they understand that it is their noble duty to shepherd the faithful and to recognize their ministries and charisms, so that all according to their proper roles may cooperate in this common undertaking with one mind” (Lumen Gentium, 30).

But the bishops cannot and must not take upon themselves alone the task of recognizing the ministries and charisms of the faithful, either. That is something for the entire Church.

As Pope Francis told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square right after his election: “We take up this journey, bishop and people.” It is a journey that must be made together.

It was heartening to read Archbishop Pascal Wintzer of Poitiers (France) say similar things in an essay he penned several days ago for La Croix, which we translated and re-published:

“The exercise of a decision-making role, which is the prime responsibility of the bishop, with priests as his co-workers, cannot dispense with the calling and training for other ministries in the Church,” he said. “Men and women receive – or would receive – ministries of charity, preaching and presiding at common prayer. These would not be conferred by substitution, but by right; not by delegation, but in view of worthiness. And the community must be the first to recognize this, not in subordination, but in full and complete responsibility,” he added.

The Holy Spirit lavishes the diverse charisms among the entire body of the baptized. And it is the responsibility of the entire body – not just the bishops or priests – to discern which of its members have been given the various spiritual gifts for service and leadership.

More and more Catholics (including some bishops and priests) are seeing this. They join a growing chorus of faithful believers in Christ that clamors for more creative ways of envisioning Church ministry.

Indeed, this is one of the Signs of the Times.

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While it must be acknowledged that idividual bishops are charged with the overall administeration of the Church, it has now become clear to many Roman Catholics, including those mentioned in the ‘La Croix’ article, that the whole ‘People of God’ – those who are baptized members of the Church – have their own responsibility for choosing who among their number ought to be ordained into the Church’s ministry.

Granted that the parishioners of the parish in which a person feels themselves to be called to the diaconate or the priesthood of the Church may never, themselves, experience the benefits of that particular person’s ministry; they do have a corporate responsibility to discern whether, or not, a candidate in their parish – in their opinion – should be allowed to go forward for training for ministry into the wider Church.

One way in which this coporate responsibility could be effected would be at a meeting of the local parish council or equivalent body that includes the laity, where submissions concerning a person’s fitness for ordination could be discussed and – with the assent of the associated parish priest – forwarded to the local bishop for their consideration.

As the writer of this article suggests:

“………… the bishops cannot and must not take upon themselves alone the task of recognizing the ministries and charisms of the faithful, either. That is something for the entire Church.”

Having said this about the Roman Catholic Church, we Anglicans have to be careful about our own method of selection of candidates for the Sacred ministry of our Church. How often, one wonders, are members of a local congregations involved in the process of selecting their candidates for ordination?

Yes, the congregation at an ordination service is specifically asked the question (in this or a similar form of interrogation): “Do you believe this person is called to the ministry of a priest (or deacon) of our Church?” However, the question here must be asked; “Have the local parishioners of their place of worship been given the publicly advertised opportunity to discuss the agreed suitability (in their opinion) of the local candidate(s) for ministry?

Do Lay Anglicans take upon themselves due share of the responsibility for the choice of those who are accorded the grace of Holy Orders in our own Church?

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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U.S. Election: Cradle Catholic v. Phoney Evangelical

How Joe Biden’s Catholic roots have shaped his public life

Campaign hopes Biden’s personal story and faith will offer stark moral contrast to Trump

Jul 30, 2020 by Christopher White – N.C.R. (National Catholic Reporter)

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a Democratic presidential primary event in Las Vegas Feb. 15. (Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore)Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a Democratic presidential primary event in Las Vegas Feb. 15. (Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore)

As uprisings sparked by George Floyd’s death erupted throughout the nation, Joe Biden turned to his Catholic faith to offer inspiration to a nation gripped by yet another killing of an unarmed Black man at the hands of a white police officer.

“I grew up with Catholic social doctrine, which taught me that faith without works is dead, and you will know us by what we do,” he said in a videotaped eulogy June 9, lamenting that there is still much work to be done “to ensure that all men and women are not only created equal, but are treated equally.”

Biden reiterated that last phrase when the civil rights hero Congressman John Lewis died July 17. Biden’s statement began: “We are made in the image of God.”

A “prayer to overcome racism” in a recent church bulletin at St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Greenville, Delaware, offered similar sentiments. The suburban parish north of Wilmington is where Biden and his wife, Jill, worship and where, Msgr. Joseph Rebman told NCR, “they arrive a little late and leave a bit early, just like a lot of Catholics.”

Biden’s faith is cited on the first page of his 2007 memoir, Promises to Keep, firmly situating himself in the context of an Irish Catholic family and a working-class community that revolved around the family’s religious practices — and not just on Sunday.

John Carr, director of Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, told NCR, “For an Irish Catholic kid growing up at a time of Vatican II, civil rights and the Vietnam War, there were several paths forward. Some resisted change and clung to old ways, some abandoned roots to embrace change, and some found in faith and family the strength to work for greater justice.”

In September 2011, Vice President Joe Biden kneels in the chapel of Our Lady of Siluva at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception following a memorial Mass for Vatican diplomat Archbishop Pietro Sambi in Washington. (CNS)In September 2011, Vice President Joe Biden kneels in the chapel of Our Lady of Siluva at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception following a memorial Mass for Vatican diplomat Archbishop Pietro Sambi in Washington. (CNS/Leslie E. Kossoff)

“Vice President Biden is a unique combination of roots and change,” said Carr.

Biden credits those Catholic roots — which first took seed in parishes and parochial schools in Pennsylvania and Delaware — with teaching him the importance of the human dignity of all people, a core principle of Catholic social teaching. They also shaped his understanding of solidarity, especially with the poor and the working class, which he regularly cites when talking about job security and economic policy.

Most importantly, his is also a faith that has been tested by personal loss of an enormous magnitude and one that has come into conflict with Democratic policy positions, forcing him to change and evolve along the way to keep up with shifting uniform stances within the party.

Now, at 77, the former senator and former vice president could be on the cusp of becoming only the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He is hands down the most comfortable Democratic politician of his generation talking about the role religion has played in shaping his approach to public life. As such, John McCarthy, the deputy national political director for the Biden campaign, told NCR that “faith outreach is probably the most integrated it’s ever been on a presidential campaign” for a Democratic candidate.

As President Donald Trump’s poll numbers continue to decline among people of faith, the Biden campaign is hoping that the authenticity of Biden’s personal story, and, in particular, his Catholic faith will offer a stark moral contrast to Trump.

‘For the soul of this nation’

In the opening salvo of his campaign last year, Biden declared that America is facing “a battle for the soul of this nation,” a line he has used repeatedly. Those close to Biden say it illustrates the inextricable way that his faith informs his approach to public life and is shaping his bid for the presidency.

“In his own mind, it’s the inspiration to just about everything the campaign is trying to do,” said Stephen Schneck, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network in Washington D.C.

In an op-ed last December, Biden summarized part of his pitch to religious voters, saying Trump “doesn’t know what it means to live for or believe in something bigger than himself.”

“Biden actually sees his Catholic faith as a key for bringing the country back together and overcoming the divisions that divide us,” Schneck said. “He thinks there’s something in Catholicism itself that provides a ground where both sides can find commonplace.”

Michael Wear, who led President Barack Obama’s faith outreach during the 2012 campaign, said that message is central to the distinction that the Biden camp is hoping to offer. “Donald Trump is someone who needs religion to work for him in order to be politically successful,” said Wear. “He is someone who has used religion and religious people. He values them to the extent that they’re valuable to him.The contrast Joe Biden has to offer,” Wear continued, is that he “isn’t looking to see what faith can do for him. His life has been looking to see how he can serve out of, in part, a motivation of faith.”

Biden ‘cares about what the bishops have to say, even if he knows he’s going to disagree with them.’

—Michael Wear

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Such a contrast may not be enough to win over some religious voters who singularly focus on abortion, nor may it appease those who are skeptical of his denials that he sexually assaulted a former Senate staffer.

During a May virtual town hall sponsored by CatholicVote.org, Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff and another practicing Catholic, warned, “There is something that doesn’t connect any more between faith and the Democrat Party.”

Citing abortion, Mulvaney said, “You have to not only vote the Republican Party, but you have to help get them elected.”

In an even bolder statement, Fr. Frank Pavone of the organization Priests for Life recently penned an open letter to Biden, urging him to “conform your conduct to the Church to which you claim to belong, or acknowledge that you no longer belong to it.”

Over the years, Biden’s abortion stance has increasingly liberalized. In a 1974 interview, he said, “I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far.”

But as the pro-choice platform became Democratic Party orthodoxy, Biden shifted, too. In a 2012 vice presidential debate with Catholic Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, Biden said, “I accept my church’s position on abortion. … I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews.”

This position has evoked the ire of some Catholic bishops and Catholics like Carr who have criticized Biden for falling in line with the “extremism” of the Democratic Party’s position on abortion. Schneck told NCR that it’s a profound disappointment to see Biden further shift to support federal funding of abortion during the 2020 primaries.

“I disagree with the vice president on this issue, but I don’t see this as suggesting he’s not a good Catholic,” said Schneck, who still believes that voters will have with Biden a president who takes faith and people of faith seriously.

Far from Trump’s recent warnings that Biden will “eliminate religion” if elected, “he actually cares what religious leaders think,” former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said at a Georgetown University forum July 10.

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior staff react in the Roosevelt Room of the White House as the House passes the health care reform bill March 21, 2010. (Flickr/Obama White House/Pete Souza)President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior staff react in the Roosevelt Room of the White House as the House passes the health care reform bill March 21, 2010. (Flickr/Obama White House/Pete Souza)

“He cares about what the bishops have to say, even if he knows he’s going to disagree with them,” said Wear, noting that during the clash between the U.S. bishops and the Obama administration over health care reform, it was Biden who served as a behind-the-scenes liaison trying to accommodate faith leaders’ concerns.

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This single paragraph indicates the difference between Joe Biden’s practising Catholic faith, and the attempts of President Donald Trump to harness the zeal that conservative Evangelicals are exercising for his controversial re-election as POTUS:

“Michael Wear, who led President Barack Obama’s faith outreach during the 2012 campaign, said that message is central to the distinction that the Biden camp is hoping to offer. “Donald Trump is someone who needs religion to work for him in order to be politically successful,” said Wear. “He is someone who has used religion and religious people. He values them to the extent that they’re valuable to him.The contrast Joe Biden has to offer,” Wear continued, is that he “isn’t looking to see what faith can do for him. His life has been looking to see how he can serve out of, in part, a motivation of faith.”

Trump’s cynical use of fundamentalist religious fervour in order to shore up his bid for re-election to the most powerful role in U.S. politics needs to be seen for what it really is! God help America – and God help the world – if D.T. is re-elected!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Should a Protestant receive Communion at Mass?

Protestant Holy Communion

Monday, July 27th, 2020 – CATH NEWS NZ –

Just to set the record straight, the simple truth is that it is not against Catholic doctrine for Protestants to receive Communion at Mass.

1. We believe that Baptism in the Protestant Churches gives exactly the same thing Baptism in the Catholic Church gives — the “state of grace”: divine life and the divine gifts of faith, hope, and love. We do not re-baptize Protestants who become Catholics.

2. Pope St. Pius X wrote in his Eucharistic decree, December 20, 1905, “No one who is in the state of grace and comes to the table of the Lord with a good attitude and devotion can be prohibited from receiving Communion.”

3. Therefore, any baptized Christian who has not rejected the grace of Baptism by doing something so evil it is called “deadly” or “mortal sin” (1John 5:16-17) is permitted by Catholic doctrine to receive Communion.

Pope John XXIII added: “We address, then, as brothers and sisters all who are separated from us, using the words of Saint Augustine: “Whether they wish it or not, they are our brothers and sisters. They cease to be our brothers and sisters only when they stop saying ‘Our Father’” (Ad Petri Cathedram, 86).

If Protestants are our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we are being inconsistent with our faith when we deny them a place together with us at our Father’s table.

It is true that Catholic policies—administrative rules that change according to time and place—sometimes add restrictions.

For example, in the Latin or Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, children are required to receive doctrinal instruction before their First Communion. In the Eastern Rites of the equally Catholic Church, babies are given Communion as soon as they are baptized.

These policies are based on practical considerations, and are not absolute. For example, no Roman Rite priest in his right mind would deny Communion to a baptized child in the hospital just for lack of the scheduled doctrinal instruction.

There are official policies that seem to deny Communion to non-Catholics. But Father Bernard Häring (1912-1998), whom some consider the greatest moral theologian of modern times, wrote about a Mass at which he presided while serving in the German army during World War II:

On the eve of the outset of the Russian war, I took it upon myself to celebrate the Eucharist and grant general absolution to soldiers of all faiths, most of whom participated.

Given the seriousness of the situation, and because all of us where one in Christ Jesus, I found it unthinkable, in fact, totally abhorrent,to uphold and maintain any distinctions between Catholics and Protestants.

Consequently, all the men, regardless of their faith persuasions, felt called to share in Communion” (Priesthood Imperiled, Triumph Books, p. 9).

Can you imagine anyone who has the slightest acquaintance with Jesus Christ refusing Communion to a young soldier about to face death, just because he wasn’t a formal member of the Catholic Church?

Many official policies—policies made in offices—appear acceptable within the isolated capsules of bureaucratic management. But they lose all connection with religion and rationality when brought down to earth in the mud and blood of the battlefield.

John Paul II gave communion in the Vatican to Tony Blair, Prime Minister of England, while he was still an Anglican. At John Paul’s funeral, Pope Benedict XVI gave Communion to Brother Roger, a Presbyterian founder of the ecumenical monastery of Taizè.

That should be enough to settle the question. But let’s develop it a little further.

Are we one in faith?
It is Catholic teaching that all who are baptized with water “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” receive exactly the same gift—the “grace” of sharing in the divine life of God—without any difference. All are equally Christians. All receive the same gifts of divine faith, hope, and love.

But after the Protestant Reformation, we began to speak and act as if there were a difference between being baptized into the “Catholic Church” or into a “Protestant” Church.

There is a difference, but it is not in Baptism itself. Nor is there any difference in the gift of faith that we receive.

By the divine gift of faith we know what only God knows, in a way no creature can possibly know it. For that we have to share in God’s own act of knowing. Jesus made that clear: “No one knows the Father except the Son” (Matthew 11:27).

To know God as he is, you have to be God. To know God as Father you have to be God the Son. So when Jesus adds, “and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,” he is saying the Son lets us know the Father as he himself does in the only way possible; that is, by letting us share in his own divine act of knowing. That gift is the “mystery of faith.”

When Protestants and Catholics receive the gift of divine life and divine faith through Baptism, there is no difference between us.

But when the wordless light of faith given in Baptism is translated into human thoughts and words, there can be differences in the human expression of the same truth that is in the hearts of all, and in the way people will be taught to live out the gift of divine life each receives at Baptism.

This makes a real and practical difference on the level of “religion” (doctrines, rules and practices). But on the level of the deep mystery of the gift of faith given at, all Christians are the same.

While these differences are important — because we need to be both human and divine in the way we understand and live our religion — they should not make us forget that, down deep, consciously or not, on the level of the divine life of grace that we share, we are all the same.

Whenever and wherever we find evidence of God’s light shining in others, whether they are consciously Christians or not, we experience “communion in the Holy Spirit.”

All the Catholic bishops in the world affirmed this during the Second Vatican Council, which met in Vatican City from 1962 to 1965:

People who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect.

The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church – whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church – do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion.

The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body, and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers and sisters by the children of the Catholic Church (Unitatis Redintegratio, 3).

We could stop right here and ask if it is consistent with our belief to ban from the Father’s table those who are “accepted as brothers and sisters by the children of the Catholic Church” because they are children of the same Father.

The foundation of our essential unity is the Truth all Christians believe and mystically know by what Saint John of the Cross calls “the dark light” of faith. What we understand humanly by translating our faith into human words can be misleading.

Recognizing this, the bishops urged theologians “to seek continually for more suitable ways of communicating doctrine to the people of their times. For the ‘deposit of faith,’ or revealed truths, are one thing; the manner in which they are formulated… is another” (Gaudium et spes, 62).

A special problem

People often make this objection: “But many Protestants don’t believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.”

As Catholics, however, conscious of the mystery of faith and grace in them, we would say, without arrogance, that they really do believe in the real presence. They just don’t know they do.

The Eastern Rites of the united Catholic Church give Communion to babies as soon as they are baptized. Do these babies have an explicit and conscious faith in the doctrine of transubstantiation?

Could they say, even if old enough to speak, “This is the real Body of Jesus”? No, but they do have faith, because it was given to them as a gift at Baptism.

That gift is the light of God in their hearts empowering them to believe everything God has revealed.

By that gift we must say the babies already believe truths they have not yet learned and are not mature enough either to understand or express. One of them is the real presence of Jesus in Eucharist.

Protestant babies, who receive the same gifts of divine faith, hope and love at Baptism that Catholic babies do, already, in a way deeper than human consciousness, share in Christ’s own act of knowing.

Like all whom grace has made “children of God,” they know the Father as their Father, as only God the Son can know him (see Matthew 11: 27). And in the same preconscious way, they share in Christ’s knowledge that the Eucharist is his real Body and Blood.

But for this knowledge to translate itself into explicit human thoughts and words, further maturity and education are necessary. Continue reading

  • The analysis or comments in this article does not necessarily reflect the view of CathNews.

_______________________________________________________________________

The is a most welcome and realistic understanding, by a Catholic News source in Aotearoa/New Zealand, of the status of the Baptized into Christ – whether Catholic or Protestant.

Whenever I have been in a place where an Anglican Celebration is not available (say, on board ship, or in a foreign country) I have always felt able to quietly and reverently take part in the Mass. In the case of a cruise ship, I have always asked permission of the on-board Catholic Chaplain whether – as an Anglican priest – I have his permission to receive Holy Communion. I have always found a welcome after mentioning that I believe in the ‘Real Presence’ of Jesus in the Mass.

As an Anglican priest here in New Zealand, with an appreciation of the ecclesiastical problems encountered with the open admission to the Eucharist of non-Catholics; I truly believe that our common Baptism into Christ endues each one of us with the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, who sovereignly enlightens our minds to the reality of the salvific value of Jesus’ Presence in the Holy Communion. I believe that the Eucharist is ‘The gift of God for the People of God”.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Gay Republican – COVID-denier, caught the Virus


Gay Republican thought COVID was a “hoax” until he infected his family & almost died

“You cannot imagine my guilt at having been a denier, carelessly shuffling through this pandemic, making fun of those wearing masks and social distancing.

“By Alex Bollinger Tuesday, July 28, 2020  

A hospitalized patient and a doctorPhoto: shutterstock

A gay conservative thought that coronavirus was a Democratic hoax… until he and his entire family caught the virus. He was hospitalized when the virus attacked his central nervous system and almost caused a stroke.

Tony Green, who is white and is a “cultural transformation coach to prisons and inmates,” wrote in a column for the Dallas Voice about his experiences as a “gay conservative” who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and how it takes “a lot of tenacity to earn respect from” LGBTQ people and other conservatives.

Related: Anti-gay politician who decried mask mandate as “draconian” has been hospitalized for COVID

Since he was already primed to believe conservative media, he wrote that he was “traveling deep into the conspiracy trap over COVID-19” before he caught the virus, saying that he believed it was a “scamdemic.”

“I believed the virus to be a hoax,” Green wrote. “I believed the mainstream media and the Democrats were using it to create panic, crash the economy, and destroy Trump’s chances at re-election.”

So, he said, he had no problem continuing to host gatherings for his family. Until he got sick on June 14, 2020.

“By Monday, June 15, my partner and my parents were all sick,” he wrote.

That night it was his father-in-law who showed symptoms, then his mother-in-law and sister-in-law followed. Two days later it was his father-in-law’s mother. Then his partner’s sibling and their spouse. They were all diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Only the [partner’s sibling’s] newborn was spared,” Green wrote.

Green wrote that he and his father-in-law went to the hospital on June 24, ten days after they started showing symptoms. The virus had attacked his nervous system and he almost had a stroke, but medical professionals caught it in time.

His father-in-law’s mother died a week later. Five more family members at the funeral tested positive. Green’s father-in-law was put on a ventilator.

“You cannot imagine the guilt I feel, knowing that I hosted the gathering that led to so much suffering,” he wrote. “You cannot imagine my guilt at having been a denier, carelessly shuffling through this pandemic, making fun of those wearing masks and social distancing.”

“For those who deny the virus exists or who downplay its severity, let me assure you: the coronavirus is very real and extremely contagious.”

Green told readers to wear a mask in public and comply with public health rules because “defending your rights and freedoms from being trampled” might land “your family and friends” in the hospital.

“Try being the one to pick the only 10 people allowed to attend a funeral for a loved one,” he wrote grimly.

An estimated 150,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 as cases have surged in the past month.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Taken in by Donald Trump’s epic denial of the reality of COVID 19, this Gay Republican was one of many in his party who really thought that the epidemic was a political tool being used by the Democratic Party in the U.S., designed to unseat Trump in the upcoming United States Presidential Election.

Similar to the climate-change deniers in the United States, the devastating effects of the denial of the reality of COVID 19 has brought havoc to some of the very people who had campaigned against the inevitability of what is now happening – not just in the U.S. but also around the world.

At least this man, Tony Green, has had the grace to accept that he (and by token, all other COVID 19-deniers) were wrong, and that both climate change and COVID 19 are reralities that have to be acxknowledged and dealt with.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Feisty U.S. Congress-woman addresses Congress on Abuse of Women

AOC is the future of the Catholic Church

Jul 27, 2020 by Heidi SchlumpfOpinion – National Catholic Reporter

Screenshot from CSPAN’s YouTube channel, showing U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), left, speaking from the U.S. House of Representatives floor July 23. (NCR screenshot)

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning speech on the House floor last week has been called “a comeback for the ages,” “the most important feminist speech in a generation” and “a lesson in sexism and decency.”

I just call it “truth.”

Responding to an incident on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in which Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida verbally assaulted her — including calling her a “f—ing bitch” — Ocasio-Cortez noted that “this is not new, and that is the problem.”

“This issue is not about one incident,” she said. “It is cultural. It is a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, and an entire structure of power that supports that.”

As I listened to her 10-minute address on the House floor, I was struck by how often it referenced Catholic values.

Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly railed against the “dehumanizing” of others and instead called for treating people with dignity and respect. These are themes often repeated by Pope Francis, who has  specifically cautioned about gossip and urged the use of respectful language, saying “it is possible to kill someone with the tongue.”

The Democratic congresswoman who represents New York’s 14th District also universalized the need to treat all people with dignity and respect, noting that Yoho’s behavior gave “permission to other men to do that to his daughters.”

“I’m here to say that is not acceptable,” she said.

Ocasio-Cortez was unimpressed by Yoho’s so-called apology on the House floor the day before, in which he insisted he did not use the sexist slur (despite a reporter witnessing it) and said, “I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family and my country.”

Instead, the congresswoman gave what sounded like a pretty good description of what goes on in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: “When a decent man messes up, as we all are bound to do, he tries his best and does apologize. Not to save face, not to win a vote, he apologizes genuinely to repair and acknowledge the harm done so that we can all move on.”

Perhaps such Catholic references are not surprising, since the rock-star millennial leader of the left grew up Catholic and even wrote about how her faith influences her views on public policies such as mass incarceration, for a Catholic magazine.

But there is another Catholic character in this drama: Republican Rep. Yoho, who describes himself as “pro-life” and has received an “A” rating from the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, which notes that he “has voted consistently to protect the lives of the unborn” and “defended the Trump administration’s pro-life regulatory efforts from pro-abortion attacks to prohibit their implementation.” He also has received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.

Yoho voted for Trump’s tax cuts in 2017 and this year was one of four lawmakers to vote against a bill to make lynching a federal hate crime.

Ocasio-Cortez, as a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, promotes a much more progressive platform; her first piece of legislation was the Green New Deal, which addressed economic disparity and climate change.

Yoho, 65, will retire in January, after announcing he is not seeking a fifth term. Ocasio-Cortez is 30 (“two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter,” she pointed out in her speech).

As a young Latina, Ocasio-Cortez represents the demographic future of the Catholic Church.

But — if there is to be a future for the Catholic Church in the United States — it must also resemble Ocasio-Cortez in her passion for justice and human dignity, and in her courage and integrity, even in the face of vulgar attacks.

Speaking of young people, it is that time of year when we sadly say goodbye to the Bertelsen editorial interns we have worked with for the past year at NCR. The duo leaving at the end of July were our first “virtual” interns — and that was before coronavirus! They have been of great assistance to us, while doing journalism any young professional could be proud of.

Sarah Salvadore, who reported from New Jersey, is a detailed, meticulous researcher, as evidenced by her in-depth look at the downsides of health care sharing ministries. She will be joining Patch Media as a field editor next month.

Washington, D.C.-based Jesse Remedios, who actually completed his yearlong internship in January and was subsequently promoted to staff writer for EarthBeat, has graced both publications with his multimedia skills, including this award-winning three-part “Trials of Nonviolence” podcast about the Kings Bay Plowshares. He will begin graduate studies in journalism at Boston University in September.

We also welcome two new interns this month — again virtually. Madeleine Davison grew up reading NCR thanks to her father’s involvement in the Kansas City Catholic Worker. She graduated from Syracuse University, where she studied newspaper/online journalism and ran cross country. She is especially interested in data journalism and recently relocated from Pittsburgh to the Chicago area.

Lucy Grindon joins us from the Pacific time zone, reporting from the Los Angeles area. She graduated last year from Middlebury College in Vermont, where she majored in history and minored in Arabic. She also was an opinion editor of the campus newspaper and hosted a show on the campus radio station. Since the pandemic, she has worked for her parish, helping produce a podcast with weekly liturgy and parishioner interviews.*

[Heidi Schlumpf is NCR executive editor. Her email is hschlumpf@ncronline.org. Follow her on Twitter: @HeidiSchlumpf.]

*Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to clarify Lucy’s work with her parish and her role on the campus newspaper.

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Here is yet more evidence of the culture of abuse towards women that is just one of the severe problems of the ‘Good Ol’ Boy’ culture of POTUS Donald Trump’s Republican government in the U.S.A today.

Elected Congress-woman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), obtained permission to speak about the verbal assault by Republican Congress-man, Ted Yoho (Florida), on the steps of the House of Representatives, as she was on her way to register her vote on an issue on the Chamber of the House.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez’ ten minute speech – delivered with a quiet but perceptible passion – was received by a largely silent assembly, who were obviously impressed by the quiet dignity with which she spoke – noting that her assailant had not actually apologised for his misdemeanour, but had actually tried to explain why it had happened.

The full import of her speech really needs to be seen and heard, in order to gain the full impact of what Ms Ocasio-Cortez was saying. One wonders how President Trump would have publicly responded to its sad implication of continuing misogyny amongst his followers that was exposed in the process. Let’s hope the American people – as well as Congress – takes to heart this amazing exposure of institutional denigration of women that seems to still flourish in American politics.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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N.C.R. – Trump’s Appointed Judges & Injustices

Editorial: A justice department that doesn’t act justly

Jul 24, 2020by NCR Editorial StaffOpinion

NCR’s recent profile of U.S. Attorney General William Barr quoted his now-famous 2019 speech at the University of Notre Dame, in which he railed against secularism’s attack on the “traditional moral order,” an attack he believed caused, as he put it, “immense suffering, wreckage, and misery” and “virtually every measure of social pathology.”

The antidote to secularism, Barr said, is religion, especially the Judeo-Christian moral system that promotes moral discipline and virtue. Thus the need to protect religious liberty — seemingly Barr’s ultimate cause.

Barr grew up in a Catholic home, attended Catholic grammar school and in adulthood has been affiliated with a number of conservative Catholic organizations, all of which surely formed him in the morals and virtues about which he waxed so eloquently at Notre Dame.

Oh, that we could see some of that moral discipline and virtue reflected in the decisions made by Barr’s Department of Justice.

Last month’s tear-gassing of peaceful protesters in Washington D.C. — personally ordered by Barr to make way for Donald Trump’s Bible photo-op — seems almost tame compared to last week’s video from Portland, Oregon, where federal agents, clad in camouflage, forced a peaceful protester into an unmarked minivan.

Such tactics are reminiscent of dictatorship, not a democracy.

Yet Barr not only defended them, he has announced a “surge” of the Justice Department’s “Operation Legend,” which is sending federal law enforcement to quell violence in the nation’s cities — primarily “blue” Democratic cities.

It‘s all part of a reelection plan to paint Trump as a “law and order” leader, in response to largely peaceful protests that have erupted over racial injustice, including the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who pleaded for his mother while an officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes.

On Wednesday, Barr called the protests after Floyd’s murder “extreme.”

Barr graduated with highest honors from George Washington Law School, so he should be aware that arresting citizens without specific probable cause is unconstitutional. The Portland protester in the video was released shortly after being detained in a federal facility; a later statement by Customs and Border Protection claimed the Portland protester in the video was suspected of attacking federal agents or property

These frightening tactics are just the latest in the erosion of true justice under Barr’s leadership in the DOJ. Barr, who is supposed to be the top lawyer for the American people, instead seems more focused on providing legal cover for a president for whom legal troubles — or potential legal troubles — are an almost daily occurrence.

When Trump wishes the alleged accomplice of child sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein “well,” as he did in this week’s press conference, all but the most naive or politically partisan read the comment as the nod and wink that she’ll be taken care of, even if she perjures herself. It’s the same nod and wink that Roger Stone and Michael Flynn got.

With so many perversions of justice from the Barr DOJ, it’s hard to differentiate the horrors. But one move is a direct contradiction of Catholic teaching. The same week that federal agents flooded Portland, the Department of Justice, under Barr, resumed capital punishment, putting to death three men, including one whom his priest spiritual director described as a “sincere, practicing Catholic.” They were the first federal executions in nearly two decades.

Barr moved to resume federal executions last year, by issuing a “protocol addendum” that replaced the controversial three-drug procedure previously used in federal executions with a single drug.

More than 1,000 religious leaders, including several Catholic bishops, signed a July 7 letter urging Trump and Barr to halt the executions. “As our country grapples with the COVID 19 pandemic, an economic crisis, and systemic racism in the criminal legal system, we should be focused on protecting and preserving life, not carrying out executions,” the letter said.

Perhaps because the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and its Committee on Pro-Life Activities — usually so quick with a public statement whenever abortion is in the news — have yet to say anything about the resumption of the death penalty for federal prisoners, Barr correctly assumes that the killing of prisoners is not a priority for our bishops.

Yet Barr has been a Knights of Columbus member since 1984 and previously served on the board for the Opus Dei-run Catholic Information Center, whose bookstore surely carries the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That catechism, updated in 2018 by Pope Francis to reflect changes begun under St. John Paul II, teaches, “in the light of the Gospel, that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.’ “

In his Notre Dame speech, Barr preached about how Christianity teaches the importance of “micro-morality,” in which “we transform the world by focusing on our own personal morality and transformation,” he said.

Barr has politicized the Department of Justice so that it has chipped away at democratic freedoms and rights, all while protecting a culture of corruption under one of the most immoral presidents in history.

At the same time, while waving the banner of conservative, culture-war Catholicism, he has personally instigated the anti-life move to resume federal executions.

He may be right about that need for morality, virtue and transformation.

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This illuminating piece of journalism from the Editors of the U.S.-based journal N.C.R. – the National Catholic Reporter, sheds valuable light on what an accredited Catholic news editor really thinks of President Trump’s appointment of Judges who are determined to shore up his corrupt (and illegal) understanding of how to deliver just outcomes in a regime that is distorted by the chutzpah of its leading politician – the POTUS.

This has rendered me unable to make any comment – other than that it is to be hoped that the American public at large (especially that part of it that embraces the Christian ethic of non-violence) will take note of the crass incopetence of President Trump, and ensure his rejection at the next election. I’m not holding my breath; just hoping..

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Trump Advisors Support ‘Conversion Therapy’.

Senior Trump advisor tweets support for conversion therapy

She linked an article about the “empirical case” for conversion therapy that claims that childhood trauma makes people LGBTQ. It doesn’t.

By Alex Bollinger Tuesday, July 21, 2020     

President Donald Trump's new campaign legal adviser is an anti-LGBTQ extremistPresident Donald Trump’s new campaign legal adviser is an anti-LGBTQ extremistPhoto: Screenshot

A senior advisor to Donald Trump tweeted support for conversion therapy, linking an article that claims that conversion therapy can make gay and bisexual people straight.

Christian conservative activist and pundit Jenna Ellis was hired by Donald Trump earlier this year as a lawyer and a legal advisor to his 2020 reelection campaign. She already had a long history of opposing LGBTQ equality, including claiming that HIV among gay and bi men is “God’s moral law and His supremacy” and testifying in favor of conversion therapy in front of a Colorado House committee.

Related: Bowen Yang from SNL was sent to conversion therapy as a teen

Ellis’s views have apparently not softened since she took on her role in the Trump campaign. Yesterday, she retweeted an article that supports conversion therapy.

“No, sexual orientation is not immutable,” the tweet said.

Jenna Ellis's conversion therapy tweet
Screenshot/Twitter

The linked article is by New West Community Church pastor Paul Dirks and argues against Bill C-8 in Canada, which would create the world’s “most progressive and comprehensive” LGBTQ conversion therapy ban. The law would ban profiting from conversion therapy, ban family members from forcing children and adults into conversion therapy, and ban sending people out of the country for conversion therapy.

It’s the same conversion therapy ban that Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling showed her opposition to several weeks ago.

“The fact that many LGBT people have childhood trauma in their past argues that these experiences ought to legally be able to be explored in therapy,” Dirks wrote. “This is especially the case for minors, a group that are often singled out as a particular reason for banning therapy related to sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Of course, Canada’s conversion therapy ban – or any conversion therapy ban currently in place – won’t stop LGBTQ people from getting therapy for past trauma. Conversion therapy is an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, not any therapy at all for LGBTQ people.

The tweet’s claim about a “large, longitudinal” study that found “over 80 percent of same-sex-behaved adolescents became exclusively heterosexually behaved after six years” refers to a 14-year-old study on puberty by Cornell University developmental psychologist Ritch Savin-Williams that is often cited by supporters of conversion therapy, even though the journal article was not about conversion therapy at all and, at most, referred to sexual fluidity.

In 2013, Savin-Williams wrote in another journal article that the most likely explanation for why young teens who reported being gay or bi but later identified as straight on the survey he was working with in 2006 was a combination of confusion about what the question about sexual orientation meant and “the existence of mischievous adolescents who played a ‘jokester’ role by reporting same-sex attraction when none was present.”

Dirks also wrote in the article Ellis re-tweeted that, when it comes to high rates of LGBTQ youth homeless, “family dysfunction seems to be the culprit.” For Dirks, this is evidence that bad parenting and childhood trauma make people LGBTQ, instead of the more likely “culprit”: parents who kick out their children when they come out as LGBTQ or make life so hard for their LGBTQ children that they run away.

Ellis used to work for the James Dobson Family Institute, an anti-LGBTQ organization. She has spent years ranting against the “homosexual lifestyle.”

After the 2016 Pulse shooting that left 49 people dead, Ellis worried that the deaths at the LGBTQ nightclub would be used to support “the LGBT agenda.”

“I’m disappointed conservatives are acquiescing to the LGBT agenda,” she wrote. “Let me be clear — the Orlando shooting was absolutely terrible and tragic. But the response to this tragedy should not be embracing and advocating for gay rights.”

She has also called for a “national day of prayer for President Donald J. Trump” and tweeted recently that Black Lives Matter protestors may “try to cancel Christianity.”

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Whatever Donald Trump’s supporters drag up about Conversion Therapy, there is substantial evidence that; not only does it not work with those intrinsically different in their gender/sexuality identity, it can cause positive physical, mental and spiritual harm to those subjected to it – especially if the victim is subjected to spiritual coercion.

There have been cases where even excorcism has been tried and found totally ineffective in ‘curing’ the subject fo their homosexual tendencies – leading, in some cases, to the suicide of victims of this horrendous mis-diagnosis of their non-binary sexual status.

Sadly, Donald Trump, who might be considered unqualified to judge anyone else on their sexual status/identity/behaviour, seems hell-bent on discrediting anyone who does not conform to his own aggressively heterosexual persona. This may well be tongue-in-cheek stuff for him, though, who is more interested in courting those who are most likely to vote him back into presidential office

However, there are those in the U.S. (maybe the number is growing by the hour) who want him out – as witness this humorous video link:

The Liar Tweets Tonight

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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