Focus on the Family denounces Big Brothers/Big Sisters
While the majority of local chapters of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) have long had anti-discrimination policies regarding homosexual volunteers, the organization has initiated a new push this month to make sure all affiliates have policies to accept gays and lesbians.

Focus on the Family last week denounced the move. In fact, founder and president James Dobson has rescinded his support of the organization. Dobson endorses BBBSA in his book Bringing Up Boys but he says future editions will exclude the reference.

Bill Maier, Focus on the Family vice president, wrote: "Perhaps BBBSA is fearful that if it refuses to embrace homosexual volunteers it will suffer the same criticism and cuts in funding [as the Boys Scouts of America]. Whatever the reason, BBBSA has obviously decided that the rights of homosexuals are more important than the safety and well being of the children it serves."

It is unclear why Dobson and Focus on the Family are now taking action when a national BBBSA spokesman says that 90 percent of local chapters have had this policy for a number of years.

The Arizona Republic reports that the Phoenix chapter, which has had such a policy since 1989, received 20,000 e-mails in one day after the Focus on the Family protest. Local supporters have also withdrawn support.

BBBSA receives one-third of its support from private donors. "We're looking at a variety of issues and possible impacts, and of course one of those has to be donations," the group's spokesman told the Republic.

In an unscientific poll on the Christianity Today website this week, over 1,600 readers voted on whether that BBBSA should require local chapters to open themselves to gay and lesbian volunteers. Fifty-four percent has said, "No, it makes the abnormal seem normal." Only 14 percent agree with the policy.

Brownback becomes Catholic
The Washington Post reports this week that Kansas Senator Sam Brownback converted to Catholicism last month. The former United Methodist has frequently referenced his faith when working on issues such as bioethics and persecution in Sudan.

A private ceremony was reportedly held on June 27 at the Catholic Information Center in Washington. Brownback's sponsor was Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

"I really can't say anything except that Senator Brownback is clearly a person who believes in the moral vision of the teaching of the Catholic Church on things like cloning and stem-cell research," the ceremony's officiating priest told The Washington Post.

Article continues below

In pope, "we saw courage and defiance"
"We expected a frail, distant Pope making his last visit to Canada," wrote The Toronto Star'sLeslie Scrivener yesterday. "Instead we saw courage and defiance."

The 82-year-old Pope began an 11-day tour of Canada, Guatemala, and Mexico this week. He arrived on Tuesday in Toronto where he will celebrate Mass on Sunday and participate in World Youth Day festivities. Today, he will attend an official welcoming ceremony.

"Too many lives begin and end without joy, without hope," the pope told the crowd when he arrived in Toronto. "That is one of the principal reasons for the World Youth Day. Young people are coming together to commit themselves, in the strength of their faith in Jesus Christ, to the great cause of peace and human solidarity."

While press coverage of the Pope's trips have often focused with how frail he is, he's impressing those seeing him with his vigor and independence. On arrival, he held an impromptu meet-and-greet at the airport with World Youth Day attendees. Then, instead of resting as planned, he insisted on a tour of both Exhibition Place, where hundreds of thousands of youth were gathered, and the island where he is staying.

"When you work with Pope John Paul II, you have to be prepared for surprises," the national director for World Youth Day told The Toronto Star.

Meanwhile, there have been few surprises from protesters at World Youth Day. The New York Times reports that the few protests that have occurred have been "relegated to the festival's periphery." Pope John Paul II has denied requests to meet with survivors of clergy abuse while in Canada. Representatives say he wants to focus on the young Catholics renewing their faith this week.

In fact, the scandal doesn't seem to be on the minds of World Youth Day's approximately 200,000 pilgrims. According to them, the only people in Toronto focused on the scandal are members of the media.

"It's just a few bad seeds," one pilgrim told The New York Times. "Everyone's tired of hearing about it and talking about it and getting asked about it. We're here to focus on our faith."

More articles

Archbishop of Canterbury:

Article continues below
  • The great debate | 'God has a beard, so should Williams' (Richard Morrison, The Times, London)

  • Arch thoughts | Rowan Williams should not be silenced. (The Times, London)

  • Archbishop takes swipe at abortion laws | Dr Rowan Williams speaks of being "puzzled" by politicians who oppose abortion, yet see nothing wrong in using and selling arms. (BBC)

  • Disney hits back at archbishop | Disney Corporation has defended itself against the new Archbishop of Canterbury's claims it is helping the consumer exploitation of children. (BBC)

  • New archbishop issues warning on Iraq | Rowan Williams threw down a challenge to the government within minutes of his appointment yesterday by making clear that he would not support any British-backed attack on Iraq. (The Guardian, London)

  • Apostle of humility | Liberals and conservatives will try to claim him, but Rowan Williams' only agenda is spiritual leadership. (Jane Shaw, The Guardian, London)

  • Thoughts on the road to Canterbury | In a previously unpublished interview, he gave Graham Turner his candid assessment of some of the most important issues facing the Church of England. (The Telegraph, London)

  • Head in battle with Church on non-Christians | Williams has accused the bishops of bowing to "political correctness" over their insistence that non-Christian pupils be admitted. (The Telegraph, London)

  • What a heavenly idea | The next time an Archbishop of Canterbury is appointed, could it be a woman? (Joanna Moorhead, The Guardian, London)

Other stories of interest:

Related Elsewhere

What is Weblog?

See our past Weblog updates:

July 24 | 23 | 22
July 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15
July 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8
July 5 | 3 | 2 | 1
June 28 | 27 | 26 | 25 | 24
June 21 | 20 | 19 | 18 | 17