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Poland Bishop Crisis Likely to Worsen

Plus: The clergy abuse scandal at five years, the latest on Judas Iscariot, ex-gay sheep, and other stories from online sources around the world.
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1. Poland's Communist security service said 12 bishops "cooperating" in 1978
"Any hope that the departure of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus would lay to rest controversies over the alleged collaboration of Polish clergy with the Communist-era security forces quickly dissolved on Monday, as another senior Polish cleric stepped down under the weight of similar allegations, and a major newspaper disclosed a memo from senior officials of the security service, dated 1978, which asserted that twelve Polish bishops were cooperating at that time in plans to influence the Catholic church," John Allen notes in his daily National Catholic Reporter column. "In yet another shocking disclosure, the Polish weekly Wrpost unearthed documents claiming that a Polish auxiliary bishop had reported on meetings of the Polish bishops to the secret police from 1963 to 1970, including discussions of the Polish contingent at the Second Vatican Council."



It's not just a historical matter, nor is it one isolated to Poland, Robert T. Miller writes on the First Things website:

[E]ither the Vatican knew about Wielgus' past when it appointed him, as Wielgus says and as the Vatican's statement in December strongly suggests, or else it did not, as [Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops] now maintains. If the [latter], then the Vatican's investigation of Wielgus prior to the appointment was grossly negligent, failing to discover information that was readily available in Poland. If the [former], as seems much more likely, then the Holy See exercised very poor judgment in making the appointment in the first place and even worse judgment in attempting to ram it through even after the truth about Wielgus became public. Even worse, it stood by Wielgus while it knew he was lying to the faithful by denying the allegations. Many faithful Catholics looking at this situation will think that our bishops, rather than their critics, are the ones doing the real harm to the Church here.

Also on the First Things website, Richard John Neuhaus worries that the Wielgus case will "detract from the heroic record of Stefan Cardinal Wyszinski of Warsaw and Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Cracow, later Pope John Paul II, under the communist regime. … Compared to other countries behind the Iron Curtain, such as what was then Czechoslovakia, they and other leaders were remarkably successful in resisting the infiltration of the Church by the state."

Actually, the Institute of National Memory (IPN) archives that are the source of all these revelations serve as a reminder of the resistance of Wyszinski and Wojtyla. The document that lists the 12 cooperating bishops (by code names only) also "describes efforts by the security agency to influence the selection of a successor to Wyszynski … known as the 'Primate of the Millennium' for his staunch resistance to the Communists," Allen writes. "The Communists were particularly eager that Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow … not be given the job."

Allen spoke to Wojtyla's / John Paul II's biographer, George Weigel, in an earlier column on Wielgus, and late yesterday Weigel's analysis appeared on Newsweek's website:

The Catholic Church thus has everything to gain by turning the Wielgus affair into an opportunity to deal with the IPN archives in a serious way, making a clean breast of its modern history while helping shape a sophisticated public understanding of the nature of life under totalitarianism—which is already being forgotten among too many Poles (not to mention Westerners). By the same token, Polish Catholicism has a lot to lose, if it does not take the responsibility to tell the full truth about its recent history—and the potential damage reaches far beyond the court of public opinion.

2. John Yates and Os Guinness explain the split
John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, and Os Guinness, one of his most notable parishioners, aren't happy about media descriptions of why their congregation voted to break ties with the Episcopal Church. In a Monday The Washington Post op-ed, they write:

The core issue in why we left is not women's leadership. It is not "Episcopalians against equality," as the headline on a recent Post op-ed by Harold Meyerson put it. It is not a "leftward" drift in the church. It is not even primarily ethical -- though the ordination of a practicing homosexual as bishop was the flash point that showed how far the repudiation of Christian orthodoxy had gone.

No, they said: "The core issue for us is theological: the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. It is thus a matter of faithfulness to the lordship of Jesus, whom we worship and follow. The American Episcopal Church no longer believes the historic, orthodox Christian faith common to all believers. … [T]here is little identifiably Christian in Episcopal revisionism. Would that Episcopal leaders showed the same zeal for their faith that they do for their property."

Such explanations have been given by orthodox Anglicans around the world, but reporters continue to shorthand the conflict as being "over gays." Good for Yates and Guinness for working to set the matter straight. However, one does wish that they would have added a bit more on why they actually severed ties with the Episcopal Church, since that was the supposed subject of their article. There are many who agree the Episcopal Church has abandoned historic Christianity, but who choose to remain within the church for various reasons. What's the connection between opposing the teachings and practices of Episcopal leaders and leaving the Episcopal Church?

3. Los Angeles Times: Touch not the unclean investment
"The Gates Foundation invests heavily in sub-prime lenders and other businesses that undercut its good works," says a four-part series in the Los Angeles Times. "The Gates Foundation reaps vast profits every year from companies whose actions contradict its mission of improving society in the United States and around the world, particularly the lot of people afflicted by poverty and disease."

The Times notes that "other leading philanthropies" don't screen much, either. But it's the Gates Foundation that's the focus. The foundation actually does screen against tobacco, but the Times is upset that it invests in mortgage lender Ameriquest, oil companies, and "four large chocolate makers."

It's a bit surprising to see the Times give so much space to this and repeatedly assert that the investments conflict with the Gates Foundation's "good works." The foundation's "$66 billion will give the Gates Foundation more than 10 percent of the assets of all of the charitable foundations in the United States and provide it with unmatched muscle and potential moral authority," Charles Piller writes. "Though it does a vast amount of good with its grants, the foundation declines to use its influence in efforts to reform companies whose business practices flout its goals." A 266-word sidebar dismisses the notion that screened investments may not have as high returns.

What's the religion angle here? Nothing direct, though ethics-based investing has been a religion trend for a bit, and Christian aid organizations also have to ask questions about where their money comes from. They're important questions, and Weblog does hope that organizations are "following the money" to guard whenever possible against doing evil.

Still, Weblog was interested in this series simply for how … familiar it seemed. The Times's enforcing of its own kind of orthodoxy and criticism of the Gates Foundation for taking "dirty" money, is the kind of story we at CT see all the time. It's very much like the supposed scandal over the Hewlett Foundation's donation to the Evangelical Climate Initiative or the opposition to Rick Warren inviting Sen. Barack Obama to speak at Saddleback Church's AIDS summit. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." Interpretation of that verse has separated evangelicals from their fundamentalist forefathers. It's interesting when a similar kind of fundamentalism pops up in another sphere.

4. Did National Geographic buy off scholars for its Gospel of Judas blitz?
While you're at the Los Angeles Times website, check out Saturday's update on the Gospel of Judas controversy. I thought it was rather settled now among academics that the National Geographic Society had betrayed good scholarship in its efforts to get press attention for its expensive manuscript, and thus sales for its related books. But Marvin Meyer, who helped to translate the Coptic manuscript, stands by the way his work was done and handled. His former mentor, James M. Robinson, is still livid about the entire affair. The Times focuses on their broken friendship, putting the scholarship and business aspects in the background (there's an apparent attempt here to draw parallels between the Robinson-Meyer relationship and the Jesus-Judas one, but not too closely).

5. All we, like sheep?
Researchers at Oregon State University are reportedly testing a method that alters the sexuality of sheep, so that rams that prefer to mount other rams instead mate with ewes. "This experiment throws up difficulties for all sides of the millennia-long debate about homosexuality. It gives the forces of homophobia plenty to fume against by annihilating their most hoary argument: that gay sex is 'unnatural,'" Johann Hari writes in The Independent. However, he adds, "At the very moment the world is being forced to admit homosexuality is not a choice, this experiment raises the distant prospect that it might become one after all." Mark Steyn's take, meanwhile, is hard to summarize.

Quote of the day
"God came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ to lift us out of the darkness of sin. Only with the truth of clergy sexual abuse exposed could we again seek to walk fully in His light."

—Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, archbishop of Boston, on Epiphany and the five-year anniversary of the clergy abuse scandal.

More articles

Poland resignations | Catholicism | Boston church sale | Eastern Orthodox | Epiphany and Christmas | Church life | Ted Haggard and New Life Church | Anglicanism | Homosexuality | London rally against gay rights law | Atheism | Islam | Keith Ellison's Qur'an | International relations | Religious freedom | Church and state | Politics | Immigration and refugees | Life ethics | Mitt Romney and Mormonism | Cults and new religious movements | Predictions | Spirituality | Abuse | Crime | Deaths | Colorado avalanche (not the hockey team) | Missions and ministry | Touch not the unclean thing? | Money and business | Art and entertainment | Books | History | Judas | People | Al Mohler | Education | These kids today | Science | Prayer | Other stories of interest

Poland resignations:

  • Pope didn't know Warsaw bishop spied, cardinal says | Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus resigned on Sunday after admitting to collaborating with Poland's communist secret police -- conduct that the Vatican's top spokesman acknowledged on Sunday had "gravely compromised his authority." (Reuters)

  • Archbishop tied to secret police quits in Warsaw | Prelate admitted he cooperated with ex-regime (The Boston Globe)

  • Archbishop of Warsaw resigns, Weigel warns of future 'blackmail' | American Catholic writer George Weigel, who teaches regularly in Poland and has extensive contacts in the Polish church, said the Wielgus episode illustrates the need for the church to deal with this chapter of its past (John Allen, National Catholic Reporter)

  • Poland's battle for souls | The Roman Catholic Church sees itself as the custodian of Polish culture. Even today, it still carries weight in the nation's politics. But fewer and fewer people are obeying its commandments (Der Spiegel, Germany)

  • Acts of contrition: Warsaw archbishop quits over secret police past | In the Polish Catholic Church's biggest scandal in years, the archbishop of Warsaw has resigned over his ties to Poland's communist-era secret police. Crowds gathered for what they thought would be his ordination were divided, with some applauding while others shouted "Stay with us!" (Der Spiegel, Germany)

  • Head priest of Krakow cathedral resigns | A second prominent Catholic clergyman quit his post Monday amid allegations he collaborated with Poland's Communist-era secret police, a day after Warsaw's new archbishop resigned after admitting he had cooperated with the despised agency (Associated Press)

  • Second church official resigns in Poland | The controversy raised concerns about an erosion of the church's image (The New York Times)

  • The archbishop's bargain -- and Poland's | Surely this could have happened only in post-communist Poland. Where else would millions be avidly watching the live broadcast of an archbishop's inaugural Mass? (Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post)

  • An archbishop falls to a witchhunt | A personal pick of the Pope resigns amid a movement in Eastern Europe to purge anyone tainted with communist collaboration (Andrew Purvis, Time)

  • Lessons from an archbishop's fall | To take control of its own history, the Catholic Church in Poland needs to vet miles of communist-era police records (George Weigel, Newsweek)

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Catholicism:

  • Lay Catholic group marks 5th year | Voice of the Faithful, which started as a handful of outraged parishioners at St. John the Evangelist Church in Wellesley, has grown to an international organization that claims tens of thousands of members (Associated Press)

  • Pope urges need for 'renewed humanism' | Religious leaders of all faiths must play a role in ensuring that the spiritual and cultural aspects of life are not forgotten as mankind tackles the challenges of globalization, Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday (Associated Press)

  • Number of Austrians leaving church drops | Significantly fewer Austrians left the Roman Catholic Church in 2006, the Archdiocese of Vienna said Tuesday — a sign that a mass exodus of believers triggered by priest sex scandals and the nation's unpopular church tax is slowing (Associated Press)

  • Tanzanian priest tending to Vermont Catholics in border town | Mlinganisa is one of eight foreign priests brought to Vermont to help the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington alleviate its well-known priest shortage that has forced the closure of churches across the state (Associated Press)

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Boston church sale:

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Eastern Orthodox:

  • Russia Orthodox head lauds church growth | The head of the Russian Orthodox Church praised the growth of the church in a Christmas Eve message Saturday, and later presided over services at a Moscow cathedral that symbolizes the faith's revival after Soviet rule (Associated Press)

  • Two urban congregations to form one new suburban church | The Greek Orthodox churches St. Nicholas in Newark and SS. Constantine and Helen in nearby Orange have deep urban roots that go back decades, but in the coming months they will merge to create a single new church in suburban Roseland. (The New York Times)

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Epiphany and Christmas:

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Church life:

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Ted Haggard and New Life Church:

  • 'There are no secrets' | Today, New Life Church is marking its anniversary far differently: with a 21-day fast (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  • The church's uncompromising stance on condom | Chris Zimba, who heads a youth non-governmental organisation called Youth Change Impact, says that the recent revelation of Reverend Ted Haggard's sexual scandal should be a wake up call to the Church to look at AIDS from a more realistic perspective and avoid playing double standards (Bruce Chooma, The Times of Zambia)

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Anglicanism:

  • Williams fears losing control of church | "Because I am an ordinary sinful human being, I fear the situation slipping out of my control," Williams said in an ITV documentary about Canterbury Cathedral, mother church of the deeply divided Anglican Communion (Reuters)

  • Anglicans 'can reject women priests' | Traditionalists won a victory against the liberal American branch of Anglicanism yesterday when a panel set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury ruled that they could not be compelled to accept women priests (The Telegraph, London)

  • An African archbishop finds common ground in Virginia | Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria Peter Akinola says it's no accident that he, an African, has become the outspoken leader of Anglican traditionalists worldwide. God has always looked to Africa to save his church, he says. When Christ sought safety from Herod, he found it in Egypt, in Africa, and when he was completely worn out, an African carried his cross, according to Akinola (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Budget trouble in Episcopal diocese | A special session of the Pa. convention will be asked to approve cuts. Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. is under fire (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Bishops meet to choose a successor to Eames | Church of Ireland Bishops are meeting tomorrow to choose a Primate to succeed Archbishop Robin Eames who retired recently after more than two decades in office (Belfast Telegraph)

  • Fracture in the church | Heathsville body divided as many shift to Anglicans (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  • Why we left the Episcopal Church | The core issue for us is theological: the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. . It is thus a matter of faithfulness to the lordship of Jesus, whom we worship and follow (The Rev. John Yates and Os Guinness, The Washington Post)

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Homosexuality:

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London rally against gay rights law:

  • Faith rally over gay rights law | Religious groups are to stage a protest calling for a halt to laws banning discrimination against gay people in the provision of goods and services (BBC)

  • Gay rights laws draw religious protest | Christian and Muslim groups are to stage a torchlit protest outside the House of Lords tonight against a proposed new gay rights law that they say would force them to "actively condone and promote" homosexuality (The Times, London)

  • Religions united in opposition to gay rights law | The campaign is backed by Christian lawyers, including Lord Mackay of Clashfern, the former Lord Chancellor, and senior Church of England and Roman Catholic bishops (The Telegraph, London)

  • Discrimination beyond belief | While you'd think religious groups of all creeds would welcome tolerance, some are only united by their persecution of gay people (Gareth McLean, The Guardian, London)

  • Halting progress | Protests outside parliament by religious groups tonight will represent an obscenity against human rights (AC Grayling, The Guardian, London)

  • Homophobia, not injustice, is what really fires the faiths | Outside parliament tonight the intolerance that comes with religion's moral certainty will be on display for all to see (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, London)

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Atheism:

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Islam:

  • Talks between religious leaders in divided Cyprus called off | Muslim and Orthodox Christian leaders in war-divided Cyprus have canceled a historic meeting, with the top Turkish Cypriot cleric citing offensive remarks by his Greek Cypriot counterpart (Associated Press)

  • Also: Greek Cypriot archbishop calls Ankara 'enemy' | Greek Cypriot Archbishop Chrisostomos II made controversial remarks about the status of Cyprus prior to a meeting of Turkish and Greek Cypriot religious leaders, which was later cancelled (Zaman.com, Turkey)

  • The libeling of a people surges with a vengeance | European missionaries and colonists supplied the biases, bringing to Muslim-ruled world a Christian rationale for anti-Semitism, steeped in images of Jews as devils and killers of Jesus (The New York Times)

  • Sen. Boxer rescinds award to Islamic activist | The man represents a group some contend is extremist. Supporters say right-wingers are just trying to silence American Muslims (Los Angeles Times)

  • Morocco journalists go on trial | Nichane magazine's editor and one of its reporters are accused of defaming Islam and damaging public morality in an article about religious jokes (BBC)

  • Bus driver: 'I embrace all religions' | The Rapid bus driver Gene Bandlow says he was just following policy when he asked a woman with an Islamic veil to step off his bus last July (The Grand Rapids Press)

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Keith Ellison's Quran:

  • Koran debate another reminder of intolerance | It tells me -- reminds me -- that there has always been a strain of intolerance in the American character, a reactionary streak that denies American values under the guise of defending them (Leonard Pitts Jr., The Miami Herald)

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International relations:

  • Pope says Iran should be cooperative | Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that Iran should cooperate with the international community to ease concerns over its nuclear ambitions, and North Korea should avoid any action that could hurt talks to resolve its atomic crisis. (Associated Press)

  • U.S. state governor hopeful for breakthrough in Darfur | U.S. governor and potential presidential candidate Bill Richardson drew on his relationship with the Sudanese president to press him Monday to open war-torn Darfur to United Nations troops and obtain a cease-fire. (Associated Press)

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Religious freedom:

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Church and state:

  • No deal yet on Ten Commandments settlement | The desire to display the Ten Commandments continues to resonate with Rutherford County leaders reluctant to pay a $50,000 settlement to plaintiffs who forced them to remove the biblical verses from the Courthouse (The Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro, Tenn.)

  • Ruling opens church to scrutiny | The raging legal row at the African Inland Church over its constitution has brought to the fore the controversial issue of State-Church relations (The Nation, Kenya)

  • Archbishop denies getting car | The Archbishop of Kampala, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga , has said he has never received a vehicle from the Government (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Questionable mission | A Christian Embassy campaign at the Pentagon tests constitutional boundaries (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  • A challenge for the ages: One country, many faiths | Extremists — religious or not — speak the loudest, but they don't speak for all Americans. That much is clear. What's not clear: How will this religiously diverse nation move forward into the new year? The founding documents are a good place to start. (Oliver "Buzz" Thomas, USA Today)

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Politics:

  • Governor held up as modern biblical heroine | In a rousing three-hour gospel service, 1,400 worshippers praised Gov. Jennifer Granholm as a leader anointed by God to lead the state into a new era of justice and prosperity (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)

  • Ashcroft says religion belongs in public life | Former Attorney General John Ashcroft has a word of advice for Missouri lawmakers: Don't be afraid to pray (Associated Press)

  • Also: Ashcroft says his faith misunderstood (MissouriNet)

  • The values divide | An interview with John Danforth (U.S. News & World Report)

  • Questions from Red Letter Christians | We Red Letter Christians are asking what new explanations will be made up to justify a war that most of us know was a big mistake (Tony Campolo, Huffington Post)

  • Happy New Year! | Liberals should stop talking about "spirituality." It's "religion." And "faith"--that's "religion" too (Katha Pollitt, The Nation)

  • Don't cross the Catholics, Kev | If Kevin Rudd is going to succeed in his messiah plan and bring Christianity into the centre of his cultural conversation with Australian voters, he needs to put a stop to the Catholic bashing from his own front bench. (Tory Maguire, The Daily Telegraph, Australia)

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Immigration and refugees:

  • Immigration debate gets religious | A number of leading Christian conservative groups have formed a coalition on immigration and illegal aliens that will push religiously grounded positions that both sides of the current immigration debate will both love and hate (The Washington Times)

  • Conservatives decry terror laws' impact on refugees | Administration's interpretation means many asylum-seekers are wrongly considered security threats, critics say (The Washington Post)

  • Battling deportation often a solitary journey | Without legal assistance, thousands are expelled unfairly, critics of system say (The Washington Post)

  • Church service brings prayers for immigration reform | Haitians gathered today at Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic Church in Miami to pray for a change in federal immigration policies soon after new political leaders -- Gov. Charlie Crist in Tallahassee and a Democratically controlled Congress in Washington -- took power (The Miami Herald)

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Life ethics:

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Mitt Romney and Mormonism:

  • The Mormon factor | As Mitt Romney edges toward a presidential run, questions about his religion are inevitable (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  • Romney's religion under the microscope | A Mormon wants to be president, but will his party accept his faith and nominate him? (The Kansas City Star)

  • Romney courts Florida GOP base | Romney is appealing to the state's influential religious and social conservative community, and building on tacit support from former Gov. Jeb Bush. He faces a couple of hurdles (The Tampa Tribune)

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Cults and new religious movements:

  • Locals complain of scary 'church' | A Christian sect with links to an American "cult" is trying to establish itself in Kogarah, angering locals who fear its secretive ways (The Daily Telegraph, Australia)

  • Shamblin, Remnant Fellowship sue cults critic | The leader of a Brentwood church and her followers are taking aim at a minister who has accused them of being a cult. Gwen Shamblin, the Christian diet guru who founded the Remnant Fellowship, have filed a libel suit against a frequent critic (WTVF, Nashville)

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Predictions:

  • Trying to predict '07 religious news offers lesson in futility | Events that end up dominating the year are the sudden calamities and high-profile missteps no one could have guessed. The top story of 2006, for example, was last spring's violent Muslim reaction to satirical cartoons of Muhammad published in Europe (Ray Waddle, The Tennessean, Nashville)

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Spirituality:

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Abuse:

  • Using the victims yet again | That the Diocese of Bridgeport would dare to use the welfare of the 23 sex-abuse victims to justify keeping secret the crimes of the clergy against them is downright Orwellian (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • Advocates propose sex abuse reforms | Accountability, victim relief key (The Boston Globe)

  • Rebuilding faith, five years on | God came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ to lift us out of the darkness of sin. Only with the truth of clergy sexual abuse exposed could we again seek to walk fully in His light. (Seán P. O'Malley, The Boston Globe)

  • Unanswered questions linger | Unlike the three wise men who broke from Herod after meeting infant Jesus, the three cardinals followed the toxic secrecy of a hierarchical culture that became exposed that day (Steven Krueger, The Boston Globe)

  • 15 settle in priest sex abuse | Plaintiffs average $100,000 each; at least 20 suits against diocese remain (The Denver Post)

  • Abuse prevention programs outdated | The Catholic Medical Association is asserting that the programs put in place generally are "ineffective and potentially damaging to children and families." (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  • Youth minister arrested | District attorney reviewing felony charges against John Graler (Craig Daily Press, Co.)

  • Director of drama ministry sentenced | The director of a nonprofit evangelical drama ministry pleaded no contest Monday to two counts of corruption of minors (Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster, Pa.)

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Crime:

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Deaths:

  • Congolese Cardinal Frederic Etsou dies | Cardinal Frederic Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, Congo's top Roman Catholic prelate who warned of what he called international meddling in the country's recent landmark elections, has died in a Belgian hospital, church officials said Sunday. He was 76 (Associated Press)

  • Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, historian, is dead at 65 | Elizabeth Fox-Genovese was a noted historian and women's studies scholar who roiled both disciplines with her transition from Marxist-inclined feminist to conservative public intellectual (The New York Times)

  • Also: The evolution of an antifeminist | The career of remarkable writer and scholar Elizabeth Fox-Genovese illustrates the complexities and challenges of 20th- and 21st-century feminism (Cathy Young, The Boston Globe)

  • David Ervine, 53, Irish militant who sought peace, dies | David Ervine was a former paramilitary who gave up violence to become one of Northern Ireland's leading Protestant politicians (The New York Times)

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Colorado avalanche (not the hockey team):

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Missions and ministry:

  • Church hits 'brick wall 30 feet thick' | There was great excitement back in the summer of 2005 when 86-year-old Jeannette Sadler surprised everyone by donating $1 million to build a community and social-service center at her lifelong church, Cliff Temple Baptist. But Dallas City Council member Elba Garcia "doesn't want any more community service facilities for the poor in her district. She thinks it's not good for the area." (Steve Blow, The Dallas Morning News)

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Touch not the unclean thing?:

  • Money clashes with mission | The Gates Foundation invests heavily in sub-prime lenders and other businesses that undercut its good works (Los Angeles Times)

  • Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation | Oil companies it has heavily invested in are blamed for fostering some of the very afflictions that the foundation combats (Los Angeles Times)

  • Ethics-based investing | Some foundation trustees shun ethical investments out of concern about inferior returns. But several studies conducted over the last decade by financial analysts have eased that worry (Los Angeles Times)

  • About this series (Los Angeles Times)

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Money and business:

  • Poll: Let voters decide on Sunday alcohol sales | Georgians overwhelmingly want the power to decide if stores may sell beer and wine on Sunday, according to a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Churches appeal alcohol zoning | Several downtown churches made it clear Thursday they do not want alcohol sold within 500 feet of their doors. But the Planning Commission is recommending a section of downtown be included in the city's new alcohol zoning district (The Grand Rapids Press, MI.)

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Art and entertainment:

  • Pop singer Stacie Orrico emerges from exile | In March 2004, Stacie Orrico walked away from it all. Feeling overwhelmed by the global success of her second album, the Christian pop singer exited the business, returned to her family in Seattle and took a waitressing job at a neighborhood seafood restaurant (Reuters)

  • The spiritual side of The Beatles | British author delves into their religious influences (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  • Christian films hit the edge | New film "Thr3e" avoids witnessing and delivers entertainment free of sex, profanity and blood (Springfield News-Leader, Mo.)

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Books:

  • God's undertaker | How Thomas Hardy became everyone's favorite misanthrope (Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker)

  • Christian empire | Evangelicals seek to control America and the world, Chris Hedges writes. Rick Perlstein reviews American Fascists (The New York Times)

  • Excerpt: American Fascists| "There is enough hatred, bigotry and lust for violence in the pages of the Bible to satisfy anyone bent on justifying cruelty and violence." The first chapter of Chris Hedges's book (The New York Times)

  • Interview: The holy blitz rolls on | The Christian right is a "deeply anti-democratic movement" that gains force by exploiting Americans' fears, argues Chris Hedges. Salon talks with the former New York Times reporter about his fearless new book, "American Fascists." (Salon.com)

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History:

  • Foul play in Medici deaths | Researchers say arsenic, not malaria, felled Francesco I and his wife, Bianca, in 1587 (Los Angeles Times)

  • On a mission | San Luis Rey seeking $4.5 million for earthquake upgrades to 208-year-old buildings; other improvements also planned (San Diego Union-Tribune, Ca.)

  • Also: Foundation's focus: repair, not religion | The Old Mission San Luis Rey Historic Foundation Inc. has embarked on a fundraising campaign to save a national historical monument (San Diego Union-Tribune, Ca.)

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Judas:

  • Was it virtue or betrayal? | National Geographic Society's Gospel of Judas claims split scholars, friends (Los Angeles Times)

  • Archer writes gospel of Judas | Christ's betrayer is just misunderstood, says the great storyteller (The Times, London)

  • Disgraced author aims to defend Judas | Author Jeffrey Archer, who was cast out of Britain's Conservative Party after being jailed on perjury charges, is coming to the defense of another noted black sheep — Judas Iscariot (Associated Press)

  • Jeffrey Archer writes Gospel according to Judas | British novelist Jeffrey Archer, renowned for penning a string of best-selling thrillers, has written the Gospel according to Judas Iscariot in a bid to throw new light on Christendom's most reviled betrayer (Reuters)

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People:

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Al Mohler:

  • Mohler out of intensive care, grateful for prayer support | ""He is eating, he is in good spirits and it looks as though the situation is completely under control at this point. He looks strong, is in remarkably good spirits and is even cracking jokes." (Baptist Press)

  • Seminary president still improving | Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler is still improving and is responding to medication, seminary spokesman Lawrence Smith said Sunday night (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Mohler in intensive care with blood clots in lungs | Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. was admitted to the intensive care unit Friday with blood clots in both lungs and his condition is "quite serious," according to a statement posted on his website Friday afternoon (Baptist Press)

  • Saturday: Baptist leader in Ky. hospital's ICU | The Rev. Albert Mohler Jr., an outspoken evangelical leader and president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was recovering in intensive care from blood clots in his lungs, the seminary said (Associated Press)

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Education:

  • School won't have Bible as literature class | The Howell Public Schools Board of Education opted against approving an elective class on the Bible as literature on Monday, but the debate at the board meeting would make a good lesson plan on comparative views of religion and education (Daily Press & Argus, Livingston, Mi.)

  • Also: Christians sue over ban that's been lifted | Exeter University's Evangelical Christian Union has taken the unprecedented step of suing its own students' union and university, despite being aware that the ban they were protesting against was no longer in force (The Times, London)

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These kids today:

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Science:

  • Reason, unfettered by faith | The two cannot, and should not, be shackled together. To do so misinterprets faith and belittles reason (Lawrence M. Krauss, The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

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Prayer:

  • Praying for parking is evil | To pray for parking is to misunderstand what God does in our lives. (Patton Dodd, Beliefnet)

  • Alliance policy offered as pray solution | The Oconee County Council is once again reviewing its policy of prayers in meetings (The Independent Mail, Anderson, S.C.)

  • Pastor, councilman asking churches to get involved in government | When Thomasville City Councilman Dwight Cornelison last month moved from the dais to the public address lectern to support using Christian prayers at public meetings, one minister in the crowd of about 50 was disappointed more citizens weren't on hand to do the same (The Dispatch, Lexington, N.C.)

  • A leaner, lawyered House prayer returns | House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer's prayer to "Almighty God" accomplished something approaching a miracle Monday: It seemed to offend no one within earshot (The Indianapolis Star)

  • Also: Indiana House opens with non-sectarian prayer | House Speaker Pat Bauer opened the 2007 session of the General Assembly Monday with a prayer — the first since a federal judge ruled in late 2005 that official legislative prayers can't refer to Jesus Christ (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

Back to index

Other stories of interest:

  • Is Bible the story of heaven on Earth? | Is the Bible just a big book of worldly experience that hints at divine echoes, or did it drop "down from heaven in black leather binding complete with maps?" Reading between the lines, N.T. Wright thinks neither of those extremes does justice to Christianity. Rather, the Bible is a story of heaven on earth (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)

  • French judge bars group's pork soup plan | A top French judge ruled that an extreme-right group cannot serve pork soup to the needy, saying the charitable handouts aim to discriminate against Muslims and Jews who don't eat pork because of their faith (Associated Press)

  • Fr Kaiser death inquest resumes after break | Detectives from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, who are behind the suicide theory, are expected to take the witness stand to defend their findings. The Catholic Church has rejected the FBI stand, insisting the missionary was killed (The Nation, Kenya)

  • Eden's not cheatin' | Dawn Eden used to put out for any old rock star. Now she's saving it for the King (Radar)

  • The pill may raise odds of having allergic kids | Mothers who have previously used oral contraceptive pills seem more likely to have children with nasal allergies, Finnish researchers report (Reuters)

  • Church takes wedding shows stand | The Diocese of Hereford plans to put up one of the first exhibition stands run by the Church of England at wedding shows next Spring (BBC)

  • Too late to save tower? | MorningStar has not met deadlines to stop demolition of former Heritage USA highrise (The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C.)

  • Sex, race, age and religion — the growth industry | Human dignity underlies the increase in discrimination claims (Frances Gibb, The Times, London)

  • The unkindest cut | When our son was born, my wife decided circumcision was barbaric, but my parents insisted it was an essential Jewish tradition. Behold the sad tale of how one foreskin tore a family apart (Neal Pollack, Salon.com)



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