Monday, November 14 2005 @ 01:31 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
After nearly 50 years of investigation, the Catholic Church has recognized as "miraculous" the case of an Italian woman who recovered from a serious illness after returning from Lourdes in 1952. The Sanctuary of Lourdes made the announcement today.
Anna Santaniello's recovery from Bouillaud's disease, acute asthma, cyanosis of the face, & swelling of the legs, is counted as the 67th authenticated miracle associated with Lourdes, which has thousands of pilgrims visit weekly & is the most visited place of pilgrimage except for Rome itself.
Some 6 million pilgrims each year come to the site in France where in 1858 a young girl, Bernadette Soubirous, said the Virgin Mary appeared to her.
Wednesday, November 09 2005 @ 03:57 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
Archaeologists digging in July at Tel Zayit, in Judah, south of Jerusalem, discovered a stone inscribed with all 22 of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, in order, and probably dating to the 10th century BC. If the dating is confirmed the find will be the earliest known specimen of the Hebrew alphabet & will lend credence to the idea that the kingdom of Israel was sophisticated, robust, & carried its influence far beyond Jerusalem. This would be consistent with the biblical story, but is doubted by some critical scholars who believe the Israelis at that time were a small tribal group with little sophistication or power.
If the archaeologists are correct, the stone with the inscription would be the oldest reliably dated example of an abecedary -- the letters of the alphabet written out from beginning to end in their traditional order. The tentative dating is based ont the formation of the letters & the debris found in the vacinity of the stone, including pottery shards that can be dated by style, design, & coloring.
Dr. Ron Tappy, the archaeologist at the Pittsburgh Tehological Seminary in Pennsylvania who directed the excavations reported, "All successive alphabets in the ancient world, including the Greek one, derive from this ancestor at Tel Zayit," which is itself a variation from its Phoenician roots.
Dr. Frank Moore Cross, Jr., a Harvard expert on early Hebrew inscriptions, was not part of the project, but he has examined the inscription & reports that it "is a very early Hebrew alphabet, maybe the earliest, & the letters I have studied are what I would expect to find in the 10th century" before Christ."
Monday, November 07 2005 @ 04:44 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church (UMC) issued a statement late last week saying that being an active homosexual is no bar to church membership. The statement came shortly after the UMC's highest court upheld a pastor's decision to refuse membership to an unrepentent, practicing homosexual in his local congregation. The statement included, "while pastors have the responsibility to discern readiness for membership, homosexuality is not a barrier."
The statement did not condemn the pastor's decision or the court's ruling, but it did say that the ruling was contrary to the denomination's stated inclusiveness. The UMC Book of Discipline calls homsexuals people of "sacred worth," but also says that homosexual conduct or practice is unbiblical.
Monday, November 07 2005 @ 03:49 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
The Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) has revealed that it uncovered & is excavating an ancient Christian church site in Israel, on the grounds of a government prison facility near Megiddo. The preliminary dating of the remains puts the church into the mid-third century AD or perhaps the early 4th century. The church site includes an altar area, inscriptions, & a complex floor mosaic using what was then the most common Christian symbol, the fish, & dedicated to Jesus Christ as God & in honor of various individuals, including a Roman army officer named Gaianus, who paid for the mosaic.
Christianity was outlawed by the Roman Empire until Constantine legalized it in AD 312 (the early 4th century) with his "Edict of Toleration." Before that, although Christianity claimed followers throughout the empire & at every level of society, it was technically illegal & often Christians were subject to persecution by local, regional, or even imperial persecutions. Most church congregations met in private homes or dual purpose assembly areas. Consequently, ruins of buildings dedicated to church use are rare. This find is one of the oldest churches found in the Holy Land area, along with several in current Syria & Jordan.
The ruins were uncovered as construction was begun on a new wing of the prison. Decisions are being discussed to either move the ruins or the prison to make the find accessible to tourists.
Archaeologist Dr. Yotam Tepper conducted the dig for the IAA. He explained why he ascribes the ruins to the 3rd or 4th century: "It doesn't look like a private church, it looks like a public place of worship with the name of Jesus Christ in the floor. But it doesn't look like the churches we know of from the early Christian [legal] period. It doesn't have the basillica structure that we know of from that time. This is a structure that's older."
Ten years ago the British government refused him admittance to the country, stating that his presence was a threat to public order.
Subsequent numerous appeals & further study, the government now says that the small number of followers in England means that his presence is unlikely to cause public unrest.
Rev. Moon teaches through his Divine Principle that Jesus failed to fulfill his mission during his lifetime, & that God has appointed him as the new Messiah to complete that mission through forming & promulgating the perfect human family.
Scots police are guardedly optimistic about finding & rescuing a 4 year old girl who was kidnapped by her non-custodial parent, a Nigerian woman whom acquaintances have linked to a sometimes-violent sect of African tribal animism, a form of JuJu that includes ritual killing.
Brian Topple (48), the Scots father of 4 year old Daniella, reported his daughter missing after Daniella's mother, Nigerian Ogonna Topple (29) disappeared with her after a custody visit in Edinburgh Saturday.
Ogonna Topple is feared to be in a precarious mental state & has been associating with Nigerian practitioners of JuJu in London between October 4 & 15. Detective Inspector Wallace Campbell reported, "This case is causing us increasing concern. We know of factors which make it difficult for her to cope. She may be very anxious. We have also uncovered her interest in African spiritual ritualism." DI Campbell concluded, "The wee girl will be frightened & confused by this set of circumstances. It would have caused her a lot of anxiety & disruption."
The United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday that when state law & federal rights collide, federal rights win. The court ordered the state of Missouri to provide free transportation to a pregnant prison inmate who wants to pay for her own abortion, even though Missouri law says that no state money can be spent on abortion services. Missouri has some of the most strict laws regarding abortion, including a moratorium on using any state funds for abortion services.
The Court said the state did not have to pay for the abortion itself, but that since the right to abortion was constitutionally protected under Roe v. Wade, it must make reasonable accommodation for the woman to obtain the services that she was choosing & paying for.
Wednesday, October 12 2005 @ 11:46 AM EDT Contributed by: AIA
The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has released edited personnel files of 126 priests over a 75 year period. The priests have been accused & in some cases convicted or admitted to sexual abuse of minors, whose cases are part of a settlement effort with the diocese. The release confirmed accusations that complaints had been made over many decades from many parishes about the same individuals & that the church had grossly mishandled the situations. Often the claims were discounted, the priest's denials given undue weight, or inadequate steps were taken to care for the victims or to prevent future victimization by the same priests on other children. While some of the inadequacies were more reflective of the times & social consciousness, nevertheless the church itself admits that it should have done more, sooner, & more decisively.
The victims, through their attorneys, had sought the documents for many months & it seemed likely that no financial settlement to the cases could proceed without the disclosure. Legally compelling the diocese to release the records was proving more difficult & time consuming than first expected.
While the disclosure, which will be posted on the Internet by the diocese later this week, is welcomed by the victims, many say that the redactions frustrate their attempts to get a full picture. Raymond Boucher, the lead attorney in the civil case for the victims, commented, "Unfortunately, these files do not contain the full story of the participation by the church in the manipulation & movement of these priests. The full files would show how deep & pervasive the problem was & how much the church put its own interests ahead of those of the children & others who were molested by the priests. That is a broader & deeper story."
St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is poised to become the first parish of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) to formalize as a ritual blessings for same sex unions in the church. After years of discussions among its leadership & its congregation, St. Paul's has adopted a rite of blessing that will not begin to be used until at least next summer, to give national ECUSA leadership an opportunity to meet on the issue before any blessings are actually conducted.
The ECUSA is part of the international union of Anglicans called the Anglican Communion (AC), which began with the Church of England (CoE), a breakoff from the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation. The AC has endured repeated strife & division over the last several years as some national churches have adopted practices with which many other national churches disagree.
Many AC national churches refuse to ordain women, although that has been accepted in England, Canada, the United States, & some other areas for more than a decade. The ordination of non-practicing homosexual priests has also raised dissent. The consecration as bishop of a homosexual priest in New England in 2003 led to splits within the ECUSA as well as division throughout the AC. For the last several years, individual churches in the Anglican Church of Canada have used rituals to bless same sex unions. (Same sex marriage is legal throughout Canada.)
Same sex marriage is specifically prohibited in Arkansas, where a state constitutional amendment approved by voters last November defines marriage as a union between a man & a woman.
In an effort to stem the tide of the majority of black American families, in which the parents never marry, a church in New York City has performed a "Marry Your Baby's Daddy" group marriage ceremony at which 10 black couples who had children together joined in marriage.
The ceremony was encouraged by Maryann Reid, author of Marry Your Baby Daddy, a steamy, sexy novel about 3 young black single mothers who must convince their children's fathers to marry them in order to inherit their grandmother's $3 million estate -- without telling the dads about the money. The new St. Martin's Press book is not an advice, social commentary, or self-help non-fiction essay, but a creative endeavor providing an entertaining story with a provocative social challenge. Reid's previous published fiction, Sex & the Single Sister & Use Me or Lose Me: A Novel of Love, Sex, & Drama, share with Baby Daddy the genre of African-American erotic contemporary romance. But this newest book has a greater agenda than simply gracing the nightstands of black women who enjoy a good romance novel. "Single parenthood [among African-Americans] is very much accepted as the norm & being married is looked at as unusual," Reid, who is African-American, explained. Thursday's ceremony, she continued, "gives me hope that our future generations can possible see this & break the cycle of broken homes."
Rev. Herbert Daughtry of House of the Lord Pentecostal Church in Brooklyn, NY, which is known for its activism for black causes & advancement nationally & internationally, performed the weddings.
The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26