Archive for November 16th, 2012
Last night I was watching CNN and Jenny (5) said, “What are those? Rockets?” It was footage of the fighting between Hamas and the IDF. I answered (without thinking about it), “Yeah, they’re firing rockets at Israel,” and then quickly added, “But not here.”
So soldiers are being mobilized and it looks like foot soldiers will be going into Gaza.
In truly worrying news, a rocket from Gaza recently reached the suburbs of Tel Aviv, which is the hub of the entire country. That little coastal strip from Tel Aviv up through Haifa is where most of the population of this little country lives. (Israel is about the size of New Jersey, incidentally.) If the guys in Gaza get better missiles from Iran (which is where they are coming from) then you will start to see serious casualties on the Israeli side, and the government will not permit that.
In the past Egypt could more or less be counted on to make smuggling arms into Gaza hard. No more…
Meanwhile, the fighting in Syria is spilling over into the always-unstable country of Lebanon. And fighting among the various parties (and there are several, not just two) in Syria recently made the Israeli army fire the first warning shots in decades in the Golan cease-fire area. It appears that the Syrians had not intended to cross the cease-fire line, fortunately.
Our neighbors in Jordan, which has the reputation of being a stable country, have recently eliminated fuel subsidies, which has caused massive protests over there. A line has been crossed, in fact, in that some people are openly calling for the abdication of King Abdullah. If he does not abdicate, force will have to be used to suppress dissenting voices. If he does abdicate the monarchy will be abolished, or a sibling of his will become monarch. Either way, Jordan will go the way of Egypt and become much more Islamist-leaning in its politics and foreign relations.
In my e-mail inbox this morning I had a message from the US Embassy-consulates are closed today and the embassy hours have been reduced. Also, diplomats may not travel through the West Bank because of the instability in both Israel and Jordan. Jordan, meanwhile, is trying to figure out what to do with tens of thousands of refugees from Syria. Jordan does not even have enough food or water for its own population.
We have been living in the Middle East now for many years, and I’m quite used to the occasional instability or violence. But it was always isolated to this or that area. The instability is too widespread now. I’m not an alarmist, but I don’t see how any of this ends up happily. That having been said, I do not feel our family is in any imminent danger, I am glad to say.
Would you please pray for peace in the region? Pray that the local churches would be part of the solution and not just close their eyes and ears to these difficulties? And pray for us, that in the midst of all of this we would be people of light and hope and witnesses to the grace of our Creator and the love of our Redeemer.
The spiritual leader of Australia’s 3.5 million Anglicans, Phillip Aspinall, believes that priests may be able to report child abuse revealed during the rite of confession without breaking the seal of the confessional, putting him at odds with Catholics.
The Australian reports:
The Anglican Primate says the sanctity of the confessional should be examined by the royal commission into child sexual abuse called this week by Julia Gillard, which he regards as being a decade overdue.
Dr Aspinall’s predecessor as Archbishop of Brisbane, Peter Hollingworth – who lost his job as governor-general after a scandal erupted over his handling of sex-abuse cases in the diocese – also backed the inquiry.
Dr Hollingworth warned yesterday that the abuse of children was “more widespread than previously thought”, and welcomed the royal commission as an important national initiative and a means to help victims.
Dr Aspinall told The Weekend Australian that pastoral guidelines for Anglican priests already stipulated that anyone who admitted sexually abusing a child during confession would not receive forgiveness unless they agreed to go to the police.
If the penitent refused, the confession was incomplete and, arguably, the seal of the confessional would not apply.
Only specified, senior priests could hear such confessions in the Anglican Church, Dr Aspinall said. “These priests are specially trained to require the penitent to report the matter to the police and even go with them to support them while they do that,” he said.
“If they don’t do that, forgiveness will not be granted to them.”
Dr Aspinall is credited with cleaning house after taking over as Archbishop of Brisbane in 2002 in the teeth of allegations that the diocese had failed to deal properly with sex abuse cases in the 1990s under Dr Hollingworth’s leadership.
Dr Aspinall, who was later elected Primate, said the announcement of a national royal commission into child abuse came 10 years after he first asked John Howard to call such an inquiry.
“Of the nearly 3.6 million Australians who call themselves Anglican, statistically one in four women and one in eight men are victims of abuse, so it is something that affects our church on many levels,” Dr Aspinall said in a statement yesterday.
His support for the royal commission to review confessional sanctity is in sharp contrast to the position of Australia’s most senior Catholic, George Pell, who this week declared that the confessional was “inviolable”, even for murder.
The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney said he would not hear the confession of a pedophile priest if he had prior notice of it, but, were it made, the seal of the confessional would remain.
In response, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, a Catholic, said he struggled to understand how such information could not be reported to police, while federal Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten called for the royal commission to address priestly privilege. Interviewed by The Weekend Australian, Dr Aspinall said mandatory reporting of child sex abuse was policy in the Anglican Church.
He said the rite of confession was less frequently practised by Anglicans, and was different from what took place in the Catholic Church.
Senior priests had told him they hadn’t heard a confession for years, let alone one involving child sex abuse.
But he acknowledged that opinion was divided among Anglicans on what the confessional seal covered.
“Some people would say that anything said in a formal confession remains secret and sacrosanct,” Dr Aspinall said.
“Others would say, no, if the penitent has not followed through and taken the appropriate action and received forgiveness, then the confession is incomplete and the seal of confession does not apply.
“In that instance the person either reports the matter to the police themselves or the priest is free to do so.”
Asked for his personal view, Dr Aspinall said: “My view is that every instance of child sexual abuse should be reported to the police.”
In nearly 25 years as a priest, he had never been put in the predicament of hearing the confession of a child abuser.
“I don’t think I ever will, because the reality is child sex abusers hide what they do; they don’t come forward to reveal it,” Dr Aspinall said.
Pressed on what he would do if someone confessed such a crime to him and refused to have it reported to police, he admitted it would pose “a real dilemma of conscience”.
“My heartfelt conviction is that all these matters should be reported to the police,” he said.
“If I found myself in a position of having to break canon law to do it, I’m not sure what I would do. But my conscience, I think, would move me to find a way for … proper action to be taken.”
While Cardinal Pell attacked sections of the media for exaggerating the incidence of sex abuse by Catholic priests and for vilifying the church, Dr Aspinall said reporting of the issue had mainly been reasonable.
He praised the courage of victims in coming forward.
Dr Aspinall conceded that trust in the church had been affected.
“I think people are more shocked when it’s a clergy person or a church worker who engaged in this behaviour because they have very high expectations of people in the church,” he said.
“And I think that is right and proper.”
The Council of Christian and Jews has welcomed the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who will succeed Rowan Williams next year, as a “good friend”.
The Rt Rev Welby, Bishop of Durham and a former dean of Liverpool Cathedral, who will automatically become a joint president of the CCJ, has been involved in reconciliation work between Jews and Arabs.
Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad, believed that Bishop Welby would have “a very balanced view” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said: “We both love the Jews and the Arabs. He really cares about them, totally. He is not the kind of person who will take just one side.
“It’s very rare. Everybody takes one position or the other. You either love Israel and hate the Palestinians; or you hate the Jews and you love the Palestinians. But he is on both peoples’ side.”
Canon White said that Bishop Welby had worked “in the thick of it” from Iraq to Nigeria. “He has been there in the midst of all of it. This isn’t interfaith relationships and reconciliation eating smoked salmon bagels in Golders Green and drinking cups of tea. This is really at the cutting edge.”
Liz Spencer, chairman of Merseyside CCJ, said that Bishop Welby had spoken to the group of his work with Jews, Christians and Muslims on an environmental project in the Holy Land.
Last year he helped CCJ mount a Holocaust Memorial Day exhibition in Liverpool Cathedral, she said. “He gave us space and facilitated it. He was very helpful and told his staff to help in any way they could.”
Bishop Welby abstained in this summer’s controversial vote at the Anglican Synod this summer, which endorsed the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and Palestine (EAPPI). The Board believes that EAPPI promotes a partisan view, which creates hostility towards Israel among Christians.
The Russian Patriarch is a powerful and influential man, make no doubt about it…
The conflict over unpaid water bills of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has been resolved, the spokesman for Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said.
“The Holy Sepulchre Church’s water debts have been written off, not without the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church after Patriarch Kirill met with Israeli President Shimon Peres,” Deacon Alexander Volkov said on Wednesday while summing up the five-day visit by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to the region.
Volkov, who heads the Patriarch’s press service, added that the news was announced by Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov at his meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Russian Church’s Department of External Church Relations.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has for centuries been one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for millions of Christians as the purported site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, earlier in November threatened to close its doors as its bank account was frozen over a debt to an Israeli water company.
The church had been exempt from water charges in a tacit agreement with Jerusalem authorities for decades but the Hagihon company, which took over water supply to Jerusalem in the late 1990s, recently demanded payment of a $2.3 million bill dating back 15 years, including interest.
Volkov said the Israeli authorities have written off the Holy Sepulchre Church’s water debt for the past seven years…
Patriarch Kirill arrived in Jerusalem on November 9. It was his first visit to the Holy Land since he was elected to head the Russian Orthodox Church in 2009. During his stay, the Patriarch visited Christian holy sites in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. He also met with Peres and Jordanian King Abdullah II.
(AP) — When fourth-grader Koregan Quintanilla was talking with his classmates about where they wanted to go more than anyplace else in the world, his answer wasn’t an amusement park, sporting event or kids restaurant. It was “his” fire station.
Koregan was abandoned in 2002 at an Arlington fire station when he was just a few hours old. Texas’ Baby Moses law allows a parent to leave an unharmed infant up to 60 days old at a fire station or hospital with no questions asked. Child Protective Services then takes custody of the babies.
On Thursday evening, Koregan got his wish for his 10th birthday. He met the Arlington firefighter who saved him, rode on a fire truck and toured the station. He hugged Arlington firefighter Wesley Keck and said he was “very nice.”
Keck said he was excited about seeing the boy for the first time since finding a baby carrier outside the station on a cold November morning. He said he did a double take before rushing outside. He moved the blanket aside and saw a sleeping baby, then gently picked up the carrier and walked inside to tell his colleagues the shocking news, he said.
“I announced that somebody had left us a gift,” Keck said Thursday. “I checked him out, and he seemed fine. I don’t remember him crying. I held him, and he slept a lot. I have four kids, and some of the other firefighters are fathers, so taking care of babies wasn’t new to us.”
Koregan’s mother, Rebecca Quintanilla, said her son, who turned 10 last week, always has known he was adopted and has watched TV news footage from when he was found at the fire station. This year, when Koregan began showing more interest in meeting the firefighter, she tracked Keck down and planned a reunion.
“He’s a very good kid, kind, shy and he’s always giving things away to people,” Quintanilla said. “After talking to Mr. Keck, I think he’s like that. I do believe Koregan has some traits from Mr. Keck, although he just spent a few hours with him.”
Since 2009, 43 babies have been dropped off at fire stations and hospitals in Texas, said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. All states have similar laws, but Texas was the first to create the Baby Moses law, signing it into law in 1999. It took effect in 2001.
Quintanilla, who has five other children, all adopted, said she is grateful for the Baby Moses law — although it means Koregan never will have a way of finding his biological mother or his medical history unless she comes forward.
“It’s amazing, because there are terrified women who have no idea what to do,” she said. “There’s a window of time when they can make a choice.”
Keck, a firefighter for 26 years, agreed.
“I’m happy the way it turned out,” he said. “I didn’t do anything special. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”