Culture

Cohabitation: A Royal Mistake

Did you ever notice that there is a different tone and feel to a wedding and the celebration that follows when a couple has been living together prior to taking their vows?

Something is missing.

Oh, it’s not the guests, the music, the cake, or the decorations. There is always plenty of that to go around.

But something is lacking.

I will go so far as to say that there is a special look that is absent in the way a co-habitating bride and groom even look at each other.

There is no anticipation and no excitement of a new ‘beginning.’

Cohabitation makes a mockery of a sacred vow and sacrament, and leaves the bride and groom without that tangible sense of the life-long vocation and commitment that they are entering into.

Some 750 million people flocked to their televisions to watch the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981. This was in a time when cohabitation would have been a royal embarrassment. Despite an increase of accessibility to view the ceremony, is it possible that the widespread knowledge that the Royal Couple, Prince William and Kate, have been cohabitating for 8 years, is the reason for America’s notable lack of excitement about this royal wedding?

Where is the mention or outrage of this public scandal and embarrassment? The Dallas Morning News of April 9 captured the mood well when reporting “William and Kate’s cohabitation elicits a shrug.”

Is this a clear example that children grow up and live what they learned? Or are the sins of the father (Prince Charles’ long accepted affair with Camilla) being visited upon the son (Prince William)?

… It was a great blessing recently when Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, New Mexico issued his courageous Pastoral letter, “Pastoral care of couples who are cohabitating” which is gaining widespread circulation. He writes:

“We have three groups of people who are living contrary to the Gospel teaching on marriage: those who cohabit; those who have a merely civil union with no previous marriage; and those who have a civil union who were married before. These people are objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion. They are in great spiritual danger. At the best — and this is, sadly, often the case — they are ignorant of God’s plan for man and woman. At the worst, they are contemptuous of God’s commandments and His sacraments…… Christ our Lord loves all these people and wishes to save them — not by ignoring their sin, or calling evil good, but by repentance and helping them to change their lives in accordance with His teaching. ”

This high profile royal couple, who willingly or unknowingly lives in this state of moral confusion, implores each of us to fall to our knees — not to exult and honor the Royal Couple as the British media will — but instead to pray for them.

Archbishop Sheehan’s Pastoral letter carries a great reminder to all couples who seek to “make right” their living situations. Through the grace of God there lies eternal hope for the restoration of the sacred institution of Marriage.

The message to this generation is loud and clear and quite undeniable:

Cohabitation is a Royal mistake.

Read the whole piece here.

And then there is the almost shameful piece: For modern royal bride, virginity doesn’t matter.

London — In 1981, Princess Diana’s uncle made a public statement before her royal wedding to clear up The Question: Yes, she was a virgin.

What a difference a generation makes.

Today, few people seem the least bit concerned that Prince William and Kate Middleton, set to wed this month, have been living together off and on since their university days…

… The modern-day tolerance of William and Middleton’s living arrangements, many say, just brings the House of Windsor in line with the times. Part of the change may have to do with the very public infidelities that played out in the disastrous marriage of Charles and Diana, which rocked the royal family to its core…

… They are not expected to adhere to an ideal that fell out of fashion several generations ago, long before Middleton sauntered down a charity fashion show runway wearing a transparent dress over black lingerie, producing photos that seem destined to live forever on the Internet.

In Diana’s day, the risque photos of a likely future queen might have torpedoed any wedding plans. Now they raise a few eyebrows, but nothing more.

A spokesman for Prince William, who refused to be identified because of royal policy, said palace officials would not comment on whether attitudes have changed, preferring to leave that role to others.

Middleton’s age also offers a partial explanation for the different attitudes toward the two royal brides. She is 29; Diana was just 19 when her engagement to Charles was announced after a brief courtship. There was a general expectation that the young nursery school teacher would not have had any lovers before Charles.

“There is no rule that the royal bride has to be a virgin, and there never has been,” said Noel Cox, a law professor and royal scholar at Aberystwyth University in Wales. “Obviously it would present difficulties if the heir chose someone who was notoriously promiscuous — that would be unpopular — but they could do that if they wanted to.”

Diana’s virginity wasn’t a defined issue, experts say, but the absence of prior boyfriends with embarrassing tales to tell was a big plus from the royals’ point of view.

Culture

‘Pervert’ Pastor

What a charlatan!

Pastor Paseka Motsoeneng claims to have special healing powers and portrays himself as a son of God who deals with evil spirits.

But now the popular television star has been outed as a fake and allegations of sexual assault have surfaced.

Thousands of believers flock to the Incredible Happenings Ministries in Katlehong in the East Rand each Sunday in the hope of receiving miracle cures.

Motsoeneng is the star of his own TV show which airs on Soweto TV every weekend, and viewers have “witnessed” miracles such as wheelchair-bound people being able to walk instantly after receiving miracle cures from the pastor.

People also testify to shocking things like fish, crocodiles and stones coming out of their bodies.

When he goes to preach he is seen driving flashy sports cars and accompanied by heavily armed bodyguards .

But now Motsoeneng has been accused of being a fraud.

According to the Sunday World newspaper, the pastor acts out carefully staged and managed situations on his weekend television show.

Motsoeneng has also been labelled as a “pervert” because of the unusual way he heals people, as well as a “thief” who steals the church’s money.

The newspaper reported that thousands of people had attended his service in Katlehong last week to witness his miraculous demon-banishing service which “resembled a porn movie”, rather than a religious service.

The self-styled prophet Motsoeneng put his fingers into the vaginas of two female congregants as part of a ritual to expel the demons that had allegedly possessed them.

Motsoeneng’s unorthodox demon-banishing methods, which may constitute indecent assault, alarmed other miracle-seekers who attended.

Sitting on the lap of a 17-year-old girl, Motsoeneng placed his hand on her head, and started praying for her.

Motsoeneng told the congregants her tummy had swelled up because some sorcerers had cast an evil spell on her.

As he was praying for her she collapsed. Motsoeneng then told the teenager to open her legs, which she did.

He then plunged his fingers into her vagina.

As he was busy with his “healing process”, Motsoeneng ordered her to call him by his nickname, Mboro.

“Mboro” she said, with a stifled cry.

He was interrupted by a female congregant who brought him a glassful of what looked like ice-cream, which she spoon-fed him. He was still sitting on the woman’s lap.

Despite the huge outcry following Motsoeneng’s “demon banishing” service last weekend, Katlehong police say they are not investigating the matter.

“I cannot comment on the issue,” said Constable Mega Ndobe of the Katlehong police.

We have not received any complaints from anybody so far and the pastor has not engaged in any criminal activity.”

Earlier this year, the Incredible Happenings Church almost had its doors closed permanently after it was revealed that Motsoeneng and his flock had been worshipping on the land unlawfully.

However, the Johannesburg High Court granted them an interdict stopping the council from evicting them from the land where they worship.

Motsoeneng’s TV show is also in jeopardy as Soweto TV is considering pulling the plug.

On the Incredible Happenings Church website, Motsoeneng claims to heal people of different illnesses such as those that affect “vuvuzelas (penis)” and “biscuits (vagina)”.

He even claims that people have been healed from “giving birth to snakes, snails and other creatures”.

The website also has an online store where believers can purchase Incredible Petroleum Jelly, T-shirts, and DVDs – all with Motsoeneng’s face on the products. -Saturday Star

Church

Internet Church St Pixels: Holds First-Ever Church Service on Facebook

It’s not Church!

From temple to church to cathedral to chapel… Facebook! St. Pixels is bringing real time, interactive, multimedia worship within a couple of clicks for any Facebook user.

Worshippers at computer screens and iPhones across the world will be able listen to Bible readings and a sermon, sing along with hymns and key in prayer requests. A real-time feedback meter will allow them to click “Amen” or “Zzzz” buttons regularly during services – so everyone will see if the preacher’s joke was as funny as he thought.

St. Pixels pioneer Mark Howe said: “If the gospel is for today’s connected culture, it has to find a distinctive but culturally-appropriate place within social networking. Love it or hate it, Facebook is where people are in 2011. This project is not about trying to look cool and postmodern. It’s about applying basic principles of cross-cultural mission to our own culture.”

St Pixels (www.stpixels.com) was formed in 2006 after a pilot project by webzine Ship of Fools (www.shipoffools.com). Its first live Facebook service will be hosted in the Web and Media Zone at CRE, Europe’s biggest annual exhibition of Christian resources.

“It’s easy to build irrelevant ghettos in cyberspace or to abandon distinctives in the rush to embrace the latest online fad,” said Mark. “Our Facebook application is an attempt to engage with a cultural phenomenon on its own terms while holding onto the gospel that has transformed so many cultures across the centuries.”

Speaking at the first Facebook service will be Andrew Graystone, director of the Church and Media Network.

“We have 600 million ‘neighbors’ on Facebook,” said Andrew. “St Pixels on Facebook means 600 million Facebook users now have a church in their pocket. I congratulate St Pixels on reaching an amazing milestone. So much love, work and care has gone into this unique community and I have been a beneficiary of it.”…

St Pixels? Modern madness.

Church

Didn’t Mugabe Effectively Excommunicate himself?

Now I see he is in Rome for Pope John Paul II’s beatification:

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe arrived in Rome for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II, airport officials said Saturday, despite his EU-wide travel ban for alleged human rights abuses.

The Vatican did not personally invite Mugabe to the Sunday event, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi of the Holy See Press office.

But a diplomatic relationship exists between Zimbabwe and the Vatican, a sovereign state that is not a member of the European Union.

The BBC also has the news.

But as I was saying, back in 2007, he was acting very differently:

By ridiculing the church and insulting its bishops, Zimbabwe’s Catholic president, Robert Mugabe, blamed for the country’s political and economic turmoil, has cut himself off from the Church.

That is the view of Fr Oskar Wermter, a Jesuit priest in Zimbabwe since 1966 and now based in St Peter’s Mbare, a socially depressed area in Harare where government demolitions in 2005 destroyed livelihoods and left many people hopeless.

“In a very real way,” President Mugabe has “effectively excommunicated himself, that is to say put himself outside the community of the church, by resisting the word of the church and attacking the bishops in a most offensive, vulgar form,” says Fr Wermter.

His comments are published in the current issue of the Jesuit electronic newsletter, In Touch with Church and Faith:

“People once more demand that Mugabe be excommunicated. This is old hat. It was mooted years ago. It was said then that this was no longer done today. At any rate, excommunication in a strict legal (canonical) sense is a measure applied only in certain circumstances defined by church law.

“While in the past excommunication was used against heads of governments and leaders of nations, kings and emperors, this is extremely rare today. We no longer live in the Middle Ages. The local bishops do not even have that power. It would have to come from the Pope himself.

“However, in a very real way, though not technically as defined by church law, Mugabe has effectively excommunicated himself, that is to say put himself outside the community of the Church, by resisting the word of the church and attacking the Bishops in a most offensive, vulgar form. At least the constant propaganda line that he is a “practising devout Catholic” is now shown to be false…

And even just last year:

President Robert Mugabe faces possible ex-communication from the Roman Catholic Church for allegedly violating a standing doctrine governing the conduct of its members when he wore a Vapostori robe at a gathering of a Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect in Manicaland last weekend, church leaders have said.

Rod in hand, President Mugabe preached polygamy to the congregation of more than 200 000 worshipers who had gathered for their annual Passover at Mafirarikwa in Marange communal lands, further compounding his “transgressions”.

“Our Constitution allows for polygamy. We will not force people into monogamous marriages. Inga muBhaibheri chaimo zvirimo. Solomon haana kungopihwa upfumi chete asi nevakadzi vakawanda”(It is written in the Bible that King Solomon was not only blessed with riches but with many wives as well) President Mugabe said…

In any event, his attendance is indeed controversial, and do spare a thought for the multitudes still suffering today under his dictatorial rule.

Church

Why the Jesuits Are Dying Out

The numbers for membership in the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) are bleak. The average age of a Jesuit in the US is nearly 70, and “Jesuit schools” (including Georgetown) find themselves increasingly devoid of any actual Jesuits. Most extreme are those schools like Washington Jesuit Academy, which no longer has any full-time Jesuit staff members, and who president isn’t even Christian. David Mills has a great analysis as to why. I wanted to focus on one specific reason…

Find out what that is here.

HT

Church

Highlights from the Beatification of Pope John Paul II

Missed the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II? Revisit the highlights at CNN.

John Paul Ii Beatified

The Huffington Post also has the news:

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before 1.5 million faithful in St. Peter’s Square and surrounding streets Sunday, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood.

The crowd in Rome and in capitals around the world erupted in cheers, tears and applause as an enormous photo of a young, smiling John Paul was unveiled over the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica and a choir launched into hymn long associated with the Polish-born pope.

“He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope,” Benedict said in his homily, referring to John Paul’s decisive role in helping bring down communism. Benedict dotted his remarks with personal recollections of a man he came to “revere” during their near-quarter century working together.

Beatification is the first major milestone on the path to possible sainthood, one of the Catholic Church’s highest honors. A second miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession is needed for him to be canonized…

More here.

And Rome Reports:

So what happens next?