Chinese Bishops ‘Taken Away’ by Police: Report

Brutish actions!

Vatican City — Four bishops loyal to the Vatican have been “taken away” by Chinese police in recent days to take part in a state-sanctioned ordination, the Catholic news agency AsiaNews said on Monday.

“Nobody knows where the four pastors are being held,” the report said, adding that local sources had told AsiaNews that one of the bishops “was sobbing last night as he was dragged away by government representatives.”

The Vatican and China have been locked in a bitter struggle in recent months over control of the Catholic Church in China, with the Vatican saying that ordinations being carried out by the official church are illegitimate.

AsiaNews said three bishops were taken away yesterday: Liang Jiansen of Jiangmen, Liao Hongqing of Meizhou and Paul Su Yongda of Zhanjiang.

Bishop Joseph Junqi of Guangzhou has been missing for days.

It said four other bishops loyal to Pope Benedict XVI were due to take part in the ordination of Father Huang Bingzhang on July 14 in Shantou.

It said one bishop, Paul Pei Junmin, who has been designated as the principal celebrant at the ordination, is being protected by his priests in the cathedral of Shenyang in order not to participate in the ceremony.

AsiaNews said that uniformed and plainclothes police officers were outside the cathedral, and said the priests were holding non-stop prayers inside.

Long-running tensions between the Vatican and Beijing frayed earlier this month after the Holy See excommunicated an “illegitimate” Chinese bishop and China’s state-run Church threatened to continue defying the pope.

China’s 5.7 million Catholics are increasingly caught between showing allegiance to the officially sanctioned Patriotic Catholic Association or to the pope as part of an “underground” Church not recognised by the authorities…

More here.


Bible Archaeology

Proposal: City of David (Almost) Never in Jerusalem

The Minimalists, doing their damndest, again…

In a new article in the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures (11/12), Israel Finkelstein, Ido Koch, and Oded Lipschits propose that the city of Jerusalem only rarely included the “City of David” ridge south of the Temple Mount. The article, available in pdf format, begins with these paragraphs:

The conventional wisdom regards the City of David ridge as the original mound of Jerusalem. Yet, intensive archaeological research in the last century—with excavations in many parts of the ca. six hectares ridge (see Fig. 1), has proven that between the Middle Bronze Age and Roman times, this site was fully occupied only in two relatively short periods: in the Iron Age IIB-C (between ca. the mid-eighth century and 586 B.C.E.) and in the late Hellenistic period (starting in the second half of the second century B.C.E.). Occupation in other periods was partial and sparse—and concentrated mainly in the central sector of the ridge, near and above the Gihon spring. This presented scholars with a problem regarding periods for which there is either textual documentation or circumstantial evidence for significant occupation in Jerusalem; we refer mainly to the Late Bronze Age, the Iron IIA and the Persian and early Hellenistic periods.

Scholars attempted to address this problem in regard to a specific period. Na’aman (2010a) argued that the Late Bronze city-states are underrepresented in the archaeological record also in other places; A. Mazar (2006; 2010) advocated the “glass half full” approach, according to which with all difficulties, the fragmentary evidence in the City of David is enough to attest to a meaningful settlement even in periods of weak activity; one of us (Lipschits 2009) argued for enough spots with Persian Period finds on the ridge; another author of this paper (Finkelstein 2008) maintained that the weak archaeological signal from the late Iron I—early Iron IIA (the tenth century B.C.E.) and the Persian and early Hellenistic periods reflects the actual situation in Jerusalem—which was only sparsely populated in these periods. Still one must admit that the bigger problem—of many centuries in the history of Jerusalem with only meager finds—has not been resolved.

In what follows we wish to put forward a solution to this riddle. Following the suggestion of Knauf (2000) regarding the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age I, we raise the possibility that similar to other hilly sites, the mound of Jerusalem was located on the summit of the ridge, in the center of the area that was boxed-in under the Herodian platform in the late first century B.C.E. Accordingly, in most periods until the second century B.C.E. the City of David ridge was outside the city. Remains representing the Late Bronze, Iron I, Iron IIA, and the Persian and early Hellenistic periods were found mainly in the central part of this ridge. They include scatters of sherds but seldom the remains of buildings, and hence seem to represent no more than (usually ephemeral) activity near the spring. In two periods—in the second half of the eighth century and in the second half of the second century B.C.E.—the settlement rapidly (and simultaneously) expanded from the mound on the Temple Mount to both the southeastern ridge (the City of David) and the southwestern hill (today’s Jewish and Armenian quarters).

The theory of “the mound on the Mount” cannot be proven without excavations on the Temple Mount or its eastern slope—something that is not feasible in the foreseen future….In other words, for clear reasons—the inability to check our hypothesis in the field—we cannot present a well-based solution for the “problem with Jerusalem.” Rather, our goal in this paper is to put this theory on the table of scholarly discussion.

Three objections come immediately to mind: (1) the biblical problem is that 2 Samuel and 1 Kings indicate that the city was near the Gihon spring and later expanded to include the Temple Mount (2 Sam 5:8; 24:18-25; 1 Kgs 1:33-45); (2) the logical problem is that such a proposed city would not have included a water source; (3) the archaeological problem is that the Gihon Spring is surrounded by massive fortifications. The authors dismiss these finds as a “riddle,” but in fact they are compelling evidence against the thesis of this article. The traditional view that the City of David was the original core of Jerusalem explains all of the evidence in a more satisfactory way.

That it does!

The above was posted at Bible Places.

Dr Leen Ritmeyer explains why he finds the above proposal doubtful.


St Benedict’s Day

Another one of my favourite Saints:

It is unfortunate that no contemporary biography was written of a man who has exercised the greatest influence on monasticism in the West. Benedict is well recognized in the later Dialogues of St. Gregory, but these are sketches to illustrate miraculous elements of his career.

Benedict was born into a distinguished family in central Italy, studied at Rome and early in life was drawn to the monastic life. At first he became a hermit, leaving a depressing world—pagan armies on the march, the Church torn by schism, people suffering from war, morality at a low ebb.

He soon realized that he could not live a hidden life in a small town any better than in a large city, so he withdrew to a cave high in the mountains for three years. Some monks chose him as their leader for a while, but found his strictness not to their taste. Still, the shift from hermit to community life had begun for him. He had an idea of gathering various families of monks into one “Grand Monastery” to give them the benefit of unity, fraternity, permanent worship in one house. Finally he began to build what was to become one of the most famous monasteries in the world—Monte Cassino, commanding three narrow valleys running toward the mountains north of Naples.

The Rule that gradually developed prescribed a life of liturgical prayer, study, manual labor and living together in community under a common father (abbot). Benedictine asceticism is known for its moderation, and Benedictine charity has always shown concern for the people in the surrounding countryside. In the course of the Middle Ages, all monasticism in the West was gradually brought under the Rule of St. Benedict.

Today the Benedictine family is represented by two branches: the Benedictine Federation and the Cistercians.


The Church has been blessed through Benedictine devotion to the liturgy, not only in its actual celebration with rich and proper ceremony in the great abbeys, but also through the scholarly studies of many of its members. Liturgy is sometimes confused with guitars or choirs, Latin or Bach. We should be grateful to those who both preserve and adapt the genuine tradition of worship in the Church.


“Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of man is manifested by signs perceptible to the senses…; in the liturgy full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members.

“From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body the Church, is a sacred action, surpassing all others” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 7).

He is also the Patron Saint of Europe. His prayers are needed indeed!

You can give his Rule (Regula Benedicti) a read here.

His Wikipedia insert is here.

And the Sevenoaks Ordinariate has a nice post out on him here today (where I got the above depiction). Some great pics up there too, including this one of his tomb at Montecassino:


Car Knocks Over Two Tour de France Cyclists

I saw this yesterday as I while visiting my folks: The car swerved to avoid a tree and took out two contestants:

From Canada’s National Post

Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha crashed to the ground while Dutchman Johnny Hoogerland went flying into a barbed-wire fence.

“He was lying in the barbed wire, completely in it, in the barbs, his pants were completely off, he was completely naked,” said Michale Cornelisse, the sports director of Hoogerland’s Vacansoleil team after rescuing his rider from a ditch.

“I just saw him flying through the air. He has deep cuts in his legs, he was going at 60 kph, it was unbelievable.”

Flecha was treated on his bike for an injured elbow while Hoogerland, with his legs bloodied, crossed the line 17 minutes after the stage winner…

Not cool. But I must say, I take my hat off to Johnny Hoogerland, who carried on despite the pain. What guts and determination!