Fr Stephen Smuts

Archive for July 30th, 2011

Federal Appeals Court: Saying ‘Jesus’ During Public Prayer Is Unconstitutional…

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Federal appeals court: Saying “Jesus” during public prayer is unconstitutional

As in most counties in America, the Board of Commissioners of Forsyth County, North Carolina, begins its public meetings with an invocation. These prayers are given by local religious leaders on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Given that 95 percent of local religious houses identify as Christian, it’s not surprising that many of the invocations include specifically Christian language, often closing the prayer in the name of “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus.”

Two non-Christians from the community with a population of approximately 350,000 sued, arguing that an invocation mentioning Jesus Christ during a public prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

Even though the pair acknowledged that the Supreme Court held public prayers—called “legislative prayers”—are constitutional in the 1983 case Marsh v. Chambers, the federal district court in North Carolina sided with the protestors.

In a stunning decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit affirmed that judgment in a 2-to-1 decision, holding in the case Joyner v. Forsyth County that prayers unconstitutionally advance Christianity if references to Jesus are more than isolated, or if the content is otherwise too Christian for the court’s taste…

The rest is in the Washington Examiner here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 30, 2011 at 21:57

Americans Are More Indebted Than the US Government

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Yahoo Finance reports:

… Strangely, as the U.S. citizenry passionately criticizes their government for running up the budget deficit, a greater irony is afoot: When it comes to debt management, Americans are sadly worse than their government.

While government debt sits at 94 percent of national revenue, U.S. household debt sits at a whopping 107 percent of personal income. The household balance sheets of Americans are in worse condition than anytime since the Great Depression. The ratio of household debt-to-GDP is greater than anytime since 1929. And while we all are trying to comprehend a poorer nation, many American’s have not yet comprehended their own personal poverty…

Read on here.

… Criticizing government fiscal irresponsibility should in turn lead us to honest self examination…

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 30, 2011 at 21:40

Posted in Culture

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David and Goliath: David’s Secret Weapon

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For something lighter: David’s secret weapon? An Angry Bird:

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 30, 2011 at 17:39

Posted in Church

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Monsignor, Priests to Face Joint Trial

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The Boston Globe:

Philadelphia – A monsignor who is the only US church official ever charged with transferring pedophile priests to unsuspecting parishes will be tried alongside three priests and a lay teacher accused of rape, a judge ruled yesterday.

Common Pleas Judge Lillian Ransom denied most pretrial requests made by Monsignor William Lynn, two current priests, a former priest, and a former Catholic school teacher. The men wanted their cases tried separately and asked for many of the charges against them to be dismissed.

Lynn, 60, is charged with conspiracy and child endangerment for allegedly transferring priests he believed to be pedophiles. Lynn, who served as secretary of clergy from 1992 to 2004 under former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, is the only US church official ever charged for his administrative actions in the sex-abuse scandal.

The four others are charged in the same criminal case with raping boys in their care. Three of them are accused of raping the same child, starting when he was a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999, according to a scathing grand jury report released in February that blamed the church for knowingly harboring priests who abused children.

The Rev. Charles Engelhardt, 64, and former priest Edward Avery, 68, are accused of raping the boy in the church sacristy. Prosecutors say former sixth-grade teacher Bernard Shero, 48, raped him during a ride home from school. The fourth defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, 48, is accused of raping a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

Yesterday, the judge dismissed only the conspiracy charges involving Shero, saying prosecutors failed to prove he was in collusion with Avery and Engelhardt. Lynn’s attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, objected to the judge’s refusal to dismiss felony child endangerment charges against his client and the refusal to separate his trial from the others, saying the monsignor had no children under his supervision and therefore cannot be guilty of endangering them. Bergstrom asked the judge for certification to appeal to a higher court, which she denied.

If found guilty of the two charges, Lynn could face up to 28 years in prison.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 30, 2011 at 17:17


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