The Salvation Army Chaplain Who Heard a Confession of Murder, and Told

In the Catholic Herald:

There are about 500 murders a year in this country, which is of course 500 too many – but only a few of them get large-scale media coverage. One such, now come to trial, is the sad case of Joanna Yeates, the details of which are very well known.

Two things strike me in this matter. The first is that it would be far better for all of us, but particularly for Miss Yeates’s family, if certain parts of the trial were held in camera. It is distressing to hear the details of how she was murdered; distressing for us – but for her parents well-night unendurable, I would think. Of course the jury have to hear these details, as they are evidence, but do the rest of us have to know? Is there a legitimate public interest? I do not think so.

The second matter is this, covered by this report in the Daily Telegraph:

While [Tabak] was being held in prison on remand, he admitted for the first time that he had strangled his next-door neighbour, Bristol Crown Court heard.

On Feb 8 he spoke to Peter Brotherton, a voluntary chaplain with the Salvation Army, said the prosecutor, Nigel Lickley QC.

Tabak told him: “I’m going to tell you something that will shock you … I’m going to plead guilty’ … The chaplain asked him “what for?” and Tabak replied: “For the crime that I have done.” When he was asked if he meant “the young lady
in Bristol” he said “yes” and the chaplain asked him: “Are you sorry?” Mr Lickley told the court: “He said he was.”

What this means is that Tabak had a conversation with a prison chaplain, and this conversation is now being used as evidence against him in court. Whether the evidence given by the prison chaplain proves to be important or not, time will tell, but I am surprised, to say the least, that the prison chaplain has volunteered to give evidence against Tabak, if that is indeed the case.

This brings to mind important considerations for us Catholics. What is told a priest under the seal of Confession can never be disclosed without the penitent’s permission. This means that whenever we go to Confession, we can be quite sure that what we say is confidential. I have never heard of a priest who broke the seal of Confession; there has been at least one priest who died rather
than break the seal – the famous St John of Nepomuk, who was hurled off Charles Bridge in Prague by the King of Bohemia because he refused to tell the King the secrets of the Queen’s confession. And quite right too. Catholics have an absolute right to know that their Confessions will never be divulged to anyone.

But quite apart from the seal that protects the confessional secret, there is the ordinary professional confidentiality that binds priests, lawyers, doctors and others. If you tell a priest something that you wish to be treated as confidential, then the priest is bound to keep that to himself. I do not wish to make any judgment about the chaplain to whom Tabak spoke, as I do not know the
full facts of the case, but, if I were a prison chaplain, I would never divulge what went on in private conversations between me and the prisoners. If I did so, the prisoners, I imagine, would not talk to me.

Or am I wrong about this?


The Hambishop

Time for some more Bad Vestments:

Remember those McDonald’s Hamburger commericials from the 1980’s and all those delightful running characters they had?  There was Ronald McDonald, of course, the Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, Grimace, Officer Big Mac and all the rest.  But not too many people remember this rather obscure McDonaldland character.

The Hambishop.




Sukkot begins at sundown tonight:

…On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the  Festival of Sukkot, seven days for the L-RD. – Leviticus 23:34

The Festival of Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the  fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is quite a  drastic transition, from one of the most solemn holidays in our year to one of  the most joyous. Sukkot is so unreservedly joyful that it is commonly referred  to in Jewish prayer and literature as Z’man Simchateinu,  the Season of our Rejoicing.

Sukkot is the last of the Shalosh R’galim (three  pilgrimage festivals). Like Passover and Shavu’ot, Sukkot has a dual significance:  historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year  period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living  in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is  sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif,  the Festival of Ingathering.

The word “Sukkot” means “booths,” and refers to the temporary dwellings that we  are commanded to live in during this holiday in memory of the period of  wandering…

Judaism 101 has more here with info as to how to build a decent Sukkah.

So if you happen to see some strange, temporary shelter being erected around your neighbourhood fear not, the eight-day (in the diaspora) harvest festival of Sukkot has begun.

Chag Sameach.



Israel Prepares for Gilad Shalit’s Return

One man for 1000:

Israel has agreed to swap 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for a lone soldier captured by Gaza’s Islamist rulers five years ago.

The deal to release Gilad Shalit resolves one of the most emotive issues in the Middle-East.

Shalit, then 19, was captured by militants who tunnelled their way out of Gaza and forced him back over the border in 2006.

Do read more here.

It would indeed seem as if wicked Hamas really values its terrorists:

After more than five years as a hostage of Hamas, the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will reportedly soon be released in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli jails.

Most Israelis will wholeheartedly agree with the view expressed by Ha’aretz columnist Ari Shavit who described this lopsided deal as “a victory for old-fashioned Israeli solidarity”.

It may not be an exaggeration to say that it is ultimately this sense of solidarity that has enabled Israel to survive in a violent and hostile neighborhood. At the same time, it is of course precisely this solidarity that provides the rationale for the kidnapping of Israelis by terrorist groups like Hamas.

Nobody in Israel is under any illusions about Hamas’s intentions and plans to kidnap more Israelis. It is also clear that Hamas would pursue such plans even if Israel had not agreed to any exchange to secure the release of Gilad Shalit…

Given the staggering number of terrorists that will be released and the fact that terrorists freed in previous deals have often returned to terrorism, it is obviously very problematic that hundreds of convicted terrorists will now be allowed to return to their homes.

Rest here.

And how unjust does this deal not seem.



BlackBerry Useless

I’m beginning to really regret getting rid of my iPhone 4 and that for a BlackBerry! The thing hasn’t been working properly since Monday. In the meantime, I noticed #usesofaBlackberry is trending on Twitter. So here’s something to lighten the mood.

You can still use your BlackBerry as:

    • An alarm clock
    • A paperweight
    • A calculator
    • A decoy phone when you’re about to get robbed
    • Camera still works at least
    • A frisbee
    • A fly swatter
    • A collectable
    • A weapon of mass irritation
    • As motivation for an iPhone, or
    • Throw it at an iPhone user


So what’s actually wrong with the thing? Blackberry’s back-up has failed:

Cape Town – The failure of a backup switch was the major reason why BlackBerry users were cut off from their email and messaging services for two days, according to a statement issued late on Tuesday by BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM).

The statement, the first indication of what caused the communications blackout, said: “The messaging and browsing delays being experienced by BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure.

“Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested.

“As a result, a large backlog of data was generated, and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible.”

The RIM statement concluded by offering an apology for the inconvenience caused and with a promise to keep its customers informed…

Cellular network operators initially carried the brunt of the blame by angry end users…

Oh well, it’s only a cellphone.


Still No London Church for the Ordinariate. Why?

Damian Thompson asks the question… and proposes another of his typically provocative answers.

I was disappointed to miss Cardinal Levada’s visit to London for a fundraising event for the Ordinariate sponsored by the Catholic Herald (I was in America researching a book that, thank God, has absolutely nothing to do with Catholic politics). It would have been good to hear the Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith remind us that the Ordinariate is the Pope’s own project and an “important new structure for the Church”.

But, talking of important structures, could I just ask: where is the London church that will serve as the Ordinariate’s headquarters? The question was already a pressing one when I raised it back in January. The failure to address the matter is so morale-sapping that I really can’t blame those Anglicans who are hesitating to take the plunge. This isn’t the fault of the Ordinary or Cardinal Levada; as usual, the blame lies with…

Continue reading here.


Bible Archaeology

Palestinian Archaeological Revisionism Aims to Nullify Jewish Connection to Land

Ynet News reports:

Palestinians are using archeology to advance their statehood bid. Prominent archaeologist Gabriel Barkai called it “cultural Intifada.”

The PA will seek World Heritage status for the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem, once the UN’s cultural agency (UNESCO) admits them as a full member. Hamdan Taha, the Palestinian Authority minister who deals with antiquities and culture, also listed Nablus and Hebron among 20 cultural heritage sites which he said could be nominated as World Heritage Sites.

Professor Taha is a pioneer of the new Palestinian revisionism. Last January National Geographic magazine ran a “Travel Palestine” ad that appeared to blot out the State of Israel’s existence. Published by Taha’s Ministry of Antiquities, the ad said that “Palestine lies between the Mediterranean coast and Jordan River.” This is just one example of Taha’s propaganda successes around the world.

Taha’s bid at UNESCO is supported by the Vatican Custody of the Holy Land, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Church. As th UN bid brings the Palestinians closer to an independent state, the historical and archeological claims are playing an increasingly prominent role in the building of the national consciousness.

Taha, who did his undergraduate work in Berlin, worked in Jericho with Paolo Matthiae, an Italian scholar who discovered Ebla, the Syrian site that is most famous for the “Ebla tablets.” In Herodion (Herod’s fortress in the Judean hills), Taha worked with Michele Piccirillo, a Fransciscan priest who has been one of the most famous Italian archaeologists. Taha gets funds and support from UNESCO, European governments and societies like the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, a major Catholic association in Jerusalem.

The former Vatican’s archbishop in Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, who just promoted an appeal to the UE and US to “stop the Hebraization of Jerusalem,” and the current Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, who is denouncing the “Judaization of the city,” are just two major Christian figures who embraced Taha’s rhetoric….

‘Bible a mythological narrative’

Taha manages 10 research excavations conducted with foreign funding. The Dutch government, through UNESCO, just donated 300,000 euros to the Palestinian Authority, meant to finance the excavation of an ancient city outside Nablus. A feature entitled “Jerusalem, a City Crying Out for Justice” in the PA’s Internet site said that “all historic studies and archeological excavations have failed to find any proof” for the existence of the ancient Jewish temples.

Taha is now trying to put together a case to take Israel to the International Court of Justice in the Hague to condemn the Israeli excavations near the Temple Mount as “war crimes and crimes against humanity.” This is the most inflammatory calumny that was directly connected to the deaths of dozens of Israelis and Palestinians during the so-called “Western Wall Tunnel riots” of 1995.

From his office in a restored house in Ramallah, Taha is also mastering a new Palestinian denial meant to cancel any trace of Jewish presence in the Holy Land. According to Taha, the Bible is a “mythological narrative,” Israeli archeology is “Eurocentric,” “land was confiscated in the name of God and archaeology” and the Israeli works are rooted in “imperialism.”

Taha just finished a project, in cooperation with the Dutch University of Leiden, on the outskirt of Nablus, Tel Balata, home to the Joseph’s Tome, one of Judaism’s holiest sites. The renewed excavations at Tel Balata and the establishment of the archaeological park are being conducted jointly by Taha’s ministry, the government of the Netherlands and UNESCO. Taha hopes that the dig will help in “writing or rewriting the history of Palestine.”

‘Worse than Holocaust denial’

Despite Tal Balata being identified with ancient Shechem in Samaria, where the Israelites buried Joseph’s bones when they returned from Egypt, Palestinians now claim that the tomb in reality is the final resting place of Sheikh Yusuf Dukat, a locally venerated Muslim who lived about 150 years ago.

When last year Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that two religious sites, Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and Cave of Patriarchs in Hebron, would be among 150 Israeli heritage sites considered for renovation, Taha declared that the Jewish character of the two holy shrines was “artificial” and “a robbery.” He said that even the Dead Sea Scrolls were “stolen” from Palestinians.

The town of Shiloh is another target for Taha’s revisionism. Despite Shiloh being the capital of the Jewish nation for nearly four centuries and the Jews having brought the Tabernacle there, making Shiloh the religious center of the Israelites before Jerusalem, Taha is convincing the international community that the Jewish Shiloh never existed: “In Shiloh the settlers pretended to have found the tabernacles,” he proclaimed. “They can find the chicken bone my grandfather ate 50 years ago and say it was a young calf for ancient sacrifice.”

On October 21, 2010, UNESCO formally declared that Rachel’s Tomb is the Bilal ibn Rabah mosque – endorsing one of Taha’s lies. Israel, under a direct assault on the foundations of the Jewish people, is drawing back and the world now literally believes that the Jews stole the past, the Jewish monuments are Arab treasures stolen by the Zionists, and that the Jews are no more than invading colonizers.

Archaeologist Barkai once said that this revisionism is even worse than Holocaust denial. Yet for now, Palestinians are winning the war to rewrite history.


Now, if  there is an archaeologist that I really respect, it’s Dr Gabriel Barkay. And if what is said above is true – it’s easily believable – then it is absolutely despicable. To deny Israel’s very historical existence is not a new Palestinian ideal. But using archaeology to that political end is most contemptible. It removes the real academic interests of history and theology for the sake of political gain. It ought to be call exactly what it is: Archaeological propaganda.