British Judge Approves Christian Conversion

Of a 10 year old Jewish girl.

(JTA) – A British judge has allowed a 10-year-old Jewish child to convert to Christianity against her mother’s wishes.

In November 2011 the mother of the girl applied for a court order to prevent the father from having the girl baptized until the girl turned 16, according to the London Jewish Chronicle. The mother argued the girl had been “brainwashed” and was too young to change faith.

Judge John Platt ruled on Wednesday at Romford County Court in Essex that both the girl and her younger brother could convert to Christianity.

Both parents of the children were Jewish at the time of the girl’s birth, the report said. The father converted to Christianity after the breakdown of his marriage.

The judge reportedly said he decided that “the best thing” for the girl would be to be allowed to start baptism classes as soon as they could be arranged “and that you are baptized as a Christian as soon as your minister feels you are ready”.

The court heard a written submission from Odom Brandman, a Chabad rabbi, who said the case was “extremely disturbing”.

The Jewish Chronicle quoted Brandman as saying, “It is unfair to any child to put them under this pressure and to do something unnatural to their soul.”


Ordinariate Ordinations in Melbourne


Sentire Cum Ecclesia is reporting:

I’ve just received news that eight priests will be Ordained at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, East Melbourne on Saturday, 8th September 2012 at 10.00 a.m. (five for Melbourne and three others) for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross.

The news item said that further details will be forthcoming.


And names via Friends of the Anglican Ordinariate:




Forgiving Monsters

George Conger:

One of the most notorious criminal cases in modern European history has returned to the public eye, dominating the front pages and leaders of Belgium’s newspapers. A judge has agreed to release Michelle Martin from prison on the condition she enter the Convent of the Les Soeurs Clarisses de Malonne (Poor Clares) and remain under police supervision.

The news of the parole has prompted an appeal by state prosecutors, public protests, outrage in the press — and the mayor of Namur has ordered police to guard the convent. Why such a fuss? The opening paragraphs of a solid AP story tells us why.

BRUSSELS — The ex-wife of a notorious pedophile who aided her husband’s horrific abuse and murder of young girls – and who let two children starve to death while her husband was in jail – was approved Tuesday for early release from prison, infuriating the victims’ parents and reopening a dark chapter in Belgian history.

Michelle Martin, who is now 52, received a 30-year prison term in 2004 for not freeing girls her then-husband Marc Dutroux held captive behind a secret door in their decrepit, dirty basement in Marcinelle, 40 miles south of Brussels.

Dutroux, 55, is serving a life term for kidnapping, torturing and abusing six girls in 1995 and 1996, and murdering four of them.

During those years, Dutroux also spent four months in jail for theft, leaving it to his wife to feed Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, a pair of friends imprisoned in the basement. Martin let the girls starve to death. They were 8 years old.

Bumbling police work and claims by Dutroux that he was part of a wider pedophile network that included politicians, judges and police officials prompted public protests in Belgium and nearly led to the fall of the government. King Albert intervened and ordered a reorganization of the criminal justice system. The Dutroux affair had a profound effect on Belgium’s national psyche, some have argued, damaging public trust in the country’s civil institutions. Sixteen years into her 30 year sentence, Michelle Martin may be leaving prison to enter a convent.

While this has been a gruesome true crime, political intrigue and corruption story, it has now become a religious liberty story with faith taking center stage in this drama. The AP article closes with these paragraphs:

Under the terms of her release, Martin will have to remain at the convent and be assigned a task daily. Moreau, Martin’s lawyer, said it took some time for the convent to agree to have her live there. But in the end they realized that no one else would take her in, he said.

“They accepted because their vocation is to welcome people nobody wants,” he said.

The convent’s decision to give refuge to Michelle Martin has not been warmly received by the Belgian press…

Objections to her release were founded upon a belief that Michelle Martin was the incarnation of absolute evil — “l’incarnation du mal absolu” — the conservative national daily La Libre Belgiquereported. But no person was beyond redemption, the newspaper argued, saying the law must not “deprive anyone, not even the most heinous criminal, of any hope of getting out of jail…

De Standaard printed a letter from the Abbess of Malonne, where the sisters explained their decision to give Michelle Martin a home. They stated they had agreed to take her in as she has no family and no half-way house or other institution would have her due to the notoriety of her crimes. They stated that while she would be residing at the convent under the supervision of the judicial authorities, she would not be a entering the order but would be the guest of the Poor Clares. And, they felt it was their Christian duty to act as they did.

Nous avons la profonde conviction qu’enfermer définitivement le déviant dans son passé délictueux et l’acculer à la désespérance ne serait utile à personne et serait au contraire une marche en arrière pour notre société. Michèle Martin est un être humain capable, comme nous tous, du pire comme du meilleur.

Ideology plays its part in the coverage of this story. Self-identified Catholic newspapers have stressed the theme of penitence and redemption. Some secular newspapers have objected to the intrusion of Catholic sensibilities into the parole of a “monster”, but others have advanced ethical theories of crime and punishment. No one newspaper encompasses all of these views, but collectively the debate over the parole of Michelle Martin is an example of the best of the European press.

Can Michelle Martin be forgiven? Is parole a form of forgiveness? Should the church be accorded a custodial role in a secular state? All great questions. What say you?


Bible Archaeology

Archaeology at Work: Discovery of a Seal (Dating to the time of King Hezekiah)

Dr Robert Cargill has details on the find and identification thereof:

Today (August 2, 2012) at Tel Azekah, Chaim Tzemach unearthed a jar handle with a LMLK seal impression on it. Area S-2 Supervisor Omer Sergi (a Ph.D candidate in archaeology at Tel Aviv University waiting for his beloved advisor, Dr. Oded Lipschits, to finish reading and sign his dissertation 😉 identified the object and immediately broke into a quick lecture on LMLK seals for the student volunteers who had never heard of them.

What is most impressive is that it is a completely impromptu, yet highly informative lecture about LMLK seals given from the balk of a Tel Azekah Area S-2 square to students who had just pulled one out of the earth!

What follows is video I took of that lecture from the balk, which is the best 3-minute summation I’ve ever heard of LMLK seal impressions. In fact, I’ll incorporate this video into my “Jerusalem from the Bronze to the Digital Age” course at the University of Iowa.

Watch and learn.



Ordinariate Togetherness

Writes Fr Andrew Bartus:

With the frequency of negative attention towards the Ordinariates, some wonder whether there is a pro-Ordinariate blog still out there. Anglican Patrimony is unashamedly pro-Ordinariate. It always has been, and always will be. As difficult as times may be for those trying to enter the Ordinariates, or for those even within them, the Ordinariates are the way the Church has seen fit to bring about corporate unity of Anglicans and Catholics. Yes, there are challenges and difficulties involved, and many perhaps seem needless and self-inflicted, but we are here to make the best of what we’re given – together. And doing it together, as a English Anglican priest once drilled into me, is the English way. 

Will everyone see things the same way or agree all of the time? Will the leadership always be perfect? No, of course they won’t. But working together to make progress in building the Ordinariates – which means working together to evangelize others with the Catholic faith and fortifying our own – is the purpose of bringing the Anglican patrimony back home into its proper ecclesial context. And as Father Phillips originally said to us well before all of this even started officially, the patrimony is the people.

The thing about the Ordinariates, is that for the most part we really aren’t given anything. We must build it ourselves. Thankfully, many dioceses, pastors, and local bishops have given to us very generously. I must say that the Diocese of Orange in my own case is a fine example of this generosity, and Bl. John’s in Orange County is slowly finding ways of cooperating more and more with the mission of the diocese and the wider Church in Southern California. It will take some years, I predict, before we begin to really look like a “normal” parish that most are used to, but if we don’t try – and try together – it won’t happen…

All of us in the Ordinariates are working hard to make the best of our respective situations – some of us have more resources than others. The leadership is under many constraints, depending on the situation, and most of the time are unable to disclose many important details that would otherwise help the public to better understand why they acted the way they did. Forming an opinion about someone requires all of us to step back and realize that we just do not know all of the background facts surrounding a particular situation; and even those few times where we might be in possession of information that shows someone made a bad choice – the right thing to do is to talk to that person privately and to offer to help them use what good came out of that bad decision for even greater good for themselves and the Ordinariate at large. This approach is much more preferable than making the entire Ordinariate suffer.

The key to all of this is charity…

Where We Are Going Now 

But this is not about placing blame, it’s about all of us in our own ways waking up and taking note and moving on – together. No doubt mistakes have been made by all parties involved and will likely continue to be made, but unless we wish to allow Satan to defeat us and give creedence to our detractors who predict the failure of the Ordinariates, we need to keep brushing off the dust of our fallen comrades, help them back up, and press on – together. And when we find ourselves lacking in wisdom and making a bad decision, we’ll find that they will be eager to treat us the same way.

We don’t have to remain in this situation of the Ordinariate being perceived as uninteresting and uninspiring at best – or being petty and irrelevant at worse. The world needs to hear about the good things happening in the Ordinariate on the ground, for that is the reality for the most part. It is truly an exciting time to live!

I will be sharing the story of the things going on at the mission parish I am honored to serve, and I expect that other Ordinariate priests will contribute stories as well. This won’t be a cheerleading session for the Ordinariates – I fully intend to be honest about the difficulties involved, but the difficulties will always be in light of the good we are trying to achieve.

If you have positive news to share on the ground of an Ordinariate community in your area, please send them to me and I’ll gladly share the good news.

And of your charity, please pray for our three Ordinaries and their leadership teams. The Holy Father has placed a large degree of trust in them and so should we; but they need our prayers and constant support.

The whole post is here, which is well worth reading in full.