Church

Hospital Hides Jesus Behind Curtain

Fox News:

curtains.jpg

I may have figured out why the Department of Veterans Affairs had such difficulty finding time to treat patients. It’s because it was working overtime to give its chapels a religiously neutral makeover. But as VA officials in Iron Mountain, Mich., learned, one man’s renovation is another man’s desecration. Some folks in Iron Mountain became infuriated earlier this month when they discovered that statues of Jesus and Mary, along with a cross and altar, were hidden behind a curtain in the chapel of the VA hospital there.

The chapel still has stained glass windows, though for how long is unclear. A VA hospital spokesman told me they are still trying to figure out what to do with the windows. The decision to hide the religious icons came after the National Chaplain Center conducted an on-site inspection and determined the hospital’s chapel was not in compliance with government regulations.

Richard Riley, pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, called the move “exceedingly disappointed.”

He posted photographs of the hidden religious icons on the church’s Facebook page. “We are not a politicizing kind of church,” Pastor Riley told me. “But we also believe Christians have constitutional rights. We have a right to voice our opinion. Just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean you lose your First Amendment rights.” Riley said the decision to turn the formerly Christian chapel into a religiously neutral room is evidence of a bigger problem. “Christianity, not only globally, but particularly in the United States, is really under attack,” he said. “Christianity is coming under some horrendous conflict from the media and to some degree from our own government.”

Read more here.

 

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Church

Christians Taking a Stand – Finally

Cultural Watch:cross 6

It seems every day we find more cowardly, compromised and carnal Christians caving in to various worldly agendas. Instead of taking a stand for biblical truth, many are simply capitulating to the other side – partly in order to be liked, to be popular, and to be trendy.

These folks will one day stand before their Lord and give an account of their cowardice and betrayal. And far too many Christian leaders are in this boat as well. There are sadly plenty of compromised and spineless wonders found in so many pulpits today.

That is why it is so refreshing, if not even shocking, to find some Christian leaders who actually stand up and be counted, even if it means getting plenty of hate and abuse. Two recent cases have just surfaced of some brave Christian leaders who would rather be true to Christ and biblical principles than to be accepted by the masses.

They deserve our praise and our prayers. The first leader worth singling out is pastor Charlie Hughes from New Zealand. This courageous Christian and his wife would rather face the wrath of the militants and the forces of political correctness than to trample on the truth of Almighty God. Their story has just appeared in the press, so let me pass some of it along to you:

An Anglican pastor has quit the church and is taking his congregation with him after the governing body moved ahead with plans to bless same-sex relationships. Charlie Hughes, the former vicar of St Michael’s in Henderson, says he cannot reconcile the decision of the church to recognise same sex relationships with his ordination vows. He said the vows were a pledge to uphold the constitution of the Anglican Church. The constitution states it is “not lawful to ordain anything contrary to God’s word written”.

“It’s not because we have a problem with people who are in a same sex relationship but because of the commitment we have to shaping our lives around the teachings of the Bible,” Mr Hughes said. “This isn’t an anti-gay issue. This is a pro-Bible issue. There are seven completely clear statements in the Bible about same sex acts which are all disapproving.”

The Anglican Church’s ruling body this month issued an apology to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. It also told clergy they could bless same sex marriages with a bishop’s permission and set out a path to formalising the recognition. The Herald is aware of intense debate in congregations grappling with how to accept the ruling of the governing body, the General Synod.

Mr Hughes said he knew of other churches in which rifts had formed. “There is a large body of Anglican clergy who are convinced this is the wrong way to go.” There was also a group of lawyers — including two QCs — who were working on a legal challenge to the church’s move. Two-thirds of St Michael’s board had also resigned as had half the staff, while Mr Hughes was in talks with a non-Anglican church to take over as minister.

Well done Charlie Hughes. Closer to home we have another leader who has decided that standing on principle is far better than compromise. Up in Queensland one college head has stood his ground, even though the forces of PC are now baying for his blood. The story begins:

The principal of a Christian College has come under fire for transferring two student teachers after they turned up for work dressed in traditional Muslim headwear. The two women, in their final year of a teaching degree, had started a work placement at Redlands College this year. In a newsletter addressed to the school’s parents on Tuesday, principal Mark Bensley outlined his reasons for dismissing the pair, explaining he had acted out of a “duty of care”.

“I have a duty of care to ensure that those teaching at the College are actively supporting the Christian principles, practices and beliefs of the College,” he wrote. “I see the wearing of the hijab as openly acting in a manner that is contrary to or inconsistent with these principles, practices and beliefs.” The principal explained that he had arranged for both students to transfer to another school to complete their respective field work. “While I respect their desire to wear a hijab, I feel it’s inappropriate to do so at Redlands College,” he wrote.

A statement issued to The Sunday Mail said, as a Christian school, Redlands College “respects and loves all people, from all backgrounds and religions”. “However we don’t hide our Christian values and we provide an important educational option for families seeking Christian education. “We are not aware that they (student teachers) had any concerns, and it is our understanding that all parties came to a mutual agreement for the benefit of all.”

Predictably, it was clueless Christians who made the biggest stink:

One Redlands College parent, Jennie Duke, took to social media to express her disappointment at the school’s decision. “So very sad that my daughter attends this school and my university sends our student teachers there,” Ms Duke wrote. While some have labelled Redlands College “Redneck College”, others have questioned Mr Bensley’s Christian faith. “It’s not very “Christian like” for a Christian school to tell student teachers that they are not welcome to teach and learn because they wear a hijab,” one user wrote.

Of course it is Christlike to stand up for Christian principles. If someone attends a Christian college, they should abide by the ethos and rules of the school. Just imagine if a Christian demanded to parade around a Muslim school with a cross and a Bible. It would never happen of course.

The TV news also got this wrong big time, siding as they usually do with the Muslim community. They even claimed that Muslim leaders said that Christians are free to do as they please in Muslim schools. Umm, no. Consider just one case. The headline goes this way: “Furious debate as teachers at Islamic College of SA’s West Croydon campus ordered to wear hijab or face sack”.

The February 11, 2013 story began this way: “A warning from South Australia’s biggest Islamic school that teachers – including many non-Muslims – will lose their jobs if they do not wear a hijab to school functions and outings has sparked outrage.” So much for Christian freedoms in Muslim schools.”

So well done to Mark Bensley for sticking to his guns. He and Hughes are champions in my books. I sure wish we had more Christian leaders like them, instead of all the invertebrates we find all over Western Christendom today. It is time for those who name the name of Christ to stand and stand strong.

Hopefully this is just the beginning.

 

Church

Bishop Michael Gill’s Ad Clerum (2/2014)

My Bishop (Rt Rev Michael Gill) sent out an exceptionally good Ad Clerum earlier this month. I saw it up on the TAC Website in an amongst some other news and announcements.  It really gives the reader a proper idea of the current conditions as well as more on the difficult work being done here in South Africa in the cause of Christ and His Gospel. I therefore replicate it here for your edification.

And as the Bishop says: ‘I hope you enjoy the read….especially the piece on holiness.’

Get it in pdf. Ad Clerum for May 2014.

 

Church

Ecumenical Synod: Nicaea 2025

UPDATEChristian leaders may return to Nicaea: What does it mean?

This via Asian News:

On his return from Jerusalem , where he met with Pope Francis at the Holy Sepulchre, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, has revealed an important appointment for unity between Catholics and Orthodox: a gathering at Nicaea in 2025, where the first real ecumenical council of the undivided Church was celebrated.

Speaking exclusively with AsiaNews, Bartholomew says that together with Pope Francis “we agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering in Nicaea in 2025, to celebrate together, after 17 centuries , the first truly ecumenical synod, where the Creed was first promulgated”.

The Council of Nicaea (now Iznik, 130 km south- east of Istanbul) , brought together more than 300 bishops from East and West in  325 and is considered the first true ecumenical council. It was there that the formula of the Creed was decided, similar to the one recited during the liturgy today, saying that Jesus “is co-substantial to the Father,”to counter the Aryan ideology.

Francis and Bartolomew met to mark 50 years since the embrace between Paul VI and Athenagoras. The 1964 meeting broke a centuries old silence between the Christian East and the West, with all the socio-political consequences that have arisen, and from which Europe still suffers.

The meeting at the Holy Sepulchre has revitalized dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox , two Christian visions that despite their differences, have a common vision of the sacraments and  apostolic tradition.

“The dialogue for unity between Catholics and Orthodox – Bartholomew tells AsiaNews – will start again from Jerusalem. In this city, in the autumn , a meeting of the Catholic-Orthodox Joint Commission  will be held hosted by the Greek -Orthodox patriarch Theophilos III . It is a long journey in which we all must be committed without hypocrisy”.

“Jerusalem – continues Bartholomew – is the place, the land of the dialogue between God and man, the place where the Logos of God was incarnated. Our predecessors Paul VI and Athenagoras have chosen this place to break a silence that lasted centuries between the two sister Churches”.

“I walked with my brother Francis in the Holy Land not with the fears of Luke and Cleopas on their way to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24: 13-35), but inspired by a living hope which we learn from our Lord”.

 

Church

Archbishop Confirms Death-Row Inmates

A deacon distributes Communion to a death-row inmate at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Ind. Father David Link of the Diocese of Gary, Ind., a prison chaplain, sees one-on-one relationships as a key to helping prisoners build healthy new lives. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Northwest Indiana Catholic)

Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample confirmed one of Oregon’s most infamous prisoners May 28 in a heavily guarded private ceremony in the maximum security prison in Salem.

In 2007 Gary Haugen was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering a fellow inmate while serving a life sentence for the murder of his former girlfriend’s mother. In November 2011 Haugen gained notoriety for dropping his appeals and asking to be executed.

A second death-row prisoner, Jason Van Brumwell, who was an accomplice with Haugen in the prison killing, wants to die, too, arguing that pursuing appeals is pointless.

Haugen was scheduled to be put to death for his second murder in December 2011, but his execution was put on hold by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, despite Haugen’s pleas to end his life.

The Democratic governor has halted all executions for the duration of his time in office.

Oregon State Penitentiary — or OSP, as the high-walled, Belgian razor wire-topped prison fortress on the outskirts of the state capital is known — houses 2,100 inmates, nearly half of whom are behind bars for sex offender convictions.

Thirty-five men are confined to special housing, single-occupancy cells on death row. The last execution at the penitentiary occurred May 16, 1997.

On the afternoon of May 28, a shackled Haugen entered the small room followed by three other Catholic death-row inmates plus guards. Haugen, who said his heart was pounding, went to the floor and lay face down before Archbishop Sample, saying, “I am not worthy to be here.”

The prisoners — Haugen, Ricardo Serrano, Conan Hale and Jeff Tiner — were then closed in individual cages that included only a small opening. There were no chairs or pews, so Haugen stood through the entire Mass with a peaceful, gentle expression on his face.

Though only a few feet from the archbishop, a sturdy crosshatch of iron kept them apart. Death-row inmates are forbidden to touch anyone, so it was unusual when the archbishop reached in to anoint the inmate’s head gently.

Haugen was baptized earlier this year. Tiner, who has written letters to the editor to support Catholic causes, is Haugen’s sponsor.

During his homily, Archbishop Sample told Haugen and the other men that Jesus experienced being a criminal. He reminded the men they are not alone.

“God died on that cross because he loves you,” the archbishop said.

Archbishop Sample explained the holy oil used for confirmation. It is infused with sweet-smelling balsam. He told Haugen that now he is to be “the fragrance of Christ in this place.”

The inmates received Communion kneeling as the archbishop reached through the small opening. No photography was allowed.

“I have seen confirmations all spring and there was nothing like this one,” said Deacon Tom Gornick, who directs prison ministry in the Portland Archdiocese.

Confirmation is one of the seven sacraments Christ instituted. Catholic teaching says confirmation — which along with baptism and first Communion is a sacrament of initiation — seals the faithful with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, strengthening them in their Christian life.

The Catholic woman who heads the state’s Department of Corrections was pleased with the confirmation.

Collette Peters said she hoped that the media-savvy Haugen just “may be on the cusp of saving his soul.”

Peters, a member of a suburban Portland parish, has transformed life in prison for Oregon inmates through her reforms, introducing many innovative programs to guide prisoners for eventual re-entry into civilian life.

For his part, the archbishop is partnering with Peters so he can have better access to his parishioners who live behind bars and cannot get to Mass on weekends.

His next series of prison ministry visits will be to women’s prisons.

Archbishop Sample was transformed himself as he passed through tight security screening and was escorted to the chapel by correctional officers, no longer called guards.

The 6-foot-2 churchman, a youthful-looking 53-year-old, has been actively involved in prison ministry since his days as a young priest in the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, along Lake Superior in the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

 

Church

Vatican: Prayer Meeting Between Pope, Israel and Palestinian Leaders To Be Held

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Pope Francis

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will join Pope Francis for an afternoon of prayer at the Vatican on June 8, the Vatican said Thursday.

In a brief statement, the Vatican said both sides accepted the date for the prayer meeting, which Francis suggested during his recent trip to the Middle East. Both men immediately accepted that offer.

Francis has stressed that the Vatican is not seeking to jumpstart peace negotiations between the two sides, but merely bring them together to pray. He said he had arranged for a rabbi and a Muslim cleric to lead the prayers, along with him.

“It will be a prayer meeting. It’s not to do mediation or find solutions,” he told reporters on the flight home from Jerusalem on Monday. “We’ll meet just to pray, and then everyone will go home. But I think praying is important, praying together.”

He called both Abbas and Peres “men of peace.”

The prospects of any breakthrough are slim. Peres, a 90-year-old Nobel peace laureate, holds a largely ceremonial office and is set to step down this summer. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed anger with politicians who have reached out to Abbas at a time when the Palestinian leader is reconciling with the Islamic militant group Hamas. Israel considers Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, a terrorist group.