Ask a Question
The Church Around the World
Survey: hostility towards religion increases in US
A report examining court cases from recent years has found that hostility towards religion has grown to unprecedented levels in the United States.
The newly-updated Survey of Religious Hostility in America serves as "a testament to the radical shift in our culture's world view" on religion, said Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, and Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.
On 20 August, Shackelford and Perkins announced the release of the updated analysis, describing "more than 600 recent examples of religious hostility" in the US, with most from the last decade. The survey revealed that "hostility against religious liberty has reached an all-time high".
The survey's report observed a "new front" of attacks against churches and religious ministries in recent years. Five years ago, it said, it would have been "unthinkable" for the federal government to claim that it could "tell churches and synagogues which pastors and rabbis it can hire and fire."
And there had been an "explosion" within the last decade of "cases involving local governments discriminating against churches, particularly in the local governments' use of zoning laws and granting of permits." In one case, a Texas law required all seminaries to receive "state approval of their curriculum, board members, and professors."
Multiple challenges have been brought against veterans' memorials containing crosses and displays of the Ten Commandments at state courthouses and capitols and several cases have seen challenges to prayers for opening legislative assemblies, despite the fact that Congress has opened with prayer since the nation's beginning.
The report also noted the "alarming frequency" of attacks on religious liberty within schools. In one case, a federal judge threatened a high school valedictorian with "incarceration" if she did not remove references to Jesus from her graduation speech. In another, a student was asked "what Easter meant to her" but told that she could not mention the name of "Jesus."
Catholic News Agency
Nigerian scientist warns against birth control push
Obianuju Ekeocha, a biomedical scientist who is currently working in England has warned Melinda Gates to reconsider her push for birth control in poor countries, explaining that African women neither need nor want contraception.
She voiced her dismay at Gates' recent announcement that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was securing $4.6 billion dollars to promote contraceptives in poor nations, including numerous African countries.
"Growing up in a remote town in Africa, I have always known that a new life is welcomed with much mirth and joy," said Dr Ekeocha in an open letter published on 10 August. "The first day of every baby's life is celebrated by the entire village."
Many of the nations to be targeted by Gates' initiative have large Catholic populations, and sex is highly regarded as "sacred and private," she said, explaining that unlike the Western world, many people in Africa are happily complying with Church teaching on sexuality.
"I see this $4.6 billion buying us misery," Ekeocha said. "I see it buying us unfaithful husbands. I see it buying us streets devoid of the innocent chatter of children."
More needed, she added, were programs that emphasise chastity, since Western influences have already confused many African girls about sexual morality.
A gift of $4.6 billion dollars "can indeed be your legacy to Africa and other poor parts of the world," Ekeocha told Gates. "But let it be a legacy that brings life, love and laughter into the world in need."
Cardinal Pell rejects Greens' criticisms of Church
Cardinal George Pell has rejected criticisms by Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne about the Catholic Church's stance on environmental issues. She had accused the Catholic Bishops of "watering down" Catholic Earth Care Australia, a body she says she helped get established between 2002-2004.
Catholic Earth Care Australia, notwithstanding, has been producing environmental materials for schools and parishes including climate change propaganda and advice on how to reduce "carbon footprints".
Responding to Senator Milne's criticisms, Cardinal Pell delivered a stinging rebuttal of the Greens and Senator Milne's claims.
"I am loath to help Christine Milne avoid limelight-deprivation," Cardinal Pell told The Weekend Australian (8-9 September). "However, she is not well placed to be lecturing Catholic schools on anything, given the bitter hostility of the Greens to Christians, to Catholic teaching, and all church schools ...
"It is particularly regrettable that she parades her Catholic background, which she has comprehensively rejected, despite her efforts to co-opt Pope John Paul II to her bizarre green bandwagon."
Cardinal Pell said the Church, unlike the Greens, was involved in delivering practical help. "Catholic agencies and groups do marvellous work with the homeless and with refugees," he said. "Can the senator name any Green group or agency which works regularly to help the homeless?"
Christians, he added, have created, run and funded schools, hospitals, charities and hospices. They help the sick, old, poor, homeless and dying with their own efforts and their own money. Can anyone name a single Greens-created, staffed and funded organisation of the like?
US diocese receives Gone With The Wind bequest
The estate of a nephew of Margaret Mitchell has donated half of the trademark and literary rights to her famous Civil War novel Gone with the Wind to the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Joseph Mitchell, the son of Margaret's brother Stephen, died in October 2011 at the age of 76. The novel rights are part of a multi-million dollar bequest to the archdiocese.
"The Archdiocese of Atlanta has been blessed with a generous gift through the kindness of Joe Mitchell," Archbishop Gregory of Atlanta said on 16 August. "This gift is a reservoir of the funds earned through the genius of Margaret Mitchell and her depiction of the harsh struggles of Southern life during and after the Civil War.
"The Mitchell family has a proud Catholic legacy, and this gift will allow that legacy and that pride to be shared with many others in the archdiocese."
Joseph Mitchell was the last living close relative of Margaret and was a member of the Cathedral of Christ the King Parish, the archdiocese said. He asked that part of his donation help the cathedral.
The bequest's other donations to the archdiocese include a collection of autographed Gone with the Wind first editions published in various languages and an unpublished history of the Mitchell family handwritten by Margaret's father Eugene Muse Mitchell.
The estate also gave Joseph Mitchell's home to the archdiocese.
Scottish Cardinal ends "gay marriage" dialogue
Cardinal Keith P. O'Brien broke off direct talks with the Scottish government in August in protest over their decision to back "same-sex marriage."
The cardinal's actions followed the government's move in July to legislate for "same-sex marriage," despite almost two-thirds of those who responded to their official consultation being against the initiative.
Cardinal O'Brien's subsequent call for a referendum on the issue was also quickly dismissed by the government. He has now told the government that any future discussions should take place between officials.
In June, leading Scottish lawyer Aidan O'Neill warned that "same-sex marriage" legislation would radically undermine religious liberty in Scotland.
He predicted that a change in the law could see employees sacked for opposing "same-sex marriage," ministers and priests sued for refusing to allow "wedding" ceremonies in their churches, school children forced to attend lessons on homosexuality and couples rejected as foster parents if they oppose the new legislation.
The Scottish government's decision came as the United Kingdom's government, led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, concluded its consultation on the same issue. It had already promised to legislate for "same-sex marriage" in England and Wales by 2015.
Catholic News Agency
Evolutionary biology and belief in God compatible
Evolutionary biology and faith in God are not incompatible, two professors asserted at the international Rimini Meeting, an event that brings hundreds of thousands of people to Italy.
"A proper understanding of creation, especially an understanding set forth by a thinker such as Thomas Aquinas, helps us to see that there is no conflict between evolutionary biology or any of the natural sciences and a fundamental understanding that all that ‘is', is caused by God," Professor William E. Carroll of Oxford University's theology faculty said.
"Evolutionary biology is that area of science which helps us to understand better the origin and development of human beings, but whatever those arguments are in evolutionary biology they, in principle, do not conflict with the fundamental understanding that all that ‘is' is created by God," Carroll said.
Professor Carroll was a keynote speaker at the Rimini Meeting, an international gathering organised by the Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation. From 1925 August the event explored a range of contemporary cultural issues, including the relationship between faith, reason and science.
In January 2012, Pope Benedict established a new Science and Faith Foundation explaining that his aim in doing so was to build a "philosophical bridge" between science and theology.
Professor Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History in New York pointed out that many scientists were believers, "so there's certainly no incompatibility in principle between the two."
Catholic News Agency
The Paralympics: a rebuke to legal abortion
James Parker, the coordinator of the 14th Summer Paralympic Games in London, called on Christians and all who value human life to challenge leaders and politicians to change Great Britain's "discriminatory and outdated abortion laws."
As the Paralympic Games drew to a close in September, Parker spoke of his time working with the Games and directly with some of the athletes.
"What is astounding is that Britain is enabling the eyes of the world to be opened to the giftedness and potential of those with disabilities through its hosting of the Paralympic Games. However, its own laws vehemently and shockingly discriminate against any new life in the womb that might possibly be affected by a physical handicap, genetic problems or a mental defect."
Parker also noted that in conversations with a number of Paralympians during the games, he was astonished to discover that many didn't realise that had they or their teammates been conceived today in Britain, they would most likely be aborted.
"If Britain wishes to retain its place towards the head of the medals table at future Paralympic Games in decades to come then it needs to seriously consider changing its laws to stop discriminating against what is presently termed as an ‘unacceptable quality of life.' Games aside, any society that wishes to be healthy needs to increasingly value disability and non-disability equally," he said.
Zenit News Service
New Bishop of Ballarat to be consecrated
With the retirement of Bishop Peter Connors who turned 75 earlier this year and who had been Bishop of Ballarat since 1997, Benedict XVI named Fr Paul Bird CSsR as the new Bishop on 1 August. The Bishop-Elect will be consecrated on 16 October.
From 1987 Father Bird was Superior of the Redemptorists in Melbourne and editor of Majellan Publications. After fifteen years as a member of the Provincial Council, he had served as Provincial since 2008.
Father Bird, who was born in Newcastle, NSW, in 1949, spent four years in Ballarat as a student, from 1968 till 1971, at the Redemptorist seminary in Wendouree. He was ordained in Newcastle in 1975 and later completed a Master of Arts degree at the Catholic University of America, specialising in liturgy.
The Ballarat Diocese covers the western third of Victoria, extending from the Murray River in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south.
Bishop-Elect Bird continues the recent Australian pattern of religious order priests being made bishops.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 25 No 9 (October 2012), p. 4
|AD2000 Home | Article Index | Bookstore | About Us | Subscribe | Contact Us | Links|
Page design and automation by
Umbria Associates Pty Ltd © 2001-2004