Israel, July 17, 2015: A recent Breaking Israel News article about the nascent Sanhedrin’s intention to put Pope Francis on trial in absentia for his recognizing the Palestinian state has caused quite a ruckus.
Though it may seem shocking to many that a group of rabbis would interfere in international policy, or exert authority over the Pope, the Sanhedrin feels compelled to do so. Rabbi Dov Stein, the secretary of the Sanhedrin, explained to Breaking Israel News that he feels it is their duty to bring God’s law into this world.
Thus far, the Vatican has not responded to the Sanhedrin’s letter. “As expected, no. It would seem that the Pope has chosen to ignore the letter. But a trial will be held anyway, and the result may be very risky for the Pope,” Stein said.
“God in heaven is listening and obeys the Sanhedrin because the Torah interpretation is in the hands of the Sanhedrin here in this physical world, not in the heaven in the hands of the angels.”
Not just a court for Jews, the rabbis on the Sanhedrin believe they are commanded by God to right injustice wherever it appears, regardless of religion or country.
“It has happened in the past that people have ignored the Sanhedrin, which is a mistake, because the Sanhedrin is vital to the proper functioning of the world. Only when the Jewish nation will heed the Sanhedrin of the Torah, will the Torah be one. Today God’s Torah is not the same Torah for all the Jews. Our unity is damaged because of this, because of people ignoring the Sanhedrin,” Stein explained.
In just one example, the Sanhedrin held a trial in 2008 against the Chinese government having to do with the persecution of the Falun Gong. Followers of Falun Gong, a branch of Buddhism, approached the Sanhedrin in 2007, claiming that their fellow practitioners in China were being persecuted. The claims, which have since been substantiated by media sources, were that in 1999 the Communist Party leadership declared Falun Gong a “heretical organization” and began systematically persecuting them, with reported human rights violations.
As of 2009, at least 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners had died as a result of abuse in custody. Some observers put the number much higher, and report that tens of thousands may have been killed to supply China’s organ transplant industry.
“The Chinese embassy tried to prevent it, but the Sanhedrin is not obligated to politics, only to justice,” Stein said. The Chinese embassy in Israel was contacted by the Sanhedrin and responded that the hearing would likely have a negative effect on the diplomatic relations between Israel and China.
Professor Hillel Weiss, a member of the Sanhedrin, responded, “If Armenian representatives would have approached me and complained about the Turks I would support opening a Sanhedrin trial against the Turks. Every regime needs to know that if it hurts another ethnic group it is committing a crime.”
In 2008, the Sanhedrin ruled against China. The Association for Asian research wrote about the judgement, “While many nations and institutions have stayed silent as to the persecution of Falun Gong, the Sanhedrin has gotten it right. It’s time for the world to respond.”
When asked what authority the Sanhedrin has to put foreign leaders and governments on trail, Stein explained, “The Sanhedrin is the Supreme Court with responsibility for the world. All of the people of the world should at least be following the Torah, even if it is only the Seven Laws of Noah, (which are incumbent on all non-Jews). The interpretation of the Torah in each generation is in the hands of the Sanhedrin.”
While the Sanhedrin’s actions of trying Pope Francis in absentia have proven controversial, Stein reveals that the court has received international support for its cause. “We have had many people contact us, Jews and Gentiles, and everyone was pleased with what we are doing and very supportive. They appreciate that there is now one true voice of the Jews and their Torah. There is not even one Beit Din (court) of Jews who dare to say the truth in the world,” he said.
When asked whether the government of the State of Israel has gotten involved, Stein stated, “I do not believe that they will support any such step. The opposite is probably true. The Israeli government is used to being pressured and attacked by the whole world, and therefore the government of Israel is afraid of every political shadow.”
With the Pope soon to address the United States Congress, the boundaries separating religion and state are becoming less clear. It is clear that many international conflicts today are driven more by religious fervor than by economic or diplomatic interests. It may just take a religious court to resolve the Injustices that plague and threaten humanity.
- breaking israel news
Oregon Christian bakers forced to pay $135k by monday or lien may be placed on home; husband now works as trash collector
U.S, July 10, 2015: More than $210,000 has been raised in support of the Oregon Christian bakers who are being forced by the state to pay $135,000 in “emotional damages” to a lesbian couple for declining to bake them a wedding cake in 2013, an act that would have violated their deeply-held religious convictions.
Although an online fundraiser established on GoFundMe.com to support Melissa and Aaron Klein, the owners of the now-closed Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, raised over $100,009 in nine hours in April, the campaign was taken off the website because the Kleins had been “formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law.”
After removing the Kleins’ fundraiser, GoFundMe later revised its user policy to state that the site can’t be used to raise money in “defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts.” The website additionally shut down the fundraiser for Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington florist who’s also facing heavy fines for not working a gay wedding.
After their campaign was removed by GoFundMe, evangelist Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse stepped in to provide a platform to raise funds for the married couple, through the organization’s donation page designated for persecuted Christians in the U.S.
Another online campaign in support of the Kleins was set up on ContinueToGive.com, which is a “faith based online tithing and giving platform founded on biblical principles” devoted to helping churches, missionaries, nonprofits, individuals and adopting parents.
Although the Kleins fundraiser began with an initial goal of raising $150,000, the website indicates that the goal has been exceeded by 204 percent, which would mean over $306,000 was donated to the campaign.
But according to the website, it charges 3.9 percent and 60 cents per donation for personal fundraisers. The Daily Signal estimates that the Kleins have raised at least $210,000.
“Let’s help the Kleins through this hard time as they fight for religious freedom; which they are not just fighting for themselves but for all of us as our freedoms are threatened,” the fundraiser states. “They have been struggling financially ever since they were forced to close the doors of their bakery in 2013 as their income was basically cut in half. If they are forced to pay the damages to the lesbian couple they will be in much worse shape than they are now.”
“They are pioneers in standing strong for the Lord and have been very courageous and steadfast throughout this whole ordeal,” the fundraiser continues.
In an interview with The Daily Signal, the Kleins said that their income has dramatically decreased since they closed their bakery. Now that they are being forced to pay for emotional damages, their financial situation is getting tighter.
Although they have raised money online, Aaron said he picked up a job as a garbage collector after the closing of the bakery to help make ends meet.
As Oregon’s Commission of Bureau of Labor and Industries, Brad Avakian, upheld last week that the Kleins must pay $135,000 to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer for mental damages caused by the refusal of service in 2013, the couple has been notified that they must pay by next Monday or risk having a government lien placed on their home.
A letter from BOLI was sent to the Kleins informing them of their payment options.
“The letter informs them that if we do not hear from them, we may turn the matter over to the Department of Revenue, which can place a lien on real property,” a BOLI spokesman told Fox News’ Todd Starnes. “Of course, they can also ask for a stay of enforcement while they pursue their appeal.”
Anna Harmon, the Kleins’ attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom, said the letter is just another sign that the state is sticking to its guns.
“This letter, while its the normal procedure, continues to show the state is not backing down,” Harmon told Starnes. “They don’t think they did any wrong here.”
Although it is likely that the Kleins will ask for a stay of the judgment as the couple is expected to appeal Avakian’s ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals , Avakian will be the one who rules on whether the Kleins should be granted a stay.
“The judge, jury and executioner are all in one place,” Harmon said. “He is intent on using his office to root out thought and speech with which he personally disagrees.”
- christian post
Australia, July 1, 2015: Justin Bieber, 21-year-old recording artist and model, was attending the Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia, this week and recently shared that the Pentecostal church’s New York City pastor Carl Lentz has made a tremendous impact on his life.
Bieber, who has been known to spend time with Lentz, Hillsong NYC co-pastor and worship leader Joel Houston, City Church Pastor Judah Smith, and other influential young Christian leaders, reportedly interrupted a television network’s interview with Lentz on Tuesday to state: “I’m glad to know him. He’s changed my life.”
Hillsong Church founding pastor Brian Houston commended Bieber, who had a few run-ins with the law last year, for deciding to attend the week-long conference that started on June 29.
“No doubt he’d probably be the first to say he lost his way in a whole lot of ways and, yeah, I think he realizes that it’s now-or-never time to try to build better foundations into his life,” Houston added in the TEN television network interview.
Earlier reports indicated that Bieber flew to Sydney in the company of 18-year-old Hailey Baldwin, daughter of outspoken born-again Christian and actor Stephen Baldwin.
Bieber has been vocal of late about his spiritual journey, especially in sharing messages on his social networks with his mass of followers and supporters.
“I’m not religious nor do i think I have ANYTHING figured out that’s why I call out on God to help me through what I can’t do on my own,” the 21-year-old pop star shared last month with his 31.5 million Instagram followers. “Developing my relationship with God has been the coolest thing I’ve experienced, to know that I’m not alone and I don’t have to live in fear. Never feel like I’m pushing anything on u [sic] but sharing the good news I’ve felt in my own life.”
Bieber was reportedly baptized by Lentz last year, occasionally worships at Hillsong NYC and has shared photos and videos of himself spending time with the hipster pastor, who is known for befriending popular athletes and celebrities.
“I love Justin, he’s a good kid. He’s trying to figure this out,” Lentz told CBN news last year, two months after Bieber had been arrested in Miami for drag racing.
“With Justin, it’s not my job to be his police officer. It’s my job to be a friend to him, and that’s all I am,” Lentz added.
Bieber posted last month a playful video on Instagram of himself, Lentz and Trinity Church pastor Rich Wilkerson singing “Awesome God,” a worship song composed by Richard Mullins and covered by Hillsong United and other contemporary Christian music artists.
- christian post
Franklin Graham says lGBT rainbow-colored white house is ‘slap in the face’ of ‘millions of americans;’ white house calls it ‘victory’
U.S., June 30, 2015: Evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham has said that President Barack Obama’s decision to light up the White House with rainbow colors celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage is a “slap in the face” of “millions of Americans” who did not agree with the decision.
“This is outrageous — a real slap in the face to the millions of Americans who do not support same-sex marriage and whose voice is being ignored. God is the one who gave the rainbow, and it was associated with His judgment. God sent a flood to wipe out the entire world because mankind had become so wicked and violent. One man, Noah, was found righteous and escaped God’s judgment with his family,” Graham said on Facebook on Monday.
“The rainbow was a sign to Noah that God would not use the flood again to judge the world. But one day God is going to judge sin — all sin. Only those who are found righteous will be able to escape His judgment.”
The White House’s Twitter account, which also changed its avatar to reflect a rainbow-colored White House, said that the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to legalize gay marriage across all 50 states is a “victory for America.”
The sentiment echoed Obama’s statement following the news on Friday, when he called the decision “a victory for the allies and friends and supporters who spent years, even decades working and praying for change to come.”
“This ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free,” Obama said.
“I know that Americans of good will continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition, in some cases, has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact and recognize different viewpoints, revere our deep commitment to religious freedom,” Obama added.
Graham said in a separate statement following the decision that this religious freedom will now be challenged. He warned that Christians nationwide should be ready to face persecution if they do not agree with the legalization of same-sex marriage.
“Our nation has a spiritual problem and we need God’s forgiveness and we need to repent of our sins and turn from our sins because I do believe that God’s judgement will come on this nation,” the 62-year-old said.
“When we read in the Scripture, we see how God judged Israel time and time again, when they would turn their back on Him and begin to worship other gods, foreign gods, and God would bring judgement on Israel. I believe God could bring judgment on America.”
- christian post
Megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen: Muslims attend his Church & that his books sell a lot in Muslim countries
Texas, June 23, 2015: Evangelical Christian pastor Joel Osteen shared in an interview this week that “a whole group of probably about 50 Muslims” recently visited his nondenominational megachurch in Houston, Texas, and indicated that his inspirational messages on “how to live a great life” resonate with people “in Muslim countries.”
“I have Muslims that attend our church and my books sell a lot in Muslim countries as well,” Osteen said during an interview with Jeremy Hobson for the “Here and Now” radio program published online Monday.
Hobson had mentioned that he heard Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel express the opinion that Christianity and Judaism had not done “a good enough job keeping an open conversation with Muslims” in the U.S. He then asked Osteen if he has conversations with Muslims, which prompted the preacher to share that he “certainly” does.
“You know, I don’t know, I don’t get too deep in those kinds of things,” Osteen added, “but our ministry is about reaching out to everybody, and so you know, I do have those conversations.”
“I had a whole group of probably about 50 Muslims here at the service about two weeks ago, sitting right on the front row. They came, and we have good, good relationships. And I think part of our ministry is, our main theme is Jesus says love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as you love yourself. And I don’t try to put people in a box — OK, they’re Jewish or they’re Catholic, they’re this or they’re that. I just say, ‘you know what, they’re somebody that God’s put in our path for us to love,’ and that’s our philosophy,” he added.
Osteen also touched on immigration, the End Times and the intersection of politics and religion in his interview with ‘Here and Now,” which you can listen to in the audio player below:
Osteen previously has shared that his messages are not only attractive to Muslims, but to atheists as well.
In a 2014 “Larry King Now” interview, King asked the megachurch pastor, also known for his megawatt smile: “Why would an atheist be a fan?”
“I think what they like, Larry, the principles that we teach is from the Scripture but they can help anybody you know, to reach dreams or to forgive or to have a good self-image,” Osteen said. “I know that I’m not a traditional pastor in terms of I’m just going down teaching scripture by scripture, because a lot of what I would teach is just how to live a great life.”
Another view on why Osteen might be so popular with those outside of his conservative Christian faith was recently presented in an opinion essay published in the Jewish Journal.
“He does not proselytize in a loud, Bible-thumping sort of manner. Instead, with a calming, reassuring voice, he delivers words of faith, hope and optimism based on a biblical foundation,” wrote the author, who identified as “Jewish, and intend to remain Jewish.”
The writer added: “… I have to admit that there were times when I felt that pastor Osteen had put his finger on the pulse of my current challenges, and offered comments that gave me some degree of immediate solace.”
Osteen’s messages and sermons are not a hit with everyone, particularly other conservative Christians. Critics have for years claimed that Osteen’s messages are too focused on positive thinking and personal prosperity, and light on sin and repentance. The Texas pastor, whose popular inspirational and self-help books include Your Best Life Now, You Can, You Will, Every Day a Friday, and Become a Better You, has responded on more than one occasion to such criticism.
“There’s enough pushing people down in life already. When they come to my church, or our meetings, I want them to be lifted up. I want them to know that God’s good, that they can move forward, that they can break an addiction, that they can become who God’s created them to be,” Osteen said in one television interview.
Osteen welcomes about 52,000 worshippers weekly to Lakewood Church, according to a press release from his ministry. The church also says that it is “one of the nation’s most racially and socioeconomically diverse” and that its pastor reaches millions of people through his television program that airs in more than 100 different countries.
- christian post
Matthew McConaughey, Chris Pratt, Brad Pitt, Gwen Stefani, Mark Wahlberg and even wee bad boy Shia LaBeouf, who seems like the kind of guy who would say he’s bigger than Jesus and John Lennon combined, are talking up their Christian faith.
Pratt, perhaps the hottest actor in town on the strength of the 2014 smash “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the even bigger hit “Jurassic World,” is a Christian who credits praying to God for saving his son Jack when the boy was born nine weeks prematurely to his wife, Anna Faris.
Pratt told Esquire last year, “I gave my soul to Jesus” at age 19 after an encounter outside a liquor store in Hawaii with a man who told him, “I stopped because Jesus told me to stop and talk to you. He said to tell you you’re destined for great things.” A month later, Pratt was spotted by a director who helped get him a part in a horror movie, and his Hollywood career had begun. Raised Lutheran, he now considers himself “a free agent for God.” Every night before going to sleep, he prays, “Now I lay me down to sleep . . .”
Pitt, who grew up in a devout Baptist household in Missouri, in the past has described himself as somewhere between agnostic and atheistic, but apparently he has changed his mind. LaBeouf, his co-star in last year’s World War II movie “Fury,” told Interview, “I found God doing ‘Fury.’ I became a Christian man, and not in a f - - king bulls - - t way — in a very real way. I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. And you can’t identify unless you’re really going through it. It’s a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control.” LaBeouf added that his director, David Ayer, is a “full subscriber to Christianity” and that Pitt, who hews to an “unnamed spirituality,” was “instrumental” in “guiding my head through this.”
McConaughey, who is named after the apostle, famously gave props to God in his Oscar speech last year: “First off, I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand.”
He attends a nondenominational church in Texas that, he told GQ, is “based in the faith that Jesus is the son of God, that He died for our sins, but many different denominations come in.” He says God is “somebody who can help answer my questions. Someone who has a hand in all of this miracle we call life, which I believe is a miracle.”
Gwen Stefani, a Catholic, recently said on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” she wasn’t planning on having any more children, but believes her oldest son has a “direct link to God” and that four weeks after the boy started praying for a little sibling, she discovered she was pregnant.
A fellow Catholic, Mark Wahlberg, told the Catholic Herald, “Being a Catholic is the most important aspect of my life. The first thing I do when I start my day is, I get down on my hands and knees and give thanks to God. Whenever I go outside of my house, the first thing I do is stop at the church. The kids will be mad with me. ‘Daddy! It takes too long!’ I’m saying: ‘It’s only 10 minutes and this is something I really need to do.’ ”
So it’s not just Kirk Cameron and Stephen Baldwin and the kid from “Two and a Half Men.” With A-list stars backing Jesus, who knows? This Christianity thing could catch on.
- newyork post
UK, February 25, 2015: A book which helped changed the course of English history, part of the evidence Henry VIII and his lawyers gathered in the 1530s to help win an annulment from Catherine of Aragon and ultimately to break with Rome, has turned up on the shelves of the magnificent library at Lanhydrock, a National Trust mansion in Cornwall.
The book, a summary of the theories of the medieval philosopher and theologian William of Ockham, has been newly identified by a US scholar and expert on the history of Henry’s library. The book was damaged but escaped destruction in a disastrous fire at the house in 1881, and crucially the fly-leaf survived. It still carries the number 282, written in black ink in the top right-hand corner, which Prof James Carley identified as corresponding with an inventory taken in 1542 of the most important of Henry’s books, five years before the king’s death.
Paul Holden, the house and collections manager at Lanhydrock, said: “It was an amazing moment. The old long gallery here is about the length of a football pitch, and the professor lapped it about six times when we found the book.”
There is nothing of Henry’s handwriting in the book, but Carley is certain it was consulted during the years when the king was desperately seeking a way, with the aid of Thomas Cromwell, of getting rid of his first wife Catherine, and marrying and conceiving a male heir with Anne Boleyn – the drama chronicled in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.
Henry’s agents were gathering evidence that could support the move, which may be how the collection of the views of the 14th century priest and philosopher, published in 1495, came to the royal library. Ockham wrote in Latin of the limits of the power of the pope, and the independence of the authority of monarchs. Several pages in the book have key passages marked by secretaries for Henry’s attention, including one crucial section with a heading which translates as: “When it is permitted to withdraw from obedience to the pope”.
In 1532 Henry would begin exactly that process of withdrawal from Rome. In 1533, despite its refusal to annul his first marriage, he married the almost certainly pregnant Anne Boleyn. Pope Clement VII declared that Catherine was still the rightful queen of England, and Henry responded with the Act of Supremacy, establishing himself as the head of the Church of England. The breach with Rome was complete.
Carley described the discovery as thrilling.
“The book is important not only for its provenance but for the notes entered in it by Henry VIII’s advisers and no doubt intended for him to see. They draw attention to precisely the sort of issues that were so relevant to the king’s policies in the years leading up to the break with Rome.”
In the 17th century, when many books were disposed of from the royal collection, it was acquired by a Cornish scholar and chaplain, the wonderfully named Hannibal Gamon, who left his signature on the title page. He in turn left the best of his books to his friend and patron John Robartes, first Earl of Radnor, at Lanhydrock. The book has sat on the shelves, rarely opened and its importance unrecognised, shelves ever since.
The library collection at Lanhydrock is famous, the finest among the National Trust’s properties, and far older than the present imposing granite house, which is almost entirely a Victorian replacement for the Jacobean building gutted by fire, when almost all the books were saved. Although the leather covers are original, the book’s spine was replaced after the fire which helped further disguise it.
Early this year Carley was among many scholars who come to use the collection, and Holden asked him to look at two volumes with the arms of Henry and Catherine of Aragon. Carley concluded they showed royal loyalty but not royal origins, but suggested it might be worth checking the collection for books from Henry’s library.
The two men started taking down every book marked in the Lanhydrock catalogue as older than 1542, and checking them against a copy of Henry’s inventory, and within an hour, when they reached Section C of the shelves, opened the book and saw the neat small number 282.
The book will now be displayed for the first time as a star object, rather than one more brown leather book among thousands, in an exhibition, Monarchy and the Book, when the house reopens to the public on 1 March.
- the guardian
Vatican, June 10, 2015: Pope Francis has approved the outline of a new system of accountability for Catholic bishops who do not appropriately handle accusations of clergy sexual abuse, in what could be a breakthrough moment on an issue that has plagued the church globally.
Proposed by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley at the behest of the pope’s commission on clergy sexual abuse, the system gives power to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to judge bishops “with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors.”
It would also see the establishment of a new office at the congregation to undertake work as a tribunal to judge such bishops.
Such a system will be a first at the Vatican, where bishops have long held near impunity with regard to their actions or inactions on clergy sexual abuse. In the Catholic church, only the pope can fire prelates — a process that, if it ever occurs, normally takes years or even decades.
Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said that while that firing power ultimately remains with Francis, the pope accepts the decisions of those he puts in such tribunal offices.
“If the pope says that [this is] the judgment and the competence of the tribunal, then normally the pope accepts the judgment of the tribunal,” said Lombardi, responding to a question from NCR at a press conference Wednesday announcing the new system.
Lombardi said the pontiff had approved the system following unanimous consent on the matter during discussions Monday among the nine-member Council of Cardinals, the group of prelates advising Francis on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy.
O’Malley is the only American member of that group and is also the head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
The new accountability system, which the Vatican said was developed by the pontifical commission, contains a set of five points agreed upon by the pope. The pope, the Vatican said, mandated that the points are to be established for a five-year period and “authorized that sufficient resources will be provided for this purpose.”
The points are clearly not in the usual form for Vatican mandates — which normally are promulgated in a sometimes lengthy and legalistic note known as a motu proprio — suggesting that Francis wanted to move forward quickly on the accountability process without waiting for different departments to draft language.
The first of the five points states that there is a “duty” to report “allegations of the abuse of office by a bishop connected to the abuse of minors” to the Vatican, specifically the three congregations which oversee bishops: the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
The second point of the agreement then gives power to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to judge bishops, and the third calls for the creation of a new judicial section in that congregation along with the appointment of “stable personnel to undertake service in the Tribunal.”
The fourth point obliges the pope to appoint a new secretary, or second-in-command, for the doctrinal congregation to head the tribunal and to work with the congregation’s prefect, German Cardinal Gerhard Muller.
The fifth point of the outline establishes the five-year period “for further development of these proposals and for completing a formal evaluation of their effectiveness.”
The points do not specifically clarify who has the duty to report abuses of office by bishops and how those reports might be transferred by the Vatican congregations that oversee bishops to the doctrinal congregation for judgment.
The points also do not indicate how a bishop who comes under judgment will be able to defend himself, although presumably final recourse would rest with the pope.
The question of accountability for bishops who mishandle abuse cases has long been seen as the most unresolved issue in the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse.
In one example of the Vatican’s slow action on the issue, U.S. Bishop Robert Finn was allowed to remain in office for two and a half years after becoming the first prelate criminally convicted of mishandling an abusive priest.
Francis accepted Finn’s resignation in April with a terse Vatican note that gave no reason for the move.
The leader of a website that tracks clergy sexual abuse said that while the new system was a “promising step” it would require “a courage and an aggressive commitment that have so far been sadly lacking, despite the innovations of Pope Francis.”
“This system will be coping with the complex interactions of enabling and offending that we see in cases involving bishops,” said Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org.
“Priests abuse children and so do bishops — bishops who offend are inevitably enablers, and the Commission’s plan must confront that sad fact,” he said.
The Vatican’s doctrinal congregation is already tasked with investigating cases of priests accused of sexual abuse. Last November, Francis also created a new review board inside the congregation to speed up review of appeals by priests found guilty of abuse.
The Council of Cardinals, which was meeting at the Vatican for its tenth in-person encounter Monday-Wednesday, has been known to be discussing the issue of bishops’ accountability for months. Lombardi said in April that the group had put the issue “on the table” at O’Malley’s insistence.
Other members of the cardinals’ group include Australian Cardinal George Pell, who has come under scrutiny for his own actions handling sexually abusive priests during the proceedings of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
San Francisco, June 04, 2015: “The clear biological fact is that a human being is born either male or female,” the controversial Archbishop Cordileone said at the start of an address in New York City at a conference aimed at promoting an older form of the Mass in Latin.
“Yet now we have the idea gaining acceptance that biological sex and one’s personal gender identity can be at variance with each other, with more and more gender identities being invented,” said Archbishop Cordileone, who is the point man in the battle against gay marriage for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Archbishop said a friend recently pointed out to him that a major university advertised housing “for a grand total of 14 different gender identities.”
“I’m sure even more will be invented as time goes on,” he said, prompting laughter from the audience of about 200.
“Those initials keep getting longer and longer,” he added, referring to debates over whether the LGBT acronym — for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — should include other categories.
Archbishop Cordileone did not mention Jenner by name, but his comments landed directly in the middle of a national debate that exploded on Monday when the Vanity Fair cover was published depicting Jenner for the first time as a woman — in satin lingerie and an alluring pose — and announcing she would now be known as Caitlyn, not Bruce.
Jenner, now 65, came to fame in the 1970s as a gold medal Olympian and then won a more dubious celebrity in recent years as part of the Kardashian clan of reality television stars.
That was the conclusion of a recent analysis by the Pew Research Center in the US.
It suggests that in the UK, if current trends continue, the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Christians will fall from 64% in 2010 to 45% by 2050, while the proportion of Muslims will rise from 5% to 11%.
The proportion of the population claiming no religion in the UK – the “unaffiliated” – will also rise significantly, from 28% to 39%.
Pew’s research also suggests there are likely to be more Muslims than Christians in the world by 2070, with Islam’s share of global population equalling that of Christianity at just above 30% each by 2050.
Equally eye-catching is its conclusion that by 2050, under half of the population will be Christian not just in the UK, but also France, the Netherlands, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Australia and New Zealand, while Muslims will make up about 10% of Europe’s population, up from 6% now, thanks to higher birth rates.
However, Christianity globally will continue to grow, with the number of Christians projected to rise significantly in sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
According to demographer Conrad Hackett at Pew, in 1910 some 66% of the world’s Christians lived in Europe. Now that has fallen to about 25%.
By 2050, however, Europe will be home to just 16% of the world’s Christians, while four out of every 10 Christians globally will live in sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to high birth rates and falling infant mortality.
So what does that mean for the UK?
“We are living through the biggest religious transition since the Reformation of the 16th Century,” says Linda Woodhead, professor of the sociology of religion at Lancaster University.
“[Prime Minister] David Cameron may have said at Easter that ‘we are still a Christian country’, but for how much longer?”
For Mr Hackett, the idea religion will fade as developing countries become more economically successful and better educated “is often tied in to the secularism debate”.
But, he says, while there is evidence of that in some societies, in others “there is no evidence that people are shedding their religious identity, even as their societies become wealthier”.
“In China, for example, people are more and more claiming some religious identity, and we have no clear evidence that as these countries develop, they will follow the patterns we see in Western Europe,” he says.
According to Ms Woodhead, that means that contrary to long-held Western assumptions that religion would disappear as societies developed, secular and religious liberalism itself will become the exception in the world and not the norm.
“Western governments will have to work hard to convince the world of the value of liberal democracy and the forms of religion and belief which have supported it, and I am not sure they yet grasp the scale of the challenge,” she says.
But why should the UK in particular be losing the Christian roots that have so profoundly shaped its history, culture and even its welfare state?
“The Church of England and the Church of Scotland are in collapse,” says Ms Woodhead.
“The Church lost touch with our everyday life and has become inward-looking rather than being a broad Church for the whole of society.
“The Churches of England and Scotland have failed to win the hearts and minds of the young for several generations now, while numbers for the Catholic Church are really only holding up thanks to immigration.”
She believes there is the danger of a future in Britain in which those with no religious affiliation and the faithful “won’t understand each other”, with the religious of all faiths potentially moving more towards the extremes, with the risk of cultural segregation.
“Religions have a natural dynamic towards more sectarian fundamentalist extremes, and we are losing the moderating forces internally and externally that used to regulate and deal with these tendencies, including Parliamentary interest and involvement,” she says.
However, Grace Davie, professor emeritus in sociology at the University of Exeter and author of the new book Religion in Britain: A Persistent Paradox, has a slightly different take.
“This is an adjustment of Christendom, rather than an Anglican issue,” she says.
“We hear a lot of debate saying that the Anglican Church has failed.
“But it’s only facing the same challenges as the Catholic Churches and the Scandinavian Churches in Europe.
“Anglicans tend to beat themselves up about it as if it’s their fault. It’s not,” she says.
“It’s an adjustment they all have to make, but it’s at a particularly acute stage for the Anglicans.
“Looking at the figures, there are the committed religious people, the committed secular people, and in the middle, there’s this grey area.
“The pendulum is swinging gradually towards the secular end, while everyone is wondering what the growth in Islam will mean.
“In the UK, we are all adjusting to greater diversity.”
Prof Davie points out that the figures indicate Christians will still be the biggest single faith group in the UK by 2050.
“There’s no room for complacency, but there will be a future for Christianity,” she says.
“It will just be a different future.
“It will be smaller and more committed, but not necessarily more extreme.
“It’s a gradual shift in the model, which brings with it more pressure to choose.
“But you have to be very cautious about predictions.
“In the 1960s, many thought the world would become more secular, and that hasn’t happened.
“Europe is so distinctive from the rest of the world, and that is to be pondered – bearing in mind that it’s a tiny and shrinking bit of the world.”
Yet in an age when Christianity appears to be dwindling in the UK, what – if anything – will take its place, or attempt to offer meaning to those of no faith?
Is it art or science, poetry or football, or humanism – or new forms of spirituality, or simply seeking contentment in family and friends?
That increasing lack of belief is not confined to religion alone, but appears to be affecting almost every other sphere of authority – while new technology allows individuals to access more knowledge than ever before about the world around us, while apparently leaving us no happier.
Faith in politicians, government, the mainstream media and in many other institutions has diminished, yet the human search for meaning, identity and principles that unite us as a society has not gone away.
- bbc news