Monday, October 31, 2011

Palestine Is Admitted to UNESCO on 107-14 Vote; US Opposed, Threatened to End UNESCO Funds

Palestine today (October 31, 2011) won full admission to UNESCO -- the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -- according to the Yahoo News website. The 107 to 14 vote is an impressive victory and carries larger implications for the Palestinians' bid for state recognition before the UN Security Council.

Both the U.S. and Israel have opposed both initiatives. The U.S., Israel, Canada, Germany, Sweden, and Australia were among the 14 nations voting against the Palestinians' UNESCO bid.

Washington -- which called the UNESCO vote "premature" today -- had threatened to cut off U.S. funding to UNESCO if Palestine were granted membership.

The U.S. accounts for about 20 percent of UNESCO's funds.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

COMMENTARY: Pope Benedict XVI Needs to Remove His "Blinders"

Pope Benedict XVI opened a "can of worms" this week at the 25th annual international prayer meeting for peace in Assisi, Italy -- the birthplace of St. Francis.

The Pope said that "everyone knows that the Catholic Church is the only true path to salvation."

Does Pope Benedict believe that non-Catholic Christians -- such as various Protestant denominations and Eastern Orthodox worshipers -- are taking a false path that does not lead to salvation? It certainly sounds that way.

I can still remember over 50 years ago, when some Roman Catholics said -- and really believed -- that only Catholics can go to heaven. This belief seems to have faded away 30 or more years ago, as many Catholics themselves began to question -- and to reject -- several autocratic Catholic beliefs.

Some of these beliefs -- which have tended to erode the Catholic Church and to enhance secularism at the same time -- include the Catholic Church's inflexible views on birth control, abortions, gay lifestyles, and most recently, same-sex marriages.

Consequently, the Catholic Church must not be "the only true path to salvation," as a plethora of Catholics have been leaving that path for the last several decades, in search of a more realistic path in today's society.

The fact is that Pope Benedict needs to remove his "blinders" and accept the viability of other religions, just as he accepts Catholicism. Christianity, then, must not be torn apart by a "my house is better than your house" kind of mentality.

The Great Schism occurred in 1054, splitting Christianity into Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox divisions. In 1517, the Protestant Reformation began, and many countries in Western and Northern Europe changed their primary religion from Catholicism to Protestantism. Today, a huge number of Latin Americans are converting from Catholicism to Protestantism because they find the Catholic Church to be too rigid.

The Christian Church does not need any more divisions or rivalries. Rather, it needs to be harmonious, loving, and unified, as it prevails to achieve its goals in the empowering Body of Christ.

New Law Lets British Monarch to Marry a Catholic; But Monarch Is Still Forbidden from Being Catholic

The centuries-old law barring the British monarch from marrying a Catholic has ended, but the rule forbidding a monarch from being a Catholic remains in effect, the Eurasia Review website reports today (October 29, 2011).

"Let me be clear, the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that Church," said British Prime Minister, David Cameron, as he announced the change on October 28.

He added, "But it is simply wrong they should be denied the chance to marry a Catholic if they wish to do so. After all, they are already quite free to marry someone of any other faith."

The new rule was made at a summit of the 16 countries that still retain the British monarch as head of state. The gathering took place in the western Australian city of Perth.

Board Asks Supreme Court to Use Jesus' Name; NC Court: "Jesus" Makes Some Feel Unwelcome

The World Net Daily website reports today (October 29, 2011) that a board of county commissioners in North Carolina is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court a lower court ruling that forbids volunteers from mentioning the name of Jesus in prayers offered before their meetings.

On the other hand, the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State are standing by their victory in the U.S. circuit court decision that states even "a solitary reference to Jesus Christ" in invocations before the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners' meetings could do "violence to the pluralistic and inclusive values that are a defining feature of American public life."

Furthermore, wrote Judge James Harvie Wilkinson III, legislative invocations offered in Jesus' name are inherently "sectarian" and thus should be censored lest they make some attendees feel "uncomfortable, unwelcome, and unwilling to participate in...public affairs."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cath. Abp. Makes Anti-Jewish Remarks in Sermon; Trinidad Abp.: "Jews Only Care about Their Own"

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (October 28, 2011) that a Catholic Archbishop in Trinidad and Tobago made anti-Jewish remarks during a sermon on October 24.

Edward Gilbert -- the leader of the Catholic Church in the Port of Spain -- compared politicians in the southern Caribbean republic to Jews, who he said only care about their own.

"The Jews were compassionate and caring for their own, they were compassionate and caring to the people of their nation, to the people of their race, to the people of their ethnic communities," Gilbert said during a Jubilee Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in San Fernando, Trinidad.

With regard to Gilbert's remarks, U.S. Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director Abraham Foxman said, "The false notion that Jews only care about themselves and don't care enough about others is one of the major pillars of classical anti-Semitism."

Poland Opens Probe of Nazi Death Camp Guards; Decision Could Result in More War Crime Trials

The Slate website reports today (October 28, 2011) that Poland announced yesterday that it is reopening its probe into World War II war crimes at Auschwitz and other Nazi-era death camps.

Poland's goal is to track down and prosecute any living Nazis who worked at the camps.

The new wave of investigations was prompted by the case of Ukrainian-born John Demjanjuk, 91, who was extradited from the U.S. in 2009. A German court found him guilty of more than 28,000 counts of accessory to murder last May, and sentenced him to five years in prison.

A Slate study -- conducted this year -- notes that there are "probably hundreds" of Nazi war criminals still alive and at large.

French Court Ends Permit for Marseille Mosque; Project Failed to Meet Urban-Planning Needs

A French court yesterday (October 27, 2011) cancelled a construction permit for a mega-mosque in the southern city of Marseille that had been touted as a potential symbol of Islam's growing place in France, according to the Europe News website.

The city's administrative tribunal ruled the project would have to be cancelled because of failures to meet urban-planning requirements.

It raised particular concern over the project's failure to finalize a deal for a 450-place parking lot and to reassure planners that the mosque would fit with the urban environment.

The $31-million project would have seen the Grand Mosque, boasting a minaret soaring 82 feet high, and room for up to 7,000 worshipers, built in the city's northern Saint-Louis area.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Many Heads of World's Religions Gather in Assisi; Pope: Catholic Church Only True Path to Salvation

The Religion News Service website reports that Pope Benedict XVI told representatives of the world's religions -- as well as non-believers -- gathered today (October 27, 2011) in Assisi, Italy that all faiths must continue to "purify" themselves of any tendency of violence and terrorism.

"It is the task of all who bear responsibility for the Christian faith to purify the religion of Christians again and again from its very heart, so that it truly serves as an instrument of God's peace in the world, despite the fallibility of humans," the Pope said.

The interfaith gathering -- with some 300 believers and a few agnostics -- comes 25 years after the late John Paul II launched the first international prayer meeting for peace in the birthplace of St. Francis.

Pope Benedict also said he would make sure that there would be no joint prayer at this event, and that everyone knows that "the Catholic Church is the only true path to salvation."

Excuse me, Pope Benedict, but when you say that "the Catholic Church is the only true path to salvation," do you mean that ONLY Roman Catholics can be saved? If that is what you mean, then shame on you!

Gay Servicemembers File Suit Challenging DOMA; Seek Same Benefits Given to Heterosexual Couples

The Slate website reports that a group of gay and lesbian servicemembers and veterans are filing a lawsuit today (October 27, 2011), challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -- the federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman.

The group will argue that DOMA prevents spouses of gay and lesbian servicemembers from receiving the same benefits heterosexual military couples are granted -- including military ID cards, access to bases, and burial rights at national cemeteries.

The lead plaintiff in the case will be Army National Guard Maj. Shannon McLaughlin -- along with her wife, Casey McLaughlin -- who together have 10-month-old twins.

Aubrey Sarvis -- executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and an organizer of the suit -- said that the couple is seeking "the same treatment that their straight counterparts, who are legally married, receive every day without question and take for granted."

Episcopal Church Membership Lowest in Decades; Thousands Left Due to New Anti-Christian Policies

At one time a leading denomination of American mainline Protestantism, the U.S.-based Episcopal Church has -- for the first time in many decades -- reported membership below two million, the California Catholic Daily website reports today (October 27, 2011).

Self-reported statistics provided by the denomination this month show that the church has dropped from 2,006,343 members in 2009 to 1,951,907 in 2010 -- the most recent reporting year.

Moreover, as the U.S. branch of the Anglican Church, the Episcopal Church's 10-year change in active members has dropped 16 percent.

Many thousands of former members of the Episcopal Church have left it in recent years -- many have converted to Catholicism -- because of its implementation of several anti-Christian policies, including the acceptance of women priests and bishops, acceptance of gay and lesbian priests and bishops, and the approval of same-sex marriages.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

COMMENTARY: Madonna Needs to Help Her Homeless Brother

It was revealed last week that Madonna's brother, Anthony Ciccone, 55, is homeless and sleeps under a bridge in Traverse City, Michigan. He has his meals at various churches in that city.

This sad news came to light after Ciccone told the Michigan Messenger newspaper in an interview, "My family has turned their back on me when I was having a hard time."

He also told the newspaper that his father had fired him -- although he didn't say why -- at the family winery in Suttons Bay, Michigan a year and a half ago. He added, "I don't have any income. I've got to collect bottles and cans, and do odd jobs."

Although more details on Ciccone's plight are not available -- the entire family has remained close-mouthed about this situation -- a probable reason for it may provide some perspective on its existence.

Ciccone has been in rehab several times during the past 20 years, allegedly for drug addiction. His father may have fired him from the family winery -- perhaps even disowned him -- because of his continuous addiction to drugs.

Madonna, 53, may have helped Anthony financially in the past, but she probably now feels she really can't help him, since he doesn't want to help himself to end his alleged drug addiction.

Nonetheless, Madonna -- who is reportedly worth $650 million -- should still try to help her homeless brother financially. One possibility for Madonna is to agree to pay his rent for a one-room apartment. A one-room apartment would discourage drug addicts from meeting there.

If this possibility were to occur, Madonna could pay the landlord directly, in order to ensure the rental money is not used for drugs. She would also pay for utilities directly.

Although she may feel that assisting her brother will not help him to reform, Madonna -- as his wealthy and loving sister -- needs to help her brother financially to end his homeless and life-threatening lifestyle.

Indeed, that is the Christian action that a Christ-loving Christian must take.

Hairdresser Is Sued for Refusing to Hire Woman; Required Woman to Remove Headscarf at Her Job

A British Muslim woman -- who insists on wearing her headscarf at work -- is suing the owner of a London beauty salon for refusing to allow her to work while wearing it, the Europe News website reports today (October 26, 2011).

Sarah Desrosiers, 32, said she turned down Bushra Noah, 19, as a junior stylist to maintain the image of her salon, which specializes in "urban, funky" cuts.

Desrosiers told Noah that she needed her staff to display their hairstyles to the public.

Noah is suing Desrosiers for more than 15,000 pounds for injury to her feelings, plus an unspecified sum for lost earnings.

Thieves Steal Huge Church Bell in San Francisco; Bell Was Set in St.. Mary's Cathedral Garden Area

The California Catholic Daily website reports today (October 26, 2011) that thieves -- apparently interested in its copper content -- hauled away a 530-pound historic church bell from St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco early on October 23.

The bell -- 63 inches in diameter -- had been mounted on a concrete slab in the garden area at the corner of the cathedral's front parking lot, and had an estimated value of $75,000.

Police said they believe the thieves were professionals, hoping to salvage the bell for its copper content, estimated to have a value of $12,000.

The theft of this historic bell is the latest in a rash of alarming metal thefts across San Francisco, police said.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Joel Osteen: Americans' Faith at All-Time High; Says His Message Focuses on Hope and Peace

Megachurch pastor, best-selling author, and perennial optimist Joel Osteen, 48, told reporters and editors at the Washington Times yesterday (October 24, 2011), "I see faith in America at an all-time high," according to the Times website.

"Yes, people are struggling, but our message is so much about hope," Osteen said.

Osteen's weekly television services are seen by seven million people in the U.S., as well as by people in almost 100 other countries.

"Part of our core message is that seasons change, and when you believe, if you don't get bitter, and you don't get discouraged, you may not change overnight, but you can get peace," Osteen said.

Card. Wuerl Dedicates Blessed John Paul II Sem.; Seminarians Study Pre-Theology Courses at CUA

The National Catholic Register website reports today (October 25, 2011) that Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. dedicated the Blessed John Paul II Seminary on October 22 -- the feast day of the Pope who died in 2005.

Witnesses at the intimate dedication ceremony included two previous Washington archbishops and the 20 seminarians now in residence in the simple, home-like facility, which can accommodate about 30 men.

The seminarians will complete pre-theology studies at the nearby Catholic University of America (CUA).

John Garvey, president of CUA, was among those in attendance at the dedication ceremony.

Obama Bans Mention of "Islam" in Terror Training; Yields to Muslim Groups Claiming It's "Offensive"

The Europe News website reports today (October 25, 2011) that President Barack Obama has overseen a new executive order -- via the Justice Department -- to prohibit the mention of "Islam" in federal law enforcement training manuals, and in terror-training classes.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole said that Obama is pulling back all training materials used for law enforcement and national security purposes, in order to eliminate all references to Islam with respect to terrorism because some Muslim groups claim it is "offensive."

Some people have compared the elimination of the word "Islam" to taking the word "racists" out of KKK, or taking "Italians" out of the word Mafia.

Many Americans believe that this is just another example of Obama yielding to Islamic pressure in the United States.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Armenian Muslims Baptized Orthodox Christians; Their Ancestors Converted to Islam During WW I

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (October 24, 2011) that a group of Armenians -- raised as Sunni Muslims -- were baptized on October 23 as Armenian Orthodox Christians at the historic St. Kirakos Armenian Orthodox Church in the Western Armenian province of Diyarbakir (current Turkish property).

The church -- which was reopened on October 22 following two years of restoration work -- hosted the baptism ceremony for dozens of Sunni Muslims of Armenian origin, whose ancestors converted to Islam during the World War I (1914-1918) killings of over a million Armenians in the Ottoman era.

The baptism ceremony was closed to the press and outside visitors -- and the names of those baptized were not revealed -- for security reasons.

Among the participants in yesterday's ceremony were former foreign minister of Armenia and leader of Armenia's Heritage Party, Raffi Hovhannesian, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardione, and Archbishop Vicken Ayvazian, diocese of the Armenian Orthodox Church of America.

Vatican Calls for Reform of World's Fin. Systems; Seeks New World Economic Order Based on Ethics

The Vatican called today (October 24, 2011) for radical reform of the world's financial systems -- including the creation of a global political authority to manage the economy -- according to the Huffington Post website.

A proposal by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace calls for a new world economic order based on ethics and the "achievement of a universal common good."

The proposal suggests the reform process -- which will take some time to complete -- begin with the United Nations as a point of reference.

"It is an exercise of responsibility not only toward the current but above all toward future generations, so that hope for a better future and confidence in human dignity and capacity for good may never be extinguished," the document said.

Muslims in Malaysia Protest "Threat of Apostasy;" Denounce Christian Attempts to Convert Muslims

The Reuters blog reports today (October 24, 2011) that about 2,000 slogan-shouting Malaysian Muslims gathered near the capital on October 22 to denounce Christian attempts to convert Muslims.

Men, women, and families gathered in a stadium in a suburb outside Kuala Lumpur -- the capital of Malaysia -- to unite against what they said were attempts to evangelize Muslims.

"We have gathered today to save the faith of Muslims due to the threat of apostasy," Yusri Mohamad -- the chairman of the organizing committee -- told the crowd.

The protest follows a recent meeting in a church which was raided by Islamic authorities on suspicion of attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Protester Climbs Apostolic Palace at Pope's Mass; Man Was Talked Back from the Edge of Colonnade

The Telegraph (British) website reports that Vatican security today (October 23, 2011) escorted away a man who managed to climb up top of the colonnade that runs around St. Peter's Square during a canonization mass led by Pope Benedict XVI.

The disruption came toward the end of the two-hour service when the man climbed the colonnade and then proceeded to burn a green-covered bible.

Eventually, the man was talked back from the edge of the colonnade, and was led away by Vatican security.

Pope Benedict XVI continued the mass, apparently unaware of the drama going on above him.

European Rabbis Ask Pope Condemn Williamson; Bp. Williamson: Only Jews Responsible for Deicide

The Jewish Week website reports today (October 23, 2011) that a group of European rabbis has called on Pope Benedict XVI to condemn the latest anti-Semitic remarks by a Holocaust-denying Catholic bishop.

The Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis slammed recent comments by Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson in which he blamed Jews for deicide (that is, the crucifixion of Christ).

Conference President Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of Moscow called on the Church to "suspend negotiations with extremist Catholic tendencies until it is clear that these groups show a clear commitment to tackling anti-Semitism within their ranks."

In his recent newsletter, Williamson wrote that "only the Jews were the primary agents of the deicide because Pontius Pilate would never have condemned Jesus if the Jews had not asked for blood."

UN Rep. Calls on Iran to Release Doomed Pastor; Pastor Faces Death for Converting to Christianity

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (October 23, 2011) that a United Nations special representative has publicly called on the Iranian government to release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is facing the death sentence for refusing to recant his faith in Christ.

Nadarkhani faces possible execution for his conversion to Christianity, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

U.N. Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed told the U.N. General Assembly's Social, Humanitarian Cultural Affairs Committee: "The special rapporteur was particularly disturbed by a recent ruling of the Supreme Court that upheld a death sentence for Yousef Nadarkhani, a Protestant pastor who was born of Muslim parents but converted to Christianity when he was 19 years old."

The ACLJ said growing international pressure has helped keep the pastor alive.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

COMMENTARY: Time for Vatican to Terminate Rev. Roy Bourgeois as a Catholic Priest

This week, a U.S. Catholic priest -- who supports the ordination of women priests in the Catholic Church -- was detained by police while marching with about a dozen supporters to the Vatican without a protest permit, in an effort to press the Holy See to lift its ban on women priests.

The Rev. Roy Bourgeois -- along with members of the Women's Ordination Conference -- had come to Rome to deliver a petition signed by some 15,000 people backing Bourgeois, who is facing termination as a Catholic priest because of his support of women's ordination.

The fact is that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the priesthood is reserved for men -- women are not allowed to be priests -- since Christ chose only men as His apostles.

Rev. Bourgeois obviously is aware of this Catholic teaching, but has decided to defy it.

More than a year ago, the Vatican advised Rev. Bourgeois to ask for forgiveness for his anti-Catholic support for women priests, or be subject to being terminated. He has had ample time to meditate on his defiance of the Catholic Church teaching, and has not yet asked for forgiveness of that defiance. Indeed, he probably never will.

That being the case, it is now time for the Vatican to terminate Rev. Bourgeois as a Roman Catholic priest.

Madonna Lacks Sympathy for Homeless Brother; He Receives No Aid from Her,Lives Under a Bridge

Madonna -- the world's top-selling female recording artist of all time, according to the Guiness World Records -- has abandoned her homeless brother, Anthony Ciccone, who has been forced to sleep under a bridge in Traverse City, Michigan, the Daily Beast website reports today (October 22, 2011).

Ciccone, 55, said he last worked at the family winery -- Ciccone Vineyard & Winery in Suttons Bay, Michigan -- before he lost his job there a year and a half ago.

He suffered frostbite on his feet last winter, and he said the city's effort to help the homeless has not been enough to help all of them in these harsh economic times.

Madonna, 53 -- born Madonna Louise Ciccone in Bay City, Michigan -- moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. Her worldwide popularity as a singer, actress, dancer, and entrepreneur have helped her to become a multimillionaire, while her beloved brother Anthony relies on a network of local churches to survive.

Iraqi PM Says He Refused US Troops after Dec.31; Says Obama Wanted Troops Shielded of Lawsuits

Iraq's prime minister said today (October 22, 2011) that U.S. troops are leaving Iraq after nearly nine years of war because Baghdad rejected American demands that any U.S. military forces to stay would have to be shielded from prosecution or lawsuits, according to the Washington Post website.

The comments by Nouri al-Maliki -- a Shiite -- made it clear that it was Iraq that refused to let the U.S. military remain under the American terms.

Yesterday, President Barack Obama had hailed the troops' withdrawal as a result of his commitment -- promised shortly after taking office in 2009 -- to end the war he once described as "dumb."

Nearly 40,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, all of whom will leave that country by December 31, 2011.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Two Muslim Women Found Guilty of Terrorism; Sent Money to Al-Shabab Terrorist Org. in Somalia

Two Minnesota women -- who claimed they were helping the poor in Somalia -- were convicted yesterday (October 20, 2011) of conspiring to funnel money to a terrorist group as part of a "deadly pipeline" sending funds and fighters to al-Shabab in Somalia, according to the Daily Mail website.

Amina Farah Ali, 35, and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 64, were both found guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

The two women -- both U.S. Muslim citizens of Somali descent -- were among 20 people charged in Minnesota's long-running federal investigations into recruiting and financing for al-Shabab, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group with ties to al Qaeda.

No sentencing date has been set for the two women, but the terrorism-related counts each carry up to 15 years in prison.

Basque Group Ends 43-Yr. Violence for Homeland; Sought Ind. Homeland on the Spain-France Border

The Voice of America website reports today (October 21, 2011) that Spain is welcoming the news that the Basque separatist group ETA (Basque Homeland Liberty) has declared an end to its bloody campaign for an independent homeland in Europe.

Civilians in Spain expressed relief that the the 43-year-old Basque conflict is over. The U.S. also welcomed ETA's declaration.

France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, congratulated Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on the ETA's cease fire, saying it was a "victory for democracy over violence."

ETA -- regarded by many nations as a terrorist group -- has killed at least 829 people in its bid to establish an independent homeland in the Basque regions of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Greek Govt. Approves a Tough New Austerity Plan; Cuts Wages and Pensions, Lays Off Govt. Workers

The Daily Beast website reports today (October 21, 2011) that Greece's Socialist Party -- unfazed by massive protests during the past several days -- has approved a tough new austerity plan required for the country to receive the next installment of the European Union's bailout.

The new plan cuts wages and pensions, lays off public sector workers, and changes the collective bargaining rules to make it easier to hire and fire employees.

A lone Socialist opposed the vote and was expelled from the party.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou recently said Greece will become bankrupt by mid-November, unless it receives several billion Euros from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Report: Many US Hispanics Leave Cath. Church; Prefer Evangelical Church's Less Formal Venue

The Worldwide Religious News website reports today (October 20, 2011) that a National Public Radio (NPR) report shows U.S. Hispanics are leaving the Catholic Church in increasing numbers. The report also says most Hispanics leaving the Catholic Church for Evangelical churches are second and third generation Hispanics.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty of NPR said, "You can see evidence of that (conversion of U.S. Hispanics to Pentecostal Christianity) in the Assemblies of God -- once a historically white, suburban Pentecostal denomination. When you walk into the the denomination's largest church... the auditorium is jam-packed with hundreds of Latino worshipers singing in Spanish, swaying, and dancing.

NPR reports that a poll by Pew Research Center showed less than 60 percent of second-generation Hispanics are Catholic.

Pew research concluded from its survey that most Catholics leave the church because of a desire for a less formal and regimental form of worship.

Exclusive: Schlafly: Obama Moves US to Socialism; Says Obama Wants to Break the Capitalist System

America is in the middle of the most dangerous presidency the country has ever seen, conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly warns -- in an exclusive interview with Newsmax -- to mark the first 1,000 days of Barack Obama's presidency.

"He is taking us into socialism just as rapidly as he possibly can," she said.

"He's doing things that are unconstitutional; he's trying to rule by executive order; he's trashed some of our favorite symbols; he calls himself a citizen of the world instead of talking about patriotism and America," Schlafly added.

"I hope we can survive the next year," said Schlafly, the 87-year-old mother of six children who founded the Eagle Forum and has been a thorn in the side of the radical feminist movement -- arguing the women's movement was more damaging than beneficial for women -- for half a century.

Schlafly is convinced that Obama is still acting on what he learned at a Socialist Scholars Conference while he was a student at Columbia University in 1983; that is, "to load so many people on welfare that he breaks the capitalist system."

Pope Names New Vatican Ambassador to U.S.; Abp. Carlo Vigano Has 40 Yrs. of Diplomatic Exp.

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday (October 19, 2011) named Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano his new ambassador to the United States, according to the National Catholic Register website.

A veteran Holy See diplomat with almost four decades of experience, he succeeds Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who died last July after a short illness.

Archbishop Vigano, 70, has a doctorate in canon law and civil law.

He will be responsible not only for diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the U.S., but also -- like every other Vatican ambassador -- for advising the Holy See on suitable candidates to be appointed bishops.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

COMMENTARY: Susan Sarandon Owes Pope and Catholic Community an Apology

Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon -- the oldest of nine children raised in a religious Roman Catholic family -- stunned the world by a comment she made in an onstage New York City interview on October 15, 2011: She referred to Pope Benedict XVI as a "Nazi."

Apparently, Sarandon used the term "Nazi" to describe the current pope, because he became a member of Hitler's Youth Army in his native Germany -- a requirement of all German boys during Hitler's dictatorship of Germany.

Nonetheless, Sarandon should have known better than to use such a disgraceful epithet against a beloved pope.

What makes this situation even more incredible is that Sarandon was raised as a Roman Catholic and even graduated from Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, DC in 1968. Moreover, she was married at CUA by a Catholic priest with whom she and her husband had taken courses.

Just what happened to the Catholic values that were instilled in her as a child -- and later as a college student -- remains an enigma. Sarandon, now 65, has obviously rejected these values in her adult life.

Indeed, Sarandon owes Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic community an apology for her insulting and uncalled for Nazi epithet.

Sociologists use a sociological term to describe Sarandon's slander of her own Catholic religion. The term is "self-hatred."

Janitor on Trial This Week for Murder of Priest; Jose Feliciano Confessed to Murder of N.J. Priest

Nearly two years after the Rev. Edward Hinds was found lying in a pool of blood in the rectory of St. Patrick Church in Chatham, New Jersey, the janitor -- charged in his murder -- is facing trial this week, the Ethics Daily website reports today (October 19, 2011).

Jose Feliciano, 66, of Easton, Pennsylvania -- the church's former custodian -- is accused of murder in the death of the popular 61-year-old priest.

In a video-recorded statement -- which will be allowed in the trial -- Feliciano admitted he stabbed Hinds, but said he did it during an argument after the priest threatened to fire him for ending a four-year sexual affair.

Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi contends Feliciano stabbed Hinds because the priest was planning to fire him, after learning he was a fugitive from a 1988 Pennsylvania charge of indecent assault on a 7-year-old girl.

Patriarch Bartholomew Has 20th Anniv. as EP; Calls on Greek Church to Help Greece's Economy

The Vatican Insider website reports today (October 19, 2011) that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew -- the spiritual leader of more than 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world -- made an important speech yesterday on the occasion of his 20th anniversary of election and enthronement as Patriarch.

Patriarch Bartholomew declared that the Greek Church needs to work with the Athenian government to help Greece come out of its current economic crisis.

The Greek Orthodox Church -- which is not separated from the state and benefits from significant resources (especially real estate property) -- has often come under attack for not contributing enough to public revenue. The spotlight has now fallen on churches and monasteries that have been exempted from the recent property tax levied across Greece.

The Ecumenical Patriarch's appeal comes amidst an increasingly tense social climate in Greece -- and just one day before a general crippling strike is scheduled to begin throughout the nation to protest Greece's painful new austerity measures.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

US Priest Marching to Vatican Detained by Police; Wanted to Give Petition Supporting Women Priests

The Huffington Post website reports today (October 18, 2011) that a U.S. Catholic priest -- who supports the ordination of women priests in the Catholic Church -- was detained by police yesterday, while marching to the Vatican to press the Holy See to lift its ban on women priests.

The Rev. Roy Bourgeois -- and about a dozen of his supporters -- were prevented by police from entering the piazza, and told to take down their banners since they did not have a protest permit.

When the group resisted police from taking down their banners, Bourgeois and two supporters were taken away in police cars. The three were detained -- but not arrested -- at a Rome police station, and released after two hours.

Bourgeois and members of the Women's Ordination Conference had come to Rome to deliver a petition signed by some 15,000 people backing Bourgeois, who is facing dismissal from his Maryknoll order for his support of women's ordination.

Catholic teaching emphatically stipulates that the priesthood is reserved for men, since Christ chose only men as His apostles.

Soldier Busted Over Swastika Flag, Nazi Slogans; Austrian Soldier Could Face a Fine or Prison Term

An Austrian soldier faces a trial for buying flags showing banned Nazi-era signs and slogans, while participating in an international peacekeeping mission, according to the Austrian Times website.

A spokesman for the defense ministry said today (October 18, 2011) a colleague of the militiaman informed superiors when he showed the items to him while on a patrol at the Golan Heights in Syria.

Army officials said the soldier was suspended.

The member of the Austrian militia unit could face a fine or prison term for publicly backing Nazi ideology. One of the flags showed a swastika, while the other one featured Nazi slogans.

Muslims Build 2,000 French Mosques in Decade; France Has More Faithful Muslims Than Catholics

The Europe News website reports today (October 18, 2011) that 2,000 mosques were constructed in France in the last decade, and 150 more mosques are currently under construction.

Only 10 churches were constructed in France in the last 10 years, and 40 churches were closed due to low membership. Moreover, France's Muslims are now purchasing churches and converting them into mosques.

France -- with a Muslim population of over six million -- has more Muslim residents than any other country in all of Europe.

In fact, there are now more practicing Muslims in France than practicing Roman Catholics.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Susan Sarandon Calls Pope Benedict XVI a "Nazi;" Catholic League Says Sarandon Despicable, Dumb

The Mercury News website reports today (October 17, 2011) that Susan Sarandon -- the actress who won an Oscar for playing the role of a nun -- called Pope Benedict XVI a "Nazi" on October 15 during an interview with actor Bob Balaban at Long Island's Bay Street Theater.

In the onstage interview, Sarandon said she sent the pope a copy of Sister Helen Prejean's book, "Dead Man Walking." "The last one (Pope John Paul II), not this Nazi one we have now," Sarandon said.

Bill Donohue -- president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights -- referred to Sarandon as "a despicable person to make these kinds of despicable remarks." He added, "It is very hard to find someone dumber than her."

Donohue explained that Pope Benedict XVI -- who was born Joseph Ratzinger in 1927 in Germany -- "was forced to join the Hitler Youth at the age of 14 as every boy his age was."

Sarandon -- the oldest of nine children raised in a Roman Catholic family -- won the best actress Academy Award for playing Prejean in the 1995 film "Dead Man Walking."

Toronto "Rabbi" Arrested on Immigration Fraud; Ran a Multimillion Dollar Operation for 15 Years

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (October 17, 2011) that a former lawyer -- who calls himself a rabbi -- was arrested in Toronto on October 11, and is facing extradition to the United States for allegedly running a massive immigration fraud scheme.

U.S. authorities contend that Earl Seth David -- who goes by the name Avraham David and lives the life of a rabbi -- has run a multimillion dollar operation for 15 years that provided fake papers for thousands of undocumented immigrants.

David, 47, passed the bar exam in New York in 1988 and practiced law in that state until his license was suspended -- in an unrelated incident -- in 2004.

In Toronto -- for fees up to $30,000 -- David allegedly supplied clients with fake documentation, stating that they had been sponsored by U.S. employers to help them immigrate to the U.S. and secure legal status.

California Church Votes to Split from PC(USA); Leaves Due to PC Ending Its Ban on Gay Clergy

A Sacramento, California congregation voted yesterday (October 16, 2011) to leave the Presbyterian Church(USA) -- just months after the denomination removed its ban on openly gay clergy -- according to the Christian Post website.

Freemont Presbyterian Church members approved a measure to seek dismissal from the PC(USA) by a vote of 427 to 164.

The church plans to join a smaller and more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Openly gays and lesbians can now serve as clergy in the PC(USA), as a result of a majority of its 173 presbyteries choosing last May to end the denomination's requirement of marriage to be between a man and a woman.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Con Ed May Evict Ground Zero Mosque Over Rent; Demands Mosque Pay $1.7M It Owes Or Be Evicted

The New York Post website reports today (October 16, 2011) that New York utility Con Ed(ison) has given the Ground Zero mosque an ultimatum: Pay the $1.7 million you owe in back rent, or we will terminate your lease and take back our property.

Con Ed owns a former substation on the western half of the property, at 51 Park Place, and mosque developers own a five-story building on the eastern half.

Park 51 -- which leases the substation from Con Ed -- wants the two buildings, so it can knock both down and build a $100 million, 15-story community center.

In August 2011, Con Ed raised the rent from $2,750 a month -- a rate set in 1972 -- to $47,437 a month, retroactive to July 31, 2008. When the mosque failed to pay $1.7 million, the utility sent it a letter demanding the money by October 4 or being evicted.

A court hearing has been set on the matter for November 17, 2011.

NC Jury Convicts Three Muslims in Terror Plot; Planned to Attack US Marine Corps Base in Va.

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (October 16, 2011) that a federal jury in North Carolina convicted three Muslim men on October 13 for plotting to commit acts of terror.

The trial centered on a plot to carry out terrorist attacks on a U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, and overseas targets.

Omar Aly Hassan,22, Ziyad Yaghi,21, and Hysen Sherifi,24, raised money and trained with weapons to support the jihadist plot.

Sherifi and Yaghi could receive life sentences for their role in the plot. Hassan could face up to 15 years in prison.

Pope: " Secularized Nations Can Return to Christ;" Addresses Evangelizers Promoting Evangelization

The Catholic News Agency website reports that today (October 16, 2011) Pope Benedict XVI told over 8,000 Catholics -- who are involved in the "new evangelization" -- that he has every confidence they can return their respective nations to Christ.

"Seeing all of you and knowing the hard work that everyone of you places at the service of the mission, I am convinced that the new evangelists will multiply more and more to create the true transformation which the world of today needs," the Pope said in the Vatican's Paul VI Audience Hall.

The Pope was addressing a conference entitled "New Evangelizers for the New Evangelization -- The Word of God Grows and Spreads," organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

The council is charged with spearheading the re-evangelization of traditionally Christian countries that have been particularly affected by secularization in recent decades.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

COMMENTARY: "Queer Studies" Minor at Universities Is Irrelevant

California State University (CSU)-Fullerton this fall became the fourth California State University to offer a "Queer Studies" minor for its students.

In addition to being an odd minor to be offered by a university, the title of the minor -- with its use of the word "queer" -- leaves much to be desired. The dictionary defines "queer" as "Deviating from the expected or normal; strange." It also refers to "queer" as "slang -- a homosexual."

A more appropriate title for such a minor field of study could have been "Homosexual Studies." Apparently, the California State Universities that offer this minor are trying to elicit a shocking response of it by its crude title.

As for the minor itself, we believe that there is no real need for it, given the fact that a very small percentage of Americans consider themselves to be homosexuals.

In fact, offering just a course or two in homosexual studies each semester would make more sense than offering "Queer Studies" as a minor.

There are many relevant subjects that college students can minor in to enhance their major field of study and job prospects, as these students prepare themselves for the real world of work in our society.

A minor in "Queer Studies," however, will have little -- if any -- impact in assisting students to achieve this goal.

RI Student, 16, Confident in Prayer Mural Lawsuit; Atheist Wants Mural Removed from High School

A 16-year-old atheist -- who wants a prayer mural removed from the auditorium of her Rhode Island high school -- said Thursday (October 13, 2011) that she is confident that the law is on her side, according to the Associated Press website.

Jessica Ahlquist -- a junior at Cranston High School West -- said her side is "very strong" after attorneys for her and the city of Cranston made their case to Senior Judge Ronald Lagueux in U.S. District Court in Providence. Lagueux took the case under advisement.

Ahlquist sued in federal court last April, saying the mural is offensive to non-Christians. She is represented by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Ahlquist's lawyer, Lynette Labinger, said the mural runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

CSU-Fullerton Begins Its Minor in Queer Studies; Some Californians Worried of Effects on Students

The Christian Post website reports today (October 15, 2011) that California State University (CSU)-Fullerton this fall became the fourth California State University to offer a Queer Studies minor for its students -- causing conservatives to worry about the effects that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) education will have on public school students.

College of Arts Associate Dean at CSU-Fullerton, John Taulli, said that the Queer Studies minor validated and empowered members of the LGBT community on campus, because they were able to see themselves reflected in the university's curriculum.

Professors and administrators believe that the minor reflects society's changing attitude toward the LGBT community.

John Ibson, American Studies professor at CSU-Fullerton, supports the Queer Studies minor, saying, "I'm happy to see the university live up to its mission as a place that is in favor of tolerance and freedom of thought and inquiry."

Vienna to Get "Multi-Million" Interreligious Ctr.; Saudi Arabian Foundation Will Pay for New Ctr.

The Austrian Times website reports today (October15, 2011) that the Austrian foreign minister has agreed with Saudi Arabian officials to build an interreligious center in Vienna. Saudi Arabia has agreed to pay a "high two-figure million Euro sum" for the center.

Austrian People's Party Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger and high-ranking representatives from Spain and Saudi Arabia signed a contract sealing their intention to create such an institution in Vienna.

Saudi Arabian officials refused to disclose the center's budget yesterday, but explained that it will be fully funded via a Saudi foundation "totally independent from any form of political influence."

Scores of people staged a protest yesterday outside the Albertina Museum to show their disagreement of a Saudi-funded interreligious center in Vienna.

Friday, October 14, 2011

RC Bishop of Kansas City Indicted on Child Abuse; Failed to Report Child Abuse of a Priest to Police

The New York Times website reports today (October 14, 2011) that the Roman Catholic bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Robert Finn, and the diocese he leads have been indicted by a county grand jury on a charge of failure to report suspected child abuse in the case of a priest, who had been accused of taking lewd photographs of a multitude of young girls.

The indictment is the first ever of a Catholic bishop in the 25 years since the scandal over sexual abuse by priests first became public in the United States.

Bishop Finn and the diocese had reason to suspect that the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, might subject a child to abuse, the indictment said, citing "previous knowledge of concerns regarding Father Ratigan and children."

Jackson County Prosecutor, Jean Peters-Baker, said, "This is about protecting children."

GOA, NY/NJ Port Authority Agree on St. Nicholas; Agree to Rebuild Church with Bereavement Center

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (GOA) of America website reports today (October 14, 2011) that it has reached an agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey regarding the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo invited Archbishop Demetrios and the hierarchs of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America -- together with the leadership of the St. Nicholas Parish and the Archdiocese Council -- to his New York City office for the official signing of the agreement.

Archbishop Demetrios expressed particular praise for Governor Cuomo and said, "We are grateful to our esteemed governor and precious friend Andrew Cuomo for bringing to reality the dream we have nourished for 10 long years."

According to the Port Authority press release, "The agreement permits the rebuilding of the church with a nondenominational bereavement center at the east end of Liberty Park, at 130 Liberty Street."

Pope Tells Faithful to Thank God for Good Things; Says God Has Protected Us,Guided Us,Helped Us

The National Catholic Register website reports today (October 14, 2011) that Pope Benedict XVI reminded Christians on October 12 to thank God for the good things in life, instead of only bringing problems to Him.

"Dear brothers and sisters, in our prayers, we should look at how often, in the events of our lives, the Lord has protected us, guided us, helped us," the Pope said at his general audience in St. Peter's Square.

He encouraged Christians to "be more attentive to the good things that the Lord gives us. We are always attentive to the problems, difficulties, and almost do not want to see that there are good things that come from the Lord."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Old Church in Ohio to Close Down on Nov. 20; Presbyterian Church Membership Is Down to 40

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (October 13, 2011) that an Ohio church -- more than 150 years old -- will soon close down because its congregation has dwindled.

The last service at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Columbus is planned for November 20, 2011.

Church leadership council member Linda Wood said the church has only about 40 members, making it difficult to pay its bills.

The congregation was founded in 1839, and the church was dedicated in 1860.

Catholic Mass Will Have Sweeping Changes Soon; Celebrating Mass Will Switch from Latin to English

The Washington Times website reports today (October 13, 2011) that American Catholics can expect a "bumpy transition," as they are about to encounter the most sweeping changes to the text of the Mass in more than 40 years.

The changeover -- which has already been implemented in the United Kingdom -- will begin this month in the United States, and be completed by November 27, 2011, with both the priest and the congregation switching to the new English translation of the original Latin text containing prayers and instructions for the celebration of the Mass.

Supporters of the new text -- some 30 years in the making -- say it is a more literal translation of the original Latin, and is expected to encourage a deeper prayer experience for congregations.

Critics -- who have no choice in the transition -- counter that the new language is confusing and obscure in some places.

France Drops Strauss-Kahn Attempted Rape Case; Paris Court: Not Enough Evidence to Pursue Case

French police today (October 13, 2011) dropped an inquiry into allegations that former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn attempted to rape a French writer in 2003, according to the Yahoo News Network website.

"There aren't enough elements of evidence to pursue an attempted rape case," said a statement released today by a Parisian court.

The statement also said the inquiry did find "facts that can be qualified as sexual assault have been recognized." But the statute of limitations of these charges had long passed.

Tristane Banon -- the French writer -- said the alleged incident took place in 2003, but she did not come forward with her accusations against Strauss-Kahn until July 2011.

In May 2011, Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York City and charged with attempted rape of a maid in his hotel room, but -- due to a slew of lies to police by the hotel maid -- that case was also dropped.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

COMMENTARY: Egypt's Policy to Allow Muslims to Destroy Churches, Kill Christians Must End

At least two dozen people were killed and hundreds were injured in Cairo, Egypt this week, after Christians -- angry over a recent church attack -- staged a peaceful sit-in, and were attacked by Muslim extremists and Egyptian security forces.

The rioting -- the worst in Egypt since Hosni Mubarak's ouster as president last February -- brought out deployment of more than 1,000 security forces and armored vehicles. Some of the armored vehicles sped into the crowd, killing several protesters.

Nonetheless, today the Egyptian government denied that it killed any protesters, claiming that all the deaths were the result of fighting between Christians and Muslims.

Coptic Orthodox Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 80 million people, while Muslims make up nearly 90 percent. Muslim extremists -- who would like to see the number of Christians significantly reduced in Egypt -- have been killing Christians and damaging their churches for several years, and have in fact increased these illegal activities since Mubarak's ouster.

The Egyptian government and police have tended to "look the other way" and have failed to punish the Muslim extremists for their illegal activities, since they are also primarily staffed by Muslims. Indeed, they have been prejudiced and indifferent toward the abusive actions against Egypt's Christian minority.

The anti-Christian policy of the military rulers in Egypt became more obvious today, as they blamed Christian victims for the violent clashes that occurred on October 9. This is just one more example of a military junta blaming its victims for its own oppressive actions.

There is a saying that is very appropriate regarding the Egyptian military's denial that it killed any Christians during this week's rioting in Cairo: "Denial is not a river in Egypt!"

Egypt Coptic Church Rips Authorities for Violence; Says Authorities Let Muslims Attack Christians

The Global Post website reports today (October 12, 2011) that Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christian Church blasted authorities this week for attacks on October 9 that left 25 people dead.

The church accused Egyptian authorities of allowing attacks by Muslims against Christians to continue without punishment.

Pope Shenouda III -- the Coptic Christian spiritual leader -- also declared three days of mourning and fasting for the victims from October 11 through 13.

Clashes on October 9 between Egyptian security forces and several hundred protesters began after Christians tried to stage a peaceful sit-in.

Iranian Actress Will Get 90 Lashes for Film Role; Australian Film Blasts Iran's Hard-Line Policies

The Europe News website reports today (October 12, 2011) that an Iranian actress -- who stars in an Australian film that is critical of Iran's lifestyle -- has been sentenced to 90 lashes and one year in prison.

Marzieh Vafamehr was sentenced for appearing in "My Tehran For Sale," which criticizes Iran's hard-line policies. It tells the story of a young actress whose stage work is banned by Iranian authorities.

Vafamehr often appears with a shaved head and no headscarf in the film.

The filmmakers and investors behind the film said they were "deeply shocked and appalled" by her sentence.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

High Court Refuses to Hear Case of Gay Couple; La. Would Not Grant Birth Certificate for Gays' Son

The U.S. Supreme Court today (October 11, 2011) refused to hear a case that challenged discrimination against a gay couple by a Louisiana state official, according to the Pride Source website.

The case, Adar v. Darlene Smith, was filed by Lambda Legal Defense on behalf of a gay couple who sought an amended birth certificate for a Louisiana boy they adopted in New York.

Smith, Louisiana registrar, refused to provide Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith (no relation to the registrar) with an amended certificate, saying she was barred from doing so by a Louisiana law prohibiting unmarried couples from adopting.

By refusing to hear the case, the U.S. Supreme Court, in effect, agreed with the Louisiana registrar's decision to refuse to grant a birth certificate to an unmarried couple.

Seminarian Marches in "Occupy Wall St." Protest; Says Jesus Would Back 99 Percent of US Society

The Spero Forum website reports today (October 11, 2011) that Rix Thorsell -- a seminarian wearing a clerical collar -- has been marching with other members of Brooklyn's Greenpoint Reformed Church in an "Occupy Wall Street" protest that has captured national and international attention.

"Jesus stood with 99 percent (of society that is not wealthy)," said Thorsell -- a student at New York's Union Theological Seminary.

Thorsell -- along with members of his church and seminary -- are among people of faith who have joined the protests in lower Manhattan.

The protests are against what activists are calling "corporate greed" and growing economic inequity in the United States.

Jewish Extremists Vandalize Muslim Properties; Peres: It's against Everything Jews, Israel Stand for

The Religion Globe website reports today (October 11, 2011) that unknown assailants -- believed to be Jewish extremists -- have vandalized Muslim cemeteries, mosques, and farmlands in a series of attacks that have put Israel on edge.

"It's against everything that the Jewish people stand for, as a country and as a democracy," said Israeli President Shimon Peres, a Nobel Peace laureate.

In the latest incident, vandals spray-painted "Death to the Arabs" in Muslim and Christian cemeteries in the Jaffa section of Tel Aviv.

The rampage -- discovered late Saturday after Yom Kippur -- followed a mosque burning last week in an Arab village in northern Israel.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pope: Endless Noise Frightens People of Silence; Silence, Solitude Required for Finding God's Love

The Catholic News website reports today (October 10, 2011) that Pope Benedict XVI -- during a visit to an Italian monastery yesterday -- said endless noise, news, and crowds have made people afraid of silence and solitude, which are essential for finding God's love and love for others.

Young people seem to want to fill every moment with music and video, the Pope said.

"Some people are no longer able to bear silence and solitude for very long," he said during a vesper service at a Carthusian monastery in Calabria.

By spending time alone in quiet prayer, people find life's essentials and unity with others, he added.

Huge No.of Young Christians Leaving the Church; Many Find Church Boring, Judgmental, Outdated

The Huffington Post website reports today (October 10, 2011) that a new study finds a plethora of young Christians are leaving the church today, because they view churches as judgmental, overprotective, exclusive, and unfriendly towards doubters.

The Bama Group studied 1,296 young adults who were current or former churchgoers.

Researchers found that 59 percent of Christians leave the church life -- either permanently or for an extended period of time -- after the age of 15. One in three Christians said, "Church is boring."

About 40 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old Catholics said the church's doctrine on sexuality and birth control is "out of date."

Jones Appeals Order to Stay Away from Mosque; Hater of Islam Says Order Violates Const. Rights

The Europe News website reports today (October 10, 2011) that a judge in a Detroit courtroom said on October 6 that he would decide next month whether it was within the power of authorities to have jailed Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones and to have ordered him to stay away from a local mosque for three years.

Jones -- a Gainesville, Florida pastor and hater of Islam -- was found guilty last April by a Dearborn, Michigan jury of being likely to breach the peace, because of his plans to protest outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.

He was ordered to stay away from the mosque for three years.

Attorneys for Jones appealed the decision, saying it violated his constitutional rights.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

At Least 24 Killed, 200 Injured in Cairo Riots; Worst Rioting in Egypt Since Mubarak's Ouster

At least 24 people were killed and more than 200 injured today (October 9, 2011) in Cairo, as clashes occurred by Christians -- angry over a recent church attack -- hard-line Muslims, and Egyptian security forces, according to the Associated Press website.

The rioting -- the worst in Egypt since Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February -- lasted late into the night, bringing out deployment of more than 1,000 security forces and armored vehicles to defend the state television building along the Nile River, where the trouble began.

An armored security van sped into the crowd, striking many protesters. Protesters retaliated by setting fire to military vehicles, a bus, and private cars, sending flames rising into the night sky.

Coptic Orthodox Christians -- who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 80 million people -- blame the country's ruling military council for being too lenient on those behind a multitude of anti-Christian attacks since Mubarak's ouster as president of Egypt.

Nat. Cathedral Needs Millions for Quake Repairs; Requires $25M Just for the First Phase of Repairs

USA Today website reports that the Washington National Cathedral -- the second largest church in the United States -- will need tens of millions of dollars over several years to repair extensive damage from an earthquake last August.

It requires $25 million "just to get to June 2012, for the first phase of the work and to resume worship and programming," said Richard Weinberg, a spokesman for the cathedral.

The cathedral -- an Episcopal Church that calls itself "a spiritual home for all" -- has been the setting for presidential funerals and other major events.

An estimated 35,000 worshipers and visitors arrive at the National Cathedral every month. It is exceeded in size in the U.S. only by St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City.

Presbyterian Church Ordains First Gay Minister; Church's Assembly Voted to End Gay Ban Last Yr.

A man who left the Presbyterian ministry in California 20 years ago -- after telling his congregation that he is gay -- was welcomed back into its church leadership yesterday as its first openly gay ordained minister, the Associated Press website reports today (October 9, 2011).

Scott Anderson, 56, told the hundreds of friends and backers who packed Covenant Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin for his ordination ceremony that he never thought the day would come.

"To the thousands of Presbyterians who have worked and prayed for almost 40 years for this day, I give thanks," Anderson said.

Anderson was closeted when he served as a minister in Sacramento, California from 1983 until 1990.Although the Presbyterian Church(USA) barred homosexuals from serving as ministers, things changed in 2010 when the church's national assembly voted to remove the ban.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

COMMENTARY: Robert Jeffress Must Apologize to Mitt Romney, Mormons

Yesterday, October 7, 2011, Robert Jeffress -- an evangelical pastor at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas -- shocked a plethora of Americans when he said Mormonism is a cult; therefore, Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is not a Christian.

These incredible statements occurred at a Value Voter Summit meeting when Jeffress introduced Rick Perry, a Texas evangelist, who is running against Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.

Jeffress clearly crossed the line in this situation, since Mormons consider themselves to be Christians. In fact, the official title for Mormons is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." The fact that Jesus Christ is in the name of their religion indicates that Mormons are Christians.

Nonetheless, Jeffress was out of line in his description of Mormonism and Mitt Romney. To be sure, he never should have made such hateful statements, regardless of whether he believes Mormons are Christians or not.

Rick Perry -- obviously embarrassed by Jeffress' statements -- has distanced himself from them. When Perry was asked today if he believed Mormonism is a cult or Christian religion, he said it is a Christian religion.

Romney today referred to Jeffress' statements as "poisonous language that has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind."

In the final analysis, there is no place for bigotry -- in politics, in religion, or anywhere else -- in America, where freedom of religion is an integral part of American culture.

Indeed, Jeffress owes Mitt Romney -- and all of the followers of Mormonism -- an apology for his cruel and inhumane portrayal of them.

Cath. League Objects to Madonna at Super Bowl; Says Madonna Mocks Heart, Soul of Christianity

The Catholic News Agency website reports today (October 8, 2011) that Catholic League President Bill Donohue has declared that Madonna's history of religious provocation makes her unsuitable for a possible halftime stint at Super Bowl XLVI.

"The NFL would do well to drop any plans it may have about inviting Madonna to perform during the Super Bowl," Donohue said in response to rumors of a planned performance.

He added, "Madonna has repeatedly mocked the heart and soul of Christianity: Jesus, Our Blessed Mother, the Eucharist, and the Crucifixion."

The Catholic League president said the NFL would be wise to steer clear of controversy during halftime -- as it has since Janet Jackson's embarrassing 2004 "wardrobe malfunction."

So. Baptist Pastor Jeffress: "Mormonism Is a Cult;" Says Romney a Good Person, Not a Real Christian

The Christian Post website reports today (October 8, 2011) that Robert Jeffress -- the evangelical pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas -- said Mitt Romney is a good person, but is not a Christian, and Mormonism is a cult, when he introduced Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit yesterday.

The Texas pastor said Mormonism is not in line with the historical tenets of Christianity and is considered a cult among mainstream Christians.

"Evangelical Christians should not vote for Mitt Romney because he's a Mormon; therefore, not a real Christian," Jeffress said.

He added that the Southern Baptist Convention -- which is the largest Protestant denomination in the world -- officially labels Mormonism as a cult.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sarkozy: Turkey Must Accept Armenian Genocide; Turkey Slams French President for Curt Comment

The Voice of America News website reports today (October 7, 2011) that the Turkish government has criticized French President Nicolas Sarkozy for saying Turkey should recognize the deaths of Armenians under Turkish rule nearly 100 years ago as genocide.

Turkish European Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis said Sarkozy's comments were inappropriate, as it is "not the duty of politicians to deal with history."

The French president -- who has been on a visit to Armenia -- said all great countries do the honorable thing by revisiting their history.

Armenia says some 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by Ottoman Turks during World War I (1914-1918). Turkey -- which denies its genocide of Armenians -- claims that the dead were victims of a civil war.

Hertz Suspends Muslim Shuttle Drivers in Seattle; 34 Drivers Would Pray on Co. Time at Airport

Hertz Rental Car Company indefinitely suspended 34 Muslim shuttle drivers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington for praying on company time, the Cybercast News Service website reports today (October 7, 2011).

The drivers are required to clock out -- under the terms of a settlement two years ago with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- Hertz spokesman Rich Broome said.

Muslim workers who clocked out were not suspended, Broome added.

Teamsters Local 117 -- which represents the workers -- is trying to get them back on the job. Observant Muslims pray five times a day.

Israeli Man Arrested in Oct. 2nd Mosque Arson; Israeli Judge Extends Man's Custody for 5 Days

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (October 7, 2011) that an 18-year-old Jewish man from northern Israel was arrested by Israeli police on suspicion of being behind the burning of a mosque in Tuba Zanghariya on October 2.

The suspect's lawyer said the man denies being involved in the arson.

The suspect had studied in a West Bank yeshiva and had been banned from an area in the West Bank.

At a hearing in Kfar Saba yesterday, a judge extended the custody of him for five days.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Abp. of Canterbury Now in Africa to Discuss Issues; Focus Is on Persecution, Harassment of Christians

The Ecumenical News International website reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, today (October 6, 2011) began a three-nation, eight-day visit to Africa during which he hopes to discuss the persecution and harassment of Christians with Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe.

"My visit to Africa is not political, it is a pastoral visit," said Williams.

"What difference that will make, I cannot tell now," he added upon arriving in Blantyre -- Malawi's commercial capital.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual head of more than 80 million members of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Atheists to Gather in Conn. to Promote Secularism; Around 20 Percent of Americans Are Now Faithless

About 400 people are preparing to gather for a conference in Hartford, Connecticut to promote the end of religion in the U.S. and their vision of a secular future for the country, the Worldwide Religion News website reports today (October 6, 2011).

At the meeting, members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) will hear speakers celebrate successes they have had in removing religion from U.S. public life and see awards presented to noted secularist activists.

The U.S. is becoming a more secular country, some experts say. "It has never been better to be a free-thinker or an agnostic in America," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF.

The exact number of faithless in America is unclear. One study puts them at 12 percent of the population, while another puts that figure at 20 percent.

Serbia Is among Europe's Most Religious Nations; 95 Percent of Population Declares Being Religious

A Belgrade daily writes today (October 6, 2011) that Serbs are among Europe's most religious nations, and adds that 95 percent of the population declared themselves as religious, according to the Orthodox Church Info blog.

The Vecernje Novosti newspaper asked the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Patriarchy to comment on this "astonishing data."

"After decades of enforced atheism in our society, people have turned to the Church. The temptations that our state has been exposed to in the past years contribute to the strengthening of our faith," the daily quoted its SPC source.

Minister for Religion and Diaspora Srdan Sreckovic also commented on the report by saying that the state and the Church are and will remain separated, but noted that for Serbs, national and religious identity are one and the same.

Last year's U.S. State Department report noted that Serbia's population was made up of 85 percent Orthodox Serb Christians, five percent Roman Catholics, three percent Muslims, and 1.5 percent Protestants.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

COMMENTARY: Allowing Military Chaplains to Perform Same-Sex Marriage Violates DOMA

Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense adopted a new set of rules that allows military chaplains to perform same-sex "marriages" -- on or off military installations -- provided the ceremony is not prohibited by the state or local government in which it is being performed.

But Archbishop Timothy Broglio -- the head of the U.S. Catholic Military Archdiocese -- believes the ruling to allow same-sex marriages may be illegal, because it ignores the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was signed into law by President Clinton 15 years ago and remains in effect.

DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, insofar as the federal government is concerned. Moreover, it does not recognize same-sex marriages.

President Obama -- who recently said he is "leaning" toward supporting same-sex marriage ceremonies -- has instructed his attorney general and other legal personnel in his administration to ignore DOMA, thus allowing same-sex marriages to be performed.

President Obama -- who has a law degree -- should know better than to instruct his legal staff to ignore DOMA or any other federal law. An individual -- even the president of the United States -- has no authority whatsoever to ignore a law, just because he is opposed to that law.

Military chaplains of the Catholic faith must not abide by the new Department of Defense ruling, because Catholic rules dictate that "no Catholic chaplain is authorized to perform a same-sex marriage under any circumstances."

The fact is that the Obama administration has crossed the line by allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex marriages. A more realistic compromise could have been for same-sex unions to occur in civil ceremonies. This venue would allow a justice of the peace -- rather than a priest or minister -- to perform such a ceremony.

President Obama's support of same-sex marriage is not the only anti-Christian position that he has taken since he became president. He has supported several other issues -- such as federal funding for abortions -- that are also anti-Christian.

In fact, the Catholic Bishops of the United States this week set up an Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, in an effort to combat Obama's anti-Christian actions. The bishops believe that they need to act now, in order to prevent President Obama from continuing to undermine Christian values and tradition.

With regard to allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, this matter must be addressed in the federal courts, because it ignores DOMA -- the law in which the federal government defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Woman Sues Prison Over Headscarf Removal; Supreme Court Says It's OK to Sue the Prison

A Muslim woman is suing prison officials from Orange County, California, for forcing her to take off her headscarf in a holding cell, the Europe News website reports today (October 5, 2011).

The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed Souhair Khatib to proceed with her lawsuit that she filed in 2007.

The 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals had earlier rejected arguments that holding cells are not covered by a federal law protecting the religious practices of prisoners.

It ruled Khatib had the right to wear the scarf unless officials could show it was a security risk.

ADL Audit: Anti-Semitic Incidents Rising in US; Largest No. of Incidents Occurred in CA, NY, NJ

The Jewish Daily Forward website reports today (October 5, 2011) that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. increased last year for the first time since 2004, according to the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) annual audit.

The ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents -- released yesterday -- showed that there were 1,239 incidents in 2010, up slightly from 1,211 reported the previous year.

The audit tracks assaults, vandalism, and harassment reported during the calendar year in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

The majority of incidents -- concentrated in the states with the largest Jewish populations -- took place in California (297), New York (205), and New Jersey (130).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Billy Graham Views Growing Old in New Memoir; "Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well"

The Huffington Post website reports today (October 4, 2011) that Billy Graham -- considered by many people to be the greatest evangelist of all time -- has written a 180-page memoir on growing old titled "Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well," which goes on sale in bookstores on October 18.

Graham, 92 -- who reveals in the memoir that he has difficulty getting up from a chair or putting on his shoes -- writes "At times I wish I could still do everything I once did, but I can't."

Despite their limitations, Graham assures readers that the senior years can be rewarding.

He cites biblical examples, including Moses, who died at 120 after leading the Egyptians to the Promised Land, and Elizabeth, who gave birth to John the Baptist though "well along in years."

Ex-Libyan Jew Cannot Restore Tripoli Synagogue; Threatened by Crowd to Stop Project or Be Killed

The New American website reports today (October 4, 2011) that a Libyan Jewish man -- who fled Libya with his parents decades ago -- returned to Tripoli to restore its main synagogue, but was forced to abandon the project due to armed men who threatened to kill him.

David Gerbi, 56, said he had obtained permission from members of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) to start fixing the Dar al-Bishi synagogue, which was shut down and sealed off under the Gadhafi regime following a wave of anti-Semitic persecution in the late 1960s.

Most of the other synagogues in Libya were destroyed or turned into mosques, as Jewish property was confiscated and Jews were expelled.

Gerbi said an angry crowd told him "that if I am not leaving now, they are going to come and they are going to kill me because they don't want Jews here."

No Same-Sex Unions at West Point's Cath. Chapel; No Cath.Chaplain Can Perform Same-Sex Wedding

The Cybercast News Service website reports today (October 4, 2011) that same-sex marriage ceremonies will not be allowed at the Catholic Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Taylor Henry -- director of public affairs at media relations for the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA -- said "Holy Trinity is an actual Catholic parish, unlike the non-denominational chapels that are found on other military installations, and the only services held there are Catholic services. The Catholic Church does not perform the sacrament of matrimony for same-sex couples."

Henry added, "No Catholic chaplain is authorized to perform a same-sex marriage under any circumstances."

Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense said it is allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies both on and off U.S. military installations.

Monday, October 3, 2011

High Court Rejects Ten Commandments Case; Keeps Ruling of Judge Violating Church-State Sep.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined today (October 3, 2011) to hear a case examining whether an Ohio judge violated the separation of church and state when he displayed a poster in his courtroom that contrasted the Ten Commandments with humanist precepts, according to the Christian Science Monitor website.

By declining the case, the high court let stand rulings that found that the judge had indeed violated the church-state principle.

Ohio Common Pleas Court Judge James DeWeese had labeled the poster "Philosophies of Law in Conflict" and included personal commentary.

He declared his preference for the moral absolutism of the Ten Commandments (forbidding murder, theft, adultery, etc.) rather than what he called the moral relativism of humanists.

US Cath. Bishops Form Rel. Liberty Committee; Abp. Dolan Says Obama Does Not Answer Letters

The Catholic Culture website reports today (October 3, 2011) that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York -- citing recent actions taken by the Obama administration -- has announced that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is forming an Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

"The basic right, in its many and varied applications for Christians and people of faith, is now increasingly and in unprecedented ways under assault in America," Archbishop Dolan -- the USCCB president -- said in a letter to his brother bishops.

Revealing that President Obama has not responded to private letters written by him, Archbishop Dolan stated that "I have offered to meet with the President to discuss these concerns and to impress upon him the dire nature of these actions by government."

Archbishop Dolan ended his letter to the bishops by emphasizing, "If we don't act now, the consequences will be grave."

Israeli Radicals Torch a Mosque in Tuba-Zangria; Some 200 Muslims Protest the Arson, Stone Police

Arsonists torched a mosque in an Arab village in northern Israel early today (October 3, 2011), setting off protests by residents who clashed with police, according to the Huffington Post website.

Graffiti sprayed at the site suggested Jewish radicals -- suspected in other recent mosque fires -- were involved in the blaze, which was detected at around 2 a.m.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a carpet was burned, copies of the Quran -- the Muslim holy book -- were burned in the mosque in Tuba-Zangria, and the interior walls were damaged.

About 200 villagers from Tuba-Zangria marched in the area today to protest the arson -- some set fires to cars and stoned police officers -- but police dispersed the crowd with tear gas.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

VP Biden Sways Obama Not to Free Spy Pollard; "Over My Dead Body Are We Going to Free Him"

The Jewish Week website reports today (October 2, 2011) that President Obama was considering clemency for convicted anti-American spy Jonathan Pollard, until Vice President Joseph Biden convinced him not to let Pollard out of prison.

"President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, 'Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time,'" Biden said during a recent meeting with rabbis in Boca Raton, Florida. Biden added, "If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life."

Pollard -- whose job allowed him to have access to classified top secret information -- was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying on the United States for Israel. He is scheduled for mandatory parole in November 2015.

Obama is relying strongly on Biden for help in his re-election campaign with Jewish-American voters. In contrast to Obama, Biden -- through his years of foreign relations work in the U.S. Senate -- has built lifelong ties with many Israeli politicians.

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Church Authority; To Decide If Govt. Can Overrule Church Decisions

The Christian Post website reports today (October 2, 2011) that one of the most important religious cases disputed in years -- which involves the separation of church and state -- will come before the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The Supreme Court decision will determine whether or not the federal government can dictate or interfere with church authority.

Arguments for the case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v.the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, will be heard October 5.

The case centers on "ministerial exception," which is a law that has been on the books for some 40 years.

The "exception" protects churches and other religious organizations from discrimination claims against them -- including issues on hiring and firing employees.

Kosovo Serb Shot Dead, Son Seriously Wounded; Albanians Blamed for Ethnically Motivated Attack

The Hurriyet (Turkish) Daily News website reports that a Kosovo Serb was shot dead and his son seriously wounded today (October 2, 2011), and the local Serb mayor said the killers were from Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.

"The two persons were in a restaurant owned by an Albanian and after they went out someone was waiting for them, killing one and injuring another," said Hazir Berisha, Kosovo police spokesman.

He added that police have been searching the area, but have not arrested anyone yet.

The Serb mayor of the southern town of Orahovac blamed Albanians and called the attack ethnically motivated.

Albanians in Kosovo are mostly Muslims, while Serbs tend to be of the Greek Orthodox faith.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

COMMENTARY: Time for Berlusconi to Be Removed as Prime Minister of Italy

The Roman Catholic Church in Italy this week issued its strongest reprimands in recent history against the country's political elite.

The straw that appears to have broken the camel's back in this change of venue was a published account of a party held at Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's home. The fact that Berlusconi, a multi-billionaire, had paid a woman to appear at the party -- dressed as a nun -- and to perform a striptease act in front of the party attendants infuriated the Catholic Church hierarchy in Rome and throughout Italy.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco -- head of the Italian Bishops' Conference -- this week criticized the Italian government for its immoral actions, saying it needed a "correction of habits and lifestyles" to help it emerge from a "culture of nothingness."

Berlusconi -- who was elected prime minister of Italy for a third term in 2008 -- has shown an obsession in recent years for voluptuous young women. In fact, his wife divorced him in 2009, because of his multiple affairs with young women -- or "minors" as she referred to them.

In November 2010 teenage Moroccan belly dancer and alleged prostitute Karima El Mahroug -- better known as "Ruby Rubacoun" -- said she was given $10,000 by Berlusconi at parties at his private villas. Berlusconi, 75, has been charged -- and is awaiting trial -- for paying El Mahroug to have sex with him while she was an underage minor.

There are other criminal charges and scandals currently facing Berlusconi -- too numerous to describe here.

The kind of immoral behavior that Berlusconi has been living during the past few years in Italy must no longer be tolerated by the Italian people. In addition to bringing shame to himself, Berlusconi has brought shame to Italy, with some people now referring to that nation as "The Bordello State."

Italy must not be required to wait until 2013 when Berlusconi's term as prime minister is scheduled to end. Rather, the Italian legislature must begin proceedings now to remove him as prime minister -- and the sooner it does so, the better for Italy.

Sarkozy: Europe "Morally Obliged" to Aid Greece; Says "It Is Not Possible to Leave Greece Behind"

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said today (October 1, 2011), "Europe has a moral obligation to help Greece," after meeting in Paris with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, according to the Euro News website.

Papandreou said, "Greek people are determined to make the necessary changes... We want to change Greece and make Greece a competitive, socially just and transparent country."

Sarkozy emphasized, "The failure of Greece would be a failure of the whole of Europe."

He added, "Yes, there is a moral obligation of solidarity. But there is also an obligation for economic solidarity. It is not possible to leave Greece behind."

Mil. Archdiocese Head: Mil. Policy Ignores DOMA; Considers It Illegal for Chaplains to Marry Mil.Gays

The Catholic News Agency website reports today (October 1, 2011) that the head of the U.S. Military Archdiocese says that a new set of rules -- which allows chaplains to perform same-sex "marriages" on military property -- appears to disregard federal law.

"The Pentagon's new policy... appears to ignore the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was signed into law 15 years ago and remains in effect," said Archbishop Timothy Broglio in a statement on September 30.

His comments were in response to a pair of memos issued on September 30 -- just 10 days after the official end of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy against open homosexuality.

The Defense Department memos convey that a military chaplain can officiate in any private ceremony -- on or off a military base -- provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by state or local law.