Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics, says the pope

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Pope at Mass: Culture of encounter is the foundation of peace

(Vatican Radio) “Doing good” is a principle that unites all humanity, beyond the diversity of ideologies and religions, and creates the “culture of encounter” that is the foundation of peace: this is what Pope said at Mass this morning at the Domus Santae Martae, in the presence of employees of the Governorate of Vatican City. Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, concelebrated at the Mass.

Francis smilingWednesday’s Gospel speaks to us about the disciples who prevented a person from outside their group from doing good. “They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of ​​possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation”:

“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”

“Instead,” the Pope continued, “the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”:

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

“Doing good” the Pope explained, is not a matter of faith: “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because He has made us in His image and likeness. And He does good, always.”

This was the final prayer of Pope Francis:

“Today is [the feast of] Santa Rita, Patron Saint of impossible things – but this seems impossible: let us ask of her this grace, this grace that all, all, all people would do good and that we would encounter one another in this work, which is a work of creation, like the creation of the Father. A work of the family, because we are all children of God, all of us, all of us! And God loves us, all of us! May Santa Rita grant us this grace, which seems almost impossible. Amen.”

Complete Article HERE!

Church of Scotland votes to allow gay ministers

General assembly votes to allow congregations to admit gay ministers but only if they specifically elect to do so

By Severin Carrell
The Church of Scotland, the country’s largest Protestant church, has narrowly voted to admit gay and lesbian ministers after traditionalists agreed to compromise after four years of division.

Rev John ChalmersThe church’s ruling general assembly voted to allow congregations to admit gay ministers but only if they specifically elect to do so, in a radical departure from more than 450 years of orthodoxy set in train by the protestant reformer John Knox.

The vote is likely to lead to an end to a four-year controversy which has split the church after an openly gay minister, Scott Rennie, was selected to lead Queen’s Cross parish in Aberdeen in 2009.

The general assembly, equivalent to the Church of England’s synod, rejected a motion which would have made gay ordination – solely for ministers in civil partnerships or who are celibate – the default position of the Church of Scotland, by 340 votes to 282.

The new deal – which now has to be written into a new church law and authorised by next year’s general assembly – affirms the traditional teaching of the church as favouring heterosexual ministers, but will allow congregations to opt in to select gay ministers if they wish.

The church’s complicated law-making procedures could still mean the compromise measure – which was proposed in a late motion tabled on Monday by the previous moderator, Albert Bogle, may not be law until 2015.

John Chalmers, the Church of Scotland’s principal clerk, said the vote was historic: “This has been one way or another, a massive vote for the peace and unity of the church.” He said both sides of the debate had moved to agree a compromise.

The general assembly had voted for the “mixed economy”, he said, where congregations could decide to uphold traditional teachings to only employ heterosexual ministers but whether others could take on gay and lesbian ministers.

Critics of gay ordination had warned that scores of Church of Scotland ministers and congregations could leave in protest at proposals to make it church policy that all congregations had to accept gay ministers unless they opted out of doing so.

Six ministers and two congregations have already resigned, while senior figures in the far more orthodox Free Church of Scotland said that around 50 ministers have been in touch about defecting.

The Church of Scotland has been edging towards gay ordination ever since Rennie’s appointment: in 2011, the general assembly voted to allow gay ministers already in post to remain in place, so long as they were in openly-declared civil partnerships or celibate, and had been ordained before 2009.

The vote came after the general assembly heard from the Rev Elizabeth Spence, a lesbian minister from Ibrox in Glasgow.

“For me, there is nothing bigger than whether I’m accepted in this church or not, because I am a gay woman,” she said, adding: “It’s now time; it’s time to decide, so those of who are in this limbo can get under the wire.”

A minister based in England, the Rev Jim Sharp, also urged the assembly to support gay ordination, in the spirit of accepting the total equality of all people, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexuality.

“Let us be brave, let us bold,” he said. “Let us not put ourselves in the position where ten, 20 years from now, people say of us ‘how on earth can anyone think that lesbians and gays were second class citizens and not worthy to be treated as equals?'”

The Rt Rev Roy Patton, the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, warned the delegates there would be serious tensions within the global presbyterian church if the general assembly voted to admit gay ministers. That would be “hard to comprehend”, he said.

“It would lead a church away from the tradition of the church,” he said. “We do believe this is contrary to the message of god and will make it difficult for the church as a whole to reach out to the wider world.”

The Rev David Randall, another traditionalist, said the controversy had already divided the church: it had lost ministers, congregations and money as a result. There were other people in the church “hanging on by the fingernails”, hoping the move towards gay ordination would be blocked.

The proposals in the church’s theological commission report on ordaining gay ministers for a gay marriage liturgy was one of his “worst nightmares”, Randall said. “The basic issue is whether or not this church stands by the teaching of scripture or whether we think that we know better than god’s will,” he said. “This is no time for compromise.”

Complete Article HERE!

Cardinal Keith O’Brien still a danger, say abuse accusers

Complaints of Vatican whitewash as O’Brien leaves Scotland for penance in exile

by Catherine Deveney
The four men whose accusations of sexual misconduct led to the dramatic resignation of Britain’s leading Catholic cleric as archbishop have attacked a Vatican announcement last week that he will leave the country for a period of “prayer and penance”. The three priests and one ex-priest, whose complaints were first reported in the Observer in February, say Cardinal Keith O’Brien should have been sent for psychological treatment instead.

Cardinal Keith O'BrienOne of the priests warns: “Keith is extremely manipulative and needs help to be challenged out of his denial. If he does not receive treatment, I believe he is still a danger to himself and to others.”

The four men are demanding an investigation into O’Brien’s “predatory behaviour” and say that stripping him of his cardinal status should not be ruled out. Despite making statements to the papal nuncio three months ago, they have heard nothing about a formal investigation into the cardinal, who was a vociferous public opponent of homosexuality.

“Removing O’Brien from Scotland might temporarily reduce the embarrassment to the church authorities but this story has not been fully told yet,” says Lenny, the ex-priest complainant. “We have been patient but I’m still waiting to be told what, if any, process the church has in mind.”

“They’re all passing the buck on this,” agrees one of the priests. “It’s a smokescreen. We need an investigation and Keith needs to be challenged by professionals to acknowledge the damage he has done to people, himself and the church.”

The Vatican’s statement followed O’Brien’s recent return to Dunbar, in his old diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, where he was due to retire. Peter Kearney, director of communications for the Catholic church in Scotland, told the Observer that no one in Scotland had the authority to challenge O’Brien’s behaviour, his return to Scotland or his residence in church property. “We are part of the Roman Catholic church and the ultimate authority for the way the church functions in Scotland lies in Rome. The only person who is senior to the cardinal is the pope.”

“That,” says one complainant, “is farcical.” “I don’t care about red hats,” says another, “but if the red hat is shoring up his perceived power, it has to go.”

Although there is no official investigation by the Scottish church, behind the scenes Bishop Joseph Toal of Argyll and the Isles has been asked to talk informally to the complainants. “It’s been hard listening to what’s being said,” he admitted to the Observer. “But it’s important we hear what they’re saying and the gravity of the situation. If I can help in some way, I will.”

Calls for an investigation have been backed by Catholic theologian Professor Werner Jeanrond, master of St Benet’s Hall at Oxford University. “Instead of dealing with issues we are constantly presented with this half-baked solution of removing people. It is not a grown-up church handling this case. I am in favour of investigation on the personal level, so that he can own up to his concealment and own his own life again, but because he was in the clerical life it also has to be a formal investigation. We also have to have an investigation into why we are in this mess.”

O’Brien’s downfall reveals a bigger tragedy, argues Jeanrond. “As a church, we have failed to come to terms with homosexuality. Once and for all we have to face up to the fact that there are homosexuals, gays, lesbians and transsexuals.” Jeanrond has been shocked by the absence of an organised laity in Britain compared with other European countries. “As soon as something happens on the clerical side, the whole church is paralysed. That’s ridiculous. Is the whole of Jesus’s mission coming to an end because Keith O’Brien has sinned?”

The four complainants say an investigation is about justice, not vengeance. “I will give forgiveness if asked,” says one, “as long as the damage has been recognised. At times, we don’t do ourselves a lot of good by throwing pardon around like confetti without a change of heart. I am angry at the system that licked his boots and allowed him to get on with it.”

Complete Article HERE!

Church lecture on morality? What a joke (Opinion)

Veiled threats by the Catholic hierarchy to excommunicate politicians who support the proposed abortion legislation are clerical comedy at its blackest.

moralityAs administrators of a private club, governed by self-generated rules, bishops and cardinals are perfectly entitled to formulate their own membership policies (within the law, of course).

But the excommunication tactic involves a darkly hilarious proposition – that good standing with the Vatican is synonymous with morality.

Anyone convinced by this quaint notion should break the habit of a lifetime and open their eyes.

On any given Sunday, many of the country’s most twisted crooks can be found in churches of various kinds.

Sometimes, the worst offender is the degenerate priest on the altar; sometimes, it’s the corrupt TD in the front pew.

In the more salubrious parishes, it’s the gangster banker who likes to showcase his spiritual side by leading the prayers of the faithful.

This is not to say that believers are more prone to greed or deceit than anybody else but rather that the greedy and deceitful frequently disguise themselves by infiltrating the company of believers.

Hiding in plain sight is a well established law-evasion technique; in holy Catholic Ireland, the strategy has been refined to involve hiding within the sight of God.

Excommunication would be an excellent idea if church authorities started with the real reprobates and worked downwards – just like Jesus did when He decided to cleanse the temple.

Complete Article HERE!

Legion priest leaves priesthood to care for son


A prominent American priest of the Legion of Christ religious order has decided to leave the priesthood after admitting he fathered a child years ago.

The Legion said Saturday the Rev. Thomas Williams, a moral theologian, author, lecturer and television personality, had asked Pope Francis to be relieved of his celibacy and other priestly obligations. A friend, the Rev. John Connor, wrote in a Legion blog that Williams wanted to care for his son and the mother.

After Williams’ admission, the Legion’s then-superior acknowledged he had known for years about the child, yet allowed Williams to continue teaching and preaching morality. It was another blow to a congregation discredited by revelations that its founder was a pedophile who built a cult-like order which the Vatican is trying to reform.

Complete Article HERE!