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Former DNC Chairman: Hurricane Proves God is on Democrats' Side PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 31 August 2008 11:54
When I heard that Michael More had said it, I was startled but not overly surprised. More habitually gives the word "ideologue" a bad name.

When I discovered that the former National Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Don Fowler was filmed making the same comment in a joking manner while flying from Denver, the site of the DNC to Charlotte, I was appalled.

You see, apparently, the fact that Hurricane Gustav is going to hit the Gulf Coast on Labor Day shows that God is on the Democrat's side and is funny.

God arranged for a million panicked people to flee the Gulf Coast yesterday so that the Democratic Party could get a break. Who knew? And with any luck, things will go really badly and the death and grief and loss and homelessness of many thousands of people will open up the barely healed wounds inflicted by Katrina. And make the Republicans look bad.

And to top it off, this looming natural disaster is going to interfere with President Bush's speech to the Republican Convention. In fact, it is obviously going to significantly change the schedule and demeanor of the whole RNC.

Instead of giving a speech, the President will be doing the sort of things presidents do in times of natural disaster. And that interferes with prime time convention coverage which, apparently, in Don Fowler's estimate, is more important.

A word of advice, Mr. Fowler. From someone who grew among those people and on that coast that you find so laughable, was a hurricane refugee three times as a child, and whose family lost everything in a storm much bigger than Gustav.

I'd apologize now. Over and over. Loudly. Every chance you get.

Before Gustav makes landfall. And the rest of the nation is once more riveted to their televisions by endless scenes of destruction and tales from hundreds of thousands of refugees. You know, the scenes you found so giggle-inducing.

Because I can't imagine that your party's candidate for President will want to be associated with you or your sense of humor once this video gets around.


The Washington Post says that Fowler has "apologized."

On Sunday, Fowler told The Associated Press that he was making fun of comments made by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said the attacks were God's punishment for abortion, homosexuality and other sins.

"This is a point of national concern. I think everybody of good will has great empathy and sympathy for people in New Orleans," Fowler said. "Most religious people are praying for people in New Orleans. There is no political connotation to this whatsoever. This was just poking fun at Jerry Falwell and the nonsensical thing he had said several years ago."

Fowler said if anyone was offended, he apologized.

"I don't believe in a God that's vengeful. I believe in a God that's compassionate," he said.

Hmmm. That's what I call a lame apology. With overtones of "if you were dim enough to take what I said on this video literally and be offended, I apologize."

Was the video edited to hide the fact that the comment was in the context of poking fun at Falwell? It's possible, I suppose, but there certainly isn't a hint of such a reference in the video available to us. A stronger apology - some note of disbelief and horror at being so intentionally misquoted would have rung truer to me if the video had been so edited.
Timely Reconnections PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Sunday, 31 August 2008 04:13

I received an e-mail from an old friend of mine, Amanda Clark, who, with her husband, Tony, is spending four months in Beijing while Tony leads the University of Alabama Chinese Language and Culture Program. I met Tony and Amanda while he was finishing his doctorate in Chinese history, literature and religion at the University of Oregon. Tony may look like a mild-mannered professor, but he has black belts in multiple martial arts. Anyway, Tony co-authored a brief article on the differences between Buddhism and Catholicism here that is a timely follow-up to my post on Buddhist-Christian tensions in Korea.

He has also posted a recent article on Catholicism in China that you can read here. It's a great account of the state of the Church in the most numerous country on earth. Here's a snippet from his first report:
Despite the advances and relative freedom that Chinese Catholics enjoy today, as China basks in world attention during the Olympics, there remain uncomfortable signs of New China's rejection of religion under its official Communist structure. As I attempted to hail a cab to go to Mass at 5:30 a.m., drivers repeatedly told me that they did not know the address or place of the church, despite the fact that it is located in one of Beijing's most famous districts (Xuanwu), and just down the street from Tiananmen.

At last a rather eccentric taxi driver drove me to the church, being sure to tell me along the way, "Chinese people no longer believe in spirits." Most of the other drivers simply refuse to drive to a Christian church. In addition, when I sat down to write this report, all links from the Vatican's web page were blocked.

On one hand, I am quite free go to Mass along with the large crowds of other believers—that is, if I can find a cab. And I am free to mention and discuss the Pope with my fellow Catholics here in China—but I cannot access the Vatican website and Benedict XVI's official webpage. So there are still serious problems, yes, but during Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, those problems disappear for a while as the timeless mysteries of the faith are celebrated in the capital of China.
He'll have a few other articles written up at Ignatius Insight over the next few months. I'll try to keep an eye out for them and share them with you.
India and Evangelization PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Sunday, 31 August 2008 03:01
In my post titled, "Buddhist-Christian Conflict ", I mentioned briefly that the announcement of Korea's president Lee that "Buddhists should be converted to Christianity" (that's how my Korean friend described it), along with actions that have seemed to slight Buddhists at the expense of Christians, has made evangelization in this country a bit more difficult. In a thoughtful e-mail article from John Allen at National Catholic Reporter on the situation in India, a similar point is made:
It's also important that Catholic leaders avoid adding fuel to the fire, however inadvertently. When Pope John Paul II visited India in November 1999, the headline was his call for a "great harvest of faith" in Asia in the third millennium. While Catholicism obviously cannot renounce its missionary dimension, there's probably no place on earth where a respectful witness to Christ is more easily confused with aggressive proselytism. Bold references to evangelization, especially from a foreign leader, can come across as fighting words. After John Paul's statement, the World Hindu Council called upon Hindus to "unite to face the assault," and the pope's words are still cited as a pretext for anti-Christian activity. This doesn't mean Catholicism in India should "go soft" on the commandment to make disciples of all the nations -- recent growth of the church suggests it clearly hasn't -- but local realities imply discretion about how that commandment is articulated in public, especially by outsiders.
This is a reminder that evangelization is most likely to be successful when it is carried out by dedicated lay Catholics in the marketplace in the context of genuine friendships with non-Catholics. Evangelization must be founded in genuine love for another, rooted in constant prayer, and flow from the power of the Holy Spirit active in a Catholic in a living relationship with his or her Lord, Jesus.
Hello from Jeju Island PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Friday, 29 August 2008 17:33
I haven't had an opportunity to blog. I've been visiting Jeju Island, the "Hawai'i of Korea". Yunkyung and I are staying in a traditional Korean pension (motel), which features a Korean sauna. Very relaxing! I slept 9.5 hours after spending an evening in what amounts to a large oven for people. I was only medium rare. Here's a picture of one of the little rooms. Very quaint and reminiscent of Hobbiton.

Jeju is a self-governing island, meaning it has more autonomy from the central government than other provinces. This volcanic island is a definite tourist destination, with lots of beautiful natural scenery along with man-made attractions, like the museum we visited two days ago. I call it the "What do you do on an island with lots of rocks and interesting roots" museum. Lots of stacks of volcanic rocks, "grandfather" rock carvings known as dolharubang that would stand at the entrance to villages, and the remains of the roots of a particular kind of tree that were displayed with titles like "erupting rage" and "Swan Lake."

While visiting a small island south of Jeju, I also had an opportunity to sample the freshest sushi ever. I saw the fisherman catch the fish, and Yunkyung prepared it with a knife he borrowed from the fellow. Mashisayo (delicious!).
Buddhist-Christian Conflict in Korea PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Friday, 29 August 2008 17:20

There has been nothing in the Korean media about the violence in India, at least not that I’ve seen. It truly is awful and tragic what is happening there. But a kind of parallel situation is happening in Korea, although nonviolently. Two days ago, as I boarded a plane with my friend for Jeju Island, the largest of the Korean islands and a vacation destination for Japanese, Chinese and Korean tourists, I picked up a copy of the Korea Times, a national newspaper printed in English. The headline read, “Buddhists Urge Lee to Apologize,” and the article covered a protest march of 200,000 Buddhists led by thousands of Buddhist monks. They came to Seoul, the capital, to protest what they call president Lee Myung-bak’s administration’s discrimination against one of the country’s largest religions. The Buddhists represented the four branches of Buddhism that are popular in Korea, and demanded an official apology from the president to Buddhists, reprimands for public officials involved in religious discrimination, including National Police Agency Commissioner General Eo Cheon-soo; and legislation to ward of discrimination because of religion.

The Korean constitution protects the freedom of religion, but Lee, a Christian and an elder at a Seoul Protestant church, has been suspected of discriminating against non-Christians even when he was mayor of Seoul. His cabinet is filled with Christians, and he has called for the conversion of Buddhist adherents.

According to the Korea Times,
“The dispute erupted after police officers searched the car of Ven. Jigwan, the chief executive of the country’s largest Buddhist order, Jogye, in their search for anti-U.S. beef protest organizers taking shelter at a downtown temple. Following the incident, Buddhists cited dozens of examples of anti-Buddhist discrimination. For instance, a transportation data system provided by the government inJune omitted locations of Buddhist temples [M.F., but not Christian churches]. Maps of Cheonggye Stream, a body of water reopened while President Lee was mayor of Seoul, also excluded temples. Meanwhile, the Seoul City government decided to impose a fine on rally organizers as they staged the protest rally without permission.

A Jogye Temple Buddhist refuted the allegation, saying, ‘We sent an official note to the office on Aug. 17 to request approval.’ He added the city government has never restricted the holding of a religious event.”
Part of what caught my attention was the accusation that Lee’s actions were seen as impeding social unity. Korean culture is very homogenous, and it is a secular society, even though about 40% of Koreans are Buddhist and 26% Christian. The remainder are non-committed, like my friend, Cha. Ancient Buddhist temples are common tourist destinations, and their foundations date often to more than 1,000 years ago, when the Goryeo dynasty promoted it over Confucianism.

More protests are planned around the country if the President doesn’t apologize. It is very unlikely, however, to lead to violence. My friend’s response, I imagine, is similar to what many Buddhists and non-religious Koreans would make. “Why can’t President Lee allow Christians to exist in harmony with non-Christians?” Evangelization is a grassroots endeavor, as one’s personal faith, expressed in action and words, generates curiosity in people who trust us. The spreading of belief in Jesus is impeded by proclamations from on high – whether by Christian public officials or Church leaders – because they tend to make trusting an ordinary Christian more difficult.
Catholic Schools of India Close in Protest PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 29 August 2008 10:22
Per the BBC:

All Catholic schools and colleges in India - nearly 25,000 of them - will be closed today in protest of the continued violence against Christians in Orissa.

Hundreds of Christians have fled their homes.
"Nowhere in Israel Have I Found Faith Like This" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 29 August 2008 07:12
How far some people go to seek Christ. VIa CNA

"The Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly in Chissano (Mozambique) took into their home this week a 25 year-old African young girl named Olivia, who despite not being baptized at the time and not having any legs, crawled 2.5 miles every Sunday to attend Mass.

According to the AVAN news agency, the nuns said that one day, they saw “something moving on the ground far away,” and when they drew near they saw, “to our surprise, that it was a young woman.”

“We were able to talk to her through a lady who was walking by and who translated into Portuguese what she was saying to us” in her dialect, they said.

The sisters said that although “the sand from the road burned the palms of her hands during the hottest times of the year,” the young woman crawled to Mass, “giving witness of perseverance and heroic faith.”

The young woman received baptismal preparation from a catechist, who periodically visited her at home. After she was recently baptized, one of the benefactors of the sisters donated a wheel chair for Olivia.
Orissa Burning PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 29 August 2008 07:00
For up-to-the-minute and detailed information and prayer requests regarding the violence against Christians in Orissa state, India, visit Orissa Burning

"It's Hard Work.": Applying Catholic Social Teaching PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 28 August 2008 10:24
Susan Stabile writes to let our readers know about a forming-your-conscience-in-the-midst-of-an-election-year-goldmine.

The hot-off-the-press-and-now-online edition of the Journal of Catholic Legal Studies which includes the complete proceedings of the symposium: Catholic Teaching, Catholic Values, And Catholic Voters: Reflections On Forming Consciences For Faithful Citizenship.

I liked very much the title of one article that began "It's Hard Work."

Applying the Church's Social Teaching in real rIfe is just that: hard work!
The Church's Social Teaching is rich, complex, and nuanced and judging how to applying it in complex situations is hard work. Prudential judgement is hard work.

"Both steps—formation in the principles and discernment of the application of the principles in a given circumstance—are hard work. Both steps are made even harder when the media and Internet culture elevates sound bites over extended analysis and dramatic clashes over nuanced distinctions.

What might inspire Catholics to roll up their sleeves for the hard work of formation and discernment? Perhaps the conviction that this work of formation and discernment will help to sustain a vision in which they can, in the words of the bishops, “support one another as our community of faith defends human life and dignity wherever it is threatened.”104 For ultimately, through the hard work on a variety of issues, searching for political and social
remedies to the problems of abortion, war, poverty, and a host of other threats to human life and dignity, “[w]e are not factions, but one family of faith fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ.”105

Amazing Breakthrough in Regenerative Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 28 August 2008 08:21
Great news via the Washington Post

"Scientists have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a variety of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires associated with embryonic stem cell research.

Through a series of painstaking experiments involving mice, the Harvard biologists pinpointed three crucial molecular switches that, when flipped, completely convert a common cell in the pancreas into the more precious insulin-producing ones that diabetics need to survive.

The experiments, detailed online yesterday in the journal Nature, raise the prospect that patients suffering from not only diabetes but also heart disease, strokes and many other ailments could eventually have some of their cells reprogrammed to cure their afflictions without the need for drugs, transplants or other therapies."


"I see no moral problem in this basic technique," said Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a leading opponent of embryonic stems cell research. "This is a 'win-win' situation for medicine and ethics."

Thank God. This is the sort of huge step forward that expert lay apostles can produce, providing ways forward to heal in amazing way without destroying innocent lives to do so. And providing ways out of one of our political quagmires as well.

Here's what Yuval Levin, Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has to say:

"It is really an immensely significant step in regenerative medicine, not only because it doesn’t involve ethical concerns or embryos (or indeed stem cells at all) but because if it translates to humans it is work that can be done directly in the body of a living patient. It has created enormous excitement among cell scientists. And, as Mona points out, it also shows what some of us have long argued: that science guided by some basic ethical boundaries can find ways forward without violating human dignity or human life. This work certainly relies on past embryonic stem cell work, but it makes that work into a path for an ethical (and in this case even scientifically preferable) alternative—which was exactly the logic of President Bush’s stem cell funding policy, much as his critics hate to admit it.

In the long run, when the heat of the argument has subsided a bit, that should be the real lasting lesson of the stem cell debate: that science policy ought not be made in crisis mode where no limits can be contemplated, but rather with a sense that we are engaged in a human endeavor with important moral ends, which must take heed of some important moral bounds."

We need to be spreading the word to those who still think that embryonic stem cells are the future.
On The Third Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina: Who Made My Bootstraps? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 27 August 2008 14:05
For those of us who once lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and who lived through one or more hurricanes, the image of Gustav bearing down upon the same small bit of land that Katrina devestated three years ago this week is a bit much to bear.

I spent a good deal of my fundamentalist childhood living on Waveland's Beach Road two doors from St. Clare's Catholic Church.

Practically nothing remains of the world I knew. 95% of Waveland's buildings were leveled by Katrina. But St. Clare's is still there. The community that is. The sanctuary is gone.

Somehow, growing up in this small town in completely non-artsy, fundamentalist family, I had glimpsed John Constable's famous painting of Salisbury Cathedral through the trees and to my child's eyes, it seemed identical to the view of St. Clare's much humbler steeple through the oak trees in our back yard.

(What can I say? I'm been a historical romantic since birth. At age 5, I decided that the big stone steps on the Queen Ann HIll lookout in Seattle near my home was built by ancient Egyptians cause I'd seen pictures of the pyramids.)

So I very much enjoyed this photo from the St Clare's Recovery website. (I remember running barefoot past that little brick shrine to Our Lady as a kid.)

Three years ago as we watched - with growing dread - the news coming out of New Orleans, I wrote this post about the experience of being wiped out in a major hurricane. I was responding to staggering numbers of people who were commenting that those trapped in the city more or less got what they deserved. Amy Welborn kindly culled it from a 100+ comment discussion and posted it under the title "But Who Made My Bootstraps?"

I've never posted it here but thought I would do so for this third anniversary of Katrina.

Since I seem to be the only commenter here who has experienced losing everything in a major hurricane, let me explain the realities to the radical individualists in our midst.

First of all – my family had resources. My father was a rocket scientist (worked at NASA in NO) and we lived in a millionaire’s summer home on the beach in Waveland, complete with 6 bedroom main house, separate kennel and servant’s quarters, paved badminton court, a three bedroom cottage in back, our own pier and 90 feet of our own beach. My siblings and I attended a private school.

Now, admittedly, this kind of lifestyle was only possible because we were living in small town Mississippi but by Waveland standards, we were upper class. And my father worked for a large, wealthy company (Boeing) and had other local friends with resources. Remember, this is what its like for the relatively wealthy to lose everything . . .

When you’re a family of six in a single car, you can’t bring much with you but the basics. Our dog and cat were left behind to fend for themselves because there were no resources to care for them as refugees. (We never saw them again). You don’t know how bad it will be or how long you’ll be gone, so its very hard to determine what is essential and what isn’t.

Within the first 24 hours of refugeehood, we were already beholden to the State of Mississippi who had graciously opened the dorm rooms of Southern Mississippi State College in Hattisburgh to refugees. It was there that we actually experienced the hurricane passing over head, forcing several inches of rain into our dorm room through closed windows and doors. I watched tornadoes being spawned through the window while 125 mile an hour winds howled about us. Thank you, State of Mississippi!

When, a couple days later, we returned to survey the wreckage, Our house was standing to a certain extent (the shell of the back was still standing) although it was unsalvageable, but we were able to get into the back door and rip the upper kitchen cabinets off the wall. (I used them all the way through school as dressers) and salvage some things from my bedroom upstairs which was the only room that survived intact. (so I have my great grand-father’s railroad watch). While walking over the debris, a rusty nail pierced my shoe and my foot. Fortunately, a temporary government –sponsored emergency clinic had been set up nearby and had a triple threat tetnus – thyphoid shot available, so that I didn’t get lockjaw. Thank you, Hancock County!)

Since there was no point in staying in Waveland (we never lived there again), we crammed whatever we could salvage in the over-stuffed car and drove to New Orleans where a kind co-worker of my father’s put us up for 4 days while we tried to figure out our alternatives. (Thanks, kind lady whose name I never knew, for your gracious hospitality!). The Boeing employees had put together a wonderful help center for refugees where we could try and supplement our miniscule wardrobes. My brother, who was 14 and nearly full-grown found a pair of size 14 sneakers to supplement the only other pair of shoes he owned. (Thanks generous Boeing people!)

Within a week, my father had been able to rent a house in Slidell, LA (which has been mostly destroyed by Katrina) where we sent up house with, well, nothing. We all slept on army cots for at least 6 months until my grand-parents bought us beds. I did my homework on a card table. We had no living room furniture at all so we watched TV sitting on the floor which was just fine with us. We knew we were the lucky ones. Thanks, grandma and grandpa!

The Red Cross (God bless em) provided my parents with a trailer on our property in Waveland and so, when our house was bull-dozed, my grandparents moved down from Oregon and spent 6 months in the trailer, working on repairing the three bedroom cottage which had survived after a fashion. Every weekend for 6 months, we kids were driven out to Waveland to help with the work. I remember the thrill of finding a pile of 1920’s cotton gin receipts in a mudpile beside a neighbor’s home. (Her house was full of historical treasures from before the Civil War). Thanks Red Cross!

Our big break came when the insurance company decided that our home had been blown down before it was washed away (because we were right on the beach and there had been 212 mph winds) so my parents could pay off the old mortgage and the US government made my parents a interest-free loan that enabled us to eventually buy a house in the Seattle area upon which I became a damn Yankee again. It had taken one whole year to start over and at each critical turning point, we had been helped by someone else - three times in a critical way by some government agency. (Thanks US government!)

We seem to owe our new life to the good graces of 1) The State of Mississippi; 2) Hancock county; 3) the Boeing company and its employees; The Red Cross; 4) my grand-parents; 5) my parent’s insurance company; 6) the US government.

And we were well-heeled, well-educated, healthy, thrifty, work ethic Puritan types with an intact and moneyed family network who scorned welfare and wanted to stand on our own. Imagine if my mother had been single parent or my father on disability? What if our parents had died in the storm or of shock and stress after the storm as a number of adults did and we were left orphans? What if my grandparents had not been so generous and hard-working and had the resources to move across country? What if my father’s job had been wiped out by the disaster? What if no vaccination had been available and I’d contracted lock-jaw? What if millions of people hadn’t given to the Red Cross on our behalf? On and one it goes.

No one keeps their own boat afloat in life, folks – especially when faced with a tragedy like this. And the fewer personal resources you had at that moment of tragedy (which no one of us had instigated) the more we need one another.

Persecution in India PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 27 August 2008 12:41
From Asia News and via Gashwin Gomes, who as a newly minted seminarian can not longer blog, comes this horrific story of atrocities against Christians in Orissa, India this past week.

AsiaNews is attempting an initial tally of the wave of violence that has shaken Orissa since the evening of August 23, between 9 and 10 o'clock, with the killing of Hindu fundamentalist leader Swami Laxanananda Saraswati and five of his followers. The information has been obtained from: the justice and peace commission of the diocese of Kuttack-Bhubaneswar, the All India Christian Council, and the Global Council of Indian Christians (Protestant).

On the evening of Saturday, August 23, shortly after news came of the Hindu leader's death, the first attack took place: two sisters of the congregation of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ in Kothaguda were stopped by a group of assailants, who made them get out of their vehicle and then set fire to it. The driver was savagely beaten: almost at the same time, another vehicle in which religious sisters were traveling, near Ainthapally in Sambalpur, was stopped and set on fire.

On the morning of Sunday, August 24, attacks began on various churches, which were sparsely attended because of the fear of attacks. This was the prelude to the escalation of violence that took place throughout the entire day: at around 5:30 in the afternoon, the Jan Vikas social center of the archdiocese of Cuttack Bhubaneswar was attacked; the crowd burned cars, motorbikes, and all of the documents.

At 6 in the evening, the crowd burned the pastoral center in Divya, and then attacked the priests' residence in Baliguda, in the heart of the district of Kandhamal, previously the theater of violence from December 24-26 in 2007. The assailants damaged both the convent and the adjacent welcome center. Similar attacks took place at about 6:30 that same evening, at the Catholic church in Kanjamedi, after which three other churches in the area were attacked. That night, 12 shops belonging to Christian Dalits were burned. A young sister from the diocese of Cuttack Bhubaneswar, doing social work in Nuagaon, in Kandhamal, was sexually assaulted: the Hindu fundamentalists then completely burned down the building.

Monday, August 25: at 7 in the morning, some of the followers of the radical Hindu leader Laxanananda Saraswati caused serious damage to the Catholic church in Phulbani. Also on the morning of August 25, the bishop's residence and curia in Bhubaneswar were attacked. Only the presence of police was able to drive away the attackers, but not before they threw stones and other objects at the building, breaking many of the windows.

At about 1 p.m., Jamai Pariccha, the director of the Catholic social assistance agency Gramya Pragati, was attacked. His wife, who is Hindu, asked for mercy for her husband, but the crowd would not listen: the fundamentalists continued to beat him, shouting "He is a Christian, and we will kill him!' The man was taken to a hospital, which has not been named for security reasons. His property, including his car, was destroyed. A similar episode took place one hour later, at about 2 in the afternoon, at the home of Puren Nayak, a Catholic teacher in Bhudansahi. The home was set on fire. It is said that Hindu women told the men which were the homes of the Christians, and offered them kerosene for burning them.

In the afternoon, 21-year-old lay missionary Rafani Majhi was killed, burned alive while she was trying to save the orphans at a mission in Bargarh. Another man was burned alive in Kandhamal. A priest was also seriously wounded in the attack on the orphanage, and has been hospitalized with wounds all over his body.

Fr Thomas Challan, director of the diocesan pastoral center in Kanjimendi - less than a kilometer from the place where the sister who was raped worked - and a religious, Sister Meena, were seriously injured during an attack on the pastoral center, which was destroyed by fire. Both of the injured were taken to the police station, while officers tried to stop their heavy bleeding.

On the evening of the 25th, the parish of Sankrakhol was also attacked and burned. The pastor, Fr Alexandar Chandi, was able to escape to the nearby forest before the fundamentalists captured him. Fr Bernard Digal, who was visiting his friend Fr Chandi, fled from the enraged crowd. His jeep was destroyed. Today, Fr Bernard Digal was brutually assaulted, he is in a critical condition in hospital.

At around 11:30 p.m., 17 Christian homes were sacked in Raikia, and all of their meager furnishings were destroyed. The convent of Saint Joseph was also attacked, and the sisters were able to save themselves only by hiding in the forest. Throughout the day on August 25, a number of attacks took place on churches in various areas of the district, including: the Pentecostal church in Budamaha, the church in Masadkia, the church in Pisermaha, the Baptist church and Redemptorist church in Mondakia, and the church in Mdahupanga.

A handful of police officers were sent to guard the church in Jeypore, under threat of imminent attack: according to sources in the security forces, more than 200 fundamentalists were ready to attack it, while the pastor and one of his fellow priests abandoned the building, finding refuge at the home of some friends.

In the district of Bargarh, a crowd made up of 2,000 fanatics attacked and destroyed many churches, targeting priests and sisters. In Padampur, Fr Edward Sequira was brutally beaten: he is alive at the moment, but in critical condition because of his many injuries, and he has not yet regained consciousness.

And there is much more. Read it all.

We must urgently pray for these brothers and sisters undergoing such violence and brutality.
Reducing Abortion in America PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 27 August 2008 12:11
The Catholic Alliance for the Common Good released this study today on Reducing Abortion in America:
The Effect of Economic and Social Supports

Alas, I don't have time to crunch the numbers right now but here are a couple of pertinent quotes.

Economic support for working families and pregnant women does not increase fertility.

Our analysis indicates that public policies that increase economic support for families and pregnant women do not increase the fertility rate. This suggests that pro-family policies reduce abortions, but do not increase the pregnancy rate. There is little evidence, therefore, to suggest that these policies provide a reward incentive for additional children. More generous economic bene?ts that support families, while reducing abortions, have no effect on the fertility rate. However, the family cap on government assistance, which was intended to reduce “welfare dependency,” increases both abortion and fertility rates. Rather than reducing pregnancy rates, the family cap may have had the opposite effect.

And this:

"The starting point for this study is the observation that the number of abortions in the United States decreased dramatically during the 1990s, as shown in Figure 1.2 According to data from the Allan Guttmacher Institute, abortions fell by 18% from 1990-2000, while the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates show a 21% reduction. In either case, this represents over 300,000 fewer abortions in 2000 compared with 1990."

Think. 300,000 American 8 year olds alive today because they were not aborted in 2000.

Clearly a report worth reading in depth in this election year.
DNC Through the Eyes of Christianity Today PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 26 August 2008 20:05
Christianity Today has a really interesting politics blog through where they are doing gavel to gavel coverage of the
Democratic Convention.

Their reporters did an interview with Bob Casey, Jr. before he spoke tonight. In that interview, the memory of 1992 when his father was denied the floor because of his pro-life views, was central. But when Casey, Jr. spoke, he simply mentioned the he and Obama disagreed on the topic of abortion.

"Traveling around Pennsylvania, and looking around this room, I have no doubt that is exactly what we're going to do. So now let us work together, with a leader who, as Lincoln said, appeals to the better angels of our nature. Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion. But the fact that I'm speaking here tonight is testament to Barack's ability to show respect for the views of people who may disagree with him."

They also interviewed Chaput last night:

“I think [the Democrats] committed themselves without any doubt to choice on the matter of abortion, and I don’t think that’s a start.

I think caring for women who want to have their children is essential. That’s a given. That isn’t a step in the right direction, that’s where we should all be standing from the beginning.

I stand with that with great enthusiasm, but it doesn’t distract me from the fact that platform still allows for abortion and the destruction of unborn human life.

“Bishop Charles Blake did a marvelous service for all of us, and especially to the Democratic Party. He reminded us in the midst in social justice, one of the most important social issues is the protection of human life.”

And they covered the pro-life rally that Martin Luther King's niece and Chaput both spoke at Monday evening.

"More than 2,000 people marched around a new Planned Parenthood Clinic in Denver tonight instead of following the Democratic National Convention.

Alveda King, a niece of the late Martin Luther King Jr., and Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput spoke to the crowd before they lit candles and circled the gated clinic.

Alveda King’s mother conceived her daughter when she was a freshman in college. She had wanted to get an abortion, but Martin Luther King Sr. told her mother she could not abort her baby.

“This little baby human girl was allowed to live,” she said to the cheering crowd.
King later aborted two of her children.

“People say, ‘Aren’t you embarrassed and ashamed to stand up and say you had abortions?” King said. “I’d be more embarrassed if I didn’t tell you, because it is wrong, and without the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, I would not have been forgiven. Jesus Christ said, ‘Go and sin no more.’”

She then praised Bishop Charles Blake’s pro-life message at the interfaith gathering yesterday.

“He delivered some very startling and surprising words. They expected the rhetoric that always proceeds. But he began to tell the audience, ‘I am a pro-life Democrat.’ We want to commend those men and women and say that life is a civil right, life is precious, and that it transcends politics.”

King wrote a guest column last week for the Denver Post, calling abortion an "industry of racism. She does not plan to vote for Sen. Barack Obama unless he changes his stance on abortion.

"People in every party should say, ‘We’re for life,’" she told Christianity Today. "They should not be held captive by politics in the battle and the struggle."

And there was also this description of the Interfaith Caucus gathering on the common good chaired by Jim Wallis of Sojourners.

It began:

"Jim Wallis launched the Democratic National Convention faith caucuses this afternoon by listing the issues he believes is on the agenda of people of faith: poverty, climate change, immigration, the sanctity of life, Darfur, human rights, and Iraq."

but ended:

"Tim Roemer, former congressman from Indiana who sits Sen. Barack Obama’s Catholic advisory council praised the Democratic platform on abortion and John Hunter spoke on prisoner re-entry into the population."

Prominent youngish, emergent evangelicals have been invited to give various benedictions at the DNC and are clearly ambivalent. Cameron Strang pulled out at the last moment. Don Miller did give a benediction but posted this explanation on his website beforehand:

"I’m honored to deliver the closing prayer at the DNC. Evangelical voices have been scarce within this party, perhaps since the Carter administration. But as strides are being made on key issues of sanctity of life and social justice, as well as peaceful solutions to world conflicts, more and more evangelicals are taking a closer look at options the Democratic Party are beginning to deliver. There is a long way to go, but sending a message to Washington that no single party has the Christian community in their pocket, thus causing each party to carefully consider the issues most important to us, is, in my opinion, a positive evolution. I am glad that, for the most part, the dialogue has been constructive and positive. Will you join me in keeping the conversation thoughtful and not reactionary?"

And this interview with Obama's "Evangelical Outreach Coordinator', Shaun Casey:

What do you think about the Democratic platform on abortion?

"It’s something that evangelicals ought to take quite seriously that the Democratic Party has made a commitment to reducing the number of abortions without reverting to criminalization. Based on my conversations with evangelicals, I think that resonates, I think a lot of evangelicals find that attractive, they find that helpful and hopeful, and it’s a reflection of who Sen. Obama is.It's a good source for another kind of Christian take on the convention.
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