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Newt Gingrich Converts to Catholicism



Oldest Church in Israel Discovered



Randall Terry Operation Rescue Converts to Catholicism



Latino transformation: A third of Catholics in USA and will increase for decades.


Growing Births to U.S. Unwed Mothers:catholic Concerns



Debate over Celibacy in the Catholic Church



Cardinal George says Obama on 'wrong side of history'



Future Church: Ideas to make Catholic Church Better



Vatican-Israeli commission reports






Oldest Church in Israel Discovered

According to an article from Reuters news service, last November Israeli archaeologists have discovered what they believe is "the oldest Christian church" in Israel. The location was found while doing excavation to expand a prison. The remains of the structure is tentatively dated at around A.D. 250 to A.D. 320 (mid-third to early fourth century).

The church "was built in the style of a hall, and its mosaic floor contains geometric designs and an image of a fish." But more importantly for Christian theology, the floor also has "inscriptions in ancient Greek containing a reference to ‘the God Jesus Christ’ " (emphasis added).

This stands as one more proof that the belief in the deity of Jesus Christ is traceable to the earliest known Christian communities.






Randall Terry Operation Rescue Converts to Catholicism

The online edition of World magazine reports for the "June 17" edition (even though today is actually June 9) that Randall Terry, founder of the well-known Operation Rescue has "left his evangelical moorings and quietly joined the Roman Catholic Church."

The news article (scroll halfway down the page) reminds us that that Terry, now 46, started Operation Rescue in 1987, nearly 20 years ago, was arrested over 40 times, and driven into bankruptcy in 1998 following multiple lawsuits filed by the abortion industry.

He divorced his wife in 2000, joined the Charismatic Episcopal Church, remarried, and now has 9 children (3 by wife #1, 3 by wife #2, 2 by adoption, and a foster child). The article says "He is seeking an annulment of his first marriage in order to receive Catholic communion."

A lengthy article in the June 9 issue of the National Catholic Register gives far more information about Terry's history, struggles, and personal life. Terry "entered the Catholic Church on Holy Thursday" (April 13) and spoke with NCR interviewer Tim Drake from Terry's new home in St. Augustine, Florida. Drake describes Terry's legal battles and the "string of 27 lawsuits by organizations such as the National Organization for Women, the ACLS and Planned Parenthood" which caused Terry to lose his home in 1998.

Terry reflected, "If I had to do it all over again, I would. The lives of these children were worth the loss. It's the cost of war." Terry's home was obtained through the fundraising efforts of Alan Keyes, who asked donors to "restore what the enemy took" by contributing towards a new home for the Terry family.

The article is worth reading for anyone shaped by Operation Rescue, as is this separate interview, where we see a different look at Randall's somewhat meandering and stumbling trek that led him into Catholicism.






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Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion


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Changing Faiths:

Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion

Apr 26, 2007

Hispanics are transforming the nation's religious landscape, especially the Catholic Church, not only because of their growing numbers, but also because they are practicing a distinctive form of Christianity.

Religious expressions associated with the pentecostal and charismatic movements are a key attribute of worship for Hispanics in all the major religious traditions -- far more so than among non-Latinos. Moreover, the growth of the Hispanic population is leading to the emergence of Latino-oriented churches across the country.

To explore the complex nature of religion among Latinos, the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life collaborated on a series of public opinion surveys that totaled more than 4,600 interviews, constituting one of the largest data collection efforts conducted on this subject.

The study examines religious beliefs and behaviors and their association with political thinking among Latinos of all faiths. It focuses special attention on Catholics, both those who retain their identification with the church and those who convert to evangelical churches.

About a third of all Catholics in the United States are now Latinos!

The study projects that the Latino share will continue climbing for decades. This demographic reality, combined with the distinctive characteristics of Latino Catholicism, ensures that Latinos will bring about important changes in the nation's largest religious institution.

Most significantly given their numbers, more than half of Hispanic Catholics identify themselves as charismatics, compared with only an eighth of non-Hispanic Catholics.

While remaining committed to the church and its traditional teachings, many of these Latino Catholics say they have witnessed or experienced occurrences typical of spirit-filled or renewalist movements, including divine healing and direct revelations from God.

Even many Latino Catholics who do not identify themselves as renewalists appear deeply influenced by spirit-filled forms of Christianity.

Similarly, the renewalist movement is a powerful presence among Latino Protestants. More than half of Hispanics in this category identify with spirit-filled religion, compared with about a fifth of non-Hispanic Protestants.

Source: NewtonStein News Network at Ministers-Best-Friend.com






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Growing Births to U.S. Unwed Mothers:catholic Concerns


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Growing birth numbers to U.S. unwed mothers raises concerns

By Carol ZimmermannCatholic News ServiceSaturday, April 04, 2009WASHINGTON (CNS)—A recent federal report showing a rise in U.S. births in 2007 also revealed another statistic: 40 percent of the births were to unwed mothers.

That statistic did not go unnoticed, especially by Catholic leaders who stress that the church's teaching exphasizes the important link between marriage and parenthood.

According to the report, issued in late March by the National Center for Health Statistics, 4.3 million babies were born in 2007—more than in any other single year in U.S. history. The number of births to unwed mothers reached its highest level at more than 1.7 million. Although 25 percent of these births were to teen mothers, the rest were to women in their 20s through their 40s.

The data reflect an overall trend and something society has come to accept more than it did in previous generations, said S. Philip Morgan, a sociology professor and fertility researcher at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Morgan told Catholic News Service April 1 that the rise in the number of unwed mothers has occurred for several reasons. For starters, he said the "shotgun wedding solution to a premarital pregnancy" is no longer seen as necessary or something that leads to a lasting marriage.

He also said the debate about abortion has "changed the social stigma" of having a child out of wedlock. "Young pregnant women can carry their babies with pride in a way they couldn't in the '50s and '60s," he said. Morgan said the pro-life movement in particular has emphasized that it "shows strength, courage and valor to have a baby."

Another factor is that "women have dramatically postponed" marriage until later in life or have ruled it out altogether, he said.

In the face of these trends, the Catholic Church offers a countermessage, urging people to see and value the link between marriage and parenthood.

John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, said the church stresses this connection based on natural law and Scripture. But in recent years, he said, this view also has been supported by studies from social scientists demonstrating that "children are much happier and much better cared for in a stable marriage."

But clearly not everyone is buying the message, in part because it gets "a lot of competition from today's culture," Grabowski said.

He told CNS that the Church's teachings on marriage are prevalent in the writings of Pope John Paul II and can be found in parts of the U.S. bishops' National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage with its public service announcements and Web site with suggestions to strengthen marriages: www.foryourmarriage.org.

Mary Jo Pedersen, former family ministries specialist at the Family Life Office in the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb., said the bishops' marriage initiative and diocesan family life programs are key ways the church is stressing the value of married life.

Pedersen, who retired last year after 25 years in family ministries, said the church walks a fine line pastorally when it highlights the role of married couples in shaping children while also addressing the many contributions of single parents.

The bishops similarly addressed this issue in their 1991 pastoral, "Putting Children and Families First: A Challenge for Our Church, Nation and World."

"We support and applaud the often heroic efforts of single-parent families," they wrote in the statement, adding: "We also emphasize the value of parents staying together and sacrificing to raise children. Children generally do best when they have the love and support—personal and material—of both their parents."

Pederson, who wrote the 2008 book For Better, For Worse, For God: Exploring the Holy Mystery of Marriage, is convinced that married couples teach children about God just by their daily example of loving each other and showing forgiveness and commitment.

"Without doing anything extra," she said, "parents' lived example teaches children of God's faithful love...which is why the church says marriage is the best way to form children in the image and likeness of God."

Pedersen said Catholics need to gain a deeper awareness of both the responsibility and blessings of marriage. She said she hopes that message will be emphasized more in high school religion and religious education curricula so youths would better understand what married life is meant to be.

On the other end of the spectrum, young people also could use discussion early and often about the reality of teenage pregnancy, according to Alice Wyatt, director for Arts of Living Institute, a program for teen parents sponsored by Catholic Charities in Chicago.

"Early focus on children and families is the best prevention," she told CNS.

Although some Catholic Charities programs place a strong emphasis on teaching abstinence, Wyatt's focus is on helping young unwed mothers finish high school and set long-term goals.

"At first," she said, "many of them think that nothing in their lives will change, but most of them get it" right away that everything in fact does change once they have a baby.

Wyatt said these teens "have a lot on their plates," from juggling school and work schedules, getting their babies to and from day care, often by public transportation, and caring for their babies in the mornings and evenings.

She is concerned about the increase in the number of teen births and said the girls are under tremendous pressure in today's society where "sexual messages are out there in music, ads—everywhere."



Source: NewtonStein News Network at Ministers-Best-Friend.com






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Debate over Celibacy in the Catholic Church


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Though the debate over celibacy in the Catholic Church has been ongoing, two recent efforts have thrust the discussion front and center.

An organization known as Celibacy Is the Issue Ministries (CITI) is making a renewed effort to prove that married priests can administer the sacrament under Canon Law #843, which states that “both pastors of souls and all other members of Christ’s faithful have a duty to ensure that those who ask for the sacraments are prepared for their reception.”

It’s a practical look at marriage and the priesthood that may convince the Church to reconsider its stance on celibacy—a stance discussed in harrowing detail by a priest whose own battles with celibacy cost him dearly.

Father Ameen (not his real name), an Eastern Rite Catholic priest and author of Confessions of a Passionate Priest, believes that fewer parishes would struggle to find priests if the Church were more pragmatic on the issue of celibacy.

“I had an affair with a married woman,” says Father Ameen. “The reality of human nature is that we need intimacy. The Church is failing to address that. ”

In his book, Father Ameen discusses his own punishment at the hands of his bishop after his affair went public. He says he believes that allowing married priests to remain as operating clerics would help to avoid situations like his, which got worse recently when his bishop found out that he had written a book about it. Father Ameen was barred from returning to his parish.

“The Church often looks the other way when priests are having intimate relationships,” says Father Ameen. “They understand, as well as I and CITI do, that marriage does not distract from priestly duties.”

Recent statistics may force the Church to admit as much:

-More than 25,000 priests have married in the United States since the 1970s.-At present, more than 5,300 parishes are without priests.-In the last thirty years, seminary enrollment has dropped from 45,000 to just 3,500.

“I love the Church, but it does have some rules that serve no one,” says Father Ameen. “I’m proof, as are all married Eastern Rite priests, that one can live in the secular world and still serve God.”

Father Ameen remains dedicated to the priesthood despite his contradiction of specific Church rules. He currently lives in an undisclosed location in the United States, preferring to remain anonymous to avoid recrimination.

(Confessions of a Passionate Priest by Father Ameen; ISBN: 0-9816892-0-5; $14.95; 224 pages; 5½” x 8½”; softcover; East Mountain Books)

Source: NewtonStein News Network at Ministers-Best-Friend.com






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Cardinal George says Obama on 'wrong side of history'


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Cardinal George says Obama on 'wrong side of history'

By Peter Finney Jr.Catholic News Service

KENNER, La. (CNS) -- President Barack Obama is a "very gracious and obviously a very smart man" but he is on the "wrong side of history" when it comes to his fervent support of abortion rights, Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George told the 2009 Louisiana Priests Convention April 21.

Cardinal George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told 200 priests from the seven dioceses of Louisiana that, while he wants Obama to succeed in his efforts to right the economy, enhance world peace and help the poor, the president needs to understand that the Catholic Church will not allow the life issue to be abandoned.

In a question-and-answer session that followed his keynote speech to priests on offering compassionate ministry to people who are hurting, Cardinal George offered a candid assessment of his 30-minute meeting with the president at the White House March 18.

"I think on the life issue he's on the wrong side of history," the cardinal said. "I think he has his political debts to pay, and so he's paying them."

Cardinal George said his conversation with the president was polite but substantive.

"It's hard to disagree with him because he'll always tell you he agrees with you," he said. "Maybe that's political. I think he sincerely wants to agree with you. You have to say, again and again, 'No, Mr. President, we don't agree (on abortion).' But we can agree on a lot, and we do, and that's why there is so much hope. I think we have to pray for him every day."

Cardinal George said he told the president he was concerned about his decision to rescind the Mexico City policy, which resulted in providing taxpayer money to fund abortion overseas.

"He said we weren't exporting abortion," the cardinal said. "I said, 'Yes we are.' He would say, 'I know I have to do certain things here. ... But be patient and you'll see the pattern will change.' I said, 'Mr. President, you've given us nothing but the wrong signals on this issue.' So, we'll see, but I'm not as hopeful now as I was when he was first elected."

The church and the president find common ground on supporting social programs that lift up the poor, but Cardinal George said on the issue of abortion, "I think we're up against something a little bit like slavery."

"These are members of the human family, genetically individuated, (with) a human father and a human mother," he said. "What their legal status is, of course, you can debate, and we have. ... John Paul II says you cannot simply live comfortably with an immoral legal system, any more than you could live comfortably with slavery, and therefore you have to work to change the law.

"It's a society-dividing issue, and on this issue, we're with Abraham Lincoln and he's with Stephen Douglas, and he doesn't like to hear that, but that's where he is."

The cardinal was referring to the seven debates held in 1858 between Lincoln and his opponent for an Illinois seat in the U.S. Senate. Slavery was the main issue discussed in all of the debates.

If even the incremental restrictions on abortion -- such as the ban on partial-birth abortion or parental notification laws -- are rolled back, Cardinal George said pro-life advocates could feel desperate because they fear "abortion will be a human right, and of course, if it's a human right, it can't be qualified."

Cardinal George said Pope John Paul II, with the help of Muslim and Latin American countries, successfully fought the Clinton administration's efforts to declare abortion a fundamental "human right" at the 1994 U.N. population conference in Cairo, Egypt.

"Whether or not the present pope will be able to do this a generation later, I don't know, because we're going to be faced with it again," the cardinal said. "But you can't go on indefinitely. For 80 years we were a slave republic, and it took a terrible war to end that. And now for 40 years we're in an abortion regime, and I'm not sure how that's going to end."

END



Source: NewtonStein News Network at Ministers-Best-Friend.com






 Christ Crucifix Gerokreuz

Future Church: Catholic Reformation


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About us

FutureChurch was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1990. The Church of the Resurrection in Solon, Ohio passed a resolution calling on U.S. Bishops to reconsider opening ordination to women and the married, both men, and women, so that the Eucharist would continue to be the center of the spiritual lives of all Catholics. Subsequently, 28 parishes in Northeast Ohio supported this initiative and the local FutureChurch network was born. In response to a national call to recognize that the Eucharist is more important to Catholic identity than celibacy or the gender of the presider, FutureChurch incorporated in 1993 and grew into a national network of parish based activists.

FutureChurch is concerned about the related issues of women in ministry, optional celibacy, inclusive language, and Church decision-making that involves all the faithful, as called for by Vatican II.

Mission Statement

FutureChurch is a national coalition of parish-centered Catholics who seek the full participation of all baptized Catholics in the life of the Church.

FutureChurch, inspired by Vatican II, recognizes that Eucharistic Celebration (the Mass) is the core of Roman Catholic worship and sacramental life. We advocate that this celebration be available universally and at least weekly to all baptized Catholics.

FutureChurch respects the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church and its current position on ordination and advocates widespread discussion of the need to open ordination to all baptized Catholics who are called to priestly ministry by God and the people of God.

FutureChurch seeks to participate in formulating and expressing the Sensus Fidelium (the Spirit inspired beliefs of the faithful) through open, prayerful and enlightened dialogue with other Catholics locally and globally.

Revised June 12, 2003

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you Catholic?A resounding "yes." FutureChurch consists overwhelmingly of Catholics in good standing. Our members include lay people as well as priests and nuns. We respect the Catholic tradition and are working respectfully to effect change in the Church because we love it and want to make it better.

Are you affiliated with a certain parish?No. However, FutureChurch considers itself parish-based because the resolutions which founded it came from individual parishes and because so many of our members consider the parish their primary place of worship. Also, many of our FC projects are implemented by parishes or parish groups. (See our mission statement).

FutureChurch advocates for opening ordination to all the baptized. Didn'tJesus ordain only men?In fact, Jesus did not ordain anyone. Ordination was a practice that started to occur decades later in church history. Jesus had both male and female disciples (see "Jesus and Women" link).

What is the priest shortage all about?In short, there are too few priests to minister to the growing number of Catholics around the world, and to accommodate growing pastoral needs (what is provided by parishes today is much more than in past generations). As a result, some parishes have had to drastically reduce the number of times Mass or the other sacraments can be offered. Eventually, all Catholics will be affected by this.






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Vatican-Israeli commission reports


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By John Thavis, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican and Israel have reported significant progress in negotiations on an economic agreement on church fiscal and property issues.

At the same time, sources ruled out the possibility that an agreement could be reached before Pope Benedict XVI makes his Holy Land pilgrimage in mid-May.

The Vatican and Israeli members of a bilateral working commission met April 23 in Jerusalem and reported in a joint communique that "meaningful progress was achieved after receiving a report from a working group."

The commission scheduled another meeting at the plenary level on April 30 and reaffirmed its "joint commitment to conclude the agreement as soon as possible."

Vatican sources said that although there was room for optimism in the talks, there was technically no way to finalize an accord before the pope makes his May 8-15 pilgrimage to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The announcement of the papal visit late last year put "wind in the sails" of the negotiations, said one source, but the issues have proven too complicated to rush an agreement in time for the pope's arrival in Jerusalem. That was never the aim of the papal visit anyway, the source said.

Both sides have avoided any comment on the substance of the talks, which began in 1999. But knowledgeable church sources said that the issues discussed in the negotiations included:

-- Protection of church properties, especially holy places, from government appropriation.

-- Restitution of some properties that have been confiscated, including the site of the shrine church in Caesarea, which was expropriated and razed in the 1950s.

-- Consolidation and confirmation of historic tax exemptions that have existed for church institutions in the Holy Land. The sources emphasize that the church needs these exemptions in order to survive, and that they are comparable to tax breaks offered religious entities in the United States.

-- Access to the Israeli court system for church institutions whenever property disputes arise.

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