Friday, May 30, 2014

Bombshell: Pope Francis & Patriarch Batholomew are considering a joint Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 2025? (Updated)

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - On his return from Jerusalem , where he met with Pope Francis at the Holy Sepulchre, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, has revealed an important appointment for unity between Catholics and Orthodox: a gathering at Nicaea in 2025, where the first real ecumenical council of the undivided Church was celebrated.

Speaking exclusively with AsiaNews, Bartholomew says that together with Pope Francis "we agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering in Nicaea in 2025, to celebrate together, after 17 centuries , the first truly ecumenical synod, where the Creed was first promulgated".
Read the rest here.

I cannot stress this enough... I HAVE NOT FOUND INDEPENDENT VERIFICATION OF THIS.

That said... My first reaction is to ask if it is April 1st on some obscure calendar that I am not aware of? My second reaction, is that this might be a bad translation or maybe the website got hacked by some practical joker. My third reaction is HOLY COW!

This is difficult to credit. If something like this were under active consideration I cannot believe it would be announced in such a casual manner.

Update: This is increasingly looking like yet another case of  the Catholic press adopting an excessively (grossly in this case) sanguine approach towards any event involving Catholic-Orthodox relations. It looks like this is probably going to be just another large scale Kumbaya photo-op for all of the professional ecumenists out there. Nor is it clear that this will even be limited to Catholics and the Orthodox.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Update

Dad is home from the hospital (again). They drained almost 2 liters(!) of liquid from in and around his lungs. But for the moment he seems to be doing a lot better. Thanks to everyone for their prayers.

In New Orleans, major school district closes traditional public schools for good

Benjamin Banneker Elementary closed Wednesday as New Orleans’s Recovery School District permanently shuttered its last five traditional public schools this week.

With the start of the next school year, the Recovery School District will be the first in the country made up completely of public charter schools, a milestone for New Orleans and a grand experiment in urban education for the nation.
Read the rest here.

Rail-car used to bring God to remote Siberia


From here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

100 Years Ago: Canada's worst marine disaster


On the night of May 28-29, 1914 Canada suffered the worst marine disaster in its history when the ocean liner Empress of Ireland, outbound from Montreal to Liverpool, was rammed by a Norwegian coal ship in heavy fog on the St. Lawrence River. The damage was so extreme that the Empress sank in just 15 minutes taking more than a thousand passengers and crew with her. Among the dead were a large contingent from the Salvation Army on their way to Britain and the vast majority of the women and children on board.

The circumstances surrounding the accident remain highly controversial to this day.

Friday, May 23, 2014

No blogging for a little while

Dad has taken a turn and is back in the hospital. There will be little or no blogging for a while. Prayers are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Round up the usual suspects

Haven't had your daily ration of inter-religious food fighting? Go here to resolve that. For the record, Gabriel Sanchez is right when he calls Patrick Barnes' website polemical, though by no means is it as over the top as some I have run across. In fact, there is a lot of good stuff there. But God knows we do have our share of Ortho-Taliban floating around. Try hitting up some of the blogs run by hard core Old Calendarists if you don't mind crazy conspiracy theories, and often blindly bigoted commentary.

What Gabriel neglects to mention though, is that his own blog is highly polemical in its own right. And it has become a popular watering hole for many of the more virulent anti-Orthodox trolls in the blogosphere (at least one of whom has the extremely rare distinction of being declared persona non grata on this blog).

In any event, I must have missed the memo because it would seem that I am the only one who doesn't have a clue what God's plan for the Orthodox - Catholic divide is. But I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it probably doesn't involve acidic commentary on the internet.

Prince Charles is criticised for making political comments

Nick Clegg has defended the Prince of Wales over his comparison of Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, saying the heir to the throne is 'entitled to his views' despite warnings from a Russian newspaper the remarks could “trigger an international scandal”. 
Read the rest here.

Europe: Nationalist parties promote closer ties with Russia

LE CHESNAY, France — At a rally last week near the Palace of Versailles, France’s largest far-right party, the National Front, deployed all the familiar theatrics and populist themes of nationalist movements across Europe.

A standing-room-only crowd waved the national flag, joined in a boisterous singing of the national anthem and applauded as speakers denounced freeloading foreigners and, with particular venom, the European Union.

But the event, part of an energetic push for votes by France’s surging far right ahead of elections this week for the European Parliament, also promoted an agenda distant from the customary concerns of conservative voters: why Europe needs to break its “submission” to the United States and look to Russia as a force for peace and a bulwark against moral decay.
Read the rest here.

Russia and China reach 30 year gas deal

BEIJING — China and Russia agreed to a major 30-year natural gas deal on Wednesday that would send gas from Siberia by pipeline to China, according to the China National Petroleum Corporation.

The announcement caps a decade-long negotiation and helps bring Russia and China closer than they have been in many years. The contract was driven to a conclusion by the presence in Shanghai over the last two days of President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

...The deal was expected to be worth about $400 billion, said James Henderson, senior analyst at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why Everything You've Read About Ukraine Is Wrong

The mainstream American media has taken a nearsighted view of the Ukrainian crisis by following a script laid out by the State Department. Most reports have either ignored the truth or spun it in a way that paints only a partial picture. Here are seven things you should know about Ukraine.
Read the rest here.
HT: Blog reader MM

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The threat of politics in the courthouse

The chaos surrounding the execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett was not just a wake-up call on capital punishment and how it is administered. The final hours also saw political efforts to bully and weaken Oklahoma’s courts. Similar battles are playing out around the country, threatening the ability of our courts to be fair and impartial.

When Lockett’s attorneys filed a lawsuit seeking information about the drug mixture that ultimately failed, the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a stay to grant more time for review. But the governor announced that she would disregard the court’s ruling. A legislator introduced a resolution to impeach the five justices who had voted for the stay, alleging “a willful neglect of duty and incompetence.” The Supreme Court ultimately dissolved its stay and allowed Lockett’s execution to proceed.

The constitutional crisis may have been brief, but it was profoundly disturbing. As lifetime jurists and former chief justices of the supreme courts of Arizona and Indiana, we believe our treasured American system of checks and balances is harmed when our courts are threatened with intimidation. Our courts were designed to be the branch of government most insulated from politics.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The slow decline of America since the Great Society

Standing on his presidential limousine, Lyndon Johnson, campaigning in Providence, R.I., in September 1964, bellowed through a bullhorn: “We’re in favor of a lot of things and we’re against mighty few.” This was a synopsis of what he had said four months earlier.

Fifty years ago this Thursday, at the University of Michigan, Johnson had proposed legislating into existence a Great Society. It would end poverty and racial injustice, “but that is just the beginning.” It would “rebuild the entire urban United States” while fending off “boredom and restlessness,” slaking “the hunger for community” and enhancing “the meaning of our lives” — all by assembling “the best thought and the broadest knowledge.”

In 1964, 76 percent of Americans trusted government to do the right thing “just about always or most of the time”; today, 19 percent do. The former number is one reason Johnson did so much; the latter is one consequence of his doing so.
Read the rest here.

The President and the Negro

Mr. Wilson thus finds himself early in his administration at the parting of the ways in the matter of the negro citizen. His nomination of Mr. A.E. Patterson of Oklahoma, as Register of the Treasury, has been withdrawn at the nominee's request, and for the first time in a quarter of a century the office is to go one other than a negro. Mr. Patterson asked asked to be allowed to withdraw because of the violent opposition of  the negrophobe southern senators-- Vardaman, Tillman, Hoke Smith and the rest. That he lacked the courage to stick it out and insist on having his name passed upon is greatly to be regretted. In a sense he was recreant to his race; that he has not helped either Mr. Wilson or the colored people appears clearly from Vardaman's glorying. No negro, says the confidant senator, shall be appointed to any executive office in which there may be subordinate white employees; and his platform contains these further demands: "Segregation in all forms of Government employment; the entire separation of the races in Federal employ; negroes and white people must not be compelled to work side by side." The integrity of the Anglo-Saxon race, Mr. Vardaman adds, depends upon the "faithful consummation" of this programme.
From here.

Contrary to the inference in the article, Mr. Wilson was very much in sympathy with these views and his cabinet was stacked with racists, including persons with known ties to the Klan. After the obligatory protest for propriety's sake, Wilson swiftly broke his campaign pledge and imposed strict race segregation on the US Civil Service.

Statement on Homosexuality by the Holy Synod of Cyprus and Confusion on Anglo-Catholic Ecumenism

Read it here. Meanwhile mixed signals seem to be the order of the day on the longstanding "dialogue" between Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church. Even as Catholics here in the United States seem to be admitting that the divergence between the two churches has reached a point where further talks are unlikely to be productive, the leading Anglican hierarch in Rome made statements on the ongoing ARCIC talks that might charitably be described as excessively sanguine. My own view is that they appear to be aimed at making satire redundant.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The demise of democracy

This has been making the rounds on the blogosphere, but for those who haven't seen it yet, a couple of professors have concluded that the United States is really an oligarchy. For the record, I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

HT: Blog reader MM.

Note: I appreciate the tips and links to interesting articles I get from all of my blog readers. If you send me something and I don't get back to you quickly please bear with me. I have a lot going on in the non internet world of late.

It’s About Christianity, Not the Girls

Commentators from across the political spectrum have chimed in on the horror of Boko Haram’s abduction of more than 300 school girls. And, certainly, the fact that the victims were young school girls has made a difference in the Western world’s interest in the story. But, while #BringBackOurGirls has become a trending hashtag, it may be missing the point.

Reading the speech of Boko Haram leader Abubakr Shekau, it is clear that for him, the target may have been the girls, but the motivation was not simply to prevent girls from receiving education or a desire to attack Western education more broadly, but rather to launch a much broader attack on Christianity.
Read the rest here.
HT:Bill (aka The Godfather)

Climate change: the science is not settled. It's all over the place as greedy opportunists scramble for cash

Until now I’ve never written about global warming. That’s because I’m a coward. I don’t want “climate experts” sneering at me because I dare venture an opinion without knowing as much as they do.

I’m talking about climate sceptics, by the way. It’s their orthodoxy I’ve been too gutless to challenge. I still sometimes move in conservative circles in which it’s taken as read that climate scientists are lying crooks. If I question these sceptics, I will immediately become a “libtard” – part of the EUSSR/Bilderberg/MSM axis. At the very least, Right-wing friends will snub me at parties (as opposed to me snubbing them, which is what I prefer).

Meanwhile, over in the “warmist” camp, there’s no shortage of blind intolerance. Let me draw your attention to a story in today’s Telegraph. Prof Lennart Bengtsson of Reading University says he fears for his “health and safety” after he undermined the alarming predictions issued by the UN’s panel on climate change (IPCC). He’s frightened of the alarmist hardliners among his colleagues: that is, members of the “science is settled” school of thought. These are the people who – back in the heady days of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth – invented the label “denier” to imply that questioning global warming was on a par with rejecting evolution (a “theory” supported by so much data that the science really is settled) or even denying the Holocaust.

Climate science has been dragged into the American-style culture wars that are turning British intellectual life into a battlefield. It’s not an edifying spectacle. Warmist scientists have been caught tinkering with statistics in order to close gaps in their theory (it was thanks to a Telegraph blog post by James Delingpole that the “Climategate” scandal exploded). They just can’t bear to provide their critics with ammunition. Meanwhile, the more voluble deniers suck up to rich American fruitloops who think cavemen had pet dinosaurs – because the earth is only 6,000 years old – and reckon President Obama is a Kenyan-born Antichrist.
Read the rest here.

Pregnant woman sentenced to death over her Christian faith

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- A Muslim-by-birth Sudanese woman who married a Christian man was sentenced to death Thursday after she refused to recant her Christian faith, her lawyer said.

Meriam Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but her mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, was convicted of "apostasy" on Sunday and given four days to repent and escape death, lawyer Al-Shareef Ali al-Shareef Mohammed said.

The 26 year old, who is eight months pregnant, was sentenced after that grace period expired, Mohammed said.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The effect of one-party rule

Democracy can be cruel because elections deprive the demos of the delight of alibis and the comfort of complaining. Illinois voters have used many elections to make theirs the worst-governed state, with about $100 billion in unfunded public pension promises and $6.7 billion in unpaid bills. The state is a stark illustration of the effect of prolonged one-party rule, conducted by politicians subservient to government employees unions.

A new Gallup poll shows that Illinois has the highest percentage — 50 percent — of residents who want to leave their state. If Illinois voters reelect Gov. Pat Quinn, they will reject Bruce Rauner, who vows to change the state’s fundamental affliction — its political culture.

The state’s strongest civic tradition is of governors going to jail. Four of the last nine have done so. Lt. Gov. Quinn ascended to the governorship in 2009 because Gov. Rod Blagojevich, of fragrant memory, tried to sell the Senate seat Barack Obama vacated. In 2010, Quinn defeated a downstate social conservative by 32,000 votes out of 3.7 million cast. Quinn’s job approval today is about 35 percent.
Read the rest here.

The search for unity

Friend of the blog Dr. Adam DeVille has authored a thoughtful piece discussing, from a Catholic perspective, the history and current state of relations between the Orthodox Church and Rome. It is definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Producer prices post largest gain in 1-1/2 years

(Reuters) - U.S. producer prices recorded their largest increase in 1-1/2 years in April as the cost of food and trade services surged, hinting at inflation pressures in some parts of the economy.

The Labor Department said on Wednesday its seasonally adjusted producer price index for final demand increased 0.6 percent, the biggest gain since September 2012.

Prices received by the nation's farms, factories and refineries rose 0.5 percent in March and last month's increase outpaced economists' expectations for only a 0.2 percent gain.

Read the rest here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Wow!

I'm not a big fan of in season inter-league baseball. IMHO if you want to see inter-league play you watch the World Series. That said, tonight's game between the Mets and the Yankees was one of the most exciting and well played I have seen in years. The Mets rallied twice from three run deficits and won the game 9-7 on a series of truly outstanding defensive plays.

This one is going in the books.

SSPX Rumors

There has been a meeting but it doesn't appear to have been part of any major warming of relations. The SSPX is throwing cold water on the rumors.

HT: Rorate

Strangers in a Foreign Land: Nationalism and the Orthodox Church

In calling the Church ‘catholic,’ Orthodox Christians confess belief in a Church for all ages, nations, and races.

The Catholic Church is whole, complete, and lacking nothing—for this is what ‘catholic’ truly means. It is a calling for all, and Christ our God is sacrificed ‘on behalf of all, and for all.’

There is often confusion—especially for those either outside or unfamiliar with the Orthodox Church—in viewing our local, autonomous churches as ‘ethnic’ churches. Nevertheless, such a perspective was condemned as heresy (termed ‘ethno-phyletism’) by an ecumenical council in Constantinople (August 10, 1872).1 In that context, the concern was the uncanonical creation of an ethnic church for Bulgarians—a church sharing essentially the same ‘space’ as the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Both the fall of monarchy and the wiles of the Enlightenment led even Orthodox Christians into the arms of the nineteenth century’s pseudo-replacement for imperial veneration and identity in Christian faith: nationalism. Logical ends of nationalism were, of course, both racism and Hitler’s Third Reich. To be clear, a pride in one’s cultural or religious heritage is not necessarily a problem, but pride based solely on the superiority of one’s race over others is far removed from the Orthodox faith.
Read the rest here.

More bad polling data for Democrats

This could be an ugly election year for the left. Details here.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Last call for an American icon

The last bar car on an American commuter rail line rolled into history when it left Grand Central Station about an hour ago. Read the story here. Some appropriate theme music...

Paul Says G.O.P. Push on Voting Laws Is Alienating Blacks

MEMPHIS — Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky on Friday broke with fellow Republicans who have pushed for stricter voting laws as a way to crack down on fraud, saying the party was alienating and insulting African-Americans.

“Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” Mr. Paul said in an interview on Friday, adding that much of the bitterness in the debate over voting rights was wrapped up in race. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.”

Mr. Paul traveled to Memphis — a mostly black city and a Democratic stronghold with its own painful racial history — to speak at the spring meeting of the Republican National Committee. But before he talked to his fellow Republicans, he sat down with a group of black pastors to discuss his views on voting, public education and antipoverty policy.
Read the rest here.

New Washington State Supreme Court Justice Has Liberal Catholic Background

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that he has appointed state trial court judge Mary Yu to the Washington state Supreme Court to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Jim Johnson. While the media (Seattle Times article) has focused on the fact that Yu is the first openly gay, and first Asian-American justice on the Washington Supreme Court, less attention has been given to her academic training in theology and her work experience prior to law school in the Catholic Church. Yu received a bachelor's degree in religious studies from Dominican University in River Forest, Ill., in 1979. She then went to work for the Office of Peace and Justice of the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese, eventually becoming director of the office. She received a master's degree in theology from Loyola University in 1989, and moved to Washington state to work at the Washington state Catholic Bishop's Conference. However in 1990 she enrolled in Notre Dame law school, also working as an assistant rector in an undergraduate women's dormitory. 
 From here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Antioch severs communion with Jerusalem

It's been widely reported, but the official communique from the Holy Synod can now be found here.

Italian Media: Pope Paul VI to be beatified

The Vatican has recognised a supposed miracle attributed to Paul VI's intercession and will beatify the late Italian pope in October, a Vatican source said on Tuesday.

According to the Italian news agency ANSA, the apparent miracle identified by the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints was the healing of an unborn baby from an otherwise incurable illness.

ANSA said the beatification could occur on 19 October after the synod of bishops' meeting.

Paul VI, who reigned between 1963 and 1978, was praised for his efforts to seek closer ties with other Christian denominations but his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae was controversial for spelling out a ban on all forms of artificial contraception.
Source.
Via: The Deacon's Bench

Monday, May 05, 2014

Hundreds sentenced to death may be innocent

(Reuters) - As many as 300 people who were sentenced to death in the United States over a three-decade period were likely innocent, according to a study published in a leading science journal on Monday.

Dozens of defendants sentenced to death in recent years have been exonerated before their sentences could be carried out, but many more were probably falsely convicted, said University of Michigan professor Samuel Gross, the study's lead author.

"Our research adds the disturbing news that most innocent defendants who have been sentenced to death have not been exonerated," Gross wrote in the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

However, he stressed that this did not indicate a jump in the number of people believed wrongly executed because some had had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment and others lingered on death row.

In their research, Gross and his colleagues examined the 7,482 U.S. death sentence convictions between 1973 and 2004.
Read the rest here.

Nigerian Islamist Leader: Kidnapped school girls are our slaves and we may sell them

DAKAR, Senegal — In a video message apparently made by the leader of Nigeria’s Islamist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls nearly three weeks ago, called the girls slaves and threatened to “sell them in the market, by Allah.”

“Western education should end,” Mr. Shekau said in the 57-minute video, speaking in Hausa and Arabic. “Girls, you should go and get married.” The Islamist leader also warned that he would “give their hands in marriage because they are our slaves. We would marry them out at the age of 9. We would marry them out at the age of 12.”
Read the rest here.

Rome severely criticizes dissident nuns

By the warm and fuzzy standards of the post Vatican II era, this is a positively blistering indictment. I think it's as close as I have seen any document issued by the Holy See in decades come to throwing out the H Bomb. Read the report at Fr. Z's blog.

Washington Post: GOP is likely to retake the US Senate

According to the model, which was built for The Post by political scientist and Monkey Cage blog author John Sides, Republicans have an 82 percent chance of claiming the six seats they need to move back into the majority.
Read the rest here.

If irony were a holy virtue...

...This Anglican Church would glow in the dark. Yes, that's Judas hanging in a stained glass window.

HT: Blog reader Tim.

Supreme Court OKs Prayer at Government Meetings

A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that legislative bodies such as city councils can begin their meetings with prayer, even if it plainly favors the religion of the speaker.

The court ruled 5 to 4 that Christian prayers given before meetings of an upstate New York town council did not violate the constitutional prohibition against government establishment of religion.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Russian troops mass with Ukraine near civil war

DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukraine suffered its bloodiest day in nearly three months on Friday, with at least nine people killed when the army launched its first major assault on a rebel stronghold and 34 killed in clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian mobs in the Black Sea port city of Odessa.

The Ukrainian army attacked Slovyansk in the east of the country at dawn, provoking the heaviest military fighting since a pro-Russian uprising began a month ago. The army took control of the major checkpoints outside the city but was unable to force its way into the center, and two of its helicopters were shot down. 
Read the rest here.

See also this map showing disposition of military forces.

Friday, May 02, 2014

The Politics of Nostalgia: A critical examination of democracy

...It was not always so. The greatest philosophers of antiquity—Plato and Aristotle—both considered democracy a rather inferior form of political life. Plato has Socrates claim that democratic citizens are dominated by licentious passion rather than reason: “they call insolence good education; anarchy, freedom; wastefulness, magnificence; and shamelessness, courage” (Republic 560e). He says that it is the sort of regime favoured by children and women—i.e. those in whom reason is weak (Republic 557c). Aristotle distinguishes between good forms of government, in which the rulers have the common good of the whole city as their goal, and bad ones, in which they rule for their own private interests. He gives the name “democracy” to one of the bad regimes: that in which the poor rule for the private advantage of their own class (Politics 1279a-b). In the Christian Middle Ages monarchy rather than democracy was the most common form of government, and to many medieval thinkers this seemed perfectly reasonable.[1]
A very interesting read via The Young Fogey and Modestinus.
Read the rest here.

Caution: This a long post and it's not light reading. Also it is heavily Roman Catholic in its reasoning, but many of the points are sound.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Cops and robbers

Collado was one of more than 20 bodega and corner-store owners who independently told the Daily News in its 2009 series "Tainted Justice" that narcotics officers had destroyed their video cameras and then pocketed cash, helped themselves to food and drinks, and walked out with armfuls of merchandise.Several merchants told reporters this week that they were angry - and puzzled: How could U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger close the case without conducting, in their minds, a thorough investigation? 
Read the rest here.
HT: dualstow

Britain: Secret files show concern that Lusitania wreck may hold explosives

Previously secret files reveal government fears that "high explosives" would be found by divers surveying the wreck of RMS Lusitania - discrediting the premise on which the Americans were drawn into the First World War

The sinking of RMS Lusitania was one of the most tragic – and pivotal – events of the First World War. It was also one of the most controversial.

More than 1,000 civilians – including 128 Americans – died when the liner was torpedoed by a German submarine eight miles off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915.

British propagandists exploited the attack, arguing it was an unprovoked assault on a civilian ship, and it helped swing popular opinion in the United States against Germany - paving the way for America's entry into the conflict two years later.

However newly released documents show that in 1982 the government feared attempts to survey the wreck would reveal an illegal stash of ammunition, which almost 70 years on, would discredit the premise on which the Americans were drawn into the war.
Read the rest here.

The end of employer provided health insurance?

By 2020, about 90 percent of American workers who now receive health insurance through their employers will be shifted to government exchanges created by the health law, according to a projection by S&P Capital IQ, a research firm serving the financial industry.
Read the rest here.