Thursday, October 18, 2018

US Justice Department investigating Catholic Church in Pennsylvania

By Daniel Burke and Rosa Flores, CNN

Updated at 5:41 PM ET, Thu October 18, 2018

(CNN) — The Department of Justice has subpoenaed at least seven of the eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania as part of an investigation into abuse by priests.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton acknowledged on Thursday they had received federal subpoenas.
"The Diocese of Pittsburgh has received the subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice and will cooperate fully with any and all investigations of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in Pennsylvania," said spokesman the Rev. Nicholas S. Vaskov.
Several groups that represent abuse survivors said this appears to be the first federal probe of this size and scope into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the United States. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice in Washington declined to comment.

The federal probe comes on the heels of a damning grand jury report in Pennsylvania that found credible evidence that 301 "predator priests" abused more than 1,000 children in six dioceses since 1947.
Because the statute of limitations had run out on most of the crimes, only two priests have been charged as a result of the two-year-long investigation.
But the Pennsylvania report has prompted officials in several other states to open inquiries into allegations of sexual misconduct by Catholic clergy.
The Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests has been asking for a federal investigation into the Catholic Church since 2003, during the church's last widespread scandal of clergy sex abuse.
David Clohessy, SNAP's former national director, said "as best we can tell" this is the first such federal probe into the Catholic Church in the United States targeting clergy sexual abuse. "And it is long overdue."




Chris discusses some of the history of the Supreme Court of the United States and the historic influence of the Republican Party. For years, the Evangelical and Conservative communities have long believed that by achieving a Republican majority on the Nation’s highest court, the Roe v. Wade decision could be finally overturned. But is this really the case? Also discussed is a new book about the administration of Pope Francis, who has now been called “the dictator Pope” by a Jesuit trained Catholic author, because of the climate of fear and intimidation that is said to exist in the Vatican.

Perceived threat: Long, tangled history put Khashoggi in crosshairs

This image taken from CCTV video obtained by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet and made available on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018 claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018. Turkey said Tuesday ...

Ties to Saudi intelligence, Muslim Brotherhood and political activism may have led to journalist's disappearance

By Guy Taylor - The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The prevailing narrative about the bizarre case of U.S.-based Saudijournalist Jamal Khashoggi is that Saudi Arabia’s hard-charging young crown prince ordered him kidnapped and perhaps killed in order to silence a particularly effective critic who wrote widely read, disparaging columns about the royal family and the crown prince’s own ambitious reform agenda.

But Middle East insiders say some deeper subplots played into Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance — stemming from his long career of political activism, ties to Saudi intelligence and Mr. Khashoggi’s past relationship with the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mr. Khashoggi, who was 59 when he disappeared at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, is said to have withdrawn years ago from any formal affiliation with the Brotherhood, but his past ties to the transnational Islamist group are believed to have been a source of distrust for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The 33-year-old prince branded the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and one of his signature moves as heir to the Saudi throne was to cut off all ties with the rival Gulf nation of Qatar. The prince blames Doha for financing the Muslim Brotherhood to foment unrest against the powers that be across the Arab world, in particular Saudi Arabia.

Catholic Activists Demand Women’s Voting Rights At Major Vatican Meeting

Catholic women want to know why female leaders can’t vote alongside male peers at the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops.

By Carol Kuruvilla
10/16/2018 11:48 AM ET|
Updated 1 day ago

Members of the Women’s Ordination Conference, a progressive Catholic group, stage a ‘singing’ protest during the opening of a global meeting of bishops at the Vatican, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

An array of Roman Catholic women are questioning whether Vatican rules barring women from voting at an important global meeting are fundamentally discriminatory ― arguing that the right to vote has already been granted to lay Catholic men.

Liberal and conservative Catholic women are calling on the church to allow female religious superiors ― nuns who lead women’s religious orders ― to vote alongside male religious superiors at the Synod of Bishops, an annual Vatican assembly that advises the pope. The final document produced by the month-long meeting, which began on Oct. 3, has the potential to become official church teaching if approved by the pope.

The debate over whether women can vote at the Synod of Bishops has become a flashpoint for those seeking proof the centuries-old, male-dominated Catholic church is finally willing to listen to women’s voices.

More than 5,000 people have signed an online petition calling for female religious superiors to be allowed to vote at the synod. The day the synod opened, 20 men and women gathered to protest at the Vatican, according to the National Catholic Reporter. The protestors read out the names of Catholic cardinals and chanted, “Knock, knock. Who’s there? More than half the church!”

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

“Migrants are Not Criminals” Says Jesuit Network Responding Caravan


BY ISN STAFF | October 16, 2018

“Migrants are not criminals,” sums up the message of the Jesuit Migration Network of Central America (Red Jesuita Con Migrantes Centroamérica) and other Catholic partners in Central America whom issued a statement today regarding the caravan of at least 1,500 people who left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, seeking refuge from violence and economic poverty in their home country with an end goal of seeking asylum in the United States.

Yolanda González, a coordinator of the Jesuit Migration Network of Central and North America, welcomes delegates from across the region as the network meeting began earlier this week.

The Jesuit Migration Network of Central America issued the statement in the midst of an annual meeting with migration partners from the United States and Canada, taking place in San Salvador, El Salvador. They called on governments in the region to fulfill “their responsibility to guarantee the fundamental rights of migrants in transit and provide a comprehensive and humanitarian solution.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump responded with harsh words for the caravan and Honduras via Twitter, saying that he would cut foreign aid to the country if the caravan was not stopped and brought back to Honduras. He followed up later in the day with an additional tweet where he also threatened El Salvador and Guatemala, saying that all payments to the countries [including Honduras] would be stopped if their citizens participated in the caravan or if they allowed the caravan to traverse through their countries. If both instances, he suggested that the caravanm members would be entering the U.S. illegally, but reports suggest that the migrants will seek asylum if they make it to the U.S.-Mexico border, a legal claim that can be made at any formal U.S. immigration control point.

The Jesuit Migration Network of Central America is part of a larger network that serves all of Latin America and the Caribbean, seeking to provide effective, coordinated, and comprehensive assistance to migrants, displaced persons, and refugees from very diverse areas: pastoral, educational, social, research, etc. In the United States, participation comes from Jesuit universities, high schools, parishes, and social ministries.

4/4 Passing the Torch: Light Unshackled~ Reformation 500.




Today's Show: ROME & THE ASSASSINATION OF LINCOLN - 10.11.2018

Chris discusses the ongoing debate about who was really behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century. It has been well documented that at least two Catholic priests (Charles Chiniquy, Emmett McLoughlin) wrote books in which they blamed the murder of Lincoln on the Vatican and her Jesuit priests. But now another work has surfaced that was written by one of the generals who sat on the Military Commission that investigated the crime, and also presided over the trial of the conspirators who were convicted and put to death. In 1897, General Thomas M. Harris published the book titled, “Rome’s Responsibility for the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.” General Harris wrote that "a crisis is even now upon us; a crisis in which the world-old contest between freedom and despotism is to be definitely and finally settled."

Monday, October 15, 2018

Migration, addressing its root causes while protecting migrants

Webnews, 09/10/2018

During the international conference on “Religious freedom and development cooperation to reduce the causes for migration” on 17 September 2018, COMECE stressed the primary right of every human person to live in dignity in his home country without being forced to move.

Participants debated the ways to address the root causes of migration through the European development cooperation, which, emphasised COMECE, “should neither be based on ideological approaches, nor instrumentalising peoples and countries but benefitting persons in all their aspects, including spiritual and moral welfare”.

COMECE also highlighted the importance of a greater access to education to enhance the human integral development of persons, families and peoples in their home countries.

Article 13.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right of everyone to leave any country, including his own. As stated by Pope Francis in his last message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, when people migrate, they should be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated in a responsible manner, according to the hosting society’s capacity.

This message was conveyed by COMECE during the Seminar “Three years after the migration and security agendas - Where does the public sector stand?”, together with the principle that security should aim at protecting persons, families and communities including migrants and refugees.

COMECE also reaffirmed that the asylum legislation grants international protection in case of religious persecution as discussed in a recent joint COMECE-CEC meeting on religious conversion in asylum procedures. Migration current developments will be at the agenda of the next COMECE Working Group on Migration and Asylum next 22 November 2018.


Photo Gallery

Photo: Reuters/Marko Djurica

WCC general secretary: “we have to think and act ‘green’ in everything we do”

WCC general secretary: “we have to think and act ‘green’ in everything we do”

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

12 October 2018

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit responded to the recently released report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the impacts of global warming.

“Use of fossil fuels, unsustainable production of food, and deforestation, among other human economic activities, have raised greenhouse gases to a level that already has an unambiguous impact on the climate,” Tveit said. “The report states that the consequences of temperatures rising will be more severe than what was predicted earlier.”

As people of faith we must always have the impoverished and vulnerable in the midst of our prayers and actions, Tveit continued. “We cannot be silent and stay passive,” he said. “We all need to do what we can do.”

Governments, businesses, churches and individuals all have a part, he added.

“We have to think and act ‘green’ in everything we do. As general secretary of the World Council of Churches, I am just now leading a process towards a full-scale project of changing the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, and of plans for building several new buildings there (the “Green Village” project).”

Tveit pledged to use his influence to convince investors, as a condition of becoming owners in the Green Village, to commit to attain a high quality ecological certification not only in energy efficiency, water management and biodiversity in the construction of the new buildings and park, but also in the ongoing operation of the Green Village as a community.

“What you and I do in response to perhaps the biggest global challenge humanity has ever confronted may be seen as a mere drop in the ocean,”he concluded. “But this can turn into a wave of change.”

Read the full statement of the WCC general secretary

"Climate justice: time to ramp up efforts" - a statement from Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation

Read the statement of the European Christian Environmental Network

Learn more about the WCC's work on Care for Creation and Climate Change

To Protect the Environment, Buddhist Monks Are Ordaining Trees


By August Rick 10-11-2018

Traveling from several provinces across the heavily logged Cambodian landscape, two dozen Buddhist monks met at a local pagoda last October to attend a workshop held by The Alliance of Religions and Conservation. For Cambodia’s emerging network of “ecology monks” working in an increasingly authoritarian climate, the meeting was a critical and rare opportunity to discuss best practices for local conservation projects. And then two cops showed up and shut it down.

“They’re very wary of the monks getting together,” Chantal Elkin, a program manager for The Alliance of Religions and Conservation, told Sojourners. “Forest activism is [seen as] a threat to the government.”

Several of the monks were visibly upset, Elkin said.

Though traditionally revered in Cambodia’s majority-Buddhist society, monks today are not immune to the government’s crackdown on civil society actors. But where efforts at civic organization meet rebuke, Cambodia has seen the rise of one act of conservation — the holy ordination of trees — which originally emerged in Thailand and has risen in practice under the auspices of the Buddhist faith.

The most venerable of the group took the two officers, local cops not antagonistic to the meeting but seemingly following orders, up the hill where the group ordained a tree into the Buddhist faith, and then dispersed.

Beginning in the late 1980s, venerable Thai monks began to ordain trees as they would induct a new monk to the faith. Often choosing the oldest and largest trees, which hold domain over the forest, the monks would recite the appropriate scripture, often from the Pali Canon, garb the tree in traditional monk’s robes, and read from sections of Buddhist scripture that coalesce faith, ecology, and conservation. Though the practice varied, it was understood across the board as an effort to alleviate suffering, a core commandment of Buddhist faith.

The ordained tree, garbed in orange for a monk or white for a maechi (one of several titles given to women who have dedicated their lives to the Buddhist faith), serves various conservation roles. Most immediately, the human trace left in the forest dissuades illegal loggers. To harm an ordained monk is a religious taboo and legal offense. An ordination extends this sacred status to the tree. Communities that ordain trees often patrol the forest, taking photos of illegal activity and reporting wrongdoers.Buddhist practitioners bear moral authority in society. Many have found the need to adapt that morality to the modern world.

Taiwan invites pope to visit after landmark China-Vatican pact


Holy See is Taiwan's last diplomatic ally in Europe; one of only 17 around the world.
12 hours ago

Taiwan has invited Pope Francis to visit the self-ruled island, just weeks after China and the Vatican reached a landmark agreement on the appointment of bishops on the mainland.

Taiwan's Vice President Chen Chien-jen met the pope on Sunday and invited him to visit, the president's office said in a statement. Chen added the pope said he would pray for Taiwan, but did not give a date for the proposed visit.

China claims Taiwan as its own and the island has diplomatic relations with only 17 countries around the world, mostly in Central America and the Pacific. The Vatican is Taiwan's last diplomatic ally in Europe.

WATCH: Panama cuts diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favour of China (2:07)

Last month's deal with China gives the Holy See a say over the appointment of bishops, although both sides have called the agreement "provisional".

Sunday, October 14, 2018

3/4 Fanning the Blaze: Light Unshackled~Reformation 500.

2/4 Lighting a Flame: Light Unshackled~ Reformation 500.

Thousands rally against climate change across Europe

EYES ON THE TIMES:Public Confessions of Weather Manipulations. IPCC: New...

Kudlow pushes back on UN warning: Climate change modeling has not been successful

By Megan Keller - 10/14/18 10:04 AM EDT

© Getty

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday that he is skeptical of a United Nations climate change report that predicted catastrophic consequences if current trends are not reversed, citing past errors in U.N. modeling.

"The issue here ... is magnitudes and timing," Kudlow told ABC's "This Week" when asked about the study, which was released last Sunday. "Personally, I think the U.N., way too difficult. I won’t say it’s a scare tactic, but I think they overestimate."

Kudlow pointed to past U.N. modeling, saying the models "have not been very successful in the last 20 years."

Kudlow also mentioned the work of economist Bill Nordhaus, who has argued that holding temperatures below 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit over preindustrial levels, as the U.N. study recommends, is impossible.

"Bill Nordhaus from Yale got a Nobel Prize on his own economic work with respect to climate change," he said. "I respect that he’s a really brilliant guy."

Kudlow added, however, that officials need to be "cognizant of the work that needs to be done."

"I’m not denying any climate change issues George, I’m just saying do we know precisely, and I mean worth modeling, how much of it is man-made, how much of it is solar, how much of it is oceanic, how much of it is rainforest and other issues. I think we’re still exploring all of that."

"I don’t think we should panic," Kudlow said. "I don’t think there’s an imminent disaster coming, but I think we should look at this in a level headed and analytic way."

The U.N. report warned that the world might be on a path toward catastrophic climate change if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t cut dramatically by 2030.

The report said the world needs to decrease emissions by 45 percent by 2030, or the atmosphere could hit 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by then.

The cost of climate change

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

There's $500 trillion of wealth on planet Earth, give or take: Maybe $230 trillion in land and property, $200 trillion in debt and $70 trillion in equity.

The big picture: All of that wealth comes, ultimately, from the planet, and the climate. Specifically, it has come from a stable climate. William Nordhaus points out in his 2013 book "The Climate Casino" that “the last 7,000 years have been the most stable climatic period in more than 100,000 years.” The last 7,000 years have also seen the rise of civilization and the creation of that $500 trillion in wealth. This is not a coincidence.

Nordhaus won the Nobel Prize this week, in an announcement that coincided with the release of a hugely important UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on what will happen to the world when it gets 1.5°C, or 2.7°F, warmer than preindustrial levels.

The report puts the cost of a 1.5°C increase at $54 trillion, in today's money.
  • You think $54 trillion is a lot? That number comes from research that also says that a 2.0°C increase will cause $69 trillion of damage, and a 3.7°C increase will cause a stunning $551 trillion in damage.
  • $551 trillion is more than all the wealth currently existing in the world, which gives an indication of just how much richer humanity could become if we don't first destroy our planet.
We'll be environmentally richer, too. While it's hard to put a dollar value on that, the value of environmental benefits has been rising steadily over time and will continue to do so. Already, we regret environmental destruction in the past and would happily give up a small fraction of our current wealth to undo it.

Where things stand: Human civilization has reached the very end of reaping the dividends from a stable climate. Compared to recent decades, the world in 2100 will have a 13% reduction in crop yields (and those crops will also be less nutritious); it will also have 2.8 billion more people at risk from drought in any given month.

Preventing extreme global warming will be neither cheap nor easy. Just for starters, we will need to spend about $2.4 trillion per year on energy investment between now and 2035, overwhelmingly targeted at renewables.
  • Looking forward to 2050, the required average annual investment rises to $3.5 trillion, including massive new investment in electricity transmission, distribution and storage.
  • That's more than double our current energy investment, most of which is still focused on fossil fuels.
  • Such investment pays noncash dividends. Improved air quality on the 1.5°C pathway, for instance, would lead to more than 100 million avoided premature deaths over the 21st century, over and above the number of lives saved by keeping global warming to 2°C, according to the IPCC report.

The bottom line: Both Nordhaus and the IPCC report make clear that we will have to tax carbon. That incentivizes investment in alternatives, while deliberately making our current carbon-heavy lives less sustainable.
  • It's hard to get to 1.5°C with a carbon tax alone. The lowest figure for doing that in the IPCC report is $135 per ton in 2030, rising to $690 in 2100; the highest estimate is $5,500 per ton in 2030 and $27,000 per ton in 2100.
  • More realistically, a carbon tax of about $25 per ton in 2030 could be combined with tough regulation of energy usage and efficiency, including a ban on new coal-fired power plants.

Go deeper: 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

1/4 Descent into Darkness: Light Unshackled ~ Reformation 500.

Hundreds of Hondurans head for US border in mass migration 'march': report


Hondurans, fleeing poverty and violence, are seen here in San Pedro Sula. They're headed toward the U.S. (Reuters)

Hundreds of Honduran migrants are headed for the United States border, just days after Vice President Pence sat down with the Central American country’s leader, urging him to take a tougher stance on mass migrations.

At least 1,300 people, including young children, left San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras on Saturday, in what some are calling the “March of the Migrant,” Reuters reported.

Bartolo Fuentes, the organizer, told the news agency that the group plans to march through Guatemala and into Mexico. From there, participants will request refugee status, which would allow them to stay in the country, or they will apply for a visa to pass through into the U.S.

A young man carries a child in the Hondurans' caravan. (Reuters)

The development came just days after Pence met with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala and Vice President Oscar Ortiz of El Salvador, asking them to step up and help combat illegal immigration in return for help from the U.S.

Pence addressed the three leaders on Thursday in Washington, at the Conference for Prosperity and Security in Central America.

"If you do more, I'm here to say on behalf of the president of the United States and the American people, we'll do more," he said.

Pence said that flows of illegal immigrants from Honduras and Guatemala are up 61 percent and 75 percent, respectively.

As Migration From Guatemala Surges, U.S. Officials Seek Answers

A group of deported migrants after landing in Guatemala City.
Daniel Volpe for The Wall Street Journal

Several countries in the region ‘are really struggling to feed their people,’ says Customs and Border Protection commissioner

Alicia A. Caldwell

Oct. 13, 2018 7:00 a.m. ET

QUETZALTENANGO, Guatemala—These rugged rural highlands bordering the Pacific Ocean have become a prime source for the skyrocketing number of immigrant families crossing the U.S. border illegally and asking for asylum.

Migrant families from Guatemala seeking asylum in the U.S. have surged past those from neighboring El Salvador and Honduras. More than 42,000 Guatemalans traveling as families were arrested at the U.S. border from last September through August, up 71% from the same period a year ago, according to federal government data.

The reasons why aren’t clear. Guatemala hasn’t recently seen an upswing in violence, poverty hasn’t worsened and the national political situation hasn’t changed.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan went to the area seeking to understand why so many Guatemalans are heading north. Before his trip, he suspected hunger to be the leading cause.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, center, meets members of an agricultural cooperative. Photo: Daniele Volpe for The Wall Street Journal

Several countries in the region “are really struggling to feed their people,” Mr. McAleenan said in an interview.

Migrant workers enlighten seminarian

Did Beijing residents really spot a UFO?