By Michael W. Chapman
(Via CNSNews.com) – In today’s culture, when people criticize immoral behavior or public scandal and are ridiculed by others for doing so, it is “the Father of Lies at work,” the devil, said Archbishop Raymond Burke, the head of the highest court at the Vatican and who was named a cardinal of the Catholic Church on Wednesday.
At the 5th Human Life International World Prayer Congress for Life in Rome, Italy, Arbp. Burke gave a speech entitled “Antidote Against the Culture of Death,” in which he discussed, in part, the “scandal of disobedience” to moral teachings, especially by political leaders who support abortion and same-sex marriage.
“[W]e also recognize the scandal which is given when Christians fail to uphold the moral law in public life,” said Arbp. Burke. “When those who profess to be Christian, at the same time, favor and promote policies and laws which permit the destruction of innocent and defenseless human life, and which violate the integrity of marriage and the family, then citizens, in general, are confused and led into error about the basic tenets of the moral law.”
“In our time, there is a great hesitation to speak about scandal, as if, in some way, it is only a phenomenon among persons of small or unenlightened mind and, therefore, a tool of such persons to condemn others rashly or wrongly,” he said. “But there is also true scandal, that is, the leading of others, by our words, actions, and failures to act, into confusion and error and, therefore, into sin.”
Continuing, the archbishop said: “It is particularly insidious that our society, which is so profoundly confused about the most basic goods also believes that scandal is a thing of the past. One sees the hand of the Father of Lies at work in the disregard for the situation of scandal or in the ridicule or even censure of those who experience scandal.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2852) says that the “Father of Lies” is “Satan” who is “the deceiver of the whole world,” and by whom “sin and death entered the world ….”
Also, the “Father of Lies” is named by Jesus Christ in the New Testament gospel of John, chapter 8, verse 44. In answering questions about who He is and who God the Father is from a group of potential converts, Jesus says, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? Because you cannot bear to hear my word. You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”
In further commenting about scandal, Arbp Burke said in his speech, “One of the ironies of the present situation is that the person who experiences scandal at the gravely sinful actions of a fellow Catholic is accused of a lack of charity and of causing division within the unity of the Church.”
“In a society whose thinking is governed by the ‘tyranny of relativism’ and in which political correctness and human respect are the ultimate criteria of what is to be done and what is to be avoided, the notion of leading someone into moral error makes little sense,” said the archbishop. “What causes wonderment in such a society is the fact that someone fails to observe political correctness and, thereby, seems to be disruptive of the so-called peace of society.”
“Lying or failing to tell the truth, however, is never a sign of charity,” he said.
In 2004, as archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond Burke said he would not serve Communion to then-presidential candidate John Kerry (D-Mass.) because of his pro-abortion views. The archbishop, now cardinal, has also been critical of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
In a 2009 interview with CatholicAction.org, Arbp. Burke said that Sebelius should present herself for Holy Communion “because after pastoral admonition, she obstinately persists in serious sin.”
Sebelius “is well known for her support of the right to procured abortion and for her public association with some of the more notorious agents of the culture of death,” said Burke. “As a Roman Catholic, her appointment [to HHS] is the source of the greatest embarrassment because she has publicly and repeatedly betrayed her Catholic faith, in the most fundamental tenet of the moral law, that is, the law to safeguard and foster human life from the moment of its inception to the moment of natural death.”Print This Post
D'oh! The producer for television show "The Simpsons" had a holy cow after learning that the Vatican considered Homer Simpson a Catholic.
Executive producer Al Jean told Entertainment Weekly on Monday he was in "shock and awe" when he heard the assertion, saying, "I guess it makes up for me not going to church for 20 years."
The headline in the semi-official Vatican newspaper, the Osservatore Romano, recently read: “Homer And Bart Are Catholic,” and backed it up by arguing the family prays before meals and that the show explores issues such as family, community, education and religion in a way that few other popular television programs do.
Father Francesco Occhetta, writing in La Civilta Cattolica, said the series is not without its dangers, but that if the show is taken with a grain of salt, parents should not be afraid to let their children watch it.
“The Simpsons remains one of the few TV programs for kids in which Christian faith, religion, and the question about God are recurring themes,” Occhetta wrote.
But Jean told Entertainment Weekly the Vatican's analysis was a stretch.
"We've pretty clearly shown that Homer is not Catholic. I really don't think he could go without eating meat on Fridays -- for even an hour."
He also said the Simpson family attends the First Church of Springfield "which is decidedly Presbylutheran," and pointed out that Homer and Bart only considered converting in the 2005 episode.
This isn't the first time Matt Groening’s popular television family has received the Vatican's blessing. Last December the newspaper also praised the show on its 20th anniversary for its philosophical leanings and irreverent take on religion.Print This Post
GARDEN GROVE, Calif. -- Crystal Cathedral, the megachurch birthplace of the televangelist show "Hour of Power," filed for bankruptcy Monday in Southern California after struggling to emerge from debt that exceeds $43 million.
In addition to a $36 million mortgage, the Orange County-based church owes $7.5 million to several hundred vendors for services ranging from advertising to the use of live animals in Easter and Christmas services.
The church had been negotiating a repayment plan with vendors, but several filed lawsuits seeking quicker payment, which prompted a coalition formed by creditors to fall apart, church officials said.
"Tough times never last, every storm comes to an end. Right now, people need to hear that message more than ever," Sheila Schuller Coleman, the Cathedral's senior pastor and daughter of the founder, told reporters outside the worship hall.
"Everybody is hurting today. We are no exception," she said.
The church, founded in the mid-1950s by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller Sr., has already ordered major layoffs, cut the number of stations airing the "Hour of Power" and sold property to stay afloat. In addition, the 10,000-member church canceled this year's "Glory of Easter" pageant, which attracts thousands of visitors and is a regional holiday staple.
Vendors owed money by the church formed a committee in April and agreed to a moratorium to negotiate a repayment plan with the Crystal Cathedral.
Kristina Oliver, whose Hemet-based company provided live animals for the church's "Glory of Christmas" manger scene, said she doubts she will recover in full the $57,000 she is owed.
"The church never made any kind of advancement that they wanted to pay their debt, that they were willing to try to make it happen and every time we tried they told us, 'You can't tell us how to run our business,"' Oliver said.
"I'm upset because I have a 30-year relationship with them and you need to be up front, put all your cards on the table."
Crystal Cathedral was founded at a drive-in theater and attracted congregants with its sermons on the power of positive thinking. It features a soaring glass spire and is an architectural wonder and tourist destination.
The "Hour of Power" telecast, filmed in the cathedral's main sanctuary, at one point attracted 1.3 million viewers in 156 countries.
Church leaders said the telecast and Sunday services will continue while in bankruptcy.
Crystal Cathedral and other megachurches have suffered from the recession and reduced charitable giving.
The church saw revenue drop roughly 30 percent in 2009 and simply couldn't slash expenses quickly enough to avoid accruing the debt, said Jim Penner, a church pastor and executive producer of the "Hour of Power."
Penner said it became difficult to hold the vendors' committee together after several vendors filed lawsuits and obtained writs of attachment to try to collect their cash.
Now, the church is avoiding credit entirely and spends only the roughly $2 million it receives each month in donations and revenue, Penner said. The church still hopes to pay all of the vendors back in full, he said.
"What we're doing now is we're trying to walk what we preach, we're paying cash for things as we go," he said.Print This Post
By Larry Neumeister, Associated Press
(AP) - "THE REV" and "PSALM48" can join "ARMYMOM" and "DARE2BU" on the license plates of cars in Vermont after a federal appeals court ruled Friday that the First Amendment leaves room for religion on vanity plates.
The three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in New York reversed a lower-court ruling in the state's favor in a case brought by Shawn Byrne of West Rutland, Vt., whose proposed vanity plate reference to a Bible passage had been rejected by the state in 2004.
Byrne appealed a September 2007 decision by a federal judge in Burlington, Vt., that rejected his 2005 claim that the state discriminated against him when it rejected his application for a license plate that would read: "JN36TN," a reference to the often-quoted Bible verse John 3:16.
Byrne did not immediately return a telephone message for comment.
Tom McCormick, an assistant attorney general, did not immediately respond to a phone message either.
In ruling, the 2nd Circuit noted that Vermont allows its residents to express themselves about personal philosophy and taste and to put inspirational messages and statements of affiliation on their license plates. But religion is ruled out.
Thus, the state's vehicles have plates such as: "BUTCHER," "BKEEPER," "LUV2FSH," "GOYANKS," "PEACE2U," "THNKPOS" and "MISUDAD." But not "REV 3 20" or "UM REV" and the like.
"The state rejected Byrne's message only because it addressed ... areas of otherwise permissible expression from a religious perspective," the appeals court wrote. "This the state cannot do."
It emphasized that its ruling was limited to the state's ban on religious messages, an area where it said the Supreme Court has been "extensive and clear" in its guidance.
As a result, it said, the state can keep its ban on vanity plates that refer to scatological subjects, genitalia, illicit drugs, racial epithets and other objectionable material.
The appeals court noted that the state's rules against religious expression on vanity plates had sometimes been unevenly applied.
For instance, it said, "GENESIS" can appear on a license plates as long as the driver insists it is a reference to a rock group rather than the Old Testament. And it said Byrne had shown that his proposed license plate would have been approved if he had given the state a secular meaning, saying he chose "JN36TN" because his name is John, he is 36 years old and he was born in Tennessee.
Associated Press Writer John Curran in Montpelier, Vt., contributed to this report.
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