Strong statements by Christians

Pope Francis says walls, occupation, and fundamentalism hamper Mideast peace

Reuters quotes the Pope in a 7 July 2018 article regarding the pontif’s opinion that walls, occupation, and fundamentalism hamper Middle Eastern peace.

Pope Francis led a summit of Christian leaders on how to promote peace in the Middle East on Saturday and said building walls, occupying territories and religious fanaticism would not resolve conflict in the region.

Francis also repeated his view that the “status quo” of the contested city of Jerusalem should be respected, and backed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Francis convened the summit in the southern Italian city of Bari that for centuries has been a gateway to the Middle East and home to the relics of St. Nicholas, a figure venerated in both the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity.

“Truces maintained by walls and displays of power will not lead to peace, but only the concrete desire to listen and to engage in dialogue will,” he said in his second speech of the day, after a private meeting among the religious leaders.

“Let there be an end to the few profiting from the sufferings of many. No more occupying territories and thus tearing people apart,” he said.

(Read more at Reuters)

Considering the liberality of the pope, one has to wonder if this and similar statements have been made to discourage the conservative Christians that he sees across the world.

In response to that thought, all I can say is, “Lead by example, Pope Francis. Tear down the walls around the Vatican — all of them.”

Pope Francis pulls the death penalty from acceptable means of punishment

Crux explains in a 2 August 2018 article the edict of Pope Francis.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the death penalty now is no longer admissible under any circumstances.

The Vatican announced on Thursday Pope Francis approved changes to the compendium of Catholic teaching published under Pope John Paul II.

“The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” reads the Catechism of the Catholic Church now on the death penalty, with the addition that the Church “works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

This is a departure from what the document, approved under Pope John Paul II in 1992, says on the matter: “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

The former formula does stipulate that if non-lethal means are sufficient to protect people’s safety from the aggressor, then authority must limit itself to it, as these “are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.”

In 1997, the Catechism was changed to reflect John Paul’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae.

The addition said that the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

The statement released by the Vatican’s press office on Thursday says that Francis approved the new changes to point number 2267 of the Catechism on May 11, 2018, during a meeting with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Spanish Cardinal Luis Ladaria.

As it’s been re-written, the Catechism now also says that “Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.”

Yet today, “there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.”

“Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption,” reads the Catechism now, as it was approved by Francis.

It’s for this reason, and “in light of the Gospel,” that the Church teaches that the practice is now inadmissible.

Together with the revised number 2267 of the Catechism, the Vatican released a letter by Ladaria addressed to the bishops.

(Read more at Crux)

While I am inclined to agree that Christians should forgive those who have offended them, we cannot force this standard on the world. If God does not force his gift of forgiveness on the world, but allows us to choose to believe in him (John 3:16) — then I doubt that God expects us to not coerce forgiveness by eliminating this death penalty. Additionally, if you see that God gave the government the sword (Romans 13:3-4), then you should realize that the sword constitutes an instrument of death — not a paddle.

Since God directs us to speak for the voiceless (Proverbs 31:8; Psalm 82:4; and other verses). Since the murder victim cannot speak for themselves, we must.

As mentioned with the previous article referencing a ruling of the pope, one has to wonder how much the liberality of the pope and the conservatism of certain Christian movements have influenced this statement.

Oddly, after reviewing all of this, I ran across a web page explaining the pope’s position on the death penalty and it starts with:

The Church’s teaching has not changed, nor has the Pope said that it has. The Catechism and the Pope state that the state has the right to exact the death penalty.


‘Deny Trump to prove your love for Jesus’? I’m not playing that game

A 6 July 2018 OneNewsNow article discusses a ludicrous idea that Christians should deny a leader to prove their love for Jesus.

It’s utterly ridiculous to make the denouncing of Donald Trump a litmus test of Christian orthodoxy – yet that’s what we’re hearing from the same scoundrels who didn’t take our faith seriously before. We don’t have to prove our morality by giving our “Amen” to the left’s latest cause.

We hear this on a daily, if not hourly basis: Evangelicals have hurt their witness by voting for Trump. Evangelicals have lost their credibility by supporting Trump. Evangelicals can no longer be taken seriously because they’re in bed with Trump – and on and on it goes.

It doesn’t matter who he appoints to the Supreme Court. It doesn’t matter if he improves the economy. Or strengthens the military. Or helps stabilize the Middle East.

Not at all. Trump is a heartless, misogynistic, immoral, narcissistic, xenophobic monster, and whoever voted for him (or continues to support him) is not worthy of the name “Christian.”

This has almost become the new orthodoxy: Prove your allegiance to Jesus by denouncing Trump. Failure to denounce him is proof positive that you have compromised your witness.

Sorry, but I’m not playing this game. In fact, I refuse the premise of this game.

First, the very ones driving this narrative are the ones who didn’t take our faith seriously before. They branded us bigots and homophobes. They criticized us as Bible-bashers and rightwing extremists. And they’re the ones now saying, “We would take you more seriously if you denounced Trump.”

I don’t think so. They didn’t take us seriously before. Why should they suddenly say, “Now that you’ve put a distance between yourselves and that crazy man in the White House, we’d love to hear your views on abortion and homosexuality. Yes, please tell us why abortion is murder and why same-sex marriage is illegitimate in God’s sight. You have so much to offer us.”

Not quite!

This reminds me of some criticism I got for our video “Can You Be Gay and Christian?” A lot of hateful viewers vilified me as an “old man” (and much worse, of course). This prompted me to ask, “So, if I was a cool-looking young guy, would you like what I had to say?” I think not.

It’s the position we take that primarily brings us rejection, not our age or appearance.

Second, there are plenty of evangelicals and conservatives who didn’t vote for Trump (some were Never Trumpers), yet they still get hated and ridiculed by the left for their conservative views. Did journalists like Ben Shapiro and David French earn the respect of the liberal world by not voting for Trump? Have they become less hated? Are liberal campuses opening their doors saying, “Please speak to us, now that you’ve proved your credibility by not voting for Trump”?

Third, many of us who did vote for Trump said from the start that we had grave concerns about his character. That we thought he could be very divisive. That some of his rhetoric could be dangerous. And plenty of us have expressed our disagreement with the president since he was elected.

How, then, does our vote for him impinge on our faith?

I’ve said repeatedly that Donald Trump didn’t die for my sins and that he’s not my savior. And I will not sell my soul in support of him.

But you better believe I’d vote for him against Hillary Clinton any day of the week. I’d far rather have him picking Supreme Court nominees than Hillary. Or standing against LGBT extremism. Or protecting our religious freedoms. Or standing with Israel. Or facing down Iran.

(Read more at OneNewsNow)

I wonder why this challenge never surfaced during the years that so many were singing the praises of Obama. Nonetheless, I have to give Dr. Brown kudos for publishing this.

In addition to Dr. Brown’s musings regarding the metaphorical tug-of-war set up by the Never-Trumpers and liberals in order to confound those who support the President and conservatives, why not just follow the words of Christ where he said, “… render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”

A substantial part of the things that should have been reported on Trump (the good news that most of America’s press wants to ignore) is not being reported. Thence, the things (the honor and respect) that are due to Donald Trump are not being given by some segments of America.

Christians: Let’s discuss both immigration & Trump’s wall, too

OneNewsNow points out through a 6 July 2018 article how Pastor Jeffres has tried to bring sides together in the immigration debate.

“Never Trump” evangelicals included their names on a New York Times ad to promote immigration and blast President Trump, but a defender of the President says the ad blatantly ignores our borders and rule of law.

The ad, entitled “Immigrants and Immigration Strengthen Us,” was timed with the July 4th holiday.

It asks fellow Americans to “engage in a constructive conversation that respects the human dignity of all of our neighbors and welcomes people of all faiths, no matter where you were born.”

“I didn’t find anything objectionable about the ad at all. I think most Americans would agree with it,” responds Dr. Robert Jeffress. “But the issue is not immigration. The real issue is illegal immigration.”

The ad was sponsored by the National Immigration Forum, which advocates for the “value of immigrants and immigration” in the United States according to its own website.

Much like the newspaper ad fails to directly address illegal immigration, the NIF website repeatedly refers to “migrants” even when it’s criticizing the U.S. Border Patrol’s “catch and release” program that is apprehending illegal aliens.

Elsewhere the ad states that “America can be great only if we are good,” which Jeffress views as a veiled swipe at President Trump himself.

A vocal segment of “Never Trump” evangelicals is continually criticizing Trump for his views and policies that affect illegal aliens. One ongoing example is Russell Moore, who signed his name to the New York Times ad and has been given op-ed space in prominent newspapers to bash Trump on behalf of Southern Baptists. 

(Read more at OneNewsNow)

As Christians, we must be the ones to try to bring groups together; however, we must recognize that God does not force himself on the world. Therefore, we cannot force groups into harmony. We cannot force people who have broken the law in order to improve their lot in life (which includes just about everyone who has broken the law) to change their ways.

At the same time, we must be on guard against two forms of a new Pharisaicalism:

  1. We need to guard against being so seemingly spiritually-focused as to forget the real-world laws around us (as the NIF seem to forget).
  2. We need to guard against staying in our own little secluded groups. That is, Christians need to visit those in jail (Matthew 25:31-46) and rub shoulders with the rest of the world (John 17:16-18). Although Jesus was sinless, he associated with tax collectors and sinners (Luke 15:1). We should do the same.

Limited specifics on the Pennsylvania Catholic church sex abuse report

A 23 August 2018 article from the Philadelphia Inquirer seems to be on the way to providing more details to the Pennsylvania report on abusive priests.

A state grand jury report released last week revealed decades of allegations of child sex abuse at the hands of more than 300 priests in six Pennsylvania Roman Catholic dioceses.

The report presented accounts by victims and actions taken by church officials, and detailed the parish assignments of more than 250 of the accused clergy. This search tool catalogs the thousands of records detailing where they lived and worked in the dioceses, including some in the Philadelphia region.

Beyond these two paragraphs, the article only provides a set of links that first expands into a list of names of priests and then expands to show where each selected priest has served.

While I am certain that abuses occurred, those abuses do not appear here. And though I am certain that the mercy of God comes available to all humans, a number of things should be pointed out about how God works in the real world.

  • First, Jesus promised the thief that he would be in paradise that day — but Christ did not exempt him from his punishment on the cross.
  • Second, all of the people who Jesus healed (even the ones he raised from the dead) eventually died physically. Hopefully, they saw the message that Jesus offered and attained spiritual life; however, as John 21:22 points out, we should follow Christ ourselves.
  • Third, Jesus guarantees the believer a life-and-death struggle against the world in Luke 10:3 (where Christians are the lambs).

Therefore, for the Catholic church to shield these priests from prosecution works as an anti-evangelism that stifles the true message of the church.

Along the stream of thought that points out some acts work to stifle the true message of the church, might these acts be a continuation of the push by liberals regarding the gaying of the priesthood? While we all have sins, it seems an extreme mistake to include people into the priesthood who have specific problems with any of the 10 sins listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Of course, this means that some Protestant churches will have to follow the directive to show judicious decision-making skills as outlined in Matthew 7:1-5 and not put the former thief in charge of the year’s collection for the orphans.

On the other hand, the lack of dates of offenses (and, thence, the already-served convictions) seems to point toward the possibility that this Pennsylvania report includes issues that have already been adjudicated. The concept of proven offense and punishment as given in the Bible comes up here. Once someone has been punished for one offense, the state does not continue to punish for that one occurrence.

With all of this being said, could this be a ploy by Pennsylvania Democrats to discourage Catholics and other Christians? Since discouraged people are less likely to vote, could this be a covert method of cutting votes?

LifeZette exposes the recurring issues in the Catholic heirarchy

In a 28 August 2018 article of LifeZette, some of the truth peeks out.

It appears as though there’s some division in the Catholic Church — with news breaking that Pope Francis may have covered up sexual misconduct.

Former Vatican ambassador to the United States (from 2011 to 2016) and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò published an open letter on a pair of Catholic websites — The National Catholic Register and LifeSiteNews — claiming the pope knew of allegations made against the former Archbishop of Washington (2001 to 2006), Theodore McCarrick. The ex-Cardinal was reportedly sexually active with seminarians and punished by Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Viganò claimed that Pope Francis was aware of this situation, ignored it and reinstated Cardinal McCarrick as a high-ranking member of the U.S. Catholic Church.

“The pope learned about it from me on June 23, 2013 and continued to cover for him,” Archbishop Viganò wrote. “He did not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him and made him his trusted counselor.”

“Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them,” Archbishop Viganò added.

On Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” on Monday night, Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo joined host Laura Ingraham to discuss the matter. Arroyo, who is also the managing editor of EWTN, a Catholic television network, explained that Archbishop Viganò is not the kind of person who would fabricate such a claim..

“He’s very well-respected,” Arroyo said of Viganò. “He’s a man of integrity … and he’s been a whistleblower in the past. In 2011, he wrote letters to Pope Benedict about corruption in the Vatican. Those were leaked and became the Vatileak scandal. It was his exposes, only meant for the pope’s eyes.”.

The VatiLeaks scandal Arroyo referenced occurred in 2012 when Viganò sent letters that Pope Benedict XVI leaked; in them, Viganò asked to not be transferred after exposing Vatican corruption — which cost the church millions of dollars..

(Read more at LifeZette)

Saying that “the statement speaks for itself — reach your own conclusions” sounds so much like Obama’s saying “I read about in the paper” regarding the IRS scandal, spying on AP reporters, Hillary’s email server (even with his emails in the mix), and other scandals.

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