Friday, December 31, 2010

"Rev." Fred Phelps is not a member of the "Christian right"

I’ve never recognized "Rev." Fred Phelps of "God Hates Fags" infamy as a Christian, and I’ve long suspected him of being an agent of the enemy. I don’t wish to demonize the entire Democratic party in the United States, but Mr. Phelps’ political connections aren’t those one would usually associate with a member of the "Christian right," according to this post from HillBuzz:

(1) Is Fred Phelps a Democrat?

Yes. Fred Phelps is a lifelong Democrat who ran for Governor of Kansas three times…in 1990, 1994, and 1998. Fred Phelps ran as a Democrat. Fred Phelps is a Democrat who strongly supported Al Gore for years, briefly broke away from Gore during the Clinton years because Phelps hates both Bill and Hillary Clinton with a passion (because of Bill’s infidelities), but has seemingly reconciled with Gore and loves him again. Phelps’ son is also a big Al Gore supporter and was a Gore delegate in 1988 to the Democrat Convention.

(2) Is Westboro Baptist a Democrat organization?

Yes. Westboro Baptist is a Democrat organization that exists as a hate-group run by Democrat Fred Phelps, the former Democrat contender for Governor of Kansas in 1990, 1994, and 1998. Phelps and Westboro Baptist hate the United States Military and engage in picketing military funerals. They also hate gays, which is consistent with the Democrat Party’s general feeling towards the gay community — if people are sharp enough to cut through the PC propaganda and take a hard look on how Democrats in general really see gays... Democrats use gays for a funding source but have great contempt for them and are, in fact, more hateful toward gays than conservatives because the image of the gay-hating conservative is actually conjured by the Left as a boogeyman in the gay community, using Democrats like Fred Phelps and his Democrat hate-group Westboro Baptist to provide the caricature the Left wants to imprint on conservatism...

HT: The Blog of Walker

Former Jehovah's Witness accuses JWs of moving children to avoid blood transfusions

Another backlog item, as reported by Tom Blackwell in the National Post, September 28, 2009:

The boy was just five years old and desperately ill, but as he crouched in the back seat of Donna Ryder's car, he became more fugitive than cancer patient.

Police in New Brunswick were already out looking for the child when, according to Ms. Ryder, she hid him and his mother in her Dodge Omni and drove them to Fredericton, away from children's aid officials who might have forced the son of Jehovah's Witnesses to accept a blood transfusion.

Fellow officials of the Church then took over, whisking the child to their Canadian headquarters, she says. The patient and his family ended up eventually in Mexico for alternative treatments that abided by the sect's controversial -- and vigorously enforced -- ban on receiving blood. He died soon after.

It was a particularly dramatic episode, but Ms. Ryder alleges that the Church regularly transports sick children far from the reach of child welfare authorities -- and the possibility of forced transfusions -- before the cases can turn into high-profile court battles.

Witnesses stake out the hospital rooms of children around the clock, mostly to offer support but sometimes hustling the patients away when it seems likely an attempt will be made to impose a transfusion, charged Ms. Ryder, who did legal work on Witness cases for several years before leaving the church.

"It makes me feel ill when I recall my part in that," said the 58-year-old, now a social work student at Ryerson University. "I was terrified I was going to get arrested.... When a doctor says a child needs a blood transfusion to live, that becomes a necessity of life. To work behind closed doors and under the rug to spirit the child away is not protection, it's illegal."...

...Ms. Ryder's allegations were firmly dismissed, however, by a top church official, who said the Witnesses as an organization never transport children to avoid legal action, though parents may choose to take them to a health-care facility or practitioner who is willing to provide treatment without blood.

"Treatment options are a personal decision of parents," Warren Shewfelt, the Witnesses' Canadian national director, said in an emailed response to questions. "Responsible parents make treatment decisions based on where they can get the best medical care in accord with the law and with the co-operation of their treating physicians."

As for Ms. Ryder's comments, her "accusations and innuendo ... are devoid of any facts and are completely false," he said...

...Another former Witness who was a paralegal for the church in the 1990s, though, largely confirmed Ms. Ryder's account, saying he can recall at least four cases where the Witnesses moved sick children out of province or out of the country to circumvent an expected attempt by child welfare authorities to gain custody so a transfusion could be carried out.

"It doesn't happen often but it has happened," said Michael Saunders.

Barbara Anderson, an employee of the church's world headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the 1990s, also said she was aware of organized attempts to move sick children from situations where they could have blood forced on them, though she believes it is much less likely to take place today.

Female Lutheran bishop in Germany resigns over criticism of her handling of sexual abuse allegations

Another backlog item:

Not only are women not biblically qualified for positions of leadership in a church (see I Timothy 3:1-12), it seems as though they can be just as bad as men when it comes to covering up sexual abuse scandals. As reported by Agence France-Presse on July 17, 2010:

HAMBURG—The world's first female Lutheran bishop resigned Friday after abuse accusations in her northern German diocese of Hamburg, the latest casualty of a scandal to have rocked the church.

Maria Jepsen, 65, came under fire for bungling the case of a pastor accused of abusing young boys and girls in the 1970s and 1980s. She reportedly knew for several years about the case but failed to act.

"My credibility has been called into question," she said at a hastily convened press conference to explain her decision.

"Therefore, I am no longer in a position to continue the duty I promised to God and to my congregation when I was ordained and when I was elected as a bishop," added Jepsen.

According to German media reports, a 46-year-old woman said she had been the victim of repeated sexual abuse by the pastor between 1979 and 1984, abuse to which the pastor admitted when confronted by his superiors in the church.

But the abuse victim said she had revealed the abuse to Jepson as far back as 1999.

Jepsen has said she was only told about "unworthy behavior" by the pastor and only learned about the precise nature of the abuse this year.

Without reacting directly to the criticism against her, Jepsen on Friday called for abuse cases, in Ahrensburg and elsewhere, to be cleared up as quickly as possible.

In 1992, Jepsen became the first woman to be appointed as a Lutheran bishop and was elected to a second 10-year term in 2002.

The Protestant Church in Germany, which has about 25 million members, is still reeling from the shock resignation in February of its head, Margot Kaessmann, who was caught drunk behind the wheel.

Buddhist idolatry on display in Alberta

Another item from the backlog:

And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Revelation 9:20

The verse above is just one of the passages of scripture that indicates that the Great tribulation will be characterized not by atheism, but by idolatry. An example of this took place at Westlock, Alberta on July 25, 2010, as reported by Chris Zdeb in the Edmonton Journal on July 26:

Peace and tranquillity are what we long for, but those qualities are elusive and rare in our lives. So when the opportunity presents itself to get closer to that state, many take it, which is why more than 4,000 people from across Western Canada and the United States gathered Sunday in the country, 45 kilometres north of Edmonton.

They had come to see the Jade Buddha of Universal Peace, which is supposed to bring inner peace and happiness to those who see it. How could it not, under perfectly blue prairie skies, with cheery yellow canola fields nearby and the air heavy with the sweet smell of freshly cut field grass warmed by the sun?

Excited children leaned forward in anticipation and adults held digital and video cameras at the ready as a gold cloth adorned with red Buddhist symbols was slowly pulled away, revealing a four-metre high statue of a young, slim, smiling Buddha sitting cross-legged on a mammoth alabaster throne...

...The four-tonne statue, valued at approximately $5 million, is the largest such figure in the world, carved from a 100-million-year-old gemstone boulder mined in northern B.C., near the Yukon border. It was commissioned by an Australian couple and was finished in December 2008. It took sculptors and artists in Thailand five years to complete. It has been touring the world to promote universal peace. At the end of the tour, the statue will be on permanent display in Victoria, Australia, where the couple who commissioned it live.

The atmosphere at this event wasn't entirely spiritual. According to Bonnie Hutchinson, who was in attendance, and whose views could be described as New Age, it seems that Buddhists have their equivalent of the moneychangers in the Temple:

On the pavilion in front of the altar, a singer was entertaining the thousands of visitors, passing around a hat for contributions. This was not Buddhist chanting. This was pop singing for pure entertainment.

In stalls and large tents between the main building and the altar, were kiosks selling clothes, food, and lots of other things. Healthy lively commerce was much in evidence...

...At first I was a bit surprised. I expected to feel the incongruence of the Jade Buddha surrounded by Western Canadian farm country. But I did not expect to feel the same kind of atmosphere I’ve experienced at lots of "tourist trap" places I’ve visited...

...Of course there would be entertainment. As one of the organizers said to me, "We knew with this many people and lots of children, we would have to provide some entertainment." (He went on to tell me that the monks would be chanting at 9 p.m. that evening.)

As for all the emphasis on "peace," it's worthwhile to remember that according to Daniel 8:25, the Antichrist "by peace shall destroy many." Romans 5:1-2 states the path to true peace:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Jewish populations in Yemen and Ethiopia have distinct histories

From the abstract of the article Mitochondrial DNA reveals distinct evolutionary histories for Jewish populations in Yemen and Ethiopia by Amy L. Non, Ali Al-Meeri, et. al., published in the January 2011 issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology:

A high frequency of sub-Saharan African L haplogroups was found in both Jewish populations, indicating a significant African maternal contribution unlike other Jewish Diaspora populations. However, no identical haplotypes were shared between the Yemenite and Ethiopian Jewish populations, suggesting very little gene flow between the populations and potentially distinct maternal population histories...Specifically, Yemenite Jewish mitochondrial diversity reflects potential descent from ancient Israeli exiles and shared African and Middle Eastern ancestry with little evidence for large-scale conversion of local Yemeni. In contrast, the Ethiopian Jewish population appears to be a subset of the larger Ethiopian population suggesting descent primarily through conversion of local women.

Human remains found in Israel may be the world's oldest

I believe the Bible, and not in macroevolution, but I find this item interesting. As reported by Associated Press on December 27, 2010:

Israeli archaeologists said Monday they may have found the earliest evidence yet for the existence of modern man, which, if proven, could upset theories of the origin of humans.

A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in central Israel said teeth found in the cave are about 400,000 years old and resemble those of other remains of modern man, known scientifically as Homo sapiens. The earliest Homo sapiens remains found to date are only half as old...

...The accepted scientific theory is that Homo sapiens originated in Africa and migrated out of the continent. Gopher said if the remains are definitively linked to modern human’s ancestors, it could mean that modern man in fact originated in what is now Israel...

...According to today’s accepted scientific theories, modern humans and Neanderthals stemmed from a common ancestor who lived in Africa about 700,000 years ago. One group of descendants migrated to Europe and developed into Neanderthals, later becoming extinct. Another group stayed in Africa and evolved into Homo sapiens — modern humans.

The issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology that this study appears in hasn't yet been posted.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

50 years ago: Israel denies reports that it's working toward producing atomic bombs

On December 20, 1960, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Avram Harman called on U.S. Secretary of State Christian Herter to deny reports that Israel, with French aid, was developing the capacity to produce atomic bombs. Mr. Harman confirmed that a nuclear reactor was being built in the Negev Desert with French aid but that it was "exclusively for peaceful purposes."

On December 21, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion told the Knesset that reports of an Israeli A-bomb program were "deliberate or undeliberate" untruths.

On December 22, the U.S. State Department said that it felt that the Israeli nuclear reactor project "does not represent a cause for special concern."

On December 23, United Arab Republic President Gamal Nasser warned that any attempt by Israel to build an atomic bomb would mean war with the U.A.R.

20 years ago: Government of Canada bars hundreds of delegates from world congress of International Council of Christian Churches

Another item from the backlog that should have been posted months ago (warning--lengthy post ahead): In August 1990, the International Council of Christian Churches, which had been founded in 1948 to counter the liberalism and apostasy of the World Council of Churches, held its 13th World Congress in Vancouver, British Columbia, only to find that more than half of the expected 1,200 delegates had been barred from entering the country by the Government of Canada, ostensibly for fear that they would try to illegally remain in Canada. This was, of course, nonsense; these delegates were pastors of congregations in their homelands, who would not have abandoned their people, and had always returned home after attending ICCC congresses in various countries in years past.
At the same time that the Canadian federal government, under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Employment and Immigration Minister Barbara McDougall, barred Bible-believing Christians from attending the ICCC congress in Vancouver, this same government allowed 7,000 sodomite activists, carrying who-knows-what diseases, into Vancouver to promote their ungodly lifestyle.

Carl McIntire, President of the ICCC, told the story in the Christian Beacon, September 6, 1990:

Canadian Gov’t Sabotages ICCC Vancouver Congress:
More than 600 delegates, a majority of those expected, were forbidden admission to Canada by consulates and embassies around the world. Congress strongly reacted; local citizen filed complaint with Human Rights Commission. McIntire appeals to Mulroney and Bush


By Carl McIntire

The International Council of Christian Churches’ 13th Congress had the shock of its 42-year history when it assembled on the campus of the University of British Columbia, where the World Council of Churches met seven years ago. As the brethren arrived to participate, representing their churches, it became clear that the Canadian consulates had vetoed the Congress. They denied visas to hundreds from third-world and other countries.

The local press picked up the story and featured it, with Vancouver’s largest paper, The Sun, heading its report, "Fundamentalists Want Damage From Ottawa," on August 18.

Day after day the Congress assembled in the large gymnasium bedecked with flags on three sides, prepared for a delegation of 1200 or more. It was less than half full, the smallest Congress since the beginning in 1948.

As the story and reports unfolded, the Council charged that it was World Council of Churches’ interests in the Canadian consulates that blocked the delegates from coming.

A lengthy appeal, "A Call for Help," was unanimously adopted after hearing the testimonies of those who were able to get there after much difficulty. The local committee, headed by Wayne Poley, who had handled other Canadian Human Rights Commission complaints, stepped forward and initiated the complaint against the Canadian Government. On the opening night the Council had to pay $13,500 for empty beds which were reserved and which men could not enter the country and occupy.

A communication was sent to the Prime Minister by Dr. McIntire and also President Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Baker. This document together with communications and supplements filed with the Prime Minister and President Bush are here reproduced.

To our knowledge nothing like this has happened before in relation to any religious organization meeting in the western world.

A Call for Help and for Religious Freedom
The 13th World Congress of the International Council of Christian Churches, meeting on the campus of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, August 8-16, 1990, has been afflicted in a manner that had never been anticipated. More than 600 delegates and participants who were scheduled to come from abroad and take part in this Congress were denied admission to Canada by that country’s withholding visas for them to enter. This constituted more than half of the expected attendance...

When the ICCC decided at its 12th Congress in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to come to Canada, it was believed that church representatives from more than 100 nations in which they maintain ICCC membership would be able to come. The indication given by the top officials in Ottawa was that they would give their full cooperation to this end. As it has now turned out from the reports that have been coming in from country after country, the Canadian Embassy refused to give visas except to a very few.

That the ICCC is a religious body has been recognized in all the other countries where it has met and it has been treated as such by government officials.

In Canada itself, the Canadian Council of Evangelical Protestant Churches, founded in 1953, has been recognized by the government as a religious body entitled to tax exemption. The same is true of International Christian Relief, Canada, of the ICCC which has just sent 80,000 lbs. of relief goods to Romania. All the ICCC churches in Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia are recognized by the Canadian Government and are entitled to tax exemption. They carry on their ministry freely. The denial by the Government of visas to these delegates and participants constitutes a great fracture of the free exercise of religion. The emphasis on human rights and non-discrimination on the basis of race, color or religion has become a recognized standard among the nationa and particularly among the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations.

So devastating has been this denial of entrance to these church leaders that the operation at the Congress was less than half of its expected attendance and it has done great injury to the Council’s operation and existence in various countries.

The denial has been so sweeping and massive that, whatever the motivation may have been, Canada has used visa power to afflict, discriminate and persecute a religious movement as represented in the ICCC. Not only were the denominational representatives prevented from coming in country after country but representatives of the new church bodies joining the Council were forbidden to come. The invitations of the Council were rejected. They could not be dangerous crooks.

The contrast between the composition of the Council assembled in the past stands out with the previous Congresses in 1983 and 1988 where the Philippines with its churches over the islands sent more than 200 delegates who were admitted to the United States. This time not more than 15 were allowed to enter Canada, of the more than 180 who were qualified to come. The same is true of India where the ICCC has churches over the entire country. In 1983 and 1988 the United States admitted more than 200 to each Congress. This time in Northern India 183 stood in line with all their papers to receive visas. Not more than 5 or 6 were admitted. The Anglican Bishop, the Rev. V. Som Nath and Bishop Gian Chand Kanwal finally got visas. Bishop Kanwal, Vice-President for the ICCC in Northern India, spent five days remonstrating with the Embassy to Canada. He presented the case and nature of the ICCC to them--182 people, all paying their own way and all properly commissioned to come to the Congress; all had their papers. He and many of them slept on the road all night. He was able to explain to the Consul the nature and ministry of the ICCC in India, all to no avail. Various pressures were used and he finally got his visa. He was told that the ICCC was no Council of Churches and also told that if it were the World Council he and the other applicants would be able to get a visa to Canada. He was asked if the ICCC was a branch of the World Council of Churches. This report indicates that there were various factors involved in these denials.

In Southern India the ICCC has a very large constituency. The same situation prevailed where more than 200 were denied and not more than a dozen were allowed to come. When he arrived in Canada, Dr. J. Buraga, President of the India Council of Christian Churches, discovered the same thing that he faced in New Delhi had been going on in other countries in denying visas. He personally made sure that those who made applications had all the necessary documents which the government required and, finally, as he remonstrated by telephone, he was simply told that they did not deal with problems by phone. They gave him a visa. He has traveled around the world for the ICCC and has been back and forth to the United States without any problem. He had been previously in Canada. In the neighborhood of...350 visas were denied for India alone. The Canadian Consul in New Delhi spoke disparagingly of the ICCC saying to some of the delegates, "Why do you want to go there and waste your money and time?"

Only one of our 21 delegates from Haiti received a visa and he was permitted to stay for only one week. Twelve of the Brazil delegation of 20 who had their round-trip tickets, everything in order representing churches, were summarily denied visas. From Nigeria, where the ICCC had 27 denominations, not one delegate was admitted. One delegate from Ethiopia was allowed to enter Canada. Even in the case of South Korea the Canadian Embassy refused to admit a sizeable number of the duly appointed delegates to Canada. Whatever motivation directed such a repressive act, the facts are here were Christian leaders who were god-fearing, law-abiding citizens, responsible for Christian churches in their land. They were not transferring dope; they do not belong to subversive terrorist organizations, nor have they joined revolutionary activities. This council over a period of 42 years has developed into a fellowship of 547 denominations which are faithful to the historic Christian faith--the same faith that had its great influences in the development of Canada and the western world by those who fled religious persecution in Europe.

To offset the ICCC’s meeting in Vancouver and overlapping it was the gathering of homosexuals. There were 7,002 delegates at the Gay Pride games from 27 countries with the questionable factor of AIDS so general in their community. This gathering of foreigners was so freely admitted, while another gathering, one of Christian church leaders, ran into a hostility which reduced their presence by more than half who would have been able to fill out the program as contemplated and organized. The partiality shown here can only mean that the churches were picked out for this special treatment.

One thing is clear that the ICCC represents the world-wide organization of churches which do not support--and many have come out--of the WCC. The religious issues between these two bodies are matters to which Christian people are entitled, both to have their opinions and to take a stand. This Council reporting this repression considers it to be religious persecution of the first order against the churches of Jesus Christ.

It calls upon the Canadian government to apologize to the ICCC and to discipline all who were responsible for it. It authorizes an appeal to the Human Rights Commission of the UN with a petition that Canada be called to account before the nations of the world. No way does this council question the right of the Government of Canada in its use of visa power to protect the interests of their citizens but such a blanket and general use of this power to inhibit the free exercise of religion is a violation of the Constitution of Canada which is supposed to guarantee such freedom.

Here is perhaps the first example in the 20th Century where government power has been used against any international Christian body. Political, ideological, ecumenical, and various factors are involved in the conflict between the WCC and the ICCC. They raise the question of whether within the government consular officers around the world there is an anti-ICCC bias and a pro-WCC interest which could be among the real and subjective factors that precipitated this destructive attack upon this Christian body. This Council also requests the support in this protest all who believe in religious freedom and human rights and no discrimination on the basis of color, national origin, race or religion.

In Canada there have been times when the Council has spoken out against the Government, an activity of the ICCC through its regional organization headed by its representative, Mr. Tom Linton.

The Government in an official action organized and assisted in sponsoring an interfaith religious service of worship on February 14, 1988, commending Canada for maintaining religious freedom. This was objected to as a government-run religious function and operation. Participating were the churches of the WCC in Canada, which dominate the religious scene together with the Roman Catholic Church and a number of evangelicals who were willing to compromise and participate in this fusion of religious bodies, all at the behest of the state.

Here is a case where the International Council in its promotion of religious freedom has insisted that the Government be separate. The separation of church and state is essential for the protection of the churches in their ministry and freedom.

In protesting this action against the ICCC it is the desire of this Council that such a strong protest be manifested that nothing like this will occur again in Canada or any other country. Religious persecution and repression led various groups from Western Europe to come to this part of the world that they might build their churches and homes on the basis of Christian principles and see that they live under a government which in no way would interfered with law-abiding activities of Christian bodies.

Has the day come when it is no longer possible for world international gatherings of churches to assemble freely without fear of being restricted and being molested by the state?

As a Bible-believing Fundamentalist body, maintaining the common doctrines of the Christian faith, the ICCC has been expanding rapidly and has church bodies in more than 100 nations. At this assembly more than 100 applications were received from new church bodies over the world. Is what Canada has done in afflicting this Council to be a precedent and an example for other countries when the Council gathers for its various church meetings? Here is a cry for help.

Even those who do not agree with its position and activity in the religious world must recognize that what was done to the ICCC could also be done to others, and the day of religious freedom has now entered an eclipse. A protest is now being made by this Council. It sits in an auditorium that is less than half full; at least 600 seats are empty, and there is the constant realization that a secular state has intervened to see that the ICCC’s world-wide ministry is restrained, restricted and repulsed. These more than 600 Bible-believing Christians are denied the privilege of going back to their countries to carry on their ministry for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ with the inspiration derived from the Congress.

When the WCC people in these embassies and others in sympathy with them use their personal positions to inflict this damage by such an abusive power, we need to call upon all governments, including the United States, to take some appropriate action to show their disdain and disapproval of Canada’s abuse of the International Council of Christian Churches.

Leaders Kept From ICCC Congress by Consulates
The attack of the Canadian Government on the ICCC through its consulates left a small company who carried out the prearranged program with some of its prayer leaders and speakers kept from entering the country. For nine days all were conscious in all the sessions that the assembly had been decimated by the Canadian officials, that actual registration came to only 502, including American visitors...

...The people who came went away realizing that a new form of persecution manifested itself, and the Canadian Government was used to implement it against this Council...All left praying that God would overrule the attack made by the Canadian Government, and instead of hurting the Council, this kind of opposition would strengthen the believers to be courageous and be bold in carrying out the Great Commission, which is upon them from Jesus Christ.

From The Vancouver Sun, August 16, 1990:

Fundamentalists want damages from Ottawa
By Douglas Todd
Sun Religious Reporter

A worldwide group of fundamentalist Christians meeting in Vancouver is seeking $5 million in damages from the federal government--charging Canadian consular officials denied temporary visas to more than 600 conference delegates.

"We feel it’s a form of religious persecution and discrimination," Carl McIntire, 84-year-old president of the International Council of Christian Churches, said at a Friday news conference.

Delegates from Haiti, the Philippines, India and Brazil were among those refused entry, said McIntire, who claims his organization represents millions of anti-Communist, "Bible-believing" Protestants.

About 600 delegates made it to the annual convention at the University of B.C.

However, more than 180 delegates from India were denied visas in early August, said Bishop Gian Kanwall of the All-India National Church. Canadian High Commission officials in India refused delegates because of fears they would illegally immigrate, Kanwall said.

The ICCC had to pay UBC’s Gage Towers $13,000 for unfilled rooms, McIntire said.

Vancouver resident Wayne Poley this week sent a letter to the Canadian Human Rights Commission calling for the federal immigration and external affairs departments to pay more than $8,000 compensation to each delegate refused entry.

"We have claimed damages of $5 million, which is $8,000 for each of the 600 representatives turned away. That is well within the history of settlements made in Canadian human rights cases," Poley, a conference official, said.

Jerry Maphree, an immigration department spokesman in Ottawa, said: "With 600 refusals (at consuls around the world), I would have thought a trend would have developed and we would have heard more about it."

Saying he would have to choose his words carefully because an official complaint has been filed, Maphree said the delegates would never have been denied visas on ideological grounds. "Whether they hold radical views or not is irrelevant."

The main reason people are refused temporary visas to Canada, Maphree said, is when there is concern they would not return home. Visitors must also prove an authentic reason for their trip.

ICCC officials said they felt it was unjust their members were denied visas to the conference, which ended Friday, while there were no such problems for the visitors who took part in Vancouver’s recent Gay Games.

The ICCC, which was formed in 1948 to oppose the more liberal and ecumenical World Council of Churches, has never experienced wholesale visa denials for any other annual convention held in other countries, said McIntire.

McIntire also speculated senior government officials might have "colluded" with the "powerful World Council of Churches" to keep out delegates.

The authoritative Encyclopedia of American Religions says the ICCC is the most rigorously fundamentalist of three major world bodies representing Protestant Christians. The encyclopedia says the ICCC and McIntire, who is also founder of the U.S. Bible Presbyterian Church, staunchly oppose communism, modernism and pacifism.

I didn't hear if the ICCC’s appeals to the Government of Canada were successful, but I suspect not. The Human Rights Commission, then as now, was not known to be friendly toward Christians (see Ezra Levant’s book Shakedown (2009), an excellent exposé of the Canadian human rights racket), so that protest presumably went nowhere.

The cabinet minister responsible for the barring of the ICCC delegates from Canada, Barbara McDougall, was promoted in 1991 from Employment and Immigration Minister to External Affairs Minister. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney resigned in 1993, by which time polls showed a higher percentage of Canadians expressing a belief that Elvis Presley may still be alive than supporting the Mulroney government. Mr. Mulroney was replaced as Prime Minister by the forgettable Kim Campbell, who guided the party to a disastrous, if inevitable, defeat in the 1993 federal election. The Liberal Party, under Prime Minister Jean Chretien--whose name, ironically, means "Christian" in French--proved to be far more anti-Christian than the one it replaced.

At the end of 2010 Canada has a minority government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada; unrepentant Mulroneyites are prominent in the party and government, and "Lyin’ Brian" Mulroney is now revered by them as an elder statesman.

Carl McIntire went to be with the Lord on March 19, 2002 at the age of 95. The International Council of Christian Churches had held at least four world congresses since 1990, none of them, as far as I know, in Canada.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pennsylvania parents who practiced faith-healing are convicted of manslaughter in their son's death

Walter Martin has been credited with saying, "Bad exegesis leads to bad theology, which leads to bad morality." Yet another tragic example is that of a Pennsylvania couple who let their 2-year-old son die as a result of their fanatical opposition to medicine. As reported by Joseph A. Slobodzian in the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 11, 2010:

The Rhawnhurst couple who put their faith in prayer as their 2-year-old son died of bacterial pneumonia were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Friday.

Continuing the silence they have kept since their arrests in April 2009, Herbert and Catherine Schaible said nothing after the Common Pleas Court jury of eight men and four women delivered the late-afternoon verdict. The couple also were pronounced guilty of endangering the welfare of a child...

... Their pastor, Nelson A. Clark of the First Century Gospel Church of Juniata Park, which teaches healing through prayer and eschews medical care as evidence of a lack of faith in God, seemed crushed by the jury's conclusion.

"We are hurting now," Clark said as he left the Criminal Justice Center courtroom. "That should not have been. That was not what we wanted to hear. Not involuntary manslaughter."

The Schaibles' 2-year-old son, Kent, died after fighting what began as a cold and progressed over two weeks to bacterial pneumonia. According to testimony, Herbert Schaible, 42, and Catherine Schaible, 41, prayed for their son and thought he might be getting better.

But on the night of Jan. 24, 2009, the Schaibles discovered that Kent was dead. They called the church's assistant pastor, Ralph Myers, who came to the house, joined the parents in prayer, and then called a funeral director.

"We tried to fight the devil, but in the end the devil won," Herbert Schaible told homicide detectives in a statement read to the jury during the trial, which began Tuesday...

... First Century Gospel Church preaches a literal reliance on faith and prayer to heal, and cites such scriptural bases as Abraham's faith in God when he offered to sacrifice his son Isaac. While the church considers members who obtain medical care to have sinned, it does not shun those who see a doctor.

According to testimony, the church permits dental care, such as cleanings and filling cavities, and does not proscribe modern inventions such as personal computers.

A glance at the What We Believe section of the website of First Century Gospel Church shows that the church is mostly sound in doctrine, but fanatical on the issues of healing and money:

Believing faith in the atonement work of Jesus includes trusting God for healing without medicine, for divine protection without devices, and for daily needs without laid-up money. Acts 3:16 "By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him." When we worship and serve God, He heals us of illness Exodus 23:25.
Psalm 91:9-10 "If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the LORD, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent." Our trust is to be on God everyday for everything in life. Matthew 6:19-20 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth... But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven," by giving it to charity.

The church has posted a sermon titled Healing Ministry of Jesus, which includes:

A minister who claims to teach from the Bible, but goes to a hospital for medical treatment, is not trusting God in faith on the Blood sacrifice of His Son. The minister’s decision reveals his serious lack of faith. To preach that Jesus came to save us, but not to heal us, is false teaching—and we are warned to watch out for false prophets Matthew 7:15; 2 John 1:8.

Our close friends should share our believing faith in Christ, and our trust on God for health, healing, and Heaven. Jesus said His true followers were those who did His Father’s will Matthew 12:50—and it is His will to trust Him in believing faith for healing.

God sent His Son to shed His Blood, and to heal those oppressed by the devil Acts 10:38. If we accept Christ as our Savior, we also have to accept Him as our Healer, because Jesus defeated Satan who causes sickness. It is a sin to trust on medical help and pills; and it is real faith to trust on the Blood of Christ for healing. Romans 14:23 "All conduct not based on faith is sinful." God wants us to repent of the sin that caused the illness, and to trust Him alone for the healing.

Moses was educated in Egypt, and would have known about the Pharaoh’s medical plans, so he would have taught the Israelites to use medicine—if that was God’s will, but Moses did not do that. He always told them to go directly to God in prayer about everything.

Sickness is from the devil, but we can be healed by faith in the Blood of Jesus. John 14:13 "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."...

...Many would not receive eternal life, because they would not trust God in faith for healing. If anyone has more faith in doctors and drugs, than they have in God and the Blood of Christ, their salvation would be in serious jeopardy.

First Century Gospel Church seems to have difficulty understanding progressive revelation. Because God revealed himself to Old Testament Israel in certain ways doesn't necessarily mean that we can expect Him to reveal Himself in the same ways today. The healings and other miracles performed by the Lord Jesus Christ were done not only out of compassion but to demonstrate that He was who He claimed to be. The healings and other miracles performed by the apostles helped to validate the fact that they were men sent by Jesus Christ to proclaim His message.

The position of First Century Gospel Church on healing raises a few questions in my mind. If it's sinful to accept medical treatment, why is Luke referred to by the apostle Paul in Colossians 4:14 as "the beloved physician?" If First Century Gospel Church is correct, shouldn't Luke have been required to give up the practice of medicine upon his conversion to Christ? Paul's last letter, II Timothy, contains the statement in the latter part of chapter 4, verse 20, "Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick." Nowhere is it implied that Trophimus (or Paul, for that matter) were lacking in faith in this situation.

Moreover, if healing necessarily goes along with trusting in Christ, why do Christians die at all? The fact is that Christians prior to the return of our Lord continue to die, in most cases as the result of illness. As Walter Martin said, "There is one illness that you will not recover from, and that is--your last one."

I believe that Jesus Christ still heals today, but only if it's His will to do so; He will grant people the state of health that will bring the most glory to Him. I've known Christians who were not healed of disabilities or illnesses, and maintained a strong Christian witness without being healed. Joni Eareckson Tada is a well-known example of this, but there are many others with a similar testimony.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers made the following comments on the difference between faith and fanaticism in the entry for April 26, which deals with God's command to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac in Genesis 22:

The great point of Abraham's faith in God was that he was prepared to do anything for God. He was there to obey God, no matter to what belief he went contrary. Abraham was not a devotee of his convictions, or he would have slain Isaac and said that the voice of the angel was the voice of the devil. That is the attitude of a fanatic.

I suspect that the First Century Gospel Church is too devoted to its convictions on the subject of healing, leading the church to turn a blind eye to the unnecessary deaths of children. Since 1971, there have been almost two dozen such deaths within the congregation of this church, as reported by Mensah M. Dean in the Philadelphia Daily News on December 7, 2010:

* The six children of Roger and Dawn Winterborne: Bruce Winterborne, 7 months, died in 1971 of bronchial pneumonia; Roger Bruce, 20 months, died in 1973 of bronchial pneumonia; Marjorie Dawn, 5 months, died in 1974 of bronchial pneumonia and dehydration; Larry, 6 months, died in 1978 of bilateral bronchial pneumonia with dehydration and malnutrition; Jocelyn, 4 months, died in 1980 of bronchial pneumonia. The family had moved to Norristown at the time of a sixth child's death in 1983 at the age of 4 days.

* Sharon and Jeffrey Still, premature twins, died Feb. 6 and 7, 1990, respectively following an unattended home delivery. Their sister Karyn, 9, died the next year in a measles outbreak that also killed five children, ranging from 19 months to 13 years old, from other faith-healing families.

* Kimberly Wilson, 18 months old, died March 12, 1992, of pneumonia and myocarditis.

* Dean Heilman, 22 months old, was a hemophiliac and bled to death on July 8, 1997. His parents were convicted of manslaughter and child endangerment.

* Lisa Carpenter, 15, died of meningitis in 1984. Her brother, Leroy, 17, died of a ruptured appendix in 1989.

* An unborn boy died Jan. 1, 1994, because his mother was hemorrhaging. She died during the delivery.

* Curtis Houston, 16, died of a leg infection in 1994, a few months after his mother and baby brother died. He had broken his leg a year earlier.

* Benjamin Reinert, 10, died Dec. 31, 2002, of untreated leukemia.

* Kent Schaible, 2, died Jan. 24, 2009, of bacterial pneumonia. His parents go on trial for involuntary manslaughter today.

* Amy Fox, 3, died March 11, 2009, of meningitis.

Most American "evangelicals" believe "good people" in other religions can go to Heaven

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Psalms 14:1-3

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; I Timothy 2:5

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified...
...I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Galatians 2:16, 21

It's becoming more apparent every day that it's questionable how many people who claim to be "evangelicals" are actually Christians. As reported by Stephanie Samuel in the Christian Post on December 17, 2010:

The majority of Protestants and evangelicals believe that good people and people of other religions can go to heaven, according to author David Campbell.

Campbell, who co-wrote American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us, contends that surveys of 3,000 Americans, used to write the book, show that American people of faith, though devout, are very tolerant. So much so that most believers also believe that good people, despite their religious affiliation, can go to heaven.

Among the faiths, 83 percent of evangelical Protestants agreed that good people of other religions can go to heaven. Ninety percent of black Protestants also believe good people can go to heaven.

When prodded further, more than half – 54 percent – of evangelical Protestants said yes, people of religions other than Christianity can go to heaven. Sixty-two percent of black Protestants agreed with the statement.

I have to take issue with Council on Foreign Relations member (i.e., wolf in sheep's clothing) Richard Land's comment:

While Land said it is possible for Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and even Catholics to follow the tenants of their faiths and have salvation in Jesus Christ, he stated that the same is not true for Buddhists, Muslims and Mormons.

I very much dispute the belief that one can have salvation in Jesus Christ while following the tenets (not "tenants") of the Roman Catholic church, which, in its official teachings--the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent and the documents of the first and second Vatican Councils--actually anathematize the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Voodoo priests among 45 people lynched in Haiti as a result of a cholera epidemic

As Paul Harvey used to say, "It is not one world." As reported by BBC News on December 24, 2010:

Voodoo priests in Haiti are being lynched by mobs who blame them for spreading cholera, the country's government has said.

At least 45 people have been lynched in recent weeks as Haiti continues to be ravaged by a cholera epidemic.

Haiti's communications minister has made an appeal for the lynchings to end and called for a campaign to ensure people understand how cholera spreads.

More than 2,500 Haitians have died from the water-borne disease since October.

Another 121,000 people have been treated for symptoms of cholera, with at least 63,500 admitted to hospital, figures show...

...Although many Haitians still practise voodoo or use aspects of voodoo in their religious worship, the latest violence erupted out of fears the traditional priests were using their powers to spread the infection.

Officials counted 40 people killed - mostly voodoo priests - killed in one region of Haiti, the AFP news agency reported, with five others killed elsewhere.

"The victims... were stoned or hacked with machetes before being burned in the streets," communications ministry official Moise Fritz Evens said.

Haiti's communications minister said she abhorred the killings and insisted that the answer was to improve general education about how cholera is transmitted.

"Voodoo practitioners have nothing to do with the cholera epidemic. We must press for an awareness campaign about the disease in the communities."

A highly prominent voodoo leader, Max Beauvoir, told Reuters news agency police were not doing enough to stop the violence.

"Since the earthquake some people have been blaming us, saying that we cast spells and did evil things which brought the earthquake as a punishment," he said.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Edmonton's Singing Christmas Tree, formerly a Christian presentation, is now thoroughly secular

The Singing Christmas Tree, a tradition in Edmonton, Alberta, was first presented in the 1960s by and at Central Pentecostal Tabernacle, and was an explicitly Christian presentation. The church moved to new quarters in 2005 and was renamed North Pointe Community Church. The original facility was demolished in 2007, and the Singing Christmas Tree disappeared.

It was revived in 2009, and is back in 2010--as a thoroughly secular event, now held at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. The 2010 Media Release mentions the presence of dancing men in Santa Claus suits and members of David Foster’s band (with impressive credentials in the popular music business), and is promoted as a Broadway-scale production. In years past, there were no Santas, and all the artists came from the church.

The vision of The Tree is to give families and individuals a holiday performance to celebrate and attend and most importantly an opportunity to give back to the community. In 2009, The Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree Foundation was pleased to donate all net proceeds ($30,900) to Santas Anonymous.

Santas Anonymous is a long-running Edmonton charity created and operated by radio station CHED to distribute toys to poor children. I don’t object to it as a charity, but it’s a completely secular charity. The reader will notice that in the paragraph cited above that no reason is given for the holiday that the performance is celebrating.

There are still Christians involved in the Singing Christmas Tree (North Pointe's senior pastor, Bob Jones, is on the board of directors, but isn't the chairman of the board), but there no longer seems to be anything distinctively Christian about it--not from their publicity, at least. The Singing Christmas Tree has become so secular that in the current Media Kit, there isn’t even one mention of Jesus Christ. So goes the North American "evangelical" church in 2010.

December 5, 2011 update: The link to the 2010 Media Kit is no longer valid, but you can see the November 10, 2011 Media Release. Once again, no mention of Jesus Christ. As if that isn't secular enough, check out their media advisory from October 27, 2011 where they boast about having Santas carolling door-to-door--on Halloween. The advertisement for the SCT running on Edmonton radio stations in 2011 features the very secular song The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

January 6, 2014 update: It was more of the same for 2013, with advertisements being displayed at the Churchill Light Rail Transit station downtown promoting the SCT as an entertainment spectacular, with nothing about the Lord Jesus Christ. From their current (2013) website (bold in original, link added by blogger):

Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree Foundation
The Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree Foundation (ESCTF) is a non-profit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors. The primary purpose of the foundation is to help local charities and showcase local talent while bringing a Christmas spectacular to Edmontonians and visitors every year.

The foundation owns the tree structure, provides overall direction to The Singing Christmas Tree production team, and annually selects local charities to support through the proceeds raised at The Singing Christmas Tree and other events.

Throughout the year, the Foundation continues to help feed the mind, body, and spirit of our local youth by providing music enrichment experiences to underprivileged children in socially vulnerable communities that have been hit by a decrease in government funding.

This year, the ESCTF donated a complete set of new instruments for three elementary schools, as well as funding field trips for students to take in a musical experience in our city. A portion of The Singing Christmas Tree tickets are also donated to youth in our community to continue to inspire them and introduce them to live music and performing arts.

Over the past four years, ESCTF has donated a combined total of $392,000 to local charities such as Santas Anonymous and Edmonton’s Food Bank! This year, in addition to working with established local and global charities, proceeds from your ticket will go to individual causes throughout the City as a way of bringing Christmas year round to children in need through gifts, food and music education...

...FAQ – We’ve Got the Answer.

Q) What will the proceeds go towards?


A) All net proceeds from The Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree 2013 will go to The Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree Foundation. A portion of the proceeds go to local charities such 630 CHED Santas Anonymous and Christmas Bureau, and the Foundation then works closely with other individual causes and organizations to bring Christmas year round to children in need through gifts, food and music education.
The following quote, from the top of the Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree home page, speaks volumes as to the current direction of the SCT (bold in original):

"I moved to Edmonton in December 2011 and at that time I had no idea how lucky I was to be invited to the Singing Christmas Tree. I accepted the invitation without really knowing what the show's concept was all about. The Singing Christmas Tree turned out to be the most original, genuine, heartwarming show that I have ever experienced. The unique icon of a giant tree, dressed with real singers, is visually stunning and spectacular in sound. The performance draws your heart and soul through an emotional journey that truly reflects the spirit of Christmas.

I returned in 2012, this time with very high expectations, and again, I was truly moved by the performance.

I guarantee anybody who has yet to attend, that by the time you leave the performance, you will come out a better person. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?"--Len Rhodes, President & CEO, Edmonton Eskimos
Well, Mr. Rhodes, that may be what "Christmas" is all about, but it isn't what the birth of Jesus Christ was all about. As those of us who've seen the television special A Charlie Brown Christmas will recall (as spoken by Linus in that program):

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2:8-14

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown Mr. Rhodes.

December 4, 2015 update: I notice a couple of differences this year:

1/There seem to be more local performers among the soloists, and are connected with the church. This seems to indicate that the event may be moving back toward the Christian event that it used to be; however, the content seems unchanged from recent years.

2/Unfortunately, one of the "Frendship Sponsors" (sic) is River Cree Resort & Casino in Enoch. The reader may come to his own conclusions as to the propriety of welcoming a casino as a sponsor of an ostensibly Christian event.

December 15, 2017 update: From the ECST's About the Show page:

Imagine a stage decorated with whimsy, a 35-foot singing Christmas tree, and an audience in wonder!

Imagine dancing Santas! Beautiful ballerinas! Amazing acrobats! Stupendous singers! Colourful costumes and breathtaking sets – coming together to make spirits bright!

Imagine a stage adorned with thousands of glimmering lights, filled with a choir of 150 talented singers, all accompanied by a live orchestra in the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.


At least there are no casinos listed among the sponsors for 2017; that's an improvement.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cranial billboards: Another sign of the approach of the mark of the Beast

Another old item from my backlog--as reported by Andrew Adam Newman of The New York Times, February 17, 2009:

TERRY GARDNER, a legal secretary in California, returned home from work recently to find two police officers waiting. They said her brother had told them he thought she might be having a breakdown because she had shaved her head.

Ms. Gardner, 50, said in a telephone interview that she had told the officers that she was fine and had shaved her head for an advertising campaign by Air New Zealand, which had hired her to display a temporary tattoo. She turned around and showed them the message, written in henna on the back of her head: "Need A Change? Head Down to New Zealand. www.airnewzealand.com."

Ms. Gardner was among 30 of what the airline calls "cranial billboards." For shaving their noggins and displaying the ad copy for two weeks in November, they received either a round-trip ticket to New Zealand (worth about $1,200) or $777 in cash (an allusion to the Boeing 777, a model in the airline’s fleet)...

...A similar marketing campaign in England in January for FeelUnique.com, an online beauty products store, paid 10 men and women to apply temporary tattoos with the company’s Web address on their eyelids and then wink at strangers. Chosen randomly from more than 6,000 who applied online, participants were paid 100 pounds (about $149) to wink at people 1,000 times, or 10 pence a wink, an allusion to pay-per-view Web advertising.

The campaign was run by the London public relations firm Mischief. Dan Glover, a creative director at Mischief, said the concept led to articles in regional, national and international media and — most important for the site, whose goal was to generate traffic — hundreds of links from other sites.

Tattoo-related advertising stunts go back to at least 2001, when Golden Palace, an online gambling site, paid the middleweight boxer Bernard Hopkins to wear a temporary tattoo with its Web address during a televised bout. The stunt drew the ire of boxing authorities and ESPN. Over the next couple of years, the casino also paid the former "Partridge Family" star Danny Bonaduce and others on a Fox celebrity boxing series to apply henna tattoos.

In 2005, Andrew Fischer, then 20 and living in Omaha, set up an eBay auction offering his forehead as a site for a temporary tattoo advertisement for one month. Green Pharmaceuticals’ Snore- Stop won with a $37,375 bid, and Mr. Fischer appeared on national programs, including "Good Morning America," and in scores of newspapers and Web sites. Soon afterward, Mr. Fischer sold his forehead a second time — to Golden Palace — but got just $5,000 and scant media attention. His forehead has remained ad-free since...

...Golden Palace has gone the farthest in testing the boundaries of taste. In 2005, through an eBay auction, the casino paid Kari Smith, of Bountiful, Utah, who was then 30, $10,000 to permanently tattoo its Web address on her forehead in large block letters.

It has also paid several pregnant women to display temporary tattoos on their rounded bellies, which they agreed to bare at malls and football stadiums. (Several phone messages and e-mail messages to the casino were not returned.)

Since 2005, Dunlop Tires has hired tattoo artists to work at its booth at the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, geared to motorists who modify cars. Volunteers who agree to be permanently tattooed — either with Dunlop’s logo or its trademarked tire tread — while onlookers gawk receive a set of tires worth $500 to $1,000, said Jim Davis, a Dunlop spokesman. About 200 people have been tattooed so far.

60 years ago: Pope Pius XII promulgates the dogma of the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven

A post that I should have published last month: On November 1, 1950 Pope Pius XII promulgated the bull Munificentissimus Deus: Defining the Dogma of the Assumption. Since the First Vatican Council decreed in 1870 that the pope is infallible when speaking ex cathedra, this is the only time the doctrine of papal infallibility has been invoked.
From paragraph 44 of Munificentissimus Deus:

...we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

There is no scriptural evidence to support this dogma, as the Catholic Encyclopedia admits:
The earliest known literary reference to the Assumption is found in the Greek work De Obitu S. Dominae. Catholic faith, however, has always derived our knowledge of the mystery from Apostolic Tradition...
...The belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is founded on the apocryphal treatise De Obitu S. Dominae, bearing the name of St. John, which belongs however to the fourth or fifth century. It is also found in the book De Transitu Virginis, falsely ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis, and in a spurious letter attributed to St. Denis the Areopagite. If we consult genuine writings in the East, it is mentioned in the sermons of St. Andrew of Crete, St. John Damascene, St. Modestus of Jerusalem and others. In the West, St. Gregory of Tours (De gloria mart., I, iv) mentions it first...
...St. John of Damascus (P.G., I, 96) thus formulates the tradition of the Church of Jerusalem:

St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened, upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nova Scotia Roman Catholic bishop pleads guilty to child pornography charges

I missed this story when it was in the news in April 2010; file under "Yet another one." As reported by CBC News, April 9, 2010:

A Catholic bishop already facing child pornography charges is being accused in a civil lawsuit of sexual abuse by a former resident of the infamous Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's, CBC News has learned.

In a statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Todd Boland alleges he was abused by Raymond Lahey, the former head of the diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia who resigned last September.

Lahey was a priest in Newfoundland and Labrador before moving to Nova Scotia. According to the claim, Boland was abused several times over four years in the early 1980s while he was at Mount Cashel. The accusations include simulated anal intercourse and fondling...

...Over the following two decades, Lahey rose through the ranks in the Roman Catholic Church, eventually becoming a bishop.

In September, police in Ottawa found pornographic images of boys on Lahey's laptop...

...The civil suit against Raymond Lahey also names the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St John's.

Neither has filed a response in court, and no criminal charges have been laid.

Meanwhile, a survivor of sexual abuse claims that he told Roman Catholic authorities and police in Newfoundland in 1989 that he'd seen child pornography in Bishop Lahey's home. As reported by CBC News on October 5, 2009:

A sexual-abuse survivor told Newfoundland and Labrador church officials in the 1980s that he had seen pornography at the home of Bishop Raymond Lahey, who's now facing child-porn charges, the Catholic archbishop of St. John's said Monday.

Archbishop Martin Currie said former Portugal Cove, N.L., priest Kevin Molloy contacted him last week to say that in 1989, Shane Earle told Molloy that he had seen pornography in Lahey's home.

At the time, Lahey was the bishop for St. George's diocese in western Newfoundland. In 2003 he moved to Nova Scotia to head the diocese of Antigonish.

"I asked him what he did with [that information], and Father Molloy mentioned that he had taken it to the appropriate authorities. In this case, it would have been Archbishop [Alphonsus] Penney," Currie said...

...Molloy said he considered it a very serious issue at the time, but he doesn't know whether Penney pursued the matter any further then.

Shane Earle was sexually abused as a boy at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's in the 1970s and 1980s. Earle was financially compensated for the damages caused by the abuse.

Earle said he told police and an inquiry into abuse at Mount Cashel that he saw child pornography in Lahey's home more than 20 years ago...

...On Monday, police officials in St. John's told CBC News that after hearing last week of Earle's comments, they searched through their files and were unable to find any record of Earle's claims.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said it reviewed hundreds of pages of investigation notes, interview transcripts and tapes.

Lahey, 69, stepped down as bishop of the Antigonish diocese on Sept. 26, a day after he was charged with possessing and importing child pornography but before those charges were made public.

Days later, Ottawa police revealed the charges, saying Lahey had been stopped at the Ottawa International Airport on Sept. 15 and his laptop seized for allegedly containing child pornography.

May 6, 2011 update: Mr. Lahey has asked a judge to send him to jail in order to begin serving his sentence. As reported by Andrew Seymour of Postmedia News on May 4, 2011:

Lahey could have remained free on bail, but his lawyer Michael Edelson said his client felt deep and profound remorse and wanted to start serving his sentence immediately.

Lahey is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of a year in jail, although Crown prosecutors indicated they might seek a longer term. It was not clear whether Lahey might try to seek extra credit for the time spent in jail prior to his actual sentencing, although the Crown said they expected the time would be considered on a one-for-one basis...

...The Vatican said it was considering "appropriate disciplinary or penal" action against Lahey - who retains the rank of a bishop emeritus in the Church - and condemned child sexual exploitation of all kinds.

In addition to the criminal charges, Lahey is also accused in a civil lawsuit of sexual abuse.

In a statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Todd Boland alleged Lahey fondled him over his clothes, and that the abuse happened on numerous occasions over several years. The abuse is alleged to have happened in the mid-1980s when Boland was a resident at the infamous Mount Cashel orphanage.

A date for the sentencing hearing is expected to be set May 26.

January 5, 2012 update: On January 4, 2012, Bishop Lahey was sentenced to prison, but was immediately released. As reported by Sean Kilpatrick of Canadian Press on January 4, 2012:

Disgraced Roman Catholic Bishop Raymond Lahey was sentenced to 15 months in prison Wednesday for importing child pornography, but was released on probation within hours.

Lahey pleaded guilty to the child pornography charge back in May and surrendered himself into immediate custody while awaiting sentencing.

Since Lahey committed his crime in 2009, Ontario Court Justice Kent Kirkland said the 71-year-old bishop was entitled to receive double credit for time served awaiting sentencing.

And with close to eight months already in jail, Lahey was free to go from the court.

"The most difficult task for a judge in determining an appropriate sentence is the balancing of the fundamental principles," Kirkland said during the hearing.

"On one hand, the sexual exploitation of children is an offence that cries out for significant reprisal. On the other hand, the personal circumstances of this offender, who accepts responsibility for his wayward conduct, defies the urgency of incarceration."

After receiving his sentence and providing a DNA sample for the national sex offender registry, Lahey left court Wednesday afternoon, escorted into a car by one of his lawyers. Lahey made no comment to reporters.

Before he left, Lahey's lawyer, Michael Edelson, said his client's career with the Church was over and that Lahey would return to layman life. As for what Lahey plans to do next, Edelson wouldn't say...

...Lahey will now be on probation for two years. As part of his conditions, he will have to submit to random searches of his personal and office computers when required by the authorities.

He will also be banned for 20 years from areas where children might gather, such as schools and public pools, and from communicating online with minors under the age of 16.

Kirkland said in his sentencing that he considered the fact that Lahey had no previous criminal record and had a long history of community service.

He also considered a psychiatric assessment conducted last month that found that Lahey was not a pedophile, not a risk to the community and that there was minimal expectation of recidivism...

...At a sentencing hearing last month, Lahey apologized to his church and to victims of child pornography. He said his addiction to Internet porn went against his moral principles.

"I have come to recognize that I became addicted to Internet pornography on a very indiscriminate basis. This was an addiction powerful enough that despite my own distaste for it and my own internal convulsions I could not break it," he said.

Lahey's arrest rocked his former Nova Scotia archdiocese of Antigonish and he immediately stepped down as bishop. The Vatican appointed a new bishop for the diocese but has not ruled on Lahey's status with the Catholic Church.

Crown David Elhadad said that the 15-month sentence shows that offenders will be prosecuted and convicted of their crimes.

"Possession of child pornography for any purpose whatsoever will attract higher and higher sentences," he said outside the court.

But in the Nova Scotia town where Lahey worked, locals expressed disappointment about the sentencing.

"I don't think the sentence was long enough. I think he should have gotten more," resident John Gary Bennett told CTV Atlantic on Wednesday.
May 16, 2012 update: As reported by Michael Tutton of Yahoo News, May 16, 2012:

ANTIGONISH, N.S. - The Pope has defrocked a Roman Catholic bishop who was convicted earlier this year of importing child pornography into Canada.

The Holy See in Rome has stripped Raymond Lahey of his clerical duties in what is one of the most serious penalties that the Roman Catholic Church can impose, the Diocese of Antigonish, N.S., said Wednesday.

The decision means Lahey, a former bishop of Antigonish, can no longer work as a cleric nor preside at any religious services or sacraments.

Archbishop Richard Smith, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Lahey's actions have left the Catholic community deeply wounded.

"This has left Catholics just shaken to the core," Smith said in an interview.

"It has affected the Church ... and left us all shattered and broken-hearted. The impact is most strongly felt in the Maritimes and the Diocese of Antigonish."

In January, Lahey was sentenced to 15 months in jail and two years of probation after he was caught at the Ottawa airport in September 2009 with hundreds of pornographic images of young boys on his laptop and a handheld device.

But because Lahey was given double credit for the time he served in custody before his sentencing, he was released on probation upon conclusion of his trial.

Smith said Pope Benedict XVI has also ordered Lahey, 71, to continue his daily prayers.

"The Holy Father has chosen not to release him from that obligation, to make sure he continues to pray ... in reparation for the sin and the scandal that's been caused by this," the Edmonton-based bishop said.

Antigonish Bishop Brian Joseph Dunn issued a statement saying the Vatican's decision closes a dark chapter in the Church's history.

"This decision reminds all of us of the serious harms that come from all forms of pornography, especially child pornography," Antigonish Bishop Brian Joseph Dunn said in a statement.

"It also means that this action concludes both the criminal and canonical processes that are connected with this matter."

Dunn said any sacraments that Lahey performed prior to the Pope's decision such as baptisms and marriages remain valid.

In August 2009, weeks before he was charged, Lahey helped broker the settlement of a $15-million class-action lawsuit brought by former child sexual abuse victims in the Antigonish diocese.

At the time, he apologized to the victims and said they were entitled to protection from priests.

Lahey's defence lawyer, Michael Edelson, did not return messages seeking comment.

Calgary parish votes to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and join the Roman Catholic Church

For years I’ve suspected that many "Anglo-Catholics" or members of the Traditional Anglican Communion--especially the clergy--are really just closet Roman Catholics waiting to be accepted by the Vatican. I haven’t kept up with the activities of the Canadian branch of the TAC--the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada--in recent years, but it comes as no surprise to this blogger that a glance at Important Documents: Rome regarding Anglicans confirms my suspicions.

It does come as a surprise to this blogger to read that until November 2010, no congregation that was still with the Anglican Church of Canada had voted to join the Roman Catholic Church. As reported by Sean Myers of the Calgary Herald, November 30 and December 1, 2010:

A Calgary Anglican parish is the first in Canada to take up an invitation made by Pope Benedict XVI last year to return to the Roman Catholic fold. After nearly 10 months of research, meetings and soul searching, 90 per cent of the 70-member congregation at St. John the Evangelist in southeast Calgary have voted in favour of the shift. St. John the Evangelist has long been considered a traditionalist church, referring to itself on its website as a "centre of orthodox Anglo-Catholicism."

"This isn’t the Pope . . . poaching Anglicans," parish priest Father Lee Kenyon said Tuesday. "It’s the Pope actually responding to persistent requests from Anglicans for many, many years for full communion. But a communion which is united but not absorbed." The invitation, or Anglicanorum Coetibus, allows for the new converts to retain parts of their liturgy and traditions...

...Father Lee Kenyon said his parishioners at St. John's are not leaving out of anger.
"We didn't vote to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, we voted to accept the invitation of the Pope," said Kenyon, who will be ordained as a Catholic priest despite being married with two children.

Many elements of the conversion must still be negotiated -- including what will happen to the century-old church, which still belongs to the Anglican diocese. Kenyon said his training and ordination should take 12 weeks, but a bishop has to be named by the Vatican to complete his conversion...

...It’s believed that other Anglican parishes in Canada are also contemplating the Catholic offer. They would join with the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, which split from the Anglican Church of Canada more than 30 years ago. It has two parishes in Calgary that share the All Saints’ church in Calgary’s Renfrew neighbourhood.

An Anglican ordinariate is to be established by the Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Collins. It will help convert Anglican priests and ordain them as Catholics. Collins declined an interview request saying it is too early in the process to comment.

In England, five bishops, 50 priests and about 500 Anglican followers have formed an ordinariate that will ordain priests by June. No timeline has been set for Canada. Similar ordinariates are to be established in the United States and Australia.

Five Church of England bishops decide to join the Roman Catholic Church

It’s my belief that the doctrines of Roman Catholicism are more dangerous than those of liberal Anglicanism--or liberalism in any other church--because they’re closer to the truth, and thereby more deceptive. As Charles Spurgeon said, the distinction isn’t between right and wrong, but between right and almost right. Recently, five Church of England bishops, no longer able to stomach their church’s liberalism, decided to jump from the frying pan into the fire and join the Roman Catholic Church. As reported in the London Evening Standard of November 9, 2010:

Five bishops are to join the Roman Catholic Church under a Vatican scheme for disaffected Anglicans.

Three serving bishops and two retired bishops have decided to enter into "full communion" with the Catholic Church through the personal ordinariate, the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales said. The scheme, announced last year by the Vatican, allows Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining aspects of their spiritual heritage.

The bishops are the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough and the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Roman Catholic Church said. They will be joined by the Rt Rev Edwin Barnes, former bishop of Richborough, and the Rt Rev David Silk, former Bishop of Ballarat in Australia...

...Bishop Alan Hopes, Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop in the Westminster Diocese, said: "We welcome the decision of bishops Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, Edwin Barnes and David Silk to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church through the ordinariate for England and Wales, which will be established under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. At our plenary meeting next week, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales will be exploring the establishment of the ordinariate and the warm welcome we will be extending to those who seek to be part of it. Further information will be made known after the meeting."

The decision by the five bishops comes after the General Synod of the Church of England decided to press ahead this summer with the ordination of women bishops without safeguards demanded by traditionalists. This was in spite of threats of a walkout by Anglo-Catholic and conservative evangelical groupings within the Church of England over the issue. The Rt Rev Burnham and the Rt Rev Newton are both so-called "flying bishops" who minister to Church of England parishes where congregations have voted not to allow a woman priest to preside at services. The Rt Rev Broadhurst, who is chairman of the Anglo Catholic grouping Forward in Faith, has already announced his intention of converting to Roman Catholicism. It also emerged last month that the parochial church council of St Peter's Church of England parish in Folkestone had voted to join the ordinariate.

In his Daily Telegraph blog, Damian Thompson reprinted the bishops' statement:

Like many in the catholic tradition of Anglicanism, we have followed the dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics, the ARCIC process, with prayer and longing. We have been dismayed, over the last thirty years, to see Anglicans and Catholics move further apart on some of the issues of the day, and particularly we have been distressed by developments in Faith and Order in Anglicanism which we believe to be incompatible with the historic vocation of Anglicanism and the tradition of the Church for nearly two thousand years.

The Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum cœtibus, given in Rome on 4th November 2009, was a response to Anglicans seeking unity with the Holy See. With the Ordinariates, canonical structures are being established through which we will bring our own experience of Christian discipleship into full communion with the Catholic Church throughout the world and throughout the ages. This is both a generous response to various approaches to the Holy See for help and a bold, new ecumenical instrument in the search for the unity of Christians, the unity for which Christ himself prayed before his Passion and Death. It is a unity, we believe, which is possible only in eucharistic communion with the successor of St Peter.

As bishops, we have even-handedly cared for those who have shared our understanding and those who have taken a different view. We have now reached the point, however, where we must formally declare our position and invite others who share it to join us on our journey. We shall be ceasing, therefore, from public episcopal ministry forthwith, resigning from our pastoral responsibilities in the Church of England with effect from 31st December 2010, and seeking to join an Ordinariate once one is created.

We remain very grateful for all that the Church of England has meant for us and given to us all these years and we hope to maintain close and warm relationships, praying and working together for the coming of God’s Kingdom.

We are deeply appreciative of the support we have received at this difficult time from a whole variety of people: archbishops and bishops, clergy and laity, Anglican and Catholics, those who agree with our views and those who passionately disagree, those who have encouraged us in this step and those who have urged us not to take this step.

The Right Revd Andrew Burnham
The Right Revd Keith Newton
The Right Revd John Broadhurst
The Right Revd Edwin Barnes
The Right Revd David Silk

Saturday, December 4, 2010

50 years ago: Consultation on Church Union (COCU) begins with Blake-Pike proposal

On December 4, 1960 Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, Stated Clerk of the United Presbyterian Church and one of America’s most prominent mainline Protestant clergymen, addressed an assembly of the (U.S.) National Council of Churches at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco--the church led by heretic Episcopal Bishop James A. Pike--and proposed a plan to merge four major Protestant bodies: the Methodist Church (9,815,460 members); Protestant Episcopal Church (3,126,662); United Presbyterian Church (3,145,743); and United Church of Christ (2,223,732).

Although Dr. Blake stressed that he spoke as an individual and not as an official spokesman of his church, the proposal was acclaimed by some Protestant leaders as a hopeful step toward Protestant unity. Bishop Pike offered his endorsement and commendation, and it became known as the "Blake-Pike proposal." The proposal marked the beginning of what became the Consultation on Church Union (COCU). Later in the day, Billy Graham addressed the assembly, with Bishop Pike at his side.

See my earlier post on COCU for more information.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Canadians and Americans lie about church attendance

It comes as no surprise to this blogger, as a Canadian, to find that Canadians and Americans lie on religious surveys, as reported by Shannon Proudfoot of Postmedia, December 3, 2010:

With a prime church-going holiday just around the corner, new research reveals Canadians are second only to Americans in their propensity to inflate their attendance at religious services.

The University of Michigan study encompassed more than 400 different surveys and 750,000 people from 14 countries, including Canada, the United States, Britain and France, finding that while Europeans report their religious attendance more or less accurately, there's a big gap between what Canadians and Americans say and what they do...

...In the U.S. over the past three decades, 35 to 45 per cent of people said they attended religious services regularly, but time-use information reveals that about 25 per cent is a more accurate figure.

In Canada, the percentage of people who said they worshipped regularly fell from 41 per cent in 1974 to 25 per cent by 2005, but over that time period, the percentage who actually attended religious services ranged from about 22 to 10 per cent.

In Europe, the biggest gaps between people's reported and actual religious attendance are found in predominantly Catholic countries. But even in Ireland — where reported church attendance tumbled from 90 per cent in the 1970s and '80s to about 46 per cent in 2006 — the gap was only about four to eight percentage points.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

100 years ago: Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy dies

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; I John 1:1

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. I John 2:22

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. I John 4:1-3

On December 3, 1910 Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, died at the age of 89. Mrs. Eddy suffered physical pain and illness for years before absorbing much of the mind-over-matter "New Thought" teaching of Phineas Quimby, a healer and mesmerist from Maine. She later rejected many of Mr. Quimby’s ideas and created her own doctrine, which she called "Christian Science." Mrs. Eddy’s magnum opus, Science and Health--later retitled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures--was first published in 1875, although she said she had founded the religion in 1866. Among the publications she founded was the newspaper The Christian Science Monitor (in 1908).

Christian Science doctrine includes a belief that God and His creation are entirely good and spiritual, and that all that God makes is spiritual and not material. Evil is unreal and an illusion. Christian Science, and not the Holy Spirit, is the Comforter mentioned in John 16:7-14. Christian Science rejects the Christian doctrine of substitutionary atonement (i.e., Jesus died on the cross in our place as punishment for our sins) and rejects the existence of a literal hell. Christian Science distinguishes between Jesus the man and Christ as a manifestation of God. In Christian Science, "Christ" is completely spiritual, and not material. Jesus, having a body, was not the totality of Christ; he was the Son of God, but not God, and not part of the Trinity, as understood by Christians. In Christian Science, Jesus was just the "Way-shower," not the Way. Christian Science teaches that sickness is the result of wrong thinking, such as fear or ignorance, and can be healed by correct belief. A quick antidote to the false teachings of Christian Science can be obtained by reading the first epistle of John.

40 years ago: Pope Paul VI addresses the Australian Council of Churches

On December 2, 1970 Pope Paul VI was in Sydney. Among his activities was an address to members of the Australian Council of Churches (the reader may make his own observations and draw his own conclusions):

Dear Brothers in Christ,

It is with great joy that We join you on this happy and significant occasion. We are grateful to you, Bishop Garnsey, to the Australian Council of Churches, to the Catholic national commission on ecumenism and to all who have worked to arrange this service of prayer.

We who gather here share a faith in the same God and his Son Jesus Christ. We come together in his Name, and has he not promised that he will be in our midst? (Cfr. Matth. 18: 19)
Jesus died «to gather together in unity the scattered children of God» (Io. 11: 52). And because unity is not yet realized fully among us, we want to associate ourselves in a special way this evening with the prayer Our Lord made for his followers, «May they all be one, Father . . . so that the world may believe . . .» (Io. 17: 21).

You know well how the Second Vatican Council awakened in the Catholic Church a new awareness of the bonds already existing between Christians who share the riches of Christ through faith and baptism. Many of you who do not belong to the visible fellowship of the Roman Catholic Church also found new encouragement in that ecumenical zeal generated by the Council.

But in these days it is clear that ecumenical work is a continuing and costly task. It demands honest facing of the fact «that in content, development and expression of faith . . . there exist certain differences» (Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, 18 September 1970, Reflections and Suggestions concerning Ecumenical Dialogue IV, 2(b)), that doctrinal indifferentism is to be rejected (Ibid., IV, 2(a)), and at the same time that «confessional triumphalism or the appearance of it» (Ibid., IV, 6) must be avoided. History cannot be written off overnight, and the honest hesitations of sensitive consciences always demand our respect and understanding. There is no easy way. The reconciling work of our Lord was achieved through suffering and the Cross. The unity which the ecumenical movement strives to serve has to be bought at a similar price.

Because bonds of unity exist between Christians, it is possible to act together as well as to speak together. Through such efforts undertaken by Christians the world is better able to see the countenance of him «who emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave» (Phil., 2: 7). This is our common calling, to glorify the Father through his Son, by bringing to the world evidence of the redeeming love with which God has enfolded the world from the beginning.

We rejoice to be with you, dear brothers, on this occasion when you have gathered to renew your intention of continuing on the ecumenical way, «to seek in order to find, to find in order to seek still further» (S. AUG., De Trinitate, XV: 2; PL 42: 1057). May God bless us all and lead us «to a deeper realization and clearer expression of the unfathomable riches of Christ» (Unitatis redintegratio, 11).