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Sunday, May 31, 2015


by Carl R. Trueman 5 . 27 . 15 - First Things 

In an article for the New Oxford Review, David Mills recounts the offense caused to a few of his conservative Protestant friends when he drew attention to the fact that they were in agreement with liberal Catholics against conservative Catholics on the matters of priestly celibacy, divorce after remarriage, and contraception. Only on the matter of homosexuality were they in agreement with conservative Catholics.

In fact, Mills could have gone further. Protestants like myself may agree with conservative Catholics in our conclusions on the moral status of homosexual acts but we still assume the legitimate separability of the unitive and the procreative aspects of sexual intercourse. Conservative Catholics not only deny that but see it as a foundational element in their understanding of sexual ethics.

What is more interesting is the hostility which resulted from Mills's statement of what seems to be an unexceptionable matter of fact. While Mills tactfully hides the identity of his friends by avoiding any reference to their ecclesiastical affiliations, I would hazard a guess that they are either high church people of a Lutheran or Anglican variety, or evangelicals of a more generic sort.

There are likely to be three things which have contributed to the phenomenon Mills describes. First, there is a subordination of doctrinal confession to aesthetics. Particularly in American evangelicalism, there is a tendency to treat doctrinal difference with chosen heroes as something to be ignored or wished away rather than addressed. Thus, C. S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer have become American evangelicals as a result of posthumous virtual baptisms into the faith, the brash boldness of which would surely have made even Brigham Young blush.

Now, Lewis and Bonhoeffer both said nice things about Jesus. One wrote exceptionally well. The other died opposing Hitler. They were decent, admirable Christian fellows from whom we should all learn. But they were most definitely not conservative American evangelicals. That they have been made into such indicates how significant doctrinal differences have given way to a desire to recruit them to the chosen cause. It is a triumph of aesthetics and consumer taste over doctrinal confession.

Second, there is surely a faulty understanding of the catholicity of theological discussion. Orthodox Christian theology has not developed over time by slowly watering itself down so that anyone and everyone is seen to stand on the same ground, with any differences being by definition marginal to the heart of the faith. In fact, Christian theology has developed through vigorous engagement between differing positions. Such engagement can only take place if we are prepared to acknowledge the existence of serious differences.

One my favorite theological writers is John Henry Newman—and he is my favorite precisely because he offers different answers to the most fundamental questions and thereby demands that I refine and sharpen my own thinking. If I read Newman and remain unchanged, I know something is not right.

Third, while it is very useful in the civic sphere for those who share common cause on matters such as abortion and homosexuality to stand together, if we ignore the different reasons which lie behind this common front, we risk reducing Christianity to a mere social ethic. For myself, I am pro-life because I am a conservative Protestant. The latter is the foundation of the former, not vice versa. And for that same reason, I am compelled to disagree with my Catholic friends on a whole host of things that are also of great importance to both sides.

It is not surprising that Mills's perfectly mundane observation—that on key issues we conservative Protestants have more in common with liberal Catholics—has caused some consternation. He has exposed the confessional, theological weakness in so much conservative Christian discussion. In doing so, he has reminded us all that important differences between Catholics and Protestants do exist. Only those who lack conviction in their own confession should be disturbed by the facts of the case.

Carl R. Trueman is Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary. His previous posts can be found here.

Friday, May 29, 2015



CAMPBFLY, Controversy over the proposal that a guided missile range should be built on the Island of South Uist has drawn the attention of the public to the Catholic Hebrides and their traditions. This article, which is written with grateful acknowledgment to the researches of the late Rt. Rev. Mgr. H. Cameron and the Rev. Cathaldus Giblin, 0.F.M., describes the historical background of the Catholicism of the islands.
SINCE the time of Dr. Johnson, visitors to the Hebrides have noted and commented on the fact that the majority of the inhabitants of South Uist, Benbecula, Barra, Eriskay, Eigg and Canna have preserved the Faith in a country where penal legislation against Catholicism was more rigorously enforced than any other.
There is some argument about the continuity of this survival. The full story of the Church in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland has still to be written ; but there is sufficient evidence to refute the notion that Catholicism disappeared completely from the Hebrides after the Reformation and was reintroduced there by the Lazarists in the 1650s.
After the Scottish Reformation, the Calvinists had for many years great difficulty in finding ministers for Highland and Hebridean parishes, apart from Argyllshire south of Loch Etive. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, was unable to replace the old pre-Reformation parish priests as these died out. By the end of the sixteenth century the greater part of Gaelic-speaking Scotland had become a spiritual vacuum. An idea of the kind of religion that survived there under such conditions can be obtained from Martin Martin's account of a visit to St. Kilda along with the first Protestant minister to go to the island, in 1697. For more than 150 years after 1600 the Highlands and Islands were to be regarded as a mission field by both Catholics and Protestants alike, the one seeking to revive an old tradition and the other to overthrow it.
Absence of the restraint of religion during the two generations that followed the Reformation has no doubt a great deal to do with the barbarity with which clan feuds were conducted in the Highlands and Islands in the second half of the sixteenth century, and with the moral laxity that led to bitter struggles between legitimate and illegitimate offspring of certain chiefs such as the MacLeods of Lewis and the MacNeils of Barra. But even during this period, the memories of the great Catholic saints of the Gaelic people, particularly that of St. Columba, never grew dim ; indeed the Irish Franciscan missionaries who visited the Hebrides in the 1620s describe the veneration accorded to St. Columba in some districts as tending to be excessive.
Community with Ireland in language and traditions fostered the survival of Catholicism in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. From a statement made by Bingham to Burghley in 1593 it appears that the Hebrideans, particularly the Barramen, were in the habit of going by sea on pilgrimages to Croagh Patrick in Mayo.1 The Scottish Government was well aware of the proclivities of many of the Hebridean chiefs, and in 1609 most of these were coerced into accepting—with the example of the downfall of Ulster before their eyes—the Statutes of Iona which embodied, amongst other conditions, formal acceptance of the established. Protestant religion and the obligation to have their children educated as English-speaking Protestants outside the Highlands and Islands and in places where they could easily serve as hostages for their parents' political behaviour.
Nine island chiefs, Angus MacDonald of Dunyveg, MacLean of Duart, MacLean of Lochbuie, Donald Gorm MacDonald of Sleat, MacLeod of Harris, MacKinnon of Mackinnon, MacLean of Coll, MacDonald of Clanranald, MacQuarrie, signed the Statutes, and it is interesting to note how they or their descendants acted when the opportunity came to reveal their true convictions. Angus of Dunyveg was an old man by 1609, and died in 1614, shortly after which Islay was lost to the MacDonalds for ever. Its inhabitants are explicitly stated to be Catholics in an account sent by Sir John Campbell of Calder to Lord Somerset in 1615.2 Calder and the Earl of Argyll, who expropriated the MacDonalds of Islay, both ended their days as converts to Catholicism and in exile. MacLean of Lochbuie, MacLeod of Harris, and the heir and successor of Clanranald were both reconciled to the Church by the Irish Franciscans in 1624; and the MacDonalds of Sleat and later MacLeods of Harris, although not declaring themselves openly, allowed the Catholic missionaries to work in Skye and North Uist throughout the seventeenth century.
It is significant that in several cases the earliest recorded appointments of Protestant ministers to Hebridean parishes date from the year of the Statutes of Iona, 1609. But even then few could be found. In 1626 the Protestant bishop of the Isles drew up a report of the state of his diocese, showing that Lewis had then only two ministers, Skye, Raasay and the Small Isles three together, Harris one supposedly serving also Barra—sixty miles away ! North and South Uist one, Mull, Coll and Tiree two, Jura, Gigha and Colonsay together one. Placed in charge of such vast areas, having only primitive means of transportation in a roadless country, living amongst an apathetic or hostile people, the Island ministers could have done little even in the way of normal ministrations to the whole population, even if all the inhabitants had been favourably disposed.
As proximity to Ireland counted for much, it is not surprising that at the beginning of the seventeenth century Catholicism was strongest in the Southern Isles, Islay, Jura, Colonsay and in Kintyre, though when an Irish Jesuit, Father Gallwey, was sent on a mission to these districts. around 1618, he found people in Islay and Colonsay who had never seen a priest before. This Jesuit mission was followed shortly after by that of the Irish Franciscans, Brothers Cornelius Ward (Conchobhair Mac an Bhaird), Patrick Haggarty, Paul O'Neill and Patrick Brady in 1624-1626. The Irish Franciscans had their headquarters at Bunmargy in County Antrim, and crossed over to Scotland by the short sea passage between Antrim and Kintyre, and worked in Kintyre and the Southern Isles of Islay, Jura, Gigha and Colonsay, in Iona and the Ross of Mull, in western Invernesshire, Skye, the Small Isles, the Uists and Barra.
In most of these places they encountered (a) a small number of practising Catholics ; (b) very few convinced Calvinists ; (c) a large number of persons, some conforming outwardly to Protestantism, but all cherishing in varying degrees of ignorance an attachment to the Catholic traditions of their ancestors. "It is possible to find very many places there, in which neither priest not heretic minister has been seen since the overthrow of religion in Scotland. And so some have vivid memory of Catholic worship not depraved by the error of heresy," wrote Father Cornelius Ward in 1624. It is obvious from their reports that the missionaries were welcomed nearly . everywhere they went, and indeed their success in reviving Catholicism and reconciling waverers and even enemies was little short of sensational. Within two years 862 persons had been reconciled in Kintyre, 677 in Islay, 212 in Jura, 306 (the whole population) in Colonsay, where the laird, the famous Coll Ciotach Macdonald, was already a Catholic, 278 and more in Mull, including MacLaine of Lochbuie and the brother of MacLean of Duart, chief of the clan, himself a Protestant ; many in Moidart including John MacDonald of Clanranald (lain Muideartach), chief of that branch of the clan, and his family ; 198 on Eigg, 18 on Rum, 8 on Canna, 622 in South Uist, including the laird of Benbecula and the newly appointed minister, whom Father Ward took with him to be trained at Louvain for the priesthood ; 768 on North Uist (leaving the minister with only 14), 220 in Barra, to which Father Ward was invited to go, including the heir to the estate, and many in Harris and Skye. In Muckairn, Father Ward (who was a member of the famous Gaelic bardic family from Donegal) composed a Gaelic panegyric to, and, disguised as an Irish bard, obtained access to Sir John Campbell of Calder, and in three days won him over, and not long afterwards Calder himself, with his family and fifty retainers was received into the Church as was Campbell of Barbreck. This was an outstanding event, for Calder had been Earl of Argyll's right hand man in advancing the Earl's interests in Islay against the Catholic MacDonalds. Calder, Barbreck, MacLeod of Harris, Coll Ciotach, Clanranald and Lochbuie sent back letters with Ward to Rome. It is possible that some reconciliations were not all permanent. Many of the islanders who gathered to hear Father Ward and the other Franciscan friars expound the faith of their fathers and grandfathers and who gave their assent to Catholic teaching and received the sacraments, may never or seldom have seen a priest again in their lives. Paucity of clergy was to be a perpetual handicap to the Hebridean mission in the seventeenth century.
Bitter persecution followed against the Catholics of the Southern Isles and Kintyre, at the hands of the Earl of Argyll and the Synod of Argyll and the Government ; but not until after the suppression of Montrose's rising (1644-5) (during which many of the Argyllshire ministers had to take refuge in the Lowlands) was much progress made by Protestantism in these places. This persecution was particularly directed against Calder and Lochbuie : Calder was exiled, and Lochbuie was forced in 16313 to promise attendance at the local Protestant church with all his retainers and tenants under penalty of forfeiture of a bond of £100 for every failure to do so. In 1650 his heir submitted finally to the Synod of Argyll.* In the Northern Islands matters were different. John MacDonald of Clanranald remained constant in the Faith until his death in 1670. His neighbours, the MacLeods of Dunvegan and Harris and the MacDonalds of Sleat, although conforming to Protestantism 'outwardly, remained secret sympathisers and did nothing to assist the enforcement of the penal laws. Clanranald was connected with the MacLeods of Dunvegan by marriage and with the MacDonalds of Sleat by feudal and clan ties. Neither of these chiefs had any interest in enforcing the edicts of the Synod of Argyll or advancing the interests of the Earls of Argyll against their Catholic relatives and neighbours. Under the influence of Clanranald, the MacNeils of Barra also remained constant. It is therefore not surprising that by 1755, 5,979, or 36 per cent, of the 16,490 Catholics then in Scotland were living on the Clanranald and MacNeil of Barra estates.
The Franciscan mission to the Isles had great possibilities. It was, however, most inadequately supported, indeed its very success led to both jealousy and scepticism at Rome. After returning to the Continent on behalf of the Mission in 1626, Father Cornelius Ward was taken prisoner in London on his way back to Scotland, and kept for two years. He refused an offer of liberty and £1,000 a year to preach Protestantism in the same districts where he had preached Catholicism. He was eventually liberated at the intercession of the Polish ambassador and expelled from the country, but he found his way back to Scotland and was working in Skye, Uist and Glengarry in 1636 and 1637. This devoted and courageous missionary is most certainly deserving of a greater recognition than he has received from Scottish historians. During the time this mission was active, the project of reviving the Bishopric of the Isles-was seriously considered, but unfortunately nothing came of it.
After 1640, the Franciscan mission -dwindled. In 1651, apparently at the request of MacDonell of Glengarry, St. Vincent dePaul sent two priests, Father Dermit Dugan and Father White, to the Highlands. Father Dugan worked in the Outer Hebrides, where he is still well remembered in local tradition, and in Skye, and Father White in Glengarry. The Lazarists had the advantage of being able to stay in Scotland without having to make exhausting trips to the continent to beg for aid, and of having to cover a smaller area than the Franciscans, for they did not attempt to work in the Southern Islands. In his reports to St. Vincent de Paul, Father Dugan shows rather bare appreciation of the labours of the Franciscans without whose efforts the Faith would probably have vanished entirely from the Hebrides before the Lazarists got there at all, and the fact that he implied that Clanranald, who had been indisputably reconciled to the Church in 1624 by the Franciscans, and whose letter, written in 1626, asking help from Pope Urban VIII is still extant, was a convert of his own, throws an interesting light on the loose usage of this term by the missionaries, who included under it anyone brought to the Sacraments, from a non-practising Catholic to a professed Calvinist. Father Dugan, a devoted missionary but a man very different in temperament and outlook from Father Ward, who was essentially a man of the Middle Ages, died prematurely in 1657 on the eve of what seems to have been a projected visit to St. Kilda, which was then still unreached by Protestant ministers. His early death was a great loss to the Church in the Hebrides.
It is clear from Father Dugan's letters that the Lazarists worked in Skye with no interference from MacLeod of Harris or MacDonald of Sleat ; neither was the latter expected to oppose a projected visit to North Uist. There were still Catholics in Skye at the end of the seventeenth century. Martin Martin's account of the Western Isles is not to be relied on for their numbers ; but it is interesting to see the extent to which the Catholic festivals of Christmas, Easter and St. Michael's Day—supposedly banned by Calvinism in Scotland—were observed on the Protestant islands. Skye was slowly lost through the paucity of Catholic missionaries and the increasing desire of MacLeod and Sleat to stand in well with the Government and the increase, after 1700, in the number of ministers and of the S.P.C.K. Schools. Similarly North Uist, which belonged to MacDonald of Sleat, was also lost. The inhabitants of the Isle of Rum were won over by coercion in 1725, a few women alone remaining Catholics. But under the Clanranalds, the last protectors of the old order in the Highlands and Islands, South Uist, Benbecula, Eigg and Canna remained constant, and likewise Barra under the MacNeils. How little the Government and the Established Church felt they could rely on the Highlands and Islands as late as the first half of the eighteenth century is shown by the desperate attempts to get S.P.C.K. schools set up in all Gaelic-speaking districts. The failure of the '45 settled the issue as far as all the doubtful areas were concerned, but black as the outlook then appeared for Highland Catholics, toleration was by then nearer at hand than anyone could have hoped for. The fact that the Catholic tradition survived in Uist and Barra and the Small Isles and mainland of Invernesshire is due to the seventeenth-century missions of the Franciscans and Lazarists. Had these missions, especially the first, been better supported with men and money there is every reason to suppose that much greater areas, including Skye, Harris, North Uist, Mull, Ardnamurchan and Morvern, would still be largely Catholic today. Long after these and other districts had been officially won for Protestantism, Catholic prayers, invocations and customs survived amongst the Gaelicspeaking people, as is proved by such a collection as the late Alexander Carmichael's Carmina Gadelica.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

19 May ST PETER CELESTINE, hermit :)

cel as Shepherd

Pope: end "unacceptable crime" of persecution of Christians

Pope: end "unacceptable crime" of persecution of Christians

2015-05-20 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The many Christians who are being persecuted in our times "are martyrs" Pope Francis said on Wednesday, at the end of his General Audience.

The Holy Father praised an initiative of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) to make a special remembrance, on the Vigil of Pentecost, of the many “brothers and sisters” who have been exiled or killed for no other reason than being Christian. He expressed his hope that the moment of prayer for the new Christian martyrs would increase the recognition that “religious liberty is an inalienable human right.”

Pope Francis also said he hoped Saturday’s time of prayer and remembrance would “increase sensitivity to the plight of Christians persecuted in our day” and help “put an end to this unacceptable crime.”

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The unlikely life of Afghanistan’s first female taxi driver

The unlikely life of Afghanistan’s first female taxi driver

By Sudarsan Raghavan February 26

Sara Bahayi is Afghanistan’s first female taxi driver in recent memory, and she is believed to be the only one actively working in the country. (Andrew Quilty/For The Washington Post)

MAZAR-E SHARIF, Afghanistan

At first glance, the Toyota Corolla looked like any other taxi bumping along the craggy street. In the back seat, three women wore blue burqas that covered their faces and bodies. In the front passenger seat, a bearded man sat stone-faced. The radio piped out a soulful Afghan song.

But the person behind the steering wheel — with coal-black hair, round face and purple scarf — has made taxi No. 12925 a revolution of sorts.

Sara Bahayi is Afghanistan’s first female taxi driver in recent memory, and she is believed to be the only one actively working in the country. She’s 38. She’s unmarried. She’s outspoken. In this highly patriarchal society, wherewomen are considered second-class citizens and often abused, ­Bahayi is brazenly upending gender roles.

Every day, she plies her trade in a business ruled by conservative men. She endures condescending looks, outright jeers, even threats to her life. Most men will not enter her taxi, believing that women should never drive for a man.

Yet Bahayi earns $10 to $20 a day, she says, enough to provide for her 15 relatives, including her ailing mother. She relies on ferrying women shackled by traditions and fear, who vicariously live their dreams of freedom through her.

Some men condemn Sara Bahayi’s job. Her mother fears she’ll be killed. But she wants to support her family. (Andrew Quilty/For The Washington Post)

In her taxi, Bahayi tests boundaries, real and imagined, as she traverses streets and highways. One day, she took passengers to a Taliban area when every male taxi driver refused to go. Another day, she convinced a man — who believed, like many Afghans, that Islam prohibits women from driving — that his beliefs were wrong.

With every fare, Bahayi says, she is determined to send a message to Afghan women: Get out of the house. Earn money. Don’t rely on men.

“For how long should women depend on men’s income, taking the men’s orders?” she asked. “I want them to be independent, to do something for themselves.”
Role model for women

Improving the lives of women was a key American goal after the Taliban regime collapsed in 2001. Far more girls today are in school. Afghanistan’s constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women.

In practice, however, tribal traditions and religious strictures still subjugate most Afghan women and girls. Discrimination and limited access to opportunities are the norm. Violence against women remains exceptionally high.

United Nations officials and women’s rights activists fear that the fragile gains women have made will be further eroded in light of the recent departure of most U.S. and international forces, a resurgence of the Taliban, and expected reductions in international aid as the U.S.-led mission concludes.

Today, few role models for Afghan women exist. There are female ministers and lawmakers, as well as Rula Ghani, Afghanistan’s modern and sophisticated first lady. But most hail from privileged or liberal families. Many Afghan women do not identify with them.

Bahayi stands guard on the roof of her house with a loaded gun after recent threats of burglary. (Andrew Quilty/For The Washington Post)

Bahayi, though, lives in one of Mazar-e Sharif’s poorest enclaves. She has neither an influential position nor a powerful family.

All she has is a hunting rifle she keeps loaded in case of intruders. Every day, she is among the rank and file, empowering local women with each fare.

“She sends the message that men and women have equal rights,” said Arifa Saffar, head of the Afghan Women’s Network, a nonprofit group helping women in Bahayi’s Balkh province. “If a man can drive a taxi, why not a woman? She has shown the reality that a woman can drive just as well as a man.”

‘They feel safe’

Two years ago, Bahayi took a class to acquire her license to drive a taxi. There were 30 other students, all men. To escape the jokes and stares, she sat in the back. One day, she recalled, another student told her it was disgraceful for a woman to take a class with men.

“If you don’t feel shame, I feel shame for you,” he said.

Two weeks later, she passed the road test and received her license. Only nine of the men passed. The man who chastised her failed.

It was not the first hurdle Bahayi had overcome. In the late 1990s, the Taliban killed her brother-in-law, and she was forced to care for her sister and her seven children. Bahayi worked for various aid agencies, eking out a living. A husband would never have allowed her to work, she said.

“That’s why I am single,” Bahayi said, with a faint smile.

The Taliban didn’t allow women to work or leave their houses without male escorts or burqas. So a nephew always walked with her. Not even her next-door neighbors knew she was employed, she said.

When the Taliban government was ousted, Bahayi became a high school teacher. But she couldn’t support her family on the income. So she decided to get her driver’s license.

Bahayi has driven for five years, the past two of which she has spent in Mazar-e Sharif. (Andrew Quilty/For The Washington Post)

A sympathetic male neighbor taught her how to drive — in 15 days. And by selling a piece of land she inherited from her father, she bought a black Toyota sedan. She began transporting neighborhood women who felt more at ease with her than a male driver. They encouraged her to become a taxi driver. Bahayi sensed an economic opportunity.

The day after she received her taxi license, her first client, a woman, was so stunned to see Bahayi behind the wheel that she asked for a tour around Mazar-e Sharif. Along the way, children, and even some men, clapped and cheered. “It was really an interesting day for me,” Bahayi said.

But most men refused to step into her cab. At the taxi stand, her male competitors tried to block her car or stop her potential passengers. Eventually, they got accustomed to seeing her around. But their disapproval persists.

“I will never allow my wife to drive,” said taxi driver Jan Mir, 40. “Women are forbidden to drive. It is not socially acceptable. If we did so, everyone will say bad things about our family within our tribe.”

But some men in Bahayi’s neighborhood see a layer of security for their family’s women.

“Being a female taxi driver is like being a female doctor,” said Mohammad Akram, 50, a bearded man with three of his female relatives inside Bahayi’s taxi on a recent day. “Our women feel comfortable with a woman driver. They feel safe.”
Breaking barriers

Bahayi drops her neighbors at a health clinic in Mazar-e Sharif. (Andrew Quilty/For The Washington Post)

Safe. It’s a feeling that is vanishing for Bahayi.

As she has become well known in this province because of local media coverage, threats against her have grown. But so has her resistance.

“You want to start prostituting in your taxi, taking clients from one place to another,” one person, using a female name, wrote on Bahayi’s Facebook page. “You are defaming the Afghan name.”

Bahayi responded: “Coward. It is very shameful that you are hiding behind your sister’s name and you call me a prostitute. If you are brave, introduce yourself. Who are you?”

But she is not taking her security lightly. This month, intruders tried to enter her house, she said. Perhaps they were after her beehives, which produce honey she sells to supplement her income. Perhaps they despised her career.

The next day, she bought the rifle. Now she and her brothers take turns sitting on their roof at night, guarding their house.

“My mom doesn’t want me to be a taxi driver,” Bahayi said. “One day, she asked me: ‘Why are you still driving? One day they will kill you.’ ”

A girl looks out the back window of Bahayi's taxi. (Andrew Quilty/For The Washington Post)

Two months ago, some women came to the taxi stand, seeking to be driven to a funeral in a Taliban-infested area. All the male taxi drivers refused. So Bahayi donned a man’s coat and sunglasses and drove the women. She knew she faced a beating, or worse, if the Islamist insurgents learned a female was behind the wheel.

She has inspired at least seven other women to learn how to drive, said Saffar of the Afghan Women’s Network. All run private car services for female clients. Bahayi hopes they will become taxi drivers someday.

Now, Bahayi wants to break another barrier. She’s negotiating with some men to become partners in a car dealership. She will acquire the dealership license, and they will lease the place. Eventually, she said, she plans to kick her partners out — and replace them with women. It will become, she hopes, Afghanistan’s first female-owned car dealership.

Monday, May 11, 2015

CHRISTOPHER WEST: Excess Is God's Trademark (3:03)

Pope Francis to Pope Tawadros: Ecumenism of blood unites us

Pope Francis to Pope Tawadros: ecumenism of blood unites us

2015-05-10 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent a Message to Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria on Sunday, to mark two years since the Coptic Patriarch's visit to the Holy See. In the Message, the Holy Father speaks of the present suffering of Christians in many parts of the world, and especially of the persecution of the Coptic Christians, whom Pope Tawadros leads.
"Today more than ever we are united by the ecumenism of blood, which further encourages us on the path towards peace and reconciliation," writes Pope Francis. "I assure you and the Christian community in Egypt and throughout the Middle East of my unceasing prayer," continues Pope Francis, promising to remember in particular the Coptic faithful recently martyred for their Christian faith.
Below, please find the official text, in English, of the Message from Pope Francis to Pope Tawadros 
To His Holiness Tawadros II
Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark
As the second anniversary of our fraternal meeting in Rome is at hand, I wish to express to Your Holiness my prayerful best wishes for your well-being, as well as my appreciation for the spiritual bonds which unite the See of Peter and the See of Mark.
Today more than ever we are united by the ecumenism of blood, which further encourages us on the path towards peace and reconciliation.  I assure you and the Christian community in Egypt and throughout the Middle East of my unceasing prayer, and I remember in particular the Coptic faithful recently martyred for their Christian faith.  May the Lord welcome them into his Kingdom. 
With thanksgiving to the Lord, I recall our advances along the path of friendship, united as we are by one baptism.  Though our communion is yet imperfect, what we have in common is greater than what divides us.  May we persevere on our journey to full communion, and grow in love and understanding.
It is particularly encouraging that the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches has recently finalized the document The Exercise of Communion in the Life of the Early Church and its Implications for our Search for Communion Today. I am certain that Your Holiness shares my hope that this vital dialogue will carry on and bear abundant fruit. I am especially grateful for the willingness of the Patriarchate of the See of Saint Mark to hold the next meeting of the Commission in Cairo.
Christians throughout the world are facing similar challenges, which require us to work together in confronting these issues. I appreciate your appointment last year of a delegate to participate in the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops dedicated to the family. It is my hope that our cooperation in this area may continue, especially in addressing matters related to mixed marriages.
With these sentiments, and recalling what has rightly become known as the day of friendship between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, I exchange with Your Holiness a fraternal embrace in Christ the Lord.

From the Vatican, 10 May 2015
(from Vatican Radio)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Pope meets with Evangelical pastors

The Pope meets with a group of evangelical pastors

Vatican City, 8 May 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father received in private a group of around one hundred Pentecostal evangelical pastors from various parts of the world, who had expressed their wish to meet him. The group was led by Pastor Giovanni Traettino, whose community the Pope visited in Caserta last year. The meeting took place in the room adjacent to the Paul VI Hall and was characterised by lively cordiality and a spirit of prayer for unity. The Holy Father was accompanied by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.