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TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, May 17, 2007 1:40 PM
I have decided to open this thread for obvious reasons. Yesterday, the death of Jerry Falwell. Today, the news about Tony Blair.

So, starting with the Reverend Falwell, from FIRST THINGS:

May 16, 2007
Jerry Falwell, R.I.P.
By Joseph Bottum

What shall we do for a bogeyman, now that our grand old monster is dead?

Jerry Falwell has passed away, his death leading news reports yesterday. And nearly all the obituaries this morning remind us that he really was, most of the time, a symbol rather a man. Or not a symbol, exactly, but a place-marker — a convenient way to name everything that ails us.

From the beginning of his rise to national notice — with the 1973 meetings that would lead, eventually, to the founding of the Moral Majority in 1979 — Falwell seemed a useful figure.

An evangelical preacher who talked about politics? A backwoods hick with a national following? His caricature justified the fear of an impending theocracy at the same time that it confirmed a sense of class superiority. Look at Jerry Falwell, we were told, and be afraid: The Bible-thumpers from the trailer parks are daring to enter national politics and squabble with their betters.

Bah. The open sneer contradicted the claim of terror, but Falwell was too expedient ever to drop. From 1979 to around 1985, he caught the wave — or helped make the wave, perhaps; let’s not underestimate the man — that defeated Jimmy Carter and swept Ronald Reagan to two terms in office.

As Richard John Neuhaus wrote this morning for National Review:

He exulted in the role of the country cousin, and leader of other country cousins, who crashed the national family reunion.

In the mid-1970s. Jimmy Carter announced that he was an “evangelical,” prompting reporters to query the experts about a species that was supposed to have been extinguished, or at least held in captivity somewhere down South, following the “monkey trial” of 1925.

After Carter’s election, many, if not most, evangelicals quickly discovered that he was not an evangelical the way that they were evangelicals. They were still strangers in their own land and, like Howard Beale of Network, they were not going to take it anymore.

Thus was launched the “religious right,” and in its front ranks the unabashedly boisterous Falwell delightedly playing to stereotype.

He had other notable achievements, of course. He was pastor of a megachurch, and then there is Liberty University, which is nothing to sniff at, although that has not stopped the sniffing.

In American histories rightly told he will be more than a footnote. As much as anyone, he precipitated a reconfiguration of our public life whereby democracy has been reinvigorated by the inclusion of millions of citizens determined to have a say in how we order our life together. May he rest in peace where the sounds of battle are no more.

But for the right, Falwell’s star was fading fast in the late 1980s — and not just for the right. By the time George Bush took office in 1988, Falwell was not anywhere near the player — the kingmaker — in presidential politics that he had been. In 1990, he retired from the national stage and went back to running Liberty University.

Not that anyone noticed. His symbolic value was too great for anyone to surrender. The left kept his memory alive as the great figure with which to frighten children, and, even on the right, too many seemed happy to use Falwell as the figure against which they could distinguish themselves: Sure, I’m a conservative, but I’m not one of those people.

Unfortunately, Falwell wouldn’t stay retired, and when he returned to public life later in the 1990s he seemed to have become something like a caricature of the caricatures of Jerry Falwell: a bad imitation of the imitations of himself. He stopped being careful; he started spotting off. He would say, from time to time, bizarre and stupid things — all faithfully reported as the latest lunacy from the Republicans’ religious right, although, in truth, he hadn’t mattered much to that world for a decade.

But then that’s what bogeymen are for: figures with which to instruct and discipline children, regardless of their fiction. All our present-day talk of impending theocracy couldn’t have happened without Jerry Falwell.

And yet, all our present-day talk about abortion, and values, and the right of believers to participate in the public square
— much of that couldn’t have happened without Jerry Falwell, either. He made an enormous difference in 1980, and those who now routinely genuflect toward the memory of Ronald Reagan shouldn’t forget it.

Moreover, underneath the symbol, there was a man, and those who knew him all testify to the genuineness of that man
— as a preacher, a sinner, a worker, and a believer. It is enough. Jerry Falwell has gone beyond symbols and caricatures to rest in the judgment of the God of Things As They Are.


Other views about Jerry Falwell by various prominent commentators may be found on
article.nationalreview.com/
which published a symposium on Falwell yesterday, 5/16/07.





[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/05/2007 13.42]

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, May 17, 2007 1:43 PM
Blair will be welcomed into Catholic fold
via his ‘baptism of desire’

By Ruth Gledhill, Jeremy Austin and Philip Webster
The Times of London
May 17, 2007



Tony Blair will declare himself a Roman Catholic on leaving Downing Street, according to a priest close to him.

Father Michael Seed, who is known for bringing high-profile politicians and aristocrats into the Catholic fold and who says Mass for the Blairs in Downing Street each week when they are in London, made the prediction to friends at a recent memorial service.

Last night, when contacted by The Times, he did not deny his comments, but said he did not know if Mr Blair would ever be received “formally” into the Roman Catholic Church.

To do so he would have to take part in a ceremony called the rite of Christian initiation for adults, followed by confirmation and taking the sacrament of Holy Communion.

Father Seed said: “He’s been going to Mass every Sunday. He goes on his own when he is abroad, not just when he is with his wife and children.”

Another church source said that many of the early saints and martyrs were not baptised. Such people were held to have had a “baptism of desire”.

He said that Mr Blair was a Catholic by desire and that this did not necessitate a formal conversion. “He is an ecumenical Catholic,” said the source. “He is a liberal Catholic. In terms of his private life, he is a Roman Catholic.”

Although technically an Anglican, Mr Blair only “darkened the door” of Anglican churches on state and other formal occasions, he added.

Downing Street would not comment on the suggestion that Mr Blair would declare himself a Catholic. A spokesman said: “This story is always circulating in one form or another. The PM remains a member of the Church of England.”

Mr Blair has always been reluctant to discuss his religious beliefs. Alastair Camp-bell, the former Downing Street communications chief, famously told one interviewer: “We don’t do God.”

The Prime Minister has also indicated in the past that he attended Mass so that his family, all Catholics, could worship together.

To receive Mr Blair into the fold would be a triumph for the Roman Catholic Church, which has in the past two decades in particular regained its confidence, recovering from centuries of persecution that followed the Reformation.

Mr Blair has been criticised for receiving Communion at Catholic Mass. Cardinal Basil Hume, the late Archbishop of Westminster, wrote to him in 1996 demanding that he should cease taking Communion at his wife’s church in Islington, although he added that it was “all right to do so when in Tuscany for the holidays . . . as there was no Anglican church near by”.

Mr Blair made it clear that he did not agree with Cardinal Hume’s opinion, writing in a pointed letter to him: “I wonder what Jesus would have made of it.”

Writing in The Tablet, the Catholic weekly, Father Seed described how the Prime Minister had regarded his time in office as akin to a “vocation”.

He first made contact with Mr Blair when the family moved into No 10, and strengthened their links with The Passage, Britain’s largest homelessness centre, attached to Westminster Cathedral. Mr Blair launched the Government’s policy on homelessness there in 1998. Father Seed says that being prime minister is both a cross and a privilege.

Catholic rites

If Father Seed, above, is correct, Tony Blair would have to receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Communion to be received formally

Adults who have been baptised into another Church are formally taught about Catholic beliefs and then profess Catholic faith

A Catholic friend would “sponsor” them through this

The formal ceremony, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, is immediately followed by confirmation and then Holy Communion

For a non-Christian, this process would take two years. For a baptised Anglican who has regularly attended Mass for years it would take a year or less



Did he delay conversion for sake of Irish peace?
By Graham Stewart, Times Historian
From The Times
May 17, 2007



If Tony Blair has been reticent about converting to Catholicism while Prime Minister, it may be because of Northern Ireland. After all, there has not been a restriction on a prime minister’s faith since the reign of George IV.

With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 came measures reenforcing the supremacy of the Church of England. Only those who received the Anglican rites of Holy Communion could hold office. By 1678 MPs and peers had to state that they renounced transubstantiation and the invocations of the Catholic Mass as “superstitious and idolatrous”.

In the Act of Settlement 1701, Catholics, and those married to Catholics, were barred from the throne “for ever”.

The Catholic Emancipation Act 1829 permitted Catholics to enter Parliament and hold any office except that of monarch, Lord Chancellor, Regent, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and judicial roles in ecclesiastical courts.

But the floodgates hardly opened. There were very few practising Catholics in Regency Britain, apart from the Irish. Furthermore, fear and prejudices often cut both ways. The Catholic clergy initially continued to denounce Catholics attending Oxford and Cambridge after the two universities scrapped their religious entry requirements.

Harold Macmillan came close to converting after leaving Eton, but decided at the last moment not to follow Ronnie Knox, his influential former tutor. Knox became a monsignor.

In old age, Macmillan told his biographer, Alistair Horne: “If things had been otherwise, I suppose it not impossible that Ronnie might have become Prime Minister and I should have been Mgr Macmillan!” Perhaps a similar thought struck Mr Blair.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, May 17, 2007 3:30 PM
A PROMINENT EVANGELICAL COMES BACK TO THE CATHOLIC FOLD
This news item was reported extensively in the Catholic blogs last week, but I was unable to post any of it on account of the Brazil visit. CNS has the news report:

Prominent evangelical theologian
returns to Catholic Church

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service


WASHINGTON, May 16 (CNS) -- The return of a prominent evangelical philosopher and theologian to the Catholic Church, his childhood home, has provoked a storm of controversy in the evangelical community.

Francis J. Beckwith is a tenured associate professor of church-state studies at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, the largest Baptist university in the world. He resigned as president of the Evangelical Theological Society May 5, after entering into full communion with the Catholic Church a week earlier.

He said in interviews that a combination of factors - including the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" and a closer study of the writings of the early Christian theologians known as the Fathers of the Church - had led him gradually to embrace Catholicism.

Beckwith is a specialist in Christian philosophy, philosophy of religion, social ethics and church-state issues. He has written extensively on issues of religion and public policy. He is especially known for his defense of the pro-life position on abortion and of the constitutionality of teaching, in public schools, the theory of intelligent design as an alternative to evolutionary theory.

His latest book, "Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice," is slated for release in August.

Born into a Catholic family in 1960, Beckwith attended Catholic elementary and high schools in Las Vegas and earned his master's and doctoral degrees in philosophy at Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York. He also earned a master's degree in apologetics at the Christian evangelical Simon Greenleaf School of Law in California (now part of Trinity International University) and a master's in juridical studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

On "Right Reason," a Web log, or blog, of conservative philosophers he regularly contributes to, Beckwith announced May 5 that he had formally returned to the Catholic Church the previous week.

He received the sacrament of reconciliation April 28 and was publicly accepted back into the church at Mass the following day at St. Joseph Church in Bellmead, a Waco suburb. "My wife, standing beside me, was accepted as a catechumen," he said.

"My work in philosophy, ethics and theology has always been Catholic-friendly, but I would have never predicted that I would return to the church, for there seemed to me too many theological and ecclesiastical issues that appeared insurmountable," he wrote.

He added, however, that in recent months "I began reading the early church fathers as well as some of the more sophisticated works on justification by Catholic authors. I became convinced that the early church is more Catholic than Protestant and that the Catholic view of justification, correctly understood, is biblically and historically defensible."

Justification, the central doctrinal issue behind the Reformation, refers to the divine action by which human beings are saved: The faith that saves is a free gift from God that is never earned by human beings.

The 1999 joint declaration on justification that Beckwith referred to said Catholics and Lutherans together can "confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while calling us to good works."

In the declaration Catholic and Lutheran authorities agreed that "the mutual condemnations of former times do not apply" to the understanding of justification in their respective churches today.

In some evangelical circles, however, the Catholic Church continues to be accused of teaching that human beings can merit salvation through their good works.

Efforts by Catholic News Service to reach Beckwith by phone in mid-May were unsuccessful, but in an interview with Christianity Today, Beckwith said he was "shocked" by some of the reactions to his return to Catholicism and realizes "I underestimated the deep divisions that were still there, at least among lay evangelicals and Catholics, more so than the academics who interact with each other more often."

He said that in embracing Catholicism "I still consider myself an evangelical, but no longer a Protestant."

He said that "Protestants often misunderstand" what the church is trying to convey in its teachings on the need to be virtuous. "The Catholic Church frames the Christian life as one in which you must exercise virtue - not because virtue saves you, but because that's the way God's grace is manifested," he said.

In his blog statement about his resignation as president of the theological society, he said, "Even though I also believe that the Reformed view (of justification) is biblically and historically defensible, I think the Catholic view has more explanatory power" historically and scripturally.

Beckwith said he had begun a correspondence with the executive committee of the Evangelical Theological Society about now to terminate his leadership in the society without creating public controversy when events overtook the discussion: James White, a blogger on a fundamentalist evangelical apologetics blog, lambasted him May 3 for becoming a Catholic and called for his resignation.

The "Right Reason blog and several others were then flooded with commentary; some Beckwith described as "pockets of uncharity." He thanked those, including critics, who treated him and his wife with respect.

On May 7, two days after he resigned as president, Beckwith announced he was resigning as a member.


loriRMFC
00Friday, May 18, 2007 4:16 AM
Re: Blair will be welcomed into Catholic fold

Scritto da: TERESA BENEDETTA 17/05/2007 13.43
To receive Mr Blair into the fold would be a triumph for the Roman Catholic Church, which has in the past two decades in particular regained its confidence, recovering from centuries of persecution that followed the Reformation.

...

Mr Blair has been criticised for receiving Communion at Catholic Mass. Cardinal Basil Hume, the late Archbishop of Westminster, wrote to him in 1996 demanding that he should cease taking Communion at his wife’s church in Islington, although he added that it was “all right to do so when in Tuscany for the holidays . . . as there was no Anglican church near by”.



I don't think that Mr. Blair is supposed to be receiving communion in a Catholic Church, after all he has not gone through RCIA yet. Or is something else done with Anglicans? There was an Englishman in my RCIA group & he received confirmation & communion on Holy Saturday with us, but I don't know if he received communion before. Still, I'm pretty sure that one shouldn't receive communion until they have gone through RCIA. Anybody know?

And that part about it being a "triumph for the Church" if Blair were to become a member, I think the Church is happy to receive any who hunger to know the Lord more intimately into her fold. But, being that Blair is obviously well known could get some people interested in learning about the Church.

==============================================================

I obviously did not say the statements included in the quote above that is preceded by "Scritto da TERESA BENEDETTA" because although the post is mine, the quotation comes from the Ruth Gledhill article I posted, so the statements are hers, not mine.
Just so it is clear! TERESA

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 18/05/2007 23.25]

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Friday, May 18, 2007 2:56 PM
MORE ABOUT FRANCE'S NEW PRESIDENT
May 16, 2007
SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH FRENCH HISTORIAN MAX GALLO
'Sarkozy's Victory Is that of Reality over Utopia'


President Sarkozy with his predecessor Chirac; and with his family at the Elysee Palace.


Nicolas Sarkozy was inaugurated as France's new president on Wednesday. SPIEGEL spoke with French intellectual Max Gallo about why France wants Sarkozy, what his election means for la Grande Nation, and how Sarkozy is like Napoleon.

Historian Max Gallo, 75, has written numerous books about the major issues facing France and some of the country's most important figures. From 1983 to 1984, he was government spokesman for President Francois Mitterrand. In this election, he supported Nicolas Sarkozy.

SPIEGEL: Monsieur Gallo, does the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as the president of France signal a new era in the country's political history?

Gallo: Aside from the normal generational shift, it is certainly a true turning point in the political cycle. The ideology of the left, which has influenced, if not dominated, public and intellectual life in France since World War II, is in a deep crisis. Marxism ended long ago, and yet the French socialists haven't discovered any new answers. Many leaders of the left still view social democratic reform as betrayal. This stands in contrast to a candidate who, for the first time, has clearly, decisively and forcefully declared, as part of his platform: "I am a man of the right."

SPIEGEL: Was that why you, as a former leftist, supported him?

Gallo: I chose Sarkozy before the election -- in the interest of France. Why? Because he was simply the better candidate. Perhaps I make judgments like an old school teacher, but I would give Sarkozy a B and Royal a D. If anyone can bring about change, he is the one.

SPIEGEL: Sarkozy rescued the right from its complexes and from its bad social conscience?

Gallo: The head of the UMP aggressively took that position. Given his declared belief in the values of the right, the fact that he was voted into office by an unexpectedly clear majority of more than 53 percent of voters is evidence of an importance shift in the political climate. Sarkozy deliberately sought out the confrontation with the left's uniform way of thinking. He intentionally pushed for the break that Jacques Chirac still shied away from.

SPIEGEL: What exactly does that mean?

Gallo: Sarkozy's victory is not the result of a clash between two equally powerful forces. It is a victory over a ghost, a cadaver that still moves, but no longer has any intellectual strength. Ségolène Royal sensed this, which is why she clearly distanced herself from her own party during the campaign. The victory of the right is a victory of reality over utopia. The left was unable to see the real problems for what they are. Take immigration, for example: Talking about its consequences was taboo, because it's considered an issue of the right.

SPIEGEL: In contrast, Sarkozy has announced plans to establish a ministry for immigration and national identity. How do you define France's national identity?

Gallo: It is not a closed, rigid concept, and it is certainly not nationalist. The indispensable basic principles include the jus solis, that is, the right of any child born in France to become a French citizen, the separation of church and state, and centralism. Add to that the republican school system and the direct relationship between the citizen and the state, without intermediaries, as well as equality and the role of women. Finally, the national canon includes the importance of the French language and the significance of universal values.

SPIEGEL: In other words, liberty, equality and brotherhood?

Gallo: If we contradict these fundamental principles, we run the risk of damaging the nation at its core. If that happens we could face collapse, and I believe people sensed this in the election.

SPIEGEL: Are you saying that the somewhat mythical identity that is being conjured up here -- the French soul -- is more important that all basic economic issues: unemployment, decline in purchasing power, the housing shortage?

Gallo: Not more important. The truth is that concerns over identity extend to other problems, including economic ones. This is why Sarkozy speaks of democratic patriotism, the importance of industrial production for France, and protecting our own companies against the trend of emigration, and unfair competition. Ségolène Royal also didn't hesitate to wave the French flag.

SPIEGEL: Isn't the nation-state a dying breed, crushed between affiliation with a region or community and supranational structures like the European Union?

Gallo: The nation is not dead. This theory has been historically incorrect since the fall of the Berlin Wall. German reunification represents a democratic and national revolution. We have experienced a renaissance of nations everywhere in Eastern and Central Europe since then. Those who claim France as a nation-state is obsolete are wrong.

SPIEGEL: How can this belief in the nation be reconciled with Sarkozy's liberal economic approach and his commitment to globalization?

Gallo: You mustn't be deceived. Sarkozy preaches to two sides: deregulation and government intervention. He is no neoliberal ideologue, but a pragmatist who will staunchly defend France's interests, also -- and especially -- against EU agencies in Brussels.

SPIEGEL: And against Berlin?

Gallo: Sarkozy is also aware of the necessity of close German-French cooperation. All it takes is a look at a map of Europe to understand why this is true. But the romanticism and sentimentality in the relationship between Paris and Berlin is likely to vanish. It's the way it is with an old, married couple, although the established habits will remain in place. Sarkozy will become a highly unpleasant negotiator for Ms. Merkel. The new president will very quickly attempt to secure a concession on the European stage.

SPIEGEL: France First -- that was a slogan of right-wing extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen. Doesn't toying with this concept pose a danger to civil rights?

Gallo: Leaving the national question up to Le Pen was absurd - for the left as well as for the right. The nation, Joan of Arc, all that disappeared in the cellar of history, and all Le Pen had to do was help himself to that history. Sarkozy has taken up the issue again. To secure the votes of ordinary people, he had to address a topic that affects them - France.

SPIEGEL: Apparently with success. Happily, Le Pen's supporters have declined in number. But won't Sarkozy ultimately have to pay a price for this?

Gallo: I don't think so, but this is partly the result of a peculiarity of the president's that I find important: Sarkozy is the son of an immigrant. This means that his chosen ties to France are probably stronger than those of other citizens. He is a patriot through and through. I am convinced that he believes what he is saying when he describes himself as a "short Frenchman with mixed blood." He is grateful to the nation and proud to be a Frenchman. And perhaps it is ultimately more important for the future of our country that an immigrant's son is becoming our president than a woman.

SPIEGEL: If Sarkozy is truly the patriot and pragmatist you describe him as, why was he the most hated and demonized candidate, one who polarized instead of unifying?

Gallo: Throughout the entire campaign, I believed that he could only lose for one reason: not being "French enough." The son of immigrants, his father from Hungary and the mother's family Jews from Thessaloniki? Throughout the history of the Fifth Republic, presidents, including Georges Pompidou, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, have always emphasized their rural roots. All came from the geographic heart of France and maintained their roots there. In contrast, Sarkozy lives in Neuilly, an affluent suburb outside Paris. In other words, he doesn't come from anywhere, not even the capital.

SPIEGEL: This didn't seem to hurt him, especially among older voters, in smaller cities and in rural areas.

Gallo: Young people between 18 and 24 voted for Ségolène Royal, while those in the next few age groups chose Sarkozy, including a clear majority of voters over 60. This is why it will be critical for the new president to rectify his relationship with young people, especially in the suburbs.

SPIEGEL: But immediately after the vote, they began setting cars on fire again. Wasn't it counterproductive for Sarkozy to have criticized the May 1968 student unrest during the campaign?

Gallo: He emphasized one aspect of May '68: that the student movement did not manage to build ongoing solidarity with the workers. At the time, the students were not even allowed through the gates at Renault. Elsewhere they were greeted with stones. Politically speaking, the revolt was a failure, because the reaction it prompted was the powerful majority achieved by right-wing politicians like Georges Pompidou and later Giscard d'Estaing. In France, the first thing the May '68 student unrest achieved was a restoration.

SPIEGEL: Is this the message Sarkozy wants to convey to protesting youth: Resistance is pointless; the important thing now is to reestablish order, authority and morality?

Gallo: The slogan "just order," which Ségolène Royal used, means exactly the same thing. The return of order is the issue, because disorder and chaos are a threat to democracy.

SPIEGEL: Does this mean that we will see an end to the endless intellectual debate over the supposed decline of France?

Gallo: I was never a believer in decline, because I am convinced that we are not heading toward decline, if only because of our demographic development. Unlike neighboring countries, our birth rate is unusually high. There is confidence in the future. And when you look around in France, you'll see a people filled with inventiveness and creativity, tenacious not sniveling. Only our politicians have not satisfied expectations.

SPIEGEL: Does that apply to the representatives of both the left and the right?

Gallo: Just take a look at Mitterand and Chirac. There are many similarities between the two terms, which cover a quarter century filled with dramatic changes. Together they form a unit, a period of sitting it out and waiting. Mitterand and Chirac were two men who loved their country and only wanted the best for it, but ultimately felt that they were dealing with such a fragile, complex society that it would be best not to touch it, much less expect anything of it.

SPIEGEL: Sarkozy, by contrast, believes in France's awakening, its dynamism and its unbroken greatness?

Gallo: He has proven that France is willing to accept deep-seated reforms and even make sacrifices if a politician can present a clear, coherent and well-argued concept. I was surprised that Sarkozy repeatedly referred to France as a being made of flesh and blood. This comes from the first part of de Gaulle's memoirs, where the general refers to France as a "person," even a "princess."

SPIEGEL: Is this why Sarkozy refused to address the dark chapters in France's history - the slave trade, colonialism, collaboration with Nazi occupiers, participation in the Holocaust - and, like Chirac, apologize for them?

Gallo: De Gaulle and Mitterand also repeatedly rejected such statements of regret. One cannot build a future based on the description of a criminal past. And France was not criminal, as some have claimed.

SPIEGEL: Does this mean that Sarkozy would be even more like De Gaulle than Chirac, who also served under de Gaulle?

Gallo: Political scientists have often described Gaullism as a sort of Bonapartism. I myself have occasionally compared Sarkozy to Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon was simultaneously a man of change and one of unity and continuity. He emerged from the revolution armed. For some he was a Jacobite, a sort of Robespierre for horses, and for others he was a reactionary, because he said: "Neither red caps (the Revolution) nor red heals (the aristocracy) - I am purely national." This is the source of Bonapartism, which has not yet run dry, as a political current, and Sarkozy appears to be its heir.

SPIEGEL: Monsieur Gallo, thank you for this interview.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 18/05/2007 15.01]

Wulfrune
00Friday, May 18, 2007 9:58 PM
Tony Blair and the RC Church
I don't think that the Catholic Church would count Blair's conversion as a 'coup' at all. Catholicism in the UK used to be lived under a kind of siege mentality but all this is eroding fast.

I am at a loss as to why Blair would respond to Cardinal Hume in the way he did - it shows that he doesn't yet have a Catholic mind. Hume was hardly a right wing reactionary, but in telling Blair that he could not receive communion in his wife's church he was merely stating the current ruling. If you don't respect its disciplines, then perhaps the Catholic church isn't for you.

Blair's track record on abortion, same-sex adoption (with no provision for Catholic charities), rights of homosexuals to teach their way of life in schools, etc etc, is appalling (speaking from a Catholic POV). He may talk about 'vocation' and indulge in pious talk and practices from time to time, but one might reasonably ask "where's the beef?"

It is certainly true that Catholics don't follow Church teaching mindlessly and there is always understanding for those who find it difficult, but for a potential convert to have such divergent views doesn't look good. If he converts, it will be for his family's sake.
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Friday, May 18, 2007 11:21 PM
BEWARE OF 'RELIGIOUS REPORTING' IN THE BRITISH PRESS
I guess I should have put that heading to preface the Times of London article yesterday....but Fr. Tim Finigan on his blog The Hermeneutics of Continuity says it best:


Thursday, May 17, 2007
More "Blair to become Catholic" news

The Times today carries an article called Blair will be welcomed into Catholic fold via his ‘baptism of desire’, a title which provides further justification for John Allen and Jimmy Akin's remarks about religious reporting in the British press (see John Allen on the British Press).

Fr Michael Seed is cited as authority for the prediction that Blair will "declare himself a Catholic" upon leaving office. Then apparently he also expressed doubts as to whether Blair would be "formally" received into the Catholic Church.

Gledhill et al. provide some obfuscation at this point showing that they have heard of the RCIA but have no idea what it is:
"To do so he would have to take part in a ceremony called the rite of Christian initiation for adults, followed by confirmation and taking the sacrament of Holy Communion."

Errr, no. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults includes the celebration of the sacraments of initiation. Before that there is a process of catechesis (sometimes limited to "faith sharing" as recently criticised by the Holy Father) and this is sometimes referred to as the RCIA. This process is not a "ceremony".

But the best bit is the "another Church source" who says that many of the early saints and martyrs were not baptised and were held to have a Baptism of desire. Yeees - but where is this going? Oh Lord, no!

"He said that Mr Blair was a Catholic by desire and that this did not necessitate a formal conversion."

Just to clear up a little bit if anyone needs me to: the "desire" that is spoken of is a desire for Baptism and all that Baptism involves. You know, believing the creed, the teaching of the Church, living publicly in accord with that teaching, that sort of thing. (A desire for reception into formal communion would involve the same things.) Such a desire does necessitate a formal conversion.

In the case of the martyrs mentioned, the rite of baptism was not possible on account of their being eaten by lions, set on fire, dying in squalid prisons or other similar pressing circumstances.

Fr Anonymous continues:
“He is an ecumenical Catholic,” said the source. “He is a liberal Catholic. In terms of his private life, he is a Roman Catholic.”

If this is a fair portrayal of Mr Blair's "catholicism", a good RCIA course might help him to understand that being received into the Catholic Church involves a formal profession of faith in the teaching of the Catholic Church.

After professing the Nicene Creed, those being received into full communion with the Catholic Church state publicly: "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God."

Some things that might be thought necessary in terms of preparation for such a public avowal of the faith could include the recognition that:
- Abortion should not be allowed up to birth for disabled babies because all children have a right to life from conception
- It is profoundly evil to allow experimentation on human embryos since all human life is sacred
- Catholic legislators should oppose laws introducing homosexual civil unions and should insist on the right of conscientious objection

loriRMFC
00Sunday, May 20, 2007 2:05 AM
Teresa, I knew that wasn't your statement even though it says "Scritto da TERESA BENEDETTA." Sorry for the confusion.

Just a bit puzzled why Tony Blair thinks that there are different "rules" for him. His wife should have told him not to receive communion. Thanks for the heads-up on 'RELIGIOUS REPORTING' in the British press.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, May 28, 2007 4:58 PM
Kidnapped girl's parents
may meet Pope on Wednesday


LISBON, May 27 (AFP) - The parents of a four-year-old girl who disappeared on holiday in Portugal may meet Pope Benedict XVI this week, a British Foreign Office official said Sunday.

Madeleine McCann vanished from the southern Algarve holiday resort of Praia da Luz three weeks ago.

"We are currently exploring the possibility of Kate and Gerry (McCann) going to Rome on Wednesday for a general audience with the pope," said Clarence Mitchell, who is in Praia da Luz to help the couple in their efforts to find their child and in dealing with the media.

"It is still being finalized," the official said.

A report by the British television channel Sky News said the pope had agreed to receive the parents.

But a Vatican spokesman could not immediately confirm nor deny this.

"It is often the case that at the end of a weekly general audience on Wednesdays the pope receives people who have expressly requested this," the spokesman told AFP.

Michael Wright, a spokesman on behalf of the McCanns, said on Sky News: "I know that they will immensely welcome this opportunity to have an audience with his Holiness and that they will draw profound strength and spiritual faith from it.

"Of course it will help the whole campaign, but you have to understand it will be an intensely private meeting in terms of their faith," he added.

Sky News said the McCanns had made their request for an audience in a letter submitted through the Roman Catholic Church in Britain. They had been told that such a request would be granted.

Portuguese police said Friday they wanted to find a man seen with what appeared to be a child in his arms on the night she was taken.

The parents said Saturday that they believed the sighting of a possible suspect was "significant and relevant."

Madeleine's father Gerry said in a televised statement: "We feel sure that this sighting of a man with what appeared to be a child in his arms is both significant and relevant to Madeleine's abduction and we would appeal once again to anyone who may have seen him or anything else suspicious on or around May 3 to come forward and tell police.

"For instance, was this man seen anywhere else in or near the town with a child or what appeared to be a child, what direction was he heading in, did he have a vehicle?"

The man is described as 35 to 40 years old with short hair on top which was long at the back. He was wearing a dark jacket and light trousers.

Meanwhile, it emerged that Gerry McCann, who Friday described the situation as "worse than your worst nightmare," had spoken directly to British prime minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown in recent days.

In comments quoted by the BBC online, a family spokesman said: "I can confirm that telephone conversations have taken place between Gerry McCann and Chancellor Gordon Brown.

"During them, Mister Brown offered both Gerry and Kate his full support in their efforts to find Madeleine, although details of the conversations will remain private."

Brown had previously offered assistance in the case when he met family members in Britain.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Tuesday, May 29, 2007 10:16 AM
THE NEW FRENCH GOVERNMENT
The new President Sarkozy storms ahead,
after a surprisingly good start:
A study in perpetual motion

May 24th 2007 | PARIS
From The Economist print edition



DURING the campaign, his opponents called him “dangerous” and “brutal”. They even threatened riots if he won. But France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has in his first week disarmed critics with an artful mix of political inclusiveness, policy creativity and symbolic renewal.

It is hard to overstate the impact of the choice of Bernard Kouchner, a man of the left and a hugely popular humanitarian champion, as foreign minister. Had Mr Kouchner been lured into a minor ministerial job in a government of the right, the bridge-building symbolism would still have been clear. By giving him foreign affairs, France's public face to the world, Mr Sarkozy has deftly undercut his leftist opponents.

Mr Kouchner is one of four men of the left in the government of François Fillon, Mr Sarkozy's choice as prime minister. The new Europe minister, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, is an old family friend of the defeated Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal. Eric Besson, a junior minister for public policy attached to Mr Fillon's office, acted as Ms Royal's chief economic adviser earlier in her campaign. Martin Hirsch, who gets a junior anti-poverty portfolio, was head of Emmaüs France, a charity for the homeless. And on top of these four, Hervé Morin, once a right-hand man to François Bayrou, the centrist presidential candidate, is the new defence minister.

With seven women in a cabinet of 15, only two cabinet ministers who went to the elite Ecole Nationale d'Administration, and the first Frenchwoman of North African origin in a top post (Rachida Dati, the justice minister, whose mother was a cleaning lady), Mr Sarkozy has stunned those who expected an ideological president. He has put merit before loyalty. And he has responded to a public desire for bipartisanship that was expressed in the strong first-round vote for Mr Bayrou.

The public seems to like it. Fully 66% of Socialist voters told a poll this week that they approved of Mr Sarkozy's left-wing appointments. The Socialist Party has fumbled for a response, managing only to evince sourness and confusion. It evicted Mr Kouchner from the party. François Hollande, its boss, was left looking vaguely absurd by asking voters to back Socialists in June's parliamentary election because “the French need to feel represented.”

Mr Sarkozy has been quick to stamp his mark and spring surprises elsewhere. This week, he invited in France's ecological protest groups, more used to taking their grievances to the streets than to the Elysée Palace. Alain Juppé, the new ecology minister, who converted to greenery during a year teaching in Canada after his suspension from public life for political corruption, symbolically staged a press conference under some trees.

For his part, Mr Fillon has announced that the unions have until September to do a deal over minimum service on public transport during strikes; and until December to agree to a new, single job contract meant to break down the labour market divide of insiders versus outsiders. A law giving universities more autonomy will be passed by an extraordinary parliamentary session in July, after the June election. Tax cuts are expected in the new government's first budget, due in September.

Other appointments also point to a possible new approach. By giving Christine Lagarde, former chief of a big American law firm, the agriculture ministry (traditionally a conservative bastion) Mr Sarkozy may be preparing the ground for a more flexible attitude to farm subsidies. An interim review of the European Union's common agricultural policy is due in 2008. Although she was careful to say this week that agriculture would continue to have a “strategic” role, Ms Lagarde also said that France could not continue its posture of “intransigence” for ever.

Mr Sarkozy's carve-up of ministerial portfolios reflects his own priorities. The finance minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, a popular former social-affairs minister who regenerated the industrial town of Valenciennes when he was its mayor, has taken a chunk of the jobs ministry. The idea is to persuade the French, weaned on subsidised job creation, that economic growth is the only sure source of employment opportunities. Similarly, Eric Woerth, the new budget minister, has inherited the public service, formerly a separate ministry, pointing to cuts in France's overweight bureaucracy. Mr Sarkozy has promised to replace only one in two retiring civil servants.

Even the new style is a break with Jacques Chirac—and not just in the presidential jogging outings and celebrity-style photos of the complex Sarkozy family. As president in charge of foreign and defence policy, he has already visited Berlin and Brussels. But he also dropped in on an aircraft factory and a hospital in his first few days, showing that he has no intention of leaving domestic policy to the prime minister. It is striking that he has opened up foreign jobs to the left and centre, but kept those that deal with domestic reform in the hands of his closest advisers.

Not all the changes will be smooth. Mr Borloo and Mr Woerth will have equal cabinet status, so it is not clear which of them will have more say over fiscal policy, central to the Sarkozy reform agenda. On social matters, the perils of broad-based government emerged after Mr Hirsch raised objections—only to withdraw them—to Mr Sarkozy's plan for a non-reimbursable charge for visits to the doctor.

Implementation of these plans will have to wait for the new parliament. Two-round legislative elections take place on June 10th and 17th. Mr Sarkozy seems well placed to win a hefty majority. One poll this week, by TNS-Sofres, gave his UMP party a solid 40% of the vote, with 28% for the Socialists and only 15% for Mr Bayrou's centrist Democratic Movement. This would translate into 365-415 seats, out of a total of 577, up from the 359 the UMP has now. Mr Bayrou's party, bereft of many deputies who have defected to Mr Sarkozy, would fall to single figures.

In “Testimony”, the book he wrote as a pre-campaign manifesto, Mr Sarkozy argued that “the biggest mistake, which is common, is to undertake reforms sequentially. First you do pensions, then education, and then finally welfare or immigration. With this system, you often end up stopping after the second reform, exhausted by the battles over the first.” If he wins such a huge parliamentary majority, Mr Sarkozy will have the strongest possible mandate to carry out a big burst of reform—and to face down the street protests that seem sure to greet it.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Tuesday, May 29, 2007 3:31 PM
...AND IN CONTRAST
MEXICAN GOVERNMENT SEEKS SUPREME COURT REVIEW
OF MEXICO CITY PRO-ABORTION LAW AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL


Bruno Volpe reports for PETRUS:


MEXICO CITY - The government of President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa will ask its Supreme constitutional court to rule on the constitutionality of the recent Mexico City law decriminalizing abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Joining the government in the suit is Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights.

The plaintiffs claim that the Mexican Constitution guarantees the 'defense of life' as well as conscientious obejction by physicians.

Calderon, a conservative, has shown himself to be a staunch defender of human rights. He will be visiting Pope Benedict XVI on June 4, and his action makes an excellent calling card.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Wednesday, May 30, 2007 1:05 AM
SONE SENSIBLE VIEWS ON IRAQ
U.S. must honestly assess
what is achievable in Iraq,
says archbishop

By Julie Asher
Catholic News Service


BROOKLYN, May 29 (CNS) -- At this stage in the Iraq War, the United States "must honestly assess what is achievable in Iraq using the traditional just-war principle of 'probability of success,' including the probability of contributing to a responsible transition," said Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien.

The U.S. and its allies "also have a grave responsibility, even at a high cost, to help Iraqis secure and rebuild their nation," unless the conclusion is reached that "a responsible transition is not achievable," he said.

The archbishop, who heads the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, made the comments in a Memorial Day pastoral message to Catholic men and women in the U.S. armed forces. He delivered the same message at a packed session May 25 during the 2007 Catholic Media Convention in Brooklyn.

The annual convention, a joint effort of the Catholic Press Association and Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals, drew about 400 people working in Catholic communications in the U.S. and Canada.

The archbishop told his convention audience that he was not speaking with "any special insight or experience" of what has gone on in Iraq or in Afghanistan, but said he is in contact with many who are engaged in the conflicts there.

He used the first part of his talk -- and his letter -- to review the four major statements on the war issued by U.S. bishops; the first was released in September 2002 and the most recent was issued in January of this year.

The 2002 letter, signed by then-Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, the U.S. bishops' president at the time, urged President George W. Bush to "step back from the brink of war," warning that a pre-emptive military strike on Iraq was unjustified.

The bishops' most recent statement - dated Jan. 12 and issued by Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, the current president - said every U.S. action or policy in Iraq "ought to be evaluated in light of our nation's moral responsibility to help Iraqis to live with security and dignity in the aftermath of U.S. military action."

It said benchmarks for progress toward such a transition include "minimally acceptable levels of security; economic reconstruction to create employment for Iraqis; and political structures and agreements that help overcome divisions, reduce violence, broaden participation and increase respect for religious freedom and basic human rights."

These statements, along with what the Vatican has said in opposition to the war, provide a moral framework for discussing the current situation in Iraq, Archbishop O'Brien said.

Raising grave moral questions about U.S. involvement in Iraq is in no way questioning the moral integrity of those in the military, he said.

Archbishop O'Brien said he feels that Bush and other administration officials have taken the Catholic bishops seriously and "appreciate our evenhandedness. ... Condemnation is not what we're about."

Unfortunately, what many Catholic leaders and others predicted would happen in Iraq - the chaos and the difficulties of consolidating peace - has come true, he said.

What was missing at the outset of the war was a comprehensive blueprint to administer and restore Iraq after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was deposed, Archbishop O'Brien said. "There was not sufficient foresight about what we might do after our seeming victory."

The archbishop argued against pulling out of Iraq now, and said the U.S. must look at what is achievable. He added that military personnel feel that Americans at the grass-roots level still support them.

He thinks there is still a chance to have a free Iraq and see democracy spread through the region.

Archbishop O'Brien compared the Iraq situation to the Vietnam War. He was an Army chaplain in the early 1970s and served a year in Vietnam. The U.S. was gaining the upper hand there, he said, until the Tet offensive conducted by the North Vietnamese. Technically, it was a failed military action but it was a turning point in the war.

Political sentiment turned against U.S. involvement and the U.S. pulled out, but the archbishop said he thinks the U.S. still could have gotten the upper hand had it stayed.

During a question-and-answer session after the archbishop's address, one member of the audience argued that the American people were conned into getting into the war. Another said many opponents of the war feel the decision to invade Iraq was advanced by a small group of neoconservatives who wanted to get their hands on Iraq's vast oil supplies.

Archbishop O'Brien disagreed with both notions.

He said that "reasonable people can disagree" about the war. He said he could see why some might feel the nation was conned because there is a great deal of skepticism about the war, but added, "I don't think there was bad will on the part of the government" in deciding to go to war.

He also said, "I don't agree this was the invention of a small group that wanted oil."
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Wednesday, May 30, 2007 1:06 AM
SOME SENSIBLE VIEWS ON IRAQ
U.S. must honestly assess
what is achievable in Iraq,
says archbishop

By Julie Asher
Catholic News Service


BROOKLYN, May 29 (CNS) -- At this stage in the Iraq War, the United States "must honestly assess what is achievable in Iraq using the traditional just-war principle of 'probability of success,' including the probability of contributing to a responsible transition," said Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien.

The U.S. and its allies "also have a grave responsibility, even at a high cost, to help Iraqis secure and rebuild their nation," unless the conclusion is reached that "a responsible transition is not achievable," he said.

The archbishop, who heads the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, made the comments in a Memorial Day pastoral message to Catholic men and women in the U.S. armed forces. He delivered the same message at a packed session May 25 during the 2007 Catholic Media Convention in Brooklyn.

The annual convention, a joint effort of the Catholic Press Association and Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals, drew about 400 people working in Catholic communications in the U.S. and Canada.

The archbishop told his convention audience that he was not speaking with "any special insight or experience" of what has gone on in Iraq or in Afghanistan, but said he is in contact with many who are engaged in the conflicts there.

He used the first part of his talk -- and his letter -- to review the four major statements on the war issued by U.S. bishops; the first was released in September 2002 and the most recent was issued in January of this year.

The 2002 letter, signed by then-Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, the U.S. bishops' president at the time, urged President George W. Bush to "step back from the brink of war," warning that a pre-emptive military strike on Iraq was unjustified.

The bishops' most recent statement - dated Jan. 12 and issued by Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, the current president - said every U.S. action or policy in Iraq "ought to be evaluated in light of our nation's moral responsibility to help Iraqis to live with security and dignity in the aftermath of U.S. military action."

It said benchmarks for progress toward such a transition include "minimally acceptable levels of security; economic reconstruction to create employment for Iraqis; and political structures and agreements that help overcome divisions, reduce violence, broaden participation and increase respect for religious freedom and basic human rights."

These statements, along with what the Vatican has said in opposition to the war, provide a moral framework for discussing the current situation in Iraq, Archbishop O'Brien said.

Raising grave moral questions about U.S. involvement in Iraq is in no way questioning the moral integrity of those in the military, he said.

Archbishop O'Brien said he feels that Bush and other administration officials have taken the Catholic bishops seriously and "appreciate our evenhandedness. ... Condemnation is not what we're about."

Unfortunately, what many Catholic leaders and others predicted would happen in Iraq - the chaos and the difficulties of consolidating peace - has come true, he said.

What was missing at the outset of the war was a comprehensive blueprint to administer and restore Iraq after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was deposed, Archbishop O'Brien said. "There was not sufficient foresight about what we might do after our seeming victory."

The archbishop argued against pulling out of Iraq now, and said the U.S. must look at what is achievable. He added that military personnel feel that Americans at the grass-roots level still support them.

He thinks there is still a chance to have a free Iraq and see democracy spread through the region.

Archbishop O'Brien compared the Iraq situation to the Vietnam War. He was an Army chaplain in the early 1970s and served a year in Vietnam. The U.S. was gaining the upper hand there, he said, until the Tet offensive conducted by the North Vietnamese. Technically, it was a failed military action but it was a turning point in the war.

Political sentiment turned against U.S. involvement and the U.S. pulled out, but the archbishop said he thinks the U.S. still could have gotten the upper hand had it stayed.

During a question-and-answer session after the archbishop's address, one member of the audience argued that the American people were conned into getting into the war. Another said many opponents of the war feel the decision to invade Iraq was advanced by a small group of neoconservatives who wanted to get their hands on Iraq's vast oil supplies.

Archbishop O'Brien disagreed with both notions.

He said that "reasonable people can disagree" about the war. He said he could see why some might feel the nation was conned because there is a great deal of skepticism about the war, but added, "I don't think there was bad will on the part of the government" in deciding to go to war.

He also said, "I don't agree this was the invention of a small group that wanted oil."
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Friday, June 1, 2007 12:32 AM
WHEN MADDIE'S PARENTS MET THE POPE
Here's a story with a few more personal details about the brief but intense meeting yesterday between the Holy Father and the parents of a missing 4-year-old British girl, from the blog CLERICAL WHISPERS - as he does not generally identify his news sources, I am assuming this is from a British newspaper.


Thursday, May 31, 2007
'His touch, words and thoughts
were more tender than we could have hoped'


The parents of Madeleine McCann made an emotional and spiritual pilgrimage to the Vatican yesterday to pray with the Pope for the return of their missing daughter.

The four-year-old vanished 27 days ago at the holiday resort of Praia da Luz in the Algarve. Since then Kate and Gerry McCann have campaigned relentlessly to find her.

The Catholic couple from Rothley, Leicestershire, met the Pope after he addressed a crowd of 30,000 people at his regular Wednesday audience in St Peter's Square.

The meeting was arranged through Cardinal Cormac Murphy OConnor, Archbishop of Westminster.

Beforehand, the couple sat in the front row, both dressed in black. Mrs McCann had green and yellow ribbons in her hair and wore a homemade green-and-yellow rosary around her neck with Madeleine's name spelt out in the beads. She clutched Cuddle Cat, her daughter's favourite toy.

At times she closed her eyes, as though battling with her composure. The couple comforted one another with occasional hugs.

Their most difficult moment appeared to come when, during the ceremony, an English-speaking priest delivered a prayer to the crowd on behalf of the Pope, saying: "In a special way his blessing goes to your children and your loved ones." The McCanns wiped tears from their bowed heads.

After the Pope's homily the couple queued patiently behind a barrier as the Pope worked his way down the line, speaking to the specially chosen few, touching them and accepting gifts from them.

When the McCanns' turn came, their audience lasted all of 30 seconds. The Pope took a hand of each of them, looked them in the eye and said with evident concern that he would pray for them. Mr McCann then kissed the Pope's hand.

When Mrs McCann offered him a photograph of the smiling girl he took it and touched the image with his hand, as if to bless it.

Seated behind the couple were Francis Campbell, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, and Clarence Mitchell, their Foreign Office liaison officer. Near by, a group of 15 deacons from Britain offered their support.

Richard Edwards, deacon of Our Lady of Lourdes, Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Church in Brighton, said: "You can only have sympathy for them. We hope and pray there will be some good news. It was quite clear from the start that they have taken strength from their faith. It is an enormous privilege to meet the Pope from a spiritual point of view."

At the inevitable press conference afterwards, held in the ambassador's residence, Mr McCann said of meeting the Pope: "It was more personal than I could ever imagine. There was recognition immediately, looking at Madeleine's photograph.

"His touch, words and thoughts were more tender than we could have hoped, and will sustain us during this most difficult time."

Mrs McCann added: "It was very emotional but it was a very positive experience really. It has been very helpful to us. He was very kind. He said he would pray for us and our family and continue to have faith in us."


During the ceremony a butterfly had landed on the ribbons in her hair. It flew away and then returned minutes later to her lapel. She said: "It was strange but lovely. It was like a small sign of hope."

The couple said that they had mixed emotions about visiting the Vatican because the occasion was tinged by sadness.

Mr McCann said: "In other circumstances it would be the highlight for any Catholic to meet the Pope. But it is tainted by the marked realisation that our daughter is still missing."

He said the most difficult aspect of the abduction was not knowing where she was.

Mrs McCann said: "The first 72 hours really were the worst time for both of us. It was hard to get away from the dark places. But as time goes on the support we have had, and the prayers, really do give us strength and hope. We are stronger and more positive."

The Vatican evidently considered the meeting important. Father Frederico Lombardi, the Pope's spokesman, said that the couple were fervent Catholics.

Father Guido Todeschini, who heads the Telepace television network, which films the Pope's audiences, said: "The Vatican hoped the meeting would be of comfort to the family. Not just the Pope but the whole church is praying for the return of Madeleine."

The McCanns then returned to Portugal to their two-year old twins, Sean and Amelie.

They have no plans to return to Britain, but instead will visit Madrid, Berlin and Amsterdam to issue yet more pictures and appeals for information.

===================================================================

Let us continue to pray for Maddie and her parents that this ordeal may all end well soon.

Meanwhile, here's a column from the Times of Londoncommenting on media coverage of this story. That the colmunist calls the McCanns' brief meeting with the Pope an episode of 'mass voyeurism' tells you where the writer is coming from. BTW, the newspaper's backgrounder on Hume says he published a short-lived magazine called Living Marxism.



Were you at the Vatican, too?
Mick Hume: Notebook
From The Times
June 1, 2007



Who exactly was meant to benefit from the mass outbreak of voyeurism at the Vatican this week, as the world watched Madeleine McCann's parents praying with the Pope? (Or as a BBC headline put it, in a Lloyd-George-knew-my-father moment, "Pope meets Madeleine's parents".)

I am sure the McCanns, devout Catholics, will have drawn spiritual succour from their blessing. But what did the rest of us get out of effectively peering over their shoulders as the story topped the news bulletins?

As the sober report in The Times described, "their audience lasted all of 30 seconds." Then it was "the inevitable press conference," which lasted rather longer. Gerry McCann said that the meeting in a packed St Peter's Square had been "more personal than I could ever imagine." Just them and the millions in the media audience. [Don't nock it, Mr. Marxist! If you are not a Catholic - and much less if you do not even believe in God - you would never appreciate what it means not just to meet the Pope, even if it is only for 'all of 30 seconds', but to have him comfort you for a tragedy no parent wants to bear!]

Mention of a butterfly landing on Kate McCann moved Clarence Mitchell, described as 'a family spokesman', to tell the press that this had almost made him weep: "It was as if Madeleine was with us, and was a good omen." Such superstition is now the stuff of news. [It is not the superstition that makes it news, it's a quotation!]The emotional Mr Mitchell is in fact a British Foreign Office liaison officer.

Before the Vatican trip the McCanns had already visited the modern confessional box of the media interview. The front pages of Saturdays papers read: Guilt will Never Leave Us (Sun); The Guilt Will Never Leave Us (Mirror); The Guilt Will Never Leave Us (Mail); Our Guilt Will Never Leave Us (Express); We Will Always Feel Guilty (Star). The quality papers, too, made headlines from the quote, a show of unanimity unseen since President Bush declared 'war' on terror after 9/11. [And why the quotation marks for war?]

The public focus on the story has little to do with any progress in the case in Portugal. It almost seems as if the less that is happening over there, the more it is in the news over here, a stream of Madeleine stories that keep people in the emotional maelstrom.

The McCanns insist that they have drawn strength from all the coverage. It remains to be seen what the longer-term effects may be of having their trauma nationalised. Of course, as they say, the guilt will always be with them. Let us hope that the McCanns are not always with us, turning up to be made an exhibition of years later, like the haunted parents of some past abducted children.

Nobody should blame the parents for trying to keep the story in the news. But that cannot explain why many others have felt the need to indulge in displays of emotional exhibitionism for 'our Maddy' that go beyond normal sympathy. Nor is it any excuse for an outbreak of national voyeurism. No doubt if this is what audiences want, they must have it.

But perhaps we should first take a look at ourselves, and see what it says about our society that a family tragedy can be turned into a public spectacle, which, unless something dramatic happens, looks set to run for longer than Big Brother this summer.

=====================================================================

As someone who never developed a taste for reading 'crime news', I have always found undue media interest in these abduction stories odd, except that it apparently 'sells' news, i.e., responds to a public 'demand'. In the USA, we have lived through months and months of non-stop reporting on Elizabeth Smart and then Natalie (I'm sorry I'm drawing a blank on her last name - she disappeared in Aruba two summers ago and was apparently murdered) to name the two most covered stories of this kind.

It is good to publicize senseless abductions and murders like these in the hope that the publicity may lead to useful information that may resolve lack of leads to the story. But it is also apparent that the media only turn the full spotlight on, when the victim happens to be a middle- or upper-class white girl, preferably pretty, preferably blond, while leaving the fate of hundreds of other not obviously mediagenic victims to the unheralded routine work of policemen and other investigators.

Anybody for values in a time of upheaval?


loriRMFC
00Tuesday, June 5, 2007 3:36 AM
CLINTON: FAITH GOT ME THROUGH TROUBLES


By NEDRA PICKLER
June 4th, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a rare public discussion of her husband's infidelity, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that she probably could not have gotten through her marital troubles without relying on her faith in God.

Clinton stood by her actions in the aftermath of former President Clinton's admission that he had an affair, including presumably her decision to stay in the marriage.

"I am very grateful that I had a grounding in faith that gave me the courage and the strength to do what I thought was right, regardless of what the world thought," Clinton said during a forum where the three leading Democratic presidential candidates talked about faith and values.

"I'm not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith," she said.

The forum, sponsored by the liberal Sojourners/Call to Renewal evangelical organization, provided an uncommon glimpse into the most personal beliefs of Clinton and rivals John Edwards and Barack Obama. The most intimate question came about the Clintons' relationship, one of the world's most debated marriages but one that the husband and wife rarely speak openly about.

Clinton said she's "been tested in ways that are both publicly known and those that are not so well known or not known at all." She said it's those times when her personal faith and the prayers of others sustain her.

"At those moments in time when you are tested, it is absolutely essential that you be grounded in your faith," she said.

Edwards revealed that he prays _ and sins _ every day. The crowd gasped loudly when moderator Soledad O'Brien asked Edwards to name the biggest sin he ever committed, and he won their applause when he said he would have a hard time naming one thing.

"I sin every single day," said Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee. "We are all sinners and we all fall short."

Edwards, wearing a purple tie to match Sojourners' signature color, promoted himself as the candidate most committed to the group's mission of fighting poverty. He said he doesn't feel his belief in evolution is inconsistent with his belief in Christ and he doesn't personally feel gays should be married, although as president he wouldn't impose his belief system on the rest of the country.

"I have a deep and abiding love for my Lord, Jesus Christ," Edwards said, but he said the United States shouldn't be called a Christian nation.

He said he has been going to church since he was a child and was baptized as a teen. He said he strayed from his faith as an adult and it came "roaring back" when his teenage son died in 1996.

"It was the Lord that got me through that," Edwards said, along with both of his wife's cancer diagnoses.

Clinton acknowledged that talking about her religious beliefs doesn't come naturally to her.

"I take my faith very seriously and very personally," she said. "And I come from a tradition that is perhaps a little too suspicious of people who wear their faith on their sleeves."

Each candidate was given 15 minutes to appear before the packed auditorium at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium and a live audience on CNN. They were questioned by O'Brien and by church leaders across the country.

Obama's appearance focused more on policy than the personal. Asked whether he agreed with President Bush's portrayal of the current global struggles in terms of good verses evil, Obama said there is a risk in viewing the world in such terms.

He said he believes that the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, were the result of evil. But he said that the United States' treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay is unjust.

"The danger of using good verses evil in the context of war is that it may lead us to be not as critical as we should about our own actions," Obama said to applause.

Source:http://dailynews.att.net/cgi-bin/news?e=pri&dt=070604&cat=news&st=newsd8pib3q80&src=ap
benefan
00Wednesday, June 6, 2007 7:55 PM

Gisele slams church

Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen ... slams church.

June 6, 2007 - 5:12PM
AP

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen has stepped into the debate over birth control and sexual behaviour in Brazil, saying church opposition to condom use was ridiculous and women should have the right to choose on abortion.

Bundchen is idolised by many young women in Brazil, the world's largest Catholic country, where debate over sexual issues has intensified around a visit by Pope Benedict last month.

The Pope stressed the church's firm opposition to abortion and contraception and railed against sex outside of marriage.

The Brazilian beauty, one of the world's top models, told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper in an interview that, when the church made its laws centuries ago, women were expected to be virgins.

"Today no one is a virgin when they get married ... show me someone who's a virgin!" she said.

Asked about abortion, she said a woman should have the right to choose what is best for her.

"If she thinks she doesn't have the money or the emotional condition to raise a child, why should she give birth?"

Bundchen, who had just arrived from New York to take part in Rio de Janeiro's Fashion Week, also defended condom use.

"It's ridiculous to ban contraceptives - you only have to think of the diseases that are transmitted without them. I think it should be compulsory to use a contraceptive."

The Brazilian Government has clashed with the church over anti-AIDS programs in which it distributes millions of free condoms and Health Minister Jose Temporao has called for a national referendum on abortion.

Other Brazilian celebrities have fallen foul of the Vatican over sex issues. Singer Daniela Mercury was banned from performing at a Vatican Christmas concert in 2005 because she took part in a campaign promoting condom use to prevent AIDS.

She denied rumours she was pregnant.

"Of course I want to have a family in the future. But not at this moment."
loriRMFC
00Wednesday, June 6, 2007 8:09 PM
How suprising...Gisele is dating Tom Brady, who got out of a relationship with another woman who is pregnant with his child. "Today no one is a virgin when they get married..." Hmm...By the way, another Brazilian supermodel, Adrian Lima, has said that she is a virgin in a GQ interview.
benefan
00Thursday, June 7, 2007 5:28 PM

Giuliani's abortion comment draws lightning from heaven

Manchester, N.H, Jun 6, 2007 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- On Tuesday night a Republican presidential debate was held in New Hampshire between Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. During the course of the debate, the moderator, Wolf Blitzer, asked Giuliani about Bishop Thomas Tobins criticism of his position on abortion.

Just as Giuliani attempted to answer, lightning struck the building and caused the sound system to go haywire. When the former mayor tried to answer the question a second time, lightning struck the building again accompanied by a loud clap of thunder. When the other two candidates heard the thunder a second time they both slowly and quietly backed away from Giuliani.

Making light of the situation, Giuliani quipped, "Look, for someone who went to parochial schools all his life, this is a very frightening thing that's happening right now."

benefan
00Friday, June 8, 2007 5:09 PM
In response to Gisele's comments above:


Brazilian soccer star: I married as a virgin

Milan, Jun. 7, 2007 (CWNews.com) - A Brazilian soccer star has contradicted a public statement by supermodel Gisele Bundchen, announcing that he and his wife were virgins when they married.

In an interview for the Italian edition of Vanity Fair, the soccer idol known by the single name Kaka said that he and his wife Caroline had waited until they were married, and "that time was important, as it tested our love."

The interview with Kaka, who is an Evangelical Christian, appeared just after Bundchen gained worldwide attention by saying: "Today there is no woman who is a virgin when she marries."

Kaka, a hero of the AC Milan team that won this year's Champions League competition, told Vanity Fair: "The Bible teaches that true love waits until marriage...If our life today is so beautiful, I think it is because we waited."

=====================================================================

What an exemplary couple - and story! It reminds me of that article posted in APOSTOLIC VOYAGE TO BRAZIL about the young people from a district of previously homeless, who came away from the encounter with the Pope at Pacaembu saying they saw his point about chastity before marriage - that it wasn't about sexuality but about responsibility. God bless them all, and may their tribe increase!

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, June 11, 2007 1:03 PM
MORE RUMOR ABOUT BLAIR
From the Evening Telegraph ....
Blair 'may become a Catholic deacon'
09.06.07



Tony Blair has discussed becoming a Roman Catholic deacon when he quits office.

The revelation comes as he prepares to meet the Pope amid speculation that he will use the audience in the Vatican to announce his conversion.



In his last foreign engagement, just days before he leaves Downing Street for the final time, the Prime Minister will visit Pope Benedict XVI in what officials say will be a 'highly significant' personal mission.

Reports that he will convert from the Church of England to the Catholic faith of his wife Cherie have often surfaced during Mr Blair's decade in office.

The claims were supported by revelations that he has already discussed not only converting to Rome, but also taking a formal lay position within the Church.

Deacons are just below priests in the Catholic hierarchy and have the right to administer certain sacraments and wear a special white robe known as a dalmatic.

Mr Blair discussed the idea of his taking such a role with Canon Timothy Russ, priest at the Immaculate Heart of Mary near the Prime Minister's official country residence, Chequers.

The revelation is contained in a new book soon to be serialised by The Mail on Sunday  The Darlings Of Downing Street by Garry O'Connor.

The book states: "Tony expressed his strong desire when he stepped down to become a deacon  and a Roman Catholic deacon at that, confirming the often-speculated belief that he would convert to Roman Catholicism sometime in the future."

Mr Blair is reported as asking his confidant Father Timothy: "Would this be possible?" He was told: "It usually takes two or three years", to which he replied: "The fact that I'm PM, could this make a difference?"

The deacon idea emerged in a conversation a few years ago about Mr Blair's plans after he leaves office.

Father Timothy suggested that taking on a formal role in the Church could give him fresh moral clout when he campaigns on climate change and Africa.

The priest added: "He has a lot of potentiality for good. He is still looking for the meaning in his life."

The Blairs stopped attending Mass at the Immaculate Heart of Mary last year for "security reasons". The relationship with the priest became strained after he spoke out against the Iraq War, accusing the Prime Minister of moral surrender.

It is understood that Mr Blair will be accompanied by Cherie at the audience with the Pope in the papal apartments a week on Saturday. The couple are expected to spend the weekend in Rome before returning for their last 72 hours in Downing Street.

It will be Mr Blair's third visit to the Vatican in four years and a source said: "The fact that he will meet the Holy Father for his last official overseas engagement is highly significant and must raise speculation over his conversion to Catholicism."

The latest revelations follow recent comments by Father Michael Seed, who provides private Masses for the Blairs in their Downing Street flat.

The priest, known for bringing high-profile politicians and aristocrats into the Catholic fold, believes Mr Blair is poised to join the Church of Rome.

Converts are usually welcomed into the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass, held the night before Easter Sunday, but these arrangements are considered flexible.

Admittance to the Church is normally a two-year process. But Mr Blair, because he is already a regular attender, is likely to be fast- tracked.

As a deacon, he could help priests administer Mass, preside over baptisms and read the gospel in Church services. Unlike priests, deacons are not required to take a vow of chastity.

Mr Blair, whose children have been brought up as Catholics, regularly attends Mass at Westminster Cathedral and has become close to the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

The Prime Minister's first meeting with the present Pope took place last June, but he had an audience with Pope John Paul II in February 2003, shortly before the US and British-led invasion of Iraq.

It later emerged that the Prime Minister had received Holy Communion from the Polish-born pontiff at a private service for the Blair family in the Vatican.

Mrs Blair, who is a devout Catholic, had an unexpected meeting with Pope Benedict last year when she was on a speaking engagement in Rome.

In 1996 Cardinal Basil Hume, the late Archbishop of Westminster, asked that the Prime Minister  a member of the Church of England  cease taking Communion at his wife's London church in Islington.

Mr Blair is not believed to have received the sacrament in British Catholic churches since then. However, he is understood to have taken the Eucharist during holidays in Italy where an Anglican church was not easily available.

Mr Blair has always been reluctant to discuss his religious beliefs. Alastair Campbell, his former Downing Street communications chief, famously told one interviewer: "We don't do God."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "It is true that the Prime Minister will visit the Vatican. But I am not going to confirm the date. He will discuss various issues with the Pope including inter-faith issues, the Middle East peace process and international development and aid."

Maklara
00Monday, June 11, 2007 1:48 PM
Re: MORE RUMOR ABOUT BLAIR

That's interesting but I believe from person, whose government decided to not "discriminate" homosexuals and press the catholic orphanages to let adopt kids by homosexuals, it's rather hypocrite. Not mentioning his wife should stop to distribute condoms publicly.



=================================================================== They are simply rumors, of course. But if he did consider - even just converting - anything of the sort, he certainly would have a whole lot to confess and do penance for! And I wonder if Cherie Blair confesses at all...TERESA
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Wednesday, June 13, 2007 8:03 PM
THE PRESS AND POLITICS
I got this story because Lella on her blog posted an Italian translation of the complete speech published in La Repubblica today (it's hard to see why this liberal mouthpiece felt called upon to be masochistic!) - so I did a backward trace, hoping I could find trhe full text, but Reuters, at whose London HQ he gave this address only has this report online.


Blair attacks 'feral' media he once tamed
By Katherine Baldwin





LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - Britain's media is like a "feral beast" that tears people and reputations to shreds, Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Tuesday in his parting shot at journalists after a decade in power.

Once known for his slick and sometimes obsessive media management, Blair accused the media of sensationalizing facts, breeding cynicism and attacking public figures.

Blair, who steps down on June 27, said he was not blaming the media for the "damaged" relationship with politicians but pointing the finger at the changing nature of modern news.

"The fear of missing out means that today's media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits," he said in a speech at Reuters headquarters in London.

Journalists are "increasingly and to a dangerous degree ... driven by 'impact', and this is driving down standards and doing a disservice to the public, he said.

"The damage saps the country's confidence and self-belief ... it reduces our capacity to take the right decisions," argued Blair.

Britons became increasingly cynical about Blair's reliance on public relations "spin" to nurture favorable headlines and his relationship with the media and voters deteriorated during the divisive Iraq war and its aftermath.

Opposition politicians blamed Blair's media handling for the sour relationship between politicians and the press.

"A fairer analysis would point to his own culture of spin," said Don Foster, a Liberal Democrat lawmaker.

Blair joked to reporters he was "poking them in the eye" but could do so because he was standing down. He advised his successor, finance minister Gordon Brown, not to do the same.



Blair said his government had focused too much on persuading the press: "We paid inordinate attention in the early days of New Labor to courting, assuaging, and persuading the media."

He also made no apologies for assiduously wooing media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his influential newspapers and broadcasters.

Such close ties had been vital because the media had attacked his Labor Party with "ferocious hostility" during its 18 years in opposition until its 1997 election victory, he said.

Blair said many newspapers had become "viewspapers" with opinion overtaking fact and it was rare to find balance.

He suggested the way the British press is regulated would have to be revised soon as new trends, such as newspapers producing podcasts and TV channels having Web sites, blurred the once-clear distinction between newspapers and television.

"It becomes increasingly irrational to have different systems of accountability based on technology that can no longer be differentiated in the old way," he said.

In Britain, TV channels have one regulatory body, Ofcom. The British Broadcasting Corporation is governed by a trust and newspapers are overseen by the Press Complaints Commission.

Asked if government should do more to improve regulation, and prevent one group having a monopoly, Blair said the media were better placed to bring about change themselves.

"I think politicians would find it very hard to do this without a strong sense that there is a movement within the media itself to bring about change," he said.

(additional reporting by Kate Holton)

loriRMFC
00Thursday, June 14, 2007 4:13 AM
Ruth Graham in a Coma, Close to Death


By Mike Baker
Wed. June 13th, 2007.

MONTREAT, N.C. (AP) - Ruth Graham, the ailing wife of evangelist Billy Graham, fell into a coma Wednesday morning and appears to be close to death, a family spokesman said. "She appears to be entering the final stages of life," said Larry Ross, Graham's personal spokesman.

The news came the same day Billy Graham said he and Ruth will be buried at the recently dedicated Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. In a statement, Graham said his 87-year-old wife, who has degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck and has been bedridden at their home in the mountains of western North Carolina for some time, "is close to going home to heaven."

"Ruth is my soul mate and best friend, and I cannot imagine living a single day without her by my side," Graham said. "I am more in love with her today than when we first met over 65 years ago as students at Wheaton College."

Ross said Ruth Graham was treated two weeks ago for pneumonia and her health temporarily improved before declining because of her weakened condition. Ross said she is being treated at her home outside Asheville, in the town of Montreat.

She celebrated her birthday on Sunday and was alert, Ross said. Billy Graham and four of their children are now at her side. The couple's youngest child, Ned, is flying in from the West Coast.

"Ruth and I appreciate, more than we can express, the prayers and letters of encouragement we have received from people across the country and around the world," Graham said.

"Our entire family has been home in recent days and it has meant so much to have them at our side during this time. We love each one of them dearly and thank God for them."

In San Antonio, Southern Baptist Convention president Frank Page paused the denomination's annual meeting Wednesday night to pray for Ruth Graham, whom he called "this dear saint of God."

The site of Graham's burial had appeared to be the source of some debate within his family. In December, The Washington Post reported that Ned Graham opposed burying his parents at the library. He and other members of the family preferred a burial site at The Cove, a Bible training center near the Grahams' mountain home.

The paper said evangelist Franklin Graham, who has taken over leadership of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wanted his parents' graves to be at the Charlotte museum.

Graham, who is 88 and suffers from fluid on the brain, prostate cancer, Parkinson's disease and age-related macular degeneration, responded by saying the decision would be his and his wife's alone.

Ross said the Grahams decided this spring that they would be buried in the library's prayer garden, at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway, a symbolic decision to demonstrate both their reverence to God and their "ongoing witness of their faith in Christ."

"This is something the Grahams have been discussing and praying about," Ross said. "The two things they've always agreed on is that they'd be buried together and it's a decision they'd make on their own. Mr. Graham and Ruth have always known that their final home is in heaven. That's the important thing."

Born in Charlotte, Graham traveled the world for decades building a revival-based ministry that reached millions. He later returned to the Charlotte area, which became the home of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Graham was in Charlotte last month for the opening of the $27 million, 40,000-square-foot museum and evangelistic library. He looked frail, was brought to the site by golf cart and needed Franklin's help to reach his seat.

The emotional ceremony had such an air of finality that Graham quipped, "I feel like I've been attending my own funeral."

He told a crowd that included three former U.S. presidents; Clinton, Carter, and George H.W. Bush, that he was embarrassed by the attention and said there was "too much Billy Graham" in the exhibits.

"This building behind me is just a building," he said then. "It's an instrument, a tool for the Gospel. The primary thing is the Gospel of Christ."


Source:http://dailynews.att.net/cgi-bin/news?e=pri&dt=070613&cat=news&st=newsd8po9qh80&src=ap
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, June 14, 2007 6:59 PM
KURT WALDHEIM, R.I.P.


AP - Thu Jun 14 - Austrian President Kurt Waldheim, left, sits in front of Pope John Paul II in the papal library during a private audience at the Vatican in this Thursday, June 25, 1987 file photo. Former U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, who was elected Austrian president despite an international scandal about his secretive World War II military service for the Nazis, died Thursday June 14, 2007, Austrian media reported. He was 88. (AP Photo/Arturo Mari)
loriRMFC
00Friday, June 15, 2007 3:34 AM
Billy Graham's Wife Ruth Dies at 87


By Mike Baker
Thurs. June 14th, 2007.

MONTREAT, N.C. (AP) - Ruth Graham, who surrendered dreams of missionary work in Tibet to marry a suitor who became the world's most renowned evangelist, died Thursday. She was 87. Graham died at 5:05 p.m. at her home at Little Piney Cove, surrounded by her husband and all five of their children, said a statement released by Larry Ross, Billy Graham's spokesman.

"Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team," Billy Graham said in a statement. "No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.

"I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we've had in the mountains together. We've rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven."

Ruth Graham had been bedridden for months with degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck, the result of a serious fall from a tree in 1974 while fixing a swing for grandchildren, and underwent treatment for pneumonia two weeks ago. At her request, and in consultation with her family, she had stopped receiving nutrients through a feeding tube for the last few days, Ross said.

A public memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Montreat Conference Center. A private interment service will be held the next day in Charlotte.

As Mrs. Billy Graham, Ruth Graham could lay claim to being the first lady of evangelical Protestantism, but neither exploited that unique status nor lusted for the limelight.

Behind the scenes, however, she was considered her husband's closest confidant during his spectacular global career, one rivaled only by her father, L. Nelson Bell, until his death in 1973.

"She would help my father prepare his messages, listening with an attentive ear, and if she saw something that wasn't right or heard something that she felt wasn't as strong as it could be, she was a voice to strengthen this or eliminate that," said her son, Franklin, who is now the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

"Every person needs that kind of input in their life and she was that to my father."

Bell, a missionary doctor, headed the Presbyterian hospital in Qingjiang, China, that had been founded by the father of author Pearl Buck. Ruth grew up there and spent three high school years in what's now North Korea.

"What she witnessed in her family home, she practiced for herself, dependence on God in every circumstance, love for his word, concern for others above self, and an indomitable spirit displayed with a smile," said the Grahams' youngest daughter, also named Ruth.

Despite her reluctance to be a public personality herself, Ruth Graham met many of the powerful and famous through her husband, who was a spiritual adviser to presidents for decades. President Bush and first lady Laura Bush called her a "remarkable woman of faith" who "inspired people around the world with her humor, intelligence, elegance, and kindness."

She met Billy Graham at Wheaton College in Illinois. He recalled in 1997 memoirs, "If I had not been smitten with love at first sight of Ruth Bell I would certainly have been the exception. Many of the men at Wheaton thought she was stunning."

Billy Graham courted her, managing to coax her away from the foreign missions calling and into marriage after both graduated in 1943. In 1945, after a brief stint pastoring a suburban Chicago congregation, he became a roving speaker for the fledgling Youth for Christ organization.

From that point onward she had to endure her husband's frequent absences, remarking, "I'd rather have a little of Bill than a lot of any other man."

Ruth Graham moved the couple into her parents' home in Montreat, where they had relocated after fleeing wartime China. She stayed in western North Carolina mountain town the rest of her life.

The young couple later bought their own house across the street from the Bells. Then in 1956, needing protection from gawkers, the Grahams moved into Little Piney Cove, a comfortably rustic mountainside home she designed using logs from abandoned cabins. It became Billy's retreat between evangelistic forays.

Though the wife of a famous Baptist minister, the independent-minded Ruth Graham declined to undergo baptism by immersion and remained a loyal, lifelong Presbyterian. When in Montreat, a town built around a Presbyterian conference center, Billy Graham would attend the local Presbyterian church where his wife often taught the college-age Sunday School class.

Due to her husband's travels, she bore major responsibility for raising the couple's five children: Franklin (William Franklin III), Nelson, Virginia, Anne and Ruth.

Ruth Graham was the author or co-author of 14 books, including collections of poetry and the autobiographical scrapbook "Footprints of a Pilgrim."

In 1996, the Grahams were each awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for "outstanding and lasting contributions to morality, racial equality, family, philanthropy, and religion."

Crime novelist Patricia Cornwell began her writing career with a Ruth Graham biography that depicted many deeds of personal charity. Cornwell said as a youth in Montreat she thought Ruth Graham "was the loveliest, kindest person ever born. I still do."

She helped establish the Ruth and Billy Graham Children's Health Center in Asheville, and the Billy Graham Training Center near Montreat.

Ruth Graham will be buried at the new Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, a source of apparent discord within the family last year. This week, Billy Graham said he and Ruth had decided "after much prayer and discussion" they would be laid to rest at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway in the library's prayer garden.

Source: dailynews.att.net/cgi-bin/news?e=pri&dt=070614&cat=news&st=newsd8potab8...

====================================================================

Thank you very much for keeping us up to date with this story, Lori. What a beautiful and inspiring life! Let our prayers go with her and for her family. TERESA
loriRMFC
00Sunday, June 17, 2007 6:13 AM
Rull Bell Graham, Solemate to Billy
By Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy



Whenever he was asked how he came to be the greatest evangelist in history, Billy Graham always turned his eyes heavenward: "It was God who did this," he would say. But if there was an earthly power who helped both raise him up and keep his feet on the ground, it was his bright-souled, big-hearted wife Ruth Bell Graham, 87, who fell into a coma and died on Thursday. "Ruth was my life partner," he said in the statement announcing her death. "We were called by God as a team. No one else could have borne the load that she carried."

The daughter of Presbyterian medical missionaries in China, Ruth had no intention of getting married, much less to a man who would become one of the most famous in the world. She had seen missionary life up close: the hardship, the loneliness, the danger, as her parents lost colleagues to political violence and Ruth's little brother to dysentery. But she also admired their courage and kindness and aspired to live a life of Christian witness, as an "old maid missionary" in Tibet.

She did lead a life of witness, but not the way she planned. She and Billy met when they were students at Wheaton College, when he was already an ordained Baptist minister; "I fell in love right that minute," he said. She liked his earnestness, energy, the muscular message he preached. She came to know his gentleness and sincerity. They courted through college and married right after graduation. Billy was soon traveling the country and the world leading crusades, meeting with Truman and Eisenhower at the White House, with the Queen at Buckingham palace, with Hollywood stars and business moguls. It was a drenching wave of power and celebrity that might have swept away a lesser man; but Billy had Ruth as his firm anchor, teasing him mercilessly to puncture any temptations to pride, matching him verse for verse in his study of Scripture, hauling him back from the cliff whenever he was tempted to dive too deep into the politics that fascinated him so.

When rumors circulated in the winter of 1964 that Graham was considering running for the White House, she coolly informed him that "If you run, I don't think the country will elect a divorced president." A few months later she and Billy dined with Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson at the White House on the eve of the Democratic convention. Johnson began running down his list of possible running mates, wanting to know what Graham thought of them. Ruth kicked Billy hard under the table. "You shouldn't answer questions like that," said Ruth. "Your job is to give spiritual and moral advice to the President, not political." But when Lady Bird and Ruth got up from the table and went into the living room, Graham recalled, Johnson got up, quietly closed the door, then turned to him and said, "Now, tell me, what do you really think?"

There were many temptations facing a man in Graham's position, and Ruth was vital in helping him resist them. He vowed early on never to be alone in a room or a car with any woman other than Ruth. Members of his evangelical team would enter his hotel room before him, to search it for any adoring fan or tabloid bait that might be hiding out. Once a society doyenne swooned at Billy at a luncheon: "He is so eloquent and so handsome," she said. "Isn't it a shame that he isn't in politics?" To which Ruth dryly replied, "Maybe the Lord thought politics had its share and decided to give the ministry a break."

A woman of deep mercy and vibrant faith, Ruth was a gifted evangelist in her own right. Her ministry was far more private, counseling inquirers individually at Crusades, writing books and poetry, sharing the gospel with the ever wider circle of friends and acquaintances, including the First Families. She became quite close to Lady Bird, and then to the Nixons, and especially the Bush family. Ruth and Billy stayed at the White House with the Nixons the weekend before Christmas in 1973, as scandal consumed the country, and the First Family. "I was feeling the strain of over six months of Watergate," Julie Nixon Eisenhower recalled, "and more important, I was facing the fact that after years of searching I still did not have a deep spiritual base in my life." She and Ruth sat for a long time in a little sitting room, talking about how to study the scriptures; she marveled at Ruth's Bible, so worn and underlined, with notes in every margin. "She led the kind of life I wanted to lead," Julie said. Ruth put her in touch with a congressman's wife who could include her in their weekly Bible study.

Barbara Bush and Ruth Graham shared an extensive correspondence over the years and a great deal more: both were strong-willed and outspoken women who married young and found themselves responsible for large families while their husbands moved in ever-widening circles around the world. Both women also looked out for their sometimes too-trusting spouses. And each could unholster a wicked sense of humor when she needed it. In 2006 Barbara noted that Ruth had once been asked whether, as a Christian, she had ever contemplated divorce. Barbara explained, "Her answer, was, 'Divorce? No. Murder? Yes.'" Added Barbara, "I could understand that."

Ruth brought to their union just the right skill set to manage a household as unusual as hers. She liked to tell their five children that "there comes a time to stop submitting and start outwitting" - a rule that applied to herself as well, such as when she tried to hide a broken arm from Billy because she didn't want him to know that she had gone hang gliding. She created the safe place, the sanctuary for her husband and children to guard them from the life of fame.

By the mid-1950s it was no longer possible to live in a house where tourists could walk up to the windows and peer in (the kids once tried charging a nickel to anyone wanting to take a picture.) So they bought 200 acres on top of a mountain in Montreat, and she proceeded to build their house out of the logs she had salvaged from old cabins and barns being torn down in the area. She furnished it with antiques and the treasures of their years of world travel, and it was in this home, in her warm room with its glowing fire, that she passed her last days.

On May 31, when three former presidents and thousands of friends came to pay tribute to her husband at the dedication of his Library in Charlotte, there was a chair up front reserved for her; but she could not make it, Billy explained sadly to the crowd, for she was now so frail, her spine degenerating, and her time was coming. "Ruth is my soul mate and best friend," Billy Graham said, "and I cannot imagine living a single day without her by my side."

Gibbs' and Duffy's book,The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House, will be published in August.

Source:http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1633197,00.html

benefan
00Thursday, June 21, 2007 7:38 PM

Brazilian super model answers colleague: abortion is never justified

Sao Paulo, Jun 21, 2007 / 11:28 am (CNA).- Brazilian super model Fernanda Tavares criticized the statements of her colleague and personal friend, Gisele Bundchen, who recently came out publicly in support of abortion and criticized the Catholic Church for its position on the right to life.

Tavares, who is not known to be very religious and is involved in an extramarital affair with Brazilian actor Murilo Rosa, said she was disgusted by her friend Gisele because of her statements in support of abortion, especially because of her comment that at four months practically nothing exists in the womb of the mother.

Tavares, who is expecting a child from her relationship with Rosa, told the Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo, At one month the babys heartbeat can be heard. Its absurd for any woman, no matter how independent she is, to defend abortion, Tavares said. Were talking about another life, she added. She said she plans to marry Rosa in October after their baby is born.


benefan
00Thursday, June 21, 2007 7:40 PM

Vatican reverses annulment decision of Kennedy-Rauch marriage

Boston, Jun 21, 2007 / 11:26 am (CNA).- In a decision that does not happen often, the Vatican has reversed the annulment of former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II's first marriage, which had lasted 12 years and produced two sons. The decision was announced on the Time magazine website.

Sheila Rauch had sharply criticized the Catholic Church for annulling her marriage to Kennedy. She alleged in a 1997 book that the Kennedy family's influence in the Church had made it possible. Rauch appealed the annulment to the Roman Rota.

Rauch and Kennedy, the eldest son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, were granted a civil divorce in 1991. She said she only learned about the annulment after Kennedy married his former congressional aide, Beth Kelly, in a civil ceremony two years later.

"The (original) annulment decision totally overlooked the fact that I felt that we had a very strong marriage in the beginning, we had two wonderful children, and it lasted," Rauch told The Associated Press. "I was certainly happy in the beginning. ... things unraveled, but that doesn't mean you didn't have a marriage."

Rauch was told of the decision to reverse the annulment by officials from the Boston Archdiocese in May, although the decision was actually reached in 2005.

Bai Macfarlane of Cleveland, Ohio, also has a case pending at the Roman Rota, in which she is seeking the intervention of the Vatican and challenging a US Catholic Tribunal's failure to uphold marriage.

In May 2004, Macfarlane had asked the Cleveland Tribunal for an investigation of her marriage hoping that the Church would advise her husband that he never had a licit reason to abandon her to seek a civil no-fault divorce.

The Cleveland diocese would not even accept her petition, so she appealed to Rome. In January 2005, the Roman Rota accepted her case, and on May 9, 2007 her advocate submitted a written argument on her behalf.

According to the Churchs Code of Canon Law, there are limited reasons to separate from one's spouse (can 1151-1155). Those who agree to marry following canon law can never seek a civil separation or divorce unless it is foreseen that the civil judgments would not be contrary to divine law (canon 1692).

These cases come at a time when some church officials believe that annulments are being granted too easily in the U.S.
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, June 21, 2007 9:24 PM
WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW WHO DIES IN THE END?
He's fictional, of course, but if 325-million books about him have already been sold in 64 languages, then he's a 'notable'- albeit a questionable one.

Hacker claims Harry Potter's alleged ending on Web
By Jim Finkle

BOSTON (Reuters) - The mystery surrounding the end to fictional British boy wizard Harry Potter's saga deepened on Wednesday with a computer hacker posting what he said were key plot details and a publisher warned the details could be fake.

The hacker, who goes by the name "Gabriel," claims to have taken a digital copy of author J.K. Rowling's seventh and final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," by breaking into a computer at London-based Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

For months now, leading up to the book's July 21 release, legions of "Harry Potter" fans have debated whether Rowling killed Harry or one of his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, in the final book.

Gabriel has posted information at Web site InSecure.org that, if true, would answer that question.

"We make this spoiler to make reading of the upcoming book useless and boring," Gabriel said in the posting.

"Harry Potter" publishers have taken great pains to keep the conclusion a secret and preserve the multibillion-dollar entertainment enterprise surrounding the boy wizard.

A Bloomsbury spokesman declined comment on the hacker's claims.

Kyle Good, a spokesman for U.S. distributor Scholastic Corp., would not say whether the posting was accurate, but did warn readers to be skeptical about anything on the Web that claims to have inside information on the book's plot.

"There is a whole lot of junk flying around," she said. "Consider this one more theory."

David Perry, a spokesman for computer security company Trend Micro, said there was a good chance Gabriel's claim could be a hoax.

"We've had hypes like this on the last couple of Harry Potter books," he said. "There is a very high level of spurious information in the hacker world."

But if true, it could be a problem for Bloomsbury. The "Harry Potter" books have been global best-sellers with fans buying some 320 million versions worldwide, and anticipation for "Deathly Hallows" is high.

In April, U.S. retailer Barnes & Noble said advance orders for the book had already topped 500,000 copies, setting a chain record. Scholastic plans to release a record 12 million copies of "Deathly Hallows" to meet demand.

A stolen copy of the sixth Harry Potter novel, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" surfaced in Britain about a month before its official release in July 2005. Two people were charged after reportedly trying to sell a copy to the London tabloid the Sun.

Four "Potter" movies made by Warner Bros. film studio, a division of Time Warner Inc., have brought in $3.5 billion in global ticket sales, and a fifth film is due in theaters in early July.

(Additional reporting by Bob Tourtellotte in Los Angeles and Kate Holton in London.)

==================================================================


AND THE HACKER SAYS HE DID IT FOR POPE BENEDICT!

So who dies? The Corriere della Sera article from which I first learned this - courtesy of Lella's blog - does give Gabriel's answer if you click on a link... I'll give a clue - their names both start with H...

Better yet, the Corriere item gives us Gabriel's motivation for wanting to 'spoil' the surprise. Here's a translation:

"I did it in accordance with the precious words spoken by our great Pope Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger, when he expressed apprehension that Harry Potter would drive kids to neo-paganism."

Somewhere, I translated the text of the brief, rather general letter the Cardinal wrote to a German lady who wrote a book against the Potter series, so I'll come back and re-post it when I find it, just so we have the context straight.

Is the series anti-Christian or amoral? don't think so, personally (of course, I am an unabashed fan of the series, even at my age, simply because it's very good story-telling).

It's basically a drama of good vs. evil, where good is obviously favored by the author. But Christian children reading it do need to be debriefed and sustained by their parents as to WHO enables good (why is Harry the witchboy inherently good, whereas his fully human relatives are - not evil, really - but as mean and selfish as human beings can be?), and who is responsible for evil (the killing, the power games, who gets control of whom, etc).

The Satan figures in the series are quite strikingly unmistakeable, but unfortunately, the idea of God does not seem to come into it at all - other than the physical appearance of Dumbledore (kindly paternal face, flowing white hair) who looks like stereotype images of God the Father!


benefan
00Thursday, June 21, 2007 10:06 PM

"So who dies? The Corriere della Sera article from which I first learned this - courtesy of Lella's blog - does give Gabriel's answer if you click on a link... I'll give a clue - their names both start with H... "


NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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