Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In San Diego, A Disingenuous Start to Lent

Bishop Robert H. Brom (left)
Passing the Buck?

By Lisa Haddock

For the Diocese of San Diego, Lenten repentance seems all about “do as I say, not as I do.”

The diocese may try to wiggle out of a court fight with more than 140 alleged sex abuse victims by declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to an Associated Press report published on Feb 19.

In a statement read at Masses throughout his diocese, San Diego Bishop Robert H. Brom wrote: “We are painfully aware of the harm that the victims of abuse have suffered, and we want to treat all of them fairly and equitably. At the same time, good stewardship demands that settlements not cripple the ability of the Church to accomplish its mission and ministries. Consequently, we must consider how best to fairly compensate the victims while at the same time not jeopardizing our overall mission. If this cannot be done through settlement negotiations, the diocese may be forced to file a Chapter 11 reorganization in bankruptcy court.”

The statement, issued just before the penitential season of Lent, should raise eyebrows among the faithful.

Church teaching stipulates: “One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much” (Catechism 1459).

Are there two sets of rules operating here? One for the faithful? Another for the hierarchy?

Yeshiva University Law Professor Marci Hamilton argues that the bishop is being inconsistent.

“Brom pits the victims against the parishioners, as if they were somehow adversaries. Of course, this is far from true: The victims were children of past parishioners. And if they had not been brave enough to come forward, then current parishioners' children would continue to be at the same risk as they were. These are two groups joined in a commonality of interest, not two groups at loggerheads.”

As I have written elsewhere in this blog, the laity have the right and the duty to speak out “on matters which pertain to the good of the Church.” They may address their opinions to “the sacred pastors” as well as to the rest of the Christian faithful (Canon Law 212, Paragraph 3).

For the health of the Church, they should do just that.

Read more at Bishop-Accountability.org.

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Novel Explores Sufi Mysticism

Editor's Update: Master of the Jinn is now available in e-book format.

By Irving Karchmar

As a spiritual person and writer, may I commend to you my book, Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel, a mystical adventure tale on the Sufi path of Love. In the name of the Merciful, 10% of all profits go to charity.

Here is a tale set on the Path of the Heart, a mystical adventure wherein a modern-day Sufi master sends seven companions on a quest for the greatest treasure of the ancient world - King Solomon's ring. It is the very same seal ring of a hundred legends, given to King Solomon by God to command the Jinn, those terrifying demons of living fire.

By sea and across deserts, they are led by a strange faqir guide of many names. Through the mightiest of storms and into a lost city, the travelers come at last to the gateway of the Subtle Realm, the land of the Jinn.

But the quest has a strange effect on everyone chosen to go: visions enter their dreams, remembrances and tears fill their hearts, and mysteries abound; unearthly storms and unending night, the Gates of Heaven open at last, and invincible demons of smokeless fire.

It is a tale woven of ancient legends found in the Old Testament, the Talmud, and the Koran, and although it is set in the present, the search for the truth of the ring leads them into a circle of ageless destiny, where the companions discover not only the fate of the Jinn, but also the Path of Love and the infinite Mercy of God.

Master of the Jinn Web site
Wikipedia article on Sufism
Read excerpt

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ted Haggard: On the Straight and Narrow?

Above, Ted Haggard in a prayerful moment/Starbulletin.com.

By Lisa Haddock
NJ Faith Forum Editor

Disgraced Evangelist Ted Haggard, former head of the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, is straight as a pin. Or so says a pastor who counseled him.

Haggard lost his position at New Life Church in Colorado Springs after he first denied and then admitted sexual impropriety with a male prostitute.

"He is completely heterosexual," said the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur, Colo., in a report published on Feb. 7 by CNN. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing."

This incident raises the proverbial questions:

Is homosexuality a choice? Can it be cured? Should it be cured?

The vast majority of experts say no. But some religious groups disagree.

Read both sides of the argument: