Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them

Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them

A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face.

The clergyman prefered not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews. Many Jerusalem clergy have been subjected to abuse of this kind. For the most part, they ignore it but sometimes they cannot.

On Sunday, a fracas developed when a yeshiva student spat at the cross being carried by the Armenian Archbishop during a procession near the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The archbishop’s 17th-century cross was broken during the brawl and he slapped the yeshiva student.

Both were questioned by police and the yeshiva student will be brought to trial. The Jerusalem District Court has meanwhile banned the student from approaching the Old City for 75 days.

But the Armenians are far from satisfied by the police action and say this sort of thing has been going on for years. Archbishop Nourhan Manougian says he expects the education minister to say something.

“When there is an attack against Jews anywhere in the world, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don’t they take harsher measures?” he asks.

According to Daniel Rossing, former adviser to the Religious Affairs Ministry on Christian affairs and director of a Jerusalem center for Christian-Jewish dialogue, there has been an increase in the number of such incidents recently, “as part of a general atmosphere of lack of tolerance in the country.”

Rossing says there are certain common characeristics from the point of view of time and location to the incidents. He points to the fact that there are more incidents in areas where Jews and Christians mingle, such as the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the Old City and the Jaffa Gate.

There are an increased number at certain times of year, such as during the Purim holiday.”I know Christians who lock themselves indoors during the entire Purim holiday,” he says.

Former adviser to the mayor on Christian affairs, Shmuel Evyatar, describes the situation as “a huge disgrace.” He says most of the instigators are yeshiva students studying in the Old City who view the Christian religion with disdain.

“I’m sure the phenomenon would end as soon as rabbis and well-known educators denounce it. In practice, rabbis of yeshivas ignore or even encourage it,” he says.

Evyatar says he himself was spat at while walking with a Serbian bishop in the Jewish quarter, near his home. “A group of yeshiva students spat at us and their teacher just stood by and watched.”

Jerusalem municipal officials said they are aware of the problem but it has to be dealt with by the police. Shmuel Ben-Ruby, the police spokesman, said they had only two complaints from Christians in the past two years. He said that, in both cases, the culprits were caught and punished.

He said the police deploy an inordinately high number of patrols and special technology in the Old City and its surroundings in an attempt to keep order.

Vatican Bank probed for money laundering

Vatican Bank probed for money laundering

ROME – A probe has been opened by Rome magistrates to determine whether the Vatican bank, the Istituto Opere di Religione (IOR), violated Italian laws against money laundering.

The probe is focusing on one or more accounts IOR opened with Unicredit, Italy’s biggest bank, through which some 60 million euros transited over the past three years.

In particular, the investigation will seek to verify whether a 2007 Italian law on transparency in regard to the identity of the account holder or executor was violated.

The possibility that the Vatican accounts violated this law was brought forward by the Bank of Italy special ‘financial intelligence’ unit which passed the information to the Finance Guard which, in turn, forwarded the case to the Rome justice department.

Judicial sources said the probe is currently centered on clarifying the “opaque screen” which hid the identity of the person, persons or organizations that had actual control over the IOR accounts.

Investigators are also trying to discover the beneficiaries of checks and bank drafts issued from the IOR accounts and who ordered them. The accounts were opened at a branch of Unicredit, then Banca di Roma, located on the avenue which leads into St Peter’s Square, via della Conciliazione, in Italian territory.

Thanks to kchiu for the submission.

Four archbishops colluded to cover up child sex attacks

Here’s a real shocker..

Four archbishops colluded to cover up child sex attacks

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland connived with the authorities in a cover-up spanning decades to shield paedophile priests from prosecution, an official report concluded yesterday. Hundreds of crimes against children were not reported as the four archbishops of the Archdiocese of Dublin remained wedded to the “maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church and the preservation of its assets”.

Instead, the church hierarchy shuffled the sex offenders from parish to parish, allowing them to continue to prey on victims. In some cases paedophile priests were even promoted. The 750-page report by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse on the Dublin archdiocese — the second significant inquiry this year to expose appalling levels of sexual abuse of minors in Ireland under the aegis of the Roman Catholic Church — said that it had uncovered a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy throughout the period that it investigated between 1975 and 2004.

It said that the State had helped to create the culture of cover-up and that senior police officers regarded priests as “outside their remit”.

“The State authorities facilitated that cover-up by not fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure that the law was applied equally to all and allowing the Church institutions to be beyond the reach of the normal law enforcement processes,” it concluded.

“The Commission has no doubt that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities.

“The structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated that cover-up.”

While the inquiry found no evidence of a paedophile ring, it said that there were some worrying connections and that one priest admitted sexually abusing more than 100 children.

Another admitted that he abused on a fortnightly basis during his 25-year ministry. One priest, against whom a single complaint was made, admitted abusing at least six other children.

Over the period within the report’s remit “the welfare of children, which should have been the first priority, was not even a factor to be considered in the early stages”, it said.

“Instead, the focus was on the avoidance of scandal and the preservation of the good name, status and assets of the institution and of what the institution regarded as its most important members — the priests.”

Four archbishops, John Charles McQuaid, who died in 1973, Dermot Ryan, who died in 1984, Kevin McNamara, who died in 1987, and Cardinal Desmond Connell, retired, did not hand over information on abusers.

The first files in the cases of 17 priests were handed over by Cardinal Connell in 1995 but, even then, he had records of complaints against at least 28 priests.


thanks to kchiu for this submission.

Pope ‘Whipped Himself In Remorse For Sins’ Reveals Nun

Yeah, that sounds like and healthy..

Pope ‘Whipped Himself In Remorse For Sins’ Reveals Nun

POPE John Paul II regularly whipped himself in a sign of “remorse for his sins”, a nun has disclosed.

Pope John Paul, who died four years ago at 84, is being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church – the ultimate accolade and a tribute to his holiness.

As part of the Vatican’s investigation, thousands of documents have been examined by officials from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Among them is the testimony of Polish nun Tobiana Sobodka, a member of the Sacred Heart of Jesus order.

She worked for Pope John Paul in his private Vatican apartments and at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo near Rome.

Sister Sobodka said: “Several times he would put himself through bodily penance.

“We would hear it – we were in the next room at Castel Gandolfo. You could hear the sound of the blows when he flagellated himself. He did it when he was still capable of moving on his own.”

The whipping is also confirmed by Bishop Emery Kabongo, for several years a secretary for Pope John Paul.

He said: “He would punish himself and in particular just before he ordained bishops and priests before passing on the sacraments he wanted to prepare himself. I never actually saw it myself but several people told me about it.”

Sister Sobodka’s leaked statements, published in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, are part of a new book on Pope John Paul II by its Vatican correspondent.

Self-flagellation is sometimes used by devoted Catholics because of the whipping endured by Christ from the Romans before he was crucified. It is still common in the Philippines and Latin America among some strict monastic orders and by some members of the lay organisation Opus Dei featured in The Da Vinci Code movie. In the film – condemned by the Vatican – murderous Albino monk Silas, an Opus Dei member, is seen whipping his back and drawing blood as he prays on his knees.

Thanks to kchiu for this story.

Gap’s Christmas cheer makes a boycott backfire

Gap’s Christmas cheer makes a boycott backfire

The Mississippi-based American Family Assn. last week issued a fatwa against Gap Inc. — the retailing giant whose brands include Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic — calling for a “two-month boycott over the company’s failure to use the word ‘Christmas’ in its advertising to Christmas shoppers.”

The War on Christmas season has officially begun.

Gap “does not use the word ‘Christmas’ to avoid offending those who don’t embrace its meaning,” writes Buddy Smith, executive assistant to the president of the AFA, on the organization’s website. “Christmas has historically been very good for commerce. But now Gap wants the commerce but no Christmas.”

“I interpret Gap’s decision as a warning sign to Christians to get out there and tell people about Jesus Christ,” writes Smith.

And they say nobody likes fruitcake.

It would be easy to get sidetracked into debating the merits of the War on Christmas. Why, for example, is the phrase “Happy holidays” so insufferable to Christian fundamentalists, but not the vulgar, surfeiting exploitation of Christ’s name to sell smokeless ashtrays, dessert toppings, Droid phones and trampolines? I’m not a theologian but I think the Gospels are pretty clear that Jesus was no fan of merchants.

And since China is in the news this week: Why not go after Gap and other retailers for trading in Chinese-made goods, since the Chinese government actively oppresses the Christian faith? Seems like building a case on religious tolerance would have more resonance. Oh, wait. Never mind.

But here’s the real question: Why attack Gap for not using the word “Christmas” in its advertising when in fact it does, and in a big way too?

Surf on over to YouTube and watch Gap’s latest 30-second spot, titled “Go Ho Ho” (Crispin Porter + Bogusky). The spot — which is in heavy rotation on network and cable TV — features a group of insanely athletic dancers leaping and twirling and stomp-cheering around a white log-cabin set. They chant, “Go Christmas, go Hanukkah, go Kwanzaa, go solstice. . . . Do whatever you wannukkah and to all a cheery night.”

There it is, right up front, enjoying pride of place: the C-word.

Meanwhile, both Old Navy and Gap sell Christmas-themed merchandise, such as Christmas boxer shorts, which I’m sure can only be removed in the sanctity of marriage.

In other words, Gap Inc. has demonstrably not banned the use of the word from its advertising or stores. So how did AFA get this so wrong?

Gap Inc. has been in the organization’s War on Christmas cross hairs for a while now, and it may well be that the boycott was planned before Gap’s holiday ads were released (phone and e-mail messages to the AFA were not returned). Gap and CP+B just pulled a switcheroo.

It’s unlikely the new Gap ads will placate the psalm-singers in Tupelo. After all, in the spirit of inclusiveness, Christmas is mentioned in the same breath as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and solstice. The winter solstice, as everyone knows, is a pagan celebration, so — viewed through a peculiarly warped lens — the Gap ad puts Christians on the same level as a bunch of blue-paintedheathens dancing around a Yule log drinking mead out of a stag horn.

How dare they! I call for a double boycott.

Perhaps the AFA did Gap a favor. If you look at the history of the organization’s boycotts — often involving punitive actions against companies that support gay rights — you’ll see that they have no commercial impact. Actually, these boycotts seem to be good for business: In the decade of the AFA’s boycott against Disney, which ended in 2006, the world’s largest entertainment conglomerate’s revenue roughly doubled to $34 billion. Likewise for Ford, which just posted a billion-dollar profit in the third quarter of 2009.

I’m not suggesting causality, but condemnation by the AFA does seem to be a kind of lucky charm for big business. Personally, I am inclined to patronize Gap as a statement of cultural tolerance, even though at my age I look like an overcooked ballpark frank in its clothes.

The big loser here is the AFA. The annual War-on-Christmas drumbeat is absolutely not about defending the sacredness of Christmas. It is instead — transparently — marketing, a ratings gambit for Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and for the AFA, the centerpiece of its annual fundraising.

This year, thanks to Gap, the AFA fumbled its boycott ball and in the process managed to look both intolerant and out of touch.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.