Archive of June 29, 2008

Obama-Dobson argument a “political blunder” for Obama

Washington D.C., Jun 29, 2008 (CNA) - Gary McCullough, director of Christian Newswire, has called Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s attack on Focus on the Family president James Dobson a “political blunder” that could have a significant impact on Evangelical swing voters who were otherwise lukewarm towards Obama’s opponent, Sen. John McCain.

Sen. McCain’s past ambivalence towards same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research, McCullough wrote, had not excited the hard core of evangelicals.

“The evangelical community had been fairly unimpressed by John McCain.  But Obama has shown a grave lack of political wisdom: he did not let this sleeping dog lie,” McCullough said in an opinion piece published on Christian Newswire.

Dr. James Dobson’s June 24 radio show critiqued Obama’s use of Scripture in justifying his political policies and positions. The next day Obama responded to the evangelical leader’s critique by saying that Dobson was “making stuff up,” which McCullough said was “an indirect way of calling Dobson a liar.”

McCullough said Obama’s treatment of Dobson eliminated any sympathy Obama would have received for the attacks on his religious associations, such as his long relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Obama’s remarks also would be perceived as an insult towards “the single, most powerful influence on evangelicals,” he claimed.

Dr. James Dobson’s radio show reaches about 1.7 million listeners.

“His mistake could prove to make the difference in November -- in favor of McCain,” McCullough wrote.

Speaking to CNA, McCullough said that Obama’s remarks concerning Dobson shows he gets into trouble when he is “off-script and not reading from a cue card.”

“He picked a fight that he can’t unpick,” McCullough suggested.

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Former gang member to speak at World Youth Day

Sydney, Australia, Jun 29, 2008 (CNA) - A British former gang member will appear alongside Pope Benedict XVI during the World Youth Day evening vigil on July 19 to describe how God dramatically changed his life.

John Pridmore, 44, was once an enforcer in the London underworld whose life involved stabbings, guns, major drug deals and vicious gangs. After he nearly killed a man in a 1991 fight outside a bar, his life changed radically. He has since become a public speaker, having addressed an estimated one million people in various parishes, schools and prisons.

His book, “From Gangland to Promised Land,” has become a best seller.

Pridmore will also appear on stage at the “Receive the Power Live” concert on Friday, July 18 at Barangaroo in Sydney Harbor. He will be joined by singer-songwriter Darlene Zschech and Hillsong United, Matt Maher and his Band and other artists.

The Barangaroo venue has been specially constructed for World Youth Day. It has a capacity for 150,000 people and those unable to attend the concert will be able to watch it on large TV screens around Sydney.

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Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul links missionary and unitive dimensions, Pope says

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2008 (CNA) - Before the thousands of pilgrims gathered on Sunday in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI recalled that the missionary dimension represented by St. Paul must always be accompanied by the dimension of unity represented by St. Peter, upon whom Christ built His Church. “Christians cannot give sound witness to Christ if they are not united together,” he said.

Introducing the Sunday Angelus prayer, the Holy Father said he felt that the coincidence of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul with the observance of Sunday is "favorable to giving greater emphasis to an extraordinary event: the Pauline Year."

The Holy Father inaugurated the Pauline Year on Saturday evening in a ceremony held next to the tomb of St. Paul. The Pauline Year will last until June 29, 2009.

"Historians put the birth of Saul, who would become Paul, between 7 and 10 A.D. Therefore, upon the passage of about two thousand years, I wanted to convene this special jubilee which will naturally center upon Rome, and in particular the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls and Paul's place of martyrdom at the Tre Fontana Square," said the pontiff.

The jubilee year, he said, will involve the whole Church and will especially focus on places important in St. Paul’s life: his birthplace Tarsus, the Holy Land, the Island of Malta, and pilgrimage destinations in present-day Turkey.

He also emphasized that the Pauline Year is a celebration of the whole Church, in all corners of the earth, because "the horizon of the Pauline Year cannot but be universal, as was St. Paul, the Apostle par excellence for those whose relation to the Hebrews was ‘distant’ but, ‘thanks to the blood of Christ,’ they ‘have become close.’ That is why in a world that is increasingly 'small', but where many have not yet met the Lord Jesus, the jubilee of St. Paul invites all Christians to be missionaries of the Gospel."

Later the Holy Father recalled that "this missionary dimension needs to be accompanied by one of unity, represented by St. Peter, the 'rock' on whom Christ built His Church. The charisms of the two great Apostles are complementary for the building of a single people of God. Christians cannot give sound witness to Christ if they are not united together."

He then asked for prayers for particular intentions.

"The Pauline Year, evangelism, communion within the Church and the full unity of all Christians: Pray for these great intentions entrusted to the heavenly intercession of Mary, Most Holy Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles," the Holy Father concluded.

He then prayed the Angelus with those present and gave them his Apostolic blessing.

Visit CNA's Pauline Year web site.

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Pope calls new Archbishops to ecclesial unity and fidelity

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2008 (CNA) - During the celebration of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul at the Vatican Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI called the Archbishops who had just received the pallium to be shepherds of the whole world. He said the world, like the Gospel’s lost sheep, has lost its way home.

The Mass was attended by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, who in an unprecedented gesture was invited to deliver a homily.

The Patriarch's homily, which preceded the Pope's, centered upon the growing links of friendship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, whose see is in Constantinople. The majority of the Christians who remain in the areas once evangelized by St. Paul belong to the Orthodox Church.

Following the tradition established by Pope John Paul II, during the solemnity 40 of the 42 Archbishops of the world appointed during the last year received the pallium from the Pope’s hands as a symbol of both their pastoral authority and their unity with the Pope.

“By their martyrdom,” Pope Benedict said during the homily, “Peter and Paul are now part of Rome: by his martyrdom Peter too has become a Roman citizen forever. By their martyrdom, their faith and their love, both Apostles show us where true hope is found. They are the founders of a new kind of city, which always has to be rebuilt in the midst of the old human city, which remains threatened by the opposing forces of sin and human selfishness.”

”By virtue of their martyrdom,” the Holy Father continued, “Peter and Paul are forever in a mutual relationship. A beloved image of Christian iconography is the embrace of the two apostles on their way to martyrdom.”

“We can say: their own martyrdom, deep inside, is the achievement of a brotherly embrace,” he added.

Pope Benedict then explained that the permanent mission of Peter is “to ensure that the Church is never identified with a single nation, a single culture or a single state, that it may always be the Church of all. That she may gather humanity beyond any border and, in the midst of the divisions of this world, that she may always bring the presence of God’s peace and the reconciling strength of His Love.”  

Addressing the Archbishops who were about to receive the pallium, the Holy Father recalled that the pallium “has been made with the wool of lambs, which the Bishop of Rome blesses every year during the feast of the Chair of St. Peter,” thus making the pallium “a symbol of Christ’s flock, over which you preside.”

“When we take the pallium over our shoulders, we are reminded of the Shepherd who takes over his shoulders the lost little lamb, which by itself can’t find the road back home, and brings it back to the flock.”

“The Fathers of the Church,” he continued, “have seen in this little lamb the image of the whole of humanity, which is lost and can no longer find the way home. The Shepherd who brings it home can only be the Logos, the eternal Word of God Himself.”  

The pallium, the Pope added, is also “a symbol of our love for Christ the Shepherd and of our love, together with Him. It becomes a symbol of our calling to love humanity like Him, together with Him: those who are searching; those who have questions; those who are sure of themselves, and the humble, the simple and the great. The pallium becomes a symbol of the calling to love all of them with the strength of Christ, so that they may find Him and in Him, find themselves.”  

“This is the ministry to which the Lord is calling us,” the Pope concluded. “Let us pray now that He may help us to exercise it rightly.”

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