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Archive of September 29, 2009

‘Demand Your Dignity’ tells women not believe the culture's lies

Old Saybrook, Conn., Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - A new website for women “from the men who love them” encourages women to “demand their dignity” and attacks the “incessant, often conflicting” messages and “lies” about women’s worth.

The site Demand Your Dignity says “enough is enough” to messages that depict women as a “collection of body parts.”

“Demand that men rise up and BE MEN! Demand to be treated as the whole person YOU ARE!” the site tells women.

The site says it was made by men “who want to love women, not use them.” Demand Your Dignity characterizes itself as a “plea” to women not to believe the “lies” the world says about them and not to give up hope.

“You aren’t alone anymore. We are fighting with you.”

Kelsey Doherty, a creator of Demand Your Dignity, spoke about the site in a Friday e-mail interview with CNA.

Doherty, who works in digital media design, told CNA that his “passion” is his youth group and spreading “the truth of Christ’s love.” The idea for the site arose out of what he called an “overwhelming need” for the message of chastity.

“The sexualization of popular culture and media is destroying entire generations of young people,” he said, explaining he meant not only abortion but also the “more subtle damage” men and women face because of pressure to fit “sexualized gender molds.”

He charged that pornography has enabled men “to seek only their own needs,” and that women are worse off because of the idealization of “a certain body type and sexual attitude.”

Doherty said he was aware of the problem but didn’t take action until such issues affected a friend.

“No girl should ever hate themselves and think they are not good enough because the cover of a Cosmo magazine tells them so,” he explained. “The sexual revolution let the cat out of the bag. Any fantasy you can think of is not only available, but condoned.”

The answer to the “pain” some women are in is “Christ-like, selfless men,” Doherty claimed. If men can deny temptation, he said, “the whole mechanism will come to a crashing halt.”

The site was made for those who “desperately yearn for true love” but have a “skewed view of chastity” and wouldn’t dare go to a “crazy” church or Chastity.com, the website of Catholic Answers’ chastity outreach program.

“Demandyourdignity.com is an effort to reach out specifically to those people,” he said.

The site presents existing resources in “a more flashy, engaging way,” he added. There are essays by Crystalina Evert, Wendy Shalit and Stasi Eldredge and videos such as the Dove Corporation’s “Onslaught,” in which the transformation of an ordinary woman into a digitally-altered supermodel is documented at high speed.

Other videos include presentations by chastity speaker Jason Evert and media analyst Jean Kilbourne.

“Jason Evert and Wendy Shalit have both been in contact with me and really appreciate demandyourdignity.com and what the site is doing,” Doherty reported.

CNA noted that the site says it is “made by real men” and asked Doherty who those “real men” are.

He said they are “tons of men” passionate about the issue of chastity and positive images of women.

“We are college students, high school students, middle school students, post-grads, husbands, fathers, and priests. What sets us apart is that we won't stand for this any longer, and we have a lot to say,” he explained. “And that’s the beauty of it. Just by making our presence known we can have a huge effect on women.”

Doherty reported that he had encouraged men to write letters of encouragement to women and was “so surprised” by the response.

“These men poured their hearts. They weren't writing to specific women, but any women. And the response from the women was even more remarkable,” he said.

The “Letters to Women” project spawned a Facebook group named “We will not stand by while women are treated like objects ITS [sic] TIME TO FIGHT.”

“What I hope to do is just provide these men with a means to express themselves loudly and give them the tools to fight back,” Doherty told CNA.

The Demand Your Dignity website is at http://demandyourdignity.com.

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Iraqi archbishop hopes Middle East synod will be ‘new Pentecost’

Kirkuk, Iraq, Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - In advance of next year’s special synod for the Middle East, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako has said the event could be “a new Pentecost.” He also said the Eastern Churches must use the event to rediscover their identity and mission and to evangelize both Christians and Muslims.

The synod, which is themed “The Catholic Church in the Middle East: communion and testimony,” will take place from October 10 to 24, 2010.

In a Sunday commentary on Energy Publisher, Archbishop Sako expressed his gratitude towards Pope Benedict for convening the synod, adding that the Eastern Churches must “contribute fully” and play a leading role.

The Churches must put their commitment and testimony into action, he added, reporting that the majority of the churches have not yet followed the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council.

The Eastern Churches should be open to “the Spirit of Renewal” and should “leave the past behind, from a very rigid history, hard to practice today, in these times, and prepare for the future.”

Liturgical reform was among the main problems confronting the Eastern Churches, Archbishop Sako commented.

“The Eastern Churches are churches and not ethnic groups; their mission is open to everyone and not only to those who practice their faith,” he explained. “As Saint John Chrysostom says, liturgy is for man.”

The Churches must make a “serious liturgical reform” appropriate to the context in which the faithful live. Otherwise, they risk losing many to “various religious sects.”

He encouraged more importance to be given to Sacred Scripture, reporting that in some churches the Eucharist and the Bible are still separated onto two tables.

Structural reforms are also necessary, he added, saying that some dioceses and territories’ structures go back to medieval times and there are some small dioceses with “only a priest or two.”

The Middle East Christians living in the Diaspora are also a concern and must not “close themselves within their communities, Archbishop Sako’s essay continued. Deeming migration of the faithful out of Iraq, the Holy Land and Lebanon to be “human bleeding,” he said it is not only the fault of others but the fault of Christians themselves.

“The Eastern Church must have a clear vision with concrete plans to stem this exodus,” he exhorted, suggesting that a “new evangelization” of Eastern Christians may be necessary.

The archbishop stressed unity with sister Churches and noted the urgency of presenting a “common testimony.”

“Today practically very few things are being done with other Christians. Every church works only for its faithful,” he lamented.

He closed his essay by saying that Christians must expand their “missionary dimension” in Muslim lands. A Middle East without Christians would not be the same, and dialogue with the Jews helps makes distinctions between Judaism and Zionism, he explained.

He also decried how religion has become an expression of “political identity,” especially after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

“To bear witness to the steadfast love of God for mankind and His omnipotence is the task that in a renewed manner we choose to undertake,” Archbishop Sako affirmed. “We want to believe in hope, despite disillusionments and many difficulties.”

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Catholic public figures who scandalize faithful must repent publicly, Archbishop Burke says

Washington D.C., Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, delivered a speech on September 8 discussing how to advance the culture of life in the U.S. and how to rectify the “scandal” of publicly known Catholics who confuse and distort Church teaching.

At the 14th Annual Partnership Dinner of InsideCatholic.com, Archbishop Burke said that those who have publicly espoused and cooperated in gravely sinful acts lead people into confusion and error about “fundamental questions.” Just as their dissent was public, their repentance must also be public.

“The person in question bears a heavy responsibility for the grave scandal which he has caused. The responsibility is especially heavy for political leaders,” the archbishop added.

Repairing the damage done by such scandal “begins with the public acknowledgment of his own error and the public declaration of his adherence to the moral law. The soul which recognizes the gravity of what he has done will, in fact, understand immediately the need to make public reparation,” Archbishop Burke said.

Particular harm is done by those who profess Christianity but promote policies and laws which “permit the destruction of innocent and defenseless human life” and “violate the integrity of marriage in the family,” he said.

The result of these actions is that citizens are confused and “led into error” about basic moral tenets.

Catholics who contribute to that confusion cause the “gravest harm” to their Christian brethren and also to the whole nation, Burke added.

“In our time, there is a great hesitation to speak about scandal, as if, in some way, it is only a phenomenon among persons of small or unenlightened mind, and, therefore, a tool of such persons to condemn others rashly and wrongly,” he observed.

In the archbishop’s view, it is ironic that those who experience scandal at the “gravely sinful” public actions of a fellow Catholic are accused of “a lack of charity” and of causing division within the Church.

“Lying or failing to tell the truth, however, is never a sign of charity. A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not the unity of the Church. The Church's unity is founded on speaking the truth with love,” he remarked.

The contrary attitude is characteristic of a society governed by the “tyranny of relativism,” one in which “political correctness and human respect” are the ultimate criteria, he said, warning that Catholics’ consciences have become “dulled to the gravity of certain moral issues.”

Archbishop Burke explained that the disciplines of the Church are not a judgment on the eternal salvation of someone’s soul but are “simply the acknowledgment of an objective truth… that the public actions of the soul are in violation of the moral law, to his own grave harm and to the grave harm of all who are confused or led into error by his actions.

For the archbishop, it seemed clear that the inspiration for the founding of the United States came from “a declared faith in God and in the inalienable rights with which He has endowed man.”

“To deny the Christian foundation of the life of our nation is to deny our very history,” he added, later saying that it is a “false notion” that a Christian or any person of faith must “bracket his faith life from his political life” in order to be a true American citizen.

This habit is not true to the founding principles of the U.S. government, the archbishop stated.

“What kind of government would require that its citizens and political leaders act without reference to the fundamental requirements of the moral law?” he asked rhetorically.

When Christians fail to articulate and uphold the “natural moral law,” Archbishop Burke added, they fail in their fundamental patriotic duty to love their country by serving the common good.

“Christian love does not have its foundation in blind tolerance of others and of what they think and say and do, but rather in the profound knowledge of others and their beliefs, and the honest acknowledgment of differences of belief, especially in what may compromise the life of the nation.”

Archbishop Burke's full speech can be read on InsideCatholic.com.

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Church contributes to dialogue between agnostics and believers, says Pope

Aboard the papal plane, Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - L’Osservatore Romano published a transcript on Monday of the press conference Pope Benedict XVI held during the flight from Rome to Prague for his visit to the Czech Republic, which ended yesterday.  The Holy Father explained that one of the fundamental contributions of the Church is in the “intellectual dialogue between agnostics and believers.”

Asked about the role the Church plays in a nation where Catholics are a minority, the Pontiff replied that “normally it is the creative minorities that determine the future, and in this sense the Catholic Church must understand itself as a creative minority that has a heritage of values that are not things of the past, but a very living and relevant reality.  The Church must actualize, be present in the public debate, in our struggle for a true concept of liberty and peace.  So it can contribute in various areas. I would say that the first is precisely the intellectual dialogue between agnostics and believers.”

Each person, the Pope continued, “needs the other: the agnostic cannot be content with not knowing whether God exists or not, but must be searching and sense the great heritage of the faith; the Catholic cannot be content with having the faith, but must be searching for God even more, and in dialogue with others re-learn God in a more profound way.”

Education and Caritas

This is the first level: the great intellectual, ethical, and human dialogue,” the Holy Father said.  “Then, in the area of education, the Church has a great deal to do and to give, concerning formation. In Italy, we talk about the problem of the educational emergency. It is a problem common to all of the West. Here the Church must again actualize, make concrete, open to the future its great heritage,” he noted.

A third aspect, the Pope said, is the organization Caritas. “This has always been one of the marks of the Church's identity: that of coming to the aid of the poor, of being an instrument of charity.”

“Caritas does a great deal in the Czech Republic, in the different communities, in situations of necessity, and it also offers much to suffering humanity on the different continents, thus giving an example of responsibility for others, of international solidarity, which is one of the conditions for peace,” he pointed out.

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Pope Benedict praises Czech Christian heritage in farewell speech

Prague, Czech Republic, Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - Yesterday evening Pope Benedict XVI said goodbye to the people of the Czech Republic, highlighting the country's many missionaries and saints, the importance of inter-religious unity for the region and the chance he had to encourage young people to build the future on their nation's Christian heritage.

The Pope bid adieu to the Czechs at an airport ceremony, thanking them for their hospitality and help in making his visit successful. "I shall treasure the memory of the moments of prayer that I was able to spend together with the bishops, priests and faithful of this country," he said.
 
One of the remarkable traits of the Czech Church that the Holy Father emphasized is how it is “truly blessed with a remarkable array of missionaries and martyrs, as well as contemplative saints, among whom I would single out St. Agnes of Bohemia, whose canonization just twenty years ago providentially heralded the liberation of this country from atheist oppression."
 
Benedict XVI then touched on how his meeting with representatives from other Christian communities "brought home to me the importance of ecumenical dialogue in this land which suffered so much from the consequences of religious division at the time of the Thirty Years' War. Much has already been achieved in healing the wounds of the past, and decisive steps have been taken along the path towards reconciliation and true unity in Christ. In building further on these solid foundations, there is an important role for the academic community to play, through its uncompromising search for truth."
 
Finally, Pope Benedict mentioned how he was “especially delighted to meet the young people, and to encourage them to build on the best traditions of this nation's past, particularly its Christian heritage.”

“According to a saying attributed to Franz Kafka, 'anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.' If our eyes remain open to the beauty of God's creation and our minds to the beauty of His truth, then we may indeed hope to remain young and to build a world that reflects something of that divine beauty, so as to inspire future generations to do likewise."
 
The Holy Father then left from the Stara Ruzyne Airport for Rome, where he arrived at 7:40 in the evening.

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Benedict XVI announces second book on Jesus could be completed in 2010

Aboard the papal plane, Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI said this past weekend that while he has not yet fully recovered from the broken wrist he suffered over the summer, he has been working on the second part of his book on Jesus and that he could complete it by the Spring of 2010.

During a press conference on the way to Prague, the Holy Father told reporters, “The right hand works, and I can do the essential things: I can eat, and above all, I can write.  My thought is developed mainly through writing; so for me it was really a burden, a school of patience, not to be able to write for six weeks.”

However, he continued, “I was able to work, to read, to do other things, and I also made a little bit of progress with the book. But I still have much to do. I think that, with the bibliography and everything that is still to be done, 'Deo adjuvante,' it could be finished next spring. But this is a hope!”

Caritas in Veritate

Responding to a question about the impact of his latest encyclical “Caritas in Veritate,” Pope Benedict XVI said, “I am very content that this serious discussion is taking place. This was the aim: to provide incentives and reasons for a discussion on these problems, not to leave things be as they are, but to find new models for a responsible economy, both in individual countries and for the totality of humanity as a whole.”

“It seems to me,” he went on, “that it has really become clear today that ethics is not something outside of the economy, which could work mechanically on its own, but is an inner principle of the economy, which does not work if it does not take into account the human values of solidarity, of reciprocal responsibilities, if it does not integrate ethics into the construction of the economy itself: this is the great challenge of this moment.”

The Holy Father said he was confident that the encyclical “contributed to this challenge.”

“The debate underway seems encouraging to me. Of course, we want to continue to respond to the challenges of the moment, and to help make the sense of responsibility stronger than the desire for profit, responsibility toward others stronger than egoism; in this sense, we want to contribute to a humane economy in the future as well,” Pope Benedict said.

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Archbishop of Toledo says new law has 'little to do with sexual health'

Toledo, Spain, Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez of Toledo, Spain said Monday that the new law on Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy approved by the Spanish government last Saturday “has little to do with sexual health” and treats abortion “as if it were a right.”

The Archbishop of Toledo faulted the legislation for using the term “reproduction” and added that “abortion is repulsive to reason.”

The archbishop made his comments to reporters immediately following a Mass to open the new academic year at several local theology institutes and the archdiocesan seminary. 

Lawmakers in Europe often fall into “a sort of contradiction,” he continued, since “on the one hand they want to broaden the individual rights of the person but on the other they work less for other rights such as the right to be born, the right to life and to right to not go hungry and to employment.”

The law will now go before Spain’s Parliament, where it probably be passed, the archbishop said.  “But that does not mean it is right. Future generations will judge us for laws like this,” he warned.

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Global Catholic Radio Conference expecting record crowd

Irondale, Ala., Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - The Catholic Radio Association and EWTN will be hosting the annual Global Catholic Radio Conference in Birmingham, Ala next month. Organizers say that this year's event will already have a larger attendance than any previous conference.

The October 14-17 gathering will include a visit to EWTN's radio mountain, a day-long retreat led by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, a keynote speech by Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, New Mexico and workshops on improving radio show production. Participants will also have an opportunity to pose questions to Kelly Donohue from the Federal Communications Commission.

Stephen Gajdosik, the president of the Catholic Radio Association (CRA), told CNA that this year's gathering “will be our largest conference yet.  In pre-registrations we’ve already far surpassed last year’s attendance.”

Commenting on the record crowd, Gajdosik said, “I think that is an indicator of the life and grace active within Catholic radio.  We’re adding listeners and stations every month.  They, in turn, are leaven within the culture.  Praised be Jesus Christ!”

He also commented on the rapid growth of Catholic radio around the country, saying, “[t]he signals from our member stations already reach over 150 million souls with several more stations on the way by year’s end.” 

The CRA also hopes that its goal of using Catholic radio to put listeners in touch with apostolates that fit their specific needs or gifts is achieved at the conference.  Gajdosik told CNA that he hopes that various “evangelization apostolates will come and learn how they can leverage their work through radio.”

For more information about the Global Catholic Radio Conference, visit: http://www.catholicradioconference.com/index.html.

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Pope Benedict to promote using new media to evangelize

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI plans to focus his message for the next World Day of Social Communications on the new media and how they can serve the spread of the Gospel. The papal message encourages priests especially to make use of the new means of communicating.

The full title of the Pope's theme for the January 24, 2010 celebration is, "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word."  The Day is observed every year on the Feast of St. Francis of Sales, patron saint of journalists.

A statement published on Tuesday by the Vatican said that the goal of the Pope's message is "to invite priests in particular, during this Year for Priests and in the wake of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to consider the new communications media as a possible resource for their ministry at the service of the Word. Likewise, it aims to encourage them to face the challenges arising from the new digital culture."

The Holy Father will also use his message to touch on how the “new communications media, if adequately understood and exploited, can offer priests and all pastoral care workers a wealth of data which was difficult to access before, and facilitate forms of collaboration and increased communion that were previously unthinkable," the Vatican says.

The Vatican statment goes on to point out that if the new media are wisely used, enlisting the help of experts in technology and the communications culture, they “can become - for priests and for all pastoral care workers - a valid and effective instrument for authentic and profound evangelization and communion."

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Amidst attacks on human life, bishops of Brazil support conscientious objection

Brasilia, Brazil, Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - In a recent statement on the right to conscientious objection, the bishops of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of Brazil encouraged those who work untiringly in the defense of human life and reiterated that all people have the right to object against practices such as abortion.

In their statement the bishops praised the work of those who promote human life “in all stages of its development, especially of those who have no way to defend themselves.”

“In our society, marked by so many contrasting concepts of the human being and his dignity, all those who take on a commitment to promote justice and defend life certainly face great resistance and opposition,” they observed.

“Moved by Christian ideals and committed to the grave cause of the defense of human life, we cannot acquiesce to any type of pressure or become discouraged at the difficulties that we continuously confront,” the bishops stressed.

For this reason, “Every person has the right to manifest their conscientious objection to anything that is contrary to the demands of the moral order, to principles and ethical values and to their professed faith, such that nobody, for any reason, should be punished or forced to act against that which their conscience dictates to them.”

At certain times, the bishops said, “It is necessary to say: ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”

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Priests’ work is irreplaceable, Pope Benedict tells gathering of clergy at Ars

Ars, France, Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - In a video message to an international spiritual retreat for priests at the French shrine of Ars, Pope Benedict XVI said that priests’ work is irreplaceable and that the Church’s recognition for their “unreserved” commitment is “immense.”

The retreat, marking the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, is scheduled for September 27 through October 3. Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, is the preacher of the retreat, whose theme is “The joy of being a priest, consecrated for the salvation of the world.”

In his video message to the priests, made public on Tuesday, Pope Benedict said that the priest is “called to serve human beings and to give them life in God… He is a man of the divine Word and of all things holy and, today more than ever, he must be a man of joy and hope. To those who cannot conceive that God is pure Love, he will affirm that life is worthy to be lived and that Christ gives it its full meaning because He loves all humankind.”

The Pope then turned to priests who serve a number of parishes, saying they commit themselves “unreservedly” and that the Church’s recognition for them is “immense.”

“Do not lose heart but continue to pray and to make others pray that many young people may accept the call of Christ, Who always wishes to see the number of His apostles increase,” he added.

Pope Benedict asked the audience to consider the extreme diversity of the ministries they perform, such as the large number of Masses they celebrate “each time making Christ truly present at the altar.”

“Think of the numerous absolutions you have given and will give, freeing sinners from their burdens. Thus you may perceive the infinite fruitfulness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Your hands and lips become, for a single instant, the hands and lips of God,” he reflected.

Such thoughts should ensure “harmonious relations” among the clergy to help build up the body of Christ and consolidate them “in love.”

“The priest is the man of the future,” he said.

“What he does in this world is part of the order of things directed towards the final Goal. Mass is the only point of union between the means and the Goal because it enables us to contemplate, under the humble appearance of the bread and the wine, the Body and Blood of Him Whom we adore in eternity.”

“Nothing will ever replace the ministry of priests in the heart of the Church,” Pope Benedict’s message continued. He called priests “the living witnesses of God's power at work in the weakness of human beings, consecrated for the salvation of the world, chosen by Christ Himself to be, thanks to Him, salt of the earth and light of the world.”

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Homosexual activists design ‘Relational Mysteries’ for Rosary

Berkeley, Calif., Sep 29, 2009 (CNA) - Scrutiny of a group of protesters at Bishop Salvatore Cordileone’s visit to the Jesuit School of Theology at the Graduate Theological Union last week has put the spotlight on a variant of the Rosary designed by homosexual activists to contemplate what they call the “Relational Mysteries.”

The Bishop of Oakland's visit was intended to commemorate the merging of the Jesuit school with Santa Clara University.

The California Catholic Daily reports that the visit’s protesters, about twenty in number, included Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, president of the Starr King (Unitarian Universalist) School of Ministry; Rev. Roland Stringfellow, the organizer of the GTU’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies; Rev. Sanna Reinholtzen, a Lutheran minister; and doctoral student Eugene McMullan, apparently a Catholic.

McMullan is the founder of a group called Catholics for Marriage Equality. In August, the group held a “Pray for Equality” event outside St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, at which they were to recite the “Relational Mysteries."

According to the California Catholic Daily, McMullan and a Rev. Jim Mitulski taught a two-part class on “Praying the Queer Rosary” at an event for the New Spirit/MCC Church of Berkeley. The announcement for the class said it is “based on stories from the bible [sic] which depict Queer Families or Relationships.”

Another event was hosted at Berkeley’s Newman Hall – Holy Spirit Parish, which announced a Rosary “in solidarity with LGBT Catholics” facilitated by McMullan and Mike Campos, another doctoral student at the Graduate Theological Union.
The “Relational Mysteries” are listed as Fidelity - Ruth’s pledge to Naomi; Grief – The Parting of David and Jonathan; Intercession – Esther intercedes for her people; Restoration – the raising of Lazarus; and Discipleship – the two encounter Christ on the road to Emmaus.

The California Catholic Daily also reports a habit among religious homosexual activists of interpreting the relationship between Ruth and Naomi as a homosexual one.

Episcopal priest John Kirkeley, a nominee for Bishop of Los Angeles,  has characterized the relationship between Saul, David and Jonathon as a “Biblical Love Triangle,” while Fr. Donal Godfrey, executive director of University Ministry at the University of San Francisco, in a homily likened the story of Lazarus to “the call to come out.”

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