Chronology 2 — Religion Clarity Campaign

Church allowed female priests in first millennium

  - RC women were ordained for 1200 years - book.  
   VOICE FROM THE DESERT, http:// reform- network. net/?p=1361 , by Jennifer Green, Canwest News Service, Monday, January 21, 2008
   The Catholic Church ordained women for the first 1,200 years of Christianity, says a new book by a U.S. scholar.
   Then, in a struggle for political power in the 12th and 13th centuries, it vilified females, banned married clergy and rewrote its own history to excise clerical women.
  [Picture] The Hidden History of Women's Ordination : Female Clergy in the Medieval West  
   Women were made deaconesses (equivalent to deacons) episcopae (bishops), and presbyterae (priests), and they preached, heard confessions, performed baptisms and even blessed the bread and wine for communion, says Gary Macy, a theology professor at Santa Clara University in California.
   "The memory of ordained women has been nearly erased and, where it survived, it was dismissed as illusion or worse, delusion," he says in The Hidden History of Women's Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West, published in November by Oxford University Press.
   "This is a history that has been deliberately forgotten."
   During the first millennium, the church operated like a feudal or family business. Husband and wife might be clergy together, as modern-day televangelists now appear in matrimonial teams. [...] [Posted by Kathy Shaw on January 24, 2008 8:54 AM]
   [ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Clergy Sex Abuse Tracker, www.bishop- accountability. org/ abuse tracker , Thu January 24, 2008 edition ENDS.] [Jan 21, 08]
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• Pope warns of 'seductive' role of science.       

Pope warns of ‘seductive’ role of science

   The West Australian, , p 19, Wednesday, January 30, 2008
   ROME – Pope Benedict has warned of the "seductive" powers of science that relegate man's spirituality, reviving the science-versus-religion debate that forced him to cancel a speech after student protests.
   "In an age when scientific developments attract and seduce with the possibilities they offer, it's more important than ever to educate our contemporaries' consciences so that science does not become the criteria for goodness," he told scientists.
   Scientific investigation should be accompanied by "research into anthropology, philosophy and theology" to give insight into "man's own mystery, because no science can say who man is, where he comes from or where he is going", the Pope said.
   "Man is not the fruit of chance or a bundle of convergences, determinisms or physical and chemical reactions," Pope Benedict told a meeting of academics sponsored by the Paris Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
   The Pope reiterated a plea, made in many speeches since he was elected in 2005, for mankind to be "respected as the centre of creation" and not relegated by more short-term interests.
  [Picture] Pope Benedict: Views questioned.  
   But the German-born Pope's public stand on issues such as abortion and embryonic stemcell research have led critics to accuse him of holding antiquated views on science.
   Students and teachers at Rome's La Sapienza university, which was founded by a pope more than 700 years ago, cited these views when they protested so loudly that a papal speech scheduled for January 17 was cancelled.
   They criticised the Pope's views on science, saying a speech he gave in 1990 showed he would have favoured the Church's 17th century heresy trial against Galileo.  The Vatican said the protesters misunderstood the speech, made when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. #
   [COMMENT: Regarding Galileo Galilei, it took the Roman Catholic Church about 350 years to let go "of its fallacious view of the universe," as Thomas G. Lederer, M.A, wrote in his 1992 paper "Celibacy is the issue," . The Church had evidently claimed that there had been a 13-year study before the reversal of the trial verdict.  (However, among the books exposing the falseness of the Church court's decision was Mons. Pio Paschini's Vita et opere di Galileo Galilei, 1964, Vatican Press, Rome.)
   Even when the Hindu-Arabic numbers (such as 14, 58) were being introduced into Europe, replacing the cumbersome Roman numbers (XIV, LVIII), this was opposed by several RC theologians and preachers.
   Many advances in science and medicine have been opposed by several other religions, as well.  For example, anaesthetic was introduced to Britain during the reign of Queen Victoria, but some Church of England preachers said its use was forbidden during childbirth, because of the biblical curse "in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children."  Victoria and Albert had many children, and to help at one of the births the queen was given anaesthetic, and this helped remove the ignorant "religious" opposition to it.  Countless thousands of women have been relieved of much agony ever since.
   Elsewhere on this website readers might consider "the 'seductive' powers of science" while reading about the seduction of children.
   Then the reader might have a different opinion about the RCC's "knight in shining armour" defence of embryos sought for stemcell research or threatened by abortion.  As J.C. said, "Fear not those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell."  (Christian Scriptures, Matthew 10:28) COMMENT ENDS.] [Jan 30, 08]

• Abraham bought Hebron, not Shechem, tombsite.     

Abraham bought Hebron, not Shechem, tombsite

   John C. Massam of Perth, john. massam@ multiline. , March 17, 2008
   Did St Stephen (the first martyr) err, or did the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures make an error when recording the speech of Stephen, in retelling some Hebrew Scripture stories ?  Yes, they did.  Get out a Bible and read The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 7, verses 15 to 18.  Check the following commentary, which puts Bible words in italics:
And were carried over into Sychem (16); i.e. Shechem.  Jacob was buried in the cave of Machpelah at Hebron (Gn. xlix. 29ff); Joseph was buried at Shechem (Jos xxiv. 32).  In the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem (16).  Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah at Hebron from the Hittites (Gn. xxiii. 16); Jacob bought the land at Shechem which he gave to Joseph (and where Joseph was buried) from the sons of Hamor (Jos. xxiv. 32).  Not only separate quotations (see verse 7n.) but separate incidents are conflated in Luke's summary of Stephen's speech. -- Bruce, F.F., article author in: F. Davidson, A.M.Stibbs, and E.F.Kevan, editors; The New Bible Commentary, 1959 (orig. 1953), The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, p 908.
   "Conflated" is a high-flown term here for "mistakenly mixed two sets of facts."  The Acts says, wrongly, that Abraham bought a tombsite at Sychem / Shechem.
   Confused?  Get a piece of paper, and write down the important words and places in Acts 7:15-18: "Jacob, Egypt, bodies, buried, Shechem tomb, Abraham had bought, sons of Hamor, Shechem."
   Then contrast with the following -- Genesis 23:16-19:  "Abraham, Ephron, Hittites, 400 shekels, Machpelah, Mamre, wife Sarah, Mamre now Hebron." (i.e., Abraham bought Hebron)
   Genesis 49:1 and 29 and following:  "Jacob, bury, Ephron the Hittite, Machpelah facing Mamre, Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite." (i.e., Abraham bought Hebron)
   Joshua 24:32:  "Bones of Joseph, Shechem, Jacob had bought, son of Hamor father of Shechem." (i.e. Jacob bought Shechem)
   Conclusion: The Acts is wrong in saying that Abraham bought Shechem.  One would have thought that those who wrote down the stories of the supposed continuation of God's dealings with humanity could have spent more time checking back to the Hebrew scriptures to get their quotations right.  This is not the only such mistake in the New Testament.
[Composed May 18, '08; first discovered March 17, 2008]

• German Catholic Church used Nazi forced labour.     

German Catholic Church used Nazi forced labour

   CathNews (from the RCC Church Resources, Australia), www.cathnews. com/article. aspx?aeid= 6590 , April 09, 2008
  [Picture] Man in spectacles reading book, and book cover.   
   GERMANY – German Cardinal Karl Lehmann says the Catholic Church must face up to its past after a newly published history revealed the Church in Germany used 1,000 prisoners of war and nearly 5,000 civilians as slave labourers in hospitals and monasteries during World War II.
   "For too long the Catholic Church turned a blind eye to the fate and suffering of men, women and children from across Europe who were sent to Germany as slave labourers," Cardinal Lehmann said, according to a Euronews report.
   In 2000, the Church acknowledged its use of forced labour under Hitler, and has paid 1.5 millions euros in compensation to foreign workers, but the report Forced Labour and the Catholic Church 1939-1945 is the most thorough look at the issue so far, according to a report in The Australian.
   Most slave labourers came from Poland and the then-Soviet Union, and their work was vital for Hitler's regime.
   By the end of the war, forced labour made up more than a quarter of the workforce as Germany collapsed. This is latest in a series of reports from firms including Volkswagen, Siemens and Deutsche Bank, acknowledging their past.
   The 703 page official report documents the fate of 1,075 prisoners of war and 4,829 civilians who were forced to work for the Nazis in nearly 800 Catholic institutions, mainly hospitals, homes and monastery gardens to boost the war effort.
   The Earthtimes quotes the main historian behind the report, Karl-Joseph Hummel, as saying only a limited number of Catholic facilities had used forced labour. It had not been typical, Hummel said. At the same time the Nazis had been persecuting the Church.
   Most labourers did not work in churches, but typically in Catholic hospitals and cemeteries, on farms run by monasteries or in domestic service. Most hailed from Poland, Ukraine and the Soviet Union, according to the study.
   In a radio interview, Hummel said the Church had failed by not speaking out forthrightly against Naziism. "It should have clearly said how its interpretation of loyalty, honour and the fatherland was not the same as the Nazis' view," he said.
   The German Catholic Bishops' Conference said it had also spent 2.71 million euros on 200 reconciliation projects in eastern Europe.
   Cardinal Lehmann of Mainz said the report was not aimed at achieving closure. More reconciliation efforts were planned."It's a burden of history that our Church will keep facing up to in the future," he said.
   "It should not be concealed that the Catholic Church was blind for too long to the fate and suffering of men, women and children from the whole of Europe who were carted off to Germany as forced labourers," Cardinal Lehmann said at the book's presentation.
   He told a televised news conference in the western city of Mainz the term "cooperative antagonism" summed up the Church's strategy at the time.
   Catholics and Protestants were subject to oppression under the Nazis but aside from some notable figures from both churches who voiced opposition, they broadly went along with the regime.
   Hitler's feared SS expropriated more than 300 monasteries and Catholic institutions between 1940 and 1942 and thousands of Catholics were sent to concentration camps, Hummel added.
   German Catholic Church "exploited" slaves for Nazis (Euronews, 8/4/08)
   Church forced 6000 to work in Nazi era (The Australian, 9/4/08)
   Catholic Church lists its 5,900 forced labourers under Nazis, (Earthtimes, 8/4/08)
   LINKS: Cardinal Karl Lehmann (Wikipedia)
  HAVE YOUR SAY   Click here   

   [COMMENT: Well, on Just World Campaign website we learn that slavery has been run by the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England and the Muslims from Arabia, the Middle East, and the north-west coast of Africa (the Barbary Corsair Pirates and Slavers).  At present the only countries where slavery is still practised and is legal are Muslim countries.  Sadly, pro-slaver groups are growing in Australia!  COMMENT ENDS.]
   [AND SEE: au/mercury/ story/0,22884, 23510294- 5005940,00. html . ENDS.]
[Apr 09, 08]

• Did God tell a lie?  Forbidden fruit story.   

Did God tell a lie?  Forbidden fruit story.

   Thinking Citizen , April 9, 2008
  PERTH, W. Australia – After explaining this Bible Old Testament point about Adam and Eve, "Thinking Citizen" asked "Did God tell a lie?" 
   Read the Hebrew Torah, Genesis 2:16-17:
16 But the Lord told him, "You may eat fruit from any tree in the garden, 17 except the one that has the power to let you know the difference between right and wrong.  If you eat any fruit from that tree, you will die before the day is over!" -- The Bible for Today, Contemporary English Version (CEV), © American Bible Society 1991, re-published 1998, The Bible Society in Australia, Ingleburn, NSW, Australia; page 3.
   Genesis 3:2-4:
   2 The woman answered, "God said we could eat fruit from any tree in the garden, 3 except the one in the middle.  He told us not to eat fruit from that tree or even to touch it.  If we do, we'll die."
   4 "No you won't," the snake replied. ... -- CEV
   Those who know the tale (punny!) remember that, instead of Eve and Adam dying that day, God assigned alternative punishments to the human pair and to the serpent, the pair were driven out of the garden, Adam "knew his wife Eve," and they had children whose names like Cain, Abel, and Seth come readily to mind.  All this took years and years -- instead of "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17, Authorised Version, i.e., King James Bible, Crown Copyright 1611).
   Want modern English?   Read: "... for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." (Revised Standard Version, © 1952) 
   Not an Anglican, Orthodox, nor Reformed supporter?  Try Catholic readings: " ... For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death." (Douay-Rheims, 1609).  Or this: "... for, the day you eat of that, you are doomed to die." (New Jerusalem Bible, RC edition, © 1985)
   Original language: If you like, check the Hebrew original at < www.mechon- p/pt/pt 0102.htm#17 >.  Or read a Judaist translation into English by visiting < www.torah productions. com/laam/ main.jsp >:-
2:17   "...but as for the Tree of Knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die."
   Or, try it in the Septuagint Greek at < http:// septuagint. org/LXX/ Genesis/ Genesis2. html >.
   International language: Check it in several other languages, or in an international auxiliary language, Esperanto, < www.jesus. bin/bible/ bible.cgi? BIBLE= Esperanto& BOOK=1& SEARCH=++& CASE=ON& HILITE=ON& FIRST=OK& R1=I&CHAP=2& SUBMIT= Read#15 >:-
   16  Kaj Dio la Eternulo ordonis al la homo, dirante: De ĉiu arbo de la ĝardeno vi manĝu;
   17  sed de la arbo de sciado pri bono kaj malbono vi ne manĝu, ĉar en la tago, en kiu vi manĝos de ĝi, vi mortos. (L.L.Zamenhof translation, 1927)
   Unorthodox? Or, don't fully trust the major Churches?  Try this translation:
   17 ... for in the day you eat from it you will positively die. (New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, 1984, New York)

   "Thinking Citizen." a fortnight after first asking if God had lied, wondered aloud if the snake was the only one telling the truth !
[Apr 09, 2008]

• Has the Church obscured or defended women? 

Has the Church obscured or defended women?

   The Record (R.C. Perth, W. Australia, weekly), By Miriam Diez i Bosch, ZENIT, p 12, April 16 2008
Spanish priest Father Fernando Rivas Rebaque spoke with ZENIT about why women's roles in early Christianity are little-known and the challenge the Church faces regarding the promotion of women today.
   Father Rivas specifies three types of female protagonist roles within the Church in his Spanish-language book Banished Daughters of Eve: the protagonist roles and marginalisation of women in early Christianity.
   Perpetua, Felicity, Blandine, Melanie the Younger - why do so few people remember the roles of these women as protagonists in the Church?
   Father Rivas: Very few people remember these women of the early Church because history, in general, and that of the Church, in particular, focuses preferentially on the great events that "changed" history - wars, reigns, leaders - and tends to forget daily life, the events that make up the existence of every day.
   This means that the history of the Church tends to be the history of Popes, bishops, leaders, saints and theologians who have "marked" the life of the Church, leaving forgotten or underappreciated the other people, laypeople in the first place, more so if they are women, due to their reduced possibilities of social influence.
   Only a few women who exhibited particularly outstanding behaviour in one field or another passed into the memory of history.
   In what spheres did feminine protagonists stand out in the early Church?
   Father Rivas: Women's protagonist roles in the early Church varied according to historical times and places. Summarising them, it may be said that there are three types of protagonist roles common to all periods and regions: that of ascetics, expressed mainly in virginity and monasticism, that of martyrdom, and that concerning the role of wealthy benefactors of the community, very highly appreciated in the Church.
   Furthermore, a type of protagonist role that developed considerably in the Eastern world is that of deaconesses, which did not have a counterpart in the Western world.
   Are women gaining visibility in ecclesial spheres?
   Father Rivas: To begin with, one would have to distinguish between visibility, protagonist roles, authority and power.
   Christian women are present and visible in everyday ecclesial spheres - celebrations, groups, activities. What's more, I would say that, in these cases, they are not only a majority but, in some cases, practically the only visible component.
   On the other hand, in the measure that we go climbing the ladder of directors, the presence and protagonist roles of the woman remain practically reduced to a few ecclesial spheres - despite the fact that they could enter into posts that are not united to ministerial roles - to the point of practically disappearing in ecclesial cupolas.
   This situation is far more worrying because it grows increasingly distant from what is occurring in the social field, where women's visibility, presence, protagonist roles and power are daily on the rise.
   However, the Holy Father has recently denounced macho attitudes and the vulnerability of many women who suffer just for the fact of being women.
   What concrete action is the Church undertaking to counteract this?
   Father Rivas: The Church has struggled for women's dignity ever since its origin because it has united salvation to a personal and non-transferable option made by each human being in relation to God and neighbour.
   In this way, it broke away from other religious patterns in which the ethnic-racial, national, class, gender, or cultural factor was important, and has forced a sphere of fundamental equality between men and women.
   Moreover, the Church shows a marked preference or option for the poor, which in many cases enables it to come in contact with the world of women, many of whom are victims of this condition; this has given rise to a number of institutions, resources and measures in favour of people in need, among which women have been and are a majority.
   The Church has even empowered women's participation in many spheres of protagonist roles - asceticism, education, associations, relationships - in which women have been able to show the best of themselves, without restricting themselves to the domestic sphere.
   This does not change the fact that in every case, the dominant culture, marked in great measure by patriarchal tints, has coloured many of her expressions.
   More specifically, and within the spheres of my everyday life, which are the parish of a working neighbourhood and the university, the Church has enabled many women to attain levels of knowledge, relationships, activities, and protagonist roles higher than those of the majority of institutions they find around them.
   It serves as a platform for the great majority of women who have come into contact with the parish or the university, enabling their personal development and, their progress as believers. #

   [RECAPITULATION: Furthermore, a type of protagonist role that developed considerably in the Eastern world is that of deaconesses, which did not have a counterpart in the Western world. ENDS.]
   [COMMENT: I'll bet it did, before Rome was separated!  Why is there Phoebe the deaconess (Romans 16:1) in the earliest Christian documents we have in Greek?  Why do Latin documents still exist that give the feminine forms for Bishop, Priest, and Deacon?  Isn't it possible that in the dim and distant past women were called to these posts, following Galatians 3:27-28? (RSV).
   Even more important to some believers is the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers in a disputed book (1 Peter 2:9), and the interpretation of another disputed scripture 1 Timothy 2:5 that there is no other human mediator between God and humanity, that Christ had appeared as a high priest (Hebrews 9:11), and that Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:12).  These texts leave little room for a succession of priests, even the text about Melchisedek being applied to Christ, not to others. COMMENT ENDS.]
   [GREEK SCRIPTURES: "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well." -- Romans 16:1-2.
   "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." -- Galatians 3:27-28 (RSV).
   "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)  DOCTRINE ENDS.]
   [DEEPER COMMENTARY: The Greek Scriptures (= NT) also list Priscilla/Prisca, who shared with Aquila the office of instruction (The Acts 18:26).  Also see Acts 18:1-3, Romans 16:3f, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19. -- acknowl. McKenzie, J.L., 1968). ENDS.]
   Read more: The Hidden History of Women's Ordination : Female Clergy in the Medieval West, and check book review of January 21, 2008.  Any reader who can give more information about women's role in the first four centuries of Christianity, please contact this website. ENDS.]
[April 16, 2008]

Bishop says Pope should apologise for sex abuse in Australia

  [RC retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson had helped victims.]  
   Scopical, www.scopical. articles/ News/ Australia/ 5377/Bishop_ says_Pope_ should_ apologise_ for_sex_ abuse_in_ Australia ; ~ May 07, 2008
   AUSTRALIA -- The Pope should apologise to victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Australia, according to a Sydney Bishop.
   Pope Benedict XVI is due to arrive into Australia during July for the Catholic Church's World Youth Day event.
   While the event is the main focus, there are now growing calls for the Pope to apologise to those sexually abused within the Church in Australia.
   Fairfax Media reports that Bishop Geoffrey Robinson - a victim of sexual abuse - said he expected the issue of an apology to be considered. [Posted by Kathy Shaw]
[~ May 07, 2008]

Robinson "uncertain" about Church teaching: Australian bishops

  - RCC. Bp Robinson confronted sex abuse cover-up, and now blamed for explaining reasons.  
   CathNews, www.cathnews. com/article. aspx?aeid= 7105 , Published: May 13, 2008
   AUSTRALIA -- Retired Sydney auxiliary Bishop Geoffrey Robinson is "uncertain" about Christ's authority and knowledge and his recently published book "casts doubt" on Church teaching, according to a statement by the Australian Catholic bishops.
   At their meeting in Sydney last week, the bishops adopted a statement criticising Bishop Robinson's book "Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus".
   "We are grateful for the contribution Bishop Robinson has made to the life of the Church," the bishops say.
   "We are deeply indebted to him for his years of effort to bring help and healing to those who have suffered sexual abuse and for what he has done to establish protocols of professional standards for Church personnel in this area", the statement continues.
[Posted by Kathy Shaw on May 12, 2008 8:39 PM] [May 12, 08]

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson's U.S. Tour

  - Illuminating the RCC.    
   Voice of the Faithful, www.voiceof thefaithful. org , ~ May 12, 2008
   [with link to itinerary]
   UNITED STATES -- Most Rev Geoffrey James Robinson DD, [retired] Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Australia, will begin his U.S. visit later this month. The bishop will be speaking at several VOTF affiliate meetings and VOTF co-sponsored gatherings.
   Bishop Robinson had been appointed by the Australian Bishops Conference and for nine years headed up the Conference’s Committee for Professional Standards, which developed procedures for responding to victims of sexual abuse.
   Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus is the title of his book, soon to be released in the U.S. The book, now in its fourth printing in Australia, has received much attention.
[Posted by Kathy Shaw] [~ May 12, 08]

Church disowns activist bishop

  - RCC's Australian bishops disown Bp Geoffrey Robinson.
   The Age, www.theage. national/church- disowns- activist- bishop/ 2008/05/13/ 121044443 8513.html ; by Barney Zwartz, May 14, 2008
   AUSTRALIA'S Catholic bishops have disowned retired Sydney bishop Geoffrey Robinson, accusing him of failing to understand fundamental church teachings.
   The country's bishops have released a public statement suggesting that Bishop Robinson – as a bishop, a man chosen by the Pope to guard the teaching of Catholics – is wrong about the authority of Christ and the authority of the church to "teach the truth".
   The statement was the first official response to Bishop Robinson's controversial book published last August, in which he said the church needed to reverse 2000 years of teaching on sex and power as part of radical reforms from the Pope down.
   In Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church, Bishop Robinson suggested that while the church refused to examine some fundamental teachings – including sex outside marriage, women priests, homosexuality and papal power – it was not serious about tackling abuse by priests, only "managing" it. [Posted by Kathy Shaw]
   [COMMENT: Well, if Bishop Robinson can be "wrong" about doctrine, how come the spirit did not discern this and enlighten his superiors previous to his promotion from priest to bishop?  Another question: How many other RC bishops are wrong?  And, how come the Limbo doctrine was taught for hundreds of years until two years or so ago, if the Roman Catholic Church has authority to "teach the truth" ?
   The bishops who shuffle child-seducing priests from place to place are the ones who are "failing to understand."  In the past few months there was a European bishop quoted as saying that some of the victim children were enticing the clergy !  Look back to May 7, 2008, to see WHY his colleagues have come out against him ! COMMENT ENDS.]
   Also click: www.cwnews. com/news/ viewstory. cfm?rec num=58399 , and newsagency. com/new.php? n=12635 . [May 14, 2008]

• Survival tactic.

Survival tactic

   The West Australian, Letter to The Editor, p 22, Thursday, July 24, 2008
   I am a Catholic unhappy with the direction my church appears to be taking. World Youth Day was essentially about an old Catholic clergy trying to convince an uncertain Catholic youth of the relevance of Catholicism and thus ensure the survival of the church.
   The relevance of the Catholic church today is not demonstrated by exercises in self-propagation.  Its relevance is measured by its contribution to the wellbeing of all humanity regardless of religion.
   Early Christians believed that Jesus of Nazareth was committed primarily to the wellbeing of the hungry, the homeless, the poor, the sick, the disabled, the young and the old of all nations.
   The Catholic church is losing its relevance if its clergy and laity identify more with the wellbeing of the church and less with the earthly wellbeing of the whole of humanity regardless of religious faith or absence thereof and tell their youth that as "missionaries" their role is to propagate the church and its teachings before being volunteer social welfare workers in their countries and elsewhere. Graham Cooney, Butler.

   [RECAPITULATION: Early Christians believed that Jesus of Nazareth was committed primarily to the wellbeing of the hungry, the homeless, the poor, the sick, the disabled, the young and the old of all nations. ENDS.]
   [COMMENT: Who could know?  This correspondent sees the errors in his Church, but how can anyone tell from its tradition and the contradictory bible just what to believe?  There are many New Testament evidences that the early Church writers thought that time was short, that they were in the last days, and that Jesus would come back in glory during the lifetime of some of them. COMMENT ENDS.]
   [RECOMMENDED FURTHER STUDY: "Are these mistakes in the Bible?" at . ENDS.]
   [ANOTHER LETTER CRITICISING WYD is "He doesn't speak for me," at: .
[July 24, 2008]

• [The Evidence of the Equal Role accorded to Women in the early Church.]   

[The Evidence of the Equal Role accorded to Women in the early Church]

   Catholica, Extract from "The more important role of women in early Christianity: The evidence of the equal role accorded to women in the early Church…, " , Part 7.2, by Tom Lee, linked in an e-mail dated August 25, 2008
   In her book Women Officeholders in Early Christianity (Liturgical Press 2007), German epigraphical scholar Ute Eisen demonstrates there is widespread evidence of titles for women priests and presiders (presbytera, presbytides, presbyterissa) who served in both the Eastern and Western churches from the second to the ninth century. Yet churchmen consistently maintain, without any evidence, that these women were merely the wives of priests, not priests themselves. This does not explain why burial sites of single women have the presbytera inscription, nor does it explain why married women with the presbytera title are buried alongside husbands with no title. It does suggest that there were single women and married women whose husbands were not office holders who were given the title of priest, as priesthood was understood at the time. Burial-sites in which a female presbytera is buried alongside a presbyter spouse indicate that both husband and wife functioned as priests.
   In Romans 16:7, Paul greets, "those outstanding apostles Andronicus and Junia, my compatriots and fellow prisoners who became Christians before me". For centuries Junia was mistakenly translated as the masculinized Junius, and still is in the Jerusalem Bible, because it was considered impossible for a woman to be an apostle even if acknowledged as one by Paul himself. But the name Junius is not found in any ancient text while the female Junia is common.

   [COMMENT: It is not "Junius" in some translations.  It was put down as "Junia" in the King James, but "Junias" in others, transliterating the Greek. 
   One literal translation (and contrast it to other translations that insert male-type words) from the Greek reads: "Greet Andronicus and Junias the relatives of me and fellow-captives in the apostles, who also before me have become in Christ." COMMENT ENDS.]
   [RECOMMENDED: Click the link and read more about the fact that feminine forms of the clerical titles were used freely in past centuries. ENDS.
[Aug 25, 08]

• Which Gospels to choose?  Sorting facts from pious fictions. 

Which Gospels to choose?

Sorting facts from pious fictions
   Catholica (Australia), www. catholica. specials/ first500/ 027_tl_ 150908.php , by Tom Lee (of Phoenix, Arizona), Part 8.2 of a long article, © 2008
   This is possibly the most informative and provocative of all the extracts we have yet published from Tom Lee's manuscript searching for the origins of Christianity and the Papacy. Today he begins to get into the real nitty-gritty as to how the many stories circulating about Jesus and the first Apostles and followers in the early Church gradually came to be sorted into categories of authentic and non-authentic.
Which Gospels to Choose? Part 8.2
by Tom Lee
Sorting fact from fiction…
   The influence of the fictitious writings that abounded from a very early date can scarcely be exaggerated in originating and disseminating the tradition of Peter's connection with Rome.  G. Salmon, a leading authority on the Clementine writings, believed that the real inventor of the story of Peter's Roman episcopate was an editor of the Clementine Romances.  A considerable collection of forged Acts of the various apostles was in circulation.  Eusebius mentions the Acts of Peter, the Gospel according to Peter, the Preaching and the Apocalypse of Peter.  The latter has been dated not later than 140, and if we could be sure it was quoted by Ignatius it must date to c. 100, about the same time as the Gospel of John.  In that uncritical age these fictions were liable to be regarded as authentic.  Clement of Alexandria often cited the Preaching and quoted the Apocalypse as Scripture.  The Gospel of Peter gives a naive and dramatic account of the resurrection with many legendary details that entered into the Church's Easter texts, hymns, sermons and pictures.
   Another species of such writings are those associated with the name of Clement.  They exist in two forms, known as the Clementine Recognitions and the Clementine HomiliesSalmon dated them at about 200, but Bishop J.B. Lightfoot and others think that they date from much earlier.  They certainly incorporate earlier sources.
Pseudo gospels written for a political objective…
   There were many early Christian religious texts.  By what processes did some of them come to be rejected and others accepted as Divinely inspired?
   These imaginative writings, that may not be very much more fanciful than the officially accepted Gospels, met a demand for more information about the apostles than is given in scripture.  The writers had no qualms about manufacturing history, adding specious myths, and soon no one knew the difference.  These pseudo gospels were also used to support the views of certain sects in the early Church.  The Jewish-Christians, who maintained that Christians must observe the Mosaic Law, exalted James and Peter and reviled Paul as the enemy.  Although they reflected the outlook of the time, representing James as superior to Peter, yet the place given to Peter was used afterwards to substantiate the Petrine-Rome assumptions.
   The Clementine Romances tell of a struggle through various parts of the world between Peter and Simon Magus, who tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from the apostle.  Peter is the conquering hero always and Simon the thwarted villain.  Simon personifies the spirit of heresy and diabolical alliance.  Peter's work is to follow him everywhere and expose him.  They are written with a strong anti-Pauline motive.  This was toned down by later editors like Rufinus (d. 410).
   Although Simon Magus is not absolutely a disguise for Paul, there are clear indications that Paul is bitterly attacked in the censures ostensibly directed against SimonPeter is portrayed as accomplishing great things in the cities that Paul's name was associated with.  The last place of conflict is Antioch, with a forecast of Rome.  Lightfoot describes the plan of the writer of the Clementine Romances as "transferring the achievement of St Paul to St Peter whom he makes "the Apostle of the Gentiles"Barnabas and Clement are Peter's friends and disciples, not Paul's.  The whole tendency is to exalt Peter at the expense of Paul.
   Letters from Peter and Clement are prefixed to the Homilies.  Peter is made to declaim against "the lawless and foolish doctrine of the enemy"Clement tells James, "the bishop of bishops", of the death of Peter, "who was commanded to enlighten the darker part of the world, namely the west, and was enabled to accomplish it. " At Rome Peter testified against the wicked one who withstood him.  Peter before his death nominated Clement, "who has journeyed with me from the beginning", to have his own chair of discourse.  Then Peter ordained him and placed him in his chair and ordered him to report to James an account of his death and of Clement's succession as bishop.  This is the first appearance of the legend that Peter was Bishop of Rome, if his Chair of Discourse is to be so understood.
   The original forms of these concoctions influenced subsequent orthodox writers and are the sources of much that later writers recorded as fact.  Tertullian (160-230) derives from them the statement that Clement was ordained to the Roman Church by PeterJerome (d.419/420) states that Peter "in the second year of the Emperor Claudius (i.e. 42), went to Rome to expel Simon Magus and occupied there the sacerdotal seat for twenty-five years."
   Tertullian refers to the system of Simonian sorcery, condemned by the Apostle Peter.  The confuting of Simon at Rome was a traditional reason for Peter going there and fits in with the Ebionite (Jewish Christian) effort to deprecate Paul.  Eusebius (d. 339) tells of the success of Simon Magus at Rome, and how in the reign of Claudius, "by the benign and gracious providence of God", Peter was conducted to Rome in order to fight this pest of mankind.  Hippolytus (d. 236) tells of St Peter's contests and triumph over Simon at Rome.  So does Augustine in the fifth century.
Speaking dogs and flying exhibitions…
   The Actus Petri cum Simoni (c. 170) revels in grotesque supernatural marvels, including a speaking dog, and culminates with the final destruction of Simon, who, when giving a flying exhibition at Rome, is made to crash by PeterCommodian (c. 250) retails that the dog said to Simon: "Peter is calling for thee. " The flying incident (in various forms) is recorded by the Syriac Didascalia (third century), Ambrose (d.397), Cyril of Jerusalem (d.386), Arnobius (d.330), Epiphanius (d.431), Theoderet (393-458), and Sulpicius Severus (5th Cent.).  Incredibly the Sixth General Council (680) repeated it.
   The Epistle of Clement to James in the Homilies was accepted and honored until the Renaissance.  It is quoted as a high authority to be received with reverence on account of its venerable antiquity at the Synod of Vaison (442).  With unconscious appropriateness the forgers of the False Decretals (mid ninth century) put it at the head of their pontifical letters, having judiciously altered it to conform to their views.
   As Shotwell and Loomis pointed out in their book The See of Peter,
"The Simon Magus legends and the Clementine letter taken together made invaluable propaganda for the rising Papacy, at first appealing mainly to the uncritical and unlearned believer, but subsequently admitted, as a part of history, by the gravest Fathers of the Church."
   Gregory of Tours (d.594), who followed a more orthodox version of the legend that joined Paul with the triumph over Simon, writes that there could be seen in Rome in his time two grooves in the rock made by the knees of the blessed apostles when they prayed for the collapse of the flying Simon.
Women having to dress as men…
   Another early book that almost became part of the New Testament was The Acts of St. Paul and TheclaThecla was a woman apostle and follower of St Paul.  She broke off her betrothal and dedicated her maidenhood to God.  She found it necessary to dress as a man to carry out her apostolate, and retired to a cave near Seleucia in Asia Minor.  Several other women saints imitated Thecla in wearing men's attire as a means of hiding from their families or from the danger of rape.  It must be remembered that by Greek, Hebrew and Roman law, women were subject to their fathers until they married and then became subject to their husbands.  By adopting a dedicated life of virginity they were liberated from the domination of their families.
The Gnostic input – the invention of sex as a "cosmic disaster"…
   Other Gospels and Acts that were in circulation came from Gnostic sources.  The Gnostics were not a unified religion, but rather separated groups with similar beliefs concerning good and evil.  Many groups originated prior to Christianity.  Some of them appropriated and distorted the Christian message.  They completely rejected this world as being the creation of a group of skillful demons, presided over by their Satan, Ialdoboath, whom they believed, totally controlled the celestial spheres.
   For most of them God was unknowable.  The individual Gnostic believed in his pneuma or 'divine inner spark' that longed for union with the God who created it, and which could be made to disobey the demons by a rebellion known as gnosis, or enlightenment.  While all the sects varied slightly they all did agree in their sexual pessimism.  They believed that the invention of sex was a cosmic disaster, and contrary to our true nature.  Hence came much of the life-hating nonsense in later Christian writers.
   Gnostics, like many Christians today, had restlessly inquiring minds.  They grappled with the great riddles of human existence — riddles that yet today trouble many thinking people who feel that orthodox theology sometimes too easily glosses over complexity and outright impossibility.  Whatever their flaws, Gnostics struggled to reconcile inconsistencies between the Hebrew Bible and the words of Jesus, between the evil they saw all around them and biblical teachings about a Creator who called all things good.  The story of the Fall notwithstanding; how was it, they wondered, that God's plan could go so badly awry? They also believed that to know oneself in one's depths is to know God.
   One such document, the Gospel of Judas (not by him, but recounting his role) exonerates Judas as Jesus' betrayer, making him instead his faithful cohort, carrying out Jesus' orders to facilitate his passion so that he could return to God.  The most complete copy is in Coptic, but probably based on a Greek original.  It was treasured as scripture by the Ethiopian church.
No Catechism…
   In the second century there was nothing like the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The early believers didn't really know yet what to believe, and there were a lot of attempts to find a philosophy to fit with the resurrection faith.  Some of these attempts bore fruit and became part of mainstream Christian theology, and some were dead ends.  The Gospel of Judas was one of the latter.
   Writing in the New York Times, Elaine Pagels said:
"The text (Gospel of Judas) has joined the other spectacular discoveries that are exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity, and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was."
   The Bible is an anthology of Hebrew and late Greek literature, edited and put forth by a council of bishops who declared that they were acting under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Before this time the Bible as we know it did not exist.  There were the Hebrew Scriptures and their, often inaccurate, Greek translation, the Septuagint, which was made in Alexandria between 250 and 100 BCE.  There were also various codices of Greek manuscripts, of various parts of the New Testament, including in some form or other the finally accepted four Gospels.  There were numerous other writings circulating among Christians including the epistles of St Paul and St John the Apocalypse (Revelation) and such documents (later excluded) as the Acts of John, the Didache, the Apostolic Constitutions, a Secret Gospel of Mark, and the various Epistles of Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp.  About this time the practical advantages of the codex, or book, was discovered and began to replace the scroll.  It was now possible to gather all their sacred writings between two covers.

“The Bible is an anthology of Hebrew and late Greek literature, edited and put forth by a council of bishops who declared that they were acting under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Before this time the Bible as we know it did not exist.” …Tom Lee"

Tom Lee is an Australian, now semi-retired in Phoenix, Arizona, who has had an illustrious international career as an actor, writer, and broadcast commentator.  He does not claim to be a professional theologian, nor an historian, but he undertook this study because, like many of the people who are attracted to what we're doing here at Catholica Australia, he was simply inquisitive about the history of Christianity and trying to better understand what he had been brought up to believe.  In a sense, his book is a one-man journey seeking to better understand who Jesus was and what his own faith was about.
   What are your thoughts on this commentary?  You can contribute to the discussion in our forum.
   ©2008 Tom Lee (Star Concepts LLC) 15633 N. 17* Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85023-3409, United States of America.

   [RECAPITULATION: Although they reflected the outlook of the time, representing James as superior to Peter, yet the place given to Peter was used afterwards to substantiate the Petrine-Rome assumptions.[...] ... Clementine Romances ... "transferring the achievement of St Paul to St Peter whom he makes "the Apostle of the Gentiles". [...] Then Peter ordained him and placed him in his chair and ordered him to report to James an account of his death and of Clement's succession as bishop. ENDS.]
   [COMMENT – James or Peter leader? Two of these quotes show that James, the brother of the Lord, was superior to Peter in the minds of certain early Christian writers.  Even those trying to make out that apostle Peter had gone to Rome still demonstrated their belief as to who was the universal leader. 
   The book called the Acts of the Apostles shows that James was the leader of the Jerusalem congregation, and the above-quoted legendary account about Peter putting Clement in his chair, trying to make out Peter was in Rome leading the Christians there, actually bears this out. 
   Anyone who thinks that Peter was leading the Jerusalem Christians ought to ponder the episode when they heard that some in Samaria had been converted, the apostles sent Peter and John (The Acts 8:14).  Rereading the debate over the Judaisers, at the so-called Council of Jerusalem, yields the interesting fact that although Peter spoke first, James the brother of Jesus spoke last as if summarising the debate, speaking authoritatively.  The letter that was sent followed the main points made by James. 
   A scriptural clue to Peter's whereabouts after Jerusalem is in a faked epistle, which is addressed as if from Babylon – a prosperous city with many prosperous Hebrews at that time, if Jewish literature and secular historians are to be believed.  The fable-making powers of some elements of Western Christianity are so strong that even in one or two non-Catholic bibles will be found a footnote that "Babylon" in this epistle really meant Rome!  Another clue is in a Roman Catholic feastday called St Peter's Chair at Antioch, one of a pair of similar feasts that were subtly changed after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. COMMENT ENDS.]
   [2nd COMMENT – Apostle to the Gentiles: The New Testament contradicts itself on this point, as shown elsewhere on this website. ENDS.]
[Exact date unknown; © 2008]

• Miracle of sun was seen by Pius XII.   

Miracle of sun was seen by Pius XII

Handwritten note reveals Pope's experience
   The Record (R.C. Perth, W. Australia, weekly), By Antonio Gaspari, Pages One and 6, Wednesday, November 12, 2008
   ROME, ( – According to his own testimony, the Pope who declared the dogma of the Assumption saw the "miracle of the sun" four times.
   This information is confirmed by a handwritten, unpublished note from Pope Pius XII, which is part of the "Pius XII: The Man and the Pontificate" display.
  [Picture] Visionary: Pope Pius XII writes one of his wartime Christmas radio messages using a typewriter at the Vatican in this undated photo.  On November 4 the Vatican opened a major exhibit on the life and pontificate of Pope Pius XII, highlighting the late pope's actions on behalf of Jews and others who suffered during World War II.    PHOTO: CNS / LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA  
   The display opened in the Vatican to the public on November 4 and will run until January 6. A commissioner of the display and a Vatican reporter for the Italian daily Il Giornale, Andrea Tornielli, told the Rome-based ZENIT news service that the note was found in the Pacelli family archives.
   It describes the "miracle of the sun," -- an episode that until now had only been affirmed by the indirect testimony of Cardinal Federico Tedeschini (1873-1959), who recounted in a homily that the Holy Father had seen the miracle.
   Pius XII wrote, "I have seen the 'miracle ... Continued Page 6

   [COMMENT: Oh dear, oh dear!  There is no need to go on, except to say that this newsitem relates to the supposed miracles seen by children years earlier at Fatima, Portugal.
   Regarding the Pope's actions or lack of actions regarding the Jews and others, being murdered in the thousands by the Nazis, Pius XII knew that if he had taken a strong public stand, the Vatican would have been bombed to pieces, and his opposition pilloried in propaganda as an "evil plot by the Jews working inside the Vatican".  The man-made Great Depression plus wishful thinking by the British and French "Establishment" meant that they had let their armed forces decline, and moral cowardice in the British Establishment meant that no action was taken when Hitler's troops first marched into some defenceless small territory.
   The Vatican DID CONDEMN Nazism as a belief system, in an Encyclical (public letter to the universal Church and the world).  In spite of that, some authors estimate that 25 per cent of some of the Nazi secret police were Roman Catholics.  The main blame for the rise of Hitler and the Second World War plus the Great Murders (aka the Holocaust) must be apportioned to global Big Business, Swiss and Swedish banks etc., plus immature anti-Communism and anti-Judaism of the masses, religious leaders, and some of the "classes" around the world, and the United States people's isolationism. COMMENT ENDS.]
[Nov 12, 08]

Barnabas Fund for News
Religion News Blog

ANCHOR LIST and PARTIAL CONTENTS (After reading an article, use Browser's "Back" button to return to Anchor List)
* Abraham bought Hebron, not Shechem, tombsite. The Acts 7:15-18 is just plain wrong. Mar 17, 08
* Bishop Geoffrey Robinson's U.S. Tour. AUSTRALIAN bishop to illuminate the RCC in USA through VOTF. ~ May 12, 2008
* Bishop says Pope should apologise for sex abuse in Australia. [RC retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson had helped victims, but this statement won't please the other bishops!!!] ~ May 07, 2008
* Church allowed female priests in first millennium. UNITED STATES: Jan 21, 2008
* Church disowns activist bishop. AUSTRALIA: Bp Geoffrey Robinson was "wrong." He saw through the RCC trickiness in transferring and excusing child-molesting priests! He helped victims! And his book explains how wrong the RCC theories have been! May 14, 2008
* Did God tell a lie? Hebrew "Forbidden fruit" story. Apr 9, 2008
* [The Evidence of the Equal Role accorded to Women in the early Church.] Aug 25, 2008
* German Catholic Church used Nazi forced labour. GERMANY: RCC used 5900 slave labourers during WW II. April 09, 2008
* Has the Church obscured or defended women? FOOTNOTES give details of NT teacher, the deaconess Priscilla. April 16 2008
* Miracle of sun was seen by Pius XII. VATICAN. (Oh dear, oh dear!) Nov 12, 08
* Pope warns of 'seductive' role of science. VATICAN: (Crikey!) Jan 30, 08
* Robinson "uncertain" about Church teaching: Australian bishops. AUSTRALIA: Bp Geoffrey Robinson confronted RCC sex abuse cover-up, and is now blamed for explaining reasons. Published: May 13, 2008
* Survival tactic. AUSTRALIA. Letter complaining that World Youth Day in Sydney was an old Catholic clergy trying to convince an uncertain Catholic youth of the relevance of Catholicism and thus ensure the survival of the church. July 24, 2008
* Which Gospels to choose? Sorting facts from pious fictions.  A section of an article by Tom Lee, enlightening about the contradictory literatures being written about Christianity in its first years, demolishing the Peter-Rome-leadership fiction, and showing some of the elements of the "invention" of sex as a cosmic disaster. Published on the internet © 2008

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is available here without profit to people who want to read it for research and educational purposes. If you quote from this, please check (if possible) and acknowledge the ORIGINAL source. ***
* Bible: Psalm 43:3 / 42:3
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