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Declaring Saints in Canada

On the 3rd of this month, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has welcomed the news that two Canadians have been declared to be saints. His website states:

“Today, I welcome the very exciting news from the Vatican that His Holiness Pope Francis has officially proclaimed Canadians Marie de l’Incarnation and François de Laval as Saints.” It is entirely fitting that this recognition be given to two outstanding Canadians who were pillars of the early Church in Canada and whose lives exemplified faith and piety.

“This is a tremendous honour for Canada and a wonderful day for Catholics.” Saint Marie de l’Incarnation, often referred to as the “Mother of the Canadian Church,” was an Ursuline nun who founded Canada’s first school. Fluent in local languages, she taught the children of both the settlers and the Aboriginal population.

Saint François de Laval was the second Catholic bishop in North America and laid the foundations for the Church in French Canada. As a missionary to New France, he rejected his family’s wealth to faithfully pursue his spiritual vocation. Both were beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1980 and declared Saints by Pope Francis on April 3, 2014. They served and died in what is today Québec City, where they are buried. – See more at:http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2014/04/03/statement-prime-minister-canada-recognizing-canonization-marie-de-lincarnation-and

This is quite odd. Prime Minister Harper claims to be an evangelical Christian. He surely must be aware of Paul’s inspired writings to several churches, one of which was Rome. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth as well.  He penned, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s:, 1 Corinthians 1:2. He also wrote to the church at Rome thus: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was not writing to dead people, he was writing to living men and women, believers in Christ who were saints. The apostle Paul also wrote to the church at Ephesus Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 1:1.
Here again he is not writing to dead people. Hopefully Mr. Harper will start to read his Bible again and discover these truths and won’t be making such foolish statement in the future. As well, on the subject of spiritual things, it is Easter.

The hymn “Because He Lives” has the following lyrics.

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

 

Christians, saints living today, can rejoice that the Lord Jesus is who he said he was, the Son of God, God manifest in the flesh and an empty grave is there to prove our Savior lives!

 

A former Roman Catholic from Quebec that I met earlier this year has sent me some information on Catholicism. I wanted his input since he was born into the religion and therefore would have a unique insight into it. He sent me the testimony of a former priest named Richard Bennett.

I read some of his life story and was struck by how similar his account is to that of Charles Chiniquy. Once he was exposed to the Bible, he saw how it differed from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Bennett declared that once he began to study the Bible, he discovered that it “teaches clearly that it is from God and is absolute in what it says. It is true in its history, in the promises God has made, in its prophecies, in the moral commands it gives, and in how to live the Christian life. ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works’ (II Timothy 3:16-17).”

He continues:

When I was asked to talk to the prayer group in St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, I took as my subject the absolute authority of God’s Word. It was the first time that I had understood such a truth or talked about it. I returned to Vancouver, B.C. and in a large parish Church, before about 400 people, I preached the same message. Bible in hand, I proclaimed that “the absolute and final authority in all matters of faith and morals is the Bible, God’s own Word.”
Three days later, the archbishop of Vancouver, B.C., James Carney, called me to his office. I was then officially silenced and forbidden to preach in his archdiocese. I was told that my punishment would have been more severe, were it not for the letter of recommendation I had received from my own archbishop, Anthony Pantin.

Wow, that doesn’t sound very “tolerant,” but the media elite are unlikely to say anything about it.
Mr. Bennett says he “left the Roman Catholic Church when I saw that life in Jesus Christ was not possible while remaining true to Roman Catholic doctrine.” My acquaintance from Quebec also remarked that, essentially, he felt that no one could be a Christian while in the Roman Catholic Church. To read the rest of Richard Bennett’s very interesting story, visit http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-r011.html

Biden and Immigration

A Washington Times article late last year revealed that when US Vice President Joe Biden made a strong statement urging quick immigration reform, he accomplished a bit more than that. The Times article, by Cheryl K. Chumley, stated: “Vice President Joseph R. Biden probably thought he was making a compelling argument for the House to pass immediate immigration reform — but what he did instead was admit his ancestors were lawbreakers.” The article is at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/dec/12/joe-biden-admits-his-ancestors-illegal-immigrants/.
The Times article quoted Biden saying, “My great-great grandparents came escaping the famine, and they didn’t all come here legally.”

The Times article also declared that “Mr. Biden made the remarks during a public appearance with White House domestic policy head Cecilia Munoz to pressure House Speaker John Boehner into allowing a floor vote on the immigration bill that passed the Senate in June.”
I wonder if Biden’s ancestors and the current illegals from Mexico happen to share the same basic religious standpoint. I would expect they do and this explains his enthusiasm to welcome these people who have broken U.S. law.
I remember recently seeing Biden declaring on the air that he considered all the illegal immigrants to be Americans already. When one goes to enter the United States however, you get a very different reception and if there is any question as to whether you might be selling something in the U.S. or working there, you are very clearly informed that you will be doing no such thing without permission. I guess that is why the Vice President does not have a job working at the border.

American Freedom and Edward Snowden

In my book, I spoke about the United States being the citadel of human freedom since 1776, but there have been on-going attempts to take this freedom away and one effort has involved the government itself.  It has been a U.S. citizen, Edward Snowden, who has done much to expose what the United States government has been up to and for this he has had to flee from the country of his birth. That is a very sad commentary on how liberty in America has been eroded. For blowing the whistle and exposing how the NSA has been violating citizens’ privacy, Mr. Snowden is reportedly looking at a thirty-year prison sentence in the U.S.

As The Guardian reported: “The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.”

I also remember hearing a New York Times investigative reporter, in a discussion on the issues, point out that Snowden had not put anyone in danger and that the reason privacy and surveillance by government agencies like the NSA was being discussed was because of Mr. Snowden.

Edward Snowden has had to find refuge in, of all places, Russia, a place with little history of the freedom that is talked about so much in America. Now President Barack Obama is moving to deal with what Snowdon exposed. The New York Times recently reported that: “The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a legislative proposal for a far-reaching overhaul of the National Security Agency’s once-secret bulk phone records program in a way that — if approved by Congress — would end the aspect that has most alarmed privacy advocates since its existence was leaked last year, according to senior administration officials.”

Shouldn’t President Obama have the honesty to state that this legislative proposal has come about because Edward Snowden courageously exposed what the NSA was doing? Shouldn’t Mr. Snowden be given immunity from prosecution and be allowed back into the country of his birth, so that American freedom can exist in fact, instead of only in word and in theory?

The Dark Side of Camelot and other darkness

As part of  research I was doing in regards to a dispute with someone in the news media, I came across a book entitled “The Dark Side of Camelot”. I have heard uncomplimentary things about the Kennedy family . Even so, this very well researched book by Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh surprised me. I am late getting to it as it is copyright 1997 but I am still glad I have read it.
Hersh’s book discloses things like just how dishonest President John F Kennedy and his attorney general brother Bobby Kennedy were when it suited them. The amount of lying they and others did was truly amazing as well as other surprising information concerning immorality that was revealed in regards to their lives and the lives of others at the time. Last November 22nd marked the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

Hersh has spent years doing things like making Freedom of Information requests, reading original source material such as personal journals and papers and interviewing principals of the events. His research is meticulous, impressive and I can say from personal experience, must have been a tremendous amount of work. He found astonishing information that was just “sitting there” but no one had looked for it. Again I can relate to this.

According to him, on his way to winning the Democratic nomination, Kennedy took the West Virginia primary, in large part due to $2 million dollars (and possibly double that, perhaps $15 million or higher in today’s dollars) mostly spent, “in direct payoffs to state or local officials.” Hersh declared: “In interviews for this book, many West Virginia county and state officials revealed that the Kennedy family spent upward of $2 million in bribes and other payoffs before the May 10, 1960, primary, with some sheriffs in key counties collecting more that $50,000 apiece in cash in return for placing Kennedy’s name at the top of their election slate.” In Protestant West Virginia, Kennedy had confronted the issue that he was a Catholic candidate for President. Astonishingly, Hersh reported of Kennedy’s Democratic rival, Senator Hubert Humphrey:

In his autobiography, The Education of a Public Man, published in 1976, Hubert Humphrey told of a 1966 meeting with Richard Cardinal Cushing, the archbishop of Boston… Cushing told Humphrey, “I’ll tell you who elected Jack Kennedy, it was his father, Joe, and me, right here in this room.” Humphrey and an aide sat in stunned silence as Cushing told how he and Joe Kennedy had agreed that West Virginia’s anti-Catholicism could be countered by a series of cash contributions to Protestant churches, particularly in the black community. Cushing continued, Humphrey wrote: “We decided which church and preacher would get two hundred dollars or one hundred dollars or five hundred dollars.”

This is a taste of the incredible information this book disclosed. Regarding Cardinal Cushing’s statements, how is that for corruption from one of the “Church’s princes”? While he did not dwell on it, Hersh also certainly noted the Kennedys’ Catholicism.

Megachurch defection to Catholicism makes waves in Sweden

Christianity Today reported a couple of days ago that a founder of a Protestant megachurch in Sweden, Ulf Ekman has left his congregation to become a Roman Catholic: “The founder of a 3,300-member megachurch in one of Sweden’s largest cities announced yesterday [Sunday, March 9] his decision to leave his charismatic congregation and join the Roman Catholic Church. Ekman, who introduced Sweden to the prosperity-emphasizing Word of Faith movement when he founded Word of Life Ministries and Word of Life Church, had stepped down from the pastorate at the Uppsala church last spring.”

The Christianity Today article reports that in an op-ed piece for the Swedish newspaper Daegens Nyheter, Ekman stated, “I have come to realize that the movement I for the last 30 years have represented, despite successes and much good that has occurred on various mission fields, is part of the ongoing Protestant fragmentation of Christendom.”

They stated that, “In joining the Catholic church, Ekman, founder of Scandinavia’s largest Bible school, said he plans to pursue unity among Christian movements and denominations.”

Well, Mr. Ekman appears to not have the influence that Charles Chiniquy had when a significant part of his congregation followed him out of the Roman Catholic Church. I feel this is a sad thing  and I would be interested in the basic reasons Mr. Ekman  for his conversion. The discussion on the Christianity Today website pertaining to the article mentioned Scott Hahn, a well known Protestant convert to Catholicism. I remember reading a book he wrote about why he converted, and I kept waiting for the ‘slam dunk’ moment where he would say that the Bible clearly taught that Catholicism was correct and evangelical Protestant belief was wrong. Hahn said no such thing, just that he felt good with Catholicism, I recall. The Bible, however states in Proverbs 16:25, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death,” so feelings don’t count for much.

More on the New Documentary

As I disclosed last week, I recently viewed the notable documentary Secrets of the Vatican (2014), on PBS. But I wanted to look at something else the film discussed that I didn’t get to mention.

What was also interesting about the Secrets of the Vatican is what it says about the difference between Catholic and Protestant clergy in regards to sexual abuse.  The documentary disclosed that a scientific meeting was organized at the Vatican to learn more about child and adolescent sexual abuse. A distinguished international group of psychiatrists met, evidently in the spring of 2003, including Dr. Martin Kafka, a psychiatrist from Harvard Medical school.  According to the documentary, the Vatican evidently was not interested in the number of Romanist clergy who were child abusers though.

Dr. Martin Kafka stated: “The number of Catholic clergy who are accused of, or prosecuted for, child and adolescent sexual abuse vastly outnumber the number of Protestant clergy. So what is it about the Catholic clergy that makes them distinctly different and one of those factors is this issue of suppressing  one’s sexuality to better serve God.”

There have been Roman Catholic apologists that have said that Protestant churches have just as many abusive clergy as the Roman Catholic Church. I have not done an extensive study of this myself so it is quite helpful to have someone of Dr. Kafka’s stature declare what he has on this subject. I do not know what Catholic apologists say in response to his declarations, but when one looks at the vast amount of money that the Church of Rome has had to pay out to settle with victims, what Dr. Kafka says makes sense. And those are the cases we know of, as numerous cases have been settled out of the public eye.

In 2007, Reuters reported that “The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $660 million to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating back as far as the 1940s.”  That was just one diocese. Can one find a Protestant denomination that has faced the same thing? The Vatican has recently been brought before a UN panel to answer for how it has protected children. Has this happened to any Protestant denomination?

What does the Bible say? What does a Catholic Bible say? The Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, 1 Timothy 4:1 – 3a reads: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods.” What omnipresent organization forbids marriage but the Church of Rome? And their own Bible says this doctrine is a doctrine of demons, that it comes through liars, whose conscience is seared. One would think this religious organization might listen to its own Bible, but apparently not.

New documentary, old problems for the Church of Rome?

Recently, I viewed the “Secrets of the Vatican” (2014), on PBS, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/secrets-of-the-vatican/.  It is a new documentary that, according to its subtitle, is: “A report on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to step down voluntarily in 600 years, and the efforts of his successor, Pope Francis, to tame the forces that helped destroy Benedict’s papacy and set the Catholic Church on a new path.”
It was quite good. There wasn’t too much that I hadn’t heard before, but it was still interesting. It discussed the abuse of Catholic children, and others, by priests and other Catholic officials. Vatican scandals, including rampant homosexuality, and Vatican bank wrongdoing, were disclosed.
How the Catholic Church has continued to operate in regards to clergy sexual abuse is revealed in sickening detail.
One disillusioned sexual abuse victim featured was name Peter Isley. He entered a seminary in Wisconsin and was repeatedly homosexually abused by his spiritual director. Peter Isley went on to found the Milwaukee chapter of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Isley said Church intimidation toward victim who want to hold the Church of Rome responsible is the Catholic Church’s whole strategy.
Attorney Jeff Anderson has represented victims of clergy sexual abuse for twenty-nine years. He asserts that in every case they have worked on, the Vatican’s role has been prominent, all actions of bishops, archbishops and cardinal with respect to sexual abuse were orchestrated by the Vatican. The Vatican has claimed the responsibility for sexual abuse cases rests with local bishops and diocese.

Archbishop of Milwaukie, Timothy Dolan, however got express permission from the Vatican to move $57 million of Milwaukie diocesan funds into a cemetery trust. The diocese subsequently declared bankruptcy.
Filmed in a Catholic cemetery, Peter Isley stated, “You don’t need $57 million dollars for this space and seven other cemeteries. The real purpose was to keep money from compensating childhood victims of sexual assault by priests in this archdiocese from court ordered settlements, period. And that is so cynical and so…just unacceptable and it is just a further way of trying to hide, hide things, you are hiding money in a cemetery just like you hide sex offenders in parishes.”
Monica Barrett was raped by a Catholic priest when she was eight years old. The priest was convicted of raping another child and died in prison. Monica Barrett never had her day in court because of the statute of limitations. As part of her ordeal, she was sued by the diocese of Milwaukie to collect $14,000 in legal expenses.

Charles Chiniquy, as a Catholic, related how he fought great injustice, against tyrannical bishops in his day. How little things have changed.

During the documentary, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor stated that, “The Catholic Church and, in particular, the Pope has the highest moral voice in the world. If that voice is diminished by scandals, that’s a serious matter.” Many of us, including Catholics, vigorously dispute this view of this religious organization and this man.

New book, new problems for the Church of Rome?

An upcoming book by David Kertzer looks like it could be an interesting read. Vatican archives covering Pius XI’s papacy have been recently opened, allowing researchers like Kertzer to give a fuller look at Pius’s relationship with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. According to his site, “ Pius XI played a crucial role in making Mussolini’s dictatorship possible and keeping him in power. In exchange for Vatican support, Mussolini restored many of the privileges the Church had lost and gave in to the pope’s demands that the police enforce Catholic morality.”

Entitled, “The Pope and Mussolini,” if it is well-researched and the facts support what David Kertzer says they do, it is probably not going to enhance the Catholic Church’s tottering reputation worldwide but if the facts fit, they have to be worn, whether by an individual or a religious organization.

Quebec voices

I met a man on Sunday who is from a small town, four hours northeast of Montreal, Quebec. He is a French Canadian and was raised Roman Catholic as has been the norm traditionally in Quebec and it was very interesting to listen to him. He went to Toronto for medical training as an adult in the early 1980s and while he was there, he was invited to a Bible study. As he began studying the Word of God, he was struck by the great differences between what he had been taught as a Catholic and what the Bible said. He said that going to the Roman Catholic Church was essentially all ritual. You stand up, you sit down, you kneel, you make the sign of the cross, etc. The priest would read small portions of the Bible. He said he would leave the services empty and spiritually unfulfilled. He declared that now the Church of Rome does have some Bible studies but they are “guided” studies, as the Church doesn’t want people to read the Bible by themselves, and evidently come to the “wrong” conclusions.

This gentleman was very interested in the message of the Bible at the time he began to study and he embraced and received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour and became a Protestant. He told me that in his opinion, one could not be a real believer in Christ, a Christian, and stay in the Church of Rome.

As a result of what the Catholic Church did in Quebec through its time there, Quebec citizens have, in very large part, rejected the Church of Rome today and are turning to things like eastern religions / mysticism. This gentleman told me residents will generally go to this Church on special occasions like weddings, funerals, which lines up with other accounts I have read. He said such attendance for people in Quebec is like a habit that is not easily broken.

This man had never heard of Charles Chiniquy as a Catholic but became aware of the clergyman, when he became a Protestant. This ignorance of the significant Quebec figure sort of goes along with what I have heard from others. A Canadian  Senator from Quebec, a Catholic, I have been in touch with, had heard of Chiniquy. She said it was a legend that she vaguely remembers, adding that it is less a religious phenomenon and more folkloric.

She relayed to me that she was born and raised in a little town in Quebec. The parish priest for a number of years was one of her relatives. Though he was very conservative, she couldn’t remember anything said about Chiniquy from the pulpit. As a child though, she recalls Chiniquy’s name, when mentioned, had a negative connotation. Her impression was that Charles Chiniquy was not a good person but with no reason being given for why this would be.

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