Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Archbishop Oscar Romero, Martyr, to Become Saint at Vatican Ceremony on 14 October

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After a 38-year-wait, it’s now official. Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, murdered in 1980 for speaking out against military oppression, will become a saint of the Roman Catholic Church at a Vatican ceremony on 14 October. On 19 May, Pope Francisco, the first pontiff from the Americas, announced the decision during a meeting with cardinals based in Rome. Romero, long considered a saint by Catholics across the Americas, will be elevated to universal veneration at the Vatican ceremony alongside Pope Paul VI, the pontiff who first appointed him a bishop and made the fateful decision in 1977 to make him archbishop of San Salvador. Four others… two Italian priests and German and Spanish founders of separate women’s religious orders… will also become saints at the ceremony.

The Salvadoran’s canonisation, while expected in recent months, nonetheless represents the culmination of one of the clearest turnabouts of Francisco’s nearly five-year papacy. The cause for Romero languished for decades under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who expressed unease with his connection to liberation theology and his vocal denunciations of government killings and kidnappings. Less than two years after his election as pontiff, Francisco placed Romero firmly on the sainthood track, formally decreeing in February 2015 that the archbishop was assassinated as a martyr for the Catholic faith. He then authorised his beatification, the last step before sainthood, in May of that year. El Salvador’s ambassador to the UK, Elisabeth Hayek-Weinmann, told us:

Romero’s coming sainthood represents a unique opportunity for us to heal our historical wounds, restore our social fabric, and build a new sense of national identity based on common values, with social justice and respect for human dignity at its core. His teachings and legacy provide us, as a nation, a strong moral compass.

During the 19 May meeting with cardinals, known as a consistory, Francisco formally received the request to authorise the canonization of the six persons by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Amato gave Francisco a brief biographical sketch of each of the sainthood candidates. He said:

Romero was archbishop during a time of great political crisis in El Salvador and was outraged at seeing the violence against the weak and the killing of priests and catechists, he felt the need to assume an attitude of fortitude. On 24 March 1980, he was killed while celebrating Mass.

After hearing each candidate’s history, Francisco announced their canonisations as a group and set the date and place of the ceremony. As it became clear in recent weeks that Francis would announce Romero’s canonisation, discussions in Rome focused on whether the pontiff would decide to hold the ceremony at the Vatican or in El Salvador. Considerations included trying to make the event accessible to Salvadorans wishing to attend but wanting also to emphasise that, as a saint, Romero will be an example of Christian witness not just for El Salvador but the entire world. Carlos Colorado, a Salvadoran who runs the popular Super Martyrio blog that closely followed the process of Romero’s canonisation, said in an interview:

A ceremony in San Salvador would’ve been a blowout with people attending numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

In a recent blog, Colorado hypothesised that Francisco may still go to El Salvador soon in order to venerate the new saint’s tomb and bring a sense of celebration to the country. One opportunity would be for the pontiff to make a stopover there during his expected January 2019 visit to Panama for World Youth Day. Paulita Pike, an American who lived in El Salvador off-and-on since the early 1970s, knew Romero and now helps coordinate the popular Amigos de Romero/Cultura Romeriana Facebook page, said:

By canonising Romero in Rome, Francisco is holding him up as the model pastor, the model bishop, for the bishops gathered there. Wherever he’s canonised, he’s going to be our saint.

Pike kept vigil at Romero’s tomb in San Salvador’s cathedral overnight on 18 May with members of her group, awaiting news of the canonisation. She said:

He isn’t ours but he’s St Romero of the Americas. Now, he’s going to be St Romero of the world.

19 May 2018

Joshua McElwee

National Catholic Reporter

https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/archbishop-romero-martyr-be-made-saint-vatican-ceremony-oct-14

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22 May 2018. Jesus Didn’t Demand Co-Pays! Single-Payer NOW

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Have you noticed that so-called “pro-lifers” often oppose single-payer and support Republicans who savage poor people? I’m not the only one to call that hypocritical and evil…

BMD

Friday, 4 May 2018

Is the Christian Right Driving Americans Away From Religion?

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Two societal shifts rocked religion in America in recent decades… the rise of Christian Evangelicals as a right-wing political force and the increasing number of people who decline to affiliate with any faith tradition. New research presents evidence that these trends, usually discussed separately, are in fact related. It reports the rate at which people disassociate themselves from religion is higher in states where the Christian Right exerts its political muscle. A research team led by Denison University political scientist Paul Djupe wrote:

Religious attachments fade in the face of visible Christian Right policy victories. There’s clear evidence that people… probably, those without strong relationships with houses of worship… use the Christian Right as a proxy for religion as a whole, and discontinue their religious identities as a result.

In the journal Political Research Quarterly, Djupe and his colleagues analysed the intersection of personal faith and religion-driven politics on a state-by-state basis. Using polling data aggregated by the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, they noted the percentage of people in a given state who identified as an atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular” (known collectively as “nones”), and how it changed since 2006:

A preponderance of the states appear to have experienced some degree of growth in religious “nones” in recent years. This particular pattern holds whether the individual state in question is generally thought of as being a “red” or “blue” state.

However, the rate of growth varied considerably from state to state… and not in the way one might predict. They reported:

Rising “none” rates are more common in Republican states in this period.

To determine why, the researchers measured the political clout of the Christian Right in each state (utilising the expertise of journalists and scholars). They also noted when and where these groups sponsored high-profile initiatives… usually, ballot measures to prohibit gay marriage. The researchers found that, while such efforts were often successful, they created a backlash “that didn’t redound to the benefit of organised religion in general”. They estimated that in states where such campaigns… and their backers… were widely publicised and debated:

Religion lost somewhere between 2 and 8 percent of the population. By 2010, a ban (on gay marriage) was in place in 29 states. These states were more likely to be Evangelical and had smaller populations of “nones” in them in 2006. However, by 2010, that gap between the “nones” in marriage-ban states and those in states with no marriage ban dropped by half.

This suggests that, in those traditionally religious states, the anti-gay-rights campaign soiled the name of religion for a significant number of residents, and they responded by stepping away from their former faith. Djupe and his colleagues concluded:

The decision to de-identify and disaffiliate with religion aren’t solely individual psychological processes. Rather, reactions to specific policy skirmishes that gather public attention and shape decision-making can drive that deeply personal shift.

The results suggest Evangelicals would be wise to consider the consequences of their political advocacy. In a clear case of unintended consequences, it appears to drive people from the pews.

1 May 2018

Tom Jacobs

Pacific Standard

https://psmag.com/news/is-the-christian-right-driving-americans-away-from-religion?utm_source=Pew%20Research%20Center&utm_campaign=25f8d1d984-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_05_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3e953b9b70-25f8d1d984-399905625

Sunday, 15 April 2018

A Statement Issued by the Greek Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarchates of Antioch on the Recent American Aggression in Syria

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God is with us; Understand all ye nations and submit yourselves!

We condemn and denounce the brutal aggression that took place this morning against our precious country Syria by the USA, France, and the UK, under allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. We raise our voices to affirm the following:

  • This brutal aggression is a clear violation of international law and the UN Charter, as it’s an unjustified assault on a sovereign country, member of the UN.
  • It causes us great pain that this assault comes from powerful countries to which Syria didn’t cause any harm in any way.
  • The allegation of the USA and other countries that the Syrian Arab Army uses chemical weapons and that Syria owns and uses this kind of weapon is an unjustified claim unsupported by sufficient and clear evidence.
  • The timing of this unjustified aggression against Syria, when an independent International Commission for Inquiry was about to start work in Syria, undermines the work of this commission.
  • This brutal aggression destroys the chances for a peaceful political solution and leads to escalation and more complications.
  • This unjust aggression encourages terrorist organisations and gives them momentum to continue their terrorism.
  • We call upon the UN Security Council to play its role in bringing peace rather than contribute to an escalation of the war.
  • We call upon all churches in the countries that participated in the aggression to fulfil their Christian duties according to the teachings of the Gospel, to condemn this aggression, to call their governments to commit to the protection of international peace.
  • We salute the courage, heroism, and sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army, which courageously protects Syria and provide security for its people. We pray for the souls of the martyrs and the recovery of the wounded. We’re confident that the army won’t bow before external or internal terrorist aggressions; they’ll continue to fight courageously against terrorism until they cleanse every inch of the Syrian land from terrorism. We, likewise, commend the brave stand of countries friendly to Syria and its people.

We offer our prayers for the safety, victory, and deliverance of Syria from all kinds of wars and terrorism. We also pray for peace in Syria and throughout the world, and call for strengthening the efforts of the national reconciliation for the sake of protecting the country and preserving the dignity of all Syrians.

+ Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna al-Yazigi of Antioch and all the East

+ Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem of Antioch and all the East

+ Melkite-Greek Catholic Patriarch Joseph Absi of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem

Damascus

Syrian Arab Republic

14 April 2018

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