Posts Tagged ‘Pope’

An age-old question among Christ followers revolves around… the lottery.

I know, don’t you feel dirty reading that? And why? Because while you have been told gambling is a sin, you’re all ridden with angst that you can’t get some of that money.

No worries. I hate lotto players too.Vehemently.

In Mexico, visit this house of the... drug Lord?

This story from the USA Today creates a different conundrum: If a drug kingpin builds a church, will God inhabit the praises of those people?

“We know that the narcos … look for a way to redeem themselves in religious terms, by doing some good work. Obviously, sins cannot be washed away by a donation or a collection,” said the Rev. Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico, the country’s largest.

This is a legitimate house of worship in the village of Tezontle. A place for Mexicans to glorify the Lord. You think they know how this modern church was built?

Well, the story continues to tell us that on a wall of the nouveau riche chapel, a plaque says it was donated by the leader of the violent Zetas cartel.

“Donated by Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, Lord, hear my prayer,” reads the bronze-colored marker, which says the chapel was built in honor of Pope John Paul II. Lazcano, who is wanted in both Mexico and the U.S., has more than $7 million in reward money on his head.

I’m sure there are some who believe this was Lazcano’s (or Lazcano Lazcano’s) mea culpa. Others may say this was his opportunity to show goodwill to the country that wants him incarcerated… or worse.

Either way, how would you feel worshiping in this house? Better yet, going to confession?

You know, you’re sitting there reading the hymnal and these beautiful red and blue swirling lights are seen outside during mass. The priest breaks out an AK-47 from under his robe. And the altar boys dawn bandannas while shouting with clinched fists to the congregation.

Sounds like a quaint Sunday to me. Sweet. Only one thing, with the holidays looming, stay away from the mules in the Nativity scene. I’m sure they’re not what you think they are.

It was only a matter of time… and that lasted all of a few hours before both Benny Hinn and Paula White denounced the National Enquirer story about those two practicing confidentiality in a confessional and brushing it off as “We just friends.”

Benny Hinn and faith healing

Would be cool if these were outside a Benny Hinn crusade though?

First, let’s take Brother Benny from his website. Wait… I’m sorry? You say he took the response down from his site? Oh, that’s a shame! It’s almost as if he wants us to forget how he dropped the monogrammed Nehru for an open-collared, silk button down freshly exposing his tuft of love and gold chains.

Come on, man! It’s the Internet:

The publication, which is known for its bias against religious figures, misleads readers regarding the ministerial friendship I have had with Paula White for over 20 years… Although I had not seen her for years, she was an encouragement to me and shared helpful advice out of her own painful experience. As a result, I will not deny that the friendship has strengthened, and, while it has remained morally pure at all times, I have enjoyed the company of someone who has also gone through the trauma of a painful and public divorce.

Let’s break this down the preacher-speak for the kids scoring at home:

  1. “The ministerial friendship.” So, let me just tell you that had it not been for TBN, I wouldn’t have dropped two bits of government cheese on her plate. Since she is in my ilk, I’ll let her hang with me.
  2. “While it has remained morally pure at all times.” She’s not my type. I likes my women chubby and really dumb (Exhibit A here). And Paula is nowhere close to being chubby (Exhibit B here).
  3. “The trauma of a painful and public divorce.” Let’s not let the smooth taste fool you, brother. Public, yes. She wanted it that way. Painful, not so much. She dumped Randy’s behind for life coaching. And while he was sick.

And for more from Brother Benny:

And so I am writing to tell you today that I forcefully, categorically, and absolutely renounce the lies that have been spread about me and want to set the record straight with you. There is nothing inappropriate or morally improper about my friendship with Paula White… Paula and I also recognize that being seen in such settings is unwise, and we have independently determined that we will have no further social relationship until such time as my divorce has concluded and only if we feel direction from the Lord to do so.

  1. “Forcefully, categorically and absolutely.” I love it when people put strong superlatives in a written statement, as if the oafs like me who read will put any different tense on the poppycock we are reading. “Oh, he said categorically. I guess I need to grit my teeth.”
  2. “Being seen in such settings is unwise.” You mean, in public, holding hands? Then yes, you’re right. That spirit of discernment is strong.
  3. “We have independently determined that we will have no further social relationship.” Don’t let the scrupulous masses who want more out of their preachers than shady Roman getaways get in your way. You are your own people as you can ‘independently determine’ to do anything. You know, like post statements of apoplexy on the same day, around the same hour. Tell me, do you make a sound when you back up that fast? BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
See Paula White's defintion of marriage

I always tell women, "Till death do us... oh, nevermind!"

Now that we have discussed slapping someone’s weave, Sister Paula, what say you?

The National Enquirer released the misguided and untruthful article, which falsely characterized my friendship with Pastor Benny as being something that is morally and spiritually inappropriate. The article goes on to suggest that we were having an improper intimate relationship, which is categorically false… As someone who also endured a painful and public divorce, I was able to offer him insight and spiritual encouragement.

  1. “My friendship… intimate relationship.” If they ‘falsely characterized’ your friendship, then saying they ‘suggested an intimate relationship’ goes without saying. But hey, thanks for saying it anyway.
  2. “Painful and public divorce”. Hmmm… where have I have ‘independently determined’ that I heard that before?!

Next?

I publicly profess and forcefully renounce assertions that the recent trip to Italy to meet with Vatican officials suggests that the friendship is in any way improper or morally impure. We traveled independently to the region for respective ministry duties and, while there, spent time together along with others. We were never alone and were in the constant company of staff and other associates.

  1. “Publicly profess and forcefully renounce.” Seriously? Speak simple. You want to sound smart? How about “Brevity is the soul of wit”? A guy named Shakespeare said that. Just sayin’.
  2. “To meet with Vatican officials.” Um, Benny Hinn? I can believe that. In fact, I have no problem believing that. The dude holds global crusades everywhere! Paula White on the other hand? The lady who has a hard time debating a theologian about real biblical issues goes to the Vatican at the Pope’s behest?! Pat, I’d like to buy a clue please.

Anyone can lie about the Word of God. Anyone. To most who don’t read their Bible faithfully (and regretfully), the Scriptures become subjective. In fact, people have become so detached from the Bible that they live vicariously through faith… and through their pastor.

For them, anyone saying “Touch not mine anointed” will cause people to scurry. However, if you read the second part of that verse, “or cause my prophets any harm.”

Here’s the thing: We – the bloggers and journalists that expect way too much out of those manning a pulpit – are not causing them any harm. Their actions do it. Their mouths do it. Their “independent determinations” do it.

This blog was birthed on the premise of the Church needing to read the “writing on the wall.” And if you want more voices to echo that sentiment, may I introduce you to the “Another Brick in the Wall,” “The Acme Arena” and “WOW News” contributors.

There would not be sentinels screaming in the darkness if there were not shady people doing shady things in the name of God. May the ones full of light shine bright, dear Lord Jesus. And may the ones who are just shady stay in the dark. Too many people are hurting because of clandestine preachers who think they can get away with anything.

Those times need to stop. And if you don’t believe me, ask the cracked crew at the National Enquirer. Believe me, there are more of us than you think. How’s that for categorical weave slapping?

Imagine: You are not one of those hypocritical nutbags who picket abortion clinic and fancies the occasional bombing, all under the guise of God’s love.

Instead, you are a nun… who is the administrator at a hospital… and one of your patients is 27-years-old, pregnant and about to die. The catch? The delivery of the fetus will kill her.

As children of God, we are taught to value life. Now, you either value the one dying on a hospital bed or the one said fainting soul is about to deliver.

Confused? Watch the tape from CNN:

Nevermind WWJD for now. What would you do?

The local Catholic diocese knew what they would do – they excommunicated the nun “automatically.” There’s the love of God for you. Keeping it classy, Phoenix Catholic guy:

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese, indicated in a statement that the Roman Catholic involved was “automatically excommunicated” because of the action. The Catholic Church allows the termination of a pregnancy only as a secondary effect of other treatments, such as radiation of a cancerous uterus.

Listen, I despise abortion and I think most girls and women who get them flippantly do so without considering the grave consequences, the impending guilt and the fact that they are just using a doctor’s tool as after-the-fact birth control for a casual night of having fun in most cases.

Exception? Meet the golden rule. At least where narrow-minded Catholic bishops are concerned.

The battle for human life isn't always an easy one to explain

Sometimes, you just want to run head first into the sign, right?

Here lies a woman with her entire life in front of her, and with a cancerous uterus that is choking that precious life out of her. She is pregnant and if that baby is born, it will do so without her mother from day one.

Did Sister McBride make the right decision? Did she pay little regard for one life to save another? Do you even care because all you hear is “Blah blah blah… abortion… blah blah blah.”

On one hand, you have the hospital – a Catholic hospital – backing Sister McBride’s decision:

“In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” hospital vice president Susan Pfister said in an e-mail to the newspaper [USA Today].

Then, we have head of the local diocese who could care less:

“I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese,” Olmsted said in a statement sent to The Arizona Republic. “I am further concerned by the hospital’s statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother’s underlying medical condition.”

Sister McBride had to make a split-second decision despite the scowl of her boss upstate. She didn’t have time to consult her Monsignor in a time of despair. She couldn’t say 18 rosaries before the baby time of gestation was up. The clock was ticking and two lives were in jeopardy.

She made a choice, and for that moment of sheer anguish, she was given her walking papers and kicked clean out of the Catholic Church. Nice.

Never mind the theological impunity Catholics believe they have to kick a child of God out of his or her home. It’s wrong, but blame anathema I suppose?

Would God ever disown a child who has accepted the blood of Jesus? No.

Believing this stance was probably too wussified, the Pontiff’s bible architects of the Middle Ages believed the Papacy should exercise the right to oust someone from the graces of the church because of a grievous slip-up. And the rest is history.

So, um, who is excommunicating all the predators inside the Catholic Church? No one, you say? Moving on…

Father Kevin O’Rourke, a canon lawyer at Loyola University in Chicago, is familiar with McBride’s case and say it is “very unusual” for a nun to be excommunicated. He says, “In order to have an excommunication be valid, the person has to act out of deliberate desire to violate the law…there has to be malice involved.” O’Rourke says there doesn’t appear to be malice involved in Sister McBride’s decision.

If you are so hell-bent on bashing this woman, then show me the malice in this story.

She’s not one of those twisted counselors who guide a 16-year-old girl away from parental reason just to have a “simple procedure.” This is a nun caught in a metaphysical tug-of-war and I don’t think you will hear any arguments from the woman whose live she saved as a result.

Yes, the agony of losing a child is beyond something to bare. Tell that to the girl’s parents who would have lost their daughter if the baby was delivered. No one wins.

The moral of the story is: there are no moral absolutes here. As Christians, we have to accept shades of gray, don’t we? Because if you can color this story in only black and white, I would like to introduce you to a spiritual box of 64 crayons and abruptly stick your head in the sharpener.

There is no right or wrong in situations like this. 50% of the people affected will be hurt and offended. And only one person gets blamed for it.

However, instead of cloaking the nun in the arms of a loving Savior, for whom she has dedicated her entire adult life; the Catholic Diocese would rather use said arms, wax WWE and clothesline the hell out of her.

Now that was a wrong decision. Think anyone is going to hold the Bishop accountable? Meh?

Sister McBride is taking her exile in stride by taking the high road – no comment, no post thoughts. Although she is no longer considered “Catholic”, she is still very much “Christian.”

And isn’t that what really matters?

In life, there are certain signs that are visible; yet silent that scream “Danger Will Robinson” as your brain begins to go into screen saver mode much more frequently. Things such as:

  1. Folk calling you at 7 p.m. and their first sentence is, “I didn’t wake you, right?”
  2. The term “Good Grass” now only applies when discussing the neighbor’s lawn.
  3. You pee every morning like clockwork at 6:30 a.m. – only you don’t wake up until 8 a.m.
The connection from church to gay isn't that far for some priests

I post. You decide. And possibly giggle.

Another is when you are successful, powerful, influential and suddenly… you hire a lawyer?! Really? Such is life for one Joseph “Pope B16″ Ratzinger, according to this article from Yahoo! and AP.

Everything is groovy at St. Peter’s Basilica. You know, the guys in funny suits harking to every whim, a nation at your disposal and a world as your footstool for those kicking red shoes (this ain’t Kansas anymore, B. Word. Up.)

Until one day, Il Papa gets a call that his righteous judgment is in question about a serial child molester who was never defrocked, much less punished by law. Oh, and you were the one at the helm when it happened over a period of one… or two… eh, decades.

And so, in a fit of divine inspiration and sublime panic, the Vatican realizes God isn’t enough protection for this ballyhoo:

But as the Vatican reels from a swirling clerical sex abuse crisis, the Holy See has turned to an unusual advocate: a tennis-loving, Saab-driving solo practitioner from Berkeley, Calif., whose obscure interest in sovereign immunity law and fluency in Italian landed him the job of the pope’s U.S. lawyer.

There’s a mantra in public relations that says, “Perception is reality.” So, which one is this?

Does the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church just need some legal advice or is there something to hide? Is he sweeping something under that big funny hat of his or just in need of a friend who happens to understand this enigmatic “sovereign immunity law”?

[His] latest project: defend Pope Benedict XVI against allegations that he personally, and the Vatican generally, turned a blind eye to decades of rapes and molestation of children by priests. The Vatican has vehemently denied such reports, saying the pope has done more than anyone to root out abusers.

“What is most important for people to know is that he does understand, that his heart is moved,” Lena said. “He has seen the files, he gets it, and indeed he got it long before most others did.”

Yet, there’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room wearing a nice, flowing robe, blinging with some gold-encrusted crucifix and that nice, silk beanie missing the twirling propeller. We know when confronted with a sinister man who sexually abused hundreds of deaf boys – and admitted it – the once Cardinal Ratzinger was more concerned about the media hit than the welfare of the acolytes.

To borrow a slogan, "They need hope and change."

And now? It seems the Holy See is still concerned about the perception instead of the reality.

I appreciate his recent tearful homily in Malta where the Pope said he would “seek justice for pedophile priests and implement effective measures to protect young people from abuse.” However, if you knew the Catholic Church had so many raging freaks on the down low, why not come out swinging the moment the black smoke billowed in the Vatican sky?

Is this apoplectic concern because you are tired of the madness, or just sick of being called out for it?

Pope Benedict even visited some of these victims. According to the USA Today story:

“He prayed with them and assured them that the Church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future,” the Vatican statement said.

I applaud that. I get that. But there’s still that lawyer thing. Out of nowhere is a simple man who probably smells of Chai tea, fresh ink and day-old Brut cologne. Yet, he is the appointed counsel for the Holy See… who is supposed to getting his counsel from our holy Father.

Lawyers provide protection, comfort and peace in the midst of a tumultuous storm, but is that necessary unless you are out in a boat amidst a hurricane? The Vatican certainly is getting pelted with a flurry of law suits, and rightly so. However, there is a demand for stronger action against these freaks who abuse innocent boys.

Please? Defrocking a priest is a slap on the wrist compared to the righteous judgment they deserve; yet that doesn’t even happen to some of these dudes with soiled collars.

There are good priests, phenomenal in their church and communities who watch this mess and know their names are stained because of the work of these dolts. Those bad seeds should be plucked out and exposed for the fools they are, but instead, their fearless leader gets legal representation.

It just smacks more of hiding than fighting… and in a time of despair, there needs to be some righteous indignation and holy fisticuffs coming from the Papal offices. Instead, we get a sinewy finger pointing in our direction as if it’s our fault.

Consider this story from USA Today and a report from the Pope demanding “We must repent.”

“I must say, we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word ‘repent,’ which seemed too tough,” ANSA [the Pontifical News Agency] quoted Benedict as saying. “But now under attack from the world, which has been telling us about our sins … we realize that it’s necessary to repent, in other words, recognize what is wrong in our lives.”

Sorry my brother but we need to repent daily for our sins… but this ain’t one of them. Enough posturing, blaming and running. People demand backbones from their leaders – not wishbones.

The Papal office is supposed to be the divine revelation of God. What the Catholic Church needs, nee should demand is for that office to become the divine representation of God as well.

And that is something not found in a legal brief or a courtroom. It comes with prayer, repentance and an earnest desire to hearken to the Spirit of God. If there is anyone on this planet who is capable of focusing on God’s will, it’s this guy. Church – and I mean all of us – we need to pray for the Pope as never before.

Lord Jesus, bring peace to this petulance. Bring hope for the hurting. Bring a solution for the suffering.

Whether you attend a Catholic Church, this guy needs our support because there are more than a billion ardent people looking to Rome for an answer and some action. They don’t need to see legal writ or spin control. They need action and an unction from Pope Benedict to put an end to this sardonic behavior, face the evil that it is and sick the legion of heaven on it.

Heck, I saw “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons.” I know that can happen. Perception is reality. Remember?

Virgin Mary appears in Daniel Griego's shower

Mary? Um, did you know?

Just in time for Peter Cottontail to come hopping down the Via Dolorosa, um, trail arrives this timely and divine hallucination hailing from Albuquerque, N.M. where the Virgin Mary decided to let the homeowners know after all that traveling from heaven, she was feeling a little rank and needed to take a bath.

I mean, it is Holy Week, so why not a hallowed apparition just beyond the Pantene, weeks-old razor and rubber ducky, right?

It’s timely. It’s sacred. And oh so typical.

Yet, there she is tending to her baby boy Jesus in the stained marble of some dude’s shower. Michelangelo would be so proud.

“We built the house a couple years ago, and we have a stand in the shower and a jacuzzi tub in the master bath,” said Danell Griego, the person who discovered the figure. “We also have a hot tub right outside the master bathroom, so we had not used the tub. I decided I was going to try out the tub since it had been sitting there unused for so long. I got the water and bubbles ready, hopped in and was relaxing and decided to light a candle. When I reached over to grab the candle, right behind it was the image.”

Of course this is a personal moment amidst the flurry of Dora the Explorer bubble bath. Note the statement from the story:

Do not expect long lines of people praying in the Griegos’ home. Besides the media, she said she has only invited friends and family to look at the image.

Love the thoughtfulness there. The Griegos have only invited friends and family. Oh, and the national media throng. Because when you get a pious moment like the mother of our Savior interrupting tub time, it’s always nice to have TMZ on speed dial.

Surely for this avowed Catholic couple, the resurrection of Jesus may not get dibs in worship service, but wowie will these two have a story for their priest about Mary visiting them via the welcoming scent of a strawberry banana flame.

Oh Mary… don’t you know?! Amen. And Hoppy Easter.