If Only Unborn Human Babies Had Feathers
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Charles' hopes of multi-faith coronation dashed by Church
Prince Charles' hopes of a multi-faith coronation suffered a blow when the Church of England asserted the historic importance of a solely Christian service when he becomes King.
In a rebuke to the Prince's hopes of inviting Muslims, Hindus and others to take an equal role in Westminster Abbey, the Church declared that Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams will design the coronation service.
The highly unusual statement was the Church's first official pronouncement on how the coronation will be handled and it comes amid intensifying controversy over the role of non-Christian faiths and non-Anglican Christian denominations.
Charles has long made clear his yearning for a ceremony in which Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh beliefs take a place alongside the doctrines of the Church of England.
Dr Williams, however, has insisted that the Prince must restrain his interest in other faiths and stay within the 'constitutional framework' that makes him Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
The intervention from the Church made plain that Charles will be on his own if he tries to introduce other faiths into the religious coronation service at the Abbey.
The Church's leading lay official, General Synod Secretary General William Fittall said yesterday: 'The coronation service is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose duty this has normally been since 1066.
"He, consequently, takes the lead in preparing the order of service for the approval of the sovereign."
Mr Fittall, a former senior civil servant at the Home Office who has led the CofE bureaucracy for four years, delivered his statement in reply to a request from a Synod member to 'clarify who decides the form of the next coronation service".
The statement follows remarks by two leading Anglican prelates in the past few days on the importance of the Christian monarchy.
Earlier this week, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu told the Daily Mail that "the Church of England reminds the nation that in this country the Queen is Defender of the Faith, head of the Commonwealth and head of state."
He said of the relationship between Church and monarch: "You change it at your peril".
Dr Sentamu's comments came in the wake of an interview given at the beginning of the month by Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who said that "the coronation service is singularly Christian in its form" and added that the Prince's duty is to defend 'the historic faith of our Church".
Dr Sentamu, who is number two in the CofE hierarchy, and Dr Nazir-Ali are the two leading foreign-born bishops in the Church. It may not be coincidental that the Archbishop of York, from Uganda, and the Bishop of Rochester, from Pakistan, come from parts of the world where Christianity is under heavy pressure from Islam.
The official confirmation of Dr William's lead role in the service yesterday added weight to the growing view that the Prince will be compelled to accept a traditional and solely Anglican coronation.
Other faiths will get a look in only at a subsequent and symbolically less important event to be arranged later.
An article in the Spectator magazine last month said Charles wants a second ceremony at Westminster Hall, inside the Palace of Westminster, which would admit Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh beliefs alongside those of non-Anglican Christians. This would be held at a later date.
The Prince, who will take the title Defender of the Faith when he becomes King, said 12 years ago that he wished to be seen rather as a Defender of Faith.
His push for a shift to a multi-faith monarchy alarmed many churchmen and politicians who saw it undermining both longstanding constitutional practice and the monarch's position as Supreme Governor of the Church.
Charles is said to be determined to have a 'focused and telecentric' coronation that reflects a new era and a new kind of reign.
But Dr Williams delivered a warning against undermining the Christian monarchy when he went to Lambeth Palace nearly four years ago.
The Archbishop said early in 2003: "I am glad the Prince of Wales takes faith communities as seriously as he does but the actual title, there is a historical, constitutional framework for it which you don't just change by fiat."
Constitutional historian Professor Anthony Glees welcomed the Church's assertion of its role.
"I am pleased that the Church is drawing attention to the importance of Christianity in the coronation, which of course we all hope will be a long time coming," he said.
"We should remember Winston Churchill's "finest hour" speech in 1940, in which he said the Battle of Britain was about to begin and that on it depended "the survival of Christian civilisation".
"The reminder that this is a Christian country will be welcomed by many who fought to preserve it and those who remember them. They will be glad that the Archbishop of Canterbury has taken the point."
Some Christian groups remain unhappy that the Prince is thought to be considering a multi-faith event to follow the coronation.
Colin Hart of the Christian Institute think tank said: "There are huge obstacles to a multi-faith coronation service and the constitution would unravel if Charles tried to do something different.
"But I find it bizarre that he intends to take a Christian coronation oath and then stage a second ceremony at which he will declare loyalty to other faiths. That appears to be breaking his oath."
Eastwood Sending Letters Early
Iwo Jima flick moved up.
by IGN Staff
November 16, 2006 - The release date for Warner Bros.' forthcoming Clint Eastwood film, Letters From Iwo Jima, has been moved up. The Flags of Our Fathers companion piece had been set for a February 9th bow, but will now open on December 20th... that's just in time for Oscar consideration.
Variety reports that the movie will first release in Los Angeles, New York, and potentially San Francisco.
Eastwood personally approached Warners about making the change after he consulted with producer Steven Spielberg, the trade says.
Letters, formerly titled Red Sun, Black Sand, is the story of the battle of Iwo Jima told from a Japanese perspective. Eastwood directed the WWII drama from a script by Iris Yamashita.
The film, which is told like a memoir of one of the Japanese soldiers, follows a group of men who watch helplessly as their comrades are killed. It stars Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Ryo Kase, Shidou Nakamura and Tsuyoshi Ihara.
Come Oscar time, voters could choose their favorite of Eastwood's two Iwo Jima films and vote for that one. It's unclear how it all might play out as two companion films have never been in serious contention during the same year.
Father Cantalamessa on the End of the World
Pontifical Household Preacher on Sunday's Gospel
ROME, NOV. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.
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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (b)
Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32
The Gospel of the second to last Sunday of the liturgical year is the classic text on the end of the world. There has always been someone who has taken it upon themselves to wave this page of the Gospel in the face of their contemporaries and provoke psychosis and fear. My advice is to be calm and to not let yourself be in the least bit troubled by these visions of catastrophe.
Just read the last line of the same Gospel passage: "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." If neither the angels nor the Son (insofar as he is man and not insofar as he is God) know the day or hour of the end, is it possible that a member of some sect or some religious fanatic would know and be authorized to announce it? In the Gospel Jesus assures us of the fact of his return and the gathering his chosen ones from the "four winds"; the when and the how of his return (on the clouds between the darkening of the sun and the falling of the stars) is part of the figurative language of the literary genre of these discourses.
Another observation might help explain certain pages of the Gospel. When we talk about the end of the world on the basis of the understanding of time that we have today, we immediately think of the absolute end of the world, after which there can be nothing but eternity. But the Bible goes about its reasoning with relative and historical categories more than with absolute and metaphysical ones. Thus, when the Bible speaks of the end of the world, it intends quite often the concrete world, that which in fact exists for and is known by a certain group of people, their world. It is, in sum, the end of a world that is being treated not the end of the world, even if the two perspectives at times intertwine.
Jesus says: "This generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place." Is he mistaken? No, it was the world that was known to his hearers that passed away, the Jewish world. It tragically passed away with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. When, in 410, the Vandals sacked Rome, many great figures of the time thought that it was the end of the world. They were not all that wrong; one world did end, the one created by Rome with its empire. In this sense, those who, with the destruction of the twin towers on September 11, 2001, thought of the end of the world, were not mistaken ...
None of this diminishes the seriousness of the Christian charge but only deepens it. It would be the greatest foolishness to console oneself by saying that no one knows when the end of the world will be and forgetting that, for any of us, it could be this very night. For this reason Jesus concludes today's Gospel with the recommendation that we "be vigilant because no one knows when the exact moment will be."
We must, I think, completely change the attitude with which we listen to these Gospels that speak of the end of the world and the return of Christ. We must no longer regard as a punishment and a veiled threat that which the Scriptures call "the blessed hope" of Christians, that is, the return of our Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). The mistaken idea we have of God must be corrected. The recurrent talk about the end of the world which is often engaged in by those with a distorted religious sentiment, has a devastating effect on many people. It reinforces the idea of a God who is always angry, ready to vent his wrath on the world. But this is not the God of the Bible which a psalm describes as "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, who will not always accuse or keep his anger forever ... because he knows that we are made of dust" (Psalm 103:8-14).
16 November, 2006
China officially admits executed prisoners are the basis of organ trafficking
Health authorities acknowledge the problem for the first time. They also recognise the existence of an organ black market but deny public officials are involved, blaming instead surgeons, who in turn, refute such allegations.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China’s government has admitted that an illegal traffic in human organs for transplant actually exists, but blamed it on the work of rogue surgeons. For this reason, it has called on the members of the profession to adhere to a “code of conduct”.
Addressing a conference of surgeons in Guangzhou yesterday, Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu acknowledged that most organs harvested come from executed prisoners. He insisted that informed consent must inform organ harvesting, that donation be voluntary and done with the consent of donors or their families.
“The harvesting, distribution and use of organs must be closely tracked under responsible supervision by related administrations,” Mr Huang said.
“Under-the-table business must be banned,” Mr Huang said cognizant that too often organs come from non consenting parties and are sold for high fees to foreigners.
He added that the authorities would set up an information network that would register and keep track of all human organ donations. For some time now relatives of executed prisoners have accused the authorities of harvesting organs from dead prisoners without their consent or respect for rules with the complicity of prison officials.
China executes anywhere between two and ten thousands prisoners, the highest number in the world. And families have complained that the bodies of their executed relatives are not handed over.
Human right groups have said some mainland hospitals have traded organs to patients in other countries, and foreign patients disguised as tourists have come to the mainland for transplants using organs from prisoners or other donors who had not given their informed consent.
In response to the charges the Health Ministry issued an Interim Regulations on Human Organ Transplant Clinic Application Administration in March. These allow only top hospitals with qualified doctors, equipment and technical facilities to provide organ transplant surgery and ban organ trading and unwilling donation.
Although the regulations took effect in July, they have not had any effective influence, this according to organ transplant professionals. Still, this is the first time the authorities officially acknowledge the existence of a black market in transplant organs from executed prisoners.
Surgeons responded immediately to a request by the Health Minister to abide by the ethical regulation of human organ transplants. This means that the responsibility falls on their shoulders.
The code of conduct insists on the obligation for everyone in the medical profession to respect the law and the ethical principles of medicine and thus not participate in the harvesting and trading in organs without the written consent of the donor.
About 600 surgeons gathered in Guangzhou agreed not to be involved in any organ trading or provide transplant services to foreign patients visiting as tourists, and that they would abide by the law and respect ethical rules. (PB)
WASHINGTON – Concerned that the voice of science and secularism is growing ever fainter in the White House, on Capitol Hill and in culture, a group of prominent scientists and advocates of church-state separation on Tuesday announced formation of a Washington think tank designed to promote “rationalism” as the basis of public policy.
The brainchild of Paul Kurtz, founder of the Center for Inquiry-Transnational, the small public policy office will lobby and sometimes litigate on behalf of science-based decision making and against religion in government affairs.
The announcement was accompanied by release of a “Declaration in Defense of Science and Secularism,” which bemoans what signers say is a growing lack of understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry and the value of a rational approach to life.
“This disdain for science is aggravated by the excessive influence of religious doctrine on our public policies,” the declaration says. “We cannot hope to convince those in other countries of the dangers of religious fundamentalism when religious fundamentalists influence our policies at home.”
While the speakers at the National Press Club unveiling were highly critical of Bush administration policies regarding stem-cell research, global warming, abstinence-only sex education and the teaching of “intelligent design,” they said that their group was non-partisan and that many Democrats were hostile to keeping religion out of public policy.