Beyond the Cusp

May 23, 2014

Pope’s Trip Agenda Proves to be Anti-Israel

Ever since Palestinian Chairman made a trip to the Vatican in October 2013, and was received by the Pope Francis who presented Abbas with a gift, a very fancy pen, Abbas immediately commented that, “I hope to sign the peace agreement with Israel with this pen.” Pope Francis’s response was reportedly to comment that he held hope that the agreement would be reached “soon, soon.” Ever since I read about the discussion between Pope Francis and Chairman Abbas and the further discussions between Abbas and party with other Vatican officials I have dreaded that the need would arise to have to address the potential inferences and political potentials from the exchange of pleasantries. That day has come as Pope Francis is due to visit the Middle East including Jordan, the Palestinian West Bank semi-autonomous areas and finally Israel and in that order. The Vatican has released some announced intentions and itinerary for Pope Francis’s coming visit and much of it will pose adversarial positions against Israel on virtually every front. There are potentials in both the more obvious political front of the peace process but also on religious subject over whose claims take precedence over a building which contains an extremely holy Jewish site as well as a potentially holy Christian site.


Before having to comment, perhaps simply quoting the announcements which have been issued by the Vatican in reference to Pope Francis’s visit scheduled for the coming Sunday and Monday would be the safest place to begin. The Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, a position roughly equivalent to a Prime Minister, announced that Pope Francis plans to talk at length about, “Palestinian people’s right to have a homeland, sovereign and independent.” Cardinal Pietro Parolin added his personal feelings stating “I really hope that the fruit will be to help politicians and all people of good will take courageous decisions on the path to peace.” When pressed to be more informative and specific, the Cardinal continued explaining that Pope Francis would talk about “the Palestinian people’s right to have a homeland, sovereign and independent, the right to move around freely, the right to live in dignity.” These quotes from Vatican City lay to waste any belief that the previous claims from Pope Francis who had stated that he would be making a visit which would be purely “religious not political.” This claim had been dented by the released itinerary when provided stated the decision was to begin his trip from Jordan and fly directly by helicopter to the Palestinian Authority controlled city of Bethlehem before making his way to Jerusalem and Israel. Of course these announcements could not be said to be completely unexpected as the Vatican had recognized the “State of Palestine” during the votes in 2012 at the United Nations, a definite precursor for the coming events.


That pretty much presents the political, now for the religious potential for confrontation. The Vatican has confirmed that they have no intentions to claim or demand ownership of the Cenacle, the room alleged to be the site of the Last Supper which is located one floor above King David’s Tomb, a revered Jewish holy site. A report in the Salt Lake Tribune claimed that reports coming from the Vatican official Monsignor William Shomali, the auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, stated, “All the Vatican wishes is to hold two hours of prayer every day in the early morning before visitors start to visit it.” The Monsignor further quantified pointing out that Christians have prayed at the Cenacle for ten centuries “because it is said to be the place where Jesus had the Last Supper and where he washed the feet of his 12 disciples. For Christians it is a major holy place.” And further, in the spirit of “interreligious dialogue, it would be nice to have one holy place where many events are commemorated, and where people of different religions can come to pray.” Unfortunately, should such a situation be established, it would present some major complications and consequences to any Jewish practices within the entirety of the building. Should the site be made into a place where regular, daily services were held, it would be defined as being a Church which would prevent Jewish prayers from being held within the entire building under strict rules of Jewish law (Halacha), this defeating the whole idea of a place where multiple religions could all pray.


The probability that behind the smiles which will still most certainly be on display for the photographers, there will be some tight lipped and stern faces behind the scenes in private where honest discourse may be somewhat less pleasant than if the Pope’s visit had taken a less challenging message presenting challenges to the Jewish State on so many levels. Personally, I would have preferred the Pope coming to the Holy Land should be a time of coming together and building bridges and bringing Jews and Catholics closer together. Unfortunately, Pope Francis has chosen not to take such an approach and instead appears determined to set Israeli-Vatican relations back possibly more than a century to a time when the two religions were more confrontational than allied. I appreciate that the Pope plans on laying a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the great Zionist leader, a symbolic gesture apologizing for when in 1904, Zionist leader Theodor Herzl visited the Vatican to ask Pope Pius the Tenth to help establish a modern Jewish state in Israel, the historic homeland of the Jewish nation and Pope Pius rejected the request outright. This was unsurprising in hindsight as the Vatican was still espousing replacement theological approach which was heavily steeped in the Jews remaining homeless and in the Diaspora as strangers and outsiders wherever they lived and often treated as outcasts being blamed for ever ill that befell any society. This gesture is much appreciated and, some might claim, way overdue. Perhaps it may be best to take good cheer from the wreath laying, hope that whatever compromise that can be reached concerning King David’s Tomb, if any, continues to allow for Halachic Jewish prayers and services to continue and some allowance, though not likely daily, for Christian prayer is found. As far as Pope Francis finding the magic solution that establishes a Palestinian state without the complete destruction of Israel, that is really not at all likely as the Palestinians, all of them including Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), People for the Liberation of Palestine, and especially Mahmoud Abbas in near countless speeches and interviews in Arabic, are united in the one cause, the eradication of the Jewish state and its replacement by an Arab and Islamic state completely eliminating any Jewish presence within the Palestinian entity. The Pope is going to find that the soft and flowing sweet words spoken with him by Mahmoud Abbas were the same honey coated lies camouflaging the bile and hatred he holds for Israel and the Jews as well as his contempt for the Christians, including Catholics, which has been proven by the Islamization of Bethlehem since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. But it does appear that Abbas is capable of charming and deceiving virtually everybody and apparently Pope Francis is among the deceived.


Beyond the Cusp


March 14, 2013

White Smoke Signals the Ascension of Pope Francis

The College of Cardinals in the Vatican signaled with the plumes of white smoke their having decided on the man who would become the leader of the world’s Catholics and the assumed link between Heaven and Earth. The person they selected was Jorge Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who will from this point forward be known as Pope Francis. His selection has been received with general approval from many sectors including the Jewish community of Argentina who heralded then Archbishop Bergoglio for his response to the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association. Pope Francis will be the first Pope in modern Church history to come from outside of Europe. Pope Francis is considered to be a reformer and a very good choice to reconnect with masses of Catholics, especially those who had recently become disillusioned by the scandals in the Church. Pope Francis may also be a wise choice as he represents the largest community within the Catholic Church today which is largely Spanish speaking and part of the world’s largest population in South America. Some have expressed surprise as they expected somebody who would have been younger than the seventy-six year old Bergoglio. May Pope Francis serve the Church faithfully with calm, peace, wisdom, resolve, righteousness, and with foresight to steer the Catholic Church and all of mankind into an age of acceptance and cooperation. In conclusion, may Pope Francis find ease in traversing the path which G0d has laid for him and the Catholics and all the peoples of Earth find his message to be of benefit providing inspiration and tranquility with all that he touches.


Beyond the Cusp


March 3, 2012

Broadening the Contraception Debate Through Lies

The contraception debate, which ensued after President Obama had his Administration press a decision demanding that Catholic owned and/or run institutions such as Hospital, Schools and other institutions where non-Catholics were employed would be required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obama Care) to offer free contraception services as part of insurance coverage for their employees, has become a pressing issue where the arguments have been blurred and muddled with lies. The debate has been expanded to imply that the Catholic Church is fighting not simply to hold the line on their faith which does not allow for them to offer such coverage, but is dead-set to deny women’s right to choose and deny women to decide on decisions concerning their own bodies. This has expanded the debate to, by slanted implication, to include abortion as part of the debate which was not part of the original debate. The core of the debate is whether or not the Federal Government can force the Catholic Church, and other similarly aligned religious institutions, to provide free contraceptive health coverage despite their religious canon making such a sin. So, what exactly are the lies being used to distort this debate?


The largest exaggeration in this debate is that the Catholic Church is denying women of their right to use birth control. This is not the position of the Catholic Church as they simply hold that they advise Catholic women not to sin and that contraception is defined by the Catholic Church as a sin. They are not refusing to allow women from using contraceptives any more than they are refusing to allow any Catholic from breaking any other laws of the Church. The Catholic Church position is that they should not be forced to pay for or provide the means of committing sins as part of their offering services under Church employment. The Church looks upon their hospitals and schools as doing G-d’s work and a blessing performed by the Church through these institutions and in the desire to serve, offer all services to the entire public. The Catholic Church believes this is an essential part of their outreach and exemplifying the meaning of service under their beliefs. These institutions are as much a form of holy enterprise similar as the Churches themselves and seen as being similar in holiness and under the same laws and canon of the Church. It is this consideration which is the reasoning behind why the Catholic Church holds these institutions cannot be forced to provide the means of sin under the protection in the First Amendment’s guarantees against “impeding the free exercise of religion.”


But, what will be the further expansions which will logically proceed from this case? The most immediate expansion will be to every other religious institution being forced initially to provide these same full and free contraceptive services under their health coverage even if doing such violates their religious laws and beliefs. This will affect many Jewish institutions just as it does the Catholic Church as Judaism has similar opinions when it comes to many of these very same issues. The Protestant and Mormon religious institutions are also in this same ship receiving broadside attacks from President Obama and the Departments of Health and eventually Justice. Once this foothold has been established, which further guarantees promised by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights will be negated through Federal Government edicts and regulations and other forms of coercion. Allowing this to stand can and will serve as the crowbar with which all our protected rights will become vulnerable to government aggression.


There is one other way of perceiving this debate which is becoming more appropriate and will define some of the underlying attack on many of our rights and freedoms. Ihis demand is really an attempt to erase the Judeo-Christian ethos of our society and replace it with an alternative religious ethos of Secular Humanism. When liberals scoff at classifying Secular Humanism being a religion, they deny it having such a classification, as Secular Humanism lacks a deity and thus cannot be a religion. By this argument Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religious philosophies which do not have a deity would no longer be considered religions. This would deny these religious institutions Constitutional protections under the First Amendment if part of the requirement for a religion is the belief in a deity. Perhaps we should go to the dictionary for the definition of “religion” where we find the following:

<I>1) A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

2) A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

3) The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.</I>

The definition I would put in words from this is a religion is any philosophy which has a set canon or set of laws which is believed to be valid and is followed by a group under a general sense of harmony and agreement. It sure sounds as if Secular Humanism fits the definition of a religion even if it is a recently formed religion and is still finalizing their canon. It is definitely a philosophy with an ardent and strict following who, unlike Judaism and most of Christianity, do not accept disagreement. Secular Humanists preach universal acceptance but only for those who accept and believe completely their dogmas. This latest attack, which has begun with the Catholic Church but will not end there, is simply another attempt to squelch and silence any person or institution which stands separate and possibly opposed to the Church of Secular Humanism. Do not be fooled by the claims of this being simply equal treatment under the law. This is anything but equal treatment under the law. This is use of the law as a battering-ram in an attempt to abolish any alternative to the new world religion of Secular Humanism. Universal contraception and full reproductive rights are simply part of the basic tenets canonized in the laws of Secular Humanism, and it is the decree of the new progressives that all shall worship at the Church of Secular Humanism.


Beyond the Cusp


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