Category Archives: Faith

Catholic Student Movement

Statement of Solidarity for the Acehnese,” IMCS Asia Pacific et al,, 30 October 2004.

I haven’t blogged on the terrible tsunami, because so many can express the tragedy so much better.

One of the things that made it so much worse is the unrest that already existed. Aceh, Indonesia was very, very badly hit. Entire villiages have been swept away. It’s also been struggling for its independence for many years.

Browing the web I found the following statement. It is worth a read. I’ll let it speak for itself — no further comment.

Statement of Solidarity for the Acehnese

We, the International Movement of Catholic Students Asia Pasific (IMCS Asia Pacific), composed by Catholic student movement of Asia, acknowledges and respect the self-determination rights of Acehnese people. We oppose the Martial Law, which led the inhumane actions taken by Indonesia Military (TNI) towards the children, students and senior citizens in Aceh. The Acehnese people should protected by international human right laws and democratic referendum on their independence or autonomy is needed.

We call on the governments to recognize the status of Acehnese as asylum seekers who fled to other countries. They are political refugees admitted by UNHCR Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and their safety and life should be protected by government authorities. We also urge the countries that have not signed ratified the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees to do so.

Penang, 30 October 2004.

In Solidarity,

IMCS Asia Pacific
IMCS International Team
All India Catholic University Federation
Bangladesh Catholic Student Society
Catholic Association UMac (Macau)
Catholic Student Groups in Japan
Catholic Undergraduate Centre of Thailand
Eindoven Student Church (Holland)
Hanoi Catholic Student Movement (Vietnam)
Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students
IMCS Pakistan
Malaysia Catholic Student’s Council
Myanmar Young Catholic Student (Bangkok)
Sri Lanka Catholic University Student Movement
Student Christian Movement Philippines
Union of All Catholic Student of Republic of Indonesia (PMKRI)

Hurrah for Canada

Report says Ont. Muslims have right to use religious law in family disputes,” by Keith Leslie, Macleans,, 20 December 2004.

Three words I thought I’d never say: Hurrah for Canada.

TORONTO (CP) – Ontario Muslims should have the same rights as Catholics and Jews in the province to seek arbitration based on religious laws for family disputes and inheritance cases, concludes a report by former attorney general Marion Boyd.

“We’re talking about arbitration based on certain religious principles . . .similar to our Charter values of equality, freedom and justice,” she told reporters at a news conference.

Land of cold. Land of freedom of contract. Land of freedom of faith.

If I’m reading the law right, it’s nothing beyond what the U.S. already has in different form. But it’s a great step forward for our neighbors to the north.

Res Publica Americana

2004: Year of ‘The Passion’,” by Frank Rich, New York Times,, 19 December 2004 (from The Corner).

The U.S. Catholic Church: Historical Background,” Archdiocese of Saint Louis: Archdiocesan Archives,

Frank Rich is not a happy man.

The power of this minority within the Christian majority comes from its exaggerated claims on the Bush election victory. It is enhanced further by a news culture, especially on television, that gives the Mel Gibson wing of Christianity more say than other Christian voices and that usually ignores minority religions altogether. This is not just a Fox phenomenon. Something is off when NBC’s “Meet the Press” and ABC’s “This Week,” mainstream TV shows both, invite religious leaders to discuss “values” in the aftermath of the election and limit that discussion to all-male panels composed exclusively of either evangelical ministers or politicians with pseudo-spiritual credentials. Does Mr. Falwell, who after 9/11 blamed Al Qaeda’s attack partly on “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians,” speak for any sizable group of American Christians? Does the Rev. Al Sharpton, booked on TV as a “balance” to Mr. Falwell, do so either? Mr. Sharpton doesn’t even have a congregation; like Mr. Falwell, he is a politician first, a religious leader second (or maybe fourth or fifth).

I’m unsure what Mr. Rich means by the “Mel Gibson” wing of Christianity. It certainly can’t be the Catholic Traditionalist Movement, an infinitesimally splinter off Roman Catholocism most noted for an admiration of the Latin Mass. Maybe Frank himself doesn’t know. In all seriousness, he might lump all visibly religious and tradional-oriented folk in an undifferentiated mass.

Certainly Catholcs by themselves did not make The Passion the hit it is. Evangelicals played a huge role, not to mention the fact it was a very well made movie that is vicerally moving, regardless of personal beliefs.

But if Frank Rich is not happy now, can you imagine him in twenty years? Or thirty?

When the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, Catholics made up only one per cent of the total population of the 13 colonies. Philadelphia, site of the first Continental Congress, had the largest number of Catholics.

The state of Maryland was founded by George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, as a haven where Catholics could live without fear of persecution for their religious beliefs.

The first U.S. bishop was John Carroll, a former Jesuit priest, who was appointed by the Pope as bishop of Baltimore in 1789. The Pope designated Baltimore the first Catholic diocese in the United States.

Until about 1850, the Roman Catholic population of the United States was a small minority made up primarily of English Catholics. Following the potato famine and other events in Europe in the 1840s, millions of Irish and other European Catholics began a massive emigration to the United States. In the early to mid-1800s, Catholics made up only 5 percent of the nation’s population. But by the end of the 19th century, the Catholic population had grown to represent 14 percent of the total U.S. population (14 million out of 82 million people).

By the early 1900s, Catholicism was the single largest religious denomination in the country.

In 1960, the nation elected its first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy.

Today there are more than 65 million Catholics in the United States, making up 23 percent of the nation’s population.

Would Mr. Rich believe that this growth rate will stop? Or that new Catholic immigrants (overwhelming from Latin America) are more cosmopolitan than the average American, let alone the average Catholic? A professor at the Naval War College predicts a Mexican-American President being elected directly from a former-Mexican state by 2050.

Catholics are a plurality religion in the United State. They are not a majority. Yet.

The Passion in Iraq

Bibles for the Middle East,” by Steve Douglass, Campus Crusade for Christ,, 2004 (from North Korea Times and Crosswalk)

The Sunni Arab insurgency is fighting to keep the rest of the world out. A free Iraq means free minds means choices, and to people like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that’s deeply troubling. Some define freedom as the freedom from knowledge, temptation, and choice. We define it differently.

The evangelical-Protestant Campus Crusade for Christ, using a traditionalist Catholic film financed by a Australian-born actor, is trying to spread religious connectivity in Iraq’s gap:

In addition, our workers across the entire region are reporting a tremendous surge in spiritual hunger. This is due in part to the release of The Passion of The Christ. The fact that this movie played in some of these places is simply amazing. Officials allowed it because many felt the film would paint Jews in a bad light. But God used even this motive for His glory. Over the past several months, many people finally learned about the sacrifice Christ made for them, and now they’re looking to know more!

Praise God! And other personnel in the area are sharing similar stories of increased spiritual hunger—accounts of pirated DVDs of the movie “selling like hotcakes” in one of the most closed nations on earth, of 1,817 people per day contacting our Communications Centers to find out more about Jesus, and of tens of thousands of letters like these:

“I am a teacher, and I would like to have a video about Jesus Christ … so that I can inform and teach my students. I especially want to show them the life of Jesus Christ and the way of light; the straight way; the way of the good God.”

“Mysteriously, I have dreamed several times about Jesus who looks at me with a smile. The strength of this dream has impacted my heart. The problem is that I have no means of following His path … I want to ask your help to help me become a good Christian, because here in [this closed nation] there is no one to help.”

Please help.

Republic of Hate

As Holidays Approach, French Find New Ban on Religious Symbols Cuts Both Ways,” William J. Kole, Associated Press,, 13 December 2004.

France continues her anti-Catholic, anti-Islam, anti-God bigotry.

PARIS (AP) – They arrived as they do every December: gaily wrapped gifts destined for children at a kindergarten in rural northern France.

But this year, teachers unwrapped a few, took a look and sent all 1,300 packages back to City Hall. The presents were innocent, but strictly speaking, illegal: seasonal chocolates shaped like Christian crosses and St. Nicholas.

As Christmas approaches, France is awakening to the realization that a new law banning conspicuous religious symbols at schools – a measure used mainly to keep Muslim girls from wearing traditional Islamic head scarves to class – can cut both ways.

“It’s an unhealthy political affair. Absolutely regrettable,” said Andre Delattre, mayor of the northern town of Coudekerque-Branche, which has shipped the traditional chocolates to local schools for 11 years.

“What’s the point? It’s the children who are being penalized for this difference of opinion,” he said. “They’ve been deprived of a festive moment.”

The law, which took effect in September, bans overt symbols such as Islamic head scarves, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses at public schools.

In the United States, religious expression is encouraged. The U.S. Justice Department recently intervened to protect a Muslim schoolgirl’s right to wear the head scarf. In France, they would make her a criminal.

No wonder our ancestors fled that continent of death and decline.

Hat tip Democratic Underground.