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Why Christmas is Dec. 25 this year

December 14th, 2014 Posted in Catechetical Corner Tags: , ,

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The early church didn’t pick the date to replace a Roman pagan holiday

 

By promulgation of an urban legend, many people in the 1980s believed that “Mikey,” the little kid from the Life cereal commercials, died from eating and mixing Pop-Rocks candy with a Pepsi, causing his stomach to explode. Many people, even today, believe that Elvis Presley is still alive and that Paul McCartney is really dead (replaced by a look-alike).

None of these claims are true (except maybe the Elvis one). And just like these nagging urban legends, there is a tale told about the origin of Christmas being on December 25, which is repeated so often that it has come to be taken as, dare I say, the Gospel truth. But it isn’t. Read more »

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Something for Joey: Seaford parishioner builds a chapel’s altar

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For The Dialog

 

SEAFORD – Bob Gay’s father was a Baltimore architect who helped design hospitals in Baltimore and Salisbury, Md. His grandfather, a German immigrant, was a cabinetmaker.

So after a career in sales, it came as no surprise that Gay combined his lifelong interest in woodworking with his father’s eye for design and detail.

With no training in carpentry or design, Gay began building things — a desk for a granddaughter; toys for underprivileged children; cradles and beds for dolls. And, for Our Lady of Lourdes Church, he’s built an altar, credence table, tabernacle, a giving tree; and stadium-style seating in the choir loft. Read more »

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Pope Francis to create new cardinals in February

December 12th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will create new cardinals Feb. 14, following a two-day meeting of the world’s cardinals that will discuss reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, among other issues.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, made the announcement Dec. 11. The names of the new cardinals are likely to be announced in mid-January, he said.

New cardinals participate in a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 22, 2014. The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will create new cardinals Feb. 14. The names of the new cardinals are likely to be announced in mid-January, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

New cardinals participate in a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 22, 2014. The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will create new cardinals Feb. 14. The names of the new cardinals are likely to be announced in mid-January, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

If Pope Francis respects the limit of 120 cardinals under the age of 80 and, therefore, eligible to vote for a pope, he will have 10 such openings in February.

As of Dec. 11, the College of Cardinals had 208 members, 112 of whom were under 80. Retired Indonesian Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta will turn 80 Dec. 20 and Italian Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo has his 80th birthday Jan. 3.

On the same occasion, Pope Francis may also follow precedent by creating a number of cardinals over the age of 80, churchmen being honored for their contributions to theology or other service to the church.

In accordance with recent tradition, the pope will bestow red hats on the new cardinals Feb. 14 and then celebrate Mass with them in St. Peter’s Basilica the next day.

His creation of new cardinals will follow a consistory or meeting of the entire College of Cardinals Feb. 12-13. In February 2014, the pope called such a meeting to discuss the theme of the family, as part of the preparation for the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the subject held in October.

The theme for the next consistory has not been set yet, Father Lombardi said, but the Council of Cardinals advising the pope on reform of the Vatican bureaucracy will brief their fellow cardinals on their progress in drafting a new constitution for the church’s central administration, the Roman Curia.

The spokesman echoed a recent statement by the pope that the reform process was moving slowly, and would not be completed before 2016.

The nine-member council, known as the C9, will meet for its usual bimonthly session Feb. 9-11. Its previous meeting took place Dec. 9-11.

The cardinals’ meetings will come on the heels of a meeting of the papal Commission for the Protection of Minors, which coordinates the church’s efforts to prevent the sexual abuse of children.

The commission, which is headed by U.S. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, currently has nine members, including its secretary, U.S. Father Robert W. Oliver. Father Lombardi said the membership will have doubled to 18 by the February meeting, in an effort to expand representation beyond Europe and North America. The names of the nine new members have not be published.

 

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Pope concerned about Syriac Catholics fleeing violence in Mideast

December 12th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

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CatholicNews Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis expressed his concern for members of the Syriac Catholic Church who have had to flee from the “inhumanity” unfolding in the Middle East.

“Many have fled to find refuge from an inhumanity that throws entire populations onto the streets, leaving them without any means for survival,” he said Dec. 12 in a special audience with Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan and about 350 of his faithful from the Syriac Catholic Church.

The audience, made up of bishops, priests and laity from the Eastern-rite church, came after the bishops’ annual synod, which was held in Rome Dec. 8-10. Participants came from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and the Holy Land, as well as from the diaspora communities in Europe and North and South America.

The pope offered his prayers and encouragement, especially for those from “Iraq and Syria, who are living a time of great suffering and fear in the face of violence.”

“The difficult situation in the Middle East has caused and continues to cause the movement of faithful from your church to the eparchies of the diaspora, and this brings you new pastoral challenges,” he said, such as how to remain faithful to one’s traditions while adapting and contributing to new cultural settings.

Having so many faithful move abroad “impoverishes the Christian presence in the Middle East, land of the prophets, of the first preachers of the Gospel, of martyrs and many saints, the cradle of hermitages and monasticism,” Pope Francis said.

The changes have meant the bishops have had to reflect on the “the situation of their eparchies, which need zealous pastors as well as courageous faithful, capable of proclaiming the Gospel, through discussions that are not always easy with people of different ethnicities and religions,” the pope said.

Patriarch Younan said a major focus of their synod was on priestly formation since their communities have faced so much upheaval.

“For example, just the Eparchy of Mosul has seen one bishop and 25 priests flee” along with 15,000 Syriac Catholics when Islamic State fighters swept through northern Iraq in August.

“Many of them live with the refugees now and we want to take this difficult situation into serious consideration,” he said in an interview with the website theologhia.com.

He said the Syriac Catholic community has been the minority community hit hardest by the violence in Iraq. “We were 40 percent of the population” in the Nineveh plain, which has been “completely emptied of Christians.”

He said 60,000 members of the community fled, many of them to Kurdistan. However, unlike the Chaldean Catholics, who have their patriarchate in Baghdad, the Syriac Catholics “have no eparchies of support. Therefore we are literally displaced.”

“We have no more structures. For that reason, our people live in tents in a situation of terrible precariousness.”

The latest violence now means that more than one-third of the Syriac Catholic community “has been uprooted and is in diaspora. And only God knows when we will return and if we will return.”

 

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Good intentions ruined by smutty humor in ‘Top Five’

December 11th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

At its core, the romantic comedy “Top Five” is a well-intentioned look at the redeeming power of love.

Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson star in a scene from the movie "Top Five." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Paramount)

Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson star in a scene from the movie “Top Five.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Paramount)

Unfortunately, the film comes wrapped in layers of smutty humor that suffocate its fundamentally honorable message.

Chris Rock wrote, directed and stars in this vaguely autobiographical story about Andre Allen. A successful stand-up comic and recovering alcoholic, Andre has sold out to Hollywood by playing the ridiculous role of Hammy the Bear in a series of absurd action flicks.

It’s a part with which Andre is now so largely identified in the public mind that his effort to turn his career in a more serious direction by recreating the life of a Haitian revolutionary on screen seems doomed to box-office disaster.

With his forlorn film about to open, and on the eve of his publicity-driven marriage to reality-TV celebrity Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), Andre reluctantly agrees to be interviewed by down-to-earth New York Times reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson). Chelsea’s frank probing of Andre’s past eventually induces him to reassess his priorities.

Their initially hostile, but increasingly appreciative relationship also encourages Andre to confront his fear that he can only be funny in front of a live audience if his humor is fuelled by booze.

Discussion of the lowest point in Andre’s personal life cues a seamy flashback to his on-the-road encounter with two Houston call girls, a shot at carnal bliss jarringly interrupted by the arrival of Jazzy Dee (Cedric the Entertainer), the promoter who arranged for it in the first place. The fact that Jazzy Dee promptly takes Andre’s place on the mattress is meant to provoke laughs.

Chelsea, meanwhile, is grappling with the fact that her boyfriend, Brad (Anders Holm), seems to be having a gay affair with one of his pals. Andre questions her as to any clues she might have had about Brad’s proclivities, leading to another series of queasy glimpses into the past.

Even the movie’s central bond is not immune to sleaziness, as we discover when Andre and Chelsea duck into a restaurant restroom together for a semi-private grappling session.

The film contains graphic scenes of group sex and other deviant activities, upper female and rear nudity, a frivolous treatment of homosexuality, at least one use of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O. morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

 

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St. John Neumann in Berlin, Md., surpasses its ‘Sustaining Hope’ goal

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Special to The Dialog

 

Another parish has reached its goal in the Sustaining Hope for the Future campaign as total pledges close in on the overall goal of $28 million.

As of Monday, the total pledged stood at $27,550,000, according to Deborah Fols, the Diocese of Wilmington’s director of development who oversees the campaign.

St. John Neumann in Berlin, Md., is the latest parish to surpass its target. Of the 33 parishes participating in the second wave of the campaign, St. John Neumann is the sixth parish to achieve such success. Read more »

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Calix Society provides faith component to A.A.’s 12 steps

December 11th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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Dialog Editor

 

For Charlie A., it was a one-word prayer he uttered when he hit bottom, “help.” That started his road in recovery.

He was a 20-year-old alcoholic. Today he recalls his plea more than 30 years ago as “a surrender, an absolute surrender.”

Joe C. remembers losing his career in finance and being homeless, sleeping under the Verrazano Bridge.

“I said a prayer deep in my heart for help,” Joe said. “The next night I was at an A.A. meeting.” Read more »

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Catholic theologians decry sin of racism, pledge to work for justice

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This year the “hope for a just peace” that is Advent “must face the flagrant failures of a nation still bound by sin, our bondage to and complicity in racial injustice,” said a group of Catholic theologians.

“The killings of black men, women and children … by white policemen, and the failures of the grand jury process to indict some of the police officers involved, brought to our attention not only problems in law enforcement today, but also deeper racial injustice in our nation, our communities and even our churches,” they said.

A Los Angeles protester with arms raised participates in a Nov. 25 march following the grand jury decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. More than 300 U.S. theologians issued a statement Dec. 8 decrying the "pervasive sin of racism" and vowing to fight for justice for African-Americans and other minorities. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

A Los Angeles protester with arms raised participates in a Nov. 25 march following the grand jury decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. More than 300 U.S. theologians issued a statement Dec. 8 decrying the “pervasive sin of racism” and vowing to fight for justice for African-Americans and other minorities. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

By midday Dec. 10, more than 310 theologians from all over the United States had signed on to the statement posted on the website www.catholicmoraltheology.com, which is a project of North American Catholic moral theologians.

The Dec. 8 statement was issued in response to, among other incidents, the decision by grand juries in Missouri and New York not to indict white police officers in the deaths of two African-American males — the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York.

Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” continue to be chanted in the streets by protesters around the country, the theologians noted. His words, along with “Jesus breathing on his disciples, telling them, ‘Peace be with you,’ gives his disciples, then and now, the power and obligation to raise our voices” for a just peace, they said.

Quoting from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the theologians said his words resonate as much today as they did then. “The ‘cup of endurance runs over’ again for African-Americans and many others of good will. Our streets are filled with those exhausted by the need to explain yet again why we can’t wait (for justice).”

Rev. King, they said, “challenged ‘white moderate’ Christians for being ‘more devoted to order than to justice’ and for preferring ‘a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.’” Pope Francis, too, has warned “of the explosive consequences of exclusion and fearful seeking of security based on such a negative peace,” the theologians said.

“As Catholic theologians, we wish to go on the record in calling for a serious examination of both policing and racial injustice in the U.S.,” the statement said. “The time demands that we leave some mark that U.S. Catholic theologians did not ignore what is happening in our midst, as the vast majority sadly did during the 1960s Civil Rights movement.”

Among other actions the theologians said they would:

• “Examine within ourselves our complicity in the sin of racism and how it sustains false images of white superiority in relationship to black inferiority.”

• “Fast and to refrain from meat on Fridays during this Advent season and through the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany, as well as during Lent, as a sign of our penitence and need of conversion from the pervasive sin of racism.”

• “Commit ourselves to placing our bodies and/or privilege on the line in visible, public solidarity with movements of protest to address the deep-seated racism of our nation.”

— “Commit ourselves to further teaching and scholarship on racial justice. Our faith teaches us that all persons are created in the image of God and have been redeemed in Christ Jesus.”

The theologians said they support police, “whose work is indeed dangerous at times,” but called for “a radical reconsideration of policing policy in our nation” and “an end to the militarization of police departments. … We support instead the proven, effective results of community policing.”

They urged “a honing of the guidelines for police use of lethal force so that they are uniform in all states … and so that the use of lethal force, echoing Catholic teaching on ‘legitimate defense,’ is justified only when an aggressor poses a grave and imminent threat to the officer’s and/or other persons’ lives.”

The group said it supported calls “for better recruiting, training and education” for all police so they will truly “serve and protect” their communities.

The theologians said establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is necessary to examine racism in the United States. They called for appointing independent special prosecutors to look into police shootings, since dissatisfaction with the grand jury system is widespread. The group also said the U.S. Department of Justice must investigate whether excessive use of force is a pattern for some police departments, such as in Ferguson and New York City.

“We call upon our bishops to proactively proclaim and witness to our faith’s stand against racism,” the group said. “They have authored pastoral statements in the past, and these documents need to be revisited, in parishes, dioceses, and seminaries, and brought to the forefront of Catholic teaching and action in light of the present crisis.”

Among the U.S. bishops’ documents is their 1979 pastoral letter “Brothers and Sisters to Us,” which said that “racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father.”

The theologians prayed that “all of these actions will move us closer toward the fulfillment of the hope of the Advent season, toward a time when ‘love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss’ (Psalm 85:10).”

 

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‘Posadsas’ and Christmas Masses in Spanish

December 11th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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Christians throughout Latin America celebrate a novena before Christmas of meditations and feasts inviting participants to give shelter to the newborn King in their lives. Posadais the Spanish word for “to take shelter” or “to take in.”

Hispanic communities invite the entire community to take the Christ child in our hearts in Posada celebrations.

1212.posadasDec. 16: Posadas

  • 7 p.m.—Holy Cross, Dover
  • 7 p.m.—–Immaculate Conception, Marydel, Md.
  • 7 p.m.—–Our Lady of LourdesSeaford

Dec. 19: Posadas

  • 6 p.m.——Good Shepherd, Perryville, Md.

December 20 — Advent Masses with Posadas:

  • 7 p.m — Our Lady of Fatima, New Castle
  • 7 p.m.—- St. Agnes, Rising Sun, Md.
  • 7 p.m.—–St. Catherine of Siena, Wilmington
  • 7 p.m.—- Ss. Peter & Paul, Easton, Md.

Dec. 21–Advent Masses with Posadas:

  • 1 p.m.— Holy Rosary, Claymont
  • 2 p.m.——St. Joseph, Middletown
  • 4 p.m.—–St. Dennis, Galena, Md.

Tuesday, Dec. 23–Posadas

  • 7 p.m.— St. Francis de Sale, Salisbury, Md.

Christmas Eve, Dec. 24:

  • 7 p.m.— Our Lady of Lourdes, Seaford, with Posadas at 5 p.m.
  • 7 p.m.—–St. Dennis/, Galena, Md.
  • 7 p.m.—: St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md.
  • 7:30 p.m.—–Holy Angels, Newark
  • 7:45 p.m.—–Our Lady of Guadalupe, Roxanne, with Posadas 7 p.m.
  • 8 p.m.—–St. Elizabeth, Westover, Md., with Posadas at 7 p,m.
  • 8 p.m.——St. Mary, Refuge of Sinners, Cambridge, Md.
  • 8 p.m.—–Ss. Peter & Paul, Easton, Md.
  • 8:30 p.m.—–St. Catherine of Siena, Wilmington
  • 9 p.m.—–Holy Cross, Dover
  • 9 p.m.——-Immaculate Conception, Marydel, Md
  • 9 p.m.——-Our Lady of Fatima, New Castle
  • 9 p.m.——-St. Paul, WilmingtonE with caroling at 8:p.m.
  • 10 p.m.—Holy Rosary, Claymont
  • 10 p.m. –St. John the Apostle, Milford, Posadas 7 p.m.
  • 10 p.m.–St. Michael the Archangel, Georgetown, with Posadas at 7 p.m.

Christmas

  • 10 a.m.–St. Paul/, Wilmington, bilingual
  • 12 noon–St. Michael the Archangel, Georgetown
  • 7 p.m.–St. Agnes, Rising Sun, Md.

Dece. 31: Feast of Mary & New

• 7 p.m.—-Holy Angels, Newark

• 7 p.m.—-Immaculate Conceptio, Marydel, Md.

  • 7 p.m.—-Our Lady of Fatima, New Castle
  • 7 p.m.—-Our Lady of Guadalupe, Roxanne
  • 7 p.m.—-St. Catherine of Siena, Wilmington
  • 7:00 PM:–St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md.
  • 7 p.m.— Holy Cross, Dover
  • 10 p.m.– St. Michael the Archangel, Georgetown

 January 1: Feast of Mary & New Year

  • 10 a.m.–St. Paul, Wilmington: bilingual
  • 11 p.m.— St. Mary, Refuge of Sinnersa, Cambridge, Md.
  • 7:30 p.m.–Ss. Peter & Paul, Easton, M

 

 

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Religious leaders condemn U.S. torture practices as report is released

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The chairman of the U.S bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace said acts of torture outlined in a Senate Intelligence Committee report “violated the God-given human dignity inherent in all people and were unequivocally wrong.” Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, also called on President Barack Obama to strengthen the legal prohibitions against torture “to ensure that this never happens again.”

This is the logo for a 2008 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' guide, titled "Torture: Torture Is a Moral Issue, a Catholic Study Guide," which looks at church teaching as it relates to the use of torture by government authorities around the world and mixes in biblical passages that evoke Jesus' call to "love your enemies." The full guide is available on the USCCB website, www.usccb.org. It's in the Issues and Action section.

This is the logo for a 2008 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ guide, titled “Torture: Torture Is a Moral Issue, a Catholic Study Guide,” which looks at church teaching as it relates to the use of torture by government authorities around the world and mixes in biblical passages that evoke Jesus’ call to “love your enemies.” The full guide is available on the USCCB website, www.usccb.org. It’s in the Issues and Action section.

The bishop joined several religious leaders who condemned the use of torture by the CIA after Democrats in the Senate released a 500-page executive summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence findings Dec. 9. The full 6,000-page report remains classified. The comments were provided by the Washington-based National Religious Campaign Against Torture after the report became public. The intelligence committee began investigating the CIA’s treatment of detainees in the so-called war on terror almost six years ago. Committee members adopted the report in 2012 and agreed to release it in April, but Senate Democrats waited eight months to do so. The report slammed U.S. tactics, which critics have described as torture, used against detainees. It said some of the tactics were more brutal than first described, produced little information that prevented an attack and often resulted in “fabricated” information. Sister Patricia Chappell, executive director of Pax Christi USA, said she was appalled by the “lack of moral integrity of a nation and individuals who justify the use of torture in the name of national security.” She called the actions by the CIA a “travesty of justice and a flagrant violation of human rights, with no reverence for the dignity of human life.” Gerry Lee, executive director of the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, said the report should drive Congress to enact new laws to permanently prevent the use of torture. “Maryknoll missioners have very often served in communities alongside torture survivors, and some have experienced torture themselves,” he said. “As Christians, they know that it is horrific, dehumanizing behavior and its use must be stopped immediately.” Scott Wright, director of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, said torture is never justified, adding that the report “makes very clear that crimes were committed, laws were broken and lies were told to the American people by our government. We must never as a nation go down that path again.” The acts of torture described in the report “are not just horrific,” but also represent a “brutal violation of our country’s most basic values,” said Matt Hawthorne, policy director for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. With the report’s release, the U.S. can begin healing “from self-inflicted spiritual wounds,” he said. “The revelations about the use of torture have been a source of torture to many of us,” said Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances of the Islamic Society of North America. “We had taken pride in the fact that we have left behind many societies where it was a norm and that we had chosen to be part of a nation that prided itself on its belief in human dignity and human rights.” The Rev. Susan T. Henry-Crowe, general secretary of the United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society, concluded that the report’s findings “shock the conscience.” She called for actions that respect life as a gift from God in condemning any government-sanctioned practices that violate moral teachings. The Rev. A. Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches, said he was grieved that “in our name others were tortured.” “May God give us the moral courage to never again betray the core principles that have guided our nation as a leader in the struggle for human rights,” he added.

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