Following the Christian Reconquest and unification of Spain, concluded with the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, the victorious Catholic sovereigns decreed on March 31, 1492 that all Jews convert to Christianity or leave Spain by the last day of July. Whether they stayed or left, many Jewish families continued to practice their faith in secret. Such crypto-Jews passed their traditions down the generations and around the world, some ending up in the Southwest. 500 years later, New Mexico's "hidden Jews" were found among strong Hispanic Catholic communities. Though some were skeptical about the origins of certain family practices, additional research and a pattern of breast cancer lead to genetic testing and confirmation of prior beliefs. [more inside]
Pope Benedict XVI has announced the establishment of a new Vatican department dedicated to tackling what he called 'a grave crisis in the sense of the Christian faith and the role of the Church." The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelisation will (per Archbishop Vincent Nichols,) focus on countries "in which, even though the Christian Gospel has shaped an entire culture," secularism now reigns, in what the Pope termed an "eclipse of a sense of God." [more inside]
Think that Bush has the Catholic vote sewn up? Think again. Despite the efforts of some to make Catholics one-issue voters, many Catholics are more concerned with the views on social justice [pdf] of the Church in this hotly contested [Real] race. It’s a weird year to be a Catholic voter.
Catholics, Jews, Muslims - all three feel suddenly embattled and isolated [nyt reg req] "This is a rare moment in history, like a planetary alignment: three world religions simultaneously racked by crisis....this confluence is highly unusual but not without precedent... — from 800 to 200 B.C., a period of tremendous violence and upheaval on many continents.... We could use this suffering to create wonderful new religious systems, as the Buddha did, or we could retreat into the spiritual barbarism of hatred ." Perhaps Karl Marx was right that religion, like opium, results only in illusion and false hope.
Going to Hell? According to the Vatican, sexually active homosexuals and divorced Catholics who remarry cannot be forgiven until they give up their sin. However, it came as good news for pedophile priests that priests implicated in the sex abuse scandal can be forgiven. Has the Church lost it's relevancy, or will it just take another 350 years for it to catch up with reality as was the case with Copernicus?
"The Archdiocese of Boston in the last 10 years has quietly settled child molestation claims against at least 70 priests." And that conservative estimate represents about 10% of diocesan priests! Many are priests still. Could there be a safer haven than the Church for these animals? Easy access to children, and if you get caught, worst case is that the church pays off your victims and you get reassigned to a prison or hospital, with no messy publicity. Shameful.
New! Jesus Sports Statues. When you saw the Buddy Christ idea in the movie Dogma you thought it was a funny, yet biting swipe at the Catholic Church. But apparently Catholics think it's a great idea. These figurines have already sold out. Jesus playing tackle football is my favorite.