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]
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.
Carmelite nuns in Indy respond to the child sex abuse cases currently plaguing the Church. (from NPR) Great to see the perspective of the other half of the Holy Orders - these nuns are ballsy and discard the notion of the (Roman Catholic) Church as a superpower. The dedication of nuns always blows my mind - and breaks the mean-ol'-bitch stereotypes that linger in my head... ...meanwhile the Archdiocese of New York gives a D. A. abuse accusation records from the past 30 years (from NYTimes - requires login, etc.)
Six-year-old kid goes to school, gets beaned with rocks. Class bullies? No. Protestants. Doesn't it seem like there are some places in the world (Middle East, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Balkans, etc.) where people just insist on hating and killing each other until everyone's dead? Or is it just that the various media paint it that way?
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.