Monday, March 31, 2008

More Muslims than Catholics!

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer
Sun Mar 30, 2:48 PM ET

VATICAN CITY - Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world's largest religion, the Vatican newspaper said Sunday.

"For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us," Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. Formenti compiles the Vatican's yearbook.

He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4 percent of the world population — a stable percentage — while Muslims were at 19.2 percent.

"It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer," the monsignor said.

Formenti said that the data refer to 2006. The figures on Muslims were put together by Muslim countries and then provided to the United Nations, he said, adding that the Vatican could only vouch for its own data.

When considering all Christians and not just Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said.

Spokesmen for the Vatican and the United Nations did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Sunday.

Interesting figures! When compared to all Christians, not just Catholics, Muslims are still in the minority.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is it Time Yet?

Did 19th-century priest predict Castro's death?
An obscure Cuban legend, based on the reported vision of a Spanish priest 150 years ago that tells of a bearded leader who rules with an iron fist and dies in his bed in the fourth decade of his reign, has gained fresh currency with the recent illness of Cuba's dictator, Fidel Castro.

According to a strong oral and written tradition preserved by the Catholic congregation of Santiago de Cuba, a Spanish priest, sent to the city to be it's archbishop in the 1850s, had a vision of Cuba's patron saint, La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, in which she told him of a coming Cuban leader who bears an uncanny resemblance to Castro.

San Antonio Maria Claret arrived in Santiago – Castro's home province – in 1851. Pastoral duties took him into the Sierra Maestra – the mountainous region from which Castro launched his revolution and seizure of power in the late 1950s. While riding on horseback, he later told his congregation, the virgin appeared to him in a vision to tell him of Cuba's future.

According to the legend, she spoke of a "very bold young person" who would arise from those very mountains – armed, bearded and triumphant. He would be accompanied by other bearded men with long hair. They would arrive wearing the medal of the virgin around their necks, but soon would deny their belief in it.

The young leader would be acclaimed by all because of many popular reforms, but little by little, he would seize all the power, weighing down the Cuban people with an iron dictatorship that would last 40 years. During his 4 decades in power, Cuba would undergo numerous calamities and shortages. The bearded leader, the prophecy said, would die in his bed.

A short period of instability, conflict and bloodshed, would follow his death, but "soon" Cuba would rise little by little to an outstanding position among the nations.

I have been a bit melancholy lately which, in my case, leads me to memories of childhood which seem sureal. A quieter time, slower pace, narrow stone streets, a walk along the sea wall with my parents a small town nestled between the mountains and the sea. I would very much like to visit this place which seldom comes to my conciousness, walk those paths again, visit the church where I was baptized and did my first communion, see the house where I was born. I wonder how it all is and how accurate are the memories I hold, memories of a child surely romanticized by the passage of time.

In that sort of mood I came cross this interesting prophecy, the stuff of legend that one longs to be true. The details do seem rather interesting!With things changing in the land I once called home, maybe the fulfillment of this vision will at long last come to pass...and maybe soon I will get a chance to visit the place of memories... Time will tell. Is it that time yet?



Monday, March 3, 2008

A Bishop Unveiled God's Secrets While Keeping His Own

Bishop Paul Moore Jr., seen in 1989 led the Episcopal Diocese of New York from 1972 to 1989

Published: March 3, 2008

As is customary during Lent, the sermon at St. John the Divine Cathedral on Sunday touched on the themes of seen and unseen truths, knowing and not knowing what is before one’s very eyes.It was not intended as a veiled reference to the disclosure this week that Paul Moore Jr., the late, revered Episcopal bishop who became a national figure of liberal Christian activism from the cathedral’s pulpit in the 1970s and ’80s, had lived a secret gay life.

In an elegiac article in the March 3 issue of The New Yorker magazine titled “The Bishop’s Daughter,” the poet Honor Moore describes her father, Bishop Moore, who died in 2003 at 83, as alternately passionate and elusive, capable of deep “religious emotion,” yet just beyond her emotional reach. It was only after he died, she said, that she fully realized that he had had gay relationships during his two marriages, the first of which produced his nine children.

Bishop Moore was a famously outspoken Christian voice. His truth-to-power pastoring spanned almost half a century, including as leader of the Episcopal Diocese of New York from 1972 until his retirement in 1989. He marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was among the early opponents of the Vietnam War, railed at presidents and mayors for ignoring the plight of the poor, and, shortly before his death, took the opportunity of his last sermon at St. John the Divine, the seat of the diocese at 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, to deliver a scathing attack on President Bush and the war in Iraq.

Everyone interviewed after Masses on Sunday praised Bishop Moore as a towering leader of his era. And nearly equal numbers said that because of the cultural mores of the time in which he lived, Bishop Moore may have deprived his family of the kind of intimacy that his daughter, at least, missed as a child. In her essay, she describes her father’s religious devotion — and perhaps the furtiveness necessitated by his other life, which was unknown to her at the time — as “a landscape, like a dream, a place to which my father belonged and from which my mother and I were excluded.”

Anne Wroten said she was saddened at the thought of “how much energy is wasted in living a closeted life, how much is lost in the forming of bonds with loved ones.”Some were less kind, like Marsha Ra, who said, referring to the memoirist Ms. Moore, “I’m just so glad I never had children.” ...!

One thing is certain, life is complicated and people, even those we love and admire can dissapoint us! May God give us all the grace to live up to the promises and vows we make to him and to each other until the day we meet him face to face.