Catholic Rift Soon to Be Healed?

Catholic Rift Soon to Be Healed?

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The conservative Society of St. Pius X appears to be on the brink of reconciling with Rome.

A letter from the Society of St. Pius x (sspx) that could herald its return to the Catholic Church arrived at the Vatican over the Easter weekend. The content of the letter is secret, but Spiegel Online reports that it indicates the sspx is willing to make the concessions necessary to rejoin the fold.

“The new letter is significant in that it seeks to tone down the conflict,” it writes. “Points of disagreement are no longer to be seen in terms of who is ‘more Catholic’ than the other. The letter makes clear that conflicting positions on Vatican ii are ‘not decisive’ for the future of the Catholic Church. In short, the Society of St. Pius x is no longer demanding that the Vatican ii reforms be repealed.”

Jean-Marie Guenois from the French newspaper Le Figaro said “the final adjustments have been concluded” on an agreement between the Catholic Church and the sspx.

The sspx split off from the Catholic Church in 1969 in response to what it saw as liberalization of the church by the Second Vatican Council, known as Vatican ii. It has tens of thousands of members and several hundred priests.

But if this group rejoins the Catholic Church, the impact will be far greater than just bringing in a few thousand more members. The return of the sspx is part of a deliberate campaign by Pope Benedict xvi and his right-hand men to take the Catholic Church in a more conservative direction. The pope has been slowly replacing key liberal bishops with like-minded conservatives. He has already steered the church in a more traditional and right-wing direction. The return of the sspx takes the church further down that path. It will mean the permanent weakening of some of the church’s more liberal reforms over the past few decades.

The return of the sspx also ties in to a second key aim of the pope: to return the Protestant and Orthodox churches to the Catholic fold. A success with the sspx could give this powerful momentum. This goal doesn’t necessary conflict with the church’s rightward direction. Many of the Anglicans who are dissatisfied with their current church are more traditional and conservative than the Catholics in their countries. Anglicans joining the Catholic Church in Britain, for example, could help push the church in the rightward direction Benedict wants.

The reunification with the sspx is just a small step on the way to the Catholic Church’s ultimate goal—uniting all of Christendom under the papacy.

Snapshots of an Unhinged World

Snapshots of an Unhinged World

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Racial division, Fast and Furious, Secret Service scandal, unwed parents and other explicit scenes of lunacy.

A constellation of unrelated thoughts on recent, unrelated events:

  • George Zimmerman is now in jail and facing second-degree murder charges for killing Trayvon Martin. This case has stoked racial bitterness, fear and antagonism that easily matches the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson trials. Any chance it will be peacefully resolved? A recent Newsweek poll found that 35 percent of white Americans believe Martin’s death was racially motivated—while 80 percent of black Americans do. The people who are using the case for political purposes are playing with open flame inside a gas plant.
  • The more facts that surface about Fast and Furious, the worse it gets. A new book by investigative journalist Katy Pavlich vigorously argues that the Obama administration okayed this evil operation—which resulted in the murder or wounding of some 200 Mexicans and the slaying of an American border patrol agent—simply to try to strengthen their case for tightening gun control. Officials followed that disaster with a scandalous cover-up, shamelessly protecting their own tails rather than holding the guilty accountable. Such brazen criminality among the nation’s leaders is a vile illustration of the hard numbers Rob Morley cited yesterday showing the tattered condition of America’s rule of law. It makes me hot with shame.
  • Two stories have emerged of official misconduct of a more carnal sort. In one, the General Services Administration—an agency established in part to develop cost-saving policies for the federal government—is being probed for hosting a lavish conference in a Las Vegas resort, complete with bribes and kickbacks. The cost was an outrageous $823,000—all billed to American taxpayers. In another, 20 Secret Service and military personnel who accompanied the president on his trip to Colombia last week are implicated in a scandal involving a strip club and prostitutes. Many people say character doesn’t matter—a leader’s private life is his business. Embarrassments like these prove that thinking flawed. Scripture shows godly character is prerequisite to effective leadership (e.g. Deuteronomy 17:14-20; Matthew 20:25-28; 1 Timothy 3:1-7).
  • If you’re curious what happens when the family is destroyed, just watch: Americans are conducting a vast experiment to find out. Washington reported some time ago that 4 in 10 births in the United States are to unwed mothers. Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refined that statistic, revealing that births to unmarried cohabiters are at a record high and rising fast. In 2002 the cdc found that 14 percent of reported births were to unwed couples simply living together. A mere 10 years later, that figure has jumped by two thirds. Now, nearly one baby in four is born to a couple that tacitly believes, “Till inconvenience do us part.”
  • Writing of social problems borne of the sexual revolution, Theodore Dalrymple wrote in Life at the Bottom, “Every liberal prescription worsened the problem that it was ostensibly designed to solve. But every liberal intellectual had to deny that obvious consequence or lose his Weltanschauung [world view]: for what shall it profit an intellectual if he acknowledge a simple truth and lose his Weltanschauung? Let millions suffer so long as he can retain his sense of his own righteousness and moral superiority. Indeed, if millions suffer they are additional compassion fodder for him, and the more of their pain will he so generously feel. And so the prescription is: more of the same.”
  • Charles Murray’s newest book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, measures our breakneck moral decline in a rather precise way. Using thorough research, he focuses on the condition of four pillars of American life: work ethic, marriage, religion and respect for law. He shows how, though these pillars have undergone some drop-off among the educated and prosperous over the past half-century, they have been trashed within the lower and working class. Among 30-to-49-year-old whites with no more than a high school diploma and a blue-collar job, the marriage rate plummeted from 84 percent in 1960—to 48 percent in 2010. This is a historically unprecedented collapse in the central institution stabilizing a society. Similar decay is compromising those other three pillars. You don’t need to believe Bible prophecy to know the fate of a structure whose pillars crumble.
  • After a dry winter, a stunning 61 percent of land in the 48 lower states in the continental U.S. is “abnormally dry” or in drought. That’s especially tough after last year’s dry spell wrought at least $10 billion in agricultural losses. And this past weekend, what would ordinarily be a month’s worth of tornadoes hit in a single day. Six people died. These kind of aberrant events are increasingly becoming the norm. A lot of people want to link this to man-made climate change. I believe there is a far more relevant link with man-made disasters like those discussed in the preceding paragraphs. Scripture shows that God controls the natural elements and uses them to bless for obedience or curse for rebellion. We’re getting a nasty face-full of the latter. It’s not carbon emissions we need to cut—it’s commissions of sin.
  • ted recently posted a lecture by primatologist Frans de Waal. He showed various scientific studies of animals displaying rudimentary “moral” behavior like helping another animal get food, or pitching a fit when another animal unfairly received tastier food. This, de Waal explained, offered proof that the complexities of human morality simply evolved. “We work on these particular issues to see if we can create a morality from the bottom up, so to speak,” he said candidly, “without necessarily God and religion involved.” How much of today’s scientific inquiry is wasted this way? This was an egregious example of a scientist extorting a predetermined conclusion out of a neutral set of data. No matter what scientists scrutinize, they manage to interpret it as proof of what they already “know”: Everything happened without God.
  • Another ted lecture beautifully undermined that notion by showing the monumental superiority of the human mind over any animal. Regina Dugan, who directs an innovation factory called darpa, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, shared some of the extraordinary projects currently in development. Among them: a glider that travels at 20 times the speed of sound (it would cross the U.S. from coast to coast in 11 minutes); a robot that mimics a hummingbird’s ability to fly in any direction; metal lighter than Styrofoam; and a prosthetic arm controlled by thought. The astonishing human capacity for creation and innovation isn’t just the natural outgrowth of chimps using sticks to catch bugs. It was given by God—and for an awesome reason. Read What Science Can’t Discover About the Human Mind if you’re curious why. Far more of those scientists should be.
  • Paganism Taught in Cornish Schools

    Paganism Taught in Cornish Schools


    Children in Cornish schools are to learn about paganism and witchcraft, alongside other religions, as part of religious education lessons, according to a new syllabus published recently by the Cornwall Council.

    According to the syllabus, 11-to-14-year-olds will have to learn about “the development of modern paganism and its importance for many in Cornwall,” as well as “the importance of pre-Christian sites for modern pagans” and “how modern paganism is diverse and how this diversity is expressed in Cornwall.”

    Religious education is a compulsory subject in England, unless parents opt out. Cornish schools will still teach about Christianity for 60 percent of the time, with Islam, Hinduism, paganism and so on filling up the rest.

    It is bad enough that multiculturalism dictates that British school children have to study other religions while the nation slides in rankings of important subjects like mathematics and the sciences. Now pupils must be taught about a “religion” which has, according to the Cornish Council, around 600 to 750 adherents in Cornwall.

    This may be a small issue—it affects only a handful of lessons in schools in a small part of England—but it is symptomatic of a much bigger problem in British education and British society. Political correctness is put ahead of students’ education.

    Discipline has completely broken down, as punishment is not politically correct. Academic selection has been all but outlawed despite its success in elevating students from poorer backgrounds. The British Empire is portrayed as evil, while schools celebrate lgbt history month. The traditional is banished while the weird is celebrated.

    Six Killed in Two-Day Tornado Outbreak

    More than 75 tornadoes ripped through the central United States on Saturday and Sunday. The storms killed six people and left 29 injured. The fatalities occurred when a tornado touched down in Woodward, Oklahoma, killing three adults and three young girls.

    The outbreak of twisters destroyed homes and businesses and damaged a hospital, a jail, an Air Force base and other structures. Severe storms were also reported in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, where about 75 percent of the small town of Thurman was destroyed.

    The extreme weather comes on top of America’s worst drought since 2007, with 61 percent of the continental United States in a drought. In 2011, the drought caused at least $10 billion in agricultural losses across Texas and the Southern U.S. As the drought continues, 2012 could bring even greater losses.

    God promised the modern-day nations of Israel that if they obeyed His commandments, He would bless them with “rain in due season.” Leviticus 26 says that this rain would cause the land to yield its increase and the trees to yield their fruit. God also said that He would use His power over the weather to allow devastating droughts and other curses if these nations refused to obey Him. For more information about why we experience weather problems, read “Why Natural Disasters.”

    Dr. Benjamin Mazar Speaks of His Friendship With Herbert W. Armstrong

    Dr. Benjamin Mazar Speaks of His Friendship With Herbert W. Armstrong


    Jerusalem excavations continue today with support from Armstrong International Cultural Foundation.

    Herbert W. Armstrong’s association with famed Israeli archeologist Dr. Benjamin Mazar began in Jerusalem as far back as February 1968. Initially the focus was cooperation between the two in the excavation of an area to the south and west of the Temple Mount. These excavations were to later spread to the Jewish quarter of the city under Professor Avigad, with the additional sponsorship of the Israel Exploration Society and Hebrew University.

    At a November 1974 banquet in Tel Aviv honoring that international ambassador for world peace without portfolio, Herbert Armstrong, city officials, parliamentarians, ambassadors, diplomats and national journalists heard from Dr. Mazar certain details of the history of the special friendship between himself, Mr. Armstrong and the city of Jerusalem.

    Dr. Mazar told the distinguished audience, “We have worked without interruption, gradually expanding operation to the south, to the city of David, and to the west, to the Rephaim Valley, the central valley of Jerusalem” (Worldwide News, Dec. 23, 1974).

    Dr. Mazar described the mutual passion he and Herbert Armstrong had for bringing to the light of day the excavated history of the 5,000-year-old city as well as to “reveal the greatness and splendor of Jerusalem in biblical times” buried by rubble since the sacking of the city by Roman Emperor Titus 1,900 years previous.

    He continued, “It is for us a privilege that this important project is continuously supported technically, financially and manually and, may I say, in addition, enthusiastically by a prominent institution of learning, Ambassador College, headed by the distinguished chancellor, Mr. Herbert Armstrong” (ibid).

    Dr. Mazar went on to explain that each summer, selected students and instructors from each of the college campuses, in California, Texas and England, traveled to Jerusalem to work at the excavation sites and provide assistance in photography and engineering. He added his and the project team’s appreciation by declaring to Mr. Armstrong “tuda-raba,” which means “thanks very much” in Hebrew.

    Dr. Mazar also spoke of the problems that “terrorism, animosity, prejudices and evil inclinations” of the world have inflicted upon mankind. In such a world, Mazar cited Mr. Armstrong as a “humanitarian, a sponsor of eternal, universal world ideas,” and referred to his frequent use of the Hebrew term Shalom in relation to his relentless pursuit of “world peace and brotherhood between nations” proclaiming the gospel message of the Kingdom of God as cited by Christ Himself in Matthew 24:14.

    Concluding his speech, Dr. Mazar turned audience minds to Mr. Armstrong’s concentration on the Word of God. “But primarily he has a firm faithfulness in the prophecy of Isaiah,” he said, paraphrasing Isaiah 2:2-3: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

    Dr. Mazar’s comments were made all the more poignant by the absence from the banquet convened in his honor of his friend, Herbert Armstrong, due to sudden illness. Mr. Armstrong lay resting in bed a few floors above the grand ballroom of the hotel as the elite assembly gathered in his honor listened intently below.

    Dr. Mazar said, “Mr. Armstrong loves and admires Jerusalem, and wholeheartedly he believes in the future of Israel and the Holy City, and for him Jerusalem, the unified Jerusalem, is not only the metropolis of Israel and the spiritual center of monotheistic religions, but also the symbol of the great past and the hope of a better future of mankind” (ibid).

    Over the past two decades, editor in chief Gerald Flurry has labored to continue the internationally recognized, honored and respected legacy of the work of Mr. Armstrong.

    As founder and chancellor of Herbert W. Armstrong College, Mr. Flurry has in previous years supported excavations in Jerusalem conducted by renowned archaeologist Eilat Mazar, Dr. Benjamin Mazar’s granddaughter, by providing students and college staff to assist in crucial and historic archeological endeavors in Israel. This summer, Herbert W. Armstrong College will provide its largest contingent of students yet to engage in assisting Dr. Eilat Mazar in her current Jerusalem excavations.

    The revival of this joint legacy of the partnership between Dr. Benjamin Mazar and Herbert Armstrong is now being highlighted by the exclusive international premiere exhibit of unique Israeli artifacts currently on display, courtesy of the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation, at the premium performing arts jewel of America—Armstrong Auditorium.

    Come see for yourself these unique historic finds from the city of King David, discovered by the acclaimed Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar.

    Armstrong Auditorium’s world premiere showing of actual seals from the captors of the ancient Prophet Jeremiah is not only undeniable proof of the biblical account, but it is also a powerful reminder of the enduring bond between the names Mazar and Armstrong.

    This legacy, now perpetuated by the initiatives of Gerald Flurry and the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation, is one that someday will be appreciated by all. Yet it will only be fully understood when not only the ancient history of the city of Jerusalem, city of peace, will be opened up, but, more importantly, when finally the wonderful future that strife-torn city will have, in a far better, future world, is fully revealed.

    Some of the most significant artifacts ever discovered in Jerusalem remain on display through October 16 this year in Armstrong Auditorium. Plan now to visit this unforgettable exhibit.

    Niall Ferguson: Why America and Britain Are Failing

    Niall Ferguson: Why America and Britain Are Failing


    There is a reason your paycheck, and your standard of living, seems to be shrinking.

    Did you know that the American and British peoples used to own more than two thirds of the cultivated resources and wealth of the world?

    That is an absolutely astonishing fact.

    Harvard historian Niall Ferguson says the absolute dominance of the Western world cannot be explained by traditional theories. Imperialism, national character, even geography, do not account for how these nations became so tremendously rich and powerful.

    There was another, far more important reason they became great, says Ferguson. It was why the Industrial Revolution was so strong in Britain. It was why Western health and life expectancies rose above the rest. It was why by 1970 the average American was 70 times more wealthy than the average Chinese—even though in the late 1500s, it was the typical Chinese who was richer.

    But, sadly, the waning of this all-important reason for greatness is why the United States and Britain face financial crisis today. It is why our social systems are fracturing. It is why our economic structure came so close to failing in 2008.

    And it is why America and Britain, as governable nations, are facing sudden collapse.

    “We are in the midst of a grave deterioration in the quality of Western institutions,” said Ferguson, speaking at the seipr Economic Summit. “The institutions that used to be the best in the world are no longer.”

    The reason America and Britain’s institutions used to be the best in the world, according to Ferguson, was the rule of law. But the statistics he quoted show a nation no longer adhering to that rule.

    Each year the World Economic Forum (wef) tracks various figures related to national competitiveness. It compiles data such as protection of property rights, how well corruption is avoided, how commonplace bribery is, whether politicians are regarded as ethical, how independent are the courts, and how widespread is organized crime.

    Over the years, America’s ranking has plummeted. Here are some of America’s more shameful ratings. For financial auditing and reporting standards, America ranks 40th in the world. America ranks 50th for political favoritism. Regarding the efficiency of law in private disputes, it comes in 36th. It rates 30th for the reliability of police.

    Of the top 15 categories related to the rule of law, Ferguson points out that Hong Kong now beats America in every measure. Taiwan beats America in nine categories. And China has better rule of law in two.

    Not only did America not once rank first—it only made the top 20 in one category!

    “What this tells you,” says Ferguson, “is something is rotten in the state of America.”

    Ferguson is absolutely right. Last month’s Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of the health-care reform act show how rotten the system is becoming. An abc News poll showed that half the public thinks the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the legislation not based upon the constitutionality of the bill, but on the basis of the justices’ partisan political views. Less than 40 percent of people think the justices will rule impartially.

    When fewer than 4 in 10 people have faith in the system, can that system last?

    British historian Paul Johnson wrote, “The rule of law, as distinct from the rule of a person, or class or people, and as opposed to the rule of force, is an abstract, sophisticated concept. It is mighty difficult to achieve. But until it is achieved, and established in the public mind with such vehemence that masses of individuals are prepared to die to uphold it, no other form of progress can be regarded as secure” (Sunday Telegraph, Dec. 26, 1999).

    The Greek Empire failed to establish the rule of law, and it collapsed. The Roman Empire also tried and failed to build a society based on law. That empire fell too. History is a list of empires experiencing the same failure.

    Johnson noted that “both in Virginia and in New England to the north, the colonists were determined, God-fearing men often in search of a religious toleration denied them at home, who brought their families and were anxious to farm and establish permanent settlements. They put political and religious freedom before riches …. Thus took shape the economic dynamo that eventually became the United States—an experiment designed to establish the rule of God on Earth …” (ibid).

    It was the rule of law—God’s law—that really made America great. As is regularly brought out in Trumpet articles, it was obedience to God’s law by Abraham that guaranteed America’s greatness (you can read about that biblical promise here). But it was the subsequent adherence to God’s law that determined how long America’s blessings would last.

    The only perfect law is God’s. The framers of America’s Constitution founded much of that document on God’s law as they understood it. But they also knew that the effectiveness of the Constitution and the success of the rule of law were predicated on individual morality.

    The rule of law can only be as effective as the willingness of people to abide by it. You can have all the enforcement you like, but if people are trying to cheat the law, they will find a way.

    In America, 1 in 17 white males will go to prison within their lifetime. That rate is higher for minorities.

    It is a basic premise of the Bible that God blesses for obedience and curses for disobedience. The founders set out to establish the rule of God on Earth. And automatic blessings come as a result of keeping God’s laws.

    In 1950, America and the British Commonwealth produced three fourths of the world’s steel. They possessed 95 percent of the world’s nickel; 80 percent of the world’s aluminum; 75 percent of the zinc; almost 100 percent of chromite. Together Britain and America produced two thirds of the world’s rubber and dominated the world’s copper, lead, tin and bauxite outputs. America alone produced half the world’s oil. Britain and America mined 1½ times as much coal as all other nations combined. The British Commonwealth produced two thirds of the world’s gold in 1950—while the U.S. had three times as much gold reserve as the total for the rest of the world.

    America had the world’s highest standards of living, its most powerful military and the world’s largest economy. Britain and the Commonwealth were not far behind.

    It is up for debate exactly when America’s morality and its subsequent prosperity peaked out, but today, as Niall Ferguson warns, the Anglo world finds itself on a trajectory that will lead to certain collapse. America is already verging on Greek levels of debt and, by some measures, Greek levels of corruption.

    The rule of law matters. When you break it, sometimes the effects might be delayed, but there is always a price to pay.

    Read Gerald Flurry’s booklet No Freedom Without Law to see how you can avoid the slavery that always follows lawlessness.