Monthly Archives: December 2011

Bethlehem Brawl: So much for ‘peace on Earth, goodwill toward men’

Clerics brawl with broomsticks at the site where Jesus is believed to have been born. (BBC image)

Two days after the world celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace, things weren’t so peaceful at the Bethlehem church built on what is believed to be the site of Jesus’ nativity.

Brandishing brooms, 100 black-robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics fought one another inside the Basilica of the Nativity after a dispute broke out during the cleaning of the church. Palestinian police broke up the fray.

Tensions have long been high at the 1,700-year-old church, as different Christian denominations continually squabble over the administration of the holy site.

The BBC has the story, along with the sad video here.

 

 

Advertisements

Cardinal McCarrick talks Christmas and politics

Retired Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick recently sat down with David Gregory of Meet the Press to talk Christmas and politics. The cardinal noted that Christmas comes to “remind us that there is a God and this is a God who loves us.”  He also asserted that the more a voter understands about the issues, the more he or she will understand a candidate.

“We have to say,” Cardinal McCarrick said, “‘What is that man teaching – what is that woman teaching? How will it affect me, how will it affect my family, how will it affect my country?'”

Check out the extended interview here.


Name tags go high-tech in Gambrills

Visitor name tag from School of the Incarnation, Gambrills.

Last week, while spending some time at School of the Incarnation in Gambrills for a heart-warming story on homeless outreach, I was amazed by the Anne Arundel County school’s snazzy system for admitting visitors.

As soon as I was buzzed in, I was asked to present my driver’s license – which a receptionist electronically swiped and used to print out a name tag with an image from my license, along with the date and time I checked in and the purpose of my visit.

What I didn’t know, but was later told by Lisa Shipley, principal, was that each time the driver’s licenses of visitors are swiped, a computerized system instantly checks the sex offenders registry to see if any names match. Using a software program called “Raptor,” the system instantaneously notifies the school of potential problems.

“Parents are very happy with it,” Shipley said. “It’s an extra measure of security.”

Should the system identify a sexual offender, an alert is sent to Shipley’s cell phone and other responders. School officials immediately notify the police. The system also has a customizable feature so that if a certain parent does not have custody of his or her child, the school will know if that person is attempting to pick up that student.

Incarnation began using Raptor this year. The software costs between $400-$500 annually, plus expenses for the label printer and labels. In addition to driver’s licenses, it can scan passports and other government identity cards.

Shipley noted that the school has not had any problems with someone coming on campus who should not be there. The system cross checks birth dates and addresses so that those with common names are not misidentified. Photos of sex offenders with the same name as a visitor are shown on the school’s computer screen as another visual aid for confirming a person’s identity. Once a parent or other adult is scanned in the system, he or she does not have to provide the license again since the information is kept on file to be re-scanned with a bar code.

“Our staff uses it to sign in and out,” Shipley said. “It’s nice because we can see who is in our building at any time – staff or visitors.”

Sounds like a pretty good system to me.


Church leaders not sitting on sidelines in MD gay marriage debate

Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, speaks in support of traditional marriage during a Nov. 30 press conference at First Apostolic Faith Church International in Baltimore. (CR Staff/George P. Matysek Jr.)

There’s no doubt that same-sex marriage is going to be the hot-button issue in Annapolis next year.

Gov. Martin J. O’Malley, a Catholic, has already said he will sponsor  legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland – sparring with Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien over his high-profile attempt to fundamentally alter the definition of marriage.

Gay marriage came close to passing last session, but was ultimately defeated on the last day of the session after the state’s interfaith leaders made a push against the controversial measure.

Religious leaders plan to do even more in the coming 90-day legislative session that begins Jan. 11.

During a press conference last week at the First Apostolic Faith Church International in Baltimore, people of many faiths – Catholics, Protestants, Jews and others – came together to announce the formation of the nonpartisan Maryland Marriage Alliance. They promised they will not sit still as the governor tries to push gay marriage through the General Assembly.

Two speakers struck me with a message that combined tough resolve with respect for all people.

Bishop Angel Nuñez of the Bilingual Christian Church in Baltimore called out the governor by name, noting that the governor’s “pretty words” will not change the fact that marriage is between one man and one woman. Bishop Nuñez went on to address what he believes true tolerance is about.

“Traditional tolerance respects and accepts the individual without necessarily approving of or participating in his or her beliefs and behavior,” he said. “That is what we have done and will continue to do.”

Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, echoed that point, noting that no one supports discrimination against homosexuals. The current laws of Maryland, she said, “reflect an appropriate balance between preserving the special role of traditional marriage in the creation and upbringing of our future generations of children, and the granting of rights to other committed couples.”

“It is not discrimination to treat fundamentally different things differently,” Russell said.

You can hear the statements of Bishop Nuñez and Russell below.  Also, Russell will be giving a Theology on Tap presentation tonight at the Greene Turtle in Fells Point regarding same-sex marriage in Maryland.  There’s more information here.

This is just the beginning of what is going to be a very passionate debate over the next several months.  If gay marriage is signed into law, it will surely go to referendum.  What’s your opinion?

Bishop Angel Nuñez:

Mary Ellen Russell:

 

 


%d bloggers like this: