Sunday, April 27, 2014

The 3 - April 27, 2014

In this week's edition of "The 3," there is a variety of stories from 3 different countries: from Canada, a Christian university has finally been given the go-ahead to establish a law school, but it continues to experience opposition.   In the U.S., plans continue for representatives of the Army to be part of the National Day of Prayer event at a Congressional office building on Thursday.  And, at the Vatican, a historic ceremony took place over the weekend, involving the canonization of 2 Popes, witnessed by 2 others.

3 - Canada's first Christian law school continues to deal with difficulty 

This past week, J.C. Derrick of WORLD News Group joined me on The Meeting House radio program and discussed the long and arduous process that Trinity Western University had gone through in order to establish a law school.  A newly released piece on the WORLD website summarizes some of the activities:
...Last December, TWU received back-to-back approvals from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the Minister of Advanced Education in British Columbia. The Law Society of British Columbia followed with another approval on a 20-6 vote earlier this month, joining affirmation from five other provincial bodies of the federation—which essentially hold veto power over federation decisions.
However, in the aftermath of this string of victories, a number of potential setbacks have emerged. On Thursday, the Law Society of Upper Canada voted 28-21 not to allow TWU graduates admission to the bar in Ontario. The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society did the same by a 10-9 vote Friday.

University President Bob Kuhn is quoted as saying, “We are very disappointed...These decisions impact all Canadians and people of faith everywhere. They send the chilling message that you cannot hold religious values and also participate fully in public society.”

The big issue surrounding the law school which has drawn opposition is TWU's requirement that employees and students sign a community covenant pledging to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”  This has set off gay rights advocates in Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Last week, a gay activist in Vancouver filed suit against the Minister of Advanced Education in British Columbia, Amrik Virk, claiming TWU’s community covenant equates to a discriminatory admissions policy. And the Law Society of British Columbia must now convene a special proceeding to hear complaints about its two-week-old decision after receiving a petition with more than 1,000 signatures.

2 - Army defends National Day of Prayer participation

A USA Today report from a writer for the Army Times states that Army officials have said they will not back away from participating in a Capitol Hill prayer event next month despite complaints that the event amounts to an endorsement of evangelical Christians.

Officials from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation demanded the Pentagon withdraw all support from a May 1 National Day of Prayer celebration at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, calling it a "private fundamentalist Christian religious event."   Foundation Director Mikey Weinstein is quoted as calling the event a "sectarian spectacle" and said the Army's stance was "ridiculous."

Planners of the three-hour event, which has close ties to evangelical Christian groups, have said they are nondenominational and nonpartisan, but foundation leaders say support for the event amounts to favoritism for conservative Christians.

Army officials disagree. In a statement, service officials said they would continue to provide numerous personnel for the event, including a chaplain to offer a "prayer for the military," an armed forces color guard, a brass quartet and a vocalist for the national anthem.

They also said they had no formal response to the foundation's complaint.

The National Day of Prayer has been held on the first Thursday in May since 1952 when Congress passed a joint resolution to create the observance and President Harry Truman signed it.  The private National Day of Prayer Task Force is organizing the congressional event at the Cannon building and broadcasting it online. The group's chairwoman, Shirley Dobson, is the wife of James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. Task force officials say the two organizations have no connection.

Scheduled speakers for the Capitol Hill event include both James and Shirley Dobson; evangelist Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham; Campus Crusade for Christ co-founder Vonette Bright; and several current and former lawmakers.

1 - History in Rome: 2 living Popes attend canonization for 2 Popes at Vatican

Major religious news grabbed headlines over the weekend, as an unprecedented ceremony took place at the Vatican.  Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, who presided over enormous changes within the church and across the world, were proclaimed "saints" on Sunday before a crowd of nearly 1 million people in an historic ceremony celebrated by Pope Francis with his predecessor, Benedict XVI, according to a report on the Religion News Service website.

Around 100 heads of state and government leaders joined those who crammed into St. Peter’s Square under gray and dreary skies. Thirty Jewish leaders were among the official delegations who took part at the Vatican.

Pope Francis declared to the crowd in Latin during the two-hour ceremony, "We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be saints, and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church..."

Francis acknowledged John and John Paul as among the most influential popes of the modern era, living through some of the momentous changes of the 20th century. John convened the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) that revolutionized Catholic life and reordered the church’s relationship with non-Catholics, and John Paul stared down communism and globalized the papacy.

He described them as "men of courage." Pope Francis said, "They lived through tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful, faith was more powerful.”  But just because they we highly-regarded popes, that did not qualify them for being considered a formal "saint" in the Catholic church.  After all, of the 266 popes, 83 (including John XXIII and John Paul II) have been made saints; almost all of them were canonized in the first millennium of Christianity, according to Religion News Service, which reports there are three basic steps to formal sainthood: First, a formal inquiry is opened and if a person’s “heroic virtues” are initially confirmed the candidate is called “venerable.” Beatification, usually by the pope, is the second step and the candidate is called “blessed.” Canonization is the third and final step, when a candidate is formally declared a saint.

The sainthood process remained largely unchanged until John Paul II approved revisions in 1983; the biggest change was to eliminate the “devil’s advocate,” who was charged with trying to poke holes in a person’s sanctity.
Two miracles are generally required for canonization, although the pope can dispense with that requirement, as Francis is doing in canonizing John XXIII, who was credited with just one miracle.  Nearly all miracles are unexplained medical cures, and they are verified by a panel of medical and scientific experts — not all of them Catholic — who must affirm that there was no possible natural cause for the cure. The cures are usually instantaneous.

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